Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Even better…

Posted: July 1st, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The best part of using brie and prosciutto in a recipe, is the fact that out of my left overs, I made a brie and prosciutto sandwich when I got home from the bar tonight….perfect!

Fun with pork

Posted: June 30th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

I love it when things work out even better than you expect.  Tonight I made something up completely, and it was a thing of delicious beauty.  Pork chops were on sale, and who can resist cheap meat?  Certainly not me…  So I bought a couple of thick cut pork chops and decided to stuff them.  Normally I stuff them with a combo of sausage, bacon and mozzarella, because what better to stuff pork with than two different kinds of pork??  However, this time I decided to try something different.  So I was messing around online trying to figure out what to stuff them with, and I remembered my leek challenge, so I thought I would start there.  Long story short…I ended stuffing them with prosciutto, leeks and brie.  Thanks to Joh, I had a pretty good idea on the whole cleaning process, however I ended up soaking them twice, simply because I’m a little functionally retarded, and wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to chow down on dirt.

My first leeks...a proud moment

My first leeks...a proud moment

While I was washing the leeks and letting the dirt settle out, I sliced the prosciutto and threw it into a pan with some oil.  Prosciutto is a pain in the ass to slice, so what I do is I roll it up and then slice the roll with a really sharp knife.  Then just take the roll slices and cut them in half, and you have pretty decent sized pieces to work with.  Normally I don’t really use oil for a really fatty meat, but the stuff I got at the grocery store was kind of dry, which by the way, is not ok with me.  I will be so freaking happy when the farmers market is open again.  So threw in a little oil just to help it crisp a little.  When that was done, I took it out of the pan and set it aside, leaving the oil and fat in the pan.  By then I had also dried the leeks, so I threw them in the pan with the oil and fat and sauteed them until they were tender, but still had a little crunch ( about 4-5 min)  In the last minute or so I threw in a clove of garlic that I had grated on the microplane, because garlic goes great with everything… When the leeks were just about tender, I threw in a little white wine, for some acidity.  Just left that in the pan for about 2 min to let the flavors meld a little, then I put that to the side in the container with the prosciutto…there shouldn’t be a lot of remaining liquid in the mix.

Once myu stuffing was done I went to work on the pork chop.  Most people just slice into the meat, almost butterflying it, but I like to create an actual pocket.  Starting at the center on the meat with a very sharp knife, cut in almost to the back, leaving only about 1/3 of an inch in the back.  Continue that slice for about an inch in either direction.  Then (and here is the part that I don’t really know how to describe, so bear with me)  stick the knife into the cut you have already made, then cut into the meat on either side, extending the pocket, but not the slice in the outside of the meat.  So the opening is bigger in the center and back of the meat than the slice in the front of the chop is…if that makes sense.

Not the most attractive picture, but we are all mature here...

Not the most attractive picture, but we are all mature here...

After the pork was ready to be stuffed (dirty..he he) .  I took two slices of brie about 1/4 inch thick and 3 inches long and cut of the rind, because it freaks me out and I refuse to ingest it.  Then I took the slices and put them in the pork chop, making sure to stuff it into the back corners of the pocket and all the way to the back of the chop.  Then I took the leek and prosciutto mixture and stuffed that into the chop until it was just overflowing. IMG00123-20090630-1856After I had shoved as much stuff in there as I could I salted and peppered both sides of the pork and threw it in the pan, so sear it on both sides, about 2 min on each side with high heat.  Then I just put it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 min.  I always cook with my thermometer, so time isn’t as big an issue in my life at temperature.  Just make sure its 160 degreed Farenheit, because as a scientist I have seen how messed up trichenosis can be…and thats just not ok.

So here is what happens to make this so freaking amazing…

The brie melts and mixes with all the stuffing, the salt from the prosciutto and the freshness of the leeks combine with the slight acidity of the wine in an amazing balance of flavor, and it all soaks into the meat to make it ridiculously juicy and delicious.  IMG00126-20090630-1931

I am super happy with this particular dish, and I think it may be one of the best improvs I’ve ever done.  Of course I’m going to play with it, because god knows I can never be content with anything I do, but as a first run, it was great.  Which is really good, because I am always so disappointed when my ideas tank :) .

An interesting challenge

Posted: June 29th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

I have decided to work with leeks this week.  I have always been scared of them, because one of my culanary school friends told me that one of his final exams was leek soup, and all they looked for was dirt, because apparently they are impossible to get clean.  Now I am not an obsessively clean person, but if I can avoid ingesting dirt , I tend to do it.  Not to mention, leeks have an amazing flavor, but if you make a wrong step they can awry fairly easily.  I don’t know how much of the above is entirely true, but I am scared either way.  However, I have always been one to face my fears…except the giant mascot fear, because the way those giant freaks chase you around is NOT OK…anyway…so I’ve decided to suck it up and have leek week :)  Hopefully it will turn out well, but let’s face it, it could be a train wreck….stay tuned to find out!

Simple, but so good

Posted: June 28th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Pot Roast.  The easiest thing in the world, but I have finally cracked the code.  Its good no matter what you do, but when done just right, its comforting, mouth watering, and happiness in beef form.  Today was gross and rainy, and I just broke up with a guy, so it was the perfect day for comfort food.  Luckily, I had a chuck roast in the freezer, so I immediately thought: Pot roast.

I have it stuck in my head that pot roast is a lazy dish, so its really easy for me to become lazy while cooking it, however with a little prep work, it becomes the best food on the planet.  Pot roast can be made in a regular dutch oven style pot, OR you can use my second favorite kitchen appliance of all time (the first, of course, being my standing mixer) the crock pot.  Unfortunately for those of us that are the fan of one step cooking, that will not produce the optimal beefy deliciousness.  First you have to brown the meat for a few minutes.  Just enough so it gets a little crust, and some of the fat starts to break down.  However if you just transfer it to the crock pot after that, you lose all that beef and fat that is on the bottom of the browning pan.  This was the first problem that I faced, and the solution, which is so easy, but apparently not obvious to me for the past 8 months, is red wine.  Now I have a tendency to solve a lot of problems with alcohol, but in this case, it is totally valid.  Just deglaze the pan with red wine,  just enough to have about 1/4 inch on the bottom of the pan.  While the pan is still hot, pour in the wine and just scrape your fork or spatula across the pan to get all that fat and meat to mix in with the wine.  Let that reduce for a couple minutes to really concentrate that red wine flavor and then just pour it over the beef in the crock pot.  You can use whatever wine you like, but I would recommend that you don’t use just a cheap cooking wine, because usually that wine tastes like crap.  I don’t really drink red wine that regularly, so when I find a bottle I like, I tend to buy an extra and use it for cooking.  Today I used a Gnarly Head Cab Sav, but whatever works for you is great…your the one eating :) .  Anyway…after the wine discovery, my next problem was what other liquids to use.  Water is too bland, beef broth just doesn’t taste right, and pure wine is a little excessive, even for me.

Now, my mother is NOT a good cook, and even better, she hates to cook, so I haven’t really gotten a lot from her on the culinary side.  However, I do remember her tending to use onion soup mix in her beef stew, and I always really liked it.  SO I thought I would give it a shot.  I ended up using a combination of 1 cup water, onion soup mix to taste, and half of a large beef bullion cube.  I mixed it all together and poured it over the beef, which just barely covered the meat.  The, and here is the easy part, put the lid on the crock pot, and put it on high for six hours.  Wait…false…first, I added two garlic cloves cut in half to the liquid.  THEN I put the lid on a cooked it.

By the time its done, the liquids have all mixed with the beef juices, the meat is falling apart, and the garlic is pretty much dissolved.  Just take the meat out and let it sit for a few minutes, and then add some flour and water…maybe some more wine, a little corn starch if you prefer it to flour until the broth thickens and the garlic is completely broken down.  Salt and pepper to taste and spoon it over the meat.

Over all I know that pot roast isn’t exactly gourmet, but its one of my favorites and just because something is easy, doesn’t mean you should sacrifice amazing flavor.

Thanks to all of you that read me…if there are any of you… :)

Popping the blog cherry…and speaking of cherries

Posted: June 28th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

So there is no good way to ease people into my blog…in my mind there is no point introducing you to my life, you’ll just pick it up as I ramble.  Welcome to the inside of my head, where only the strong survive.

As I was saying, speaking of cherries, apparently cherries are the state fruit of Ohio.  Really, the state fruit of this wonderful state is the tomato ( I know, I know….fruit, vegetable, fruit, vegetable….just let it go) or the paw paw, which is like a weird banana kind of thing.  ANYWAY, cherries recently have been everywhere, and freaking cheap.  Luckily I love me some cherries, so its a very good thing.  However, you can only eat so many cherries while sitting on the couch, staring at crap, so I have been trying to come up with different recipes to use cherries with, because they are also pretty good for you, although I have a pretty impressive ability to take a healthy food and turn it evil and delicious :) .  Its really easy to figure out baked stuff, and dessert stuff to do with fruit, but I have been getting more into using fruit with proteins for the main meal, so I’ve been hunting down recipes, and they of course figuring out how I want to completely change them to make my own.  My favorite so far has been the ribs.  I have been experimenting with ribs for ever trying to find the perfect cooking method, and I think I have found one that works pretty well.  I have been collecting data for a couple of years, and combining all sorts of stuff in an attempt to make the perfect ribs.  Not just good ribs, but ribs that will make your life worth living….and better yet, ribs that will kick Bobby Flay’s ASS.   So here is what I have so far.  I don’t have pictures, because I am a super messy cooker sometimes and I don’t want my camera to get jammed with pork fat and paprika.  So here it goes:

Rub the ribs with brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika ( the real stuff not that smoked crap)  and a dash of cayenne if you like some heat.  Wrap them in tin foil, but put a couple of cherry halves in the foil with the ribs.  Then bake them at 350 for at least three hours.  If you want to crisp them up, either put them under the broiler for a few minutes, or (and this is the better option) put them on the grill.    Baste them with BBQ sauce before you crisp them, and then a again after, you are like me and like to look like a fat kid with sauce all over her face.

Here is the BBQ sauce I’ve been making, but I’m still playing with it.

Combine about 2 cups cherries, 2 tbsp orange juice, 2tbsp sugar, orange zest, 1 tsp mustard and salt to taste in a saucepan. Cover and simmer until it all comes together (5-10 min). Mix 1 Tbsp water and 2tsp cornstarch and slowly stir into saucepan, stirring constantly.  Simmer it until the sauce reaches whatever thickness you want.  If you like more heat, adding different kind of chiles can beef that up.

As will always be the case…all the recipes that I use are pretty much just a starting off point for culinary play time.  Play with it depending on the flavors you like, and if something turns out terrible, you know what not to do next time.