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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese

Now THIS is what I call a grilled cheese sandwich with everything you could want. If you haven't yet, you need to find the February issue of Bon Appetit. I bought it because the sandwich looked so good I began to (silently) blubber at the magazine rack.

Forewarning - This can take all day. But you should do it. Because the results are farking divine. You don't even have to take this with a grain of salt, you know why? Because I don't even really LIKE beef. In fact, I haven't eaten cow other than ground beef (which isn't even really like beef to me, it's like the original veggie ground round), in years. I avoid it because it's stringy and there's fat and I hate having to deal with the animalness of big cuts of beef. So I started small. You're totally supposed to use short-ribs, but they had the unfortunate drawback of having bones. Since I don't like bones I used some pre-cut shoulder steak instead. Nice little strips, very little fat and no bones!

You should check out the original recipe if only to drool over the photo. But my version was a bit different so I'll just post what I actually did.

Grilled Cheese and Steak Sandwich - KM Styles



1 pkg. shoulder steak strips
1.5 tbsp margarine
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 cup dry red wine (I used a Merlot, yum!)
1/4 cup broth (I used chicken broth)
3 tbsp medium-dry Sherry
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large white onion, sliced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

8 slices of fresh bread, or 8 french rolls
some sliced sharp or old cheddar cheese
1/4 head of romaine lettuce



Mis en Place

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper.

Heat margarine and olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook beef until just browned.

Transfer to a baking sheet or bowl. Add celery, carrots, and onion to pot and sauté until beginning to soften and brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Add wine, broth, Sherry, garlic, and bay leaf; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Season with salt and pepper.

Return steak to pot, placing them over the vegetables. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 1/2 hour.
Transfer steak to baking sheet or bowl. Continue to simmer sauce until thick, adding more stock if necessary, about another 45 minutes or so. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprig. Cut meat into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces then return meat to pot.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until beginning to brown, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar and cook until almost all vinegar is absorbed, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl; cool.

Butter your bread slices on each side. Divide meat among four slices. Add cheese, then top with onions. Finish with some romaine, and top with extra bread slice, buttered side out.

Heat griddle to medium heat. Grill sandwiches until bread is golden brown and cheese melts, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer to work surface. Cut each in half on diagonal. Transfer to plates and serve.

To make it a real treat, serve with fries.

We had this on Friday night and it was perfect with a bit of the leftover wine. I'm really looking forward to making this again, though I think next time I'll try the actual short-ribs from the original recipe. I need a cast iron dutch oven though. I've been looking through the Pioneer Woman website and several ladies have mentioned that her shortribs are delicious, but I really want one of those 5L dutch ovens. I notice that she has a Le Creuset, but it's a little out of our price range right now, so we were looking at the KitchenAid one. Unfortunately a few people have complained about the quality, leaving us to save up for the one I really want.

Almost makes me drool as much as this sandwich. Almost.

Udon Soup

I know I've been MIA, many apologies. My kid and Mr. Man were flu-ey for a week and it was enough to keep them alive and myself uncontaminated. I do have a few recipes to post however, since I've been okay to both cook and eat!

So I bought the Bon Appetit magazine because of the delicious looking grilled sandwich on the cover (we'll get to that later) and found this recipe for Udon Soup. I thought it would be perfect since Mr. Man and Little Man needed something clear and healthful to regain strength.

You know, just because it's in Bon Appetit, doesn't mean it's good. Also, why buy the magazine when they post all the recipes on their site? Seriously, I could have spent that $7 on something delicious! Another plus of recipes on their site is that I can copy and paste rather than typing it all out myself. Woot for websites!

Udon with Mushroom Broth, Cabbage, and Yams

Recipe by Anna Thomas


10 cups Light Vegetable Broth (see recipe) or good-quality canned vegetable broth (such as Swanson) (I used regular veggie broth cubes)
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (I only had some frozen stuff)
1 1/2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
3/4 cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger (I think I only had about a 1/2 cup)
2 lemongrass stalks, outer dark layers removed, all but bottom 4 inches cut off and discarded
2 6-inch strips dried kombu (I used sushi seaweed since I couldn't find kombu)
2 teaspoons tamari soy sauce
1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar (omitted)

2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled yams (red-skinned sweet potatoes)
5 ounces snow peas, trimmed
4 cups 1/2-inch-wide crosswise slices cored Napa cabbage (I used red cabbage, slice it VERY thinly, a 1/2-inch-wide is too wide)
5 ounces slender carrots (preferably assorted colors), peeled, thinly sliced on diagonal
10 ounces Japanese-style udon noodles or soba noodles (I used rice noodles)
1 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup matchstick-size strips peeled fresh ginger
4 to 6 ounces semi-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (optional)
Sambal oelek
Tamari soy sauce

Before we get on to the directions, I think the biggest issue with this soup was that I couldn't find the proper noodles or seaweed. Usually recipes are adaptable so I didn't worry about my substitutions, but maybe this is one of those soups that really requires the specific ingredients listed.


Bring broth and 3 cups water to simmer in large pot over medium heat. Add cilantro, mushrooms, sliced ginger, and lemongrass. Cover; simmer until mushrooms are tender, about 30 minutes. Rinse kombu; add to broth. Simmer 1 minute. Using tongs, remove kombu and mushrooms; discard kombu. Transfer mushrooms to work surface; cut off stems and discard. Cut each mushroom into 3 to 4 strips. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into another large pot; discard solids in strainer. Add tamari and rice vinegar to broth.

DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill mushrooms. Cool, cover, and chill broth.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Cook yams until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Using skimmer, transfer to medium bowl. Cook snow peas, cabbage, and carrots separately until crisp-tender (snow peas, 30 seconds; cabbage, 1 1/2 minutes; carrots, 2 minutes). Using kimmer, transfer vegetables to separate bowls. Reserve cooking liquid.

DO AHEAD Vegetables can be cooked 2 hours ahead. Let vegetables and liquid stand at room temperature.

Bring cooking liquid to boil. Sprinkle with salt. Add noodles; cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring often. Drain; rinse.

Meanwhile, bring vegetable broth to simmer. Add green onions and ginger strips. Season with salt and pepper.
Using tongs, divide noodles among bowls. Divide mushrooms, yams, snow peas, cabbage, and carrots among bowls, each in separate mound. Divide tofu, if using, among bowls. Ladle broth over and serve, passing sambal oelek and tamari separately.

I don't even have any photos of the end result because it was such a bust. The yams weren't cooked enough, the cabbage was too thick, the noodles were all pasty. The plus side though is that the mushroom broth is freaking delicious! I've frozen a bunch of it and will definitely be making more when it runs out. It was full-flavoured and dark and rich, but not too. Really great broth.

Side notes: Have you ever noticed how much cheaper it is to shop in the "ethnic" aisle of the grocery store? Can't believe it! I cut my costs in half because I went down there looking for kombu. Don't buy the little packages of dried mushrooms in the produce section above the button and cremini mushrooms, go to the ethnic aisle and they have huge bags of the exact same thing for the same price as the 150g ones! Crazy!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Big Enchilada

Someone mentioned a taco bar today as an option for a buffet, followed closely by someone mentioning a chili bar, and I drooled over the thought of them put together. I wasn't feeling ambitious enough though, so I'm making enchiladas instead.

My mom had a rotating list of suppers that were acceptable to everyone in the family. They were posted on the side of the fridge and once in a while, when we were lucky, we got to pick one that we wanted. I varied between macaroni and cheese, shake-n-bake chicken and enchiladas. She would make the tortillas from scratch on her cast iron grill, then roll them up over crazy amounts of cheese, then bake with tomato sauce. It wasn't fancy, but it was so filling and comforting and tasty.

I only had mozza cheese instead of cheddar, but it didn't really matter. Cheese was cheese at that point.

For starters, make your tortillas.

Cornmeal Tortillas


1/2 c. cornmeal
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt

Olive oil


Whisk all ingredients together until they form a uniform batter.

Heat a bit of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, quickly re-whisk your batter for a couple of seconds to distribute the cornmeal, then pour about three inches worth (diameter) into your pan. Swirl the batter to make a thin tortilla. Cook until golden then flip, about 2-3 minutes depending on your heat.

Cook evenly on both sides, then remove to a warm plate in the oven. I just used my toaster oven set at "Keep Warm".

You can use these for all sorts of things, and they freeze really well too.



about a 1/3 - 1/2 brick of cheese, usually cheddar, grated
1 lb. ground beef (I used lean)
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp. taco seasoning

Olive Oil

A jar of tomato sauce (or your own which would be even better! It should be pasty.)


Heat a bit of oil, then sauté your onion and beef until just cooked through. Add your seasoning and mix well. Remove from heat.

(Oops! Forgot a photo after it was done!)

Pre-heat your oven to 375F, and lightly grease a deep baking dish.

Put a reasonable amount of meat and cheese mixture in each tortilla, then wrap and place seam side down in your baking dish. Snug them in together nice and close. After your bottom layer is done, pour about a cup of the tomato sauce over top. Finish your second layer of wraps.

Smother with tomato sauce, then top with any extra cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for about 35 minutes or until cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.

Serve with a salad so you don't feel so bad for the heart attack in a pan that you've brought to the table. Total cheesy goodness comfort food, perfect for February weather.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pizza night

Mr. Man has started a second job and is now working way longer days, leaving me to feed just M & myself most of the time. The thing is, at the best of times I'm all about convenience rather than health, and when I'm alone it's even worse. For example, yesterday I bought Kraft Dinner.


Yeah, it's this silly thing that I can't shake. Now, when I make the KD, I'm going to have broccoli and meat and other veggies too, all mixed together in a casserole, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it's KD.

The problem I run into is that I don't want my kid eating KD. So now my efforts to be lazy have doubled my workload because I have to make something healthy for him. In an attempt to avoid this backlash, I'm making an effort to think of delicious things that are both easy and healthy.

Like pizza!

So tonight I'm trying a thin crust veggie chicken pizza. I have a red pepper that I'm going to roast, and some bone-in chicken breast that I'm going to bake then shred. Of course, it wouldn't be The Cookery if I didn't use my mixer, so the pizza dough will be made in the mixer.

Now to figure out how to make thin crust. Off to google!


So it turns out that I've broken off a bit of my flat beater attachment when making banana bread today! FLIP! I was going to use the weareneverfull recipe for thin crust dough, but it says to use the flat beater instead of the dough hook. Instead I just used my regular bread dough recipe, but I added a bit more oil than normal, and adjusted the amounts.

For toppings I used roasted red pepper, avocado and some shredded chicken. Roasting peppers is dead easy and so worth it for the taste.

Take your pepper and cut it into large pieces. Drizzle with olive oil (plenty now, don't be shy) then broil until they look burnt.

Take them out of the oven, or toaster oven, and let cool for a minute or so until transferring them into a freezer bag (like Ziploc). They'll steam nicely in there, loosening the skins. When you're ready for them, simply peel off the black skin and slice!

Pizza Dough


1 c. warm water
1/2 tbsp. quickrise yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil



Mix yeast, sugar, and salt with oil and water. Let sit for a minute or so until foamy. Pour into your mixer bowl. Add 2 c. flour to start then continue adding until your dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticky.

Rub with oil or flour and let rise for an hour or so, until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 450F, and put in your stoneware to heat up. I have one of those huge (and heavy) Pampered Chef bar pans, so that's what I'm using.

Punch down and begin to roll it out until it's almost translucent. Add your sauce and toppings, then bake for 7-9 minutes or until golden and cheese is melted. I baked my second pizza for more like 15 minutes and I liked the crust a lot better. The first one was okay, but became a bit too soft after cooling. I like it when the crust remains crunchy.

Voila! Pizza on a Wednesday. Tons of leftovers too, for which Mr. Man will be very grateful.

And it turns out that everyone was a fan! Yay for healthy options!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chicken Conquistador

No, that's not what I made, it's my new title.

I made roast chicken again to resounding success! Maybe it's silly, but I'm really proud of myself for a) facing the headless chicken and b) coming out the other end with a meal, all without losing my lunch.

I made chicken with veg, stuffing and bruschetta this time. Here's how it broke down:



Herbes de Provence
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt


Wash chicken inside and out with cold water. Pat dry, then rub with olive oil, sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and Herbes de Provence. I cut up some potatoes & added baby carrots to the pot as well.

Stuff & bake for about 3-3.5 hours at 375F. I basted the chicken quite regularly because I only really like white meat and dry meat makes me gag. Chicken is done when meat thermometer reads 180F or when juices run clear.



Mushroom and Onion Stuffing


1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. mustard seeds
about a cup sliced Cremini mushrooms
a medium red onion
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
about 3 cups dry bread chunks
1/4 c. Water or chicken stock
Olive oil


Put a few glugs (maybe a tablespoon or so?) of olive oil in your saucepan over medium-high heat and allow to warm. Once it's quite hot add the coriander and mustard seeds, stirring occasionally until they start to pop.

Add the onion and lower heat to medium until onions are tender, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and poultry seasoning and continue cooking until the mushrooms are just brown, adding more oil as necessary. Remove from heat.

Add the bread chunks. (I used homemade rosemary and olive focaccia and white bread for the chunks. I just chopped it up then toasted for a hour in a 300F oven.) Add the water or stock, stirring well to combine.

Stuff into chicken, reserving extra to cook alongside the chicken for about 30-45 minutes.



4-5 very ripe small tomatoes, chopped roughly
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. red onion, finely chopped
fresh or dried basil to taste
Olive oil


Chop the tomatoes, then mix well with garlic, red onion and basil. Coat generously with olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours (or as long as you can).

For the bread, I made focaccia earlier in the week, specifically for this recipe.

Cut the focaccia into 3/4 - 1 inch slices. Heat some olive oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan, about 2 tablespoons or so, over medium to high heat. Once the oil is hot, add your bread slices in a single layer. Fry until golden, then flip and fry the other side until golden, adding more oil if necessary.

Top warm bread with bruschetta mixture and chow down. You won't be able to stop yourself, I promise.

Also, I toasted a few slices just to see if frying the bread was really necessary, but it's TOTALLY necessary. Once you've fried your bread, you'll never go back to just toast. At least I won't!

The final results:

Everything was delicious, though the stuffing was a bit dry because I left it out too long while the chicken was roasting. Especially with the mushrooms, it tastes really good, but the texture has a lot to be desired.

P.S. Mr. Man thought it was hilarious that I thought this was a totally inappropriate place for the wishbone while he was carving. But since he was willing to cut it all up, I didn't make a fuss. I did, however, roll my eyes and make an icky face.