Archive | March, 2012

Pinot Noir Marinated Roast Beef with Pan Sauce and Roasted Root Vegetables

31 Mar

I’ve had this roast in the freezer for awhile, since I ordered some local grass-fed beef from Geauga Family Farms a few months ago.  This week, I was craving some red meat in a bad way.  More specifically, I was craving some roast beef.  When I remembered I had this roast tucked away, I could not have been any happier.  On a day when I only worked a half day and the weather had cooled down from the unseasonably warm 80-some degrees we’d been experiencing (which I am so not complaining about – I love the warm weather), I knew it was the perfect day to preheat the oven and make some roast beef.

I marinated the roast in pinot noir, created a flavorful rub, seared the meat, and then roasted it over some carrots, celery, and parsnip.  Served with a quick pinot pan sauce (containing yummy bits from the rub), this meat was juicy, flavorful, and really hit the spot.  The roasted veg went really well with the pan sauce and caramelized nicely.  Plus, this smelled absolutely divine as it was roasting.  The flavorful beef reaffirmed my love of grass fed beef, which has a very intense flavor in comparison to grain fed beef.  The beef was extremely satisfying served the next day cold on some white bread with a light smear of mayonnaise, crushed black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.

Pinot Noir Marinated Roast Beef with Pan Sauce and Roasted Root Vegetables

2.5 lb. rolled beef top roast, preferably grass fed

1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, divided

2-3 cups dry red wine (such as pinot noir), divided

2 tbs. ground mustard

1 tbs. paprika

1 tbs. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried thyme

2 tbs. butter, divided

1 tbs. olive oil

Whisk together red wine, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1 tsp. pepper.  Pour over roast in a bowl and let marinate, refrigerated, 1 hour, turning and pouring excess wine over the roast occasionally.

1 hour before cooking time, remove roast from the refrigerator to bring up to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 325º.  Place two oven racks in the center of the oven one setting below each other.

Mix together remaining spices.  Remove the roast from the marinade, reserving marinade, and pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels.  Roll the roast in the spice mixture and pat to adhere well.

Heat olive oil and butter in an oven proof pan.  Add roast and brown about 2-3 minutes per side.  Remove roast to a cutting board for a moment.  Spray a roasting rack with nonstick spray and place in the pan.  Place the beef on top of the roasting rack.  Pour the marinade over the roast.  This will deglaze the still-hot pan.

Place the roast in the oven.  Roast 45 minutes without opening the oven.  Remove the roast and pan from the oven.  Add another 1/2 cup or so of wine to the pan (most of which should evaporate from residual heat from the oven).  Add vegetables to the pan and toss to coat.  Return the pan to the oven on the lower rack and the roast directly above it.

Roast another hour or so until internal temperature reaches 135-140º for a medium-rare roast.  Cover with tinfoil and let rest ten to fifteen minutes.  The final internal temperature should be about 145º.

Meanwhile, remove the vegetables from the pan.  Whisk pan drippings, adding additional wine if necessary.  Reduce by about half.

Thinly slice the roast against the grain and serve with a few spoonfuls of pan sauce and roasted vegetables.

Wild Rice and Roasted Vegetables with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

28 Mar

Topped with a poached egg, this healthy rice dish makes for an excellent lacto-ovo- vegetarian main course.  On its own, it is a hearty vegetarian side dish.  The nutty wild rice and sweet caramelized vegetables worked well with the slight tartness of the lemon juice and zest and roasted flavor of the pepper.  The garam masala added to the red pepper sauce really makes this dish sing.  This dish is definitely a testament to the fact that while cheese and butter and meat are really delicious, you don’t need any of them to create a filling, flavorful, and interesting meal.

Wild Rice and Roasted Vegetables with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Wild Rice and Roasted Vegetables:

1 cup wild rice, rinsed (you can use any variety you want, I used a mix of mahogany and black japonica rice)

1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/4″ half moons

1 zucchini, cut into 1/4″ half moons

1/2 cup plum tomatoes

1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4″ half moons

3 tbs. olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350º.

Add rice and 2 cups of water to a medium stock pot with tight fitting lid.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and simmer, covered, 50 minutes (or time recommended by your package instructions).

On a tinfoil-lined baking sheet, toss vegetables with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and roast, tossing 3-4 times, for 25 minutes.

In a large sauté pan, add vegetables and rice and heat over medium heat.  Toss together.  Add roasted red pepper sauce (see below) and toss to combine.  Heat until all ingredients are desired temperature.  Serve immediately.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:

1 red pepper

1 tbs. olive oil

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 tsp. garam marsala

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350º.

On a tinfoil-lined baking sheet, add red pepper and coat with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and roast 30 minutes, turning a quarter turn every 8 minutes or so.

[Note:  The red pepper can be roasted on the same baking sheet with the vegetables from the wild rice and roasted vegetables above.]

When very tender, transfer immediately to a ziplock bag and close.  This will steam the pepper so the skin is easy to remove.  When cool enough to handle, remove the tough outer skin, stem, and seeds.

Add to food processor with lemon zest, lemon juice, and garam marsala.  Process until smoothly pureed. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

Horseradish Dry-Fried Tofu, Brown Rice with Wilted Greens, Quick Pickled Vegetables, and Roasted Tomatoes (Bento Box)

26 Mar

I’ve been reading a lot of Haruki Murakami, lately.  I love world he creates – simultaneously realistic and fantastical.  Reading one of his books is like living inside of an uncomfortably vivid dream.  One of the things I have enjoyed greatly over the course of all of his works that I’ve read has been the attention paid to food.  So often in literature, authors neglect to portray their characters eating, which strikes me as absurdly unrealistic.  As an author, Murakami casually captures the idea that food nourishes and sustains, sometimes through an important, monumental meal, and sometimes just as something to eat, quickly made and quickly forgotten.

As his novels take place in Japan, I thought I would take a bit of inspiration out of his works and make a bento box inspired dinner.  I have been researching bento boxes for awhile now, and finally pulled the trigger on buying one thanks to this meal, which consists of a variety of small Asian-inspired dishes.  Bento boxes generally contain three parts carbohydrate (such as rice, pasta, or barley), two parts fruit and vegetables, and one part protein (such as meat, fish, or tofu).  Bento boxes are particularly good for portion control, because if you follow the formula of 3-2-1, each milliliter of space, packed tightly, yields one calorie (for example, a 500 milliliter container is 500 calories).

This dish is made up of some brown rice tossed with wilted greens, pickled vegetables, roasted plum tomatoes, and horseradish dry-fried tofu.  I stuck to the 3-2-1 serving suggestion and was super happy with it.  I tried to choose components that balanced out texture (meaty tofu, crispy pickles, soft tomatoes, toothsome brown rice) and flavor (tangy tofu, slightly sweet and slightly vinegar-y vegetables, sweet roasted tomatoes, and savory brown rice), as well as employed a variety of cooking techniques (sautéed tofu, pickled vegetables, roasted tomatoes, simmer riced).  The flavors were simple but fresh, and we both really enjoyed this healthy, delicious dish.  For dinner, I served these separated on a large plate, with everything except the pickles warm.  For lunch, I ate this room temperature (pictured).  Both were equally yummy.

Horseradish Dry-Fried Tofu, Brown Rice with Wilted Greens, Quick Pickled Vegetables, and Roasted Tomatoes

(Bento Box)

Horseradish and Black Pepper Dry Fried Tofu:

1 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained

1 tbs. freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbs. rice wine vinegar

1 tbs. canola oil

1 tbs. honey

1 tbs. horseradish mustard

Cut tofu block into slices 1/2″ thick.  Place a few paper towels or a clean kitchen towel on a cutting board.  Lay tofu on top on a single layer.  Top with a few more paper towels or another clean kitchen top on top.  Top with another cutting board and weigh down with a heavy cast iron skillet or canned goods.  Press until as much moister as possible is drained, at least an hour.

Meanwhile, whisk together all remaining ingredients.  Set aside.

Heat a cast iron pan, stainless steel pan, or other pan NOT coated with non-stick surface.  Heat over medium heat.  Add tofu, working in batches if necessary so the pieces are not overcrowded, and cook about 4-6 minutes per side until golden brown and leeched of moisture.

Transfer tofu and marinade into a zip lock bag or other marinating vessel.  Place in refrigerator and marinate at least 3-4 hours but preferably over night, turning as necessary.

Heat a pan over medium heat.  Add tofu and marinade and cook until tofu is heated through and marinade is reduced, about 4-6 minutes per side.  Serve immediately.

Quick Pickled Parsnips, Zucchini, and Carrots:

1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/8″ rounds

1 zucchini, cut into 1/8″ rounds

1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/8″ rounds

1 large pinch Korean dried chile flakes (or to taste)

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1 cup cold water

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tbs. soy sauce

Whisk together chile flakes, rice wine vinegar, water, sugar, and soy sauce.  Add vegetables and place in a sealed container.  Refrigerate at least one hour but up to overnight, depending on desired strength of pickle.  Serve chilled.

Brown Rice with Wilted Greens:

1 cup brown rice, cooked according to package instructions

1 tbs. olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups mixed greens (such as spinach, arugula, frisee, red lettuce, etc.)

1 tbs. soy sauce

1/2 lemon, juiced

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add greens and soy sauce, tossing frequently.  Cook about 1 minute until wilted.

Add rice and toss to combine.  Add lemon juice and toss to combine.  Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

Roasted Plum Tomatoes:

1 cup plum tomatoes

2 tbs. olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350º.

Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil.  Toss tomatoes with olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Place in oven.  Roast about 25 minutes until wrinkled and dark brown in places, shaking 3-4 times during the roasting process.

Serve warm.

Roasted Mushroom Sandwich with Caramelized Onion Gravy

22 Mar

Don’t you hate it when things don’t go according to plan?  I went to bed on Sunday with my work clothes all picked out and a slow cooker of onions caramelizing away, but after I woke up with an unbelievable headache and then suffered a coughing fit that left me dizzy, I decided to call in sick.  After downing some ibuprofen and an Emergency-C and forcing myself to sleep for a few more hours, I checked on the onions I had been caramelizing in the slow cooker over night.

Burnt.  To.  A.  Crisp.

As much as I hate it when my plans get ruined, I double-hate it in the kitchen.  I hate wasting food because it means wasting money, and I hate wondering over what went wrong – especially, as here, where it’s a technique that has worked for me before.  I’d had my little heart set on making this roasted mushroom sandwich with onion gravy for several days.  Thus, I forged ahead.

The extra step of recaramelizing the onions was well worth it, because this sandwich was pretty darn good.  The roasted portobellos in combination with the rich caramelized onion gravy was meaty and comforting.  Though I used chicken stock (because it’s what I had on hand), you could easily substitute some dark vegetable stock and make this a vegetarian sandwich that any meat eater would be happy to scarf down.  The depth of flavor is really quite impressive, largely due to the extra step of caramelizing the onions.  Roasting the mushrooms also brings out their natural meatiness, leaving them juicy with enough of a chewy texture to remain satisfying.

Roasted Mushroom Sandwich with Caramelized Onion Gravy

Caramelized Onion Gravy:

2 small onions, peeled, halved sliced lengthwise as uniform as possibly

2 tbs. olive oil, plus more if necessary

2 tbs. unsalted butter

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tbs. all purpose flour

2 cups homemade chicken stock (or beef stock, or dark vegetable stock)

1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce

In a large sauté pan with high sides, add butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Once butter is melted and frothing, add the onions and stir to form a uniform layer.  Season with salt and pepper.

Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring every 1 minute to 2 minutes, until the onions are a deep mahogany color and are caramelized.  This will take about half an hour to forty minutes.  If necessary, add more olive oil or butter in order to keep the pan from drying out.  You do not want to stir constantly, as this will prevent the onions from browning; nor do you want to stir too infrequently, as this will allow the onions to burn and become bitter.

If the onions have dried out when caramelized, add another tablespoon or two of olive oil along with the butter.  Stir to evenly coat the onions and add balsamic.  When butter is melted, sprinkle flour over the onions and necessary and whisk to combine.  Constantly whisking, slowly add the chicken stock.  Stir until smooth and reduce to desired consistency.  Add Worcestershire and taste for seasonings, adjusting as necessary.  If necessary, add another splash or two of chicken stock to maintain desired consistency.

[Note:  This makes more gravy that required for the sandwiches.  It would be excellent served with sausages, mashed potatoes or potato hash, over a meatloaf or with a slice of liver, or anywhere else you want some rich, flavorful gravy.]

Roasted Mushrooms:

1 6 oz. container sliced portobello mushrooms

3 tbs. olive oil

1/4 tsp. powdered garlic

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400º.

On a tinfoil lined baking sheet toss mushrooms with olive oil, powdered garlic, salt, and pepper.  Place in oven and roast 12-15 minutes, tossing once or twice, until the edges of the mushrooms are golden brown.

Roasted Mushroom Sandwich with Caramelized Onion Gravy:

Caramelized onion gravy (see above)

Roasted mushrooms (see above)

2 hamburger buns

2 slices provolone cheese

Preheat broiler.

Place hamburger buns sandwich side down in the caramelized onion gravy and allow to soak for 1-2 minutes.  You don’t want the buns to be mushy (unless you want to make this a fork and knife sandwich, which is totally acceptable), but you do want them to absorb some flavor.  On the bottom bun, use some tongs to place a few onions on the bun.  Add the mushrooms and top with a slice of provolone cheese.

Place under the broiler for one minute until cheese is melted and golden brown in spots.  Top sandwich with other half of the bun and serve immediately.

Spicy Ginger and Miso Soup with Sea Kelp

20 Mar

I was faced with a culinary conundrum – the weather had been crazy, bouncing from the 40s to the 30s to the 70s (what the hell, Mother Nature?!  It’s March in Cleveland, not that I’m complaining … ).  It left me with a pretty serious cold while the weather felt like mid-June.  Ugh.  I needed a dish that was comforting and nourishing for my stupid sniffles but not heavy enough to be off-putting in the warm weather.  So, taking stock of my pantry, I conceptualized this dish.

Ginger and sea kelp in particular are touted for their health benefits.  And, luckily for me, they both have flavors that I can’t get enough of.  Ginger is bright-tasting with a kick of spice, while kelp has a delicious umami flavor that conjures up tones of the ocean.  Miso is also quite healthy in spite of its high sodium content, and I simply can’t get enough of the salty-savory flavor of soy sauce and the heat of a chili pepper. Combining all of these delicious, nutritious ingredients together and adding a hint of lemon and scallion seemed like a no brainer (and it probably was, because my sniffy nose and low fever were making deep thinking exceptionally difficult for me).

Each of the flavors in this soup is relatively mild, though the spice asserts itself nicely.  Zak said it reminded him of a miso soup (which makes sense, as it’s a soup with miso in it).  The miso is lighter than in a traditional miso soup, and the ginger takes the place of the dashi.  The kelp adds a nice savory oceanic flavor.  This soup was just what the doctor ordered, because the flavors were really light but it was still warm and comforting.  Sadly, it did not cure my head cold, which is still going strong several days later.  Boo.  For something with a bit more heft and substance, add some cubes of firm tofu or noodles as desired.

Spicy Ginger Broth Soup with Sea Kelp

1 tsp. canola oil

1 6″ piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

3-4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and dark green parts separated

1/2 lemon

5-6 3″ x 3″ pieces seasoned dried sea kelp

1 tsp. soy sauce

3 tbs. white miso

1 tsp. dried Korean chili flakes

Soak sea kelp in 1 cup of warm water for at least an hour.

Add canola oil to a medium stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add ginger, garlic, and whites of scallions.  Sauté until garlic and ginger are lightly golden brown.  Add 8 cups of water and lemon.  Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium to maintain a simmer.  Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, drain sea kelp, reserving soaking liquid.

Strain garlic, ginger, and scallions and return broth to medium stock pot.  Heat over medium heat to a simmer.  Add sea kelp and soy sauce.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk miso with 1/2 cup of reserved soaking liquid from sea kelp.  Reduce heat on broth to low and whisk in miso.  Add red chile flakes.  Taste for seasonings and add soy sauce, miso, additional kelp soaking liquid, or chile flakes as necessary.

Serve immediately, garnished with dark green scallion pieces.

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