Saturday, December 29, 2012

Never Ruin a Rib Roast Again - Simple Method

Ok, so this Christmas my wife and I decided to make a Standing Rib Roast for the family.  Normally speaking when I want assurances for cooking an important meal, I turn to Alton Brown for advice.  While his turkey recipe is absolutely spectacular, I was completely baffled by the impracticality of his rib roast recipe. The piece of meat that lay before me looked like it came off the side of Brontosauras not cow like he displayed.  So I needed a plan B.  My wife, an excellent cook in her own right, gave me a recipe for Standing Rib Roast.  I was completely skeptical at the method and thought this is going to take all day to cook.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  So without further adieu, The World's Simplest Rib Roast Recipe Ever. 

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Farenheit.  Yes I know seems low but believe me you'll thank me later.

Take out Rib Roast let it get acclimated to room temperature.  I don't like putting ice cold meat into a hot environment.  There are differing opinions, but if I can let it get the chill out I will.

Season liberally with Kosher/Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper.  Use a lot of both.  This is a big piece of meat.  Get all sides.

If you have a stovetop set up that will allow you to put your roasting pan on the burners, do that and set them to high.  If not use a pan big enough to accomodate the roast.  Sear all sides of the meat starting with the fat side down.  Get a good sear to get the carmelization of the crust going.  Once the sides are seared, pop it in the oven and let cook until the thickest part of the meat reaches 125-130 degrees Farenheit for rare/medium rare.  I would use an instant read thermometer that has a remote so you can prep the rest of your meal.  My 11+lb roast took slightly less than 4 hours to cook. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Go Veg or Go Home

I grew up in a household where a potato chip was the closest thing to a vegetable we would serve. Yes we had the summer corn on the cob on a regular basis and iceberg lettuce with tomatoes at every meal, but vegetables really were absent. This is probably a normal occurance in many household, but our neighbor was basically a farmer and had his entire backyard a garden of delights. He inspired our own backyard garden, where we ended up growing our own tomatoes and two foot long zucchinis. We never ate zucchini, so I'm not sure why we ever grew them. They were great for backyard mess fest where you'd play baseball with fallen tomatoes and giant zukes. The point is, I really never knew how great vegetables could be growing up. If you have kids, try to get them to eat different foods early. Here is the one place I will tell you that lying is really ok. In our house, mushrooms were magical meat. Green beans became magic worms. Felafel (not a veg, I know) are hufflepuff meatballs. If your kid has a favorite story, tell them that this is what their favorite character ate. It works for us, it might work for you. I can't tell you how many times my wife has to go to Hogwarts to get a new recipe. Since I'm a muggle, I can't visit. The problem for me was, now that I had the taste for vegetables, I didn't know the first thing about cooking them. Here a few good cookbooks that got me over the fear and the hump of cooking those funny multicolored objects at the far end of the supermarkets.



Quick Prep Roasted Vegetables
Ingredients:
1lb cubed butternut squash
3 sweet onions cut into small wedges
3-4 parsnips peeled and sliced into rounds 1/4-1/2" thickness
3-4 carrots prepped same as parsnip
1 medium turnip cubed the same size as the butternut squash
4-5 garlic cloves, paper skin still on
Alternate or additional vegetables (delicata squash, zucchini, yellow squash, rutabaga, fennel, green beans, really whatever you like)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
rosemary or thyme
salt and fresh ground pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Take a rimmed baking sheet(also known as a jelly roll plan) spread oil and add vegetables. Sprinkle Rosemary or Thyme or both onto vegetable, sprinkle salt (preferably kosher or sea salt) and fresh ground pepper. Turn the veggies to coat and pop into oven. Cook for 20 minutes. Check for doneness and turn if browning too much on the bottoms. Check 7 minutes more. Once cooked to desired doneness. I like my vegs a little crunchy remove and let sit on sheet for a minute. Then place on plates or in bowls. Makes a great and easy side for red meats.

If you are so inclined, I also will put chicken thighs on top of the vegetables after they have been in the over about 10 minutes. You can leave the skins on the chicken to add some additional flavor to the vegs. Cook until the chicken is done and mix once or twice if necessary. Should take about 20 more minutes, but make sure the chicken is done.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Oh Me So Hungry, Me So Hungry

When in doubt this recipe is our go to for an easy to put together satisfying meal. It has an asian flair. My wife said let's try Cinnamon Beef with Lo Mein Noodles. I kinda look at her with a bit of disgust. Ugh really? Well turns out, its really awesome and when I can't think of anything new to cook, this has quickly become a fall back meal for the family. Its like beef stew only feels a lot lighter. The cinnamon taste is subtle but marries very well with the stew meat. I try to get grassfed beef for this particular dish. No particular reason why other than that is how we first tried and why mess with a good thing. Its very simple to prepare and if the stew meat is trimmed and not fatty, its a low calorie dish as well.

Ingredients:
2lbs Beef Stew
2 tsp canola oil
5 cups water
1 1/2 cups Sake
3/4 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce (I use Kikkoman) sometimes referred to as Lite
1/4 cup sugar
10 green onions (8 chopped into approx 1 inch pieces, 2 chopped thin)
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger (I use the tubed stuff as a timesaver)
1 10-12 oz package of baby spinach leaves
8 oz. uncooked lo mein noodles (wider is better, but not the end)

Heat 1 teaspoon of canola oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add beef but don't overcrowd, we want to brown the meat and get a nice crust on it. Remove from pan once browned on all sides. While meat is browning, combine Water, Sake, Soy Sauce and Sugar in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Return beef to pan and add water mixture, green onions, garlic, cinnamon and ginger. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to so liquid just simmers. Cook for 1 1/2 - 2hrs. While the beef is cooking, cook the low mein noodles according to instructions. When beef is tender, stir in spinach. Add noodles to your serving dishes and spoon beef mixture over the cooked noodles. Should yield 8 or so servings. About 1 cup beef and half a cup noodles. Calories are around 400. 10g of fat (3g saturated).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What the hell happened to me?

Well its been quite a while since I posted anything food related. I guess my biggest problem was that I was eating way too much and not saying or doing much else. It started about 9 months ago. A kickboxing accident cause my already bad knee into a worse situation. Thankfully I already knew the solution to this problem. Sit on the couch and keep eating. Oh yeah and do some exercise to strengthen the muscles around the kneecap. Well, the eating part went fine. I continued to eat like I was training for a kickboxing tournament and because it was summertime, didn't realize the subtle change that was happening in my body. I say subtle because I didn't notice it. My wife on the other hand certainly did. I couldn't understand why she kept saying, "Hey Fat Ass are you ever going to get off the couch?" Well things got progressively bigger, but I couldn't see it until that one fateful day. I tried to get into a suit for a meeting and the pants were in no way fitting. Not even close. I thought what the "F", these fit not long ago. I stepped on the scale and nearly had a heartattack. Not only was the number so much higher than I thought it would be, the standing was making me light headed. I knew something had to change immediately. I immediately did about two weeks of heavy (literally 30lbs more than 6 months earlier) rehab on my knee. I got it back to the place where I felt I could get back to kickboxing again. The other issue was food. Thankfully, Tiger Schulmann Mixed Martial Arts runs a 60 day Challenge and I didn't even have to look at Sensei Holland or Sensei Querido to know what they expected me to do. I joined the challenge. The biggest issue would be how do I go about healthy eating. I get tired of eating the same foods over and over again. My family is small so I end up with a lot of leftovers. It dawned on me, if I am in this position, so are pretty much everyone else on the challenge. I started bringing in my leftovers. It forced me to make new food and so far in a 5 weeks, I've lost 21 pounds. I have 33 pounds to go to be truly fit, but its a start. Here is the recipe that started the weightloss program into overdrive.

Moroccan Meatballs with Couscous.

This is a slow cooker recipe, but can be done in heavy cast iron pot with a lid.

Ingredients:
for the Meatballs:
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs (I make mine from stale whole wheat bread)
1/4 cup dried currants (subsitute black raisins if you can't find currants)
1/4 cup finely chopped onions (smaller is better here)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin and dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 lbs lean ground turkey
1 large eggwhite
Cooking Spray

Sauce:
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind (microplane zester works well here)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (start with the smaller amount and add additional to taste)
2 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes

Other Ingredients:
1 box (approx 4 cups cooked) whole wheat couscous prep according to instructions on box
Parsley for garnish (optional)
Meatball prep:
Combine the first 9 ingredients in a bowl. Mix gently but firmly to incorporate all ingredients. Form into 30-35 meatballs. I prefer slightly smaller to slightly larger. Using a non stick pan, give a quick spray with your cooking spray. Brown the meatballs in batches and set aside when done.

Sauce prep:
Add tomato paste and next 7 ingredients to slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add meatballs to sauce and stir gently to coat each meatball. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Serve over couscous. Each portion should contain 5 meatballs, 1/2 cup couscous and 1/2-1 cup sauce.

Calories are approximately 300 per serving.

Optional additions to the sauce: Canned or fresh cooked Chickpeas, Zucchini cut into half moons.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This one is definitely not a disaster, Great Recipe from a Great Cookbook

I thought about writing my next installment, titled Holy Moly don't eat that Cannoli, but decided to talk about an actual successful dish. Unfortunately, I have misplaced the recipe for this successful dish, which was seared scallops with poached pears in a red wine sauce. Sounds like a weird combination in my head too. However, I made it and it was absolutely spectacular. You can find the recipe in this cookbook. If you like fish this is an absolutely must buy book. I would try and recreate this dish, but quite frankly I can't try and figure it out because my wife is allergic to seafood. Cooking this dish might just send her into anaphylactic shock and personally I'm not ready to see that just yet :) So, I guess I have two options, its gonna be holy moly don't eat that cannoli or This Gnocchi is Yucky. But I am gonna let you decide which one you want to hear first. Both are doozies and I will give you a guaranteed winner of a recipe for both. Let me know which you want by commenting or sending me an email. I will post the results on Sunday with the new entry.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Don't try this at home, Try that!

I think most people can blame their parents for something that has gone wrong in their everyday lives. One thing I can't blame my parents for is allowing me to have my intellectual freedom to destroy the kitchen. Somebody in their great wisdom gave an 8 year a chemistry set as a present. Well this nutty professor in training started immediately breaking out the alcohol based bunsen burner and learned how to make a very small string of rock candy. Being of sound mind, I brought it into school. Well lets just say it was a hit and my friends all asked that I make them a string. Hmmmm. Well that will cost you 25 cents. I had an order for at least 50 of them. I was going to be rich. So that night I told my mom and dad I was going to make more rock candy but on a larger scale. Sure no problem. I broke out my mom's big Pyrex Pot. It was made by the same company that made my beaker and I had heard my mom say one time it was unbreakable. Great, success was soon to be at hand. I poured in the Sugar into the pot and added some water. My mom left for a PTA Meeting and my dad was watching TV/sleeping on the couch. The water was heating up nicely but the sugar wasn't dissolving quite as well the first time. I added more water. The water was a rolling boil now, but still the sugar just wasn't doing its thing. More water, but I need to slow down the process...OK...I need cold water. Well I added a huge amount of cold water and I heard a weird tinking sound and then Kaboom. The Pyrex pot exploded. The sugar on the bottom of the pot was now resting comfortably on the electric burner still turned on high. That immediately burst into flames. I screamed fire and my Dad bolts into the kitchen barefoot and guess what, stepped on a piece of broken pyrex. By that time the fire extinguished itself and my dad needed to get stitches in his foot. My mom came home and saw her sparking stove stop charred and caramelized. Needless to say it was about a week before I was allowed back in the kitchen. I learned a very valuable lesson. If you want to learn how to use cursewords in proper context, set your parents kitchen on fire.

Now if that hasn't dissuaded you from making rock candy, here is a perfectly acceptable method. Please above all, ask to make sure its ok with Mom and Dad, even if you no longer live with them.

From the Accidental Scientist, Science of Cooking
http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/recipe-rockcandy.html

Thursday, June 30, 2011

French Toast

I love French Toast. Its by far my favorite breakfast food and who ever invented it is pure genius. Its also one of the few really good items my mom could cook. However, I learned how to cook this at around 8 years old and made it many times for myself. My mom would always curse at me because of the mess I made, but hey I was kid. It tooled around with the recipe numerous times and here is my version. I have a kids version and an adult version. To make the kid version just omit the alcohol.

The main ingredients are bread, eggs, sugar and cream. For the bread, if you have a favorite bread by all means use it. I used to make this with slightly stale Wonder Bread all the time. Now I use Challah, or Hallah. You can use Brioche, which is French Challah or Challah, Jewish Brioche. It doesn't really matter, I would just say that you probably should avoid sourdough bread for this recipe.

Ingredients
sliced day old Challah, Brioche or any other White bread you like
3-4 large to extra large eggs (approximate since eggs have different consistencies batch to batch)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup favorite liquer or liquor, I like Grand Marnier or Cointreau (omit this if serving to children or alcoholics)'
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
butter

Beat eggs sugar liquer if using, vanilla and heavy cream together. Should have a slightly thickened consistency. If you think its too watery add an additional tablespoon of sugar and taste it should be sweet. It should be noted that consuming raw egg products could be detrimental to your health. If you are afraid of getting sick, do not taste this before cooking. My one and final warning on that topic. Pour mixture into a lipped shallow dish. That's one with a rim so your mixture doesn't get on the counter or floor. Add sliced bread and start poking and mashing with a fork. You want to see some of the egg mixture start penetrating the bread to reach the top side. Once that is done, flip the bread and mash down on it with the back of a fork. Heat you pan to medium and melt two tablespoons of butter to coat the bottom. Add soaked bread slices and cook to golden brown. Then flip and cook until lightly brown and remove from pan and put on plate. Dust the toast lightly with sugar if you like it real sweet. Do not under any circumstance use powered sugar on your beautiful French Toast. I will personally rap you across the knuckles with a wooden spoon. Powdered sugar contains cornstarch and that prevents the maple syrup you are about to put on your toast from adhering and spilling over the sides. Granulated sugar absorbs the syrup for a lightly crunchy yumminess. I promise its delicious.

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