Category Archives: Meat

Beef and Baby Bok Choy

Beef and Baby Bok Choy

As much as I like making dinner at home, there is something about take-out I really enjoy.  Besides the minimal kitchen clean up, take-out is a chance to try cusine that we don’t usually make at home.  Often these are Asian cusines such as Korean, Indian, Thai, or Chinese.  I particularly like Chinese take-out.  The problem is, the Chinese food that is available where we live is not very good.  I don’t know about you, but I find it really frustrating when I get in my car, drive to a resturant, and spend good money all for food that is mediocre at best. 

Organic, locally grown baby bok choy... in the winter

Lately, when we want Chinese take-out, I have been taking matters into my own hands.  This recipe is a great example of how just a few ingredients put together really quickly can turn into a fantastic dinner… one that would put most of the Chinese resturants around here to shame. 

Beef (and garlic), it's what's for dinner

Since there are so few ingredients in this dish, make sure you use the best you can get.  For the beef I used an eye round rump roast that I sliced as thinly as possible.  The baby bok choy was young and tender and came from our deep winter CSA distribution (I love greens in the middle of winter!!).  The addition of a little sherry is really what makes this dish.  While this isn’t a classically Asian ingredient, when you add the dry sherry and it somehow takes the whole dish beyond the sum of the individual parts.  I don’t know how to explain it, but trust me, it happens. Served over steamed rice, the whole meal comes together in less than 30 minutes… you can’t even get take-out delivered that quickly.

Can you smell the deliciousness?

Beef and Baby Bok Choy

Adapted from The Produce Bible

Ingredients:

1 lb baby bok choy (about five small bunches)

2 tbls peanut oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

8 ounces rump steak, thinly sliced*

2 tbls Tamari soy sauce (low sodium is best)

1 tbls dry sherry (please use something that you would drink on its own, the so-called “cooking sherry” is nasty stuff)

2 tbls chopped fresh basil

2 tsp sesame oil

To Make:

Wash the baby bok choy and drain.  Cut the leaves into thin strips.  Heat 1 tbls peanut oil in a large frying pan (or wok) over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Heat the remaining tbls peanut oil; add the meat in small batches, and stir-fry for 3 minutes over high heat until the meat has browned but not cooked through.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Stir-fry the bok choy for 30 seconds or until it is just wilted.  Add the meat, soy sauce, and sherry.  Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until the meat is tender.  Add the basil and sesame oil and toss well.

To Serve:

Serve immediately over steamed rice, pouring any remaining sauce from the pan onto the plates.  Serves two as an entree.

* To make it easier to thinly slice the steak, put it in the freezer for 20 minutes prior to slicing.

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Mashed Potato, Ham, and Cheese Bake

Mashed Potato, Ham, and Cheese Bake

When do you find yourself reaching for comfort food?  Is it when you are tired or stressed, when the weather is cold and gray, when you aren’t feeling well?  For us, it is really all of the above.  This past week has been a little stressful and rather tiring.  The weather hasn’t been the greatest and I have been fighting a cold.  Luckily, when all of those unfortunate things converge in the space of one week, there is this casserole to make things seem much brighter.

Simple but good quality ingredients

There is nothing fancy about this dish.  It doesn’t use any fancy ingredients, nothing special in the prep, and it doesn’t really even look all that pretty.  However, it tastes really, really good.  It is warm and hearty fare that is great for any time of day.  It makes a nice brunch dish, since much of it can be prepared ahead of time, great as left overs for lunch, and of course, the best comfort food ever for dinner.

Bake sans parmesan and panko layers

To really make this dish stand out, make sure to use the best quality ingredients you can get your hands on.  Choose really good ham, flavorful cheese, and potatoes as fresh as you can get them.  When the casserole comes out of the oven all brown and crunchy on top, loaded with ham, and dripping with melted cheese, you won’t be sorry.

Golden brown and delicious

Mashed Potato, Ham, and Cheese Bake

Recipe adapted from Marc’s Italian neighbor growing up, Maria Paolucci

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb all purpose potatoes

4 tablespoons butter

1 tbls bacon fat (or butter or cooking oil)

8 oz smoked ham steak

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 small sweet onion, finely diced

8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

4 oz Gruyère cheese, shredded

1 oz Parmesan cheese, finely shredded

1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

To Make:

Scrub potatoes and quarter them (if you have potatoes with tender skins, leave them on, otherwise peel them).  Place potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover by about an inch and bring to a boil.  Boil until tender when pierced with a knife, about 40 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes.  Meanwhile, heat a large skillet and melt the bacon fat.  Add the ham steak and heat until cooked through.  Remove the ham steak from the pan and transfer to a cutting board to cut into bite size pieces.  Add the onions to the juices left in the pan and cook on low until lightly browned (or turn off the heat in the pan and let the onion brown from the residual heat).

Preheat the oven to 450F.  When the potatoes are ready, strain and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter and mash until very smooth.  Fold in the Monterey Jack and Gruyère cheeses, along with the ham, onion, and eggs.  Grease a 2-qt baking dish (lard works well) and spread the mixture evenly in the dish.  Top with bread crumbs in one layer and then parmesan in a second layer.  Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese bubbles up on the sides. 

To Serve:

Serve hot and enjoy.  Serves 3-4 as a main course, 6-8 as a side.

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Filed under Breakfast, Dinner, Eggs, Meat, Recipes, Side Dish

Thai-Syle Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

Thai-Style Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

I came home from work one evening in a little bit of a funk.  I was tired from a long day, it was cold outside, and it was one of those days where I drove both to and from work in the dark.  However, all of my crankiness evaporated when I walked into the kitchen.  There was a big pot of soup bubbling on the stove and the whole house smelled like a Thai restaurant tinged with lime and coconut.

Onions and garlic and ginger, oh my

Marc is a real soup nut… he would eat it everyday if I agreed to it.  On this cold night he was craving something a little different, something that was a little Asian and a little Caribbean.  This soup was the culmination of those cravings and as good as it smelled, it tasted even better.

Sweet potatoes and mushrooms into the pool

There was a nice meatiness from chicken and mushrooms, sweetness from sweet potato and coconut, a little nuttiness from peanut butter, and some tang from a lime.  It was a perfect balance of the different flavors and just the thing to return my mood to its normally cheerful state.  So if you find yourself in need of a little cheering up, just whip a pot of this soup, inhale the savory-sweet smell, and dig in.  I guarantee you will feel better immediately.

Stirring the soup

Thai-Style Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

From the mind of Marc

Ingredients:

2 tlbs ginger oil (if you don’t have any, substitute peanut or other neutral oil and add an additional tbls of minced fresh ginger)

1 tlbs fresh ginger, minced

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 small yellow onion, sliced

16 oz chicken stock (homemade preferred, if you don’t have any on hand make sure to use low sodium broth)

1 medium sweet potato, peeled, chopped in 1″ cubes

6 oz white button mushrooms, stemmed, sliced

2 tbls fish sauce

1 – 14 oz can light coconut milk

2 chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs), cooked* and chopped

Juice and zest of 1 lime

1/4 cup chunky peanut butter

1/4 cup shredded coconut

Toasted shredded coconut**, chopped peanuts, and cilantro for garnish (optional)

To Make:

Heat large soup pot with the ginger oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add in the ginger, garlic, and onion and cook until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Add the sweet potato, mushrooms, and fish sauce.  Pour in the chicken stock and add water (if needed) to barely cover the vegetables.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 hour.

Add in the chopped chicken, lime zest, lime juice, peanut butter, shredded coconut, and coconut milk.  Continue to simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally.

To Serve:

Serve hot garnished with toasted coconut, chopped peanuts, and fresh cilantro.  Serves 4-6 as a main course.

* We brined our chicken overnight prior to oven roasting.  While this isn’t absolutely necessary, it does add a lot of nice flavor to the chicken.

** To toast shredded coconut, place coconut on a foil lined baking sheet.  Place in a 325 degree oven until browned and toasty, 8-10 minutes.  A toaster oven works well for this.

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Filed under Dinner, Meat, Recipes, Soup

Russian Cabbage Soup

Russian Cabbage Soup

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.  We went to my mom’s and spent a few days with her and all of my siblings (there are 5 of us).  It was a lot of fun and there was a lot of food.  After four days of eating nothing but pies, cookies, brownies, whipped cream, mac and cheese, stuffed shells, and of course, turkey with all the fixings, Marc and I were feeling a little like we had food hangovers.  Arriving back home, we both felt the need to detox a little.  For us, this means eating things like soup, fresh bread, and lots of vegetables.

Soup ingredients

Personally, I couldn’t stop thinking about cabbage soup.  While that may seem like a strange thing to obsess about, I just knew that it was exactly what I needed to cure my food hangover.  I went searching on the Internet to find myself a recipe.  I started with one of my favorite food blogger sites, Smitten Kitchen.  Indeed, there was a very interesting recipe for cabbage soup.  Using that as my starting point, I found a few other recipes with interesting components that I incorporated. 

Chopped vegetables

The result is a hearty and delicious cabbage soup with tomato, celery, carrots, onion, and (obviously) cabbage.  Beef and beef stock add meaty flavor while the inclusion of sauerkraut and some white wine vinegar add a pleasing tanginess.  The vegetables are cooked but still retain some of their texture.  While this soup takes a little while to make, it is really easy.  Served with some crusty bread, it is the perfect meal for a wintery Sunday dinner… and an excellent way to rebound from the holiday gluttony. 

Simmering soup

Russian Cabbage Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups beef stock

4 cups water

1 lb ground beef

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon marjoram

3 whole allspice berries

1 cup sauerkraut plus 2 tbls juice

1 medium potato, diced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

3 ribs celery, finely diced

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cups fresh cabbage, thinly shredded (about half a large head of cabbage)

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained (or 1 lb fresh tomatoes, peeled, cored, and chopped)

2 tbls white wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

In a large soup pot, bring stock and water to a boil.  Add bay leaves, marjoram, and allspice.  Break the ground beef into small pieces and add it to the pot.  Turn the heat down and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about one hour.

Remove the ground beef and set aside.  Skim off most of the fat from the stock.  Add the sauerkraut and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the potato and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the cabbage, carrots, onions, celery, and tomatoes (including the juice) and simmer for 20 minutes.  Return the beef to the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat, stir in the sauerkraut juice, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. 

To serve:

Serve hot with additional vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and/or sour cream as desired.  Serves 6-8.

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Filed under Dinner, Meat, Recipes, Soup, Vegetables