Monday, June 30, 2014

Grilled Steakhouse Steak Tips

Before I talk about this grilled steakhouse steak tip recipe, let me jump in and say that this is one of the best grilled steak recipes I've ever had!  Best of all, the marinade wasn't too fussy to make, and the grilling process/time was super quick. Win! Believe me, you will want to make this. Stat.

The older I become, the more I find that I try not to eat red meat more than once a week-- sometimes, even less.  But, every so often, I crave a juicy steak on the grill.

I had bookmarked a recipe for marinated, skewered, steaks that sounded like something I'd like to prepare.  I asked my husband to buy some skirt steak for me, while making a run to Costco for me. He returned with flap meat.  Flap meat?  "That doesn't sound very good", I thought to myself.  I was dubious (and had to squelch my dissappointment that I didn't get the skirt steak that I wanted), but the butcher convinced Craig that it's pretty much the same thing.  Now, what do I do? Risk it or...

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Is rhubarb a fruit or vegetable? Apparently, in the US it's considered a vegetable.  The only way I've eaten is is in desserts. So, I say it's a fruit. Yes?
Spring is when rhubarb makes it's appearance in the produce section.  Where we live, we can buy it until late fall. They resemble celery stalks with vibrant colors of red and green.  The only recipes I've used rhubarb is in Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie or Fruit Crisps.  The strawberries give a sweet contrast to the tartness of the rhubarb, in a good way.  It's even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

One of the reasons I was anxious to make this coffee cake is that rhubarb is the star of the show-- and I thought that the caramelized rhubarb looks really pretty, once the cake is inverted on a platter.

The cake has sour cream added, which pretty much guarantees plenty of moisture.  The third element is a layer of crumb topping, which becomes the bottom once the cake is inverted!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Olallieberry Iced Hand Pies (and Blitz Puff Pastry Dough)


I realize that not everyone has even heard of olallieberries. That's because they are primarily grown on the Central Coast of California. This is also "home" for us, and my husband planted olallies a few years ago.  Olallies have a very short season-- typically mid to late May, lasting for about a month. Before we know it, the season is over and so I try to freeze enough to last for the rest of the year. Sadly, this year, the season didn't yield as much as last year-- most likely, because of our severe drought. Phooey.

So, if you don't have olallieberries, no worries. This recipe is really all about the pastry, which turned out to be tender and flaky.  Winner! You can use any kind of berries that you like. I promise you that your family will love holding these pastries in their hands, and savoring the flavors of summer berries.

The best way I can describe how olallieberries taste would be that they resemble a blackberry. When ripe, the color is a gorgeous deep purple.

They have a sweet-tart flavor, resembling a raspberry.   My husband is crazy about them! When Craig presented me with a large bowl of freshly picked olallies, I  knew it wouldn't be enough to make a large batch of jam.  (Fortunately, I make a lot of olallieberry jam, to last all year.)

I immediately thought of  Olallieberry PieI reconsidered, thinking that hand pies would be a fun way to go.  A few years ago, I made my first "Blitz Pastry" and I loved it. Think of Blitz Pastry as a faster and easier version of making your own puff pastry (and I have never made my own classic puff pastry, and seriously doubt I ever will).  Don't quote me, but somehow all that folding and layering of butter-- I'll leave it to the pros. 

Let's make Blitz Puff Pastry, shall we?  Most of the ingredients are the same as a classic all-butter pie crust. We do add baking powder, however. Oh, and salt.  The butter should be very cold.  You can use a pastry cutter, but I prefer to use my food processor.  Just pulse the butter into coarse and crumbly pieces.

Next, we add sour cream and pulse until you can still see pea-sized chunks of butter. (Overworking the dough means that we are building gluten-- and this leads to a very tough crust. We don't want that.)  I dumped the dough onto a generously floured surface (wishing I had granite counter tops).  I had to compress the dough with my fingers, so it would all stick together (again, not kneading it, just squeezing it until everything stuck together.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

I think I can count on one hand, how many times I've eaten macaroni salad. I've never been too impressed with it, is all I can say.

Until I made this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.

I had just finished watching the America's Test Kitchen video (which requires a paid subscription) on how to make Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken.  The suggested side dish, for the chicken was to serve it with sticky rice and Hawaiian macaroni salad.  So, why not? I was game to make this, because I know that my men love anything with pasta-- and I was feelin' a relapse of Island Fever.

I love it when I have all of the ingredients to make a recipe, and this salad is pretty simple. Large elbow macaroni, sliced green onion, chopped celery and freshly grated carrots.

That sounds pretty healthy, right? 

Well, except...maybe, for the mayo. Like one cup of mayonnaise for the whole salad. We'll see about that!

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ina Garten's Baked Blintzes with Fresh Blueberry Sauce

The last time I made, and blogged  this recipe was in July of 2009.  I shot it with my old point-and-shoot camera. I decided to make this recipe, again and to update the photos.  I cut all of the ingredients in half (I was feeding three people), and to update the photos.

This recipe did not disappoint any of us.  This is definitely worth making for your family.  I found this recipe in Ina Garten's cookbook "Back to Basics" (which is one of my favorites).

I have posted a few of Ina Garten's recipes from her newest cookbook "Back to Basics", and I still have a few more I am anxious to try. I discovered this recipe the same day that I decided to make her Tomato and Goat Cheese tart. 

The first time I made this, I prepared the fresh blueberry sauce the day before.

This is my updated version, in an 8x8 baking pan. Half the batter is baked for ten minutes. Then, the cheese filling is poured on top. The remaining batter is gently spooned on top...
Using an offset spatula , I gently spread the top layer of batter, and returned this to the oven for about 30 minutes--until golden brown.

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hawaiian Style Huli Huli Chicken

Last year, Craig and I spent a glorious week on the Hawaiian island of Maui. During the flight, I flipped through the pages of the free magazine that the airline tucks into the back of each seat. There was an article about Huli Huli Chicken whick looked and sounded so delicious, that I hoped to find some during our vacation.

Huli-Huli Chicken is one of those great "only-in-Hawaii" foods. In 1955, Ernest Morgado of Pacific Poultry barbecued his version of teriyaki chicken for a farmers gathering. The chicken was such a hit, it became a favorite Hawaii fundraiser, raising perhaps millions over the ensuing years for schools, softball teams and hula halau (hula groups). The chicken was cooked between two grills. The grills had to be flipped over. And since huli is the Hawaiian word for turn, thus was born the name Huli-Huli Chicken. Huli-Huli chicken all but disappeared after Morgado asserted his rights to the trademark, and started marketing a bottled sauce under that name. Of course, you can still buy Huli-Huli-style chicken in the Islands, practically anywhere you see billows of great-smelling smoke emanating from a large roadside grill. It won’t be called Huli-Huli Chicken. But that's pretty much what it is. 

Alas, we never did find Huli Huli chicken, while visiting on Maui though we ate some fabulous food I was reminiscing about our Hawaiian vacation, and got to thinking about this Hawaiian chicken dish.  As always, I found a few recipes for Huli Huli chicken. I chose one of my most trusted sources, "Cook's Illustrated" and found a video and recipe on their sister website "Cook's Country". 

Cook's Country's twist on making Huli Huli chicken is to marinate the chicken with many of the flavors found in Huli Huli sauce. Here's Cook's Country's explanation of why they adapted their recipe this way: To mimic a Hawaiian rotisserie, we used a moderate number of coals spread in a single layer over the entire grill. The direct heat rendered the fat and crisped the skin, but the chicken was far enough from the coals to avoid burning. Most Huli Huli Chicken recipes instruct cooks to marinate the chicken in the sauce, but with so much sugar, it burned every time we grilled the chicken. Our solution was to use only soy sauce, water, and sautéed garlic and ginger as a brine. We grilled the chicken skin-side up to render the fat, and then turned it skin-side down to finish cooking and to crisp the skin (just one turn sufficed). Makes sense to me!
Cook's Country adapted this recipe for using either charcoal (our Weber) or a gas grill.  The marinade doesn't take a lot of work to mix. We start with 2 quarts of water and 2 cups of soy sauce.

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