Month: February 2011

Beer Cooler Sous Vide Grilled New York Strip Steaks

*Or, as I like to call it, Bubba Sous Vide. I’ve been reading about the magic of sous vide cooking for a while now. Chefs have been using the technique for years; it lets them cook food to a very specific level of doneness, using a water bath with an immersion circulator. If they want a steak cooked to perfect medium-rare, 128*F, they set the immersion circulator to 128*F, seal the steak in a vacuum bag, and put it in the water bath. The steak cooks all the way through to the temperature of the water, and stays at that temperature for as long as it is in the water. When the chef is ready to cook, they unseal the bag, sear the steak, and serve it. Voila – perfect medium rare from edge to edge. Immersion circulators aren’t cheap; professional models are out of the price range of home cooks. (Or at least this home cook.) Sous Vide Supreme came out with a model for home cooks last year – it is tempting, but at $500, …

Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Lime Dressing

I wanted to know what else I could do with bok choy, an ingredient that always looks good at the farmers market this time of year. The answer from my loyal readers – grill it! *Why didn’t I think of that? It should have been obvious to me, Mr. Winter Grilling, Mr. Everything tastes better grilled. Recipes for grilled bok choy all use the same basic technique. Purchase baby bok choy – small heads, 4 to 5 inches long, are better for grilling.  Split them, then trim the leaves on the top so they won’t burn on the grill. Toss the bok choy in a flavorful vinaigrette, then grill until tender and cooked through. *Martha Stewart’s recipe was the first one recommended, and was a good one. What do you know – Martha knows what she’s talking about! **Kidding! Just kidding! I may have some issues with Martha, but when it comes to recipes, I love her perfectionism. Her recipes just work. Most of the recipes had an Asian flavor profile; bok choy is an …

Korean Grilled Beef Lettuce Wraps (Bulgogi)

Bulgogi makes me ask: Why haven’t I heard more about Korean grilling? It is beautifully simple; thin sliced beef with a quick marinade, served in a lettuce wrap. *And then it is topped with with kimchi. I’m not sure I’m sold on the kimchi part. But the rest? Genius. For bulgogi, you want a tender cut, one that would be used for American steaks.  My favorite is rib eye, but New York strip or sirloin are also good. The steak is sliced very thin, marinated in a sweet soy marinade, grilled quickly, wrapped in lettuce, and served. It is quick enough to cook on a weeknight, and uses pantry ingredients (though my parents may differ).  And the taste? My wife demanded I make it again. She’s the one who usually asks for me to cook more vegetables. The only hard part about Bulgogi is slicing the beef. You can cut the beef yourself, 1/4″ to 1/8″ thick, from a small roast. *This requires a steady hand. Steadier than I am able to muster. The one …

Family Dinner: Topic Of The Day

I’ve been cooking dinner for my family for over ten years now. This is supposed to be a good thing for all of us. Studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse show family dinners are a great way to stay connected with your kids. Regular family dinners correlate with better grades, less drug and alcohol abuse, and healthier bodies. I agree with the research.  I love making dinner every night.  I strongly believe that our family dinners are a good thing. But…I have a problem. In my head, we all sit down, enjoy a healthy meal, chat about our day, and enjoy our time together. In the real world? More often than I would like, we sit down to dinner, and this happens… DADCOOKSDINNER So, who wants to tell us about their day? BEN (Pokes at food) Can I please be excused? TIM I do not LIKE THIS FOOD. Hmf. DADCOOKSDINNER No, you can’t leave the table until everyone tells us about their day. Natalie, why don’t you start. How was your day? …

Pressure Cooker Pork Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes

We’ve been pounded by snowstorms this winter. I’m in the mood for comforting braises. If it seems like I’ve been working the pressure cooker hard, well…there you go. Pork Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes, made in the pressure cooker, is now a regular in my recipe rotation. I’ve made pork stew with sweet potatoes, and pork stew with prunes. Pam Anderson combined them in Perfect One-Dish Dinners. She makes the recipe in a pseudo-pressure cooker, tightly wrapping aluminum foil over a dutch oven. I have a pressure cooker, so I adapted her recipe to work with the real thing. The first time I made this recipe, it was for my in-laws. Then, a few weeks later, I cooked it for my side of the family. Diane asked for it again this week, to fight the ice storm we were having. Make a recipe three times two months? I never do that; I’m a fickle cook, always moving on to the Next Big Thing. I realized I have a new favorite on my hands. Why …

Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Pork (Pork Tinga)

Pork shoulder and slow cookers were made for each other. Slow cookers try to overcook everything; most meat dries out during the long cooking time. Pork shoulder gets better the longer it is cooked; it needs long, slow cooking to melt all the fat and connective tissue it holds. Properly cooked pork shoulder is juicy, and shreds at the touch of a fork. It is the perfect cut for stews, braises, barbecue, and today’s recipe, slow cooker Mexican shredded pork. Shredded pork is a great weeknight dinner. I start it in the morning (on low heat) or at lunchtime (on high heat), and come dinnertime I have a roast that is tender and ready to be pulled apart. I use the shredded pork for taco night, and then I get creative with the leftovers. I’ve used it in soups and topped it with cornbread to make tamale pie. But, I usually serve it in cheap white hamburger buns. If I want Tex-Mex sandwiches, I top the pork with salsa and shredded cheese; If I want …

Frito Pie with Buffalo Chili

It’s time for my Super Bowl chili recipe. This year I’m serving a Texas standard: Frito pie. Frito pie is traditionally made by ripping open a bag of Fritos, topping them with chili, and covering with Velveeta. It is against everything I believe as a locavore…but if Frito pie is wrong, I don’t want to be right. The crunchy chips, gooey cheese, and beefy chili make for a killer combination.And by killer, I’m talking both amazing taste, and cardiac arrest. Don’t make this a regular in your meal plan, OK? Serve it with some vegetables at least. And would it kill you to tuck in your shirt and stand up straight? Um…ahem…sorry, got stuck in Nagging Dad mode there. Robb Walsh’s fancy Frito Pie with Venison Chili was my target – it is clearly Frito pie, but it has enough real ingredients in it to get over my “eat local” objections. Instead of venison, though, I used buffalo. When I was in my fanatic weight loss mode, I would always substitute buffalo for beef. Buffalo is …

What Do I Do With: The Bok Choy Issue

My question about what to do with Celeriac brought in some great ideas.  My favorites were: Mashed celeriac (just like mashed potatoes, with or without some potato) Celeriac soup (made like potato-leek soup but substituting the celeriac for the potato) Celeriac remoulade (julienned celeriac tossed in a mayonnaise vinaigrette). I liked the suggestions so much that I may make this a regular feature. *I really, really loved the celeriac soup.  Delicious.  Thank you for the idea, Tom! My next cry for help is about Bok Choy. Bok Choy is one of the stars of winter farmers markets.  Even in the depths of our cold season, I can find good looking Bok Choy.  But what do I do with it?  I think of it as an Asian vegetable; it is commonly referred to as Chinese cabbage.  So I stir-fry it, or I…well, I stir fry it. I have two stir-fry recipes for Bok Choy, and I use them over and over.  My base technique is to separate the white stems from the leaves and slice them both …