April 19, 2016

Brisket for the Holidays

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My culinary skills have been put to the test over the last few weeks. I’m back to work, though not full-time yet, I’m no longer able to shop day-to-day for dinners. I never took for granted my freedom to be creative in the kitchen, but there were definitely times my judgement was clearly clouded – because you know it’s completely normal to go to three different places to buy ingredients for one weeknight dinner, right? Don’t we all do that? I blame the endless resources where I live. All the beautiful farms and local markets have made it difficult to not take advantage of all that deliciousness.

I am now faced with the challenge (like most families), of cooking one night to feed us for three. I used to do this years ago when I was working, but let’s just say I’ve been off my game. So here I am now, Sunday nights, armed with cookbooks, looking through recipe sites and contemplating using the crock pot (this part is huge). I bought my slow cooker on a whim because everyone is always saying how much they love it. I made a couple of things and they all tasted the same (blah). Alas, it’s remained in the closet. We’ll revisit that another time, but please do share any favorite slow cooker recipes – I’d love to try them. Maybe it’s time to give that crock pot a second chance.

My next cooking challenge is Passover. I say send the kids out to find the matzoh and pour me a glass of wine. My grandfather used to always like to rush through things. While other families spent hours reading the Haggadah, enjoying the traditions of the holiday, our seder went something like this: Locust, blood, frogs, etc.. drink the wine. The Jews crossed the desert, drink the wine. It was hot, drink the wine. Where’s the matzoh? Drink the wine. Then he’d ask where the food was. Our whole seder might have lasted 30 minutes. Boy did I think I was lucky when I was a kid.

For years now, I’ve been making this brisket recipe for Passover. Not only does it taste amazing, it might be the easiest entrée you can make for entertaining, ever. Only four ingredients and a few minutes (literally) to put the whole thing together. You’ll be on the couch in no time, relaxing with the family. No fuss for sure! This brisket is great for any holiday or gathering where you need to feed a crowd and don’t want to be bothered with basting, braising, checking on or worrying about your main course.

I was given this recipe at least 10 years ago from a friends mother. I have no idea where it originated, but here it is. You will thank me when you make this for your next holiday. Delicious, easy and a crowd pleaser. Leftovers are even better!

INGREDIENTS

1 – 6lb flat cut brisket
1 – 32oz jar (or bag) of sauerkraut, partly drained
1 – 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 – 16oz box dark brown sugar
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the brisket in a roasting pan that is large enough for the meat to lay completely flat. Sprinkle some kosher salt and pepper all over the meat.

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Pour the sauerkraut over the brisket and spread it evenly.

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Pour the tomatoes with their liquid over the sauerkraut – break up the tomatoes a little bit.

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Sprinkle the box of brown sugar over the tomatoes.

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Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 3 1/2hrs. No need to check on it.

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Remove the foil when it’s finished and slice. Serve with the sauerkraut mixture on the side.

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It’s really good with mashed potatoes!

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Enjoy!

March 20, 2016

Gochujang Stir-Fry Sauce & Other Obsessions

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At any given time I have a handful of food obsessions rolling around in my head. I find ways to incorporate them each week in my cooking and I often spend down time poking around online for creative ways to use them. Some fall off the list, others stick around and new ones are always finding their way to my dinner table. When the whole family loves them like I do, everyone is happy. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case… said the lentil salad I keep making.

My current obsessions…

Frisée – A crisp frisée salad with radicchio, farm picked diced apples and a little crumbled blue cheese could be one of the best salads. Skip the apple and cheese, and toss in some crispy pancetta or bacon lardons if you “Parlez-vous français.” Top with a poached egg and voilà! A Salade Lyonnaise. My recent dinner at the très chic restaurant La Chéri, in the Philadelphia Art Alliance building, included a delicious Salade Lyonnaise and too much French white wine I’m sorry to admit (nice segue to my next addiction).

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Version 2

French White Wines – Extra dirty martinis and sazeracs no more… I don’t know what’s happened to me in the last 6 months but my alcohol tolerance has plummeted to its lowest levels. I’m sad to report my days of cocktails before having wine with dinner are over. I have however, found a new love of French whites. Our dinner at La Chéri introduced me to Vouvray, a refreshing white wine with a hint of effervescence. Sancerre and white bordeaux are also on the list. Here are a few delicious bottles. Sophie Bubbles is not impressed.

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Lentils – To me, lentils are a perfect food. I love these lentils with chorizo and making lentil soup with sausage and spinach, and I even love canned lentils for this quick cold salad. I could go on and on. Below is Ottolenghi’s Mejadra, an ancient rice dish with lentils and fried onions (I could eat the whole bowl). It’s from his Jerusalem cookbook. If you love Middle Eastern food, check out his cookbooks. Love!

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Gochujang – Gochujang is a Korean fermented chile paste. I’ve used it to make stir-fry, fried rice and chicken lettuce wraps. It’s spicy but not overpowering. You definitely need to mix it with other seasonings like sesame oil, soy sauce and fresh ginger. It has a wonderful umami type flavor. If you’re interested in learning a little more, Bon Appetit has a nice article about gochujang. Here’s the stir-fry sauce that I always make, adapted from Eating Well magazine. It’s an easy weeknight dinner with a spicy kick. Yum!

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Gochujang Stir-Fry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup gochujang
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir-fry any combination of veggies and protein you like. Pour the stir-fry sauce over the ingredients in the pan and stir until everything is coated and the sauce is heated through. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve over brown rice.

Enjoy!

** I’ve found Gochujang at some Wegmans and at Mekelburgs in Brooklyn.

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