Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cilantro-Lime Steak with Tex-Mex Quinoa

Tonight's dinner came courtesy of Pinterest. Periodically, when attempting to draw up a grocery list, I turn back to boards overflowing with legitimate recipes and dotted with flights of pure fancy. Usually something will catch my eye and inspiration will hit, as was the case with the one-skillet quinoa recipe.

Not surprisingly, I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry for this lovely little dish.  Billed as a vegetarian main course, the quinoa certainly stands well on it's own, but we were in a protein mood. And the sirloin tip steaks beckoned at us from the butcher counter.

A note on the avocado...it is lovely stirred into the quinoa just prior to serving, but does not stand up well as leftovers. When in doubt, serve it on the side. Thin bright green slices do make a lovely garnish.

Steak marinade adapted from Danny Boome's recipe at Foodnetwork.com
Quinoa adapted from Chung-ah's recipe at damndelicious.net

serves 4

The Ingredients:
for the steak
4- 4oz sirloin tip steaks
2 limes, juice and zest
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
small handful fresh cilantro, finely minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

for the quinoa
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 cup vegetable broth
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 lime
small handful fresh cilantro, minced
1 avocado, peeled pitted and diced

The Process:
Marinade the steak:
Place the steaks in a shallow dish or zip-top bag. Whisk together the lime juice and zest, garlic, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and cilantro. Pour over the steaks, turn to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prior to cooking, remove from fridge and allow to come to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

Cook the quinoa:
In a large skillet set over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeño. Sauté stirring frequently, until fragrant and the onion is translucent

, 6-8 minutes.

Stir in quinoa, broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, and spices. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until quinoa is cooked tender, about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in avocado, lime juice and cilantro.
 Sear the steak and serve:
Place a seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven and heat the oven to 500 F.  Once the oven has pre-heated, remove the skillet and place on HIGH heat on the stove.  Remove the steaks from marinade and place directly into the hot, dry skillet. Sear, without moving for 30-45 seconds. Flip and sear an additional 30-45 seconds. Place the skillet and steaks into the pre-heated oven. Cook about 5 minutes for medium rare, 7-8 minutes for medium.

Remove from the oven and transfer steaks to a plate. Loosely tent with foil and allow to rest 2-3 minutes before serving. Plate along with quinoa.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Braised Cabbage

Cabbage is a vegetable that I continually try to include in our produce rotation, but I frequently find myself in a rut. Slaw and cabbage rolls are a stand by. I frequently roast thick slices of cabbage at 450 with copious amount of garlic. And I have also been known to shred it, fry it up with bacon and top the mess off with eggs, sunny side up. That, by the way, makes a fine breakfast.

And who can forget boiled with corned beef.

Yet I am always on the prowl for new twists and flavors. This dish may make our regular rotation, especially when paired with roasts or hams that also require a lengthy oven time.

Adapted from Michelle's recipe at Nomnompaleo

serves 6

The Ingredients:
2 Tbsp bacon fat (or butter, but bacon fat is far better)
1 medium cabbage, cut into 6-8 wedges
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup vegetable, chicken or beef stock
2 carrots, cut in a thick julienne
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1-2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 350

Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with the bacon fat. Layer the cabbage in a single layer, overlapping if necessary. Top with onions and carrots. Sprinkle with thyme and generously season with salt and pepper. Pour liquor over the top and dot with butter.

Cover and bake 1 hour. Carefully flip the cabbage wedges over, recover and bake an additional hour. Raise the oven temp to 450, uncover the cabbage and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the cabbage begins to brown

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve hot.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Caramelized Bourbon Butternut Squash

Dessert or vegetable? You decide. If glazed carrots or sweet potatoes make frequent appearances at holiday gatherings, this is a great substitute. Mix things up a bit without raising too much suspicion that you may be attempting to usurp a family tradition.

A note on cooking with booze, as you may have noticed I do A LOT:

In most recipes where beer or liquor is exposed to prolonged heat, the alcohol will mostly cook off. That being said, ALWAYS disclose when you use alcohol in a recipe out of respect for your guests. Some religious practices forbid imbibing any alcohol. Recovering alcohols may be more sensitive to the flavors. And kids...well most kids will find the booze on their own soon enough. Best be honest up front.

the recipe is my own

serves 6

The Ingredients:
1 large butternut squash, about 3 lbs
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp bourbon

The Process:
Preheath the oven to 350

Peel the squash and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and cut into 1 1/2" cubes. Layer the squash in a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar, chili powder, salt and bourbon. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the sugar is just dissolved.

Pour the bourbon mixture over the squash. Gently toss to coat. Bake, covered, about one hour or until the squash is tender. Increase the oven temp to 450. Uncover the squash and roast an additional 15-20 or until the glaze begins to caramelize.

Friday, April 18, 2014

IPA Marinated Pork Chops

Need something else to use up some of that marmalade from a few days ago? This pork is the perfect companion.

Initially I had been a little disappointed about the amount of beer flavor that came through in the marmalade. But paired with these chops, it just sings. The entire combination melds together in pure euphoric bliss. Okay...that is a bit of a ridiculous claim to lay on a piece of pork topped with some preserves. But it WAS damn tasty.

The pork is marinated in an IPA and buttermilk mixture that not only tenderizes the meat, but also imbibes the pork with wonderful citrus and floral notes from the hops. The marmalade pulls out those citrus notes even further. The breading on the pork returns the favor by teasing out hints of hefeweizen in the marmalade.

These chops can certainly stand on their own. But the bitter and sweet citrus on top truly helps them shine.

adapted from The Craft Beer Cookbook by Jacqueline Dodd

serves 4

The Ingredients:
4 - 4 oz boneless pork chops
6 oz IPA
6 oz buttermilk
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt, divided
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup panko
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch of cayenne

The Process:
Combine the IPA, buttemilk, onion and 1/2 tsp of salt in a large bowl. Add the pork, making sure each chop is fully submerged. Cover and refridgerate for 6-8 hours.

In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, panko, remaining salt, pepper and cayenne. Remove the chops from the marinade. Press each chop into the breading mixture, coating evenly on both sides. Set aside to come to room temperature, 15-20 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chops and fry, 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and juices run clear.

Serve with a dollop of marmalade.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hefeweizen Marmalade

Stir a little bit of booze into your breakfast! A marmalade has been on my "to create" list for a while now. The arrival of the Beeroness' cookbook finally prompted me to plough ahead. The chance to add beer or bourbon to a recipe is usually all the motivation I need.

Jackie recommends a hefeweizen, preferably one with notes of citrus and clove. A witbier, traditionally brewed with corriander and orange peel, would compliment the marmalade nicely, but I fear the more subtle beer notes would get lost among the sugar and citrus. Serve that one alongside for a lovely food pairing instead. Many pale ales will fit the bill, especially those with strong citrus notes. A saison would add a twist of spice. Steer clear of any uber hoppy beers, as the extensive boiling times may make for a very bitter marmalade.

I opted for Widmer's Hefe

recipe adapted from The Craft Beer Cookbook by Jacqueline Dodd

yields about 2 pints

The Ingredients:
2 - 12 oz bottles hefeweizen
1 lb (about 2) navel oranges
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp whole cloves
1/2 lemon, juiced and zest finely grated

The Process:
Thoroughly scrub the oranges. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the oranges into 1/8-inch rounds. Remove and discard any seeds as you go. Stack the slices and cut into quarters or sixths.

Wrap the cloves in a cheesecloth bundle tied with kitchen twine.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the beer, oranges, sugar, and clove packet. Bring the mixture up to a simmer (about 190°F). Simmer for 5 minutes. Cover, remove from heat and let stand overnight.

Remove and discard the clove packet. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, about 180°F, and maintain for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The orange rind should be tender and begin to turn transculent. After 2 hours, add the lemon juice and zest. Return the mixture to a gentle simmer, between 185°F and 200°F, for 20-30 minutes.

Place a small plate in the freezer.
Bring the orange mixture to full boil, and stir continually, until it reaches about 222°F.  Test the readiness of the marmalade by placing a teaspoon of the mixture onto the chilled plate and allowing it to sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. The mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly and will wrinkle when touched. If mixture is thin and runs easily, continue to boil until the marmalade reaches the gel stage.
Ladle into sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch head-space. Gently stir to remove air bubbles. Wipe rims of jars clean and top with lids, screwing them finger tight (not TOO tight). Submerge filled jars in a water bath of boiling water and boil for 5-7 minutes (process times may vary by elevation).

Remove from water bath and allow to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hopleaf's Beligan-Style Steamed Mussels

A few weeks back Ross and I headed to Chicago for a mini break. Highly recommended by many friends was a stop at Hopleaf, for both their extensive Belgian beer list and for their steamed mussels. We were not disappointed.

The description alone on their menu is nearly all you need to recreate the dish at home, adjusting seasoning to your personal taste. A brief search yielded two very similar recipes. Hopleaf uses Wittekerke by Brouwerij de Bradandere to steam the mussels. I opted to use the same, though many excellent witbiers and wheats abound these days. As an homage to Chicago, dinner was paired with Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat Ale.

adapted from recipes at Time-out and Restaurants.com

yields 2 main course servings

The Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 fresh bay leaves, bruised
leaves of 3-4 thyme sprigs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 pounds Prince Edward Island mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
12 oz witbier or wheat beer
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed

The Process:
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic, celery and shallots, sauté until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the thyme and bay leaves, sauté an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the shallots and celery are translucent.

Stir in the beer, butter, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Add the mussels and immediately cover. Simmer 3-4 minutes, or until most of the mussels open. Discard any unopened mussels. Season broth with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serve alongside a good, crusty bread to sop up the broth and a cone of piping hot pomme frites with garlic aioli.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Creole style Salmon

Last summer Ross and I ventured to Seattle for our first true vacation in a very long time. Many a beer was sample. Great times were had with friends. And pounds of fresh seafood were consumed. As a thank you to our friends who put us up for a few evenings, I agreed to cook dinner for the lot of us. Ross and I were heading to Mt. Rainier in the morning. One of our friends, who works at Pike Place Market, agreed to pick up whatever struck her fancy when her shift was up. What I was to cook would be a complete surprise.

We arrived back at their house to 3 pounds of wild caught Alaskan salmon and several snow crab clusters. Apparently she had received the cute shop girl discount...all totalled the haul came to about $40.

This recipe was born:

The Ingredients:
3 lb salmon, skin on
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 bay leaves
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz)
1 Tbsp Creole or Cajun seasoning
1 lemon, thinly sliced
salt and pepper

The Process:
 Preheat oven to 400

Generously oil a baking dish large enough to accommodate the salmon fillet(s). Lay the fish, skin side down, in the dish. Generously sprinkle with Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Layer lemon slices on top.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions and celery until fragrant and just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add peppers and sauté  an additional 2-3 minutes. Add diced canned tomatoes along with juice to the saucepan. Add the bay leaves, season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.

Spoon vegetables over the top of the salmon. Bake, uncovered, at 400 for 15-20 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily.

Serve with crusty bread, or alongside rice and a fresh salad dressed in vinaigrette.