Friday, September 30, 2011

Dim Sum, Japanese Gardens, and Screen Door

Writing the title of this post reminded me of the What Doesn't Belong? game. Screen Door is the correct answer.

My mom and I had quite the Sunday. We started the day at Fubonn, where I needed to go to pick up a Miracle gadget (see here) for a friend and get some ingredients for a curry. My mom was in awe of the place, and we spent a lot of time going up and down the isles looking at all the fascinating foodstuffs like bottled shrimp, sauces galore, enormous bags of dried mushrooms, and more noodle options than you would believe. I wish I had taken pictures.

After we had finished up shopping, we headed to Legin for some dim sum. I don't know what made us decide to have dim sum. I think we were discussing what we wanted to do on Sunday, and after choosing Fubonn and the Japanese Gardens as our activities, something Asian to eat just seemed right? We feasted on shrimp dumplings, Shaomai, shrimp and spinach dumplings, sticky rice, green beans, pork buns, Congee - a porridge, and for dessert, sesame balls. Delish!

With our tummies full to the brim, we headed into Washington Park to visit the Japanese Garden. I put the pictures at the beginning of the post because they're so pretty!

I haven't yet mentioned that Sunday was not a nice day. When we left Fubonn, it was raining sideways. Thank goodness the rain mostly stopped during our Japanese Garden visit, but it was still grey and cold out. It was perfect weather to curl up on the couch with wine, a blanket, and a movie, so that is exactly what we did. We watched Everything Must Go. We had both heard it was good, and Will Ferrell is in it, so it must be good. And it was good. But it's not a comedy. It is actually really depressing. You've been warned.

After the movie, we walked down the street to maybe my favorite restaurant in Portland, Screen Door. I had the fried chicken, my mom had the Screen Door plate - a combination of her choice of three sides - and she picked a beet salad, a roasted root vegetable dish, and cranberry beans.

Usually my mom and I are really sad when we say goodbye because we don't know when we will see each other again. This time it isn't quite so sad because my parents will be back in 2 weeks for the Portland Marathon. We already have our meals planned out, and this time I get to see my Dad's reaction to some restaurants he has never tried. I can't wait!

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oktoberfest and Grüner

I think that the weekends my mom comes to visit result in the best Princeton Eats Portland posts, and I know that is because my mom and I do some damn good eating. This past weekend was no different.

Friday night, a friend of mine and I picked up my mom and headed straight to Gustavs/Rheinlander for Oktoberfest. Not one of the three of us expected the festivities that were occurring in the tent covered parking lot adjacent to the restaurant - long tables packed with people guzzling beer out of 1.5 liter steins, a German band playing all the latest polka hits, sausages, pretzels, and fondue galore. Above are some pictures to give you an idea of how awesome it was.

We may have indulged in a bit too much beer, and had it not been for the sausages, pretzels, bread and fondue we ate, it might have been a rough Saturday morning. Instead, my mom and I hopped out of bed around 7am to run 10 miles. "Hopped out of bed" is not really what we did, but we did run the easiest 10 miles either of us have ever run. We agree that perhaps we hadn't yet metabolized all the alcohol from the night before making the run a bit easier. Who knows.

After the run, we wiled away the day eating and drinking and watching football, basically wasting time until dinner. Not to downplay the eating and drinking we did; we had a wonderful breakfast at Bakery Bar, beers at Migration, lunch at Pambiche, then more beers at Migration. Oh, and a hunt for remaining Missoni for Target stuff resulting in a THROW PILLOW for me! And my mom scored an adorable zig zag bikini bottom for $6.  Why it was marked down is a mystery.  A fantastic mystery.

Thank you to whoever returned this to the Mall 205 Target:

Then, the next event: dinner at Grüner. I have been hearing hype about Gruner for many months now, but this was the first chance I got to dine there. We started with a charcuterie plate consisting of, from top right moving clockwise, country pate, rabbit mortadella, salame gentile, liverwurst canapes, speck, spicy coppa, and house made pickles and mustard.

The speck was the star of the show. I have never had speck served like prosciutto. And, yes, I know speck is smoked prosciutto, but I usually see it diced and used in small amounts. Thinly sliced and served alone is a marvelous way to eat it.  Who knew?  The liverwurst canapes and the country pate came in a close second.

Next was frenched green beans, duck breast, blackberries, goat cheese, hazelnuts, black currant vinaigrette, and crisped shallots.  Absolutely delicious.

For the entree, we split grilled golden trout with a white corn ragout, crayfish sauce, and crisped speck and a mixed grill of sudan farms rack lamb chops and cevapcici - spicy slovenian lamb & beef sausages, cherry tomato-parsley salad, and cucumber-yoghurt salad with mint.

And this wasn't all the great food we ate.  Stay tuned for the rest of our eats!

Bon appetit.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tacos with Corn Salsa, Margarita(s), and New Shoes

I don't care what anyone says; I love Katy Perry's pink hair.  
Also, reading In Style was how I spent my evening.

I wasn't planning on blogging this week. I was in New Jersey and New York over the weekend, and I basically didn't sleep so I am in recovery mode (read: ordering pizza and concocting raggameals not fit for publishing).

Actually, I had planned on writing about the food I ate in New York City, but my phone died so I couldn't take any pictures except one of roasted peanuts I bought from a street vendor. As delicious as they are, I don't think I can build a post around roasted peanuts. Okay, fine, here's the picture.

But, Wednesday I went to the farmers market with Kate, and when I saw the huge barrel of corn priced at 5 for $2, I knew I needed to buy some. I haven't eaten much corn this summer because there hasn't been much of it around. In fact, I think the only corn I have eaten was in the sweet corn tomalito I made a couple weeks ago.

With my 5 ears of corn in hand, I quickly chose poblano peppers, heirloom cherry tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro for a corn salsa. I had leftover pizza at home, so I made some corn salsa yesterday to eat some with chips, and made easy ground beef tacos for dinner tonight.

I also made a margarita (we will see if that becomes plural) because this morning a friend at work planted the seed in my brain to do so. The margarita recipe is below, but if you are older than 16 and you don't know how to make one, I highly recommend you re-evaluate the choices you have made in your life up until now.  Seriously.  

Oh, and as I was making my margarita, I looked down and realized I still had my shoes on from work. Usually I take off my shoes the instant I walk in the door, but today for whatever reason, I've been tromping around in these brand new Sam Edelman wedges I snagged at the Rack last week. So, per Santina's request, here's a picture of my new shoes getting busy in the kitchen. I always rest my foot on the towel bar as I cook. (No I don't.)

Nasty raw blister on my heel courtesy of being cute instead of comfortable as I spend an entire day walking around NYC.

2 parts tequila
1 parts lime juice
1 part triple sec

Put all ingredients in a shaker with 3 - 4 cubes ice, shake, pour into a glass with a salted rim and garnish with a slice or round of lime.

Corn Salsa
5 ears of corn
2 poblano peppers
2 jalapeno peppers
1 pint cherry tomatoes, each tomato cut in half, or 1 large tomato, diced
A bunch of cilantro
2 limes

1.  This recipe is tastiest, in my opinion, if you roast the corn on a grill. I did not do so because I am lazy, but if you want to do so, peel back the husks, remove the silks, then close the husks again. Soak the ears in water for ~20 minutes, then place on the grill and grill until they're done. Move them around and rotate them, obviously. If you burn them badly, you grilled them too long. If the kernels aren't soft and a little blackened, you didn't grill them long enough.

If you're lazy like me, just remove the husks and silks and boil the corn in water for a couple minutes.

You can roast the poblanos on the grill too, or if you aren't using the grill method, roast them under the broiler until the skins are blackened. Then put them either in a sealed paper bag or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let them cool ~20 minutes. You can roast the jalapenos in the same way, if you want.

2. Once the corn is cooked in whatever method you chose, cut the kernels off the cob. Place kernels in a large bowl.

3. Once the peppers have cooled, remove the skin, de-seed them, and dice them. Dice up the jalapeno too, whether you roasted it or not.

4. Add the peppers and the halved tomatoes to the corn.

5. The cilantro is probably prettiest if you pick the leaves off the stems and add to the salsa that way, but the stems actually have really good flavor. I usually just tear up the top quarter or so of each sprig. Add as much cilantro as you want. I love cilantro, so I added a lot.

6. Squeeze lime juice over everything and mix.

7. Eat!

I am not going to put a recipe for tacos.  The tacos I made tonight are nothing special: browned ground beef piled in a corn tortilla with corn salsa, regular salsa, cheddar cheese, and sour cream.  Delicious, but how am I supposed to tell you how to make that?

Bon appetit.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Beef Panang Curry

The green papaya salad I made yesterday gave me a hankering for more Thai food. When I went to Fubonn to purchase the ingredients for the salad, I also stocked up on things like good curry paste and coconut milk. Since I have a ton of beef, as you know, and panang curry goes so well with beef, that is what I settled on for dinner.

I am tired, it has been a long week, and I need to pack for my upcoming trip to New Jersey, so let's get to business.

About 10 oz beef filet or tenderloin, thinly sliced
About 1/2 lb green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces 
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch strips
16 oz coconut milk, reserving 2 Tbsp for garnish
4 Tbsp panang curry paste (Mai Ploy brand is my favorite)
2 Tbsp palm sugar, grated
2 - 3 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 cup fresh sweet basil leaves
1 red chili, sliced
4 Tbsp coarsely ground peanuts

1. Put half of the coconut milk into a wok (Ideally a wok, though I don't own a wok, so I made the curry in pan.  How un-Asian of me.) and fry for 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the coconut oil begins to separate out.

2. Add the panang curry paste and fry for 1-2 minutes. Once the paste is cooked add the meat and cook until the outside of the meat is cooked.

3. Add the vegetables and rest of the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Simmer and add the palm sugar along the side of the wok until it melts and then and add the fish sauce. Stir to combine and then add half the basil leaves.  Cook until the veggies are at your desired doneness.

4. Turn off the heat and serve garnished with the red chillies, remaining basil leaves and remaining coconut milk.

Panang curry is traditionally meat only, but I was at the farmers market and couldn't resist getting some fresh veggies. 

We Americans don't care about bastardizing other cultures' food anyway, so add whatever vegetables you want. When I used to make curry on a regular basis, I would throw in whatever I had. It's a good way to get rid of veggies that are on the verge of going bad.

Also, I used beef round steak for the dish, sliced very thin. It is not ideal to use a tough cut like round, but sliced thinly, it works and tastes just fine. Tenderloin is expensive, and, in my opinion, it doesn't make sense to use it for curry. 

Bon appetit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Green Papaya Salad

It's a little weird that I am about to talk about cooking classes two days in a row. I have only taken four cooking classes in my whole life, and it just happens that two of them were in the last week. So here goes.

I heard about the Portland Culinary Workshop last winter and knew immediately I wanted to take a class. I mean, they have a turducken class. Any place that teaches turducken is alright in my book. I have been trying to fit a class into my schedule for months, and a couple of weeks ago when I saw that there was a Thai street food class on a night that I could attend, I signed up.

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you may have noticed that I do not specialize in Asian cuisines. The extent of my Asian cooking skills is as follows: peanut sauce, putting Sriracha on things, and curries made from store-bought curry paste. Oh, and my little sister taught me how to make fried rice recently. And I used to make Japanese food with some regularity, but haven't in years. It's strange that I can't/don't cook any Thai, Vietnamese, or Japanese food. Those cultures make some of my favorite foods.  Perhaps it has to do with the plethora of excellent Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese restaurants in Portland, but I have decided I am going to change things. The Thai street food class was my first step in doing so.

The menu of items we made, with their Thai names, is as follows:
- Green papaya salad (Som Tom)
- Chive cakes (Kanom Gui Chai)
- Crunchy prawn cakes (Gung Foi Tort)
- Grilled pork skewers (Muu Bing)
- Sticky rice with mango (Kao Niaw)

One of the best parts of the class? I can and will make everything on that list at home. And I have started with the green papaya salad.

Green papaya salad is on my top 5 list of favorite Thai dishes, but I have always been too intimidated by it to try to make it myself. Why spend hours julienning green papaya when I can have it ready for me to pick up in 10 minutes from Pad Thai Kitchen? Loyal readers, check out this gadget:

The only thing the in English on the package of the instrument, which I picked up at Fubonn, was its name: Miracle. And miracle is it. This puppy can be used to quickly and easily julienne green papaya, or anything else that needs julienning. Seriously, it is as easy to use as a vegetable peeler. It can also be used as a corer and a slicer. Brilliant.

Now that I have the Miracle, I don't know why I would ever get green papaya salad for takeout. Okay, yes I do. Two reasons: laziness and sticky rice. Unfortunately, sticky rice is not quick or easy to make. And as much as I love cooking, sometimes I do not want to bust out a mortar and pestle in order to eat dinner.

I have ranted enough, and I think it's time to tell you how to make it.

1. Shred/julienne one green papaya into a large bowl.  

If you can't find the tool I showed above, you can use the big grates on a cheese grater, julienne it by hand, or I hear some food processors and other gadgets can julienne. Or if your initials are SD, SB, or are a family member, I can run to Fubonn and get you the Miracle. If your initials are BK, go to Fubonn your own damn self and get one; you'll need to go to get a green papaya anyway. Actually, SB and family, you have more asian grocery stores near you than you could hope for, so you should be able to find one yourself.  SD, I'll get you one if you want one. Can you get a green papaya in the mid-west? Maybe you'll never need the Miracle gadget. My goodness, I need to get back to the recipe.

Green papaya salad usually has tomatoes, carrots, green mango, green beans and/or whatever other vegetable you want. I added halved heirloom cherry tomatoes and a formerly green mango that had ripened to a regular ripe mango and wouldn't really shred so I only added some of it to mine and ate the rest by itself.  

2. Grind about 3 large cloves garlic and 3 Thai chilies into a paste using a mortar and pestle. I only cut off the stem of the chilies and ground them seeds and all, and I actually used 5 chilies. I like my food spicy, obviously, so adjust to your taste.  

3. Grate about 2 Tbsp palm sugar, add to the paste in the mortar, and grind to combine. I added more like 3 or 4 Tbsp because I also like my green papaya salad sweet. You may be noticing that this recipe can be altered to suit what you like, so alter away.

3. Add the juice of one lime and about 2 Tbsp fish sauce to the mortar, and grind/stir to combine.

4. Pour the dressing over the shredded green papaya and other vegetables and toss. Add about 2 Tbsp coarsely chopped peanuts. Toss again to combine.

5. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for a while. I don't know how long is necessary. Mine was in there for about a half hour because I made the dressing and shredded the papaya and mango then ran to the store to get peanuts and tomatoes. You could probably eat it right away and it would still be delicious.

6.  Serve, ideally with sticky rice to dip into the dressing. As I mentioned earlier, sticky rice is not exactly easy to make.  It involves soaking rice for hours and steaming it in a special steamer. I'll do it someday, but tonight, I served with jasmine rice. Also, the salad is usually served on top of cabbage leaves. I forgot about this until I had already left the store, but I really wish I could have done it up right. Oh well.

Make this recipe, and you will be feeling like you no longer need to get green papaya salad from anywhere except your own kitchen.

I have sort of understatement babbled on in this post, but I have one more thing to talk about. The Missoni for Target collection that launched yesterday. I arrived at Target at 7.50 am yesterday morning in order to be there before the doors opened at 8. Shockingly, many other Portlanders had done the same thing. This was the first designer for Target collection that I have truly had to fight with other people for the things I wanted. Of course I went for the clothes first, and once I had snagged what I wanted there, wandered over to the housewares. I grabbed a couple platters thinking I would likely put them back, but after getting approval from Santina, I bought one. Okay, I bought two. But they're so pretty! And they will be the best thing to happen to this blog since the seahorse plates my older sister got me for Christmas, so I think they were a good buy.  And one is featured in this post, if you hadn't put two and two together yet.

Bon appetit

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Le Cordon Bleu Cooking Class: Appetizer Party

My wonderful parents got me cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu for Christmas last year. Le Cordon Bleu holds a series of non-professional classes for the general public, and my gift was to pick three to attend. I went to the Italian class in April, the French class in June, and this past weekend, I went to the "Appetizer Party" class.

It was a great class, perhaps my favorite of the three. There were only three students, and the chef teaching the class seemed genuinely interested in teaching us some good techniques.

The four appetizers we prepared were clam and corn fritters, stuffed figs with gorgonzola, prosciutto, & balsamic honey, panzanella crostinis, and "empanadas". I have quotes around empanadas because what we made only very loosely resembles any empanada I have ever made or eaten. Is it okay to put any dough around any filling and call it an empanada?  In my opinion, no. I am not mentioning those empanadas again in this post.

Clam and Corn Fritters

2 strips thick-sliced bacon
1/2 cup finely diced onion
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels, or thawed frozen corn
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 egg
8 oz beer
1 cup chopped clams (from four to six oz cans) drained
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon slowly until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Pour out enough fat from the pan to leave about 2 Tbsp behind. Finely chop the bacon and reserve.

2. Add the onion and cook over medium heat fro 2 minutes without browning. Add the corn and cook for 1 minute. Set onion and corn mixture aside to cool.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder until thoroughly incorporated.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and stir in the beer. Add the dry mixture from step 3 along with the chopped bacon, onion corn mixture, and chopped clams. Gently fold everything together until barely combined. Don't over-mix or the batter will become tough and gummy.

5. When ready to cook, heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Scoop individual portions of the batter into the hot oil; for bite size portions, use 1 Tbsp or for a more substantial size use a 1/4 cup measure. Cook until browned on the bottom and flip to brown the second side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

6. Serve with the following dipping sauce: combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning, 2 Tbsp finely sliced chives in a mixing bowl.  Keep cold until serving.

Stuffed Figs with Gorgonzola, Proscuitto, and Balsamic Honey

12 - 14 figs, cut in half
1 pack proscuitto
1/2 cup shallots, minced
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1. Make the balsamic honey: in a pot, sweat the shallows in the canola oil. Add rosemary, honey, water, and balsamic and reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.  Season with black pepper and salt to taste.

2. Stuff the figs with gorgonzola and wrap with proscuitto.

3. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 375 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes.

4. When the figs come out of the oven, glaze with the balsamic honey.

5. The figs can be served with mixed greens or arugula on a salad plate.  Drizzle a little balsamic honey on the greens.

Panzanella Crostinis

1 French baguette
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
2 cups diced tomato
1 cup diced seedless (English) cumber
1/4 cup diced Vidalia or other sweet onion
2 Tbsp capers, drained
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 bunch fresh basil
1 small head of romaine or green leaf lettuce

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

2. Slice baguette into 1/4 inch thick slices. Brush each side lightly with olive oil and place on a cookie sheet.  Place in the oven and bake until crisp and golden brown in color.  Remove and set aside.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the tomato, cucumber, onion, capers, vinegar, and oil and toss well to combine.  Season mixture with salt and pepper and let sit for 15 minutes to 1 hour on the counter to marinate.

4. When you are almost ready to serve, tear the basil leaves by hand into coarse pieces and fold into the marinated vegetables.

5. Separate the lettuce into leaves and cut or tear into pieces slightly larger than the size of the toasted bread crostinis.

6. Place a piece of lettuce on top of each crostini and top with a mound of the marinated vegetables. Serve immediately.

At the Le Cordon Bleu classes, way more food is prepared than is eaten, so we end up taking a lot home.  The chef teaching the class was smart about leftovers, and packed up things like unfried fritter dough, baguette, and baguette dough for us to cook and eat at home.  The pictures here are the result of that cooking at home.

Bon appetit.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pork Carnitas and Sweet Corn Tomalito

I made carnitas last weekend during the make-room-for-beef-in-my-freezer frenzy. This huge chunk of pork shoulder was taking up way too much room, so it had to be eaten.

I got a little over enthusiastic in the frenzy and ended up with a bit too much defrosted meat. Is it normal to be cooking steak frites and carnitas simultaneously? No. Is that what I did on Sunday evening? Yes. 

Thank goodness carnitas saves excellently. If you make more carnitas than you intend to eat that day, do not broil all the meat.  Save some of the un-broiled meat and the reduced braising liquid.  Then the next day (or the next or the next) warm up the liquid a little, toss some meat in it, and broil.  It's just as good as, and maybe better than, same-day carnitas.

I ended up eating carnitas all week.  I can't say I minded. 

A while ago a coworker and I were discussing Chevy's, and we both agreed that the sweet corn stuff they have is delicious. I wanted something to go with the carnitas tacos, and corn is really good right now, so I decided to make some. Apparently "Chevy's sweet corn stuff" is not the proper name for it; it is called sweet corn tomalito. 

3-4 pounds of boneless (or 4-5lbs of bone-in) pork shoulder
About 1/2 cup lard (or vegetable oil)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp cumin (freshly toasted and ground if you can--it does make a difference)
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup orange juice

1. Cut pork into 1-2" cubes, trimming large sections of fat off (we need fat for the flavor, so just cut off any really large pieces).

2. Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat with just enough lard to cover the bottom (about 1/2 cup).

3. Pre-heat oven to 300ºF 

4. Combine the salt, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder to make a spice rub.  Toss pork pieces with the spice rub. You can increase the amount of spice rub you make if you have more pork than called for in this recipe.

5. Brown the cubed pork well in the dutch oven, going in batches so there is only one layer of meat at a time.

7. When all the meat is browned, deglaze the pan's bottom with the orange juice, stirring to break up the brown bits. Put all of the meat back to the pan and almost fully cover the meat with water.

8. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven.

9. Stir the pot after one and two hours, the pork should be very tender towards the third hour. After about three hours, or until the pork is very tender, remove the dutch oven from the oven.

10. Remove all the pork from the dutch oven with a slotted spoon and put on a platter. Boil the braising liquid on the stove top to reduce.

11. After letting the pork cool for a few minutes, using your hands separate and discard any fat or gristle pieces that did not melt during braising. Tear the meat into smaller pieces.

12. Turn your broiler on to high and place a rack towards the top

13. Toss the now shredded pork with some of the reduced braising liquid (that should have boiled down significantly by now) and spread in a single layer on a sheet pan.

14. Broil the pork for approximately five minutes per side until the outside begins to carmelize.

15. Serve.

I made tacos with the carnitas, but you can use it any way you would like. For tacos, you will need these additional ingredients:

Corn tortillas
Green salsa
Sour cream

This is a super long post, but I will carry on. Sweet corn tomalito recipe below.

1/4 cup masa harina
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons milk

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the margarine, masa flour, and sugar until light and fluffy. In a food processor or blender, blend one cup of the corn kernels with the water and cornmeal just until smooth. Stir into the masa mixture. Mix in the remaining corn, baking powder, salt, and milk until the batter is smooth. Pour into a double boiler.  

2. Place the tomalito over a large saucepan of simmering water, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. (I don't have a double broiler, so I instead lined the steamer thing for my large stock pot with cornhusks and steamed the tomalito that way. Here's a picture.)

3. Steam for 50 to 60 minutes, or until firm. Check water occasionally, and refill if necessary. Stir pudding before serving to give it a consistent texture. 

4. Serve in small scoops.

This is one of the best meals I have made in a while, and I have been making some good meals.

Bon appetit.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

And then my freezer was full again

I picked up my 1/3 cow last night, and all the meat eating I did over the weekend paid off; all the beef fit in my freezer.  Just barely, but yay none-the-less.

Here is a list of the cuts I received:
1 brisket
1 flat iron steak
1 flank steak
1 package sirloin steak*
2 packages rib steaks*
4 packages T-bones*
5 packages cubed steak*
2 packages country-style short ribs**
3 packages soup bones***
1 rump roast
1 tenderloin
1 tri-tip
1 sirloin tip roast
3 packages stew meat***
29 packages ground beef****

* Each of these packages generally contain 2 - 4 steaks
** Each of these packages contains about 6 short ribs
*** I'd say 2 lbs for each package
**** Each package is 1 - 1.5 lbs

I have never cooked with a flat iron steak.  Any ideas?

Bon appetit

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Steak Frites (and a Missoni manicure)

America's Test Kitchen is a pretty amazing company, and their tweets lately regarding job openings are making me want to move to Massachusetts and test-cook for a living.  For now, I will just real-cook at home in Portland using their pre-tested recipes.

Steak frites is another recipe, like the Ultimate Chili, I spotted in a Cooks Illustrated magazine and have wanted to cook for a long time, but I have been afraid of frying.  After my total success with fried pickles and milanesas, I decided to give frying potatoes a try.

I actually combined two recipes for this recipe, Cook's Country Char-Grilled Steaks and America's Test Kitchen Steak Frites.  I didn't grill the steak, I pan fried it, but I liked the recipe's claim that my steak would have restaurant quality crust.  It did!

Steak frites should really be made with rib-eyes, but I only had T-bones left, so I made a T-bone.  The French would put their noses up to this, but I think the T-bone worked JUST FINE with the meal.

Also, I gave myself a Missoni inspired manicure over the weekend. Adiel over at It's because I think too much recently did a Kate Spade inspired manicure.  As I was browsing through In Style's September issue, I saw the Kate Spade ad that inspired Adiel, and just a few pages later was the Missoni for Target ad.  I thought, brilliant!  A Missoni manicure!  So I texted Santina to tell her about my soon to be Missoni-ed finger nails, and she replies, Ya, Adiel's are rad.  Adiel's?  That bitch stole my idea by thinking of it AND executing it before I could!  You can see my manicure below in the potato cutting picture.

Since this is a cooking blog, I will get back to talking about food now.

1 Rib-eye steak
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 large), scrubbed, sides squared off and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch fries
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 quarts peanut oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Herb Butter: 
(This is for 4 steaks, so change the quantity depending on how many steaks you are making)

tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
1 clove garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Combine salt and cornstarch. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and rub with salt mixture. Arrange on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet and freeze until steaks are firm and dry to touch, at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

2. Square the sides off the potatoes and cut lengthwise into quarter-inch by quarter-inch fries, like this:

This picture is included purely to show you my Missoni inspired manicure. The ring I am wearing is from BCBG. I don't really wear rings when I cook, but the spice shelf above my sink and cutting island holds many rings that I have taken off so that I won't get them wet and dirty while I cook. Just before I took the picture, I chose this snake ring off the shelf to make it look like I am well accessorized while I cook.

The above is the "squared off" potato.  Squaring it off makes it easy to cut the potato into quarter-inch by quarter-inch fries.

3.  Rinse cut potatoes in large bowl under cold running water until water turns clear. Cover with cold water and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

4. Pour off water, spread potatoes onto kitchen towels, and thoroughly dry. Transfer potatoes to large bowl and toss with cornstarch until evenly coated. Transfer potatoes to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and let rest until fine white coating forms, about 20 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven fitted with clip-on-the-pot candy thermometer, heat peanut oil over medium heat to 325 degrees.

6. Add half of potatoes, a handful at a time, to hot oil and increase heat to high. Fry, stirring with mesh spider or large-hole slotted spoon, until potatoes start to turn from white to blond, 4 to 5 minutes. (Oil temperature will drop about 75 degrees during this frying.) Transfer fries to thick paper bag or paper towels. Return oil to 325 degrees and repeat with remaining potatoes. Reduce heat to medium and let fries cool while cooking steaks, at least 10 minutes.

7. Make herb butter by combining all ingredients in a bowl.

8. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lay steaks in pan, leaving at least 1/4 inch between them. Cover skillet with lid, if you have one, otherwise cover with foil.  Cook, not moving steaks, until well browned, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip steaks and continue to cook until instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 120 degrees for rare to medium-rare, 3 to 7 minutes. Transfer steaks to large plate, top with butter, and tent loosely with foil; let rest while finishing fries.

9. Increase heat under Dutch oven to high and heat oil to 375 degrees. Add half of fries, a handful at a time, and fry until golden brown and puffed, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to thick paper bag or paper towels. Return oil to 375 degrees and repeat with remaining fries. Season fries with salt and serve immediately with steaks.

As you can see in the picture at the top of the post, my fries were not beautifully puffed and golden brown like they are supposed to be.  They were pretty tasty though.  And the steak was perfection.

Bon appetit.