Grilled Skirt or Flank Steak

It has been a crazy week and I haven’t made anything new to share so I thought I would bring back an oldie but a goody.  I have made this several times and it is always a crowd pleaser.  I hope if you haven’t made this recipe yet, it’s time – maybe for the fourth of July bbq?

If you haven’t ever purchase or tried a skirt or flank steak I really think you ought to check them out. I know they look pretty funky and not very appealing to the eye being all rolled up. And they are not as wildly available in stores as all the other yummy looking steaks; but if you do come across one or both of them give them a chance. They are fairly inexpensive, burn up fast and seasoning them is pretty endless.

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Sometimes you can find them in a cryovac bag which is even better. I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had taken something out of the freezer for dinner. When I see any of them I tend to throw one or more in my cart they are great to have on hand and I like that I can get to it when I want versus having to cook up whatever I wasn’t able to get to and is going to spoil. Life happens and plans change all the time in my crazy world.

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There are a few tricks to these types of meat though. They are pretty fibrous and they really need to be seasoned well and they are best served medium rare and thin sliced. You also need to let them rest, but every meat is better if you give them time to rest to let the juice stay inside the meat instead of all over your cutting board. Once they have rested; slice them thin at an angle and against the grain for a tender bite. If you slice with the grain you will definitely know it as your jaw will be getting an incredible work out; and I fear you will never buy another one.

Dry Rub – enough for 2 or more Steaks

½ cup sweet Paprika
4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 ½ tsp onion powder
2 tsp chili powder
¼ – ½ cup peanut oil
2 lb Skirt Steak
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
1-2 limes

Preheat grill to 450-500’ – cook meat about 2-3 minutes per side

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together; rub steak with peanut oil, sprinkle steak with salt and pepper and 4+/- tsp of rub on both sides; place on hot grill turning once. Remove from heat; squeeze fresh lime over meat, let rest for 3-5 minutes. Slice meat diagonally against the grain.

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Marinade – enough for 1 Steak

1½ cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped scallions
½ cup peeled chopped pear
1½ tbs sesame oil
1½ tbs grated orange zest
2 ½ tbs chopped fresh ginger
8-10 cloves garlic
2 lb Flank Steak

Place first 10 ingredients in a blender. Blend into a smooth sauce. Pour the sauce into a heavy duty Ziploc bag; add steak and marinate for up to 24 hours in the fridge.

Preheat grill 450-500’ brush grill with oil; place steak on hot grill 2-3 minutes per side turning once. Remove steak to a platter, cover with foil and let rest 3-5 minutes before serving. Slice meat diagonally against the grain.

Garlic and Herb Crusted Standing Rib Roast

I realize I am still technically on vacation, we just arrived on St Thomas where we will be boarding our plane tomorrow night. I also apologize for the delay in posting this; our last night in the BVI we did not have WIFI and this is the first I have had to sit and relax a second. Never been a fan of travel days. It’s always a hurry up and wait. I will stop complaining since I am very fortunate to be on vacation.

I thought you might like to see a few cool pictures I took this past week

I just asked my husband if he wanted to stay in an order room service; a big juicy cheese burger. I am craving beef which is why I am sharing this recipe with you’ my mouth is already watering.

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This past Christmas was going to be a very small one just the four of us. Usually we have a full house so this year was completely foreign to all of us. Not in a bad way; it was actually pretty nice. We stayed in pj’s all day some of us even stayed in them for dinner.

Because there were so few of us, I definitely splurged on Christmas dinner. Another funny thing about this Christmas was I didn’t really have a plan of attack. When hosting a large crowd I tend to make lists, timelines and many kinds of dishes to have on hand. We tend to host not only dinner but sometimes lunches, breakfast for the entire weekend. This year I didn’t really have a plan, so the day before Christmas eve I asked my daughter to call the butchers and order a standing rib roast for us. When she went to pick it up, he mentioned that she was very lucky she called when she did; she go the last one and several people had called after her phew dodged that bullet.

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We had the butcher remove the bones for us, and they tied it which I didn’t really want but they asked her if we would like to make it easier for us. I was cool with the removing of the bones and normally would have been fine with tying but I wanted to make this one very herbaceous, yeah that’s a $2 word and no I didn’t spell it right; my daughter will get a chuckle out of this.

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For more intense flavor if you can salt and pepper the roast a day before you want to cook it you should. Salt and Pepper liberally cover and place in the fridge over night. Make sure you have some kitchen twine on hand just in case you need it. This is also a good time to invest in a good quality meat thermometer, essential for such an expensive cut of meat. Even though I owned a thermometer; mine failed me and I threw it away. I will be purchasing a new quality one very soon!

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Rule of thumb is 1 rib should feed 2 people, we ordered 3 ribs because we like leftovers.

1 standing beef rib roast
4 cloves of garlic –  make into a paste
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary – 2 leaves removed and finely chopped
8 sprigs of fresh thyme – 4 leaved removed and finely chopped
2-3 tbs olive oil
1 ½ cup red wine
½ cup beef stock
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

If you didn’t salt and pepper the day before, season the beef all over.

Let the roast sit out for 1 hour prior to roasting. preheat oven to 450’F

In a medium bowl add garlic, chopped herbs and 2-3 tbs olive oil to form a paste. Coat roast and ribs with the herb oil mixture. season with a little more fresh cracked black pepper. depending on how large your roast is you will need to tie up the roast to hold it in shape using kitchen twine.

in a roasting pan, place the rack of ribs with the ends pointing up. Place a remaining sprigs of rosemary and thyme on top of the rack. Place roast, fat side up inside the rack of ribs so they act as a roasting rack. Pour the wine and beef stock into the bottom of the pan.

Place in the bottom half of the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350’ and continue to cook for another 1 ½ hours to 2. You want the internal temperature of the roast to be 125’F for medium-rare. You should plan on basting the roast every 30 minutes or so. If the pan starts to get fry add a little more stock or water.

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Remove to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 30 minutes, if you can wait longer an hour is not a bad thing. Separate the ribs and thinly slice the roast. Serve with the pan juices or make a nice gravy.

Super Simple Potato Salad – just in time for summer

Sometimes impromptu BBQ’s just happen. It seems in my life; it happens more than it doesn’t; luckily I am pretty used to them; whether throwing or attending. I can pull together a side or two fairly effortlessly sometimes with the help from a few key ingredients. This happened to us just yesterday; friends invited us over for a BBQ dinner and a fire. I spent the day doing out of town errands so not a lot of time to make something entirely homemade. I love potato salad but I have never found a store made one that I could purchase that I liked.  Trust me I keep trying; just in case; it would make life a little easier when in a rush.

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Grocery shopping was the last stop on my day of errands. I knew I needed to make a potato salad to bring and I contemplated buying some from the store; I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  BUT I did notice they had a package of hard boiled eggs. I didn’t even hesitate to pick them up. I have mentioned a time or two before that while I can cook a perfect hard boiled egg, peeling them is just not in my wheelhouse. More than a few are literally only good for making a potato salad since you chopped them all up.

My husband was walking by while I was opening the bag of already cooked eggs. stopped in his tracks and asked; “what are those?” I said it was totally legal, he thinks he’s funny and continued walking say “I don’t know about that” He’s such a brat!

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Tomorrow being Memorial Day you never know if you’ll get a phone call inviting you over for a small BBQ. This version is really easy and you might just have what you need on hand.  It is only 8 ingredients and 4 of them are pretty much optional since the dressing has loads of spices.

3 hard boiled eggs

1-2 lb Small red bliss potatoes

½ cup Mayo

1-2 stalks of celery diced small (opt)

3 tbs Zesty Italian dressing such as Kens

1-2 scallions finely diced (opt)

Kosher salt (opt) let each person add it at the table

Fresh cracked black pepper (opt) let each person add it at the table

You can either cut up the potatoes before boiling or after. I was busy emptying my truck and putting things away so I left them whole.

Boil potatoes in cold salted water for about 20-25 minutes; till soft but not mushy

Cut into 1 inch pieces and place in a zip lock bag; add Italian dressing zip the bag closed and mix with the dressing being careful not to break up the potatoes and place in the fridge to cool.

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By adding the dressing while still warm the potatoes take on all the dressings’ flavors.

Once cooled, add the mayo and cut up hard boiled eggs a little salt and pepper; mix just till combined. Sprinkle with scallions or chives.

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It is that simple and has a great flavor

Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salad

I seem to break the cardinal rule of “never make a new dish to serve company” fairly often. I also always confess up front that this is a new dish; I am not sure how it’s going to come out or taste. I think I confess upfront just in case it’s not a hit; kind of a cop out isn’t it! Maybe I will turn over a new leaf and just pretend “Oh I make this all the time” yeah I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.

I do take pride in making a family Sunday dinner. I actually take pride in making family dinner almost every night. When my kids came along no matter how hectic life got, we all sat down for more dinners together than not. I think that might be where the whole family being foodies came from.  I even have as part of my cooking class mission statement “Help bring your family together at the dinner table”

Last Sunday being Mother’s day I made my guys and in-laws a couple of new dishes that were on my list to make at some time during the week; which I never got around to doing, so Sunday dinner I made them both, a little worried that they didn’t necessarily “go together” I was making them both since I had bought all the ingredients and hoping for the best. They were both a hit and actually worked out really well together. I made a Roasted Tomato Panzanella salad and a Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salad.

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Grilled Chicken

Because you are grilling, I suggest bone in skin on; they are more forgiving of not overcooking or drying out; however please use your favorite or what you have on hand

You can also make this on the stove or in your oven if you don’t have a grill

4-6 Chicken Thighs – bone in skin on (you can always remove the skin before you eat it)

Olive Oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

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Grilled Pineapple Salad

Cut pineapple into spears

Grill 2-3 minutes per side or until charred. Remove from grill and cut into bite sized pieces

1-2 heads of radicchio

1 cup julienned carrots

2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbs chopped parsley

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Make the vinaigrette (you can do this ahead of time) whisk together the lemon juice, parsley, Dijon mustard and a drizzle of olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper; add the chopped grilled pineapple, radicchio and carrots to the bowl. Toss and coat all ingredients in the vinaigrette.

Simple BBQ Pulled Pork and Easy Coleslaw

I am very grateful we built our dream home with an amazing kitchen several years ago. I am extremely happy I fought so hard to get my Viking stove. I cannot be totally positive but I do wonder if we would have been so adventurous with meals if we didn’t make the decisions we did.

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I am not saying we have made, eaten or even tried most of what is out there, but we have discovered some pretty awesome staples that we have added to our meal rotation.  Pulled Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw was something pretty foreign for us a few years back. Plus I am pretty much the only one that enjoys coleslaw, especially with my guys; they turned their noses up when I told them how to put the sandwich together;  actually I think the first time, I put them together and put the plate in front of them.  I had to do some convincing this is how they are supposed to be eaten – try it you might like it.  Voila’ success, we all thought, where have these been; all our lives!!!  It’s kind of funny my son has more pork to slaw ratio but my husband piles on the slaw.

My mother is visiting this week and I was totally surprised when she declared while bringing the fish taco up to her mouth that “here it goes the first fish taco I have ever eaten” I had NO idea she hadn’t tried them before. I will not share her exact age because she will read this and kill me, especially since she will still be here when I post this. But she is 70+ and loved her “first taco” I think that is pretty darn cool. I wonder if she too thought – damn where have these been all my life?

I hope by reading this you might try something a little outside your comfort zone, it would encourage it with kids especially, I have too many friends that have some serious picky eaters. I am very grateful my kids are on this food journey with me. I’m pretty sure; actually I’m positive that my beautiful daughter living in Japan is even more adventurous with food than I am. When she comes home she’ll have to share some recipes with her Mom.

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Simple Pulled Pork

3-4 lb. Pork Shoulder or Butt

Root Beer to cover

Place Pork in a slow cooker, cover with the Root Beer; cook on low all day, mine is on 9 hours while I am at work. When you get home, dump the liquid, put the pork back in the slow cooker and you should be able to take 2 forks and shred all of it. Add a container of your favorite BBQ sauce, I use Sweet Baby Rays. Turn the slow cooker on high for 15-20 minutes and serve.  You can add more sauce as needed.

Quick Cole Slaw

1 bag of tri-colored coleslaw

1 cup of Mayo

¼ cup Dijon mustard

1 Tbs cider vinegar

1 lemon juiced

Pinch of sugar

1/2 tsp celery seed

Several dashes of hot sauce

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the above ingredients; add to the coleslaw and let set for 10-15 minutes until it melds.

Create your delicious sandwich, get some nice hearty rolls and add a scoop of pork and a scoop of slaw. You are going to need a few napkins

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Enjoy!

Clam Chowdah – I am from New England – it’s legal

I was sitting at the island yesterday morning updating a couple of FB pages we have, my husband’s company website and scheduling some cooking classes when my husband decided he would love for me to make him some clam chowder. I didn’t have any clam juice or can’s of clams in my cupboard. which is kind of shocking to even me, especially since they would sit quite nicely next to the beans, mustard’s and San Marzano tomatoes among everything else I have in there. I guess I could change that.

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I probably don’t have anything clam related on hand because I personally don’t eat clams, I do tend to make other soups, that I also eat, more often than clam chowder but both my guys really like it. Even though they do comment that mine is “different” don’t get me wrong they love it, but it is definitely not as creamy white (I do use milk not cream) as the ones they get when they order out. And I don’t recall ever seeing thyme in any clam chowder they have ordered. Regardless I know they love it when they ask me to make it and make a special trip to the store to pick up the ingredients for it.

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Clam Chowder

4-6 slices of bacon

1 medium onion diced

2 sticks of celery diced

1 bulb minced garlic

½ cup water

2 cups milk

4 cups clam juice

4 tbs flour

3-4 potatoes peeled and diced

2 bay leaves

½ tsp thyme

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

2 Tbs (optional)

Cut bacon into a few pieces, brown in stock pot on medium heat. Remove bacon to paper towel to drain, reserve 2-4 tablespoons off the bacon grease.  Add diced onion and celery; saute on low until soft. Add garlic saute another minute. Add flour cook thoroughly, add water and clam juice slowly stirring until smooth, add thyme and bay leaves, season with salt and pepper, add diced potatoes and boil till tender 15-20 minutes.

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Side note if you want to thicken without or in addition to the flour/fat roux route and you have a potato ricer, you could peel a few potatoes and add them to the chowder, take them out and place them in the potato ricer, it will help thicken your soup/chowder

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Add clams, I tend to you use a combination of whole belly and chopped clams.  Add the milk and you can finish it off with a couple of tablespoons of butter.

Harvest Roasted Chicken – A must try

This dish is a must try!  I can honestly say those words and truly mean it. My daughter found this recipe and made it for dinner a few years back. Talk about a tough audience; my guys are extremely vocal when it comes to food and I am not shy about voicing my opinions either. Olives are not exactly eaten in abundance in my home to say the least. Cooking grapes we were also not sure we were going to be on board with that concept either.

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Since we have all been asked to try things out of our comfort zone; especially over the last few years; we were going in with an open mind. Or at least I was, again my guys what can I say, won’t go down without a fight. My kitchen is most definitely the heart of my home, we all hang out on the island which had two levels, the bar height is where we eat and the counter top height is our prep area. When you are making something someone is a little on the fence about, they tend to watch very closely what you are doing.

My daughter rose to the challenge and hit it out the park. Dinner was just plain delicious, had she not made this for us, I am positive I would not have had the courage to make it. Since then I have not only made it a few times for my guys and even for company. I have taught this dish in one of my classes that I hold in my home.

The combination of the olives, grapes, shallots with the white wine and chicken stock plus the last sprinkling of fresh rosemary just melds beautifully in your mouth. I strongly suggest making this dish; it comes together quite easily; especially if you purchase the chicken already cut up in pieces, with minimal ingredients and you could have it on the table in just about 45 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 450’ with the rack in the middle of your oven

3-4 lbs chicken cut up – you can also use parts – thighs, drumsticks and/or breasts – bone in and skin on

Kosher Salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

1 Tbs olive oil

1 cup seedless red grapes

1 cup or jar pitted Kalamata olives

2-3 shallots thinly sliced

1 cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken broth

1 Tbs finely chopped rosemary

Pat chicken pieces dry, season well with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet (cast iron if you have it) over medium-high heat until it shimmers

Working in batches, brown chicken, skin side down first and turning them over once, about 5-7 minutes per batch

Don’t move chicken until it releases itself and is nicely browned

Return the pieces to the pan, skin side up, and surround the pieces with grapes, olives and shallots.

Roast chicken in the oven until It has cooked through and the juices run clear, about 20-25 minutes

Transfer the chicken, grapes and olives to a platter, then add wine and chicken broth to the pan juices in the skillet

Bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any brown bits, until it has reduced by half, 3-5 minutes

Pour over chicken and garnish with rosemary

Recipe adapted from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook 2012