Food Blog|Recipes|Product Reviws|Food Commentary|Long Island Food

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lunch Today: Pan Fried Smelts


I am posting this to encourage people to try some different ingredients more so than to post a recipe. Unless I am mistaken I do not think most of my friends and family eat Smelt on a regular basis. Maybe they should though. Smelts travel in schools around the shores of the cold waters of North America. They are a fresh water fish with a very mild sweet taste. They are usually enjoyed fried.


I simply mixed some flour with a little salt and dredged the fish shaking off excess flour. Then I added the filet's to a pan I had heating up with oil. You want to just coat the bottom of the pan and then add a little more oil after all I am pan frying not deep frying. Make sure the oil is hot. What I do is throw a little clump of flour in the pan, if it bubble vigorously around the flour that should be hot enough. Cook the Smelts three minutes on each side then transfer to a paper towel. I squeezed some lemon juice on them and dusted them with Old Bay Seasoning.


Tips:


*The Smelts I purchased were cleaned already but the spine was still attached. After the Smelts are cooked you can remove the spine with a fork rather easily.


*Don't be put off by eating the skin of this fish. Pan frying the fish makes the skin nice and crisy

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Shrimp And Grits




How yall doin? Tonight I made a classic southern dish, Shrimp and Grits. Though I did not make it in the traditional way I think it came out pretty good.


My wife and I were watching Anthony Bourdains: No Reservations recently and he was exploring the wonders of Charleston, South Carolina. During this show one of dishes he samples were Shrimp and Grits. Immediately I was intrigued by the combination of seafood and breakfast cereal. I googled a few recipes and I decide to ad lib a bit.




10 Cleaned Shrimp


Old Fashioned Grits(follow directions on carton for 4 servings)


1/3 cup sharp White Cheddar shredded


1 Orange Pepper diced


1 stalk of celery heart chopped


1 small Shallot chopped


1 clove garlic shopped


1 Splash Dry White Wine


Dashes of: Cayenne Pepper, White Pepper and salt


3 Tablespoons duck Fat




For the two or three people that read this blog regularly they might of read my duck breast recipe where I pleaded to save the rendered duck when they cook the succulent bird. Well I practice what I preach and implemented it in this dish. I figured this was good to do so in because I see a lot of recipes for this dish using bacon fat.


So I added the duck fat to a hot skillet and let it melt down a bit. I added the garlic and shallot to the skillet and cooked them for two minutes. I proceed to add the celery and the pepper and cooked them for about 3 minutes or so stirring occaisonally. Finally I added the shrimp,cayenne pepper,white pepper and a splash of white wine. Give it a few stirs and cover for a about three minutes or until the shrimp are done. You know a shrimp is done by its bright pink color and and it the way they curl up. Serve over the Grits


Now for the grits. Please do not buy either instant or quick grits at least for this recipe. I used Quaker Old Fashion Grits enriched with hominy, yeeee haaaaaaaa. I followed the directions for cheese grits on this box BUT I refused to use the processed cheese product it recommended on the box. I opted for some a White Vermont Cheddar that was aged for 14 months. I stirred the cheese into the grits one minute before the grits were do to be done with a drop of half and half.




*Obviously most people can figure out(maybe not Tom) that you do not need duck fat to make this. Subsitute it with oil you like or butter.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Product Spotlight: Recaito








Cilantro cilantro, where art tho cilantro? Actually it is in the international food section of your supermarket.




Using fresh herbs in dishes is always preferable but sometimes its not always cost effective. Many recipes call for small amount of fresh herbs but you cannot purchase herbs by the sprig and more times than not it winds up going bad(at least in my case). This is where a product like Recaito comes in handy. Recaito is a cilantro(aka coriander) cooking base made by the Latin food moguls Goya. This is a very useful product to have laying around because a lot of recipes call for cilantro. It works great in dishes that require Cilantro, such as Guacamole and Pico Di Gallo. Also it works well with rice. Mix in it in with some white rice to give it a more refined taste.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Shrimp w/Braised Bok Choy


Bok Choy has been grown in China since ancient times. It very high in Vitamin A, C, calcium and it is very low in calories. Even though it bears they bear no resemblance its is a relative to the cabbage. Bok Choy is used in soups, stir fries and in some cases salads. Tonight I gave it a quick braise served with shrimp.



2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 crush garlic clove

1 table spoon fresh shredded ginger

1 lb.(apporox) Bok Choy

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

12 shrimp cleaned



I made this dish in a wok. If you do not have one I would use a large stainless steel skillet. If you don't have that either please call your local pizzeria and order a pie for yourself.


When cooking Chinese food it very important to have your ingredients remeasured and ready to go. I had all the ingredients next to my stove in tea cups. You can also use shot glasses. Separate the leaves and clean them well. Cut the leaves into bite size pieces. Heat the wok until it gets really hot and add peanut oil, garlic and ginger then stir fry for 1 minute. Add the bok choy and shrimp and stir fry for 1 minute. Add sugar,water and a little bit of salt and pepper. Mix well and cover for 2 minutes. Give it a good stir and cover for 2 more additional minutes. Remove cover and stir in the sesame oil and oyster sauce. Serve with rice. Approx 2 servings

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Escarole And Beans


Sometimes its the simple things in life that bring a smile to my face. Enjoying a kung fu movie, a quiet evening at home with my wife or a plate of escarole. Escarole is staple in Italian cooking. Sometimes overshadowed by Broccoli Rabe, I find Escarole a very rustic and delicious vegetable that can stand up to many different preparations. For this particular dish I am making escarole with Beans or if you a are paisan you can call it Shcarole with Beans.



1 head escarole

3 gloves of garlic thinly sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 of cup vegetable stock(or chicken)

1/3 cup canned garbanzo beans drained(chick peas)

Dash of red pepper flakes(optional)



Trim the escarole and discard any bruised leaves. Cut off the bottom of the stems. Separate the leaves and wash thoroughly under cold water. Wash one leaf at a time and make sure you get off all the dirt, especially in the center of the leaf where the soil builds up. Do not take any shortcuts when washing the leaves otherwise it will taste like you made your escarole at the beach. Stack the leaves and cut them into bite size pieces.


In large pot heat up the olive oil and add the garlic and red pepper. Cook the garlic on medium heat until the garlic start to add. Add the escarole, stock and the beans and stir well. Cover and cook for about fifteen minutes or until the escarole is tender. This is good for about two servings or if you are a gavone like me one serving.


Its ok to serve escarole hot or at room temperature.


Tips:
* I like adding stock to my greens because it really softens them up and adds a lot of flavor. You can make this exact recipe however without stock and it will turn out just fine.
* Substitute the garbanzo's with canellini beans, or don't use any beans at all if you desire


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Portobello Mushroom / Pastina with Ricotta and Peas


I am far from a vegetarian but sometimes its nice to have something for dinner that never had a mother. Tonight I prepared portobello mushrooms with pastina with ricotta cheese and peas. The pastina dish is a nice comfort food on a cold night and the portobello is a formidable substitute for meat.


In case you do not know pastina is probably the smallest pasta you can buy and is primarily used in soups. I brought four cups of water to a boil and added 1/2 cup of pastina. Cook them for five minutes and drain. Reserve some of the pasta water to add to the dish if it dries out. I used frozen peas for this recipe. Frozen peas more so than any other vegetable freezes very well. I actually steamed them over the pasta for five minutes while it was boiling and it worked out pretty good. After the pastina is cooked drain it and add to a large bowl. Stir in the peas, a generous pat of butter and two tablespoons of ricotta cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


I had purchased two portobello mushroom caps for this meal. When buying portobellos make sure the caps have no soft spots on them and the have no odor. Mushrooms are primarily made of water and when they start turning they smart smelling rather foul. First step is to gently remove the stem from the bottom of the cap and give it a good wash. I try not to saturate mushrooms when I clean them because the are like sponges and they will take in a lot of water. I usually clean them with a damp paper towel. Place the mushrooms in a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil(not extra virgin). Roll the caps around in the oil so the whole surface from top to bottom is coated. Place the cap topside up and give it a good dose of salt,pepper and thyme. Place in the oven and roast it on 425 for fifteen minutes.

Tips:

*Portobellos give off a water when cooking they will shrink considerably when cooked. For that reason I try to find large caps.

*Pat the bottom of the mushroom cap before plating to absorb excess liquid.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Seared Duck Breast w/ Apricot Glaze


Welcome quack everybody. Ducks really do have a soft spot in my stomach. Their crispy skin and gamy taste really does it for me gastronomically. Because of the aforementioned gamy taste duck is usually prepared in a sweet fruit sauce.

Tonight I prepared a boneless duck breast with a quick and easy apricot glaze. First step is to rinse the breast and pat dry. With a sharp knife make vertical scores through the skin without cutting the meat. Make one every inch or so. This helps render the fat during cooking for a more crispy duck. Heat up skillet on medium high without any oil. Place the breast in the skillet skin side down for eight minutes. You might want to put a splatter shield over your skillet because things could get messy with all that yummy duck fat frying. After the eight minutes is up flip the breast over for another four minutes and remove from the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Let the breast sit for a few minutes before slicing.

For the sauce heat up a drop of olive oil(not extra virgin) in a small sauce pan and add one finely chopped garlic clove. Cook the garlic for two minutes and add 1/4 cup orange juice and two tea spoons of apricot preserves. Add a dash of allspice,cayenne pepper and cilantro. Bring to a boil stirring often then lower the heat. Let the mixture blend and thicken and pour over the breast.

Tips:

* They say you should serve duck medium rare but I prefer medium and that is how I prepared it. If you want to serve it medium rare cut a minute off cooking time one each side.

*After you are done cooking the duck you are going to have a skillet full of duck fat. Please do not throw this away. Duck fat is a prized cooking agent and you can even buy it by the tub online. Use it instead of oil or butter next time you cook a savory dish. But if you insist on discarding please do so correctly. I moonlight as a Duck Fat Collector(DFC) and I can come to your home or office to collect your duck fat. Email me at nonicetime@gmail.com for details and collection hours.

*For the sauce you can subsitute the Allspice with Nutmeg. Also the cayenne pepper is optional I just like the sweet heat.

* Apricot Glaze is great on chicken too


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Pear, Avocado and Arugula Salad




Lots of times I've wandered the produce department trying to imagine different flavor and texture combinations to create a great salad. Sometimes they are a hit and sometimes they are just OK. Regardless on how it turns out it's a healthy and easy way to explore different ingredients. Tonight I think I made a pretty good salad, at least good enough to be blog worthy.




When I am creating a salad the first thing I like to decide on is what type of green to use. For this particular salad I choose Arugula which is probably my favorite salad green. Arugula has such a nice peppery/earthy taste I find it hard to pass up. Next thing I grabbed was a Avocado. I appreciate Avocados for there smooth cool texture and subdued taste. I consider them natures answer to butter. I picked one that was just barley firm because I knew I wasn't going to use it for a couple of days. When buying an Avocado always grab a lime to counteract the oxidation process. Since I had two soft ingredients in my salad I needs some items with a more crispy texture. Why not a pear? Pears like Apples are a great fruit to add to salad and their natural crisp will match up nicely to a Avocado. At some point and time I had Pears and Blue Cheese together and it was a great match so I grabbed a tiny block of moldy goodness to crumble on my salad. Realize I said I grabbed a block. I see pre-crumbled Blue Cheese in the supermarket all the time(as well as feta). Have Americans become so lazy that they cannot crumble their own cheese now? When buying a salad items try to purchase ingredients that have had as little manufacturing as possible. Stay away from precut vegetables and fruits for optimum freshness. Last thing I bought was Pine(or Pignoli) Nuts. Pine Nuts are great as is but when you toast them lightly it really brings out a more nutty complex flavor and it really makes a nice salad topping.




Tonight my wife went to Chili's of all places with her friends so this turned out to be a dinner for one so I decided not to measure anything. First I prepared the Arugula. Tear the green leaves from the tough bottom stems and give them a nice wash and put in a salad bowl. Pour a couple of tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a separate bowl and add a fair amount of salt and pepper. Whisk in the juice of a half lime until it is well blended. Next remove the flesh from the Avocado. Here is a nice way of peeling a pitting the vegetable:http://lancaster.unl.edu/food/ciq-avocado.htm. I then cut the Avocado into little cubes and put it on top of the Arugula and squeezed some lime juice on them. Next I washed and sliced my Pear and added to the top of the salad. Next I cut a couple of rings Red Onion that I already had and added that along with some Blue Cheese that I crumbled gently with my fingers. Finally I topped it off with some Pine Nuts I lightly toasted in a skillet. You just want to brown them slightly not burn them.

*FYI- Though Avocados are very healthy they are high in calories so this recipe may not suit you if you are on a diet



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dinner Tonight:Parmesan Crusted Chicken




Are you tired of chicken cutlets? Yes the mundane meal is reliable and always a winner but sometimes you need to switch things up. This recipe is a nice break from your everyday egg wash and bread crumb coated chicken cutlets.


I made this meal on the fly so I do not have exact measurements but it is easy enough to make. I lined up three shallow bowls. One had a even mixture of flour and finely grated parmesan cheese, the other had egg whites with a dash of dried basil and the last had coarsely grated parmesan cheese and I arranged them respectively. I then rinsed and patted dry some chicken cutlets. Heat up a couple of table spoons of olive oil(not extra virgin) in a skillet. Dredge the chicken in the flour cheese mixture shaking off the excess. Then dip the chicken in the egg white mixture and finally roll it around in the coarsely grated cheese. Cook the cutlets a few minutes on each side until each side is golden brown and serve immediately.
I steamed some broccoli florets for about six minutes and seasoned them with lemon juice and Chinese five spice.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Chicken Oreganata w/ Broccoli Rabe




Chicken Oreganata is a classic Greek dish that is tasty,healthy and easy to make. The blend of garlic, lemon and oregano really match well together. Tonight I used chicken breasts but this recipe works very well with other cuts of the chicken.


3 boneless and skinless Chicken Breasts



4 garlic cloves chopped



1 teaspoon dried oregano



Juice of one lemon



1/3 Cup Olive Oil(not extra virgin)






Put chopped garlic,oregano, lemon juice and oil into a large freezer bag. Rinse the chicken off and pat dry. Add the chicken into the bag and give it a couple of good shakes to blend all of the ingredients together. Put the bag into a bowl(just in case the bag leaks) and refrigerate overnight. If you want to make this recipe in the same day you can get some good flavorful chicken by just marinating a few hours.






Remove chicken from the bag and discard the marinade. Set your grill for medium high and let it get nice and hot. I usually don't put anything on my grill until the barbecue temperature reaches around 450 degrees. By doing so you will guarantee some nice grill marks on your chicken. Cook the breasts about 7 minutes on each side depending upon the thickness. Add a little salt and pepper to taste right after you take them off. The rule of thumb is to cook chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees. I like to take them off when the reach about 160 because the meat will continue to cook after it is removed from the flame. This will prevent the breasts from having a dry texture. I sliced the chicken into strips and served.


If you ask five people how to make broccoli rabe you might get five different answers. Some say you must blanch(quickly boil) some say not to. Some may tell you to peel the stem some will say not to. Even this blogger hasn't really decided the 'best' way but I can tell you it turned out pretty good tonight.




1 bunch broccoli rabe


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


3 garlic cloves sliced


1/3 cup chicken broth


1 dash of white cooking wine


1 dash red pepper flakes


First thing I did was fill my sink with water and put the BR(broccoli rabe) in to let a soak for a few minutes to clean it. I got some water boiling in the meantime to blanch the BR. Once the water started a nice rolling boil I added the BR and boiled it for 3 minutes. While the BR is boiling get a large bowl of ice water ready. After the three minutes is up remove the BR from the boiling water and place it in the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.


Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet and add the garlic. Once the garlic starts to get brown on the edges add chicken stock and the wine. Bring the liquid to a boil and lower the heat and add the BR and cover. Let it cook for about five minutes. Remove cover and cook for another five minutes stirring the BR here and there. When most of the liquid is evaporated and the BR is nice and tender remove and serve. I added a little red pepper flake but the is totally optional.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Atlantic City Restaurant Reviews : Mia and Red Square

Atlantic City (or A.C .as I call it) is a destination I have been traveling to for over 10 years now. In the past I went to A.C. to try to win some money on the tables and possibly get a buzz off of watered down casino drinks. To this day I am not sure what is more difficult. One thing I never went to A.C. for is the food, though biscuits and gravy at 6 in the morning can be quite a gastronomic experience. As the years went on and possibly to mimic Las Vegas A.C. has some pretty swanky restaurants even some owned by celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck. In my most recent trip I dined in two different restaurants Mia and Red Square.


Mia describes itself as a Mediterranean Bistro and it is located in the lobby of Caesars. It boasts forty foot ceilings with columns and it is a real treat for the eyes.



For a appetizer I had a seafood salad with scallops, shrimp,mussels and some calamari. The menu said it was suppose to have white anchovies and much to my dismay I didn't detect any. It was a decent starter.



My wife on the other hand didn't fare as well. She had the 'Black Label' Prosciutto di Parma with Italian Long Horn pepper and Estate bottled Olive Oil. Ordering a prosciutto dish should be a pretty safe choice but they managed to screw it up. First of all the Italian long horn pepper had about 1000 seeds in it and was way too spicy. It totally shocked the palate. Also the so called 'Estate Bottled' olive oil made the prosciutto too oily. One last thing I had one piece that was so tough it was inedible.




Things got better with the main courses. I had a dish that might have been one of the best fish dishes I had ever had. The menu description is Crispy Branzino w/ Lobster Fergeola Sarda, Fennel Confit, Olive Tepenade. Sounds like a bunch of culinary mumbo jumbo but the combinations worked well. The skin of the Branzino was very crispy and the meat was succulent and sweet. The briny taste of the olives was nice with the crispy skin, almost like a nautical potato chip. The lobster and the fennel also worked well and the Fergeola,which is a small pasta, added a nice texture. Bravo Mia! Bravo!




My wife had the Fillet Mignon w/ Crab and Scallion Barlotto, Portabello Mushrooms and Merlot Wine Sauce. She thought it was on the salty side but enjoyed it. I tasted it and thought it was OK. Had better had worse.






For desert we had a trio of creme brulee. If memory serves me correctly the flavors were pistachio, vanilla and hazelnut. I thought the pistachio was above average.


All in all Mia was a nice restaurant and I probably would return but there are other places I would like to try first.





Next up was Red Square. I first tried Red Square in 2003 in it Las Vegas location at Cesars. I ordered a Dirty Martini and they served it with Blue Cheese stuffed olives. Needless to say it was love at first taste. I later found out they not only exceled in Martini's but their cuisine is quite impressive as well. Since that time I discovered that Red Square had a location in the Tropicana in A.C. and I 've dined there several times and have recommended it to friends and family.







Red Square is a very unique Russian themed restaurant. Outside of the restaurant there is a huge statue of Lenin holding a martini glass. The lighting throughout the restaurants is tinted red. This may sound annoying to some but it adds to the ambiance of one of my favorite dining establishments. There is a bar that is made partially of ice and has a vodka selection that would make even the most avid vodka connoisseur blush.







For a appetizer I had the Fois Gras which is a very controversial item. The process to make it is considered cruel and it is even banned in some cities in America. I figured I am in A.C. a place where people lose thousands every second, a place where hookers still proudly walk the streets and a place where you can order a transvestite to your room 24 hours a day. With that being said I think eating a little piece of duck liver is not a crime and I did so with no regret. The tiny morsel of buttery heaven was served with a piece of bacon, apple french toast, a baked apple,balsamic syrup and apple jam. The piece of Fois Gras could've been bigger but otherwise it was very well done.






My wife opted for the Lobster Bisque which she boldly called the best she ever had. I tasted it and it was very good. I tasted some Truffle Oil in it which I think added a nice flavor to the bisque.




I usually order the duck at Red Square but this time I tried something different. One of the specials was a bacon wrapped Sturgeon. Years ago I had Sturgeon in Vegas and it was one of the best pieces of seafood I ever had. I decided to try it at Red Square. It was very good though not as good as I remembered. It tasted very similar to salmon. The tender juicy fish was served on a bed of Peruvian purple potatoes.



My wife usually orders a Fillet Mignon but she had it at Mia the night before. She decided on the Beef Stroganoff. Here is the description cut and pasted of their website(sorry Im lazy) :fillet mignon tips with strozapretti pasta, ragout of mushrooms & peas, shoestring potatoes, creme fraiche. I was curious to see how such a pedestrian dish would taste in a nice place like Red Square and it did not disappoint. It was very rich however and we wound up taking it back to the room where it would get devoured later on in the evening.




We did not order dessert.
It was a nice little getaway and what we lost in money we gained in calories. We will return soon.

Dinner Tonight: Turbot/ Creamy Orange-Basil Sauce


By the look and sound of this dish it sounds rich but it's actually relatively low calorie due to the ingredients that I used. I used Turbot fillets for this recipe but if I were to make it again I would use a fish in steak form like Chillean Seas Bass or Haddock. The ingredients I used are:

2 Turbot fillets approx 3/4 of a pound
1/3 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup orange juice
1 shredded carrot

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 heaping tablespoons light cream cheese

1/3 cup light cottage cheese

2 teaspoons flour

Place the cream cheese in a small bowl and set aside to soften. In a large skillet stir together stock, o.j., carrot and basil. Cover and bring to a boil then add the fish. Lower the heat and simmer the fish until it flakes easily with a fork, 5 minutes or so. Carefully transfer the fish to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm


Stir the cottage cheese and flour into the cream cheese. Add about a 1/3 of the cooking liquid and stir. Add the cream cheese mixture to the remaining liquid to the skillet and simmer for a couple of minutes stirring often. Spoon the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.

For the sides I simply used store bought spaetzle and green beans I french cut and boiled.

Tips:




* If you don't have basil you can use any herb like thyme, oregano or dill.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions and Gouda Cheese


Caramelized Onions are a very easy and savory addition to a variety of meals. Like I said it's easy to make but it takes a little time to get them perfect.

I first peeled and chopped one yellow onion into strips approx. 1/2 inch long. I heated olive oil in a large non stick saucepan. I used enough oil to coat the bottom plus about a tablespoon more. Let the oil get hot then add the onions. Stir the onions around so all of the pieces get covered with oil. Then I added a couple of tablespoons of white cooking wine. Stir the onions every few minute. After about 15-20 minutes the water in the onions will have completely evaporated and the sugar in the onions will begin to caramelize. You want the onions to get a nice golden brown color to them. When they are done transfer them onto a plate and set aside.

For the chicken I used thin sliced cutlets. Rinse the chicken, pat them dry and add salt and pepper. Break one egg into a bowl add a touch of milk and beat with a fork. Heat up about a tablespoon of oil into a skillet and let the oil heat up. Dip the chicken in the egg batter allowing the excess batter to drip off and add to the skillet. Cook the cutlets until they are nice and brown on both sides.

For this recipe I used a nice imported Gouda Cheese that I shredded. I put a layer of onions over the cutlets. I used just enough onions to cover the top of them. I proceeded to added the cheese on top of the onions. Heat up your broiler on high and put the chicken underneath the broiler until the cheese starts to bubble and remove immediately and serve.
I served this with a warm baby spinach salad. In a skillet heat a 2 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil. After the oil is heated up add one bag of washed baby spinach. Add a few drops of soy sauce and a tablespoon of cider vinegar. Toss the spinach until it starts to wilt a bit, remove and plate.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Infrared Grilled Steak w/ Glazed Carrots & Sugar Snap Peas






Why is it so hard to make a steak at home at the same level you would get a high end steak house? One reason of course is the quality of the steak but I will get into that another day.
The other reason high end steak house's steaks are so good is because they are cooked in ovens that generate heat that home ovens and grills simply can't duplicate. Take for instance the popular steak house chain Ruth Chris. Their steaks are cooked in ovens that go up to 1800 degrees. Cooking steaks in temperatures that high instantly chars the outside of the steak creating a shell that will keep the juices sealed inside. The result a delicious steak cooked well on the outside but still rare and juicy on the inside.


Just recently infrared burners are becoming readily available on house hold grills. I have a Perfect Flame grill from Lowes that has three normal burners and one infrared burner. Infrared burners can reach heats greater than 700 degrees and will cook a one inch steak in minutes perfectly charred on the outside and juicy and rare on the inside.


Tonight I prepared a shell steak or a strip steak on my grill. First I applied a dry rub consisting of brown sugar,paprika, white pepper, salt and touch of cayenne pepper. I rubbed this mixture on both sided of my steak. I then started my infrared burner on high and let it heat up for two minutes and then threw my steak on it. I left it on for two minutes and then flipped it over and cooked it two more minutes. The outcome is perfectly cooked juicy medium rare steak.


For my vegetable side I peeled and sliced two small carrots length ways into approx two inch pieces and added to boiling water. I let that cook for three minutes and added a hand full of peas and boiled for one more minute. I then put the veggies into a colander and ran it under cold water to stop the cooking process. I then added a tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of brown sugar and a pinch of fresh minced ginger to a sauce pan with a splash of water. After the brown sugar was dissolved in the mixture I added the veggies to the saucepan and cooked for about six minutes.

Tips:

* Always let the steak rest before you cut it. The juices need to redistribute throughout the steak. Let it rest for at least for five minutes if not longer

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Tofu Stir Fry




Tofu. Either you love it or you hate it. I must admit at one point in my gastronomic life I too shunned the spongy white bean curd but now I am tofu admirer. Even my wife who does not like Asian food of any sort is beginning to change her tofu hating ways. Below is a recipe for what I had for dinner tonight. I am going to list the ingredients that I used but feel free to use whatever you have in the fridge.



1 14 oz package of extra firm organic tofu drained and cut in cubes
1 bunch of shitake mushrooms sliced(approx 12)
1 hand full of pea pods
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 small shallot
1 pinch of minced fresh ginger
1 hand full of chopped bell pepper
2 small organic carrots peeled and chopped
1 dash of sherry
1 squirt of mustard
2 dashes of soy sauce
1/2 of cup of chicken stock
3 tablespoons of canola oil
1 tsp of corn starch dissolved in a little cold water

Before cooking tofu you must drain it. Place the tofu block on a plate and then place another plate on top of the tofu. After that place something heavy like a can of soup on the top plate to apply pressure on the tofu. Leave it for 20 minutes then dice it.
Add the oil to a hot pan or wok and let it heat up on high heat until it is very hot. Add the tofu and gently stir for few minutes until it gets a little browned and remove from pan. Add garlic,ginger and shallot and let them cook for a minute or so. Then add mushrooms, bell pepper ,carrots and pea pods. Lower the heat a little and cover for a couple minutes. Add sherry,soy sauce,stock,mustard and corn starch. Stir regularly and when the mixture starts to thicken add the tofu back in. Stir a few more times and serve the stir fry over rice or noodles.
Yields 2 to 3 servings

Tip:
*When stir frying it is very important to have all ingrients prepared and at arms length ready to be cooked

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Apple Cheddar Sandwich


After a hard day at work there is nothing like coming home to a nice apple sandwich right? As funny as it may sound this is actually a very delicious sandwich and its a nice change of pace from a hamburger. In this method I am using baby arugula and a curry mayonnaise to add extra flavor. Actually the marriage of the peppery arugula, the sweetness of the apple, and the sharpness of the cheddar with the spicy curry is quite complimentary.



Method:



Now, I just made one sandwich so I can not really give exact measurements but this is what I used. I sliced one Red Delicious Apple into thin slices. I discarded the slices with a lot of skin on them because I find the skin too chew. I sprinkled some lemon juice on the apple slices to prevent them from browning. After that I mixed a table spoon of mayonnaise with a dash of curry powder and a squirt of lemon juice. Please be careful with the curry a little of it goes a long way. Whisk the mixture together and spread it on the bottom of a roll. Place the arugula on top of the mayo mixture. I used enough arugula to completely cover the bottom of the roll nicely. Now its time to arrange the apple slices on top of the arugula. Apply the cheddar cheese on top of the apple slices. I like to shred the cheese first because it will melt more evenly.

Set your ovens broiler on low. Try to tuck the arugula underneath the the apples slices because they will burn when put underneath the broiler. Put the sandwich underneath the broiler until the cheese starts to bubble and remove immediately. If you want the top part of the roll toasted put it under the broiler for minute or so.

Tips:
*Substitute the arugula with watercress
*If not using baby arugula be sure to remove the stems from the leaves
*If you do like like curry try using cayenne pepper

First Post

This is my first blog and my fist post. I am not much of a talker but you may find some interesting content from time to time. Subject Matter will revolve around food,recipes, product reviews and general commentary
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