Bánh Pa Tê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

 

 

Bánh Pa Tê Sô (also spelled Pâté Chaud) are deliciously flaky pies with a savory filling.

I know what you’re thinking. Puff pastry isn’t exactly among the first things that comes to mind when you think of Vietnamese cuisine. But, like the baguette and coffee, we’ve taken these items initially introduced by the French and have given them a Vietnamese makeover.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Bánh Pa Tê Sô are usually cut into round shapes but if you want to minimalize the waste of excess pastry dough, you can shape them into squares, rectangles, or triangles. But for the record, when I shape them into rounds, I never throw away the excess dough. Instead, I take the leftover strips, twist them and sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar before baking them. That way, I get a little sweet treat, too. Yum.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

 

 

The pork filling I use is essentially a riff off of my Chả Giò (eggrolls) filling with the slight adjustments of a few things—such as the addition of peas. I also make a curry-lemongrass pork filling that is really fantastic with the buttery puff pastry, too. But whatever you choose to fill your Bánh Pa Tê Sô with, just be sure to not over stuff them or it will not cook through and may bulge out of the seams.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

You can also freeze the pre-baked Bánh Pa Tê Sô. Just wrap them up individually with plastic wrap and freeze. Before baking, thaw them out to room temperature and bada-bing, bada-boom. Freshly baked Bánh Pa Tê Sô, whenever your heart desires.

Of course if you’ve got some time and ambition on your hands, homemade puff pastry dough would be ideal. I just don’t have that kind of patience and think the store bought pastry dough works just fine for me.

And no, that’s not cheating–despite what my sister, P, would say :)

_________________________________________

Bánh Pa Tê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Ingredients:

1 Package Puff Pastry Sheets (typically contains two 10×15 inch sheets)
½ Pound Lean Ground Pork
¼ Cup Rehydrated Wood Ear Mushrooms, minced
¼ Cup Rehydrated Bean Thread Noodles, minced
¼ Cup Peas
1 Small Shallot, finely diced
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
½ Teaspoon Ground Pepper
1 Egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together pork, mushrooms, noodles, peas, shallots, garlic, fish sauce and pepper until well combined.

Using a 3-inch ring biscuit cutter, cut rounds of puff pastry. Place one tablespoon of the filling in the center of one round and place another piece of puff pastry on top. Using the tines of a fork, crimp the edges of the rounds to seal the pastry. Transfer the Patê Sô to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining pastry rounds. Brush the tops of each Patê Sô with the beaten egg.

Bake the Patê Sô for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!

 

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #18 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Bonnibella for hosting this month!**

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

When our clan gathers, you can be sure that there will be a massive array of delicious food. One can always count on the usual favorites such as Bánh Ít (sticky rice dumplings), Bún Bò Huế (spicy beef noodle soup),and Cua Rang Mui (salt roasted crab). And intermixed with all the Vietnamese goodies would often be a sprinkling of “American” dishes such as mom’s Turkey.

Growing up, each dish became linked to one of the aunties or Mom as they each refined the recipes to make it their own. But as my generation grew older, the proverbial baton was passed and we in turn began to make these iconic family favorites.

And I find comfort in knowing that these dishes that my siblings, cousins, and I create will pass on my family’s traditions through food.  It’s kind of remarkable to think that the Phở Gà I’ll make for my kids will be exactly the same recipe my mom would have made for them.

Incredible, really.

One dish that I hope to continue is Gỏi Mít Trộn. At the heart of the salad is Mít Non—young, unripe jackfruit. The flesh of the young jackfruit is tender and mild in flavor. In the states, Mít Non is sold both canned and frozen. However, if you use the frozen type, you’ll need to boil it for a bit.

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

After being washed and well drained, the Mít is stir fried for a few moments before it’s tossed with shrimp, pork and several herbs like Rau Răm (Vietnamese Cilantro).

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

The Gỏi Mít Trộn is then topped with fried shallots, crushed peanuts and accompanied with nước chm (dipping sauce).

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

It’s best served with Bánh Đa – crispy rice crackers flecked with black sesame seeds. Want to know something funny? When I was little, I used to think that the black sesame seeds in these were ants and stayed clear of these crackers for many years :)

 

 

 Bánh Đa

 

I like to eat Gỏi Mít Trộn by drizzling nước chm with lots of chili on top of the salad with a healthy squeeze of fresh lime juice. Then I take a piece of the Bánh Đa and use it to scoop up the goodness. YUM!

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

The layers of flavor and textures in this Gỏi really rock it out. Extremely savory from the proteins and fish sauce with bright herbaceous notes from the Rau Răm, mint, and cilantro. With each bite you get a lovely crunch from the rice crackers and peanuts that balances so well with the tender Mít.

If done correctly, everything is in perfect harmony.

I doubt my Gỏi Mít Trộn will ever be as good as my mom’s or aunties’. But one thing is for certain— in due time, our kids will be trying their hand at it, too :)

 

______________________________________________

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)
Serves 8

Ingredients:

3 Cans (20 ounces each) Young Jackfruit
1 Pound Shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 Pound Pork Loin, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons Shallots, finely diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely diced
½ Cup Scallions, chopped
1½ Cups Rau Răm Leaves (Vietnamese Cilantro), roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Mint, roughly chopped
N
ước Mm (Fish Sauce)
Ground Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil

Accouterments:
Bánh Đa (rice crackers)
N
ước chm (dipping sauce)
Fried Shallots
Crushed Roasted Peanuts
Lime Wedges
Thai Chilies

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, pork, ½ tablespoon garlic, 1 tablespoon shallots, and a few dashes of fish sauce. Mix and season with black pepper. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes.

Drain the cans of jackfruit. Remove any seeds (including the shell layer surrounding the seeds) and cut off and discard any hard sections. With a sharp knife, thinly slice the jackfruit and transfer to a large bowl that has been filled with cold water. Repeat until all the jackfruit has been cut and rinsed. Using clean dishcloths, gently squeeze out the excess liquid. If too much moisture is left, your salad will be really wet and mushy. Set the jackfruit aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium flame. Add pork and shrimp and sauté until cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Using the same skillet, add another 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium flame. Add the remaining shallots, half the scallions and sauté until softened before adding the rest of the garlic. Stir and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the jackfruit and remaining scallions and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes before seasoning with a few dashes of fish sauce and black pepper. Remove from heat and mix in the shrimp and pork. Toss in the Rau Răm, mint, and cilantro. Taste and adjust accordingly, keeping in mind that additional Nước chm will be used. Plate the contents to a large dish. Sprinkle the tops with fried shallots and crushed peanuts.

Serve the Gỏi Mít Trộn with Bánh Đa, Nước chm, limes, and chilies. Enjoy!

 

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #15, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Angry Asian Creations for hosting this month!**

Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

If you were to ask me, “What do you want on your pizza?”———–I will almost always say, Sausage and Mushrooms.

You just can’t go wrong with this delish combo.

I do, however, like to add a few special touches when I make my Sausage and Mushroom Pizzas. And those little extras comes in the form of roasted garlic and grape tomatoes. I try to squeeze in my veggies anyway I can.

Wait a second. Can I really consider garlic a “vegetable”?

Eh…… Sure, why not!? :)

Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

For this pizza, I tried out the dough from Cooks Illustrated. I’m happy to report that it came together really easily—especially since I used my KitchenAid Stand Mixer with the dough hook attachment for the kneading. The dough came out beautifully silky before baking and had a wonderful texture when it was done. I definitely recommend it!

Stay tuned for Friday’s post where I take a spin on one of my all time favorite desserts :)

______________________________________________

Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

Dough (From Cooks Illustrated):
½ cup warm water (for yeast)
2½ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting the work surface and hands
1½ teaspoon salt
olive oil for oiling the bowl
*Makes enough for 4 medium sized crusts

Toppings:
1 cup spicy Italian sausage, browned
1 cup Crimini mushrooms, sliced
1½ cups marinara sauce (more if you like it saucier)
1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grape tomatoes, diced
¼ roasted garlic
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare pizza dough. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add room temperature water and oil and stir to combine. Combine the salt and half the flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 7 to 8 minutes, using a little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Place pizza stone or large baking sheet in the middle rack and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly dust your surface area with flour. Divide the dough into quarters. Take one of the pieces and roll/toss/stretch the dough into your desired shape. Once the oven reaches its temperature, pull the baking stone/baking sheet out of the oven, and sprinkle cornmeal on the surface. Carefully slide the dough on top and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is lightly golden. Remove the crust from the oven and brush with olive oil over top. Spread the roasted garlic all over the crust. Cover the crust with an even layer of marinara sauce. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ -inch border around the perimeter. Top with the grape tomatoes, sausage, and mushrooms. Return the pizza back to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until all the cheese has melted and pizza is golden brown. Sprinkle the pizza with Italian parsley and serve with additional parmesan cheese and red chili flakes.

Note: If you aren’t planning to use the extra dough right away, there are a few options for you. First, you can shape each piece and parbake them. Wrap them up tightly in plastic wrap and foil—then, throw into the freezer. Another option is to oil the inside of a Ziploc bag with cooking spray. Throw in one ball of dough per oiled bag and remove any excess air before sealing and place it in the freezer. Transfer it to the fridge the night before you want to use it. Then place it on the counter to get it to room temperature for 1-2 hours before you bake it.

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

Tonkatsu is such a delicious meal to pull together when I need a quick Japanese fix.

Since the pork used is so thin, it fries up in a flash! Even if you need to make your own sauce, you can have the whole dish done in 20 minutes. Which, let’s be honest, is “Buddha-sent” for weeknight meals!

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

A lot of Japanese markets carry a perfectly yummy bottled Tonkatsu sauce. But if you don’t have some on hand, it’s just as easy and delish to make. Though, I have been just as happy to dip the crispy cutlets into BBQ sauce :)

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

I also should have sliced the pork before snapping the pic—as that’s the way Tonkatsu is traditional presented. But my tummy won over and I didn’t realize it until I had polished half of it off already! DOH! :)

_____________________________________

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Tonkatsu:
4 Pieces Pork Loin, ½ inch thin
1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
½ Cup Flour
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons Milk
¼ Cup Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper

Tonkatsu Sauce:
2 Tablespoons Barbecue Sauce
2 Tablespoons Ketchup
½ Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Teaspoon Rice Wine Vinegar
½ Tablespoon Sugar
½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper

Prepare the sauce by mixing whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside while preparing the pork.

Place breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and place the flour in another. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Working in batches, dredge a few pieces of the pork in the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off the excess between each step.  Repeat with the remaining pork.

In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium high heat.  Slide in 2 pieces of pork and fry until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and drain the cutlets on paper towels. Repeat with remaining pork.

Serve Tonkatsu with rice, sauce, and a squeeze of lemon.

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas Tacos with Fat Tire® Chavelas

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas Tacos and Chavelas

I don’t indulge in beers too much these days. Let’s face it—without my college metabolism, it just doesn’t sit that well with me (or my hips!) anymore. But I do make exceptions for an occasional New Castle® or Fat Tire® from time to time.

So you can imagine my delight when, as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I was challenged to create a dish that featured and paired with a New Belgium Brewing Company beer. Which includes Fat Tire®! :)

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas

I immediately knew that I wanted to incorporate the “hoppy” amber ale into a slow braise pork—ultimately to create Carnitas. By adapting David Lebovitz’ recipe, I was able to achieve tender, flavorful pork that was beautifully crispy on the outside. O…M…G.

Wrapped in warm tortillas and topped with a few spoonfuls of pico de gallo, salsa negra and a squeeze of lime—the Carnitas were Delicioso!!!

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas Tacos

I confess, I turned to the local mercado for the fresh tortillas and salsas. I had every intention of making them myself but when I went to the mercado for some ingredients, I encountered these fabulous women making it all from scratch for a fraction of the cost it would take me to make.

Yep. I opted for the shortcut this time. But for the record……this gal can fix up some yummy salsas. :)

To wash it all down, I whipped up an homage to Taqueria Tlaquepaque’s Chavelas. Tlaquepaque was one of my beloved taquerias in San Jose that served up AMAZINGLY fresh and delish food. But the food was only 1/2 of the reason why my dear gal friends and I would congregate there. The other half was for the Chavelas —Mexican beer mixed with fresh lime juice and salt. Very few things in life are more refreshing than a frosty goblet of Chavela. True Story.

Fat Tire® Chavelas

Turns out that Fat Tire® in a Chavela is PDA.  (Translation: Pretty. Darn. Amazing.)

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas Tacos & Chavelas

Incorporating Fat Tire® in a dish? Not as difficult as one would think  :)

And as luck would have it—just in time for Cinco de Mayo!!!

___________________________________________________________

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas
Adapted from David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

5 Pounds Boneless Pork Shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
2-3 Tablespoon Sea Salt
2 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
2 Bottles Fat Tire® Ale (24 ounces)
1 Cup White Onion, diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely diced
1 Teaspoon Chile Powder
¼ Teaspoon Paprika
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Powder
¼ Teaspoon Ground Cumin
2 Bay Leaves

Using paper towels, dry off the pork and generously season with salt.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the pieces of pork in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches. Be sure to take your time to get a deep brown color as it enhances the flavor. This usually takes me about 30 minutes to properly brown all the meat.

Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel. Discard all but one tablespoon of the grease that remains in the pot. Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions to the pot and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for an additional one to two minutes.  Then pour in the beer, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits.

Heat the oven to 350F degrees.

Add the pork back to the pot and add the remaining of the seasonings and spices. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3-3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.

Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces discarding any big chunks of fat. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized.

Serve with corn tortillas and your choice of salsas and toppings.

___________________________________________________________

Fat Tire® Chavelas
Serves One

Ingredients:

1 Bottle Fat Tire® Ale (12 ounces)
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice
Sea Salt
Lime Wedges

Chill glass in the freezer for 15 minutes. Rim the glass using a lime wedge and dip into sea salt. Pour the lime juice in the bottom of the glass and pour well chilled Fat Tire® Ale  over it. Serve and garnish with lime wedges. Enjoy!

Ribeye Steak and Frites

Ribeye Steak & Frites

 

I love steaks—-I am, after all, my mother’s daughter.

But I don’t eat it very often and I sure as heck don’t make it enough. Which is really unfortunate because it’s so easy and makes your home smell delicious. In fact, it took longer to bake my frites than it did for me to prepare and sear my Ribeye Steak.

So next time, forgo the bougie steakhouses. You’ll save a few bucks and no one will look at you weird if you’re wearing your pajamas at the dinner table. :)

———————————————————–

Ribeye Steak and Frites
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 Ribeye Steaks, approximately 1.5 inches thick and at room temperature
1 Cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1 Large Russet Potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch long strips
2 Tablespoons Fresh Garlic, minced finely
1 Tablespoon Shallots, diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
¼ Cup Red Wine or Beef Stock
¼ Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided
Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with in 2 tablespoons of oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Spread them in one even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure all sides are baked even.

While the frites are baking, rub the steaks with the remaining oil. Heavily season all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron pan to high heat. Add the steaks to the pan and sear each side for 2-3 minutes. You want to develop a golden brown crust. Move the pan to the oven and bake until the internal temperature reaches 130-135 degrees (medium rare) or 140-145 degrees (medium). Remove the steaks to a clean plate and tent with aluminum foil. Allow the steaks to rest for 5-10 minutes.

While the steaks are resting, melt the butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and shallots until they are golden brown. Add thyme leaves, wine, and cream. Cook until the sauce reduces by half. Season with salt and pepper.

Plate the steaks with a few spoonfuls of the mushroom sauce and frites.

 

Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)

Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)

 

Growing up, our normal dinners would include several family-style dishes to be eaten with rice (cơm). We always had some type of soup (canh), vegetable dish, and a protein dish. This is what standard Vietnamese meals were for us and were referred to as “ăn cơm” or “to eat rice”.

Of course there were dishes that my siblings and I all dreaded…..Canh mướp đắng (Bittermelon Soup) being one of them. But then there were some that were general favorites……Mực nhồi (Stuffed squid), Tôm lăn bột (Battered fried shrimp), and of course Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes). In fact, the latter was my personal favorite.

What I loved most about this dish was the “gravy” that it produced…..which is ironic because it’s the gravy-like sauces of many Chinese dishes that turn me off from that cuisine! But somehow, this beef gravy was liquid gold as a kid and when you mixed it up with your rice–delish! In fact, I would always request that my mom make sure that the dish had lots of “gravy”.

The key to making a killer Thịt Bò Xào is a high quality beef—ribeye or filet mignon was my mom’s personal choice. Since the meat needs to be cut so thin and cooked quickly at high heat, other cuts aren’t as successful. It may seem a tad pricey for a beef stir fry but when you take into account how many people this dish will feed, it’s well worth the extra few dollars. And when you bite into the meat, you’ll be pretty darn happy with the tenderness of it. As for the added bit of cornstarch and butter at the end (optional), it will assist in making the coveted gravy.

And when that gravy is soaked up into the potatoes—SOOO GOOD! It won’t be long before Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây is your favorite dish when you “ăn cơm”.

Tip: My local Vietnamese grocery store sells ribeye packages that are already thinly sliced. But if your store doesn’t or you can’t convince your butcher to slice it for you, pop your beef into the freezer for a few minutes before you start slicing it. Slightly chilled meat is a lot easier to make thin slices out of—just be sure to use a super sharp knife.

——————————————————————————————–

Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)
Serves approximately 6-8

Ingredients:

1 Pound Thinly Sliced Ribeye Beef
1 Small Yellow Onion, quartered
1 Large Tomato, sliced into wedges
1½ Cups Mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1½  Teaspoons Cornstarch
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, plus additional to fry potatoes
2-3 Tablespoons Maggi or Soy Sauce
Fresh Cracked Pepper
2 Large Russet Potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch wide strips
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, optional

In a bowl, mix together beef, garlic, cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Season with freshly cracked pepper and set aside.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot until it reaches 375 degrees. Carefully add a handful of the potatoes into the pot stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown–about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes on paper towels and keep warm on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven while frying remaining batches.  *If you prefer to bake your potatoes, toss the potatoes strips in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Spread them in one even layer on a baking sheet and place in a 450 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure all sides are baked even.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large wok over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until both have softened but not browned, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Push the items to the side of your wok (or remove to a plate if your wok is not large enough) and add the beef. Quickly stir fry the beef for 1-2 minutes or until lightly brown—this should not take a long time since the beef is so thin.  Stir in the onion/tomato/mushroom mixture and combine well. Add the butter (optional) and remove from heat. Stir in Maggi  (to taste) and additional cracked black pepper.

To serve, place potatoes in a layer on a plate. Pour beef stir fry over the top and garnish with additional cilantro.

Shepherd’s Pie (Cottage Pie)

Shepard's Pie

 

 

Who doesn’t love comfort food? Especially during these chilly months when all you want is some good “stick to your ribs” kind of goodness. After all, we have all of spring to eat light!

Shepherd’s Pie fits the bill perfectly. You can essentially put anything and everything in it. And, if you assemble it on a lazy Sunday, you can have a filling and yummy dinner later on in the week!

I threw this little number together by digging around in the kitchen. With a few leftovers, frozen veggies, and a couple pantry staples, this Shepherd’s Pie was ready to fill the tummies of our little munchkins in no time!

 

 

Shepherd's Pie

 

 

Note: Eeek! I stand corrected! After posting this, I was reminded that if made with beef, this is actually called “Cottage Pie”. Shepherd’s Pies are traditionally made with lamb. I jokingly said that if made with turkey, it’s called “Thanksgiving Pie”. :)

_________________________

Shepherd’s Pie
Serves Approximately 6-8

Ingredients:

1 Pound Lean Ground Beef (or substitute with Ground Turkey)
½ Cup Yellow Onions, diced
½ Cup Celery, diced
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1½ Cups Frozen Vegetables (Peas, Corn, Carrots, etc.)
1½ Cups Beef Gravy
3 Cups Mashed Potatoes
3 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onions, celery, and garlic and cook until they are translucent but not browned—approximately 5-6 minutes. Remove to a clean dish. In the same skillet, add the ground beef and cook until browned. Using a large spoon, discard any excess fat/grease. Add the onions, celery, and garlic mixture back to skillet and stir well. Add the worcestershire sauce, thyme and cook for an additional minute. Add frozen vegetables and gravy and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour the ground beef/vegetable mixture into the dish and spread evenly. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top and carefully spread to create an even layer. Sprinkle parmesan cheese all over the top and place the dish in the preheated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Turn the oven broiler on and brown the top of the Shepherd’s Pie until it turns an even golden brown color.

Remove from the oven and allow to set for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


Cook’s Illustrated Paella

Spanish Paella prepared in a Dutch Oven

I’ll tell ya…..the holidays were quite productive in our kitchen. From sweets to savories to old time classics and new Foodventures. What a whirlwind!

On one particular evening, we were able to check off another dish off my “must make” list—PAELLA! We turned to Cook’s Illustrated version of Paella since it didn’t require the traditional paella pan but used a heavy dutch oven instead. It was perfect because although I love the look of paella pans I don’t have the storage space to keep them.

We were all very happy with the end results of the dish. Especially because we achieved the coveted soccarat–the crunchy rice that forms at the bottom of the pan!

I did have two “uh-oh” moments that were completely my fault. First, we added much more seafood than the recipe called for. When it comes to seafood in my family—more is better. As a result of the extra seafood, we had so much excess liquid in the pot. We ended up having to spoon out some of the liquid because too much moisture equals no soccarat.

The second challenge we needed to problem solve was that I left the lid on during step 6. The lid trapped the steam into the pot and would have never allowed the lovely soccarat layer to form. Per my sister’s quick thinking, we took off the lid and returned the pot into the oven under the broiler setting. The paella was left under the broiler until it browned and then we switched it back to the stove (lid off!) to complete step 6. PHEW! Luckily it all worked! Lesson learned.

This Paella was just a Pot of Goodness. You’re going to want to make this one. For Reals. Like right now.

Just learn from my mistakes and read each step carefully :)

Cheers Friends!

_______________________________

Paella
From Cooking at Home with America’s Test Kitchen 2006

This paella recipe calls for making it in a Dutch oven (the Dutch oven should be 11 to 12 inches in diameter with at least a 6-quart capacity). With minor modifications, it can also be made in a paella pan. Cured Spanish chorizo is the sausage of choice for paella, but fresh chorizo or Portuguese linguiça is an acceptable substitute.

Soccarat, a layer of crusty browned rice that forms on the bottom of the pan, is a traditional part of paella. In our paella, soccarat does not develop because most of the cooking is done in the oven. We have provided instructions to develop soccarat in step 5; if you prefer, skip this step and go directly from step 4 to step 6.—the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients:

1 Pound Extra-Large Shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil
8 or 9 Medium Garlic Cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (2 generous tablespoons)
1 Pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, each thigh trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise
1 Red Bell Pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips
8 Ounces Spanish Chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
1 Medium Onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
One 14.5 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes, drained, minced, and drained again
2 Cups Valencia or Arborio Rice
3 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
1/2 Teaspoon Saffron Threads, crumbled
1 Dried Bay Leaf
1 Dozen Mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 Cup Frozen Peas, thawed
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
1 Lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position; heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Toss the shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon of the garlic in a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the pepper strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until the skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pepper to a small plate and set aside.

3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the now-empty Dutch oven; heat the oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer; cook, without moving the pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the pieces and brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer the chicken to a medium bowl. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chorizo to the pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and the fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to the bowl with the chicken and set aside.

4. Add enough oil to the fat in the Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in the remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes; cook until the mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until the grains are well coated with the tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return the chicken and chorizo to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven; cook until the rice absorbs almost all of the liquid, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the paella from the oven (close the oven door to retain heat). Uncover the paella; scatter the shrimp over the rice, insert the mussels hinged-side down into the rice (so they stand upright), arrange the bell pepper strips in a pinwheel pattern, and scatter the peas over the top. Cover and return to the oven; cook until the shrimp are opaque and the mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.

6. Optional: If soccarat (see headnote) is desired, set the Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, rotating the pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning.

7. Let the paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and the bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle the paella with the parsley and serve, passing the lemon wedges separately.

Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle

Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle

The kitchen is a perfectly acceptable place for Do-Overs. You know, a chance to go back and remake/retry a dish.

When I first made Bobby Flay’s Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle, I was quite happy with the results. It was hearty and savory–comforting for the chillier months. There were, however, a few things that I wanted to change the next time I made it. And it was because of this that I called a “Do-Over“!

A few things that I did that I truly believe are a MUST include:

  • Constant skimming of the fat and oil
  • Addition of Red Chili Flakes
  • Shredding of the cooked meat to remove extra fat & gristle
  • Substituting Beef Broth for the Port

This recipe is not difficult to make but it does take time—especially with the extra steps I added (and trust me, those added steps were worth it). But once it’s in the oven for those 3+ hours, your house will be filled with such a lovely aroma that it’ll make you forget how much time you spent browning the ribs and chopping all of the mirepoix. :)

And on a random note, does any one else experience challenges when trying to snap photos in poor lighting, when you don’t want to use a flash, and when you need to do it quickly so that the food doesn’t become stone cold? My last few photos have suffered such issues and I debated on even posting the photos. But alas, photos are a better illustration than my words alone so they were included–overly yellow/orange cast and all.  Oh the trials of being a novice photographer…. :)

______________________________________________

Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle
Adapted from Bobby Flay


2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Pounds Short Ribs, each about 2-inches long, cut flanken style, across the ribs
Salt and freshly Ground Pepper
2 Dried Bay Leaf
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 Sprigs Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
4 Small Carrots, diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced
1 Medium Onion, diced
2 Medium Shallots, diced
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flake
1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Cups Red Wine
½ Head Garlic, cloves separated and peeled
4 Cups Homemade Beef Stock
1 Pound Pappardelle
Chopped Parsley
Grated Pecorino Romano, for garnish

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place a 5-quart casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil, and heat until it is almost smoking. Season short ribs generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, add short ribs to the hot oil. Cook ribs until browned on both sides. Remove ribs from casserole, and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare bouquet garni: Place bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and parsley in the center of a square of cheesecloth. Bring edges together, and tie with kitchen string. Set bouquet garni aside.

Add carrots, celery, onion, and shallots to oil in the casserole, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Add chili flakes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste to the casserole, and stir to combine. Add ½ cup beef broth; stir with wooden spoon until all browned bits have been scraped from the pan and the bottom of the casserole is clean. Add red wine, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Skim off any grease and discard. Add garlic, remaining beef stock, and the reserved bouquet garni.

Return browned ribs to the casserole. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat. Skim off any grease and discard. Cover the casserole, and place it in the oven. Cook until ribs are very tender, about 3 hours.

Remove the cooked ribs from the casserole. Set the casserole on the stove top over medium heat, and simmer to thicken sauce just slightly. As soon as the short ribs are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, and shred into small pieces. Degrease the sauce and discard the bouquet garni. Return shredded meat to casserole, and simmer to reduce sauce by about half. Check seasonings and add salt/pepper if necessary.

Fill a large pot with water and add a few tablespoons of salt. Set over high heat, and bring to a boil. Salt well, and stir in pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta, and serve with short-rib ragu, sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with freshly grated Percorino Romano .