Friday, September 24, 2010

Let Us RAPS!

I came across this recipe: Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps and I followed it almost exactly (it's pretty easy) and it turned out to be a delicious, healthy, lunch! 

The few changes I made make it easier if you keep different things in stock in your kitchen:
  • Used whole Romaine leaves instead of Bibb, Iceberg is also a good choice! 
  • Chopped up other salad sort of fixin's to bulk up the wraps...
    • Cucumber
    • Celery Root (cubed)
    • Jalapeno
    • Carrot (shredded)
    • Chopped peanuts (for a little crunch!)
    • Lime wedges 
    • Roasted flax seeds (mmm)
  • I also made a little brown rice on the side for Dad so he could get some carbs! 
These lettuce wraps are super easy and delicious! I recommend giving the sauce a try too it's spicy but Super YUM!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Moms Birthday Linner!

For Moms birthday she wanted me to make my famous pot pie and a chopped salad and then I made a little surprise dessert for her! 

Christines Finger Lick'n Chick'n Pot Pie! 

It's not really MY recipe, but it's my creation! I've taken three DELICIOUS recipes and brought them into one! For the filling I used ideas from the Joy of Cooking, and the mushroom gravy from the green bean casserole by Alton. 

Cook 4-6 Boneless Chicken breasts (or equivalent) However you like! I like to simmer them in some chicken broth with celery, carrots, bay leaf, rosemary, whatever other broth-like add-ins I have laying around! They need to be completely cooked! Once finished, Reserve 1 cup of the broth (for later) and save the rest in your fridge for other delicious creations! Cut the chicken into thumb-tip sized cubes (yes, that's a measurement). 

For the gravy/sauce:

  • 12" Cast Iron Skillet (preferred, but any 12" or larger skillet will do)
  • 2 Tbsp. Unsalted butter
  • 12 Oz. Mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Pepper
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic - Minced
  • 1/4 tsp. Freshly Ground Nutmeg (omg, fresh makes ALL the difference)
  • 2 Tbsp. All-Purpose flour
  • 1 Cup Chicken broth
  • 1 Cup Half & Half
Melt the butter over medium-high heat. 
Add the mushrooms, salt, and the pepper. Cook - stirring occasionally for about 4-5 minutes or until you notice the shrooms giving up some of their delicious juices.
Add the garlic and nutmeg - cook for an additional 1-2mins. 
Sprinkle the flour on top - Stir and cook for 1 more minute. 
Add the broth and allow it to simmer for 1 minute.
Lower the heat to medium-low and add the half&half
Cook until thickened - stirring occasionally... this takes about 6-8 minutes. 

(Suggestively suggested by Joy of Cooking)

  • 2 Tbsp. Unsalted butter
  • 1 Medium Onion - Chopped
  • 3 Medium Carrots - Peeled & Sliced 1/4" Thick
  • 2 Small Celery Stalks - Sliced 1/4" thick
  • 3/4 Cup Peas
  • 3 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley - Minced
Heat the butter in a large pot (big enough to fit everything else in!) on medium-high until the foam subsides.
Add and cook the onion, carrots, and celery - stirring often for about 5 minutes. 
Remove from the heat and mix together all the veggies, parsley, and peas with the chicken.

Butter a baking dish, 13x9 usually works, and add everything you have so far. 
Pour the mushroom gravy on top and stir it in a little. 


There is an option of doing a biscuit topping here (that's Pops fave) but we are doing the delish pie crust recipe (Thanks again Alton - The Crust Never Sleeps)

  • Rolling Pin
  • Mixer or Food Processor
  • Spray Bottle (WATER ONLY)
  • Patience
  • 2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Stone Ground Cornmeal
  • 3 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 2 Oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 Oz. (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced and chilled
  • 5 Tbsp. COLD water
Thoroughly mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and place into refrigerator. Soften 1/2 stick of butter to room temperature. Chop the remaining 1 1/2 sticks of butter and return to the refrigerator for about 20 minutes (or more, if you want).
In your mixer or food processor,  mix the dry ingredients with the 1/2 stick of softened butter until the butter is completely integrated (no more lumps visible). Remove the chopped butter from the refrigerator and add half to the food processor. Pulse the food processor ten times for about one second each time. The goal is to chop the first half of the butter into pea-sized chunks. Add the other half of the butter and pulse about four times to achieve larger chunks of butter. 
Mix apple juice concentrate and cold water in a spray bottle. Spray the surface of the dough in the food processor bowl until there is a sheen of moisture, then fold the dough with a rubber spatula. Repeat this procedure until about 3 Tbsp of the liquid has been added. The dough mixture should be dry to the touch, but stay together when squeezed. If the dough does not hold together, continue adding moisture in the manner above. Remove the dough from the processor bowl and form into a ball. Rest the dough in the refrigerator wrapped in wax or parchment paper for at least 20 minutes.
When you pull the dough out it should be totally dough-ified - howEVER if you have the problem I did- mine was still dry and I needed to spray it a little more and knead it a little. After this I refrigerated it for a bit longer so the butter in the dough wouldn't melt. 
Roll the dough out on a well floured surface until it's about 1/4" thick. Add it to the top of your casserole and decorate it if you like! Also you can brush the crust with a bit of egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little bit of water) to give it a bit of a sheen on the top.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until the crust looks golden. Yum!
For dessert I totally copied this recipe from Joy of Baking website, and it turned out delicious!
The recipe really wasn't as hard as it looks! It was so delicious to the eyes and mouth Mom had to do a double-take!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Work Your Mussels!

From: Good Eats Season 3 Episode 2     

Whenever we make a trip into Dallas we always try to get to H-Mart, the best Asian market in town. They have the best produce selection, tons of fresh seafood, and Yogurtland! Most recently I made a huge list of all of the ingredients I wanted to try to get for more Good Eats recipe creations and my parents found nearly everything I needed.

In order to get the most of their freshness, I made the mussels first!

To keep them alive, they need humidity (also the same for clams) so put them in a dry container and top with a moist paper towel with a sealed bag of ice on top. Store them in the fridge. DO NOT place them in ice or fresh water, or they will die! We don't want that to happen, well, not yet at least. I'm not quite sure how long they will keep like this, probably a few days, but I couldn't wait so they only stayed like this overnight. 

Get everything together:

  • A large stockpot with fitted lid
  • Colander that can fit into said stockpot and be heated (not plastic)
  • Chopping board, knife
  • Needlenose Pliers (for the mussels beardy beards)
  • Stick or Immersian Blender
  • Serving bowl/platter (needs to have high lips so that it can hold in that YUM sauce)
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Garlic - Minced
  • 1 Large Leek - Washed, Trimmed, and Chopped
  • 1 PINCH of Kosher Salt
  • 48 Fresh Mussels - Blue or Mediterranean
  • 1 Tomato - Seeded and Chopped
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Wine - Cheap but not Undrinkable
  • Handful of Fresh Parsley (I didn't have this, but I know it would have helped)
First and foremost, I cleaned each of the mussels and removed the beards with the pliers.

That's a picture of the icky beard hanging from the mussel, to remove grab (with the pliers) low and twist!

DO NOT dispose of them down the sink, they are KRYPTONITE for garbage disposals! Please, do this over a plastic baggie...  or some other trash receptacle!

Rinse each mussel shell under the tap and rub the mud off, either with your hands or with a scrubbie.  You will be steaming these over your sauce so you don't want any nasties getting into that deliciousness!

As you are cleaning them place them in the colander, it is okay if they are on top of each other... Also, be on the lookout for cracked shells, If the shell is crack the mussel cannot be salvaged, so throw it away! Don't think twice about it, just do it! I had fun tapping on the shells and watching them close.. Did you know that if a mussel really tried it could move a total of 12 inches in a year?

Alright, now that the mussels are prepared let's move on..
In your large stockpot heat the oil over medium-low heat, add the garlic, leek and salt and sweat until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the tomato and wine to the stockpot and boost the heat to medium high, once it starts simmering add the colander full of mussels.

Place the lid on and cook for 3 minutes.

Once the 3 minutes are up check to see if all of the mussels have opened, if not, give them a good stir and put the lid on for another 30-60 seconds. Check again, if need be stir again and leave them in for another 30-60 seconds. Once all the mussels are opened remove the colander and pour the mussels onto your serving dish.

Remove 8 mussel meats from their shells, put these in the stockpot with the sauce.

Use the immersion/stick blender and blend everything up in the pot until it is nice and creamy looking.

Taste as you go along, add salt/pepper, or even butter. Mine needed a bit of everything! Pour over your mussels and ENJOY!

I thought this recipe turned out GREAT! Mussels are an inexpensive (not exactly cheap) and delicious treat!

A tip to remember when purchasing your mussels is to look for a tag called a bed or lot tag that will clearly state the where when and who of the mussels, never buy them unless you can see this tag!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Steak Your Claim!

For my first entry I thought I should start at the beginning. I had never successfully cooked a steak, and Alton has never failed me, so why not?

First off, I like to gather everything that I need together BEFORE I start so once I get going I don't start running around like a chicken with my head cut off looking for ingredients or utensils (it's not pretty).

  • 12" Cast Iron Skillet (or at least big enough to fit two steaks in comfortably)
  • Digital Meat/Food Thermometer with a skinny probe!
  • Trusty pair of tongs (Is there such a thing as a singular tong?)
  • Colander
  • Bowl big enough to fit said colander inside
  • Pot Lid to fit on top of colander (assembled and ready like the one in the picture)
  • 2 1/2" Thick boneless rib-eye steaks  (Brought to room temperature by removing from the fridge 1 hour before cook time. When purchasing make sure they have a healthy consistent coloring and look MOIST.)
  • 1 tsp. Canola Oil or Safflower Oil
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Freshly Ground Pepper (fresh makes a difference!)
Before I go on, I need to say something about the oil. In the cookbook Alton says to use Canola oil, which results in a smoky kitchen... However on the episode of Good Eats he tells us we could use oils with higher smoke points (safflower oil) and reduce smokiness! I used Safflower and had NO smoke, but if you don't have this available, canola can be used.

Moving on... Crank that oven up to 500 degrees F. and place your empty clean skillet inside! While the oven is heating, rub your steaks down with the canola oil on both sides and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.
Once the oven is heated, move the skillet (use a hot pad or oven gloves, it will be hot) to the cook top over high heat for 5 minutes.
NOW you put the meat in. After putting both steaks in don't touch them for 30 seconds (use a timer).
Flip the steaks over and wait another 30 seconds (please, tell me you are using a timer).
Move the skillet back to the oven for 2 minutes. Flip the steaks and cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the oven and use your thermometer, be sure to poke the thermometer through the side of the steak, to ensure you are finding the middle and not just the plate on the bottom.

How do you like your steak cooked?

  •  Rare: 120 to 127 degrees F.
  • Medium-rare: 128 to 135 degrees F. 
  • Medium: 136 to 145 degrees F.
  • Toast: 146 and UP
I enjoy medium rare, and 4 minutes was just enough time! If need be, you can place the steaks back in the oven for a minute or two be sure to flip and check doneness!
Once you have your steaks to the desired temperature place the steaks in the prepared colander-bowl contraption (with lid) and let the steaks REST for 5 minutes.

Yum, all done!

I sliced mine up and it made three very healthy servings..

Totally Optional...
After five minutes take the steak juices that have collected in the bowl and pour them back in the skillet, whisk in a tablespoon or two of butter, scrape up all the goodies that have stuck to the pan while cooking and use it! Pour it over the steak, potatoes, vegetables, in a cup? It's good stuff!

Because this is my first post, I wanted to say thank you for reading and that I promise to take more pictures next time! Also, comments/suggestions are welcome!