Friday, September 8, 2017

Auntie Gwen's Chocolate Sheet Cake

Auntie Gwen's Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 C sugar
2 C sifted flour
14 T butter
4 T cocoa powder
1 C water
1/2 C buttermilk
1 t vanilla
1/2 t baking soda
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine sugar and flour, mix well and set aside.  In a saucepan, bring the butter, cocoa powder and water to a boil.  Pour over sugar and flour mixture.  Add buttermilk, vanilla, soda, and eggs.  Combine well and pour into greased 9X13 sheet pan.  Bake for 50 minutes.  

Five minutes before the cake is done, start on the icing:
10 T butter
4 T cocoa powder
6 T milk
1 box powdered sugar (4C)
1 t vanilla
1 C chopped pecans (optional)

Bring butter, cocoa powder and milk to a rapid boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and pour over powdered sugar.  Add vanilla and pecans.  Beat well and spread over warm cake.  Allow to cool in pan, then serve.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pork Chops a la Normande

Pork Chops a la Normande and Cauliflower Gratin

For the Cauliflower:
1 medium head of cauliflower chopped into florets
4 T butter, divided
2 T flour 
2 C milk
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
1 C grated parmesan
1 C grated Gruyere
1/2 C panko breadcrumbs
Chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 375, butter a medium casserole dish.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop in the cauliflower for 4 - 5 minutes until it just starts to become tender.  Drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, get going on the sauce.  In a medium saucepan melt 2T butter. Add flour and whisk over medium heat for at least a minute, up to 3 - 4.  You want the roux to cook a bit but not turn super brown, just barely golden.  Add milk and seasonings and whisk vigorously over the heat - bring to boil and cook a few minutes until thick and bubbly.  Remove from heat and stir in half the cheese.  Season to taste.  Add cauliflower to the casserole and pour the sauce over the top.  Mix the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over top.  Dot with remaining butter. Bake 30 - 40 minutes until bubbly, brown and crunchy on top.  Allow to cool slightly before garnishing with parsley and serving.

For the Pork Chops:
4 thick cut, bone in pork chops (you'll likely need to get these from the butcher, you want them at least and inch and a half thick or more)
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 t grainy dijon mustard
1/2 C Calvados* 
1 C heavy cream
2 T fresh thyme leaves

Preheat a very large, heavy skillet over high heat until nearly smoking.  While that happens, prep the pork.  Using a sharp knife, score the chops on both sides, making sure to score through the fat cap.  Season liberally with S&P.  Add your butter and olive oil to the pan then arrange the chops so they fit.  Leave that heat up and DO NOT MOVE the chops around for at least 5 minutes - 7 if they're really thick.  While they sear, throw in the garlic.  Flip the chops and sear on the other side for another 5 - 7 minutes.  They should be super brown and crispy.  Remove the chops and garlic to a plate and cover with foil, leaving all the pan drippings and crispy bits.  Drop the heat to medium and add your mustard.  Using a whisk, pull up aforementioned crispy bits.  If you're working on gas, turn off the flame and add the Calvados.  Turn the heat back to medium and whisk until reduced by about half.  Pour in the cream and continue to whisk and cook until the sauce looks thickened slightly.  Turn off the heat, add the herbs, stir then nestle your pork chops in to warm up.  Serve with crusty bread for sopping up that yummy sauce.  Bon Apetit!

 *This is a very strong apple liqueur made in Normandy.  In a pinch, if you don't want to go to the liquor store, a not-too-sweet hard apple cider will mimic the flavor.  Last resort - dry sherry or brandy but the apple flavor is what makes this dish a la Normande!  

P.S. This is super with gnocchi...but my people hate gnocchi so we go with baguette. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mere's Texas Gumbo

Mere's Texas Gumbo

1/3 c flour
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 lb andouille sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 t paprika
1 t ground thyme 
6 c chicken stock
1 large tomato, chopped 
1 bag frozen okra
1 lb frozen, peeled & de-veined shrimp
1/2 c parsley, chopped
2 c white rice, cooked
3 green onions, chopped
Hot sauce

In a large dutch oven or stockpot, start with the roux.  To make it go a little faster, I first brown the flour in the pan - over medium heat, stir until it's golden brown.  Remove from pan to small bowl and add the sliced sausage.  Cook until most of the the slices are brown and crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate, keeping any brown bits and oil in the pan.  

Add the flour and oil.  Stir and keep stirring until it's a deep chocolate brown color.*  Add the onion, peppers and bay leaves.  Season liberally with S&P.  Cook four or five minutes until the veggies are softened.  Add garlic and spices** and continue to cook another minute until fragrant.  Add chicken stock and reserved sausage, stirring to get any bits off the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour.  

Check seasoning again and adjust if necessary before adding the tomato and okra.  Cover and cook another 15 minutes (or until right before serving).  Right before serving, add the shrimp.  Simmer until they're cooked thru (not long at all, 3 - 4 minutes at the most).  Add parsley and serve it up over rice with green onions and extra parsley sprinkled over top with as many dashes of hot sauce as you like.  Enjoy!  

*If it looks a little lumpy, give it a good whisk.  Once it cooks any lumps will dissolve.  Watch it once it starts to turn - it'll burn fast if you walk away.  If it burns, your soup won't thicken properly and it certainly won't improve the flavor!

**This is a very mild gumbo - if you like it spicy add more hot sauce at the end OR up to a teaspoon of cayenne with the other seasonings


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Kalbi aka Korean Short Ribs

Kalbi aka Korean Short Ribs


 2lb LA cut beef ribs* 
4 garlic cloves
1 in knob of ginger
1 Asian pear, peeled and chopped**
1/2C soy sauce
1/4C brown sugar 
2T rice vinegar
2T Mirin***
5 green onions
2T sesame oil
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Add all ingredients except beef and to a blender or food processor.  Whiz it up until it's fairly smooth.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary by adding more S&P, soy or sugar.  It should be sweet but also savory, if it's too sweet add more soy.  

Add marinade to meat in a large resealable bag.  Allow to marinate on the counter for an hour or overnight up to a couple of days in the fridge.  When you're ready, heat up a grill to smoking and grill a couple of minutes per side until the sauce is beautifully sticky and the meat is cooked to desired done-ness.  Serve with rice, lettuce, veggies, kim chee and siracha.  We like to eat this in wrap style - rice, sriracha and meat all wrapped up in a lettuce leaf.

* Also called flank ribs, found in Korean or Asian supermarkets.  Some conventional grocers or Hispanic stores carry these too - just make sure to get them unseasoned.
** Granny Smith apple or green pears work too 
*** Rice wine, found in international section of most grocery stores.  If you can't find it, just leave it out (my MIL has been known to sub Sprite)

Friday, February 3, 2017

My MIL's Bulgogi

My MIL's Bulgogi

1 - 2 lbs beef, thinly sliced* 
1/2 C low sodium soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 green onions, chopped
2 - 3 T dark brown sugar
1t - 1T ginger, grated on a microplane
1T sesame oil, plus more for serving
1T rice wine vinegar
Korean red pepper**
Toasted sesame seeds
Assorted veggies
Sticky rice
Roasted seaweed
Sririacha or Korean Bibimbap Sauce
Eggs - optional

Start by making the marinade.  Combine the soy sauce, garlic, onions, sugar, ginger, vinegar and a dash of salt, pepper and Korean red pepper, if using.  You can do this two ways - either use your microplane for the ginger and garlic then add the sugar and liquid OR dump everything into a blender.  I favor the blender method because I am lazy and it gets the onions finely ground so the marinade really has all the flavors incorporated.  Add more vinegar, sugar or soy to your taste.  Add the meat and marinate at least an hour and up to 48 hours in the fridge.  This is best grilled - place foil over the grill grates and poke lots of holes to allow the charcoal flavor and heat to come through but keep the meat on the grill.  OR you can saute in a grill pan.  If you go the saute route, drain and pat the meat dry then saute in olive oil over HIGH heat.  Crispy edges are the goal.

The veggies are all sauteed separately - just do one at a time in olive oil, season each batch with S&P and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and set aside, keep warm.  

To serve add rice to the bottom of a wide bowl. Add piles of veggies and meat over the top of the rice (this is essentially a Korean buddha bowl...or you can just have the meat with rice and kim chee).  If desired, top with a fried egg, a drizzle of sesame oil, sesame seeds, sliced seaweed and Sriracha.  

Leftovers make a great fried rice - just chop everything up and saute with the cold rice, season with soy, sesame oil and S&P. 

*If you have access to a Korean store you can purchase ribeye that is very finely sliced.  If not, buy whatever steak you like, sirloin pictured above.  Freeze for 1/2 an hour and slice as thin as possible with a very sharp knife.  This is a great recipe for a crowd - you can easily add more meat and more marinade to feed as many people as necessary! 
**If you can get it, if not, just leave it out.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Quinoa Burgers with Feta and Spinach

Quinoa Burgers with Feta and Spinach

 2 1/2 C Cooked quinoa (any type)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/3 C panko breadcrumbs
1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
2 eggs
4 oz feta cheese
1C spinach, roughly chopped
Olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor, puree beans and garlic until smooth.  Add quinoa and eggs pulse to combine.  Add breadcrumbs and pulse.  Add in crumbled feta and spinach and season with S&P.  Pulse to combine.  The mixture should be fairly tight at this point but if it is not holding together at all, add more breadcrumbs until it's a consistency that will form a patty.  Form into six patties and rest in freezer for half an hour (or more, you can freeze these in a single layer then transfer to a feezer bag when firm - totally fine to cook from frozen).  To cook, heat olive oil in a heavy skillet (I use cast iron), add burgers and cook 5 - 6 minutes per side, until golden brown.  Serve on buns or atop a salad.  


Butternut Squash Pasta

Butternut Squash Pasta

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1C ricotta cheese
1C parmesan cheese, divided
1C heavy cream
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 C pine nuts, toasted
1 lb pasta (any shape will do, pappardelle in the picture)
1tsp cumin
2T butter 
2T olive oil
Zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss squash with cumin, S&P and olive oil and roast until soft and slightly browned (around 30 minutes).  Allow to cool slightly.  In a food processor, combine cooked squash, ricotta, lemon zest, and pulse until combined and squash is pureed.  Taste and season to taste.  Drop the pasta into boiling, salted water.  While the pasta cooks, in a wide saucepan melt butter, when sizzling, add squash mixture and stir.  Pour in about a cup of pasta water to thin to a thick sauce consistency.  Taste and season.  Add cooked pasta and 1/2 to 1C heavy cream, toss well.  Serve with bacon, pine nuts, basil and more cheese. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mere's Favorite Chili

Mere's Favorite Chili

1.5 - 2.0 lbs lean ground beef
2T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced 
2T Chili powder
1T cumin
1T Paprika
1t - 1T smoked paprika
1 bottle Shiner Bock beer (or another dark bitter)
1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
2 - 3 cups beef broth
2 14oz cans red kidney or pinto beans

In a large skillet (with a lid) heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until just translucent.  Add beef and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Saute until all watery liquid evaporates and the beef is very brown and crumbly.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant then add the rest of the spices and stir well.  Let this cook a minute (don't worry if it looks like everything is burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan...that's the good stuff and will come up when you add the beer!) then pour in the beer.  Scrape up the bits off the bottom of the pan as the beer bubbles and starts to evaporate.  Add in the tomatoes and 2C of beef broth, bring to a boil.  At this point I check for seasoning and add S&P if necessary then add in the beans.  Pop the lid on and let simmer at least an hour or more.  Keep an eye on it and add more broth if necessary.  Serve with grated cheese, onion, sour cream, avocado or Frank's Red Hot.  &*If you really like it spicy, add 1/2 to 1t cayenne or chopped jalapenos with the onion.  Or both!