Thursday, May 26, 2016

Apple-Bourbon Steak Sauce


Apple-Bourbon Steak Sauce
(3½-4 cups)


Ingredients:

2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 medium Vidalia Onion, chopped
1 medium Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and chopped
½ tsp. Kosher Salt
2/3 cup Raisins
1 cup Bourbon
1/3 cup Molasses
¼ cup Brown Sugar
3 tbsp. Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp. Ketchup
1 pinch Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:

Sauté onions in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.  Next, add the apple, salt and continue cooking another 5 minutes.  Now add the raisins and bourbon.  Bring mixture to a simmer and reduce liquid by half (about 10 minutes).  Turn heat down to medium and remaining ingredients.  Continue to simmer another 2 minutes.  Taste and adjust with salt and vinegar if needed.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Using a blender, puree the mixture until smooth and use on grilled steaks or refrigerate until needed.

Note:               Try using Irish whisky, Scotch or rum for a slightly different taste profile.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Drunken Steak


Drunken Steak
(4-6 servings)


Ingredients:

1 cup Light Rum
½ cup Soy Sauce
1 tbsp. Dark Brown Sugar
1 tbsp. Fresh Ginger, grated
1 large clove Fresh Garlic, minced
1 medium Scallion, minced
1½-2 lb. Flank Steak

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the rum through garlic until sugar dissolves.  Reserve ¼ cup for later.  Place the rum mixture and steak in a gallon size zip-lock bag.  Reduce air and seal bag before placing in a 9x13 baking dish and refrigerating 1 to 4 hours.  Add the scallions to the reserved rum mixture and set aside.  Remove steak from bag and dry with paper towels before placing on the pre-heated grill.  Grill steak over high heat until browned and cooked to desired doneness (4-7 minutes per side).  Transfer steak to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 5-10 minutes.  Using a sharp knife with a fork, slice thinly on the bias and against the grain.  Place slices on a serving platter, drizzle with the scallion and rum mixture and serve.

Note:               You can use this marinade with other steak cuts too.  Some good ones to try include skirt steak, tri-tip and top sirloin.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fire Up the Grills for Memorial Day Weekend

“Grilling Season” is here with the start of Memorial Day Weekend.  So let’s fire up those grills.  It doesn’t matter whether you are using a gas grill, charcoal or wood fired grills.  What matters is that you get out there and do it right.

So this week we will talk “Steaks” for grilling.  Starting from what is usually the most expensive and working our way down. The most popular steaks are; Tenderloin (Filet Mignon), Ribeye, Strip (NY or KC), T-bone and Top Sirloin.

Other steaks that are increasingly more popular include; Flank, Hanger, Flat Iron, Tri-Tip and Skirt steaks.  Some in this group are a little tougher so using a marinade helps both with making them more tender and tasty.

I’m just touching on the first group today.  These steak choices should be anywhere between ¾ inch and 1½ inches thick.  They should “never” be cooked “well-done” because you lose all the natural juices that help make them tender and tasty.  For those of you that think well-done is what you want, try it medium-well a couple of times.  That little pink in the center will not make you sick.

When I had my own restaurant, I converted 95% of those customers into medium-well and even some all the way to medium.  They all commented on how much better their steaks tasted.

All right, back to grilling steaks.  No matter which of these steak choses you make, get the best and freshest ones possible.  Talk to your person at the meat counter.

When getting ready to grill, always pull your steaks from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes before grilling.  Letting the steaks come to room temperature helps give you the best results.  The steak will cook more evenly.  If you have steaks an inch thick or greater, you might try salting them both sides.  Then place on a wire rack set in a baking pan.  Refrigerate uncovered up to overnight before grilling.

Prepare your grill for a high heat.  For a gas grill that means turning it on to high.  For charcoal or wood, it means letting the coals get to their maximum heat before putting on the steaks.  You also want to make sure you have a clean grill grate.  Brush the grates with a wire brush after they have been heated.  Then be sure to oil the grates lightly.  This will help keep the steaks from sticking to the grates.  For gas grills, to maximize the high heat, cook with the lid closed.

Pat all the steaks dry with paper towels before seasoning.  This helps give a better outside crust on the steaks.  Season the steaks before placing on the grill.  That means both sides.  For many, just salt and pepper is good enough.  I, however, like to use seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper.  I never get any complaints with my seasoning.

In grilling, try to only turn the steaks over once or twice in the process.  If you do twice, make a quarter turn of the steak to give beautiful grill marks for presentation.  Do “not” use a fork in the cooking process.  This will only cause you to lose the natural steak juices you want in your steak.  Use tongs or a spatula in turning steaks.

Grill on each side about the same amount of time.  To determine the correct doneness, you want to use an instant-read thermometer or the palm test.  Typically for a 1-inch thick steak, it takes 4-5 minutes for medium-rare.  Add or subtract a minute to each number for other degrees of doneness (rare, medium, medium-well and well).

The “Palm Test” is touching your thumb to each finger one at a time.  Starting with your index finger, touch it to your thumb and feel the firmness of your palm.  This is equivalent to rare.  As you move down the fingers, the firmness represents the other degree of doneness.  The pinky finger is well done.  Pushing on the steak with tongs lets you feel that same firmness to determine the doneness of the steak.

Lastly, remove the steak before it’s completely done.  Shoot for the 90% rule and then let the steak rest.  Once you remove it from the grill, tent with foil and let it rest up to 10 minutes before serving or slicing.  The thicker the steak the longer the rest.  Same goes for thinner.

So I hope you are able to get out and grill.  If not this weekend, you have all summer (at least).  “Happy Cooking” until next week and please share the link with other.  Thanks!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Basmati Rice with Coconut Milk


Basmati Rice with Coconut Milk
(servings)


Ingredients:

2 cups Basmati Rice
2 cups Coconut Milk
1 cup Water
½ tsp. Ground Cardamom (to personal taste) (optional)

Directions:

Rinse rice in a fine mesh strainer until water runs clear.  Place in a rice cooker followed by the coconut milk, water and cardamom.  Serve to combine and cook according to the instructions for the rice cooker.

Note:               If you don’t have a rice cooker, use a 3 qt. sauce pan on the stove and follow the instructions on the rice package.

Note:               Depending on how you are serving the rice, you may want to try other spices.  Some possible suggestions are; curry powder, cumin, saffron or even your favorite hot sauce.  Do these always to personal taste.  Start with a small amount and increase if needed.

Note:               This could work with other rice, but I prefer the basmati.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cottage Cheese Spread


Cottage Cheese Spread
(2 cups)


Ingredients:

2 cups Cottage Cheese, small curd
¼ - ½ tsp. Caraway Seed (to personal taste)
¾ tsp. Sugar
½ tsp. Seasoned Salt
¼ tsp. White Pepper
½ tsp. Dried chives
¼ tsp. Celery Salt
Crackers, pita chips, toasted breads and/or vegetables for dipping/spreading

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients through the celery salt.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours to overnight to develop flavor.  Transfer to a serving dish and serve with crackers, pita chips, toasted bread of choice, vegetables or anything other any other favorite items for dipping or spreading.

Note:               You could also try using dill seeds in place of the caraway seeds for a little different flavor.           

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Recipes from My Colorado Trip

I made a trip to Colorado a couple of weeks ago to see family.  I came away with several new recipes from different meals we had during my stay.  This week I’m sharing a couple of those recipes with you.

The two this week are “Cottage Cheese Spread” and “Basmati Rice with Coconut Milk” and there will be a few others in the future.

I have never been a big fan of cottage cheese, at least not just straight.  It works for me in lasagna and other dishes where you may be trying to save a little money or can’t get the correct ingredient needed.  I think cottage cheese makes for a good substitute.

But I’ve always stated and followed my advice I used in raising my children.  You always need to take a bite of something, even if you don’t think you like it.  Your tastes change over your life.  So when presented with this cottage cheese pre-meal dish, I tried it.  Surprise, I couldn’t stop eating it.  No one I’ve been with on 3 different occasions can either.

The other side dish is from a meal my son made for us.  It’s the rice he served with his “Chicken Curry” and that recipe will be coming in the next several weeks.

But the rice was superb all on its own.  It was very creamy and much more flavorful than just using water and even chicken stock.  I do recommend you give this one a try.

That’s all for this week.  So “Happy cooking” until next week and please share the link to my food blog with others.  Thanks.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fresh Pea Hummus Crostini


Fresh Pea Hummus Crostini
(24 servings)


Ingredients:

1¼ cups Fresh Peas, shelled
1 cup Garbanzo Beans, canned, drained and rinsed
¼ cup Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
¼ cup Plain Yogurt
3 tbsp. Green Onion, chopped
2 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
2 tsp. Ground Cumin
¾ tsp. Salt
24 slices Baguette, toasted (see note)
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

Using a food processor, puree the first 8 ingredients until almost smooth.  Brush the toasted baguette slices with the olive oil and spread the pea hummus over each and serve.

Note:               If fresh peas are not available, use frozen peas.  Thaw the frozen peas completely before processing.

Note:               Toast the baguette slices on a sheet pan in the oven.  Place them side by side and put into a pre-heated 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly toasted turning once halfway through.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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