Dry-aged steaks

I was reading, again, my various Cook’s Illustrated magazines looking for seasonal recipes to try. A magazine reader had written in about dry-aged steaks and wondered if this could be done at home. (Reference the March-April 2010 edition of the magazine). The editors replied about their efforts and I decided to give it a try.

  • 2 top sirloin steaks (about 6 ounces each?)

Wrap thoroughly with cheesecloth and place on a rack in the back of the refrigerator (where it is coldest) for four days. Pan sear and enjoy. Supposedly these are tender and intensely flavorful like the more expensive dry-aged steaks. Cook’s used 2 rib-eye and 2 strip steaks.

  • I put mine in the fridge on a Monday and we cooked them on a Saturday so that was a bit longer than the magazine.
  • I wrapped mine while they were still frozen.
  • They had a nice flavor but were not particularly moist or tender.
  • Hubby says the verdict is still out as these were some of the leftover pieces from a top sirloin butt that he had cut up earlier this year.
  • He would like to try this with rib-eyes.

 

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Chicken Vegetable Casserole

Greetings my dear readers! This is an updated version of a casserole I used to make when I first started a family many years ago. I am not sure where I got this but it is one of those canned soup recipes. And back then I used canned soups. I don’t anymore and haven’t for a long time. I have learned how to make my own cream sauce. I thought I would share this with you all. I had thawed chicken thighs and didn’t want to do another lemon chicken recipe. So here is what’s for dinner.

Original recipe: 2 cans cream of mushroom soup, 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 pound large cut vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, shredded cheese if desired, and one cut up chicken.

Here’s my update:

  • 8-10 medium sized chicken thighs; I wanted to be “healthy” so took the skins off.
  • 1/2 super large bag of frozen Normandy style vegetables: zucchini and yellow squash, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower; use at least two pounds of large cut vegetables. You could cut fresh vegetables for this as well.
  • (I could have added about  4 ounces of mushrooms but the ones I had smelled too earthy for my liking.)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • generous sprinkling of seasonings of your choice; I used Herbs de Provence; it is my new go-to herb mixture
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt; I threw this in at the last minute to add a creamy “healthiness”
  • 1 cup shredded cheese; I used a mixture of cheddar.

Super simple to make: heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray your 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray, or oil it if you prefer. Place your vegetables in here. Place your chicken on top of the vegetables. Make your sauce.

Melt the two tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan. Add broth. Sprinkle on your seasoning or herbs. Mix the cornstarch with the half-and-half. Add to pan and bring just to boil. This will not be thick but on the verge of thickening. Pour the sauce on top of the chicken. This looked thin to me so I smeared the yogurt on top of the chicken. Sprinkle the cheese over this.

Bake for at least one hour. Test chicken for done-ness with meat thermometer: 165-175 for thighs.  Dinner is served. This has your vegetables and your protein. Rice or egg noodles could be a side which would be nice with the sauce.

Enjoy!

The Feast: the savory and the sweet

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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the savory
  • green salad (every item green) dressed with lime juice and olive oil
  • grilled steak
  • baked sweet potatoes
  • homemade rolls
  • mashed potatoes
  • autumn mixed-grains bake with butternut squash and cranberries
  • quinoa salad with dried apricots
  • sauteed mushrooms and onions in butter and red wine
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the sweet
  • rainbows sprinkles birthday cake from a box mix for the 4 year old and the 34 year old
  • vanilla ice cream with real ingredients anyone would recognize
  • tofu chocolate pudding for the dairy-free
  • pumpkin pie (the Betty Crocker standard)
  • apple pie with an oatmeal crumb topping
  • whipped cream freshly whipped from a carton of whipping cream (the bowl and whisk kept in the freezer beforehand)

I am thankful that we have enough food, actually more than enough. I am humbled that through my church I can take part in feeding hungry people a spaghetti dinner every week. I am thankful that my son and daughter were home to join us for the pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday feast this year. I am thankful for a loving Hubby, our home and our neighbors, our jobs, and our pets Leo and Squeaky.

I am thankful for all you who read my blog. I am thankful to get to know a little bit of each of you by reading yours.

And there are many more blessings I am thankful for. I will try to be grateful each day.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Your Standard Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Greetings! I am always so happy and surprised that you read what I write. I was going to be a poet when I was a teen, but I guess it was not my calling. I do love to write, so I am happy to have readers. Thank you! 🙂

So it was a gloomy summer day. And in my effort to suck all the joy out of life…oops! I mean in my renewed effort to breathe in all the joy that life has to offer…I thought I should make myself write a blog post weekly.

(Now that I have said “weekly” don’t hold me to it because…life happens, along with moods, and I don’t always like to make commitments!)

20170530_220846485_iOSA week or so ago I made a coffee cake for work. I did not have sour cream (or did not look for it in my fridge) so I browsed through cookbooks to come up with something. I made a blueberry buckle with blueberries and cranberries without the buckle. It had the fruit but it also had the streusel topping. I baked it in a tube pan so it really did not buckle. I think “buckle” is the way the fruit indents the top of the cake. The people at work loved it and here is a picture. This is basically 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup milk, and one egg and 1 cup fruit.

So on this gloomy summer’s eve, I figure it is a good baking day. I will make a sour cream coffee cake because I recently spied sour cream in my fridge. Where’s the recipe? I go to my Settlement Cookbook because it is full of standard baking fare from kitchens of generations of women gone by.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or grease a 10 inch tube pan. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at at time. Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture alternately with the sour cream.

Topping: mix 6 Tab. of softened butter (I accidentally melted mine) with 1 cup packed brown sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1 cup chopped nuts.

Put half the batter in the pan. Sprinkle (or glob) on 1/2 the topping, layer the other half of the batter and the rest of the topping. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before removing.

So the cake is in the oven, Hubby is at the dentist, and I am putting the dog out in the yard, going out to un-loop him from the various patio furniture and bushes at least three times, and thinking that this is a standard sour cream coffee cake that is probably found in all those cookbook collections that various churches and other organizations put together as fundraisers. So I peruse a few of those.

The first one I look through has Sour Cream Coffee Cake and the streusel is just sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Cool! Because I knew that the streusel topping for my first coffee cake has flour in it and I thought that was pretty standard. So I continue reading this recipe and get to the end and see who submitted it. My sister! Gave me a little joy to see her name at the bottom of the recipe!

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Thoughts on muffins and quick breads

I have lately been making quick breads, the kind that bake in one loaf pan without yeast. According to Bittman in How to Cook Everything “The only real difference between muffins and other quick breads is the pan you bake them in.” Sure, this makes sense. We choose between corn bread and corn muffins, same batter. This means I cold make a loaf out of some of my favorite muffin recipes. Cool!

I have enjoyed making loaves. Recently I made the Blueberry Lemon Walnut Bread from the back of the walnut package. This had a bread-like texture and not cake-like in the chocolate walnut loaf made previously. I liked the cake-likeness; Hubby preferred the bread-likeness texture.

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So as I was looking at these recipes in a variety of books, I find that there is a range of sugar involved. Bittman’s muffins call for 1/4 cup sugar (or to taste),  whereas Betty Crocker’s muffins call for 1/3 cup but her nut breads call for 1 cup and pumpkin bread calls for 1 1/3 cup per loaf. What’s up with this?

And why are muffins in The Cookie and Biscuit Bible cookbook? This book also has my go-to popover recipe.

Looking through all these cookbooks to see the differing amounts of sugar tempts me with more and more things to bake. I’ll never lose weight this way!

Here are some thoughts, not all about bread and muffins:

  • What does it mean when an onion starts looking pithy between layers? Is this like celery meaning that it is a bit old? Can one still cook with it? Am I a bad cook if I dice it up anyway and saute it in a dish? Don’t tell anyone.
  • Why did I put the dog food dish under the butcher block table I use for chopping vegetables and rolling out pie dough? Or, why does the dog choose that time to chow down? This is rhetorical because we know the dog can’t talk.
  • I have to decide not to be obsessive over composting when I go camping on weekends. I am sure Hubby won’t want us to come home with a bowl full of food scraps stinking up the truck!
  • Syrian casseroles are what I need to look for so I can provide meals for a family in need. And there are children. What sweet treat would be wholesome for them?
  • Do other’s of you sneak spinach into sauces and casseroles so the family doesn’t know what they are eating? Is this dishonest? I confess if asked.
  • I am planting herbs. What is the difference between German thyme and English thyme? And what to do with lemon balm?

I could go on and on but that is enough for today. Thanks for reading!

 

 

Thoughts from my Kitchen

I had a fabulous baking weekend. Well, on Saturday I roasted a big chicken, with Mediterranean vegetables. Yum! I was so tired after winterizing the trailer which included arguing about how to drain all the plumbing properly and running off to the store to buy more RV/Marine antifreeze to be effective that I did not want to make anything else. Wow! That is a run-on sentence if I ever wrote one! As I write this we are waiting for all the little goblins and ghouls to show up to beg for the $20 worth of candies I bought. Then I will turn off the porch light and relax.

After a tiring first half of the weekend I set to work in the kitchen. First I did a bit of cleaning and then got out the sourdough starter to make rolls. I used a recipe that looked good and as luck would have it I had powdered milk and potato flour. If you don’t have these ingredients there are plenty of other sourdough bread and rolls recipes. I had fed the starter the day before so I figured it would be just fine. I let it set out for the entire morning of the day I made the dough: sourdough dinner rolls from King Arthur Flour. This makes two pans of eight. Here is the one for the future!

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I have found the chocolate cake recipe that bests the  Best Ever Chocolate Cake. I hang my head in shame as I write these words. I had to look again and again at the ingredient list to note the differences.Best Ever uses 1/2 cup more flour and twice the baking soda. I looked into the explanation of using baking soda in cakes in the book BakeWise by Shirley Corriher. She explains that 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda is sufficient for each cup of flour. The new best chocolate cake recipe rises nicely and even has better body than Best Ever.

So what is this rogue recipe that has come to shake up my baking world? It is basically King Arthur Flour’s version of Texas Sheet Cake baked in a 9 x 13 pan. I found this in their sales catalog/flyer that arrives by the post ever so often: King Arthur Flours Favorite Fudge Cake. And its not just because of the fudge frosting, although that makes it awesome!

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I actually followed both of the recipes exactly although I don’t always use KAF products.

I am not advertising for them; I just recently got their flyer and was organizing recipes for my recipe notebooks. And these were two of the ones I had marked to try.

 

The herbal experiment…or Scarborough Fair Veg!

Sing along with me…parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme!

I was planning to steam some farm fresh green beans to have for dinner as the two girls would be home with us. I had some very thin baby carrots and thought those would work well in combination with the beans. Then I wondered how to add flavor. Fresh herbs! Why not, I have some growing right outside my kitchen door.

Looking at my herb garden I wonder what to use. I used basil with peas before so I want to use something else. Sage. I have no idea what to use fresh sage with so I’ll see if it works with beans and carrots. I select six nice sized sage leaves and cut them up and sprinkle them on top of the carrots in the steam basket. As I am preparing the green beans, I think to myself…parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme! I step out my back door and pluck some fresh herbs.Actually I snipped them with the kitchen shears.

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more green beans get piled into the pan than shown

I used a small bag (one pound?) of mini baby carrots and a batch of fresh green beans that when trimmed equaled about 2 cups. For the fresh herbs I used six sage leaves, a four inch sprig of thyme, a four inch sprig of rosemary, and a few snippets of parsley.

I steamed these for about 7 minutes. I did not keep good track of the time. I had not researched how to use sage and after preparing the pot for cooking I thought I should have kept the leaves whole like the additional herbs.But by that time they were buried beneath.

These get served with grilled pork loin chops seasoned with a Chicago steak seasoning that my son left here before going off to his Alaskan adventure. I put the jars of chimichurri,  A dog fight of flavors!, and plum sauce, Supper, on the table for people to pick for topping their pork. And didn’t Hubby do fabulous grill work on those chops?

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The herbs gave a very subtle flavor to the vegetables. I liked it; the others were indifferent.