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Category Archives: Spices

An Elegant Meal at any Time – Oven Roasted Rack of Pork

An elegant meal for a weeknight is not something I typically consider. Like most families, we are just too busy to make something like that happen too often, but every once in a while our calendars all seem to mesh together, and we are all home at a reasonable time. This gives me the opportunity to make something a bit fancier during the week than what I might normally make. Of course, an elegant meal can be easy too if you take the right approach and have the right recipe. I had picked up a five bone rack of pork from the store the other day at a really great price and knew that this would be a great meal to make on a weeknight without much fuss. I found this recipe as I was searching online at Ask Chef Dennis for a simple oven roasted rack of pork that promised great flavor. In the recipe, he uses McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning spice (which I also use on occasion and have on hand), but he also provides you with a recipe for a spice blend that mimics the flavors so you can make your own if you cannot buy it near you.

Oven Roasted Rack of Pork

1 – 8 bone center cut rack of pork

Olive oil

Montreal Steak Seasoning (McCormick’s, or try the recipe that follows, or use your own favorite spice blend)

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

6 garlic cloves, peeled

Copycat Montreal Steak Seasoning

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon dill seeds

1 tablespoon granulated onion

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1 tablespoon paprika

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

To make your own spice blend, place the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, dill seeds, granulated onion, red pepper flakes, granulated garlic, salt, paprika and black peppercorns together in a spice grinder or food processor and blend the spices together for about 5 to 10 seconds.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a roasting pack, add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic to the bottom of the pan. Pat the rack of pork dry with paper towels and apply a liberal amount of olive oil all over the pork, rubbing it into the meat. Season the pork with the Montreal Steak Seasoning, your own spice blend, or salt and pepper. Season all of the rack to coat it well. Place the pork on top of the chopped vegetables and roast the pork in the oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue roasting the pork for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer or until the internal temperature of the outside racks of the pork reach 160 degrees. This will ensure that the outside of the pork is well done while the center cuts are not cooked as much. Remove the rack of pork from the oven and place it on a cutting board to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing the meat. This will allow the juices to remain in the rack and keep the meat moist.

While the pork is resting, place 2 cups of water in the roasting pan with the cooked vegetables and place the roasting pan on the stovetop on a burner set over medium heat. With a wooden spoon, loosen all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and stir together for about 1 to 2 minutes to make a quick pan sauce. Strain out all of the vegetables to get a smoother sauce.

Cut the rack of pork along the bones, making even portions of the pork (basically pork chops) and serve with the pan sauce and your side dishes.

I enjoyed the spice blend on the meat, and the spices lent the perfect flavor to the dish. The spices formed a great crust on the outside of the pork so that you could get great flavor with each bite you took. The pan sauce was a nice touch as well and goes well with the pork and just about any side dish you make with it. I made some fresh broccoli and rice to go with the pork, and the sauce kicked up the plain rice a bit. You could serve this with potatoes as well, and the potatoes would work nicely roasted under the rack of pork with your other vegetables to help pick up some additional flavors. There is not much to the recipe itself and you do need a little bit of extra time to cook this meal during the week, but if you have the time to do it, it can be quite a nice meal to change things up.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Spices

 

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17 Tips for Faster, Healthier, and Easier Weeknight Dinners | Bon Appetit

Coming up with ways to make easy, fast and healthy dinners can seem impossible sometimes. There are many days when the last thing you want to think about is what is for dinner and wish something could magically appear that you can cook quickly. Instead of turning to pizza delivery or fast food, start using some of these 17 ideas and tips Bon Appetit offers to keep healthy and easy dinner options right in your kitchen so you can throw something great together in just minutes and look like you have been thinking about it all day. Check it out!

Tomorrow should be the day our new appliances come, and hopefully, that will complete our kitchen. It’s been tough trying to cook meals just using an electric pressure cooker, a sandwich press and two small electric burners we borrowed, so it will be great to have a stove again that I can with each day. Fingers crossed it works out tomorrow, and I can get back to recipes!

Source: 17 Tips for Faster, Healthier, and Easier Weeknight Dinners | Bon Appetit

 

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Goodbye Carnegie Deli, Hello Homemade Pastrami

If you follow the news, at least here in New York, you have probably seen the story regarding the recent announcement from the Carnegie Deli. The deli is something of an institution here in New York and has been open for nearly 80 years but recently announced that they will be closing at the end of 2016. The Carnegie Deli is very famous for the different sandwiches that it offers, especially the pastrami. Pastrami can sometimes be something of an acquired taste and not everyone is a big fan of it. For me personally, pastrami is basically the only type of cold cut meat that I really eat. While you can still get pastrami in any supermarket and from of variety of different sources, there is something about the Carnegie Deli that people are particularly fond of. Personally, I have never been to the Carnegie Deli but they do offer their pastrami for sale in different supermarkets and I have tried it before. It is pretty good but I had always wondered if it could be better. Pastrami was not something I had never really considered making myself, particularly because I do not have a smoker to use, but Shawn had shown an interest recently in trying pastrami and it just so happens, that at this time of year with the Jewish holidays, that brisket is at a pretty good price. I decided I would get adventurous and started looking around for a recipe that would allow me to make it at home but make it in the oven instead of the smoker. I came across this recipe from Food52 that seemed to fit the bill. It is a bit of a process, but it seemed like it was worth a try.

Homemade Pastrami

3 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns

3 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon allspice berries

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 bay leaf, crushed

1/4 cinnamon stick, crushed

1 1/4 cup kosher salt

2 2/3 tablespoons pink salt (sodium nitrite)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

5 garlic cloves, minced

One 5-pound brisket from the fatty end (point), untrimmed

1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds

1/2 cup shiro dashi

In a small skillet, lightly toast 1/2 teaspoon of the black peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon of the coriander seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of the mustard seeds over medium heat until the spices are fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the spices from the heat and allow them to cool slightly before grinding them in the spice mill.

Put the ground spices in a large pot and add the red pepper flakes, allspice berries, cloves, mace, ginger, crushed bay leaf, crushed cinnamon stick, kosher salt, pink salt, granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, minced garlic and 4 quarts of water. Bring the brine to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove the brine from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. Transfer the brine to a vessel large enough to hold it and the meat – which will be added later – and refrigerate the brine until it is chilled.

Put the brisket in the brine and weigh it down (with a plate or several tomato cans, for example) to keep it completely submerged. Cover the brisket and refrigerate it for 5 days. Remove the brisket from the brine, rinse it thoroughly, dry it, and place it on a large platter. Discard the brine. In a spice mill, process the remaining black peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and the fennel seeds. Transfer the spices to a small bowl and mix them well. Coat the brisket with the spice mixture and sprinkle the shiro dashi over it. Cover the platter and refrigerate the brisket for about 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250°. Put the brisket on a rack in a large roasting pan. Add a cup of water to the pan and tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil. Cook the brisket until it reaches 165° on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat, about 3 to 4 hours. If you do not have a meat thermometer, the brisket is ready when the meat is very tender. Let the meat rest for at least 2 hours at room temperature, or cover it and refrigerate it overnight. To serve, transfer the pastrami to a cutting board and cut it against the grain into thin slices. The pastrami will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Okay, this is quite a project to undertake and you not only need to have the time to put into it, and the space in your refrigerator, but you also, if you are like me, are going to need to go out and buy a number of spices. I do not typically have things like allspice berries or ground mace on hand and I certainly do not normally have the pink salt required for preserving meat. Sodium nitrite is used to help prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria and is something of a necessity if you are going to do this recipe. I was able to get some online through Amazon and probably have more than enough now to last me for a lifetime. I also had some difficulty in tracking down the shiro dashi, which they use in this recipe to help add some of the smoky flavor that you would normally get if you cook the pastrami in a smoker. Shiro dashi is a Japanese stock base that does have a bit of a smoky smell to it. I was finally able to track some down at one of the specialty food stores not too far from here. After that, I had to make space in the refrigerator for a container large enough to submerged the brisket to do the brining.

Even after all of that, you still have to wait for five days, the twelve hours of resting with the spices and then the four hours in the oven before the recipe is complete. That being said, I think it was certainly worth the effort put into it. The final product was very tasty. It tasted just as good or better than anything that you might be able to buy at the supermarket. The mix of spices was perfect and the pastrami was cooked perfectly and made for some great sandwiches. Of course, I served the pastrami hot on homemade rye bread with some homemade pickles, a little bit of tomato salad and some homemade ranch coleslaw and with plenty of mustard. It made for an excellent meal and there were plenty of leftovers so that Sean and I have been enjoying it for lunches ever since then and we gave some to my brother and his wife to bring home for them to enjoy. Is it something that I will make often? Not likely since the process is lengthy and brisket is often pretty expensive around here, but it is certainly a recipe that I will keep in mind to have once in a while when I get a craving for some good pastrami.

That is all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Sandwiches, Spices

 

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Kitchen Pantry Cooking Essentials – Key Ingredients and Recipes – Food.com

The key to good cooking and easy cooking is having some basics in your pantry all of the time. When you have the right ingredients around you can put together a meal in no time at all. Food.com has a list for you of the 50 most common cooking essentials you want in your pantry so you can do anything at any time. Check it out!

Source: Kitchen Pantry Cooking Essentials – Key Ingredients and Recipes – Food.com

 

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Say it With Steak – Pan Grilled Sirloin Steak with Ancho Chile-Coffee Rub

Finding different things to do with steak when you don’t have the option of grilling outside can be difficult sometimes. There is nothing quite like getting a steak nicely grilled, grill marks and all, and having the smell of the steak on your barbecue permeating the backyard. For those of us that do not have the grilling option, finding a good way to get flavor, grill marks and more out of a steak you make indoors is what you have to make the best of. For me, it usually means making use of a grill pan, finding a really good rub to put on the steak and doing some careful cooking to make sure the steak gets done correctly. There is nothing worse than overcooking a good piece of steak, considering how much they cost today. You can save a little bit if you can get yourself a nice sirloin steak, which I managed to do recently at our local farmers’ market. I got steak from Bishop Farms, a farm that promises no hormones, GMOs or antibiotics in the meat they sell. It was then a matter of finding a good way to cook it, so I decided to make use of part of this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for a grilled steak with ancho chile-coffee rubs and adapt for indoor use.

Pan Grilled Sirloin Steak with Ancho-Chile Coffee Rub

For the Steak:

2 teaspoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 ( 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pound) boneless sirloin steaks, about 1-inch thick

For the Spice Rub:

1 dried ancho chile. stemmed, seeded and flesh torn into 1/2-inch pieces
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
4 teaspoons coriander seeds
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground coffee
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Vegetable oil spray
For the steak, combine the tomato paste, fish sauce, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels. With a sharp knife, cut 1/16-inch-deep slits on both sides of steaks, spaced about a ½ inch apart, in a crosshatch pattern. Rub the salt mixture evenly on both sides of the steaks. Place the steaks on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet; let the steaks stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
For the spice rub, toast the ancho chile, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns in a medium skillet set over medium-low heat, stirring the spices frequently, until they are just beginning to smoke, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the spices to a plate to cool for about 5 minutes. Grind the spices in  a spice grinder or in a mortar with pestle until they are coarsely ground. Transfer  the spices to  a bowl and stir in the sugar, coffee, and cocoa powder.
Sprinkle about half of the spice rub evenly over 1 side of  the steaks and press down to adhere until the spice rub is fully moistened. Lightly spray  the rubbed side of the steak with vegetable oil spray for about 3 seconds. Flip the steaks and repeat the process of sprinkling with the spice rub and coating with vegetable oil spray on the second side.
Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Drop a few drops of water on the pan and if it sizzles loudly when it hits the pan, the pan should be hot enough for your steaks. Place the steaks in the hot pan and sear the steaks on one side for 5 minutes without moving the steaks. Flip the steaks and cook them on the other side for another five minutes without moving them for a doneness of medium-rare. If you prefer the steaks medium, add one to two minutes to your cooking time to desired doneness. Remove the steaks and allow them to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing them thinly against the grain and serving.
If you didn’t want to go through the effort of toasting the spices and then grinding them you could certainly use spices that are already ground, but the toasting does add a different flavor to the spice mixture and it works well. You get a much deeper flavor this way. I really liked having two different rubs on there as the combination of the tomato paste, fish sauce, salt, onion and garlic really adds something special to the steaks and then it gets topped off by the coffee and chile spice rub for a really good finish. Spraying the steaks with vegetable spray serves a couple of purposes as it will help you to keep the steaks from sticking to the pan but it also helps to bloom the spices a bit more so you don’t get a raw spice flavor. I think the rub will work well on any cut of steak you want to make, something expensive or inexpensive, and still give you great taste. I only made one large steak for the three of us for this meal but if you make the two steaks indoors you will need to cook them in batches so you can make sure you get a nice sear and don’t overcrowd the pan so the steaks steam. Of course, if you have a gas or charcoal grill you could always cook them outdoors and get great results as well. Any steak goes well with roasted potatoes and roasted vegetables, and I made some roasted broccoli and beets to go with the meal.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!
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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Cooking, Dinner, Grilling, Herbs, Spices

 

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31 Flavorful Rubs, Brines, and Marinades Slideshow – Bon Appétit

Everyone gets tired of having the same old thing when it comes to chicken, pork chops, steak or fish. A great way to change things up without going crazy is to use a brine, rub or marinade. They can add great flavor to anything you are cooking and make even your most regular meal seem extraordinary. Bon Appetit has put together 31 recipes for different rubs, brines and marinades that you can try. Check it out!

Source: 31 Flavorful Rubs, Brines, and Marinades Slideshow – Bon Appétit

 

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22 Supermarket Items You Should Leave on the Shelf (and What to Get Instead) | Serious Eats

Even under the best of circumstances, most of us are going to have days or nights where you want your dinner to be as easy as possible. Beyond getting your meals from a restaurant or take out place, this means buying items that make cooking fast and easy for you and your family. Unfortunately, many of these items really aren’t any easier than doing it yourself, cost more, and do not taste as good as what you can do on your own. Instead of giving up quality, there are many things you can do very easily for yourself that can make any meal you make taste even better, even the simplest ones. Serious Eats has put together 22 items that you should try to avoid buying and instead make use of better tasting alternatives, often things you can do all on your own, to save you money and give you better flavor. Check it out!

Source: 22 Supermarket Items You Should Leave on the Shelf (and What to Get Instead) | Serious Eats

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2016 in Cooking, Cooking Tips, Cooking Websites, Dinner, Herbs, Pantry, Spices

 

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