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.