Sunday, December 27, 2009

Prime Rib Roast

I scored the family recipe for Prime Rib. This may well be the best Christmas gift they could have given me. This recipe is a fairly recent development, perfected after I was married and out of the house. The only problem is that now I yearn for another kitchen gadget - a Showtime Rotisserie. Every time my husband and I visit my parents we get at least one or two amazing meals made from this appliance. Whether my parents rotisserie chicken, prime rib, or tenderloin, it doesn't matter. Everything made in the Showtime turns out delicious.

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Prime Rib Roast
5 lb Prime Rib Roast

Dry Rub
4 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons course ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried parsley leaves

1) In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients of the rub

2) 24 hours before roasting, rinse and pat dry the meat. Coat the roast with the dry rub making sure it is well coated on all sides.

3) Wrap the coated roast in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or as long as 3 days).

4) Two hours before cooking time take the roast out of the refrigerator and leave in the plastic wrap and let the meat come to room temperature.

5) Spindle the roast, secure it inside the Showtime Rotisserie, and cook 17 minutes per pound for a medium rare 5 pound roast. (In this case, 1 hour and 25 minutes).

UPDATE (12/25/12)
20 min/lb - 150 - 155 degrees for well
18 min/lb - 140 - 145 degrees for medium
17 min/lb - 130 - 135 degrees for medium rare
16 min/lb - 120 - 125 degrees for rare

**More important than the minutes per pound is the temperature.  It's better to undercook than to overcook. I have over cooked a couple of roasts beyond medium rare, and while that is a big bummer the flavor is still amazing.  Also remember that the meat will continue to cook a bit as you let it rest.

6) Let the roast rest for 15 minutes on the no heat rotisserie mode, or remove from spindle and tent with foil on a cutting board.

7) Slice and serve (my parents used an electric knife - guess what, I'm thinking I could use one of those too;-)

Monday, November 9, 2009


I love bread. Sometimes, I really think that I could survive on wine, bread, and cheese alone. (But it would have to be really good bread). I am so grateful to Panera in helping bring real artisan bread back to mainstream America. Unfortunately, too much bread, too often is not good when one is trying to loose weight. Has anyone invented The Bread Diet yet? Anyway, when I have bread; it better be good!  And, this Stromboli qualifies. I have made this bread several times - once I brought it with me when invited to a friend's home for dinner. It never ceases to be a crowd pleaser. I first made this recipe exactly as it is printed on page 106 of Ultimate Bread. I have tried several variations experimenting with different types of cheese and flour. However, my favorite combo is mozzarella and parmesan reggiano.

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2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) water
3 1/2 cups (500 g) unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
for the filling and topping
7 oz (200 g) shredded mozzarella
7 oz (200 g) shredded or sliced parmesan reggiano
1 garlic clove
1 handful of fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon course salt
3 sprigs of rosemary, stems removed
1 teaspoon pepper

1) Mix yeast with 1 1/4 cups of warm water (not above 110 degrees otherwise it will kill the yeast)

2) Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast-water and oil. Mix in the flour from the sides of the well until all the ingredients are combined into a soft sticky dough. (When ever I use my scale to measure the flour - the better my dough comes out)

3) Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic - about 10 minutes.

4) Place the dough into a clean oiled bowl, cover with a flour towel, and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down and chafe for 5 minutes. (Chaffing = Starting with a plump round shape apply a slight amount of pressure while simultaneously rotating the dough clockwise)

5) Roll out dough into a 14" x 8" rectangle, cover with a flour towel and let rest 10 minutes.

6) Put garlic clove through press and gently spread with spatula over the dough. There won't be enough to go over the entire dough - that's okay it is not meant to be garlic bread

7) Spread basil leaves evenly over dough and top evenly with all the cheese. Starting at one of the short sides roll the dough like a Swiss roll but not tightly. I try to roll mine a little more flat than round so it looks like more like the picture in the book.

8) Place on an oiled baking sheet. Using a skewer pierce several holes through the dough all the way to the baking sheet so that the cheese bubbles up through the holes. Lightly brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and artfully arrange some of the rosemary sprigs sprout from the holes and sprinkle the rest.

9) Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes - until deep golden brown.

10) Cool slightly and drizzle with remaining olive oil. (drizzling with olive oil is a very important step - don't skip)

Note: I have also placed the dough ingredients in my bread maker (liquids first, then flour salt and yeast). After taking the dough out of the bread machine start with the chaffing step.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Te Con Leche

This will probably be one of the easiest posts as it consists of 2 ingredients: tea and milk. I first had this beverage back in 1987 on my first night in Spain with my host family. In all honesty, it was the only thing she offered that I understood. It quickly became a favorite, and find myself craving this beverage during the evenings of fall and winter months. A notch above warm milk and several below a latte - this is a soothing beverage treat on its own, or an extra-special treat with a European-tea biscuit.

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Te Con Leche (Tea with Milk)

1 Cup of milk
1 Tea bag (I use Lipton)

1) Gently heat milk in sauce pan over medium low heat.
2) As milk is heating place tea bag in milk - periodically helping tea steep into the milk by gently squeezing tea bag after it absorbs milk.

Note: Te con Leche is done when milk is steaming and is a light carmel color due to tea. Also, I have heated milk in a microwave then steeped the tea bag for two minutes with excellent results.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quick Fish Tacos

I believe I have mentioned that I love shopping at Trader Joe's. Here is another reason why. I am always excited to find out what they are serving up for customers to sample. One day they were serving their lightly breaded fish sticks. Now I will admit that I had already bought them before, and I knew that they were good - but I ate a sample anyway. Within the 10 second conversation that I had with that friendly Trader Joe's employee (they hire great people - they are always friendly) she told me how she uses the fish sticks to make fish tacos. What an epiphany. The following recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight since dinner can be on the table in 30 minutes.

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Quick Fish Tacos

1 package of frozen fish sticks (I use Trader Joe's Brand)
2 Cups of shredded red cabbage (I use Trader Joe's pre shredded)
2 Tablespoons Ranch dressing
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh Cilantro
1 package of corn tortillas (I have used low carb flour, and sprouted corn tortillas)

1) Preheat oven and bake fish sticks according to package directions
2) Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl
3) Heat tortillas in microwave or with a small amount of oil frying pan (stacking on a plate as heated)
4) Assemble using two to three fish sticks per taco and a scoop of the cabbage mixture, or let everyone build their own.

Serve with sour cream, avocado, salsa, and a side of refried beans

Note: my absolute favorite salsa is Trader Joe's Homestyle Salsa Especial - Medium. I am determined to figure out a comparable recipe.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Seared Scallops with Pea Puree, Crisp Pancetta, and Gremolata

Are you looking for something a little different without spending hours in the kitchen? Here is the ticket. This meal only took about 30 minutes including preparation time, and I was surprised at both the ease and elegance of this plate. This recipe comes straight from the pages of The Best Of Fine Cooking Fresh 2009 (pg. 53 to be exact). As you can see in the picture I have plenty of other recipes marked so don't be surprised when you see more from this magazine. I did go a bit over board with the gremolata though. I had never made it before. I wasn't even sure what it was, or what to do with it. Yes, that's why I call cooking a journey.

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Seared Scallops with Pea Puree, Crisp Pancetta, and Gremolata
~Serves 4 as an appetizer; 2 as main course

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
3 Tbs. EVOO, more for drizzling
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 cups fresh shelled peas (about 2 lb. unshelled) or frozen peas
1 cup lower-salt chicken broth or water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 very thin slices pancetta
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
12 medium all-natural "dry"sea scallops (not soaked in sodium tripolyphosphate)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1) Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 F (I used my toaster oven)

2) Set aside 1 Tbs. of the shallots and put the rest in a 3-qt saucepan with 2 Tbs. of the oil and the garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until the shallots are soft and fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and the broth and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pan and cook until the peas are tender (5 to 8 minutes for frozen).

3) Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and puree to a smooth consistency, adding a little water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the puree to the saucepan, cover, and set aside on the stovetop to keep warm. (This is why I own an Immersion Blender - I blended the peas right in the small pot).

4) Put the pancetta on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 14 minutes. Set aside in a warm spot. In a small bowl combine the parsley, lemon zest, and the reserved 1 Tbs. shallots and set aside.

5) Pat the scallops dry and season them generously with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the scallops and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

6) Portion the warm pea puree among serving plates. Arrange the scallops on the puree and crumble the pancetta on top. Sprinkle the gremolata over all and finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

French Chicken in a Crock Pot

I have been working on this recipe for a while, and now I'm finally ready to blog about this dish. The idea for French Chicken in a Crock Pot came about because I wanted to be able to have the moist, tender, and flavorful namesake dish without heating up the house. More importantly, I wanted to be able to leave the house and come back to a finished dish. Even if the oven is set to a low 250 degrees, I just don't feel comfortable leaving it on while I'm gone.

The first time I made this dish I overcooked the chicken and there was zero flavor left in the chicken or the vegetables. So, it is possible to overcook chicken in a crock pot. However, I made the most amazing rice that I ever made with the juice, since that is where all the flavor went.

My next try, I actually made the original French Chicken in a Pot, so I could compare the crock pot version with the real thing. What I like about the original version is that you only dirty one pot. I will make this version again in cool whether when I don't need to leave the house. However, the oven version took a lot longer than I expected, and I took the temperature on the bird several times before it was done.

Back to the crock pot version - I made this at least two more times and settled on my spice amounts. I have learned to use the advanced settings on my crock pot, and the temperature probe attachment. The chicken, paired with some roasted vegetables, presented on a platter is fit for dinner guests. I recently had the opportunity to serve this chicken dinner to guests and received excellent reviews.

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French Chicken in a Crock Pot

1 (5 lb) roasting chicken
1 tablespoon herbs de provence
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon sage
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot
1 small to medium onion
1 parsnip or carrot
6 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons grape seed oil

1) In a small bowl mix herbs de provence, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, pepper, garlic cloves, and olive oil to make a paste.

2) Rinse chicken. Loosen the skin over the breast and slide 1 teaspoon of the spice mixture over each breast/ under the skin. Rub another teaspoon of the spice mixture inside the cavity. Save the remaining spice mixture for the outside of the bird. Finish prepping the chicken by trussing the legs together, and tucking the wing tips under the bird.

3) Heat 3 tablespoons of grape seed oil over medium-high heat. Rub the remaining spice mixture over the entire chicken and place the chicken breast side down into the hot oil to brown the skin. (About 2 minutes). Take a wooden spoon, put inside the cavity and flip the chicken over to brown the other side. (About 2 minutes).

4) Skin and quarter the shallot and onion. Peel parsnips/carrots and cut into pieces to match the size of the shallot and onion pieces. Add these vegetables along with the peppercorns and bay leaf to the bottom of the crock pot and place the chicken on top.

5) Use temperature probe attachment if you have it - otherwise cook on high for 2.5 to 3 hours for a 5 lb. bird, or until 165 degrees. Remove chicken and tent with foil. Pour cooking juice through cheese cloth, and into a fat separator to use for au jus.

6) Place on platter with vegetables for a nice presentation.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Multigrain Pancakes with Wild Blueberry-Maple Syrup

I have wanted to make this recipe for over a year now.  Almost everyday I would walk by my coffee table and see these pancakes on the cover of my February 2008 edition of bon appetit.  I don't know why I waited so long to make these, but I won't wait very long before I make them again.

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Multigrain Pancakes with Wild Blueberry-Maple Syrup (adapted from bon appetit)

1 (8 oz) container of organic maple syrup (I found this at Trader Joe's)
1 cup frozen organic wild main blueberries (I found these at Trader Joe's)
2 cups multigrain baking and pancake mix (you guessed it - Trader Joe's)
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
6 tablespoons wheat germ
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
canola oil

1) Boil syrup and blueberries in a heavy saucepan until reduced to 1 cup (about 13 minutes).  Cool to lukewarm.

2) Combine pancake mix, buttermilk, eggs, wheat germ, vanilla, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the syrup.

3) Heat a small pat of butter and 2 teaspoons of canola oil in a pan.  (The butter browned too quickly and was very smokey, the oil didn't brown the pancakes enough, but the combo worked great).  Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls into pan making 3 to 4 inch rounds.  Cook pancakes until brown and cooked through (about 2 minutes per side).  Transfer to plates and keep in the oven on a warm setting until all remaining batter is cooked.  Serve with syrup.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Spicy Almond-Encrusted Chicken Breast

Have I mentioned that I love Trader Joe's?  Here is a perfect example why I do -- they sell almond meal. If you are trying to cut back on gluten or white processed flour, this is a fabulous substitute. And, Trader Joe's has it ground and packaged for convenience.  One way I thought about using this product was on chicken - but how should I spice it up?  I remembered that I had a jar of Emeril's Spice blend in the fridge from when I made the paneed pork medallions. The verdict? Success.  My husband raves about this recipe; he loves it.  I have made it a few times now, and it will become a part of our regular lineup.  Best of all it this recipe is loaded with beneficial Omega-6 polyunsaturated fat.

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Spicy Almond-Encrusted Chicken Breast

2 large chicken breast halves
1/2 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon of Emeril's spice blend
1/4 cup olive oil

1) Mix the almond meal and spice blend together in
 a bowl.

2) Butterfly the chicken breasts to make 4 pieces.

3) Dip the chicken in olive oil and dredge in almond mixture to 
loosely cover.

4) Place on parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes at 350 on parchment lined paper.

Note:  Whenever I read recommended serving amounts protein often weighs  4 oz servings. Well, who can find a 4 oz chicken breast?  Not me, that's why I started butterflying them.  When we are extra hungry we eat 2 pieces, but more often than not the half breast serving is plenty. 

For Convenience here is Emeril's Spice Blend  

Bayou Blast

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme

1) mix  together - yields 2/3 cup

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Asparagus, Baby Bella, & Red Onion Stir Fry

Tired of the same old side dish vegetables?  This is good enough to turn into a meal by serving with rice and/or perhaps adding tofu or chicken.  I was doing some shopping in my new favorite health-food market Jimbos, and in the vegetable section they had about a pound of asparagus, mushrooms, and red onions chopped-up, shrink-wrapped, and ready-to-go for $8.95.  It looked fantastic.  Granted it was all organic, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay that price.  So I made it myself.  Come to think of it, I'm not sure how much money I really saved since I did buy all organic ingredients.  However, if you are not able to buy organic don't worry -- red onions and asparagus actually made the 15 most clean list (be sure to flip through all the slides to see the top 15 cleanest foods).

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Asparagus, Baby Bella, & Red Onion Stir Fry

1 package/bunch asparagus
1 small to medium red onion
1 (8 0z) container of baby portabella mushrooms
olive oil

1) Wash asparagus. On a diagonal cut the tough ends off (usually a couple of inches).  Continue with the same diagonal cut and make 1/2 to 1 inch pieces leaving the tip whole.

2) Gently wash mushrooms, trim tough ends (usually 1/4 to 1/2 inch) and slice 1/4 inch thick.

3) Coarsely chop red onion.

4) Heat 2 to 3 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute.  Add all of the vegetables to the pan coating all of the vegetables with oil.  Salt and pepper to taste, and stir fry for about 5 minutes or until your preferred doneness. 

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Steak Nicoise Salad with Farm-Fresh Green Beans & Lime-Peanut Vinaigrette

Thanks to my favorite blog Simply Recipes, I was alerted to a useful book that helps home cooks learn the ratios behind basic recipes.  The book is  aptly named Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Mark Ruhlman.  I'm not reading the book cover to cover (not at this point), but I have familiarized myself with the book. It is serving as a coffee table book that I periodically pick up, and use for reference. Specifically, I've tried a couple of his vinaigrettes, and last week I was reading up on brines (which has become very popular of late), when an idea stuck me.  What about a meat-and-potatoes type of salad?  My meat-and-potatoes husband and I have been trying to eat healthier:  more vegetables, more fruits, more fish, more lean meats etc.  We haven't had red meat in a while and I had a one-pound top sirloin (organic and from Uruguay to be exact) in the fridge and I didn't have any specific plans for how I was going to use it.  My idea?

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Steak Nicoise Salad with Farm-Fresh Green Beans & Lime-Peanut Vinaigrette
serves 4

12 oz. spinach leaves or (2 ) 6 oz. bags
1 medium red onion, minced
2 medium russet or red potatoes, cooked tender and sliced
1 large container of fresh green beans, cooked tender
1 pound top sirloin, grilled and sliced thin
12 nicoise or kalamata olives, quartered
Peanut oil
Lime-peanut vinaigrette

Marinade for the Top Sirloin

2 tablespoons of Bragg Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
1/8 teaspoon chinese 5 spice
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

1) Mix ingredients and marinate at room temperature for 90 minutes, flipping several times.  (My sirloin was partially frozen so I felt comfortable marinating at room temperature.  However, if your sirloin is completely is thawed -- you might want to marinate for a longer period of time in the fridge)

To prepare the potatoes

1) Prepare other salad components while sirloin
 is marinating.

2) Wash and place potatoes in a small pot with enough water to cover the potatoes.  Bring to a boil and simmer at a low boil until potatoes are tender 30 to 40 minutes. Drain and set aside

3) Just before salad assembly begins lightly coat potato with peanut oil and slice in 1/4 inch slices.

Farm-Fresh Green Beans - from Ratio by Michael Ruhlman

1 pound of farm fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
2o cups of water 
1 cup salt

1) Bring the water and salt mixture to a boil

2)  Cook green beans 4-5 minutes until tender not crunchy.  At this point the beans can be served immediately with butter and lemon. Or, drain and submerge beans in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. (At this point the beans can be kept in the fridge until ready to use and sauteed for two minutes with your favorite spices).  In my case, I set aside since I w
as going to use in this salad.

Lime-Peanut Vinaigrette - from Ratio by Michael Ruhlman

1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced shallot (I substituted with red onion)
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup peanut oil

1) Combine the lime juice, salt, and shallot in a blender. (I used my immersion blender).  Blend for a few seconds to dissolve the salt and shallot/onion.

2)  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until they are combined.  Set aside.

To make to top sirloin

1) Heat 2 - 3 tablespoons of peanut oil over medium-high heat in your favorite grill pan.  (I used a cast iron pan with grill marks).  Place top sirloin in the pan and cook on one side 4 minutes with the cast iron grill weight on top of the steak.  Flip and cook on the second side for 4 more minutes with the cast iron grill weight on
 top again, (or until your preferred doneness).  This steak came out a perfect medium rare.

2) Remove from heat and tent with aluminum foil for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

3) When ready to slice, use a sharp knife and slice 1/4" slices

Assemble the salad

1) Place spinach in one large bowl and use just enough lime-peanut dressing to coat all of the leaves evenly.  Divide spinach between 4 plates.

2) Arrange sliced sirloin, green beans, potatoes, red onions and olives over the greens.

3) Drizzle with more vinaigrette.


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