Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Best. Pot. Roast. Ever.

Usually when it comes to food, there's the two out of three rule: cheap, yummy, easy—pick two and call it good. But when it comes to pot roast, you really can have all three. Pot roast is inherently simpler to make than stew, in which the meat has to be dredged and seared, and the concoction can cook only so long before it disintegrates (you have to watch it). With pot roast, you assemble your ingredients, toss them into the crock pot, set the timer, and ta-da! You have supper. It even has the decency to make its own sauce.

And disintegration? No problem and part of the fun, actually. Lastly, chuck roast is a common, el cheapo cut of beef--perfect for making pot roast. Now, there is the concern about blandness. I've been served bland pot roast many a time (and I would never complain--home-cooked food is inherently good for you--food made with love has to be healthy, right?), so I sought to jazz up the bland factor with a few simple add-ins and I think it worked. My hubs said this is the best pot roast ever. I think so too (the bacon and smoked paprika give it a certain something extra) and I hope you will agree. No need to tell everyone how easy it was to prepare. Let them fawn over you. And smile, knowingly.

Best. Pot. Roast. Ever.

3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into largish cubes
5 or 6 organic carrots, peeled, sliced at extreme diagonals about two inches deep
1 medium sweet onion, halved and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, or to taste
3 cloves of garlic, whole, peeled (no need to crush)
1 tablespoon beef stock concentrate ("Better than Bouillon" brand is excellent)
3 or 4 pieces bacon, cut into inch-long pieces (no need to cook)
1 chuck roast, 2.5 to 3 lbs.
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon corn starch added to 1 cup water, dissolved

Add the veggies to the crock pot first. Plop the whole chuck on top of it. Add the other seasonings and the corn starch-water mixture. Set the crock pot to six hours on high or eight hours on low. Halfway through the cook time, turn the roast--if you are there. (If you are away from home, no worries.) When it's finished, move the chuck to a cutting board, slice out the bones (make a dog happy with those), and cut the now illegally tender beef into largish chunks. Stir to coat everything with the rich, brown sauce, and serve over rice.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Turmeric Turkey Meatballs: The Anti-cancer Comfort Food

Golden, glistening, savory curry meatballs
Note: This ORIGINAL recipe has been selected for publication in the Lehman's Diamond Jubilee Cookbook

Comfort food doesn't always have to be something familiar. How about turkey curry meatballs in a warm, creamy curry sauce? Not even real curry, curry-flavored. Savory, sumptuous--like Swedish meatballs, only kicked up a notch with lots of warming curry spices and especially the magically anti-cancer turmeric. (If you are looking for more anti-cancer turmeric recipes, look here.)

Making the Meatballs
  • 2  pounds lean ground turkey (or beef, chicken, lamb, etc.)
  • 1  egg, lightly beaten
  • 4  cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander seeds
Mix the meatball ingredients together until well blended. Form into ping-pong ball sized meatballs, and fry in a nonstick or seasoned iron skillet with enough olive or other vegetable oil to make sauteing easy (1 to 2 tablespoons). Fry about 1/3 of the meatballs at a time, without crowding, turning until meatballs are almost cooked through but still pink inside. Set aside and continue frying the rest of the meatballs. Don't fuss too much--the meatballs need not be perfectly round (mine flatten out a bit while frying).

Curry Gravy
I call this curry gravy instead of curry sauce, because real curry sauce is based on an onion-ginger-ghee slurry that is sauteed. This is instead a curry-flavored white sauce--a delicious savory sauce you might want to use for other things--to top veggies, for instance (broccoli or asparagus are particularly good with curry gravy). (I explain how to make curry sauce here.)

1/4 cup butter (four tablespoons or half a stick)
1/4 cup white flour
1 cup milk
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup half 'n half
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 to 2 tablespoons ground turmeric (to taste)

In the bottom of a large, heavy saucepan, whisk the butter and the flour over medium heat until the flour lumps disappear (making a roux). Add in the other ingredients, whisking constantly until the gravy thickens and all ingredients are fully integrated.

Curry Meatball Synergy
Add the meatballs gently into the still bubbling gravy in the large heavy saucepan. Let boil gently for about 10 minutes, tossing gently to make sure all meatballs get enough sauce to cover and cook them through (the meat juices will also flavor the gravy beautifully).

Serve over steamed jasmine or basmati rice, and serve with lightly sauteed green vegetables that you can also ladle the curry gravy over (makes it easy--no need to season the veggies!).

  • Serves 6 (1/3 pound each) to 8 (1/4 pound each)
  • This dish is the perfect party food--you will be a major sensation and have your handiwork devoured if you bring this to a potluck

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Super Bowl Treats: Pick-up Food for a Small, Casual Foodie Party

First of all, I'm making gelatin shooters, "jiggelos," that are NOT made using Jell-o brand. (Who uses that stuff anymore? Ick--we are not kids, nor hospital patients. Artificial what goes in there??) Knox unflavored gelatin, and fruit juice and alcohol. The alcohol proportion is one part for three parts of liquid. Add gelatin to the hot liquid, stir to dissolve, and then when the mixture is cool, add the alcohol. Instead of pouring into cups--so Plebian!--pour into a large mold and cut individual shapes out of the collective. I used twice as much unflavored gelatin as in regular gelatine--thus making, "Knox Blox." The resulting jiggelos stand up well for ages, and need no refrigeration. I made Margarita jiggelos, using Grand Marnier, Sauza Tres Generaciones tequila, and homemade limeade (the limes came from a friend's yard). Also, pina colada jiggelos using coconut rum, coconut milk (unsweetened), pineapple juice, and simple syrup. Decorated with unsweetened shreaded coconut. YUM!

Curried Meatballs in Curry Gravy

Here's the real recipe I wrote for this outstanding--and original--dish. I'll be mixing ground turkey and beef together, along with ground ginger, and other curry spices (cumin. coriander, turmeric), and eggs, to form the meatballs. Then, I make a white sauce, and add in curry spices. I've made this many times for my family--with this original recipe, I am making a variation of Swedish meatballs with a curry flare, instead of making authentic curry--which I often do, that starts from a roux and has an onion base--to take this dish into comfort food category

Homemade Crab Egg Rolls

The secret to making egg rolls is that anything you stir fry can also go into an egg roll. The difference is, the stir-fry bits must be small. After you make the stir-fry, add some cornstarch to thicken--a loose sauce will spoil the egg roll wrappers. Deep fry in peanut oil until golden. I serve with an apricot ginger dipping sauce (to apricot preserves, add water to thin a bit and grated, fresh ginger root--stir thoroughly).

Greek Tomato-Cucumber Salad
Any salad at a Superbowl party has to be able to stand up--hour after hour--and not wilt. So no lettuce need apply. I'm making a Greek salad of chunks of tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese and Greek salad dressing (olive oil, wine vinegar, Greek oregano, salt, and pepper).

Raspberry Ice Cream