Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Texas Cowboy Cookbook

This is the first in my hopefully long series of posts, I would like to say they will be often, but with my travel coming up they probably won't be.

Last week I had two of my closest friends (Christy Hotsenpiller Sallee and Angie Burns Tower...I include their maiden names because that is how I met them and they will be forever to me, even though I love their husbands and new names) over for dinner to dine from The Texas Cowboy Cookbook by Robb Walsh.
It was only appropriate I wore my I [heart] beef apron when cooking from

a cookbook I got in Texas, I'm cooking beef from and purchased during NCBA.

I purchased this cookbook at the LBJ Ranch on a trip during NCBA Convention in January 2010. The cookbook not only has great Texas-sized recipes, but also a lot of information about how the cowboys lived and most importantly ate. I am most surprised by the number of ingredients in many of the recipes. Out of the book, I chose to cook from section called "The New Cowboy Cuisine" where I selected the Dr. Pepper Tenderloin, Poblano Mac and Cheese and Grady's Jicama and Carrot Coleslaw. Since there weren't a lot of great drink recipes appropriate for a Friday night girl's night out...I did use a recipe I was sent a few weeks ago by my friend Anna who can't drink it right now so wanted me to sample for her and lucky for her I was happy to oblige.
There were some tricks that went into making certain items on this menu. The first being have a helper or two. Lucky for me Christy is excellent with a veggie peeler and grater.
We won't mention the pile of carrot and jicama that Christy left on the other side of my bar..but the good news is that she decided I needed bar stools for Christmas...yea for me!

Christy is an awesome cook and I'm excited that she was willing to help me out. She was in charge of the Jicama and Carrot Slaw. Note this will make a large batch, it serves 12 and that is no lie.
Grady's Jicama and Carrot Coleslaw
1 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 teaspoon ground coriander
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large jicama (about 2 pounds)
8 carrots (about 1 1/2 pounds)
In a bowl large enough to hold the completed salad, mix the dressing by whisking together the pineapple juice, lime juice, olive oil, coriander, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Cut off the rough outer skin of the jicama and peel the carrots. julienne the vegetables by cutting or shredding the vegetables into matchsticks using a sharp knife, a food processor or a mandolin (we shredded ours). The vegetables should be about 3 inches long and 1/8 inch thick (ours were a little shorter and thinner). Whisk the dressing again and toss gently with the prepared jicama and carrots. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Chill for a short time or serve immediately. Serves 12.
For the poblano mac and cheese you need to roast fresh poblanos and remove the skin before starting anything else. Roast the peppers by covering in oil and placing them on a grill and allow them to char the outer skins but don't let them burn the meat of the pepper so you need to watch them and keep them turning. Once charred (photo below) wrap them individually in a wet paper towel and put in a zip lock bag and let steam to loosen the skins. Then the skins will peel off easily after they have steamed for 15 minutes or so.
Yummy charred poblanos!
Poblano sauna!
Robert Del Grande's Poblano Mac & Cheese
1 tablespoon butter
6 corn tortillas
5 poblano chiles, roasted, seeded and chopped
2 cups half-and-half or heavy cream (we used half-and-half)
3 large eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/2 pound Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-3 quart baking dish. Combine the tortillas and roasted poblanos in a food processor and pulse lightly to finely chop, but do not puree. In a large bowl, whisk the half-and-half, eggs, and salt and pepper until well mixed and slightly fluffy. Stir in the tortillas and chiles.
I could eat it just like this!
Cook the macaroni until al dente, following the directions on the package. Drain well. Add the pasta to the tortilla, chile and egg mixture, along with two-thirds of the cheeses. Stir well. Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish. Spread the remaining cheeses evenly over the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, until bubbling and browned. Allow to set for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish each serving with cilantro leaves. Serves 6.
The main course was a delectable beef tenderloin. Now I will preface by saying a nice tenderloin isn't cheap but completely worth the money for a special occasion. If you want to remake this entire menu but don't want to spend the dough, this would work just as well with a nice steak.
Grady's Dr Pepper Tenderloin
2 pounds beef fillet
1 liter Dr Pepper not diet
1/2 cup soy sauce
juice of 3 lemons
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Place the whole tenderloin in the container you will marinate it in. Add a little Dr Pepper and the remaining ingredients and mix well. Add more Dr Pepper to cover and seal the container and place it in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours or overnight. Place the marinated tenderloin under a hot broiler or over hot coals on the grill and cook it, turning to brown all sides. It will be rare with registers 130 degrees F on a meat thermometer, medium rare at about 135 and medium at 140. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving into serving slices, serve immediately. You can use the marinate as a basting sauce, but bring it to a boil before applying to the meat on the grill or in the oven. Serves 4.
Look at that skill!
This is the beverage that Anna suggested I try. It is similar to the Buscharitas that we make in the summer but without the to-kill-ya (tequila) and plus raspberries. Note Angie's a great mixologist and to boot she has a PhD in lime squeezing. See her technique in the photo above and the finished product below. It was tasty!!!
Raspberry Beer Cocktail found on MyRecipe.com and from Southern Living Magazine
3/4 cup frozen raspberries* (we used fresh)
3 1/2 (12-oz.) bottles beer, chilled (we used Corona)
1 (12-oz.) container frozen raspberry lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup vodka Garnish: (we used Raspberry Vodka)
lemon and lime slices (we squeezed 2 limes in the mixture)
Here are some pics from the full menu...
A full plate....
And an empty plate...must have sucked huh?
So to finish out each post I am going to allow the diners to comment on the meal...keep in mind this is after a pitcher of Raspberry Beer Cocktails... Angie: Meal was awesome sauce
Christy: tranquilizing
Angie: Ok, so I said the meal with tranquilizing because we are all about to pass out
Christy: The slaw was very crunchy and went very nicely with the meat that was very tender and very scrumptious and then there was the to-die-for cheese and macaroni and peppers and all things heaven in a dish
Angie: except for Melanie, I'm kissing up so I can get another meal like this
Angie: we had a lovely drink that was quite refreshing
Christy: cocktail time (sorry sandra lee)
Angie: it involved fresh raspberries, raspberry lemonade, 4 corona lights and a half a bottle of raspberry stoli, she said a half a cup but it looked like more than a half a cup...Melanie made me squeeze limes because that is my skill
Christy: it was very refreshing [the drink]

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grilled Veggie Risotto

So last night it was hot...I hope all of you who are hoping for hot weather are happy because I am not. I'm a very comfortable at 65 degrees type person, well mother nature missed that weather this year so in an effort to cheer myself up last night I made a tasty treat...Grilled Veggie Risotto. It was pretty simple, that is as long as you are familiar with making risotto, which isn't difficult just takes some time and attention. I started with a green and yellow squash and a bunch of small asparagus. I sliced the ends off the squash and then sliced length wise so they would fit on the grill better, then prepped the asparagus by snapping the bottom off where it naturally broke and cutting the rest to that height. Now if you want to add other veggies you can, but these grill up nice and looked good in the store. I drizzled some olive oil over them and sprinkled with Grey Salt (a new item I picked up, check out the blog post on Florida Spices tomorrow) and put on a medium hot grill. My grill was at about 400 degrees when I put them on and I turned it down to low so they grilled at about 300 for 5 minutes or so per side of squash depending on how thick you slice them. If you can pick them up and they are limp in your tongs then they are done. The asparagus should take 5-7 minutes depending on how big around the stalks are. For the risotto there are a lot of different ways to do this, but this is the way that works best for me. Heat over low heat in a small sauce pan 3 cups of chicken broth, or a combination of white wine and veggie broth. If you use a combination I wouldn't go more than 1 cup of wine and 3 cups of broth. Make sure the wine isn't a sweet wine, look for a crisp white. In a larger sauce pan heat up 1-2 tsp olive oil (you can add butter too if you want, but leaving it out keeps it lighter), dice up a 1/2 a shallot and add to the Olive oil and sweat until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of Arborio Rice and stir constantly to brown the rice without burning it, that would be very, very bad. Brown the rice for 2 minutes then add a couple ladle fulls of the warmed broth and stir, leave on medium heat so the mixture continues to cook as it is absorbing the liquid. (warming the liquid will help the mixture cook quicker, if you don't want to or forget to warm it that is ok, you can use straight from the box it will just take longer to cook). Continue cooking until all liquid is absorbed. Take the grilled veggies and let them cool enough to be able to handle, coarse chop them along with some fresh parsley and oregano. Stir the veggies, herbs and freshly grated Romano cheese into the risotto. You probably won't need to add any additional salt because of the salt on the veggies and cheese but you can and add any additional pepper to taste. Grilled Veggie Risotto 1 cup arborio rice 1/4 shallot chopped 3 cups chicken stock/wine combination 2 small squash 1 small bunch of asparagus 1 small bunch of parsley and oregano olive oil grey salt (or any salt you have) fresh grated Parmesan cheese Stay tuned for more information the grey salt featured here...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wondful Herb Gift

My mom made me a wonderful gift, it is a pot of all my favorite cooking herbs in a absurdly beautiful, gigantic ceramic pot. Now these are cooking herbs so those of you looking for something else, please move along... She added basil, flat leaf Italian parsley, oregano and cilantro. Now we both have a history of being cilantro killers...we have tried in the ground, in a pot, but never have been able to make it work, so I am trying my hardest to keep this alive! The magazine she got the idea from had a lot of different themed pots by cuisine, for Italian using basil, parsley, oregano and thyme; or you could go Moroccan and include marjoram, grey verbena, mint and parsley. What a great housewarming gift for a friend with a new home or for a friend who loves to cook and you are looking for something more original than a bottle of wine (not that I don't love a bottle of wine, but you know what I mean). You can make the pot as big or small as you want just make sure you make it with love like mine was made!

Growing Salad Pot

So flipping through a magazine while on the beach last week I came across an article about planting a salad bowl in a pot, I was super impressed at the thought of planting a beautiful ceramic pot full of a variety of salad green...not only pretty but healthy and very functional. I just wish I would have seen it earlier in the season since most lettuce varieties are good in cooler temperatures. So today I set out to purchase the items needed to make said salad pot and the great little plant place on North Oak (for those of your in KC just north of Barry on North Oak) already had them made up...but not only did they have them but they had them planted in colanders...how adorable is that? So I purchased one of those for my sister-in-law, my brother and I to give to my mom for mothers's day and I purchased the materials to make on for myself at home because I want to get in touch with my green thumb this summer! So I purchased a nice flat but wide pot, a chive plant and green seeds - arugula, black-seeded simpson lettuce and a gourmet mixture. I planted the chive in the middle and filled the pot with soil to where I wanted the top of the lettuce to be, sprinkled seeds in a diagonal pattern, topped lightly with soil and watered. (oh and crossed my fingers) Hopefully in 30-45 days I can post an update of the pot and my first salad from my perfect little salad pot!