Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve Dinner

I hosted Christmas Eve dinner this year.   We had Prime Rib, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Roasted Potatoes, Smashed Bourbon Yams, Chocolate Pie & Pecan Pie.

When cooking a large meal I suggest doing all the prep work in the morning.  After having a cup of coffee the first thing I did on Christmas Eve was chop all the vegetables up.   My entire counter space was full of bowls containing chopped veggies, aromatics and spice blends.   I then got out all the pots & pans I would need so that everything was ready.   Dinner was to be served at 6 pm.

At 2 I parboiled the potatoes and sprouts and then set out the Prime Rib to come to room temperature.
At 3:30 I put the roast in the oven.
At 5:30 the roast came out and the potatoes went in & all the veggies were started.  At 6 dinner was ready.

Easy Prime Rib:  I bought a 7 lb rib in roast that was already tied with butcher string at the meat market.  Preheat your oven to 450.  Slice 2 large onions into thick pieces.  Lay them on the bottom of your roasting pan.  Place the roast on top of  the onion.  Cut about a dozen slits in the fat of the roast and shove in slivers of garlic.  Rub the whole roast down with salt & pepper.  Sprinkle your favorite spice blend over the top as well.  I used some savory, aleppo pepper, garlic & onion granules, and some rosemary.   Pour about 1.5 cups of beef stock and 1 cup of good red wine in the bottom of the roasting pan.
Place the roast in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes then turn the heat down to 350 and roast an additional 90 minutes.  This produced a medium rare roast in the center. 
Use a meat thermometer if your not use to cooking large roasts.  120 degrees in the center is medium.  Let your roast rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Roasted Potatoes:  I quartered small creamy yellow potatoes.  Par boil the potatoes in salted water first.  This will help keep oven time to a minimum and produce a moister potato.  Liberally coat the parboiled slices in olive oil and spread evenly across a baking sheet.  Sprinkle the potatoes with your favorite spice blend.  I used the following:  salt & pepper, garlic & onion granules, dried parsley, paprika, aleppo pepper, savory and thyme.

Steamed Broccoli:  I steamed my broccoli florets over water that had 1 lemon sliced in half and 2 large bay leaves in it.  This produces a nice flavor.  Season steamed broccoli with a little salt & pepper.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts & Shallots:  Slice the sprouts in 1/2 or quarters depending on their size and par boil.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a little olive oil.  Add in 3 or 4 thinly sliced shallots and the sprouts.  Stir them around a bit making sure they don't burn, but making sure to let them caramelize to get a nice sweet flavor.  Season with salt & pepper.

Smashed Bourbon Yams:  Peel and chop up the yams.  Steam until tender.  Drain and smash with a fork.  Add one tablespoon of your favorite bourbon, 1 tablespoon of butter, a dash of salt and a little bit of half & half. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Shredded Turkey & Chile Enchiladas

I was going through my freezer the other day and realized that I had stashed the turkey legs from Thanksgiving for later use.  After a little thought enchiladas came to mind.

For the Filling:
Shredded Turkey Leg Meat
1 small can diced green chiles
1 small block of queso fresco
1/2 small can of spicy Mexican tomato sauce
1 small can of plain tomato sauce

Mix all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl and reserve for later.

Enchilada Sauce:
10 dried  California dried chiles
1/2 small can of spice Mexican tomato sauce
Turkey Stock (canned or fresh)

Stem and remove the seeds from the chiles.  Rinse well.  Place in a sauce pan and cover with at least 3 inches of fresh water.  Bring to a simmer.  Turn off the water and let set for about an hour until nice and soft.

Strain the chiles and place in the bowl of a food processor.  Add in the tomato sauce and blend.  Slowly add in turkey stock until you get a nice smooth consistency.  

Turkey Stock:  Place the leg bones and any remaining chunks of turkey meat into a large stock pot.  Add in 1 large onion & 2-3 carrots coarsely chopped.  Lightly smash 8 cloves of garlic with the back of a nice and toss those in too.  Now add some seasoning.  I used salt, pepper, oregano and dried ground ancho chiles.
Let this simmer for 3 hours.   Strain well.  Use the stock in sauces and soups.

Prepare the Enchiladas:
You can use either white or corn tortillas.  I used small white tortillas for this recipe because that's what I had on hand.
Spread about 1/4 cup of prepared sauce in the bottom of rectangular baking dish.
Heat up a large skillet with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Heat up a tortillas in the oil on both sides just to warm it up and make it nice and pliable.  Place it on a plate and place a big spoonful of the filling in the center. Roll up the tortilla and then place it in the baking dish.  Continue until baking dish is full of enchiladas.  Pour more sauce over the top and bake in a 350 degree oven until nice and bubbly.  About 30 minutes.  You can sprinkle some shredded cheese over the top if you like before putting in the oven.

I served my enchiladas with sour cream & salsa.

You can fake this whole recipe by using your favorite jarred or canned Enchilada sauce and store bought shredded chicken.  I really just wanted to cook all day and make everything from scratch.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

For the Pie:
1 pie crust
scant 3/4 cup of white sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice
2 large eggs
15 ounces of cooked mashed pumpkin
12 scant ounces of Evaporated Milk (i use slightly less than a whole can)

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl.  Beat the eggs and then stir in the pumpkin.  Add in the dry ingredients and then the  milk. 

Pour into prepared pie pan and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

For the Cinnamon Whipped Cream:
Beat together 1/2 pint of whipping cream, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of sifted powdered sugar.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Blueberry Cheese Danish

Last week when I was in the grocery store I saw packs of puff pastry that contained 5 squares per package.  I knew that they had to come home with me.

Ingredients: 5 squares of puff pastry thawed in the fridge overnight, 1/3 cup of mascarpone cheese, 1 teaspoon of corn starch, 2 tablespoons + 1 of white granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, zest off of 1/2 a lemon, 1/3 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)*, 1 egg beaten

Preheat Oven to 350.

Bring mascarpone cheese to room temperature.  Mix in 2 tablespoons of sugar, corn starch, lemon zest & juice and blueberries.  Beat the egg.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the puff pastry.  Place a spoonful in the center and fold in half.  Crimp the edges with a fork.  Brush tops with beaten egg and then sprinkle with remaining sugar.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Chive Compound Butter

I tend to make a lot of the same basic things for dinner.  We usually have pan cooked salmon every 1-2 weeks.  I like to change up the basics by serving the dinner bread with compound butter.

Compound butter is really easy to make.  It's just butter mixed with herbs & spices.  This round I went with chives since I thought it would go well with the fish.

Directions: Soften a stick of butter at room temperature.  Finely chop about 1/3 cup of chives.  Mix the chives into the butter with a little bit of fresh cracked butter.  Place a few spoonfuls into a bowl to serve with dinner.  Form the rest into a log shape using parchment paper and freeze for later use.

Ham Dinner

This weekend I made a "Snacking Ham" by request.  A snacking ham is a spiral sliced ham that makes lots of leftovers for midnight snacks.

Get yourself a 1/4 -1/2 half spiral sliced ham.   Line a roasting pan with foil for easy clean up.  Place ham in lined pan and let come to room temperature while you make the ham sauce.

Apricot Ham Sauce: 1/3 cup of apricot jam, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 cup of orange juice, 3-4 tablespoons of honey.  Simmer over low heat until slightly reduced. 

Pour sauce over ham and cover tightly with foil.  Slow cook for 3-4 hours at 225 degrees.   Cooking it low will create a very moist ham.

I served the ham with corn on the cob, steamed broccoli & mashed potatoes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Meat Balls

Who doesn't like homemade meat balls in slow simmered tomato sauce?

Meat Balls
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb 80/20 ground beef
1/3-1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
Spice Mix: dried parsley, oregano, sun-dried tomato flakes, garlic granules, onion granules, red chile flakes, salt & pepper.

Mix all the ingredients by hand and form into balls.  I like to go for a little smaller than a golf ball.  Brown the  meat balls in a skillet over medium heat.  You'll need to turn them several times to get them browned all over.

As the meat balls finish drop them into a big pot of simmering tomato sauce.  De-glaze the pan with a little red wine and add the drippings to the tomato sauce for some extra flavor.

Simple Tomato Sauce:
One #10 (the large one) can of crushed tomatoes
One 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 medium onion finely diced
6 cloves garlic finely diced
1/2 cup good red wine
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Heat up a little oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Cook the onion until translucent.  Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add in all the other ingredients and simmer for at least 1 hour.  Pull the bay leaves out before serving.

These meat balls make excellent sandwiches too!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gingerbread Cupcakes

 Easy Gingerbread Cupcakes.  This recipes makes about 12.

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup warm water
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Cream the butter and sugar and then add the rest of the ingredients.   Mix until combined and then fill muffin tins lined with a paper liner.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey & Barley Soup

Sunday evening I was surveying my kitchen and realized that I had a lot of bits and pieces left over, but not really enough for a whole meal.  After going through the pantry I realized that I could cobble together a soup in my crock-pot.

1 cup chopped turkey chunks
1 small onion chopped (you can use celery instead or a mix of both if you prefer)
1 cup sliced carrots (I used some leftover baby carrots)
1 can chicken stock
leftover turkey broth from Thanksgiving (I had about 1/2 cup of pan drippings)
2/3 cup of barley (feel free to use rice or some chopped up potato pieces
3 cups of water
Spices: liberal amount of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of savory, a dash of red chile flakes, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and a few shakes of salt.

I tossed this all in the crock-pot and let it cook on low while I was at work.  The smell when I got home this evening was amazing and it tasted even better.

You could add a can of chopped tomatoes to this for an even heartier soup.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Non Food Entry

Dear Food Lovers,

I really wanted to share this awesome site with you for childrens clothing.  Shannon Marie hand makes all the items from Pipsqueak Couture.  The dresses are amazing.  She is based out of Colorado and is the amazing mom to two little girls.  Please share this site with your friends.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Baked Beans

I decided to use some slab bacon that I picked up at McCall's Meat & Fish Market to make some fantastic baked beans for game night.  Instead of baking them I threw them in the crock pot.

Ingredients: 2.5 cups of navy beans, 1/2 lb of slab bacon, 1 small can of tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of onion granules, 1 tablespoon of tomato powder, 3 tablespoons of molasses, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 4 splashes of Worcestershire sauce, 2 big squirts of ketchup, lots of ground black pepper & some salt.

Precook the Beans:  Pick over the beans and discard any funny looking ones.  Rinse them off and place in a large pot.  Cover with water and turn the heat on medium.  Once the beans start to boil turn the heat down to simmer for 5 minutes.   Turn the heat off and let soak for 2 hours.

Once your beans are precooked you can add them to the crock pot.  Add in enough water to just barely cover.  Chop up the slab bacon into chunks and add that in. Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir.  Cook on low heat 8-10 hours.  Stir after 6 hours and add some more liquid if needed.

I served the beans with pigs in a blanket.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

McCall's Meat & Fish Company Paprika Sausages

Round 2 meal from McCall's Meat & Fish Company: Paprika Sausages.

  1. 2 Paprika Sausages
  2. 1 cup hot water
  3. Herb & Spice Blend: 4 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon of savor, 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 teaspoon of course salt, 1 teaspoon of oregano, fresh cracked black pepper.
  4. 1 teaspoon of olive oil
Heat a pan with the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add in the sausages and brown on all sides.  Meanwhile crush the garlic cloves and add them to a cup of hot water.  Add in the herbs and spices.  Once the sausages are browned pour in the fragrant water and simmer until cooked through.  About 10 minutes.

I served the sausages with buttery garlic toast, steamed broccoli and corn on the cob.  Everything but the sausages contained butter and yes it was delicious.

Sour Cream Sweet Potato Bread

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup cooked cubed sweet potatoes
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1./2 stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • spoonful of vanilla paste or vanilla extract (i like lots)
  • decent squeeze of caramelized honey or molasses
  • Optional Ingredients: 1/3 cup of chopped chocolate pieces or toasted nuts.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pulse all the dry ingredients in the food processor and then add in the wet stuff.  Pulse to combine.  Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The Nickel Diner

Yesterday I went to the Nickel Diner in downtown Los Angeles for some brunch.  It was 3.5 stars out of 5.

  1. They have bacon maple donuts.  It was unbelievably good.  Although I felt like having a heart attack after eating it.  I chose to eat it over the course of the afternoon rather than one giant artery clogging glutton session.
  2. The food is pretty good.  I ate a bacon scramble of some sort with a side of polenta.  The eggs were the perfect consistency and the polenta was nice and creamy.
  3. Prices are good.  15 bucks for a breakfast plate, a donut and a cup of coffee is pretty decent.
  1. I ordered the #1 and ended up with the #2.  I really wanted to try the ham and leak scramble but ended up eating what showed up anyway.  
  2. The coffee sucked.  It was really weak cheap diner coffee.  This place deserves better.
  3. The waitress was pretty inattentive.  I had to flag someone down when I wanted to order my donut to go and had to ask for some more coffee.
  4. The menu said the plate came with toast, and choice of polenta or potatoes.  I only got the polenta.

Rib Eye Steaks from McCall's Meat & Fish Company

Last night was date night.  I took him to McCall's Meat & Fish Company for little TLC.  He picked out 2 incredible 1 inch thick boneless natural CAB rib eyes.  They were glorious.

I chose to cook them in a very minimalist fashion so that the taste of the beef came through loud and clear.  I heated a cast iron pan over medium high heat with a little olive oil.  The beef was seasoned liberally with coarse sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  The seasoning was massaged in with some more olive oil and then the steaks were set out to come to room temperature.

Each steak was cooked 6 minutes per side to achieve a nice medium rare.

I served the steaks with sauteed mushrooms & asparagus along with a liberal dollop of sour cream mashed potatoes.  The trick to awesome mashed potatoes is a lot of fat.  The more fat the creamier the potatoes.  I used a reduced fat European style sour cream and half & half.  The potatoes with seasoned with salt & fresh cracked black pepper.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oktoberfest Dinner

Sausages with caramelized onions, roasted brussel sprouts & roasted potatoes.

For the sausages: simmer some bratwurst sausages & 1 sliced onion in about 1/2 a bottle of  good German beer for 10 minutes.  This should cook them most of the way through.  Drain the sausages & onions and saute them in a hot pan with a little olive oil until the onions are nice and caramelized.

For the veggies:  Boil the fingerling potatoes in heavily salted water for 10 minutes.  Steam the brussel sprouts for 8 minutes.
Spread the veggies and taters out on a foil lined baking sheet.  Toss with olive oil.  Sprinkle with spices.
Veggies=garlic granules, salt & pepper.  Potatoes=aleppo  pepper, black pepper, salt, garlic granules, savory & parsley.
Roast at 425 for 20 minutes.

I also served a side of baked beans because that's what he wanted.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread with Walnuts

Preheat Oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan or muffin cups.

Ingredients: 1 can pumpkin puree or one roasted baking pumpkin, 1/2 stick room temperature butter, 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar, 3 eggs, 3-4 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, a few dashes of cinnamon, clove & nutmeg, 1 teaspoon vanilla paste, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of walnuts.

Baked Pumpkin Directions:  Cut in half, scoop out innards and play cut side down on a lined baking sheet.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 90 minutes.

Pulse 3 cups of flour, salt baking soda & spices in the food processor.  Pour dry ingredients into a large bowl and set aside.   If using a baking pumpkin scoop out the baked  flesh and add to the food processor.  Pulse until well pureed.  Add in the sugar, butter, vanilla paste and eggs.  Pulse to combine.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry.  Mix to combine.  Add in chocolate chips and nuts.  Mix.  If the batter is too thin add in flour about 1/4 cup at a time until nice and thick.  You want a spoon to be able to stand up right in the batter.

Pour into a loaf pan or muffin tins and bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.  This will take about 50 minutes in a loaf pan.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Roasted Acorn Squash and Porterhouse Steak

Dinner tonight was Roasted Acorn Squash, Porterhouse Steak, Steamed Broccoli & Sauteed Asparagus.

Roasted Acorn Squash:  Cut the squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds and play on a baking sheet.  In a small bowl mix together 1 tablespoon of melted butter, 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar and a dash of nutmeg.  Using a pastry brush coat the inside of the squash.  Roast cut side up in a 400 degree oven for an hour.

For the Porterhouse (A nice one serves two people easily): rub down with your favorite salt and spice blend*.  Place in a plastic bag and add in a few tablespoons of olive oil and a couple of splashes of red wine.  Marinate for about an hour. 
Spice Blend: Kosher Salt, Ground Black Pepper, Hot Aleppo Pepper & Garlic Granules.

In a very hot cast iron pan cook each side about 3 minutes and 30 seconds.  You want a nice caramelized appearance.   Then finish off in a 475 oven for about 4-6 minutes depending on your taste.  Let rest off the heat for 15 minutes before serving to make sure it stays nice and juicy.

I ate both halves of the acorn squash while making the steak and veggies.  Mr. Man doesn't like squash.  At least that means more for me.