Monday, July 29, 2013

Caffeine Charged Beef

So I made a major mistake this Sunday.   A major delicious mistake, but nonetheless this dish I made had me up till all hours of the night. It was Katie's last Sunday in Boston so I had her over for a big Sunday dinner.  I wanted to make something reminiscent of my grandma but kicked it up a notch with a different flavor profile.   Nothing says Grandma Louie like a roast beef with some mashed potatoes.   That was my dinner of choice for this Sunday, with a side of sauteed string beans sprinkled with crispy panchetta.   It wasn't the healthiest of meals but it was delicious.   

To make the roast beef more interesting I wanted to make a rub similar to something I had at this local place called Towne.  It's a coffee rubbed prime rib.  This is where my mistake happened.  I didn't have coffee...I had espresso beans (fancy I know).   I coated this beef with the equivalent of about 10 shots of espresso.   TEN SHOTS.  I was shaking with so much caffeine was going through me.   It was so delicious I had three slices including the "butt" that was completely coated in the rub.   If you are to try this at home, I suggest decaf or eating before a long night of going out.  Enjoy!!

Espresso Rubbed Roast Beef

4 to 6 pound roast 

Espresso Rub
4 tablespoons of espresso beans
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoon black peppercorns

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Blend all ingredients in the rub in a spice grinder (or a coffee grinder is what I used) Rub completely over the roast making sure to coat both sides.   Place in a roasting rack and place into oven.   Cook for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours or until internal temperature reads 145 degrees F.

Remove from oven and tent with foil for thirty minutes.  Slice then serve.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

I'm Going (going) Back (back) to Cali (Cali) the Notorious B.I.G. reference but back I go to San Francisco this week for work.  Although I will miss David terribly, the cool northern California temperatures are a nice break from the sweltering, sometimes 3 digit, heat we've been having in Philadelphia.  To tie in my west coast travels to this week's post, I thought I would show a little love to one of my favorite foods and a recent household staple, the California native Haas avocado. 
For years I thought the sole use for avocados was to make guacamole (my previous recipe linked here) which honestly I was fine with since I am a huge guac fav.  However, I've found other ways to incorporate this healthy fruit? veggie? oh whatever... delicious green thing... into other everyday meals.  And speaking to the health aspects for a second, avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C,K, folate, and B6.  

One easy way I've incorporated avocados into my diet is through using it as a spread on toast in the morning.  A small drizzle of agave which has a low glycemic index and won't spike your insulin levels and a pinch of salt and pepper, gives it the perfect combination of sweet and savory to leave you satisfied until lunch.  I also opt for Ezekial bread because it is made with real ingredients and largely unprocessed. 
A quarter of an avocado has about 80 calories and 7 grams of good fat (there is a difference I promise).  And a little secret to keeping your avocado from turning brown is to put the avocado still in the skin in a plastic bag with the pit still in it into your fridge.  By doing this I am able to use one avocado over four days.  

If you're not an avocado fan yet, I hope you give them a try!  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Ad Hoc Adventure

There is no reason to be
scared of Ad Hoc!
This summer I'm not taking any graduate classes so I needed something to do.  I needed a goal besides my usual go to the gym more, read more books, be intellectual etc.
My goal this summer was to cook things I'm afraid of.  I'm not talking about live snacks or weird stuff like that.  I'm referring to things that I'm afraid to cook for fear of making something disgusting.  What scares me the most? 
It lies in that dreaded Ad Hoc at Home cookbook.  Yes, that cookbook that we attempted to make the fig stuffed pork loin reminiscent of a spewing baby.   

So ladies and gentlemen my goal for the summer was to cook something different from the Ad Hoc cookbook every week, no matter how uncomfortable or fearful I felt.  I've been going strong three weeks now.  I wanted to share one of my favorites that was buried deep in the pages of this frightening book but was surprisingly easy.   Check it out!!

Scallion Potato Pancake
3 lbs of russet potatoes
5 scallions, diced
1/4 cup corn starch
canola oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste

First peel the potatoes and rinse.  Hash-brown your potatoes using a grater ( be careful to not grate fingers as I did). Do this step only moments before frying so they don't turn brown or discolor.   Coat hash-brown potatoes with cornstarch.  Salt the potatoes (I tend to go heavy on the don't realize how much salt these babies need to have flavor).  Toss in scallions and mix until combined.   Place oil into a pan and heat until just smoking.  Cook potatoes in the oil in a pancake form until golden brown on each side.  

This makes about five large pancakes


Monday, July 15, 2013

Revisiting the archives

Winter Storm Nemo in Boston
Hi everyone!  Since I was a lazy bum this past week and didn't write a recipe for this Sunday I found myself revisiting our archives to make my Sunday dinner.  I had bought the rice and the saffron for paella many many months ago but wasn't able to make it because of lovely Nemo.  I thought this weekend would be perfect to whip this baby up!  It was also a little over a month since we returned from Spain so I thought perfect timing!

Such a happy
little corn
As a side dish, I wanted to attempt to make my new favorite thing.  I have many favorite things but this lovely joy has been my craving every time we walk into a Mexican restaurant.  And I know Spanish is not the same as Mexican but let's not get into technicalities.   I wanted to attempt to make Mexican Street Corn.  What is Mexican Street Corn you ask?  Well, it is corn grilled then covered with a lovely, creamy, spicy, cheesy, garlicky sauce. You will be licking the plate when you are done.   So please try to make this at home with corn season coming into full bloom.  This will be a great alternative to the staple of butter and salt.  Also, don't forget to visit out the archives to test out some recipes! Street Corn Topping

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
  1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco plus 1/4 cup for garnish
1 tablespoon crushed garlic (about 3 cloves)
2 teaspoons chili powder
pinch of salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Slather on grilled corn.  Sprinkle with queso fresco for garnish and dig in!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Smashing!'s no secret I love all things English.  The tea and mini sandwiches, the accent, the clothes (TopShop anyone?), the Princess... heck even my own husband holds a United Kingdom passport.  So, it should be no surprise that I spent my Sunday evening glued to ESPN watching the Wimbledon Men's Final rerun (we missed the live show because of an impromptu weekend road trip) and screaming 'Come on Andy!!' in my best English accent.  Well all of that shouting wasn't in vain because the English lad took the championship in three straight sets becoming the first British player to win since 1936.  All Hail the Queen. new thing that I did discover was a Wimbledon tradition that I can now add onto my list of English love.  What I am referring to is the simple yet delicious Wimbledon treat of Strawberries and Cream, washed down ever so appropriately with champagne.  I've included the recipe below for the next time you're in the mood for a cheeky good snack.  

Now that is smashing,

Strawberries & Cream

Ingredients pints strawberries, halved or quartered
1 cup heavy cream
1 rounded tablespoon sugar
A splash of vanilla extract
Pile strawberries into 4 to 6 small dessert cups or glass dishes. Combine cream, sugar and vanilla extract and beat into soft peaks. Pile cream on top of berries.  Wash down with some bubbly!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!!
I'm with him...
Happy birthday America!  Gloriously imperfect but wonderfully free.  Land that I love and my home.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and takes a break from copious watermelon consumption to feel some American pride.

Since undoubtedly barbecue would be the obvious choice for this week's edition, I thought I would pass along a delicious side dish instead that also doubles as a summer salad.  Admittedly, I cannot take credit for this recipe.  I found it in People magazine of all places as a summertime staple for Diane Von Fursternburg.  No no not made by her... made by her chef of course.  Before you implode with judgmental thoughts, I have looked over this recipe and I promise it has all the makings of a healthy dish.  Enjoy!

Green Apple & Macadamia Quinoa
Serves 4

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small green onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup seeded diced cucumber
  • 1 cup diced green apple
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 red Serrano chili, seeded and thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp agave nectar (or to taste)
  • 3/4 tsp flaky salt (or to taste)
  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions.  In a small, dry skillet toast the macadamia nuts until evenly browned, 3-4 minutes, stirring often to keep them from burning.  Once browned, crush the nuts lightly with a knife.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, macadamia nuts and the remaining ingredients.  Toss and check for seasoning; add more lemon juice and salt if necessary.

My Flag Cake

Happy day before the fourth people, or as I like to call it national 'cruise the internet, counting down the minutes, until you can leave work' day.  This morning I have looked at Google images "cute puppies" and Pinterest "holidays" for the past hour.  Today is also the day where everyone starts making their flag cakes.  Ninety percent of the BBQs you go to on the fourth will have flag cakes.  These cakes are pretty standard - yellow cake with whipped cream (cool whip) topping and strawberries and blueberries arranged to look like a flag.  Well, I'm here to give you a bit of a twist on this classic flag cake.  I have to warn you it's not going to look like a flag (I know, you're disappointed.)  It will however be red, white and blue, and most importantly delicious.  Try this out at your families BBQ tomorrow!

Traditional Flag Cake

Strawberry/Blueberry Mascarpone Tart with Pretzel Crust

Pretzel Crust
2 1/2 cups of crushed pretzels
3/4 cup of softened butter (unsalted)
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl until combined.  Press into a 9 inch pie pan and place in oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely until adding pie filling

2 8 ounce containers of mascarpone cheese
4 tablespoons of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of sliced strawberries (long ways)
1/2 cup blueberries

Whip mascarpone cheese with powdered sugar.  Adjust sweetness to your preference. Spread into completely cooled pie crust.  Arrange strawberries and blueberries on top to make as patriotic as you like.  


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Shrimp (actually) on the Barbie - Joanne's Savory Summary

Look, I am going to level with you. I had the 'barbie' (or as us Americans call it - a grill) and I didn't have much success either.  As Jen mentioned I think the key to flavorful shrimp may be all in the spice rub.  My marinade seemed thin too so as soon as I put it on the shrimp they seemed to repel it.  This was especially the case as I cooked the shrimp on the grill grates.  Instead of my shrimp basting in flavor, my grill served as a mere drip pan for the discarded marinade.  Well lessons learned.  Still, it was nice to have some shrimp during the summer even if I ended up only using it as the protein in my salad.  

We'll do better next time.  We promise!

Fresh Shrimp Sign
Yea it was kind of like this...

Shrimp on the Barbie- Jen's Savory Summary

First, let me start off with an apology.  This recipe was terrible, awful...worst one yet.  I don't know what happened but my shrimp did not turn out well at all.  Let me say I think this is where I went wrong - I have no barbie. So shrimp on the barbie was bound to be problematic.  I had to use just a plain old pan.  I surmise this where the horribleness came from.  When the shrimp went into the pan the marinade just kind of seeped out and I was basically boiling the shrimp in this liquid.  The result was just not good.  To put it kindly, it was rubbery and very tasteless.   To imitate Gordon Ramsey: BLAND.  Looking back, it would be better to either have a BBQ or just do a spice rub and call it a day.  Again fellow Sunday supper people my sincerest apologies.  I hope yours turned out much better than mine.

There's always next week...

Finished Dish - Meh