Archive for September, 2013

Korean Braised Short Ribs

Beef Short RibsThis is a tremendously flavorful falling-off-the-bone dish. This recipe was contributed by my partner-in-crime, the charming Bill McKenzie, who is teaming up with me so we can take this blog to the next level.

For this recipe you’ll need a Dutch oven because this masterpiece starts on the stove top and finishes up in the oven.

Ingredients

1.5 lbs beef short ribs

1 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup Sake

1/4 cup Mirin

1/4 cup sesame oil

1 tbsp ginger paste (or minced fresh ginger)

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tsp coarse ground black pepper

4 scallions, greens and white separated and cut into 1/4 inch pieces

12 cloves garlic

2 cups low-sodium beef stock

Canola oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle canola oil on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Sprinkle the beef short ribs with sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Brown the ribs in the Dutch oven on the top of the stove.

Once browned, add the rest of the ingredients, with the exception of the scallion greens and sesame seeds. Cover the Dutch oven and bring everything to a boil, then transfer to the oven. Bake for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Place in a serving dish over white rice. Sprinkle sesame seeds and scallion greens on top.

 

 

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Baked Rigatoni with Fresh Tomatoes, Herbs, and Parmesan

RigatoniWhen I was a kid we called this “pizza macaroni.” My sisters and I still call it that. For this dish, you’ll need a lasagna pan because it’s “layered” like lasagna. This pasta dish is great as a leftover. Like most pasta dishes, it’s better the second time around!

You will note that I call for both olive oil and Parmesan in unspecified quantities. You’re going to have to “wing it” here! Don’t be nervous, you’ll see how easy this is once you get to the directions for this simple yet wonderful dish.

You can also use Ziti for this dish, but I prefer Rigatoni.

Ingredients

1.5 lbs Rigatoni

6-8 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut in thin slices

1 cup fresh basil, trimmed and cut in long strips

3/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (or spicy oregano, which is what I use)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded and grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Bring salted water to boil in a very large pan. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, throw in the rigatoni. Cook the pasta, stirring frequently, until it’s just partially cooked (that would be less than al denté). Drain the pasta and rinse in cold water.

Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of the lazagna pan, and put down your first layer of rigatoni. Don’t lay it down too thick. Just make sure the surface is covered. Add a layer of tomatoes, sprinkle on basil, oregano and grated Parmesan, then drizzle again with olive oil.  Repeat this process until all the ingredients are used. This should give you about 3 layers. On the top layer, you’ll also add some shredded Parmesan.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350-degree for about an hour.

Serve with additional Parmesan as well as crushed red pepper.

 

 

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Homemade Baked Beans

bakedbeans4I remember eating beans and franks when I was a kid. I thought the B & M brand was pretty darned good. When I got older and I got a craving for these things, I tried Bush’s. Now I wouldn’t even think about buying baked beans in a can. I made a batch over the weekend, and I used a slow cooker.

This recipe calls for bacon, rather than pork fat back. I prefer either the maple cured bacon or the apple cider cured bacon. If you can get thick-cut, all the better. But the recipe works fine with traditional thinner cut bacon as well.

Ingredients

1 lb navy beans

1 lb Apple Cider Cured or Maple Cured Bacon, chopped

1.5 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup molasses

1.5 cups Ketchup

1 onion (red or Vidalia), chopped

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 tbsp dried mustard

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 tbsp salt

Directions

Soak the navy beans in cold water overnight. You can also boil them for one hour instead of soaking them, but I prefer the soaking method to prepare the beans.

Cook the bacon until it’s a bit crispy. Then, drain it on paper towels. Drain the beans and add them to the slow cooker along with the cooked bacon, as well as the rest of the ingredients. Stir to mix.

Cook on low for 4 hours, then on high for 5 hours. I then left mine on overnight on the warm setting. You can stir the pot occasionally if you’d like, but it’s not necessary. (I did until I went to sleep.)

Delicious!

 

 

 

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Wicked Good Burgers

eating-burgersWe’re not talking McDonalds, Burger King or Wendy’s here. In fact, have you watched television advertising from these slop shops? When you finally get there and order your burger, it rarely looks like it does on television. Ah, the beauty of food stylists. Let’s take it one step further here: We’re not even talking Fuddruckers or Five Guys (although anything you can get here is an improvement over other three). We’re talking homemade burgers. There’s nothing like it. I guarantee you can’t get these in a take-out place.

We’re also not talking just beef, but also ground chicken and turkey. Again, I urge you to think outside the culinary box. Cook them outdoors on the grill if you can but, if not, an indoor electric grill works as well (Breville makes a great product).

Following this little diatribe are six great burger recipes for you to try. This isn’t the entire repertoire, but it’s a great start. The recipes call for 1-1/3 lbs of ground meat. This should give you about four decent-sized burgers. I also do not buy the leanest cut, even with chicken and turkey. There’s nothing worse than a dried out burger. I am also giving you recipes for cheeseburgers because, well, what’s a burger without cheese on top? If you can’t eat cheese or do not like cheeseburgers, simply leave it off.

Lettuce or some kind of greens are always a welcome addition to burgers. Get creative here. Try baby spinach, baby kale or arugula for a switch.

Tuscan Blue Cheese Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lbs of ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp Italian or Tuscan Seasoning (I use McCormick’s)

1/2 lb crumbled blue cheese (or Gorgonzola, if you prefer)

Deli-sliced Pancetta (Italian bacon)

Italian Fontina Cheese (optional)

Coarse sea salt and coarse-ground black pepper

Olive oil and/or grill spray

Thomas’ Sandwich-sized English Muffins, toasted

Directions

The first thing you want to do is prepare the Pancetta. Deli-sliced pancetta should be sliced fairly thin. This is what you want. You should use 2-3 sliced per burger. Heat a pan and cook the pancetta until crisp, but not burned. Set aside on a paper towel to drain.

Mix together the first three ingredients, and divide into four equal parts. When forming the burgers, push some crumbled blue cheese into the center of the meat and form the burger around it.

Brush the burgers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Even though you are brushing oil on the burgers, I recommend using grill spray on outdoor grills as well.

On an outdoor grill, cook six inches from the coals with the cover down, or on a gas grill on medium-high heat with cover down for 6-7 minutes per side. On an indoor grill, preheat the grill on high and cook for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add the Fontina just before the burgers are cooked. Melting should take less than a minute with the grill cover closed.

Serve the burgers on Thomas’ Sandwich-Sized English Muffins that have been lightly toasted. These burgers are delicious with a quick Garlic-Lemon Aioli. It’s simple to make.

Garlic-Lemon Aioli: Mix 3/4 cup light mayonnaise, 3 tbsp minced garlic, 2.5 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving your burgers.

Greek Feta Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lbs of ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

2 tbsp dried thyme

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Kasseri cheese (optional)

Coarse sea salt and coarse-ground black pepper

Olive oil and/or grill spray

Crusty rolls

Directions

Mix together the first four ingredients, and divide into four equal parts. When forming the burgers, push some crumbled Feta cheese into the center of each and form the burgers around it.

Brush the burgers with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. I recommend using grill spray on outdoor grills even though you are oiling the burgers.

On an outdoor grill, cook the burgers six inches above the coals with the cover down, or on medium-high heat on a gas grill with the cover down for 6-7 minutes. On an indoor grill, preheat on high, then cook the burgers for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add your Kasseri cheese just before the burgers are done.

These burgers are great on crusty sandwich rolls. Sun-dried tomatoes in oil are great on top!

Santa Fe Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lb ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

1 tbsp cumin

1/2 tbsp coriander

Handful of fresh, chopped cilantro

5-6 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut in strips

1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut in strips

1 tbsp minced garlic

Coarse sea salt and coarse-ground black pepper

Olive oil and/or grill spray

Pepper Jack Cheese (optional)

Burger rolls (get creative; not the ones you feed your kids because they won’t eat any other kind)

Directions

Before you start the burgers, prepare your toppings. Drizzle some oil in a pan, add the Jalapenos, onions and garlic. Sauté on medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes and set aside.

Now, mix together the first four ingredients, and divide it into four equal portions. Form your burgers, and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

On an outdoor grill, cook the burgers six inches above the coals with the cover down, or on medium-high heat on a gas grill with the cover down for 6-7 minutes. On an indoor grill, preheat on high, then cook the burgers for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add your Pepper Jack cheese just before the burgers are done.

Serve on rolls with the Jalapeno pepper, onion and garlic topping.

Mexicali Blues Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lbs ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

3/4 cup chopped ancho, poblano or pasilla peppers

2 tbsp chili powder (hot or mild)

1 tbsp paprika

Coarse sea salt and coarsely-ground black pepper

Olive oil and/or grill spray

Guacamole

Burger buns

Monterey Jack Cheese or Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Directions

Mix together the first four ingredients and divide into four equal portions. Form your burgers, and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

On an outdoor grill, cook the burgers six inches above the coals with the cover down, or on medium-high heat on a gas grill with the cover down for 6-7 minutes. On an indoor grill, preheat on high, then cook the burgers for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add your Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese just before the burgers are done.

Serve on burger buns topped with guacamole.

Cajun Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lbs ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

3/4 cup chopped onion

1 tbsp Cayenne pepper

1 tbsp garlic powder

2 tbsp oregano

Coarse sea salt and coarsely-ground black pepper

Olive oil and/or grill spray

Cabot Habanero Cheddar Cheese

Onion rolls

Directions

Mix together the first five ingredients, and divide into four separate portions. Form your burgers, and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

On an outdoor grill, cook the burgers six inches above the coals with the cover down, or on medium-high heat on a gas grill with the cover down for 6-7 minutes. On an indoor grill, preheat on high, then cook the burgers for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add the Cabot Habanero Cheddar just before the burgers are done.

Serve on onion rolls.

Pesto Burgers

Ingredients

1-1/3 lbs ground sirloin, chicken or turkey

4 tbsp pesto

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Sea salt and crushed red pepper

Mozarella cheese

Roma tomatoes (thinly sliced)

Crusty rolls

Directions

I like making pesto, but you really don’t need to for this recipe. You can simply buy the pesto in the jar. This version naturally has a fair amount of olive oil sitting on top. Pour most of this out and use just the pesto.

Mix together the first three ingredients, and divide into four equal portions. Form your burgers, but skip the brushing with olive oil step. There will be plenty of oil from the pesto. Season with salt and crushed red pepper.

On an outdoor grill, cook the burgers six inches above the coals with the cover down, or on medium-high heat on a gas grill with the cover down for 6-7 minutes. On an indoor grill, preheat on high, then cook the burgers for 7-8 minutes on each side. For cheeseburgers, add the Mozarella just before the burgers are done.

Serve on crusty rolls with thinly sliced Roma tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baked Mac and Cheese With Chipotle Panko

Baked Mac and CheeseNo question about it. What I’m about to give you for a recipe is for adults. There’s no way kids will like Chipotle Panko breadcrumbs on their mac and cheese. In fact, my kids don’t like any breadcrumbs on their mac and cheese, unfortunately for them. So, here’s the deal: If you make this for them, leave off the breadcrumbs unless you ask them first. I make two versions. One is decidedly for adults because I add stuff in as well. The other is for the kids.

I also find that kids like milder cheeses, so I switch it up when I’m making it for kids. In other words, I put more Monterey Jack in for the kids, and less Cheddar. For adults, I’m liable to do just about anything. And I confess I’m a cheesaholic.

This is one of the greatest comfort foods on the planet. It distresses me when kids (who may be visiting) ask if it’s from the box. Ah, that would be a big, fat “No.” Not happening.

So, when you look at this recipe, pay close attention to the notes. This is one of those foods where you can think totally outside the recipe.

Ingredients

16 oz pasta (Anything goes here, except for spaghetti. I like to use Farfalle (bowties), Casserole Elbows (instead of regular elbows), Medium Shells, Rotini, or Cavatappi)

8 tbsp (one stick) butter plus an additional 4 tbsp (for the top when baking)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp Tuscan seasoning (McCormick brand; great product)

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

5 cups milk (whole or two-percent; your choice)

Chipotle Panko breadcrumbs (or regular Panko; your choice)

2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup finely-grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

The first thing I do is cook the pasta in a large pot until it is partially done. You’re going to bake it in the oven for at least 30 minutes, so you don’t want to cook it completely. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside. Another thing you can get out of the way is prepping yourself a large casserole dish by rubbing the inside thoroughly with butter. I use the tub butter for this job, specifically the light butter made with canola. It works just fine.

In a medium sized pan, heat the 4 cups of milk until just boiling. Set aside. While you’re doing that, take the same pan you cooked the pasta in and melt the 8 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, add in the flour and whisk continually until the mixture turns light brown. Remove from heat and whisk in the Tuscan seasoning, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Now, add the milk a little at a time. You’ll note that the mixture will be really thick in the beginning, but it will thin out. Once the milk has been incorporated, return this concoction to medium high heat and whisk until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You really don’t need to check this out. You can tell when it’s ready. Trust me. Remove from heat yet again, and add all of the cheese. Mix well until all the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Now, add the partially-cooked pasta and mix well until the pasta and cheese is thoroughly incorporated. Don’t worry if you have to add a few drops of cold milk to this. Again, think outside the recipe. Do what you have to do.

Spoon the mixture into your greased casserole dish and top with Chipotle Panko Breadcrumbs. Take the additional 4 tbsp butter and cut it up so that it sits on top of the breadcrumbs.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling freely.

Cooking Notes

There are a lot of things you can do with this dish. It’s unbelievably versatile. For kids, you may want to eliminate the Chipotle Panko Breadcrumbs and replace them with regular breadcrumbs. I simply use two different casserole dishes. One with; one without. Again, that’s up to you.

But there are a number of things you can add in besides spinach:

  • Chopped and sauteed Pancetta
  • Blanched broccoli florets
  • Sauteed red, yellow and orange peppers
  • Defrosted frozen peas (one of my all-time favorites)
  • Baby Kale (do not microwave before you bake)
  • Baby Spinach (do not microwave before you bake)
  • Thinly sliced tomatoes

All of these additional ingredients, except for the tomatoes, should be added in when you add the pasta to the cheese concoction. With the tomatoes, you can simply layer them with the pasta mixture in the casserole dish.

A Note About Cheese

Let’s talk cheese. The recipe calls for Cheddar and Monterey Jack. You can simply switch the two around and use 1 cup of cheddar and 2 of Monterey Jack for a mac and cheese with milder flavor. Keep the Parmesan as is. Other cheese that can be used in this recipe include Shredded Swiss, Edam, Fontina, or Mozarella, Six-Cheese Italian…even Four-Cheese Mexican. Hey, when it comes to cheese, anything goes.

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