Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mediteranean Spiced Beef

This is another recipe I've had sitting around for years, one we cut out of an old "First" magazine. The magazine calls it "Spiced Beef with Grilled Pita". since we had nearly all of the ingredients on hand, we decided to give it a try. I was pretty surprised at how pleasant it tasted and how easy it was to make. The one ingredient I didn't have was the pita (I really like the pita they carry at Aladdin's Eatery in Grandview. At $1.99 for a pretty good sized bag (15 of them?), it's a pretty good deal. They're much flatter and tastier than those fat store bought pita, more like lavash. Since I didn't have any, I used some tortillas and they worked fine. I WILL use Aladdin's pita next time, though, and I'm also thinking this would be fantastic using ground lamb...

Yogurt Sauce:
1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt
3/4 teaspoon Fresh Mint, chopped

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano (I used a Tablespoon of the fresh stuff from my garden, minced)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup tomato sauce
vegetable oil

1) Combine the yogurt and the mint in a small bowl and put it in the refrigerator.
2) Crumble the beef in a frying pan and brown over medium heat. Drain the fat off.
3) Into the beef, stir the next nine ingrdients (onion thru tomato sauce).
4) Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes to blend the flavors.
5) Grill the pitas by brushing them with oil and grilling them quickly on both sides in a large pan over high heat.
6) openthe pitas to make a pocket and fill witht he meat.
7) Serve with the yogurt sauce.

I served them in grilled tortillas, with the yogurt sauce and some finely shredded romaine and some steamed french green beans.


My Shrimp Etouffe

I love cajun food. Unfortunately, there is no place here in Columbus to get anything that even resembles cajun. There used to be an authentic little cajun place that was known by several names: "Gloria", "Harold's Cajun Glory", and a few others, I think. It started out as this tiny 5 or 6 table hole-in-the-wall that had great acadia crab cakes, boiled crawfish(the good kind- fresh with lots of spice), andoullie, and...FABULOUS crawfish etouffe. Since Harold died a few years back, the Columbus restaurant scene has been severly lacking.
So I decided that I had to learn to make some of this wonderful food myself. I found a recipe on S.O.A.R., now called Recipe Source. It's a great resource for all sorts of recipes, including a great range of ethnic recipes. The crawfish etouffe recipe I found was a good starting point, but I really didn't have access to decent crawfish, so I adapted it to use shrimp. I think it's pretty good. Even my son likes it!
So what is "Etoufee" anyway? Let's start by pronouncing it properly.. Can you say "AY-TOO-FAY"? I knew you could...
It literally means "Smothered" in the cajun language.
Practically speaking, it is a spicy seafood stew-like sauce (generally crawfish tails) cooked in a roux (you'll see the flour added to the oil and cooked a bit in the directions below) along with the cajun holy trinity (onions, celery and bell pepper) and served over rice.

Here it is:

2 Tablespoons Butter (yeah, the real stuff)
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
The holy trinity:
1 Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup Celery, finely chopped
1 large Onion, finely chopped
4 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon dried Cilantro
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (or less or hot as you like)
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (or less or hot as you like)
3 or 4 or 7 or 10 dashes Tabasco Sauce (again, as hot as you like)
1 to 1 1/2 pound Raw peeled Shrimp
2 cups Chicken Broth (don't use the no-salt stuff...)
Long grain cooked Rice (for serving. I like to use Basmati -yummy...)

A note about the shrimp: I like to use medium size, 41-50 per pound. See this site for a great shrimp sizing chart

1) Melt the butter over medium heat
2) add the oil and blend with the butter
3) Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic and cilantro and saute until onion is opaque.
4) add the red pepper flakes, cayenne & Tabasco & mix well. saute for another couple of minutes.
5) Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute.
6) Sprinkle all of the flour over the pan contents and stir it aourn to mix it in.
7) Saute for about 3 minutes or so.
8) Slowly stir in the chicken broth so it blend with the rest of the pan contents...keep stirring, keep stirring, keep stirring...
9) turn down the heat to a simmer.
10) Cover and simmer for about 3-4 minutes.
11) Serve it over hot rice.

Make sure you serve it while it is very hot! (temperature hot, that is... the seasonings wil guarantee the tasty type of heat!)

Comment below and let me know how you like it.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My favorite Balsamic Chicken

Last night we made my favorite balsamic chicken recipe. I found it years ago in a magazine, cut it out and saved it, but didn't make it for several years. Finally I wised up. It's pretty quick and tasty, too. I almost always serve it with wide egg noodles (stay away from those nasty no-yolks. They're very rubbery tasting).

I've had the recipe on my website for quite some time now:
It's been fairly popular among freinds. Give it a try and send a comment to me - let me know what you think of it.

I've been using Monari Federzoni green label balsamic vinegar for a coulpe of years now. It's pretty good stuff and not too expensive. They have a nice website, too:


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Garlic-Dill Salmon Fillet

Last night was salmon - I made my usual broiled salmon with garlic and dill. I also coat the top lihtly with bread crumbs or, preferably, a bit of corn meal. I always use fillets instead of steaks, and I've recently started portioning the fillets out before cooking. I've found cooking time to be a bit shorter and I can see the ends of each piece better, so I'm not overcooking them. They stay moist and taste much better, plus I'm not tearing the fillet up trying to slice it after it's cooked.

Here's how I made last night's:

1 pound salmon fillet (I had a nice wild fillet), cut into 3 portions
Garlic powder
Dill weed
Lemon juice (from half a lemon)
Olive oil spray

1) Line a pan with foil and lightly spray the foil with oil
2) Sprinkle some garlic powder and some dill in the pan where the salmon will sit
3) Place the salmon portions into the pan skin side down.
4) Squeeze the lemon juice onto the salmon (catch the seeds!)
5) Sprinkle the salmon with garlic powder. sprinkle lightly for a subtle flavor or be more generous if you like garlic
6) Sprinkle the dill liberally on the salmon. (don't be too stingy with the Dill!)
7) Lightly sprinkle the salmon with the cornmeal. tHe idea is to make a very light coating, not quite a crust...
8) spray the salmon lightly with the Oil
9) put the salmon under the broiler until just barely pink at the bottom. The top should be just slightly crusting.
10) server immediately.

I served this with twice coked green beans (steamed, then added to hot olive oil and mustard seed and tossed about a bit).

It was pretty tasty and very quick to make, and healthy, too!


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Becky's Beans - Baked Beans Beyond Belief!

We went to a birthday party for the cute little three year old girl down the street last weekend. It was all afternoon fun for the kids and a tasty meal for the adults, too. One of the homemade yummies we had was a crockpot full of baked beans made by the birthday girl's grandmother, Becky. She was kind enough to let me have the recipe and forward it on to you!
I know you've probably had great baked beans before, but you MUST try these. They're fantastic and have a great and unusual flavor. Read it through and give them a try. Total crock cooking time is 8 hours (on low). Be sure to remove the lid after 5 hours.

1 pound Bacon, cut slices into 1 inch pieces
1 pound Kielbasa, sliced thin
1 large onion, chopped
1 48 ounce jar white northern beans (She uses "Randall's brand)
1/2 pound dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon mustard
1/3 cup molasses
1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup hot taco sauce (like "La Victoria Salsa Brava")- NOT hot salsa...

Saute bacon, keilbasa and onion and put into crockpot
add all the other ingredients and mix well. Cook on low for 5 hour, then remove lid and cook for 3 more hours on low.

We had these with BBQ beef from GFS, kettle chips, pickles and olives.

Let me know how they turn out!