Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pickled Eggs

PICKLED EGGS...reeeeally pickled...yum

well, i'm a little embarrassed to say, this is the only pickling i have done this year...who am i trying to kid here...this is the ONLY pickling i have EVER done in my life. i've always wanted to get into the whole canning thing so i thought pickling would be a jump start and kind of in the same category...pretty food in cute jars.

these bright little pink gems are not only pretty, but really tasty and much more fun than a regular ol' hard boiler. they are so easy to make and i was quite pleased (tickled pink you might say) with the results. i think they would be great as a colorful egg salad or deviled with some interesting filling...there are many many possibilities i'm sure...

so if you're a pickling novice, like myself, give these a go and be sure to use older eggs for your hard boilers..they make for a clean peel. a clean smooth peeled egg is key...no cracks or holes in the whites makes for a good picklin'


PRETTY IN PINK...PICKLED EGGS

To pickle, drain 1 can (16 oz.) sliced beets, reserving juice. Set beets aside for another use. In medium saucepan, combine reserved beet juice, 1 3/4 cups white vinegar, 1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons whole allspice and 1 stick cinnamon, halved. Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Arrange 8-9 PEELED hard-boiled eggs in 1-quart jar with tight-fitting lid...TIGHT being the operative word here..you do not want this bright pick juice to leak. Pour hot mixture over eggs. Cover tightly. Store in cool place OR cool at room temperature 1 hour. Refrigerate to blend flavors, at least several days or up to several weeks. After opening, refrigerate and use within 1 week.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pineapple Ginger Ale Cupcakes

PINEAPPLE GINGER ALE CUPCAKES
soooooooo easy, low fat, waist friendly, and quite delicious. i can't believe i haven't run across this recipe before. i'm always on the war path for things that aren't full sugar-full fat and these fit the bill. so easy and fast, i've already made them 2x's and i would have some in the oven right now, but BIG AL is baking a Pineapple Upside Down Cake...i don't know...all the sudden he felt like making his own cake...uh oh...could that be a subtle hint?...good?..or bad? i must admit, i haven't been baking much lately...i'm more into savory right now. the poor guy used to get a new fancy dessert every night. now sometimes he gets ice cream and...shhhhhh...store-bought cookies. trust me...i feel the shame. i have to get my baking boots back on. this was a simple start.

a great find..besides being one of those "this-isn't-gonna-work" recipes, it's fun to make and it's kid friendly...did i mention it's fairly waist friendly as well? low fat with no added oil and egg whites only. so fast to whip up and, like i said, a no-brainer.

i know it's from a box, BUT the fun is in the flavor combos. so far i've made these Pineapple Ginger Ale Cupcakes topped with crystallized ginger, freeze dried pineapple and a classic vanilla butter cream frosting. also, not shown, was a butter cake and diet cream soda with toasted pecans...a little maple glaze might have been great, but i was keeping it a little lo-cal for my pals.


DIET SODA CUPCAKE/CAKE
i think the recipe came from Weight Watchers, but i found this one at Food.com

1 box cake mix...i chose pineapple cake mix
10 oz. diet soda...ginger ale was a great choice
2 lg. egg whites...slightly beaten
1/2 cup toasted nuts or dried fruit or coconut etc.......optional
frosting and toppings optional...great on thier own.

preheat oven according to mix
prepare cupcake tin or 9x13 pan (lightly spray or oil). i don't think cupcake papers will work well with this...use a tin or silicon cups.
blend all ingredients well-no lumps
bake according to box-mix or when tooth pick comes out clean
let cool completely before topping.

Suggested Combinations from recipe at Food.com: yellow cake mix / diet lemon-lime soda (with a dollop of Cool Whip -- tastes like a "Twinkie") , orange cake / diet Mountain Dew , cherry chip cake / diet cream soda , diet lemon-lime soda / lemon cake , angel or yellow cake / diet orange , white cake / diet peach soda , spice cake / diet lemon-lime , diet ginger ale / white cake , diet cherry soda / chocolate cake , Diet cola / devils food or chocolate mix , diet vanilla coke / chocolate cake , devils food cake / diet Vanilla coke , diet root beer / chocolate cake , diet cherry coke / chocolate cake , marble cake / diet cream soda , lemon cake / tangerine Diet Rite

Friday, August 13, 2010

Beef Bone Marrow-Rendering

bone marrow...what i like to call "BEEF BUTTER"
not for the weak. i like it..i love it!... but then again i like pig ears, pork belly and turkey tails.

here i am again with something not so attractive, not so often used and a little out of the ordinary. surprise surprise. i'm sure you've seen roasted bone marrow on the menu. it's usually served beautifully roasted in the bone with it's own little special thin shovel shaped spoon, toast points and a few select accompaniments. it's quite dramatic and tasty if done properly and highly suggested for a first timer. the flavor is like a rich beefy butter. to some it's more of an event. you could liken it to eating caviar with all the goodies. some people just order it for the presentation and wow factor.











i can safely assume that not many will be attracted to this post, but those of you still interested i found an easy way to render the marrow from the bone. this can keep in the fridge for quite a while to use when needed. it's a great flavor enhancer for any stock, broth or sauce. ..add to your hamburgers for an extra rich flavor. it can be used as a dramatic first course or simply used like any fat or oil...

like i said...think of it as BEEF BUTTER

RENDERING BONE MARROW
some great info from my favorite new book "FAT" by Jennifer McLagan

i like to do this when i'm making oxtails or short ribs or any good beefy stock.

choose some bones that look freshly cut about 2-3 inches. the marrow should look nice and clean and white.
soak the bones in cold water with 2 tbsp kosher salt for 12-24 hours and refrigerate changing the water 4-5 times and resalting. this removes the blood. render straight away after the soaking.

if you're making stock, get that going as usual. mine consists of 1-2 onions quartered, a few celery stalks, smashed garlic and a few sliced carrots...a sprinkle of dry tarragon and oregano.

get this to a boil and then down to a simmer.

add the bones in and simmer for about 15-20 mins. carefully take the bones out and place them in a dish. (very easy to drop back in the pot and splash hot broth on oneself). the marrow should be loosening from the sides.

prepare a bowl of ice water and stir in 1 Tbsp kosher salt (more or less depending on the size of the bowl).

while they are warm carefully run a small knife around the marrow. sometimes the marrow will just slip out at this point, sometimes it will take a little work to get it out whole and in one nice big cylindrical piece. put the marrow into the cold salted water. it should solidify pretty quick. repeat with the rest. add ice to the water if necessary.

when you're done put the bones back into the stock because there is still lots of beefy goodness on them bones.

transfer the marrow to a tupperware (air-tight container) and cover with some fresh salted water. keep in the fridge for future use. change the salted water every few days until ready to use.


this was tasty and rich with a little sauteed shallots and some fresh parsley it can make something so plain into something wonderful, deep and delicious.

i can get a little carried away and add it to just about anything when i have it on hand. below i used it to cook my scrambled eggs and fried ham, then topped it off with a seared medallion of marrow and fresh parsley.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Crispy Skin Pork Belly


there's been so much interest in pork belly in the last year you'd have to be living in a cave not to have come across it in some way or another. maybe it came about with all the talk of "nose-to-tail" or maybe people just aren't so afraid of FAT anymore. what ever it is i'm glad i was introduced to this delicious part of the pig. i never thought in a million years i would be one of those that caught the bug for this big slab of moist unctuous pork and FAT...and i mean FAT. i always considered myself more of the fish and steamed veggie type...HA HA HA...not anymore. if you can wrap it in bacon i'm all for it. pork belly is just one big slab of bacon so naturally i am a big fan.<

if you're at all curious, this is a great recipe to start with. it's so easy, so delicious and a great way to introduce pork belly to those whose are a bit sceptical. it makes a great presentation right out of the oven, but it also keeps in the fridge ready to slice for single portions and rewarm for a quick belly fix (it slices much easier after it has been refrigerated for a bit.)


.JAMIE OLIVER'S PORK BELLY ROASToriginal recipe found here
i have copied it for you below with a few of my notes to follow

ingredients
• 1.5kg pork belly
sea salt (i used Kosher) and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 red onions, halved

(all else is only necessary if making the gravy
• 2 carrots, peeled and halved length ways
• 2 sticks of celery, chopped in half
• 1 bulb of garlic, skin on, broken into cloves
• a small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked
• 600ml water or stock
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2.5 hours

Preheat your oven to full whack, it needs to be at least 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
Place your pork on a clean work surface, skin-side upwards. Get yourself a small sharp knife
and make scores about a centimetre apart through the skin into the fat, but not so deep that
you cut into the meat. Rub salt right into all the scores you’ve just made, pulling the skin apart a little if you have to. Brush any excess salt off the surface of the skin and turn it over. Season the underside of the meat with a little more salt and a little black pepper. Place your pork, skin side-up, in a roasting tray big enough to hold the pork and the vegetables, and place in the hot oven.

Roast for about half an hour until the skin of the pork has started to puff up and you can see
it turning into crackling. Turn the heat down to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and roast for another hour.
Take out of the oven and baste with the fat in the bottom of the tray. Carefully lift the pork up and transfer to a chopping board. Add all the veg, garlic and thyme to the tray and stir them into the fat. Place the pork on top of everything and pop the tray back in the oven. Roast for another hour. By this time the meat should be meltingly soft and tender. Carefully move the meat to a serving dish, cover with tin foil and leave to rest while
you make your gravy.
Spoon away any fat in the tray, then add the water or stock and place the tray on the hob.
Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to
scrape up all those lovely sticky tasty bits on the bottom of the tray. When you’ve got a nice, dark gravy, pour it through a sieve into a bowl or gravy boat, using your spoon to really push all the goodness of the veg through the sieve. Add a little more salt and pepper if it needs it. Serve the pork with the crackling, gravy, some creamy mashed potato, nice fresh greens and a dollop of English mustard.

MY NOTES...i bought my pork belly (skin on) at a great Asian market, 99 Ranch, for about $2.99 lb. the last few i have bought were about 3- 3 1/2 lbs.

slicing the skin requires a very sharp knife. ceramic works really well...or i think you could ask your butcher to make the slices for you (read that in another post)

watch that too much salt doesn't get stuck in the slices of the skin. my first one was a bit too salty.

get that oven up to "full whack". i put mine at 450 degrees in a convection and i've tried 470 with top and bottom elements. both worked fine. just keep an eye on it and remember it still has 2 full hours of cooking to go after the 1/2 hour "full whack" stage.

i skipped all the vegetables except the onion. i used 2 large white onions sliced thick and placed them under the slab after the first hour. i think once i just put them under for the full 2 hours and i didn't have to worry about lifting up the hot belly roast in the middle of cooking. anyway you do it is fine. the star of the show is the pork belly and it will be fabulous either way.

below is what mine looked like 2 1/2 LONG hours later. i didn't do the whole gravy thing. i was just interested in the belly. since i found this recipe, i've cooked it 4 times. i think you'll find it particularly easy and oh so tasty. give it a go...Jamie is SPOT-ON with this one.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

CELERIAC Cabbage and Corned Beef

CELERIAC..

one of my new favorite vegetables...or is it really considered a veg. i think it might be in the "OFFAL" category of vegetables. it's not one of the most attractive items in the produce aisle. that's probably why i had to buy one and give it a go...


i would have to say the celeriac and cabbage was my favorite part of the meal, but the corned beef was excellent as well. the combo of the two was perfect. what normally would be considered a heavy St Pattie's Holiday meal turned out to be quite a light and delicious treat for a summer evening. the lightly sauteed celeriac/cabbage mixture really kept the meal fresh and clean kind of like a warm slaw salad. one doesn't usually think of corned beef except once a year, but did you consider the leftovers?...mmmm mmm mmmm...nothin' like a good homemade corned beef on bakery fresh rye when you least expect it.


WARM CELERIAC CABBAGE SLAW
1/2 celeriac-cut the outside ugly part off. cut into 1/2" or so slices so that you can use a peeler to make some nice long strips. (you can see in the photo above)
approx 1/2 head of small white cabbage-large shred
1/2 large onion french cut.(1/2 rings will do fine, but like i french cut better)
2-4 thin sliced garlic
herbs of choice or what's on hand
a small amount of cooking liquid from main dish or just some nice chicken broth
salt and pepper AFTER it's cooked


EASY PEAZY INSTRUCTIONS
saute onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil
add celeriac, cabbage, fresh herbs if using and small amount of broth or cooking liquid. this is where i just spooned in some of the liquid from the slow cooker corned beef. you want just enough to help cook the veg a little, but not to soak or drown them. try to keep this like a warm slaw. don't over-cook. take it off the heat before you think it's done. check for seasoning. salt after it's cooks to keep it from weeping. you'll know when it done to your liking. half my family likes it a bit crunchy and the other half likes it all the way cooked...



CROCK POT CORNED BEEF
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 8-9 hours
Ingredients:
•6 carrots, cut into chunks
•2 onions, chopped
•2-3 lb. corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
•12 oz. can beer (non alcoholic is fine)
•2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
•1/4 cup brown sugar
•1 cup water

Preparation:
In 4-6 quart crock pot, combine carrots and onions. Rinse corned beef under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place in crock pot and sprinkle with contents of seasoning mix. Pour beer over brisket and spread mustard on brisket. In small bowl mix brown sugar with water and pour over brisket. Cover crock pot and cook on low setting for 8-9 hours.
Remove corned beef from crock pot and cover with foil to keep warm if serving soon. at this point it's a bit hard to slice, but shreds great of falls into big lovely melt in your mouth chunks. i like to put it in the fridge (after eating my "fair chefs share") for a few hours or over night so that it can be easily sliced (as shown in photo)...this is truly the tasty way to cook a corned beef...no hassle and always come out prefect. it's hard not to eat half of it before it goes in the fridge, but you'll see how much easier it is to get a good slice after it's been chilled. oh...it heats up really well in the microwave, just don't over do it and you'll be fine.
warm or cold...this makes for an unlikely fabulous tasty summer meal...breakfast, lunch or dinner. i think i'll make another this week end...hmmmmmm.

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