Saturday, March 26, 2011

Onion Braised Beef Roast

* We linked this post at the Hearth and Soul Hop at A Moderate Life and Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS *

This is one of the simplest recipes I've made in months.  It has only 5 ingredients, but the flavor achieved by the long, slow braise in nothing but onion juice is really incredible.  This one came from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.  I added 50% more onion that it called for, and used a larger rump roast (the original calls for a 2 lb roast, I think mine was closer to 4).

There is no liquid added to this recipe -- just the onions.  As they cook down they caramelize into a delicious sweet and savory sauce.  Turning the roast frequently in the oven bastes it with this sauce, infusing the meat with a rich onion flavor reminiscent of French onion soup.  If you use a good cut of meat (one with some fat and connective tissue) it will come out fall-apart tender and nice and moist. The best part is that if you're quick with a knife, you can have this recipe in the oven in 10 minutes flat!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sourdough Cinnamon Toast Desert

This is an extremely quick and easy desert to make for breakfast or even after dinner.  All the credit goes to my local "bee man"  for suggesting this recipe.  We decided to buy some whipped honey from him and this excellent version of cinnamon toast is one of the ways he suggested using it.  Whipped honey is less sticky and more easily spreadable than regular honey.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gas Grilled Steaks Served with Leeks


* We linked this page at the Hearth and Soul Hop at Hunger and Thirst *

While Dude2 has convinced me that charcoal is the way to go, I don't think I'm willing to let go of my very nice Weber gas grill.  I'll probably end up getting a small charcoal grill in addition, but in the mean time I was determined to perfect grilling steaks with my gas grill.

Have you ever had a $25-40 steak at a nice steak house and wished you could cook a steak like that at home?  Did you ever decide to splurge on a $15/lb (or more) premium steak at the store only to be disappointed with the results?  Well, that was me and I had almost given up grilling my own steaks.  Thankfully, Dude2 showed me the way; even though it was torture for him to cook with gas : )

The secrets to success with a gas grill are:
  1. Buy a nice thick steak (1" - 1.5"), grass fed of course
  2. Get your grill as hot as possible
  3. Thrown in a piece of lumpwood charcoal* for adding a smoky flavor
  4. Sear both sides and then remove to indirect heat (instructions below)
* Note, I said a piece.  Don't attempt to do all charcoal in a gas grill unless you properly convert it by removing all the gas line equipment.  It's probably a good idea to remove the charred wood after each time you use too. That's my disclaimer.

Teriyaki Ahi Tuna Steak with Miso Soup

* We linked this post at Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop *

We try to get at least one serving of fish in every week here for the purported health benefits, and because I love fish.  Ahi tuna is one of my favorites, and I recently found some that claims to be sustainably wild harvested, so I thought that was a great match.  I also found some organic soy sauce and miso at my local health food store.  When you have a setup like that, the only possible option is some teriyaki grilled fish steaks and miso soup.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lamb Gyros -- the Ultimate Grill Experience

* We linked this post at Monday Mania at the The Healthy Home Economist and Friday Foodfight at RunDMT *

I love gyros.  I'll take them in nearly any form, even the ones that get sliced off of a giant cylinder of lamb pate at a Greek fast food restaurant.  However, when I get the chance, I make them at home because the flavor of a fresh leg of lamb marinated for three days in a delicious mix of herbs and spices is simply unbeatable.  I believe that this gyros recipe is the best I've ever tasted, anywhere, and I hope you like it too:

Sourdough Pitas On the Grill

* We linked this post at Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS *

I still have no oven, and we needed to have some pitas to enjoy our gyros properly, so I thought I'd give grill baking a shot.  It worked out great!  Now I know how I'll be making some of my breads this summer when the heat gets too intense for indoor baking...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sirloin Souvlaki

* We linked this post at Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade *

I've been on a Greek food kick this week, and I had this sirloin tip roast in the freezer and a pile of fresh organic lemons shipped in a care package from AZ, so I thought it made a lot of sense to put some souvlaki together.  It was also a good opportunity to make sure my tzatziki sauce was seasoned right in preparation for the lamb gyros...

Pan Fried Whole Golden Pompano

* We linked this post at Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS and Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade *

I recall twice now, that I've been dining at an Asian restaurant to see some of the kitchen staff come out and sit down to eat their own lunch or dinner.  Both times they had whole fish on their plates!  I thought to myself, "how on Earth can they stand to have their food starring up at them?" It was pretty creepy to me at the time, but I was young and naive regarding all the wonderful benefits of preparing a fish whole.

Well, now I know those benefits and I'd like to share them with you as well as my adventure in cooking my first whole fish. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

T-Bones with Charred Pineapple

It's really getting to be grillin' weather out here, and I've got the bug big time.  One thing that doesn't get grilled by most people nearly as often as it should is pineapple.  When you get this right, it's like a big, juicy piece of candy.  The charred outside is reminiscent of toasted marshmallows, and the ultrasweet, juicy interior is a completely unique experience in the food world.  I highly recommend grilling the next ripe pineapple you come across.

Tzatziki (cucumber and yogurt dip with dill)

Tzatziki sauce -- it is a wonderful combination of flavors that adds a whole new dimension to the foods you put it on.  It's good on meats, cooked vegetables, raw vegetables, chips, or eaten with a spoon (okay, I might be a little extreme...).  The point is, this is a fantastic condiment to make, and it's really very easy.  Here's my recipe:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Greek Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese

I'm getting ready for a Greek food extravaganza here this weekend, and part of that is making tzatziki sauce -- the delicious yogurt and cucumber sauce that goes with gyros (which will be the main part of my menu this weekend).  In order to make a proper tzatziki, you need Greek yogurt.  It's nearly impossible to find organic grass fed Greek yogurt, but fortunately you can make your own out of organic grass fed regular yogurt.  Here's how I do it:

Lamb Korma Pulao

* We linked this post at Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop *

Tonight we took a little jaunt to India, via another excellent cookbook called 50 Great Curries Of India.  Indian food is amazing to me -- they have the longest ingredient lists of anything I cook other than barbecue sauce, yet the results are invariably smooth, rich, and perfect on the taste buds.  We like fiery food over here so that probably helps too, though this particular dish is quite mild.  Tonight's menu comes to us from Lucknow -- Lamb Korma Pulao -- and it was delicious:

Cultured, Raw, Grass Fed Butter

* We linked this post at the Hearth and Soul Hop at Hunger and Thirst *

Butter -- it makes everything better.  So what could make butter better? Culturing it!  Our farmer friends who provide us with delicious raw milk recently fired up their cream separator, which is something we'd been eagerly awaiting for a long time.  At our fist opportunity, we picked up half a gallon of the delicious stuff and after using a quart for various other things, we decided it was high time we had some real cultured butter around here.  Here's how we did it (Check out Nourishing Traditions for more details):

Update:  Here is a really great video about how to make butter from raw milk that I'll be following next time.  I think her method is better than this one (I didn't know about washing butter until I watched it), so I'd say try that one first!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Straw Bale Gardening - Part 2: Cooking the Bales (Dude1)

Here, at the urban household of Dude1, we've been hard at work trying to accelerate the "cooking" (composting) of our straw bale garden.  I live in the mouth of a canyon and consequently get a lot of wind, especially this time of year.  That's been making it hard to keep my bales moist which is important for getting the bales to cook.  Therefore, my (almost) 2 year old has been kindly adding a little extra water to the bales : )

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Menu for 03/11/11 - Pork Tenderloin Wraps (Dude1)

My wife and daughter are gone for a week, which leaves me alone to try and use up all the leftovers.  Even though my dogs managed to swipe one of the pork tenderloins I made the other day, I still had some of that left.  I also had some of the dough left over from the crackers I made that needed to be used up before it became too sour. I had originally planned  to make tortillas with the dough which then gave me the idea to make pork wraps.  I've been wanting to try Erik's smashed beets. I thought the sweetness of the beets would compliment the saltiness of the bacon wrapped pork very nicely.  This turned out awesome!  I miss my wife and daughter and was sorry I could not enjoy this meal with them.

South African Bobotie

Bobotie, except that it has no egg topping and it's a little runny.  Very tasty though!
We're having an around-the-world week here at the Dude2 household this week.  Our first excursion was to Louisiana with smothered pork roast, and now we're off to South Africa for their national dish, Bobotie.  I've never had Bobotie before, and there was no picture in the cookbook (150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes), so I have no idea if this was done right or not.  It tastes good though!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Smothered Pork Roast with Blackened Tapenade Potatoes

* We linked this post at Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS and at Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade *

I woke up this morning to a great blanket of fog covering the pasture. There's nothing like a foggy morning to make you want to slow down and enjoy life a little more, and this dish is perfect for that.  The pot roast cooked for nearly eight hours, until it was fall-apart tender and covered in a thick, oniony gravy packed with flavor.  I made the potatoes on a whim, because we've managed to deplete our stock of greens.  They came out really good, I'd definitely recommend trying this one!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Menu for 03/08/11 - Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry (Dude1)

When I was young my family did not go out to each much, but when we did, it was often to a Chinese restaurant.  I almost always chose beef and broccoli from the menu.  So, I decided to give an old childhood favorite a try.  I've made stir-fries in the past, but with those handy-dandy bottles of stir-fry marinade or mixes, full of preservatives and MSGs.  The challenge for me tonight was to make the marinade and sauce from scratch. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Menu for 3/8/11 -- Boeuf Bourguignon and Caramelized Endives with Poached Pears

Tonight was a quick meal kind of night here at the Dude2 household, so I decided to use some of my leftover Boeuf Bourguignon, accompanied by a recipe for caramelized endives out of Seven Fires.  We also had some extra D'Anjou pears laying around begging for attention, so I decided on a whim to make some poached pears with red wine syrup for dessert (that's the picture above).  I'd never made them like that before, and I have to say it was really good.  And very easy.  Here are the recipes:

Menu for 03/07/11 - Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin & Garlic Carrot Potatoes (Dude1)

Apparently, I was making this meal for my dogs.  What you are looking at is a delicious bacon wrapped tenderloin moments before my dogs swiped if off of the dining table.  I served the meat with garlic carrot mashed potatoes.  This is actually a super quick and easy meal to throw together.  I liked it because it didn't require me to have remembered to prepare a marinade hours before the meal. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu for 3/7/11 -- Cod Stuffed Collard Leaves or Pseudolmades (Dude2)

* We linked this post at the Hearth and Soul Hop at Hunger and Thirst *

We have a whole lot of collard greens in the fridge at the moment, and I think they are a great leaf to use for any time you want a dramatic presentation on something.  They're also pretty durable, and they get nice and soft when you steam them.  Seems like a great match for a dish inspired by dolmades -- one of my favorite Greek appetizers.  These were pretty good, but I think next time I'm going to cut the rice in half and add more lemon juice and capers.  I put my recommended modifications in parentheses beside what I actually used, so you can take your pick of what to use.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Menu for 03/06/2011 - Split Pea & Barley Soup with Sourdough Sesame Crackers (Dude1)

I guess I was in the mood for yet another 'green' soup.  My green colored vegetable of choice this time was split peas.  This soup was inspired by the split pea soup at California Pizza Kitchen.  I have fond memories of CPK back when I was living in Monterey CA.  Who has time to cook when you're working on a Master's thesis? The barley in this makes it extra hardy and easy to get full with.  I served it with some homemade sourdough sesame crackers.   The added excitement of the night while making this was an explosive mishap with the blender.... green goo everywhere!

Choosing Your Knives

For me, the choice of a good pair of knives is among the most important decisions to be made in the process of building up your kitchen. I use my knives for at least two meals a day, 7 days a week. It is worth being picky and getting the best you can afford. I'm going to give general guidance here, as I haven't had enough experience with all of the premium brands to be able to give sensible advice (I have a budget too, unfortunately). If you follow these guidelines and stick to brands with a good reputation, I think you'll be in good shape.

The Beauty of Real Eggs

I lucked out this morning -- two double yolkers!  That's one of the best parts about getting local, fresh eggs if you ask me.  It's like finding money in the pocket of a jacket you haven't worn in months.

Five Minute Homemade Breakfast Sausage


* We posted this recipe at Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop *

I love a good breakfast sausage.  This is a fact that can be very frustrating to a person who also tries to avoid things like monosodium glutamate, corn syrup solids, sodium metabisulfite, and other chemical additives.  I'm fortunate to live right in the middle of a collection of conscientious farmers who raise some of the best meat anywhere, but because of various regulations, laws, and other interference they must subject their fantastic ground pork to spice blends that include most or all of the above ingredients.  For that reason, I've started making my own spice blend.  At first, I was a little intimidated by it, but it turns out that breakfast sausage is one of the simplest things you can make, and the resulting flavor and quality is something that you will never be able to get from a grocery store.  Here's how to season up some ground pork into delicious breakfast sausage in under five minutes:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Menu for 03/04/2011 - Broccoli Soup with Sourdough Garlic Croutons

Tonight I needed a meal that was quick and easy because I had to work late.  I have also been feeling like we have not been eating enough vegetables lately.  Broccoli soup seemed to meet the criteria very well.  I've adapted a soup by Jules over at Stonesoup.  What intrigued me about her post, was her method of making a flavorful soup when  you don't have stock.  Now, I did happen to have homemade chicken stock, but I wanted to try out her method to see how it compared.  To make this magic work, I caramelized onions, and added soy sauce and a touch of lemon juice.  Also, to sell this soup to my wife and child I knew I was going to have to add something extra  yummy to top it off.  I chose homemade sourdough garlic and parmesan croutons.

Dude2's Straw Bale Garden

* We linked this post at Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist *

Dude1 got the jump on me by about a week on the straw bale setup, but I finally got it together yesterday to get my garden started as well.  I've done some gardening before and really enjoyed it, so I was a bit dismayed at the timing of buying my new farm -- I got it in the fall, and because of other work I had to do I wasn't able to prepare a garden spot.  I decided that it would be best to make a straw bale garden the first year, then use all that wonderful compost to prep the dirt-based plot that I'll be using during subsequent years.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Menu for 3/3/2011 - Boeuf Bourguignon (Dude2)

* We are happy to have shared this post at Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade and at Friday Potluck at EKat's Kitchen *

This is one of my family's all-time favorites, coming from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (with a few minor changes).  The richness of the sauce and the tenderness of the meat, combined with the fact that this recipe makes enough for four nights of dinners, makes this meal a real winner.  Our favorite accompaniment is simple steamed broccoli, tossed with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Menu for 03/02/2011 - Shredded Beef Burritos with Roasted Red Peppers (Dude1)

We have good friends who have spent the last few nights in the hospital due to their ill infant.  I am happy to report it looks like the baby will be released soon.  We assumed our friends were getting pretty sick of hospital cafeteria and foodcourt food, so last night we wanted to bring them a good, home cooked dinner.  Since we were taking the food to the hospital it had to be easy to transport and easy to eat.  Therefore, this menu had "burritos" written all over it.  I went with shredded grassfed beef, roasted red peppers, and a hint of "breakfast".  It was good! Keep reading to see how I did it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Menu for 3/2/2011 -- Pork Tenderloin with burnt brown sugar and orange confit

* We shared this on EKat's Kitchen Friday Potluck -- check it out! *

I'd been eyeballing this recipe in Seven Fires ever since I got the book, and I finally got a chance to give it a shot tonight.  A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I got a shipment of fresh organic oranges from her parents in the southwest.  The oranges were fantastic, and we juiced a number of them.  I saved the peels with this recipe in mind...

This pork tenderloin is layered with orange peel confit, thyme, and burnt black sugar.  I served it with my special recipe rosemary scalloped potatoes and an experimental recipe for collard greens that turned out quite good. There are four recipes tonight, so I'll try to do a better job organizing them than I did on the fajitas post (I was pretty tired when I wrote that one).  If you start at the top and go down, you should have everything done at about the right times.  Here we go:

The Very Best Fried Eggs (according to Dude2)

Eggs are a staple for breakfasts at my house, so I've had the opportunity to try cooking them in dozens (maybe hundreds) of different ways.  For over easy fried eggs, this is my favorite of the bunch:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Southwest Steak and Shrimp Fajitas

My wife and I are both from the southwest originally, so occasionally we need to take a little culinary trip back home for nostalgia purposes. Today I put together some steak and shrimp fajitas on homemade whole wheat tortillas for just that purpose.  I served it with some charred zucchini slices, pico de gallo, sour cream, and a Mexican beer for the full effect.  It was a good way to use up some leftover steak from last night too, without getting repetitive.

Menu for 02/27/2011 - Making a Dual Purpose Marinara Sauce (Dude1)

To save time, I like to make up a big batch of homemade marinara sauce that serves as a great sauce for both homemade pizzas and for spaghetti nights.  It starts off as a thick sauce that I like to pull aside and reserve for pizzas.  I'll will then thin the remainder of the sauce with some sort of stock to be used on pastas.  The flavors in a homemade sauce are out of this world compared to your standard canned sauces in a grocery store.