Monday, March 31, 2008

Corned Beef & Cabbage

My roommate Wendy made this for Saint Patrick’s Day and it was super yummy. I hate to admit it but I had never had corned beef and cabbage before! It’s funny how many basic things like this I have never even tasted. I was little concerned about pickled beef brisket, but was pleasantly surprised by the good slightly tangy flavor the brining and cooking adds to the meat. We had several friends over and just sat around the dining table and chatted and ate a ton. For drings we served Black & Tans, and for a side I made French bread and Irish Soda Bread.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

1-3/4 pounds onions, divided use
2-1/2 pounds carrots, divided use
6 pounds corned beef brisket or round
1 cup malt vinegar
12 ounces Irish stout beer
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon dill seed
1/2 tablespoon whole allspice
2 bay leaves
3 pounds cabbage, rinsed
2-1/2 pounds small red potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 cup coarse grain mustard, optional
1/2 cup Dijon mustard, optional

You'll need a heavy-duty pot large enough to hold 4 gallons for this large quantity recipe.
Divide onions and carrots and chop enough to fill 1 cup of each, reserving the rest.

Place the corned beef in the stockpot. Add the chopped onions, carrots, malt vinegar, stout beer, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, dill seeds, whole allspice, and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover the corned beef, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer about 3 hours until meat is fork-tender.

While the corned beef is cooking, cut the reserved onions into eight wedges and the carrots into 2-inch chunks. (Larger carrots should be halved first.) Slice each head of cabbage into 8 wedges.

Remove corned beef, skim fat. Cover and return to a boil. Add onions, carrots and red potatoes to the broth, with the cabbage on top. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes and cabbage are fork-tender.

To serve, cut corned beef against the grain into thin slices and accompany with the cooked vegetables. Dijon mustard and/or coarse-grained mustard complement the corned beef as optional condiments. Or horseradish sauce.

Horseradish Sauce

¼ Cup Mayonnaise
1-8 Ounce Jar Horseradish
Zest of 1 Lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and let sit for a few minutes for flavors to mingle.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Irish Soda Bread

My roommate Wendy made Corned Beef and Cabbage for St Patrick’s day and I contributed to the meal with this really yummy Irish Soda Bread. It was so easy to make and had a great texture, was very moist and only took a few minutes to throw together. I served this with honey, which was really good, as the bread is a bit tangy. It would also be good with a marmalade or even just with butter. I will be posting the recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage soon.

Irish Soda Bread

2 1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

Preheat an oven to 425°F. Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, bran, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the yogurt and stir to blend, forming a rough ball. The dough will start rising as soon as the baking soda comes in contact with the yogurt, so work quickly to form the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for about 30 seconds. The dough should feel soft to the touch. Dust a clean work surface with flour and set the ball of dough on it. Flatten slightly into a 7-inch dome and sprinkle with flour, spreading the flour lightly over the surface. Using a sharp knife, cut a shallow X in the loaf from one side to the other. Transfer the loaf to the preheated baking sheet. Bake until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm. Any leftover bread can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Recipe from

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Zucchini Fries

Why is fried food so delicious? I wish there was a healthier alternative to this, but there is just no denying myself of fried crispy deliciousness once in a while! I was at the supermarket the other day and saw these cute little zucchini and though immediately of the fried zucchini I made over the summer with my overabundance of zucchini from the garden. I decided to change up the recipe a bit and was very pleased with the result! I love the crispiness of panko breadcrumbs and thought that would be the perfect coating for my zucchini, and then the thought of parmesan cheese came to mind also…yummy. I then started laughing because I had recently seen Giada from the Food Network make these, duh and realized that I didn’t think this treat up, but had just seen it get made. Well I’m glad I tried it out because the zucchini turned out perfectly crisp all over and just tender to the bite. I loved the look of the “fries” also; I will definitely keep this one in the back of my mind for summer!

Zucchini Fries

4 Small Zucchini
1 Cup Panko Flakes
1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Eggs
½ Cup Flour
Salt & Pepper
Oil (for frying)

Heat 2 inches of oil in heavy pot to 350 degrees while preparing zucchini.
Cut Zucchini into ½ inch thick spears. Beat eggs with 1 teaspoon salt & pepper and set aside. Combine panko flakes and parmesan cheese and set aside. Lightly coat zucchini with flour and shake off any excess, dip into egg mixture and then into panko/cheese mixture, press to ensure coating sticks to the zucchini. Fry zucchini a few at a time for a couple minutes, until deep golden brown. Remove to paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle lightly with salt, serve immediately. These are delicious served alone, or with a marinara or blue cheese dressing for dipping.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Toro Bravo-Restaurant Review

The Restaurant
Fried Goat's Cheese
Brussels Sprouts
Ice Cream with Espresso
Toro Bravo-Restaurant Review

I finally got into the new tapas restaurant, Toro Bravo, and thought it deserved a write up. Toro Bravo is located at 120 NE Russell Street, in Portland. It has a nice casual atmosphere and while being an open restaurant, they have mixed up their seating to make you feel more cozy and intimate. What I love is that the kitchen is open so you can see them preparing the meals and check out everyone’s food as it gets prepared.
They have a nice menu selection that is broken up into different sections: Pinchos, Tapas, Paellas, and Desserts. Pinchos are small plates which include pickled vegetables, crostini with butter, chicken liver pate, among other items. The Small plates are the largest part of the menu which includes a huge variety of delicatessen from pork, to chicken, duck and veggies and much more. The paella looked absolutely delicious, but the servings were pretty large, so if you get that you really wouldn’t have room for all the other yummy selections. The dessert menu was limited but everything looked good.
I went with two of my friends and we ended up getting 8 different items, my favorites were the fried goat’s cheese, the duck pate, and also their Brussels sprouts. We also split dessert and chose the vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of espresso, simple but really delicious. For drinks they have an excellent wine list, they offer sangria by the glass or pitcher, a few beers and a limited but enticing cocktail menu…oh, did I mention that they make their own Limoncello too?
The overall experience was really nice and the food was good. You get your food as it is ready, so sit back relax and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the restaurant while you are eating. One thing that is necessary is to get there early. The first time I tried to go there was a weeknight at about 6:30pm and the wait was 2 hours! We got there at 5:00pm this time (which is when they open) and the place was full by 5:30pm, so get ready to wait a bit if you can’t make it there early.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pesto Pasta

Pesto has such amazing flavor and a beautiful green color. I love to make my own, but this time of year it is too expensive to buy fresh basil to do so, so I used a canned pesto sauce. If you are buying a pre-made pesto sauce, just be sure it is made with basil and pine nuts, as a lot of pesto’s are made with walnuts and spinach as a filler. This is also good with a little heavy cream stirred in to make it a little more rich, but definitely not necessary. I made this for dinner the other night because I was having company over after work and didn’t have a lot of time. It literally cooks in the time that the pasta takes to boil, so it’s a good meal for during the week or for a last minute dinner party.

Pesto Pasta

1 Pound Pasta
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into cubes
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Pound Mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 Cup Sundried Tomatoes, chopped (reconstituted dried, or oil packed)
2-8 oz Jars Pesto Sauce, or homemade
Parmesan Cheese, for serving

Cook pasta per directions on package. While pasta is cooking sauté chicken in large skillet until golden brown and just cooked through, about 5 minutes, remove and set aside. Add a little more oil to the pan add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add mushrooms and sauté until tender, 3-4 minutes. Next add sundried tomatoes, chicken, cooked pasta and pesto sauce, stir to combine. If sauce is too thick add a little pasta water. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

I was trying to think of a treat to take to work the other day and cupcakes came to mind. I hardly ever make them, because I literally forget about them. It’s interesting to me how people respond to a cupcake versus a regular cake and the fact that just having it in a single serve size brings such happiness to people. I hate to admit it but I used a chocolate cake mix for these and then made my favorite chocolate frosting (hence the lack of a recipe for this posting). Piping icing on cupcakes always seems easier to me than individually frosting them with a knife, and I think it looks a little better too. So here’s to a yummy cupcake, which was forgotten and brought back to existence! If you are feeling guilty using a boxed cake mix and need a recipe for chocolate cake, you can find it here.

Chocolate Frosting

1 Stick unsalted butter, melted (do not substitute margarine here, please!)
2/3 Cups Cocoa
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 Cups Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
Combine cocoa with melted butter in mixing bowl and mix until combined. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk 1/3 at a time while mixer is at a medium speed. Add more milk if necessary until desired consistency is reached. Stir in vanilla.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hoisin Glazed Rack Of Lamb

I wish I could afford to eat lamb more often, it is so delicious! This recipe is really simple, easy to make and has a ton of flavor. I also love that this dish doesn’t use the traditional rosemary or mint as the flavoring for the meat. I love to serve this with a simple veggie, like shown or over a bed of mashed potatoes. This sauce is absolutely incredible, I usually make a double batch and store it in the freezer for a last minute sauce for pork, chicken, or fish.

Hoisin Glazed Rack of Lamb

2 Racks of Lamb, frenched
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 ¾ Cups Hoisin Sauce
2/3 Cups Honey
3 ½ Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, minced
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
2 Teaspoons Fresh Cilantro, minced
½ Teaspoon Hot Chili Sauce
Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
Place rack of lamb in a roasting pan, fat side up, rub the tops with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

To create glaze, mix all remaining ingredients in medium sized mixing bowl.

Place lamb in oven and roast for 20 minutes. Take the lamb out of the oven and quickly brush liberally with hoisin glaze. Return immediately to the oven and roast for another 5 minutes.

Take the lamb out of the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, cut into single chops, drizzle with more glaze and serve.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Easy Greek Salad

Simple is better with this salad. If you can find really good tomatoes and cucumbers, this is the salad to make. I always get tied up in trying to be overly creative with food, and this salad shows that you can have an amazing side dish with no effort. I love the contrast of colors from all the ingredients and it is a way to bring some fresh yummy summertime flavor to your table during the winter months. This would also be good with fish, like halibut, or chicken if you wanted to make it into a meal.

Easy Greek Salad

2 Cucumbers, peeled and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
6 Roma Tomatoes, cut into large cubes
Handful Baby Spinach, cleaned and stems removed
8 Ounces Feta Cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

Divide into 6 bowls cucumbers, tomatoes and spinach, stir to combine. Crumble feta cheese over the top, drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar of the veggies and top with salt and fresh ground pepper. I used a yummy coarse black volcanic salt for this to add a little contrast.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Steak & Frites

I love a delicious steak, and pared with the best frites ever, how could you possible go wrong? I had a craving for this the other day and had to cave in to this unhealthy but completely decadent delicatessen. I got my frites recipe from my Cooks magazine (from last spring I think?). They turn out completely hot crispy and perfectly golden brown. Don’t be tempted to take the easy route on these, it takes a few steps but after you have these frites you will never pick up that frozen bag of fries in the grocery store again!

Steak & Frites

4 Russet Potatoes, cut into a square and then into fry sized pieces
3 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1-48 Ounce Bottle Vegetable or Peanut Oil, for frying
4 New York Strip Steaks, 1 inch thick (or a favorite steak of your own)
Salt & Pepper
6 Tablespoons Butter
1 Pound Crimini Mushrooms (optional)
1 Teaspoon Herbs de Provence (optional)

Rinse potato strips in large bowl of cold water until all start is gone and water runs clear, about 3 rinses. Lightly dry with towel. Sprinkle with corn starch and lay in a single layer on a cookie cooling sheet and let rest until coating forms on the frites, about 20 minutes. Heat oil to 325 degrees in heavy deep skilled (I always use my cast iron dutch oven for this). Fry frites in two batches until almost slightly browned and soft, about 5 minutes, remove and let sit until cool, about 20 more minutes.
While frites are cooling prepare steak and mushrooms…
Season steaks generously with salt and pepper, set aside and let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Heat a couple tablespoons butter in a large skillet with herbs de province, add mushrooms and sauté until tender, reduce heat to low to keep warm.
Heat a couple tablespoons vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed, or cast iron skillet with over high heat until oil just starts to smoke. Add steaks and cook without moving for 4 minutes, turn over and continue cooking for an additional 3-5 minutes or until desired doneness. Remove from pan, place one tablespoon butter on each steak and cover with foil to rest.
To finish frites heat oil to 375 degrees, cook in 2 batches until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes, remove to paper lined tray and season heavily with salt (you can add herbs if desired).

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mio Sushi-Restaurant Review

Mio Sushi-Restaurant Review

I thought it would be fun to throw in a restaurant review once in a while, so this will be my first. My friend Greg and I went to Mio Sushi, located on the corner of NE Greeley and Killingsworth in Portland.
We ordered salmon and fresh water eel nigiri, a phili roll, cucumber roll, eel roll, tuna roll, and a California roll. Everything was absolutely delicious!
The restaurant is small and intimate, which I love and the staff is very friendly and is always available for additional orders, or to fill your cocktails.
I have also had their fresh ramen noodle dish with beef which was also delightful. The noodles had great flavor and there was a ton of meat and veggies in combination with the broth. They also served me such a large portion that I could have shared it with someone and still had leftovers!
Overall, I would recommend this restaurant to anyone for drinks, sushi, or cooked food!
They have several restaurants around Portland and you can find their locations and menu here, enjoy!