December 7, 2011

Это русская пиша!!! (That's Russian food!!!)

Hello again, dear friends!

I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving and I am sorry to have missed it. I have been most preoccupied with.. well, life lately; however, I am pleased to inform you that I have lots of fantastic eats to share with you!

Tonight, I am sharing with you a recipe from my dear friend Robby Sasser- the delightfully delectable Pelmini! Many of you have been asking about it and I love to make it, so let's go!

You will need for the dough:

1 1/2-2 cups(ish) of flour. I say about, because be prepared to add more.
2 eggs
1/4 cup of warm water (Robby says 1/2 cup, but I found 1/4 cup worked better for me)
Heavy pinch of salt (don't be shy)

You will need for the filling:

1/2lb of ground beef
1/2lb of ground pork
Heavy pinch of salt
Heavy pinch of black pepper
Two or three cloves finely minced garlic (more or less if you wish)
Two medium grated onions (optional. Trevor doesn't like onions, so I leave them out.)

You will need to make the dough first, because it will need to sit. Mix the ingredients of the dough together. If you don't have experience dough making, the first time might be a challenge for you (it certainly was for me). When I make pelmini, I am always prepared to add more flour. You don't want the dough to be sticky, but you also don't want the dough to be too dry either. You want the dough to come together to a workable consistency. The moisture and warmth in my hands tends to make my dough sticky, so flour is my answer. Yours may be different, so be prepared to make adjustments.

When your dough has come together, knead for ten minutes. Don't cheat this step! Then set your dough aside for an hour (Robby says at least 30 minutes, but advises 50 minutes to an hour is best. And I agree.).

About 15 minutes (or however long it takes your stove to boil water) before your dough has set time has elapsed, set a pot on the stove sizable enough to host your pelmini and bring water to a *rolling boil*. Again, can't stress that enough.

Whilst your water preps, mix the ingredients of your filling together and set aside.

Now, cut the dough into three equal sections, roll into logs about ¾ inch wide, and cut them into 2 inch segments. Squash each segment into a thin circle (about 2 ½ inches in diameter) and put a spoonful of filling in it. Keep in mind that you will then need to bring the "corners" (I realize circles don't have corners, but you'll see what I mean) of the dough together and pinch tightly, sealing the dumpling.

Boil for 6-8 minutes, or until they float. Think of this process like you would ravioli. Then serve! Robby and I like believe pelmini is best served sprinkled (liberally) with dill, but Trevor likes his plain. So can you :)

Tasty Tips for this recipe: The dough will be the trickiest part for beginners. The best advice I can give is the "workable consistency" I mentioned is very similar to that of fresh pizza dough. The best way to tell if it's kneaded well is to pinch off a section and rub it between your fingers. If you can make it thin enough for light to shine through without the dough sticking to your hands or breaking, you're set.

A tip for your meats: If you don't like or can't eat pork, two meats that complement each other are meant to shine in this dish. You can use beef and lamb or turkey and chicken.

Happy cooking and happier eating!

September 3, 2011

It's Breakfast Time Somewhere!

Good morning, noon, or night, friends! Tonight's adventure is a great meal to have anytime!

Trevor and I made pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs for dinner this evening. Breakfast for dinner was a very popular menu option when I was growing up and therefore perfect for my generation to start making on their own.

For the pancakes, you will need:

2 cups all-purpose (AP) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons of vinegar
5 tablespoons butter (melted then slightly cooled)

Ideally, buttermilk would make the hands down, absolute best pancakes; however, buttermilk doesn't get used as often in the modern American kitchen as it used to be. If you happen to have buttermilk on hand, you'll need two cups, but scratch the vinegar and you'll only need 4 tablespoons of butter.

If you will be using regular milk (like I do more often than not), 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup will sour the milk enough to give the buttermilk effect and adding the extra tablespoon of butter will boost the butter fat content the "vinegared milk" will lack.

I have a cast iron griddle pan to make the pancakes on, but an 8-10" non stick skillet will do. Place your pan over medium-low heat (if your oven dial is numbered, between 3 and 4 is best).

While that heats, beat your eggs. And when I say beat, please don't pulverize the poor things into oblivion. Simply whisk with a fork until the yolk and white come together. Then add your milk and melted butter.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.

Add the wet stuff to the dry stuff and mix until all the dry stuff is mixed in. Be sure not to leave flour chunks in the bottom of the bowl.

Now, since 4-5 tablespoons is half a stick of butter (I only keep butter sticks in my fridge. I haven't bought the tubs ever), you should still have the other half floating around somewhere. Rub down your pan with the butter. It will hiss at you, but don't worry. It won't bite.

This is my favorite part. Since pancakes are essentially flat muffins, as your pancakes cook, you will see first hand what goes on in your oven when muffins are made.

Spoon enough batter onto the pan to make a 4" pancake. At first, nothing will happen. Then little bubbles will start to form. These bubbles are the same bubbles that make muffins rise. When there are bubbles across the surface of your pancake, flip it! A perfectly golden brown side of a pancake should be smiling back at you. The pancake will be flat initially, but you will know when your pancake is fully done when the center, like a muffin, will start to rise. When the center has a noticable bubble and the both sides are equally golden brown, remove to a plate. Repeat this process until all the pancakes are made, but keep the plated ones under a clean, warm kitchen towel.

Tasty Tips for this recipe: Pan sear your bacon in a 12" cast iron skillet instead of throwing it in the microwave. I promise you will taste the difference!!

Happy cooking and happier eating!

September 2, 2011

A Toast to Garlic!

Since spaghetti was this dinner of choice this evening, I wanted to share a very simple recipe for garlic toast. Instead of going out and spending money on the premade stuff, all you will need is:

Sliced bread
Garlic salt
Cheese (optional)

Set your oven rack to its top setting and preheat your broiler. Butter your bread (1 to 2 slices per person should do), add a dusting of paprika and a dash of garlic salt. If you wanted to add some mozzarella or parmesan cheese, top the bread with such at this time.

Place your bread on your broiler pan and pop in the oven. Leave in for about 30-40 seconds. Basically, until the butter (and cheese) have melted and the sides of the bread are toasted.

Serve with a heaping helping of spaghetti and enjoy!

Happy cooking and happier eating!

August 30, 2011

Sans Grill Burgers

Good evening, friends!

Most apartment dwellers like me are typically not allowed to have grills on their patios (if they have a patio at all), but when it's summer time and you're craving a nice side of beef on a bun, whatever is one to do?

Pan sear.

This is a very home cook friendly application, so let's get started!

You will need:

1lb lean ground beef
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat and if your oven has an overhead vent, turning it on would be wise.

Mix salt, pepper, and beef, and form into 1/4" thick patties. Even the leanest of beef will smoke in the skillet, so searing the burgers one at a time will avoid excessive amounts of smoke.

Sear your burgers for 3 to 4 minutes on each side depending on how you like your meat cooked. When you flip your burgers, please take special care not to squish them with your handy spatula. You will be rewarded for your patience.

Add bun and consume.

Tasty Tips for this recipe: A dash of cayenne would be a nice addition if you seek burgers with a little extra kick.

Happy cooking and happier eating!

August 26, 2011

Lunch Time, Crunch Time

This recipe may not be the best for a four course dinner, but if you want a light lunch or quick snack, it's perfect.

For two quesodillas you will need:

2 chicken breasts
2 12" tortillas
14oz quesodilla melting cheese (the authentic stuff that comes in the round package)

You know the drill- broil your chicken! You may be wondering why I've had so many recipes including chicken. It's simple really. Personal preference. Trevor and I prefer more white meat in our diet than red, but never you worry. My crystal ball foresees pan seared burgers in the near future!

While your chicken is broiling, put a 10" cast iron skillet over high heat and start melting your cheese. At first, you'll need to chop it into chunks with a knife or large spoon, but once the chunks are soft enough to slice with little effort, break out a whisk. Your cheese will start to seize if you let it sit too long, and we don't want that. Whisk the cheese like you would eggs whenever the cheese starts to stiffen.

When your chicken is fully cooked, put a 12" cast iron skillet over medium heat. Slice your chicken the way you like it. Add your tortilla to the skillet and place half the chicken in the center. Pour half the cheese onto the chicken and fold the tortilla in half. Press the quesodilla down lightly with a spatula for about 30 seconds, flip and repeat.

Tasty Tips for this recipe: Try adding bell peppers and/or onions if you like them. The bell peppers would definitely add a sweet contrast.

Happy cooking and happier eating!

August 25, 2011

Welcome Home!

Greetings readers! First of all, a thousand apologies for my extended absence. Due to some unfortunate financial circumstances, I have been unable to cook as many meals of substance as I would like; however, the prodigal blogger has returned!

Tonight, I give you one of my favorite recipes- chicken pot pie. This recipe was one of the first to make me feel accomplished as a home cook. The recipe is very simple and a great dish to use when you have leftover vegetables.

You will need:

1-2 chicken breasts
2 cups vegetables
1 10oz can of potato soup
1 tsp tarragon
1 8 oz package of crescent rolls
Cheese (optional)

The first thing you will need to do is broil your chicken for 12 minutes (if you need a reminder, see the method in margarita chicken).

When your chicken is ready, put a 10-12" cast iron skillet over medium low heat and pour in your soup. Now, here is the part where you can customize as you please. Mix your 2 cups vegetables in with your soup. For Trevor and me, I use a mix of corn, peas, and carrots, but feel free to use whatever choices suit your fancy! Lima beans and green beans would also be excellent selections.

Set your oven to 400 degrees and slice your chicken into cubes.

When the soup has slightly thinned (and your vegetables have thawed if you use frozen), add your chicken and teaspoon of tarragon (dried is a lot easier to keep on hand).

If you would like to add shredded cheese (chedder or mozzarella are what I prefer), now is the time to do it. Stir in until slightly melted.

Pour your glorious mixture into a 9" x 9" baking pan and top with your crescents.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cresents are golden brown.

Devour without mercy.

Tasty Tips for this recipe: Make it your own! Experiment with different vegetables and or try it with turkey. I'd love to hear about your results!

Happy cooking and happier eating!

August 16, 2011

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

To find its way into yummy chicken tacos of course!

Tonight, my friend Sarah came over for dinner and as she is on the Atkins diet, I wanted to be an accommodating hostess. I chose chicken tacos, because it met Sarah's low carb needs, my budget, and it doesn't even take thirty minutes to make.

Remember how we broiled the bird when we made margarita chicken earlier this week? Well, do that again.

Take plain chicken breasts and broil them for 12 minutes (6 on the top rack, 6 on the middle rack).

When the chicken is cooked, slice or chop as desired. I like small strips, since I munch in small bites. Put a cast iron skillet over medium heat and melt a tablespoon of butter in the skillet. When your chicken is shredded, place in the skillet with the melted butter and add (depending on how much chicken you have) a half cup to a cup of corn and a half cup to a cup of black beans.

I keep fresh corn I've sliced off the cob in my freezer, but you are welcome to use canned corn if you wish.

When you add the black beans and corn, add another tablespoon of butter. Once the butter has melted, stir in a package of taco seasoning and you are ready to chow down.

Wrap all that goodness in a whole wheat or flour tortilla, top off with a little shredded cheese, and that's all you need.

Happy cooking and happier eating!

(This recipe was inspired by the methods of Yvonne Starlin. Thanks a million!!)