Sunday, September 26, 2010

LME Curried Zucchini n' Lamb

This was an experiment of throwing everything in but the kitchen sink. Worked out quite nice.

6 medium zucchini
1 medium eggplant
3/4 pound lamb pieces (I used loin)
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
3 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, whole
1 TSP cayenne pepper
1 TSP dried Thai chili peppers, minced
1 TBS salt
2 TBS unsalted butter
2 TBS yellow curry powder
1/2 cup Vouvray wine
1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs
4 TBS chopped, roasted cashews

Preheat your oven to 250.

Take lamb and cut into cubes. Coat w/ salt and pepper. In a 4 quart, oven safe pot, sear each side over medium high heat with 2 TBS of EVOO for 30 seconds.

Peel eggplant; cut into 1" chunks. Cut zucchini in half, chop into 1" chunks.

Heat 2 TBS EVOO in the pan that had the lamb in it over medium heat. Add minced shallot and saute for 5 minutes until softened. Add the thin sliced garlic cloves with 1 TSP salt. Saute for an additional minute.

Add butter, zucchini and eggplant. Saute 10 minutes chopping the veggies with a metal spatula. Add cayenne and dried Thai chili peppers and continue to saute until the veggies have softened, about 20 minutes (or when the volume has decreased by half). Add in the curry powder.

Add back the lamb and garlic cloves. Let them rest of top of the veggies, cover, and set into the oven for 2 hours.

Add the wine and stir the entire mix. Put back into the oven for an additional hour; add in the bread crumbs and then back into the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

Serve with rice and top with chopped roasted cashews.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Hatcho Risotto

The first posting from France! An accomplishment it 'twas. Still (and will be for a while) getting used to the kitchen here, which has a lack of storage space and a joke of a stove (I have to manually light the burners each time I turn one on). So, if I can do it here YOU can easily do it.

This was too good to be true. One, the risotto itself. Two, "finding" Hatch-like chili's in France!

This was actually quite simple to make (and very tasty).

To make it vegetarian just remove the salami - you likely won't miss what it adds (I used the salami for another dish).

2 ½ inch/1.5 cm thick slices of salami
1 TBS unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Hatch chili, roasted and diced to ½ inch/1.5 cm cubed pieces
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup arborio rice
1 ounce/25 grams brie de meaux, rind removed (brie or camembert good substitutes)
Half package (4 oz./100g of prepared bitter greens (frisée, raddichio, and argula mix)
Sea salt

In a 3 quart (3 liter) pot over medium heat add the salami slices and cook until crispy and the fat has rendered off. Remove the salami - save it for the chicken if you're going to do that - and add the olive oil and butter. Toss in the shallot and about 2 TSP sea salt and saute for 8 minutes until softened. Add in the garlic and Hatch chili and saute for about 2 minutes.

Turn the heat up to medium high and pour in the rice; saute for about 2 minutes. Add about 1 cup of the chicken broth - or enough to cover the rice - and return to a boil, stirring constantly. As the broth boils off add more to keep the rice covered. Do this for about 10 minutes and then check the rice for doneness - it should be a little crunchy.

Stir in the cheese until melted and then add in the greens. Stir until the greens soften (about 2 minutes, tops) and serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Sausage Sautéed Spaghetti

This goes up there with true, genuine, man/dude/guy food. Quick, easy, and hearty. It ranks up there with crappy lo mein eaten while drunk. In fact, if I were drunk eating this I'd swear it'd be the best thing out there. And really only four ingredients, not counting the oil. Recipe is for one person.

Since we're moving to France in a month I'm trying to clean out the fridge and cupboards. It's amazing what you can come up with.

Spaghetti (1/6 of a box)
2 sausage links of your choosing, about ¼ pound (I used Elgin)*
1 clove garlic, halved
Grated Parmesan cheese
Canola oil

*Recommended sausages: Polish, Czech, even a real (i.e., contains veal) bratwurst.

Cook the spaghetti to al dente as per directions on the box in heavily salted water. Cold shock it (i.e. run cold water over it) when you drain and set aside.

Halve the sausage links lengthwise. In a small skillet add about 1 TSP of canola oil, the garlic, and the sausage and cook over medium heat until browned on both sides, about 6 - 8 minutes.

Remove the sausage from the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and add the spaghetti (IT WILL SPATTER - be careful). Toss the pasta around in the oil and let sit to allow it to crisp up, about 2 minutes. Toss it again and repeat this process about 3 times, or to your own desire.

Cut the sausage up into bite-sized pieces and add into the pan for a final toss. Transfer into your favorite I-use-this-bowl-to-inhale-food bowl, generously sprinkle with Parmesan, and go to town.

Variation that would work: in the spaghetti fry add a whole egg and scramble it up while sauteing the pasta. Mmmm. Could even sub American cheese singles for the Parm. Let it melt on the pasta, then mix it all up. Oh boy I'm hungry now.....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Cast Iron Steak

Much like what I did in my Steaked Salad recipe, this takes it to a new level and is good for small cuts of steak...such as that from buffalo.

Buffalo NY Strip steaks, about ¾ inch thick
Salt & Pepper (or Montreal steak seasoning) hour before cooking.......

Remove the steaks from the fridge, quick rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Trim some of the visible fat off the steaks, about a scant ¼ cup worth, and reserve. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper or the steak seasoning. Set steaks on a wire rack and let sit for one hour, uncovered, room temperature.

Preheat the cast iron skillet to medium for 5 minutes. Add the reserved fat and "render" it for about 10 minutes, meaning, gently cook the liquifying fat out of the solids. Discard the solids keeping the liquid fat in the pan.

Crank the heat up to medium-high. [For what it's worth, my stoves burners go up to 19,000 BTU so medium-high on mine might be high or medium on yours.] As soon as the fat begins to smoke, add 1 TBS of butter per steak. It will immediately bubble and start to brown. Get ready.....

Add the steaks and try not to get fat burns on your arms doing this; tongs are advised. Sizzle for two minutes; tilt the pan to swirl the fat around.

Rotate the steaks to their sides as seen in the pictures - cook like this for about 30 seconds on each side (lateral ends excluded).

Flip the steak to the uncooked side and cook for an additional minute, tilting the pan to ensure equal fat distribution. When removing the steaks, swirl the top of the steak in the pan quickly to soak up some fat.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent HFS Garlic Hummus

I can't believe how crazy-stupid-easy it is to make hummus. To think I've been buying the inferior crap at the store all these years. Shame! SHAME on me! This said it makes a mess. Cutting board, food processor, etc. BUT...well worth it.

This makes A LOT of hummus so if you've got a party happening, great. If it's just the two of you get ready to hate hummus by the third day. Recipes I found called for very little garlic (which I changed) and I think a spash of paprika helps too. Lemon juice is critical. Most recipes called for 1 TBS of lemon juice, I think 2 TBS is better along with some zest.

2 cans of chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
½ cup of tahini
½ cup of good extra virgin olive oil
1 TSP kosher salt
1 TSP hot paprika
8 large garlic cloves, peeled
Juice from two large lemons
Zest from half a lemon

In your food processor add everything all at once, minus the chickpea liquid. Blend the shit out of it for about 2 - 3 minutes. While blending, add in about ½ a cup reserved chickpea juice so the hummus takes on the consistency of...hummus.

The longer you blend, the smoother it gets. [Duh.] I think I wound up going 4 minutes but experienced the law of diminishing returns on that.

Serve in a bowl with extra olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika (optional). Dip anything you want (assuming it's edible) into it. Cucumbers, radishes, pita, carrots, celery, etc.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Lettuce Boats II

This is a take on my Shrimp Boat recipe. A little easier and more satisfying.

1 pound lean (90%) ground beef (buffalo used in this version)
½ medium yellow onion, sliced thin
8 green onions, white parts only, sliced thin
4 green onions, green parts only, sliced into ¼ inch segments
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cloves garlic, whole
1 - 2 Serrano peppers, sliced thin
1 TBS sugar
Sea salt
Fish sauce
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Chili oil
Canola oil

Juilenned Daikon radish
Juilenned seedless (English) cucumber, insides removed
Omelet from Shrimp Boat recipe, minus the bell pepper
Crushed, salted cashew nuts
Whole butterleaf lettuce leaves from two heads, cleaned and patted dry

In a 3 quart pot add about 1 TBS of canola oil over medium heat. Saute the onions with a big pinch of sea salt until near translucent - about 8 minutes - then add the minced garlic and 2 TSP each of sesame and chili oils. Toss for 30 seconds and then add the beef. Using a flat spatula or pastry blade, continue to cook the beef while chopping with the spatula to make a fine mixture of beef (think of making taco meat).

When the beef is done add in the sugar, 2 TSP each of fish and soy sauces, the Seranno peppers, whole garlic, and white green onions. Toss and reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let sit for 30 - 45 minutes, stirring every 10 - 15 minutes. [During this time prepare the garnishes.] When the beef is near 10 minutes finished, add in the chopped green green onion parts.

Prepare a wrap/boat by placing one strip of omelet on the bottom of a leaf, about 2 - 3 heaping TBS of beef, a strip of kimchi (if desired) and generously top with daikon and cucumber. Sprinkle the top with cashew pieces and get lots of napkins.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Quick Veal n' Vodka Cream Sauce

There's a difference between starting to cook and then getting drunk and starting off drunk and then starting to cook. Results will vary.

My SIL and her boyfriend were in town and we had a blast drinking the day away at an outdoor cafe in DC. Tiring out, it was time to do something for dinner and the plan was to do it at home. Her boyfriend is a real starch loving kind'a guy. Never met a potato or pasta he didn't like (except for a gratin he was none too fond of not long ago).

No added sugar needed here: the subtle sweetness comes from vanilla and the cream gives it a filling punch.

He had three servings of this. 'Nuff said?

1 pound ground veal
1 box Pomi strained tomatoes (26 ounces) or equivalent
2 - 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup heavy cream
1 TSP vanilla extract
1 TSP cayenne pepper
½ cup vodka

In a 3 quart saucepot heat the olive oil to medium. Saute the onions with two big pinches of salt for 5 minutes until they begin to become translucent, add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Add in all the veal and using your spatula finely mince the veal; you'll have to keep doing this until the veal resembles fine, coarse bits. Continue until veal is cooked through.

Add in the tomatoes and stir to mix. Mix in the cream, vanilla, cayenne pepper, and about 1 TBS of salt. Slowly, while stirring, add in the vodka. Reduce heat to simmer and let sit, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour uncovered.

After one hour take a taste and add salt, if needed. Serve over your favorite pasta (tagliatelle in the pic) with lots of grated Parmesan.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Sweety Leeks

Need a different side? Here you go. Works well with anything (assuming you like what's in this to start with). Leeks are filthy veggies - always loaded with dirt n' shit. Make sure you clean 'em (I'll tell you how).

3 large leeks
8 pieces of raw okra, sliced into ¼ inch slices
¼ fennel bulb, sliced very thin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS fresh ginger, finely minced
1 TBS minced parsley
1 cup Gewurztraminer wine
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Clean the leeks. Take each leek and cut the bottom ½ inch off then go ½ inch into the green end and cut the leaves off. Discard the bottom and top. Halve each leek longitudinally. Discard the outer layer and rinse the leek under cool water, fanning it, to remove all the dirt.

Slice the leeks very thin, as thin as you can without slicing your finger tips off (which shouldn't happen if you know how to chop, but I do this wrong all the time).

In a medium non-stick skillet, over medium heat add the olive oil and warm to shimmer. Add the okra and sauté for about 3 minutes, tossing to keep even. Add in the garlic and ginger and saute for 30 more seconds, then throw in all the leeks with about 2 TSP of sea salt. Toss to mix and reduce heat to medium-low. Toss every-so-often to keep the cooking even over the course of 5 minutes. Add half the wine to the mix and continue to cook for five more minutes, then add the rest of the wine and cook for 2 - 3 more minutes, until the leeks are tender. Add in the parsley and serve immediately.

I topped off some halibut on mashed cauliflower with this mixture. Pretty good.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Honeyed Asparagus

It's very easy to do grilled asparagus: coat with olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Grill. Too bad it gets really boring after awhile. Oh boy, grilled asparagus, again. Doesn't that sum'bitch come up with anything new?

So if boredom's got you down, try this.

1 pound fresh asparagus
Macadamia nut oil
Sea salt
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 TBS honey
1 fennel bulb, cut into ¼ inch rings and halved

Cut the bottom inch off the asparagus and plunge the stalks into about 2 inches of fresh, cold water. Let them sit for 30 minutes. [This helps rejuvenate the stuff - it really works]

If the asparagus is thick (thicker than your pinky finger thick), lightly peel the stalks with a veggie peeler being careful not to peel your finger, like I did. It was a gusher - took 30 minutes to stop. This photo is 3 days later.

In a baking dish large enough to hold all the asparagus, sprinkle with sea salt and then coat with about 2 TBS of macadamia nut oil. Add the shallot, garlic, and honey to the mix and then add in the fennel.

Grill over direct fire until lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Sausage Stuffed Chicken

Brilliant. Genius. Innovation defined.

How can one not go wrong with a chicken breast stuffed with sausage and then grilled? The idea hit me while running the other day as I didn't want to do my usual schtick with the bird, and this came up. I'm still patting myself on the back.

1 whole chicken breast, with skin and bone in, split
2 smoked sausages, skin removed*
Lou's Most Excellent Chicken Brine, minus the oregano, rosemary, chives, thyme, and onion.

*I used Meyer's Elgin sausage for this recipe.

Brine the chicken parts.

Cut the sausage lengthwise into thirds. Place three sausage strips in between the skin and the meat and lightly coat the skin with olive oil.

Cook the chicken as per LME Grilled Chicken tips skin side down, using hickory as your main smoke flavor.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Curry II

This is remarkably good for you and remarkably tasty..... I forgot to take a picture when it was completed so here you see a half eaten version. And the picture sucks since the lighting was off and I wanted to hurry back to eat. Sorry.

I made this with hesitation: another oh-boy-something-healthy-it's-gonna-lack-everything. Turns does lack but only because it ain't the real full-fat deal. But if you're watching things, you're gonna be very happy with it.

The addition of saffron probably contributes absolutely nothing to the dish except a visual: it looks nice. The scallops cook lightly - in fact they still are a bit raw in the middle but that's a good scallop. Cook longer if you ruin your scallops.

12 large scallops
6 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Black sesame salt
1 14oz can light coconut milk
½ cup chicken broth
2 TBS Thai green curry paste
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 stick lemon grass, cut into quarters
5 - 7 dried Thai chili peppers
2 TBS minced ginger
4 shaved (or minced) garlic cloves
2 TSP cumin
Saffron sprigs
1 green onion, green ends cut into 2" pieces, whites finely chopped
Sea salt
¼ cup of chopped macadamia nuts
½ cup dried Chinese black rice (prepared to mfr's directions)
Peanut, olive, sesame, and chili oils

2 baby bok choi heads
8 oz choy sum (sometimes called yu choy)*
½ cup chicken broth
2 minced garlic cloves

*If you can't find this, add two more baby bok choi heads.

In a 3 quart pot add 2 TBS of olive oil and a dash each of the sesame and chili oils. Heat to medium then add the yellow onions with a big pinch of sea salt. Sweat the onions for about 10 minutes - you want them highly translucent. At this point, add the chili peppers (whole), ginger, and shaved garlic. Saute for about one minute, then stir in the cumin. Add the chili paste, stir to mix, then stir in the chicken broth until the chili paste has been dissolved. Pour in the coconut milk and add in the lemon grass along with a big pinch of saffron sprigs. Reduce heat to simmer and let sit for 30 minutes.

Take about 3 TBS of the black sesame salt and put into a little dish. Dip one end of each scallop into this, heavily coating it. Sprinkle the remaining salt over the shrimp. Set aside.

Cut the bottom inch off the bok choi, peel the leaves, and wash in a colander. They will be dirty. Do the same for the choy sum and save the flowers. In a 5 quart pan bring the other ½ cup of chicken broth to a simmer. Add the garlic, a big pinch of sea salt, and all the leaves at once. Continually turn to braise the leaves for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a non-stick saute pan add about 1 TBS of peanut oil, just enough to cover the bottom. Heat over medium high heat to shimmer. Sear the uncoated side of the scallops first for about 1 minute, then the coated sides for an additional minute. Remove from the pan - you will need a good spatula to do this as even in the non-stick pan they still stick a little. Set on a plate, cover, then cook the shrimp till done.

Add the green onion sprigs to the curry.

Drain the bok choi and place a small mound on a plate. Pour a large laddlefull of curry over the bok choi; in the center of the bok choi add about ¼ cup of the cooked rice. Arrange scallops around the plate and place two shrimp each on top of the rice. Sprinkle with macadamia nuts and the whites of the green onions. Don't eat the lemon grass nor the red chili peppers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Shrimp Boats

Delish. Really. And good for ya'.

I'm trying to watch it a little - don't worry, there'll be plenty of sin still published here - but for the most part I try to watch what I'm eating.

I've started taking in the principles of the South Beach Diet (UGH!) to reduce some poundage and eat a little better. It's been tough, esp. since I'm a carbo head.

[Remember, there will still be sin....]

I came up with these after some inspiration from my buddy John. He did this with some rice, chopped up meat (pork, I think) and voila. Here's my take. It's a great app, or if you make a lot, a somewhat filling dinner only because you get to eat a lot of it. Each wrap is only 34 calories, according to Wolfram|Alpha.

10 large shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut in half
½ cup of Egg Beaters
1 TBS sugar substitute, such as Organic Zero
1 sprig green onion, finely diced, whites and green parts separated
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
¼ yellow onion, cut into thin half-rings
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TSP black sesame sea salt
Sesame oil
4 TBS chopped, salted cashews
Chili oil
Macadamia nut oil
Butter lettuce leaves
Cooking spray

Dissolve the sugar substitute in ¼ cup warm water. Add 2 TBS of soy sauce, and 1 TSP each of the sesame, chili, and macadamia oils. Mix vigorously then add the garlic and the white parts of the green onion. Sprinkle the shrimp with some of the sesame salt and place them in the bowl. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat an omelet pan to medium and lightly spray with the cooking spray. Add the onions and bell peppers and saute for 4 - 5 minutes. Add the green onions, gently mix, and give a dash of salt. Cover the pan and let sit undisturbed for a few minutes (you're making a pseudo fritata). Remove the lid, loosen the omelet, and flip the whole thing over. One way to do this is to slide the omelet onto a plate, flip the pan on top, and using oven mitts so you don't burn your hands, flip back into the pan. Cook until you feel the eggs are done. Set aside.

In another pan over medium heat lightly spray with cooking spray and add in the shrimp and marinade. Saute the shrimp until cooked through.

Cut the omlete into 1" thick long strips using a pizza cutter, then cut each strip in half.

Prepare tacos in real time. Set all the fixings on the table. One lettuce leaf, a strip of egg, a couple of shrimp pieces, a sprinkling of cashews, and top with a little kimche.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Spicy Poached Pears

Unfortunately, this is the only pic I got off it: Jim's last bite. And it was hell forcing him to sit still while I took this. Not to mention we were both lit like the sun.

This is loosely based on LME Poached Pears. Kind'a.

- Instead of red wine, use a white (Gewurztraminer preferred)

- Cut the pears in half and decore with a melon baller

- Add 4 dried Thai chilies to the poaching

- Prior to serving, take the pear halves and brown in a pan with browned butter for a few minutes

- Serve only with whipped cream - that's all you need.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Hanguk Banh-Mi

Leftovers from my Korean chicken recipe turned into this for lunch. Delicious. If there are any Korean restaurants out there reading this, this could be a new gold mine in popularity.

Leftovers from LME Korean Chicken
Black sesame salt*
1 sub roll

*Available at many Asian grocers. If you don't have it, just use some finer-grained sea salt.

Toast the roll in a toaster or in a lightly buttered pan (latter preferred). Reheat a few strips of chicken (or a lot, if you want a bigger sandwich) and then add about ¼ cup of the chicken juices.

Coarsely chop the lettuce. Place chicken in roll, cover with juices, and top with lettuce, kimchi, and daikon strips. Generously sprinkle with the sesame salt. Yummy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Korean Chicken

Classically, Korean's grill chicken in an almost "terryaki" type glaze with the resulting dish called dak-gui. It's quite tasty but works best if you've got a real fire to cook it on. My grill is still buried in 1.5 feet of snow.

I had some chicken breasts and after an Asian-fusion dinner the evening before at The Source, I was wanting to keep those flavors alive. Also, I wanted something more on the healthy side too. This did it.

It's a take on bul-go-ki, the marinated and super delicious beef dish that Korean cuisine is known for. The trick with chicken is keeping it tender while getting flavor into it. I did some pretty unconventional things to achieve this.

[This has a marinating time of about 4 hours so plan accordingly.]

2 whole, bone-in chicken breasts, split, skin removed
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
2 TBS sugar
¼ cup olive oil (yes, olive oil)
1 TSP chili oil
1 TSP sesame oil
2 TSP freshly toasted sesame seeds
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 green onions, coarsely chopped (green & white parts)
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 TSP minced ginger
2 Seranno peppers, coarsely chopped
1 daikon radish, peeled and cut into french-fry sized strips
Red or green whole lettuce leaves, washed and gently dried
Sticky rice, prep'd to directions

Take each breast and along the outside of each slice about a 1½ " deep slit down to create a small pocket.

Dissolve the sugar in 1.5 cups of cold water. Add the soy sauce and oils; mix vigorously to create a loose emulsion. Add the sesame seeds to the brew and mix. Pour into a large bowl. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and peppers and mix well. Put the chicken into the bowl, setting the pieces in a way that they're butterflied. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 4 hours.

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a 9x9 pan, add the chicken breasts - bone side down - and then ½ cover with the marinade. You do not want them fully slathered. Cover the pan with foil and set in the oven. Immediately set the oven temperature to 275. Bake for one hour.

Check the internal temp of the breasts - they should be at least 160 and bigger breasts (ha ha...bigger breasts....heh heh heh) will take longer to cook.

Remove the chicken and "pull" with a fork and knife. The chicken should be tender but not fall-apart tender. Cut/pull into thick strips and put into a bowl with about ½ of the cooked marinade.

Everyone can make tacos using lettuce as a wrap, a small layer of rice, some chicken, kimchi, and a few daikon strips. Get lot's of napkins and try not to bite your fingers while eating.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Breakfast Tacos

Few things other than this can start your day any better.

Breakfast tacos are a funny thing. They're either great or absolutely lousy, with the latter being the usual case here in DC (assuming you can get them to start with). Super easy to make, a taco like this is immensely satisfying. I ate two - I could'a eaten four more.

The tortilla is what really makes or breaks these things. Fresh, flour tortillas (fajita sized) work great. However, if you have access to fresh corn tortillas, give those a shot. We used a brand (corn) from La Tortilla Factory. They're the best packaged corn tortilla's I've come across.

Cooking potatoes for breakfast is also a pain: they take too damned long. Here I've made the potato chunks a little smaller and cooked with the onion, over medium heat and covered, to speed the cooking. It cut the time in half.

This is also a great breakfast to feed a small army who stayed over. Very scalable.

You can add other stuff to these things too. Breakfast meats (chorizo, breakfast sausage, ham, bacon) go great in them but don't go overboard - it's easy to over load these things.

[For four good sized tacos.]

5 eggs (I used 5 whites and one whole egg)
1 medium red skinned potato, coarsely peeled and chopped into ¼" chunks
1 small onion, cut into ¼" chunks
1 whole pickled Jalapeno (or 8 presliced ones), diced
1 TBS canola oil
½ can (8 oz) refried beans, reheated according to directions
Grated cheddar cheese
4 flour or corn tortillas
Salt & pepper
Picante sauce or favorite salsa

In a large, non-stick skillet, add 1 TBS of canola oil over medium heat. Add the the potato and onion, toss in oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and saute for about 5 minutes uncovered. Add the Jalapeno pepper, toss, and cover with a small, domed lid and let cook for another 4 - 5 minutes.

Preheat (over medium) a small skillet that can hold the tortillas. As that's going on.....

Beat the eggs together with a pinch of salt and a few cranks of pepper.
When the potatoes/onions are done add to the pan and scramble together.

Reheat the tortillas in the small skillet, one at a time, and set aside covered in a clean kitchen towel.

Spread a layer of beans on the tortilla, top with a generous helping of eggs, and top with grated cheese. Add picante/salsa/hot sauce to your content.

Feed the dog when you're finished.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent NutriStew

Snow can be measured in feet and when it gets to a foot goin' out just ain't happenin'.

It's stew time.

But stew is a watch-it-you-shouldn't-be-eating-too-much-of-that-item for me right now. I love bowls and bowls of it but need to slow it down. So here comes Piedmontese beef to the rescue. This effectively trims a majority of the worrisome items from the dish (fat, cholesterol) and allows you to focus on enjoying it and not feeling guilty.

Not one iota.

Well, maybe a little. I tried to limit additional fat in the browning of the meat. In fact, I used none than what came from the meat itself. By trimming the sirloin I took that fat and put it into the pan and rendered it a little, giving me just enough to work with for sauteing the onions and such.

Imagine that: stew with no additional added fat. Brilliant.

24 oz Piedmontese sirloin, cut into 1" cubes, fat trimmed and reserved
2 TBS Montreal steak seasoning*
2 small onions, peeled and quartered
1 shallot, peeled and quartered
5 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mini portabella mushrooms, stems removed (crimini's can sub)
2 TBS tomato paste
2 TBS flour
6 carrots, halved and quartered
10 - 12 red fingerling potatoes, halved
2 bay leaves
16 oz low sodium beef broth
8 oz low sodium chicken broth

*You can usually buy this prepackaged in the spice aisle. If you don't have any, as I didn't, mix your own using 2 TBS of sea salt, 1 TBS coarse ground black pepper, 2 TSP crushed red pepper flakes, 1 TSP cracked fennel seed, 1 TSP dried garlic, 1 TSP hot paprika, 1 TSP dried rosemary and 1 TSP dried thyme.

Preheat your oven to 225.

In a non-stick Dutch oven (5 quarts, at least), heat to medium with the reserved fat trimmings. Saute for about 15 minutes, allowing the fat to liquify. While this is going on....

...add the seasoning to the beef cubes in a large bowl and coat evenly.

Brown the beef in the pan; you'll likely have to do this in 3 - 4 rounds so don't stuff it all in there. Cook the beef on each side for about 2 minutes and set into another bowl while you do the next round.

When the beef is done add the onions and shallot. Pour in the juices from the beef that's resting in the bowl. Saute for about 10 minutes, just to where the onion has softened but not yet translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute an additional 5 mintues, then add the garlic...toss for 30 seconds...then add the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the flour and mix well. Cook for about 2 additional minutes.

Add half of the broth (doesn't matter which one) and mix in; the broth will thicken. Add the remaining broth, the bay leaves, then the carrots and potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium high/high heat.

Add back in the beef and any remaining juices and bring back to a boil. Once there, cover and set the pot into the oven.

Cook for at least 4 hours.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lou's Most Excellent Steaked Salad

I'm trying to watch it with not just how much I'm eating, but what it is that's actually going down my gullet. Two chins are enough.

Change gears here. I love red meat. Steak, BBQ, burgers, anyway that you cook a cow I'm likely to like. The problem with red meat is this little thing called saturated fats, which leads to a host of problems later on in life as I'm oh so slowly (and sometimes quickly) finding out.

Come the Italians to the rescue, and it's not olive oil or anything Mediterranean mind you. God I love my ancestral country. They've got an answer for everything. Piedmontese Beef. I'm telling you, the first time that Pam The Butcher at Wagshal's told me about it I didn't believe it. Pointing to an ink jet print out on the display case I figured it was fraudlent. How can beef - prime beef at that - be lower in saturated fats, cholesterol, etc. The way it's told is that it's better for you than skinless chicken breasts. The cows are bred to be leaner, and the way they're fed, managed, etc. leads to a leaner cut...even when that cut is considered prime by USDA standards.

None of this makes sense. But I'm buying it because a) it tastes great and b) we'll know soon enough as soon as I get my cholesterol tested again.

And yes, the shit ain't cheap. Sorry. NY strips run around $25/pound (which is what prime usually goes for) while sirloin is around $18/lb. But how much is your health worth? [You obviously don't have to use Piedmontese beef here - any good quality NY strip will work.]

Steak Salad - a good, healthy, and satisfying one at that. Serves two.

1 one pound trimmed, Piedmontese NY strip
2 TBS Montreal steak seasoning*
1 TBS canola oil
6oz of your favorite bagged/packaged salad mix (spinach/frisee/arugula/mache)
1 good tomato, cut into eighths.
1 small shallot, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 TSP high quality balsamic vinegar
1 TBS really stinky blue cheese, finely crumbled
Salt & pepper

*You can usually buy this prepackaged in the spice aisle. If you don't have any, as I didn't, mix your own using 2 TBS of sea salt, 1 TBS coarse ground black pepper, 2 TSP crushed red pepper flakes, 1 TSP cracked fennel seed, 1 TSP dried garlic, 1 TSP hot paprika, 1 TSP dried rosemary and 1 TSP dried thyme.

Two hours before serving, take the steak out, rinse and pat dry, and then generously coat with the steak seasoning. Set the steak on a wire rack and let sit at room temperature, uncovered and undisturbed, for two hours.

Preheat your oven to 400 F.

Rinse and dry your lettuce mix. Set in fridge to keep cool.

Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 - 7 minutes. You want this searingly hot. Meanwhile....

In a large bowl add the olive oil, balsamic, shallot, garlic, a generous pinch of salt and more-than-a-few cranks of fresh black pepper. Vigorously mix with a whisk.

Add the canola oil to the pan, wait till it shimmers, then add the steak. It should immediately sizzle to the point where you feel slightly uncomfortable being near it and/or questioning my judgement. Cook about 2 minutes on the first side, flip, then place the pan in the oven. Cook in the oven for about 4 minutes. This will give you a rare steak, which is what you (should) want. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside, steak still in the pan.

Add the salad to the dressing and lightly toss to coat. Add the tomato and blue cheese crumbles and fold in. Set the salad into large bowls.

Slice the steak to your desired thinness (thin works better than than thick). Place on top and enjoy.

Goes good with a nice crusty bread; you could even make a sub out of the whole mix. A wrap too.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lou's Just OK Chicken Fricasee

Not the most excellent...but good. Better than edible. What it really is is a dish your grandmother used to make to feed an army of starving mouths living on a budget. I tried to update it (still a starving mouth, but not living on too tight a budget) but the result is the same: it's chicken in a pot with veggies.

A little - well, a lot - more tender and healthier too. I would venture to call it kid friendly if your kids like carrots, celery, and turnips (which you can leave out). Best of all this is SUPER fast and easy; comes together in one pot in under 30 minutes and slow cooks for hours in the oven at low temp.

1 whole chicken breast, bone in, skin on
3 cups chicken broth
2 medium yellow onions, halved and sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 "poultry" bouquet garni*
6 carrots, chopped into 1" pieces
6 celery stalks, chopped into 1" pieces
1 turnip, baseball sized, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1.5 TBS flour
Salt & pepper
Canola oil

*You can buy a poultry herb mix usually all done up in those plastic herb boxes. If not, make your own with 1 sprig rosemary, 5 sprigs time, and 5 sprigs sage.

On a cutting board, place the chicken breast, skin up, and smash once with the base of your palm or a small sauce pan. All you want to do is break the bone (not yours, the chickens, dip-shit) down the middle so it lays a little flat. Sprinkle the breast with about 1 TSP of salt. In a five quart Dutch oven, heat up 1 TBS of canola oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken breast, skin side down, and brown for about 3 minutes. Flip over onto the bone side and cook another 3 minutes. Brown on each side as well. Set the breast aside, reserving the fat in the pot.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onions. Saute for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Then add the flour and stir into the onions; it will become pasty. Cook like this for about a minute.

Add one cup of the chicken broth and stir, the broth will become thickened. Add another cup, mix, and then the final cup. If after the second addition the broth is very thin - like soup - only add another half cup.

Bring to a light boil and add the bouquet garni. Simmer for about 5 minutes and then add the carrots, celery, and turnips. Bring back to a simmer and remove the bouquet. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Halve the chicken breast and cut each piece into thirds. Add to the pot, stir to mix, cover, and place in the oven for about 3 hours or longer.

The chicken will be very tender when finished. Remove as many bones as you can - they'll just come right off - but warn everyone that some smaller ones might still be present. Serve with noodles or rice.