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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pork and Cheese Tamales

When I was in school in Boulder, I worked at the Africa Travel Center one summer. Going to the farmers market for lunch was often a highlight of my day. My favorite stop - the tamale cart. I'd never had them growing up, I didn't even know what they were! And since then, I don't really order them if I'm out for dinner and never thought that I could make them myself. But they're EASY! They just take a little bit of time. Our local grocery store sells the corn husks, Whole Foods also has them too. And all you need is masa - a corn flour that's usually sold in the Mexican section of the grocery store (or also available at Whole Foods). These are best using pulled pork - a great way to use leftover carnitas. I like to fill them with extra cheese. This recipe makes a load of them. Steam them all and freeze the leftovers. I often wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Take them out of the plastic and microwave for 1 minute and you have a great lunch or snack.

24 dried cornhusks

2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups corn
3 3/4 cups masa harina
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted

3 cups shredded pork, with salsa mixed in
1 package of shredded cheese - mexican combo or chedder and jack

1. Place the corn husks in a large pot of boiling water, cover and remove from heat.

2. Combine the broth and the corn in a blender and blend until still a little chunky.

3. In a large bowl, combine the masa harina, baking powder, and salt. Add the broth mixture and the butter and stir until a dough forms.

4. Drain the husks but leave them in the pot with the lid on.

5. To assemble the tamales, take one husk from the pot and cut a thin strip from one edge (1/4 inch). Place the husk in front of you so that the cone end is away from you. Take a couple tablespoons of dough (about the size of a meatball) and roll it gently in your palms. Press the dough into the husk so that it's pressed out into a square on the flat edge of the husk, leaving an inch or so on each side without dough. You don't want it too thick. Place a couple spoons of the pork and a bit of cheese in the middle of the dough so that it extends the length of the dough vertically. Roll the dough so that it covers the filling and the husk forms a tube. Fold up the bottom of the husk twice and tie down with the strip you cut before making the tamale. The other end should be open.

5. When all of your tamales are rolled, put enough water in a large pot with a steamer so that the water reaches just below the steamer. Place the tamales vertically (open side UP!) on the steamer so that they're snug standing in the pot.

6. Cover and bring the water to a boil and then reduce heat so that the water is simmering and steaming the tamales. Steam for 45 minutes - but make sure your water doesn't completely evaporate. Keep the temperature lowish.

That's it!

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Zuppa Gallurese (Cheesy Bread Soup!)

I've been watching a lot of Lidia's Italy on PBS lately - she's my new favorite. No frills or fancy airbrushed camera shots, just really good food. I saw her make this a while ago and although I was a little unsure about the cabbage, once she took it out of the oven and took a bite - I was dying for it. Soooo ooey gooey and cheesy. When I made it a couple of weeks later, it was as good as I hoped. This is not the healthiest meal and you do have to be a cheese lover...

12 slices of whole wheat country bread, cut 1/2 thick
1/4 tsp salt
1 head Savoy cabbage
2 TB olive oil
1 lb provolone (have the deli cut it in extra thick slices - 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick)
1 TB soft butter
1/2 cup grated romano
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Trim the crusts from the bread and lay them flat on a baking sheet in the oven as it heats. Toast the slices, turn them over once. Remove and let cool and let the oven continue to preheat.

3. Slice the cabbage head in half and cut out the core so the leaves can separate. Lay the halves cut side down and slice into 1 inch strips. Drop them into a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook 10-15 minutes or until tender.

4. When the cabbage is done, drain them in a colander and rinse under cool water. Let drain and put them in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and a touch of salt. Toss well.

5. Butter the sides and bottom of a deep baking dish. Add a layer of bread to cover the bottom of the dish. Spread half of the cabbage in a layer over the bread. Lay all of the provolone on top of the cabbage in a single layer. Sprinkle half of the grated cheese. Spread the remaining cabbage and top it with another layer of bread. (If the bread is over the edge of the dish, press down to compress the layers a bit)

6. Slowly pour the stock all over the bread so that everything is moistened. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.

7. Tent the dish with aluminum foil and place the dish on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes until the juices are bubbling. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes until the top is brown all over.

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Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne Salad

This is from Cooking Light and it's really easy and yummy. The best part about it is that it's combination of pasta dish and salad. You can eat it warm or cold so it's good for all seasons!

2 cups uncooked penne
handful of asparagus spears
1/2 container of cherry tomatoes
1 shallot, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 TB dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp honey
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Cook pasta, drain and set aside.

3. Put asparagus and cherry tomatoes on a cookie sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss gently. Bake for 5 minutes or until asparagus is tender but still crisp. Then remove asparagus and bake tomatoes for another 4 minutes. Take out of the oven when done and let them cool a bit.

4. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch lengths and halve the tomatoes.

5. Whisk together the shallots, lemon juice, mustard, and honey. Add 3 TB olive oil, salt and pepper.

6. Put pasta, asparagus, tomato, olives, and arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and mix to coat everything. Top with the goat cheese.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Steak Tips with Mushroom Red Wine Sauce and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

When cooked right, steak tips are buttery nuggets of goodness. I think the best steak tips are at Silvertone in Boston. Comfort food mecca of the East Coast, Silvertone marinates its tips in some sort of sweet and savory juice that makes them absolutely delicious. I'd never cooked them myself before, I'd just to go Silvertone for them. But I was at Wilson Farm the other day and couldn't resist. I tried to recreate Silvertone's version and I think I came pretty darn close.

The brussels sprouts on the other hand - those are a different story. When I was little, they'd make me gag and I once foolishly followed my sister's secret instructions to fill my mouth with them at the dinner table, go to the bathroom and flush them down the toilet so I wouldn't have to eat them. Brilliant plan except that my sister then went to the bathroom right after and asked Mom and Dad why there was lettuce floating in the toilet.

I've overcome my intolerance for the BS (pun intended). I LOVE them now, especially roasted. Here's a quick and easy way to make them.


1-1.5 lbs of steak tips
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced (can use any kind, I actually use rehydrated shitakes which were great!)
1.5 cups of red wine
2 TB butter
Olive oil
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, sliced

Brussels Sprouts

1 bag of sprouts
2 TB olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Marinate the tips with the soy and honey all day.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 degree.

3. Trim the stems off the sprouts and cut them in half. Mix them with the olive oil and salt and pepper (sometimes I add a small sprinkle of cayenne and a few drops of maple syrup - mmmm!). Lay them face/cut side down on a baking sheet and throw in the oven for 20 minutes or so...until they get brown.

4. In the meantime, remove the tips from the marinade, reserving the marinade! Dry each tip using paper towel.

5. Heat a large skillet on medium-high and add a bit of olive oil and the butter.

6. When the butter's melted and the pan is good and hot, add the tips, rosemary and garlic. Cook until they are nice and brown on all sides, only moving/flipping once per side. Some may be weird shapes so try to get all sides without too much jostling.

7. Cook them for about 7 minutes (this will depend on their size). The bottom of the pan will start to have a thick brown film.

8. When done, remove the tips and place on a plate and cover with foil.

9. Add the mushrooms to the pan and sautee until just soft. Add the wine and half of the remaining marinade and scrape up everything from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until reduced by about half.

Serve the tips with the sauce on top and the sprouts on the side.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cheesy Baked Pesto Pasta & Tomato

I was feeling totally uninspired the other night. I'd forgotten to take the chicken out of the freezer and didn't know what to have. This turned out to be a new favorite and I think it'll be reappearing in our kitchen a lot from now on.

1/2 box of penne or rigatoni
1/4 to 1/3 cup pesto
1/2 small container of ricotta
1-2 large fresh tomatoes - thickly sliced
Shredded parmesan
Shredded asiago - really needed for the extra flavor (and a good one to have on hand in the fridge anyway!)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cook the pasta until just al dente - it'll cook more in the oven so not too tender! Save 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta.

3. Put the pasta in a large bowl and add the pesto. Mix well. Add a little pasta water at a time to help it incorporate and cover the pasta. Add the ricotta and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Pour the pasta mixture into an oiled/sprayed baking dish.

5. Place the sliced tomatoes on top and generally cover the top with both cheeses.

6. Place in the oven uncovered until the cheese is brown and bubbly on top.

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We were having some friends over last week and I was trying to think of something that wouldn't have me in the kitchen the whole time they were here. So, I pulled out the glorious slow cooker that we got as a wedding present and decided it was the perfect time to try it out. My mom's big into her slow cooker and I have to be honest, I never felt the need or desire for one until lately. The idea of throwing everything into a pot and pressing a button sort of takes the fun out of cooking...unless you have a pork shoulder that only 8 hours of untouched braising could make into the most wonderful juicy meat for tacos. I'm sold. After turning the magic machine on before bed, I kept waking up throughout the night to the smell of slow-cooking pork. I almost needed to have it for breakfast. People with real houses whose bedrooms are upstairs and not located next to the kitchen: I have to say, you're really missing out on this one.

For the pork:

2.5 lb pork shoulder (can vary in size, doesn't really matter - the more the better!)
1 jalapeƱo
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 TB chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TB smoked paprika
A generous handful fresh oregano
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes - with roasted garlic is good, fire roasted even better.
3/4 cup fresh or canned pineapple, chopped
1/2 cup pineapple juice (go to the Goya section of the store - buy a can)
1 chipotle in adobo for smokiness if you like.

For the tacos:
1 package of corn or flour tortillas - small ones for tacos (I actually prefer flour but Kel will kill me if she sees this)
2 avocados
2 limes
1/2 head of red cabbage, sliced thinly
Tomatoes - diced
Queso blanco - crumbled, or shredded monterey jack

1. Put the jalapeno through the chipotle into a blender and blend until you have a smooth/smoothie consistency.

2. In a dutch oven or large cast iron pan, heat some oil. When good and hot, sear the pork on each side until you get a nice brown coating on the outside of all sides.

3. Remove the pork from the pan and place into the slow-cooker. Add all of the blended contents except for a cup or so into the slow cooker with the pork. The meat should be mostly covered. You can add a little water or broth if you need to - just want to make sure there's plenty of wet ingredients in there.

4. Turn the cooker on and let it do its magic - best overnight or before you go to work...8hrs if you can.

5. When pork is done, remove from the cooker and shred the pork with forks, it'll be very tender. Either put in a container and reheat later in a frying pan when you're ready to use it, or serve it up immediately. I like to use the sauce that was cooking with the pork and mix it in when reheating or to add extra flavor after it's shredded. If it's too fatty or if you want extra, use your reserves.

6. To make the guac, cut open the avocados and mash the insides with a fork in a small bowl. Squeeze half a lime (or a whole depending on taste) and season generously with salt and pepper.

7. About an hour before serving, place the sliced/shredded cabbage in a bowl and squeeze the juice of one lime in with it. Season with salt and pepper and stir occasionally to soften and flavor the cabbage.

8. Assemble your tacos with the pork, guac, sour cream if you have some, cabbage, cheese, tomatoes, cilantro and anything else you love.

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Corn & Quinoa Salad

So Kel and I hit up Nubar for Restaurant Week last week, it's the new place at the Sheraton Commander in Harvard Square. It was VERY GOOD. And as always, I use these special restaurant week indulgences to get ideas for new stuff, new very good stuff. Kel's first course was this Corn & Quinoa salad - it was delicious and light and healthy and I had to make it at home. It's incredibly easy, a good use of leftover or uneaten corn on the cob this time of year and it's high in nutrition. I'm generally not big on seeds, yes it's a seed not a grain, but this is very yummy and has proven to be one of Paddy's new favorites.

It's great on its own but I like it with grilled chicken and steak. You could add chicken to it, warm or cold or mix in other ingredients/spices too to jazz it up or to go with your meat.

1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cups water or chicken broth
3 ears of corn, steamed or grilled
1/4 cup of olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
Green leaf lettuce

1. Cook the quinoa according to directions. Like anything that needs to be boiled or rehydrated, I found that it's tastier if made with broth instead of water.

2. Cut the corn off your cobs.

3. Make your salad dressing by mixing the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. You may not need all of the olive oil, so go easy and add more after if you need to. Add some lemon zest for good measure if you feel like it.

3. When the quinoa is done cooking, transfer to a medium bowl and mix in the corn. Add the salad dressing and mix well. It's good to do this while it's warm because it'll bring out the flavors of the oil.

4. Once it's cooled down, serve on a bed of green lettuce.

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ricotta and Pea Ravioli - The Easy Way!!

Ok, so I'm back. Now that the wedding has come and gone, I can sink my teeth back into searching for new and fun stuff to make. I tend to be a little less inspired in the summer, which is ironic considering that this is when food is at its best. But we do a lot of grilling and get stuck into our routine of grilled meat, corn and salad most nights. But, we were dying for some pasta the other night. Temps were down to a chilly 80 so we figured we could do it. Not wanting the usual sausage and heavy pasta, I opted for this VERY light summer pasta dish. It's delicious and easy. The best part is that given the heat, I wasn't up for cranking out the fresh pasta this week. Instead - wonton wrappers. If you really feel like you're cheating - use your own homemade ricotta and that will make up for it.

1 package wonton wrappers - found in the tofu section of the grocery store
2/3 of a small container of ricotta cheese (much better if you make your own!!)
1 cup frozen peas
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano - grate your own, you want it fresh!
1 TB lemon zest
2 TB chopped basil
salt & pepper
tomato sauce (however you like it)

1. Have your tomato sauce ready and hot

2. Beat the egg. Reserve a spoonful or so in a small bowl and add a touch of water to make an eggwash to seal your ravioli. Set both aside.

3. Soak the peas in some warm water to defrost, then drain.

4. In a food processor, pulse the peas and basil until a sort of a meal is formed.

5. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, the beaten egg (not the spoonful with water), the parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix together and then add the peas. Mix well together.

6. Place about 1 tsp into the center of the wonton. Fold the edges to form a triangle and seal with the egg wash. Repeat until all of the filling is used, placing them on a cookie sheet.

Note: do not overfill them! It takes a little patience but if they're overloaded, they won't stay sealed! Also, this makes quite a few. You can freeze them raw, layer them in a tupperware container with parchment in between each layer. You can pop them into boiling water frozen and makes for an easy and convenient dinner.

7. Boil a pot of water. Add the ravioli one at a time and very gently check to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Ravioli are usually done when they float to the top but they'll take a little over 5 minutes or so.

8. Carefully spoon them out onto a place and top with tomato sauce.

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Thai Chicken Tacos

This was a classic case of 'what's in the fridge.' I had a hankering for Thai or Mexican and couldn't voila! Thai tacos. This is a take on chicken satay that's sort of inspired by a Vietnamese Bahn Mi...but with a tortilla. We had this the other night and I get the feeling that these will be on the menu at least a few more times before summer's over. Very easy and yummy and make lots of extra chicken - you can use the leftovers on salad, chicken salad, or just on their own!

Chicken Satay Marinade
1/4 minced lemongrass (peel away the outside few layers and only use the softer inside)
2 shallots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cayenne pepper or garlic chili paste
1 TB fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 TB coriander
2 tsp cumin
3 TB soy sauce
4 TB fish sauce
5 TB brown sugar
2 TB veg. oil
1 or 2 packages of chicken breast tenders

Satay Sauce
1 cup peanuts (or you can use peanut butter but cut down on the brown sugar if you do)
1/3 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 TB brown sugar
2 TB fish sauce
1 TB lime juice
1/2 cayenne or garlic chili paste
1/3 cup coconut milk

4-5 flour tortillas
green lettuce
cucumber sliced into thin spears
basil leaves
carrot (ribboned from a peeler)

1. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together and add the chicken. Place in a large ziplock and marinate for at least an hour.

2. While the chicken is marinating (or before you go to work in the morning) soak your wooden skewers so that they don't burn on the grill later.

3. To make the satay sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.

4. Chop up the veggies and arrange your fixins for your tacos.

5. When the chicken is done marinating, fire up the grill. Put each tender on a skewer so that the skewer goes through the tender the long way. They should look like chicken popsicles.

6. Grill until the chicken is done, just a few minutes on each side. Set the chicken aside and then place the tortillas on the grill just one minute per side to heat them up and get slight grill marks.

7. To build the tacos, generously spoon the satay sauce on the tortilla, then add the lettuce, cucumber, cilantro, basil, carrot and chicken. Roll up and you're ready!

Lemon Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies

I don't do a lot of baking in the summer, mostly because I also don't really like air conditioning. Oven + 2nd floor apartment + mid-90 degree temps = HOT. But, I tried these from Bon Appetit and they are super simple, they took me about 5 minutes to make and 10 minutes to bake. And the best part is they're light in taste and the basil is the bonus.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 TB sliced fresh basil leaves
2 tsp lemon zest
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lime zest
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Place flour, powdered sugar, butter, basil, zests, lemon juice and salt in food processor and pulse until large moist clumps form.

3. Roll about a tablespoon of dough in your hand and place on cookie sheet. Press down lightly with your fingers to make a disc and repeat for the rest of the dough.

4. Bake about 15 minutes or until the edges are brown.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pasta Bolognese

Bolognese often gets cheated of its deliciousness when only made with ground beef. I've avoided Bolognese for this reason. However, after having Barbara Lynch's version at Sportello, I was immediately converted. This is her recipe with a few revisions (no chicken livers!!). It was one of the most unbelievable pasta dishes I've ever had and I couldn't believe it came out of my kitchen! This sauce takes time - like 3-4 hours. So, make sure to have the ground meats in your freezer for the next big snow storm. This is soooo worth the time.

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk and leaves, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 lbs each of ground veal, pork and lamb
3/4 small can of tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup heavy cream - this is a MUST
olive oil

1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or deep pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the sage and season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the ground meat in batches, letting each brown a little before adding more. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until no longer pink. Break up the meat so that there are no lumps and it's in small bits.

3. Pour off most of the fat. Add the the tomato paste and mix well. Cook for two or three minutes until the tomato paste cooks through. Add the bay leaves.

4. Add the wine and increase the heat to high and boil, stirring occasionally, until the wine is almost gone.

5. Add the broth and the tomatoes, and basil. Bring to a boil and then lower to a gentle simmer. You should see a little bubble but not a boil.

6. Cook uncovered until the sauce is thick, dark and rich - for at least an hour, but better for two or three...the longer the better. If it gets to thick or dry, add a little more broth, or wine.

7. Add the cream about 15 minutes before serving.

*I think this is best served with Mafaldine pasta. Also good with Tagliatelle. Garlic bread is a must!

Wilted Romaine Salad with Bacon

This salad is a great way to use some extra bacon fat. It goes perfectly with the Bacony Buttery Roasted Chicken Breast with Mushroom Sauce. Not the healthiest salad but man is it good!!

3 hearts of romaine, chopped intact so lettuce chopped in ribbons
4 slices of crispy bacon, chopped
2-3 TB bacon fat
1 TB sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
dash of black pepper

1. Put the lettuce and bacon bits in a bowl.

2. Over medium high, heat the bacon fat, sugar and vinegar until it bubbles and the sugar dissolves. Remove from eat and let it cool slightly

3. Pour over the lettuce while warm. Mix well and serve.

Bacony Buttery Roasted Chicken Breast with Mushroom Sauce

I wasn't sure what to call this. I wanted to make sure that the bacon was featured in the title because it's the key to this melt in your mouth dish. This certainly isn't the healthiest of meals but we need a good dose of fat once and a while. And I know that many folks don't get too jazzed up about chicken but I've made this twice now, once for Paddy and me, and once for friends, and it was unreal. DO NOT skip the brine and DO buy breasts WITH skin. You need both to achieve the juicy goodness.

It's best served with the Wilted Romaine Salad with'll need the bacon fat for your chicken and the salad dressing and they go really well together.

4 cups very cold water
1 lemon quartered and juiced
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup salt
4-6 slices of bacon
4 boneless chicken breasts - skin ON
6 TB softened butter
8 sage leaves
1/2 onion, chopped
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 TB flour
salt and pepper
olive oil

1. Combine the water, lemon, sugar and 1 cup salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and let sit for at least 30 minutes, 1 hr is better (add a few ice cubes if you brine for an hour).

2. Heat the oven to 425 with a cookie sheet inside. Cook the bacon in a large skillet until brown and crispy. Freeze for another use, save for breakfast tomorrow or use for Wilted Romaine Salad.

3. Pour most of the bacon grease into a container but leave a hefty coating in the pan. If your 4 breasts won't fit into the one pan, pour enough into a second pan as well. Also reserve 2-3 TB of bacon fat for the salad dressing. Set pan(s) aside.

4. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly spread the softened butter around each breast and place two sage leaves under the skin of each.

5. Heat the pan(s) over medium-high heat until bacon fat is nice and hot. Add the chicken breasts to the pan, skin side DOWN. Cook about 5 minutes or until the skin is crispy and brown.

6. Transfer the chicken breasts to the cookie sheet in the oven, skin side UP and roast for about 25 minutes.

7. While the chicken cooks and using one of the pans that the chicken fried in, reduce to medium heat. Add 2 TB of butter and a dash of olive oil. Add onions, mushrooms and cayenne pepper. Saute until onions are soft and mushrooms tender.

8. Turn heat up to medium-high and add wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan and reduce wine until almost evaporated.

9. Add flour and mix well, letting the flour cook for a minute.

10. Add chicken broth and mix well. Let bubble for a few minutes or until the sauce thickens.

10. Remove chicken from oven and serve with a hefty portion of sauce on top.

Serve salad on the side.

Spicy Flank Steak with Grilled Polenta

Flank steak is my favorite steak. You have to marinate it for a good long while and with the right ingredients. My mom ALWAYS used soy sauce and...vermouth. It may seem like an unlikely candidate for marinade but there was always a good stock of it in the house - for the martinis - and it adds a distinct flavor and helps tenderize the meat. I often throw the meat in a velcro bag with the marinade before heading off to work in the morning. By the evening, it's perfect!

This recipe is great because you can either grill the steak or do it in a pan, which actually works well. We had to resort to pan frying our steak this winter after Paddy went to flip some burgers one night and found our grill engulfed in flames in the backyard. But that's another story for another time...

The other part of this is polenta. I don't bother making it on the stove, I buy the tubes of it at the grocery store and it's great grilled or fried stovetop. I just recently got into it, it's effortless and it goes REALLY well with this steak. Don't skip it!!

1 TB vermouth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2-4 cloves garlic crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
black pepper
1-2 lb flank steak

*marinate for at least one hour and better if marinated for the whole day

For the steak and polenta:
4 tsp canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tube of polenta cut into 8 slices
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup queso fresco (it's worth getting for this)
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa

1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high. Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel.

2. Combine 1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp salt, cumin, chili powder and pepper and rub evenly over the steak.

3. Put your stove fan on!! Add the steak to the pan and cook for 6 min. on each side or until desired temperature.

4. Remove from pan and let stand for 5 minutes with some foil over it.

5. Turn the heat down to medium and add some more oil to coat the pan if needed. Add the polenta slices and fry on each side for 2-3 minutes, until softish and slightly browned.

6. Cut steak across the grain into thin slices.

7. Serve the steak and polenta with slices of avocado and sprinkle with queso fresco and cilantro and a little salsa on the side.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Paddy & Katie's Surprise Chili

We're getting ready for the big Pats v. Jets game tomorrow and making chili. We were inspired after several hours of back-breaking shoveling the other day. 1 1/2 feet of snow in Boston = buried cars. Only the antennas were showing. Anyway, after our hard work, we headed up to Magoun's for a few pints and had a delightful bowl of chili that included...andouille sausage. Aha! Not sure how this wasn't thought of before but it gives a thick chili a hint of gumbo, which is my other favorite meaty stew. What could be better than a combination of the two?? The following recipe was very impromptu - there are a few other unexpected ingredients (a mix of both Guinness AND wine) and it happened to turn out to be the best chili to date! I promise this will not disappoint.

1 1/2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 poblano chili, diced
1/2 container baby bella mushrooms, large dice
1 large jalapeno, diced
1 1/2 large (28 oz) cans tomato (1 can diced, 1/2 can crushed)
1/2 small can tomato paste
1/2 lb sirloin tips, cut into 1/4 in. cubes
1/2 lb 85% lean ground beef
2 (hot dog length) links of andouille sausage
2 italian sausage links - removed from casing
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1/2 can Guinness
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 bottle Ipswich ale (for good measure - because one was open)
2 TB chili powder (or to taste)
1 TB chili flakes
1 1/2 tsp cumin
lots of salt and pepper
1 cup of corn

1. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large pot/dutch oven. Add the italian sausage and break up into small pieces as it cooks.

2. Add the sirloin and brown.

3. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Give it a good dose of salt and pepper.

4. Add the andouille and let it cook for about 5 min.

5. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside. Add all of the vegetables and garlic, except the corn. Let it saute in the juices of the meat until soft.

6. Add tomato paste and incorporate well with vegetables.

7. Add the meat back to the pot and mix well.

8. Add the Guinness and wine (and Ipswich if you happen to have it :)

9. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. reduce to medium-high and simmer until the liquid is reduced to half, stirring every minute or so.

10. Add canned tomato, beans, corn, and spices.

11. Let it bubble for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.

12. Cover and reduce to low. Let it simmer for another 2 hrs or so, stirring once and a while.

*serve with LOTS of melted cheddar cheese on top!