Friday, June 25, 2010

Grilled Corn with Garlic Butter and Parmesan

So along with his splendid flank steak last weekend, the hubby made grilled corn that was, hands down, the best corn on the cob I've ever had. We typically boil corn on the cob, just because it's kind of an afterthought and we don't have to keep an eye on it that way. I've grilled it a time or two with so-so results, and it just didn't seem worth the effort.

But the hubby found this recipe -- again, from Taste of Home -- that called for soaking the corn and leaving the husks on. I don't know if it was that step or the garlic butter that made the corn so tender and tasty, but by golly, something did. I can't wait to try this one again.

Grilled Corn with Garlic Butter and Parmesan
Makes 8 servings

8 ears sweet corn, husks on
1/3 c. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

1. Soak corn in cold water for 20 minutes. This is a crucial step toward not turning your corn into a burnt pile.

2. In a small saucepan, combine butter, garlic, and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Set aside 2 Tbsp.

3. Peel back corn husks to within 1" of the bottom. Remove the silk.

The hubby is a farmkid. He's good at shuckin' corn.

4. Brush the corn with the garlic butter.

5. Rewrap the corn in the husks, and secure the husks with kitchen twine.

6. Grill corn, covered, over medium heat for about 25 minutes, turning occasionally.

7. Cut the strings and peel back or remove the husks. Drizzle with the reserved butter, and sprinkle with parmesan.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Grilled Flank Steak

The hubby decided to celebrate his first Father's Day by cooking supper for everyone else, and he even went through a few cookbooks to choose a menu. He wouldn't let me in on the details, other than to ask me to help choose a flank steak at the supermarket. Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued.

We don't eat flank steak often, even though I love it. I often hear cooks refer to it as a very economical cut of meat, but I've never found it for less than $7 per pound around here. So I can count on one finger the number of times I've actually purchased and cooked my own.

This is a shame, because I have a years-old marinade recipe that I just love. In fact, I love it so much, that I kept encouraging the hubby to rethink his recipe idea and just go with my marinade. I subtly suggested it. About six times. And when we got home, I pulled my recipe card out and told the hubby to look at it, just in case it looked more tempting than his recipe. He refused. But he did finally tell me which cookbook he'd found his in -- it was one of those paperback-sized Taste of Home grilling cookbooks that he'd recently picked up while shopping.

And this is so awesome: the recipe that the hubby wanted to try and the recipe that I wanted him to use were the exact same. Talk about great minds.

The hubby cooked the steak to perfection, and it got me to wondering why we don't use flank steak more often. I think part of it is the whole "eat with your eyes" thing. When ribeyes are on sale for $7 a pound, we'll each dive into a 16-ounce ribeye. (Hi. I'm Alyssa. I like meat.) And yet, we felt very satisfied with a handful of slices of flank steak, and we had plenty left over. I should've done the math years ago.

Grilled Flank Steak
Serves 5-6

3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. dry sherry (can substitute chicken broth)
3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp. seasoned salt
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 1/2 lb. flank steak

1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar through the parsley flakes.

2. Pour 1/3 c. of the marinade into a large resealable bag, and add the steak. Seal bag and turn to coat, ensuring that the entire steak is coated in marinade.

Four hands are better than two.

3. Refrigerate 1-3 hours. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade to use for basting.

4. Grill steak over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side, or until cooked to desired doneness. Baste frequently with reserved marinade.

5. Let rest before slicing into thin slices against the grain. (And be sure to mix with any juices that run out. That's the good stuff.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Guest Post: Dave's Battered Onion Rings

I have a guest blogger! I have arrived. Or maybe not. Today's post is from Dave, photojournalist extraordinaire, and owner of Milestones Photography. He is a Dave of all trades, not the least of which is cooking. I've been begging him for a peek inside his kitchen, and he finally relented. I'll let Dave explain in his own words.

P.S. Dave, next time I must insist on a sample before I post your dish. In the interests of quality control.

When you find a food that your 2- and 5-year-old girls love (and that you do, too), you want to make that dish as often as possible. Unfortunately, deep-fried onion rings aren't the healthiest thing to make for the family, so they do end up being more of an occasional item.

For a fairly simple food, there is a wide range of breading styles for onion rings, ranging from a light coat of flour or bread crumbs for a thin, crispy onion to a much thicker milk or beer based batter. My taste falls somewhere in between – I prefer the texture of a batter but I don't like it so thick that the onion doesn't crisp up slightly.

Battered Onion Rings
Makes 4 servings

2 large onions
3 c. flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. Creole seasoning
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 c. milk or buttermilk
Canola oil, for frying

1. Slice the onions about 1/4" thick and separate the individual layers into rings. Set aside.

I used Vidalia onions, because they're in season and have a sweeter flavor.

2. Add 2 c. flour to a container that is wide enough for dredging the onions. Add the baking powder, garlic powder, and Creole seasoning. (If you like your food spicy, add another tablespoon of Creole seasoning.)

3. To the dry mixture add the milk, starting with 1 1/2 c., and mix well.

A thicker batter will create a thicker, bread-like coating on the onion, so if you want a thinner, crisper coating, add more milk to thin the mixture. I make my batter so it's thinner than a pancake batter but not so thin as to seem watery.

4. In another shallow container, add 1 c. flour.

This will be used to precoat the onions so the batter will adhere better to the onion and won't pull away when fried.

5. Add enough canola oil to be 1 1/2" to 2" deep, and heat to 350 degrees.

My candy thermometer doubles nicely as a deep-fry thermometer, and I don't deep fry without it. The few times I haven't used it, the oil was either too cold and the food absorbed too much oil, or it was too hot and I ended up with a nicely cooked exterior and raw interior. Bleh.

I love my cast iron Dutch oven and it's perfect for deep frying because it keeps a good, even temperature.

6. Take the individual rings and lightly coat in the plain flour.

Use one hand for this and the other hand for working with the onions in the wet mixture. That way, you'll have one fairly clean hand and another coated in goop.

7. Use a fork or your hand to thoroughly coat the onions in the wet mixture.

8. Carefully place the onions in the hot oil, making sure you don't splash.

9. The cooking time varies, depending on the thickness of the batter. When one side is a light golden brown, flip to cook the other side.

10. Remove and drain on a cooling rack in a sheet pan.

If you'd like to season with additional salt, this is the time to do it. The salt adheres better to the hot rings.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Szechwan Beef

For years, the hubby has made a lovely Szechwan chicken stir-fry, the secrets of which he might never fully share with me. So I decided to try my hand at a beef version this evening, because I've never tried Szechwan beef.

OK, fine, it was because we had sirloin in the kitchen freezer, and the chicken is very far away, in the garage freezer. And I'm lazy. And the light bulb in the garage just burned out. And I'm not supposed to stand on things while the hubby isn't around, because I'm clumsy. And every time I walk in the garage when it's dark, I dislocate my toe, because I'm clumsy AND I have very fragile baby toes.

I share. I share too much.

Szechwan dishes are typically on the spicier side, and although I've had my share that have made my eyes water and my nose run, this dish (which is from Better Homes and Gardens), is actually on the milder side. You can certainly increase the amount of crushed red pepper flakes, or even add some sriracha or other hot sauce, to amp up the heat.

Szechwan Beef
Serves 4

3 Tbsp. dry sherry
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced.
1 lb. steak, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 green bell peppers, cut in cubes
1 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
Cooked rice, for serving

1. Combine the sherry, soy sauce, water, hoisin sauce, cornstarch, ginger, sugar, red pepper flakes, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Put oil in wok and heat over medium-high heat until hot.

3. Add carrots and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add peppers and stir-fry another 1-2 minutes.

4. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

5. Add beef and stir-fry 2-3 minutes, or until cooked.

6. Push beef away from center of wok, and add sauce. Reduce heat to medium, and cook and stir sauce until thick and bubbly.

7. Add veggies back to wok, and combine with beef and sauce.

8. Serve over rice.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grilled Jerk Pork

Wow, I've been quiet for a while. Still cookin', just quiet. I have recipes that I've tried. I have pictures of the recipes that I've tried. If you come over, I'll show you. I just seem to have problems getting them into blog posts.

Yeah, we've been sick again. For more than a month. I'd go into more detail, but trust me, you don't want to hear about that on a food blog. The little man is feeling better again these days, and wow, is he growing.

He's 8 months old now, and has two teeth. His favorite foods are brownies, ice cream, and brownie ice cream. His favorite TV show is The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. His favorite hobbies are taking bubble baths, rolling around the living room, and jumping on the bed (with help). And his favorite toys are his plastic maracas and a stuffed Superman he sometimes calls "Dada." (Anyone could make that mistake.) In short, our little man is a hoot. And always, always busy.

We still cook on a regular basis, but it's a bit faster than usual and we tend to stick to some of our favorites. This is one of them. This is a jerk pork recipe from Cooking Light that I've been making for years. It calls for quite a few ingredients, but most of them are pantry staples. And it has good jerk flavor without any of the elements being overwhelming. I've tried some jerk dishes that are too spicy, others that are too sweet, and even one that the hubby said tasted like grass. But this one is nicely balanced. I've used it on both pork tenderloin and pork steaks.

Just know ahead of time that the marinade is green. Because to me, it still seems weird to pull some green meat out of the fridge and toss it on the grill.

Grilled Jerk Pork
Serves 4

2 c. chopped green onions
1/2 c. chopped red onion
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. fresh or 3/4 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 serranos or jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin, chops, or steaks

1. Place marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour marinade over pork.

2. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, but no more than one day.

3. Grill until cooked to desired doneness.