Sunday, December 14, 2014

Beef Sous Vide style

I took a frozen flat iron out this a.m. and placed in a vacuum bag with some seasoning and sealed it. The oven was set to 134 degrees and I dropped in the frozen steak and left for church. We pretty much ignored it all day and about 5 I removed it and heated a cast iron for the final sear. Perfectly medium, tender, juicy with a bit of Bearnaise and some sprouts it made a lovely supper.
We are gonna love this thing.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sous Vide Chicken

I may never cook chicken again without this oven. Tender, juicy and unbelievable. I may even use it to cook chicken for other recipes. Crazy. Not much to look at out of the bag but a few minutes in a pan with a little butter and olive oil and it browned up nicely and left me a nice fond to turn into a light cream sauce using the juices from the sous vide bag and a little garlic.

I am a convert. I can't wait to make Indian food with it. Imagine cooking the chicken in the tandori spices for a few hours. Wow. Come to dinner, I need an excuse to make a meal.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Speaking of my birthday..

SousVide Supreme Demi Promo PackA Sous Vide Oven. The kids and my lovely wife bought me this for my grand celebration. I think this Sous Vide Oven will change some things about cooking in the house. I am reading up on uses and techniques to insure that this will be used and not just a novelty taking up space. Interesting concept here since few know what Sous Vide actually is. I am not exactly sure why I do.

Basically you vacuum pack raw foods and set the water temperature to the done-ness desired. Drop the food in and let it 'cook' up to 8 hours. Kind of a water bath crock pot. Once it has reached temperature, you must brown the food in a skillet to give it a bit of color. You may cook steaks and roasts also but the time in an over night type affair. The thicker the food, the longer it will take. So there will be a few future posts regarding Sous Vide dishes. Wait for it....more to come.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cacciatore revisted....a better outcome for sure

I made Chicken Cacciatore for my birthday yesterday.  This time I tried to avoid the soggy chicken skin and inedible parts of the dish and focus on a better understanding of what flavors the sauce and keeping the chicken super crisp.

I again used Tyler Florence's recipe (elsewhere in the blog) as a starting point sans lemons. Basically made a marinara heavy on the roasted red peppers (2 jars, divided) and no,  I did not roast them myself as the jars were way cheaper.  Before adding the capers and mushrooms (my addition) I buzzed the sauce with the hand blender to smooth things out a bit.

Now the chicken: I used bone in, skin on thighs and breasts for the ladies. The thighs, I de-boned and saved all the scraps. It made neat little skin enveloped thigh packages of dark meat that fried up after a dredge in flour (no egg, what mess that is.) Super golden brown before flipping over, I then did the same with the bones and discard pieces of chicken, fried them brown then added them to the sauce for a long slow cook. 

I placed the completed browned thighs and breasts in the oven on a rack at 325 till they were cooked through and then held them at 180 till dinner. I removed the discard stuff from the sauce and added in my reserved jar of peppers and mushrooms and capers. I heated everything, made the polenta and then served it by spooning the polenta on the plate, a piece or 2 of chicken and covered the chicken with sauce. The result was crispy chicken and a great sauce.  this is the way to make a Cacciatore. Great eats.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Eating Omaha....The Blatt Beer and Table

A new place in West Omaha opened last week and we tried it twice with uneven results but it's a Sports Bar with a famous Omaha name.

The bar itself sports the Rosenblatt sign from the original stadium and the seats are a combination of padded benches along the wall and incredibly uncomfortable chairs on the aisle side. The menu sports the usual bar food type of deal but with a ball park twist. Burgers and Brats as well as unique appetizers round out the massive beer selection.

The service the first time was prompt and attentive and we had appetizers with friends. Pretzel bites and dips, french fries and Chicken fingers. The fingers were great but I thought the very crisp crust a bit greasy. The Pretzel bites are my favorite served with a mustard and a cheese fondue sauce. I would prefer a more robust cheese sauce personally. All in all a good experience despite the uncomfortable seat. A bonus we ran into a kid we used to go to church with, Tyler Manucuso, all grown up and super friendly and fun to talk too.

The second visit was after a long meeting and a little later in the evening. We split a Indian Chicken Sandwich and a side of fries. I had a cup of Beer Cheese soup also. It took some time to get our order and the wait staff was slow. I like my water glass full at all times and I drink a lot of water with my meals. The sandwich was pretty good with a chutney to balance the seasoned chicken breast on a soft roll. The fries were cold and the replacement order was lukewarm and came after we weer done.  The soup was a nicely balance Beer cheese with large crunchy croutons. Very good but pricey really for a cup of soup.

All in all a nice place to stop for a quick nosh if you're not in too big of a hurry. Great little corner bar.

Turkey made easy

Another Thanksgiving said and done and another bird or 2 spatchcocked and cooked in an hour or so.

The night before I cut the backbone from 2 thawed birds and applied a lot of pressure to the breast till I heard a satisfying crack. I sprinkled both birds with salt (like a snow fall) and covered them overnight in the fridge. The next morning the salt was gone and I left the birds uncovered to dry the skin. Once done, a pre heated 400 degree oven cooked them in a little more than a hour or so. These birds had no pop up timer thank goodness so I place a remote thermometer in the thickest part of the breast and set it at 160. Perfection as you can see. A lovely golden brown, tender juicy meat and a few drippings to add to my Tyler Florence Gravy I had made ahead of time (elswhere on the blog and worth a look. Best gravy ever). So tasty.

Here's an interesting fact, while the breast of the finished bird reached about 165, the thighs registered 173, crazy huh? All cooked to a delight.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Roasted Tomato Soup and Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese

Yes, I made tomato soup again but this time all red tomatoes, roasted with garlic and frozen in their juice late in the summer
I nuked them to thaw slightly and added them to a chopped sauteed onion. I used my trusty immersion blender to pulverize the veggies then added a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of cream and 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan.
I thinned it down with some skim milk and added 1 teaspoon of habanero sauce. Mix it all and give a final whir of the blender then leave it on low heat while you make the sandwiches.

For the grilled cheese I melted 2 teaspoons of butter in a skillet and placed 2 slices of bread. Top the bread with a slice of American and a slice of Muenster then the second slice of bread. Turn the sandwich after sneaking more butter in the pan and top with grated Parmesan. Turn again and top the last side and turn to melt. Serve along side the soup. Great dipping!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stuffed Pumpkin

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

What to do first:

Preheat oven to 350 degree. The pumpkin takes about 2 hours to cook.

Cut the top off a 3-pound pumpkin, as you would if you were making a jack-o-lantern style and clean out the insides. Hang on to the lid.
What you need:

1 T olive oil
2 leeks, cleaned
2 cloves garlic
4 oz. mushrooms
4 oz. monterey jack, 1/2 inch cubes
4 oz. sharp cheddar, 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups dried bread cube stuffing
1 t thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 c cream Options: cooked crumbled sausage, crisp chopped bacon
What you do second:
Place cleaned pumpkin in a foil pie pan on a baking sheet.
Chop leeks, white part and light green part into 1-inch chunks, halved.
Saute with mushrooms and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Salt and pepper to taste. Combine in a bowl with bread cubes, cheeses and thyme. Add cooked bacon or sausage to mix if desired.

Stuff pumpkin tightly. Poke holes in filling add cream to top and let it soak through. Put the lid on and bake at 350 for 2 hours. Check after 90 minutes. Serve by scooping some pumpkin flesh and stuffing into a bowl.

I had to repost this recipe since it corrupted somehow in the blog from an earlier date. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Texas Rising Chili Con Carne From Jeff Mauro

courtesy Food Channel

I spotted a segment on the Food Channel for  Jeff Mauro's chili con carne and decided to give it a go. I am not normally a chili fan but the Mrs. is although I think she longs for a more traditional approach and if you know me at all....I am not traditional sometimes to my detriment.

3 dried Ancho Chile's
1 dried New Mexico Chile
1 Chile d'arbol
1 TB ground cumin
6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into lardons
1 tsp oregano
4 pound chuck roast trimmed cut into 1 inch cubes
salt and pepper
1 medium onion diced
4 jalapenos ribs and seeds removed diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
4 cups beef stock
14 ounce can tomatoes
2 TB corn meal
juice 2 limes

Toast the dried Chile's till they puff about 5-7 minutes. Remove stems and seeds.
In a food processor or spice grinder, process the chiles to a powder and add the cumin and oregano with enough hot water to form a paste.

Heat a large Dutch oven and add the bacon, render the fat and cook crispy. Remove from pan and reserve. Keep the fat.
Sprinkle the beef with a bit of flour, salt and pepper then cook in the fat in batches till browned. Remove the beef and add the Chile paste then the onions. Cook till translucent then add the garlic and jalapenos. Careful here as the paste can get a bit overdone if you let it.

Add the beef back with the tomatoes and cornmeal. Cook till thick and rich adding beef stock to thin.* Adjust the seasoning.

* Here I differed, adding some of the stock to scrape up the bits from the pan, then adding the beef and tomatoes with  stock to cover. I covered the whole thing and placed in a 325 degree oven for 3 hours till the beef fell apart. I skimmed the fat and the sauce was plenty thick without the addition of cornmeal. We also added a can of drained, rinsed black beans for the Mrs. I also added a tablespoon of my homemade Habanero sauce for a little heat.

Served with a sprinkle of sharp cheddar and a dollop of sour cream, I thought this was pretty good and even better the next day at lunch.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reaching Egg Nirvana

Soft boiled eggs. I usually hated the prospect of running into uncooked whites so avoided them at all costs but lately.....

My lovely bride started ordering poached eggs and I thought them way too fussy to cook on my own and several attempts left me cold.  Then I encountered a few web sites that touted perfect methods of egg cookery and I had to try again but this time not poached but soft boiled. A soft boiled egg is basically poached but in the shell right? I reached egg nirvana with minimum fuss but you have to mind the clock. Easy to do.

In a pan with a cover, boil 1/2" of water. Place into the pan at boiling point a cold extra large egg.  Cover and countdown 6 minutes 30 secs.  How easy can that be right from the fridge and as many as you like. The secret being the small amount of water comes back to a boil instantly. The timing is the key element here. I would imagine 30 seconds less for a large egg.  After the time is up, run the egg under cold water to stop cooking and peel. Lovely dreamy tender whites and yolks that run but have just enough consistency not to be out of control. Perfection on a plate over a buttered toast or muffin.


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