RSS

Tag Archives: potatoes

A Shrimp Dinner to End the Week

For the last meal of the week, we turn to our seafood meal. I decided to try something a little different this week; it’s always risky to be different with a seafood meal when cooking for a pre-teen, but I thought I would give it a shot anyway. Sean likes shrimp, but he’s never had artichokes and is not a big fan of olives, so we’ll have to see how this one goes. Tonight I am making Artichokes with Potatoes, Garlic, Olives and Shrimp. It’s a hearty, one pot meal, something we have made a lot of lately, but it struck me as something that looked good to try. If you can’t find fresh artichokes, you can use artichokes hearts instead.

Artichokes with Potatoes, Garlic, Olives and Shrimp

1 to 1/2 pounds fresh artichokes

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound waxy potatoes, peeled and cut, if necessary, into 1-inch chunks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1/2 cup dry white wine, stock, or water

1 cup small black olives, pitted

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Prepare the artichokes by trimming the stem, cutting off the pointed tips, removing the tough leaves and cutting in half; remove the choke if necessary. As each is finished, drop it into a bowl of cold water with about 10 percent vinegar or lemon juice.

Put 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drain the artichokes and add them to the skillet, along with the potatoes. Cook until they’re glossy and beginning to soften; do not brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add the thyme and the liquid. Bring to a boil, cover and adjust the heat so the mixture just simmers. Cook just until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes, then uncover and raise the heat again. Stir in the remaining olive oil, olives, shrimp and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are pink, about 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish with the parsley and serve hot or warm.

If you have never prepared whole artichokes before, it can be a little tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty easy. It’s really just a matter of getting rid any spiky tips and outer leaves and removing the furry, needlelike choke. You can steam the artichokes whole and eat the leaves one by one, scraping off the meat of each leaf using your front teeth. The closer you get to the center, the more tender the leaves, and the soft, inner leaves can be eaten whole. Just make sure to spoon out the choke before you eat the heart. Fresh tastes a lot better than canned or jarred, in my opinion, but if you are using the artichokes in a recipe, you can get away with using canned or jarred artichoke hearts.

Tomorrow is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, and I have a great feast scheduled to cook. I’ll be posting my recipes for Corned Beef and Cabbage (I’ll be cooking it two ways),Boiled Potatoes, Colcannon, Grasshopper Pie, and of course, some Irish Coffee and Black and Tans. Check in tomorrow to check out the feast. Until then, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 16, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Seafood, Vegetables

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Dinner’s Gone to Pot (Roast)

Today’s dinner is another one of my all-time favorites (and it’s already cooking by the way, since it does take some time). I love pot roast; it was always one of my favorite meals growing up. The best thing about pot roast is that shouldn’t even have to slice it. Just leaning a knife or fork up against it should make it fall apart (we always called it “the meat that falls apart” when we were growing up). The nice thing about pot roast is that it’s nearly impossible to overcook it. if you don’t think it looks right to you, leave it in a little longer. I’ve tried a few different recipes over the years, but this one from an old America’s Test Kitchen cookbook seems to give me the best results. I have cooked it in the slow cooker before and it comes out just fine also, but I like the gravy that comes out of this one better.

Simple Pot Roast

1 boneless chuck roast (about 3 1/2 pounds)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped medium

1 small carrot, chopped medium

1 small rib celery, chopped medium

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup beef broth

1 sprig fresh thyme

1-2 cups water

1/4 cup dry red wine

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Thoroughly pat the roast dry with paper towels; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed Dutch Oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Brown the roast thoroughly on all sides, reducing the heat if the fat begins to smoke, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the roast to a large plate; set aside. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion, carrot and celery to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and the sugar; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and beef broths and thyme, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Return the roast and any accumulated juices to the pot; add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the roast. Place a large piece of foil over the pot and cover tightly with a lid; bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat, then transfer the pot to the oven. Cook turning the roast every 30 minutes, until fully tender and a meat fork or sharp knife slips in and out of the meat, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Transfer the roast to a carving board; tent with foil to keep warm. Allow the liquid in the pot to settle about 5 minutes, then use a wide spoon to skim the fat off the surface; discard the thyme sprig. Boil over high heat until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Add the red wine and reduce again to 1 1/2 cups, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Using a chef’s knife or carving knife, cut the meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices, or pull apart into large pieces; transfer the meat to a warmed serving platter and pour about 1/2 cup of sauce over the meat. Serve, passing the remaining sauce separately.

Yum, yum. There are variations of this recipe, of course. One adds root vegetables such as carrots, small red potatoes and parsnips after the roast is done. Just strain the liquid after you remove the roast, pour the liquid back in the pot, return the roast and the new vegetables to the pot and continue to until the vegetables are almost tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Then remove the roast, add the wine and boil the vegetables over high heat until fully tender, about another 10 minutes. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon, and you are good to go.

I like to serve pot roast with mashed potatoes instead of putting potatoes in the pot with the roast. I love the mashed potatoes with the gravy produced by this roast. I have made mashed potatoes a few times on this meal plan, but if you would like the recipe, you can just click here to see it from an earlier posting.

I was going to make green beans to go with the pot roast, but when I got Adams Farms yesterday, Brussels sprouts were on sale, so I am making those instead. I love Brussels sprouts, but I admit they are an acquired taste. A lot of people don’t care for them, but we eat them regularly in our house. One of my favorite ways to cook them is to make them in a skillet with some bacon and shallots, which is what I am going to do tonight.

Skillet-Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots

4 ounces bacon (4 slices), chopped fine

2 shallots, sliced thin

1 pound Brussels sprouts, stem ends trimmed, discolored leaves removed, and halved through the stem

1/2 cup water

Salt

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Pepper

Cook the bacon and shallots together in a large skillet over medium heat until the bacon is crisp and the shallots are browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Add the Brussels sprouts, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high. Cover and simmer until the Brussels sprouts are bright green, about 9 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the sprouts are tender, about 5 minutes longer.

Off the heat, stir in the bacon mixture, butter and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

You really need to halve the sprouts when you are braising them like this. If you leave them whole, they are just too dense and won’t cook well all the way through, making them mushy outside and nearly raw inside. Cooking them this way also eliminates the aroma sprouts can give off that seems to turn a lot of people off to them.

So that’s today’s meal. If they are any leftovers, you can make a great open-faced sandwich with the pot roast and gravy with some mashed potatoes on the side. We have tomorrow marked as a leftovers night for dinner, so we may have that ourselves. We have the meal plan for next week just about finalized, so I will be writing about that tomorrow. I will say that all the meals for next week are going to be one pot meals and two of them are specifically slow cooker meals. Check it out tomorrow to see what you have to look forward to for dinners. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to pass them along here. Thanks again for checking the blog out. I am pretty happy with the way things are going with it so far, so we’ll keep going! Enjoy your day and enjoy your meal tonight!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Vegetables

 

Tags: , , ,

Repas de Saint-Valentin (Okay, A Valentine’s Day Meal)

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there. There’s nothing more romantic than a quiet dinner with your sweetie, whether it’s out at a restaurant or at home.This dinner menu, which I got from Williams-Sonoma, is French-themed and requires a little more work than what we have cooked lately, but not much, and the rewards will be worth it. I have also included a dessert today, which I don’t normally do, but heck, it’s a special day, so why not?

The first course is a Riesling onion Soup with Herbed Croutons. It’s a variation on the classic French Onion Soup. It takes a little bit (about an hour in total) to prepare and cook, but it’s a nice touch to start off the meal and you could always make the soup a day ahead of time and re-heat it when you are ready to serve it for your meal.

Riesling Onion Soup with Herbed Croutons

3 tablespoons butter

4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 leeks, including pale green tops, sliced

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups Riesling (use a dry Riesling, not “late harvest”) 6 cups chicken stock (I am using homemade, find my recipe here)

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Herbed Croutons:

1/2 baguette, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs, such as tarragon, parsley, thyme or rosemary, in any combination 1/2 pound of Italian fontina cheese, cut into small cubes

In a large, wide saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, leeks, garlic and tarragon and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes more. Pour in the wine, bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Pour in the stock and return to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, until reduced slightly, about 45 minutes.

To make the herbed croutons, preheat an oven to 300 degrees. Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, butter and herbs. Lightly coat each bread slice on both sides with the oil mixture. Toast the bread in the oven, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. (The croutons can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored, tightly covered, at room temperature.)

Preheat a broiler. Arrange individual ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet and ladle soup into the bowls. Top each serving with 2 or 3 croutons and an equal amount of the cheese. Place the baking sheet under the broiler 7 inches from the heat source and broil until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Remove from the broiler and serve immediately.

This recipe is for a service of 6, so you may want to cut it 2/3 if you are only making it for 2.

For the entrée, I am making Steaks with Shallot-Red Wine Sauce. I have made this before and posted the recipe in an earlier blog, so if you want to check it out, just click here and you can see the recipe for it. It’s very tasty and the only difference this time is that I am using bone-in ribeyes instead of boneless, but you can whatever cut of steak you like best.

I am making two sides with tonight’s meal. The first is Sautéed Spinach with Pine Nuts. I am making a slight variation of this, as pine nuts are quite expensive and I won’t use them very often. A good, cheaper alternative is slivered almonds, so I am going with those instead.

Spinach Sautéed with Pine Nuts

1/4 cup pine nuts (I am using slivered almonds instead)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 pounds spinach leaves, tough stems removed and leaves well rinsed (this sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. Spinach cooks down significantly when you saute it)

Salt and pepper to taste

If desired, toast the pine nuts (or almonds) by heating them gently in a dry, small, heavy fry pan over medium heat, tossing them every so often as they become golden and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Watch the nuts closely as they can burn very easily. When toasted, immediately pour them onto a plate.

In a fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and saute lightly until golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Put the spinach with just the rinsing water clinging to the leaves in a saucepan over medium-high heat, cover, and cook until the spinach is bright green and wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well in a colander, pressing the spinach with the back of a spoon to remove excess moisture. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, chop it coarsely.

Add the spinach and nuts to the onion and garlic in the fry pan and return to medium heat. Stir until the spinach and onion are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.

To go with the steak and spinach, I opted for Twice-Baked Potatoes tonight. You could easily go with roasted potatoes or mashed potatoes, but the twice-baked sounded like something different to try and you can use a variety of toppings, if you like.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

russet potatoes (7 to 8 ounces each), scrubbed, dried, and rubbed lightly with vegetable oil

2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (about 1 cup)

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoons butter , room temperature

2 medium scallions , white and green parts sliced thin

1/4 teaspoon salt

 Ground black pepper

 Put an oven rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the potatoes on foil-lined baking sheet until skin is crisp and deep brown and skewer easily pierces the flesh, about 1 hour. Setting the baking sheet aside, transfer the potatoes to a wire rack and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Using an oven mitt or folded kitchen towel to handle the hot potatoes, cut each potato in half so that the blunt sides will rest on work surface. Using a small dinner spoon, scoop the flesh from each half into medium bowl, leaving a 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thickness of flesh in each shell. Arrange the shells on a lined sheet and return to the oven until dry and slightly crisped, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mash the potato flesh with fork until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients, including pepper to taste, until well combined.

Remove the shells from the oven and increase the oven setting to broil. Holding the shells steady on a pan with an oven mitt or towel-protected hand, spoon the mixture into crisped shells, mounding slightly at the center, and return to the oven. Broil until spotty brown and crisp on top, 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

You can always use a different cheese instead of cheddar to change things up for yourself and the shells should come nice and crispy, not soggy, in this recipe.

Finally, on to dessert. I am not a dessert person and very rarely make them myself, but tonight I will give it a shot and this recipe is pretty easy to use and great for the chocolate lovers. You need to use a double boiler for this recipe, but if you don’t have one(and I don’t) you can use a makeshift one. Choose a saucepan and a heatproof bowl(preferably glass) that rests securely in the top. Fill the saucepan with water to a depth of about 1 to 2 inches. Once the bowl is placed atop the pan, the water must not touch it. Remember that boiling water bubbles up, so check the water level before setting the bowl in place. Bring the water to a boil, set the bowl in place, and reduce the heat so the water simmers gently. If the water bubbles up and is hitting the bowl, you’ll get condensation in the bowl, your chocolate will end up seizing, and you’ll end up having to start over.

Warm Molten Chocolate Cakes

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

4 egg yolks

6 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (optional)

3 egg whites, at room temperature

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Lightly butter six 3/4-cup ramekins and dust with cocoa powder. Set the ramekins on a small baking sheet.

In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the pan over, but not touching, barely simmering water in the bottom pan and melt the chocolate and butter, then whisk until the mixture is glossy and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the cocoa powder and the orange zest on medium-high speed until thick. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture and beat until well blended. The mixture will be very thick.

In a bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they are very foamy and thick. Sprinkle in the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and increase the speed to high. Continue beating until firm, glossy peaks form. Spoon half of the beaten whites onto the chocolate mixture and whisk in until just blended. Add the remaining whites and stir gently until just blended. Spoon into the prepared ramekins, dividing evenly.

Bake the cakes until they are puffed and the tops are cracked, about 13 minutes. The inside of the cracks will look very wet. Remove from the oven and serve immediately in the ramekins. Or run the tip of a small knife around the inside of each ramekin to loosen the cake, then invert the cakes onto individual plates.


You could serve these with a little dusting of powdered sugar and some raspberries or strawberries and maybe a dollop of whipped cream or creme anglaise (which I’m not adventurous enough to make, but some might be), or even a little vanilla ice cream with some shaved chocolate.

Okay, that’s it, my Valentine’s Day meal. It’s not as hard as it may seem, trust me. It’s just a matter of organizing your time and space so everything is done on time. You could even have everything set up to make the dessert and make it after you finish eating the dinner if you want. Enjoy your meal and your time with your special someone, have a nice glass of wine and snuggle by the fireplace. Tomorrow’s meal is back to simplicity with Cream of Cauliflower Soup. It’s our meat-free meal of the week so feel free to check it out. If you have any questions, comments, would like to let us know what you are making or eating tonight, please do! Have a great day everyone!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Simple Saturday Roast Chicken and Vegetables

A busy day of laundry, errands and ordering new glasses for Sean kept me from writing earlier in the day, but the meal is still simple if you want to use it for another day. I love a roasted chicken. Nice crispy skin, moist chicken and nicely roasted vegetables make a great meal, and the best part is you can cook the whole thing in one roasting pan, cutting down on the pots and dishes to clean after the meal.

A couple of things about roasting. if you have the time to do it, a container large enough and the refrigerator space, brine the chicken the night before you roast it. Brining really can bring out the flavor and tenderness of not only chicken, but turkey and pork as well. As the meat soaks in the brine it absorbs it, and then retains it during cooking, resulting in very juicy and excellent tasting meat. It’s not essential to do it before roasting, but it can really add to a roasted meal. For 4 pounds of chicken (either a whole bird or pieces) use 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of sugar dissolved in water in a container or bowl large enough to hold the brine and the meat. Then submerge the chicken in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Remove the meat from the brine, rinse and pat dry with paper towels, and that’s it, your good to go. The second thing I recommend is using a roasting pan with a rack in it. Chicken roasts better when it’s not resting on the bottom of the roasting pan. If air can circulate up and around the bird, the meat will cook more evenly and the skin will be crisper. If you don’t have a roasting pan with a V-shaped rack, you can use a flat rack inside the roasting pan. if you don’t have that either, you can always use a bed of chopped onions, carrots and celery to raise the chicken off the bottom of the pan and then use these vegetables later on for gravy.

Roast Chicken and Vegetables

1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) whole chicken, brined if desired

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon minced parsley

Salt and pepper

6 garlic cloves, peeled

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2 small onions, peeled and cut into quarters

2 ribs celery, cut into chunks

8-10 small red-skinned potatoes (or other potatoes you have, just halve or quarter them)

2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup water

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix 2 tablespoons of the butter, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together. Spread the butter under the skin over the breast of the chicken. Season the chicken with additional salt and pepper all over. Toss the garlic, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes and parsnips in a large bowl with the oil until well coated. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables to the bottom of the roasting pan. If using a V-rack, they can go under the rack. If using a flat rack or no rack, form a nest around the edge of the pan and then place the chicken in the center of the vegetables, breast side up. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and brush it over the chicken. Pour the water into the roasting pan. Roast the chicken for 40 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees, rotate the position of the pan in the oven, and continue to roast the chicken until the thickest portion of the breast registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes longer. Tip the chicken so that the juice from the cavity runs into the roasting pan. Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes before carving. Turn the oven temperature back down to 350 degrees and continue roasting the vegetables if you want to brown them some more while the chicken rests. If not, you can re-heat the vegetables on the stove top before serving over medium heat in the roasting pan for about 5 minutes.

After you remove the vegetables, you may want to use the pan drippings to make a quick gravy for your chicken. it’s a very simple recipe and easy to do, just watch out, because the pan drippings may be salty.

Quick Chicken Gravy

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced

Salt and pepper

While the roasted chicken rests, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add 1 cup of broth to the roasting pan and scrape up any drippings. Pour into a large measuring cup and spoon any fat off the top. Add the remaining broth as needed to measure 3 cups.

Slowly whisk the measured broth into the saucepan. Add the bay leaves and simmer until the flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

That’s it, the whole meal is done, and you have two pots to clean (1 if you used a foil pan you can throw away). Don’t throw away that chicken carcass either. Save it in a storage bag or throw it in a pot of water right away and make some homemade stock with it. One carrot, one onion, one stalk of celery, 2 bay leaves, and enough water to cover the carcass is all you need. Let it come to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for a few hours. Strain out the carcass and vegetables and you have plenty of your own stock to use in various recipes. Trust me, it tastes so much better than what comes in a can.

And we have another meal in the books. Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday, so I won’t be cooking anything but the snack foods we talked about on Thursday, but I will be writing about something; I just haven’t decided what that will be yet. Any suggestions? I’d love to hear if you have any ideas of things you might like to see or topics to tackle. Leave a comment and let me know. Two final notes: First, the Fish and Chips from last night turned out great! The fish was crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside and not greasy at all, and the fries were awesome! I recommend the recipe and we’ll certainly have it again one day. Secondly, I made a trip to Williams-Sonoma today and bought a new 12-inch skillet, a flat rack for a roasting pan or baking sheet, a new gravy separator (Sean dropped the other one and shattered it, accidents happen!) and a cake mix for a lemon bundt cake they have that tastes really good and we can never find (I know, I should make it from scratch, but I’m lazy when it comes to baking). I am sure we could have bought more, but we tried to limit our spending for the day and had a coupon to use. It was a good trip and I am sure we’ll go back again. I hope everyone has a great night and get ready for the game tomorrow!

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 4, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Gravy, Potatoes, Poultry, Vegetables

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Fantastic Friday Fish & Chips

It’s Friday, the weekend is upon us, and so is February for that matter. Spring is not too far off now, even if the weather here has made it seem like spring already. Today’s dinner was picked by Sean, which surprised me and made me glad. Since we started the meal plan, he has been very open to trying new things and picking out some things we have never made before, including today’s dinner. I have had fish and chips and various places, and have been disappointed many times by it. A lot of the time there is too much breading or the fish tastes too much like the oil it was cooked in and the fries are underwhelming. This recipe, from America’s Test Kitchen’s website, seems like it will be a good balance. It doesn’t have a lot of ingredients to it and seems easy to make. I’ll be using the deep fryer again for this one, but a large Dutch oven and a candy thermometer will serve you just as well.

Fish and Chips

3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 large potatoes) peeled, ends and sides squared off, and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch fries

3 quarts canola oil, plus 1/4 additional cup

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Table salt

1 teaspoon baking powder 1 1/2 pounds 1-inch thick cod fillet (or other thick white fish, like haddock) cut into 8 pieces

1 1/2 cups beer (12 ounces), cold (you can use any beer here, with the exception of dark stouts and ales)

Place cut fries in a large microwaveable bowl, toss with 1/4 cup oil and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until the potatoes are partially translucent and pliable but still offer some resistance when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 6 to 8 minutes, tossing them with a rubber spatula halfway through the cooking time. Carefully pull back the plastic wrap from the side farthest from you and drain the potatoes into a large mesh strainer over the sink. Rinse well under cold running water. Spread the potatoes on kitchen towels and pat dry. Let rest until room temperature, at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.

While the fries cool, whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt in a large mixing bowl; transfer 3.4 cup of mixture to a rimmed baking sheet. Add baking powder to the bowl and whisk to combine.

In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat 2 quarts of oil over medium heat to 350 degrees. Add the fries to the hot oil and increase the heat to high. Fry, stirring with a mesh spider or slotted metal spoon, until the potatoes turn light golden and just begin to brown at the corners, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fries to a thick paper bag or paper towels to drain.

Reduce heat to medium-high, add the remaining quart of oil, and heat the oil to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, thoroughly dry the fish with paper towels and dredge each piece in the flour mixture on the baking sheet; transfer the pieces to a wire rack, shaking off the excess flour. Add 1 1/4 cups of the beer to the flour mixture in the mixing bowl and stir until the mixture is just combined (the batter will be lumpy). Add the remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition, until the batter falls from the whisk in a thin, steady stream and leaves a faint trail across the surface of the batter. Using tongs, dip 1 piece of fish in the batter and let the excess run off, shaking gently. Place the battered fish back onto the baking sheet with the flour mixture and turn to coat both sides. Repeat with the remaining fish, keeping the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet.

When the oil reaches 375 degrees, increase the heat to high and add the battered fish to the oil with tongs, gently shaking off any excess flour. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a thick paper bag or paper towels to drain. Allow the oil to return to 375 degrees.

Add all the fries back to the oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the fries to a fresh paper bag or paper towels to drain. Season the fries with salt to taste and serve immediately with the fish. Serve with your favorite malt vinegar and tartar sauce.

Granted, this is not the healthiest meal we have made, or the healthiest way to cook fish either, but once in a while as a treat it will be pretty good. There’s not much to cooking this one either once all the prep work is done. I think it will be a very tasty dish, just be careful deep-frying; you’ll want to use the largest Dutch oven you have for safety. Sean couldn’t really pick out a vegetable to go with this meal, but green beans were on sale at the store this morning, so that’s what were going with for tonight. I found a good recipe that braises them.

Skillet-Braised Green Beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 pound green beans, ends trimmed

3/4 cup chicken broth (I am using homemade, but low sodium store-bought is good)

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, or 1/8 teaspoon dried

Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and broth. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer,stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender but still offer some resistance to the bite, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.

A simple, easy and a little different way to cook up your green beans, and you’re all set with your meal for the night. I think it will go over very well.

We laid out the meal plan for next week last night, so here it is. If you want to use the same meal planner we are using, here is a link to the print out to use:family_meal_planner. I decided to let Sean pick the whole menu for next week. He had taken a couple of cookbooks out of the school library and picked some recipes that he wanted me to try. Since he picked them out, he’ll be participating in the cooking all week as well. He read through a Chinese food cookbook and an Italian food cookbook, so this is what we came up with:

Monday: Chicken Stir Fry with White Rice

Tuesday: Rustic Vegetable and Polenta Soup (this is our meat free meal of the week)

Wednesday: Pork with Peppers and Pineapple and Fried Rice

Thursday: Shrimp with Hoisin Sauce and Rice

Friday and Saturday next week we will be in Saranac Lake to celebrate Winter Carnival, so they’ll be no meals to cook on those days. However, we are bringing up a Chicken Corn Chowder with us, so I will post that recipe next week. I think Sean made some interesting choices and it will be fun to cook with him. Tomorrow’s meal is a simple Roast Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Roasted Winter Vegetables so we can bake all in one pan and cut down on dishes for the day. Tune in tomorrow to check it out and I’ll let you know how the fish and chips went. As always, feel free to add a comment, recipe, question or just say hello! Have a great day and enjoy your Friday night.

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Seafood, Vegetables

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Time for Breakfast (for Dinner)!

It’s in the sixties in January here in Harriman, which is unheard of for this time of year, but I’ll take it! Today there were two great articles that are food-related in the New York Times. The first, written by Leslie Kaufman, closely relates to what I am trying to do at home and here on the blog. She has her sons cook one meal a week, which includes the planning of the meal, detailing ingredients and doing the cooking. Her sons are 14 and  10 and do the actual cooking with a parent within earshot, but this is something I have been working on doing with Sean for a while. It’s a great way to get kids involved in the meals, gives them some responsibility, let’s them know what you have to go through every day to cook for them, and makes them more interested in doing things in the kitchen. I think it’s a great article, so take a look at it if you get the chance.

The second article is written by Mark Bittman, the author of ‘How to Cook Everything.” It’s a good article on how the Department of Agriculture is making schools change up their lunch menus to make things better for our kids. It gives you a good look as to what the changes are going to be, and while there may still be work to do on this, it’s a step in the right direction.

Now on to our meal for the day. Today is Michelle’s choice, but it also one of Sean’s favorites. We all love breakfast for dinner nights, actually. It gives us a chance to eat the breakfast food we love but don’t always have time to make during weekday mornings when things can be a bit hectic. We are making this meal our meat-free meal for the week as well, which disappoints Sean since that means no bacon or sausage tonight, but we’ll still have a great meal with Pancakes, Hash Browns and maybe an egg or two. Since a vegetable doesn’t really go too well this meal, we are going to opt for a fruit salad instead.

Pancakes are pretty easy to make, whether it is from scratch or from a box. We often use Bisquick ourselves when you need something done in a pinch. It tastes good and it’s quick, but today I am going to post a recipe for some homemade pancakes. The recipe I am using calls for buttermilk, but if you don’t have any on hand, whisk 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice with two cups of milk and set it aside for a few minutes to thicken, and voila, you have buttermilk. This type of buttermilk is fine for cooked applications, but I wouldn’t use it for raw recipes like the ranch dressing we made yesterday.

Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 cups buttermilk

1 to 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Set a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, and then the buttermilk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the buttermilk mixture into the well, and whisk very gently until the buttermilk mixture is just incorporated (a few lumps should remain). Be careful not to overmix the batter.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Brush the bottom of the pan with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. Using 1/4 cup of batter per pancake, add the batter to the skillet (only 2 or 3 pancakes will fit at a time) and cook until large bubbles begin to appear, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 1 1/2 minutes longer. Spread the pancakes out over the wire rack on the baking sheet (they shouldn’t overlap) and hold in the warm oven. Repeat with the remaining batter, brushing the skillet with oil as needed between batches.

If you have any leftover pancakes (which we usually do) let them cool to room temperature, then wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze. They will keep for up to a week while still maintaining most of their original flavor and texture. Defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then heat in a 350 degree oven until warm, about 5 minutes. I usually leave a couple on the fridge for the next day and my buddy Liam and I have them for breakfast.

Of course, there are a lot of things you can add to pancakes or top them with. I love adding bananas or blueberries; once you add the batter to the skillet, just sprinkle a few slices of banana or a few blueberries over each pancake, or just top the pancakes with the fruit after they are cooked.

We decided to make some hash browns tonight to go with our pancakes. Hash browns go great with bacon or sausage, and we’ll do that another time I am sure, but they are fun to have any time. They don’t take long to make, and I use the food processor to grate the potatoes, sparing my knuckles the use of the box grater.

Hash Browns

1 pound russet potatoes (2 medium) peeled

2 tablespoons grated onion

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon butter

Grate the potatoes using either the large holes of a box grater (watch your fingers!) or the shredder attachment of a food processor (you should have about 1 1/2 cups when your done grating). Wrap the grated potatoes in a kitchen towel and squeeze thoroughly of excess moisture, then toss with the onion, parsley (if using) salt and pepper.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to brown, swirling to coat the pan. Scatter the potatoes evenly in the skillet and press firmly into a cake. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until dark golden brown and crisp on the first side, about 8 minutes. When the first side has browned, slide the potatoes onto a large plate. Carefully cover the plate with another large plate, and flip so that the potatoes are on the plate, browned-side up. Melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter, then slide the potatoes back into the skillet, browned-side up, and continue to cook over medium heat until the second side is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes longer. Slide the hash brown cake onto a plate or cutting board and cut into wedges.

There’s nothing like hash browns with some eggs. I prefer a fried egg or an egg over easy, but for tonight we’ll just whip up some scrambled eggs and save the fried egg for another time, maybe for a nice egg sandwich with some sausage or bacon.

Scrambled Eggs

8 large eggs

1/4 cup half and half (you can use milk instead, but the eggs are creamier with half and half)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon butter

Whisk together the eggs, half and half, salt, and pepper. Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the pan. Add the eggs and cook while gently pushing, lifting and folding them from one side of the pan to the other, using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, until they are nicely clumped, shiny and wet, about 2 minutes. Remove the cooked eggs from the pan quickly and serve.

We’ll get more into eggs another time when we’re using some meat with breakfast, but you can always add cheese, chives, onions, thyme or countless other herbs to add some flavor.

We’re finishing off with a simple fruit salad of what we have on hand – bananas, blueberries, blackberries, grapes and mandarin oranges, sprinkled with a little sugar and lemon juice. Of course, you can always use whatever fruits you like, are in season and taste the best to you.

Boy, for such a simple meal, I did a lot of writing today! There are lots of different variations you can do when doing breakfast for dinner. I’d love to hear what other people do when they make this for a meal. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them and I’ll try to comment as quickly as I can. Tomorrow is a leftovers night for dinner, but I have decided to write about some good ideas for Super Bowl snacking, since the game is Sunday and you want to be prepared. Let me know if you have any snacks or recipes you’d like to see to use for the big game. Have a great day!

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Your Own Hamburger Happy Meal

It’s Tuesday and it’s another mild day here in New York. While it may not have you thinking of using the grill just yet (although using it all year round would be nice), today’s dinner on the meal plan might help you think more towards summer. Today’s is Sean’s pick, and he has chosen Hamburgers and Fries with salad. Nothing special or fancy about it and everybody makes them. I love a good burger myself; I think it is probably one of my favorite things to eat and it’s great for lunch or dinner and can be made any time of the year, and it can be made quickly (which is always a plus).

Skillet Hamburgers

1 1/2 pounds (80 percent lean) ground beef

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 hamburger rolls

Mix the beef, salt and pepper together. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Shape the meat into a loose ball, and using your hands, flatten the balls into 1-inch thick burgers. Press the center of the patty down with your fingertips to form an indentation that is about 1/4-inch deep. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place the burgers in the skillet indentation-side up and cook until the bottoms are dark brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the burgers over and continue to cook to your desired doneness. Transfer the burgers to the buns and top as desired.

Everyone has their own variation of this and things they made to the meat before cooking, so do what you like the taste of best. Just a couple of recommendations on my part. Using 80 percent lean ground beef does seem to make a difference. Any more fat than this and the burgers are greasy, any less and the meat becomes dry and pretty bland. As for the indentation I put in the meat, it’s great for avoiding the puffy burgers that you often get while cooking and also leaves you a bit of a well for your toppings. As for the toppings, the list is endless. You can pretty much put anything on top of a burger, as most of us have seen thanks to cooking shows. Personally, I love sautéed onions, some pickle, maybe a slice of tomato or a slice of bacon, maybe even some sliced avocado some times. Sean goes for just American cheese and bacon on his burger. Michelle also goes for cheese and sautéed onions, and mixes in some ketchup and mayonnaise. Let me know what some of your favorite toppings are for burgers. I might be willing to try them out!

French fries almost seem a must if you are having a burger (although I do like onion rings too, or some homemade potato salad or cole slaw, but we’ll leave those recipes for summertime). Our house is mainly a tater tots kind of house as everyone seems to like them the best. I’ll be making some homemade fries when I make our Fish and Chips recipe on Friday, but here is a good recipe for homemade Oven Fries that I have made before. They turn out great and taste better than most things you’ll get out of a bag.

Oven Fries

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 10 to 12 evenly sized wedges

5 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the potatoes in a large bowl, cover with hot tap water, and allow to soak for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are soaking, coat a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle the baking sheet evenly with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Drain the potatoes, spread them out over paper towels, and pat them dry thoroughly. Toss the dried potatoes with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Arrange the potatoes, cut-side down, in a single layer over the prepared baking sheet. Cover the sheet tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until the sides of the potatoes touching the pan are crusty and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes. Using a metal spatula, scrape to loosen the potatoes from the pan, then flip each wedge over, keeping the potatoes in a single layer. Continue to bake until the fries are golden and crisp on both sides, 10 to 15 minutes longer, rotating the pan as needed if the fries are browning unevenly. Transfer the fries to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Not too hard to do, if you ask me. Soaking the potatoes before you bake them is important in this recipe. They will cook much better, become crispy on the outside and be creamy on the inside. If you have a heavy-duty non-stick baking pan to use for this one, it does make your life easier as well. Just make sure you choose something to use that can hold up to the higher heat. A final note: I prefer using vegetable oil in this recipe. Olive oil leaves a distinct flavor on the potatoes that you may not want.

The final part of the meal, as we have had before in our meal plan, is a simple salad. You can check out my list of salad and accompaniments here from a previous blog entry if you like. I will, however, post a new dressing recipe today. A lot of people seem to like Ranch dressing, and you might want some to dip your fries in or use for a dip for veggies, so here is a good one to try. One note about this recipe, use fresh herbs for it. I tried it with dried and it just doesn’t work out well.

Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

6 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

A pinch of sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. The dressing, covered, can be refrigerated for up to 4 days; whisk to re-combine before using.

If you want a low-fat option of this one, use non-fat buttermilk, non-fat sour cream and low-fat mayonnaise and increase the amount of lemon juice to 2 tablespoons.

That about does it for today’s meal. Tomorrow is one of Sean’s favorites and Michelle picked it. We’ll be having breakfast for dinner, but it is also going to be our meat-free meal this week, so no bacon or sausage. We will be making pancakes and hash browns, and maybe some eggs too, we’ll have to see how that goes. Sean will only go for the pancakes and hash browns anyway. Breakfast for dinner is always a good choice; everyone seems to like it. Enjoy the rest of your day, have fun cooking tonight, and enjoy the burgers, if you make them. As always, feel free to leave a comment or just say hello!

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Dressings, Potatoes, Salad

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

simple cooking recipes

a blog to share with you the best

%d bloggers like this: