November 27th, 2008

I Love the Smell of Turkey in the Morning

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Don’t you?

There’s nothing like preparing the bird and putting it in the oven early and that first whiff of what’s to come. You know’ it’s too early to eat it but you really, really wanna.

It makes the day go by vvveeerrryyy sssssllllllooooowwwwllllyyy. Until it’s time to eat.

We’re eating early — around 1 pm.

There’s football to watch, dontcha know? (Go Cowboys.)

More later on how the turkey and all the trimmings turn out.

Until then . . . happy Turkey Day, everyone!


November 26th, 2008

Don’t Whine — Brine

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It’s almost Turkey Day and I’ve — okay, my whole family has — been having fun with the word “brine.”

It rhymes with lots of great things. Case in point . . .

“It’s time to brine so get me some wine and everything’ll be fine.”

That may or may not have actually been uttered last night during the brining process.

The word “brine” also can replace other words and instantly leave an air of mystery. A la . . .

“If you don’t stop all that ruckus I’m going to brine your behind.”

What does that mean? I’m not really sure, but it gets the job done.

We also like to use the word with a thick Southern drawl . . .

Brine me that spatula, son.”

So, getting down to business, what exactly is brining? In short, it’s soaking meat in a salt solution — like marinating. In this case, the meat is a turkey and the mixture includes more than salt and water. And it helps the turkey to cook up really moist and flavorful.

You can read more about brining here.

So naturally, the “brine” is the mixture you soak the meat in. And here is the recipe for ours (it’s been passed around from friend to friend to friend for a few years but we understand that it came from Bon Appetit in November 1997.)

Turkey Brine

6 quarts water
2 large onions, quartered
1 cup coarse salt
1 cup choppped fresh ginger
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
4 large bay leaves
4 whole star anise
12 whole black peppercorns, crushed

Combine ingredients in a very large pot. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Cool brine completely.

Rinse turkey inside and out. Place turkey in brine, pressing to submerge. Chill overnight, turning turkey twice.

Remove turkey from brine, discard brine. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Place orange wedges in main cavity. Mix olive oil and sesame oil in a small bowl. Brush over turkey.

Arrange breast side upon grill, centering above empty pan. Cover, cook until internal temperature registers 160 degrees F, about 3 hours depending on the size of your turkey.

Here’s my husband doing the Vanna White thing with our brine. Kind of looks like a witches’ brew.

You notice the bay leaves and onions first. But see those brown things on the left that look like starfish? Those are the whole star anise. They smell like licorice — and with good reason. A chemical compound called anethol makes it smell and taste like licorice.

Now, rest assured, your turkey will not taste like licorice. It’s just a spicy flavor that helps give the brine a great taste.

So, we made up the brine and let it cool Tuesday night of Thanksgiving week. At the end of the evening when it was perfectly cool we rinsed off our turkey and lined a styrofoam cooler with a trash bag. Classy, eh?

We submerged the turkey, twisted the bag shut and put the cooler’s lid on. Then, we slipped that cooler into the refrigerator to let it work its magic over the next day.

We will turn it twice to make sure the entire turkey gets its fair share of briny goodness.

Then, we’ll cook it up Thanksgiving morning according to the recipe above.

We’ve done this on Thanksgiving AND Christmas for the past 3 years and we love the way the turkey turns out. We’ve never had it this moist and tasty before.

I’ll post photos of the final product here after Thanksgiving.

Until then, I’ll be brining for you . . .

(See what I did there? “Brining” instead of “pining?”  Aww, forget it.)


November 25th, 2008

Yummy Idea for Your Holiday Ham

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Making a ham this Thanksgiving or holiday season? Here’s an amazing glaze to add some holiday zest to your table!

Your guests will be asking you for this recipe — so have it handy!

Pineapple Glaze

2 Cups Pineapple Juice
2 tsp. Maraschino Cherry Juice
2 tsp. Soy Sauce
2 Cloves

Reduce the pineapple juice by half, add the soy and maraschino cherry juice and reduce to a syrupy consistency. Glaze ham once before cooking, once during cooking and again when removed from the oven.


November 22nd, 2008

Tiger Likes His Steak

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I receive Tiger Woods’ periodic newsletter by e-mail. I know it’s weird. Especially since I don’t play golf.

But he’s a cool dude and I admire his athletic ability, his dedication and perfectionism and how he has used his celebrity.

He’s just a good guy. And he does some really great things for causes he believes in.

I’m not trying to get all sappy on you. Just check out this little excerpt from his latest newsletter and tell me — as a steak lover — you don’t love him, too.

We held our fourth annual Block Party and raised about $700,000 for our Learning Center. I want to thank Fred Couples and Chris Riley for helping me with the morning clinic at Pelican Hill. Freddie also helped out with our live auction and is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.

I also want to thank world-renowned chef Mario Batali for preparing a three-course gourmet meal – yes, I ate two steaks – and special thanks to Seal for putting on a great concert. Just seeing him perform again was absolutely incredible. He’s a nice guy, too. 

Yeah, famous people were there, blah, blah. And Tiger Woods eats two steaks in one sitting. In public.

And then writes about it.

Ya gotta admire a man who can put away the beef. Maybe that’s his secret to success? Couldn’t hurt.

Tiger, you had me at “hello.” YOU HAD ME AT HELLO.

Photo courtesy of TigerWoods.com.


November 21st, 2008

Beginner’s Roast

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Are lots of people descending on your house next week? Need a meal you can prepare ahead of time this holiday?

Try this yummy roast we just prepared at my parents’ house. It’s tender and hearty and who doesn’t love a good roast?

This one is a great Southern Living recipe. They always get it right.

The secret to this roast’s tenderness is the double layer of aluminum foil. So don’t skip that part!

Enjoy!

Beginner’s Roast

Prep: 5 min.; Bake: 3 hrs., 30 min. The secret to this juicy, fall-apart tender roast is in the baking. Before placing the lid on top of the Dutch oven, cover it with a double layer of aluminum foil. An eye-of-round roast has far less fat than a chuck roast, but when tightly covered and slowly baked with moist heat, is every bit as delicious. This easy recipe is also a terrific make-ahead dish. After baking, cool roast completely, and remove from Dutch oven, reserving gravy. Cut roast into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and arrange in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Pour gravy over sliced roast; cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. Reheat in a 325° oven for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield
Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients
1 (3- to 4-pound) eye-of-round roast
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup water
1 (1.12-ounce) package brown gravy mix
1 garlic clove, minced

Preparation
Place roast in a lightly greased Dutch oven, and top with sliced onion. Stir together soup and next 3 ingredients; pour over roast.

Bake, tightly covered, at 325° for 3 hours and 30 minutes or until tender.

Note: For testing purposes only, we used Knorr Classic Brown Gravy Mix.

–Karrie Fayard, Mobile, Alabama, Southern Living, JANUARY 2006

Recipe courtesy of Southern Living.


November 19th, 2008

Beef Wellington . . . on a Tuesday Night!

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The scene:  it’s just a run-of-the-mill Tuesday night here.

The kids are coloring, throwing the football in the house and fighting. They’ve already eaten since they’re on the 5:30 pm chicken-nuggets-every-night track.

But my husband will be home soon and the adults crave more than dino-shaped poultry can provide.

What to do?

I decided it was time to pull from the freezer the Beef Wellington I had ordered for just such an occasion. It’s heat & serve, but it smelled and tasted like I made it from scratch.

First, I opened up the box of Beef Wellington. They’re individually vacuum-sealed bundles of heaven . . .

 

Then, I unwrapped them and followed the instructions in the Gourmet Guide that came with the package. I sprayed a stainless steel rack with cooking spray and arranged the pastries on the rack on top of a cooking sheet. That’s so they won’t bake up soggy on the bottom. It’s a very important step.

Don’t they look like the perfect bakery-fresh pastries?

Then, I put them in a 400-degree oven for about 40 minutes according to the instructions. At about minute 6 I started smelling something really wonderful — probably the duxelle.

This is what they looked like after baking to my liking . . .

Oh, yeah. Crispy pastry goodness filled with filet mignon and a mushroom duxelle that is exquisite!

Can you see the amazing mushroom and herb mixture that surrounds the filet? Oh, mixed with the flaky goodness of the pastry and the juiciness of the beef, it is unbelievable.

Now, you can keep yours in the oven for a bit longer if you like a little less pink — or keep it in for less time if you like more pink. You decide.

But I know that this was just right for a wintry weekday evening where a can of soup was looking like it was going to make an appearance.

And this was just as easy! Serve with your favorite vegetable or a wild rice. Yum!

Hooray for heat & serve! Here’s where I ordered mine. Now I’m all out. I need to stock up again ’cause it looks like it’s going to be a long winter.

And this will definitely take the chill off.


November 16th, 2008

Steak Gorgonzola Fettuccine

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This is a beautiful recipe with a mixture of amazing flavors. Tender beef with red peppers, pasta, garlic, arugula and lots more to tempt your taste buds.

This recipe comes to us via TheFoodInMyBeard.com. The name alone cracks me up.

Check it out!

Steak Gorgonzola Fettuccine

Roasted Red Peppers.
Put 2 red peppers under the broiler. Rotate every 2 minutes so they get blackened on all sides. Wrap in paper bag or paper towels, and wrap that in plastic wrap. 20 minutes later, unwrap peppers and remove skin. It should slide right off. Also remove seeds and slice peppers into thin strips. Lightly salt and place in bowl for later.

Pasta.
Light a grill. Fill pasta pot with water and bring to boil. In small saucepan, cook 2 cloves of diced garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in olive oil. 3 minutes. Add cup of half and half. Cook 5 minutes stirring. Drop pasta. Add gorgonzola or any blue cheese to half and half mixture. Cook (seasoned) steak on the grill (indoors or out) to desired doneness. Coat pasta in sauce and move to a large bowl. Add arugula and roasted red peppers and stir. Serve steak sliced on top.

Photo and recipe courtesy of TheFoodInMyBeard.com.


November 14th, 2008

Hosting a Party? Stay Sane

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Try NOT to look like Pam from "The Office"

Try NOT to look like Pam from “The Office” at your own dinner party.

It’s holiday time! And that means parties — and, more importantly, hosting dinner parties.

Our resident expert in all things cooking, preparing and serving (a.k.a. my sister-in-law Sandy) shares with us her recipe for having a dinner party and keeping all your marbles.

She says . . .

Here’s how I’d do the Chateaubriand meal if I was having a dinner party, or just don’t want to spend a lot of last minute time in the kitchen:

 

1)      Make a menu and grocery list and do my shopping 2 days ahead.

2)      One day ahead, I peel potatoes, shallots and other vegetables as required by my menu.  Potatoes must be kept covered in water in the refrigerator to prevent oxidation, which is discoloration.  Feel free to enroll your husband or kids to peel and prep veggies.  Vegetables that don’t oxidize, like broccoli or green beans, carrots, etc. can be cleaned, dried on paper towels and stored in zip-top bags in the refrigerator.

3)      Make dessert as far ahead as possible (usually a day or two is fine).

4)      The morning of the party, begin with the dauphinoise potatoes. Prep and bake as directed until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife.  Cool on the countertop, then cover with plastic and refrigerate until cold (several hours).  When the potatoes are very cold and totally set, run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn them out onto a cutting board, then flip onto another cutting board.  Cut into serving shapes (I like diamonds.)  We’ll be cutting them into neat serving size portions which will then be heated and crisped up with the meat before serving.  Put the portions onto a well buttered sheet pan, cover and refrigerate.

5)      Brown the meat and shallots early to get a head start on  the red wine sauce.  While the potatoes cook, season and sear the meat until nicely browned.  Remove from pan and add the peeled, roughly chopped (in ¾ to 1 in pieces) and slightly brown them – they will not be tender yet.  Both the meat and the shallots will finish in the oven before the party.  Place shallots as base in the roasting pan, place seared roast on top, Let meat cool slightly, cover with plastic and refrigerate until about 90 minutes before party time.  Deglaze the pan with the red wine and reduce the wine until syrupy.  Let cool slightly, cover and refrigerate.  Later, the meat juices from the roast and the butter will be added to finish the sauce.

6)      Shower, get your manicure done and do last minute party cleanup.

Now that last part is if you are a woman (or simply a man who cares about well-groomed nails).

Click here to see the recipe again for Dauphinoise Potatoes. And click here to go over the step-by-step instructions for preparing Chateaubriand. Remember, Sandy gave us a slight variation here in searing the meat and letting it rest. That’s to help in timing the preparation right for your guests.

Have fun . . . and happy hosting!

Photo courtesy of www.tvmedia.ign.com.


November 11th, 2008

Dauphinoise Potatoes

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Sandy mentioned previously a delicious side that would complement a Chateaubriand or, really, any beef entree.

I love an alternative to my usual potato sides. This recipe for Dauphinoise Potatoes is not only tasty, but truly gorgeous. Here is what it looks like when Sandy prepares it . . .

Yeah. Spectacular.

You can brush up on your gratin family of potatoes history here. In the meantime, here are Sandy’s step-by-step instructions so we can be JUST LIKE HER . . .

Recipe for Dauphinoise Potatoes:

1 pint heavy cream or half and half
garlic, herbs or flavoring as desired
kosher salt and pepper
6 medium baking potatoes, peeled
2 Tablespoons Butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring cream or half and half to a simmer in a medium saucepan, adding whole peeled and smashed garlic cloves (2 for subtle garlic flavor), herbs such as thyme or rosemary sprigs to flavor the liquid.  When the cream develops small bubbles on the rim of the saucepan remove from heat and set aside until potatoes are prepared. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds fresh pepper.  Taste the mixture for seasoning.  It should be slightly saltier than you would eat straight (potatoes absorb lots of salt). 

With 1 tablespoon of softened butter, grease the potato baking pan(s) generously.  Wash, peel and thinly slice potatoes, preferably using a mandolin-type slicer with a sharp blade.  1/8 in slices are ideal and easy to do with a slicer.  Slice potatoes directly into baking dish.  I used a loaf pan but any pan which will allow the potaoes to cook in a deep layer (ie lots of head room) will work.  Individual tart pans can be used to bake and serve directly.  Toss the raw potatoes with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and some pepper.  Strain the liquid or just remove herbs and garlic.  Add to baking dish, you will probably not need all of the liquid, depending on the size of potatoes, the baking dish and how much reduction of liquid took place.  Potatoes should be nearly covered, but not swimming in cream.

Use plastic wrap to push the potatoes down into the liquid.  Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the potatoes.  Cover pan and plastic wrap with foil and weight the potaoes down with a slighly smaller pan filled with hot water.  Place the baking dish in the oven for 40 minutes.  Carefully remove the water filled pan, the foil and the plastic wrap and continue to bake until the potaoes are tender and the liquid is nearly absorbed.  Some thickened liquid will remain.

If you are serving immediately, place the pan under the broiler and cook until potatoes are golden.

If you are preparing this dish ahead, cover and let cool in refrigerator.  When totally cool, potatoes may be turned out of baking dish onto cutting board and cut with a sharp heavy knife into serving sizes.  Place on well buttered baking pan.  To reheat, place in 450 degree oven until browned and hot throughout.  Serve immediately.


November 7th, 2008

Old Standbys Never Get Old

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It’s getting nippy out there. (It is November, incidentally.) And it’s time to start making those favorite meals that warm us up inside and out.

Try this great recipe for Beef Pot Pie. Your whole family is sure to love it!

Beef Pot Pie

(Serves 4)

 

1 lb package beef tips

1 Cup Red Wine

1 Onion, medium dice

½ Cup frozen corn

½ Cup frozen peas

1 Cup sliced mushrooms

1 Potato, diced and boiled

1 Carrot, medium dice

2 Celery stalks, medium dice

2 Tbsp. Butter

2 Tbsp. Flour

2 Cups Beef Stock

Salt and Pepper

1 12 inch circle of puff pastry

 

In a heavy bottom saucepan, sweat onions, carrot and celery in butter.  Add mushrooms and cook until done.  Add flour and cook until the flour taste is gone, about 5 minutes.  Add beef stock, a little at a time, stirring constantly.  Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Add corn, potatoes and peas, season to taste and place in a pie pan. Cover with puff pastry and bake at 350 degrees for 2 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes before slicing.

Photo courtesy of a-good-eye.blogspot.com.


November 5th, 2008

Obama + Steak = Winner!

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Well, we have a new president-elect here in the United States. And guess what he did last night as he awaited the results from the polls???

HE ATE STEAK!

Whatever your politics are, even if you didn’t vote for him, if you didn’t already love him . . . ya gotta get on board now that you know this.

Here’s what the Associated Press had to say . . .

Obama awaits vote with basketball, steak dinner

CHICAGO (AP) — Barack Obama unwound by playing basketball and eating a steak dinner with extended family Tuesday as he awaited Election Day results that he hoped would send him to the White House with support from red and blue America.

The Democratic presidential nominee watched early returns in a downtown Chicago hotel room with staff, then went home for dinner with his wife, daughters and in-laws. He returned to the hotel after the 90-minute respite at home, with a suite designated for adults and another for children to gather while awaiting the race’s outcome.

I predict a very tasty future for this nation.

Can we all enjoy a little steak now?

YES WE CAN!

Quote and photo courtesty of the Associated Press.


November 3rd, 2008

Where Do You Fall?

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Happy Monday! I hope your Halloween was full of more treats than tricks.

I have found a cool little graph here that plots the choices of all who give their opinion on what the “perfect steak” might be. 

The graph goes from “bloody” to “chewy” and “like butter” to “burnt” and all points in between. You move the cursor to where your perfect steak would fall and then you get to see where all 4,000 others who have visited this site made their mark.

Pretty interesting.

Mine was in between “chewy” and “burnt.”  Mmmm, appetizing descriptions. But lots of fun!

Check it out here!


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About Me

Hi! My name is Dena P., and I love steak. In fact, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect steak for a few years now.

I love experimenting with food and I like to get my family, friends and neighbors involved. They add a lot to my cooking experience by helping me perfect techniques and sharing recipes.

Read More About Me »

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