Thursday, April 29, 2010

Steak Sandwich

Thanks to a lovely dinner at La Petite Rive in Little River, CA - I was struck with inspiration.  The chef prepared an amuse bouche featuring a little chompsworth of steak, with blue cheese and a grilled peach.  The flavors were lovely and even summery.  I was struck with bbq picnic inspiration and insisted on whipping up some sandwiches, despite Patrick's aversion to blue cheese (I just subbed in a shallot/balsamic reduction on his sandwich for the blue cheese on mine) - fool.

1 slab o' London Broil
seasoned with salt & pepper
soy sauce
balsamic vinegar
4 cloves of garlic
olive oil

1 can of sliced peaches in juice or light syrup - you don't need all that sugar (the store didn't have any fresh quite yet)
blue cheese (a chunk to crumble, or ready to go crumbles, or whatever you like or is on sale)
sourdough rolls

Season the steak with salt and pepper.  Smash the garlic cloves (you don't even have to take the skins off) and add them to your mix of soy, balsamic & oil.  I probably use mostly balsamic with about half the amount of soy and oil each.  This is one of my dad's little creations, but he uses rosemary too - I didn't want the competing flavor so I left it out.  For other usage though - I highly recommend it!
I allowed this to marinate for a couple of hours, turning frequently.

Grill up the steak to your preferred doneness and set aside to rest before slicing.  While it's resting, grill the peaches.  Split open your roll, toss on some arugula and blue cheese, top that with the slices of steak, and that with the grilled peaches. 

For the Patrick version, I just minced a small shallot; sauteed it in a little bit of olive oil until translucent, then added a cup or so of balsamic vinegar and allowed it to cook down by about half.  I drizzled this all over the bread before adding the arugula.

This made me so hungry typing it up that I almost can't stand it.

An ode to bacon

In honor of Bacon Camp (oh yes I did just say Bacon Camp), I thought I'd post a few nommy ideas for using bacon - and really, it's not like bacon needs any help at nomosity.  But, I noticed I reference prosciutto a lot in my recipes and wasn't giving bacon a fair shake - especially given how delicious it is. 

I had a pizza in our company cafeteria the other day that was pretty fab (oxymoron?), and it featured perfectly crispy bacon, thinly sliced red onion and fresh arugula lightly dressed in balsamic.  Divine.

MY dream pizza starts with a yummy creamy white sauce, gets topped by mozzarella and provolone, then sprinkled with balsamic onions and crispy bacon.  Maybe some fresh tomato.  Hell.  Yes.  BLT pizza!
I don't think you need a recipe for that though, so fend for yourselves.

Another thing I simply can't pass up (but do, all the time - man I hate calories) is baked potato soup - oh man, the potatoey creamy goodness with fresh green onions, stringy, melty cheese, and crispy bacon bits. . . Here is a Bob Evans sponsored recipe.  Please note that I have never heard of Bob Evans.

Of course I've shared my prosciutto wrapped asparagus, and this recipe can easily be made with bacon.  Probably even turkey bacon if you must.

And what about those angels on horseback?  No wait, seems that's oysters, and I don't dig oysters.  Maybe you do.  Is there a cute name for the bacon wrapped shrimp?  There should be.

Another delicious bacony treat - salads.  Yes really!  You can sub the pancetta in this recipe for bacon, or try one of my picnic faves.  And yes, I know there is mayo in it but I prefer not to talk about it.  You can even go South Beach on it if you'd like.  Well, South Beach-esque.

A new passion of mine that oddly enough - is entirely bacon free:

Purchase these.  You will thank me.  Also, THEY ARE VEGETARIAN.  So, go on, my Jewish and non meat eating friends that still remember the wonderful taste of bacon - indulge.

For the non-traditional bacon lover - a bacon cheeseburger cake perhaps?
My Burger Cake for My Recipe!

When all else fails - just fry it up or pop it in the oven for 20 minutes and crunch away.  Just, please - don't wear it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mushroom Pork Chops

I didn't want to buy much for dinner, and the fella was wanting pork (insert your own dirty joke here).  I found this recipe and thought it couldn't possibly be good, but it was so easy, and had so many rave reviews that I had to give it a whirl.  All I had to buy was three ingredients - score!
Served on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes (with a bit of fake butter & salt mixed in), and my pathetic attempt at Aylene's Green Beans, and it was nomsville.

Mushroom Pork Chops
2 thick cut pork chops, butterflied into 4 thin (the thick cut fresh chops were on sale for about half the price of the pre-packaged thin ones and momma didn't raise no fool)
salt & pepper
garlic powder
1 onion, chopped
1 styrofoam package of sliced mushrooms to make life easy (8 oz.)
1 small can of condensed cream of mushroom soup

Season both sides of pork with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Sear on each side on for a couple of minutes in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and mushrooms, pour cream of mushroom soup over the top.  Cover and reduce temperature to medium low.  Simmer 20-30 minutes, poking and stirring occasionally. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Patrick's Peanut Butter Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes

For a certain chocolate/peanut butter lover in my life, I have decided to do something I almost never do (except for lately, which is kind of ruining my point here).
Make cupcakes from scratch. Frosting too.
But with the rave reviews I've seen for Ina's "Beatty's Chocolate Cake" and her "Chocolate Cupcakes and Peanut Butter Icing" I'd be a fool not to give them a whirl. The reviews for the cake alone are staggering - 5 stars with 713 reviews?! How can that NOT be the best chocolate cake in the world?

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. (I'll be using cupcake pans lined with paper, obvi.)
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. For the cupcakes I'll probably start checking on them after 20 minutes or so. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. For the cupcakes I'll be using a pastry bag to pipe the icing on.

Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing
1 cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

** Update **
Due to the fact that I am a horrible judge of how long things will actually take me to do, I was unable to make the pb frosting for the first go round of cupcakes.  I had no choice but to throw myself upon the mercy of Betty Crocker and use her dark chocolate fudgey some sort of frosting, and the cupcakes were delicious.  I found using the chocolate frosting, you could actually taste the cake.
The next time we devoured the cupcakes, I had time to make the frosting.  It was fabulous - so, so good. . . . but much harder to taste the cake.  So let this be your guide.  If you're all about the pb, go with the pb frosting.  If you're all about CHOCOLATE - go with a chocolate frosting.

Monday, April 12, 2010

S'more Pie

While watching Alex's Day Off this weekend, she made a birthday cake with marshmallow frosting. Marshmallow frosting! That set me off on this s'more pie spiral that I couldn't get out of until I posted about it.
I realize this is not new, and that there are probably a million 236,000 recipes out there for s'more pie, but this is what I was thinking, so therefore it's mine.

Graham cracker crust (obvi)
Layer of chocolate ganache
Chocolate mousse (maybe with chocolate chips; maybe with those chocolate covered graham crackers; maybe just the mousse)
Marshmallow (or the marshmallow frosting) - blow torched to perfection

Make the ganache and pour it into the crust (this is how I like my banana cream pies too, fyi). Let sit so the ganache can firm up a bit. Make the mousse and then layer that on top of the ganachey crust. Let sit in the fridge while you make the marshmallow. Top with the marshmallow and let sit to firm up a bit, then blow torch and serve.
All the flavor of camping (minus the smoke and dirt), with none of the packing of gear.

If you want more direction than I just offered, give this one a whirl. (and fair enough, that pie crust looks pretty easy to make; I'm thinking you should go with the salted butter though, since a little bit of salt with sugar = awesome.)
I recommend a darker chocolate since I think a huge slab of sugary milk chocolate, sugary marshmallow and sugary pie crust might be a bit much. Think about how small s'mores are people. Sure, we can all eat three of them, but there is time in between chomps and the making is part of the fun. Trust me and go a little more grown up with richer flavors versus pure sugar.

Monday, April 5, 2010

French Onion Soup

After lunch with a coworker at La Terrasse where I tried to be good and South Beachy by ordering a butter lettuce salad and shrimp with ratatouille (that was probably so chock full of butter it's not even funny), I had a hankering for some of my other French favorites. Sure, I couldn't do steak frittes, but I was positive I could do some healthy damage to some French Onion soup. Sure enough, 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet lent a hand.

Below are my subs to their posted recipe. SUCH a winner.

French Onion Soup
serves 4
2 cans (14 1/2 oz) Low Sodium Beef Broth
2 cans (14 1/2 oz) Low Sodium Chicken Broth
4 cups sliced medium yellow onions
3 cloves minced garlic (jar minced = 1/2 tsp = 1 clove)
2 tbsp olive oil (or a combo of oil and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter or something)
1 1/4 cup cooking sherry
salt & pepper to taste
lowfat mozzarella and/or Provolone
optional (depending on phase): 4 Small slices of bread, cut into rounds (any SBD approved bread is okay)

Saute onions and garlic in oil in large dutch over over low-med heat until onions are translucent/browned. Add beef and chicken broth. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer 5 min. Add sherry, salt and pepper.

From original recipe: Put soup into 4 oven-safe bowls. Place one slice bread on top of soup for each bowl, and then place sliced Monterey Jack cheese over bread to cover.
Put in 375 degree oven for about 25 min or until cheese is bubbling and brown.

I didn't know whether or not my bowls were oven safe, so I put maybe 1/4 cup of mozz in the bottom of the bowl and ladled the hot soup over the top, then topped that with 1 slice of the provolone and nuked it til melty, about 1 minute. But believe you me, once I'm sure my bowls are oven proof, this is going straight into the oven.

I served this with a butter lettuce, pickled beet, goat cheese & toasted almond salad with a Dijon vinaigrette and it was perfectly French. I can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch!