Monday, August 29, 2011

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

This recipe is courtesy of Everyday Food. Serve over white or brown rice or Chinese noodles.

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
Ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds flank steak, cut diagonally across the grain into 1/2-inch-by-3-inch strips
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 head broccoli, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch rounds, florets separated into bite-size pieces
Coarse salt

In a large, shallow bowl, mix soy sauce, apple juice, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add meat; toss to coat. Let marinate 15 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate; reserve marinade.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. In two batches, cook meat until lightly browned, turning once, about 2 minutes per batch. Remove meat. Add 1/2 cup water to pan; stir up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour into marinade; whisk in cornstarch.

In same skillet, fry broccoli in remaining teaspoon oil over high heat until bright green and crisp, tossing often, 2 minutes. Add 1 cup water; cook until broccoli is tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Stir marinade, add to pan, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened, 30 seconds. Return meat to pan; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Fig and Rosemary Pork

I love figs and they are available for only a brief time each year, so you gotta jump on them while you can. And this week at my Publix, black mission figs (my fave) were buy one get one free - SCORE! The Publix Apron's meal of the week was this fig and rosemary pork recipe. Pork tenderloins were also on sale - DOUBLE SCORE! This recipe is definetly worthy for a romantic night or for guests.

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (I hate buying fresh rosemary, because I never use it all, so just use dried rosemary if you want)
3 shallots, thinly sliced
10 small fresh figs, coarsely chopped
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
4 oz Deli diced pancetta (or bacon)
1 cup fresh pre-sliced baby portabellas
3/4 cup Marsala wine
1/3 cup fat-free chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Season pork with rosemary, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil; let stand 5–10 minutes to marinate. Preheat grill pan (or grill).

Place pork in grill pan (or on grill); grill 15–20 minutes, turning occasionally, or until 160°F (for medium). Let stand 5–10 minutes before slicing.

Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, then add pancetta, mushrooms, shallots, and figs; cook 2–3 minutes or until pancetta is golden and mushrooms are tender.

Add wine; cook 2–3 minutes, stirring often, or until liquid has reduced by about one-half.

Add broth; cook 2–3 more minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in butter. Slice pork, then top with sauce. Serve.

I made mashed potatoes to serve with this dish.

Beer Braised Chicken

This dish tastes as good as it sounds. Bacon, beer and chicken, what's not to like, right? If you don't like dark meat, I suggest just using four chicken breasts instead of the whole chicken, quartered. I'll think I'll do that next time. I just recommend getting bone-in chicken breasts, otherwise the meat will just fall apart. Plus, the bone adds more flavor. This recipe is courtesy of Claire Robinson.

3 slices thick cut applewood bacon
1 whole chicken, quartered
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 fennel bulb, trimmed cored and thinly sliced
1 bottle dark beer (I like Newcastle Brown Ale, but use whatever dark beer you like)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon until nice and crispy. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and crumble when cooled.

Pat the chicken dry and season on all sides with salt and pepper. Sear the chicken on all sides in the pan with the rendered bacon fat, until the outside is brown and crispy. Remove the chicken to a plate and add the fennel to the pan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and saute until caramelized and tender, about 10 minutes.
Add a little water if the fennel starts to burn. Pour in the beer and bring it to a simmer. Nestle the chicken and all resting juices, breast side down, in the fennel and beer. Cover and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, flipping the chicken over after 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and put over low heat. Remove the chicken pieces to a warmed serving platter. Add the vinegar to the sauce and simmer to reduce to a thicker consistency, about 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces, top with crumbled bacon and serve immediately. If you want a smoother sauce, just strain the sauce after it has reduced.

Claire doesn't really specify what side dish she serves with this meal, but I made some egg noodles and then tossed them with butter and chopped parsley. I though it was a perfect match and a little of the beer sauce poured over the noodles was excellent.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Catering Job!

I was asked by my dear family friends The McIntosh's to cater their mortgage burning party. Yes, they have paid their house in full. A major accomplishment indeed. I was absolutely happy and honored to do it for them. We went with a Tampa/Florida theme for the food. Things like roasted pork, black beans and rice, key lime pie for dessert and Ybor City cigars and local beer from Cigar City Brewery. Everything was a big hit. Below is the menu with links to some of the recipes.

Shrimp and Chorizo Tapas with Toasted Cuban Bread
Roasted Olives
Chai Thai Meatballs
Spicy Feta Cheese Dip
White Bean Dip
Stuffed Mushrooms

Main Dishes:
Roast Pork (I admit I went to an authentic Cuban place for this one - El Gallo de Oro on N. Armenia Ave. in West Tampa.)
Black Beans and Rice (I used my husband's grandmother's recipe, so sorry, going to keep this one in the family)
Cuban Sandwiches
1905 Salad

Assorted Guava Pastries from Don Pan Bakery
Key Lime Pie

Cigar City Brewery
Red Sangria
White Sangria
Pomegranate Martinis

White Sangria

Here's a sangria recipe if you prefer white wine or just want to try something a little different. Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger.

1 (750-ml) bottle white wine (pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc)
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup orange liqueur (Cointreau or triple sec)
2 tablespoons superfine sugar (you could use simple syrup instead)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup club soda
1 medium unpeeled orange, sliced
1 unpeeled lemon, sliced
1 unpeeled lime, sliced (I added this)

In a pitcher combine the wine, brandy, orange liqueur and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the orange juice and club soda. Add the orange and lemon slices, and chill. Serve over ice.

Pomegranate Sangria

This is my go-to red sangria recipe. It's always a big hit. This recipe has been altered from a Bobby Flay recipe. If you're making this for a party, I recommend making it a day in advance. All the flavors really combine well and the fruit can marinate.

1 bottle fruity red wine, such as a Rioja or merlot
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup Triple Sec
1/4 cup simple syrup (equal amounts sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves, cooled)
1 large orange, halved and thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 lemon thinly sliced
1 cup red grapes, sliced in 1/2

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours before serving. Serve over ice.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

This is a pretty classic tomato bruschetta recipe. What's great about bruschetta is that you can add pretty much anything you want. You could easily add feta cheese or mozzarella to this recipe if you wanted. I also like to spread a little ricotta cheese on my toast point and then add the tomato topping. Nothing is exact with this recips either. Use however much of the ingredients look good to you.

Plum tomatoes or vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
garlic, chopped
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
basil leaves, chopped or julliened

Add the chopped tomatoes and garlic to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add the basil and stir to combine once again. Serve on sliced Italian bread that has been toasted in the oven.

Stuffed Mushrooms

There are a lot of fancy stuffed mushrooms out there, but these straightforward ones using just breadcrumbs, cheese and few herbs are delicious. This recipe has been altered from a Giada recipe. And if you're making these for a party you can prepare a day ahead and just bake off before your guests arrive.

1/2 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
28 large (2 1/2-inch-diameter) white mushrooms, stemmed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Chop up the stems of the mushrooms in a food processor. Add the garlic and parsley and pulse until chopped and combined. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the bread crumbs, Pecorino Romano, salt and pepper, to taste, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl to blend.

Drizzle a heavy large baking sheet with about 1 tablespoon olive oil, to coat. Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange on the baking sheet, cavity side up. Drizzle remaining oil over the filling in each mushroom. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is heated through and golden on top, about 25 minutes. Serve.

Roasted Olives

Here's something you probably never thought of roasting, but turns out are super delicious. I found this recipe on Food Network. It said to use the olives with pits, but that is just stupid. No one likes to eat olives and then have to spit out the pits, especially at a party, which is what I made this recipe for.

3 cups mixed green and black olives
dried oregano
Thyme, chopped
4 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 lemons
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a small roasting pan, mix together the olives, herbs, and garlic. Slice the lemons in half and squeeze the juice over the olives; toss in the rinds. Pour over the olive oil and vinegar and give it a good stir. Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Key Lime Pie

This was my first key lime pie ever (baking, of course, not eating. On my honeymoon in Key West I ate a piece every single day we were there). This recipe is courtesy of Joe's Stone Crab. In case you were wondering, the differences between key limes and regular limes are that key limes are smaller, more acidic, have a more tart flavor, a stronger aroma and are yellow compared to green.

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 paper-wrapped package graham crackers (1/3 of a 1 pound box) or 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar

3 egg yolks
2 limes, zest grated (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (if you get Key limes, use them: otherwise use regular limes)

1 cup heavy or whipping cream, chilled
3 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar

For the graham cracker crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan. Break up the graham crackers: place in a food processor and process to crumbs. (If you dont have a food processor, place the crackers in a large plastic bag: seal and then crush the crackers with a rolling pin.) Add the melted butter and sugar and pulse or stir until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan, forming a neat border around the edge. Bake the crust until set and golden, 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling: Meanwhile, in a electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and lime zest at a high speed until very fluffy, abut 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined, no longer. Pour mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the filling has set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

For the topping: Whip the cream and the confectioners' sugar until nearly stiff. Cut the pie in wedges and serve very cold, topping each wedge with a large dollop of whipped cream

This is how many key limes it takes to yield enough juice to make two pies.

Finished product