Monday, March 29, 2010

Bangers N Mash

A reeeeeallllllyyy (and I mean really) good version of bangers is served at one of our local/favorite restaurants. Without fail, Ryan gets it everytime we go there. I had a special request to make this from him on last weeks menu so I tried it. It's surprisingly easy- I guess it's kinda hard to f up sausage and potatoes.

I found actual real live bangers at the grocery store (exciting!)

So I used those instead of any other beef sausage you can find. For this recipe you will need:

8 large baking potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 teaspoons butter, divided

1/2 cup milk, or as needed

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 pounds beef sausage

1/2 cup diced onion

1 (.75 ounce) packet dry brown gravy mix

1 cup water, or as needed
Preheat oven to 350.
Bring a large saucepan to a boil and put your peeled potatoes in there- I chop mine first so they soften quicker- and boil until soft, about 20 minutes.
While you're boiling potatoes, heat a medium skillet with butter and place bangers in skillet. Saute until heated through.

Once the potatoes are soft, drain them and place them back into the pot. Mash them with desired amount of butter and milk. Set aside.
Make gravy by package instructions. - If I were you, I wouldn't leave this alone for too long. I walked away from my gravy and next thing I know brown bubbles are boiling over the top. Oops.-
Pour half of your gravy into an 8 x 11 baking dish.
Place bangers in a row in gravy. Butterfly if you wish. I did- it helps them get flavor, otherwise they don't have a ton.
Pour remaining gravy over top of bangers.
Spread mashed potatoes over top of banger/gravy mixture. Top with salt and pepper to taste.
Stick this bad boy in the oven until the potatoes are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve with sauteed onions or mushrooms if you desire.
I'm normally not the hugest fan of a meal like this, solely based on the way it looks, but I gave it a shot, and it was super good. Enough for Ryan to have lunch the next day too!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tough Cookie.

I know I've posted about shortbread cookies before, but in my opinion, it's the best base for any cookie. A lot of people use sugar cookie dough for other things but I think it's too sweet. Shortbread is richer as far as butter goes, but not sugar.

Shortbread cookie base:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
1 stick + 1 tablespoon unsweetened  butter
Splash vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt

For orange & poppy seed shortbread :

2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Combine all ingredients from cookie base in a large mixing bowl. If you are lucky enough to own a food processor then go ahead and combine them in that. I, on the other hand, use my hands.
Zest a navel orange until you reach 2 teaspoons- I did closer to 2 1/2 teaspoons..I like orange flavor a lot. Combine with mixture.
Measure 2 teaspoons poppy seeds and combine with mixture. I am in love with this coloring.
Press cookie dough into a round 9" buttered baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Wait until cookie is cooled to cut. Cut with a bread knife to avoid breaking. I cut mine like a pizza!

Breakfast For Dinner!

Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite things. I found an updated version when browsing through recipes last week and wanted to give it a whirl. Its quick and easy, with not a lot of clean up!

Gouda and Egg Sandwiches with Roasted Potatoes:
You will need:

1 hot house tomato thinly sliced

2 large eggs

About 2 1/2 tbsp. softened butter, divided

About 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon minced flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

4 slices sandwich bread of your choice

1/2 cup coarsely shredded gouda cheese

6 slices crisp-cooked bacon

1/2 cup loosely packed baby spinach leaves
For potatoes:
1/2 lb fingerling potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon dried dill
Slice fingerlings in half- or if too small leave whole. Preheat oven to 475. Sprinkle dill over top of potatoes and roast for 35-40 minutes or until crispy on the outside and soft on inside.
Combine with butter while still hot to melt.
In a large skillet fry your eggs to your liking. I personally like mine well done so the yolk doesn't run.
In a small bowl combine thyme, parsely, lemon juice and butter. Spread onto one side of each bread slice. Note: I found myself needing a bit more of the spread to cover all 4 slices.
Transfer eggs onto plate. Sprinkle gouda onto sandwich slice, then pile bacon, tomato and spinach.
Carefully place fried egg on top of sandwich. Cover with other bread slice.
Place sandwiches back on skillet and cook over medium heat until both sides are browned and a bit crispy. Serve with potatoes.
This was super good and great if you get home from work a bit on the late side because its quick to make!
I would also like to introduce you to my assistant chef, Olive! She's always in the kitchen with me when I cook. She's a little camera shy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

One More Thing...

I'm ALWAYS looking for great new recipes. I subscribe to Sunset Magazine, Real Simple and Bon Apetit so that's where I get a lot of them....or I'll just make stuff up. I would really love to hear from you guys and get my hands on some of your favorite recipes? Leave them as a comment or send me a link, whatever you think is best!

I know that I have a lot of "anonymous" followers- but click the link to follow me so I can see all your pretty faces!


Guilty Pleasure #474896132

My love for cheese steaks started last May when we visited Pennsylvania. They sell them basically on every corner, and they are SO good. I never got into the "whiz" (cheese whiz) thing, but liked the hoagie style best. I've been really hesitant about making that at home because 1. they are not the healthiest option in the world and 2. they're surprisingly easy to mess up. SO, I was feeling ambitious and decided to give it a whirl. I had some help from Ryan, considering these are from his homeland.

I used ribeye steaks and just pounded them as much as possible with one of those meat pounder things.

PS- I'm blogging this from the airport right now...well the airport bar. What? There were no seats available at the terminal! I have priorities.

These steaks pounded out to be about 12" long- I really got 'em good. In Philly they use a product called Steak Umms which is basically really thin beef. I didn't think I had access to them, but I was told I can find them at the grocery store here as well.

I sliced the steak into strips and threw them into a greased skillet. They cooked in 10 minutes. I sautee'd 1/2 a yellow onion and 1 whole red bell pepper. NOW- I don't personally like bell pepper but for some reason I do on these. I don't get me sometimes.

 While you're browning your meat be sure to get started on the cheese sauce which is:

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups grated provolone cheese

NOW- if you're cooking for don't need this much of the sauce, cut the recipe in half. Trust me.

Melt butter in small sauce pan. Stir in milk and cheese. Stir until cheese is combined and fully melted. You will have to keep an eye on it- for some reason all of the ingredients dont like to stay together.

When steak is done you'll need to cut the pieces to make them a bit smaller, or not, whatever you wish.

I got giant sourdough french rolls from the market for our bread. If you get small ones a lot of your sandwich will fall out. I realize that this isn't a "real" recipe. I kind of flew by the seat of my pants on this one- but I will tell you the cheese SAUCE makes a difference, if you use plain provolone it's just not the same. Veggie alternative: sautee yellow and red bell peppers, yellow onion, and portobello mushrooms instead of using meat.

These were really really good. I even got the seal of approval from a real live City of Brotherly Love native.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fonwho? Fondue!

EVERYTIME I make a post I think for atleast 5 minutes about what my witty title can be. This one is by far the lamest, so it's my favorite. I'm never gonna hear the end of this one.

It's a little ironic that I live in a city that has some of the best night life in the country and I insist on staying in. Not because I'm lazy, more so because I love to entertain (Mom? Is that you?). When I was little my mom would have bunco night, girls night etc at the house. Jessie and I were forced into our PJs early and up into our parents room to watch movies, little did they know (well I'm sure they did) we would sit on the stairs and watch all the moms laugh, drink wine and have a great time. It looked like such fun! So now, I love to do the same. Putting good food and wine into my friends bellies is so rewarding. So, on New Years Eve this year we decided to do just that. Our next door neighbor/good friend Lauren and I were scheming about having a fun night in with fondue, wine, champagne and whisky for the boys. My favorites Jason  & Andy joined in on the fun and it was so succesful.

The key to fondue is to have 2 pots. One with oil to cook your meat to your liking and the other with cheese. We had beef, shrimp, chicken and pork for our meat. A ton of veggies, bread, pickles (MY FAV!), and olives for other items. What I love so much about fondue is that it forces you to interact with the rest of the table. I can't count how many times I have worried about different groups of friends having something to chat about over dinner when bringing them together. This way, everyone is doing something or trying something different and that creates a conversation in itself.

You can find a good pot for a reasonable price at Target etc. I, of course, am lusting over the Le Creuset one. Staples for your fondue are:
Meat- I personally like beef or pork
Vegetables- roasted potatoes and carrots, tomatoes, asparagus
Bread- cut sourdough into cubes and let it sit out for about an hour or toast it in the oven for a few minutes so its crispy on the outside
Fruit- apples and pears are DELICIOUS with this

Lauren also put out various dips such as mustard and steak sauce. Find great cheese recipes here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chasing Emily's Dish

Heh heh heh, am I the only one that thinks that sounds dirty/funny? Anyway....A good friend of mine is a serious whiz in the kitch. I had the opportunity to go for dinner at her house probably 7 (wow) years ago during our Buffalo Exchange days and I can still remember what she cooked. Is that weird?

Emily posted a recipe for Cornish Pasties on her Chasing The Dish Blog a couple of weeks ago and I really wanted to try it out. So without further ado, here we go.

I should let you know, that Emily of course made her dough from scratch. I, on the other hand, bought puff pastry squares for lack of time (I'm so ashamed). So here's my version of this recipe:

You will need:

Around 1lb steak- I used stewing steak, I probably should have used flank but this was less expensive and is still good.
2 large potatoes - use 1 if you can find a 2 small turnips to use in this recipe..unfortunately my market didnt' have any so I substituted with an extra potato
1 large rutabaga
1 egg- beaten
1 large yellow onion
2 tbsp flour
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tbspn vegetable oil

A pack of 12 5" x 5" puff pastry sheets. Get the dough recipe here.

Heat veg oil in large deep skillet. Cut steak into small, 1/2" pieces and LIGHTLY brown in pan.
After beef is lightly browned on each side, remove from pan and put aside. Chop onions and place in pan. Saute for a few minutes, stirring often.
Add rutabaga and potatoes- also cut into 1/2" squares.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionaly for 3-5 minutes. Add 2 tbspn flour and about 1/4 cup water and stir well. Lower heat just a bit, cover and let simmer for 5-7 minutes.
Once all water is absorbed stir beef back in. Add salt and pepper to taste (I added a little rosemary and garlic for kicks...but just a little!). Do a little taste test before turning heat off to make sure it is seasoned to your liking because after they go in the pastry- there's no turning back!!

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a slotted spoon to get filling into pastry dough.

Fold over and use a fork to close pastry. Brush egg over top of pasty.
Cook at 350 degrees, until golden and starting to bubble up. If you are using a dough recipe from scratch, they will need to cook longer. Leave pasties on cooking sheet for about 15 minutes before removing. I ate mine with sour cream and they were soooo good. I also had a good amount of filling left over so I froze it for when I want to make another batch!
These are really hearty enough to be a full meal. Any pairing suggestions?