Wagyu Flat Iron Steak with Herb Butter

We began a few months ago to host a neighborhood Farm to Table group which means deliveries are made weekly to our front courtyard, then picked up by neighbors who have placed orders. We have a number of local farmers and producers who offer a variety of locally made or raised foods. Our most recent addition to this group of vendors is a family who owns a Wagyu cattle ranch in Jackson County, southwest of our area. This beef is primarily grass fed but finished on hormone-free, non-GMO feed and is known for its marbling and flavor.  We ordered flat iron steak and prepared it in the simplest way – a quick sear in a hot iron skillet, then topped with butter blended with shallots and fresh herbs from our garden, an adaptation of a classic French accompaniment called maitre d’ butter. There is a similar recipe from Saveur online. Results?  My family’s version of a Michelin star!

Wagyu Flat Iron Steak with Herb Butter

Flat Iron Steak – We used 2 1/2 pounds for 6 adults. Tailor the amount to the portions you need – 6 to 8 oz. portions are average.

salt and freshly ground pepper

cooking oil

 

For the Herb Butter –

8 oz. unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, diced

1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves

2 Tablespoons chopped tarragon or Mexican Mint Marigold (tarragon does not grow well in our area, so I always use the latter herb  because we have a lot of it in the garden.)

1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Rub steaks generously with salt and pepper and set aside to let rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
In a low flat bowl, blend butter, shallots, salt, pepper, and herbs with a fork. Set aside until serving time.
Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a 12″ cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 steaks and cook, turning once, until seared to your preference for doneness – about 4 minutes on each side for medium rare, 5-6 minutes each side for medium to medium well. I use 2 skillets and repeat for additional steaks adding more oil as necessary. Transfer steaks to serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes. To serve, top each steak with 2 tbsp. of the herb butter. I use a small ice cream scoop to make this quick and simple.

Pappardelle with Peas and Prosciutto

This pasta dish wins on several levels:  it is delicious, simple to prepare, and beautiful on the table! I cooked it in a large copper bottom saute pan and served it in the same pan. Add a loaf of crusty French bread and a simple green salad.

Pappardelle with Peas and Prosciutto

16 ounces Pappardelle

4 ounces chopped prosciutto

2 cups frozen peas

4 Tablespoons butter

1 cup Greek Yogurt (use sour cream if you prefer)

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt

pepper

ground nutmeg

coarsely shredded or flaked Parmesan cheese to pass at serving

Assemble all ingredients. This dish is quickly prepared, so you want to have everything you need ready.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, make the sauce.

In a saute pan, combine yogurt, cream, and butter. Heat over medium heat, stirring. As soon as the mixture is hot, turn off heat and season to taste with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Put peas in a colander, set over sink. When pasta is ready to drain, pour the boiling pasta water over the peas, then add peas to cream mixture. Finish draining pasta in the same colander, then add to the pan along with prosciutto. Toss to coat with sauce. Serve from the pan and pass grated Parmesan at the table.

 

 

 

Greek Meat Balls (Keftedes)

Keftedes

Last week’s Greek soup led me to another Greek dish I have wanted to try: Greek Meatballs, or Keftedes.  Since a couple of family members are eating gluten free, I experimented with using Gluten Free bread crumbs and Gluten Free flour for dredging. The flavor was wonderful, but I think the gluten free items made the meat mixture a little looser, and also a bit harder to brown. I hope to try these again and see if my theory is correct. I will also try the optional cooking method, baking the meatballs in a very hot oven.

My favorite ingredients, and the things that added unique flavor to these meatballs were the fresh herbs added to the meat mixture (mint and parsley).  I also made homemade Tzatziki sauce which was a perfect addition to the plate of meatballs and warm flatbread.  Tzatziki recipe coming up next week!

Greek Meatballs (Keftedes)

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg

2 large onions, finely chopped in food processor

1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced

1/2 cup frresh mint, minced

2 heaping Tablespoons Penzey’s Greek seasoning (optional: 2 Tablespoons dried oregano)

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

 

Oil for frying

flour for dredging

Combine all ingredients except the cooking oil and flour in a very large bowl. Using your hands, mix the ingredients, folding over from the bottom and kneading for about 5 minutes. The mixture should be smooth and well combined. Cover and refrigerate overnight or a minimum of 2-3 hours.  Shape meat into ball, dredge in flour and place on a parchment or foil covered baking sheet.  In a heavy skillet (I used 2 iron skillets), heat enough oil to generously cover the bottom of the pan, adding more as needed. Cook the meatballs in batches, uncrowded in the skillet, reducing the heat to medium during cooking. I found that 10-12 meatballs at a time worked best. Brown well on both sides, making sure they are well cooked through. Remove to paper towel covered baking sheet and repeat the process until all meatballs have been cooked. Serve as an appetizer, or on a platter with a stack of flatbread as an entree.  Makes at least 4 dozen meatballs. Optional method of cooking:  Preheat oven to 450 degrees and bake on a lightly greased baking sheet for about 20 minutes or well browned.

 

 

Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables

When I want to put a simple but hearty meal on the table for a family gathering, I like to use one pan dishes like this one. Any combination of veggies can work, but an assortment of root vegetables sprinkled with salt and chopped rosemary from the garden is one of my favorites. I you do not have a large baking pan like this one, do the same thing in 2 smaller Pyrex dishes. This recipe serves 10.

Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables

10 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

3 -4 cups small red potatoes

2 red onions cut in large pieces

6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks.

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup olive oil (add more if needed to coat all vegetables).

Spray a large (commercial size) baking pan with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towel and line sides of baking pan. Brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper

In a large bowl, toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour into center of rows of chicken, filling in spaces around the chicken. Sprinkle all with chopped rosemary. Roast for about 45 minutes, or until chicken is done and vegetables are fork tender. If you wish, put the pan under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to brown the chicken breasts. Serve in pan or remove to large platter with one or two fresh rosemary sprigs as garnish.

 

 

 

Cilantro Chicken

 

This dish happened because I was able to get a large bunch of fresh cilantro at the Farmers Market last week. Chopped Cilantro in the sauce and fresh chopped cilantro scattered on top plus lime juice added a bright fresh flavor. It is not only quick and easy, but mouth watering good!  I served it with baked sweet potatoes and pan grilled zucchini (more Farmers Market goodies) but it would be good served over rice. I adapted my recipe from one I found on a site called gimmedelicious.com, and delicious it was!

Cilantro Chicken

4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 Tablespoon Grapeseed Oil

1 chopped onio

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken broth 

Juice of 1 lime 

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro plus more for topping

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup half and half 

Chicken Curry

My version of Chicken Curry is Javanese style, adapted from Foods Galore, a bilingual cookbook published by the American Women’s Association in Indonesia. I did not make my changes until after we returned to the U.S. after living there. I wrote my recipe on a card and although I vary the ingredients from time to time, I still use this basic recipe. When I decided to share it with you, I pulled my trusty cookbook out and looked at the original ingredients which included most of mine plus 1 cup of coconut milk from 1/2 coconut!  I am glad I have canned coconut milk now!  That recipe also created its own blend of curry powder  with turmeric, cumin, lemon grass, laos (ginger) and a red chile, crushed. I am happy to use one of Penzey’s many delicious blends of curry powder these days.

You might like to know that in Jakarta, Chicken Curry is called Ayam Kari Java. I first made this version for Joe, Ben and me on July 22, 1995.

Chicken Curry, Javanese Style

4 chicken breasts, cut into large chunks

3 Tablespoons olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons red chili flakes

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/2 onion, chopped fine

1 Tablespoon curry powder of your choice, or to taste

1 can coconut milk (not cream of coconut)

Rub chicken with salt and brown oil until golden brown. Remove, add onion and garlic. When onion is beginning to brown, add ginger, cilantro, and chili flakes. Cook 1-2 minutes, add curry powder. Add coconut milk, blending well. Return chicken to sauce and cook until done. Serve over rice.

Peking Roast

Recently, I opened a cookbook and a clipping fluttered to the counter. I do not know how long it had been there, probably used as a book marker since I am guilty of picking up napkins, grocery lists, and whatever might be at hand to mark my place. I do this with other books as well. It sometimes results in a happy surprise like this. The newsprint was old and beginning to yellow, but I recognized the neat handwriting in the corner immediately. It was a note from my Mother:  “This sounds good- like your cooking.”  I do not remember ever trying the recipe although I often use coffee as part of the liquid in making pot roasts. I also brown a roast to very dark. But I have not marinated a roast in vinegar as this recipe suggests. So I decided to try it soon for 2 reasons. I was curious. But the main reason was Mother’s note. I have been looking through recipes lately, loving the gift of those recipe cards in her handwriting.

Peking Roast

3-5 lb. Beef Roast

garlic and onion slivers

1 cup vinegar

Water

Vegetable cooking oil

2 cups strong black coffee

2 cups water

salt and pepper

With a sharp knife, cut slits in roast and insert slivers of garlic and onion. Place the roast in a bowl and pour vinegar over it. Add enough water to cover the meat, then cover bowl and refrigerate 24 hours, basting occasionally. When ready to cook, drain liquid from meat and pat dry with a paper towel. Cover the bottom of a heavy pan or Dutch oven with cooking oil and heat. Sear the roast on all sides until very dark. Pour coffee over the roast, add water and cover. Simmer over low heat on top of the stove for 6 hours. Add salt and pepper after cooking. (If you wish to cook in a oven, bring the liquid to a boil on a stove burner, cover and place in 300 degree oven for 6 hours, adding liquid when needed.)

The only thing I changed from the original recipe was to bake it in a low oven for 6 hours instead of simmering on top of the stove. The results? A kitchen that smelled heavenly all afternoon,  roast beef that fell apart it was so tender, and delicious flavor. My mother died over 11 years ago, and long before that stopped clipping and sending recipes. But she is still giving  to me!

 

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mangos and Cranberries

Pork Tenderloin continues to be one of my favorite choices for a variety of menus. I like to grill it and add interesting sides, put it in my slow cooker, or roast.  For this dish, I rubbed the tenderloins with a spice blend combining black pepper, paprika, nutmeg, cayenne, and basil. Make your own blend if you wish but I used Penzey’s 33rd and Galena rub for chicken and pork. I layered on slices of mango from a jar I got at Costco and added some dried cranberries. This works well with several combinations of fruit – peaches, apricots, and pineapple all work well. The result is a colorful and delicious entree.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mango and Cranberries

2 pork tenderloins

1 Tablespoon Penzey’s 33rd and Galena Spice Rub

2 -3 cups sliced mango

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle tenderloins on all sides with spice and rub it in.  Place meat in Pyrex baking dish and surround with mangos. Spead cranberries over all. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until internal temperature tests 145 degrees.. Remove meat to serving platter, leaving fruit in dish. Then dust fruit with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon, and return with sauce to oven for an additional 10-15  minutes or until it begins to caramelize. Remove from oven and spoon fruit and sauce over pork.

Chicken Marengo

More than any of the cream sauces or pastries or souffles, I love to cook French dishes with fish or chicken and hearty tomato sauces that include garlic and olive oil and olives. I like to think my French great grandmother’s bloodline has something to do with this – she and her family sailed from the south of France (Marseilles) when they immigrated to the southern United States so perhaps that region is where they came from, although I have no way of knowing. If so, my love for Provencal cooking comes honestly. My favorites to eat and to cook have many common ingredients – Bouillabaise, Cacciatore, and Chicken Provencal. This dish, called Chicken Marengo has an interesting legend about its origin. Chicken Marengo is not Italian, as the name implies, but very French as the story goes, it was hastily invented by the cook who accompanied Napoleon when he went to battle. Following the narrow victory at the battle of Marengo in Italy in 1800, Napoleon is said to have been famished and directed a meal to be prepared right away. His cook gathered what local ingredients he could come up with, making this dish with its chicken, tomatoes, herbs, and olives. Tradition includes the addition of a fried egg and some crawfish on top but I chose to omit those!

Chicken Marengo

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Salt and pepper for chicken
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small shallots, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried French thyme
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup green olives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  1. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat , then sauté chicken, smooth sides down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over and sauté 1 minute more. Scatter mushrooms around chicken and cook, until chicken is just cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Transfer chicken to a plate, then add shallots, garlic, and thyme to skillet and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, and water and simmer until mushrooms are tender and sauce is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
  3. Return chicken to skillet, add olives, and simmer, spooning sauce over until chicken is heated through   Serve with rice.

Slow Cooker Brisket

SlowCookerBrisket

Since we live a short distance from one of the best BBQ restaurants in the state, I don’t often cook brisket at home these days. But we had a small one in the freezer I wanted to use and I thought it was too hot to heat up the oven in the kitchen, even hotter to cook it outside on the grill or in the smoker.  I remembered a recipe and a story I could adapt to the crockpot, loaded it with the few ingredients necessary, set the slow cooker on low and went about a busy day.  The results favorably compared with other methods, and nobody got hot cooking!

The recipe could not be simpler.  The story brings back fond memories.  In 1973, Joe worked with a young man whose name was Steve Greenwell. He and his wife Sondra had not been married long, had no children, and were fond of ours. They came to stay with Sean and Jeremy on the Sunday afternoon 44 years ago that Ben was born.  Sondra was learning to cook.  She told me she bought a brisket and asked  the butcher how to cook it.  He told her to heat her oven on low, put the brisket in a pan, and pour over 1 bottle of liquid smoke, 1 bottle of barbecue sauce, and enough water to cover the meat. Cover and cook for hours. Here is the story in recipe form.  I did not have a crockpot all those years ago and if you do not, you can always use the oven.

Barbecue Brisket

2-3 pound beef brisket

1 bottle barbecue sauce (any kind)

1 bottle Liquid Smoke (optional – omit if you prefer)

2 bottles of water (rinse out the barbecue sauce bottle), enough to cover meat

Add all ingredients to slow cooker set on low and cook for 7 to 8 hours.

Lift out brisket to slice.  Pour sauce into pitcher or bowl to pass when served.