Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy (Belated) St. Paddy's Day to Ye!

I got invited to my wonderful friend Domenica's place for an amazing St. Patrick's Day dinner on Friday night. That girl even corned her own beef! So I didn't get around to making my own corned beef dinner until tonight.

I cooked the meat in my Instant Pot, of course, and then glazed it and finished it under the broiler. I also roasted carrots and potatoes in the oven instead of boiling them, and because I'm not a fan of steamed cabbage, I had a side of homemade hot pink sauerkraut instead. Irish-German fusion cuisine!

Instant Pot Corned Beef


1 bottle of hard cider (or beer)
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon ground celery
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4-5 lb. corned beef, soaked in cold water for 15-30 minutes
spice packet
Add all of the ingredients to the IP liner. Cook on Meat/Stew for 60 minutes, then let it release naturally. 

Optional glaze finish:
1/4 cup grainy mustard
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Mix the mustard, malt vinegar, and brown sugar and brush onto the cooked corned beef. Broil until caramelized.
Roasted Vegetables

6 medium potatoes, washed and cut into eighths
6 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (parsnips would be great, too)
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup malt vinegar
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 teaspoon herb seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
Mix all of the above ingredients together on a lined sheet pan. Roast at 400F for about an hour or until the vegetables are tender enough for your tastes. 



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Thickest, Silkiest Greek Yogurt in the Instant Pot!


    Somebody in the Instant Pot Community shared a tip about using Fairlife Ultra-Filtered Milk to make yogurt in the magic pot. I used 2%, and you can see below how thick it was before I even put it in my new "Euro-strainer."

    Of course, I had a near-catastrophe with what was apparently an old, weak starter. At five and a half hours, it was still just thick, warm milk, so I checked the temp (110F), added a 1/4 teaspoon of a different strain of dried cultures, stirred, and let it go another three and a half hours, and it set up perfectly! Yogurt crisis averted, leading to a second crisis: Too much yogurt! (Why didn't I make just half a gallon?)

     

    To make yogurt in the Instant Pot, pour a gallon of milk into the liner, hit "yogurt" then right away, hit "adjust" until it says "boil." Cover with a glass lid. It will take maybe an hour to come up to about 185F. Then I like to turn it off and leave it sit (covered) for about 30 minutes.

    Next, put the liner into a sink of cold water for a few minutes until it comes down to 110F. Scoop out a little of the warm milk into your starter (1/4 cup of prepared yogurt, or I use 1/4 teaspoon of dried starter cultures), then pour this mixture back into the pot along with sweetener of your choice (sugar, honey, maple syrup, stevia, etc--to taste, one half to one cup), and I use about a tablespoon of vanilla bean paste.

    Stir well, cover with the lid, and press "yogurt." It will stay warm and do its thing for eight hours, then...it's yogurt! For Greek yogurt, strain through cheesecloth or a flour sack towel, or a special yogurt strainer until it reaches the desired consistency. You might want to whisk it until smooth at this point, and then put it in containers and into the fridge.

    To strain, I have always strained my yogurt and skyr and ricotta and such in a damp flour sack towel tied to a kitchen cabinet knob over a bowl to catch the whey. It worked perfectly fine, but I splurged and bought an inexpensive ($16) yogurt strainer on Amazon and tried it out today after making a batch of yogurt in my magic pot. While not an absolutely essential cooking tool, it's so handy, and after about 7-8 hours in the fridge and then whisking to remove lumps, I ended up with the thickest, silkiest, Greek vanilla bean yogurt that I've ever made! Euro strainer FTW!


















    There are few things in this life as sublime as my Greek Vanilla Bean Yogurt with homemade Nutty Maple and Brown Sugar Granola. Mmmmmm!



Monday, March 13, 2017

Taken In by Another Social Media Cooking Video

I saw a recipe making the rounds on Facebook called Creamy Sundried Tomato Parmesan Chicken that looked good, so I tried it tonight. And it was delish! Of course, I changed a few things in the recipe, as is my way. I used bone-in thighs (skin removed), because that's what I had on hand. And as they were thicker cuts, I had to brown them in a skillet, then finish cooking them in the oven. I also used a bag of "Heavenly" cocktail tomatoes from Trader Joe's that I needed to use or lose and then just half the amount of sun dried called for in the original recipe. And I used light cream for the sauce and no corn starch. I did use the optional dried Italian herbs, but I omitted the fresh basil--though that would have been lovely if I had any and/or the will to go to the store during the latest arctic blast.


Creamy Sundried Tomato Parmesan Chicken
(Source: Adapted from Cafe Delites)

For the chicken:

2 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally to make 4 fillets (I used bone-in thighs, skin removed)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt (I used a spicy soul seasoning blend)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons reserved sun dried tomato oil (or olive oil)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
7 oz jarred sundried tomato strips in oil, drained (reserve 2 tablespoons of oil for cooking)
8 oz sliced mushrooms
11/2 cups milk (or half-and-half or light cream)
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of milk**
1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (do not include for dairy free option)
2 teaspoons Italian herbs (optional for added flavour)
2 tablespoons fresh shredded basil, to serve
  1. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour mixture; shake off excess and set aside.
  2. Heat one tablespoon of the reserved oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Fry the chicken until golden on each side, cooked through and no longer pink (about 5-6 minutes each side, depending on the thickness of your chicken). Transfer onto a warm plate. (I transferred them to a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the thighs were cooked through.)
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet; sauté the garlic until fragrant (about one minute). Add the sundried tomatoes and mushrooms; fry until the mushrooms are just soft. (I chopped up a bag of cocktail tomatoes and threw them in as well.)
  4. Reduce heat to low-medium heat, add the milk (or cream if using) and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to your taste and add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the centre of the pan. Continue to simmer while quickly stirring the mixture through until the sauce thickens. (Only use cornstarch if using milk for your sauce.)
  5. Add in the parmesan cheese; allow sauce to simmer for a further minute until cheese melts through the sauce. Add the chicken back into the pan; sprinkle with the fresh basil and a little extra pepper (optional), and serve over pasta, rice or steamed vegetables.



Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Spezzatino? (You Do, and You'll Clean It Up!)

I caught an episode of Giada at Home the other day, and she made something called a "spezzatino,"  which was basically Chicken, Artichoke, and Cannelini Bean Stew. And of course, I converted the recipe to be made in my magic pot! As the weather is soon to turn frigid again, this dish is delicious, healthy, and will stick to your ribs until spring makes a proper--and less capricious--return.


Chicken, Artichoke and Cannellini Bean Spezzatino
(Source: Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis via Food Network)


4 cups chicken stock
1 small can tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 oz. bacon, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, large dice
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 can artichoke hearts, drained chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans (or butter beans), rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley*

Add the stock, tomato paste, oregano, basil, thyme, salt, pepper, rosemary, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes to the Instant Pot and stir well to combine. Submerge the chicken thighs and cook on poultry for 15 minutes, then do a quick release.

Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a skillet, cook the bacon, and reserve the crispy pieces. Then sauté the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in the bacon fat until the onion is tender.

Remove cooked chicken from the broth to cool. Add the sautéed veggies, artichokes, and beans to the IP and cook on low sauté until the carrots are tender. Remove the bay leaf and rosemary stem. Cut the chicken into one-inch pieces and add it and the fresh parsley* to the pot. Taste to correct seasonings. Serve the stew garnished with the reserved bacon pieces.

*A few handfuls of fresh spinach or basil would also be nice.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Deconstructing Cabbage Rolls As Winter Lingers

After a few teaser days of 50- and 60-degree weather, it has gone back to being winter. So I was thinking of making something hearty and comforting like cabbage rolls or stuffed peppers for Foodie Sunday (as my friend, Kim, calls it). But what I had on hand was a half a cabbage frozen in the back fridge and some shishito peppers that needed to be used and zero desire to go to the store in the cold. Both the cabbage leaves and the peppers were too small of vessels to be stuffed, so I came up with Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls with Homemade Tomato Sauce. All this needs is a dollop of sour cream!


Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
(Source: Inspired by Martha Kostyra's recipe)

2 cups homemade tomato sauce
1 tart apple, peeled and shredded
1/2 lb. pork sausage
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped (or a few hot peppers, to taste)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 small to medium cabbage, cored and shredded
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups cooked white rice
2 cups homemade tomato sauce
1 tart apple, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup sour cream, plus more to garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

To a small saucepan, add the tomato sauce and the shredded apple. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the rest of the dish is done. (If you don't have homemade tomato sauce, I recommend using a basic, good-quality marinara instead of plain tomato sauce.)

In a large skillet, cook the ground meats, onion, celery, green or hot pepper(s) and garlic until the meat is no longer pink. Season the mixture with the dried parsley, salt, and pepper.

Next, add the shredded cabbage and the chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and steam for five minutes. Uncover, add the cooked white rice, the reserved tomato sauce*, half a cup of sour cream*, and chopped fresh parsley. Stir to combine. Serve with an extra dollop of sour cream.

*You can top the meat, rice, and cabbage mixture with the tomato sauce and a dollop of sour cream, or you can mix the tomato sauce and sour cream into the dish. Your call.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trader Joe's to the Weeknight Rescue!

I have made the most delicious, quick and easy, though somewhat unusual dinner. I'm calling it Pork and Beans Pasta. I used leftover pork roast that I had cooked in my magic pot, two pints of homemade marinara made with my own garden tomatoes and herbs, and two cans of Trader Joe's Giant Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce. Then I served this hearty, savory sauce over Trader Joe's Organic Red Lentil Sedanini (like a small penne). So tasty, and so packed with protein and legume-y goodness!

 Image may contain: food
Image may contain: food
Image may contain: food
Image may contain: food

Monday, February 13, 2017

Snowed-In Din-Din

We're experiencing the first Snowpocalypse of the year, and I wanted to make a good Sunday supper last night, but without having to leave the house in a blizzard. I had a pork roast that I had in the back fridge and needed to cook. So I sprinkled it liberally with seasoned salt, browned it on all sides in a skillet, then threw it in the Instant Pot with a bottle of beer, a sliced onion, some garlic cloves, a few glugs of Worcestershire sauce, a good squirt of sriracha, and a bay leaf. I cooked it on the meat setting for 75 minutes and let it release naturally.

Then I found a box of cornbread mix in the pantry, so I zhooshed that up with some caramelized onions and creamy goat cheese. After I took this picture, I added a sidecar of my homemade Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Kraut.
Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Kraut 
(Source: Adapted from Nourished Kitchen)

3 1/2 pounds red cabbage, shredded
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
4 medium jalapeno peppers, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon pink Himalayan salt

Toss the cabbage, garlic, jalapenos and salt into a large mixing bowl. Knead the vegetables together by hand for five minutes until they begin to release their juices. Allow the shredded vegetables to rest a further five minutes, then return for five more minutes of kneading.

Layer the salted vegetables into a quart-sized fermentation jar or crock (find a crock online), and pack tightly until the brine created by the vegetable juice and salt completely submerges the shredded cabbage and peppers. Weigh down the vegetables with a glass weight sterilized stone or other heavy item small enough to fit within your crock, close and ferment at room temperature.

Taste after about three weeks and continue to ferment if the sauerkraut hasn't achieved the level of tartness you prefer. Transfer to cold storage when sour enough for your liking.


Cornbread with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter
3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 15 oz. box cornbread mix (or 2 boxes of Jiffy)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chevre (goat cheese), broken up into large crumbles

To a large skillet over medium-low heat, add two tablespoons of the olive oil and the onions, and cook, stirring frequently until dark golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool to warm (not hot).

In an 8x8 baking dish or deep dish pie plate, add the other two tablespoons of olive oil, swirl it around, and put the dish in the oven to preheat to 375 F. Meanwhile, whisk the cornbread mix with the buttermilk, eggs, Parmesan, and black pepper. Stir in about 2/3 of the caramelized onions.

When the oven comes to temperature, remove the heated baking dish and pour in the cornbread batter. Poke the goat cheese crumbles here and there down into the batter. Top with the remaining caramelized onions. Bake for about 35 minutes until a tester comes out clean in the middle.

The college where I teach was closed today because of the snow, and I had some more time for home cooking, I decided to make some zesty succotash to accompany my leftover pork and cornbread.

Corn and Lima Bean Succotash

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
1 cup chopped roasted red and yellow peppers
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 16 oz. bag frozen baby lima beans, thawed
1 16 oz. bag frozen sweet corn
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
few shakes of hot sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion, peppers, garlic, and lima beans for a few minutes until the onion is tender. Add the corn, Creole seasoning, black pepper, hot sauce, vinegar, sugar, and chicken broth. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the broth has almost entirely evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh parsley.

The last thing I cobbled together on my snow day (again, I was not interested in leaving the house!) was a Chocolate Chip and Macadamia Nut Bundt Cake with Bittersweet Ganache Glaze from a box of yellow cake mix. For a "cheater" cake, it turned out pretty darn good, I think!
Chocolate Chip and Macadamia Bundt Cake with Bittersweet Ganache Glaze

Cake:
1 (15.25-oz.) pkg. yellow cake mix (without pudding added)
1 cup plain yogurt
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 (3.4-oz.) pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup macadamia nut pieces

Ganache Glaze:
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine cake mix, yogurt, eggs, vanilla bean paste, pudding mix, oil, and water in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium, and beat until light and fluffy, two to three minutes. Gently fold in semi-sweet chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.

Pour mixture into a lightly greased and floured Bundt cake pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Remove cake from oven, and cool in pan for about ten minutes. Transfer cake from pan to wire rack; cool completely, about one hour.

Microwave the bittersweet chips and the cream in a large bowl for one minute, then whisk until smooth. (Microwave an additional 30 seconds if needed.) Whisk in the butter until smooth. Pour the glaze completely over the cake. Let the ganache set before slicing and serving.