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Friday, July 26, 2013

Sweet and Sour Brisket

This recipe came to me by way of The Smitten Kitchen cookbook, written by Deb Perelman.  Talk about DELICIOUS brisket in a tangy sauce, oh my gosh! 

4-5 lb. beef brisket flat
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning the brisket
1 cup beef or vegetable broth
3 Tbs. tomato paste
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
4 tsp. paprika
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 Tbs. granulated onion

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Season the brisket to taste with kosher salt and pepper on both sides.  In a small bowl, whisk together the salt, broth, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegars, paprika, Worcestershire, red pepper flakes, granulated garlic and onion.  Place brisket into a large baking dish or Dutch oven, and pour the prepared sauce over the top; cover tightly with foil or a tight-fitting lid.  Bake for 3 hours, or until fork-tender. While brisket is still hot, use a spoon to scrape off any large fat deposits around the edges of the brisket.  Let brisket cool, then place into the fridge for several hours or overnight to allow brisket and sauce flavors to blend.  

An hour before you are ready to serve the brisket, remove it from the fridge; preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Using a slotted spoon, remove any fat that has solidified on the surface of the brisket.  Carefully remove the brisket from the sauce and place onto a large cutting board; cut the brisket into 1/2- inch slices then return the meat to the sauce.  Spoon the sauce over the top of the sliced brisket; replace the lid or foil and reheat in the preheated oven until bubbly around the edges; serve at once.  

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bacon-Wrapped Chili Cheese Dogs

We're celebrating National Chili Dog Day, the last Thursday of July each year.  My family loves this recipe when I use Johnsonville Stadium Brats.  But, of course, they would eat nearly anything that is wrapped in crispy bacon!

8 hot dogs or brats, fully cooked
8 strips center-cut bacon
Your favorite turkey or beef chili, warmed
Hoagie buns, toasted
Shredded sharp cheddar

Wrap dogs with bacon and grill over medium high heat until bacon is crisped all around and dogs are heated throughout.  Place dogs into buns, then smother with warm chili.  Top with shredded cheddar and serve.

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Walnut-Grape Chicken Salad

Amber Groeling, Hy-Vee Topeka Dietitian, shared this recipe with me.  It's delicious rolled in leaf lettuce or flour tortillas, or served as an open-face sandwich.

½ - 1/3 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1-2 Tbs. Olive oil mayo
Zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. agave nectar or honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ - 2 cups diced cooked smart chicken
1 cup seedless red grapes, sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 rib celery, diced
½ cup walnut or pecan pieces
Green leaf lettuce, washed and patted dry

Make a dressing from the yogurt, mayo, lemon zest and juice, and agave nectar; season to taste with salt and pepper; stir in chicken, grapes, scallions, celery, and walnuts or pecans. Serve chicken salad wrapped in lettuce leaves. 

Serves 4-6

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jamie's Spaghetti Squash and Black Bean Tacos with Queso Fresco

This recipe was created by Deb Perelman of The Smitten Kitchen, and though I originally couldn't quite envision what she meant when she said that she likened spaghetti squash to pulled pork, I can now see what she meant, after putting this recipe together for Roger and Jamie yesterday.  Delish!

3 lbs. spaghetti squash, approx. 1 large or 2 small
2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice 
zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sixteen 6-inch corn tortillas
15. oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed very well
4 oz.  crumbled queso fresco, feta, or Cotija cheese
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves or flat-leaf Italian parsley

I love working with Jamie and Roger on Tuesday Morns each month - we have such a good time!

Cook squash according to your favorite method:
1.  Microwave:  Pierce squash all over with a paring knife, approx. 1 inch into the surface - this keeps it from bursting.  Cook at high power for 7-8 minutes, then turn squash and microwave another 8-10 minutes, or until it feels slightly soft to the touch when pressed.  Cool for 5 minutes. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out all seeds, remove cooked flesh to a medium bowl.

2.  Oven:  Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, then roast halves cut-side-down on a greased baking sheet for about 50-55 minutes or until fork-tender in a 375 degree F. oven.  Cool squash, then remove cooked flesh from skin to a medium bowl.

Once flesh is into the bowl, take two forks to loosen and separate the strands of the squash until they appear as spaghetti strands.  In a separate bowl, whisk lime juice with zest, spices, salt and pepper; pour over the squash strands and toss together.  Taste, then adjust seasonings, if needed; keep warm.

Heat a greased, heavy skillet over medium high heat; warm and blister each corn tortilla, approx. 30 seconds per side.  Transfer to a platter and keep warm. In a small sauce pan, warm beans.  To assemble tacos, place approx. 2 Tbs. black beans, 2 Tbs. squash mixture onto each corn tortilla; top with cheese crumbles, onion and cilantro.  Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice over the top and hot sauce, if desired.  

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Quinoa Tabouli Salad

This is a recipe from  Melissa d'Arabian's cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners.  I like it that instead of using Bulgar wheat as most tabouli salads do, Melissa substitutes quinoa.  It works well as a vegetarian main dish, or in my family's case, we always add leftover grilled chicken or pork tenderloin to make it a meal.  It's also a great make-ahead recipe - definitely a plus!

Serves 4

1/2 cup quinoa, cooked in vegetable or chicken broth according to package directions, then fluffed
with a fork
1/2 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 scallions, white and green parts both, chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbs. olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place quinoa into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in parsley, cilantro, mint, tomatoes and scallions.  Create a vinaigrette in a small bowl by whisking together the juice and zest of lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper; pour over quinoa mixture and toss to combine.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 1 - 1 1/2 hours to let flavors combine before serving.  

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chef Alli’s Asian Meatball Subs

My all-time favorite sub sandwich - tons of flavor and gorgeous presentation! Yes, lots of ingredients, it seems, but totally worth the effort.  I have no doubt that you will be creating this recipe again and again – it’s truly a keeper. 

Hot Chili Mayo
2/3 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise (I usually sub Greek yogurt instead)
2 scallions, chopped
1 Tbs. hot chili sauce (or to taste)
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger root

½ lb. ground pork
½ lb. lean ground beef
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 scallions, chopped
1 Tbs. fish sauce
1 Tbs. hot chili sauce
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil

1 cup coarsely grated carrots
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 cup coarsely grated peeled daikon (Japanese white radish, or substitute red radishes)
¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

4 – 10 inch long individual baguettes  or hoagie buns

To make mayo, combine all ingredients in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Cover and chill.

To make meatballs, line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; spray parchment with nonstick spray.  Gently mix all meatball ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Using moistened hands, roll each mixture into 1 inch meatballs (approx. 1 Tbs. for each) and place onto prepared baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

To prepare slaw, toss carrots, cabbage, and daikon together in a medium bowl; prepare a dressing by whisking together vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, salt, sesame oil and cilantro; pour over vegetables. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Remove meatballs from refrigeration and let sit for 20-30 minutes to come to room temperature.  Roast meatballs, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or to desired doneness.  Cut each baguette horizontally in half.  Pull out enough bread from each half to leave ½ inch thick shell; spray each half with nonstick spray, then toast prepared baguettes until golden brown.  To prepare subs, spread hot chili mayo over each baguette, top with slaw (you may need to drain slaw a bit), then meatballs.  We often eat these as open-face subs, but if you prefer, add baguette tops.   

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Monday, July 15, 2013

Grandma Lucille's Strawberry Cobbler

This cobbler was always a treat for me as I was growing up. Everyone loved my Grandma Lucille's special dessert creation; sometimes she made it in cobbler form, other times she prepared it in pie form, which was my favorite. In pie form, Gram always created a lattice top so the strawberry juices could bubble up and into the openings of the lattice, which seemed to make it even MORE delicious.  There are three basic steps to this recipe: making the dough, preparing the filling, then assembling and baking the cobbler.  

1 batch pie dough, enough to make a two crust pie or one large cobbler (see my favorite recipe below)
1/3 cup granualted sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of kosher salt
1 container frozen, sliced strawberries with sugar, 16 oz., thawed
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour and salt. In a separate bowl, combine strawberries with vanilla.

Meanwhile, dust your counter top generously with flour and place half of pie dough onto flour; sprinkle the top of the dough with a bit of flour, as well. Roll dough out into a large round or oblong, similar in shape and size to your baking vessel.  (I like to keep my pie dough "moving", making sure it's never becoming adhered to my counter top, always lifting and rotating a bit.  Be sure to move quickly in this process so that your dough doesn't become too warm and soft to work with. If this does happen, and it will from time to time, just toss the dough onto a baking sheet and into the freezer for a few minutes to chill it again, then start over!)

Transfer dough to your baking vessel, gently laying it in place, letting dough drape over the sides, trimming if necessary.  Pour prepared strawberry filling into crust and top with the sugar/flour mixture.  Place butter pieces over the top.  

Roll out second half of dough to create top crust and place over filling, crimping edges as needed around outer edge of cobbler.  Vent top crust by making a few decorative incisions across the surface to let steam escape during baking. Brush top crust with a bit of milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake cobbler on top rack in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 20-25 minutes or until top crust is golden brown.  Transfer cobbler to bottom rack of oven and bake 20 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and place cobbler on center rack of oven; bake a final 20 minutes.  Remove from oven to a cooling rack. 

Serve cobbler warm, topped with homemade vanilla ice cream. 

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lemon-Thyme Orzo Pasta with Green Beans

Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that is quick to prepare.  Simmered low and slow, it takes on a creamy texture.  Any cooked vegetable can be substituted for the green beans. 
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ - ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup water
¾ cup orzo pasta
1 cup cooked fresh green beans
Zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme or ½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. white pepper
Freshly shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

In a medium sauce pan or very deep skillet, bring broth, garlic, red pepper flakes, and water to a boil over high heat; stir in pasta and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer until nearly two-thirds of liquid is absorbed by pasta and orzo is beginning to look creamy, stirring occasionally, for approx. 10-12 minutes, allowing pasta to soak up remaining liquid as it cools.  Remove from heat and stir in green beans, lemon zest, thyme, salt and pepper; serve garnished with cheese. 

To serve as a main dish, stir in cooked chopped chicken, pork tenderloin, steak or even salmon.  Delicious!  

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli 

Black-Eyed Pea Skillet with Kielbasa and Spinach

½ lb. fully cooked kielbasa, cut into ½ inch thick pieces
1 onion, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. dark brown sugar
2 tsp. spicy brown mustard
1 bay leaf
2  - 15 oz. cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 ½ cups fresh baby spinach leaves
Steamed brown rice, for serving

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat; spray with nonstick spray, then brown off kielbasa pieces on both sides, approx. 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove from skillet and reserve to keep warm.  Add onion to skillet and season with salt and pepper, cooking until onion is softened and translucent about 5-6 minutes; add garlic and thyme and cook for 30 minutes, just until garlic is fragrant.  Stir in tomato paste and cook until tomato paste begins to brown, 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add 1 cup water, vinegar, sugar, mustard, bay leaf, and black-eyed peas.  Return kielbasa to pan; reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, approx. 10-12 minutes.  Stir in spinach and cook just until wilted.  Remove and discard bay leaf.  Serve over bowls of warm brown rice.  

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Monday, July 1, 2013

Brat Wraps

People often tell me they don’t like sauerkraut.  I really believe they just don’t like soggy, soupy sauerkraut and that’s certainly not what’s goin’ on here!  Just as in a good Reuben sandwich, I really like to get the all the moisture out of the sauerkraut and then season it well.  This technique makes ALL the difference – just wait till you try it.

4 Brats, grilled to perfection, and split in half lengthwise (I like to use the pre-cooked stadium brats to save time)
1 sweet onion, diced
1-2 tsp. canola oil
14 oz. can sauerkraut, rinsed well and fully drained
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 flour tortillas, 8 inch, warmed
¼ cup honey-Dijon mustard
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (I like to use smoked Swiss, if possible)

In a large saute pan, sauté onions in oil over medium heat until softened and golden brown, approx. 10-12 minutes.  Add sauerkraut, sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes; combine well and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes so the flavors can blend; continue to cook until nearly all of the moisture from  the sauerkraut is gone and this mixture is rather “dried out” looking. Place approx. ¼ of sauerkraut mixture down center of each flour tortilla; place 2 brat halves on top of sauerkraut. Drizzle 1 Tbs. mustard on brats and top with 3-4 Tbs. shredded Swiss.  Fold up tortilla as best you can and dig in.

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli