Real Food for Real Life

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Lipitor Special...

The Lipitor Special (and if you eat it all, you'll need a Lipitor)

Ben and I were shopping again at Jungle Jim's (International Market) when we found a package of Taylor Pork Roll.  I had never heard of this product before, but Ben was reminded of a Michael Symon recipe he had read online and quickly pulled out his PDA to look it up (good use for a smart phone if you ask me :-).  The recipe is for a sandwich/burger called the Lipitor Special and was touted as a "Hangover Helper".  I'm always up for trying new things, even those ungodly bad for us things that Ben finds, so we bought the roll.

My burger...2 slices of bacon, egg cooked through
We both love Michael Symon, so much that we are planning to road trip to Cleveland sometime JUST to dine at one of his restaurants, so I followed the recipe exactly as given (despite the use of  Miracle Whip and American cheese).   The "burgers" were pretty good,but a bit on the sweet side and terribly difficult to eat...I ended up pulling out my slice of pork roll and feeding it to the dog, not that she minded.  We decided on some changes that might encourage to make this again...a smaller roll, or perhaps an English muffin...a 1/2 rather than 1 inch thick slice of pork roll...reduce the bacon to 2 slices...extra sharp cheddar instead of the American...and finally, mayo instead of the Miracle Whip.  I'll be sure to let you know if we make this again.

One very good thing that came from this was the pickled onions.  I used Symon's recipe from his cookbook, Live to Cook, and they were fabulous.  We will be topping many things with these, especially considering how easy they were to make.

Pickled Onions
adapted from Michael Symon

 1 lb. red onions, sliced
white vinegar
Kosher salt
1 tbs. mustard seeds (I used 1 tsp. ground mustard)
1 tbs. coriander seeds ( i used 1 tsp. ground coriander)
1/2 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbs. black peppercorns
2 garlic cloves (I halved them lengthwise)
1 bay leaf

Place the onion slices in a clean jar and add enough water to just barely cover; por out the water into a large measuring cup and replace 1/2 of it with vinegar.  Pour the liquid into a non-reactive saucepan and add the remaining seasonings, using 2 tbs. of sugar and salt for 3 cups of liquid; bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Pour the liquid over the onions (they will wilt some), screw on the cap and refrigerate (I did let mine cool first) for up to one month (they won't last that long).

The Lipitor Special

1 good quality brioche hamburger bun
4 slices smoked bacon
1 one-inch-thick slice of Taylor pork roll
2 slices white American cheese
1 egg

 pickled red onions
1 tsp. Miracle Whip

pickled jalapeños (I used mine)

 Cook bacon till crisp in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.  Set the bacon aside but reserve fat in pan to fry the pork roll for 1 minute per side (I did spoon off a lot of bacon fat before proceeding).  After flipping pork roll, top it with cheese to melt. Remove pork roll and set aside.  Cook egg over easy (I cooked Ben's this way, but cooked mine till the yolk was set).  Drain excess fat from pan and toast bun in the pan—it’ll still soak up that good bacon grease.   Place Miracle Whip on bun, top with pork roll, bacon, egg, jalapeños, and pickled onions, and eat immediately.  Ben dipped his O rings in the runny yolk like it was ketchup and declared it delicious.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I love Mario (Batali, not the brothers)...

Pollo alla Diavola

Ben and I recently had two weeks sans children, leaving us able to eat what ever we wanted, how ever spicy we wanted it.  One night we had Mario Batali's Devil Chicken made with an incredible amount of crushed red pepper, flavored with sweet smoked paprika, and finished with spicy smoked paprika.  The taste was incredible (we especially liked that final dusting with the spicy paprika), deep and smokey; if you don't like things quite so hot, just cut the amount of crushed red pepper but leave the smoked paprikas, they completely make this dish.  The leftovers made delicious sandwiches, requiring only crusty rolls and a slice of provolone.

Pollo alla Diavola
adapted from Mario batali's Italian Grill

 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 oz. orange juice
6oz. lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes (yes, 5)
2 tbs.  pimentón dulce (sweet Spanish smoked paprika)
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper 
Pimentón picante, for serving (hot Spanish smoked paprika)

Several hours before cooking, and up to the day before, mix the juices, olive oil, pepper flakes, sweet paprika, and a generous amount of salt and pepper in a gallon zip-lock bag; add the chicken and refrigerate until needed.  Grill the chicken until just done and let rest.  Serve with a generous sprinkling of the hot smoked paprika.

Pasta alla Diavola

We had this chicken with a nice pasta that was very easy to put together and continued that flavor profiles of the chicken. 

reserved marinade from above
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
6 (or so) cups chopped veggies (I used yellow zucchini, onion, and green bell pepper)
olive oil, as needed
1 lb. cooked pasta of choice (I used whole grain penne)

Drizzle the veggies with a bit of olive oil and roast or grill to your desired doneness, remembering that the longer you cook them, the sweeter they will become...I cooked ours on the grill in that grill basket that has become one of my favorite cooking tools.  In a medium saucepan, boil the marinade with the wine and stock until it becomes syrupy, but at least for 5 minutes (think food safety).  Toss the pasta, veggies, and sauce together and serve.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More sauerkraut...

German Sundae
First the potatoes...
I STILL had some of that jar of sauerkraut left, along with three small boiled potatoes I had reserved from making the German Potato Salad.  As I won't be able to attend the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival in my hometown of Waynesville this year, I thought I would recreate one of my favorite eats, one that I get every year that I go, the German Sundae.  This dish is comprised of (very, very) buttery roasted potato slices topped with sauerkraut, shredded cheese, bacon bits, sour cream, and an olive on top.  I know, you're thinking that that sounds gross, but really, it is delicious and I wouldn't lie to you about that!

then the kraut...
Since I was in charge this go around, I thought I would construct a better for me "Sundae" while I was at it.  I took the three small red potatoes (warmed) and broke them up into chunks; I used these as the bottom layer, like the original, but omitted the (ton of) butter.  On top of this I layered my leftover kraut (warmed), and topped that with a handful of 2% extra sharp cheddar cheese shreds, a sprinkling of (real) bacon bits, a dollop of fat free sour cream, and a nice ripe olive...yum, yum, yum.  Be adventurous and the next time you have a bit of leftover kraut, be sure to give this a try ;-D
then every thing else and eat it up yum...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I can make that!!

Reuben with Homemade German Potato Salad

 I had leftover sauerkraut and bacon from last weekend's Pretzel Burgers.  The German potato salad we had purchased from the deli had been pretty good, but I knew I could do better...and for the sauerkraut?...some deli corned beef and I was ready to make Reubens, the perfect companion for the potato salad.  We will occasionally buy Read German Potato Salad in the can as an easy side, but no more, this salad was just too easy, and too damn tasty to ever buy the can again.

German Potato Salad

2 lbs. small red potatoes
1/2 lb. bacon (I used thick cut peppered bacon)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbs, good quality mustard (I used German mustard)
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 bunch scallions, green and white parts, chopped

Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water; bring to a boil, salt generously and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and set aside until cool enough to handle.  While the potatoes are cooking, dice the bacon and cook in a large saute pan over med-high heat until crisp; remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside, reserving the drippings in the pan.  Over medium heat whisk in the vinegar, sugar, mustard, and salt; cook until bubbly and starting to thicken (this will not take long).  Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice into thin rounds or cut into small cubes (your preference) and toss in the pan with the vinegar mixture.  Toss in the chopped scallions and reserved bacon before serving hot, at room temperature, or cold (we had it at room temperature).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

From a pretzel to a burger...

Brezelburger mit Sauerkraut, Speck und Senf
Okay, that would be a pretzel burger with sauerkraut, bacon and mustard (Ben is the German wiz in the house).  Last weekend we knew we wanted burgers and whilst shopping at Jungle Jim's (International Market) we set off seeking some nice buns (for burgers, of course).  What drew our attention were some very handsome pretzel rolls...and what do pretzels need but mustard and cheese (sauce)?  So off we went, now seeking mustard and cheese.  Well, one thing led to another, and in the search for a "good" mustard, we ended up with a German mustard, which lead to sauerkraut (Bavarian style), which lead to bacon, which lead to the creation of our "Pretzel Burger" (isn't it wonderful how our minds wander?).  We picked up some German potato salad at the deli and had that alongside our burgers with some additional sauerkraut.  While I could not finish mine (okay Ben, no more 1/2 lb. burgers), I can definitely say it was one of the best burgers I have ever eaten.

Since we are kinda nerdy, and like to match our beverage to our food, we also went seeking some German beer (Reisling just wouldn't cut it for a burger of this magnitude).  What we found was a Lithuaian triple bock (close enough, right?) by the name of Before and After, and coming in at a whopping 12% alcohol, this is a very apt name indeed.  This beer did not taste as strongly of alcohol as I had feared, and being a bit on the sweet (and dark) side, I quite liked this one, more so than Ben, the beer aficionado of the family.  Funny, I don't like sweet wine, but I like sweet beer (oh, well).

The recipe that follows isn't really a recipe so much as what we put on our burgers; which toppings you decide to use and in what quantities is entirely up to you, we just hope to provide a little tasty inspiration.

German Pretzel Burger

Honking 1/2 lb. patties ready for the grill
burger patties grilled to your liking (we used 80/20 chuck cooked to medium)
pretzel rolls, split and toasted
crisp, cooked bacon (we used thick cut peppered bacon)
extra sharp cheddar cheese slices
good quality mustard (please, something better than the cheap yellow stuff)
sauerkraut, squeezed dry and warmed through

Assemble your burgers, using as much. or as little, of the listed ingredients.  Ben put the bacon slices under the cheese on the grill and melted everything to a nice ooey gooey goodness.
The burger up above was Ben's, this is mine, not piled quite so high.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A steak, a potato, and a glass of wine...

Grilled Steak, Steamed Broccoli, and a Salted Baked Potato
 We had some nice rib eyes tucked away in the freezer (they lasted a whole three weeks), and with the weather being so nice, we decided to throw them on the grill.  Ben's initial suggestion was a rice pilaf to accompany, but as we have been eating so much rice, I suggested baked potatoes (we don't eat so many potatoes).  The only food I remember ever really liking at The Cracker Barrel (a popular chain restaurant for those unfamiliar) was a salt crusted baked potato (if that's all I remember you can rightly guess that I wasn't highly impressed).  This potato was what I had in mind and this was a very successful imitation indeed.  I especially loved the salty crisp skin and will most certainly make these again.  We had a wonderful  bottle of Gascón Malbec from Argentina with this meal...this particular wine is one of my all time favorites.  If you like a full bodied dry red wine be sure to give this one a try sometime.

Salted Baked Potatoes

medium baking potatoes
canola oil
kosher salt

Scrub the potatoes clean several hours before you wish to bake them so that they will be completely dry.  Pierce the potatoes several times each, and place the in a bowl; drizzle with a bit of canola oil and turn them around in the bowl to coat completely.  Sprinkle the potatoes with a generous amount of kosher salt, turning them so that all sides have some salt adhere to them.  Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven and place the potatoes directly on the rack above the sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F for one hour, or until the potatoes are cooked through and the skin is crispy.  Serve the potatoes so that each person may crack that delicious skin them selves and top however you like to top baked potatoes (we used fat free sour cream).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dinner for a busy night...

Greek Olive Chicken served on a bed of Greek Salad
I have had this recipe written on a recipe card for so long that I don't even remember where I got it.  This is a super easy and delicious dinner option for those busy nights.  We had this sliced and served over a Greek salad made of romaine, red onion, tomatoes halved Kalamata olives, crumbled feta, and finished with a lemon vinaigrette.

Greek Olive Chicken

1 large lemon, thinly sliced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbs, olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and layer the lemon slices on the bottom; arrange the chicken breasts on top of the slices.  Mix the olive oil, garlic, chopped olives, and oregano; spread this mixture evenly over the top of the chicken.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Friday, September 3, 2010

So many chilies...

Our jalapeño plants continue to to give us heaps of chilies, so I just had to try this simple pickling method I found in The New York Times.  I had a pound of jalapeños so I simply increased the amounts given in the recipe...yes, we really do eat that many chilies.  I did add some sugar to the recipe to balance the vinegar, and the result was fantastic.  These ended up being crisp like a fresh chili, while having a nice pickled flavor...the best of both worlds.  As I'll be picking another batch next weekend, I think some more of these will be in order.

Tangy Salted Chilies
adapted from The New York Times

3 oz. fresh chilies of choice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp.white sugar

Slice chili peppers very thinly. Place them in a jar and stir in vinegar, salt, and sugar. Cover loosely with a lid, or with cheesecloth and a rubber band.  Refrigerate for five days, then close lid tightly. Keep stored in refrigerator; peppers will last for several weeks or months.Adjust the recipe accordingly for a larger quantity of chilies.

Makes about 3/4 cup

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