Steak and Guinness Pie

Happy New Year.  Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “beer” and the number “pie”.  Yes, I know I have another post on this, but hey.. slight variation in recipe.

Since it’s the holiday season, sometimes you have to take a food break.  This is one of those times.  This is more of a cold weather dish and now that I’ve moved to Florida, there aren’t many cold days.  It’s good enough that who needs the cold weather?  This recipe makes two pies.  I make one then freeze the other for later consumption.  If you choose to freeze one, make sure you thaw it thoroughly.  Nobody likes pie with a frozen middle.

2lb stew beef
1 sm onion, diced
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 stick butter
2 large red potatoes, cleaned, skin on, cut into bite sized pieces1 cu chopped carrot
1 tsp capers
corn starch
1 40oz bottle guinness
Pie shells
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 package mushrooms
1 cu red cooking wine
1/2 cu worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

In a medium sized dutch oven, melt the butter and add the garlic, capers, and onion.  Sautee until the onions are clear.  Add the meat and sautee until just browned.  Add the cooking wine and worcestershire sauce.  Add the potato, carrot, thyme, and beer and bring to a low boil.  Cook for about 20 minutes and add the mushrooms.  Continue to cook until the mushrooms have reduced.  Add water and corn starch in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.  Add the corn starch mixture until the liquid in the stew becomes the consistency of runny gavy.

In a pie pan, put the bottom pie pastry down making sure there are no breaks in the dough.  Dish approximately half the contents of the pot to the pie pan and cover with the other piece of pie pastry.  Make sure you cut vent holes, then bake at 400 degrees until the top of the pie has browned.  Allow the pie to cool, and enjoy.

Oyster Stew

Since we’re coming close to Halloween, I’m going for something more fall-ish.  This is a dish I really like but don’t get the opportunity to make that often.  To be honest, I used to hate it because when I’d watch it getting made, the whole snot consistency thing of the oyster liquor used to skeeve me out.  Now that I’m older and I’ve had it several times without watching it being made, I really kinda like it.  It’s super simple and it’s hearty.  Very useful when I lived in the North, but now that I’m home, I need to run the air conditioner if I’m going to eat it.  Like I ever DON’T run the air conditioner.  C’mon.. this is Orlando we’re talking about here.  Home of the 3pm duck drowner.. and the concept of shoveling sunshine.

  • 32oz raw oysters with their liquor
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 medium skinned potato cut small.  SMALL. (ok.. I use red potatoes and don’t skin them.. but hey.. that’s me)
  • 1 small chopped leek
  • salt and pepper
  • scotch bonnet sauce (if you don’t have scotch bonnet sauce, tabasco works)
  • minced parsley (I use dried.  You can use fresh.  It’s really just a garnish)

Separate the oysters from their liquor and hold the liquor aside.  In a large pan, cook the potatoes and chopped leek in about 1 tsp of butter until they are cooked through.  Add the rest of the butter and the uncooked oysters.  Cook until the oysters are cooked through.  The edges will curl up when they’re done.  In a separate pot, on low heat, add the milk, the cream, and the liquor and slowly heat until hot.  Do not allow it to boil.  When the liquid is hot, add the oysters/leek/potato mixture.  While stirring, add a dash or two of hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  When it’s well blended, remove from heat and serve.  Garnish with parsley.

If you want a lower carbohydrate option, omit the potatoes… but hey.. live a little.

Minestrone

Lunch. Happens every day. Gets surprisingly monotonous when you work from home. After a lot of cereal, peanut butter and jelly, and random other 2 second fixes, I found something a lot more hearty. Takes a little while longer to make, but it’s so very worth it.. and it makes a ton, so you can have it over a few days.

Minestrone soup.

I got this recipe from someone I used to work with, but as usual, it’s been modified.

1/2 pound of bacon, chopped into small pieces
one sweet onion, chopped
one large leek
one cup chopped carrot
one cup chopped celery
one tablespoon minced garlic
slutty olive oil
3 medium zucchini
2 small cans peas and carrots (can use frozen)
1 can cannelini beans
1 large can diced tomatoes
parmesan cheese
basil
oregano
salt and pepper

In a dutch oven, sautee the bacon until completely cooked. You can remove the meat if you like, but I leave it in. Add chopped onion, garlic, chopped celery and chopped carrot. Sautee until the onion is clear. Slice the zucchini and add it. Do the same with the leek – make sure you leave the dark green part and don’t throw it away – it adds a nice flavor. Add the peas and carrots, as well as the beans and stir thoroughly. Add basil, salt, and pepper to taste. Top with the undrained can of tomatoes. Bring the whole pot to the sink and add enough water until everything is just covered. When you put it back on the stove, add 1/4 cup olive oil and about 2/3 cup parmesan cheese. Stir then bring the whole thing to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce to a low simmer and let cook for about an hour.

Mmmm.. minestrone.

Stuffed Peppers.. or returning to the kitchen again

I’ve been traveling.  A lot.  My interest in the kitchen has waned as a result so I started to fall towards the whole takeout-delivery cycle of food.  It’s a bad place to be, so I’ve returned to the kitchen with a renewed interest in.. the crockpot.  Ahh.. pot roast.. or vegetable soup… or the bajizillion other things you make in a crockpot.

I came across a recipe from a paleo site.  Let me start by saying that I am not a follower of paleo.. but because they eschew grains and I live with someone trying to keep carbohydrates in check, they’re a great place to start for cooking ideas.. which brings me to this.  Stuffed peppers.

I made some modifications to the recipe and have put it below.  The first thing I want to say is do. not. cook. the. cauliflower. ahead. of. time.  That makes for mushy cauliflower.  Mushy cauliflower is icky and I disapprove of it wholeheartedly.

Second, notice.. no liquid.  Fear not.  The sausage provides the liquid.

Third, the original recipe called for cooking these badboys for 6 hours.  I cooked them for 4 and they were almost overdone.  I prefer some bite in the peppers.

These are quite filling.  When I made them, I made sides.. which remained untouched.  These are a true one dish meal.

  • 1 pound of hot italian sausage.  I got them and pulled the meat out of the casing.  Gross but effective.  For a less fun alternative, buy bulk sausage.
  • 4 assorted bell peppers. I went with 2 green, 2 orange.
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, grated or chopped into a “rice” consistency.
  • 1 small (8 ounce) can of tomato paste.
  • 1 small white onion, medium dice.
  • 1 tsp lazy man’s chopped garlic.
  • 2 tsp dried basil.
  • 2 tsp dried oregano.
  • 2 tsp dried thyme.
  • juice from one lemon

With a hearty menacing laugh, RIP the tops off of the peppers.. or use a knife.. it’s cleaner.  Seed them and save the tops.

Put everything in a large bowl and mix like it’s meatloaf.  Do not use a spoon or other utensils.  Practice your menacing laugh.  Mix some more.  When the mixture is fully incorporated, spoon into each of your empty soul-less peppers.  They’ll hold a lot so keep stuffing until they’ll hold no more.. then put the tops back on them and put them in a crock pot.  Cook on low for about 4 hours.

 

Chicken Marsala

This post isn’t so much an entree, but more of a snackatizer.  This was one of my first forays into quick cooking and it worked out remarkably well.  You can tell from the liberal use of bread crumbs instead of panko that this particular recipe is early in my cooking life.  I still make it from time to time and it always goes well both as an hors d’oeuvres and as an entree – depending on how much you make.  You can make this with any kind of red cooking wine – marsala happens to be my favorite.  If you use regular wine, make sure to add salt when you add the wine.

1 pound chicken tenders
italian style bread crumbs2 eggs
marsala cooking wine
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
slutty olive oil
handful of capers (optional)

Remove the vein from the chicken tenders and cut each piece into thirds.  Sautee the mushrooms in olive oil until they are reduced and set aside.  Mix the eggs and the vinegar, dip the chicken pieces in the mixture, roll in bread crumbs and fry until they’re done through.  I do these in batches because it’s never a good idea to crowd the pan.  You will notice that the batches get darker as you go along – that’s what’s supposed to happen.  When the chicken is cooked, set aside.  Do not clean out the pan.  Add some marsala wine and optional capers along with some of the cooked mushrooms to the pan.  Toss in the chicken until well coated.  Continue to do this until everything is cooked and coated.

I know someone who likes these with thai peanut sauce.  I’ve tried it.  I’m not convinced.

Meatloaf.

I’d do anything for meatloaf, but I won’t do that. I’m referring, of course, to the delicious entree and not the singer. I’ve seen Rocky Horror. I don’t see him being on the menu, though I secretly love his music and used to have it between my My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and Sisters of Mercy CDs. It’s easier to hide on your iPod/iPhone. Please. Don’t judge.

This brings me to a recipe and a mystery. First the mystery, then the recipe.

Once upon a time, when I was young, my grandfather lived in an in-law apartment behind our garage.  It was a small comfortable studio affair with a kitchen.  From that kitchen came many wonderful things, like his meatloaf.  When he’d cook, the exhaust from his kitchen was near my bedroom window and I always knew when good things were about to happen.  Of course, he also made fish in there, and when he did, it made my bedroom smell like low tide, which started my never ending dislike/queasy/occasionally accepting relationship with fish (the kind with scales.. if it’s shellfish, all bets are off.. I’m totally in).  That was cured by a trip to Japan.  I totally digress.  Meatloaf.  Not the singer.

So.. he made this incredibly unbelievably fantastically awesome meatloaf.  I was young when he passed so I remember what it tasted like but I don’t remember how he made it.  It came in two parts.  Delicious loaf of meat, and this tomato sauce with garlic in it.  I have successfully recreated a close facsimile of the loaf.  The sauce, unfortunately, is lost to history.  Many have tried to recreate it.. (they tried and failed?  they tried and died.  Wait.. this isn’t Dune.. sorry).  I don’t have the patience to tear up half a loaf of bread into small chunks like he did so I cheat and use panko.. but I think the loaf portion is fairly accurate.  Since I’ve given up on trying to recreate the sauce (as have my mother and my sister) I have tried to put my own spin on it.

Recipe:

1/2 lb ground beef (I use 85/15)
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb johnsonville brat sausage meat (or three brats emptied out)
2 eggs
1 cu milk (no diet?  use heavy whipping cream… seriously)
1 cu panko – PLAIN
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (Lea and Perrins.. the white worcestershire is also awesome)

topping (adjust as necessary for volume):
1/2 cu dijon moostard
1/2 cu clove honey

Take the loaf ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  DO NOT USE A LOAF PAN.
(wait, what?  no loaf pan, you say?).. I repeat.  A LOAF PAN THOU SHALT NOT USE.
Cover the bottom of a pyrex casserole dish with tin foil (for cleanup).  Take the thoroughly mixed loaf and spread out in a vague loaf mound shape (see below).  Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes.  Mix the topping ingredients and pour over the loaf.  Put back in for another 10-15 minutes.  Remove, permit to rest.. or at least gasp briefly.. then cut and serve.

The next day?  Meatloaf, havarti, and mayo sammiches.  Mmmmm.. meatloaf.

Proper meatloafing technique can be found here:

Split pea soup

Wow.. it’s been a while. I’ve been busy moving. I’m back in central Florida where I belong and it’s been a challenge. That, and I finally went in to the doctor since I’m over 40, submitted to a blood test (i HATE needles) and found out, to nobody’s shock, that I have high cholesterol. I’m taking that into account with my current food..plan..thing.. and it turns out that I didn’t have to make too many changes. I am watching the nutrition panels more, which I guess is a good thing.

One of the things I missed the most about Florida is Publix. Now that I’ve moved back, there are three of them within a 2 mile radius of my place. They happened to be having a sale on dried goods and I picked up some dried split peas to make some soup. I haven’t had it in a while so, since it’s rained all day, today was the perfect day.

1 1 pound (16 oz) package of dried split peas
4-6 cups of water
1/3 cup worcestershire sauce
1 cup Goya mojo (I use the bitter orange)
1/2 pound smoked ham cut into small pieces

Take the split peas and soak in a dutch oven in 4-6 cups of water. Usually the package says you don’t need to soak them but since I don’t put my soup in a food processor, you need them to soften before cooking. After soaking for about 2 hours, bring to a boil then bring down to medium and cover. You’ll want to stir every few minutes for an hour. The peas should begin to break apart and turn the water green. Add the smoked ham. Continue to cook on medium low for another hour. You should have enough residual heat that the peas will explode into the water. Eventually the pea mush will settle to the bottom. When it’s a the consistency you want, remove about 2/3 of the standing water, add the worcestershire and mojo. Give it a good stir and cook for another 15-20 minutes and let rest.

I love this with toasted cheddar cheese and tomato sandwiches on rye. Great for a rainy day.

A twist on veal parmesan

A new twist on Veal Parmesan.  With trying to keep the carbohydrate count down I’ve been experimenting with other things to replace pasta.  I tried the low carb pasta and really haven’t found one that I like.  The one with the most promise was Dreamfields but there was just something about it.. so.. I turned to spaghetti squash.  I love spaghetti squash for many reasons – mostly because it’s delicious and it looks like spaghetti.

I like Veal Parm but I don’t make it all that often – so when I do, it’s a real treat.  Since I’m replacing pasta with spaghetti squash it took some time to get the timing just right.  I use sauce from the jar most of the time but when I make pasta sauce (which is also, incidentally, delicious with spaghetti squash) this is one of the first things I make with it.  I’m including a simple sauce recipe with a quick turn around.  I do have a pasta sauce that I make that takes all day but for that kind of effort, I require angelhair or linguini.

First, the spaghetti squash:

Cut a firm spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds.  The easiest way I’ve found to do that is to run a fork down the middle and twist it.  The most important part is getting rid of the seeds.  Any of the material in the middle left over can stay.  Put both halves face down on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour.  The squash will have quite a bit of give if you press on it when it’s ready.  When you remove the squash squeeze each half (with an oven mit) to remove any excess water.  With a fork, scrape the spaghetti out of the squash into a bowl (or plate, if you’re doing veal parm).  Each half should serve one person.

Easy pasta sauce:

  • two 12 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 sm white or sweet onion, chopped
  • olive oil (slutty)
  • basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste
  • one small can tomato paste

In a medium sized pot, sautee the onion and the garlic in olive oil.  Add the tomato sauce and heat through then put on low.  Add in the spices and stir occasionally.  Right before the veal is ready, add enough paste to thicken as desired.

Veal:

  • 1 pound veal scallopini cut
  • two eggs
  • 2 cups panko
  • tsp balsamic vinegar
  • shredded mozarella cheese
  • olive oil (slutty)

In a bowl, whisk two eggs and the balsamic vinegar together.  Dip the veal in the egg then coat with panko.  In a medium high pan with olive oil, fry the veal on both sides and remove.  Once all the veal pieces are cooked, add a layer of sauce to the bottom of the pan, put the pan on medium, and put one or two veal pieces on the sauce and cover with mozarella.  Cover until the cheese is melted then transfer sauce and meat onto a bed of spaghetti squash.  Serve.

Please note that you can use chicken for this instead.  If you do use chicken, make sure you pound it thin first.

London Broil (SLAB)

Today’s post won’t be so much a recipe as a how-to.  Once upon a time I was roommate to several people where I began to, as one of them still says, McGuyver in the kitchen.  One Saturday, SLAB was born.  It even had its own theme song – delightfully stolen from Ren and Stimpy.

Our version was a little bit different.. but the idea was the same..

It’s slaaab it’s slaaab, it’s big, it’s heavy it’s meat.  It’s slaaaab it’s slaaaaab, it’s better than bad it’s NEAT.  Everyone wants some slab, you’re gonna love it slab.

We drank.  A lot.

So, the idea was to take a full london broil and marinate it in a 2:1 mixture of worcestershire sauce and soy sauce for about an hour.. hour and a half.  Top with fresh thyme and rosemary then throw it in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes, then finish at 400 for another 5-10. 

The gravy was the best part…

  • 2 cu beef stock
  • 1 1/2 tsp regular yellow mustard
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • slutty olive oil
  • a few capers
  • whatever liquid was left from baking the slab
  • Gravy flour (I use wondra for this recipe)

Take the garlic and shallots and sautee in regular olive oil.  To that, add the liquid from the bottom of the baking dish from the slab and 2 cups of beef stock.  Bring that to a light boil, add the capers and the mustard.  Mix until the mustard was no longer lumpy and thicken by adding a little gravy flour and whisking in until you get the desired thickness.

 

 

Squash Casserole

This is an easy side dish but surprisingly good.  I do call it casserole but there isn’t a scrap of cream of mushroom to be found anywhere.  One thing about this recipe is it takes a little time to do it right.  In order to get the right consistency, the squash has to be cooked until most of the liquid is pulled out of it, or you get a puddle in your baking dish.

  • 5 pieces of yellow squash, sliced thin
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tsp capers
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 cups panko
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese

Fry diced onion, garlic, and capers in olive oil until  the onion is mostly clear.  In small batches, add the squash until cooked then set aside.  In a baking dish, put down the squash then top with a layer of panko then another layer of cheddar cheese.  Bake on 350 until the top is melted.  Serve immediately.