Sunday, July 13, 2014

Perfect London Broil

I realize it takes a little hubris to call a recipe "perfect," but it's exactly what I thought when I tasted this recipe the most recent time that I prepared it. I make London broil relatively often, as it's an inexpensive (and frequently on sale) cut of beef that is easy to prepare and produces plenty of leftovers. It's not the most tender cut on its own, however, so cutting it properly across the grain is important. Thinner slices are better. You'll need a sharp knife. Without any marbling to speak of, the cut also requires a pretty aggressive seasoning strategy. Red wine is just the ticket, cut with soy sauce, chili paste, onions, and garlic. The soy plays the salt, chili plays the pepper, and the aromatics permeate the liquid during the marinade exchange. Marinades don't do much in the way of tenderizing the meat, but the flavors are really bold and shine through in this preparation.

Marinated London Broil
Serves 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes, plus overnight to marinate
Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients
  • 1 three pound London broil 
  • 1 cup red wine, such as Malbec
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chili paste, such as sriracha
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
Open a 1-gallon zip-top storage back in a bowl and pour in the marinade ingredients, being careful not to spill. Carefully add the meat and close the bag, massaging the marinade into the steak. Place in the refrigerator in the bowl (in case of leaks) to marinate overnight. Turn occasionally to ensure even distribution of flavor.

Several turns make for lovely grill marks.
When ready to grill, heat a grill pan over high heat for 10 minutes. Remove the meat from the marinade and dry thoroughly. Discard the marinade. Open all the windows to the kitchen. The grill pan may smoke. This works on an outdoor grill, as well.

Grill for 3 minutes, turn, grill another 3 minutes, turn, another 3 minutes, and turn. Finish for 3 minutes. Careful turning is important not only for attractive grill marks, but distributing the heat allows the meat to remain juicy and not form a tough, gray band.

Nailed it!
Turn off the heat and test the meat. An instant read thermometer should read 120 degrees for rare. On this occasion, I got the temperature just right so I took a picture. It is absolutely critical that you allow the meat to rest for at least 10 minutes, tented with foil, before carving.

Carefully slice with a very sharp knife across the grain. The slices should be quite thin for the most tender possible meat. Serve with a bold red wine (or even a dry rosé) and any vegetables you wish. The leftovers make great "roast beef" sandwiches or can be stir-fried quickly for a second chance meal.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Quick and Easy Red Beans and Rice

My mother's signature weeknight meal was red beans and rice made all day in the slow cooker. Strictly speaking, she'd make the rice when we got home from school, but coming home to that smell was just incredible. She was from New Orleans, but I'm fairly certain that the manifestation she prepared years ago was more tailored to the taste of yours-truly than the authentic version of her childhood. There's no bell peppers, for example, and I'm fairly certain no slow cooker was involved.

While I still make the slow cooker version pretty regularly, I wondered if I could create the same flavor more quickly, if I'd not planned ahead and the mood for red beans and rice came upon me one evening. Off to the grocery I went. Grocery is generous. I popped into a small bodega-like shop where I was able to find the necessary ingredients. All of the same stuff Mom would put in hers. Upon returning home, I pulled out my high-sided large frying pan and got to work.

Quick and Easy Red Beans and Rice
Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Polish kielbasa, about 2 lbs., sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cans dark or light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. chili flakes OR 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 3 cups minus 2 tablespoons water
  • salt and pepper to taste
 If you have a rice cooker, spray with a standard cooking spray and combine the rice and water and proceed according to manufacturer's instructions. If not, bring the water and a teaspoon of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the rice and return to a boil. Cover and turn the heat to medium and simmer for 15-18 minutes. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before fluffing and serving with the beans and sausage.

The browning sausage.
In a large skillet or saucepan (a skillet or frying pan with more surface area is ideal for greater browning and evaporation of the liquid), heat the olive oil until just shimmering over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage first. It should render off a bit of fat and start to smell of pork and spices

When the sausage has browned slightly, add the sliced onions. Toss with the oil and rendered fat and cook until the onions have softened. Add the drained beans, garlic, and chili flakes and toss together. Finally, add the chicken stock and stir to ensure any browned bits from the bottom of the pan are de-glazed.

Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces by half and has thickened with the starch of the beans. The onions and garlic will almost melt into the sauce and the kielbasa will become soft, almost braised, in texture. Serve over the rice in a bowl with crusty bread. It's a perfect meal for a casual supper off your lap.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ginger Chili Chicken Wings



The wings will naturally develop a delicious glaze.
Ever since I was a young child, I've always loved chicken wings. While we didn't usually have them at home, it was always fun to be at a sports bar watching a game with the family snacking on spicy morsels of chicken. We had a number of terrific wings spots in my hometown of Charleston, so I was introduced to a variety of flavors to which I may not have otherwise been open were they not delivered via chicken wing. Among these was ginger. I've made wings at home for years (roasted in the oven rather than deep fried and tossed in sauce) and typically follow the same old formula. Marinate in hot sauce, toss with baking powder (to ensure freshness), salt and pepper, roast, eat. This recipe employs the same technique, but with a totally different flavor punch. It's easy, although not instant, so make sure you read it through after the jump. You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Romanesco!

Straight from the market!
Last fall I was able to snag one of the most beautiful specimens of an unusual vegetable called romanesco. It's a spiral-shaped cauliflower-flavored brassica that varies in color from purple to green to yellow to orange. It can be prepared in the same manner as cauliflower or broccoli, but because of its beautiful florets, you want to preserve their shape. I find that roasting is the best way to extract that nutty flavor. Some shallots, garlic, oil, butter, salt, and pepper are all they need. Here's how I did it...



Roasted Romanesco

Serves 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large head romanesco, carefully cut into florets
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. softened butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a baking dish, toss the florets with the garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, and oil until evenly coated. Dab with the butter. Roast at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes until just lightly browned and starting to soften. Serve as a side dish for roast chicken, pork, or lamb.

Roasted romanesco ready to enjoy.


Monday, May 12, 2014

One Pan Loin of Pork with White Beans and Broccoli

Regular guests to my home will know that my least favorite domestic chore is washing dishes. So much is my dread of standing at that sink is that I actually served my Passover seder on fancy disposables this year. Dishes for 10 would have ruined my holiday. Whenever possible, I use few pots, pans, and utensils. Sometimes, I'll get creative about what can cook together. That's how this recipe came about. I did not want to steam the broccoli, simmer the beans, and roast the pork in 3 different pans at different times on a weeknight, only to spend valuable Jeopardy! time marinating my hands in Palmolive. See how it works for you!

Roast Loin of Pork with White Beans and Broccoli
Serves 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 3-4 lb loin of pork, trimmed of most fat
  • 2 cans cannelini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large head broccoli, cut into florets, stems peeled and chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2-3 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried ground sage
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil or light olive oil
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large, oven-safe skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Dry the pork loin thoroughly and season with salt, pepper, and sage. Sear on all sides until browned, roughly 2 minutes per side. De-glaze the hot pan with chicken stock. Replace the pork and add the beans to one side and the broccoli to another. Sprinkle the broccoli with the chopped garlic. Season each with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until the pork is 140-145 degrees. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.
The perfect solution to minimize dishes! And you can pop the leftovers into the pan, cover it, and re-heat the next day. No scrubbing tupperware!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Asian Inspired Steak with Noodles

Hello dear readers! I have been woefully neglectful of this project that I enjoy so much. I hereby resolve to post at least twice weekly. It will force me to cook something new on a regular basis and take plenty of pictures so the few but faithful who still check in on the suppers (and breakfasts and lunches) posted on these pages will continue to be entertained.

Sliced Steak with Cellophane Noodles
This afternoon I decided to put together a few of my favorite flavors in an easy and accessible recipe that comes together in minutes. I am a big fan of a well-marbled ribeye but I sometimes get tired of the heavy, buttery steakhouse fare I usually pair with it. This dish is surprisingly light, plenty spicy, and avoids the food coma associated with your standard steak dinner. So much of what I am about to suggest to you is flexible. Some people hate mushrooms, others would prefer chicken to beef (although I am not sure why). You can apply these techniques to any number of ingredients, but this should get the ball rolling.

Asian Inspired Steak with Noodles
Serves 1 (recipe can be multiplied)
Prep Time: 5 minutes (plus 2 hours to overnight for marinating)
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 7-10 oz. ribeye steak or other appropriate cut, about 3/4-1 inch thick
  • 6-8 shiitake or cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 2 large scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts separated
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1 bundle (about 2 oz.) cellophane noodles
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce for marinating, plus 1 tbsp, divided
  • 2 tbsp. sriracha chili sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
In a shallow dish or plastic sandwich bag, mix together 1/4 cup soy sauce and 2 tbsp. sriracha. Add the steak and set aside to marinate for 2 hours, turning every 30 minutes to ensure even exposure. I do this at room temperature to make sure the steak is not chilled when it hits the grill. If you're doing it overnight, you'll just need to let the steak sit out for about 15-20 minutes before you grill it. Never throw a cold steak on a hot grill. It just ruins the texture.

Stir-Frying the Mushrooms
Meanwhile, microwave a heat-safe bowl (or large Pyrex measuring cup) with about 4 cups of water for 5 minutes until very hot. Soak the cellophane noodles in the water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside. Preheat a wok or heavy cast iron skillet. I used cast iron. When very hot, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and the mushrooms. stir until the mushrooms are coated with oil and start to brown. (This is the time you could add other vegetables, such as shredded carrots, sliced onions, asparagus, peas, bok choy, or anything else you fancy) Add the white and light green parts of the scallions. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Keep an eye on it. Add the garlic and stir around for another minute. Finally, add the cellophane noodles and a tablespoon of soy sauce. Toss everything together and turn off the heat. This noodle side dish is great hot, but perfectly delicious room temperature.

Toss with the Noodles!
If you have a cast iron grill pan, you'll be rewarded, although you can prepare the steak in any searing technique. Preheat a grill pan or heavy skillet for about 10 minutes. Remove the steak from the marinade and thoroughly dry. No wet steaks in hot pans. It will steam, not sear. Cook the steak on two minutes per side for medium rare. I turn it at one minute intervals to create a cross-hatch pattern, but this is for prettiness more than anything else. When the steak is cooked, set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Please do not skip this step. Cutting into a hot steak will lead to running juices and dry meat.

Slice thinly and serve over the noodles. Top with the scallion greens. No need for a baked potato with this steak. I'd even suggest, if you're so inclined, to pair it with a good Japanese beer such as Kirin or Sapporo.



Friday, September 20, 2013

Vegetable Pasta with Chicken

Is there anything better than a big platter of pasta to feed a crowd? At the end of the summer, I find myself always left with a few squash and tomatoes from the Farmers' Market and wanted to try a new way to dress them up. When some friends came over for dinner recently, I resolved that rather than head to the grocery store, I'd take a look on my counter, in my pantry, and in my refrigerator and come up with something scrumptious and seasonal without having to leave the house. Vegetable pasta with chicken was born. I will not pretend this is revolutionary, but it was well-received and I took pictures, so I wanted to share.

Vegetable Pasta with Chicken
Serves 6
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 30 min.

Ingredients
2 medium summer squash (such as zucchini and yellow or gold bar)
2 medium carrots
1 large tomato
1 medium onion
1 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano leaves, crushed
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 pound short pasta, such as penne
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
salt and pepper to taste

 Dice the vegetables into evenly sized pieces, roughly 1/2 inch cubes. Crush the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the vegetables, except the tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until they are softened and just slightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, cube the chicken breasts into larger chunks, roughly 1 inch. Season liberally with the herbs, salt, and pepper, tossing to coat. Sear in a separate skillet until browned on all sides and cooked through. Set aside to rest.

When the vegetables are completely cooked and the chicken is rested, bring a large pot of water to boil. Boil the pasta according to package instructions.

In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the warm vegetables and chicken until evenly mixed. Pour into an attractive serving dish and top with fresh herbs and the reserved parmesan.


The final product, ready to enjoy.