October 27, 2010

Garden Grass Fed Meatloaf

Who doesn't love meatloaf?! Well you might not if the only time you eat it, it is served on a Swanson's dinner tray. Personally I am a traditional meatloaf lover, I don't need bacon or cheese or whatever I just want lots of veggies and good meat covered in a tangy sauce...too much to ask for? I think not! From what I was told  "this is the best meatloaf I have ever had" lets see what you think.

what you need:

2 lbs. top quality Grass-fed Beef
1 1/2 C. Organic Oats
3 eggs
1/2 Onion Diced
2 Cloves Garlic chopped
Tamari or Braggs Liquid Amino
1 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
Fresh Herbs of choice

1/2 C. Organic sugar free ketchup or tom. sauce
1/4 C. Molasses
2 T. Apple Cider Vinegar 
1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

The measurements for the veggies should all be about 1/4-1/2 C. when Chopped. I am a huge fan of the more the merrier when it comes to sautéing things and usually scarff what ever I don't use while I am waiting for the actual thing I am making to be complete.

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 375˚, Dice Onions and saute till soft in EVOO.

 Step 2: Chop the peppers, mushrooms, leeks and garlic in small uniform pieces and add to the pan, saute for a few min., add a pinch of S&P, chili powder and Cumin.

cook till soft
Step 3: Add Chopped Tomatoes and thinly sliced Spinach to saute pan, cook till most the moisture is out. Set aside and let cool.

beautiful toms
Step 4: In a big bowl whisk eggs, add meat, oats and chopped herbs (parsley, sage, thyme and basil), 1 T Ground Mustard and 1 T Braggs Liquid Amino or Tamari and a pinch of S&P. Mix completely using hands. Stop Complaining there is no other way!

Step 5: Put in a loaf pan. Put loaf pan in oven. Cook for 40 min. or until the internal temp is 160˚. You will notice there won't be much liquid coming out of the loaf unlike when you use grain fed meat. Grass fed is very lean, no need to drain it!

Step 6: Make the glaze by combining all of the "glaze" ingredients and covering the top, cook for another 10min. Once done let cool.

Plate and eat!

Kitchen Tip: If you are only cooking for 1-2 you can easily portion half of it and freeze the other half. This was enough for dinner and lunch the next day. Just cover the pan in plastic wrap and put what looks like half of the meat into it and wrap it up, put in freezer. Now you have meatloaf for another time. Just place it in the fridge before work and cook for about 1-1.5 hours till its internal temp is at 160˚

October 26, 2010

Deux Cheese and Green Quiche!

I was having a hankering for quiche last night, and figured what the hell, why don't I try and make my own. Never done it before but how hard can it be? I looked online for recipe after recipe and in every cookbook I own, everyone has their different take on it. One thing I did realize that cream is usually used and anywhere from 2-4 eggs. Since I wanted the richness of cream but not cream I used whole milk and a few dollops of goat cheese to thicken it up. I got a pretty clear consensus that my quiche kicked some major taste bud butt! 

Crust! Prepare a pie crust before you start this, here is my recipe it's pretty simple and the steps can be done while you are sautéing and custarding. Remember you will want to par bake your crust at 400˚ for about 10 min. and let it cool before adding the filling. You can cheat and use a box, but essentially making one from scratch will be about the same amount of time, and you will be putting less unknown ingredients into your body.

What you need for the filling:

1 1/2 C. Whole Milk
Bunch of Spinach
Bunch of Kale or other Green
1 Leek
3 Large Eggs or 4 small
1 Tomato
1 Clove Garlic
1 oz. Goat Cheese
1/2 C. Cheddar (or cheese of choice)
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
mixed fresh herbs of choice (parsley, thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage)

Step 0: Pre-heat oven to 375˚ and start your pie crust.

Step 1: Chop and rinse Leeks and saute in 1 T EVOO, once they are soft add garlic. DON'T BURN!

Step 2: Add Chopped Mushrooms, peppers and greens (cut greens into thin ribbons and rinse well) to the saute pan a pinch of S&P, cook till all of the excess water is out. In the meantime start the custard.

Step 3: The Custard! Gently whisk Eggs, then lightly mix together Goat Cheese, Milk and Herbs S&P and Nutmeg.

Step 4: Building! On a cooled Pie Crust sprinkle some shredded cheese on the bottom, then add sauteed green mixture, more cheese and then the custard. 

crust, cheese, greens, cheese
custard on top
Step 5: Put in oven for 30 min. when the quiche is at the 20min. mark remove and place sliced tomatoes on top, sprinkle with pepper. Put back in oven for the remaining time or until it is brown and firm to the touch.

out of the oven par cooked
par cooked with tomatoes
Step 6: Remove from oven and cool, slice and serve with a salad to someone you love!

ready to eat!
 and for your listening enjoyment my favorite song about Quiche!

October 25, 2010

Urban Peasant Soup

I often get home pretty late from work and the idea of soup sounds great, but very time consuming...however loaded with pre-made chicken stock in my freezer and veggies dying to be used I just decided to go for it. This soup is super hearty and reasonably quick. I have decided to use buckwheat groats since they are a no fail type of grain, they won't get too soft for left overs like most rice, and they have a nice earthy flavor that lends itself to this type of urban peasant soup. You can use practically any type of earthy vegg. you have laying around and any type of broth IE mushroom, veggie, chicken...water?

You may be asking yourself what a Buckwheat groat is exactly, well in in short they have a texture similar to rice and are most commonly known as kasha, they are gluten-free, cheap and cook pretty quickly. 

What you need:

Mushrooms (crimini, shitake, trumpet)
Broccoli Rabe (stems and leaves)
Two Turnips and a microphone...
potatoes (fingerling)
sweet peppers
3-4 C. Broth (chicken)
1/2 C. Buckwheat Groats
bay leaves
fresh mixed herbs from the garden

Step 0: Heat your stock to a boil, you will be using it later.

Step 1: Heat a pot on med with 1 T of EVOO, clean leaks and throw in pot. Once leaks are soft add 3 cloves of chopped garlic, chopped mushrooms and all herbs cook for a couple of minutes.

 Step 2: Chop remaining root vegetables and stems of broccoli rabe into bite sized pieces and throw into the pot- cook for about 10 min, till their natural starches and juices begin to release and they start to get soft and cumin and S&P to taste, be generous with the seasonings.

Step 3: Rinse and add greens to the pot, wilt down- this should take 2 min.

Step 4: Add Buckwheat groats and hot broth to the pot, you want enough broth to cover the vegetables about 2" the groats will expand. Cook to a rapid simmer for about 20 min. till groats are puffy and al-dente 

Step 5: Spoon into a bowl and add chopped parsley and/or fresh grated parm.


October 23, 2010

Salmon in a pouch over sauteed green beans with almonds

For me cooking sea food is a big deal now, I used to get whatever pink salmon was at the grocery store, but after research and a human heart, I couldn't eat that 'fish' anymore. Now I make sure to only buy sustainable fish IE wild caught Alaskan King Salmon, yes it will normally run you about $20/lb. but it's worth it and a 4oz. is all you really need.

Personally I believe salmon has started to become like chicken, if you visit a chain restaurant you will know what I mean. Stay away...buy it on sale and freeze it! Here is the Monterey Bay Pocket Guide for Seafood to help assist you with finding the best and most sustainable fish out there.

...Less of good protein is better than oodles of bad protein...words to live by...

Salmon is a Pouch

what you need:

(2) 4oz. wild caught alaskan salmon fillets (tail has less bone if you don't want to deal)
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 lemon zested, cut lemon into thin slices afterwards
Red Pepper julienned
fresh basil leaves
Parchment paper

Step 0: cut parchment into 12" long pieces, set asides. Pre-heat oven to 350˚.

Step 1: Place parchment on a baking sheet and arrange peppers in the center of the parchment put a couple lemon slices on top of peppers.

Step 2: Rinse and pat dry salmon, Place on top of peppers. Liberally sprinkle Salmon with Salt and Pepper, lemon zest, grated garlic and basil leaves. Drizzle a bit of lemon juice and EVOO (drizzle not douse) on top of the salmon.

Step 3: Fold pouches up. Use any technique that comes to mind, just remember you want to have easy access on checking it, making sure some steam can escape.

Step 4: Put in oven and cook for 15-20 min.

Tip: By cooking the salmon on top of the peppers it allows for all of the wonderful Omega 3 Fats to enter, you can do this with most fish and veggie combos.

Sauteed Green Beans

Green Beans
Butter or EVOO
Chopped Raw Almonds
Lemon Slices

Step 0: Trim ends of Green Beans and break into 1" pieces.

Step 1: Heat Butter on low in a pan with lemon slices and garlic.

Step 2: Add Green Beans and crank the heat to med. once almost soft add chopped almonds and heat till they turn brown, season to taste.

Plate: Green Beans, Red Pepper and Salmon on top.Eat.

Green Soup!

The last month I have been bursting at the fridge seams with greens, potatoes and more greens; you name it it might be on the verge of bad soon....soups are the one of my favorite ways of wasting nothing and eating everything! 

You can ditch your multi Vitamin after eating this, there is lots of garlic and greens to satisfy any winter sniffle!

Green Soup
4 Cloves Garlic 
2 Leeks (white and light green parts)
1 Head Broccoli
1 Bunch Broccoli Rabe
1 Bunch Spinach
1 Potato peeled and cubed
1 T Butter
1/4 C. Soy Milk (or whatever you have)
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1-2 T. of fresh chopped herbs (thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage) whatever you have
2-3 C. Hot Water (just turn on your tea kettle before you start)

Step 0: Chop and rinse your leeks, these guys hold dirt in all sorts of places so make sure to get them clean! Make sure to leave the colander in the sink you will be using it a bunch (pun intended).

Step 1: In big pot start melting butter on low heat, then add the leeks, S&P (generous amounts) and Cumin Seeds. Once the leeks are soft and sweaty add 3 cloves of the chopped garlic, keep going for another 5 min. but don't burn!

Step 2: Chop Broccoli stems and florets and broccoli rabe stems into 1" chunks, throw in colander and rinse-add to the pot, throw in the chopped potato as well- Cook down till stems are soft and emitting juices. This will take a bit but be patient and throw on a lid.

the reason we are not really drying is to add some additional moisture into the vegetable without actually adding water at this point, it helps aid in the steaming and softening. 

 Step 3: Once all is soft add the broccoli rabe leaves and spinach that has been roughly chopped and rinsed to the pot. At this point add about 1 C. of hot water and let the leaves wilt. Once they are wilted add more water till it is about 1" higher than the vegetables. Let Simmer for about 15-20 min. (you can work on other things for dinner or just read a book. Remove from heat and let it cool down for a bit...you don't want it to explode while you puree it.

Step 4: Put the green mess into a blending device and let it roll, you might need to add a bit of extra warm water to thin it out if it is a little thick. At this point add the fresh herbs and 1 clove of chopped raw garlic, and S&P to taste.

 when it is to a consistency you like put it back in the pot, add the milk and a small pat of butter for additional richness, it's not really needed but it adds a little more body. Reheat before you serve.

Step 5: Make some croutons with stale bread, chop dust in EVOO and sprinkle with herbs and S&P, place on a baking sheet and cook on 300˚ for 15 min. 


October 14, 2010

Braised Lamb Shanks over Garlic Herb Polenta

So with company and travels I haven't been cooking as much...or shall I say blogking as much....anyways I did slow down to make sure I got this amazing recipe up. So I kinda "borrowed" this from the foodnetwork, but added and subtracted some of the elements....It's probably one of the easiest and most tasty dishes I have made in awhile- the reason this recipe stuck out to me so much is because the base vegetables in the dish are blended and not just chopped and thrown in- this technique is new to me and really opened my eyes into the world of extracting all flavors from what you have. I hope you enjoy!

what you need:
Lamb Shanks (I used 2 here but up to 4 is great)
8oz. can of tom. paste (I know, I know use organic w/o sugar)
1-2 C. Stock (chicken here) or water
1.5 C. Red Wine
1 whole tomato
Herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary. the gang)
Bay Leaves
rough chop these guys:
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
3-4 cloves garlic
1 onion
fennel spring/bulb

finely chopped basil
1 T lemon/zest
orange zest
1 T horseradish 
2 cloves grated garlic

Step 0: Heat a dutch up, add EVOO about 1 min. before you start throwing things in.

Step 1: Wash and Season Shanks with S&P don't worry about over doing it.

Step 2: Place the Shanks in hot dutch oven and brown completely should take anywhere between 10-15min. Once browned remove from pan and set aside.

Step 2.5: (which you can work on during step 2) place all of the rough chopped veg. into a food processor and pulverize till it can't go no longer.

Step 3: Degrease dutch oven and add fresh evoo into it, heat up and add blended veggies. Cook them till brown, this takes a bit, but if you drink a glass of wine while do it, you would be surprised how little you actually care.

should have a nice dark appearance to it
Step 4: Once Brown add the can of tom paste and let that brown, at this point I added a whole chopped tomato (seeds and all), the recipe that I 'borrowed' called for twice the amount of paste, but in all actuality I really couldn't bare the thought. Mix it all up and let the paste get kind of a dark color, your jedi nature will tell you when to move on.

Step 5: Once the mush is dry and brown add the wine in small amounts and let it cook down. Essentially you don't want to flood the mush, you just want to have it absorb the wine. Let it boil a bit and reduce till its a nice red color. Add the fresh chopped thyme, sage and rosemary...please use as much as you want!

Step 6: Heat up your stock and add to the pot, you don't want to dilute it too much, but enough to stretch it so that it will cover shanks.

Step 7: Add the Shanks, cover with sauce. Lid it and put it in a 375˚ oven for about 2 hours, rotate them about every 30min, you will see the flesh start to scrunch up from the bone, and when the meat starts to fall off the bone, you know you are ready. If you start to see a lot of fat coming off skim it from the sauce...the ones used were pretty lean so I didn't come across that problem.

Step 8: In a small dish take all of the ingredients for the 'topping' and put into a bowl and stir.

Garlic Herb Polenta

2 Cloves Garlic (grated)
1 tsp EVOO
2 T Fresh Herbs (thyme, sage rosemary)
Bay leaves
1 C Polenta
2 C Stock
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Step 1: Pour EVOO into a pot and add garlic, heat on low for a few min. you don't want to brown it just get the flavors out. Add stock and bring to a rapid boil, add bay leaves, Herbs and S&P at this time. The Polenta absorbs all flavors so don't be too frugal with the spices and herbs, usually I add red pepper flakes too, but I was out (sad face).

Step 2: Once at a rapid boil slowly add polenta, whisking till it is lump free, then get rid of the whisk and grab a wooden spoon. 

Step 3: This is where people get overwhelmed- stir the polenta for the first few min. and then put a lid on it and let it cook. about every 2 min. or so check on it, give it a stir and if it seems too thick gradually add a bit of hot broth or water. The color should change from a bright yellow to a soft yellow. Keep this up for a bit tasting along the way, it usually takes 20-30 min. depending on your polenta. I like mine to be pretty stiff so I am usually done when the spoon can stand straight up.

Step 4: remove from heat and drizzle a little EVOO and put in Parm. stir in. 

{for left overs put in a shallow pie pan and cover with plastic wrap, the next day or so cut into a funny shape and saute in olive oil, whatever you do the polenta will harden quickly so deal with it before you sit down to eat. don't say I didn't warn you}

TIME TO EAT!!!!!! Put the Polenta on a plate, followed by the shank, followed by loads of the best sauce ever, followed by a bit of the topping. All of the zests and garlic will start emitting a flavor and smell only grandma kitchens in the old country are able to get. trust me, this meal ruled!