02/4/14

Roast Beef and Horseradish Cheddar Pretzel Subs

Roast beef and horseradish cheddar

The folks at Cabot Creamery were kind enough to send me some samples of several of their cheddar cheeses.

Founded in 1919, Cabot Creamery is a cooperative of 1,200 dairy farm families located throughout upstate New York and New England. They manage four plants in three states, employing over 1,000 people, who make award-winning cheeses, premium butter, light cheddars, flavored cheddars and rich Greek-Style Yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream.

You can follow Cabot Creamery on Facebook, as well.

Here’s the first of several recipes I’ve been toying with…this is some GREAT cheese!

Roast Beef and Horseradish Cheddar Pretzel SubsRoast Beef & Horseradish Cheddar Pretzel Subs
1 lb. premium rare roast beef, thinly sliced
4 Regular or pretzel-style hoagie rolls
1 cup pickled red onions (see recipe below)
4 oz. Cabot Horseradish Cheddar Cheese
2 cups au jus*

Mise en place:

Preheat broiler.

Roast Beef and Horseradish Cheddar Pretzel SubsHalve pretzel rolls. Shred cheese, and heat au jus to a simmer.

*Combine 3 tsp. of Better Than Bullion Au Jus, with 2 cups hot water.

Prepare the dish:

Place halved rolls, cut side up, on a baking sheet.

Dip the roast beef slices one at a time into the simmering au jus, just for a second, and then place them on the top half of each roll.

Top the roast beef with 1/4 of the cheese.

Roast Beef and Horseradish Cheddar Pretzel Subs

Place the sandwiches under the broiler until the bottoms are golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Close up sandwiches and serve immediately.

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Roast Beef and Horseradish Cheddar Pretzel Subs

Options: top with chilled tomato slices and fresh green lettuce leaves.

pickled onionsPickled Red Onions
1/2 cups rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced

Whisk first 3 ingredients and 1 cup water in a small bowl until sugar and salt dissolve.

Place onion in a bowl, add vinegar mixture, and let rest at room temperature for an hour.

Cover and chill. Drain onions before using.

01/6/14

Three Cheese Italian Style Meatballs

eOur friends at Johnsonville sent us some complimentary products for review awhile back, and one of those products was the Three Cheese Italian Style Meatballs.

(We also reviewed their Mild Italian Sausage Slices, check out the review and our recipe for Italian Sausage Potato Soup)

I will admit some skepticism, as someone who has suffered through more than his share of Big Box Store mystery-meat meatball dishes out of crock-pots and potlick casserole pans.  You know what I’m talking about…that “fake beef” flavor (1 part Worcester, 1 part beef bullion, 2 parts plastic-wrap)  In fact, I had decided that if I didn’t like them, I just wouldn’t post, as I don’t do negative reviews.

Once again, I was very pleasantly surprised. I’m telling, straight up…these meatballs taste like meatballs.

Really good meatballs!

Are they better than my Nona Perkins’ meatballs? Not a chance, but when I don’t have 14 hours to prepare Grandma’s recipe…I’d be happy to serve these.

As important as the favor, the consistency is right…it FEELS like meatball. None of that over-processed “soft-meat” mushiness, These feel like finely ground beef, firm and solid without being dry or mealy.

Pasta sauce with meatballs is a no-brainer, but I can’t wait to try these with my Meatball Pho, and Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches, as well!

However, for this test, I decided to earn a few brownie points and make one of my wife’s favorites, Sloppy Joes…

(One thing I really like about this recipe is that it’s less “sloppy” than the  traditional ground-meat Joes. If you’re in a big hurry, a canned “Thick & Chunky” sloppy joe sauce will work…but it’s not going to be as good as this!)

Oh, and my wife said these were the best sloppy joes she’s ever had. So there!

a

The Amazing Sloppy John(sonville)
1/2 bag of Johnsonville Three Cheese Italian Style Meatballs, thawed
4 soft pub rolls, split
4 tsp. butter, softened
1 cup shredded mozzerella cheese

For the sauce:
2 tsp. Better Than Bullion Beef Base
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 diced green bell pepper
3 cups hot water, divided
3/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon  each salt and ground black pepper

Slice meatballs into thirds, and brown in a pan with a little oil, until edges are crisp. Set aside.

f

Place 1 cup of the hot water, beef base and onions into a large skillet and put over medium heat. Cook stirring until the onions begin to brown and the broth is reduced by half.

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Add the garlic and green pepper; cook stirring for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula to dissolve any browned bits.

c

Stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and last cup of water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been evaporated. Add the sliced meatballs, stir, top with cheese, and let rest 10 minutes (off heat) until thick, rich and tender.

While the meat and sauce are resting, butter the split pub rolls, and brown lightly in a hot, dry pan.

b

Assemble sandwiches and served with crispy fries and bread & butter pickle chips (optional)

Note: Double the sauce recipe (it freezes great) and make this dish in a flash, next time!

Enjoy!

-Chef Perry

01/31/13

Gluten Free Brown Rice Spaghetti (seriously)

 I’m not celiac, but when I saw “gluten-free brown rice spaghetti” in the bulk aisle at Winco (I was buying regularly spaghetti for some a ragu I was planning to reheat for lunch) I knew I had to do a taste test.

gluten free spaghetti

gluten free spaghetti

Frankly, I’m more than a little suspicious about a lot of “gluten-free” products (probably from being forced to try so many “diabetic-friendly” products, growing up), but I’ll keep this review short and sweet, and avoid gilding the lily as much as possible…

Worthy of note – I come from an Italian family, and three generations of chefs…I know pasta. My Nona’s Sunday gravy recipe is the best pasta sauce that has ever graced this lowly earth. So, I felt well positioned for a straight-up, non-biased taste test.

Here we go…

This stuff is great.

Great.

gluten free spaghetti

The brown rice pasta (bottom) is noticeably darker than it’s wheat cousin, but the general “raw” feel and snap are the same.

I cooked both in identically salted, simmering water. The generic pasta (right) took its typical 10 minutes; the brown-rice version (left) required 15 minutes.

gluten free spaghetti

The slightly longer cooking time produced a perfect al-dente pasta that, on the “plain pasta taste test” actually had a pleasantly mild, nutty flavor, similar to whole-wheat pasta, but without the chewy, gummy mouth-feel that I hate about those products.

Blindfolded, with my nose pinched, I’m not sure I could have told you, consistency-wise, which was which, and (and I can’t believe I’m saying this)…I actually liked the taste of the gluten-free stuff a little better than the regular spaghetti.

gluten free spaghetti

It added a more noticeable (in a good way) layer of flavor to the sauced dish, than the regular pasta does.

Now, I’m sure you noticed that the price on the GF label is a bit more than twice the price of the old stand-by, but let’s be realistic here, okay…we’re talking about a fraction more than an additional thirteen cents per serving.

As I’m sure most celiac shoppers will tell you…big whoop!

So, I gotta give brown-rice spaghetti two thumbs up. I was very pleasantly surprised, and won’t hesitate to recommend it in the future. If you’re trying to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle (and, if you are, be sure to check out our Gluten-Free & Easy Meal Plan)…this is a really good product to add to your shopping list.

‘Course, you could put my Nona’s pasta sauce on an old army boot, and it’s going to be awesome…just sayin’…

Chef Perry

01/13/13

Spanish Tapas & Wines Class: In Good Taste

Did you know that Spanish tapas started over 300 years ago, when inn-keepers along Spanish coach lines would sell sherry to thirsty travelers, while fresh horses were being hitched to the coach?

images

When patrons began complaining about the number of flies that were getting into their tipple, the inn-keepers began topping the cups with a slice of bread to keep the pests out. To their delight, they discovered that the travelers bought more wine  when a snack was included, and the simple, local, and unpretentious tradition of tapas (small plates) was born.

Now, tapas is enjoyed on a daily basis throughout Spain, usually around four in the afternoon, and is often a mini “food crawl” to several favorite spots to hold folks over until the traditional dinner at around eleven at night.

In Good Taste Cooking SchoolI enjoyed a fantastic night out, last night, with a focus (as you might have guessed) on all things Spain at a local class: Spanish Tapas and Wines from Spain. 

This 3-hour In Good Taste Cooking School class explored numerous regions of Spain featuring different Spanish wines and small dishes.  It was a demonstration class where the Chef Erika Reagor of Thrive Pacific NW (a local Portland food truck) both entertained and educated ten of us foodies, as we sat back, tasted and enjoyed.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Chef Erika Reagor of Thive Pacific NWChef Erika is also a certified Nutrition Educator, Health Counselor and Nutrition Consultant. She teaches cooking classes based on whole food preparations and alternative ingredients.  She has been an in-home chef for the past 6 years, providing the benefits of fresh, whole, and affordable meals for numerous clients.

13 (800x598)This was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken, and the most fun.

The braised ribs in adobo  were absolutely amazing (and I know ribs), and the Spanish octopus was, hands down, one of the best foods I’ve ever put in my mouth.

26 (707x800)If you’re interested in Spanish cuisine, tapas, enhancing you cooking skills, of just sharing some amazing food with some friendly foodies, I strongly recommend taking a class at In Good Taste.

Thanks Chef Erika and In Good Taste for showing us a great time!

-Chef Perry

The Menu:

Open-faced Crab Empanadas

Open-faced Crab Empanadas
Crab simmered in a rich tomato sauce and topped on a savory pastry.
Wine Pairing: Segura Viudas Brut Rererva

Spanish Octopus, Confit Potato, & Smoked Paprika with Romesco Sauce

Spanish Octopus, Confit Potato, with Romesco Sauce
(Pulpo con Patatas)
Tender octopus served with smokey potatoes
Wine Pairing: Tapena Verdejo

Serrano Ham Croquettes with Roasted Pepper Coulis

Serrano Ham Croquettes with Roasted Pepper Coulis
(Croquetas de Jamon)
Fried little balls of ham and cheese.  Yummy!

Tapas-Style Meatballs over Braised Greens

Tapas-Style Meatballs over Braised Greens
(Albondigas en Salsa)
Wine Pairing: 2010 Ergo Tempranillo – This was my favorite wine of the evening, delicious and not at all tannic.

Grilled Lamb Skewers with Salsa Verde

Grilled Lamb Skewers with Salsa Verde
Marinated and Grilled Lamb with a Spanish-style sauce of 10 different herbs and spices.

Braised Pork in Adobo Sauce

Braised Pork in Adobo Sauce
Both pork shoulder and ribs are slow cooked in sherry and spices to create a most tender and flavorful dish.
Wine Pairing: 2009 Las Rocas Granacha

Creme Catalana with Winter Fruit Compote

Creme Catalana with Winter Fruit Compote
A baked custard with spices and orange zest.
Pairing: Dry Sherry

11/13/12

“From Frazzled to Freedom” author shares six tips for organizing your pantry

Let me preface this post with an admission…I am a clutterer. (Hi…I’m Perry…)

While my on-again-off-again O.C.D. nature can keep my kitchen organized to near-military precision, everything else in my life often bears an uncanny resemblance to the living room in Sanford and Son.

That’s one reason I picked up a copy of Julie Starr Hook’s “From Frazzled to Freedom” at a recent trade show. I need help, and I can admit it.

This is, of course, not my first book on the subject of getting organized, but what I like about this one (enough to finish reading it, even) is that it’s not another self-righteous tome full of high-road theory (like “never touch the same piece of mail twice”…if I could do THAT, I wouldn’t need a book on getting organized, now would I???)

Continue reading

10/18/12

Cabot “50% Less Fat” Jalapeno Light Cheddar Review

Typically, I avoid anything listed at “low fat”, or “reduced fat” like the plague.

I know there are often nutritional reasons to skip these products, but for me it’s basically that they tend to taste like chemical-laden packing material.

I won’t even mention what the bad ones taste like.

So, when the folks from Cabot Creamery, whom I met at last summer’s International Food Bloggers Conference here in Portland, offered to send me some of their new “50% Less Fat” sharp light cheddar and jalapeno light cheddar, I accepted graciously, but honestly wasn’t all that excited about it.

Continue reading

03/20/12

Guy Fieri’s Knuckle Sandwich Series – my review

Okay, one of my cooking partners picked me up the 8-in. Big Stick Chef’s Knife from Guy Fieri’s Knuckle Sandwich series.

I don’t usually get all weak in the knees by celebrity product lines (probably because they are so often cheap junk in a pretty bag) but I had a feeling these knives were going to be a quality itemplus, they match our Burnin’ Love BBQ colors, & I’m a huge fan of Triple-D…so whaddaya gonna do?

For once, I was pleasantly surprised. Seriously, this knife is fantastic.

Guy Fieri Knuckle Sandwich knifeWeight, balance, and edge are every bit as good (if not better) than any of the top-of-the-line German knives I own. The handle feels just a bit narrow (I have big hands) but not uncomfortably so. Also, I would love to see them offer a 10-Inch version of this knife.

The Big Stick is nicely balanced, with a slight, ergonomic curve to the handle that you don’t really understand until you start cutting with it, and then you think, “Oh…YEAH!” It also has a crisscross knurl on the end for pulverizing garlic, nuts, etc. (Probably won’t ever use it, but it looks cool.) It’s pretty obvious that this knife was designed by a chef, as that slight parabolic curve allows for a great deal more pressure towards the tip of the blade, with far less exertion on the wrist than would be typical of other knives.

That’s the kind of concept that can take on significant importance after twelve hours of chopping vegetables.

Knuckle Sandwich Knives Specs:

# The blades are precision heat-treated to keep a great edge.
# Patented ergonomic design is created to be an extension of your hand for natural comfort.
# Made of high-carbon German stainless steel for stain resistance.
# Full tang and abbreviated bolster adds strength and balance.
# Hollow ground ovals in blade promote less stick and smoother cuts.
# Flames and Guy’s Knuckle Sandwich logo are distressed and permanently etched on the blades. The red and black handles also boast a flame-waved design, and the star is added to complete Guy’s signature look.
# Includes two free Black Universal Edge Guards with flames.

– Perry

PS – Thanks Terry – you are the man!

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Okay, be honest…are you a little intimidated by your own knifes? I know I was. Here’s a suggestion from me to you: The Zwilling J. A. Henckels Complete Book of Knife Skills is a great book, in fact, my father bought it for me along with my first set of Henckels.

It’s become my “Dummies Guide” to my own knives, lol, and a great investment in my own cooking skills!

Complete Book of Knife Skills covers everything you should know about kitchen knives. In this book you’ll learn how to: Buy, Maintain, and Sharpen your knives. Plus, Knife Skills are explained in easy-to-follow steps combined with photographs and illustrations.