Monday, February 21, 2011

Knife Techniques

We thought it was important to show new home cooks the proper chopping and dicing techniques...for safety purposes. Please take a moment and watch the following video where Chris shows you how to chop and dice an onion.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Beef Carbonade Flemmish Style

Carbonade means cooked over a coal fire. We replicate the coal fire effect with good smokey bacon. Flemmish Style has to do with the ingredient that makes this super yummy---beer!

What You Will Need:
5 qt. Dutch oven or oven safe pot

2 lbs. of chuck steak, cut into 2" cubes
1 large Spanish onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bouquet garni, AKA 1-2 sprigs or rosemary, thyme, parsley stems, and bay leaf tied together with string (for easy removal)
1/4 lb. of slab bacon, cut into 1/4" cubes (I guess the stuff in the plastic packages work...but the slabs from the butcher is so much better!)
2 large carrots, chopped into large chunks
2 large portabella mushrooms, chopped into large chunks (we used a small pack of white button mushrooms, but we weren't fully satisfied with the flavor)
1 pint of dark beer (we used Boddington's)
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of olive oil (use 2 tbsp. of butter instead if you want to be really French)
parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Dry the beef (at room temperature) with paper towels. Meat will not brown unless it is dry. Season it liberally with salt and pepper. Toss meat in the flour until it is lightly coated. Shake off the excess. Heat the olive oil in the Dutch oven until it just starts to smoke. Put the beef into the Dutch oven in batches and brown on all sides. Once brown, lift out the meat and set aside. Continue until all beef is brown. Once all the beef is out of the Dutch oven, drop in the bacon chunks. Cook them for 4-5 minutes, until they released most of their fat. Remove and set aside. Toss in the onions and garlic. Season with salt and cook on low heat. Once the onions have just started to brown add the bouquet garni to the pot. Add in the beef and bacon. Slowly pour the beer into the pot. Cover pot with the lid and put into a 300F oven for exactly 2 hours. After 2 hours, remove from oven and take the lid off. Stir in the carrots and mushrooms. Return to the oven (with lid off) for 1 more hour. Once the hour is up, it's done! Garnish with some chopped parsley. It should taste delicious. If the gravy is too watery (like a soup) you may want to boil on the stovetop until the mixture thickens a bit.

We paired our beef with some homemade mashed potatoes and sauteed asparagus.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cocktail Hour

Here is a recipe for a quick and easy cocktail that will surely put a smile on anyone's face.

Fill a pint glass half way full with ice. Fill glass 1/3 with rum, 2/3 with mango nectar, juice from 1/2 of a lime. Stir together.


Chicken Tacos

This afternoon Chris and I wanted to document our attempt at chicken tacos. We made them a few weeks ago and they were so amazing. We have been hungry for more ever since. Honestly, we have never tasted taco shells that were so delicious and fresh. Taco Bell (smell) this is NOT...and trust us, that's a GOOD THING! Definitely take the time to make your own shells. It is totally worth it, we promise!

The basic ingredients for the shells and chicken---

How to make the shells (no tortilla press needed)---

Here are the finished tacos. Yummy, spicy, smokey, and fresh. You will eat one and then want to eat five more!

Monday, February 7, 2011

*Product Spotlight*

One of our favorite brands of olive oil has to be O Olive Oil. This California organic olive oil (yes, there are surprisingly delicious olive oils from California...who knew?) comes in a number of flavors, as well as in gift sets. We love their lemon extra virgin olive oil.

*Also, their vinegars are quite amazing too! The port vinegar and California white balsamic vinegar are so very fresh and tangy.

What is your favorite O Olive Oil flavor?


Quick Salad Dressing

Ever read the list of ingredients on the back of a salad bottle? Pretty scary, right? We always make our own dressing at home. This one is one of our favorites to make---

1/2 a shallot, diced (or garlic...depending on how stinky you want to be)
1 tbsp. of mustard
1/2 a lemon, juiced
good olive oil...a few tablespoons...add in slowly until mixture emulsifies.

Making Dressing:
Combine shallot, mustard, and lemon juice. Whisk in the olive oil.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Leftover Apple Tart

Just so everyone is aware, this is not a sweet dessert. It tastes of apples and autumn. Utterly delicious!

What You Need:
leftover tart pastry (we used leftover dough from this recipe), enough to roll out an 8" circle 1/8" thick

1 large apple (we used Granny Smith), peeled/cored/sliced into 1/8" half moons
4 tbsp. of unsalted butter
2 tbsp. of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of rum
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. of ground cloves or allspice or both (no cinnamon please or it will taste über American)
1 tbsp. of heavy cream
a handful of sliced or ground almonds

Making the Tart:
Melt half the butter in a saute pan over low heat. Add in the apples. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. of sugar over the apples, add the cloves or allspice and the bay leaf. Lightly cook the will take 10-15 minutes. Cook until soft but not falling apart. Shut off heat and let them cool. While cooling, roll out the tart pastry on a lightly floured surface. Place onto a greased sheet pan. When the apples are cool lay them out on the tart pastry. Leave 1/2" border of pastry dough around the edge. Once all the apples are on the pastry fold the edges up. Sprinkle the almonds on...any pattern you want (we made a circle). Bake at 375F until pastry just starts to brown (will take at least 15 minutes). In the meantime, make the rum sauce for the tart. Melt the remaining butter over medium/low heat into the same saute pan. Add in the remaining sugar. Add in the rum (no flare ups please!). Whisk the contents of the pan together, and allow the rum to slowly boil away until there is about only 2-3 tbsp. left. At this point, add in the heavy cream and whisk again until it is incorporated. The sauce should now be thick and syrupy. Put sauce aside. When tart comes out of the oven drizzle the sauce over it. Serve warm. Remove bay leaf before eating.

We ate our Leftover Apple Tart with ice cream. Chris likes mint chocolate chip with his...and I had White House cherry with mine.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chicken Liver Pâté

Another deceptively simple recipe. This delicious spread goes on fresh bread, endives, or even sliced cucumbers.

You Will Need:
10" saute pan
blender or food processor

1 1/2 lbs. of chicken livers (Perdue sells these in a small blue container in some supermarkets, but organic is better if you can get it)
2 large shallots, diced as small as possible
2 cloves of garlic, diced as small as possible
1/4 cup of brandy or cognac
1/4 tsp. of ground cloves
1 heaping tbsp. of fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup of heavy cream (hey, it's French!)
1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter (I said it was French!)
salt and pepper to taste

Making the Pâté:
Put the chicken livers into a strainer and rinse very well under cold water. Trim the chicken only want the liver portions. Get rid of all fatty pieces...or anything that doesn't feel like liver. Melt 1/2 of the stick of butter over medium heat. Saute the shallots and garlic together (make sure you do not brown the shallots...if they start to brown or fry lower the heat). You should be stirring constantly at this point. Season with the salt, pepper, ground cloves, and thyme. After 15 minutes the shallots should be very soft. Add the chicken livers to the pan. As soon as they start changing color add the brandy. *NOTE: never pour hard liquor from a bottle. Try not to burn your eyebrows off! Simmer until there is no more blood coming out of the livers, and no smell of raw alcohol coming from the pan. This will take about 15 minutes, at this point you should add 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and stir it in. Wait 2 minutes and shut off the heat. Pour the entire pan into the bowl of a food processor or a blender. Give it a few pulses to blend the ingredients into mush. Now add the rest of the cream and the rest of the butter (diced up). Whiz it until it is all incorporated. At this point, pour the mush into a serving bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap (make sure the plastic is touching the paste). Refrigerate overnight. The butter will solidify and tomorrow for lunch you will have a delicious spread for your bread!

When we make this dish we like to pair it with meats, cheeses, and bread. Very European!

Salmon and Leek Quiche

This recipe may look complicated, but it's really a lot of steps...and well worth it! Make it for brunch and invite some friends over...they will be raving about this quiche dish for weeks. TRUST ME!!!

What you will need:
A 7-10" tart pan or pie dish will work. We used an 8" removable bottom tart pan.

Tart Pastry:
1 2/3 cups of all purpose flour (we used King Arthur Flour...use the good stuff)
1 egg yolk
6 tbsp. of cold unsalted butter, diced as small as you can get it
1 tsp. kosher salt
water as needed

1/2 lb. of smoked salmon (8 oz. for the conversion impaired)
2 leeks, chopped into 1/8" circles (white parts and as much green as feels tender)
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup of heavy cream (or crème fraiche if you want to be really French)
1/2 tsp. of ground cloves or nutmeg...or both
pinch of kosher salt
2 tbsp. of butter (one stick of butter has 8 tbsp., so you end up using 1 stick in this entire recipe)

Making the Tart Pastry:
This gets made first. Mound the flour, make a hole in the middle for the egg yolk and start bringing it all together with your hands. Add the butter in as evenly as possible, and then the salt. Add water, one tbsp. at a time, until the mixture forms a cohesive blob. Wrap your "blob" in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes...overnight...three months...basically it has to be cold.

Preheat oven to 400F. Get your "blob" out of the fridge and unwrap it. Spread the plastic wrap out on the work surface and put another piece of plastic wrap over the blob. Use a rolling pin, or an empty wine bottle to roll out the pastry dough, big enough to fill the tart pan, covering the bottom and up the sides. Put some muscle into it! Put the pastry dough into the tart pan. Push the dough into all the corners and up the edges. Remove the excess. Get a piece of wax paper or parchment paper big enough to cover your tart pan and crumble it up really well into a small ball. Then pull it out flat again. Put it over the pan and fill with dry beans or baking beads or marbles or small pebbles. Pop it into the over for 10 minutes. Take beans out and bake for an additional 5 minutes. When baking is complete, take out of oven and set aside.

Making the Filling:
Melt the remaining 2 tbsp. of butter from the stick into a 10" saute pan over medium heat. Toss in your leeks, and a pinch of salt. Stir around until pretty soft (about 15 minutes). In a mixing bowl, beat together the two whole eggs, cream, salt to taste, and cloves (nutmeg).

Put just enough of the egg mixture into the baked pastry to cover the bottom. Add most of the smoked salmon, then the sauteed leeks. Add the rest of the egg mixture over the leeks. Add bits and pieces of the remaining salmon over the top. Place into a 375F oven for 30 minutes.

*Here is a tip: put the tart dish onto a large sheet pan in case there is spillage. This way you won't ruin your oven.

Take the quiche out of the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Don't worry if it is puffy. It should be (like shown here). You have made a ghetto will deflate.

Serve with a nice green salad for a lovely brunch. Enjoy the yumminess!!!

*Welcome to Food on the Plate*

We're the married couple that had the food blog, Chris and Diane Do Dinner, a few years ago while living in New York City. Due to creative differences, and having only one square foot of cooking area in our apartment the blog was deleted in a fit of rage. But now...we have relocated to a large apartment in Pennsylvania with a kitchen that is so big we can even store our food processor (yay!). A string of tasty meals has inspired us to start up a new food blog, Food on the Plate. We look forward to sharing our recipes and food knowledge with our readers.