Tag Archives: beef

Lone Star Chili Cook-off

13 May
Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club

Lone Star Chili Cook-Off – beautiful day for chili, beer and the “beach”!

Yesterday, D and I went with some friends to the Lone Star Chili Cook-Off at the Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club at the South Street Seaport.  This annual event is sponsored by the NYC Texas Exes (UT Alumni Association) and the NYC A&M Club (Texas A&M Alumni Association).  Thirty-six amateur teams compete against each other for bragging rights of “best chili” and “best team presentation.”  Alongside the amateur chefs is a restaurant category with all of the usual suspects in NYC that have chili on their menu: Hill Country, Southern Hospitality (aka Justin Timberlake’s BBQ joint), Manhattan Chili Co., Sidebar (seemed extremely random they were there), etc.  You can bet your hat that I am going to sign up to cook in this event next year!  The idea of making five gallons of chili all the while coming up with a clever team name and fun presentation may seem daunting but at least I’ve got a year to prepare myself to meet the challenge!

After a cold and rainy week with weather that was WAY too cold for NYC in mid-May, we were finally in store for some beautiful weather and couldn’t wait to relax out side while tasting a bunch of homemade chili and drinking cold beers.  While we weren’t able to sample all 40+ chilis on tap, I’d say we tasted at least 25 of them, and yes, we left completely stuffed.  They ran the range of being pretty bland and basic to being so spicy that we had to take a 20 minute break before eating, drinking or even talking (I’m talking about you, Asses of Fire).  But on the whole, I was amazed that these chilis were all made by amateur chefs just like you and me!  The biggest differential among chilis was the type of beef used.  Most used ground beef but a few used brisket which was a nice touch.  When tasting a bunch of chilis side by side, you could definitely tell who had used higher quality meat in their dish.  The other thing that stood out was teams who offered sides (cornbread, desserts) and garnishes (cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, onion crunch, Fritos, etc.).  According to D, when you serve Fritos with chili, it’s called a pepperbelly.  Who knew?  Thanks hun!

Here are some pictures from the event as well as my thoughts on a few favorites that really stood out from the crowd.

Most Creative Name and Side: King County Cretaceous Chili.  These guys totally went overboard with the dinosaur theme, and I loved it!  The chili was made from “tyrannosaurus rex meat” (aka ground beef) and the side was a “pterodactyl egg” (aka a sweet potato fritter).  I’ve never had sweet potato fritters before and they reminded me a little bit of hush puppies or fried cornbread.  Very clever, guys!

Chili Samples

Team Red Hot Chili Peppers (L) and Team King County Cretaceous Chili (R)

Spiciest Chili: Asses of Fire.  I am all for a little heat and think I have pretty high spice tolerance, but I met my match here.  I’d be curious to know what kind of spices this team put in their chili because we were all dying after trying this chili!

Best First Impression: Chili Bombers.  This was the first chili we tried when we walked in the venue.  It was piping hot, had just the right amount of spice and was just a good basic chili to start the day.  The small serving of cornbread was just the right size for a chili tasting.  (Other teams overloaded you with garnishes and you could barely taste the chili!)  This goes to show that sometimes less is more.

Chili Samples

Team Asses of Fire (L) and Team Chili Bombers (R)

Best Overall: Chili Con Blarney.  These guys were hands down the best of the best.  The quality of the brisket  was top notch and  you could tell they didn’t scrimp on ingredients.  It wasn’t too spicy, but after some of the other chilis we tried, it was a nice respite.  The sour cream was homemade (yum!) and the cheese was “Irish” to go along with their theme.  They were also the only team I noticed who served dessert.  The bite-size chipotle brownies were awesome and a great way to finish off the chili.    I also gave these guys bonus points for handing out green mardis gras beads and going all out on the Irish theme in their table decoration.  Nice work guys!  This was the only team where we went back for seconds, and I wish we had gone back for thirds.  If anyone on the team is reading this, I would LOVE to get your recipe. 🙂

Chili Sample

The Winner! Team Chili Con Blarney

Team Chili Con Blarney

Team Chili Con Blarney

Runner Up and Best Use of Veggies: Chill-ayyyy Bro.  This was a meaty chili but they also used tons of fresh veggies in their chili when many chilis only contained beef.  It tasted great and made me feel like I was getting my recommended serving of veggies.

Third Place: T. Love and Special Sauce.  2nd Place in the 2011 Cook-Off.  We can’t remember why we liked this one, but clearly they are doing something right to place last year and stand out in our minds this year too!

Last year’s winner was WildER Turkey.  We didn’t see them at this years event and I hope we didn’t miss them!  We had to leave before the winner was announced but I have my fingers crossed for Chili Con Blarney and can’t wait to join in the fun next year!

Advertisements

Special Valentine’s Day Steak Dinner – Filet Mignon with Cognac Cream Sauce

12 Feb

Decadent Steak Recipe

Last year for Valentine’s Day, D and I took a couple’s cooking class at ICE Culinary School in NYC.  The theme of the class was “The Great New York Steakhouse” and over the course of the evening, we learned how to make: Shrimp Cocktail, Clams Casino, Caesar Salad, New York Strip Steak, Filet Mignon, Pork Chops, Creamed Spinach, Truffled Mashed Potatoes and Almond Bread Pudding.  Everything was delicious and we left the class stuffed and excited to re-make the recipes at home.  Our favorite dish was, hands down, Filet Mignon au Poivre with Cognac Cream Sauce.  It’s not an easy dish by any means but it’s so, so good and the sauce makes this dish really special and also decadent.  We loved it so much, we’re going to make it at home on Valentine’s Day this year and open up a bottle of Quintessa wine that we bought on our trip to Napa last August.  Since the sauce is on the heavier side, I generally serve this dish with roasted veggies (like roasted squash and brussels sprouts seen here) to balance the steak out.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I hope you all like this meal as much as we do!

Filet Mignon au Poivre with Cognac Cream Sauce
(Adapted from ICE Culinary Class)
Serves 6

Ingredients
6 filet mignon, 6 oz. each
Salt & pepper
Canola oil
3 tbsp. butter, divided
2 shallots, minced
1/4 cup cognac (I use Hennessy)
2 cups beef stock, reduced by half (I use low sodium stock)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. chervil, minced (or use parsley, I can never find fresh chervil at the grocery store)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat a large, saute pan and add oil to lightly coat bottom of pan. In a small pot, heat beef stock until half of the liquid has evaporated and you’re left with one cup.  (This intensifies the flavor of the stock.)
3. Season the filets with salt and pepper just before cooking.  *The trick to perfectly seasoned steaks is to use ROOM TEMPERATURE steaks, pat the meat dry before seasoning, season immediately before serving, and ensure the saute pan is hot BEFORE you put the steaks on it.
4. Add the filets to the saute pan and sear both sides.  *The steak is ready to be turned over when it gets a crust on the bottom and doesn’t stick to the pan.  Patience is very important here – don’t mess around with/move around the steaks once you put them in the pan unless you are flipping the steak over.  It should take max 5 minutes per side.
5. Once you finish the steaks, put the saute pan aside and transfer them to a baking dish and put them in the oven until desired level of doneness.  Estimates are   10-15 minutes for medium rare, 15-20 minutes for medium, 20+ for medium well/well done.  The temperature should be no lower than 130 degrees if you’re using a meat thermometer.  *A trick we learned in class is to relax your hand and feel the tendon part of your hand between your thumb and pointer finger.  That is how a medium rare steak should feel when you poke the middle of the steak and it’s done.
6. When done, place the filets on a wire race and let rest for 5 minutes.
7. While the steaks are in the oven, prepare the sauce.  Using the saute pan that you used to cook the steaks (Pour out the extra oil, but DO NOT CLEAN IT – the “fond” – little pieces of meat that stuck to the pan – adds extra flavor to the sauce), add 2 tbsp. butter and melt over medium-high heat.
8. When melted, add the shallots.  Cook the shallots until translucent and soft.  This should take about two minutes.
9. Deglaze (take pan off burner) and flambe with cognac.  *Trick – to flambe, pour the cognac into the saute pan then tilt the pan slightly so the liquid drains to one side.  Move the saute pan over the burner and the flame should cause the cognac to ignite.  Off the burner, swirl the liquid around in the pan until the flame has burned off.
10. When the flames have died down, scrape the pan to free the brown pieces of fond.   Add the reduced stock and let cook until further reduced by half.
11. Add  the heavy cream and reduce by half again.  It should be thick enough now that it coats the back of the spoon you’re stirring it with.
12. Finish the sauce by swirling in 1 tbsp. butter.  Do this OFF the heat.  Season with salt and pepper.
13. Serve sauce over cooked filet mignon and garnish with chervil.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 package brussels sprouts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Crushed red pepper, optional

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Clean brussels sprouts (cut off hard ends, remove yellow leaves).  In a large bowl, lightly coat brussels sprouts with olive oil.  Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.
3. Spread brussels sprouts on a baking dish (cover with foil if you want to make clean up easier).
4. Roast in oven for around 40 minutes.  They should be crispy on the outside but still tender inside.


Roasted Butternut Squash

Serves 6-8

Ingredients
2 whole butternut squash (or 6 pre-cut/cleaned/peeled butternut squash halves – you can find these at Fairway Market)
Cinnamon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 stick of butter

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. If using whole butternut squash, wash well then cut each in half, lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds and gunk inside squash and discard so just the “meaty” part remains.
3. Using your hands, lightly rub olive oil on both sides of squash.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.
4. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray and place squash flesh side is face down.  Bake for 50-60 minutes (if squash is peeled) or 60-75 minutes if using whole squash.  It is finished when a knife can be easily inserted into the squash.
5. Melt butter and combine with maple syrup.  When squash has ten minutes or so left to cook, take it from oven and lightly brush squash with butter/maple syrup mixture.  The longer you cook the squash with the butter/maple syrup, the sweeter it will be.  The glaze will take around five minutes to set so that is the minimum cook time for the squash once the butter/maple syrup has been applied.
6. Remove from oven, cut each piece in half once more and serve immediately.

Decadent Filet Mignon Recipe

Sunday Supper: Healthy & Hearty Borscht

29 Jan

Low Sodium Borscht

Borscht is a traditional Ukranian soup/stew and makes a great hearty winter meal.  My father is part Ukranian and would have my mom make this for us a few times every winter and always on Valentine’s Day (because of the soup’s deep red color).  My mother used a recipe from the Joy of Cooking that I adapted to include meat and make the borscht more of a soup-consistency.  The main ingredients are beets and cabbage, two of the NY Times 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating, so while this is another recipe that doesn’t necessarily photograph well, it is an easy, savory winter meal that is also very healthy.  And delicious!

Healthy & Hearty Borscht
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking (75th Anniversary Edition)
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups very finely chopped beets (I used pre-packaged peeled beets so I didn’t have to worry about roasting/peeling beets)
1/2 cup very finely chopped carrots
1 cup very finely chopped yellow onion
1 pound beef chuck, 1/2″ cubes (optional)
Flour (optional)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups beef stock (low sodium) (Note: For a vegetarian option, use vegetable stock)
1 cup water
1 cup very finely shredded green cabbage
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste
Sour cream (or 0% Greek yogurt), for a garnish
Dill, for a garnish (optional)

Directions
1. Chop the beets, carrots, onion and cabbage in advance.  Set aside.
2. Lightly dredge the cubes of meat in a bowl of flour.
3. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan.  Add meat and cook until lightly browned.
4. Heat butter in soup pot over medium-low heat.  Once melted, add beets, carrots and onions.  Stirring continuously, cook until softened.  About 8 minutes.
5. Add beef stock, water, cabbage, red wine vinegar and meat to pot.  Bring to a bubbling simmer.  Once simmering, lower heat, partially cover soup with lid, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
6. Serve hot.  Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream (or 0% Greek yogurt) and dill.

Note: This soup also tastes great cold.  I like it even better reheated as leftovers the next day though because the flavor intensifies and the broth thickens.

Low Sodium Borscht

Christmas Dinner: Mom’s Standing Rib Roast

11 Jan

Mom's Standing Rib Roast

My mom rarely uses recipes.  If she does, it’s generally by Julia Child or the Joy of Cooking and then she opens up the cookbook but doesn’t really follow it.  For this recipe, she started with Julia Child’s Standing Rib Roast  recipe from her cookbook Julia Child & Company, which pretty much means she followed Julia’s instructions on when the meat was ready but little else.  Here is my mom’s adaptation.

Mom’s Standing Rib Roast
Adapted from Julia Child & Company
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 10-pound rib roast (2 ribs in our case, but it could be 3 or 4 if you are working with a smaller cow)
2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cups water
Salt & pepper, for seasoning

Other Items Needed
Low-Sided Roasting Pan
Roasting Rack
Baster
Meat Thermometer

Directions
1. Take the meat out at least 1 hour before you plan to put it in the oven so it gets to room temperature.  Trim the rib roast to remove the excess fat.  Lightly season with salt & pepper – you don’t need much since the remaining fat will provide a lot of flavor for the meat.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Adjust rack position to lower level.
3. Smear the cut end of the beef with butter and place it fat side up (ribs down) on the rack in the roasting pan.  Place carrots, onions and 2 cups water at the bottom of the roasting pan.
4. Place roast in oven.  Every 30 minutes, baste the meat with the juices at the bottom of the pan and check the temperature of the meat in the thickest, middle section of the roast.  If you want medium rare meat, take the roast out of the oven when the temperature reaches 125.  This should take between 2 to 2.5 hours for the cut of meat.
5. When ready, remove roast from oven and cover with tinfoil to keep warm.  Let sit for 15 minutes then carve.
6. Combine fresh grated horseradish with sour cream for garnish/extra flavor.

Mom's Standing Rib Roast

Christmas Dinner

26 Dec

Christmas Hearth

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you had a happy holiday and Santa was good to you and your families!  My family decided to do something different from turkey this Christmas and make a standing rib roast instead.  Serving red meat versus poultry required a total overhaul of our menu from Thanksgiving.  Listed below are the dishes that we made today for Christmas dinner.  Over the course of the next two weeks, I will post each of these recipes.

Hot Toddies
Christmas Crostini
Dad’s Cream of Chestnut Soup
Mom’s Standing Rib Roast
Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon
Potato & Celery Root Mash
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

To round out our meal, we served Sister Shubert’s Wheat Dinner Yeast Rolls and a bottle of Illumination Sauvignon Blanc from Quintessa Winery (see Napa Travelogue post for more info on CA wineries!).  Red wine probably would have gone better with this meal, but my mom generally only drinks white and I had just given my parents a case of this wine for Christmas so we had to try it!

Christmas Dinner Plate

Sunday Supper: Mom’s Meatloaf Two Ways

21 Aug

Growing up, the ultimate in comfort food for me was my mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  I always ask my mom to recreate it for me when I go home, but I also make it for myself often, normally adding a healthy spin to it.  By replacing the ground beef with lean, ground turkey, adding fresh veggies to the meatloaf, and replacing the mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower (it’s really yummy, trust me!), I cut out extra fat/cholesterol from the ground beef and add 2-3 extra servings of veggies.  The original recipe my mom created is adapted from a Lipton soup recipe.  She puts a delicious ketchup/Dijon mustard/brown sugar sauce on top of the meatloaf which gives it an awesome savory/sweet flavor that is a hallmark of Southern cooking.  I’ve included both recipes below so you can try out either depending on your mood.  Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Meatloaf is not a “pretty” looking dish.  This version tastes GREAT though!

Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Cauliflower

Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Cauliflower

Mom’s Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients (Meatloaf)
2 lb. lean ground beef
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/4 c. water
1/3 c. ketchup

Ingredients (Sauce)
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

Directions
1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatloaf.  Place in baking dish.
3. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the sauce and put mixture on top of meatloaf.
4. Bake for 1 hour.

Mom’s Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Cauliflower (aka the “healthy” version)

Serves 6

Ingredients (Meatloaf)
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/4 c. water
1/3 c. ketchup
1 diced red bell pepper
1 diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced mushrooms (I prefer button)

Ingredients (Sauce)
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

Directions
1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatloaf.  Place in baking dish.
3. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the sauce and put mixture on top of meatloaf.
4. Bake for 1 hour.

Mashed Cauliflower

Ingredients
2 heads cauliflower
Grated parmesan cheese
Butter or margarine, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste
Skim milk, to taste

Directions
1. Steam cauliflower to cook.  (Note: If you don’t have a steamer, you can cook it in the microwave as well.  Just put the cauliflower (stems removed), in a microwave-safe bowl with a lid and put just a little bit of water at the bottom.  Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until soft.)
2. Using a hand mixer or blender, blend cauliflower until smooth and creamy.
3. Add parmesan cheese, butter or margarine and salt & pepper, to taste.  The less cheese and butter you put in, the healthier this dish with be, so start slow!
4. If the mashed cauliflower is too thick, add some skim milk to the mixture to thin it out a bit and make it creamier.