Thursday, March 1, 2018

Goulash with Rotini and Ground Beef, American Style

Historical origins place Hungarian Goulash  as early as the 9th Century Medieval times in Hungary and is popular throughout Central Europe. The word history suggests that Goulash was one of necessity created by the herdsman and shepards, using meat that usually had to be dried and stored in sacks made from sheep's stomachs.  Paprika and potatoes came into the picture around the 14th century, by way of the Old World Spice Route.  The long distances and scarcity of food encouraged the herdsmen to stretch their proteins by making stews and the like to survive and feed their families,'s utilizing everything, including the protective padding from an animal's foot!  A proper goulash consists of several givens, paprika, spices, veggies (especially potatoes) and dried or stew meat.  Depending on region and time of year, the protein also included venison and boar.
  There are many variations to the dish as represented by the culture doing the cooking.  The German version includes wine, stock, potatoes, etc.. and some cultures like Croatia and Czechoslovakia, use sour cream and lemon juice, while others use heavy cream and Sauerkraut.
American Goulash has humble beginnings around 1914, as an affordable way to feed one's family in a one-pot meal, consisting of elbow macaroni, beef or cubed steak, tomatoes and tomato puree.  Another version of this recipe, also considered goulash is called slumgullion, featuring beef, peppers, onions, celery, corn and pasta, to name a few. This unappealing namesake is said to have taken root around the California Gold Rush, with it's  moniker coined by the coal miners.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Cornbread

 Nothing says lovin' like a delicious piece of Southern American cornbread.  There are virtually endless possibilities to diversify the moist and fluffy interior. Jalapenos, fresh corn and caraway seeds are just a few of the ways I've jazzed it up for my family.  Cornbread has a rich and colorful history in our heritage, and is a staple among many homes, especially around the Southern belt and below.  This recipe is another one of my latest featuring roasted broccoli and bacon,  inspired by a recipe a dear friend told me about, from his past.
The bacon is actually cooked ahead of time and chopped before adding to the broccoli that roasts right in the cooking vessel before adding the cake-like batter and baking to golden perfection. I used my Red Copper Square Pan to achieve the gorgeous brown crust.  Prep is a cinch and the results are amazing.  I used store bought cornbread mix, just because I had some on hand.  This recipe is delicious alone, with butter, or served alongside a steaming hot bowl of homemade pinto beans! 
2 c. fresh broccoli florets, cut into smaller florets
4  slices of cooked bacon, chopped
2 pkg. corn muffin mix
2 eggs
2/3 c. milk, I used 2%
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. raw organic honey
Olive oil for drizzling
Heat oven to 425*.
Place pan in oven to heat simultaneously.
Toss in broccoli, bacon and butter.
Drizzle in a little olive oil and SPST.
Stir around melt butter and coat broccoli.
Let Roast for about 5 minutes, tossing midway through, careful
to use an oven mitt or towel for the handle.
Meanwhile prepare the corn muffin mix, according to instructions on box, including the honey.
Carefully slide out rack or remove the pan and pour in the batter.
Bake until golden brown and knife or toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes.
Flip the cornbread out onto a large plate.
Let stand for several minutes before cutting.
Makes about 12 servings.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Rosemary Garlic Corned Beef Brisket w/ Stewed Potatoes and Butternut Squash

Corned beef is a favorite in my family, and has been for generations.  Until I was older, the only corned beef I knew, came in a can.  My mom would use the canned corn beef to make a stew, adding potatoes and onions and becoming a meal. My mom would also bake some homemade bread or 'hoe cakes' with butter to round out the meal, a very filling and satisfying one, made with love.  This was welcome and warming to our bodies, during the harsh winter months of days old. This was a way my parents stretched what they had to feed the brood, which consisted of their many children, as well as some of their siblings' children. We also had a massive garden and livestock, so most of our food was literally organic and homemade, winning!  We had a large extended and blended family.  I was never as fond of corned beef then as I am now.
Grub Rubbed and Smoked Corned Beef BrisketLater in life, I discovered the corned beef pictured above. I have been smitten ever since.  I usually take my corned beef brisket and rub it with a spice blend I created called Neillio's Grub Rub, then refrigerate overnight, then smoke and grill the amazing piece of protein for several hours, then finish in the oven.   I would serve this masterpiece on a hot dog roll with a Warm Asian Slaw I created as well, and a slathering of jazzed up BBQ sauce.
The following recipe is my "lazy day" brisket and doesn't require nearly as much commitment, but the satisfying results will not give it away.  This is a one pot meal, based mostly on timing, as opposed to technique.  It is a simple and rustic rendition of a pot roast of sorts.  The cooking flavorful cooking liquid will serve as the vehicle to steam and stew the potatoes and butternut squash.  For best results, it is advisable to let the brisket cool at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before slicing.   Make sure your knife is sharp.
1 corned beef brisket, about 4 lbs, (save pickling spice packet for another use)
Beef stock or broth, diluted with water, about 3:1 ratio
2 medium onions, halved and quartered
3 MINI sweet peppers, halved, seeds removed, optional
2 c. potatoes, I used russet,  halved and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 medium butternut squash, about  2 lbs. peeled, halved, seeds removed, cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
5 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
pinch red pepper flakes
2 pats of unsalted butter to finish
Olive oil for drizzling
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)

In a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven with lid, over medium high heat, drizzle bottom with olive oil when hot, SPST and sear the brisket on both sides, about 2 minutes each side.
Add stock until brisket is just covered.
Add garlic and onions.
Reduce heat to medium, cover with tight fitting lid and cook until fork tender, about 2 1/2 hours, or until easily flaked with fork.
You may have to add more stock during the cooking process.
After brisket is just tender, add potatoes, rosemary and red pepper flakes.
The liquid should be minimal at this point, about 1 inch.
TASTE the cooking liquid for saltiness, if too highly seasoned, dilute with a bit of water.
Reduce heat to medium low.
The potatoes will take about 20 minutes to stew in liquid.
Before potatoes finish cooking, gently push them off to one side of the cooking vessel.
Add the butternut squash to the other side during the last 5 minutes of cooking the potatoes.
Add 2 pats butter to finish. 
Remove veggies before attempting to remove the brisket, to help veggies retain shape.
Serves 4, plus brisket for later!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Cauliflower Egg Rolls w/ Awesome Sauce Sauce

These little egg rolls pack a mean punch, filled with goodness, and perfect, even for the eaters that feel a meal isn't complete without meat.  This recipe features a 'stir fry' blend that includes cauliflower rice, with diced carrot and green onion.  I had actually created a recipe similar this blend before I knew it was already mixed in the store.  Of course you'll be paying for the convenience, which sometimes is necessary, especially when time is of the essence. I use red miso in this dish to bring on the Umami flavors and deep fermented flair.  I also use a scant amount of potato starch to grab hold of excess moisture and help the eggroll keep it's crunchy edge.
My little brother came into town by surprise and our family was elated.  He and his family live in Niagara Falls, New York. Last time he popped in, I told him about this recipe and he was interested in trying it.  I set to work to execute these little guys in time to have them ready before he hit the road again, long haul from here to New York, but unfortunately, he'd left before coming back by and he missed his snacks, homemade, with love.  I did however get to prepare him a good ole cookout style meal yesterday, complete with juicy hand prepped market ground burgers, with American and Pepper Jack, spiked baked beans and hot dogs, with chili and freshly chopped onion. Well heck, that's the least I could do, considering he went out and shopped for all the items needed for the meal.  I love my little brother.   Granted, Allyn is in his mid thirties, but he'll always be my little brother.
This recipe requires a bit of commitment, mostly from the individual rolling of the pinky sized rolls, but everything else is smooth sailing.  They may be frozen in a single layer on a sheet pan, then  transferred to a zipper type bag, for handy, ready-to-cook snacks in the future.  They'll also taste fantastic along with your homemade Chinese Takeout.  Perhaps you may even convince some anti-veggie or anti-cauliflower folks to get on board.
Cauliflower is packed with vitamins and minerals, from the same brassica family as broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, collards, cabbage etc.. to name a few.  Vitamins include A and C, as well as manganese and phytochemicals.  Studies have also linked cauliflower to helping to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and and inflammation. Plus, you get the benefits of fermented foods from the red miso!  Happy Snacking!
1 lb. bag Cauliflower Rice Stir fry blend
1 tbsp. red miso
2 tsp. onion powder
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
1/2 tsp. Five Spice
pinch of hot pepper flakes, optional, more or less according to taste
1 tsp. potato starch, optional
Wonton wrappers
Olive oil for drizzling
Oil for frying or cooking spray for baking.
Preheat cooking oil to about 350* F. (if using oven heat to 375*F. and bake until golden)
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, drizzle pan with olive oil and add all ingredients, except potato starch.
Saute for about 2 minutes, just until fragrant, then, add potato starch.
Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle.
Handle wonton wrappers according to instructions.
Use a heaping teaspoon for each roll.
Make egg rolls like you were using egg roll wrappers, according to package instructions.
Ready when golden and floating, about 3 minutes.
Fry in several batches as not to crowd pan, and drain well on paper towels.
Makes 32 egg rolls.
Serve with Sweet Chili Sauce, Hot Mustard or your favorite dipping sauce.  If you like Yumminess, try my Awesome Sauce Sauce!

1/2 c. Sour Cream
1/4 c. Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
1/2 tsp. powdered jalapeno
Pinch of each dried Cilantro and Parsley OR 1 tsp. each fresh finely chopped
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
Serve immediately or chill until ready to use.
Great on virtually anything you want to elevate.

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