Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Happy Valley Cheesesteak

Well call up Pat and Geno down in Philly and let them know that there is a new cheesesteak in town. Then also let them know it was made by a diehard Pittsburgh Fan (LETS GO PENS!!). This is a pretty classic cheesesteak, but I did have to give it some of my own personal touches. I used some thinly sliced Delmonico Steak, sauteed onions, peppers, jalapeno (for good measure) and I made a Beer and Cheddar sauce. Of course, if I'm going to make a Pennsylvania sandwich, I better use some Pennsylvania Beer to make the sauce...probably my favorite cooking beer, Yuengling. I was really pleased with how this turned out...of course if I wanted to make it out of this world, I would have to give it the Pittsburgh touch by adding french fries and coleslaw...but I figured I'd just keep it simple. Enjoy!

  • 1 cup beer, preferably a lager
  • 2 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 rounded tablespoon of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • Few drops of Worcestershire sauce
  • Few drops of hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Vidalia Onion, halved & sliced
  • 1 Red Pepper, halved & sliced
  • 1 Green Pepper, halved & sliced
  • 1 Jalapeno, seeded, halved & sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 lbs Delmonico Steak, thinly sliced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 hoagie rolls

Heat beer in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. In a separate bowl mix the cheddar cheese with the flour. Then whisk in shredded cheddar & flour mixture, spicy brown mustard, worcestershire sauce and hot sauce into warmed beer. Whisk until cheese is melted and smooth. Keep warm on low.

Melt butter in a large sautee pan over medium heat. Add in onions, peppers and jalapeno and sautee until caramelized, stirring occasionally for about 12-15 min.
For the beef, I asked the butcher at the grocery store to slice the delmonico steak as thin as possible (If they don't sell delmonico's, get a ribeye). Don't be afraid to tell them what you're using it for, that will give them an idea for how thin to make it. While the butcher did a good job, I actually ended up slicing the sliced steak into strips. 

Heat the olive oil in a large sautee pan, or use a griddle if you have one, over medium high heat. Add in the beef and sautee until cooked through about 7 min. Season the beef with salt and pepper.

Slice open the rolls and evenly distribute the beef into them. Add the caramelized onions, peppers and jalapeno and then top with a generous amount of the cheddar beer sauce. Have plenty of napkins on hand!

Since it's that time of year, I figured I'd post my favorite hockey goal of the season so far. GENO!! GENO!! GENO!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chicken Salad

I was thinking last night when I got home from work that I don't post enough basic stuff. Food that I make on a regular basis when I get home from work and school. Why not? I mean, I am running a food blog here. Might as well post stuff that is easy, cheap and good...even if it is basic. This is pretty much as basic as it comes and I'm sure most of you know how to make a chicken salad, but this is just how I like to do it.

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • Masterpiece Caribbean Jerk Sauce
  • 1 bag salad mix, or chop up your own
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup croutons of your choice
  •  Dressing of your choice

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Again, this is a very basic chicken salad and you can add or subtract anything you want. This is just the stuff I had on hand. I actually ended up buying thinly sliced chicken breasts, but usually I buy just regular ones. Take your chicken breasts, lay them on a piece of parchment paper, fold the parchment paper over top the chicken breasts and pound the chicken thin. Try to get them the same thickness to help them cook evenly. I like thin chicken breasts because they cook quicker, more evenly and sometimes when you have a thick piece, the outside dries out before the inside is done.  

This is probably my favorite store bought chicken marinade, it's so freaking good! I always have a bottle on hand for those quick meals. Place your chicken in a bowl or ziplock bag, add in some of the Caribbean jerk sauce and toss to coat. Place some aluminum foil on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Place the chicken on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 min (depending on thickness of chicken) or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

While the chicken is baking, wash your salad mix, get it as dry as possible and place in a bowl. Add in your dressing of choice (I like ranch) and toss the salad to coat. Place salad on a plate, sprinkle with cheddar cheese, croutons and whatever your little heart desires. Whenever chicken is done, slice it up and place on top your plated salad. Enjoy!

Kitchen Tools

If you don't already own a kitchen thermometer, do yourself a favor and go pick one up. They are inexpensive and they will deliver pin point accuracy of the doneness of whatever you're cooking. Sure there are other ways to determine doneness, but these will just help you be more accurate. Here is a doneness temperature chart: 

Take particular note to the pork temperatures, please....PLEASE stop overcooking your pork people! There hasn't been an outbreak of trichinosis caused by pork in like 30 some years. It's ok to cook your pork to medium! I usually shoot for 140 degrees F when cooking pork. Get yourself a kitchen thermometer and I promise you, your cooking will benefit from it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dutch Oven Rosemary Bread

This past week for my birthday I received a gift card for Kohl's that was supposed to be for clothes....but then I passed a beautiful navy blue, food network dutch oven. Clothes?? Who needs clothes?! I need a dutch oven! Not to mention the color was perfect for my Penn State allegiance. I saw a couple weeks ago a friend of mine make a loaf of bread in their dutch oven and I thought that would be the perfect thing to try out. I have always been a huge fan of the rosemary bread that Wegman's make, so I figured that I would try to make that in my brand spankin' new dutch oven. Enjoy!

  • 3 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for the dutch oven
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 20 oz. flour (a little over 4 cups)
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • Kosher salt for sprinkling

In a small bowl combine the chopped rosemary, melted butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mix together. Measure out the water in a liquid measuring cup, add in the yeast, mix, and let set for about 5 min until it starts to foam.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.  If you have a stand mixer, fit it with the dough hook and let it go for 10 minutes.  If you are mixing by hand, stir with a spoon until everything is fully combined, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic. You may need to add water or flour depending on the consistency of the dough. If it's to dry, add water in 1 Tbsp at a time or if it's to wet, add in flour 1 Tbsp at a time.  It’s ready when you can pass the windowpane test - tear off a small ball of dough and give it a little stretch in a few opposing directions.  If you can make it translucent without tearing it, it’s ready.

Return the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let it rise, at room temperature, until it is doubled in size, about 90 min. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Once dough has risen, shape it back into a ball, score the top of the dough with an X shape and then set aside (when it bakes, the X will give it a nice design).

Generously grease  a 6 quart dutch oven with olive oil. Place the dough in the center of the dutch oven and drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle kosher salt on top. Place the lid on the dutch oven and bake for 30 min. Remove lid and bake for another 15-30 min, or until golden. 

Carefully remove the bread from the pot and let cool for 10 min. 

I decided to make an egg sandwich with it...I was craving one :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Crock Pot Mac n' Cheese

This post may give you the impression that I'm addicted to mac n' cheese, I'm not really, but I sure do love it. Especially crock pot mac n' cheese, it's so simple! You just throw all the ingredients in the pot and after a few hours you have a creamy, delicious batch. This isn't a really good recipe to let cook all day, only 2 hours, but if you have a timer for your crock pot, then by all means throw it in and make the necessary settings. Hope you enjoy!

  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups grated pepper jack cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

Boil the macaroni in salt water for six minutes and drain. In crock pot, combine macaroni, butter, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, egg, sour cream, cheddar cheese soup, salt, whole milk, dry mustard and black pepper. Mix well and incorporate through. Cook on low for 2 ½ hours stirring occasionally. 

 Kitchen Tips 

Why add salt to water when boiling pasta?? To some of you this may seem like a silly question. Some may add salt to water, but don't really know why they are doing it. Then some...wait you're suppose to add salt to the water before cooking pasta?? So again, why salt the water before boiling pasta? Because, it is really the only point in the cooking process where you can season the pasta and you should be generously adding salt to the water, it should taste like salt water. Some of the salt is absorbed into the noodles during the cooking process, not doing this will give it a bland taste. But, can't I just season it later?? No, since you aren't cooking the pasta anymore, the salt has no medium (i.e. water) to absorb into the pasta. Instead you will just have a bland piece of pasta with a salty exterior. Really whenever you are cooking, you should be salting each individual element of the cooking process. Doing this will ensure that the whole meal is properly seasoned. Meaning your guests will be less likely to say "pass the salt." 


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fish n' Chips

This is the fish course that I made for the grand dinner event last month. I wasn't pleased with how it turned out at the actual event (you would understand if you saw the kitchen I had to work out of) so I decided to try it again at home to try to get it perfect. This time it definitely didn't disappoint! This is a recipe I adapted from Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook. This dish features Rainbow trout, a parsley coulis, garlic palette, a potato chip (yes it's there!) topped with a parsley and shallot salad. Bon Appétit!


For Palette's:
  • 6 medium heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 10 hard-boiled egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
 For Parsley Coulis:
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock
  • 2 bunch of parsley, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup cooking white wine 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 
Parsley Salad:
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp finely minced shallots
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of kosher salt
 Potato Chip:
  • 2 Large Idaho potatoes, peeled
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • Kosher Salt
  • 6 large trout filets, separated
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Canola oil 
For Garlic Palettes: Place the garlic cloves in a small sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Drain the garlic through a fine mesh sieve and run under cold water. Return to small sauce pan and repeat process twice. The third time, let garlic boil until easily pierced with a knife. Drain the garlic cloves and place them in a small food processor and slightly puree. Measure out 1/2 cup of the garlic puree for the garlic palettes. 
Place the garlic puree, egg yolks, butter and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a 1 1/2" circular mold on the baking sheet and add enough of the garlic mixture into the mold to come 1/2" up the sides. Carefully remove the mold and make 5 more disks with the garlic mixture. Cover and freeze for several hours, until mixture is solid, or up to a few days.
After mixture is solid, place the flour, cream and crumbs in three separate bowls. Dip each disk into the flour, patting off any excess, then completely coat with cream and dredge in the crumbs, being careful to coat each round completely. Re-dip a second time in the cream and crumbs and return the palettes to the freezer. I recommend making these the day before you want to make this dish, that way the are nice and solid before you pan fry them.
For Parsley Coulis: In a sauce pan, bring the chicken stock up to a boil. Remove from the heat. Pour into a blender along with the parsley and white wine. Puree until smooth. Remove and keep warm.
For the Parsley Salad: Toss the parsley leaves and shallots with a light coating of olive oil and the salt. 
To Complete: Heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (there should be enough oil to come about halfway up the sides of the fish). Season the trout with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the fillets skin side down and saute, pressing down on the pieces of fish with a narrow spatula or small skillet to keep them flat. When the fish is almost cooked, after about 1 minute, turn the pieces to "kiss" or briefly cook, the second side. The total cooking time will be about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the fillets to paper towels. Add the frozen palettes to the pan and brown for about 1 minute on each side, until crisp and warmed through. Be careful for two reasons 1) turning the palettes because they will be very fragile and 2) There will be a lot of bubbling with the heavy cream reacting with the hot oil. Just keep an eye on it and don't let it boil over cause it will cause one heck of a mess. 
Cut each filet in half, it will be one filet per plate. Place a spoonful of the parsley coulis on each serving plate. Center a palette on the sauce and crisscross the cut trout filet on top. Top with a potato chip and parsley salad. The potato chip and parsley salad is intended to be eaten in one bite, almost like a built in amuse-bouche.
Kitchen Word of the Day 
Amuse-bouche is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but, when served, are done so according to the chef's selection alone. These, often accompanied by a complementing wine, are served as a little tingler for the taste buds both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef's approach to cooking.

The term is French, literally translated to "mouth amuser". The plural form is amuse-bouche or amuse-bouches. The French word amuse-gueule is also employed in France, although amuse-bouche is more often used on menus in fine dining restaurants, as the word gueule is an impolite way of saying bouche.