Archive for ◊ July, 2010 ◊

14 Jul 2010 Grilled Ahi Tuna

Ahi Tuna…, grilled…, rare…, it’s not just restaurant fare, you know! Costco sells great Ahi Tuna, and it’s not too expensive! There’s nothing fishy about this! Ahi Tuna is absolutely wonderful, it’s good for you, it can be bought for a reasonable price, and it can be on the table in less than 30 minutes. If you haven’t already tasted Ahi Tuna and fallen in love with it, I am not even going to try and convince you to try it. STAY AWAY! Leave it alone! We love it and we want it on the shelves when we go shopping.

Grilled Ahi Tuna Steaks

One or two 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick tuna steaks (about 4-5 oz. per person)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (have also made with white balsamic vinegar)
2 Tablespoons BBQ sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients into a shaker or blender. Mix well. Marinate fish in 1/2 vinaigrette for 20 minutes or so. (Set the remaining 1/2 of vinaigrette aside for later use, you will use 1/4 to baste the tuna, and the last 1/4 to pour over the grilled tuna).
Heat the grill (or the grill pan), rub grill with oil (or place small amount of oil in the pan).
Place marinated Ahi Tuna on the heated surface. Quickly baste fish with 1/2 of reserved vinaigrette (save the last 1/4 for pouring over finished fish).
Grill for 90 seconds to 120 seconds on first side. There should be a VERY light golden brown color on the surface of the steak. Flip. Grill for another 90 to 120 seconds.  DO NOT OVER COOK. You should be lightly searing the outside of the tuna, leaving the inside raw, not rare, raw.
Remove fish from grill and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Pour remaining 1/4 of vinaigrette over the sliced Ahi Tuna and serve.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today,

14 Jul 2010 Polly’s New “Signature” Chocolate Cake!
 |  Category: Cakes & Cupcakes  | Tags: , , ,  | 2 Comments

You know how I have been wanting to find a “signature cake”? I imagined it would be a bit intricate, a few layers, a filling, a frosting, and a fabulous taste. Well, I have found my signature cake and it’s nothing like that. It’s one layer. Rustic looking. Uneven. No frosting. No filling. One flavor. Fabulous. FAB-YOOO-LICIOUS. The outside is lightly crispy, lightly crunchy. The inside is soft, creamy, and rich. One tablespoon of flour holds the chocolate, sugar, eggs and butter together. It’s a slice of candy more than a slice of cake. And it makes everything right with the world.

The notes say this cake IMPROVES by freezing. So it’s a make-ahead cake to boot! I think I’ve found the world’s best “signature cake”!

The recipe for this cake can be found on page 312 and 313 of Molly Wizenberg‘s novel, “A Homemade Life” (her recipe was adapted from Je veux du chocolat!, by Trish Deseine). The book is good, a sweet read, with lots of recipes. It might be a good gift for the food loving, book reading cooks in your life. Think birthdays, think stocking stuffers! The given name of this cake is “The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake”. I find that a bit cumbersome. I much prefer the name I have chosen for it, “Polly’s New One Tablespoon of Flour “Signature” Chocolate Cake”!

Molly Wizenberg’s The Winning-Hearts-and-Minds Cake

7 oz of good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (like Scharffen Berger, or Ghirardelli 60% chips also work well, VERY well)
7 oz unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
lightly sweetened whipped cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put the chocolate and the butter in a microwaveable bowl and zap for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat until mixture is smooth. Add sugar, and stir well. Set batter aside to cool for 5 minutes. While the chocolate is cooling, prepare a high sided 8-inch round cake pan (not a layer cake pan, you’ll need a pan with at least a 2.5 inch depth-cake rises and falls) for baking. Butter the pan. Line the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper cut to fit, then butter the paper, too. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the chocolate mixture, stirring well after each addition. Add the one tablespoon of flour and mix well. The batter should be dark and silky. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes. This is important: CHECK THE CAKE CAREFULLY! The top should be lightly crackled, the edges puffed, and the center JUST set. Remove the properly baked cake from oven and cool on rack, in pan, for 15 minutes. Carefully tip cake out of pan, and then tip again, so the top side faces up, onto a serving plate. Cool completely. Serve small slices with lightly sweetened whipped cream. Sigh and moan. Repeat.

NOTE: Cake can be kept at room temperature, sealed in plastic for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days. (Bring to room temperature before serving.)

TO FREEZE: The taste and texture of this cake are actually improved by freezing. Try to make the cake far enough in advance that you can freeze it for a day or more, and then allow another day for the cake to defrost and to be brought back to room temperature before serving. To freeze, wrap cake in plastic wrap and then in foil. Cake will keep, frozen, for a month. Allow to defrost, fully wrapped, for 24 hours before serving.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today (it was worth it, wasn’t it?!)

10 Jul 2010 45 Minute Pasta with Turkey Sausage

I think this is the fifth pasta recipe in my teaching-19-year-olds-how-to-cook series. We’ll have to move onto another type of food shortly.  In defense of pasta though, it  reheats really well; so one batch could feed a college student for 3 or 4 days. Pasta is almost a universally liked food, so the roommates, friends, study groups (wishful thinking…) will like it too.  It’s not too expensive.  It’s relatively easy and foolproof and most substitutions usually work out fine.  Yep, pasta is a good starting point for a new cook!  If they know how to cook five or six good pasta dishes, they should be set right? So far we’ve done one veggie, one chicken, one cheese, one beef, this sausage one…

I’ve been making this pasta dish for a number of years. I think I found the original recipe on Epicurious.com. The original recipe had some cannelloni beans in it, but the kids just picked them out so I no longer add them (but I am leaving them in the recipe in case they grow up and decide beans are a good thing to eat). I was thinking that a few mushrooms in place of the beans might be a good idea so maybe next time I will try that.  If you don’t have a shallot, just leave it out.  I don’t expect college kids to have shallots on hand in their apartments, but maybe they will surprise me.

The real problem with this recipe, for 19 year olds in California, is that it calls for 1 cup of red wine. OOOPS.  We made it with the red wine yesterday, but when they are out on their own I have advised them to use chicken broth (not that I have tested that). Ohdearrrrr…, my recipe is contributing to the delinquency of my minors!

ANYWAY, as written below this is a really GOOD 45 minute refrigerator-to-table recipe. It’s good enough for company. I’ve served it more than once to guests, and some of those guests have gone home with the recipe. Serve with a salad, some bread (easy, Easy, EASY if you have any of those Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbooks), and dessert (of course!).

45 minute Pasta with Turkey Sausage

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot chopped (if you have it)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 lb Italian Sausage (or Turkey Italian-style Sausage), casings removed
1 cup of red wine (or any kind of broth–or even water)
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 lb. Penne Rigate Pasta (thin tubes, although bow ties, elbows or any other pasta shape would work, too)
1 can Cannelloni beans (optional, or substitute 1 cup sliced mushrooms–add after onion is sauteed)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dried)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet until hot. Add in chopped shallot (if using) and onion. Saute until limp (clear looking). If using stir in one cup of sliced mushrooms and saute for 3 minutes. Add in sausage, or turkey sausage (be sure to remove the casings first). With a wooden spoon or spatula (or even kitchen scissors), break up large hunks of sausage into small bite-sized pieces. When most of the redness of the sausage has gone, stir in 1 cup of red wine, broth, or water. Increase heat to high and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. During this time, make the salad or the veggies and cook the pasta. To cook the pasta bring salted water to a boil, add pasta, and cook for the time instructed on the package. Drain pasta when done, reserving about a cup of the pasta water. When sauce has simmered for 30 minutes, stir in drained pasta and drained cannelloni beans (if using), grated cheese, and chopped (or dried) basil and simmer for 3 minutes. IF the sauce seems too thick, stir in some of the reserved pasta water. You want the pasta to be perfectly coated and a little bit saucy (your personal preference will dictate how much pasta water to add, if any). Serve immediately, pass more Parmesan cheese at the table, if desired (I always desire!).

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today,

10 Jul 2010 Turkey Reuben Burger

Finally, a real alternative to a hamburger, a Turkey Reuben Burger (or Sandwich)! It’s tasty. It’s filling. It’s not that hard to prepare…and you’ll moan at first bite, really! (Oh my, I just thought how great this would be with some sweet potato fries…) Trust me on this one, this recipe has to go in your “Make it NOW” file! The original recipe is from “Cuisine Tonight: Sandwiches and Salads” but I’ve changed the ingredients and the method a bit to make it easier and…, tastier!

This recipe was also the latest in my teaching the nineteen year old’s how to cook series. I told them the only trick to this recipe is to shape the patties into the shape of the bread, and to make each patty thin, but complete (no holes for the cheese to leak out.) They both were impressed with themselves for making these impressive burgers, and they were both impressed with how tasty they were. I also mentioned this might be a good recipe to experiment with–it would be easy to make a cheddar stuffed hamburger with grilled mushrooms or onions instead of the coleslaw….

Turkey Reuben Burger

For the coleslaw

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon pickle relish
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon horseradish (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 half freshly grated green apple (peel before grating)

For the burger

1 1/4 lb. ground turkey breast
1/2 grated green apple (peel before grating)
salt and pepper, to taste
8 slices of Swiss Cheese

8 slices of Marbled Rye or Cornmeal Rye bread, toasted

Make the coleslaw first and then set aside for flavors to develop. Whisk the mayo, relish, ketchup, lemon juice, horseradish, and salt together in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine shredded lettuce, chopped onion, and grated apple together in another bowl. Add dressing the the lettuce-onion-apple mixture. Cover and refrigerate until needed (Make as close to serving time as possible. You want the cabbage to retain some crunch). In another bowl combine turkey, apple and salt and pepper. Mix with a fork to combine (See the pictures below for a visual of the next steps).

Using approx 1/4 of the turkey mixture, on a piece of wax paper, form two VERY THIN patties, roughly the same size and shape of the bread you are using. (These TWO patties will make ONE burger, so don’t make them too thick!).

Heat a skillet and spray it with Pam. Keep the pan on medium heat. Take one of the patties, with the wax paper still on it, and turn it upside down onto the hot pan. Remove the wax paper. Place two slices of Swiss cheese on top of the patty in the pan.

Tear the cheese to fit inside the patty, leaving an approx. 1/4 inch border, then put the other thin patty on top of the first patty and the Swiss cheese.

With a fork, seal the edges so no melted cheese can escape. Sear burger 2 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes on the other side (or until the ground turkey is no longer pink).

Toast the bread. Place 1/4th of the coleslaw mixture on one slice of bread. Top with the cooked turkey patty.

Top with the second slice of bread. Cut in half and serve. (Half a burger may be enough for one serving) Yummmm.

This recipe will probably make four burgers, but this all depends on the size of the slice of your bread. The bread I had was huge, so from this batch I only got 3 sandwiches (which, when cut in half, made six-girl sized servings…, but the boys wanted both halves, so only 3 boy sized servings).

10 Jul 2010 Hamburgers Italiano

The boy child cooks again! He likes all things sausage. So I gave him this recipe to try, a twist on the basic hamburger. It’s a pretty darn good burger, a very nice blend of beef and sausage accented with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. I taught him how to make his own “bun”, too, which often tastes better than those sesame covered packages ones. Toast two slices of good bread (in our case sourdough from Le Boulanger, although I love Trader Joe’s Cornbread Rye). Cut toast to fit the size and shape of the hamburger patty, slip the patty between the two slices of toast, and he was all set–after loading up on ketchup. I had him use a hamburger mold to form the patties. It’s a good tool for a beginner cook. I’ll have to add that to the growing list of kitchen essentials. I had him use a timer to cook the patties, too. It’s a skill to cook a patty all the way through. A timer helps.

Hamburgers Italiano

3/4 lb. ground beef
3/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. thinly sliced fresh basil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 T. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper

Break beef and sausage into small pieces in a large bowl. Add cheese, basil, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper. Using a fork, lightly mix ingredients together. Divide meat into 4 or 6 portions (we make 6, about 4.5 oz. each) and flatten to 3/4 – 1 inch thick. Place on hot grill. Grill for 2-4 minutes on first side, and 3-4 minutes on second side. Drain on paper towel if you want, then place on bun, or toast cut to fit the burger, or a toasted English muffin. Add condiments and veggies as desired.

Thanks for visiting the kitchen today!

10 Jul 2010 Bacon Cheeseburgers

Once again, I forgot to take a picture of this recipe…, so I lifted this image off the Internet. To make you hungry!

We’ve eaten a lot of burgers this week (I hope my iron count went up, and my cholesterol was unaffected…) Each one of the three recipes I have posted makes a very different tasting burger. They are all good! This is an easy way to make a bacon cheeseburger. I like bacon cheeseburgers!

Enough burgers now though. My kids have passed Hamburgers 101. They have the basics. They know what can be done. I hope they have fun creating their own signature burger one day. I wonder what they will come up with. I can’t wait until they invite me over for a backyard BBQ one day… Ah, the sweetness of a mom’s daydreams!

All-in-the-patty Bacon Cheeseburgers

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped finely
4 tsp. yellow mustard
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper

Break beef into small pieces into a large bowl. Add cheese, bacon, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Using a fork, lightly mix ingredients together. Divide meat into 4 or 6 portions and flatten to 3/4 – 1 inch thick. Place on hot grill. Grill for 2-4 minutes on first side, and 3-4 minutes on second side.