Thursday, July 30, 2009

Steak Teriyaki

Having my grill back has been wonderful. I cooked steak the other night and used the leftovers today for a very tasty steak sandwich.

This is a recipe I got from Em's dad, and there is not much to it. Marinate, grill, slice, and consume. You cannot go wrong. I do recommend you use good soy sauce for this recipe as it is the main component in the marinade. I use flank steak because it's darn tasty, lean, and is a great grilling steak. Being slightly lean helps avoid any flare ups and helps aid in slicing the meat extremely thin for serving. To avoid the meat sticking to the grill I lightly oil a paper towel and wipe down the grill grates after preheating.

A few things I have learned from grilling. First, get a thermometer. It's one of the most useful tools you can imagine when grilling. Second, avoid flipping meats over and over, you will only be disrupting cooking time and letting juices out. Last, if the meat is not cooking to your desired temperature but the bottom is starting to char, move it to a cold part of the grill. I usually have a direct and indirect heat section on my grill, and it truly helps avoid disaster.

Steak Teriyaki

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup sugar (white or brown)
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 pounds flank steak

Combine ingredients for marinade and place in large zip-top baggie with steak. If the steak is two large cut with the grain into two pieces. Marinate overnight (you need to give it at least 12 hours).
Preheat your grill. Scrape down grates and grease slightly with a paper towel and canola oil. Remove steak from bag, letting excess marinade drip off, and place on grill. Cover and grill for about 8 minutes or until bottom side has nice grill marks. Flip steak and continue cooking until done, 125°F for medium rare (135°F for medium), about 8-10 more minutes. Remove from grill, let rest for 5 minutes, and slice thinly against the grain. Enjoy!


Monday, July 27, 2009

The Return of the Grill

After 5 long months, my grill has returned. I was forced to relinquish it for a time due to the constraints and "rules" of apartment living. But that is past and now I can thankfully put large quantities of meats and vegetables over an open flame.

I currently have a gas grill, which I enjoy because of its ease of use and enormous surface area. I have cooked on all types of grills (gas, charcoal, and wood), and though I do miss grilling over mesquite, I realize that any of the three will lead you to a good meal. The first thing that went on the grill was chicken. I love grilled chicken, but it can easily taste and feel like rubber. I turn to my friends at Cook's Illustrated for some tips with this, and now grill all of my poultry this way. Not only does it lead to great flavor, but it helps keep the meat moist and avoid most flare-ups.

This recipe uses a similar sauce and marinade, mostly because reusing marinade is NOT safe. I prep the two side by side, cutting down considerably on time.

Lemon-Garlic Grilled Chicken

5 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 tablespoons lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon pepper

In a small bowl, combine ingredients for marinade. If chicken breasts are thick, pound to about 1 inch thickness. Place marinade and chicken in zip-top baggie, combine, and let marinade for about 1 hour. Combine ingredients for sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

If using gas, turn on 2 of the three burners (or just leave about 1/3 of your grill without direct heat) to high (you will want to reduce the heat of the burners to medium-high when you place the chicken on the grill). If using charcoal, place your coals on one side of the grill and heat until ashed over. Remove chicken from marinade and place on hot side of grill. Cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the chicken gets browned on one side. Flip chicken over sear on grill for about 1 minute more. Move to side of grill with no direct heat. Cover and cook until interior of chicken registers about 160°F on a thermometer, about 10 minutes. Chicken should spring back and not be mushy when you poke it with a finger. Remove from grill, let rest for about 5 minutes, and cut into slices. Serve with sauce over top or to dip in. Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

North Shore Seafoods

I cannot believe I am talking about fish in Lafayette, Indiana. If it's not shrimp, I will admit, I am usually a fish snob. Why? Unless you find some from Chicago (which D&R gets sometimes), most seafood sold around here is farm raised, overpriced, and borderline gross. Scoff at me all you want, but even I have standards. But it also puts me at somewhat of a disadvantage because cooking fish is my weak spot due to my lack of experience with it.

Enter this precarious new shop on 4th street, North Shore Seafoods. A few weeks ago while perusing the farmer's market, I smelled salmon cooking. And it certainly smelled good. I investigated and found a small booth cooking up fresh, wild salmon. And it was good! I mean, really good. I got some more information from the shop and found out how they operate. They only sell more sturdy fishes, such as salmon, tuna, swordfish, and halibut. The reason for this is because all of the fish they sell is frozen. Not bagged and frozen but rather Individually Quick Frozen (IQF), this is done on the boat and is becoming more and more common in seafood operations. This process freezes fish as well as sealing it, preventing ice crystals and cell destruction. Chefs and cooks across the globe are big fans of this if local and fresh are not available. North Shore is also able to keep their prices pretty low (actually lower than the grocery store) because the fish has a longer shelf life in the freezer than the slimy case.

I bought some salmon for dinner to accompany the vegetable risotto I was making for dinner. I, at the recommendation of the proprietor, baked the fish frozen. I have heard of this before and figured it was worth a shot. I baked it at 350°F for about 30 minutes until the salmon reached an internal temperature of 130°F. Well, the results were alright. The middle was quite delicious, but the outside was a tad overdone by the time the fish cooked on the inside. Not a huge deal, but I will thaw the fish next time I cook it and experiment some with the cooking methods (for another post). The quality, however, was very good. The fish was firm and had a great flavor. At least I know that I have a local source of high quality fish any time I like. That's something I take great comfort in. Now if I could only find a good source for lobster…..


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stuffed Chicken

I currently reside in an apartment (for about another day, yay!) so I am limited with the amount of green I am able to grow. My current large garden consists of two tomato plants in pots and a small herb box. I know, high society there. I just have to comment, one of my tomato plants is a giant. The thing is totally massive, if it was a kid at school, it would be the 7 foot center of the basketball team. I have NO idea what I did to it.

My herb box was planted for budget reasons, mainly because grocery stores like to charge crazy amounts of money for herbs that are extremely perishable. No thank you. So I currently grow chives, basil, thyme, and oregano. I did parsley last year which was also nice, but I have since found a good source for it. However, sometimes the box likes to do its own thing, such as grow crazy amounts of basil. Pesto is always an option, but since I'm moving next week I am trying to avoid making containers of things. Instead I opted for a stuffed chicken breast.

The idea of stuffed chicken breasts (French style) I got from Cook's Illustrated, with their neat approach to using pieces of the chicken for the stuffing instead of bread, adding to the texture but not drying the whole roll out. Swap out some ingredients for what I have on hand; make the preparation a bit easier for time, and boom, dinner. I paired it with some really awesome fresh tomatoes and green beans that I just drizzled with balsamic vinegar and some salt, pepper, and sugar.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (3-4 breasts depending on where you get them)
1 shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup white wine
½ cup basil leaves
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ tablespoon + 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

If the chicken breasts have tenders (the loose piece on the back the size of your finger), cut it off and reserve for the stuffing. Using a very sharp knife, butterfly the chicken breasts. Open up the breast so it is flat on the counter (still one piece), cover with plastic wrap, and pound to about ¼ inch thickness. It should be slightly larger than 6"x8". Trim the outside to make a 6"x8" rectangle, and add the trimmings to bowl of your food processor. You should get about 2 ounces of trimmed meat from each breast. Repeat with the other breasts and then set aside.

In the bowl of your food processor chop all of the breast trimmings in pulses, about 10 seconds. Transfer to bowl. Over medium heat place a large skillet and ½ tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the garlic and shallot and cook until soft. Transfer to the food processor. Return pan to heat and add wine, scraping up any stuck bits. Reduce wine to about 2 tablespoons and pour into a small bowl. Set aside.

To the food processor with the shallot and garlic, add the basil leaves and salt and pepper. Process to chop the basil. Add to the bowl with chicken and mix to combine. Next, lay out the chicken breasts. Spread the filling even over all of the breasts, leaving about ½ inch room on one long end of the breast. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the breasts. Using the long side, roll the chicken into a tight roll, using the side without filling as somewhat of a seal. Tie each breast with 3-4 pieces of kitchen twine.

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the rolled breasts and brown on all four sides, about 2 minutes per side. Make sure to redistribute the oil in the pan to prevent sticking. When browned, add the chicken broth to the pan and cover, reducing heat to medium and cooking until the middle reads 160°F, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken breasts and cover to rest. Return pan to heat and add the remaining wine. Reduce the sauce to about ¼- ½ cup. Turn off heat and whisk in butter and lemon juice. Slice chicken breasts and serve sauce over top. Enjoy.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Visiting Sweden- Part II

So to continue my stories, here are some more places I checked out while overseas. The above picture is the the greatest tasting wedding cake ever, a princess cake, a recipe I have asked for in hopes I can recreate the great cake that is hidden underneath the decor.

Nationalmuseum- Cafeteria or museum are two words that do not usually inspire hunger, yet Sweden throws our sad concept of mass produced food out the window. This was such a great lunch, with smoked salmon or the great chicken Caesar salad that Em had. I would say it's better than the art :)

Grill Ruby- Don't go, don't even bother. Horrible service and overpriced food. We didn't even make it to the water on the table before we left and went to seek food elsewhere.

Restaurant Stortorgskallaren- where we sought food elsewhere. Nice little place in the square, I had some really good fried sole in a butter sauce.

Vette Katten- Pastry shop that will blow you away with its looks and tastes. This was a stop-off for some really good snacking.

Ice cream- According to our Swedish friends, Swedes consume more ice cream per capita than anywhere else in the world. There is an ice cream stand or store about every 20 feet, and it's all really good.

Backfika and Restaurangen- Two of the places I really wanted to visit, but unfortunately both were closed. A lot of restaurants are closed during the summer for vacation, so if you travel there during the warmer months this is something you might run into.

Grace Tea House- Yummy tea and dumplings, they offer a three-course "healthy lunch" every day that is quite nice and refreshing.

Hot dogs- almost as common as ice cream.
The picture below should say it all. I love hot dogs. They are my weak spot. Also common are really good sandwiches.

Places that I recommend you see if you visit Stockholm- The Vassa Ship, Skansen, Sergels Torg, the Hoterget Market, and the Ice Bar are just a few of the many great things about Stockholm. I'm sure I missed so many, but then again, I may return.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Visiting Sweden- Part I

After recently returning from Stockholm on a fantastic trip (and my first to Europe), I wanted to share my food related experiences for anyone who enjoys that kind of thing but also for future travelers to the area. I found doing some research when picking out places to eat was the best thing to do, so I hope this aids others who go searching for a good meal. I will try not to ramble too much, as I did a lot of eating while I was there. But before I get into specifics, I want to touch on a few general bits I came across while there.

First, I ate a huge breakfast. Breakfast is big there, and our hotel (Nordic Sea) provided us with an extravaganza. Yogurts, granola, oatmeal, eggs, sausages, bacon, potatoes, meats, cheeses, fresh baked breads, and tons of fruit were available everyday that we ate. Oh my gosh, I have never had options like that. Fantastic. The cheese and bread in Sweden (and probably in most of Europe) is delicious, mainly because it's fresh and not processed. No pre-sliced loaves or small blocks of cheddar. Bread came in large nutty mounds and cheese came in huge wedges. Be still my heart.

I also enjoyed the abundance of markets (shown above is the Omstermalm Saluhall) with fresh meats, cheeses, breads, fish, and produce. How great is it that you can easily walk down the street and get fantastic fresh fish any day you like? Or for that matter, that you can find great food in department stores or fresh pastries in 7-11? It's such a stark contrast to the drive through context of our food culture, which I find is years behind what the Europeans enjoy on a daily basis. Delivery? I think the only thing you can have delivered is pizza (and that's only a few places).

On to a few specifics.
Cattelin's Restaurant, Gamla Stan- If you are looking for authentic Swedish cuisine, I recommend a stop here. The herring is fantastic, and the Swedish meatballs are mighty yummy.

Erik's Bakfickan- A famous chef by the name of Erik has a few restaurants in Stockholm, I guess this would be classified as his moderate restaurant. Em had "the best cheeseburger of her life", which I know is high praise, but it was seriously good. I had seafood casserole, which is actually more of a seafood stew. My favorite dish of the entire trip. A great place, though sadly my camera ran out of battery so there is not a picture of my dish.

Lisa Elmquist- In the Omstermalm Saluhall (the greatest food market ever, go if you get the chance). A bit overpriced for what I found to be just an alright meal. I think there are other restaurants in the food hall that offer better value.

Bla Porten
- Our first real Swedish meal did not disappoint. A no-nonsense place, their quiche is good as well as their poached salmon with dill sauce. Lunch here is something you don't want to miss.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Greetings From Sweden

As I write this, there are boats passing by in the nearby sea. The sun has not quite set and really never will in the summer, and I am experiencing great things in Sweden. The wonderful thing about their food is how much they care about it. Breakfast is an ordeal, lunch is often outside and with friends, and dinner is wonderful. I love their food and how much they put into making it an experience. I feel it is something that is sometimes lacking in everyday life, that people need to just stop and enjoy some food with friends while taking a break. I will be sure to write more when I return, but I hope these pictures convey some of what I am loving about Swedish cuisine.

You can follow some of my travels here


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