Posted by: literallydelicious | November 29, 2011

Beefsteak Tampiqueno

Yesterday I wanted to duplicate a dish we had on vacation in Cozumel, Beefsteak Tampiqueno. I did a search and found the marinade ingredients — oil, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper — about what I expected — and bought a skirt steak. I was late getting the marinade mixed, so I rushed around the kitchen, grabbing everything I needed, including the large bottle of vegetable oil.

The one with the unscrewed cap.

The one that spewed all over my face, glasses and jacket before making a messy puddle on the floor.

Yeah, some days it doesn’t pay to set foot in the kitchen.

The steak, though, was very good. It wasn’t Beefsteak Tampiqueno, but it was good. Guess I’ll have to go back to Coz for the real stuff.

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Skirt Steak Kind-of Sort-of Tampiqueno Style

1 skirt steak

1/4 cup or so vegetable oil

juice from 1/2 lime

garlic, salt and pepper to taste

1. Zip all the ingredients into a resealable bag. Refrigerate 4-5 hours.

2. Remove steak; discard marinade.

3. Grill steak or heat a heavy skillet until smoking hot. Sear steak to preferred doneness.

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Posted by: literallydelicious | May 30, 2011

‘Oops’ in the Kitchen

I’ve been cooking a heck of a long time, and it would be nice to say that everything always goes great. But just the other day, when a recipe called for a teaspoon of baking powder, I put in baking soda instead. I didn’t realize what I’d done until the foam reached the top of the pan.

On our first Thanksgiving away from our home, I made the traditional dinner, including pumpkin pie. For some reason, I bought canned pumpkin instead of pie mix. Before I started, I measured out the sugar, the salt and all the spices exactly into a small dish and set them aside.

The pie was beautiful, but one taste . . . ugh. I couldn’t figure out what went wrong, until I went to clean up the kitchen, and there sat the sugar and spices. Duh

Fortunately, most cooking mistakes — at least, mine — can be saved, but I made one not too long ago that pretty much ruined the dish. It was a stir-fry — lots of chopping and peeling and slicing. In this particular stir-fry, all the sauces go in at the last minute — soy, chili sauce, chili paste and fish sauce. I’d made the dish a dozen times, so while I was stirring vigorously with one hand, I was dumping stuff in with the other. I grabbed the soy sauce and shook out a quarter cup or so. The instant it hit the pan, the fumes hit my nose and eyes. By mistake, I’d gotten the fish sauce instead.

I like fish sauce . . . in moderation. Like, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon in a big pot of sliced pork and veggies. This was totally overwhelming.

Bob handled it just fine. Of course, he likes the “real” nuoc mam — the full-strength Vietnamese fish sauce that sears my eyeballs. Me, I ate a sandwich.

I know people who have given up on cooking after a few bad results, but mistakes happen, and if they’re not fixable, they’re learnable. Other than the fish sauce story above, it’s been rare that I can’t salvage the dish somehow. If I quit cooking every time I messed up, we’d be living in restaurants by now. Heck, just two nights ago I had some beautiful strawberries, so I made vanilla ice cream to go with them. Except I switched the amounts of the milk and whipping cream. Instead of ice cream, we had very sweet, very cold, very thick whipped cream. It went just fine with the berries, though next time I want whipped cream, I’ll just whip it instead of dirtying all the parts of the ice cream freezer. I won’t make that mistake again.

Though I wouldn’t bet on it.

Posted by: literallydelicious | May 24, 2011

Green Beans and New Potatoes

This is one of my favorite dishes. I make it the way my mom and grandmothers did — with lots of flavor. It’s amazing how you can take something totally healthy like fresh green beans and turn them into a calorie-dump like this dish. But I figure since I only make it two or three times a year, I can afford the splurge.

I got the beans and potatoes from a farm market in Bixby, then sent my husband to the grocery store to get a ham shank. I used to use ham hocks, but the butcher at Reasor’s suggested shanks a while back. It’s meatier and much more flavorful.

So Bob goes to the butcher case and asks where to find the ham shanks. The guy takes him to the refrigerated section where the hams are and pulls out a huge ham. “That’s a ham,” Bob says.

“It’s a shank of ham.”

“No,” Bob says. “What I want is littler. It looks kind of like a ham hock, but it’s better.”

“Ohhhh,” the man replies. “You want a ham shank.”

Uh . . . duh?

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GREEN BEANS AND NEW POTATOES

fresh green beans, rinsed and ends snipped off

small red potatoes, the littlest ones they have (If they’re bigger than a golf ball, cut them in halves or quarters)

2-3 slices bacon, separated and cut into 1″ pieces

1 ham shank (depending on size, you might ask the butcher to cut it in half for you)

salt and pepper to taste (be careful with the salt since both the bacon and ham are salty)

1. Put everything in a large pot; cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until everything’s tender. Enjoy!

Posted by: literallydelicious | April 21, 2011

Young Cooks

Saturday night we celebrated my niece’s birthday with a dinner at her house. Her younger sister did the cooking — buffalo-style turkey burgers, which were delicious. Their mom added baked beans and cole slaw, and of course there was cake and ice cream.

The younger sister, Kate, has a passion for cooking. She started taking it seriously a few years ago, and she’s not only good, but fun to talk to about food. She worships at Rachael Ray’s feet, but adds her own spin to the dishes, and she’s always so excited. We share one philosophy in common: cooking is best when you don’t have to clean up afterward.

I started cooking when I was a kid. Mom worked outside the house, and my sisters and I helped out with meals and house cleaning. After we got married, I cooked out of necessity and didn’t really enjoy it a lot. I had a few recipes we all loved, but my only passion food-wise was going out to eat.

I’m not sure what changed my attitude. Just one day I found myself cooking more often, trying new recipes, tweaking them to my own tastes, and then I was hooked. I don’t like shopping for groceries or cleaning up afterward, but I do love cooking. I’m not quite as passionate about it as Kate, but it is great fun, and it’s great to have someone to share it with.

Posted by: literallydelicious | March 10, 2011

Potato Salad

This was a dish my mom made about a million times. It’s creamy and sweet and a bit crunchy, and the only lumps in it are what’s supposed to be lumpy. The first time I went to a potluck where someone brought chunky potato salad, I was appalled. I still am when I see it in a restaurant. The dish has the potential to be so great; why not take that extra step of mashing the lumps out so it can live up to its potential???

My friend, Susan, commented once that our favorite versions of dishes usually reflect how we had it when we were kids. I’ve changed a few recipes from how Mom did them, but potato salad and pot roast are two that . . . well, you can’t improve on perfection.

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POTATO SALAD

2-3 large potatoes (I like russets or Yukon golds)

salt and pepper

2 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and diced (plus another for garnish if you want)

1 small onion, diced fine

sweet pickle relish to taste

mustard, Miracle Whip and sauce

paprika

1. Wash potatoes; peel or not, whatever your preference. Cut into a large dice, place in a colander and rinse to remove the starches released when a potato is cut.

2. Place potatoes in a saucepan filled with cold water. Salt and pepper; bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium. Finish cooking until tender; drain and place in a large bowl.

3. After potatoes cook a bit, stir in diced onion, sweet pickle relish and chopped eggs.

4. In a small bowl, mix mustard, Miracle Whip and sugar. I’ve never measured this, so I’m going to guess about 2 tablespoons mustard to 1/2 – 3/4 cup of Miracle Whip, with maybe a tablespoon of sugar. Play with the amounts until you get the right level of sweetness and tang.

5. Stir dressing into potato mix. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and a boiled egg sliced in thin wedges, if desired. 

Posted by: literallydelicious | March 7, 2011

Chicken Strips

I’d never eaten chicken strips until the day our daughter-in-law and our newborn grandson came home from the hospital. They were in Louisiana, so Mom and I had driven down when dil went into labor. Her parents were there, too, and her mom promised her her favorite meal when she got discharged.

Chicken strips, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn (I think), plus coconut cream pie with the tallest, peakiest, meringue I’d ever seen. (Next time I make one, I’ll include a picture and the recipe. The last time I made it, one of our dogs slipped into the kitchen and ate every bit of the meringue he could reach — about half of it.)

I’d always thought of chicken strips as kids’ food until I had them that day. Now we eat this dish fairly regularly.

By the way, if you don’t already know the concept of drenching and dredging, this is a good recipe to learn on. Dip the chicken in the wet ingredients (drenching) with one hand and in the dry ingredients (dredging) with the other hand. Otherwise, you’ll wind up with your fingers all yucky and gluey.

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CHICKEN STRIPS

a package of chicken tenders, rinsed and patted dry

flour mixed with salt and a LOT of pepper

milk mixed with a beaten egg

Crisco

1. Put flour, salt and pepper in a flat dish (I use a pie plate).

2. Mix egg and milk in another flat dish. I’d guess maybe a cup or so of milk per egg.

3. Heat enough Crisco to provide about 1-2″ melted in the bottom of a large skillet. Wait until it’s hot; a pinch of chicken will sizzle immediately when it’s ready.

4. One at a time, dip the tenders in the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the flour mixture again. If you have time, you can put them on a rack and refrigerate for about 10 minutes to help the coating set up, but if you’re in a hurry, go on to the next step.

5. Add strips to the hot Crisco and fry, turning once, until both sides are golden. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Don’t overcrowd the chicken; you want the oil to circulate on all sides.

6. Serve with honey, barbecue sauce or ranch dressing.

Posted by: literallydelicious | March 3, 2011

Poached Flounder, Stir-Fried Bok Choy and Baby Bellos

I’m not a fish person. My favorite fish is catfish. Fried. With tartar sauce.

But I’m trying to eat a little healthier. I’m not making huge changes, but I’m trying fish and healthier dishes from time to time. (But you’re still going to see a recipe for chicken fingers and potato salad on here in a few days.) I’m also trying to drink more water and less — way less — Diet Dr. Pepper. Since life to me is pretty much defined by Diet Dr. Pepper and Hershey’s chocolates, this one is going to be iffy.

Anyhoo, here comes one of my first efforts for an all-healthy meal.

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POACHED FLOUNDER

flounder fillets

salt and lemon pepper

1-2 lemons

water, fat-free vegetable broth or fat-free chicken broth (low- sodium, too, if you can get it)

1. Thaw fillets in the refrigerator. Rinse.

2. Cut lemons into even slices and line the bottom of the skillet. Season fillets with salt and lemon pepper, then lay out on top of the lemon slices. Add enough water or broth to reach the top of the slices.

3. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 8-10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

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STIR-FRIED BOK CHOY

bok choy, rinsed and cut into large slices

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon chicken broth (low sodium, low fat if possible)

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

minced garlic

kosher salt

1. In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, broth and cornstarch.

2. In a large nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat and saute garlic about 30 seconds. Add bok choy and kosher salt. Turn heat to high and toss bok choy with tongs to coat with oil.

3. Cook 10 minutes, frequently turning the bok choy, until lightly browned.

4. Stir in sauce; heat through.

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BABY BELLOS

1/2 pound baby bellos, rinsed and stemmed and sliced thickly

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1. Marinate bellos in the remaining ingredients for 10 minutes. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add belllos and marinade, and stir-fry until bellos are browned and sauce is a bit sticky.

Posted by: literallydelicious | February 21, 2011

Parmesan Zucchini

Have you heard the small-town zucchini joke?

You know you live in a small town when the only time people lock their car doors is when the zucchini gets ripe.

I love zucchini and have never had the luck to know anyone sharing a bumper crop. It doesn’t matter how it’s fixed; it’s delicious, period. When we grill, we toss zucchini, summer squash and portobellos on the grill, too, and they are always to die for. And who doesn’t love fried zucchini with ranch dressing? Yumm.

I found this recipe when we lived in California. For years, if I cooked three times a month, that was a big deal, so we ate this about once every year or so. Now we have zucchini at least a couple times a month, and this is one of our favorite ways to fix it.

PARMESAN ZUCCHINI

This is another of those concept recipes: how much oil and parmesan you need depends on how much zucchini you use.

zucchini

olive oil

sea salt

fresh or jarred grated Parmesan

1. Clean and slice the zucchini.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet until shimmery. Add zucchini, sprinkle with sea salt and saute over medium-high heat until tender. Continue cooking until some of the zucchini develops a dark caramelized crust.

3. Immediately before serving, toss with Parmesan.

Posted by: literallydelicious | February 17, 2011

Boiled Shrimp, Eggs and Egg Salad

Last week I got a text from my son. Don’t laugh, he said, but how do I cook shrimp for shrimp cocktail?

Photo by Jon Sullivan, pdphoto.org

I didn’t laugh. I remember way back when I wanted to make egg salad. I’d had it in the dorm in college and in the cafeteria at the hospital where I’d worked and wanted to fix it at home. All the cookbooks I’d gotten as wedding gifts, and not one of them had a recipe for egg salad in it.

Remember, this was pre-Internet days. I asked around, and someone told me it likely wasn’t in the cookbooks because it was so simple; who needed a recipe?

Well, I did. I at least needed to know what went in.

(Boiled eggs, mayo and, if you like, a sprinkle of paprika.)

So I told the kiddo how to boil shrimp: toss ’em (with the shells on) into a large pot of boiling water, season with a little Old Bay if you have it, boil ’em for a few minutes until they turn pink, drain them, ice them, and eat them with gin cocktail sauce (in the archives here).

Sometimes we forget how daunting even the basics can be to people who are just learning to cook. Even experienced cooks can learn better ways to do little things — like boiling and peeling eggs.

(Eggs in pan, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover the pan, let set 15-20 minutes, depending on size of egg, drain water. For easier peeling, shake the cooked eggs around in the pan until the shells are well-cracked. Rinse with cold water, and the shell pieces should slide off. If that nasty little membrane doesn’t break, tear it, then peel.) 

I’m always looking for shortcuts and tips and just simple information, and when I come across it, I’ll share it here.

Posted by: literallydelicious | February 14, 2011

Caramelized Acorn Squash

I grew up in a serious meat-and-potatoes family. As far as I can recall, I had Chinese only once before meeting my husband (visiting friends in California when I was 16), and the closest we got to any other ethnic food was spaghetti and meatballs. Heck, I didn’t even have a McDonald’s burger until I was in college.

But Bob has always liked acorn squash, and I’ve tried fixing it a few times for him over the years. It and butternut are probably the two most dangerous veggies for me to fix, because I’m lethal with a knife . . . to myself, no one else. (I once partially amputated my fingertip with a mandolin.)

But, like I said, he likes acorn squash, and I like anything maple, so this recipe seemed a perfect one to try. Man, is it delicious! Just a tip: be sure to cut the squash into pretty much equal size pieces, so they’re all done at once, and to make them reasonably sized so they don’t take forever to cook.

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CARAMELIZED ACORN SQUASH

2 acorn squash

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons sugar

3/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

5 tablespoons maple syrup

4 tablespoons butter

sprinkle of cayenne

1. Heat oven to 475 degrees. Cut squash in half, remove the seeds, and cut each half into wedges.

2. Toss wedges in a plastic bag with oil, sugar, salt and pepper until well coated. Arrange on parchment paper on a large rimmed baking sheet, and bake until squash is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

3. Bring syrup to boil in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, then lower to medium-low. Simmer 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cayenne. Whisk until smooth, then cover.

4. When squash is deep golden, flip the wedges and brush with glaze. Return to oven until squash is tender and deep golden all over, about another 15 minutes. Brush with remaining glaze and serve. 

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