Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cheesy Taco

Last night in an effort to try the salty meat in several different ways, I created the cheesy taco. Some of you might say this is just a glorified quesadilla. Maybe that's true--but doesn't it sound cooler when called a cheesy taco? This was seriously delicious--so much so that I had another today. It may be my new favorite go-to meal.

p.s. This is a good opportunity to see that the salty meat has a different color to it--sort of gray from the excess salt cooking

Cheesy Taco
Strips of meat of your choice (I used leftover salty steak from the salt block cooking)
Handful of shredded cheese
Chopped heirloom tomato
White corn tortilla

1. Place the tortilla in a small dry skillet over high heat, cook 1 minute.
2. Add half the shredded cheese to one half of the tortilla and cook until the cheese starts to melt.
3. Add tomato and meat on the same side and top with cheese. Cook 1-2 minutes until warm.
4. Using tongs, carefully fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling, the tortilla should be slightly crispy. Hold the tortilla folded with tongs 1 minute or until top cheese is melted. Carefully transfer to plate and enjoy warm.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Salt Block Skillet Steak

For my bridal shower, a friend gave me two Himalayan salt blocks. They are probably one of the most interesting gifts we received. Even though there is a lot of information on the web about what to do with the blocks, I had trouble deciding what to do with mine. Sure I could try many things--but then you need an adventurous crowd and risk failing. Tonight it was just my husband and I, so worse case scenario, we could go out to eat--or have cereal.

Salt Block Skillet Steak
Himalayan salt block
thin steaks

1. Place salt block on the grill. Heat until the grill reaches 400 degrees.
2. Put meat on block, don't crowd it. Cook on each side 1 minute. Make sure the meat is cooked through but not cooked too long. If it isn't cooked through you may want to finish it off on the grill because it gets really salty. I couldn't believe it actually got salty!

I cut this steak into strips and served it in tacos. I overcooked mine a bit (2 min/side) because it was hard to tell. But if you cook it right, it will be perfect--or you could use it in a salad! Or, make a cheesy taco!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blackberry Nectarine Buckle

When I was little, my favorite thing to give my mom for holidays was a good old cookbook. I liked shopping for them and I got excited about the delicious looking pictures inside. It sure beat a calendar...

One year, I gave her a William Sonoma Cookbook about picnics. I don't think we went on many picnics but we could have these things for lunch and on the weekends. The only recipe I actually remember though is the Blackberry Nectarine Buckle--which is like a cake and crumb topping filled with fruit. I remember loving that dessert whenever we had fresh blackberries in excess to make it.

I found a copy of the recipe in my stores and decided to make it again now that it's summer and there are blackberries and nectarines at the markets. I brought 99% of this dessert into the office after seeing the uh, calorie count on the recipe and I didn't like it nearly as much as I remember. However, at work it was a BIG hit. So if you were going to make Paula Dean's butter cake anyway (you know, the closest calorie count I can think of), skip it, and throw together a little buckle. This recipe in the book says to cut the final product into 6-8 pieces. It is a 9x13 pan, so I think we can safely assume we can get more like 30 pieces and, therefore, cut those ridiculous calorie counts into bits at the same time.

P.S. I'm pretty sure even I could lighten this recipe up if I really wanted to, but wouldn't it be a great feature for cooking light?

1/2 C Coarsely chopped pecans
2 1/2 C flour
1/2 C firmly packed brown sugar
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch ground ginger + 1/2 t ground ginger
1 C unsalted butter
1 egg
2 t baking powder
1/4 C milk
80z blackberries
3 nectarines, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 in pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread pecans on a different rimmed baking sheet and toast lightly 5-7 min.
2. In a bowl, combine pecans, 1/2C flour, brown sugar, 1/4C granulated sugar, the cinnamon, the nutmeg and the pinch of ginger. Cut in 1/2 C of butter (in small pieces) into mixture and blend with fingertips until crumbly. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together remaining butter and sugar. Add egg and beat until combined. In another bowl combine remaining flour, baking powder and 1/2t ginger. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture until combined.
4. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Top with nectarines and blackberries. Cover fruit with crumb topping. Bake 45-55 minutes until skewer comes out clean. Let cool in the pan and then cut into squares.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Beans on Toast

We recently welcomed a Fresh & Easy Market to our town. I finally got a chance to go and see what the whole store was all about and ran into this little delicacy. Heinz Baked Beans--a variety of beans sold primarily across the ocean in England. The whole reasons the beans stood out to me in a store filled with all sorts of different products, was because I recently read an article about how Heinz had opened up a lounge in Gatwick airport where passengers waiting around can enjoy some beans on toast--the classic British comfort food. Not only did I think it was a spectacular marketing ploy for Heinz' "Welcome Home" campaign, but also I had a new craving for this beans and toast thing--nothing which I had ever even thought of before.

The only similarity between Heinz beans and American baked beans is that the are both beans. The Heinz beans are in a tomato sauce--not a thick bbq style tomato sauce--more of a thin soupy tomato sauce.

I consulted my British colleague before even attempting the classic comfort food beans on toast--and felt pretty ridiculous doing it because it seems like the most straightforward recipe--but I wanted it to be just so. Let me warn you now, beans on toast is about the most un-appetizing looking thing in the world, but taste wise it isn't so bad at all, as long as you can look past the presentation. I don't think my toast (regular sandwich bread) really held up as well as it could have. In the end, I found the dish to taste akin to the American comfort food--tomato soup but with beans in it, with a side of toast...oh and did I mention that we did cheesy beans and toast because supposedly that is the best way?

Beans & Toast
Serves 2

4 slices bread (thicker is better but it must fit in your toaster--well I guess you could toaster-oven it and then you can choose at your discretion)
1 can Heinz Beans (it has to be Heinz beans)
1/4 C Cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Heat beans in saucepan until bubbly. Add cheese and stir.
2. Toast bread
3. Ladle generous portions of beans on toast. Serve warm

And the best part is--you can have it for Breakfast, Lunch OR Dinner!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Variations on Caprese

Caprese is by far my favorite summer side dish. I love how the simple flavors of tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella meld together and taste farm fresh.

Last weekend, I was reading a food blog and saw a recipe for caprese panzanella and thought it would be a great use for the stale bread I accumulate every week. I decided to add a few things and a delicious salad and filling lunch was born!

1 cob corn
3-4 basil leaves, torn
2 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small avocado, roughly chopped
1 pickling cucumber, or 1 3 inch piece regular cucumber, roughly chopped
1 1/2 med. sized fresh mozzarella balls, roughly chopped
2 slices stale bread of any variety, roughly chopped
Balsamic vinaigrette

1. Slice corn kernels off cob onto a plate and microwave 1 minute on high
2. Toss together all ingredients, let sit 1-2 minutes before chowing down to let dressing soak into the bread.