Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beef Bruschetta

Hi! Finally, a new post . . . not a new recipe, though. I adapted this recipe to serve it to a huge group at an event a few years ago called the Shamrock Shindig . . . I won't get into too many details, but it did win an award. The prize for the award? A little statue of a leprechaun. Nice . . .

Regardless of the leprechaun situation, this is one of my favorite recipes - it's not complicated and people seem to love it. The picture shows the basic recipe, which I like to think of as the "winter version" of beef bruschetta. There is also an optional summer topping - best for when tomatoes and basil are at their peak.

All-Seasons Beef Bruschetta

10 to 12 ounces beef sirloin steak
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
4 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped (fresh or canned)
3 to 4 tablespoons basil pesto
16 arugula (or spinach) leaves, to garnish
1 loaf French Baguette bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices and toasted (16 pieces total)

1. Season both sides of sirloin steak with salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat; place the steak in the skillet and cook until medium-rare, turning steak once.
3. Remove steak from skillet; cover with foil and allow steak to rest.
4. Place feta cheese and sour cream in a food processor; process until smooth.
5. Slice steak very thinly, cutting against the grain.
6. Spread cheese mixture evenly over bread slices. Top each slice with basil pesto, arugula leaf, roasted red pepper, and one to two slices of steak. Serve immediately.

Optional summer topping:
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped and sauteed until caramelized
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
fresh basil leaves, to garnish

Combine caramelized onion, tomato, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic in a medium bowl; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Distribute evenly over top of beef slices on bruschetta. Substitute fresh basil for arugula.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our Valentine's Day Steakhouse Dinner

We decided to stay at home for Valentine's Day this year, mostly because we failed to make reservations and our other plans fell through. Plus, I knew I could cook a really nice dinner for a fraction of the price we'd pay at a nice restaurant. Here's our dinner:

I. Steak - purchase steak that has been aged, if possible (aging improves flavor and tenderness). And if you're buying conventional beef, go with something that grades choice.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Season steak with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper; place in skillet:
Turn after steak has seared 3-5 minutes. Tip: if meat sticks to skillet, it is not ready to be turned. When the surface of the meat has been caramelized appropriately, it will turn relatively easily:After searing on both sides, place entire skillet in a 350 degree oven. Bake approximately 15 minutes, or to desired doneness. Remove from oven. Allow steaks to rest 5 minutes before serving.

II. Rock Salt Potatoes - Before starting the steaks, make rock salt potatoes. Haven't tried rock salt potatoes? What are you waiting for? They are slightly crispy on the outside and tender and fluffy inside - absolutely perfect. And not salty . . . unless you don't brush off the salt and you eat the skin. To make rock salt potatoes:
Wash potatoes, dry and rub lightly with oil, then puncture several times with a knife. Place a layer of rock salt (find it near the ice cream makers and ingredients) on the bottom of a baking dish. Place potatoes on top of salt and cover entirely with rock salt. Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Be careful when removing the potatoes - the salt gets hot! Brush off salt before serving. Rock salt potatoes, ready to be covered, before baking:
These cherries have nothing to do with a steakhouse dinner . . . I just found them at the grocery store yesterday. "Cherries with romance!" AND a heart-shaped container? I couldn't resist . . .I served roasted asparagus and a french baguette with our steak and potatoes . . . Overall, a very nice meal - with no crowds, no going out in the cold, no worries.

The Story of a Red Velvet Cupcake

I made Red Velvet cupcakes, because that seemed like a logical thing to do in celebration of Valentine's Day. They looked okay, but I thought they were a little too dry/dense/bland . . .

So I turned them into Red Velvet Cupcake Pops!To make cupcake pops, mix cake (or leftover cupcakes) with cream cheese frosting. My approximate ratio was 12 cupcakes to 3/4 cup frosting. Scoop mixture into balls using an ice cream scoop; freeze until solid. Melt white chocolate (or almond bark) according to package directions . . . dip a lollipop stick in the melted white chocolate, then insert it into the frozen scoop of cupcake. Dip cupcake ball in melted white chocolate. Add sprinkles if desired. Keep pops upright while they dry (dry on wax paper if this isn't an option - they'll be just fine, but slightly flat on the back).

Cupcake pops are very sweet . . . think of those oreo and cream cheese "truffles!"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

BB: Real Meatballs and Spaghetti

Real Meatballs & Spaghetti

1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons all-purpose seasoning (Lawry's or similar)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 extra-large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the ground meats, bread crumbs, all-purpose seasoning, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
  2. Bake meatballs 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through and no pink remains.
  3. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large 12-inch skillet. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and top with grated Parmesan.
This recipe was the first February Barefoot Bloggers selection - chosen by Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake. Great selection, Rebecca! I don't normally like spaghetti and meatballs, but I really liked this recipe! I'll post more commentary later, but for now . . . the original recipe called for frying the meatballs; I baked them instead and it turned out to be a very good decision!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Triple Chocolate Cookies

I took a little break from blogging - but I'm back now with a really good recipe to share. These triple chocolate cookies are kind of a cross between a cookie, a brownie, and fudge. They are sure to satisfy any chocolate craving, no matter how intense!
Triple Chocolate Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate, you could also use milk, semi-sweet or white)

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a small saucepan. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla lightly with a fork; set aside.

Beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the sugars
until combined, about 45 seconds; the mixture will look granular. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips. Do not overbeat. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the consistency is fudge-like, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 sheets with parchment paper or silpat liner. Roll the dough into 1 ½ inch balls and place them on the cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 ½ inches apart.

Bake until the edges of the cookies have just begun to set but the centers are still very soft, about 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets about 10 minutes or until set and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Continue process with remaining dough, or refrigerate for up to 3 days before baking remainder of cookies.
- adapted from The New Best Recipe (Cook's Illustrated)

And . . . way to go Mizzou Tigers!