As much as we all try, it can be easy for cleaning the kitchen to get away from us. All of a sudden you wake up one morning and see that your kitchen is just a shell of what you want it to be and you have to spend hours getting it back into shape. It can be much easier for you to tackle one task at a time over the course of a week, and Bon Appetit has set out a 7-day kitchen cleaning plan that can help you get your kitchen looking its best so that maintenance becomes much easier for you. Check it out!
Category Archives: Uncategorized
Those that follow this blog know I have long lamented about the inability I have to use an outdoor grill here. New York State laws don’t allow condos and apartments to own gas or charcoal grills, and the electric grill, while doing its job, didn’t really offer that much in the way of a good grilling experience. This has left me to my own devices when it comes to grilling, meaning I do what I can indoors with the oven and stovetop. While I will never get the great smell of outdoor grill cooking or the fantastic grill marks (though my grill pan does a good job, it just isn’t the same), I still like to make barbecue flavors when I can inside. For some reason not that long ago I had a craving for some barbecued chicken and ribs. Now, making barbecued chicken and ribs is nothing out of the ordinary – all you need are your chicken pieces, ribs and some barbecue sauce mainly – I wanted something that was going to give us some different flavor and a bit of that barbecue feel. I came across this recipe at New York Times Cooking from Nigella Lawson for oven roasted maple chicken and ribs that offered the unique flavor I was going for with that roasted, not-quite-barbecued method.
Oven Roasted Maple Chicken and Ribs
1 cup apple cider or juice
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
6 unpeeled garlic cloves
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
8 pork spareribs, separated
6 chicken thighs with skin and bone (or other chicken pieces)
In a small mixing bowl whisk together the apple cider, maple syrup, vegetable oil and soy sauce. Add the star anise, cinnamon stick, garlic cloves and the hot pepper flakes (if using) and stir the ingredients to combine them well.
In a large freezer bag or bowl, combine the pork ribs and chicken pieces. Pour in the apple cider mixture, and seal the bag or cover the bowl. Refrigerate the meat overnight or up to 2 days.
Remove the marinated mixture from the refrigerator, and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the contents of the bag or bowl (including the marinating liquid) into a large enough roasting pan to avoid crowding the meat. Turn the chicken pieces, so they are skin side up.
Roast the meat until the chicken is opaque throughout and the ribs are tender, about 1 1/4 hours; 35 to 40 minutes into roasting turn the ribs over, but leave the chicken skin side up and turn the heat to 425 degrees to increase browning, if desired.
When the chicken and ribs are finished roasting, there will be quite a lot of fat in the sauce. Strain the sauce and use a fat separator to remove the excess. Place the meat in a large dish along with the strained sauce and serve hot.
While there is not much to the original recipe, I did make a couple of slight variations of my own. To the marinade, I did add 1/2 a teaspoon of liquid smoke so I could get a smokier flavor from the meat. It worked out quite nicely for both the chicken and the ribs. I did not add all the marinating liquid into the roasting pan when I put the meat in. Instead, I changed the cooking method a bit. I put half the marinade in the pan and covered the roasting pan for the first 60 minutes with aluminum foil to give the meat a chance to cook and keep some of the juices in, then removed the foil for the next thirty minutes and cooked the chicken and ribs this way. For the last twenty to thirty minutes, I basted the chicken and ribs with the remaining sauce so that the meat got a nice coating of the sauce and had more of a “barbecued” look to it. I then placed the meat under the broil for a minute or two for some final coloring. While I think working with the original recipe will turn things just fine, I believe that this method turned out moister meat and more tender ribs and chicken that were not dried out. I really liked the maple flavor of the ribs and the chicken, and you could easily make this for a crowd if you have a big enough roasting pan where the meat does not get crowded, so it steams. I served this with some grilling sides like green beans, cole slaw, and corn to round out the grilling experience (cornbread would go nicely here too).
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!
Sean and I are both big proponents of sandwiches in this house and take every opportunity to make a good sandwich for lunch or dinner. Of course, there is nothing quite like a sandwich on a good roll to make it taste even better. The problem is finding the good rolls that you will love to eat. Unfortunately for us, we do not have a bakery in our town or nearby, which means you would have to settle for the rolls they offer at the local supermarkets. If you have ever had a Kaiser roll from New York City or one of the boroughs, you will quickly realize that the rolls offered outside of the city pale in comparison and or too soft, too dry and somewhat flavorless, making for a disappointing sandwich. The best solution available to me was to try to make these rolls on my own. I was hesitant at first, fearing it would be a lot of work to give it a try, but I came across this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen in their cookbook Bread Illustrated (one of my favorite cookbooks by the way). The recipe seemed very easy and straightforward, so I decided it was time to give it a try.
Homemade Kaiser Rolls
5 cups bread flour
4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups water, at room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg, at room temperature
4 teaspoons sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, optional
Whisk the bread flour, yeast and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the water, vegetable oil, egg, and sugar together in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup until the sugar has dissolved.
Using the dough hook on a stand mixer, set the mixer to low speed and slowly add the water mixture to the flour mixture and mix the ingredients until a cohesive dough starts to form, and no dry flour remains, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and knead the ingredients until the dough is smooth and elastic and clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom of the bowl, about 8 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead the dough by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place the dough seam-side down in a lightly greased large bowl or container, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Press down on the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to a clean counter or workspace. Press and stretch the dough into a 12 by 6-inch rectangle, with the long side parallel to the counter edge.
Using a pizza cutter or chef’s knife, cut the dough vertically into 12 (6 by 1-inch) strips and cover the dough loosely with greased plastic wrap.
Working with 1 piece of dough at a time (keep the remaining pieces covered with the plastic), stretch and roll the dough into a 14-inch rope. Shape the rope into a U with a 2-inch-wide bottom curve and the ends facing away from you. Tie the ends into a single overhand knot, with a 1 1/2-inch open loop at the bottom.
Wrap 1 tail over the loop and press it through the opening from the top. Wrap the other tail under the loop and pinch the ends together to seal them. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, placing the rolls pinched side down on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 3 inches apart. Cover the rolls loosely with greased plastic and let the dough rise until it has nearly doubled in size and the dough springs back minimally when it is poked gently with your knuckle, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Gently brush the rolls with the egg mixture and sprinkle them with poppy seeds, if using. Bake the rolls until they are golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking process.
Transfer the rolls to wire racks and allow them to cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving.
The process of forming the rolls sounds more complicated than it is. Once you get used to doing it, they come together pretty quickly, though I have to admit I think mine could have looked nicer. Besides the looks, I have to say these rolls are excellent. They have the right texture and the crisp exterior that you want in a roll while still maintaining a moist interior crumb. There are stamps you can buy to imprint the rolls if you do not want to go through the effort of getting that rosette shape yourself (you can find them on Amazon or King Arthur Flour). We used the rolls that night for chicken sandwiches for dinner, and I have to say they are better than anything I can buy around here. While they are certainly not of the quality you will get fresh from the bakeries on Arthur Avenue, it’s a good one you can do yourself without a lot of work and still have a great roll for sandwiches. It’s definitely one I will be making again.
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!
Shrimp is one of those ingredients that is a lot more versatile than many give it credit for. While Sean would be happy if I simply made fried shrimp every time I picked some up from the seafood market, I like to mix things up and try different things with it. A scampi is always a good option or a stir-fry dinner, but one of my favorites is to make jambalaya. There is something about a fantastic bowl if jambalaya with crunchy french bread that is perfect for me for a meal. While jambalaya might seem intimidating to some to try to make, the truth is most recipes for it a pretty easy to put together. More often than not, they have a lot of prep work for you to do, but once that is accomplished everything else falls into place pretty quickly. I decided to make this recipe from John Besh that I found at the Food Republic because, as a classic New Orleans chef, who should know better than Chef Besh regarding how to make this dish?
John Besh’s Classic Creole Seafood Jambalaya
1/2 pound andouille or another smoked sausage, chopped
1 pound fresh pork sausage, removed from casings
1/2 cup bacon fat or vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 stalk celery, with leaves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups white rice
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 dried bay leaves
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds medium wild American shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper
2 green onions, chopped
Heat a very big, heavy-bottomed pot (like a Dutch oven) over high heat and then reduce the heat to medium. (This lets the pot heat uniformly, preventing hot spots, which are likely to burn.) Brown the andouille and pork sausage in the bacon fat or vegetable oil, stirring slowly with a long wooden spoon to build color.
After the sausages have browned, add the onions to the pot and allow them to caramelize, about 15 minutes, to develop more flavor. Add the bell peppers to the onions to save as much of the color as you can in the peppers. Add the celery ( use the leaves too) and the garlic and cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring so that everything in the pot cooks evenly.
Next add the rice, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves to the pot and cook, often stirring, for about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the crushed tomatoes and broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, season the shrimp with salt and pepper. After the rice has simmered for 15 minutes, fold in the shrimp and the green onions. Cover the pot again, turn off the heat, and let everything continue to cook in the hot pot for about another 10 minutes until the shrimp are pink and tender.
Fluff the jambalaya with a fork and serve.
I have seen other recipes that can get more complicated, but this one is basic straight to the point, easy to follow and returns an excellent meal. I used red, yellow and orange pepper for some added color to the dish. You can use another sausage if you can’t find andouille, but andouille to me helps to make the dish what it is with its spice and flavor. You might also want to sub in shrimp stock for the chicken broth if you are feeling ambitious. You can make a nice stock with the shrimp shells and add some deeper flavor. The recipe comes together pretty quickly, and all of the flavors are there for you to give a complete, tasty meal in one pot. It often tastes just as great the second day as the flavors come together even more. You can have the whole meal created in about 45 minutes for a different weeknight meal for you and the family.
It’s nice to be able to get back to posting a blog! I am feeling better, and though I am still swamped with work, and we have lots going on around the house, I wanted to make sure I had time to post a recipe today, even if it is just a short one. Since it is the Lent time of year, more people are eating fish right now, which means you might be looking for some new recipes or different ways to make the fish you eat this week. We are lucky since we have a great fish market in the area now where I can get very fresh, great-tasting fish anytime. Such is the case when I went over there recently and picked up some monkfish to make for dinner. Monkfish has great flavor and a good texture, making it meatier than many other whitefish that you find sold. Many people refer to it as “Poor Man’s Lobster” since it has a similar texture and taste lobster without having to go through all of the hassles of getting through a shell for not a lot of meat. Though, by today’s standards, monkfish in many cases costs just as much per pound or more than what you pay for a lobster. In any case, it is a great fish to make and this simple recipe from Pierre Franey at New York Times Cooking gives a fast preparation that has great flavor.
Monkfish Fillets Dijon Style
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 skinless, boneless monkfish fillets, about 1 1/2 pounds
Salt to taste if desired
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
⅓ cup dry white wine
½ pound small mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Select a baking dish large enough to hold the monkfish fillets in one layer without crowding them. Pour the olive oil over the bottom of the baking dish. Turn the fillets in the oil to coat them well all over. Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper on both sides. Brush the fillets with the Dijon mustard. Scatter the onions and the garlic around the fillets.
Place the baking dish on top of the stove and heat the dish until the oil begins to sizzle. Add the white wine and scatter the mushrooms around the fillets. Bring the wine just to a simmer.
Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Baste the fillets and return the dish to the oven and continue cooking the fish for about 5 minutes. Remove the fish from the baking dish and place it on a platter. Swirl the butter in the sauce in the baking dish and then place the sauce over the fish fillets on the plate. Sprinkle the fish with parsley and serve.
This recipe is definitely one you can make quickly, and with ingredients you are likely to have on hand most of the time (except the fish, of course). The flavors all come together nicely, and the Dijon mustard does not overpower the fish at all. The onions, garlic, and mushrooms add a nice touch to the meal, and even just the hint of white wine in the sauce is very nice. You could even substitute another fish in here if you like, though I personally like the monkfish for this recipe. I served this with some wild rice and broccoli, and it was a nice, light, and complete meal.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day, enjoy your meal!
Meatballs are always a family favorite and provide a lot of versatility when I make then. Typically, they start off with a meal that includes some type of pasta, but the meatballs are also fantastic for meatball subs or meatball parmigiana sandwiches. They also make a great addition to a pizza for pizza night. All of that is perfect when you make meatballs in tomato sauce, but once in a while, I like something that is a little bit of a change. I love Swedish meatballs or meatballs in a gravy and have found that making meatballs using turkey meat gives me the chance to play with all kinds of different flavors and create new meals. I had picked up some ground turkey recently at the store and wanted to make something different for dinner, so I combined these two recipes, one from Martha Stewart for a carrot rice and the other from Julia Moskin for scallion meatballs with a soy glaze.
Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze and Carrot Rice
For the Sauce:
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup mirin sweet rice wine, or 1/2 cup sake with 1/4 cup sugar
¼ cup chopped peeled ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 whole black peppercorns
For the Meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
4 large or 6 small scallions, finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped about 1 cup
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
For the Rice:
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 carrot, shredded
To make the sauce, bring the sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan set over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar melts completely. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the soy sauce, mirin, ginger, coriander, and peppercorns. Simmer, occasionally stirring, until the sauce is reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Strain the sauce through a sieve. The sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.
To make the meatballs, mix the ground turkey, scallions, cilantro, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce and several grindings of pepper in a medium bowl. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls.
In a skillet set over medium-high heat, generously cover the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, place the meatballs in the pan and cook them, occasionally turning, until the meatballs are browned all over and cooked inside, about 8 minutes per batch. Arrange on a heated platter, spoon a little sauce over each meatball, and serve with toothpicks. If desired, keep warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve. Garnish with sliced scallions, if desired.
To make the rice, in a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the rice and stir, and return the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the rice and cook it until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the rice from the heat and top it with the shredded carrot. Let the rice stand, covered, for about 5 minutes, then stir in the carrot and fluff the rice with a fork. Arrange the rice on a heated platter and top with the meatballs and sauce. Garnish the dish with sliced scallions, if desired.
Ground turkey by itself does not have a lot of flavor to it, but when you add the ingredients to the dish with the meatballs and the sauce, you will find that they pack quite a bit of flavor. The scallions and soy shine through nicely, and the meatballs are tender and tasty. The carrot rice is very simple, and the carrots add a nice touch and texture to the rice for something a little different. You can easily just make the meatballs and use them as an appetizer for any dinner, party or buffet you are having as well. I felt the dish was a nice change of pace from the usual meatballs and gives me something different to fall back on when I want to liven the meatball routine up a bit.
The big football game this weekend is more than just a huge sporting event. I am not nearly as big of a football fan as I am of baseball and really have no stake in whether Atlanta or New England wins. For us, the Super Bowl this year is more about just hanging out, relaxing and watching the game for the commercials. The big game also means it’s a day to enjoy all kinds of snack foods. Everyone breaks out their favorites for Buffalo wings, nachos, cocktail franks, egg rolls, meatballs, sandwiches, chips, dips and your favorite drinks. If you are hosting a party this year you probably have lots of things picked out for snacks and halftime, but what about dessert? Dessert might get overlooked, beyond the football field sheet cakes you can get or the football cookies, so why not do something different, easy and homemade? I have a particular love of banana desserts and sought out to make a cupcake this year for something different. I ended up combining two recipes, with a cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart for banana cupcakes and a Bananas Foster frosting recipe from Glorious Treats to make something great.
Banana Cupcakes with Bananas Foster Frosting
For the Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas), plus 1 whole banana for garnish (optional)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Frosting:
1/4 cup banana, mashed (about 1/2 a banana)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dark rum (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. In the well, mix together the melted butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla extract. Stir the ingredients together to incorporate the flour mixture without over mixing everything. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups.
Place the pan into the oven and bake the cupcakes until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin pan. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
While the cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting. Mash the banana in a small bowl with the lemon juice. In a large bowl or bowl for your stand mixer, beat the butter until it is smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mashed banana and beat it with the butter until it is well incorporated and smooth. Add the powdered sugar slowly, one cup at a time, while slowly mixing, so that it blends in well. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum (if using) and the vanilla extract. Beat all of the ingredients together until everything is well incorporated, and the frosting is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Spread the tops of each cupcake with the Bananas Foster frosting. Just before serving, peel and slice the banana into rounds and place one on each cupcake, if desired.
It’s a pretty simple cupcake recipe that presents nicely and has some great flavor to it. The banana cupcake is lighter than the typical banana muffin you might like and has some good banana taste to it, but the frosting is what really makes it perfect for me. The frosting has the flavor of the great Bananas Foster dessert, especially if you take advantage of the dark rum in the ingredients. I actually boosted the banana flavor up a bit for the frosting by adding some banana syrup to the frosting mix (about 1 1/2 teaspoons did it for me). I also halved the original recipe for the frosting since I had only twelve cupcakes to do and the recipe seemed like it was more if you want enough to frost a whole cake, which wouldn’t be a bad idea either. We each tested the cupcakes, and the came out nicely, with moist cake and a great frosting.