Monday, November 24, 2008

Braised Brisket with Cranberries

Thursday I whipped up Braised Brisket with Cranberries. I gave it a creative flair by making it in the crock pot instead of braising it. Probably not the best choice--but I just thought it would be easier than planning to be home for 3 1/2 hours in one go on a work day.

I also skipped the browning of the meat. This probably was also a mistake because it didn't have that delicious carmelization. But whatever, I decided to be daring.

This corkscrew gave me a lot of problems with the timing and I ended up leaving ridiculously late for work (but it didn't actually take long to get there). I totally have a nicer, more useful corkscrew too, but alas it was at Joey's house.

Anyway, once I got the wine open, I poured it, the broth, the spices, the onions, the meat, the cranberries and whatever else it called for and set it to forget it.

After work, I came home to a great smelling apartment. I served the brisket with cornbread...I think I should have tried the real method. As it turned out, the brisket tasted exactly like the other brisket I made before with completely different ingredients. The broth/sauce was missing flavor. The brisket tasted best when I added a bunch of Heinz chili sauce to the mixture.

Recipe here. If you try it the real way, and it's amazing, let me know.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Flat Iron Steak Tacos

Everyday Food is my favorite cooking magazine. I also get Cooking Light, but I am more likely to find recipes in EF. The thing that sort of annoys me a little bit about the magazine is that every single thing in it is also on Martha Stewart's site. That's good for you I guess, because that means you too can make all my delicious meals for free!

Last Sunday I decided that it was time for cooking week. On Monday I made the tacos. Not being good with using leftovers, I used the leftover steak once and will probably use it again for sandwiches.

Here's the thing though, I didn't exactly follow the recipe. Recently, Joey hasn't been so fond of cumin so I omitted it which as a result omitted any special seasoning from the tacos, and they were actually minorly flavorless despite the mass of Lawrys Seasoning Salt I poured on the meat before broiling it.

I also did not heat the tacos over the low burner flame--I just put them in the microwave between two wet paper towels. I don't like when you make a couple of tortillas and then they end up all being cold by the end.

We served the tacos with beans to round out the meal--and coleslaw which you are supposed to put on the tacos. I was no good at shredding the cabbage even though I read the directions in my cookbook.

I recommend the recipe even still. The steak was a perfect medium rare after I broiled it for two times the amount recommended. The slaw added a satisfying crunch, the cojita cheese was a perfect flavor booster and a little more salsa would have rounded it out perfectly.

Recipe here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pie Crust Dots

The biggest problem about building a registry is the realization that there are all these great things out there that you don't have but could have. Then you start wishing you had something right now so you could make some variation of some recipe that you were really jonesing for. Just that happened the other night.

I made some pie crust cookies, but as usual with cookies where you roll out the dough, there was a lot of leftover pieces. I decided to experiment with these leftover pieces because I don't actually have a rolling pin--and trying to roll the leftover pie crust to just the same thickness as the other pie crust proved problematic with the drinking glass.

As it turned out, my little experiment was absolutely delicious and is recommended to all.

Pie Crust Dots
1 pie crust (I used Pillsbury refrigerated dough)
1 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350
2. Roll pie crust into one sheet
3. Mix together cocoa and sugar in a small bowl to taste
4. Mix together cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl to taste
5. Pinch off 1 1/2 teaspoons of dough
6. Fill Dough with mini chocolate chips and roll into a ball
7. Rub the ball in either the cocoa or cinnamon mixture and set on a cookie sheet (I couldn't find mine so I used a loaf pan)
8. Repeat until you have used up all the dough.
9. Back for 7-10 minutes until golden brown, chocolate centers may not fully melt.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pie Crust Cookies

When I was little, my favorite part about Thanksgiving preparation were the little scraps of food my mom and dad made as part of the fun and the pre-feast. My mom's specialty was pie crust leftovers. She took the edges she cut off her pies and sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar and then put them in the oven so we had some pie crust cookies. I really liked them before they went in the oven best...

I recently bought this pie crust and I didn't know what to do with it. For some reason, pie didn't cross my mind at all. The thing with pie is that it is hard to share and seems too fancy, I just wanted to make something simple and delicious.

I settled on pie crust cookies, a blast from the past. I had the refrigerated dough so it was easy as pie to roll it out. I cut the dough into star shapes with a very nice cookie cutter I didn't even know I had. I cut out the stars one by one and put them on the tray. It was so nice to be able to use my cookie cutters without the hassle of rolling out and refrigerating bits of dough all day long.

I filled the tray and then gathered the toppings. The thing about pie crust is that it is not super sweet, so the toppings have to be a little sweet themselves to give a depth of flavor into the cookie. I beat an egg in a glass and took out my silicone pastry brush. I mixed together some cinnamon and sugar. Then I went out on a limb and mixed together some cocoa and sugar. I painted the stars with the egg and then sprinkled on the toppings.

The cookies are really good, a big hit to everyone who has tried them. And so easy and just a little different than the average chocolate chip cookie. I think they also look great--kind of like a fancy dessert.

Pie Crust Cookies
1 egg (or you could just use the white)
1 pie crust
cookie cutter

Preheat the oven to 350
1. Beat the egg with a fork
2. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl to taste
3. Combine sugar and cocoa in a separate small bowl to taste
4. Roll out dough and cut into desired shapes, place on a cookie sheet
5. Paint cookies with egg
6. Sprinkle, alternating by cookie, with sugar mixtures
7. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown

Monday, November 10, 2008

From Garden to Table: A Special Salad

The lettuce has been growing like gangbusters, and we harvested our first bit tonight. Here's a recipe for a delicious, light salad that would be great for the holidays as well.
Lettuce mix (I used romaine and butter)
Pomegranate seeds
Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Pick the lettuce from your garden. (Just kidding, I know it is getting down to 30 degrees tonight out there!) Shred and toss with chopped celery and pomegranate seeds. Add a few shakes of red wine vinegar and olive oil to taste.

Baked Brie with Pesto in a Bread Bowl

So, Jeff's Aunt Cindy (a future contributor to this blog and an amazing cook) and I were preparing appetizers for CJ's party. I was thinking cheese plate, chips and salsa, hummus and pita, and cake. Cindy saw the extra brie I had purchased and the left-over loaf of No Knead Bread from the night before and said, "Let's whip up a baked brie!" Never one to turn down a cooking experience with Cindy, I agreed. Soon we were clipping oregano, thyme, and basil from the garden to make a simple pesto and in no time at all the smell of melted cheese was wafting through the house. What a way to impress the guests! Here's the recipe, as close as I can record it:

1 bread bowl (sourdough or other crusty bread like homemade no knead bread)
1-2 brie triangles
herbs, olive oil, and pine nuts
olive oil
Slice the top off the bread and cut out the center to create a bowl. Trim the edges off the brie and cut it in a few large pieces. Brush the inside of the bread and inside of the top generously with olive oil. Chop the herbs and pine nuts in Cuisinart; then slowly add olive oil to make a pesto. Brush the pesto generously on the inside of the bowl and inside of the top. Spread brie out over bowl and put bread top on.

Bake for 1 hour at 350. Serve with extra bread from inside bowl to scoop, plus additional bread or crackers. When the brie has been eaten, you can slice the bowl up as an additional appetizer.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Peasant Lunch

My mom was staying with me for a couple of days last week and we did a lot of cooking. However, on Saturday we were in the mood for something simple yet delicious for lunch before a birthday party. We decided on a peasant lunch.

We went to Trader Joe's and bought a new cheese that we had never had before. The cheese was white and made with sheep's milk. We cut the cheese into slices and put them on a plate. Then we cut up slices of various other things I had lying around to compliment the cheese.

We sliced up a gigantic avocado from Joey's tree, some pickling cucumbers, a little basil and apples from the Farmer's market that morning and some French bread and sorted it out on a plate. We had some tomato--but it already seemed like too much food so we nixed that. The food turned out to be delicious and just the thing for we hungry two.