Archive | March 2012

One of the Great Cooking Tips: Just Cook

Nathan Just Cooking

There’s a list on the Food Network of the 100 Greatest Cooking Tips (of all time!). You read that right… OF ALL TIME.

Anyway.

I reviewed the list and am going to give you the ten best because 100 is a lot to read and do you really have that much time? That’s what I thought. Clearly, I do (but that’s because I read so FAST, duh).

  1. After working with garlic, rub your hands vigorously on your stainless steel sink for 30 seconds before washing them. It will remove the odor.
  2. For best results when you’re baking, leave butter and eggs at room temperature overnight.
  3. Instead of placing a chicken on a roasting rack, cut thick slices of onion, put them in an oiled pan, and then place the chicken on top. The onion will absorb the chicken juices. After roasting, let the chicken rest while you make a sauce with the onions by adding a little stock or water to the pan and cooking it for about 3 minutes on high heat.
  4. Do not use oil in the water when boiling pasta: it will keep the sauce from sticking to the cooked pasta.
  5. Rest, rest, rest! Always let your meat rest – especially off a hot grill!
  6. If you’re cooking cauliflower, add a bit of milk to the water with salt to keep the cauliflower bright white. Shock it in cold water to stop the cooking and then serve.
  7. When making mashed potatoes, after you drain the potatoes, return them to the hot pan, cover tightly and let steam for 5 minutes. This allows the potatoes to dry out so they’ll mash to a beautiful texture and soak up the butter and cream more easily.
  8. Cook more often. Don’t study; just cook.
  9. Cook with other people who want to learn or who know how to cook.
  10. Always start with a smokin’ hot pan!

Frying Up Some Brussel Sprouts

New York Steak with Deep Fried Brussel Sprouts and Jalapeno-Cheddar Cream Sauce

Brussel Sprouts and Steak

For the steak:

The great thing about almost any cut of steak is how little it takes to make it good: a little salt, some pepper, and a good sear. Searing a steak on a hot frying pan can be just as enjoyable and delicious as cooking a steak on the grill (get yourself a good frying pan that retains its heat well, like a stainless steel-wrapped aluminum pan or if you can afford one, a copper fry pan). Guys, if you want to impress the ladies, you have to show them that your skills extend beyond the grill.

This recipe uses a thinly cut New York Strip; it’s cheap, delicious, and cooks quickly. Any cut is fine, and a sirloin would do just as well. Be sure to prep your meat at least 5 minutes before you plan to cook it–bringing your meat up to room temperature is important for even cooking. Generously apply salt and pepper to one side and let sit.

In the meantime, melt a tablespoon of butter over low heat and throw in a sprig of thyme or 2 bay leaves (a bay leaf is pictured, but I prefer thyme). Once your butter is melted, turn your heat up to medium-high/high depending on your stove. Don’t throw the meat in the pan right away; give it a minute to heat u, then place the seasoned side down and let it sear. Don’t move the meat–allow it to get a good sear for 2-3 minutes. Season the other side while in the pan. After 2-3 minutes, flip the steak over and allow it to cook for another 2-3 minutes (depending on the thickness, cooking times will vary–for this cut of meat, 2-3 minutes on each side will give you a medium-rare finish).

Take the meat off the heat and transfer to a plate and cover with foil. Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it.

Deep Fried Brussel Sprouts with Mustard Vinaigrette

Lauren loves brussel sprouts–sauteed in a lemon cream sauce,  slowly steamed in a shallow pool of rich chicken stock, or simply pan-fried with salt and butter–so I try to take this little cabbage and push the limits with it. Everything is better deep fried right? This recipe is so simple you don’t even need a fry batter. This recipe is tailored for about 12-15 large brussel sprouts, so you may need to adjust the amount of vinaigrette depending on the number and size of the brussel sprouts you’re using.

We use a deep fryer, but you can fry these in a deep frying pan over the stove as well. Vegetable oil works great, but if you want to really go crazy, deep fry these little guys in duck fat or lard (it will go straight to your gut, but you can feel good about it because brussel sprouts are healthy for you too–they cancel each other out right?). Heat your oil to 350F.

Cut each sprout in half if you’re working with large sprouts, which I prefer, but if your grocer only has the little sprouts, ignore cutting them at all and toss them right in to the oil raw. Yes, raw. No batter. No seasoning. Raw. Working in small batches, 4-5 per rotation. Let them fry for about 3 minutes and then pull them out with a slotted spoon and set them on a few paper towels to absorb any excess oil that drips off.

For the mustard vinaigrette:

3 Tblspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tblspn Champagne Vinegar
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp crushed dried parsley
1/2 tsp fine kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 Cloves finely chopped garlic

Whisk all the ingredients except the olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and whisk, repeat with each tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.

When all the brussel sprouts have been fried, pour them into the large mixing bowl with the vinaigrette and stir to coat every single sprout. Don’t worry if some of the leaves on the brussel sprouts fall off. It’s nice to have a few loose leaves to use for plating.

For the Jalapeno-Cheddar Cream Sauce:

I love cooking with heavy cream, because you can infuse all kinds of flavors into it. This sauce is slightly salty and sharp with a mild bite thanks to the jalapeno.

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded, ribs removed, and finely chopped
1 1/2 cup finely shredded white cheddar
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

In a medium sized pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and jalapeno (if you want a spicier dipping sauce, feel free to leave the ribs in or add some or all of the jalapeno seeds). Saute for 20 seconds and then add the heavy cream. Bring the cream to medium heat (do not let it boil, this will ruin the cream and your sauce). Reduce to low heat, add the cheese and whisk until smooth and creamy. The sauce should be slightly thick, but not clumpy–it should easily coat the back of a spoon.

To finish:

Pour a quarter cup of cream sauce into individual bowls and set aside. Place the meat on the center of the plate and stack 3-4 brussel sprouts on top of the meat. Place 2-3 additional sprouts around the plate (this is a good time to use those additional leaves that fell off when you tossed the sprouts with the vinaigrette). Place the individual dipping bowls on the edge of the plate and serve. The sauce compliments the steak quite well, but you can toss a brussel sprout in there as well if you’d like.

I didn’t know Lauren was going to take a picture of the final product. You would think I would have learned by now that she almost always pulls out that smart phone of hers come dinner time, but alas. The plating isn’t spectacular in the picture, but we ate it all the same.

Feeling Like A Real Boy Now

We have our header image now. What do you think? I know that guy’s not nearly as hot as Nathan, but I had fun creating him anyway. ~LE

Americans Don’t Cook Much

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development told me something. That’s right, they told me. They told me that they’d done a study recently, polling 29 different countries. Of all of those countries, the United States won something. Know what they won?

Least Time Spent in the Kitchen.

Congratulations. I hope there’s a cool trophy for that.

Americans came in third place for another category. This one was title something along the lines of: Wolfing My Food Faster Than You. I’m totally a sucker for this category and if I finish my dinner before the others at the table, perhaps I might let you know: “I won.”

The stats are these: Americans spend 30 minutes each day cooking and only an hour and 14 minutes eating. Turks win the Most Dedicated Home Maker trophy, cooking for 74 minutes each day.

On a lighter note, something that the Organisation did not tell me: the United States is the most giving nation, taking home the gold medal for citizens willing to volunteer their time, give money, and assist strangers. Hurry and finish eating so you can get out for that charity run.

How much time do you spend each day cooking? How about sitting down to eat? Where do you eat dinner? At the table? In front of the TV? In your car?

$1 Raffle For Dinner With Guapo

One of my coworkers suggested this today: Raffle off dinner with Lauren and Nathan for $1 a ticket.

Since we have over 100 people just in our IT department, he’s sure that he can sell at least $60 of tickets, then cross his fingers that he and his wife win the raffle. Funny idea.

I wouldn’t mind having CERTAIN people over, and having the groceries paid for. Can I secretly veto if certain people win? There are just some coworkers that you might not want to know where you live. Just sayin’…

I’m leaving town for a few days, leaving Chef Guapo behind to watch the cat. Hold on to your seat until next week and then the two of us will try and post a meal or two for your viewing/reading pleasure.

I Am A Well-Fed Wife

 

I started taking pictures of dinner when Nathan and I were dating. I took a picture of the very first dinner that he made me, from some chicken and peppers that he had in the fridge. It was delicious and it looked as good as it tasted. I was going to eat a Snickers bar for dinner otherwise. Apparently, my typical, post-soccer meal wasn’t up to par for my boyfriend so he helped me out.

After we married, I continued taking pictures of the meals he made.

“Why?!” I’m sure Nathan asked me. “Why are you taking pictures?”

Because it looks so nice, duh. And also, one day you will want to look on my phone for dinner ideas. See? I’m so helpful.

Well, my friends, I have decided that it is high time that I put those pictures up on a blog and not just keep them selfishly on my phone. I’d like to try and write up a recipe on how to do it, too, but since Nathan doesn’t cook that way, we’ll see how well I do with that. But let the food blogging begin!