Friday, April 29, 2016

Firing Up The Grill - Churrasco

The weather is warming up and grill season is nearly in full swing. Are you ready????
If not, there's no better time to try out an easy Steak Marinade that will please and impress a hungry crowd (with nearly zero effort). That's just what this Churrasco (an Argentinian Steak preparation usually made with Skirt Steak) did, and let me tell you, it made for one tasty dinner. Below you'll find the how-to for a wonderful, basic Cuban Mojo (a traditional citrus-driven marinade) and a link to the herby and delicious Chimichurri Sauce you see pictured. 

Our Churrasco is marinated in a Mojo and served with a non-traditional Cuban-Style Chimichurri, Photo: NK  

Here's the finished product which will be served to guests. Everyone gets a long-cut serving of medium-rare (don't even get me started) Skirt Steak with a side of Chimichurri (the one we chose to use has, again, a Cuban twist, thanks to Cilantro) . Easy grill sides you could add might include Asparagus and Sweet Potatoes or Yams. You'll finish with a fresh and colorful plate that would stick to anyone's ribs. If you love this sound of this dinner, you should definitely check our favorite Tacos Carne Asada too! 

Churrasco is usually Skirt Steak Cut long and into strips
Photo: NK 

Mojo Marinated Churrasco (Argentinian Style Skirt Steak)
From 3 Guys From Miami
Serves 4 

3 Pounds Skirt Steak, cut long
30 Cloves of Garlic
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
1.5 Cups Sour Orange Juice (**OR 1 Cup Orange Juice plus 1/4 each Lemon Juice and Lime Juice)
1 Cup finely diced White Onion
2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
1 Cup Olive Oil

Chimichurri - see Recipe

Toss everything in a blender until fairly smooth. Poor over steak in either a glass dish or ziploc bag and let sit a minimum of 5 hours or, better yet, overnight. 

Heat a grill until blazing hot! Cook steak a few minutes on each side until medium rare (roughly 4-5 minutes per side if the meat is about 1 inch thick), but press on the meat frequently and use your judgment. Remove from the grill and let it sit for 6 to 10 minutes. Serve a strip of Meat to each guest alongside their own personal portion of Chimichurri. Instruct them the slice meat against the grain and tell them to enjoy!  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bowled Over - Hawaiian Inspired Pork & Greens Bowl

Bowls are definitely a thing these days. They are everywhere. From breakfast bowls, to protein bowls, to acai bowls, you're apparently not really eating until you're face-first into a big mishmash of all kinds of good stuff. I was reluctant to get into the bowl gimmick but you know I am never opposed to a delicious meal, and I created today's bowl as a way to address my frequent craving for sweet, sour and salty flavors all in one place. Incorporating spicy, Chipotle-marinated Pork Chops, tangy Pineapple and shredded raw Greens, our Hawaiian-inspired Bowl hits the spot. 

Island Flavors in a low-carb, protein-packed bowl with a ton of leafy greens! Photo: NK 

I include Barley, a favorite grain of mine, in the recipe because I think it lends some nice texture while making this extra stick-to-your-ribs. Any grain would make a worthy substitute, and the best part is, you're only using a small amount so the dish remains relatively low carb. No worries if you want toss the Barley and make it totally carb-free. 

The prep for this recipe can be done the night before and is super fast --- all you have to do is crush a few Garlic cloves, core a Pineapple (for the marinade -- Pineapple Core is pretty inedible but it does a great job imparting flavor with no wast)  and crack open a can of Chipotle in Adobo. Then just look forward to tomorrow's cooked Pork will emerge from your skillet nicely spiced, tender and juicy.  

I know a recipe is a winner when I am compelled to make it twice in two weeks. Until next time, and I hope you enjoy our Hawaiian-Inspired Pork Bowl as much as we did. 

Hawaiian-Inspired Pork & Greens Bowl
Serves 3-4

2 - 1 inch Boneless Pork Chops, about 8 ounces each
1 small can Chipotle in Adobo
1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice (optional) 
1 Tablespoon Neutral Oil (Olive or Grapeseed)
2 Cloves of Garlic, Crushed. 
3 Pineapple Rings, cut into bite-sized wedges, core set aside and sliced up for the marinade
1/2 a small Yellow or White Onion, diced 
1 Cup cooked Pearl Barley 
4 Ounces Mixed Asian Greens (Bok Choy, Mizuna, Mustard Greens) such as Gotham Greens Blend chopped into bite-sized pieces. 
1 teaspoon Neutral Oil
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
10 Grape Tomatoes, sliced in halves (optional)


The night before, place 2 Pork Chops in a large lidded bowl or ziploc bag. Add 3 whole Chipotle Chilis from the can, followed by 2 Tablespoon of the Adobo Sauce. Add sliced Pineapple Core to the marinade, crushed Garlic Cloves, Soy Sauce and Lime Juice. Let sit in the fridge overnight, tossing occasionally if possible. 

Remove Pork from the marinade and wipe off the excess with a paper towel. Cook Pork Chops over medium heat in a pre-heated cast-iron skillet, 3-4 on one side. Flip and lower the heat. Continue to cook another few minutes until medium. Allow to sit 5-6 minutes and chop into one-inch bite-sized pieces. 

To serve, toss Greens and Cooked Barley together in a large mixing bowl. Add Pineapple chunks and Grape Tomatoes. Drizzle in 1 teaspoon of Oil (Olive, Grapeseed, etc) and 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar. Toss. Divide Greens Mixture into bowls, and top with equal portions of cubed Pork. Serve alongside your favorite Hot Sauce and enjoy! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Husband Cooks - Lamb Vindaloo

It's always a happy day when my husband and number one cooking partner wants to take the lead on a special weekend meal. Inevitably, despite my attempts to steer him towards my favorites (pasta and seafood), he'll gravitate towards some variation of meat and potatoes in a sauce. This is how he got his lovable nickname, the "Stew Father." 

Now I have nothing against Stew (did you read my rant on Chicken Breast?), but it's also not my idea of an exciting weekend dinner. Unless of course it's Eric Ripert's Beef Bourguignon. So you can imagine my delight when I found out that Mr.'s Meat and Potato dish was to take the form of our favorite Indian take out meal - super spicy Lamb Vindaloo. A little research on his part turned up a very straightforward recipe from BBC Food. To my surprise, none of the ingredients that were called for were particularly exotic, and most well-stocked pantries would have all the spices required - we didn't have to purchase anything extra but the Lamb and Potatoes. 

Lamb Vindaloo according to a fab recipe on BBC Food! Photo: NK 

Before we continue to the recipe, here are some handy pointers that may help.


Portioning and Ingredient Shortcuts/Substitutes - We portioned this for two to three people, and cut the recipe accordingly. For us, read: two extra-hungry people, that amounted to 1 Pound of easy-to-find pre-cut Lamb Stew Meat (the recipe instead suggests a whole Boneless Lamb Shoulder) and two medium-sized Idaho Potatoes.

We subbed in Grapeseed Oil for Sunflower Oil, which is what the recipe calls for. Using Olive Oil would probably work well too in a pinch. 

Timing Be sure to start about two hours ahead to let the Lamb sit in the Oil, Vinegar and Salt Mixture.

Equipment - A ceramic casserole such a Le Creuset or any other oven-safe heavy ceramic pot will work well. 

Garnishes -At the risk of further compromising the authenticity of this dish, I couldn't resist adding a little color on to perk up the plate. Some leftover Scallions did the job, and Mango, a fruit that actually does make its fair share of appearances in Indian cuisine,was a nice, sweet foil to the blazing hot spices of this savory Lamb dish.  You could also serve Vindaloo with a cooling Yogurt or Raita as the recipe on BBC Food suggests. 

This recipe was a winner and I am so glad that my husband chose it. It was easy to prepare and came together deliciously using basic and ubiquitous ingredients. One last thing - this is really spicy! If you're anything like I am, that's one hell of a good thing. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Weeknight Indulgence - Roasted Chicken With Orange Tarragon Butter

Me and Chicken, we've got a complicated relationship going. Arguably America's favorite meat, Chicken has just never done it for me. I know, I know, you don't agree - I've heard it all before - but admit it: Chicken needs embellishment to be interesting. Sure, you can serve it slathered in barbecue sauce or bread and fry it, but no one, no one, is going bonkers for a plain old Chicken Breast. And please, don't even think about preparing it skinless (why!?). No matter how good a cook you are, you may as well ask me to gnaw on a piece of cardboard. Really, no thanks. 

In summary, my chief complaint about Chicken is this: on its own, it is just not a particularly flavorful meat. If you don't agree, compare Steak or Lamb, meats that require minimal enhancement to be interesting. Just a little Salt and Pepper and you're good to go. But not Chicken - Chicken needs a little more zhushing. But if there's a silver lining to Chicken's woeful blank slate status, it's that it does take flavor exceptionally well, and when seasoned nicely and prepared with care, it can really be something special. 

Roasted Chicken With Orange Tarragon Butter, Photo: NK 

Today's easy and surprisingly indulgent weeknight dinner is an excellent example of Chicken at its finest. Flavored with a bright, tangy Orange Juice and Zest combined herbaceous notes from the Tarragon ( a favorite herb of mine that has a twinge of Licorice in its scent) it's tasty but understated.

Roasted whole Chicken also incorporates my two other rules for great Chicken:  if you prepare it bone-in, it will always be juicier. The second rule is to leave the skin on, because, hello, that's the good stuff. Even if you take it off prior to eating (why?!!) cooking Chicken with the skin on will make for a moister, more delcious bird. 

Note: This dish has a longer prep time than our normal weeknight meals - it will take about 10 minutes to prepare and an hour and a half to cook, plus ten minutes to rest. You will, however, find that if you can start early enough, the recipe is practically effortless. Barely any prep time at all - maybe five minutes, tops! The Orange Tarragon Butter that makes this recipe so decadent could certainly be made ahead, providing you build in some time to bring it to room temperature. 

Easy Orange Tarragon Roasted Chicken
Serves 3-4 adults 

Orange Tarragon Butter, Photo; NK


One 4.5 to 6 Pound Roasted Chicken, giblets removed and brought to room temperature
3 Tablespoons Salted Butter, room temperature
1 small Yellow or White Onion, halved 
1 large Navel Orange, Zested and halved
1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Tarragon plus a few sprigs for garnish
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 with the rack in the middle.

Bring Chicken to room temperature by letting it sit out about a half an hour.

Mix the Butter and Tarragon together in a small bowl. Add all the Orange Zest and the juice of half the Orange. Mix again until well incorporated. It's ok if some of the Orange Juice remains separated.

Stuff the Chicken's cavity with the two Onion Halves and/or the other unjuiced half of the Orange. Place the bird in a roasting pan. 

Season the bird liberally with Kosher Salt and Black Pepper. Next, cut a hole into the skin just above the neck, so that you create a pocket between the skin and bird. Carefully pull the skin up from the body as you stuff it with some of the Orange Tarragon Butter, smooshing it around as best you can. 
Finish by coating the outside of the bird with all the remaining Flavored butter. 

Place in the oven on the middle rack and roast for about an hour and 20 minutes (for a 4.25 lb bird) to an hour and a half (for a large bird), basting several times with the pan juices. Place the Chicken on a platter and pour the pan juices over it. Serve with orange slices (from the second half of the Orange) and sprigs of fresh Tarragon.