Monday, April 30, 2012

Brisket Beauty

I realized two things last week. Actually three. First of all, I realized that I have gone over a week without writing a post on this less than stupendous blog, which constitutes letting the thing go stale. Stale is bad. Second, I stopped just long enough to actually think about everything that is currently on my plate that once seemed like a huge dinner platter, then slowly shrank to an hors d'oeuvre plate and now seems the size of a small dessert or custard dish. When in fact, the plate - the 24 hours we all have - didn't change at all. I have merely packed it so full I just can't see it any more. Along with the examination of my current commitments came the understanding that I actively participated in all of the actions leading up to what is now, in essence, my fierce clinging to a runaway train. Finger nails dug in deep trying not to be tossed from the ride. Yet I created the ride. I dreamt it up, put it into action and watched it take off, for better or worse. While there are moments that I struggle to keep up with it all...I wouldn't change one thing. The truth is...(gasp!)...I'm an adrenaline junkie. I like thrive in craziness. Possibly because I grew up in craziness. It feels like home. Perhaps. Not that I really would ever want to go back there, but still. Work is fun for me. I love it. I do need down time - we all do - but without a full to-do list...I'm like a lost puppy. So I'll keep my full plate, for now. Third, and finally, I decided last week that a decent goal for this little ole blog of mine would be to manage a single recipe post per week and a fairly decent Photo Friday post every week. I know. Meager. I so enjoy posting three to four recipes per week - partly because I have this stinking obsession with my camera and food photography - yet until my runaway train slows to the pace of tug boat, I'm going to have to keep this hobby on the back burner...where we'll simmer it nice and slow and feed it occasionally. Sort of like a crock pot. I hope you'll stick with me through the famine.

Now, for the good stuff. I like brisket, but often tire of having it the same old way - BBQ. Don't get me wrong. It's good stuff - finger lickin' good. Yet a BBQ brisket is heavy - very filling if you're super hungry or feeding a lot of boys (which is a regular occurrence around here), but not so great when I'm looking for something lighter. So here we go...

First, season the brisket - don't hold back, get crazy with it - and put the brisket seasoned side down in a large pan (fat side should be up...even if it's labeled "trimmed", there is still always a side with a thin layer of should see the uncircumcised ones...just sayin'). I used lots of garlic powder, kosher salt, cumin, and black pepper. Pour on 1 cup red wine and two cans beef broth. Cover with two yellow onions, sliced and about 6 cloves of garlic, minced. Then cover tightly with foil and cook low and slow (250 degrees) for a long time - 3 to 4 hours or even up to 6 hours depending on the size of your brisket.

When tender, remove the brisket and onions from the sauce and pulse in a food processor until shredded. Pour the sauce into a large pot and bring to a simmer, whisking in 1 tablespoon corn starch to thicken the sauce just a bit. Taste and season accordingly. After being pulsed in the food processer, the beef and onions should look similar to this:

Stir the shreeded beef into the sauce. It should look something like this:

My favorite part is tossing together a fresh pico. I used six plum tomatoes, seeded. One yellow onion, chopped. A tablespoon or so fresh lime juice, some pepper, kosher salt and about 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro. I love cilantro. You could easily add some jalapeno's to this, but I'm not that kind of girl.  

You are now ready to assemble your taco. I started with a corn tortilla, topped with the brisket mixture, shredded romaine lettuce, pico, and finally with crumbled feta cheese. DelishIf you're throwing caution to the wind and care nothing about cholesterol, then top with brie instead of feta - so yummy. 

Brisket Tacos

1 3lb. brisket
2 large yello onions
1 cup red wine
2 cans beef broth
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs. corn starch
garlic powder
kosher salt
feta cheese

Pico de Gallo

6 plum tomatoes, seeded an chopped
1 yellow onion chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup cilantro
1 Tbs. lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

For Pico: stir the above together and set aside.
For Brisket: generously season brisket with garlic powder, cumin, pepper and salt. Place seasoned side down in a roasting pan. Top with sliced onion and minced garlic. Cover with foil and cook at 250 degrees for 3 to 4 hours. Remove brisket from pan and cool then pulse in a food processor until shredded. Pour broth and wine sauce into a large pot and heat to a simmer whisking in corn starch and allowing to thicken slightly. Stir shredded brisket into sauce and heat through. Assemble your tacos and enjoy!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Protein Packed

Oi. Vey. It is spring and we are in full swing. The Music Man's schedule is always crazy during this time of year and April-May have consistently proven to be two of my busiest months of the year. So, I've kind of lost track of things a little, not the least of which has been this blog. As I mentioned before, when wedding season hits, I get lost in constant activity and don't come up for air very often. Such is life. I wouldn't have it any other way. During the bustle, I sort of left the straight and narrow path of health and dieting and hit a few speed bumps containing chocolate, salty foods and high calorie frappucino's...loaded with a whopping 400+ calories per grande portion and sending my daily caloric intake goal sky-rocketing back to chubby-ville. But just like the prodigal son, I returned to the fold of nutritional living and kicked off a new start with this flavor-packed turkey meatloaf. I don't think the family even noticed that it was turkey instead of beef. Or maybe they were just too afraid to say anything given how loaded my schedule has been and the underlying (yet unspoken) fear that I might "lose it". Either way, there were no complaints.

Turkey Meatloaf

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 1/2 pounds ground turkey
3-4 cups fresh bread crumbs (about 6-7 slices of bread pureed in food processor)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a medium size skillet - add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir onions and all other ingredients in a large bowl until well blended but not overmixed. This works best with bare hands (or gloved hands, but hands are the point - turkey meat is tender and will seize up or toughen if mixed in a blender). Press turkey mixture into loaf pan and bake until browned and cooked through - about 1 hour. Instant read thremometer should register 160 degrees when inserted near the middle. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Pound I Can Live With...

Chocolate pound cake. One of life's simple pleasures. Straight up with no special icing needed. Although...if I were going to give this an icing I would drizzle on a yummy ganache. Who doesn't love ganache - it's the stuff that dreams are made of. We've been messing with this recipe for a while and I think we have it folks. Not too dry. Perfect butter and brown sugar goodness. Keep it around for after school snacks or late night snacking, either way it's a huge success.

Chocolate Pound Cake

1/2 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups butter, softened (3 sticks)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanila extract
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Greas and flour bundt pan. Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. If using leftover coffee, heat first and then stir in cocoa - the heat will help the cocoa to dissolve better. Set aside. Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Combine cocoa mixture with sour cream. Alternating and beginning/ending with flour mixture, add flour mixture and sour cream mixture to the mixing bowl, beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon into prepared pan and bake 60-70 until inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes and turn out onto a wire wrack to cool completely; sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm.


Calm After the Storm

Whew. My poor blog has gone through a famine. I have cooked and photographed and have recipes to share, but they have yet to make their way to the internet.  Even "Photo Friday", a fairly simple task to execute, has suffered. I've been in a storm lately. A storm of activity. Storms come in a variety of strength and length - can be good and sometimes bad. There are sit-by-the-window-with-a-book-and-cup-of-tea storms. Those are awesome. Then there are light-the-candles-cause-the-power-is-gone storms. While those can be fun for a short time, we all prefer air conditioning to sweat, yes? My storm of activity has covered both peaks - really awesome and really trying. The spring storm of wedding season hit. I love my brides. They are beautiful and full of wedding bliss. They keep my schedule full and creating their cake brings me joy. Add to this our recent decision to incorporate, launch a cheesecake line, trademark a product, and shop for storefront space in the Houston area and you can say the business plate is full indeed. Atop this my kiddo's are preparing for the usual spring recitals, vocal performances, and piano contests filling their already demanding work load to the brim. So...when the storm of activity was hit with a true storm - the kind that stops a gal right in her tracks - we found out just how fast we could topple from high speed to screeching halt. We were down. Hit hard by the flu, the stomach flu, and some sort of sore throat from you-know-where. We are very holistic around here, we pay close attention to nutrition and vitamins and honestly, we are seldom ill. So rarely that I feel like a complete imbecile when my little ones aren't feeling well because I have no clue what to do. I don't know what dose of Tylenol to give them - we don't use it. Alternate Motrin with Tylenol - why didn't I think of that? Pedialyte? Oh yeah, I've heard of that! Where do you find it? My husband alone avoided the detainment afforded us by the flu. It doesn't seem the fact that he did take very good care of us, nursing us back to stability with chicken broth and Gatorade - I can only imagine the frightful shape we would have been in had the six of us been knocked down in our entirety.  We made it over that hump and we'll make it over many more I'm sure, always thankful for God's watchful care over us. I could not be more thankful for the sweet family He has charged to my care. Right now, we are simply enjoying the calm after the dreadful storm and settling back in to our normal crazy. As George Herbert once said, "Storms make the oak grow deeper roots". So buckle up. New recipes are dropping to the blog this week.

"For after all, the best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow