Friday, March 27, 2009

Corned Beef Breakfast Hash

The world's best breakfast. Or lunch. Or midnight snack. Seriously, this stuff is good! All the work you did when you brined and boiled your brisket is about to pay off.

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped bell pepper (red or yellow would be nice)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 5 cups leftover boiled dinner, well drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley, oregano, thyme, or cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Melt butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or some other very heavy-duty pan) over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and cook until it just begins to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until it becomes fragrant. Add the leftover boiled dinner, herbs, and pepper and stir to combine. Press down with a spatula and place a heavy skillet, pie plate, or lid directly onto the hash, pressing down to firm things up and increase browning (you may want to lube whatever you use with butter or nonstick spray). Cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir up the hash, trying to get all the browned parts facing up, press down, and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with fried eggs (I like mine nice and runny!).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Boiled Dinner

Common throughout New England, the boiled dinner is both economical and tasty. I definitely do not reserve this dish only for St. Patrick's Day - that's not nearly frequent enough for me!

  • One Corned Beef Brisket, store bought or prepared according to Monday's recipe.
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 pound chopped carrots
  • 1/2 pound chopped onion
  • 1 pound red potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 pound chopped celery
  • 1 small head cabbage (about 2 pounds), chopped

Thoroughly rinse the brisket under cold running water. Place the brisket, pepper, allspice, and bay in a large stock pot (at least 8 quarts in volume), with 3 quarts (12 cups) of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer gently for 2 1/2 hours.

Add potatoes, carrots, and onions. Return to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are just fork-tender. Remove the bay leaves and serve.

This might seem like it makes a ridiculous amount of dinner. Do not despair - leftover corned beef hash is good enough to justify making this dinner just for the leftovers!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Home-Corned Beef

Frequently, we neglect to nurture our culinary heritage. Here in the US, one of our iconic dishes is corned beef and cabbage (although generally believed to be Irish in origin, it is much more common among Irish-Americans, as beef and salt were far to expensive for Irish peasants to afford, see this article). Many of us have it each year on St. Patrick's Day. Quite a few of us even like it (myself included). How many of us actually prepare it from scratch? I never had, until I saw Alton Brown's Good Eats and he enlightened me on how to make really good corned beef. Once you've had homemade, you never want pre-prepared corned beef again!

Tune in on Wednesday and Friday for ways to prepare this home-corned beef. You could also just cook this up the way you would other kinds of beef roasts - braised with aromatic vegetables, slow-roasted, or smoked.

  • 2 quarts (8 cups) water
  • 1 cup kosher salt (or 1/2 cup pickling salt)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons saltpeter (although optional, this ingredient adds additional preservation and that lovely red color that we usually associate with corned beef - look for it in pharmacies)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 12 whole juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 pounds ice (which is the same as 4 cups of cold water, if you don't have that much ice around the house)
  • 4-5 pound beef brisket, trimmed
Note: You can often find whole spices (such as allspice and juniper berries) at health food stores or organic grocery stores.


In a large pot, bring everything but the ice to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from heat and add the ice (if you pour it out of the hot pot, it will chill faster). When the brine has reached cool room temperature and all ice is melted, seal the brisket and brine in a 2 gallon zip-top bag and place in a large leak-proof container or a large plastic tub (make sure you use a wide tub, you don't want the meat crammed or folded up). Brine in the fridge for 10 days. Rinse off the brine and prepare as you would a pot roast, or check back on Wednesday for corned beef and cabbage.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quick Salmon Sandwiches

I am frequently in a rush. When you are in a rush, some foods (like salmon) are difficult to do because they can take time to prepare. Fortunately (at least for salmon) there is a canned alternative that is readily available and quickly prepared. Sure, canned salmon is not as good as fresh, but it's better than no salmon at all.

  • 1 small can salmon
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • a pinch of dried oregano
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve on sourdough toast with romaine lettuce. Makes 2-4 sandwiches, depending on the size of the bread.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Peach-Rhubarb Pie

I love pie. I especially love tangy fruit pies. Cream pies are OK, but I think the best flavor comes from fresh fruit that's not too sweet. Peach-Rhubarb is a great combination, mixing the perfect summer sweetness of peaches with the sour twang of rhubarb. You can fuss with the ratio of peaches to rhubarb if you'd like, just make sure you've got 1 pound total fruit. I'm not too patient when it comes to rolling out dough, so I use the quick and easy solution of buying a pre-made crust - no mixing, rolling, or any other fuss. One more thing: I'm not sure if I'm using too much filling for my pie pan, but this recipe frequently boils over in the oven, making the sheet pan on the oven rack an absolute necessity.

  • One package frozen pie crusts for a two-crust pie (I like Marie Callender's)
  • 8 ounces sliced peaches (frozen is fine)
  • 8 ounces sliced rhubarb (again, frozen is fine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minute tapioca pearls, ground in a blender
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a sheet pan on the bottom rack. Prepare crusts for filling according to package directions. Whisk together 1 cup sugar, tapioca, and salt. Stir in peaches, rhubarb, and lemon juice. Pour into pie shell. Crimp the top crust onto the bottom crust. Using kitchen shears, cut 5 slits about 2 inches long through the top crust. In a small bowl, beat the egg with one tablespoon of water. Lightly brush onto top crust, being careful not to brush egg into the slits. Sprinkle the superfine sugar on top of the pie. Bake for 60 minutes (90 if using frozen fruit). If the crust starts to brown too much before the time is up, place a ring of aluminum foil around the edge to protect it. Let cool for at least 4 hours (8 would be better) to allow the filling to set up before serving.

Monday, March 16, 2009

5-Alarm Chili

Long-Time readers of this blog (i.e. you members of the 4-month club) will remember that I have already posted a chili recipe here (in fact, it's recipe #1). That chili, while good, was rather middle-of-the-road. I've recently tried out a more bold recipe. The heat in this recipe comes from canned chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce - a wickedly hot concoction which takes the normally milder flavor of jalepenos and kicks it up several notches. Another interesting ingredient is beer, although as a teetotaler I used a non-alcoholic variety (remember when cooking with alcohol, you can cook out a lot of it, but never all of it). If you don't like the malty essence that comes from cooking with beer, you can use pretty much any flavorful liquid that you like: cola, tomtato juice, broth - just make sure it dosen't get bitter or too salty when you cook with it.

  • 3-4 pounds stew beef (I like chuck, but you can use round), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoons chili powder (homemade would be best, see note on my previous post)
  • 2-4 canned chipotle chiles, diced (more is hotter)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of adobo sauce from the chipotles (again, more is hotter)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (freshly toasted and ground would be best)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) salsa, hot or medium (as you like it)
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer or ale (regular or non-alcoholic)
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips

Toss the beef to coat with the oil and salt in a large bowl. Open the windows and/or turn on your range vent (this should produce a lot of smoke if done correctly). Working in small batches (about 1/4 of the meat in each batch), brown the outside of beef in a large dutch oven set on high heat (I use setting 9 out of 10 on my stove). As each batch finishes, remove to a clean bowl. When all the meat is browned, reduce heat to medium and saute the chiles, adobo sauce, cumin, and turmeric for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture is very thick and brown (don't inhale the fumes - they are quite pungent!). Add salsa and beer and deglaze the pan while bringing mixture to a full simmer over medium-high heat. Add browned beef and any accumulated juices back to the pot. Add tortilla chips. Stir everything to combine. Put the lid on (or cover tightly with foil) and bake at 220 degrees for 3-4 hours (or 350 for 1-2 hours, but it won't be as tender. The best would be 185 for 8-10 hours!)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Carribean Citrus Salmon

Salmon is very hard to do correctly. I like my salmon medium rare, with a nice crust on the outside. You get crust by searing on high heat, however that can make the fish stick to the grill. Working with a clean grill that has been lightly oiled helps a lot. Just try to make sure the oil doesn't drip down onto the coals (or burners). Flame-ups produce soot, which dirty up the grill and make everything stick all over again.

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (ground from freshly toasted whole seeds would be best)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced fine
  • 4 medium salmon fillets (about 1 inch in diameter)

Combine all ingredients in a large plastic zip-top bag. Making sure the marinade is well combined, squeeze out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Put the bag in the fridge (in a container to catch any leaks) and marinate for 30-60 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare grill for direct heat (or preheat your broiler). Remove fish from marinade (discard the marinade) and grill (or broil) for about 4 minutes per side. Do not fuss with it as it cooks - lay it on the grill and don't touch until it's time to flip or remove. Serve with rice pilaf or mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pot Roast and Veggies

Always a family favorite, the secret to great post roast with veggies is to not cook the veggies as long as the roast. A good, tender pot roast needs to cook for 3-4 hours, and potatoes will turn to mush if you cook them for that long. This method ensures a tender roast, as well as tasty veggies. You could also use parsnips, turnips, or other root vegetables instead of carrots and potatoes - just make sure you have 3-4 pounds of veggies that you like and they are cut into relatively small pieces.

  • 1 large (4-5 pound) pot roast (chuck, brisket, or round)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced fine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (plus more for gravy)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup beef broth (plus more for gravy)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper (plus more for gravy)
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes (or you can cut large red potatoes in quarters)
  • 1 pound carrots, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (or use "baby" carrots)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce.

Lay the roast on a large sheet of aluminum foil (one big enough to seal the roast in, use two pieces crimped together in the middle if necessary). Rub the roast with garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Put half the onion slices on the foil underneath the meat and half on top. Crimp the ends of the foil together to seal up the roast and onions, leaving a small opening that you can pour the broth into. Add the broth and seal up the opening (tilt the roast so the broth doesn't spill back out!), making a tight packet of meat, onions, and broth. Put the roast in a roasting pan and put the pan in oven set to 250 degrees and cook for 3 hours.

Remove roast from oven and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. Carefully dump the contents of the packet into the roasting pan (there will probably be more liquid than you started with, so don't spill!), making sure all the onions are mixed in with the juices. Arrange the potatoes and carrots around the roast in the pan (nestled into the juices as much as possible) and return to the oven for another hour, or until the veggies and roast are tender.

Place the roast on a carving board and tent with aluminum foil. Turn off the oven and put the potatoes and carrots in an oven-safe serving dish in the oven to keep warm. Strain the onions from the pan juices and skim off the fat (or use a fat separator). In a saucepan, heat the skimmed fat and enough vegetable oil to total 4 tablespoons over medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons flour and cook until it becomes light brown, stirring constantly. Combine skimmed pan juices with enough beef broth to total 2 cups liquid and slowly whisk into the hot flour/fat mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 minute, until thickened (note: it will continue to thicken as it cools, so pull it from the heat when it's just a little bit thin). Stir in Worcestershire sauce, along with salt and pepper to taste (it may not need any salt if you used full-salt broth). Carve the roast and serve with veggies and gravy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Quick Salmon Salad

If you've cooked up a bunch of salmon and have leftovers, this is a great way to stretch them out to feed more people. Even if you don't have leftovers, you can use canned salmon and it's almost just as good!

  • 6 ounces cooked salmon, roughly chopped (or one can salmon)
  • 8 ounces salad pasta (such as ziti, shells, wheels, etc.), cooked according to package directions and rinsed under cold water
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup carrots, shredded or matchstick cut
  • 2 green onions, sliced on the bias
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • salt and fresh black pepper

Mix pasta, mayo, carrots, onions, oregano, parsley, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Fold in salmon and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Asian Sliced Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing

Today we conclude with a final recipe using Monday's roast chicken breasts: a refreshing salad!

Salad Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce leaves
  • 2 leftover roasted chicken breasts from Monday (3/2), sliced on the bias
  • 1/2 cup matchstick cut carrots
  • 1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 small can mandarin orange slices, drained
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chow mein noodles
Dressing Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mix all dressing ingredients and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, distribute other ingredients over 4 chilled salad plates (or wide bowls). Add dressing and serve with garlic toast.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Asian Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Today, we continue with this week's theme of meals made with Asian-Style Roast Chicken.

  • 1 leftover Asian roast chicken breast from Monday (3/2), diced
  • 2-4 tablespoons mayonnaise (depending on how "wet" you like your salad)
  • 2 tablespoons diced mandarin orange segments
  • 2 tablespoons shredded carrot
  • 1 tablespoon water chestnuts, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cashews, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
Serve on toasted wheat bread with chow mein noodles or lettuce.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Asian Marinade Roast Chicken

You can double or triple this recipe to have leftovers that can be used in the other recipes that will be posted this week. It's nice to have 3 meals taken care of with only a small amount of prep.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (or chili sesame oil)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients except chicken in a medium bowl. Add chicken breasts and marinate, refrigerated, for 30-60 minutes. Flip breasts over halfway through the marinading time.

When marinating is done, place chicken in a baking dish (discard marinade). Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken reads 160 degrees in the thickest part. Immediately place on a plate and rest for 5 minutes before serving with stir-fried vegetables and rice. Save leftovers (or make extra) for Asian-style chicken salad (coming Wednesday) and/or Sesame Chicken Salad Sandwiches (on Friday).