Friday, June 01, 2018

Instant Pot Short Rib Bites in Gravy

There's not really a way to go wrong with beef in gravy.  I have literally never seen anyone turn down that combination.  There's just something so primal about the umami goodness of this combination that instantly spells comfort food.  So when I came across a big package of boneless short ribs, I knew what they needed to be.  And I knew I needed to break my Instant Pot back out for some more experimentation.  Without heating up my kitchen (which is appreciated in Texas in the summer), I managed this luscious dinner, of course served over mashed potatoes to catch all the savory gravy.

Instant Pot Short Rib Bites in Gravy

2 pounds boneless short ribs, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons canola oil
1 sweet yellow onion, cut into wedges
6 cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup red wine (such as cabernet sauvignon)
1 envelope Lipton Beefy Onion, Beefy Mushroom, or plain Onion soup mix
4 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dried summer savory (optional)
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup heavy cream
Chopped parsley, for serving

In a gallon size zip top bag, combine beef cubes, flour, salt, and pepper.  Close the bag and toss to coat the beef cubes in the seasoned flour mixture.  Set aside.

Set a 6-quart Instant Pot to the Sauté function on "More" for high heat.  Add a couple of tablespoons of oil to the pot and brown the beef cubes in two batches, removing the beef cubes to a bowl as they finish browning.  Once all the beef is browned, add the onions and mushrooms to the pot with another tablespoon of oil, if necessary, and sauté until the onions soften and the mushrooms release their liquid.  Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds.

Pour the red wine into the pot and, using a wooden spoon, gently scrape the bottom of the bottom to loosen the browned bits.  Allow the red wine to bubble until reduced by at least half.  Add the soup mix, beef broth, thyme, rosemary, summer savory, and salt, and mix well.  Add back the browned beef cubes and any juices that have accumulated in the bottom of the bowl.  When the beef broth begins to bubble, put on the pressure lid and make sure it is closed and locked.  Check that the vent is set to "Sealing".  Cancel the Sauté function and choose Pressure Cook.  Set to high pressure for 30 minutes.

When the pot signals the end of the cooking time, allow it to go into Keep Warm mode for 15 minutes.  At the end of this waiting period, carefully move the vent to "Venting" to allow the steam to escape.  Once all of the pressure has been released, unlock and remove the lid.

Cancel the last cooking mode and then press the Sauté button, setting it to regular.  In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with enough liquid from the pot to make a thin paste.  Pour the paste into the pot and stir well.  Add the heavy cream and stir well.  As the liquid bubbles, continue to stir often until the mixture thickens up and forms a gravy.  Serve with mashed potatoes and sprinkled with parsley.

Makes 4 servings

The Complete Robuchon: Purée de Pommes de Terre (Mashed Potatoes)

Based on my long experience with cooking, cookbooks, and surfing recipe websites, I have found that the general conclusion is that this is the ultimate mashed potato recipe.  This is perfection of potato.  So I've been meaning to try it for myself, but at the same time, not wanting to be disappointed.  I mean, that's a lot of pomp.  Luckily, those 2 sticks of butter really deliver.  Now, adding all of that milk gives you a texture more along the lines of porridge than what I normally consider to be mashed potato consistency, so I'm not sure I would add the full amount next time.  BUT, these are pretty perfect on the taste buds.

Purée de Pommes de Terre (Mashed Potatoes)
From The Complete Robuchon

2 pounds potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, rattes, or BF15, scrubbed but unpeeled
Coarse salt
2 cups whole milk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and kept well chilled until used

Put the potatoes in a saucepan with 2 quarts cold water and 1 tablespoon coarse salt.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until a knife slips in and out of the potatoes easily and cleanly, about 25 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and peel them.  Put them through a potato ricer (or a food mill fitted with its finest disk) into a large saucepan.  Turn the heat under the saucepan to medium and dry the potato flesh out a bit by turning it vigorously with a spatula for about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, rinse a small saucepan, pour out the excess water, but do not wipe it dry.  Add the milk and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat under the potatoes to low and incorporate the well-chilled butter bit by bit, stirring it in energetically for a smooth, creamy finish.  Pour in the very hot milk in a thin stream, still over low heat and still stirring briskly.  Keep stirring until all the milk has been absorbed.  Turn off the heat and taste for salt and pepper.

For even lighter, finer potatoes, put them through a very fine sieve before serving.

Makes 6 servings

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Crisco: Easy Baked Shrimp or Fish

I've noticed that the older I get, the more seafood I eat.  Especially shrimp.  Especially good, large shrimp.  There's really not much else that lends itself to a fast, fabulous meal.  And when my mom whipped up this super fast recipe, I knew it was going into the permanent rotation.  Almost like a scampi (with all the fabulous garlic), but will some breadcrumbs to soak up some of the juices, it's way more than you would expect from the short ingredient list.  This is a pretty perfect summer dinner.

Easy Baked Shrimp or Fish
Adapted from Crisco

1½ pounds peeled and deveined shrimp
¼ cup oil
3 to 4 tablespoons jarred minced garlic (or 6 to 8 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup Progresso Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedges (optional)

Heat oven to 475ºF.

Pat shrimp dry. Pour oil into a 13x9x2-inch ovenproof baking dish. Add shrimp. Toss with garlic, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parsley; toss to mix.

Bake for 5 minutes. Turn gently and bake 3 to 5 minutes more, or until pink and breadcrumbs are brown and crisp. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges, if desired.

Note: 1½ pounds of fish fillets cut into 1½-inch pieces can be substituted for the shrimp.  For a light, tasty entree, serve shrimp or fish over your favorite pasta. Toss with fresh tomatoes, garlic and a dash of oil. Shrimp that is already peeled and deveined can be found at many counters or frozen. If using shell-on shrimp, add 15 to 20 minutes to the preparation time. The dish can be prepared up to the cooking a few hours in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered.

Makes 4 servings

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Scrambled Eggs with Black Truffle

Every once in a long while, I'll notice a little basket in the mushroom section of my favorite store that is holding the platinum of the mushroom world: truffles.  And despite the obscene price tag on the front (a pound will really set you back), I find a likely specimen and drag it home.  And then I spend more time than necessary looking for the perfect recipe for my treasure.  But really, grating a truffle into scrambled eggs is one of the best ways to take advantage of this fungus.  It seems too simple to be worth it, but something about the eggs just lets the truffle shine, and it turns breakfast into a little more of a special occasion.

Scrambled Eggs with Black Truffle

3 large eggs
2 tablespoons half and half
1 small black truffle, grated
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Chopped parsley or chervil, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and half and half.  Add black truffle and salt and pepper to taste and mix until incorporated.

Heat a small frying pan over medium low heat and add butter.  Once butter is melted, pour the egg mixture into the pan.  Using a wooden spoon, gently stir and fold the eggs, allowing the uncooked portion of the eggs to run under the cooked portions.  Continue to stir until the eggs are a soft custard texture, but no liquid eggs remain.

Serve immediately topped with chopped parsley or chervil.

Makes 1 to 2 servings

Monday, May 21, 2018

Spend with Pennies and Food Renegade: Chicken Doritos Casserole

When I first heard about this casserole, my thought was that it sounded like something from one of those trailer park cookbooks.  I mean, who puts Doritos in their casseroles?  But the more I thought about it, the more it actually made sense.  If you don't have tortillas handy, Doritos are a great substitution.  PLUS they have delicious cheesy seasoning, which just makes the whole thing taste better.  And sure enough, this is actually a good weeknight meal.  It's like a King Ranch Chicken, but with chips for a faster shortcut.

Note: I used Creamy Poblano and Queso soup because more cheese is always better.  I also used Beanitos Nacho Cheese chips instead of Doritos because they're healthier, but still delicious enough to be suspect.

Chicken Doritos Casserole
Adapted from Spend with Pennies blog and Food Renegade blog

1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, or other creamy condensed soup
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies
½ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons chili powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
White meat from one rotisserie chicken, chopped
6 ounces Doritos
1½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese, or a mixture of Cheddar and Monterey Jack
Sliced black olives and chopped green onions, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sauté onion in melted butter until translucent and starting to brown.  Set aside.

Combine soup, chilies, sour cream, and spices.  Mix well to combine.  Fold in chicken.  Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with oil spray.  Spoon half of the chicken mixture into the dish.  Crush half of the Doritos and sprinkle over the chicken mixture.  Sprinkle half of the cheese over the chips.  Spread the remaining chicken mixture over the cheese, then top with remaining crushed chips and cheese.  Sprinkle with sliced black olives, if desired.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake for another 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.  Sprinkle with green onions, if desired, and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Tasty Japan: White Coffee Pudding

I'm not normally a big fan of puddings made with gelatin.  I'm more of a egg- or cornstarch-thickened girl.  I'm not sure there's a good reason other than the fact that sometimes gelatin items can set pretty stiffly, and I like my puddings with a little more movement.  However, I do allow for some flexibility when something looks particularly inviting, and this pudding looked so pristine on Facebook, I couldn't resist.  However, my pudding turned out more of a very light brown than white (I'm not sure if it was my coffee beans that caused the coloration or I'm just a victim of some choice photo-shopping).  Despite the color difference, the pudding was delicious, very delicately flavored and light.  Perfect for a summer dessert!
Note: I used Mexican chocolate flavored coffee beans, and they worked really well in this pudding flavor-wise.  For color, not so much.

White Coffee Pudding
Adapted from Tasty Japan

1 envelope gelatin powder
3 tablespoons water
1½ cups whole milk
6 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup coffee beans (preferably flavored)
Whipped cream, to taste

In a small bowl, combine gelatin powder and water, and microwave it for 10 seconds.  Stir and set aside.

Put milk, heavy cream, sugar, and coffee beans into the pan. Heat over a medium heat. Once brought to a boil, stop the heat and cover with a lid. Soak for 30 minutes. Remove coffee beans from the pan, then pass the milk through a sieve. Add the bloomed gelatin, then mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture equally into four glass dishes, then chill for at least 2 hours or until set.

Add whipped cream and coffee bean for topping, enjoy!

Makes 2 cups

Friday, May 04, 2018

Veg Recipes of India: Paneer Makhanwala (Paneer Butter Masala)

I love paneer butter masala.  LOVE. IT.  This is pretty much all I order at Indian restaurants.  Well, this and saag paneer.  See a theme?  But I've never actually made it at home, which is a bit of a shame.  So I turned to my trusty favorite Indian food blogger because she never lets me down.  And this recipe was no exception.  A little spicy, incredibly flavorful, and perfectly comforting.  I may not have grown up eating Indian food, but this makes me as happy as chicken and dumplings.

Note: Try to find Kashmiri red chili powder, because that's what gives the red coloring to this dish.  If you can't find it, you can use a mixture of paprika and cayenne.  An Indian bay leaf is different that the bay laurel leaves used in western cooking, but if you can't find the Indian version, the regular one works just fine (as an aside, they only had bay laurel leaves at the Indian grocery I visited, which I found slightly baffling).

Paneer Makhanwala (Paneer Butter Masala)
Adapted from Veg Recipes of India blog

For ground makhani paste:
¾ cup roughly chopped onions
1½ cups roughly chopped tomatoes
½ inch ginger, peeled and chopped
3 to 4 medium garlic cloves, chopped
2 single strands mace
2 to 3 green cardamom pods
1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
2 to 3 cloves
10 to 12 whole unsalted cashews

For finished dish:
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Indian bay leaf
1 to 1½ teaspoons kashmiri red chili powder
1 green chili, slit (such as serrano or Thai)
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed
1½ cups water, or as needed
1 teaspoon honey, or add as required as per your taste
1 pound paneer, at room temperature, cut into cubes
¼ cup heavy cream
¾ teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves, crushed
¼ teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon cream, for garnishing
Chopped coriander leaves, for garnish

Making makhani paste: Mix onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, mace, cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves, and cashews with 1 cup water in a medium pot. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, until the tomatoes and onions soften, about 14 to 15 minutes.  Allow the mixture to cool, then pour it into a good blender and grind to a smooth paste.  There should be no small pieces of cashews or spices; everything should be ground very well until smooth.

Making paneer makhanwala:  Melt the butter in a large pan.  Add the Indian bay leaf and sauté for a few seconds, then add the ground makhani paste. Stir well.  Sprinkle the chili powder over the mixture; stir well and sauté the mixture over medium heat.  Keep stirring often, as you will sauté the mixture until most of the water has evaporated, the mixture darkens, and you see the butter leaving the sides. This takes about 20 to 22 minutes over medium to high heat.

Add slit green chili, salt, and water.  Stir well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add honey or sugar and stir again.  Add the paneer cubes and simmer for 2 minutes.  Add the cream, fenugreek leaves, and garam masala.  Stir and turn off the burner.  Check the taste and add more salt, honey, or red chili powder as required.  Serve paneer makhanwala garnished with cream and coriander leaves, hot with naan or rotis.

Makes 4 servings

Monday, April 30, 2018

Honest Food: Salmon with Ramp Pesto

Yes, I still have some ramps left to use.  Yes, I know that I might be slightly insane for buying so many.  But when something amazing happens only once a year, you take advantage of it to the fullest extent possible.  So for my last trick, I decided to make a delicious ramp pesto to top a beautiful piece of wild salmon, but I honestly think this pesto would be delicious on a steak or some fresh pasta.  However, as with the previous ramp recipe, a little goes a long way.

Salmon with Ramp Pesto
Adapted from Honest Food blog

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
5 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 dozen ramps
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (depending on saltiness of cheese)
⅓ to ½ cup olive oil
1 pound wild salmon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Add the garlic cloves and pine nuts to a food processor.  Pulse until pine nuts are broken up and garlic is incorporated.  Add the cheese, ramps, parsley, and salt.  Pulse until herb leaves are broken down.  Add the olive oil and pulse until the mixture is well combined (but not a smooth paste!) and the oil is completely incorporated.  Add additional oil until the pesto is the appropriate texture (less oil for a spread, more for a sauce).  If storing, add a layer of olive oil once in the storage container to reduce oxidation.

For the salmon, heat the oven to 425°F.  Spray the bottom of the roasting pan with cooking spray and gently lay the salmon in the pan, skin side down.  Season with salt and pepper and dot with butter.  Cook for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the fillet's thickness.  Salmon will be flaky when done.  Serve topped with fresh pesto.

Makes 4 servings

Monday, April 23, 2018

Always Order Dessert: Savory Ramp and Cheddar Muffins

Since I have a giant bundle of ramps, I've been combing the internet for new and interesting things that I can do with them.  And that's how I came across this yummy recipe for savory muffins that I will be devouring every morning for breakfast.  The ramps are pretty pungent in these, so make sure you've got some extra-strength gum for afterwards.  And I also think that some crumbled bacon would add just the right touch, if you're so inclined.

Savory Ramp and Cheddar Muffins
From Always Order Dessert blog

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1½ cups chopped ramps
1 large egg
½ cup whole milk
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder (or use 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard)
1½ teaspoons sea salt
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ cups freshly grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 12-cup muffin pan (or a giant 6-cup muffin pan).

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add ramps. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, just until slightly wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg, milk, broth, olive oil, sugar, mustard, and salt. Add flour and baking powder and stir gently until evenly combined. Fold in grated cheese and cooked ramps.

Divide into prepared muffin pan, and bake about 20 minutes, or until puffed up, golden around the edges, and a tester inserted in center comes out clean. (Giant muffins will take about 5-7 minutes longer.)

Makes 6 giant or 12 standard muffins

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Serious Eats: Ramp Gravy

Do you know what time it is??  It's RAMP TIME!  And as I do every year, I pretty much wiped out the supply at my local market.  I swear, they should just save the box for me each spring.  I have some great recipes planned to make the most of my treasure, and this is the first on the list.  Because what could possibly be better than cream gravy?  Cream gravy with ramps, of course!  Smother this gravy on mashed potatoes, fried chicken, or even your breakfast biscuits.

Ramp Gravy
From Serious Eats

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ramps, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups light cream (heavy cream, half and half, or milk can be used in its place)
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add ramps and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk until golden blond, about 4 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in cream. Add black pepper. Whisking frequently, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, whisking frequently, until thickened, about 1 minute after it reaches a boil. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 2 cups