Friday, April 30, 2010

Flat Iron Steak and Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits

Once again, the beautiful pictures on Smitten Kitchen inspired me to try another recipe posted on the site, Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits. Deb of Smitten Kitchen and most of the commenters felt the biscuits were breakfast fare, I immediately wanted to pair them with thinly sliced grilled steak and Dijon mustard.

I had planned on flank steak until I spotted the flat iron steak right next to it in the grocery store. Flat iron steak is thin like flank steak, but a lot less fatty. I marinated the meat in a trusty McCormick garlic and herb marinade and Sous Chef grilled it to perfection.

The biscuits were very easy to mix up and baked quickly. Hot out of the oven they were delicious. I made a little sandwich out of mine with the steak and mustard. My husband thought the blue cheese was a wee strong, the boys agreed. The next morning I had one for breakfast and realized they were correct. I will probably halve the cheese if I make these again.

Everyone loved the steak. I especially loved it with the mustard. A few weeks ago I was listening to a cooking show on the radio and a chef recommended Maille Dijon Mustard. I found some and it is fabulous. First I tried it on a ham sandwich and then with the steak, I'm hooked. Au revoir Grey Poupon.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Sous Chef

The Sous Chef's birthday was last Friday, I'm a little behind on my posts. I thought I had every thing ready on Friday to make the cake, new deeper cake pans, an offset spatula, and food coloring to get creative with the frosting, then I discovered I had no flour sifter. I used to use a sieve, but I melted it making quinoa a few weeks ago. There was no time to run around town looking for a sifter, there were kids to pick up at school and dinner reservations to be ready for. The cake would have to wait until Saturday.

With a new sifter in hand I made a chocolate cake recipe recommended to me by my sister. The recipe says there will be enough batter for 3 8-inch round pans or 2 8-inch square pans, I used 2 9-inch rounds and though they baked for a bit longer, they turned out nicely. The height of the cake was perfect. For the frosting, I made an incredibly decadent Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I was slightly intimidated by this frosting, tempering and whipping up egg whites usually causes me to look at other recipes. But I went for it and it was pretty easy. The finished product is a rich, buttery, delicious frosting that is really easy to work with and a perfect companion to a moist and dense chocolate cake.

The birthday boy loved his cake, that of course is what's most important. Happy 35th Birthday to the best husband and Sous Chef a girl could have!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Open Faced Sandwiches with Ricotta, Arugula, and Fried Egg

This light and delicious dinner is from the latest issue of Cooking Light. I knew the instant I saw the picture in the magazine that I had to try it! I'm so glad I did, not only was it delicious but so quick and easy. I served some roasted potatoes on the side. I halved small white creamer potatoes, tossed them in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasted at 400° for about 40 minutes, turning twice while cooking.

The kids enjoyed the sandwiches, this dinner was a bigger hit than Kid's choice this week. Alex cleaned his plate, he loved the potatoes. I must have cooked them just right, because he's never been that excited about them before. He ate all of his and Dylan's.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kid's Choice: Cornbread

It was Alex's choice this week and all he gave me to go on was cornbread. Well we couldn't eat only cornbread for dinner so I made it's obvious (to me) companion, chili. I found recipes from Everday Food. Alex and I really liked the Mini Cornbread Puddings. Dylan complained about them having corn kernels in them and picked them all out, only to eat them off his plate when he was finished with the bready part of the muffins.

As for the chili, I've had better. It's a good base that could have benefited from a little more spice. I used diced tomatoes with "zesty" jalapeños, but the zest added nothing that I could taste. Alex said he liked it. Dylan ate the avocados and sour cream off the top.....

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kid's Choice: Quesadillas

Another Wednesday another opportunity to get the kids to think outside the chicken tender and Kraft Cheese and Macaroni box. Actually, I'm proud to report that we haven't made a box of mac and cheese in this house for at least a couple of months. It was Dylan's turn to influence the menu, he requested quesadillas.

I found this recipe for Chicken Quesadillas at Epicurious. Chicken, cheese, and tortillas, maybe not a huge step out of the box, but onions, garlic, and pepper jack help. I made one slight change, I used half cheddar and half pepper jack. While in the grocery store, Dylan saw me pick up the peppery cheese and insisted that quesadillas were made with cheddar, so we reached a compromise.

Dylan, Daddy, and I all thought these were great. I would prefer a little more heat, sliced jalapeños would be nice, but it was Kid's Choice. Alex, on the other hand told me he didn't like them. He got in a little trouble Wednesday and incurred a pretty serious punishment (no sweets for a month!!!!). I think he would have turned his nose up at anything Mean Mommy put in front of him. At least he ate the watermelon, that's as sweet as it's going to get for quite awhile.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Warm Pasta Salad with Baby Spinach and Tuna

On Monday, my nine year old son finally found his balance and rode his bike without assistance. Daddy was in school and missed the whole thing! So on Tuesday, I knew there would be a full blown demonstration of Alex's new found skills and that I should keep dinner simple. This pasta salad came to mind.

Warm Pasta Salad with Baby Spinach and Tuna
Serves 4

1 (6 oz) can light tuna in olive oil, drained and crumbled
1 (19 oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed
1/2 English cucumber, quartered lenghtwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 C. halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 lb campanelle or any short curly pasta

For Dressing
1 garlic clove
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. chopped fresh rosemary
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 C. extra-virgin olive oil

6 C. baby spinach (5 oz package), coarse stems discarded
1/4 C. capers, rinsed

Toss together tuna, beans, cucumber, and tomatoes in a large bowl.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta and add to tuna mixture.

Make Dressing:
Mash garlic to a paste with salt and whisk together with rosemary and lemon juice. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

Add baby spinach and capers to pasta mixture and toss with dressing.

We ate dinner early, I was even able to photograph my plate in natural light. Alex was able to show Daddy his bike riding and Dylan practiced his also. What a wonderful Spring evening!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic Lime Sauce

This recipe is from the July 2007 issue of Gourmet. I had torn the page out and added it to my great big folder of recipes, but never prepared it until last Thursday night. I'm sure glad I finally got around to it. Boneless pork chops cook quickly on the grill and the bright citrusy flavors in the sauce will make this a summer staple for us.

I served Black-Bean and Tomato Quinoa with the chops. This was a great combination. The boys loved the quinoa, Dylan has never met a black bean he did not love. They enjoyed the pork chops as well, but did notice there were crushed red pepper flakes in the sauce. I think they are getting used to them.

I had an equipment causality while making the quinoa. The recipe has you steam it in a sieve after boiling. It helps to dry the grain, making it light and fluffy. My only sieve had a plastic handle, you can guess what happened. It melted! Thankfully it didn't ruin the food. Now I can get some proper stainless steel sieves.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

On Tuesday, I was given a rare opportunity to cook just for my husband and me. Alex had an evening baseball practice, so the kids were fed early. With no sensitive taste buds to consider, I could make something spicy. Puttanesca sauce popped into my mind. I've only had it twice before, both time from jars. One was good the other not so good. Once I started looking through recipes I realized there was no reason, ever, to eat Puttanesca sauce from a jar, it is quick and easy to make at home.

This sauce is bold and spicy. All the flavor comes from things I love that the kids hate, crushed red pepper, Kalamata olives, capers, and anchovies. Hubby and I really loved it. I used Perciatelli noodles, long tubular pasta that is like very thick Spaghetti. I love this pasta because it doesn't stick together, so the sauce coats every noodle beautifully.

I highly recommend trying this sauce. I woke up Wednesday morning thinking of the deliciousness, I had leftovers for breakfast!

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
Makes 4 servings

1/4 C. extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 28.2 oz. can peeled tomatoes in puree
1/2 C. Kalamata olives, halved, pitted
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 1/2 T. drained capers
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried crushed red pepper
3/4 lb. spaghetti
2 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh Basil

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes with puree, olives, anchovies, capers, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Simmer sauce over medium-low heat until thickened, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta; return to same pot. Add sauce and parsley. Toss over low heat until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Serve with cheese and basil.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Dinner

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and a very happy Easter or Passover. Our's was great. We had friends over Friday night and then spent quality family time on Saturday and Sunday. Though it was just the four of us, I decided a nice Easter dinner was needed.

For me, a good holiday dinner has cheesy potatoes. I've been very good lately cooking without cheese, so it was deserved. These were fantastic. Made with Goat Cheese, they had a lighter more subtle flavor than the Gruyère and Crème Fraîche version I make at Christmas.

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Salt and asparagus was served with the potatoes. Also featured was a necessary accompaniment to lamb, mint jelly. Or according to Dylan, green Jello. He asked many times for more green Jello on his plate.

The recipe for the lamb tells you to skewer it to make it easier to grill. We may have done it incorrectly, but once the skewers were stuck through, we couldn't see how the meat would cook evenly. So we took them out and it turned out just fine and cooked faster.

We finished the meal with these Vanilla Bean-Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting. Thankfully, I had vanilla beans left, not sure these would be the same with extract. Sous Chef helped out with these, he is so good with a pastry bag!

Happy Spring!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Signs of Spring 2

Pork Tenderloin with Pears and Shallots

I'm a bit behind on my posts. I've been very busy cleaning up the yard and planting pretty flowers this week. I did manage to cook on Wednesday night. It should have been kid's choice, but when I asked them what they wanted while on an early morning ride to school, their response was silence. So Mommy's Choice it was. I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge, so I started there. I found this on Epicurious. I thought the sweetness of pears would interest the boys.

I was chatting on the telephone with my Mom as I prepared this and coincidentally she had printed out the recipe also and was planning on making it in the near future. She also told me she got pear nectar for about a third of the price that I payed for mine. Her tip is too find it in the international food section. I have 3/4 of a jar left, I should try this out!

This was a hit with Alex and Dylan. They gobbled up the pears, the meat and even the green beans, I didn't bother giving them any of the shallots. More shallots for me and my Sous Chef! They were delicious, nicely caramelized and sweetened by the sauce. Sous Chef heated up the leftovers when he got home from school and loved it.