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Archive for the ‘Beef’ Category

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Test subject Bill asked for Bolognese sauce last week. It’s always nice to get a request…and then NAIL IT. This sauce was a thing of beauty. I recommend serving it over homemade pasta for best results! Note: a good Bolognese takes time. Don’t rush it, and you will be rewarded.

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KKF Bolognese Sauce

1 lb ground beef

2 carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

5 cloves garlic

2 t curry powder

2 small bay leaves

1.5 cups red wine

14 oz tomato paste

Bunch thyme, tied together tightly with string

2 T olive oil

1.5-2c water

½ cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Buzz your onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the food processor until you have a chunky paste. Warm the olive oil in a heavy saucepan and add the garlicky mirepoix. Hit it with a big pinch of salt. Cook gently for at least 20 minutes, letting the flavors develop. Add the ground beef (you’re using grass fed beef, right?) and give it a good strong stir, blending it well with the veggies. Let it cook, stirring frequently, for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and let it cook for another few minutes, then add the wine. Bring the mixture to a light simmer and hold for 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently, then add about half a cup of the water. Add the curry powder, thyme and bay leaves.

Bring the mixture back to a simmer and give it some time, at least 15 minutes, stirring frequently, before adding another half cup of water. Monitor your sauce, adding water as necessary when it reduces, and tasting and adjusting salt and pepper as desired. The longer you can let it go the better it will be. Mine probably went in this phase for about two hours.

You want to end up with a fairly thick, uniform sauce with very, very small chunks of the ground beef. You don’t want to see big chunks of anything. Once you are happy with the consistency and flavor of your sauce you are almost done. Just one more finishing touch…

Slowly stir in half a cup of heavy cream and let it just heat through before serving. Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and a smile.

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So for all the recipes I try and food that I make at home, you would think that I’d done a brisket before.

Nope.

Not a single brisket had ever graced my freezer, refrigerator or oven…until today. Now all I can think about it how do I get me another one. I emailed my farmer and was like “Hey…yeah…how’s going? Brisket. Thanks for the beef last brisket. You have anything left in your brisket like maybe some brisket? HELP ME!”

I don’t even have a picture because it was gone in like 10 minutes. Moist, tender, savory, falling apart deliciousness. No sugar, too, which is awesome for low carbers! I used Tyler Florence’s recipe here. Only change I made is that I did not use carrots – celery and onion only – and I turned down the heat to about 300. The first time I basted it seemed too hot for me. So 300 for almost 4 hours was perfect.

The veggies were pretty dead by the end of the cooking time, so I just strained them out and chucked them. They were all they could be contributing to the sauce.

So get yourself a grass fed brisket and get on with it already! Don’t deprive yourself for years like I did. Take a lesson from KKF – neglecting brisket is a kung faux pas!!

 

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Grilled grass fed blade steak resting

In my opinion, grilling comes down to a) quality meats and b) proper technique. Although I still consider myself a real beginner at grilling, I am noticing that when I do the least I’m getting the best results. For example, the burgers I grilled today. Ground beef and a homemade rub. That’s it. Granted, the meat was super high quality, but preparation was quick and almost effortless. If you do it right, grilling should be easy.

Skewered chicken satay off the grill

Earlier this weekend I made steak and chicken satay on the grill. For the steak, it couldn’t have been easier. I took a dry aged blade steak from my local grass-based farmer and marinated it for 8-9 hours in plain old olive oil. Right before grilling, I salted and peppered. Then I threw it on my Egg at about a 450 degrees and closed the lid. A few minutes later, I opened and flipped it, and gave it another two minutes. I let it rest while I grilled my satay.

Steak, chicken satay with peanut sauce (even though it looks like ketchup in this pic...gross) and Italian green beans from the farmer's market

The chicken satay is a recipe I got from my Viking Cooking School Thai cooking class. Chicken breast strips are marinated in a coconut milk/garlic/cilantro mixture, then threaded onto skewers. I had them on a 450 degree egg for about 2-3 minutes per side and they came out soooo juicy, a real feat for chicken breast. The peanut sauce is a combination of coconut milk, red curry paste (use Mae Ploy brand), fish sauce, tamarind paste (make a visit to your local ethnic grocery store), garlic, a sweetner (I used sucanat), and of course, a few tablespoons of creamy peanut butter. So clearly, far more effort went into the sauce than the meat itself! It was worth it though…quite delicious.

The steak’s flavor was incredible for as little as I did to it. I’ve noticed that with quality meats. Portions of it were chewy and other portions were very tender. Lucky for me I like to pick up meat and gnaw on it so I got every part, chewy or tender 🙂 I think next time I may marinade it even longer and see how that works out.

Hope everyone had a blessed and safe 4th of July holiday!

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Grilling out is a sign of independence. Humans. Fire. Meat. Electricity optional. Maybe that’s why it’s so popular to have a cookout on the 4th of July. Maybe it’s because this style of cooking was very popular during the early years of the USA, as it’s easy to feed a large crowd. Whatever the reason, it’s a great idea. And since I’m still in the honeymoon period with my Big Green Egg, I’ve been giving it a workout this holiday weekend.

Today’s meal was the epitome of simplicity and was heavenly delicious. I formed burger patties (no filling or binder) out of some dry aged beef I picked up from my local farmer last month and used the rub from Sarah Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo
(a great cookbook and her website is also great, btw). I cut some red onions, rubbed them with olive oil and salt and pepper and skewered them on metal skewers (no more charred wooden skewers for me). Finally, I made a simple tomato salad (recipe below).

Everyday Paleo burger, KKF tomato salad, grilled red onions and a few of Bubbie's pickles for good measure!

The burgers were unbelievably delicious and moist. I’m going to do them this way from now on, whether it’s with Sarah’s rub or with another seasoning. I always thought hamburger mix had to have egg and/or breadcrumbs…forget about it. Oil your gril (I used spray coconut oil), rub on your rub and slap them on the grill. I cranked up the Egg to about 650, put on the burgers and closed the lid. After two minutes, I opened, flipped, closed and left it another two minutes. Burgers were perfect. Oh, and I was doing all this in a FRIGGIN RAIN STORM. Yes, about three minutes before my grill got to temperature it started pouring.

Luckily the Egg works just fine in the rain. Test subject Bill was an excellent umbrella holder as I brought out meat and flipped and swapped. I think the struggle made my rain burgers taste even better.

KKF Too Easy Tomato Salad

1 pint farmer’s market fresh cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 small red onion, chopped

small bunch fresh basil, cut into thin strips

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Mix everything together and let it marinate at room temperature while you’re preparing the rest of your meal. Deee-licious.

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The KKF and the BGE

When you buy a Big Green Egg, it’s kind of like joining a cult. People who own a Green Egg (or “Eggheads”) become fanatical, notice other Eggheads when they drive or walk by their house, and dancing or jumping ensues just from seeing someone else’s Egg. This month, I joined the Egg Cult.

The first night after a laborous process of setting up our new large Egg, I had burgers ready to throw on and french fries ready to go in some piping hot tallow. I used Cheeseslave’s fry recipe and they were out of this world delicious! And the burgers…amazing. So delicious and moist.

That was enough to get me hooked, and within the first two weeks of owning the Egg I probably grilled six times. Gratuitous grill porn follows. Enjoy! (And yeah, if you don’t have one I strongly recommend picking up a Green Egg!)

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I attended another cooking class today, this time on Braises & Stews at Whole Food’s Salud Cooking School. It was an aggressive menu for a three hour class: Braised Short Ribs, Beef Stew, Pot Roast with Vegetables, Lamb Ragu and Creamy Polenta. There were nine students in class and we were split up into three groups of three.

Now, when I hear “get into groups” I immediately want to run screaming after four years of struggling through mostly useless group projects in business school with a bunch of slackers. Then I reminded myself that everyone is this class because they WANT to be there. This group would not be a headache. It would be like the Capstone dream team (Sasha and Suzanne rock, btw) except we’re all doing something we enjoy. So I relaxed, and rightfully so. My teammates Lori and Cheryl were on it.

This class involved a lot of chopping, which is fine because I got to use my new knife skills (from my knife skills class last Wednesday, blog post is forthcoming). Chef Antonio told us when it comes to tough cuts of meat, “Low and slow is the way to go.” We repeated the same procedure for all our dishes (except the polenta): brown the meat (put it in your hot oiled pan and leave it until it comes off easily – if you move your meat around it won’t brown); remove the meat and deglaze your pan with wine and/or stock; add meat and veggies back to the pan and continue heating over low heat for hours. According to Chef Antonio, you can’t overcook any of this. That statement was cheered by several students.

The Buffeast Line

We used some lovely Le Creuset Dutch Ovens and All-Clad Stockpots for everything. It was nice to see that some of the choices I’ve been making for my own kitchen are being used in quality kitchens like Whole Foods and the Viking Cooking School. Gives a girl some reassurance! I really like the Le Creuset stuff because it can go from stove top to oven and the enamel makes it rather non-stick and easy to clean up. Not that I had to worry about cleaning up today….weeee!

The final dish we made while our braises and stews were bubbling away is polenta. I’d never made polenta before but I knew that it’s a dish that takes a lot of stirring. Turns out I heard correctly. Luckily with three team members we could trade off stirring the polenta. First we brought chicken broth and cream to a boil, then stirred in the polenta. When it was nice and thick, we stirred in grated fontina and parmesan cheeses and a bit of freshly ground nutmeg. I have to say, it was worth the work. The polenta was absolutely delicious.

Clockwise from bottom left: pot roast with veggies, lamb ragout, green salad, braised beef short ribs. Center: cheesy creamy polenta!

All of our dishes turned out nicely. Each team of three made all the dishes, so we had a TON of food. I was wondering what football team we were feeding when all the dishes were pulled out and lined up for the buffeast. While everything was very good, my favorite was the lamb dish, suprisingly. It was tender (even though everything could have easily cooked for another two hours and been even better) and flavorful and different. You don’t see lamb just anywhere. The beef stew was my second favorite although when I make it it won’t be as sweet; this recipe called for sugar and red currant jelly. I might just do the jelly (unique) and skip the white sugar. Or skip them both, who needs more sugar in their diet?

Beef Stew

In summary, it was a wonderful class and well worth the time and money. Now that I’ve been to this one and a few classes at Viking I can make some comparisons and contrasts. At Viking I think it’s a little bit more individual attention and you get a 10% discount on store items the day of your class, which is nice (I picked up this Lemon Squeezer last time, works soooo much better than my other crappy one from Publix). The instruction is very good and they have a wide variety of classes and a lot of classes. I also know they make their own stock because I cut up stuff that went into it 🙂 I have three more classes at Viking coming up in the next several months which I am very excited about!

Even with all of Viking’s perks and the very nice two different venues to work in, I feel like I preferred the Salud environment. The class was a little less expensive, it’s closer to my house (always a bonus), and they are using Whole Foods ingredients which means mostly organic which is important to me and better quality meats. Also we were able to take home leftovers, which is something that I was really disappointed with at the Viking classes. (What are they doing with the leftovers? Hopefully they go to a homeless shelter…) It will be interesting to see how my Le Cordon Bleu classes (coming up in March and April) compare.

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Viking Cooking School

Now that I’m done with school, the first thing I do is…sign up for more classes. Except this time I’m leaving finance far behind and indulging in some cooking classes offered by Whole Foods and Viking Cooking School. This past Sunday I got schooled in Moroccan cuisine!

Here’s the menu we prepared:
Orange Salad with Dates
Couscous with Beef & Vegetables
Layered Phyllo Chicken Pie
Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Presumably since it was Super Bowl Sunday there were only three students in the class. Excellent! We all got to ask as many questions as we wanted and get our hands into everything. Our instructor was Chef Lana, owner of Call Me Your Chef and you can find her blog here. I also met a fellow food blogger, Jacqueline, who was one of the students.

It was really a great time and I feel like I learned a lot. One thing we learned about was supreming oranges. I found a good YouTube video on this here. The guy in that video sounds similar to the guy from the Engineer’s Guide to Cats. Anyway, I digress…

Moroccan Orange Salad with Dates

The aromas from all the spices were UHmazing. I had to smell everything repeatedly. And despite all the great meat dishes we made, I have to say…my favorite thing we made was the salad with oranges and dates. The orange was quite dark and it reminded me of a valencia orange I recently had but Chef Lana said it was just a navel orange. Wonder where it came from…anyway,  I think it’s ok for me to post the recipe here. If not, I guess they can sue me:

Orange Salad with Dates

2 oranges, peeled and segmented
1 cup dates, chopped
2 T frehly squeezed lemon juice
2 T freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
fresh mint sprigs

Stir everything together and enjoy! I would actually cut back on the honey a bit. I ate this as dessert, it was awesome.

Chicken phyllo pie (left) and Lamb Tagine (right)

I was really looking forward to cooking in the tagine. We used the Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 2-Quart Moroccan Tagine, Cherry
that I dreamed about all night one night last week that I’ve happened to see online from time to time and it might happen to be on my wish list. In a tagine you cook…well…a tagine which is just a really thick stew-like dish. We made ours with lamb and it was delicious.

We used a number of ingredients a lot, such as saffron (which I adore) but we also used a lot of smen which is similar to clarified butter. I learned that saffron should be crushed before using. I’m kind of ashamed that I didn’t know this sooner. Anyway, now I have another use for my mortar and pestle.

Phyllo pie, side view

So…we cooked with phyllo/fillo dough. As you will recall from my tissue paper burritos, my last attempt was a failure. The good news about the chicken phyllo pie we made is that it was great. First, you should use phyllo in a recipe that actually calls for phyllo. Second, we smeared the smen in between each layer which kept it from caking together and becoming concrete. The pie was a lot of work even split between all of us, of course we did learn that it’s generally a special occasion dish. I can see why.

At the end of the evening, I’d tried four great new dishes, learned some new skills and made three new friends. What more can you ask for from a simple cooking class?

Beef stew and couscous

The Feast!

The best part: we don't have to clean up!

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