Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friday night Pho




The recipe for this meal is super long, so I'll keep my babbling to a minimum. I made stock early last week because, well, I don't have a reason why. My freezer is still pretty full, and I'll be getting a new third of a cow at the end of summer, so I need to get cookin', I guess. I wasn't sure what I was going to make with the stock, but I had pho in mind (see more on that below).


Pho is way easier than I thought it would be, though getting the broth just right is not easy (more on that below too).


Whatever, here's the recipe.


For beef stock:
2 medium yellow onions, chopped roughly
2 medium carrots, chopped roughly
4 stalks celery, chopped roughly
4-inch piece ginger, peeled
5-6 pounds beef soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones)
8 - 10 peppercorns


Note: the below is how I made my stock because I wasn't sure I was going to use it all for pho.  I made a semi-traditional brown stock.  To make a stock specifically for pho, do not roast the beef bones, do not add celery or carrots, and add 5 star anise, 6 whole cloves, and a cinnamon stick to the stock in the beginning.  If I was ever to make stock specifically for pho, I would probably make pork stock, actually.)


1. Roast the onion, carrot, celery, and ginger on a cookie sheet in the oven for 15 - 25 minutes. Use tongs to occasionally rotate them and to grab and discard any flyaway onion skin. You do not have to blacken entire surface, just enough to slightly cook them.  Roast the beef bones in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.

2. Place the roasted vegetables, beef bones, and peppercorns in a stock pot (minimum 12-quart capacity) and cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 6 - 12 hours.  In the beginning, skim off any fat and impurities from the surface of the stock.

3. Once done, strain the stock through fine strainer. Discard solids.

4. Cool the stock and refrigerate it overnight.  Makes about 4 quarts.


For pho broth:

1  1/2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 ounce (1-inch chunk) yellow rock sugar (duong phen; see Note)

1. Remove the stock from the fridge, and skim the fat off the top.


2. Ladle the amount of stock you intend to use into a large saucepan.  Add the salt, fish sauce, and sugar - but not all the quantity stated above unless you are using the all the stock you made, adjust the quantities to the amount you are using.  

3. Taste and adjust flavor with additional ingredients if you would like. The pho broth should taste slightly too strong because the noodles and other ingredients are not salted. (If you've gone too far, add water to dilute.)


For pho bowls:
1  1/2-2 pounds small (1/8-inch wide) dried or fresh banh pho noodles ("rice sticks'')1/2 pound raw eye of round, sirloin, London broil or tri-tip steak, thinly sliced across the grain (1/16 inch thick; freeze for 15 minutes to make it easier to slice)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Ground black pepper


Garnishes: 
Asian/Thai basil (hung que)
Bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound)*
Red hot chiles (such as Thai bird or dragon), thinly sliced
Lime wedges
Hoisin sauce
Sriracha


*I don't like bean sprouts so didn't include them, but it is traditional to do so.


The key is to be organized and have everything ready to go. 


1. Place the basil, sliced chiles, and lime wedges on a garnish plate.


2. Heat the pho broth (should already be heating) and ready the noodles. To ensure good timing, reheat broth over medium flame as you're assembling bowls. If you're using dried noodles, cover with hot tap water and soak 15-20 minutes, until softened and opaque white. Drain in colander. For fresh rice noodles, just untangle and briefly rinse in a colander with cold water.


3. Blanch noodles. Fill 3- or 4-quart saucepan with water and bring to boil. For each bowl, use long-handle strainer to blanch a portion of noodles. As soon as noodles have collapsed and lost their stiffness (10-20 seconds), pull strainer from water, letting water drain back into saucepan. Empty noodles into bowls. Noodles should occupy 1/4 to 1/3 of bowl; the latter is for noodle lovers, while the former is for those who prize broth.


4. If desired, after blanching noodles, blanch bean sprouts for 30 seconds in same saucepan. They should slightly wilt but retain some crunch. Drain and add to the garnish plate.


5. Add other ingredients to the bowl. Place slices raw meat atop noodles. Garnish with chopped cilantro (thinly sliced onion and scallions are other garnishes, but I don't like either). Finish with black pepper.


6. Bring broth to rolling boil. Check seasoning. Ladle broth into each bowl, distributing hot liquid evenly so as to cook raw beef and warm other ingredients. Serve your pho with with the garnish plate.


I think my first foray into pho was a success. I am spoiled here in Portland with a vast number of excellent pho places, and the fact that mine even semi-stood up made me happy. 


Here is the pho I ate while watching baseball last Friday night. A fine Friday night indeed.




Bon appetit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Beef Panang Curry



I know, I know, I already posted a beef panang curry recipe (here). I wouldn't have posted this meal except that I tried something a little bit novel, at least for me, and it turned out spectacularly.


Here's how it went down: I took a pack of beef stew meat out of my freezer on Sunday so that I could make chili on Monday. Monday, I got home from work and headed directly to the store to get the ingredients I needed for the chili. I was planning on making my regular chili recipe, a recipe I basically know by heart. I got home from the store and realized I forgot two key ingredients: onion and beer. 


Loyal readers, you know I have a busy life. When I get home from work, I am tired. Going to the store once is an ordeal, and twice is impossible. I was left with two options: make something different with the stew meat or make chili another night, but I have plans for Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and am likely leaving for Chicago on Friday evening. I don't want to make chili on Wednesday if that's the only night I'm home to eat it. So I had to figure out something else to make.


Whenever I don't know what to make with a certain ingredient I google "[whatever ingredient] martha stewart recipe" and on the rare chance I don't quickly find something that looks good, I will google "[whatever ingredient] recipe".  Martha failed me this time, but one of the first recipes I found with "beef stew meat recipe" was for beef panang.  Beef panang with stew meat?!? you say? I KNOW. But check this out:


~1 pound beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
~2 Tbsp panang curry paste
1 can coconut milk
~1 Tbsp fish sauce
~1 Tbsp shaved palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
Some basil leaves


1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the beef, reduce heat so that the water is simmering, and cook the beef for about an hour and a half, until the meat is tender.  Drain the meat*, and put aside.


2. Heat the vegetable oil in whatever you're going to make the curry in. I used the gorgeous All-Clad saute pan my parents got me for my birthday.  Thanks Mom and Dad!


3. Add the curry paste, and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, then add the coconut milk and stir to combine.


4. Add the meat and bell pepper. Add the fish sauce and palm sugar. I don't measure either of these ingredients, so the quantities listed above might not be correct.  I'd say start with less, and add to your taste.


5. Simmer until the bell peppers are at your desired tenderness.  Add the basil leaves.


6. Serve over rice.


* The broth that is left after boiling the meat is delicious. I was effing starving while cooking this meal, so on a whim I spooned some of my already cooked rice into a bowl and poured the broth over it for a snack while the curry finished cooking. It was a fantastic snack. I saved the rest of the broth so I can pull that move again.


So, ya, boiling the meat first makes it super tender, and it soaks up all the delicious curry flavor. Very delicious.


Bon appetit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thai Street Food




It's been a long time since I have seen your smiling faces, loyal readers. It's been a rough spring in terms of getting regular free time, so though I have been cooking here and there, I just haven't had time to tell you about it.  I think I will be in town, at least during the week, for most of the summer, so I am back. Hopefully.


Remember last summer when I took the Thai street food class at the Portland Culinary Workshop (check out the green papaya salad)? Well, here are a couple more recipes from that class. I made this meal sometime in April, I think. 


Grilled Pork Skewers (Muu Bing)


10 oz pork loin, butt, neck, etc (I used a shoulder steak)
1/4 bunch cilantro
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp shaved palm sugar
Dash of soy sauce
Juice from one lime
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
About 1/4 cup coconut cream to brush onto skewers while grilling


1. Make a marinade: using a mortar and pestle, pound the sugar, salt, pepper, and cilantro to form a paste.


2. Combine with soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, and oil. Stir together well.


3. Slice the pork into very thin and combine with marinade. Let marinate for 3 hours.


4. Skewer the pork on soaked bamboo skewers.


5. Turning often, grill on a charcoal or gas grill, brushing with coconut cream. This should take about 10 minutes on a medium hot grill.


6. Enjoy!


Sticky Rice with Mango (Kao Niaw)


1 1/2 cups sweet rice
3 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
2 fresh mangos
1/2 cup coconut cream
2 pandan leaves, tied in a knot (I almost always omit this because it's not something readily available in the supermarket)
2 tsp vegetable oil


1. In a medium sauce pan, heat oil and gently toast the rice.


2. Add the coconut milk, water, pandan leaves, sugar, and salt, and stir well. Let simmer for about 20 - 25 minutes until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is cooked through.


3. Remove the pandan leaves, taste the rice for level of sweetness.


4. Stir in the coconut cream. Serve with sliced mangos. 


Bon appetit!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chinese Sizzling Rice Soup with Pork Stock



My freezer is packed tight now that I have my 2012 pork. Because I need to keep more than just beef and pork in my freezer, I desperately need to make some room. Since I just took the Stupendous Stocks class at Portland Culinary Workshop, I decided to use my new skills and make pork stock.

8 lbs pork soup bones
1/4 lb carrots (about 3), roughly chopped
1/4 lb celery (about 4 stalks), roughly chopped
1/2 lb onion (about 2 large), roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
5(ish) black peppercorns


1. Caramelize bones in oven (30 - 45 minutes at 450F) on a cookie sheet. Deglaze the cookie sheet with about a cup or so of red wine.


2. Place bones to a large stockpot and add enough water to cover.


3. Bring to a simmer, skimming off foam and impurities.


4. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer on very low temperature for at least 8 hours.


5. Strain the stock through a fine mesh. Let sit until the fat has solidified on the top, and skim off.


6. Refrigerate.

I didn't know exactly what I wanted to make with the stock, but a soup seemed like the most obvious choice. During some down time at work, I perused many many recipes using pork stock until coming across a recipe for sizzling rice soup (which, by the way, did not call for pork stock). Sizzling rice soup is one of my favorite things to order at a Chinese restaurant, and it reminds me of my childhood. Why not give it a try?

1 cup uncooked white rice – should make 2 cups cooked
6 oz. fresh shrimp, de-shelled and de-veined
10 oz. skinless, boneless chicken pieces cut into chunks and cooked (saute or use leftover chicken) 
1 Tbsp cornstarch
8 cups lightly seasoned homemade pork stock (or use chicken broth)
2 cans sliced water chestnuts
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 cup snow pea pods, cut into 1 inch pieces
3/4 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp pepper (preferably white pepper but any ground pepper will work) 
4 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp soy sauce

1. Before starting to make the soup cook the rice. Then, spread cooked rice in a thin layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake about one hour at 300 degrees, turning the rice layer over after 30 minutes. (Ovens vary; you may need to bake a bit longer to get it crispy, but don’t let it burn.) Break rice apart and set aside. Fry and add to soup as directed.

1a. I saved the shells from the shrimp to simmer with the pork stock while the rice was baking. You don't have to do this, but it may or may not give the broth a more fishy flavor, in a good way. I sauteed the shrimp shells until pink in my Dutch oven then added half the stock. I simmered it for almost an hour, then strained the stock.

2. Mix together the chicken with half the cornstarch, sherry, ginger, and soy sauce in one bowl. Mix the shrimp with the other half of those ingredients in another bowl.  Set both these aside. 

3. Into the soup pot put the broth and water chestnuts. Bring to a boil, add salt and pepper. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 3 or 4 minutes. Add any fresh vegetables you are using.

4. Heat 3 Tbsp oil until hot in a frying pan; place rice in oil to brown.

5. Add chicken and shrimp mixture to hot broth; stir and return to a boil. If adding fresh shredded greens, now is the time!

6. Remove rice from oil with slotted spoon, drain very briefly on paper towels.

7. Carefully pour soup in large serving tureen – or just serve from the stock pot. Tableside, add rice to soup. If both are hot enough, your soup should sizzle. 

8. Dish into serving bowls immediately and enjoy!

This recipe turned out better than I could have imagined. It almost tasted like it does at a Chinese restaurant, except my rice didn't fry quite right. Also, I think I would omit the cornstarch, rice wine vinegar, ginger, and soy sauce marinade for the chicken and shrimp. Sizzling rice soup should have a delicate flavor, and the sweet/salty of the marinade threw it off a little. Other than that, delicious.

Bon appetit!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Irish Week (still?!?): Corned Beef Hash and a Reuben Sandwich


These pictures suck. I was much more concerned with eating than taking pics of the food this weekend. I apologize.

Making 4 pounds of corned beef for yourself means that you will have quite a bit of leftover corned beef. Hence, Irish week continues. 

Thank goodness there are a million ways to use leftover corned beef. And on Saturday, there sounded nothing better to a maybe slightly hungover me than consuming corned beef hash while watching NCAA basketball. So that's what I did.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 baking potatoes (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
8 oz shredded corned beef
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Heat oil in a 10- or 12-inch cast iron (or other non-stick) skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes; cook, turning often, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

2. Add onion; season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until potatoes and onions are browned, 5 minutes.

3. Add bell pepper, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until peppers are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in corned beef and cream until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Who needs to go out to brunch when something so spectacularly tasty can be made at  home???

Still left with quite a bit of corned beef, I made a Reuben on Sunday (while watching NCAA basketball, of course).


2 slices rye bread
1/4 lb corned beef, sliced thinly
3 slices Swiss cheese
Sauerkraut
Russian dressing
Butter


For Russian dressing:
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp ketchup
2 tsp dill pickle relish (I minced half a dill pickle instead of using relish because I don't have or like pickle relish.)
Salt and pepper


1. Combine ingredients for Russian dressing in a bowl.


2. Place corned beef, cheese and sauerkraut on 1 slice rye bread. Spread the Russian dressing on top and place the second slice of bread on top of that. 


3. Butter the outside of the top piece of bread, place in a pan (or a panini maker) to grill butter side down. Butter the top side, flip, and grill. 

Another wonderful corned beef meal. I am sad to say goodbye to Irish week, but it has to happen. Until next year...

Bon appetit.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Week: Corned Beef and Cabbage and Irish Whiskey Sours





There is no way that Irish Week could be complete without the classic corned beef and cabbage, so I saved the best for last. I also gave myself a St. Patrick's day manicure.


I have to admit, my version of corned beef is super lazy and consists of the following: buy and cook a package of corned beef from Trader Joe's. If I had a brisket in my freezer, I would have corned that beef myself, but since I didn't, I figured I'd just buy one pre-made. And I have had the Trader Joe's corned beef before, so I know it's good.

1 package Trader Joe's Corned Beef (or another pre-made corned beef, or make it yourself)
1 lb. baby potatoes
1 head cabbage, sliced into about eight wedges

1. Cook corned beef according to package directions. At the last hour of cooking, add the potatoes to the pot and continue to cook until the meat is very tender and begins to fall apart.

2. When the meat and potatoes are done, remove them from the pot and reserve the liquid. Place on a serving platter and cover with foil. Add cabbage to the reserved pot liquid and simmer for 15 minutes or until cabbage wedges are soft, but not quite limp (to preserve wedge shape). 

3. Remove the cabbage wedges from the pot and add to the serving platter. Serve warm. 

For my alcoholic beverage tonight, I thought Irish whiskey sours sounded delicious.


2 ounces Irish whiskey
2/3 ounce lemon juice 
1 teaspoon superfine sugar

Shake the whiskey, juice, and sugar well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass (unless you happen to have a Sour glass).

It's a meal fit for a leprechaun! And it was a great meal to eat while sitting in front of the TV watching NCAA basketball. My bracket looks pretty good...

Bon appetit!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Irish Week: Shepherd's Pie


Doing all this cooking this week for St. Patrick's has left me with quite a bit of leftovers in my fridge, but being the good single girl that I am, I planned ahead for that. What do you do with leftover stew and colcannon? Make shepherd's pie, of course!

Leftover Guinness Beef Stew
Leftover colcannon
Splash of milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Irish cheddar

1. Preheat the oven to 450F.

2. Warm up the colcannon in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Stir it and add some milk to make it less dry. Then stir in 1 cup of the cheddar.

3. Pour the stew into an appropriately sized baking dish. My 9x9 dish was perfect, and it using it saved me from doing dishes because I removed the colcannon from it and poured the stew right in.

4. Spoon the colcannon over the top of the stew, spreading to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar over the top.

5. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until the top is browned and the stew filling is bubbling. Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Those Irish sure do know of a delicious way to re-purpose leftovers!

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Irish Week: Colcannon and Guinness Ice Cream Floats




I have never made colcannon, but I knew that I needed a dish with potatoes and cabbage for Irish week, because what is more Irish than those two vegetables (or a tuber and a vegetable, whatever)? I like mashed potatoes, but I have never been blown away by them. Who knew that you could add cabbage and leeks to mashed potatoes and your world would change? I am telling you, I am never going to make mashed potatoes again. It is colcannon from here on out, because it is SO delicious. 


1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1 savoy cabbage, trimmed, pale-green leaves finely shredded (4 cups)
1 leek, pale-green and white parts only, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Coarse salt


1. Preheat broiler. Peel and quarter potatoes, and place in a medium saucepan; add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to saucepan. Mash with a potato masher or pass through a ricer; cover pan to keep warm.


2. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, combine cabbage, leek, milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and nutmeg; season with salt. Cover, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cabbage and leek is soft but not browned, about 15 minutes. Stir into potatoes.


3. Spread mixture in an 8-inch square baking dish. Make a small well in the center, and place under the broiler until lightly browned on top, about 5 minutes.


4. Remove from broiler. Place remaining 2 tablespoons butter in well. Serve immediately, spooning melted butter from well onto each serving, if desired.


By the way, you may notice in the third picture above that the leeks and cabbage are cooking in a large saute pan. That gorgeous All-Clad pan was a gift from my parents for my birthday. Despite today being its first appearance on this blog, it has been used well. I love it.

I don't make dessert very often (refer here for more info on that), but I happened to have vanilla ice cream in my freezer and left over Guinness. So Guinness floats! I will not post a recipe because if you can't figure out how to make a Guinness float, please don't ever touch anything in a kitchen. Or at least in my kitchen.


Bon appetit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Irish Week: Irish Soda Bread and Irish Coffee




Irish soda bread is an essential part of Irish cuisine. My grandmother, who was born and raised in Ireland, apparently has a great soda bread recipe, but I couldn't get my hands on it, so I used a Martha Stewart recipe instead.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, raisins, caraway seeds, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons butter. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients to form a dough.

3. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 4 minutes; add more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Form dough into a 9-inch round; place on prepared baking sheet. Brush loaf with remaining tablespoon butter. Using a sharp knife, score an X on top of loaf.

4. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on wire rack before serving.

If I didn't have to go to work, I would have eaten a couple slices of soda bread slathered in butter and drank Irish coffees for breakfast. I had never been a huge fan of Irish coffee, but then my little sister took me to The Buena Vista Cafe back in December. Their Irish coffee blew my mind. Here is the official Buena Vista Irish coffee recipe.



Hot coffee
2 sugar cubes
2 oz. Irish whiskey
Whipped cream

1. Fill glass with very hot water to pre-heat, then empty.

2. Pour hot coffee into hot glass until it is about three-quarters full. Drop in two cocktail sugar cubes.

3. Stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.

4. Add full jigger of Irish Whiskey for proper taste and body. 

5. Top with a collar of lightly whipped whipping cream by pouring gently over a spoon.

6. Enjoy it while piping hot. 

So, with my choices in coffee beans, coffee brewing method, and Irish whiskey, I definitely made the snobby version of an Irish coffee. Against my will, Portland has made me a coffee snob. When I shop for coffee these days, I know what region I want it to be from and I know I want it to be roasted locally. Gag. And as for the brewing method, the only way I have to brew coffee in my house is a French press. At this I do not gag because the French press makes the best coffee. Period. And it's no harder to make French press coffee than drip or whatever else. Lastly, the whiskey. I intended to buy Jameson's, but I happened to read an article today about the best Irish whiskeys. Since I obviously wasn't going to use all the whiskey for Irish coffee, I may as well buy something I will enjoy straight. Right? Right. So Redbreast Single Pot Still 12-year it was.

Instead of eating soda bread and drinking Irish coffee for breakfast, I ate and drank them for dinner. And man was it a good meal. Mmmmm. Long live the Irish.


Bon appetit.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Irish Week: Guinness Beef Stew and Black and Tans





Happy St. Patrick's Day week, friends! I am approximately half Irish, and in celebration of my peoples, I am going to make Irish food all week long. 


To start it off, there's nothing better on a cold rainy day, like today, than a beef stew. Throw some Guinness in said beef stew, and voila (er, seo duit): the first Irish meal of the week.


2 lb of chuck beef cubes
5 carrots – peeled and cut into chunks
1 large white onion - chopped
4 cloves garlic - minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper (or more!)
3 cups of water*
10 baby potatoes - quartered
2 tsp sugar
1 bottle of Guinness
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste


1. Heat a dutch oven on medium-low, add about a tablespoon of oil, and brown beef cubes on all sides. Depending on how big your dutch oven is, you may have to brown the beef in batches. Transfer beef to a plate.


2. Add another tablespoon of oil to the dutch oven, and sauté the onion until lightly browned. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two, being careful to not burn the garlic.


3. Add the beef and any juices on the plate, the carrots, bay leaf, salt, black pepper, and 3 cups of water. Cover, and simmer on low fire for 2 hours.


4. Add baby potatoes to the pot. Cover, and simmer for one hour, or until potatoes are softened.




5. In a bowl, mix together Guinness, sugar, and tomato paste. Then pour the mix into the large pot. Simmer, uncovered, for one more hour, or until desired thickness (stirring occasionally to prevent burning). Add salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.


6. Serve hot, with freshly ground pepper sprinkled on top.


I wouldn't feel right eating an Irish meal without some sort of alcoholic beverage. When I bought the Guinness at the store, it displayed with Harp. I haven't had a Black and Tan in a long time, but it used to be one of my very favorite drinks. So, I bought some Harp along with the Guinness.




1/2 bottle Guinness
1/2 bottle Harp


1. Pour the half bottle Harp into a pint glass.


2. Pour the half bottle Guinness on top of the Harp, being sure to float it on top, not mix the two. If you pour the Guinness into the glass over the back of a spoon, you will be able to better avoid mixing the two beers.


Since you used only a half a bottle of each of those beers for one Black and Tan, you are forced to drink at least two Black and Tans. What a bummer.


Bon appetit.


* I took a cooking class at Portland Culinary Workshop this morning called Stupendous Stocks, and I was sent home with more stock than I can fit in my freezer. I used the beef stock instead of water for this stew. Stock will ALWAYS be better than water in recipes like this, and since I have quite a lot of beef and pork soup bones in my freezer, I intend to make a large batch of stocks sometime soon. Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Southern Fried Pork Chops and Okra Salad






In preparation for the second night of pork chops, I looked in all my cookbooks for another (easy) pork chop recipe that I haven't made before and came up empty handed. I just am not in the mood for a complicated meal. So I turned to the trusty internets and found multiple recipes that I combined into this one.

Since I had the buttermilk for this meal last night (bought during my frantic run to the store for ingredients), I thought marinating the chop in the buttermilk was a good idea. So I did.

Pork Chops (1 large or 2 small per person - I made 2 large)
Cooking oil (enough to submerge half the thickness of chops in oil)
1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp cayenne pepper


1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper 

1. Combine 1 cup buttermilk with cayenne pepper. Pour over pork chops and marinate for 12-24 hours. (I did a full 24 hours.)


2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine milk, egg, salt and black pepper. Beat lightly to mix well.


3. Spread flour out on a flat plate


4. Heat cooking oil in a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat.


5. While oil heats, remove chops from marinade and one at a time dip in egg/milk bath, drain excess, and coat with the flour by turning over several times in the flour. I double battered the chops by repeating the previous instructions. I think double battering helps anything fried keep its crust.


6. Place breaded chop in hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides (5-10 minutes).

To accompany the chop, I thought okra would be good. AND there happened to be fresh okra at the store, so, yes, good, an okra salad.

*** OKRA WARNING ***
If you have never cooked with okra before, you should know that they get very slimy. Not everyone likes slimy food, and that is why I think you usually see okra either in a soup/stew/gumbo or fried. The salad below tasted great, but it was slimy. If you can't handle that, don't make it.

Pre-slimy okra

1 lb. fresh okra
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely minced fresh parsley
Pinch sugar
Salt and pepper

1. Cook whole okra in lightly salted boiling water for 20 minutes.  Drain and let cool for about 10 minutes. Trim stem and end, then cut crosswise into 1/4 to 3/8 inch slices.


2. In a large bowl, combine okra with dressing ingredients. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.


3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Mix thoroughly again before serving.

I just finished eating this meal. Eh, it was so so. The chops needed WAY more salt. So if you make this, I'd recommend salting the flour, maybe? Or maybe adding a good dose of salt to the buttermilk and cayenne so that the chops brine a little? I don't know.

I made two chops, so I am stuck eating this meal tomorrow too. Maybe the remaining chop will age well in the fridge tonight.

Bon appetit.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pork Chops with Apples, Fresh Thyme, and Sweet Onions




I am picking up a third of a pig (a Red Wattle raised in Northern California named Sam and given massages everyday. Those last two tidbits are not true.) on Saturday, so I need to do some clearing out of the pork that remains from my 2011 pig. There isn't much pork left, but one pack of pork chops did remain, so I removed it to defrost and cook up.

I haven't made anything from my trusty Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook in a while, so that is where I turned first. There are only two recipes for pork chops in the book, and the one calling for smoked pork chops sounded better to me. My pork chops are not smoked, but I was sure it would taste good none-the-less.

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, very thinly sliced
3 apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
4 smoked pork chops, 1/2 inch thick


(I only made one pork chop, so I only made a quarter recipe.)


1. Heat the oil in a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet. Add the onions and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slice the apples crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices and add to the onions. Add the thyme and salt.


2. Place a square of parchment paper directly on top of the apples. Simmer on top of the stove over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F.


3. Remove the parchment paper and place the smoked (or not smoked) pork chops on top of the apples. Cover with aluminum foil. Using a fork, poke holes in the foil 4 or 5 times. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 18 minutes. Serve immediately.

I picked out this recipe yesterday after I took the chops out of the freezer to defrost. I even typed up the recipe and the intro yesterday. Then tonight, like so many other nights, I was still at work at 7.45. I didn't even have all the ingredients at home! Determined to eat something other than popcorn for dinner, I went straight to the store for my missing items, and cooked up these delicious pork chops. Thank goodness the prep work and cooking time are minimal.

Oh, and I have this Hickory Seasoning Liquid Smoke stuff that an ex of mine once used to make Kalua pork. As I was prepping the meal, I saw it amongst my spices. Since the chop was supposed to be smoked, why not throw some liquid smoke on it?  So I did. I also sliced an heirloom tomato and topped it with a sprinkle of a little salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

Let me tell you, this meal was DELICIOUS. I don't even like apples, but something about the combo of the sweet cooked apples and onions and the pork and the saltiness was perfection. Also, I was really hungry. I am SO happy I bucked up and made a real meal tonight!

Bon appetit.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Short Ribs Braised in Porter with Molasses-Rosemary Glaze






I copied this recipe out of Oregon FOODday a very long time ago but never made it for various reasons, one of which being regular country-style short ribs were never a cut we requested from the butcher for the beef we buy every year. We always get Argentine-style short ribs. This year we went for the country-style, and the change is a welcome one.


The recipe actually calls for a maple-rosemary glaze. There are very few food items I detest as much as maple (milk and eggs are two, but I don't mind cooking with those - I can't even stand the smell of maple syrup), so I made the substitution of molasses. Yum. Since molasses is a bit thicker than maple syrup, I thinned it with just a touch of porter. Yum again.


This recipe takes a LONG time. I read the cooking time of 2.5 hours, and thought, perfect, this will be done at right about 8. Like a total novice, I didn't think about the time needed for prep. Obviously I haven't been cooking regularly enough. I ended up eating at more like 9.30. 


3 1/2 to 4 lbs meaty, bone-in short ribs
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups porter ale, more if needed
3/4 cup beef, veal, or chicken stock
3 3 to 4 inch sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp prepared horseradish


1. Optional: one or two days before braising, arrange the short ribs in a loose layer on a tray. Sprinkle them all over with 1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt (there is no need to rub the salt into the meat) and cover loosely with wax paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 days.


2. Preheat the oven to 300F. Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel, but don't try to rub off the salt. Season with pepper. If you didn't salt the ribs in advance, season them now with salt and pepper.


3. Pour the oil into a Dutch oven and heat over medium heat. Add only as many ribs as fit without touching and brown them, turning with tongs, until brown on all sides, about 4 min. per side. Transfer seared ribs to platter without stacking and continue until all ribs are browned.


4. Pour off and discard all but about a Tbsp of fat from the pot. Return the pot to medium high heat and add the onions and carrot. Season with salt and pepper and saute, stirring a few times, until the vegetables start to brown and soften, about 5 min. 


5. Add the porter and bring to a full boil. Boil for 2 min, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to dislodge and dissolve bits. Pour in the stock, bring again to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Return ribs to the pot along with any juices releases as they sat. Tuck one rosemary sprig and the bay leaves in between the ribs. The ribs should be partially submerged in the liquid. If necessary, add a bit more porter or water.


6. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper, pressing down so it nearly touches the ribs and hangs over the edges of the pot by about an inch. Set the lid securely in place. Slide the pot into the oven and braise at a gentle simmer, turning the ribs with tongs so as not to tear up the meat, every 40 to 45 minutes, until fork tender, about 2.5 hours. Check after the first 10 minutes to see that the liquid isn't simmering too aggressively; if it is, lower the oven temp 10 or 15 degrees.


7. While the ribs are braising, combine the molasses with the remaining rosemary sprigs in a small saucepan. Heat to a gentle boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 1 hour (can be made ahead of time).


8. When the ribs are tender and the meat is pulling away from the bones, use tongs or a slotted spoon to carefully transfer them to a flameproof gratin dish that is large enough to accommodate them in a single layer. Try to keep the ribs on the bones and intact, but don't worry if some bones slip out. Scoop out the vegetables with a slotted spoon and arrange them around the ribs. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm.


9. Tilt the braising pot to collect the juices in one end and skim off as much surface fat as you can with a large spoon. If the braising liquid exceeds 1 cup, bring it to a vigorous simmer over medium-high heat and cook it down to close to 1 cup, 10 to 15 minutes. It should have a syrupy consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper.


10. Heat the broiler on high. If the glaze has been refrigerated, warm slightly so it is pourable. Remove the rosemary sprigs, running your fingers down the length of the springs so you save every drop of glaze. Put the horseradish in a small strainer, or the palm of your hand, and press or squeeze over the sink to eliminate as much liquid as possible, then stir the horseradish into the glaze. Brush the glaze on the tops of the short ribs. Pour the reduced braising liquid around the ribs. Slide the ribs under the broiler and broil until the surface of the ribs develops a shiny, almost carmelized glaze and you can hear them sizzle, about 4 minutes.


11. Transfer the ribs to serving plates. Spoon the braising liquid around, not over, the ribs and serve immediately.


I served the ribs with rosemary fingerling potatoes. I am not going to write out that recipe because the recipe above is super long and I am done writing out recipes. Also, I don't have a recipe for the potatoes so I'd have to make it up = a lot of effort. Some other time, readers.


Bon appetit.