Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope all your gastronomical dreams come true today.

What are you making? My sister-in-law's doing the bulk of the cooking at Grandma's house today, but I've got an apple pie in the oven right now, and as soon as it comes out, Mom's rosemary bread goes in.

And, oh yeah, my house smells amazing right now. Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Beef Kebabs

One and a half pound beef sirloin steak, cut into one-inch cubes
One-quarter cup grated yellow onion*
One tablespoon minced garlic
Two tablespoons ground coriander
One tablespoon ground caraway
Two teaspoons curry powder
Half a cup coconut milk
Two tablespoons soy sauce
Two tablespoons lemon juice

In a small bowl, combine the grated onion, garlic, coriander, caraway, curry, coconut milk, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Add the beef and marinade to a plastic bag and shake a little to evenly distribute the marinade. Allow to stand at room temperature for an hour.

Preheat a grill and slide the beef onto skewers. Grill about 8 minutes for medium, turning occasionally. Serve with steamed white rice. You can also do this on a baking sheet under the broiler, like me!

Tim really liked these, and I didn't like them at all. For me, it was wayyyy too much caraway. Possibly that's because I used seed instead of ground, so make sure you have ground caraway before making this.

*My grater squished the onion more than anything, so I gave up and just diced it. Worked for me!

Difficulty: 1
Takes about 20 minutes of prep, 10 minutes cooking, and an hour soaking.
Feeds 6.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Oven Braised Chicken

A couple months ago my sister-in-lawesome gave me a Williams-Sonoma cookbook chock full of mouthwatering recipes for all my favorite meats. She said she didn't think she was accomplished enough to attempt these recipes, but I think she could do it. Anyway, I'm glad she felt like she couldn't handle it, because this is wayyyy too fabulous to miss out on. November's meals are 100% out of this cookbook.

Oven Braised Chicken with Vegetables
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Meat & Poultry cookbook

One roasting chicken, 3-5 pounds
One yellow onion, halved
One head of iceberg lettuce, cored and sliced lengthwise*
Two carrots, peeled and chopped
One green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
Two tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
Half a cup dry white wine
Half a cup chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Chop your onion in half.

Peel and chop your carrots.

Seed and chop your bell pepper.

Slice your lettuce.

Rub the chicken's cavity with salt and place the onion halves inside. Place the lettuce, carrots, and bell peppers in the bottom of a heavy oven-proof pot.

Rub the outside of the chicken with butter, and then season with salt and pepper. Put the chicken in the pot, breasts up.

(That's not actually butter on my chicken, that's margarine. I fully support you using butter, but you know, I'm lactose intolerant. So I choose to forgo it.)

Add the wine and the chicken stock. Cover and put in the oven for an hour. Remove the lid and continue cooking until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh away from the bone reads 170F, about 30 more minutes.

Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a platter and spoon the juices over the top.

This was good--tender and moist--but there wasn't a ton of flavor. And the lettuce got really gross after being cooked for 90 minutes. So next time I make this, I think I'll skip the lettuce (and maybe the pepper, too, since Tim doesn't like them) and chunk up a potato instead.

Serves four.
Takes about 20 minutes of prep, plus 90 minutes cook time.
Difficulty: 1

* I actually chose to use Boston lettuce, because my market sells it in tiny heads. There's just no way we can use a whole head of lettuce before it goes bad. And seriously, if I'd used an entire head of iceberg, I don't know how I'd have fit the chicken in the pot. It was a tight squeeze with all those veggies!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Marinated Flank Steak

Here's my thing about Rachel Ray (besides the fact that I generally find her loud and abrasive)--I don't feel like she gives you crucial bits of information at crucial times. Like tonight, when I was making this recipe. When it comes to steak, I generally prepare it and then make Tim take it outside and grill it. But it's super cold this time of year, and if I wait for Tim to get home and grill, we may not eat until 7:30 or so. And that's pretty much too late for me. So I was really excited when the recipe noted that I could cook this steak in a cast iron skillet on the stove--except the recipe neglected to note that I would burn part of the steak, create a heckuva ton of smoke, set off the smoke detector, scare my cat, worry my husband, and generally feel like I'd failed at life. So anyway....the recipe.

Marinated Flank Steak & Bacony Potatoes
Adapted from Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals

Two cloves of garlic, minced
One tablespoon of your favorite grill seasoning
One teaspoon chilli powder
Two teaspoons tabasco sauce
One tablespoon worcestershire sauce
Two tablespoons red wine vinegar
A one-and-a-half-pound flank steak
One pound small red new potatoes
Four slices bacon

Mix the garlic, seasoning, chilli powder, tabasco, worcestershire, and vinegar in a plastic bag. Insert the steak and shake a little to evenly cover with the marinade. Let it sit until you're ready to cook it, at least 15 minutes. (I didn't have red wine vinegar, so I used apple cider vinegar. I think regular white vinegar would be fine, too.)

Cut your potatoes in half and place in a medium pot. Cover with water and liberally salt. Potatoes need salt, people! Cover with a lid and heat until the water boils. Then remove the lid and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
Chop your bacon and cook it.

Heat a grill or cast-iron skillet over high heat. Cook the steak on the hot pan, about 6 minutes per side. Please note: this will create a lot of smoke, so turn on as many fans as you can. Also, any garlic still adhered to the steak will burn! It is 100% worth your effort to remove as much garlic as possible before adding the steak to the pan. If you set off your smoke detectors (like me), put the skillet in the oven at 350F for an additional 5 minutes or so, and then cut into it to figure out if it's as done as you need it to be. And just keep putting it back in the oven until you get it there (that's what I did).

Smash your potatoes with a bit of milk and butter, or sour cream, or chicken broth, or half & half. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the bacon! Mmmmm....

Enjoy! For all my whining about smoke and feeling like I'd failed, the steak actually turned out pretty amazingly delicious.

Feeds four.
Difficulty: 2
Takes about 45 minutes.