Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Celebrate Father's Day with Michael Symon's Grandma

Father's Day is almost here, and I don't know of one dad who when asked what he wants for Father's Day doesn't reply, "Nothing." I guess I can understand getting a gift that he probably doesn't want and probably pays for isn't that exciting. Unless your dad's a golfer, a sci-fi collector, or is really into ties, it makes celebrating them difficult. While dad doesn't want to pay for a trip to the Mediterranean, he would love a manly meal from the grill with some Greek flair. I've got the recipe for you - Michael Symon's "Yiayia's Smoked Pork Ribs!"

While I love my recipes for Memphis-Style Spare Ribs and Best Barbecue Ribs, these Greek-style ribs seem a little "lighter" and provide a new twist on classic barbecue. While Michael recommends cooking the ribs wrapped in foil, I think it's easier to cook them over a drip pan, rotating them occasionally. In addition, the combination of spices, herbs, and honey make these ribs truly memorable. I like to serve them with a Greek salad, loaded with tomatoes, olives, cucumber, and feta cheese. Yum! A wonderful starter (although not Greek) would be Bacon-Wrapped, Jalapeno and Cheese-Wrapped Shrimp. After all, you'll have the grill going anyway, and I guarantee any dad will flip for these spicy/cheesy shrimp!

Yiayia's Smoked Pork Ribs

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the Rub
1 tablespoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons toasted and ground coriander seeds
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 racks spare-ribs, preferably St. Louis style cut, if possible (I cut them in half so they fit on my Weber.)
Juice of 1 lemon

For Barbecuing
3-4 handfuls applewood chips, soaked in water
1 aluminum roasting pan, to go under the ribs while on grill

For the Glaze
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

For the Garnish
1 lemon, cut in half
Sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Drizzle of honey

Directions:
The day BEFORE you plan on cooking the ribs:
Mix together the dry ingredients to make the rub. Squeeze the lemon juice all over the ribs and then coat all sides with the rub, making sure to distribute evenly. Cover the ribs and refrigerate overnight.

When you're ready to barbecue the ribs:
Whisk together the glaze ingredients, set aside. Prepare a charcoal grill for barbecuing over medium-low heat (300-350 degrees).

Place an aluminum drip pan half full of water in the center of the fire bed. Sprinkle some of the wood chips on the coals. Place the ribs on the grill rack over the drip pan.

Cover and grill and smoke the ribs, rotating them every 30 minutes or so (the ribs along the outside will cook faster, so it's good to rotate to the inside, etc.) and adding more wood chips, more coals, and more water to the drip pan as needed.



After the first hour, brush the glaze on top of the ribs. Continue to cover, grill, and smoke the ribs until they are tender and a toothpick can easily be inserted between the ribs, about 2 1/2-3 hours. 

Just before the ribs are done cooking, grill the lemon halves flesh-side down until nicely marked and slightly soft, 3-5 minutes.

When the ribs are done, let them rest on a cutting board, loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes. To serve, cut the ribs between the bones and garnish with the grilled lemon, sea salt, oregano, olive oil, and honey.


Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Santa Maria Style BBQ and The Hitching Post

Memorial Day weekend is this weekend and marks the beginning of summer break, my husband's birthday, and the official kickoff of the barbecue season! Yippee! Why not fire up the grill and throw a "Santa Maria style barbecue!" Santa Maria style barbecue, named for the town along the central coast of California, is a regional tradition dating back to the mid-1800's. It wasn't until the 1950's, when Tri-Tip became all the rage and a signature cut of this style of barbecue. (For more on Tri-Tip, see Introducing, The One And Only, Tri-Tip!) According to the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, the official Santa Maria style barbecue menu consists of barbecued Tri-Tip, seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and garlic salt, and cooked over red oak, pinquito beans (indigenous to the area), fresh salsa, grilled French bread dipped in butter, macaroni and cheese, tossed green salad, and a strawberry dessert, like my Long-on-Strawberry Shortcake. In addition, they recommend a local Pinot Noir or Syrah to round out the menu. Fantastic!

This recipe, from Frank Ostini of the iconic The Hitching Post and The Hitching Post II restaurants, family owned since 1952, takes Tri-Tip to another level! The secret is their "magic dust" seasoning which adds a few extra ingredients to the traditional dry rub. The Tri-Tip is then basted with a garlic-infused vegetable oil and red wine vinegar mixture. The result is a beautiful beefy masterpiece! Don't forget to check back for the perfect zesty Pinto Bean Salad, a variation of the classic pinquito beans that MUST accompany Santa Maria style barbecue!


"Santa Maria Style BBQ" Oakwood Grilled Tri-Tip

Serves 4, but can easily be doubled for a crowd!

Ingredients:

For the Tri-Tip
1, 3 lb Tri-Tip roast
Handful of red oak chips, for the grill

For the magic dust dry rub
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon Kosher salt

For the basting mixture
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup garlic-infused vegetable oil (heat oil in a small pot with a few crushed garlic cloves until the garlic just turns golden, remove from heat and allow to cool)

Directions:
Soak the wood chips in enough cool water to cover for at least an hour before grilling.

Coat both sides of the Tri-Tip with half the dry rub, pressing to adhere. Let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile prepare a charcoal grill to medium hot, placing the hot coals to one side, leaving the other side without coals for indirect cooking. When the coals have all acquired a nice ash coating (will look light gray), remove the wood chips from their soaking water, and throw over the coals. Next, add the Tri-Tip, fat side down and sear for about 5 minutes, uncovered, until charred. Turn the Tri-Tip over, fat side up and sear for another 5 minutes, uncovered, until charred.


Next, place the Tri-Tip to the indirect side of the grill (without coals), baste with some of the basting mixture and sprinkle with some of the remaining dry rub. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes or so, flip the Tri-Tip and baste again and sprinkle with some more dry rub. (You want to baste and sprinkle with the dry rub each time you flip the Tri-Tip, about 4 times.) Continue to cover and cook until an internal temperature of 125-130, about 30 minutes. (A thermometer, designed for grilling  makes this a lot easier! Check out Gadgets for my top pick!) Remove the Tri-Tip to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting into 1/2" slices against the grain.

Recipe adapted from Frank Ostini via Bobby Flay. Thanks Frank!

Sunday, May 5, 2024

When in Rome!

Is there a better place than the Eternal City? Everyone should go at least once in their life. It is truly breathtaking and dripping with history. We checked into the Hotel Hiberia located in a palace in the historical center of Rome. The lovely gentleman at the front desk said, "I have given you a room with amazing views!" I thanked him and when we entered our room I was shocked to say the least! Not only did it have views of almost all of Rome's landmarks, it was a corner room with two windows, and the view from the bathroom was just as stunning! My daughter and I now joke that it will always be the best bathroom in the world! Haha!

After a long day of walking and enjoying la dolce vita, we were starving! I knew exactly what I wanted, one of Rome's four classic pastas, "Cacio e Pepe!" Cacio is a local Italian word meaning cheese from the Latin word caseus. So it's basically pasta with Pecorino Romano, black pepper and mixed with pasta water to emulsify into a mesmerizing sauce of simplicity. However, don't let the minimal ingredients fool you into thinking it's easy! It's all about technique and practice!

We ate at L'Hostaria Boschetto in the Monti District. With it's charming stone arches and everything porcini, I highly recommend visiting! I ordered the Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe to see what all the fuss was. Verdict? Delicious! In fact, the couple next to us asked what I ordered and they nodded in satisfaction saying, "It is the best!"

Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe from L'Hostaria Boschetto.

I've been testing every recipe out there to achieve the best version for the home cook. I tried one where you toast the pepper then simmer in pasta water, but found it unnecessary. One fidgety one that alternated heat from simmer to off, then on again, etc. only to have the cheese separate into a total disaster! Also, any recipe that calls for olive oil, cream, or anything else would have the Romans throw you in the Tiber River! Romans have an intense loyalty to their culinary traditions! In fact, one of Stanley Tucci's Searching for Italy shows featured a restaurant that used half Romano and half Parmesan in their Cacio e Pepe. Gasp! Turns out the Roman's refuse to eat there and it's just for tourists basically now.

After all my testing, I have decided that Katie Parla's "Cacio e Pepe Leonardo Vignoli," from her book Tasting Rome, is the best and easiest to achieve the desired result. While the pasta cooks, you add a ladle full of starchy pasta water to the grated cheese in a large bowl with the pepper and mix. When the pasta is cooked, transfer to the bowl, stirring constantly, adding leftover pasta water as necessary to achieve a smooth sauce. Remember the pasta will continue to absorb water so it's better to be a little more on the "wet" side. The classic pasta for Cacio e Pepe is tonnarelli, which I picked up while there. If tonnarelli is not available, buying a high quality spaghetti (not Barilla or Cervasi) is very acceptable. The strands should look a little scruffed up by the bronze dies to help the sauce adhere. Good luck!

*If you want to practice making a single serving use 3 oz pasta, 2 oz Pecorino, and 1/4 tsp black pepper!*

Simplest ingredients!

Cacio e Pepe di Leonardo Vignoli

Turned out great! Finally!

Serves 4-6 

Ingredients:

1 pound high quality tonnarelli or spaghetti
2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano (I recommend purchasing Locatelli Grated Pecorino Romano. I am usually a stickler for freshly grated, but it's a very hard cheese!)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

*Do Not Add Salt except for the pasta water. Pecorino is Very Salty!*

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt the water. When the salt has dissolved, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the Pecorino Romano, the pepper, and a small ladle of pasta cooking water. Using the back of a large wooden spoon, mix vigorously and quickly to form a paste. (Personally, I have found that adding a regular size ladle of water or two and whisking to a cream soup consistency works just as well.)

When the pasta is cooked, use a large strainer to remove it from the cooking water and quickly add it to the sauce in the bowl, keeping the cooking water boiling on the stove. Toss vigorously, adjusting with additional hot water a tablespoon or two at a time as necessary to melt the cheese and to obtain a juicy sauce that completely coats the pasta.

Plate and sprinkle each portion with some of the remaining Pecorino Romano and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Recipe from Tasting Rome, by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill.

*I like Chianti with this recipe.*

Friday, May 3, 2024

Wine Doors and Pizza Napoli 1955

I am recovering from Achilles tendonitis after visiting my beloved daughter in the Renaissance city, Florence. What a beautiful city that escapes the modern aesthetic, choosing to live in it's past of medieval and Renaissance history and breathtaking art. I last visited Florence 24 years ago, and I can say nothing has changed! As Emiko Davies says in her lovely cookbook Florentine, " In every nook and cranny, history seeps out onto the well-trodden stone streets and into the every day."

The first time I visited, I was just out of college, newly married, and surprise pregnant with my first daughter. Although it was very early, I was not able to enjoy the wine culture of Florence. Total bummer. Although, this time I was ready for a party and my 19 year old daughter was able to celebrate with me! Perhaps the best time I have ever had! 

I have to admit the weather was a little chilly and rainy the entire trip, with the exception of Rome (which I will post about soon). With umbrella up, I was surprised to stumble upon the most lovely wine door! Completely by accident! These small stone arch doors, which are supposed to mimic the noble Renaissance palazzos to which they are attached, sold wine to passerby's to help struggling aristocratic families sell wine from their vineyards. Brillante!

I happened to stumble onto the wine door on my way to Pizza Napoli 1955, located Via Dei Neri 73/R, 50122, Firenze, Italia. Tired, wet, and hungry, I was met with a chair to rest, glass of wine, and the BEST pizza I have ever had! The best part is that when my pizza de bufala arrived in all it's pillowy glory, it was heart shaped! So delicious! I highly recommend checking it out if you are ever able! Anyway, when I got home I searched how to shape a heart pizza! I still use my go to My Basic Pizza Dough and this video! Mine didn't turn out as good as Pizza Napoli, but they've got 67 years experience! Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K0H0-hb9RY

(This is Pizza de Rossa, my daughter's favorite!)

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Got Ham?

Sometimes it can be hard to get rid of that leftover Easter ham. Short of casserole-type dishes, which my family hates, pasta dishes, which my husband hates, sandwiches are the last option. However, I have come up with a superb recipe for "Toasted Ham and Smoked Gouda Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions and Arugula." Imagine warm ham and melty Gouda, sweet caramelized onions, tangy Dijon mustard, and peppery arugula. Yum! It's so good that I've made them twice this week! All that's needed is a comforting bowl of soup, or your favorite chips, to complete this simple yet satisfying meal. I promise you will love it!


Toasted Ham and Smoked Gouda Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions and Arugula

Makes 4 Sandwiches.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
8 slices good quality sandwich bread (I use an Italian style bread.)
Dijon mustard
Thinly sliced ham, enough for 4 sandwiches
4 slices smoked Gouda
Softened butter
4 handfuls arugula

Directions:
For the Caramelized Onions
In a large saute pan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. When the butter stops foaming, add the onions, salt, and pepper. Stir well and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove the cover from the pan. Stir in the brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a deep golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Place the onions into a bowl; set aside. (Don't bother washing out the pan.)

For the Sandwiches
Take 2 pieces of bread and spread a little Dijon mustard on each. Lay as much ham on one bread slice as you prefer. Top with a slice of smoked Gouda. Top the other bread slice with a quarter of the caramelized onions. Close the sandwich and butter one side. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.

Heat the saute pan that you used for the onions over medium-low heat. Lay the sandwiches, butter-side down, in the pan. (You may have to do them in batches depending on the size of your pan.) Butter the other side of the sandwiches. Cover and let heat gently until just beginning to brown. Flip the sandwiches over, cover, and continue heating until just beginning to brown. Flip the sandwiches over again, raise the heat to medium, and let toast to golden brown. Turn the sandwiches over and toast the other side until golden brown. Remove the sandwiches to a cutting board. Just before serving, open each sandwich and place a handful of arugula inside. Close the sandwiches and cut on the diagonal, serve. 

Mmmmmm!

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Rabbits, Eggs, and Simnel Cake

In ancient times, Easter was celebrated in honor of the spring or vernal equinox, symbolizing the end of winter (death) and the rebirth of life, as well as the importance of fertility. The word Easter is believed to have originated from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of dawn, Eostre, from whom "east" (where the sun rises), "Easter," and even the female hormone "estrogen" got its name. Eostre's feast day was held on the first full moon following the vernal equinox. Eostre's two symbols were the hare (one with a particularly high libido) and the egg, which symbolizes the possibility of new life.

In European folklore, when wild hares abandoned their nests, they were sometimes taken over by plovers, who would lay their eggs in them. The locals would then find the eggs in the bunny nests. Further, in the 16th century, we see the appearance of the "Easter Bunny" in German writings. The legend said that if good children built a nest out of their caps or bonnets, they would be rewarded with colored eggs. The legend was then brought to America in the 18th century, by German immigrants.

And finally, I must mention the "Simnel Cake," eaten during Easter in the UK, Ireland, and other European countries. Simnel cake is a type of fruit cake, made with a layer of marzipan or almond paste baked in the middle of the cake, and topped off with a ring of eleven marzipan balls, said to represent the true disciples of Jesus (Judas is omitted), and sometimes a ball in the middle to represent Christ. I don't care for simnel cake, but I do have a sublime recipe for "Mascarpone-Filled Cake with Sherried Berries." This recipe from Shelley Wiseman is a light buttermilk cake, filled with a layer of mascarpone cream, and topped off with very sophisticated Sherry-spiked berries. I love this cake so much, it may be my absolute favorite! It makes the perfect ending to any Easter celebration!


Mascarpone-Filled Cake with Sherried Berries

Serves 8-12, (cake and cream can be made a day ahead, store cake covered at room temperature)

Ingredients:

For the cake
2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising), like Swans Down
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

For the berries
1/2 cup Fino (dry) Sherry
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups mixed berries, cut if large

For the cream
8 ounces mascarpone (1 cup)
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

Directions:

For the cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with oven rack in the middle. Butter a 9" round cake pan (2 inches deep). Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, then butter the parchment.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer at low speed, beat in the buttermilk until just combined. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing after each addition until just combined.

Spread batter in cake pan, smoothing top. Rap the pan on the counter several times.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Discard the paper and reinvert cake onto rack to cool completely.

Macerate the berries
Bring Sherry and sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Put berries in a bowl and pour hot syrup over them. gently tossing to coat. Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.

Make cream and assemble cake
Beat mascarpone, cream, and sugar in a large bowl using cleaned beaters until mixture just holds stiff peaks.

Halve cake horizontally with a long serrated knife. Carefully remove top half and reserve. Put bottom half on a plate, then spread evenly with all of the cream and replace top half. Serve with berries. It's Fantastic!


Easy Easter Lamb - Just Throw it on the Bahbie!

Lamb is not commonly eaten in the US. It is less than 1% of the total meat consumed per person, per year. This is due to the fact that lamb is not always readily available in US markets, and very expensive compared to other protein choices. In addition, I know many people who have never even tasted lamb or others who say they don't like the flavor. That's too bad. After all, lamb makes a stunning centerpiece to any Easter table. So, for those of you who are willing to give it a try, I have the perfect recipe for you!

This recipe for "Grilled Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic, and Mustard," from the April 2010 issue of Bon Appetit, is truly special. The leg of lamb is butterflied, studded with garlic, and marinated overnight in an effortless mixture of whole grain Dijon mustard, olive oil, white wine, rosemary, and lemon. The lamb is then grilled over direct heat for approximately 17 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees. (You'll need a reliable meat thermometer, see Gadgets.) Not only does this free up your oven, grilling the lamb creates a delicious mustardy crust with a flavorful and moist interior that is not gamey in the least! You will convert any non-lamb-lover with this recipe! I like to serve it with "Tuscan Tomato, Basil, and Mint Vinaigrette" that compliments it nicely. This vinaigrette is one of my personal favorites that I have been making for years. It is phenomenal with lamb and also delicious with chicken and fish. And finally, a nice bottle of Syrah is the perfect accompaniment with grilled lamb.


Grilled Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic, and Mustard

Serves 10-12 (If you want to serve less, use a 3-4 lb boneless leg of lamb instead.)

Ingredients:
1 well-trimmed 6-lb boneless leg of lamb, butterflied to even 2" thickness (I have found that one cut is all that is needed to butterfly a boneless leg of lamb. Easy!)
8 garlic cloves, peeled, divided
1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Nonstick vegetable oil spray (for the grill)
Fresh rosemary sprigs and fresh Italian parsley sprigs (for garnish)

Directions:
Open lamb like book on work surface. Using tip of small knife, make 1/2"-deep slits all over lamb. Thinly slice 4 garlic cloves. Insert garlic slices into slits in lamb.


Combine remaining 4 garlic cloves, mustard, olive oil, white wine, rosemary, and lemon juice in processor. Blend until coarse puree forms. Spread underside of lamb with half of puree. Place lamb, seasoned side down, in 15x10x2" glass baking dish. Spread remaining puree over top of lamb. Cover lamb with plastic wrap and chill overnight.


Let lamb stand at room temperature 2 hours. Coat grill rack with nonstick spray and prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Remove lamb from marinade and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Grill lamb to desired doneness, about 17 minutes per side, or until an internal temperature in the thickest part reaches 130 degrees. Transfer lamb to cutting board; let rest at least 10 minutes.

Thinly slice lamb against grain. Overlap slices on platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs. Enjoy!


Tuscan Tomato, Basil, and Mint Vinaigrette

Serves 6-10 or approximately 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
1 1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 2/3 cup chopped/seeded plum tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Whisk all ingredients, except for the tomatoes. Stir in the tomatoes and season with pepper to taste. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Mmmm! I wouldn't serve lamb without it!

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

On the Fourth Day, Let There be Pastrami

St. Patrick's Day and the arrival of Spring mean one thing at my house, homemade pastrami! Pastrami is smoked corned beef that originated from Central Europe and was brought to America by Romanian Jews in the late 19th century. Kosher butcher Sussman Volk, who had immigrated to New York from Lithuania, claimed to have created the first pastrami sandwich in 1887. Volk had inherited the recipe from a Romanian friend in exchange for storing the man's luggage while he was out of the country. (Don't you use your luggage when travelling?) However, this is disputed by legendary Katz's Delicatessen in New York City, who opened in 1888 and claim to be the first. I guess it doesn't really matter since Katz's is still going strong and Volk is just a memory in time.

My husband was the first to discover this recipe for "Close to Katz's Pastrami" from amazingribs.com. You can check the recipe out there, although it seems a lot more informative and might scare away a pastrami novice, so I've simplified it here to coax you to try it. In fact, I have made a few changes. Instead of smoking the corned beef at 225 degrees, I keep it at 250 degrees. I don't make my own corned beef either, rather I buy it at the store in those cryovac packages, which grocers everywhere are marking down post-St.Patrick's Day. In addition, I recommend making more than one, since it takes a lot of your time! Don't worry, it freezes very well. 

You need to start the process 3 days before you plan on serving. The first day you soak it refrigerated in cold water to help remove excess salt. The second day to pat dry, apply the dry rub, and refrigerate overnight. The third day you smoke it for about 5-6 hours, cool, and refrigerate. And finally, on the fourth day you steam it for approximately 2 hours, then eat! It may seem like a lot of work, but it's so good, you just might become verklempt!


Close to Katz's Pastrami

Makes approximately 4-5 sandwiches. (I like mine with mustard, pastrami, Swiss cheese, and coleslaw on toasted rye. Pickle on the side.)

Ingredients:

For the Pastrami
1, 4 lb uncooked corned beef brisket
4 tablespoons freshly coarse ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder

For Smoking and Steaming
Smoker or Grill (I use my beloved Weber, see Gadgets.)
Disposable aluminum drip pan (I use the cheap ones from the grocer for roasting.)
Entire bag of charcoal
4-8 ounces wood chips, soaked in water (I like cherry wood.)
Steamer basket or steamer insert (I use the cheap ones from the grocer and remove the center handle/lifter thingy.)

Directions:
Day 1: Remove corned beef from package, rinse, and throw away the spice packet. Trim excessive fat off the corned beef and any membrane that might remain. (Leave at least 1/8-inch fat on it!) Place the corned beef in a large pot. Cover it with cold water and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2: Remove the corned beef from the water and pat dry with paper towels. Mix together the pepper, coriander, mustard, brown sugar, paprika, garlic and onion powders. Rub all over the corned beef, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Day 3: Prepare a charcoal grill or smoker for low heat (250 degrees). Place an aluminum drip pan half full of water in the center of the fire bed. Sprinkle some of the soaked wood chips on the coals. Place the corned beef, fat side up, on the grill rack over the drip pan. Insert a grill thermometer, see Gadgets. Cover and smoke the corned beef, maintaining 250 degrees, and sprinkling with wood chips/charcoal occasionally until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Wrap with foil and return to the grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees. Remove from grill, let cool slightly, and refrigerate overnight. 



Day 4: Set up your steamer, or bring a couple inches of water in a large pot to a simmer, insert steam basket. (Tips: If you don't have a steamer, you can wad up foil to hold the now pastrami out of the water. I place a piece of foil between the steamer and pastrami to contain excess mess.) Cover and steam the pastrami over medium-low/low heat, adding water if necessary, until it reaches an internal temperature of 203 degrees, approximately 1 1/2-2 hours. 


Let rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain.


Mazel Tov!

Friday, March 15, 2024

Guinness - BRILLIANT!

Years ago, I saw Jamie Oliver make this hearty dish on his show "Jamie At Home". The recipe was not available online, so this is just an interpretation, but I'm sure Jamie would approve. This recipe has a lot going for it! The Guinness gives the beef a deep savory flavor, along with the Irish cheddar and puff pastry top, it's really, really good! (Perfect for my "Irish Dinner Night"! If you missed the beautiful starter, click here.) I also love the idea of serving the peas on the side, so they don't loose their color and texture in the stew. It may take a little time, but it's easy and looks impressive! This stew is better made a day ahead, which makes it a snap to put together for a party!


Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie


Serves 4-6, Can be made in a large deep dish pie pan, or, to make it more dressy, I like to make individual servings in my Apilco Lion Head Soup Bowls.

Ingredients:

Day 1
3 pounds beef brisket, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 yellow onions, sliced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
2 sticks of celery, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
8 oz. mushrooms (whatever kind you want), sliced
1, 14.9 oz. can of Guinness
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1 cup beef stock, or more if needed

Day 2
2 handfuls shredded Kerrygold Irish White Cheddar
1 package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1 package frozen peas

Directions:

Day 1
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and saute until slightly browned. Next, add the rosemary and garlic, stirring constantly. When you smell the garlic (about 1 minute), add the butter. Then add the celery, carrots, and mushrooms. Stir. Now add the beef. Stir and add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the flour and stir well to coat. Pour in the Guinness. Finally, pour in the beef stock just to the top of the stew. You don't want it to completely cover the meat. Bring just to a boil, cover, and throw in the oven for 2 1/2-3 hours, until the beef is tender. At this point, I allow the stew to cool and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2
Remove the stew from the refrigerator and remove the hardened fat on the top. Place on the stove over medium heat to rewarm, slightly. Remove from the heat and fish out the rosemary stem. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Stir in 1 handful of the cheddar. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface, big enough to generously cover your pan. If making a deep dish, you may have to "glue" both pastry sheets together with a little water before rolling out. If making individual portions, cut into squares big enough to generously cover the tops of the containers. Carefully, with a sharp knife, lightly score the top of the pastry or pastry squares in a diagonal pattern in both directions. (Like a diagonal grid pattern.) Do not cut all the way through the pastry!

Pour the stew into your pan, or evenly distribute between individual containers. Top evenly with the remaining handful of cheddar. Brush the edge of your pan or individual containers with the beaten egg. Carefully lay the pastry on top, making sure it is sufficiently "glued" on. If using a deep dish pan, gather the excess pastry and lightly squish it together and inside the rim of the pan, making a crinkly ruffle around the edge. Brush the tops with the beaten egg. If using individual containers, place on a rimmed baking sheet.


Bake for 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Remove from the oven. Cook the peas according to package instructions and place in a serving bowl, allowing each guest to spoon peas over each serving to their liking. Enjoy!

A Salmon Forest with Arugula Leaves?

Over the weekend, I had one of my best friends over for "Dinner Night"! She is Irish and brought her new boyfriend! We had a great time! My friend hates to cook and requested I make some of my favorite "Irish"-inspired recipes. Here's the menu:


I started with luxurious "Smoked Salmon Rolls with Arugula, Mascarpone, Chives, and Capers". These are so beautiful and delicious! Make the mascarpone mixture ahead, but assemble the rolls right before your company arrives. Otherwise, the arugula goes limp and looks disgusting! (Believe me, I know!)
  

Smoked Salmon Rolls with Arugula, Mascarpone, Chives, and Capers

Serves 6 as an appetizer, 12 as an hors d'oeuvre

Ingredients:

5 oz. mascarpone cheese (about 2/3 cup)
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 oz. smokes salmon, cut into 24 thin slices, 2-3 inches on the short side (I use presliced salmon)
48 small, tender arugula leaves

Directions:

Mix the mascarpone with 1 tablespoon of the capers, 1 tablespoon of the chives, and the lemon juice in a small bowl. Season well with salt and pepper.

Lay the salmon slices out on a cutting board with one of their short sides facing you and with plenty of space above and below each slice. (You can do this in batches.)

Put a spoonful of the mascarpone mixture on the narrow end of a slice. Lay 2-3 arugula leaves, fanned slightly, across the mascarpone, so that the leaves will extend several inches from one end of the roll. Roll up the salmon slice and stand it upright, leaves pointed up, on a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining slices.


When ready to serve, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon chives and 1 tablespoon capers, and enjoy!

Recipe from In the Hands of a Chef, by Jody Adams and Ken Rivard.

*Keep checking my blog for the rest of the recipes from this menu!

Monday, March 4, 2024

Shrimp and Grits go West!

I know many of my friends, and some of my family, choose to give up meat on Fridays for Lent. So, I thought I would share a beautiful recipe for "Sauteed Shrimp with Sweet Potato and Smoked Chile Grits and Green Onion-Cilantro Sauce" from Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Cookbook: Explosive Flavors From The Southwestern Kitchen. While grits started with humble origins, all the way back to when the Native Americans first shared their grits with Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584, they have become a southern classic and a staple of true American cuisine. However, it was in the lowcountry of South Carolina, and particularly Charleston, that shrimp and grits became a match made in heaven. This was due to the availability and affordability of grits and access to free shrimp in the surrounding channels, waiting to be caught by anyone with a net. (Although, in Charleston, they are probably referred to as "shrimp and hominy" or simply "breakfast shrimp.") South Carolina loves their grits so much that in 1976 it was declared their state food!

If you are unfamiliar with grits versus cornmeal versus polenta, etc., I'll try to help you out. Grits are made by grinding hominy. Hominy is dried maize that has been treated with alkali (lime or wood ash) in order to loosen the hulls from the kernels. When mashed, it is known as masa in Latin cuisine and used for tortillas, tamales, etc. While cornmeal and polenta are made from untreated corn of different grind sizes. Got it?

If you've never eaten or tried to make grits before, this is the recipe for you! The addition of roasted sweet potato, chipotle chile, and honey make them unique and exceedingly delicious. In fact, even if you don't make the whole recipe, the grits alone are worth the effort. However, why not saute some shrimp (it only takes a few minutes) and the green onion sauce (which can be whizzed up in a blender in a matter of minutes and can be made up to 8 hours ahead) is the perfect compliment. The red chile oil is written as "optional," but not in my opinion. It is vibrant and a beautiful touch to a perfect plate. The oil is simply a matter of pureeing toasted guajillo chiles, oil, and salt and then strained. It can also be made a day in advance. Bonus! (Although, in a pinch, I have used store bought chile oil, such as "Mongolian Fire Oil," available at most grocers.) This recipe may not be the traditional shrimp and grits of the south, but it is the southwest that makes it stunningly beautiful and downright exciting!


Sauteed Shrimp with Sweet Potato and Smoked Chile Grits and Green Onion-Cilantro Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the Grits
1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons chipotle chile puree (I just mince 2 teaspoons chipotle chiles - I like canned San Marcos brand.)
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking grits
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-3 teaspoons honey

For the Shrimp
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For serving
Green Onion-Cilantro Sauce - recipe below
Red Chile Oil - recipe below
Thinly sliced green onion, for garnish

Directions:
For the Grits
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roast the sweet potato on a rack in the oven until tender when pierced with a knife, 45-60 minutes. When done, peel the sweet potato and puree the flesh in a food processor or pass it through a ricer; set aside.

Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the stock, milk, chipotle puree, and 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the grits, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the sweet potato puree and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes, until smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and honey to taste. Cover and keep warm.

For the Shrimp
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook half the shrimp until lightly golden brown and just cooked through, 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and shrimp.

To Serve
Spoon the grits into 4 shallow bowls and arrange the shrimp around the grits. Drizzle with the green onion-cilantro sauce and red chile oil and sprinkle with green onions. 

Green Onion-Cilantro Sauce

Makes about 3/4 cup

Ingredients:
1 cup sliced green onions, white and green parts 
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (don't substitute white vinegar as it is more acidic!)
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil

Directions:
Combine the green onions, cilantro, vinegar, 1/4 cup cold water, the mustard, and honey in a blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and blend until emulsified. Can be made up to 8 hours ahead and refrigerated.

Red Chile Oil

Makes about 1 cup - (You may want to halve this recipe!)

Ingredients:
5 guajillo chiles, toasted and seeded (remove the seeds first and with a spatula, press on a hot pan until color changes slightly, flip and toast other side - it only takes a minute)
1 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:
Combine the guajillos, oil, and salt in a blender and blend for 5 minutes. Strain into a bowl. This can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Love on the Rocks?


When I was in college, getting my degree in Geology, I was required to complete a "field training" course. I signed up for a class with Texas Tech, in which you were expected to map parts of the Colorado Rockies. After arriving a day late, I found myself (backpack and rock hammer in tow) ascending the side of a steep mountain, when I first heard his voice. He offered me a hand, (Thank God!), and then I looked up to see my one true love, standing there in a tie-dye Ben&Jerry's "Cherry Garcia" t-shirt, mirrored Serengeti sunglasses, and a Redskins baseball hat! What a get-up! Six weeks later, we were engaged, and the rest is history.

So, for my handsome man, I'm making "Goat Cheese-Arugula Ravioli with Tomato-Pancetta Butter." This dish tastes so fantastic and is so beautiful! It's perfect for a romantic Valentine's dinner! In fact, it's so perfect, you just may fall in love!


Goat Cheese-Arugula Ravioli with Tomato-Pancetta Butter

Serves 4-6, (Can be made ahead!)

Ingredients:

For the ravioli
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large shallots, minced
3 ounces arugula, chopped (about 3 1/2 cups)
6 ounces soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), crumbled
1/2 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Approximately 30-40 wonton wrappers (from one 12-ounce package)
2 large egg whites, whisked just until foamy

For the tomato-pancetta butter
6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
6 large plum tomatoes, quartered, seeds and membranes discarded, tomatoes diced small
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

For serving
5 tablespoons butter, melted
12 fresh basil leaves
Fresh thyme

Directions:

For the ravioli
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, saute for 10 minutes. Add arugula, toss until wilted but still bright green, about 3 minutes. Transfer the arugula mixture to a large bowl and cool. Mix in the goat cheese and Parmesan cheese. Season the filling with salt and pepper.

Line 2 baking sheets with heavy-duty foil, spray with nonstick spray. (I use 1 baking sheet lined with parchment paper and no nonstick spray. When the first layer is done, I place a sheet of plastic wrap over and stack the second layer on top. That way you can store in the fridge easier.) Place 4 wonton wrappers on work surface, cover remaining wrappers with plastic to prevent drying. Lightly brush entire surface of each wrapper with egg white. Spoon 1 generous teaspoon (I put 1 tablespoon) filling into the center of each wrapper. Fold wrappers diagonally in half, forming triangles. Press edges firmly to seal, avoiding any air bubbles inside the ravioli.


Arrange ravioli on prepared sheets. Repeat with the remaining wrappers until the filling is gone. (Can be made ahead. Cover with plastic and chill up to 1 day.)



For the tomato-pancetta butter
Cook chopped pancetta in large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp and brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel to drain and set aside. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet. Add butter to drippings in skillet, melt over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and thyme, saute until tomatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

To serve
Place melted butter in large bowl. Cook half of the ravioli in a large pot of salted boiling water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Using a hand-held strainer, transfer ravioli to a colander to drain, then place in the bowl with the melted butter, toss gently to coat. Cover to keep warm. Cook the remaining ravioli in the same pot of boiling water. Drain as before and transfer to the buttered ravioli. Toss gently to coat. Divide the ravioli among serving bowls. Rewarm the tomato butter over medium heat, add the reserved pancetta and basil, saute 1 minute. Spoon sauce over ravioli. Garnish with thyme and serve! (Don't forget some wine!)

This is an old recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

For My Non-Romantic Valentine

My husband detests Valentine's Day. Every year he touts that it is nothing more than a "Hallmark holiday," manifested merely to sell cards. Hmm... Well, listen up buddy, there is more to the story than manufactured greeting cards. Besides being rooted in the pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia, there are two other legends for the creation of the most romantic day of the year. The first legend begins in third century Rome. Valentine, who was a priest, secretly married young lovers after Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men because he believed unmarried men made better soldiers. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

The second legend is believed that an imprisoned Valentine fell in love with a young girl who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, he wrote her a love letter and signed it "From your Valentine." That's pretty romantic! Either way, Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death, approximately 270 A.D. In addition, the oldest known valentine is a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415. It wasn't until the 1840s, that Esther A. Howland (sans Hallmark) began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America.

Well, if that convinces my husband or not, I am still going to make perhaps the most elegant and seductive dessert I know, "Double Chocolate Pate!" This decadent recipe, from the luxurious Greenbrier resort, consists of a velvety chocolate center enrobed in a crisp chocolate couverture. This recipe requires that you freeze the velvety center in a loaf pan for 24 hours before encasing it in the chocolate coating. So, you will need to start at least a day in advance. In addition, have a pot of simmering water on the stove and two heat-proof bowls ready for make-shift double boilers, see Gadgets-No Double Boiler? before beginning. I like to serve it with a raspberry coulis, which is nothing more than a bag of thawed frozen raspberries pureed with some water in a blender, sweetened to taste with sugar, and passed through a strainer to remove excess seeds. And finally, while this dessert may be a little messy to make, it really is simple and definitely exceedingly romantic!

It really is beautiful!

  This is how I like to serve it!

This is how I serve it to my husband! Ha! Ha!

Double Chocolate Pate

Makes one 10x4-inch loaf.

Ingredients:
For the Pate
8 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cognac (or other liqueur, such as Grand Marnier)
2 cups heavy cream

For the Chocolate Coating
8 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:
For the Pate
Cut a piece of plastic wrap 15 inches long and 10 inches wide (or the length of the loaf pan). Line the pan with the plastic, keeping it as smooth as possible, so the 2 long sides and the bottom are covered by the 2 short sides stay bare (greasing the inside of the pan will help stick the plastic in place). Put the chopped chocolate in a double boiler and melt over low heat. Cool slightly.

In another double boiler, combine the egg yolks, sugar and cognac and whisk constantly over simmering but not boiling water (the bottom of the bowl should never be too hot to touch) until the mixture is very thick and fluffy and has tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.


Remove from the heat and fold in the melted chocolate. (The mixture may appear stiff at this stage.)


Whip the cream in a large bowl until it forms soft peaks. Stir a small amount of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture; repeat until the mixture is fairly loose and the chocolate is well-blended with the cream, then fold in the remaining whipped cream.


Pour the mousse into the prepared loaf pan, rapping the pan lightly on the work surface to eliminate any air bubbles. Fold the plastic wrap securely over the top of the pan and freeze the pate for at least 24 hours.


The next day, make the chocolate coating; melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler, then stir in the cream.


Cut a piece of heavy cardboard so it fits exactly into the top of the loaf pan. (I use a piece of foil to make a pattern!)

Cover the cardboard with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. (To help remove loaf from pan, place in a pan with hot water and refreeze before continuing.) Remove the plastic from the top of the loaf and invert the pate onto the cardboard and remove the remaining plastic wrap and pan. Place the pate on a rack with a tray or plate (or bowl) underneath to catch the excess chocolate. Pour the chocolate coating evenly over the pate, spreading with a spatula if necessary to coat the top surface and sides, and reserving the excess.


Return the pate on the cardboard to the freezer to set.

When the coating is firm, flip the pate so the uncoated side is up. Remove the cardboard.


Reheat the remaining chocolate coating and pour it onto the uncoated surface, smoothing with a spatula.

Return the pate to the freezer until ready to serve. To serve, slice the frozen pate with a thin-bladed knife into 1/2-inch slices (to make slicing easier run the knife under hot water, wipe dry, then slice.) (I find that by setting the pate out 5-10 minutes before slicing helps to prevent the coating from cracking.) Arrange each slice on a dessert place and let rest 4-5 minutes to soften slightly before serving.

Recipe from The Greenbrier Cookbook: Favorite Recipes From America's Resort.

Happy Valentine's Day!