Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sirloin Stir Fry with Curly Noodles

"That was really good." - Dear Daughter
"Great dinner, Mom." - Teenage Son
"I liked that." - Hubby

The critics agree: this dinner's a winner. I can't take credit for inventing it, however. That would go to fellow personal chef and blogger Amy Casey. She posted this recipe a while ago, and I have had it printed out and on my "to try" pile for weeks. I made a few modifications to please my taste testers (sorry Amy, they do NOT like edamame), and dinner was served.

Sirloin Stir Fry with Curly Noodles
Serves 5 (with extra sauce)

1 cup hoisin sauce
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 small can (6 oz.) pineapple juice
1/3 cup honey
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 tablespoon jarred minced ginger
1 t. cornstarch
1 1/2 lbs. sirloin tips, sliced thin
1 T. light brown sugar
2 T. canola oil, divided
dash crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 large red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
2 cups snow peas, stringed
1 package curly Chinese noodles, cooked according to package directions
2 scallions, sliced thin
sesame seeds

Combine first 6 ingredients (hoisin through ginger) in a sauce pan; bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, or until reduced to about half. Stir in cornstarch and simmer 1 more minute. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, toss sirloin with brown sugar, 1 T. canola oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Heat remaining 1 T. oil in a large skillet. Brown the beef for 3 minutes. Drain excess fat. Add bell pepper strips and snow peas, cover and cook for 3 more minutes. Add 1/2 cup sauce and toss until sauce thickens and coats meat and vegetables (about 1 minute). Spoon sauce and vegetables over curly noodles. Sprinkle each serving with scallions and sesame seeds and serve.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spice-Rubbed Tri-Tip Sandwich

This sandwich was invented while I sat in church this morning. Sacred moment or not, I had food on my mind. Specifically, what could I have for lunch when I returned home?

As I mentally scanned my refrigerator, I came across the remains of a spice-rubbed tri-tip roast I had prepared for dinner last night. With one ear on the sermon (topic: Doubt), I decided for lunch, I would thinly slice the beef, toss the strips with some barbecue sauce and serve it on a toasted roll, along with some roasted peppers and onions. With that settled, I returned my attention to the service.

No doubt about it, this was a divine use of leftovers.

Spice-Rubbed Tri-Tip

This tri-tip should be sliced very thin, against the grain. Try it in warm tortillas with sour cream and salsa or on a toasted bulkie roll with melted cheddar cheese and horseradish mayo, or the roasted peppers and onions and a drizzle of barbecue sauce, like I did. It's especially easy to slice when cold, so save some unsliced for the next day.

1 T. chili powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. kosher salt
1 beef tri-tip roast (1 1/2 - 2 lb.)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1" chunks or strips
1 sweet yellow onion, cut into 1" chunks or strips
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
Southwest Seasoning or salt and pepper
Warm tortillas or rolls; shredded cheese; guacamole; barbecue sauce; etc.

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and salt, and rub onto all sides of the roast. Place the roast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.

Toss the peppers and onions with the olive oil and seasonings. Spread out on a small sheet pan or ceramic ovenproof dish. Place both the roast and the vegetables in the oven, side by side if possible, and roast for 40 - 45 minutes. Stir the vegetables once or twice during cooking. After 40 - 45 minutes, use an instant-read thermometer to test the roast (135 degrees for medium-rare; 150 degrees for medium. The temperature will continue to rise as you remove it from the oven and will reach 145 for medium-rare and 160 for medium). When the roast and vegetables are done to your liking, remove from the oven.

Cover the roast loosely with aluminum foil and let rest at least 15 minutes. Carve thin, against the grain, and serve as desired.

Serves 6.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille

I adore vegetables. I think they're my favorite thing to eat as well as to cook. I love their colors, their textures and their flavors. But what I most admire about vegetables is their ability to morph from crunchy and sweet (when raw) to savory and al dente after roasting, steaming, sauteeing or grilling.

This ratatouille recipe illustrates that. Taste the vegetables before you put them in the hot oven, after you've got them spread out and seasoned on the baking sheet. YUM! But then, after they've roasted and you've combined them with the sauteed garlic and tomatoes, WOW! It's a whole new dish.

Enjoy this over grilled polenta for a vegetarian dinner; as a side dish for simple roasted chicken or baked fish; or over pasta with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. The recipe can be doubled for a bigger crowd.

Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 small Italian eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1/2 large sweet onion
1 medium yellow pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. herbs de provence
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic -- minced
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
fresh parsley and/or fresh basil -- chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (400 for convection).

Chop the eggplant, zucchini, pepper and onion into bite-size chunks and mix them all together in a large bowl. Coat lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs de provence. Spread vegetables on a large sheet pan (covered with foil for easier cleaning) and roast in pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are soft and starting to look charred around the edges. (Convection: roast for 15 - 20 minutes.)

In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, saute garlic on medium-low heat in olive oil until soft, about 1-2 minutes, being careful garlic doesn't brown. Add tomatoes and simmer a few minutes. Add roasted vegetables to the pan. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes or until all flavors meld. Before serving, top with fresh herbs.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Fish

I knew I wanted to serve fish today, and I knew I wanted to try something new, so I decided to try this recipe for Pan-Seared Tilapia with Chile-Lime Butter. The mild tilapia got a nice jolt of flavor from the aptly-named Chile-Lime Butter, which I made earlier this afternoon. All I had to do tonight was saute some vegetables for a side dish (I cleaned out the veggie drawer and the freezer to find some likely suspects), wipe out the skillet and cook the fish for a few minutes on each side, and, Praise the Lord, dinner was ready.

Pan-Seared Tilapia with Chile-Lime Butter
Serves 6

For chile-lime butter:
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) stick butter, margarine or spread of your choice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 teaspoon minced fresh chile (use red for nice color contrast)
pinch of salt
For fish:
6 pieces tilapia
salt and pepper
2 t. vegetable oil

Make the chile-lime butter by combining all of the ingredients. If very soft, set in freezer while preparing the fish.

Rinse fish and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with nonstick spray and add 2 t. vegetable oil. Cook the fish for about 3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove from pan and place a dollop of butter on top of each serving.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pasta with Roasted Peppers and Sausage

Don't let the simple name fool you; this healthy dish is full of complex flavors and textures, and is a real family pleaser. The best part is, it uses only a handful of ingredients and can be on the table in no time.

Pasta with Roasted Peppers and Sausage
Serves 4

2 - 3 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)
8 - 10 oz. pasta of your choice
1 T. olive oil
3/4 lb. chicken or turkey Italian sausage, casings removed
1 T. butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock (you may want more)
parmesan cheese
fresh basil, chopped

Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Slice the 4 sides off each pepper and lay them, skin side up, on the baking sheet. Broil about 4" from the heat for 15 min., or until charred. Use tongs to move the peppers from the baking sheet to a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the peppers steam (5 - 15 minutes). Then, rub off the skins and discard. Slice the peppers into 1/4 inch strips and place back in bowl with any juices that have accumulated.

Meanwhile, start a large pot of water and cook the pasta al dente.

While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet and crumble the sausage into the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned and just cooked through. Remove the sausage from the pan and place in the bowl with the sliced peppers.

Melt the butter in the same skillet, and saute the garlic for about a minute. Add the chicken stock, peppers and sausages and stir to combine. Place the cooked, drained pasta in the skillet and stir everything together. If it seems too dry, add more chicken stock or some of the pasta cooking water (or some butter if you're feeling skinny).

Place servings in bowls and top with a bit of grated parmesan cheese and some fresh basil. Enjoy!