Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Family Secrets

So as promised a post about Gefilte Fish. So for those of you who don't know, gefitle fish is a traditional Passover dish made from carp. It is served at just about every Sedar, but it is rarely made from scratch, because it is labor intense and smelly, but it tastes so much better when it is. My family has always made there own fish. My dad and my aunt tell stories about when the fish used to live in the bathtub for 3 days, before my nanny made it, and how they loved it because they didn't have to shower.

My first fish memory is from when I was about 5. My nanny (grandma) took me with her to buy the fish, back when you could pick the specific live fish you wanted (now you just say how many pounds you need). The fish were all swimming in the tank and my nanny picked the one she wanted. The fish monger put it on the counter, and wham, a hammer to it's head. They put it up on the scale to weigh it and it started flopping all over the place. The monger then chased it around the behind the counter area holding some kind of blunt object until finally... SMACK, and then it flopped no more. My nanny grabbed my arm, very hard and whispered in my ear, "that is how you know you have a good fish."

So, my aunt (pictured here with me, and we are both wearing very fashionable hand sewn (by my nanny) aprons) inherited this recipe, right and responsibility from her mother, and it extends back at least another generation still. And now, it is being passed on to me. My aunt has this giant binder of family recipes, hand written by her, my grandmother, and my great grandmother, with notes added each year about what worked, what didn't, etc. The binder is truly something to behold.

So now, fish making...

Let's start at the beginning. First you make a fish stock from the bones and head.

Then you grind the fish up in small batches, with some other ingredients (think fish meat balls)

Then you form the gefilte fish and you cook them in the stock.

Then you take the fish skin.

And cover the fish in the pot.

Now it's done cooking.


And that my friends, is how you get gefilte fish. Well cooking it, like eating it is certainly an acquired taste.

Happy Eating


Friday, March 26, 2010

I Love Red Meat

It is hard for me to believe that I did not eat a single bite of red meat for 14 years of my life, that is most of my life. I stopped eating red meat one day out of the blue when I was 7 years old. I did not take another bite again until I was 21. I didn't even know what it would taste like, I couldn't remember having ever eaten a hamburger. The thing that first tempted me was actually lamb, and once I realized how amazing that was, things sort of just spiraled out of control from there. It has lead to my love affair with all things meat, constantly trying new kinds and cuts, expanding my meaty horizons. Every bite is magic, which is why I eat meat at least once a week now, and is also why last night I absolutely had to have steak. Cut of choice for the evening: T-bone. Yum. Served up with asparagus and homemade (not by me, but awesomely delicious) applesauce.

T-Bone Steak:

1 T-Bone steak per person
1 tbsp of brown sugar per steak
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (or hotter if you prefer, it will really cook just fine on just about anything). Put some oil in a pan to lightly coat the bottom and heat the pan on the stove top (it should be scorching). Salt and pepper the steaks and rub with brown sugar. Cook about 3 minutes on each side to get some lovely caramelization. Transfer to oven to finish cooking to your taste, it really will not take long, about 6 minutes for medium/medium rare. Just keep checking it.

Spicy Asparagus:

Before you put the steak in the pan. Salt and pepper some asparagus in a glass bake dish. Add red pepper flakes to taste (so a lot, if you are me). Drizzle with olive oil. Cook for about 20 minutes, at that 375. Then I like to turn the broiler on for about 4 minutes, to just kind of crispy them up a bit, but that is totally optional. Just make sure the steaks are not still in the oven.

Quick and easy delicious dinner. Ta-dah! Ok, so a very special blog post soon to come. Passover is upon us. And this Saturday, I will be learning how to make the gefilte fish, for the first time ever. In my family, we grind our own fish, and I am very excited to learn! Stay tuned for that, plus I will tell you a wonderful story about the first time my grandmother took me to with her to buy the fish. I will also be making a chocolate passover cake, and contemplating a weeks worth of lunches. Oh and a very special Sunday-Surprise breakfast. Great things are ahead... So stay tuned.

Happy Eating


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pasta Bake

Is there anything more comforting than warm, cheesy pasta on a rainy night? I don't think so. Which is why Monday, was past bake night. This is my fastest bake, it is something similar to baked ziti, but with penne and very little effort. What came out of the oven was hot and delicious and beyond comforting, the perfect end to a rainy day.

Penne Pasta Bake:

1 Lb penne pasta
2 cups of pasta sauce (my recipe can be found here, but you need a lot less than that makes, so adjust accordingly, 1 15 oz can as the base of the sauce is plenty, but make more if you want extra sauce on the side (totally optional))
15 oz of ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 cup of grated/shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup of mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make pasta according to box directions for al dente. In the mean time make the sauce (or heat your favorite jarred version). Mix ricotta and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Salt and pepper to taste, then beat egg into mixture. Pour cooked noodles into a large glass baking dish, you want the pasta spread relatively thin. Cover with sauce and stir. Stir in cheese mixture so it is evenly distributed and the pasta is same thickness throughout the pan. Top with the mozzarella and some additional Parmesan (if you want). Bake for about 30 minutes uncovered. The top cheese will be melted, but not browned and everything should be very hot. Move the oven rack towards the top and turn on the broiler. Broil for 3-4 minutes until top layer is browned and a bit crispy. Be careful with the broiler, it is so easy to destroy things (I have so many, many times). Serve and enjoy.

Because this bake doesn't have a lot of sauce, it stays together really well in the oven and isn't one of those best the next day or make in advance bakes. Don't get me wrong, it taste great the next day, but it is definitely better the right from the oven unlike it's pastalicious brothers and sisters.

Happy Eating


Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekend Round-Up and Then Some

Well... I am sorry I was gone so long. Last week was just one of those weeks. I have a lot to catch you up on. So, I will start with last weekend. I took a little trip to DC to spend some very girly time with a darling friend (who requested a shout out). On Saturday night, she, her roommate and I, made leg of lamb with yogurt sauce and couscous. Well, I learned that I do not know whether or not something is done with out the assistance of my boyfriend, but dinner was none the less very good. I made the lamb with the same spices as I did here. The recipe for my delicious yogurt sauce is there as well (It's good enough to eat by itself, just ask the Rachels). I loved the couscous I made, it was extremely easy and very tasty. The weekend was extremely fun and extremely food-y. We ate at 2 different French restaurants (one for dinner, one for brunch), both were amazing. But anyway...


1 box of original couscous
2 cups (or however much is specified on box) of chicken stock
1 tbsp of butter
1/3 cup of pine nuts
1/3 cup of craisins or raisins

Make the couscous according to the directions on the box, but use chicken stock and butter instead of water. Toast the pine nuts in the oven, this will only take about 5 minutes on 375 degrees, you could also do it in a pan. When the couscous is done, fluff it with a spoon and stir in the toasted pine nuts and craisins. This side is delicious and takes about 6 minutes to make, so enjoy!

Well after my wonderful DC weekend, I had a very busy week. Some highlights from it, I made chicken kebabs, again, and they were just as delicious. I cooked with my mom one night, we made grilled salmon, shrimp and sautéed veggies. No recipes to share, but it was fun to be someone's sous chef, for a change. Then for the big one. This weekend featured two delectable dinners. Last night I made my version of Barefoot Contessa's "Engagement Chicken" again. It was my best chicken ever and I did not take it out of the oven too soon (another first).

The real excitement, however, was Friday night. I finally used the rest of the Bison meat that we were given. I decided I was going to make it into a stew (get out your slow cookers). This ended up being the right choice, because the meat, it turns out was in chunks. The stew was surprisingly delicious. And if you do decide to cook bison, be warned, the meat smells when it's raw, the smell goes away when cooked.

Bison Stew:

1 lb of Bison meat
1 can of beer
2 cups of beef stock
1-2 large potatoes
1 large onion
4 Cloves of garlic
Handful of baby carrots
1 head of broccoli
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes.

Give potatoes, onions, garlic and carrots a rough chop and put them in the slow cooker. Add beer and stock to the slow cooker. Add salt, pepper and flakes to taste. Salt and pepper the meat and add to the pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Give broccoli and rough chop and toss in as well, cook on low for about 20 minutes until broccoli is tender. Serve and Enjoy.

This is why I love the slow cooker, a few ingredients and 5 minutes of work for something that is warm and delicious, and tastes like it's been cooking all day (hey, it has!). Ok, that is all for now.

Happy Eating.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hot Comfort, Please

So at some point last week (yes this is a little bit after the fact, but it's on my mind) I was craving gravy (strange, I know). I didn't care what I ate, as long as it was covered in hot, creamy gravy. So I reached into my past, and made a much better version of an old camp favorite of mine, chicken in gravy. It was so delicious. It was almost creamy perfection, except that I added too much milk at the end and it was a bit liquid-y, still amazing, but a little soup-y. So next time way less milk. Here is my super winter recipe for hot comfort, now that it is warming up and the plants are growing I am looking forward to putting this recipe in the back of my mind until next year. In other spring news some of the seedling are showing there first true leaves (the first set of leaves seedlings get after the 2 "baby leaves" they sprout with) so it's time to get out the fish emulsion fertilizer. I will have fresh herbs before I know it. The flowers have not done anything yet, but hopefully I will see some sprouts soon. Also, last night, I ate corn for the first time this year! And it was so good, surely a sign the summer is right around the corner...

Chicken and Gravy

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-3 cups of chicken broth
2-3 Tbsp of butter
2-3 Tbs of flour
1/4 cup of sour cream
salt, pepper
Elbow or egg noodles (cooked, you know how to make pasta)

In a small pot, bring the chicken stock to boil, you should have enough to cover your chicken in a pot. Salt and pepper the chicken, and cut into bite sized pieces. Put chicken in boiling stock. Cook covered of medium-low heat until chicken is almost cooked through, about 10 minutes. In a large sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt 2 tbsp of butter and stir in 2 tbsp of flour (hey, your making rue) until dissolved. Let cook a few minutes to enrich flavor. Using a ladle, spoon add a ladle of broth and whisk to combine add salt and pepper to taste. Repeat until you have a desirable amount of gravy (approximately 2 cups of stock. If the gravy is to thin, melt the additional butter in a microwave and stir flour into it, then add to gravy. The gravy should be thick but gravy like. Reduce heat to low and let gravy cook down for about 5 minutes. In the mean time. Put your noodles and chicken in bowls for serving. When gravy has reduced and thickened a bit, add in sour cream and stir. Then slowly add milk until gravy is desired thickness (be very careful so you don't end up with gravy-soup). Ladle gravy over chicken and noodles. Serve and enjoy.

Happy Eating.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Exploring Asia

Now I know I have posted my recipe for my week night favorite, fried rice, but last night, I decided to get a little adventurous. I made my very own version of a Bibimbap! It is a Korean rice dish, that is a restaurant favorite of mine (for more info, click here). It was so easy to make and so wonderfully delicious, I am excited to add a new dish to my repertoire, and will most definitely be cooking this again. Before I share the recipe with you, a little update on other matters. The seedlings have sprouted! Beyond sprouted, they are thriving, every herb has come in, yesterday's sunlight nearly doubled them in size! I will post pictures this weekend. If I can just keep the cat away from them, I should have a beautiful herb garden very soon! The bulbs have done nothing, and to be honest, I have no idea if this is normal or not, or if I am caring for them properly, I will be doing some research on the matter this weekend.

Now then, my very own Bibimbap recipe (serves 2):

5 oz Lean ground beef
3/4 c. Soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. Brown sugar
1 c. Raw white rice
2 c. Water
1 bag of coleslaw veggies (the shredded mix)
2 eggs
2 tsp. Sesame oil
Sesame seeds

Boil the water and heat a non-stick pan (or Pam a regular one). Cook rice in boiling water, covered. Mix together the soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar in a small bowl. Brown beef in pan and mix with half the soy sauce mixture. Cover and cook through. Split the cooked beef between two serving bowls. Put the cooked rice in the pan and turn the heat high, let rice burn and then mix, repeat a few times (this is to crispy up the rice, usually the Bibimbap is served in a hot clay pot which crisps the rice, but I don't have one). While the rice is crisping, cook 2 eggs over easy in another pan. Put the crisped rice over the beef in each bowl. Top with the coleslaw veggie (raw). Pour the rest of the sauce over the veggies and rice. Add 1 tsp of sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds to each bowl. Top with an egg. Serve with Sriracha on the side (if you like things hot). Enjoy.

These were beautiful and delicious. They look so nice with the egg and the colorful veggies. And then they taste wonderful when you mix everything together. The sauce is light and wonderful, don't be heavy handed with it, a little goes along way. That goes double for the oil, all you have to do is smell it to know it is strong, you will get plenty of flavor from just a teaspoon.

Happy Eating.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pizza Party

So on Saturday we had the Pizza party! It was so much fun, but as usual, I made way too much food. Saturday morning we made the dough, and gave them plenty of time to rise. The I made the sauce in the afternoon, I made a vat of sauce, literally ally, I filled the largest pot available with sauce, not realizing you barely need any sauce for a pizza. We have lots of left overs, but this is possibly the best sauce I ever made, so it's getting eaten. We made 3 pizzas, a pepperoni, a mushroom, and a flat crust onion. The flat crust was my favorite, but apparently that is debatable, so I guess they were all good. It was really fun and super messy to make. We had 2 doughs, a ton of sauce, and an army of cheeses left over. So then Sunday night, well afternoon really, I made spaghetti with left over sauce and sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes, plus cheese. Then Last night I used one of the extra pizza doughs (recipe here) to make a delicious roll up, which I liked better than the pizza, so that is the sorta-recipe I am going to share.

Pizza Roll Up:
1 pizza dough
Toppings of your choice (I used pepperoni, onions, and spinach)
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan cheese
Sauce for dipping

Pre-heat the oven to 375. Roll out the pizza dough as thin as you can get it, and into a squarish shape. Spread your toppings all over then top with the mozzarella (heavy handed). Roll the dough like you would a jelly roll or a crescent roll (except end to end, not diagonal). It should look like a long tube. Pinch ends together so nothing can escape while baking. Spray a baking sheet with non stick spray, and put roll on sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese. Cook for about 30-35 min, until the dough is cooked. Let cool slightly, then slice, serve with sauce for dipping and enjoy!

Happy Eating.