Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Weekend Bolognese Sauce (Updated!)

Update!
I revisited this recipe on a rainy Frankenstorm weekend and the updates I made were definitely worth re-posting. They took this bolognese from pretty tasty to amazing! Restaurant-worthy! I want to bathe in it! Maybe that's going a tad too far.... but you'll have to taste it to see. The main changes involved using pancetta instead of bacon and mild italian sausage instead of pork. I also added some onion powder. I've written in the updates below and I highly recommend you make this as soon as possible (and, maybe invite me to dinner?)

I have not always gotten along with the figurative old Italian grandmothers in the kitchen. Probably because of my habit of “cheesing the fish” (to great success as shown in this Parmesan Tilapia recipe) which is a cardinal sin in Italian cuisine. However, I think this Bolognese recipe will win them back over to my side. It took a full day of cooking, but it was worth it. You could make this meal in an hour or two, but cooking it longer lets the flavors really develop. I started this meal around noon, and we ate at 6:30, so it’s definitely a weekend recipe. Make sure to use a hearty enough pasta to go with this sauce—spaghetti just doesn’t work. Pappardelle is ideal if you can find it. I couldn’t so we used Campanelle, which was really good as well. I found this recipe at food.com, but there are tons out there.

Ingredients
4 oz diced pancetta
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
2 large carrots (finely chopped)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb italian ground sausage
1 cup beef consommé/broth
1 cup dry white wine
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup whole milk or cream

Start by chopping up the veggies and getting your bacon ready. Heat up the oil and butter in your Dutch oven and then add in the onion, carrots and garlic. This is also where you’d toss in your pancetta. Cook until the onions are translucent (8-10 minutes).

Next, add in the beef and sausage. Break it apart and mix as you cook, until it’s all crumbled and all the pinkness is gone. Now add in the wine and broth. The original recipe called for consomm√©, but I couldn’t find any and just used broth. Not sure there’s a big difference for this recipe. Turn the heat up and bring the liquid to a boil, cooking until most of it has evaporated. It took about 12-15 minutes for me. Turn it down to a simmer and add in all your seasonings, stirring well. Let it cook for 20 minutes to let the spices get all friendly with the meat.

After 20 minutes, pour in the crushed tomatoes and add the tomato paste. Stir it in well, and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiled, turn it back down to a simmer. Now the real cooking begins. Simmer for anywhere from 2-4 hours, partially covered. We left ours on for 4 hours, and the longer you can let it cook the better. I actually think that if you could delay gratification even longer, it’d be worth it. About ten minutes before you’re set to eat, add in one cup of milk or cream and stir it in (I recommend cream, it's worth it). Serve over a sturdy pasta with Parmesan Reggiano on top. Parmesan Reggiano is the way to go (not just parmesan)—it has such a sharp flavor that if you get just regular Parmesan you’ll be missing out. Try this recipe. Try it right now. 

(Click for printable recipe)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Iron Chef Chips: Ice Cream Chipped Pie

In my opinion; Iron Chef events should be all about trying new recipes.  I don't think it's much fun to make a recipe that you've made over and over and over. For this Iron Chef; we had 2 months to find and try some recipes. Well, I found many recipes, but tried about 7 of them. I really couldn't find something that wowed me until the very last recipe. I came across this Ice Cream Chip Pie recipe, and had a feeling that it could be a winner. Well, I wasn't very confident it would be a winner, but I thought it would at least be pretty darn good. I was right on both counts; it wasn't a winner but it was pretty darn good.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup crushed lightly salted potato chips
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup Breyers Snickers ice cream, very soft
8 large, unbroken, lightly salted potato chips
1 pint Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream, very soft
1/4 cup chocolate chips

First take crush the potato chips using a rolling pin and then combine the chips and the melted butter in a medium bowl; and then press the chips in a pie plate. Freeze for 10 minutes to set the crust. Take the softened snickers ice cream and spread over the potato chip crust. This isn't necessary, but place the potato chips around the crust to form a petal like look.  Then, freeze the ice cream for 10 minutes. Remove the pie from the freezer and then spread the dulche de leche ice cream over the snickers. Freeze for 45 minutes. Melt the chocolate ice cream and then sprinkle over the pie. Freeze overnight. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thai Cabbage Salad with Chicken

In my ongoing effort to find relatively healthy recipes that are also wonderfully delicious, I came across this recipe for Thai Cabbage Salad with chicken on Snapfood. I’ve always enjoyed Thai in general, and Thai salads in particular, so I thought I’d give it a try. It turned out great! Full of flavor with a little bit of spiciness. The original recipe called for cucumbers and red pepper but I omitted them because of personal tastes. I also omitted the peanuts because my husband doesn’t like them. Even though this has a lot of ingredients it was fairly easy to make (especially if you use a mandoline). Oh, and just save yourself the trouble and buy the pre-shredded carrots.


Salad Ingredients
1 small head Red Cabbage, shredded
1 medium head Napa or Green Cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, julienned
1 bunch green onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup tightly packed basil, chopped
1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro, chopped

Dressing Ingredients
1/2 cup sunflower oil (or vegetable oil)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp, Sesame Oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
Zest and Juice of 1 lemon
Zest and Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp Sriracha

Chicken Ingredients
2 chicken breasts, diced
1 tsp, turmeric
1 tsp, ground ginger
1 tsp, garlic
1 tsp, salt
1 tsp, cumin

Chop up all your vegetables and mix them well in a large Tupperware container (makes it easier for mixing as well as storing). Mix the dressing ingredients in a small jar or Tupperware and shake to mix and emulsify. Don’t pour over the salad until you are done with the chicken. Mix the spices in a small bowl and then add the chicken, stirring to cover evenly. Cook over medium heat while stirring until cooked (about 6-8 minutes). Add the chicken to the vegetables and pour the dressing over it all. Mix well. I put the lid on the Tupperware and shook it around and that seemed to work well. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Iron Chef Chips

A couple things we learned from Iron Chef Chips; a. space out when we eat each course; b. chips as a main ingredient really isn’t so bad; c. be sure to check with your fellow course partner to make sure you both aren’t making the same thing; d. make smaller portions; and e. Just Dance is a great way to break up the courses! Overall, I have to say that Iron Chef Chips was a really big hit! I, for one, was extremely nervous about this secret ingredient. But, I really had nothing to worry about. And, even though our main courses were both Frito Pies they ended up being very different. Overall, I think this was a big success, and congrats to Chelyen and Kim for their wins! Now, on to the dishes that were served:

We started out with Greta’s Roasted Tomatoes and Chips Bruschetta. It smelled divine, and tasted exceptional, too. Perhaps it wasn’t the most chip-tasting appetizer served, but it was really flavorful and had a nice garlic kick to it.

Greta's Roasted Tomato and Chip Bruschetta

Next up was Laura’s Zucchini Chips. Afterall, this Iron Chef was all about repurposing the main ingredient. Laura certainly tried to go that route with zucchini chips. She was a bit disappointed that the zucchini didn’t crisp up more, but overall they tasted great. Plus, serving zucchini chips with an onion dip is never a bad thing.

Laura's Zucchini Chips

The last appetizer round went to Cara’s tofu dish. She wanted to do something fun and interesting with her recipe. And, I definitely think she succeeded. I would say you either liked Cara’s dish or you didn’t…in other words, if you like Tofu then you loved her recipe. If you don’t like Tofu, well, you probably weren’t a fan of this one. It sounds like Cara may host the next Iron Chef in January! So, we will definitely look forward to that.

Cara's Chip Tofu

Now, onto the 2 main courses; Chelyen was up first, and she served a Frito Chili Pie in a bag of Fritos. Chelyen’s chili was a family recipe, and it was a big hit amongst our crowd. She served it in a bag of freshly opened bag of Fritos.

Chelyen's Frito Chili Pie

It maybe wasn’t the best use of repurposing chips, but her presentation and taste were certainly wow factors! She served it with cheese and onions were optional. Doan, on the other hand, made her Frito Pie with chicken and crushed fritos. It had a nice kick to it and served with avocados, cheese, and sour cream took it to the next level.

Doan's Frito Pie Casserole

Onwards to the desserts; both Kim and I thought we might have a decent shot at winning this particular iron chef. After-all who doesn’t like sweet and salty flavors? Well, Kim was up first; and she served a Peanut Butter Chip Cookie Bomb. Chips were not only incorporated in her cookie, but it was also mixed into the whipped cream that she made from scratch. She served it with Hershey syrup and it was simply divine!!! In my opinion, it was one of the best desserts served in a long time!

Kim's Peanut Butter Chip Cookie Bomb

Since everyone was pretty full, we decided to take a break from eating the next dessert and instead played a couple rounds of Just Dance. It was quite a lot of fun! I’m glad we decided to break for some dancing otherwise I don’t think anyone would have been able to eat my Ice Cream Chipped Pie.

Emily's Ice Cream Chipped Pie

The chips were incorporated into a pie crust and served with snickers and dulce de leche ice cream. I received good feedback from everyone, so I think it was a hit.
We will certainly look forward to our next Iron Chef, though, no ingredient has been set. Ideas, anyone? Till next time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mongolian Beef

So, I had planned on making this Mongolian Beef recipe for a Sunday night dinner. But after a filling lunch, we were both a little so-so on the idea of an organized dinner. We also had the added challenge of needing to eat a little early to make a 6pm appointment. (Okay, it was to play Call of Duty). But we decided to make it anyway and here’s a testament to how good it was. Despite not being that hungry, despite having to eat early, my husband still had seconds. I certainly would have as well, but I’ve been trying to have a modicum of self-control (or at least delude myself into thinking I have it). This was rich, meaty, with a really tasty thick sauce. The original recipe (which I found on Mrs. Schwartz’s Kitchen) is meant to imitate PF Chang’s dish, and not being a PF Chang’s regular I’m not sure if it did, but it definitely tasted great. The only think I would knock it for is just being meat and sauce. We added in onions but next time I think broccoli would also be a perfect addition, or any veggie you like, really.


Ingredients
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon ginger, grated
½ cup brown sugar
½  cup water
½ cup soy sauce
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 lb flank or sirloin steak, thinly sliced
¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup white onion, chopped large
green onions, chopped for garnish
Broccoli Florets (optional)

Start by chopping your onions and broccoli and setting aside. Then thinly slice the beef, removing any large fatty pieces, and coat it lightly with cornstarch before setting that to the side as well.

Heat your oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat. I just used vegetable oil because that’s what I had on hand. Add in the ginger and garlic and stir continuously for about two minutes or until fragrant. Then stir in the brown sugar, water, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Wait until it comes to a simmer then turn the heat to low. It seems like a lot of sauce but it thickens up and reduces.

Heat a little more oil in a large wok or skillet over medium high heat and add in your white onion and broccoli. Stir fry for about 5 minutes until they soften just a little, then add in the meat. Make sure you keep it moving in the wok so it doesn’t burn. The cornstarch seemed to soak up all the oil for us so it was pretty dry in there. The meat should cook pretty quickly, about 4-6 minutes. Don’t overdo it.

Once the meat is cooked, turn down the heat to medium low and pour your sauce into the wok. Scrape any browned bits from the pan. Your sauce will thicken up because of the cornstarch and will continue to thicken as you cook. Once it is at your desired consistency, serve over rice and sprinkle green onions on top! And don’t be ashamed to take seconds.