Last month for Secret Recipe Club I got Mangia! an Italian blog. I was so excited, any excuse to make Italian food is fine with me. Then I made Double Chocolate Almond Joy Pretzel cookies. So not Italian, but oh so delicious.
For my assignment this month I got Cookin with Moxie, Jamie lives in Boston and is from a big Italian family! Quelle Chance! Wait that’s French, anywho, woohoo! I put my blinders on to all her other great looking recipes and stuck to her roots (you know that’s typically my thang).
I did the usual Secret Recipe Club lurking throughout the month, trying to make the difficult decision of what to make. Then Jamie posted a recipe for Steak Pizzaiola and I knew instantly that it was the ONE. How could you go wrong with steak and pizza(iola) in the title?
So I planned to cook it last Wednesday, but I ended up with some leftover ingredients from my grilling class the night before, so I grilled pizza for us and Steak Pizzaiola slipped my mind…
Thursday I afternoon I was typing up my post for Friday and then boom it hit me, like I a V-8 moment; I need to make my SRC recipe. Only I had a banquet to go that night and then for the weekend we were camping with the Boy Scouts.
“That’s a fine mess you’ve got us into, Ollie!”
Anyone know who that quote is from?
I had all the ingredients on hand (I already had planned to use elk instead of beef), but time wasn’t on my side. Enter the pressure cooker! Any recipe that calls for braising is a perfect pressure cooker recipe.
A quick side of pearl couscous (my newest obsession) and dinner was ready in less than an hour. That meant the Baby boy and McGyver had dinner for the night and didn’t have to fend for themselves. Plus the Baby boy was set for the weekend while we were away!
Even though I had a banquet to go to that night, you know I couldn’t help but try it. The steak is super tender, so tender in fact that I had a hard time lifting a piece out of the cooker with out it falling apart. The tomato sauce with the herbs and crushed red pepper, well, it tasted uncannily similar to pizza sauce. It was perfect served over a bed of pearl couscous that I toasted first and added some toasted pine nuts. The couscous added a nice textural element to the dish.
I used fresh herbs versus dried since I have them available in my garden (yay), if you want to use dried herbs you can refer to Jamie’s original recipe. Because there are so few ingredients in this dish I highly recommend that you use a high quality whole canned tomato product like Cento brand or some type of San Marzano tomato.
If using an electric pressure cooker, turn cooker on to browning mode. Otherwise heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat and add olive oil. Season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on each side, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side, cooking in batches if needed. Remove elk and set aside.
In the same pan or the pressure cooker, lower heat to sauté. Add the onion and the garlic, sauté until the onions starts to become tender and translucent. Add oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, tomato paste, and whole tomatoes. Using the back of a spoon break up the whole tomatoes into smaller pieces. Return the meat to the cooker and nestle into the sauce, spoon the sauce over it, and lock the lid into place.
Pressure cook under high pressure with natural release for 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened up if needed (my sauce was thick enough straight out of the cooker). Taste for seasoning.
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium high heat. Add the pearl couscous, toast until golden brown, stirring frequently about 1 to 2 minutes. Add broth and bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 10 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Stir in nuts, parsley and salt and pepper. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
When I lived in Europe, Asparagus was a revered vegetable. The season started in May and ended around Mid-Summer’s day. In England they treasured nice meaty stalks (but not woody), in Germany the white asparagus was on every menu and in France and Italy the small dainty little asparagus showed up salads, pastas and any where else it could be incorporated.
Did you know that Asparagus is a modified stem? They have thin flat ‘leaves’ called cladophylls; it’s modification allows it to photosynthesize. Other edible plants that have modified stems are potatoes, onions, ginger, strawberries (the stolen is a modified stem), peas (the shoots are the modified part), apple trees (fruit spur) and succulent plants like cacti (Source). So basically when you eat asparagus you’re eating a stick?
Stick or stem, it’s still one of the sexiest vegetables you could prepare and photograph. How do I love to photograph asparagus! I need to start growing my own, if nothing else to just photograph. But the planting time has passed and it takes 2 to 3 years before you can start to harvest them. Now that I have a plot in the new community garden I just might do that.
For this asparagus dish I combined my love of lemon with my new found love, dill (I have 3 plants started in my garden, yay). The asparagus is cooked until just tender crisp then it’s bathed in lemon juice and chopped dill. A healthy portion of toasted panko crumbs with lemon zest is served atop them. Once you cut into them you are delighted with all the wondrous textures and flavors!
It’s a quick and simple side which would be a perfect accompaniment to my Flounder Olympia (more panko and dill). Asparagus season here is pretty much done, hopefully there is still some in your area. Personally I’d be happy to fly to Europe for last of their season!
In a large non- stick frying pan melt butter over medium heat. Add the panko and lemon zest. Cook, stirring occasionally until panko is toasted and a light golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.
In the same pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add asparagus, salt and pepper. Saute until asparagus is tender crisp, about 4 to 8 minutes (depending on size). Finish with dill and lemon juice, cook and toss to coat for another 30 seconds to a minute.
To serve place asparagus on a platter or individual plate and top with lemon panko crumbs.
I need to apologize to my blogger friends for being a bit absent and not leaving comments regularly. This whole community garden, and my camera club and Boy Scouts and work…well, I just don’t have a moment these days. I am thinking of you all and I’ll be back stalking you in no time.
Here’s the latest at our garden: The city donated 6 dump truck loads full of wood chips. Really, 6 dump truck loads full! I don’t even know what amount that is but it’s a heck of a lot to spread around! The first couple days I didn’t have a lot of volunteers to help. I was spending all day out there (as evidenced by my sunburns), making headway but it seemed like the piles grew overnight every day.
The volunteers that I did have were super troopers though. And then on Wednesday when I went out I saw a ton of people there and my heart swelled. We didn’t get it all done but nearly so. We also planted 4 trees but have 15 more to plant. We currently have a children’s garden and we are planning a berry garden also. Big, big plans for the gardens!
The first load delivered to the middle of the gardens
Far end of the garden
Another truck load at the far end
Wednesday I drove up to see this, hooray! (This is the other end of the garden)
To me this epitomizes community gardening. One of my Master Gardener volunteers attending a baby, rake in hand and directing where chips need to go.
This is a guest post that I’ve done for my friend Jane over at The Heritage Cook while she’s away at the BlogHer Food conference in Austin (wee pang of envy as I type that). Please check out my post and get the recipe for these Sun & Earth muffins, and make them, you must make them!
Last month I taught a cooking class, it was Mexican cooking. Not your standard heavy Tex-Mex loaded with cheese, sauces and sour cream. Our theme was Mexi-light, Mexi-easy, Mexi-delicious. We started off with the basics, salsa and guacamole and then things got better.
Taking my cues from Baja and the Yucatan region we started off with a mock shrimp ceviche, this citrus salad, Baja style fish tacos, Arroz Verde con Piña, finished off with a tres leches and fresh berry trifle. Of course I came up with a cocktail fitting the menu.
As always my Winter Sals-tice (and I don’t mean that arrogantly) gets rave reviews. The students were surprised at how delicious a simple guacamole of avocado, salt and lime juice was. My opinion alert! I think our Mexican chain restaurants put way too much in their version, hiding the beautiful flavor of the avocado. I have to say that the surprise dish of the evening was this Arroz Verde con Piña. Continue reading “Arroz Verde con Piña (Green Rice with Pineapple)” »
If you read a foodie’s blog and they claimed at one time that they couldn’t go a week without a cookie what would you do? You would make one of their cookie recipes of course! At least that is what I did when I got assigned the oh so cute Chelsy’s blog Mangia!
But it’s not what I thought I’d make. I was positive as soon as I got my email from our Secret Recipe Club super leader Debbi of Debbi does dinner healthy that I would be making Italian. My heart sang at the thought, just like it did when I was first assigned Manu of Manu’s Menu (love that gal).
As I cruised through her blog and started pinning recipes on my “secret board” (thanks Veronica for that idea) I ran across her little comment about being a cookie fiend. And that particular cookie caught my eye. It called for a bunch of ingredients that I really, really, no kidding really needed to use. Let’s just say my pretzels were labeled: best if used by May 2012. Yeah, I probably have had these for the last 2 years. Continue reading “Mangia! Double Chocolate Almond Joy Pretzel Cookies” »
Remember when I received all that dill in my Bountiful Basket? I posted these deviled ham eggs and then I posted the Flounder Olympia (which you need to try if you haven’t yet). But that’s not all baby! I made this fantabulous quiche also. Actually I made quite a bit more but didn’t photograph it all.
After dosing ourselves in dill I realized that I never really used it enough in my cooking. Fresh dill was always paired with fish, or some creamy dressing/dip and used, of course, for pickling. Honestly I use more dried dill than fresh. But that wrong has been righted by the insane amount that I received and a new found appreciation and love for fresh dill.
I so enjoyed the flavor that I will be planting at least 4 dill plants, maybe more? I’m also planting a bunch of Boston pickling cucumbers. A good pair is a good pair.
Speaking of a good pair; asparagus and dill! Why have I never done this before? I know asparagus gets pickled (they’ve been known to show up in my Bloody Mary’s and Caesar’s); logically this thought should have occurred to me before! I am mourning the missed opportunities I could have had with dill and asparagus… Continue reading “Asparagus Dill Quiche with a Potato Crust” »
Would you believe that I’m sitting outside, drinking coffee and typing this post? To me this feels so luxurious. This is how, in my little mind, I imagine a writer’s life. The perfect writer’s life, where you could put pen to paper (or type) anywhere when inspiration hits.
I have always thought writers to have a glamorous job where they dictate their hours and only panic near deadlines. Sipping coffee while the words flow or enjoying wine and thinking that you do your best writing then. Staying up late, sleeping in or vice versa.
I think that probably Hollywood had some influence on this image that I have. The outsider looking in only sees what they see. The garbage men just drove down my alley, they looked over at me sitting al fresco, hacking away on my laptop and I know their thoughts “it must be nice…wish I could do that…but someone has to actually get up and go to work”.
I know that’s their thoughts; before I started freelancing if I saw someone doing something I wanted to do or perceived as “the life” I was a bit envious, I had those very same thoughts. Usually our image, or if I may say, the cover of the book, isn’t necessarily what’s going on inside. Continue reading “Pavlova with Strawberries and Mint” »
I’ve decided that Mother Nature is either a manic depressive or severely PMSing during the spring. She’s definitely a moody one, especially in Montana. Maybe it’s because she loves us so much that it incurs this severe differences in our days (you know the saying, you hurt the ones you love the most). For example, Sunday before last it was a gorgeous beautiful spring day, by Tuesday there was 6 inches of snow on the ground. Moody, moody, moody!
If Mother Nature PMS’s all spring, then I must have become in sync with her living in Montana over the years. Just as quickly as the weather changes so does my mood. If I wake up and the sun is out, so am I. I become an amazing production machine; whether it’s yard work, house work or ‘real’ work. I feel like I have boundless energy and can conquer the world. Continue reading “Hearty Spring Pasta” »
Have you ever heard the term “so ugly, it’s cute”? Typically this refers to animals and babies, not to food. And it shouldn’t. Actually I’ve never seen anything so ugly that it became cute. Cats with no hair…ugly! Smashed up face dogs with ubers of wrinkles…ugly. Your newborn baby…sorry moms…ugly (but not forever of course). Croc shoes…ugly! But oh so comfortable. Just because something is ugly doesn’t mean that it’s not likable, lovable or delicious for that matter. Continue reading “Uniq Citrus and Cucumber Salad” »
When I retired from the Air Force I thought I was going to be a teacher. I love to teach, mentor, and share knowledge and skills. Naturally I thought I’d be teaching dental assisting, after 22 years of it, I probably had enough experience. I was so sure of it that I got a BA in Education, specifically workforce education and development.
That didn’t happen. Apparently someone has to die before you can get a teaching position at the technical school. But sometimes things work out for the better anyways.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like teaching anymore. I’ve been teaching cooking classes and a little photography, and sharing my new gardening knowledge. I still love teaching, it’s almost a compulsion (some people get taught something whether they want to know or not). When my neighbor asked me if I’d like to teach her photo club of 6th graders some food photography, I was delighted! Continue reading “Roosevelt Cookies (Lemon Glazed Craisin, Granola and White Chocolate Cookies)” »