Beef Carbonnade

I’m going to piggyback off my last week’s post where I gave some free advice that I’ve picked up along the way of my own cooking journey. I’ve mentioned before on here that I have a not-so-minor addiction to buying/collecting cookware, bakeware and kitchen appliances. The majority of my Amazon wishlist is composed of the above. The shopping spree of my dreams would legit be at Williams Sonoma, where I could literally buy any and everything that I want. The more cooking/baking techniques and different dishes that I learn, the more gadgets and appliances I want in order to make them or take certain dishes to a certain level.

Just as there’s a lot of cooking advice to be taken in, there are just as many pieces of cookware, bakeware, gadgets or appliances out there. It’s perfectly fine to get a collection going once you’ve hit your stride and feel pretty confident in your abilities. However if you’re just starting out and and are just looking to *begin* stocking your cabinets with pots/pans, my advice to you would be similar to the advice I gave last week.

Less is more– at least in the beginning.

If you go to just about any Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s or even Target and Walmart you’re going to be able to find the huge sets of cookware that usually come with a few pots, skillets and spatualas. Those are fine–I’d even say that they’re a worthwhile investment provided it’s from a good company/brand.

The only thing is, the majority of cookware sets aren’t going to have what I personally consider a must-have in the kitchen collection of amateur and expert cooks alike. Any guesses on what it is?

Never mind, I’ll just tell you: it’s a Dutch oven.

One of the best decisions I ever made on my cooking journey was to invest in a good Dutch oven. It was a real game changer. Prior to that I had been using a stock pot. Trust me, there’s a big difference and in my opinion, no comparison between the two. There’s just no beating how many different uses you can get out of a Dutch oven.

You’re going to get more latitude from a Dutch oven which gives more surface area for a more even cook. I learned how to fry chicken while using a Dutch oven (they’re taller and also hold/distribute heat even better than cast iron).Most are pretty big–enough too make big pots of stew, soup and chili. They’re big and also wide enough to fit whole roasts and the vegetables. The Cephalon ones are my favorite; it’s a good non-stick surface that doesn’t wear out and the structure of the pot itself is strong and durable.

A good Dutch oven isn’t the cheapest thing you could buy for your kitchen, but I would still say it’s probably the best thing you could buy whether you’re starting out or not. It’s a *really* good investment. Anything you can make in those chintzy skillets or pots you got in a set, you can (and likely should) be making in a Dutch oven instead. When I was thinking about what I wanted to say for this post, all I could think about was how perfect it turned out BECAUSE of my Dutch oven.

So listen, guys. The advice for the week is: get a Dutch oven.

This recipe is pretty basic, as stick to your ribs food should be. Meat + onions + gravy = Boom. I think the mace and the smoked paprika in the spice rub give the meat a special ‘something’ that really works.  Beef & chicken broth, beer, and apple cider form the base of the gravy. There’s also juuuuust a tad bit of apple cider vinegar that gets added to it–I was nervous about the acidity but it’s actually just right.

Dutch ovens were *made* for meals like this. You want a Dutch oven so that you too can make rich, hearty braises with savory meat that simmers away in rich, hearty broth until it’s fork tender, filling your kitchen with the most glorious of smells. Now theoretically, could you make this in a stockpot if you didn’t have a Dutch oven yet? Eh…yeah. I guess. But the Dutch oven will give you the space and heat distribution that will give you the best results. SO GET ONE.

Sharing this post at Fiesta Friday #207, co-hosted this week by  Lily @ Little Sweet Baker and Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com.

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Beef Carbonnade

Recipe Adapted from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

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Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 pounds top blade steaks, chuck roast, or tri tip steak, trimmed of gristle and fat cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 medium sweet yellow onions, halved and cut 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz bottle) dark beer or stout
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • A few dashes of soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Seasoned salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

 

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a small bowl, combine the seasoned salt and pepper, onion powder, mace, smoked paprika, dried thyme, and brown sugar with a fork.

Place the meat into a large bowl and sprinkle about half of the spice mix over it. Stir, then sprinkle the rest on top and stir until evenly coated.

Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil (or butter, or solidified bacon fat) in the bottom of a Dutch oven over high heat. Sear the meat on all sides until browned. (You may have to do this in 2 batches in order to not crowd the pot) Remove the meat to a medium bowl and keep covered with aluminum foil.

Deglaze the pan with the apple cider, allow to simmer until the liquid is mostly dissolved, then add the onions to the pot,  and lower the heat down to medium. Allow the onions to cook until translucent and limpened, around 5-7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic, stir  and allow to cook for about 5-7 more minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the onions, allow to cook until flour is slightly browned, about 2 more minutes.

Add the broths, beer, cider vinegar, bay leaves, soy sauce. Stir to scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat back to medium. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Place the beef back into the pot.

Cover the pot with a lid, or tightly with aluminum foil and place on the bottom rack of the oven. Cook until a fork inserted in the beef meets little resistance; it should be close to pull apart tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

To make gravy: In a small bowl, combine a few tablespoons of flour with about 1/2 cup cool water. Use a whisk to stir until the flour dissolves. Strain several cups of the cooked beef broth into a saucepan, then pour in the flour water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, stirring a few times. Allow to simmer until thickened into a gravy, about 15-20 minutes.

Falafel Patties

How was everyone’s holiday? You get any good presents? Eat any good food?

I hope the answer to both of those questions is yes. You deserve both.

Here we are at the end of 2017, and I feel like this year just flew by. My cooking and baking schedule for December is almost always hectic as I’m busy putting together recipes and posts for the 12 Days of Christmas series I do every year on the blog. Then all at once the holiday comes, the bustle is over and everything is calm and lax.

A lot of us have a tendency to indulge in a whole lot of sweet and not so lean treats during the holidays that after a while may feel like a sugar overload. I certainly love my carbs and sweets and I’ll never give them up–but after a while I too find myself craving leaner foods with fresh ingredients that leave you feeling full but not bloated or lethargic.

Usually when I get those cravings, I go to particular cuisine: Mediterranean.

Apart from soul food, if I had to pick a cuisine to eat for the rest of my life it would definitely be Mediterranean/Lebanese. I’m addicted to so many things about it: the fresh ingredients, the bright, zesty seasoning and spices, the satisfaction it brings to my belly without making me feel guilty if I ate a lot of it. It’s just the best.

I’ve shared a few of my favorite Mediterranean dishes on the blog already, and I highly recommend that you check them out, as they’d make a good accompaniment to the dish I want to share with you guys today.

No, I mean it. Chicken Shawarma and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, stat. They’ll change your life.

My ‘must-haves’ for a Mediterranean meal include a plate of chicken shawarma, hummus and falafel.  It’s the perfect trio. I hope to God that you know what falafel is, but on the most outrageous of off chances that you don’t…it’s a mixture of ground chickpeas, veggies and spices that are mixed together and then usually deep fried until crispy on the outside.

I say ‘usually’ because I’ve recently found that falafel doesn’t always have to be fried to taste good.

The base ingredients for traditional falafel are still here: you’ve still got your chickpeas, parsley, lemon juice, cilantro and garlic. I also added in plenty of cumin and smoked paprika with some other spices that I thought complemented the others well. I do recommend that you allow the mix to sit in the refrigerator overnight for two reasons: first, the colder it is, the more time it has to firm up and be easier to shape into patties. Second, it allows the flavors to marinate and develop into the beans.

The process of cooking the falafels is simple. After shaping them into patties, they get a quick sear on the stove, then a few minutes in the oven.From there, you can do whatever you like with them; eat them as a sandwich on a bun, stuff one into a pita, crumble them up into a salad, or even just eat it all on its own dipped in hummus. All of these are good choices.

I am most definitely not a vegetarian and it’s very safe to say I will never become one. I love poultry too much to do that. However! I will say that for several days I ate falafel patty sandwiches and found myself uncharacteristically not missing the meat. The garbanzo beans give the patty a ‘meaty’ texture and the fiber in them fills you up in an even better way than meat because your stomach doesn’t feel as heavy. These are really good and I think they’d be a nice way to start the year off if you’re in need of a lighter meal.

Linking this last post of 2017 up to Fiesta Friday #204, co-hosted this week by Sandhya @ Indfused.com.

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Falafel Patties

Recipe Adapted from Chowhound.com

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled (preferably roasted garlic)
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Canola, vegetable or peanut oil for frying

 

 

Directions

Place the chickpeas in a bowl of cold water, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours or at least overnight. Drain well. They’ll expand to about 4 cups.

Place 2 cups of the beans in a food processor (or blender). Pulse a few times, then process until a smooth paste. (If the mixture is too chunky, add about 2 tablespoons of water to the food processor or blender to make it smoother). Remove to a small bowl, then pour in the other half of the beans. Pulse these a few times until they are mostly chunky—they don’t need to be as smooth as the first batch, it’s alright if there are some large bits still in there. Remove the second batch of processed beans with the first to the bowl. Place the herbs, lemon juice, spices and baking powder in the processor and process thoroughly. Pour the chickpeas back into the processor and process mixture all together. (If too thick and ‘dry’ to hold together, add a couple tablespoons more of water. If need be, you can also do this in batches, then mix it all together in a bowl afterwards).

Refrigerate the falafel mix overnight to allow it to firm up and for flavors to fully develop.

Scoop the falafel out with about heaping 1/3 cup measure, then shape into patties. Refrigerate patties for 30 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add three patties to the pan, then cook for about 6 minutes per side. Remove to a wire rack that you place over a sheet pan. Repeat frying process with your remaining patties and oil until finished.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the patties in the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes before serving on toasted hamburger buns or inside/alongside pita bread.

(Note: You don’t have to bake the patties in the oven if their initial consistency/taste after frying is okay with you. I like to bake mine to give the chickpeas as ’cooked’ a flavor as possible, but it’s not mandatory. )

Roasted Garlic Pot Roast

As the autumn progresses and the weather begins to cool down, there are certain foods that I start getting crazy cravings for. I’ve already mentioned this with regards to baking which is why for the past few weeks I’ve been sharing a bunch of sweets that have appeased my fall sweet tooth. However my seasonal needs definitely apply to savory foods too. The colder it gets, the more you want ‘stick to your ribs’ kind of food that warms you up on the inside and just makes you want to curl up and take a nap after dinner.

Pot roast is one of those dishes for me and I think it’s pretty safe to say it is for most people. It’s red meat that’s roasted in gravy, usually served with some kind of starch like mashed potatoes and rice. What’s not to love about it? Not only is it delicious, it’s easy to throw together, then allow to cook in the oven or the slow cooker.

With comfort food, there’s usually not a lot of bells and whistles to the preparation, and that’s really how it ought to be. Simple, minimal ingredients. Not too much effort. Maximum taste and satisfaction.

And wouldn’t you know it? I happen to have just the dish for y’all to make for autumn that really does deliver on all three.

Before I’d made this dish, I had never even tried roasted garlic before. I’d certainly never roasted it myself. After having changed both of those circumstances, I’m now resolved to never eat it any other way *but* roasted. You just wouldn’t believe how easy it is to make, and how much of a difference it makes in flavor.

Because the garlic is the main ‘star’ of the dish, this recipe does call for quite a bit to be roasted at one time. Four to six heads, actually. Yes–whole heads. It sounds like overkill, but it isn’t. You’re using it in both the marinade AND in the dish itself, which will result in a gravy you want packed with flavor. Also keep in mind, if you absolutely insist on dialing back the garlic flavor you can always use a smaller amount and stash the leftover in your fridge for another use.

Roasting the garlic is fool-proof. You drizzle the garlic heads with olive oil and wrap them in a foil package. You place that foil package in a baking dish, then throw the baking dish into the oven for about an hour. After letting them cool off, you’ll be able to easily pluck the cloves off the head and give them a good squeeze; they’ll come out of the skins like a smooth pulp. That kids, is roasted garlic. Next to bacon fat it’s pretty much nectar of the Gods.

After letting the meat marinade overnight (something I really must insist that you do), you can get to the business of searing, then roasting. We have to have a discussion about the gravy because apart from the tenderness of the meat, the gravy of a pot roast is the most important thing. It’s just gotta be ‘right’. This one is more than right. It’s friggin fantastic.

Roasted Garlic. Beer. Crushed Ginger Snaps. Tomato Paste. All of that (and a bit more) is included in the gravy that’s made with this roast and it all works together. The taste is (of course) garlicky, but it’s also tangy, sweet and a bit spicy. I didn’t even have to thicken it over the stove after the roast was cooked through–the consistency is perfect straight out of the Dutch oven.

A few things are needless to say, but I’ll say them anyhow: first, we gobbled this up. Second, I’m probably not going to wait until autumn every year to cook this roast. It’s the year-round good eats variety. Third, I now look for excuses to put roasted garlic in *all* of my savory dishes. I’m currently searching for a way to incorporate it into my bread-making routine. Fourth, you all should be planning on trying this for yourselves. Sharing this post at the Fiesta Friday #194, co-hosted this week by  Petra @ Food Eat Love and Vanitha @ Curry and Vanilla.

Have a good weekend, all.

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Roasted Garlic Pot Roast

Recipe Adapted from Laura Frankel

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Ingredients

For Roasted Garlic

  • 4-6 heads of garlic
  • About 1 tablespoon of oil (olive, canola, vegetable are all fine)
  • Salt & pepper

For Marinade

  • 1 head of roasted garlic (see above)
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • About 1-2 tablespoons Soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Seasoned salt, pepper, onion powder

For Roast/Sauce

  • About 5-6 lb chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and preferably tied
  • 2 large yellow sweet onions, thickly sliced
  • 3 heads of the roasted garlic (you can use less if you want less garlic flavor)
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of low-sodium beef broth
  • 1-2 cups of Guinness beer (or another stout; just as long as it’s something you’d be fine with drinking)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed ginger snaps (I used Trader Joe’s gingersnaps)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • A few dashes of fish sauce (soy sauce works fine too)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Peel the loose skin away from the garlic and cut the tops off of the heads, but make sure the cloves stay attached to each other. Place them on a long strip of aluminum foil. Drizzle them with the oil and sprinkle evenly with salt & pepper.

Draw up the ends of the foil and tightly seal it into a package. Place the foil package in a shallow dish. Roast in the oven for about 50 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then remove the roasted garlic to a small bowl by pressing the cloves out of the remaining skins and into a small bowl with your fingers (they should come out easily).

Place the beef in a sealable plastic container or a Ziploc bag. Rub the soy sauce over the surface of the meat, then sprinkle evenly with salt/pepper/onion powder. In a small bowl, combine the 1 head of roasted garlic, brown sugar, vinegar and tomato paste. Mash and stir together into a paste with a fork. Pour this over the meat. Seal and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or pot over high heat.  Sear the meat on both sides until a crust forms, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and cover with foil (don’t wipe out the bottom of the pot). Add the onions and stir together. Add the beer and deglaze the pot, scraping up the bottom bits. Place the onions with the meat. Add the crushed ginger snaps, tomato paste, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, cinnamon, coriander to the pot and stir together. Add salt & pepper to taste. (If the sauce is too thick you can add additional broth, beer or water to thin it out).

Place the beef and onions back into the pot. Cover with lid or tightly with aluminum foil and roast in the oven, about 1 1/2-2 hours, until a fork can pierce through the thickest part of the meat easily. Allow to stand for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving with the sauce given off in the pot.

Caramelized Chicken

One of my very worst peeves is when I make kitchen plans and for whatever reason, they fall through.

When I get an idea in my head to cook something, I am determined to be able to follow through with it. If I can’t, it just makes me straight grumpy. As Tim Gunn would say, I just try to “Make it work.”

I mean, there was that one time that the pretzel dough I made dissipated into gelatinous goo in the boiling solution and was beyond all repair. Sometimes I still stop and have a moment of silence for that loaf of banana bread that was raw and for whatever reason, stayed raw even after I nuked it in the oven for hours And, who could ever forget that time I set my oven on fire the first time I made naan?)

But we’re not gonna focus on those tiny missteps, guys. The main takeaway here is that usually, I can fix it. Usually I can think quick on my feet, adapt and still get what I want out of a dish. Case in point would be today’s recipe.

Alright so, boom. It’s summer time, and I really wanted to make chicken skewers. I didn’t have any wooden skewers in the house and I still haven’t gotten around to buying the metal set I have bookmarked on my Amazon wishlist. But I didn’t figure that was too big of a deal. Since it is summer, and people tend to enjoy grilling kebabs during the summer, I thought that I’d most likely be able to find a pack of wooden skewers just about anywhere, right?

Right?

Heh.

Yeah, no store I went to had wooden skewers. I mean, none. How rude.

The real gag was, I had already started the prep work for this recipe. I was so confident I was going to find the skewers, that my marinade was already done and put together, AND the chicken was already cut into the cubes for the skewers and soaking in it, ready to be skewed.

And I had…no skewers.

Were my initial plans foiled? Yeah. Was I annoyed? Most definitely. Did I give up?

Tuh. You guys know who this is.

I wanted chicken skewers. True, I wasn’t going to get the skewers part of that equation…but there was no way I wasn’t still going to have chicken. This was one of those times where I knew that I could make it work.

So right off rip, I’ll let you guys know that this is a dish with primarily Asian flavors. The marinade itself has that pungent, salty flavor from the fish & soy sauce, but ti’s well balanced out with the OJ and brown sugar that lend sweetness, and the ginger that gives it a bite. Once that flavor is given time to develop in the protein, you can move onto the really good part, which is the sauce. The sauce is where the ‘caramelization’ in the recipe title comes in; it’s tangy, sweet, and slightly thick. When it’s brushed onto the chicken in the final stages of cooking at a high temp, the sugars in it form a thin crisp, slightly blackened layer on top of the chicken that deepens the flavor and makes the sauce sticky.

I didn’t have my wooden skewers. My plans were thrown off. And I still walked away with this dish, which by the time all was said and done made me forget that I was upset about it in the first place. It was easy to ‘make it work’. In the recipe below I do give instructions for how to cook the chicken with and without skewers just in case the grocery stores in your area want to be rude like mine were and act like this isn’t prime grilling season. Whether you choose to make it over a grill, under a broiler or in a skillet or wok, I think you should try this dish. It’s quite good and has become another addition to my collection of Happy Accidents.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #187, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Sadhna @ Herbs, Spices and Tradition.

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Caramelized Chicken

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

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For Marinade

  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into large cubes (as close to the same size as possible)
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce

For Sauce

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger root
  • Sesame seeds and scallions, for garnish, optional
  • Wooden skewers, soaked overnight if broiling

 

Directions

Place the cubed chicken in a resealable gallon size bag. Combine all the remaining ingredients In a small bowl, then pour over the chicken. Seal the bag and turn over a few times to make chicken evenly coated.

Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to overnight.

Combine all 8 ingredients for the sauce together in a saucepan. Bring to boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer until thickened, about 10-15. minutes. Remove from heat. Divide the sauce in half in two separate containers.

For Cooking: If you’re using a broiler/skewers, place the marinated chicken onto the skewers. Heat the broiler, then spray your pan well with cooking spray. Broil the chicken until just nearly done. Towards the end (when the outside is no longer raw) brush one half of the sauce on top of the chicken. Allow to broil further until the outer coating becomes caramelized.

You can also cook the chicken in a skillet or wok; heat canola/peanut oil in skillet, cook the chicken over medium high-high heat then towards the end, pour the sauce in and toss to combine.

Serve the chicken sprinkled with sesame seeds and scallions and the other half of the sauce.

Spiced Meatballs with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

I know I can’t be the only person out there with an ingredient or condiment that they put on everything, right? You guys know what I’m talking about. You love it SO much, its flavors are SO awesome that you just always have to have it (sometimes huge quantities of it) in the house. You search for excuses to somehow incorporate it into every meal. The love you have for it is just that strong.

I mean, I’m a foodie so it should probably go without saying that I’ve got more than one contender.

There must, at all times, be a bottle of Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce in my house. Preferably, the big one. You know why? Cause I really do put that stuff on everything:

Pizza, eggs, chips, salsa, salad, vegetables, french fries, chicken wings. I’ll shake some of it into stews or braises to give it an extra ‘zip’. Heck, I even mix it in with strawberry jelly to smear on my biscuits or toast because I love the contrast of the sweet with the spicy (Look, don’t knock it til you try it!).

Caramelized onions are another one for me. I could eat them completely on their own as a side dish to be honest, but I can put them in just about anything. For that reason, I’ll usually always pick up at least one or two yellow or red onions from the grocery every week so I can always have some in the kitchen to caramelize for anything I might be in the mood for. If you guys haven’t hopped on the caramelized onions bandwagon, please do. Like Frank’s Red Hot, they can and will elevate just about any dish. This is also where having a recipe that is impossible to screw up, like these Foolproof  Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions, will really come in handy.  Just saying.

Right up there with caramelized onions for me are roasted red peppers. God, I love roasted red peppers so much. Any slow roasted pepper is delicious, but there’s just always been something about the red ones that had me hooked from that very first taste. Like Frank’s Red Hot and caramelized onions, I will look for excuses to put roasted red peppers in anything. I am convinced there is no savory dish that they would not taste good in and enhance. None.

I really don’t care how good your favorite pizza is. That pizza game is weak until you start eating pizza with roasted red peppers on top.

You’re really outchea trying to eat tacos with no roasted red peppers? Fix your life.

Trying to eat healthy by eating a salad? Fantastic. Slice a roasted red pepper in there and give it a pop of color and a pop of deliciousness.

Psst. Come here. Closer. Closer.  *whisper voice* Hummus tastes 1000x better with roasted red peppers blended in it. Believe me. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Try it sometime.

This dish ended up happening for two reasons: first, I wanted to try to make a roasted red pepper romesco sauce to go with some meatballs. Second, I didn’t have an almonds. Romesco sauce is one that is primarily made of red peppers and almonds, so not having almonds on hand was…kinda putting a damper on my plans. But I improvised and came up with something else that I’m actually very pleased with.

So check this sauce y’all. It’s not a tomato sauce. It not only has quite a few roasted red peppers in it, it also has roasted sweet onions AND a whole head of roasted garlic. I know. That seems like a lot, but trust me. It all works. Roasting the veggies gives them a richer, sweeter flavor that melds well with the spices that pack a punch of their own.

I decided to try and up the ante of the roasted flavor in the veggies by pairing them with smoked paprika and ras el hanout. Both are intensely smoky and slightly spicy with woodsy undertones that leave a sweet aftertaste on the tongue. Combining them together with all those veggies and garlic that were roasted is going to result in a sauce that you’re probably going to be tempted to slurp up on a spoon all on its own. But don’t do it! Cause, meatballs.

I used a lot of the same spices in the ground meat that I did the sauce. I prefer to bake mine rather than saute them in a skillet as I’ve found that they hold together better that way. Another suggestion-kinda-not-suggestion I have is to finish cooking your meatballs IN the sauce itself, as that meaty flavor can literally cook inside the sauce and give it even more flavor.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: yes. I DID sprinkle some Frank’s Red Hot on top of these when I sat down to eat. Not because they ‘needed it; I just really do put that stuff one everything. Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #185, co-hosted by Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes.

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Spiced Meatballs with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

Recipe by Jess@CookingisMySport

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Ingredients

For Meatballs

  • 4 lbs ground beef (or turkey, if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2- dashes Soy Sauce
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (up to 1 cup more, if needed)

For Sauce

  • 6-7 red bell peppers, de-stemmed, seeded and cut into halves or quarters
  • 3 sweet yellow onions, cut in halves
  • 1 whole head of garlic, outer loose skin removed, but still whole
  • 4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout spice mix (optional, if you can’t find it you can always use cumin)
  • 2-3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2- dashes Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

Directions

For Meatballs: combine the ground beef in a large bowl with all of the dry spices. Add the soy and Worcestershire sauce, then the eggs. Pour in the breadcrumbs and mix together with your hand; don’t knead it too much though, or the meatballs may be tough. If the mixture seems too wet, you can always add more breadcrumbs to tighten it up.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Shape into meatballs (about 2 tablespoonfuls each). Place 1 1/2 inches apart on a lightly greased (with cooking spray) rack in an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until browned.

For Sauce: Lower heat down to 350°. Rub about 1 teaspoon of vegetable or canola oil on top of garlic head. Sprinkle the top with salt & pepper and place in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil around the garlic, like a package. Place on a half sheet pan and bake in the oven for about 50-55 minutes. Remove and allow to cool until warm enough to handle.

Meanwhile, crank oven up to 450°. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.  Drizzle the peppers with oil, salt & pepper, then arrange with the cut sides down on the pans. Roast in the oven until the skins have started to char & separate from the inner flesh and the peppers have started to collapse, about 25-30 minutes (you may need to rotate pans halfway to ensure even roasting).

Remove the peppers and onions to a bowl and cover with foil to allow to cool down, about 30 minutes. Once cool, use your fingers to rub away the outer skins of the red peppers (they should come away easily).

Discard skins and place roasted veggies into a blender or food processor. Take the roasted garlic head and break off individual cloves. Use your fingers to press/squeeze out the pulp into the container of the blender/processor with the veggies. (It should come out very easily). Place the lid on, and puree the mixture together on high speed until very smooth.

Pour the mixture into a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Pour in the beef broth and add the spices, Soy and Worcestershire sauces, sugar and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and allow sauce to cook for about 20 minutes. You may add a few of the meatballs inside to give additional beefy flavor.

Spoon sauce on top of the meatballs or dip meatballs in sauce, eating with rice, quinoa or couscous. 

Jamaican Beef Patty

One of the very earliest recipes I did on the blog was one for meat pies that I make for my sister. (Don’t go back in the archives to look for it, I beg of you. My photography was abysmal in those days.) I started out with meat pies because for quite some time, I’ve had somewhat of a minor obsession with them, in just about any form. I don’t know why. Carbs and meat are perfectly fine all on their own. But for me, when you out them together they can get elevated to something even better.

The pretty cool thing about the meat pie is that practically EVERY cuisine, culture & region has their own rendition of it. In Latin American cuisine, they have empanadas. In Canada they have Tourtiere. In Lebanese cooking they’re called sfeeha. Back where I come from in Michigan they’re called pasties. In Louisiana they’re Natchitoches.

For so many different people in so many different places to all find a way to work the meat pie in their cuisines means that there’s really gotta be ‘something’ to it worth trying out at least once. And frankly, once you’ve had a delicious meat pie, you’re not just going to want to make it a one time deal. You’ll keep coming back for more whether you’re buying or making them–that’s my experience anyway.

I left one very important type of meat pie off the list above on purpose. Jamaican Beef Patty are the subject of today’s post and (if you can believe it) making these was the first time I’d ever even tasted them before. I know, right? And I call myself a foodie. But better late than ever. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad bit more pleased with my results than those I’ve seen in take out joints. I’ve had Caribbean food before, though not as often as now when we’re in the Bay area. But even at the occasions when I had it, beef patty was something that somehow always ended up getting left off the order. I’ll admit that may have been because when it comes to how I like MY meat pies, I can be tough to please.

For me, there are three components that you have to nail in order to make a good meat pie: first, the pie crust has to be buttery and flaky. No one wants to be chewing something that tastes like bland, dried up cardboard. Also, don’t be afraid to season the crust itself. Second, make sure there is enough moisture in the filling. I understand that we’re not making pot pie here, but it shouldn’t be dry as a bone on the inside either. Third, SEASONSEASONSEASOOOOOON that filling. I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ve been to try someone else’s meat pie (of several different kinds of cuisines) only to be disappointed because literally the only thing I can taste is browned, bland ground beef. Do better. Season with authority and make that filling pack an Ali-worthy punch.

Having said all of that, I can safely say that this recipe checks off all those boxes. The pie crust is not only flaky and buttery by using a combination of butter and shortening, there’s curry powder in the dough that not only gives it wonderful flavor, but a pleasant golden brown color when it’s finished baking. The filling is cooked with more than enough spices to be anything but bland. It’s obviously got a kick from the Scotch bonnet pepper, but it’s also got an aromatic, earthy beef flavor that only gets better the longer it sits–so, I do recommend you follow the instructions to refrigerate it overnight to allow the flavors in the filling to develop. You won’t regret it. Andand! The addition of Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce and beef broth also ensures that it won’t be too dry.

Try these guys. It’s a nice little project to do that will get you a lot of rave reviews. Linking it up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #183, co-hosted this week by Sarah @ Sarah’s Little Kitchen and Shinta @ Caramel Tinted Life.

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Jamaican Beef Patty

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

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Ingredients

For Dough

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1/2 cup butter flavored vegetable shortening, frozen
  • 3/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon cold water, plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

For Filling

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and finely minced
  • 1 1/4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons steak sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout spice mix (or cumin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten

 

Directions

For Dough: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and curry powder with a fork. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate butter directly into dry ingredients. Slice the shortening into small chunks and sprinkle into the flour. Mix together with a fork or a rubber spatula. (Mixture should resemble coarse bread crumbs, with chunks of butter/shortening throughout) Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the water, beaten egg and vinegar. Mix together until just combined, then turn out onto a cutting board or pastry mat dusted with flour. Working quickly, pat and press with your hands until you have a mass of dough that holds together. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at LEAST one hour, but preferably overnight.

For Filling: In a large skillet or Dutch oven, pour and heat the oil over medium heat. Brown the beef until no longer pink. Remove and drain the fat.  Don’t wipe out the skillet. Saute the onions until translucent, about 7 minutes, then add the pepper and garlic and cook until just fragrant, 1-2 minutes more. Add the beef back into the skillet, then Pour in the beef broth , sauces, spices, bay leaves and thyme leaves. Stir to combine, then allow to cook until most of the liquid has cooked off and evaporated, about 20 minutes. Taste & adjust for seasoning. Remove from heat and stir in the breadcrumbs. Refrigerate filling overnight to allow flavor to improve.

Preheat oven to 375°. Remove the  dough from the fridge and sprinkle a clean surface with flour. Roll dough out with  floured rolling pin to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 4-5 inch circles and place two heaping tablespoons of filling on each. Brush the bottom edge with water or egg wash, then pull the top edge over the filling and press down to fuse the two edges together. You may crimp the outer edges afterwards with a fork if you like. Repeat until you’ve used all of the dough, keeping unused rounds AND filled patties in the fridge as you work to keep the dough cold as possible.

Once finished, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil, and lightly spray with cooking spray. Place pies on pan. Brush the tops with the beaten egg, then bake on the middle rack until dough is cooked through & golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.

Roast Pork Loin with Blood Orange and Red Onions

Pork Loin with Blood Orange and Onions2

When I still lived back in Michigan, there were two places that I lived without that have now become a rather significant part of my grocery shopping/cooking experience:

Trader Joe’s, and the Whole Foods Market.

My hometown doesn’t have a Trader Joe’s and up until a few MONTHS before I moved, it didn’t have a Whole Foods either. Now that I’ve lived on the West coast for nearly a year (whoa, canNOT believe it’s been that long already),  I really don’t know how I did without them–especially Trader Joe’s.

In the first place TJ’s brand of foods is pretty awesome; I highly recommend their hummus, cauliflower rice, ginger snaps, vanilla wafers, and of course, the friggin cookie butter. In the second, the produce you get from there (even when it’s non-organic) I’ve just found to taste A LOT better than the produce you can get in regular grocery stores. The difference is absolutely worth splitting our grocery runs into multiple places to get the produce there and everything else at Target or the like.

My newfound love of Whole Foods has come because of my discovery that they sell certain ingredients that I previously had never seen in grocery stores in the Mitten. I know that the ‘Whole Foods Whole Paycheck’ jokes are gonna flow, but I will also say that they have a bulk spice assortment that is pretty inexpensive; especially when you’ve walked down a spice aisle and seen a 4 oz jar of a spice that can run anywhere between $6-14. (I wish I was kidding, but my fellow cooks know I’m dead serious).

One of the ingredients that I’ve since found in Whole Foods, and is extremely relevant to today’s post is the blood orange.

Don’t freak out. This has nothing to do with blood. The blood orange is a variety of the orange citrus fruit and is so called because whereas the inner flesh/pulp of the orange is…orange, blood orange inner flesh is a dark crimson red–y’know, like blood. The flavor is also far more intense; I would describe the taste like a VERY tart raspberry or an extremely sweet, slightly less bitter grapefruit. I first heard of blood orange from watching an episode of Iron Chef America several years ago, and the mystery ingredient(s) used in the battle were an assortment of conventional and unconventional citrus fruits. One of the chefs used blood oranges in their dishes and I was intrigued as to how the sweet fruit would work in a savory dish.

That curiosity stuck with me up until the day I was picking up some spices from Whole Foods and suddenly noticed that they had blood oranges in their produce section (because, of course they did). I remembered how I had always wanted to try them and decided to just go ahead and take a chance.

Pork loin is a very inexpensive cut of meat, and I know from past experience, including from other recipes on the blog, that quite a bit of fruits (like apples and peaches) pair wonderfully with it. For that reason I decided to let a pork loin roast with blood orange as the main flavor be my introduction to not only cooking with blood orange, but tasting it in general.

I love when my cooking curiosity pays off–especially when it means I get to share with you all.

I really enjoyed this. First, blood oranges are very tasty. I think I may even like their flavor a tad bit better than regular oranges. Second, combined with the right flavors, they absolutely do work in a savory dish, much like this one. The seasoning on the pork itself is balanced with the addition of fresh rosemary, sweet paprika, garlic and coriander to cut some of the sweetness of the blood orange. The sauce is my favorite part: it manages to still have that noticeable tartness from the blood orange, but also has a sweet and tangy flavor from the addition of white wine, Dijon mustard, among other ingredients. Put them together and you have an easy meal that you can brag about to your friends who til now may have never even heard of blood orange before themselves.

Sharing at the Fiesta Friday #181, co-hosted this week by CH @ Cooking From My Heart and Nimmi @ Adorable Life.

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Roast Pork Loin with Blood Orange and Red Onions

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Ingredients

For Pork

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pound boneless pork loin
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive, vegetable or canola oil
  • Zest and juice of 4 blood oranges
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • Seasoned salt and pepper
  • 3 red onions, quartered into large chunks

For Blood Orange Sauce

  • Juice of 8 blood oranges (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 honey
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • A few dashes of fish sauce
  • A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Seasoned salt and pepper

 

Directions

In a small bowl combine the oil, zest, juice, garlic, rosemary, coriander, sweet paprika, onion powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Mix until it forms a loose paste, then rub the paste over the pork loin evenly on both sides. Place in a Ziploc bag or a sealable plastic container and refrigerate at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Remove the pork from the fridge and allow to sit for 1 hour to come to room temp. Heat about one tablespoon of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium high heat. Sear the pork on both sides about 3-5 minutes per side until a browned crust forms.

Place a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of a roasting pan or sheet tray, then place a wire rack over that. Spray lightly with cooking spray then place the pork on top of the rack. Roast in the oven on the lower rack until a thermometer inserted into the middle reads 145°, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: combine the juice, white wine, golden raisins, sugar, honey, rosemary, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the Dijon mustard in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and allow to reduce until syrupy and slightly thickened, about 30-35 minutes. Take off the heat and add the remaining mustard and the vinegar. Set aside until pork is ready.

Line another sheet pan with aluminum foil. Toss the onions with about 2 tablespoons of the sauce, then season with salt and pepper. Roast on the top rack until softened and just about to char, about 25 minutes. Set aside until pork is finished.

Allow the pork to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with the sauce and red onions.