Category Archives: recipes

Rib roast for Christmas

The beast Rib roast for Christmas.  I love a good rib roast (often called prime rib).  Not all rib roasts are created equal.  Beef in America is graded by name, prime the best with the most fat marbling in the muscle, choice next, then good.  Most supermarkets sell choice (Raley’s, Nugget, Costco) while others sell a lesser grade. The lesser grade is renamed sometimes like “Butchers choice” or “Rancher’s reserve”.  Markets that sell choice beef are proud of it and advertise as such. I buy choice grade as for me it has plenty of fat and marbling and delivers a great result.  Boneless or bone in? I like the bones on the prime rib but I like the butcher to cut off the feather bones and tie the bones back on. Most supermarkets offer the rib roast roastedthis way but if you buy a package that isn’t tied, you get everything intact. The tied onbones make it easy to carve and taste great eaten separately.  Small or large end? Rib roast has a cap or layer of meat that covers the outside of the roast. This cap is the most flavorful and marbled piece of the roast. The small end has the largest ratio of cap to center and is the best tasting piece in my opinion.  When I order a roast I order it cut from the small end.  I order at least a lb. per person and err on the side of an extra rib. How do I cook the roast? I use what I believe to be a fail safe method for cooking my roast. I put the roast in a rack in a shallow roasting pan. I rub a little olive oil on the roast, liberally cover with salt and pepper, fresh chopped rosemary and some fresh crushed garlic.  I put the roast in a second slicepreheated 500F oven and roast for 30 minutes.  Then I turn the oven down to 200F (make sure your oven is accurate) and leave it.  I use a probe thermometer and cook it to the desired doneness, for me rare to medium rare.  The beauty of this method is when the roast is removed from the oven it can be loosely covered with a towel or foil and won’t continue to cook.  A roast cooked at a level 325F (conventional method) can cook after removed from the oven.  The bones heat up and can actually change the doneness of a roast taken out at medium rare to medium.  With the “hot roast” method, the meat has a great crust and a consistent color throughout.  Happy holidays and bon appetit.rib roast

 

Organic chicken thighs with lemon and spinach

Chicken thighs with lemon and spinach

Chicken thighs with lemon and spinach

Organic Chicken thighs with lemon and spinach

Serves 4-6

This dish normally calls for preserved lemons but I was all out. So, I used a little lemon zest with a little juice.  The base from this recipe came from a North African cookbook where preserved lemons are a big staple of their diet.  Preserved lemons are easy to make at home and simply are lemons rubbed in salt,                                                              submerged in brine and cured.

A whole cut up chicken works great but I like the speed and flavor of the chicken thighs. This is a very healthy dish, especially if we use organic chicken thighs and vegetables.  The spices included are recognized as some of the best for us.  Anti-inflammatory, cholesterol busting spices that add bunches of flavor.  This can be eaten in a bowl by itself but brown rice in the bottom of the bowl isn’t a bad idea.

Organic chicken thighs with lemon and spinach

I prefer to use all organic ingredients 

  • 3 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • I rib of celery finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, (about 3/4 cup) peeled and diced fine
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 6 oz of washed raw baby spinach
  • 3 TBSP of chopped fresh cilantro
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1 TBSP of lemon juice
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 and ½ TBSP EVOO
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to tasteDSCN0950

Preheat oven to 300F. Rinse and dry the chicken thighs. Heat medium sized enamel Dutch oven (4-6 qt.) on medium high.  When heated add ½ the EVOO, so it just starts to smoke.  Add the thighs and remaining oil in batches, usually 3 thighs at a time, browning slightly on each side. Repeat until all thighs are browned.  Turn the heat down to medium and add the celery, carrot and onion.  Cook until the onions become soft, about 5 minutes.  Deglaze the Dutch oven with the ½ cup of chicken stock, removing all the nice brown bits off the bottom.  Add in the lemon zest and juice, spices, and cilantro.  Stir, combining all ingredients.  Add back in the chicken and cover.  Bring to a light boil on the stove.  When lightly boiling, put the Dutch oven in the preheated oven.  Cook covered for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes.  Remove the Dutch oven and stir in the spinach, just wilting.  Serve immediately in shallow bowls. The chicken will have released plenty of liquid to pair with the meat.  Put the chicken in each bowl over rice or by itself.  Top with the juice and vegetables.  Adjust for salt and pepper.

Tips:  If you like chicken breasts instead add another 15 minutes or so to the cooking time.  Be cautious not to add too much stock because the chicken when cooking (covered) will release a lot of liquid.  If you think you have too much liquid in the Dutch oven the lid can be removed the last 15 minutes.  Be careful not to dry out the meat.  Your joints should feel better, your nose should run and your heart should sing.  Enjoy!

RED TRI TIP CHILI

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

Fall is chili time in my house.  There is nothing better than a bowl of chili while watching a football game.  There are as many chili recipes as there are ingredients. The name chili coming from the spice (or chile peppers) used to flavor the dish.  I’ve eaten vegetarian chilis, ground turkey chilis, chili with beans, and chilis with beef or pork. Ground meat, chunks of meat, beans, no beans.  I like them all but I put chili into 2 categories, green or red.  Green chili uses the roasted but essentially raw green chile peppers while red uses the roasted, dried and ground red chile powders.  2 distinct but equally delicious chilis.  I also find it interesting the dish is spelled “chili” whereas the pepper is spelled “chile”.  The spelling may be debated but the dish is undoubtedly a cornerstone of great comfort food.  Like soups, stews, and gumbo, chili deserves a seat on the board and a place at the table.  In a world where “fresh” is equated with “best” it’s hard to deny that chili may be better the next day.

Beans or no beans? All inTraditional chili recipes have no beans.  As meat became more expensive beans were added as a filler (and thickener). Most commercial chilis contain beans.  In fact in some of the chilis, they are almost all beans, making it hard to find the meat, even though it’s listed on the package. Some contain several kinds of beans, kidney, red, pinto, white, etc.  When it comes to beans, I like them in red chili but not in green.  Spending time in wonderful SW Colorado, where Pinto beans were a big part of weekly meals, it takes me back home.

RED CHILI WITH TRI TIP

  • 5 lbs. of Tri Tip, trimmed of visible fat and cubed into 1 inches pieces
  • 4 cups of yellow onion diced
  • 4 cloves of minced fresh garlic
  • 4 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 5 cups minced tomatoes with juice
  • 3 Tablespoons mild chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup plus 4 Tablespoons Canola oil
  • ½ cup unbleached flour
  • 1 ½ cups cooked Pinto beans (optional)
  • 1 stalkcelery finely diced (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Trim the Tri Tip (bottom sirloin) of all visible fat and cut into I” cubes.  Heat a heavy stock pot on Cubed Tri Tiphigh and add 1 Tablespoon of Canola oil.  Brown the meat in batches covering the bottom of the pan.  Do not immediately stir.  After the meat starts to release its juices, stir.  Pour the meat (and juice) into a large bowl.  Repeat until all meat is browned.  Turn the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes scraping any meat bits off the bottom of the pot.  Add the tomatoes, beef, stock, and beans (if adding) into the pot.  Stir while adding the chili powder and cayenne.  Taste for spice.  In a separate heavy skillet or sauce pan add the remaining ½ cup of Canola oil.  Heat on medium high until the oil begins to smoke.  Make a roux adding the flour a little at a time whisking as you go.  When all the flour is added, continue to stir, browning the flour.  I like a medium brown roux for this chili which is about the color of milk chocolate.  When the roux is done, carefully add to the chili.  It may spit and splatter.  Stir into the chili and turn the chili down to simmer.  Stir frequently.  !/2 hour before serving add the finely minced celery (optional) and adjust spice for heat.  Red chili can be eaten after a few hours of simmering but really gets good after about hour 4. 

Tips:  I like Tri Tip because the meat is moist and tender.  The cut contains enough fat to not dry out over time.  If you prefer ground meat in your chili, have your butcher grind a few Tri Tips.  Some of the supermarkets have gone to a single grind plate (saves them money) but a few of the better stores will still offer a few choices.  The coarsest grind is often called the chili plate, has the biggest holes and leaves the meat in nice spoon filling pieces. Leaner cuts of beef like round or sirloin tip dry out and lack the flavor to hold up to the big chile spices. 

Great with the red chili

Great with the red chili

On the side:  I like to put sharp cheddar cheese in my chili, either white or yellow.  I like the silky texture of the melted cheese against the chewiness of the meat.  The cheese also cuts the heat if the chili is spicy.  I also like to eat my red chili with cornbread, warm cornbread with melting butter and a little honey. 

What about wine?  I like a big spicy red wine with my red chili.  A big foothill’s Zinfandel suits me just fine.  Give me a blue collar bottle that doesn’t back down when the food is spicy.  There are many great choices for less than $15. 

Homemade goodness

Homemade goodness

Grab a heavy bowl, ladle in the chili, drop in the cheese, slice the corn bread, pour the wine, turn on the game and enjoy a great fall meal.  Make a big batch because tomorrow it will taste even better.

 

 

 

Tomato Madness

DSCN0662

TOMATO MADNESS!

Fruit or vegetable?  I think the age old debate finally ended (with those that have the power to decide) and the decision is a tomato is a vegetable.  I grew up being told they were a fruit, but it didn’t matter to me because I have always loved tomatoes.  When I was 4, my mom and I used to eat them off the vine with a salt shaker to sprinkle behind every bite.  As a kid, when asked “what is your favorite fruit” without hesitation I would say “tomato”.   Today, because of the reclassification of the tomato, I say “peach”.  Regardless, I live in the capital of tomato country, actually the capital of California aptly nicknamed “Sacra tomato”.  Field after field is full of tomatoes.  Those big fields full of tomatoes are for processing but every farmers market has a pile of just picked, ready to take home beauties. Why am I talking about tomatoes?  Well, I love them so much I thought I should give them their place in the sun.    Stop in, squeeze the merchandise, and take some home. 

May I have this dance? I couldn’t mention my pal the tomato without his Italian dance partner, DSCN0656Basil.  Grab a plant, pop it in the ground (or pot), and enjoy Basil all summer.  I find with our summer heat, morning sun and afternoon shade works best.  Keep it moist and pick those fat and juicy leaves all season.  Garlic, Olive Oil, fresh tomatoes (Romas are best for this), dried Oregano, and Basil.  You’ve got homemade Marinara that keeps and freezes.