Posts tagged ‘steak’

October 5, 2013

Grains of Paradise and Cayenne Oatmeal Cookies

Living in Houston I’ve learned that Texans LOVE spicy, hot food.  They serve everything with a side of Tabasco or hot salsa that makes your forehead sweat, and it’s already hot enough without the spicy food.  Eggs, steak, salads, burgers… everything is bursting with heat.  I spent my first few months in Houston downing gallons of milk every time I attempted to conquer the red salsa at our local Mexican restaurant.  Sadly, I never succeeded.  But in an effort to enbrace my new home I’ve tried to incorporate some spice into my classic recipes to satisfy my friends cravings.

Grains of Paradise and Cayenne Oatmeal Cookies

The thing I like about these cookies is that they don’t immediately smack you in the face with heat, it gradually hits at the end and lingers ever so slightly.  I didn’t want to mess with a classic too much, but I do think this takes a traditional oatmeal cookie to a more grown up level.  The cranberries add to the chewy texture of the oats and give it an added sweetness needed with the earthy spices. I purposely left out cinnamon, usually a staple in oatmeal cookies, as I didn’t want it to mask the other spices. 

The secret ingredient in these cookies is grains of paradise, a spice native to West Africa. I crushed the grains with my mortar and pestle which released the most heavenly aroma — a combination of black pepper, cardamom, coriander and citrus with a lingering scent of something floral and woodsy.  If you crack one between your teeth, the flavor follows in much the same order as the aroma.  If you only get one thing from this recipe I hope it’s an introduction to this wonderful spice.  The floral, peppery flavor is going to make a wonderful addition to just about all your favorite foods.  Your grilled steaks, fish, vegetables and potatoes will thank you.

If you’re looking for something a little more special, pop two cookies in the oven at 350 for a few minutes and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you have a perfect ice cream sandwich. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (more if you are adventurous)
  • 1 tsp. grains of paradise
  • 1 tsp.  baking soda
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped and toasted
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups traditional Quaker Oats (not quick cook)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F
  2. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. This helps the cookies crisp by being closer to the heat source or at the very top where the heat accumulates.
  3. Place nuts in a small pan and toast on medium heat for 5-7 minutes.  As soon as they become fragrant take them off the heat and space them on the side to cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cayenne, grains of paradise and salt thoroughly and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, beat butter, white and brown sugar, and vanilla until the mixture changes color and becomes a smooth, pale white… this is what you want so you have light, fluffy cookies.
  6. Slowly add the flour mixture and continue to stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
  7. Add oats, pecans and cranberries and stir until mixed well.
  8. Scoop dough on to ungreased cookie sheets, I use a mini ice cream scoop to make it easier.  I also spray the spoon with pam so the dough doesn’t stick.
  9. Bake for 8-10 more minutes until the cookies are golden brown
  10. Let the cookies cool on pan for 1 minute before placing on wire rack.
  11. Enjoy!

 

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March 13, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash and Ginger Carrots

Piping hot out of the oven, or room temperature on a sizzling summer day, roasted veggies serve as a perfect side dish to just about anything.  The variety of flavors you can unearth from diverse spices and oils allow you to adapt your dish to go perfectly with a roast chicken, seared salmon, or simply grilled steak.

The irresistible crunchy, caramelized edges, warm tender center, and rustic quality remind me of Italy.  There’s a time and place for perfectly cut vegetables, but it’s not in my kitchen.  The more time I can spend enjoying the food and less time prepping the better, especially on a busy weeknight. No need to stress yourself over perfect knife cuts – I know chefs everywhere are cringing over that statement – but honestly, as long as they’re all about the same size they will cook evenly and that’s all you need.

The fresh, clean tang of ginger contrasted with the sweetness of the carrots help brighten their natural flavor.  Garlic slowly warmed in the oven with a coating of healthy olive oil; mixed with the deep, creamy earthiness of butternut squash is a blissful combination.  The two together were simply flawless, and set side by side with a grilled steak and you’ll feel like you’re in paradise (or an Italian vacation in the middle of Tuscany).

Garlicky Butternut Squash

Ingredients

  • 2 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. extra light olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. black truffle infused olive oil
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, coarse ground
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Wash and peel squash, and cut it into bite size squares.
  3. Place squash in a glass baking dish and drizzle with extra light olive oil.  Extra light olive oil has a higher burning temperature so I find it better for roasting.  Due to valuable antioxidants and ability to help lower total cholesterol, I always use extra light olive oil as a substitute for butter, shortening and other vegetable oils.
  4. Sprinkle with garlic, salt, ground black pepper and crushed red pepper and mix with a spoon until the squash is evenly coated with oil and seasoning.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins
  6. After 30 mins, remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes
  7. Just before removing he dish from the oven, turn the broiler on high for a few minutes
  8. Watch the oven, as the broiler will be hot and will burn the squash if left unattended.  It goes quickly, all you’ll need is 2-3 mins.  Once the butternut squash gets a slight golden color to the edges remove from oven and let cool for 5 mins before serving.

Ginger Carrots

Ingredients

  • 8 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp. extra light olive oil
  • 1 tsp. course ground salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, course ground
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1/4 chicken bullion cube

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Place all the squash in a glass baking dish and drizzle with extra light olive oil.  Extra light olive oil has a higher burning temperature so I find it better for roasting.  Due to valuable antioxidants and ability to help lower total cholesterol, I always use extra light olive oil as a substitute for butter, shortening and other vegetable oils.
  3. Sprinkle with garlic, salt and ground pepper and mix with a spoon until the squash is evenly coated with oil and seasoning.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins
  5. After 30 mins, remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes
  6. Just before removing he dish from the oven, turn the broiler on high for a few minutes
  7. Watch the oven, as the broiler will be hot and will burn the squash if left unattended.  It goes quickly, all you’ll need is 2-3 mins.  Once the butternut squash gets a slight golden color to the edges remove from oven and let cool for 5 mins before serving.

September 21, 2011

Simply Grilled Steak with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Want a new spin on your traditional steak and potatoes?  Try adding a little wasabi!  The buttery potatoes have a slow-rising, distinctive heat, which contrasts well with the juicy steak.  In the summertime, there’s nothing quite like as satisfying as the smell of a big juice steak grilling over a hot fire.  One of my favorite things in the perfectly charred crust, all the seasoning from the grill in one perfect bite.   The grill may just be the best thing that ever happened to a steak.

To make my life a little easier, I bought mixed baby potatoes so I could avoid both peeling and chopping.  I also like the look of the potatoes skins mashed in, it makes it feel more rustic and the skins contain many essential nutrients, so why throw that away?   On a side note, I had a bad experience with my disposal and potato skins, so I try to avoid peeling at all costs… you can probably guess  how that turned out.  The small potatoes have a rich buttery texture so you have to add less milk and butter to get them to the right consistency.

Open up a nice bottle of red wine, relax, and enjoy your $40 steak house dinner in the comfort of your own home for a quarter of the price.

Ingredients

  • 2 rib-eyes, about 2 inches thick, ours we’re BIG steaks, so if you get smaller ones you’ll need to shorten the cooking time.  Here’s a helpful link on grilling steaks.
  • 1 tsp. salt per steak
  • 1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper per steak
  • 2 lbs. baby potatoes, washed (if they are varying in size, cut the large ones so they are all about the same, this way they cook at the same rate)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. wasabi (this varies depending on the heat you want, add a little less at first and try it, you can always add more but you can’t take it away)
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Method

  • Remove steaks from fridge 30 minutes before cooking and season well with salt and pepper.  Rub the spices in so they don’t fall off on the grill.  Then put them aside and let them warm up to room temperature.
  • Fill a medium size pot half full and bring to a boil on the stove
  • Once the water is boiling, add a generous portion of salt (at least a tablespoon) and add the potatoes.
  • Leave potatoes on a light boil with the lid off for 15-20 minutes.  Check by sticking them with a knife, it is goes in without pressure they’re done.
  • While the potatoes boil, turn grill on high
  • When the grill is hot, place steaks on rack and cook on high (~500F) for 5 min per side to sear
  • Then turn grill down to medium (~350-400F) and cook an additional 7 min per side to cook the middle
  • If you use a meat thermometer (which you should feel no shame in using, especially if you are new to cooking meat) 130F in the middle is medium-rare, 140 is medium.  It’s only about 1-2 minutes difference on the grill!
  • Pull the meat off and let is rest for 5-10 minutes before serving, this allows the meat juices to redistribute.  If you cut into it immediately all the juice will run out and you’ll be left with dry steak.
  • While the meat rests, it’s mashing time!
  • Add cream, butter, salt and pepper (to taste) and mash.  Please please please, buy yourself a 4 dollar masher.  Please do not use an electric mixer, this beaks up the gluten in the potatoes and leaves you with tacky, sticky textured potatoes.
  • Slowly add the milk, add about ¼ – ½ a cup, more or less depending on the texture you’re looking for.  I don’t mash my potatoes until they are completely creamy, I like a little texture, so a few lumps are ok with me… plus the skin helps give it a rustic feel.
  • Add the wasabi at the end and mix with a spoon, add it slowly and taste as you go along to get the appropriate heat level for you and your guests.  I didn’t want to use the powdered wasabi I found in the grocery store (maybe one of you have tried it, and if so please let me know how it is), so I stopped by my local Japanese restaurant and asked them for a small side of wasabi.
  • Once you’re finished mashing, your meat has rested and you are ready to dig in.
  • Enjoy!

 

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