Sunday, March 20, 2011

Not Really Corned Beef & Cabbage - Part 2

Corned Turkey. It sounds strange, it sounds unnatural, but hey, we corn beef, so it must be possible. Right?
I have it on my list of something I'm going to make "someday" - but for today I cheated and used prepared Turkey Pastrami.

I realize they aren't the same thing. Besides the fact that Pastrami meats are smoked and Corned meats are usually boiled, they also use different spices to impart different flavors (usually you'll find a lot more pepper in the Pastrami) but they are both salt-brined so hey, let's give it a whirl!

Pastrami is pre-cooked so there's no need for an hours long cooking process as you would for Corned Beef, but I didn't want to just slice and serve so here's what I did to "Corn" it up:

St. Patrick's Day "Corned" Turkey Pastrami & Brussel Sprouts
Serves: 2

Jennie-O Turkey Pastrami*
1 bottle of Guinness (11.2 oz)
Brown Sugar
1/2 lb Brussel Sprouts
1 tbsp. 1 Olive Oil
1 tbsp. Butter
salt & pepper

Cut off the woody end of the brussel sprout stems and remove the loose outer leaves. Slice from the head down into thin slivers. Rinse off the sliced sprouts and drain (just to make sure there's no bits of dirt stuck between the leaves).

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saute pan. Add the brussel sprouts and season with salt & pepper. Cook until the leaves turn bright green and start to wilt - usually about 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the Guinness into a medium saucepan with about 2 Tbsp of brown sugar. Heat to simmering. Slice the Pastrami (approx. 3-4 slices per person) and add to the Guinness mixture. Cook until just heated through. Serve on a bed of the sauteed brussel sprouts.

Easy Peasy!

*Let me just take a moment to sing the praises of Jennie-O Turkey Pastrami! It can usually be found at Safeway, next to the ham and sausage. Sliced thinly (ah my Mandolin how I love thee!) it makes a killer Reuben sandwich (of which I will post my super easy prep "someday")

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Not Really Corned Beef & Cabbage

St. Patrick's Day - the day when we're all "Irish for a Day". I'm not sure how or when that rule came into effect, but hey, if that means I get to make Corned Beef & Cabbage then so be it!

I've actually got two recipes for you. Today's is the traditional-ish version and tomorrow I'll share one for the nonmammaltarians of the world.

I'd never made Corned Beef & Cabbage before but I knew I didn't want to have a recipe that called for boiling cabbage for hours on end (bleah!) Here's what I came up with:

Traditional-ish Corned Beef & Cabbage

Corned Beef:
- 1 package TJ's Uncured Corned Beef Round Flat - the largest one you can find (mine was 4lbs)
- 2 bottles Guinness (the ones I used were 11.2 oz each)
- Brown Sugar
- Crockpot

Put the Corned Beef (including all the spices) in the crockpot, fat side up. Pat brown sugar onto the Corned Beef (I used about 3/4 of a cup). Pour both bottles of Guinness around the Corned Beef (just up to the top, being careful not to wash away the brown sugar). Cook on low heat for 8hrs.

Pull the Corned Beef out of the pot and set aside until cool enough to handle (hey it shrunk!). Pour the lovely Beefy-Guinnessy goodness through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepan. Add approx. 1/2 cup of brown sugar and heat to a roiling boil to let it reduce some*.

Once the Corned Beef is cool enough to handle, rinse off the remaining spices and any fat that is still hanging on (it should slide right off). Slice it on the diagonal and serve on a bed of sauteed cabbage.

* If I'd had more time I would probably have let the sauce boil longer & added some cornstarch to thicken it a little.

Sauteed Cabbage

- 1 head Savoy Cabbage (I like the thinner leaves of the savoy vs a standard green cabbage) - thinly sliced
- 1 large sweet onion - thinly sliced
- diced garlic
- olive oil
- butter
- salt & pepper

Heat the olive oil (enough to coat the pan, about 2 Tbsp) in a large saute pan or dutch oven with about a Tbsp of butter. Add the sliced onion, season with salt & pepper and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the sliced cabbage and diced garlic to the pan and season with salt & pepper. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring and flipping often, until the cabbage is mostly translucent but still has some crunch to it.

Serve with the Corned Beef and don't forget some of the Guinness Sauce!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chipotle Cashew Brittle

Our local Safeway has a "Nut Counter" with a wonderful variety of spiced nuts. By far my favorite is the Chipotle Cashews - they have just the right amount of heat to make them irresistable.

It was Andrew's idea, "Hey, these would make great brittle!" and my job to implement. After a number of batches of differing techniques and ingredients (the first one went with us to Thanksgiving dinner at David & Amanda's, a few batches were stocking stuffers, another batch was used for an office potluck, and most recently I used some to bribe my neighbor into pet sitting for us!) I think I have a recipe worth sharing:


• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 1 cup light corn syrup
• 1/2 cup water
• 3 cups chipotle cashews (1 lb)
• 1/4 cup butter
• 1 teaspoon baking soda

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup and water over medium high heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it comes to a boil.

Clamp a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan (making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan) and, without stirring, cook until it reaches 280°F (soft crack stage).

Stir in the cashews and butter and continue cooking, stirring (it will become difficult at this point) until the thermometer reaches 300°F (hard crack stage).

Remove from heat and carefully stir in the baking soda(the brittle will puff up).

Immediately pour the brittle (watch out - it will be lava hot!), as thinly as possible onto the parchment lined baking sheet.

Let the brittle completely cool and then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Makes about 2 lbs of brittle.

1. I have found that a warm baking sheet helps the brittle spread easier - I keep it in a 200°F oven while I cook the brittle.
2. If you want a thin brittle: while the brittle is still very hot, use gloved hands to stretch the brittle until you get the brittle to how thin you want it. Do this by gently pulling the edges of the brittle, working your way around the entire mass.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


"My feeling about chili is this: Along in November, when the first northern strikes, and the skies are gray, along about five o'clock in the afternoon, I get to thinking how good chili would taste for supper. It always lives up to expectations. In fact, you don't even mind the cold November winds."

– Lady Bird Johnson, U.S. First Lady

I love chili. It's such a comforting dish. I love that it has as many variations as Eskimos have words for snow. Proponents of each recipe (Texas, Cincinnati, Louisville, Beans, No Beans...) insist that theirs is the best. So I thought I'd share my version of the perfect chili.

Since Andrew doesn’t eat mammal I found a turkey version (thanks to Rachel Ray) and made a few modifications to suit our taste buds. It is now my go to chili recipe and always gets rave reviews. It even won a chili cook-off competition!

This year it'll just be the two of us for Christmas. I think I'll stir up a batch for us to enjoy. It may just be a new holiday tradition!

 Extra-virgin olive oil (about 1-2 tablespoons)
 2 packages ground turkey(about 1 lb each)
 2 tablespoons dark chili powder
 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
 2 tablespoons grill seasoning blend, any brand
 1 tablespoon cumin
 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
 1 to 3 tablespoons hot sauce, medium to extra-spicy
 1 large onion (diced)
 2 large red Bell Peppers (diced)
 2 cups roasted corn kernels*
 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chilies (well drained)
 2 cans Black Beans (rinsed and drained)
 1/2 bottle beer, about 1 cup
 1 (14oz) can tomato sauce
 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (smoky if you have it)
 1 can diced jalapenos

Heat a large pan over medium to medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and the turkey meat. Break up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon into small crumbles. Brown the turkey for about 5 minutes. Season the meat with the chili powder, red pepper flakes, grill seasoning, cumin, Worcestershire and hot sauce, then transfer the mixture to large a pot or Dutch oven.

In the same large pan, sauté the diced onions and bell peppers until softened and most of the water has cooked out. (NOTE: If using frozen corn, sauté it along with the onions and peppers, if using freshly roasted corn, add it along with the remaining ingredients). Add the sautéed onions, peppers and corn along with the Ro-Tel tomatoes and black beans to the cooked turkey mixture and stir to combine.

Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, then add the half bottle of beer, tomato sauce and barbecue sauce and bring to a bubble. Add jalapenos and let chili simmer for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and adjust seasonings and heat level to your taste. Remove from heat and serve.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings – will serve more as a potluck dish

*If you don’t have the time or inclination to roast the corn: 1 pkg of Trader Joes frozen “Fire Roasted Corn” (16oz) is perfect.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I visited my family over Labor Day Weekend and was prevailed upon to make breakfast. I didn't want to spend my morning at the stove scrambling eggs and frying sausage, so I decided to make my breakfast strata. It takes all your breakfast favorites and combines them into one yummy dish. Which also means it's all ready at the same time and no one is stuck waiting for the next batch of eggs to cook or bacon to fry.

¨ 1lb turkey sausage (or your favorite breakfast sausage)
¨ 1 small onion, diced
¨ 1 (4oz) can whole green chile peppers, rinsed and diced*
¨ 6 mushrooms, chopped
¨ 1 Jalapeno, diced (optional)
¨ 6 large eggs
¨ 1 cup milk
¨ Softened butter or Non-stick spray, for greasing the dish
¨ Loaf of day-old French or Italian bread - Costco’s Rosemary Bread is fabulous!, cut Batonnet(like a thick-cut French fry)
¨ 2 cups grated cheese ( I usually use cheddar, or a pre-shredded mix)

In a large skillet, sauté onions, chiles, mushroom and jalapeno until nicely browned. Set aside. In the same skillet cook the sausage, breaking it up as it cooks. While there is still a bit of pink on the sausage, add the sautéed vegetables back to the skillet and finish cooking the sausage. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.

Butter the inside of a 2½ -3 quart casserole (my preference is a deep cast iron pan – usually called a “Chicken Fryer”). Put a layer of bread slices (one third) on bottom of dish. Spoon half of the sausage mixture over it. Sprinkle with a third of the cheese. Make another layer with more bread, followed by remaining sausage mixture and another third of the cheese. Cover with one more layer of bread.

Whisk eggs to break them up, then whisk in milk. Pour egg and milk mixture slowly and evenly the casserole. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the egg-soaked bread and cover pan with aluminum foil (spray with non-stick spray to keep it from sticking to the cheese as it bakes) You can bake this right away, but I prefer to let it sit for about 30 minutes and let the egg mixture absorb into the bread (you can even make this the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight).

Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake strata in the middle of the oven for 45minutes to 1 hour (may take longer from fridge). In the last 15 minutes of baking remove the aluminum foil and then continue baking until top is lightly browned. Let strata sit for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

*You get more chiles from a can of whole chiles and dice them yourself vs. a can of pre-diced chiles.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jen’s Easy-Peasy Pea Soup

I've never been a big fan of peas... maybe it has something to do with receiving an ugly beige, too-small Pea Soup Andersons t-shirt for my 12th birthday... or having to sit at my Grandmother Verna's dining table until I finished the pile of cold canned peas on my plate... but self-introspection aside, I've never been able to muster much enthusiasm for this little green legume.

Once I was "grown-up" enough to make my own food-related choices I was a happily pea-free girl for many years. Then I got married and wouldn't you just know, it's one of Andrew's favorite veggies. Since then I've been trying different ways of preparing peas to make them more palatable to me.

One cold winter night I thought... Soup! (what'd I do with that t-shirt?) After some preliminary research I came up with this recipe. It's quick, it's easy and gosh darn if it doesn't taste yummy. Even to a non-pea eater like me!

¨ 1 bag frozen peas with pearl onions
¨ Dash of olive oil
¨ Tbsp of butter
¨ 1 (14oz) can chicken stock
¨ 1 tsp curry powder (or more to taste)
¨ squeeze of fresh lemon juice
¨ salt and pepper to taste
¨ dollop of sour cream (optional)

Heat olive oil and butter in a saucepot until butter is just melted. Add bag of peas with pearl onions, sauté until most of the moisture is gone (about 5 minutes). Add curry powder and stir to coat veggies. Add chicken stock and bring liquid to a boil.

Remove pot from heat and let mixture cool slightly – puree with either a food processor or a stick blender. Add squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper to taste.

If you want a smoother consistency you can strain it through a sieve, or just eat as is.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream (if desired)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Strawberry Zinfandel Trifle

Found this recipe in Sunset Magazine a few years ago. Easy to prepare, looks fabulous and (most importantly) it's delicious. The only change I’ve made to the original recipe is to create a syrup out of the remaining wine sauce to serve along with the trifle.

¨ 1 1/2 cups dry red Zinfandel
¨ 3/4 cup sugar
¨ 1 teaspoon vanilla
¨ 1 quart sliced strawberries, hulled and quartered
¨ 1 plain or lemon-flavored pound cake (1 lb.)
¨ 2 cups whipping cream
¨ A few whole strawberries, rinsed

In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, bring wine and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and sliced strawberries. Let the mixture cool for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Cut cake into 1/2-inch-thick slices. In a bowl, with a mixer on high, beat cream and remaining sugar until soft peaks form. Arrange a third of the cake in the bottom of a 2 1/2- to 3-quart straight-sided glass dish. Spoon a third of the sliced berries over the top. Spread about a third of the whipped cream over berries. Repeat layers twice, ending with cream. Cover trifle loosely and chill at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. Garnish with whole berries. Scoop down into layers to serve.

Jen’s Strawberry Zinfandel Syrup: After assembly, strain remaining sauce through a fine sieve (or cheesecloth), add 1/2 cup sugar and put back on the stove and reduce to syrup consistency. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. I usually serve it in a squeeze bottle so folks can "dress" their own serving.