Archive for March, 2010

A Couple of Passover Recipes: Brisket and Matzo Balls

Posted on March 28, 2010. Filed under: beef, holiday, meat, recipe, simmer, slow, soul, soup | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Passover is not my favorite holiday. I’m positively incapable of going 8 days without any kind of leavened bread. In a strange gesture of dedication, I try to live through the entire holiday without eating any sweet sweet forbidden pork. Generally, I fail. (But, in my defence, it’s usually by mistake. Like the one year I went to a friend’s house for Easter and realized the extent of my failure only after I had eaten a ham sandwich. I ham sandwich that was made AFTER the Easter dinner.)

What I do like about Passover, though, is the feast tradition. So in the spirit of feasting, you should try to make one of these wicked good recipes.

BRISKET

Season with salt & pepper, and then brown:
1 Beef Brisket

Deglaze pan with:
1 Cup Beef Stock
1 Cup Water

Return Brisket to pan, and then add:
2 Onions, sliced
2 Tsp. Sherry Vinegar
1/8 Cup Crushed Tomatoes
Fresh Thyme & Sage

Allow liquids to come to a boil, and then place in a 300 degree oven.
Cook for 3 hours.

Remove brisket from pan, and let it cool for 20 minutes.
Slice against the grain.
Stain and serve cooking liquids as a tasty tasty tasty gravy.

MATZO BALLS

Whisk together:
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons Chicken Fat
1.5 Tablespoons Chicken Soup
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Small Pinch Salt

Add:
1/2 Cup plus 2 Teaspoons Matzo Meal
Stir matzo in until just combined- do not over mix, or your balls will be less fluffy.
Refrigerate for one hour.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Roll matzo mix into one inch balls.
Boil, with pot covered, for 40 minutes.

*Chicken fat. Listen. You’re not going to have a heart attack if you use it. It adds immeasurably to the flavor and texture of the matzo balls. So just use it. The best thing to do is to skim it from the top of the soup. You are making your own soup, right?

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Watch: This Man’s Kitchen Minty Glazed Carrots

Posted on March 25, 2010. Filed under: easy, hodgepodge, recipe, vegetable, video | Tags: , , , , |

Here’s the latest demo from This Man’s Kitchen. Minty Glazed Carrots is crazy easy vegetable side dish. It takes five minutes to make, so there are no excuses!

Try it out, and let me know what you think.

See more This Man’s Kitchen.

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Pepper Steak

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: beef, freeze, in advance, one pot, recipe | Tags: , , , , , |

Baked ziti was the first thing I learned how to cook. This was the second. The dish has evolved a bit since the dorm room days (where it was cooked in a microwave…), but the simple basics remain the same–great flavor from just a few ingredients, and not a lot of dishes to do after.

Slice into thin strips:
Two Pounds Bottom Round
Brown the beef.

Drain excess fat.
Add:
Two Jars Tomato Sauce
One Onion, sliced
Two Green Bell Peppers, sliced
4-5 Cloves Garlic, smashed
One Tablespoon Italian Seasoning

Simmer 45 minutes.
Serve over noodles.
*If you freeze the beef for 45 minutes before slicing, you’ll have an easier time making thin slices.
*This is one of those dishes that’s even better the day after, makes a great alternative to a meatball sandwich.  Additionally, you can make a whole lot and freeze it.  Oh yeah!
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Balance

Posted on March 19, 2010. Filed under: healthy, hodgepodge, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

I made a pancetta, egg, and cheese omelet this morning. My brain is generally a bit fuzzy in the A.M., and I ended up using less pancetta and cheese than I normally would have. The omelet was still good, but it wasn’t nearly as belly-rubbing as it would have been with more stuffing. I thought, “well, at least I can have a bigger dinner now, since there weren’t as many calories in my breakfast”.

Why did I think that? What’s the point in being half satisfied? We aim our concern in the wrong direction sometimes. “Oh, I’ll just have half a slice of bread, I’m watching my carbs”. Personally, I’d rather have the full slice of bread. It makes my belly happy. It makes my soul happy. Would having half a slice of bread still give me enough food satisfaction in ratio to the calories saved? I doubt it.

I still had an omelet with pancetta and cheese, even if there wasn’t as much cheese as I’d normally put in. How many less calories were there, really? Probably not enough to make a difference. So when you cook something on the decadent side, go ahead and enjoy yourself. Don’t snip snap here and there because you’re overly stressed about calorie count. Just cook something less calorie dense (but still delicious) the next time.

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Honey Thyme Chicken

Posted on March 16, 2010. Filed under: chicken, easy, poultry, recipe | Tags: , , , , |

I’m getting my garden ready for the summer season, and there is some cleaning up to do. My thyme plant has grown steadily throughout the winter, and I’ve been clipping little bits here and there. But the thyme is starting to flower, and it’s going to have to make way for a tomato plant soon. Most will be hung for drying, but some of it went into this easy weeknight meal.

Cut into chunks, season with salt, and then brown over high heat:
Two Chicken Breasts

Reduce heat to medium.
Add:
One Clove Garlic, minced

Cook for one minute, and then add:
1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
2 Teaspoons Honey
1.5 Teaspoons Fresh Lemon Juice
6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
Pinch Salt & Pepper

Cook for one minute, and then add:

1 Teaspoon Butter
Remove thyme sprigs.
Serve.

*For a more intense flavor, strip a few sprigs of thyme, and chop the leaves into the garlic.

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Fava Beans

Posted on March 11, 2010. Filed under: local, recipe, vegetable | Tags: , , , |

Fava beans are often seen as the harbinger of spring. Thank goodness, because after the harsh Los Angeles winter, we are really in need of some good news.  It rained nearly 15 times, and I think it’s been over 70 degrees only a few times since December. Man, it sure is rough here.

OK. I kid. Winter is most certainly not rough in Los Angeles. Actually, it’s hilarious, because some people actually do believe it’s rough, and wear mittens and scarves when the mercury drops below 60. Seriously. Hilarious “harsh” winter or not, fava beans are still a welcome addition to the farmers’ market.

The fava season is fleeting, just a few weeks, so act quickly. Look for young beans-they have green husks and lay flat in the shell. The younger beans will save you a bit of labor. Thing is, fava beans have a tough second skin protecting the bean. The older beans will have a pale-green to white color- this is an indication you’re going to have to remove the bean from the skin. Don’t worry, they taste just as good, it’s just a bit more work. If the beans have a vibrant green skin, skip this extra step- the skin will be tender enough to eat.

Add, to a hot pan:
1/4 Cup Diced Pancetta

Cook pancetta until crisp.
Remove pancetta from pan.

Leave tasty fat in pan!

Reduce heat to medium-high.
Add:
One Cup Shelled and Shucked Fava Beans
One Shallot, diced

Cook until fava beans are tender, about 5 minutes.
Remove pan from heat.

Add:
1/4 Cup Cream
1/8 Cup Parmesan Cheese

Squeeze or Two of Fresh Lemon

Top with reserved pancetta.

Taste for salt. Add if necessary. Between the cheese and the pancetta, this probably won’t be necessary.
Taste for bitterness. Fava beans can have a touch of astringency. The cream should balance this out, but if it doesn’t, add a pinch of sugar.

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Frozen Food Test: Rising Moon Organics Margherita Pizza

Posted on March 8, 2010. Filed under: frozen, hodgepodge | Tags: , |

Well, well. I’m trying another frozen pizza. Probably a bit too soon, because I’m still thinking about all the pizza I ate in NYC. But, if I’m going to plod my way through frozen food, I have to plunge in.

I chose a Rising Moon Organics margharita from Whole Foods. Rising Moon is a vegetarian cooking line based in Providence, Rhode Island. The company was founded in 1991, and its mission is nothing short of world peace through food. While that might be a bit of a tall order, any company that’s serious about feeding the world in a better way is alright by me. Even if they are vegetarian. I especially enjoyed the organic gardening tips on Rising Moon’s website.

Now on to the pizza.

Pros:

  • Quality, organic ingredients.
  • Well made crust. Had a nice bite to it. Crispy. Very enjoyable.
  • Herb flavor mingled well with the diced tomatoes.
  • Good proportion of cheese.
  • Positive, progressive mission. Thought put into sourcing of ingredients and packaging.

Cons:

  • Cheese was just ok.
  • Long time coming: instructed to defrost for 10 minutes, cook for 10-13 (needs the full 13), and then wait for it to cool.
  • Not enough sauce
  • Unevenly spiced. Some bites were great, some underwhelming.
  • Really bad text on the packaging: refers to pizza several times as “she” and says that “she” will “steal my heart forever”.
  • Imported from Italy. I don’t have a problem with this entirely, but a company that thinks about how it affects the planet might want to produce more locally.

Overall:

Pretty good for a frozen pizza. The crust was a real highlight, one of the best frozen crusts I’ve had. The   tomatoes and herbs could have been a bit more even, but the flavor was right on. It’s a shame the cheese wasn’t that tasty, because when it comes down to it, you can’t have a good pizza with crap cheese.

I appreciate what Rising Moon is trying to do, and would so even more if they didn’t import their pizzas from Italy- that’s not much of a selling point these days.

Would I have it again? Sure, but probably not anytime soon.

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Watch: This Man’s Kitchen Beef and Barley Stew

Posted on March 5, 2010. Filed under: hodgepodge, video |

This Man’s Kitchen: Beef & Barley Stew from This Man’s Kitchen on Vimeo.

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Interview: Hal B. Klein Talks To Mr. Media

Posted on March 2, 2010. Filed under: hodgepodge, interview |

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