Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Steak au Poivre

Steak au Poivre is one of my specialty dishes. Specialty usually means it is not low-calorie, because it is high in flavor. So, when I was preparing to cook this dish for my girlfriend, I confessed to her that I chose a dish with a cream sauce...BUT, since the cream sauce is only drizzled around the steak for presentation, I convinced her she did not have to worry. She could just eat the steak (yeah right). This was a convincing argument at the time; however, she still reminds me of my ridiculuousness. She ate every bite of the steak as well as every last drop of the sauce. Sometimes, you just have to splurge on the calories!

The best part about cooking Steak au Poive (beside eating it) is lighting the brandy on fire. Flambee!


Ingredients

2 Filet Mignons (center cut)
2 TB crushed green peppercorns ( bulk item at specialty store )
3-4 TB butter
2/3 cup cream
1 TB olive oil
2 TB brandy
Chopped parsley to garnish

1 bag fresh spinach
4 cloves minced garlic

Directions

Crush green peppercorns using a large blade knife and a sandwich bag. If you have a spice mortar that is obviously better. You can use fresh ground black pepper, but it is not really the same as green peppercorns. Crush the sea salt too.


Take each filet and generously coat both sides with the crushed pepper and sea salt. Set steaks aside to bring to room temperature.

Cook Spinach
Heat oil for spinach. Add spinach and minced garlic and cook just until wilted. Set aside covered on top of stove to keep warm

Preheat oven to 450.

Melt 2 TB butter and 1 TB olive oil in a large frying pan. Add steaks and cook on med high for 2 minutes. Turn over and cook for another 2 mins. Pull steaks out and put in preheated 450 oven till desired doneness. For rare steaks, usually just 2 minutes, medium rare 2-4 more and well done ...i don't really recommend for filets.


While filets are in the oven, pour 4 TB brandy into the frying pan. Light on fire and let the fire cook down. Flambee.


Add 2/3 cup of cream and stir well. Cook until bubbly.


Put steak in center of plate, pour cream sauce over it until it makes a circle around the steak. Lightly sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Appetizers and Hummus

Hummus is a dish I started making after meeting a friend of my girlfriend Amanda. Amanda loves to cook, and invites us over all the time for a fabulous meal with lots of wine and good times.

Hummus is something Amanda often serves as the first of several courses. Amanda's hummus is rarely the same as she likes to change the ingredients. It always eases that hunger pain I have when I arrive which is a good thing because we often spread out the night and eat dinner late.

Here is my recipe for Kalmata Olive Hummus.



Ingredients


1/2 bag of dried garbanzo beans
1/4 - 1/3 cup kalmata olives (de-seeded)
4-5 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup tahini butter
Juice from 2 lemons

Cucumber and/or Pita for serving.

Directions

Soak garbanzo beans over night in large pot of water. Soak for at least 12 hours.


In a crock pot, add the garbanzo beans and cover with water. Cook in crock pot until soft, usually about 8 hours. If needed, I refrigerate the cooked beans and keep for few days.


Using a blender, add the beans, garlic and about 1/4 cup of water. Blend up till the mixture begins to be smooth.


Add olives and about 1/3 cup of juice from the olives. Blend until smooth.


I buy Kalmata olives at Costco because I find they keep a long time and I eat them frequently. They can be expensive to buy at the grocery store. If you do that, this whole meal is extremely cheap!

Serve with cucumber or pita bread.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Grandma's Hashbrown Casserole

My grandmother was an excellent cook, and she always cooked an after-church Sunday dinner for my family. This casserole was often served as a side. All I can say is that it is sinfully delicious. It is so good, my grandfather would count how many times I went back for more.

My mother helped pass this recipe down to me. My mother mostly made it for me as a convenience because this dish freezes well. If freezing (or in a hurry) I take the easy-way-out and use store-bought shredded cheddar cheese and store-bought hash browns. That method is definitely good. However!!!, if you want sinfully delicious....use quality Wisconsin mild cheddar cheese and grate your own white potatoes. Today, is sinful.



Ingredients

3 White potatoes (2 - 2 1/4 lb), peeled, grated
1 bunch (5-6) of green onions thinly sliced
2 cup shredded cheddar cheese. (use quality cheese)
1 pint sour cream (light)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

If using whole potatoes. Peel the potatoes. Using a Cusinart with the grater blade or cheese grater, grate all the potatoes. Soak immediately in ice cold water to avoid browning. This is very important. Leave potatoes in water. Add 1 TB sea salt to water.


Slice green onions, and grate cheddar cheese if necessary. I use a good Wisconsin Mild cheddar that I grated using my Cuisinart.



Butter a casserole dish well.

In the casserole dish, mix the drained potatoes with the green onions and cheddar cheese.


Once mixed well, stir in the sour cream and mix. Lightly top with black pepper and some thin slices of butter.
Cover with aluminum foil. Bake in oven for one hour.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cranberry Bran Muffins

Guest Chef: Girlfriend of The 4:20 Chef

There's almost nothing better in the morning than a cup of coffee and a muffin. It is an especially nice start to the workday making it seem less drab. A muffin can be a relaxing way to wind down the weekend with the Sunday paper. However, a stop at the local coffee shop for these items can leave your wallet empty and your waistline expanding. These muffins are a healthy alternative (low in fat, high in fiber) to the portion-crazy, butter-loaded commercial muffins and are extremely cheap especially if you shop for the ingredients in the bulk bins at your local market. While I live with a chef, I like to make a little something myself every now and then. This is an easy way to contribute to the fabulous foods The 4:20 Chef creates and shares with me.



Ingredients

1 cup dried cranberries or dried fruit of your choice
2 cup bran flour
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Crisco (or alternative)

Directions

I bought bulk bran and dried cranberry from my specialty grocery store which made these very cheap.

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Lightly grease the muffin tins with crisco. Fill each muffin almost full with the mix. You can use any muffin tins you like, but I am partial to mini muffins.


Bake in oven on 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Post Game Egg-in-Hole Deluxe

Opening day for college football. Gametime 6:00 pm. Pre-game 3:30 pm at Crown and Anchor for a pitchers of Dos Equis and a jalepeno cheeseburger and fries. One more beer for kicks, I grap a Red Stripe, we stumble to the game. College football has a lot of tradition, and so do the fans. My halftime break for more beer at the Texas Exes Alumi Center along with 3rd Quarter Corny Dogs are two of my many traditions. Are you noticing a theme? The Horns finish off Arkansas State for a lackluster 21-13 victory. Hop on the bicycle for a short ride back home. Just enough exercise to work up another appetite!



So I had the ingredients for an omelet, but that is way too much work for my state of mind. Instead, Egg in Hole...wait, let's make it a Deluxe!

Ingredients

1 slice of bread
1 egg
1 slice of ham
1 slick of mozzarella cheese (or other cheese)
Salt and Pepper
Butter

Directions

Cut a round hole in a slice of bread. I use a small glass. Melt a dash or butter in a small frying pan. Lay the slice of bread down in the frying pan on top of the butter and cook on medium heat.

Add the egg, carefully aligning the hole in the bread. Let cook until toasted on one side.


Carefully turn the bread and cook the other side until toasted, appx 2-3 minutes


A traditional egg-n-hole is ready at this point. To make it a Deluxe, use a spatula and lift up the bread and egg. Lay a slice of ham on the frying pan. Next, add slice of cheese on top of the ham. Lay the egg-n-hole back down on the ham and cheese and cook until the cheese melted.

**If I turn it over it looks like the following picture; however, this is not necessary.


Serve with the hole on top and the ham/cheese on the bottom.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Panama City Turkey

Thanksgiving in Gulf Shores, Al. was an annual event for my family. I recall wading the bay, catching blue crabs by the jetty, going to the arcade, and sand crabbing at night. My family rented the same beach-side cabin every year. I specifically remember enjoying Thanksgiving so much that every year I would smell the air as I was leaving remembering all the great times. One of the most vivid moments was Thanksgiving, 1996. I had just graduated from college and my sister was in her last year of law school. My dad was giving grace as he always did before a meal. During grace, my father broke down upset. When he regained his compusure, he told us all that this would probably be the last Thanksgiving as we all knew it. Indeed it was, but I will never forget that moment! ... nor the many Thanksgivings I enjoyed in in Gulf Shores, AL.


While it was not my family tradition, some people in that area enjoy fish for Thanksgiving. They bake a large snapper (usually 6Lbs or more) like a turkey and serve it with oyster dressing. That is known as Panama City Turkey.

Ingredients

1 3 lb whole red snapper
3 med onions, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
8 bay leaves
6-7 ripe, red tomatoes (or 1 large can of stewed tomatoes)
3-4 TB butter
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

Directions:

Clean the fish. I request that the butcher gut, clean the gills and trim the fins for me. In addition, I wash the whole fish very well. I find the freshest fish by looking for one with the least cloudy eyes.

Slice the onion and lemon.

Sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper. Add about 1/4 of the sliced onions, lemons to the cavity leaving the rest for the sauce. Sprinkle sea salt on top of the skin. Add about 4 bay leaves to the cavity. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate.


Boil water to peel tomatoes. Place tomatoes in boiling water until the skin breaks. Pull the tomatoes out of the water and cool. Peel the skin. Quarter and de-seed the tomatoes.

Melt 3-4 TB of butter gently in a saucepan. When melted, add the sliced onions, chopped celery and bay leaves. Sweat the vegetables for about 20 minutes in the butter. When sweating vegetables, I use medium heat cooking until the vegetables are translucent but not brown. This helps preserve the sugar.

Add tomatoes and cook another 10 minutes. Add 4-5 lemon slices and continue simmering on low for a few more minutes. The butter should turn a nice color from the tomotoes.


Lay remaining lemon wedges on fish. Cover well with aluminum foil and cook on 375 in oven for 30-45 minutes.


Remove fish from the oven. Fish baked with the head and tail is usually very moist and much more flavorful than a filet. The meat peels right off the bone if done correctly.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hatch Chile Corn Bread

Hatch, New Mexico is the headquarters of the chile pepper, one of my favorite peppers. Plant breeders and botanists from around the world are constantly researching the Chile and creating new breeds to satisfy the ever changing tastes of consumers. Around August in Austin, TX, our grocery stores always heavily promote the famous Hatch Chile Pepper.

I modify the traditional Texas Jalepeno Cornbread to use Hatch Chilis in celebration of the Hatch Chile season. Most traditional Jalepeno Cornbread recipes call for a can or cream corn which yields a sweeter cornbread. The can contains ingredients I would prefer not to include. Instead, for a fresher cornbread, I use the creamy corn juices grated right off the cob, along with a handful of kernels cut from the cob.


Ingredients

1 cup yellow corn meal
2 hatch chilis, deseeded and chopped
3 green onions, chopped
2 corn on the cobs.
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
4 TB butter, melted gently

Directions

Prehat oven to 400 degrees. Green a 12 inch iron skillet with crisco or butter. Heat the iron skillet in the oven.

Mix 1 cup of cornmeal with 1 cup of buttermilk and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Chop the green onions and hatch chilis.


Take the first corn on the cob and grate it using a cheese grater. This makes a soupy corn mixture. Collect it and set aside. Take the second corn on the cob and cut the kernels off.


Mix baking powder, baking soda, flour, eggs, and melted butter with the cornmeal mixture. Add chopped pepper and green onions. Stir well.

Pour into the hot iron skillet. Spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes on 400. Test with a toothpick to see if the center is done. If the toothpick removes cleanly, the cornbread is done!