Archive for April 17th, 2012

what’s in it

the roast…

1 5-6 pound boneless chuck or rump roast

sea salt

1/2 tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns

1/2 tablespoon coarsely ground white peppercorns

1/2 tablespoon corriander

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 cup sriracha sauce

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

canola oil for cooking

2 sliced onions

6 cloves garlic, sliced

5 slices of fresh ginger

2-3 whole roma tomatoes

1-2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 cups dry red wine

2 zucchinis, thickly cut

2 colorful bell peppers, largely diced

2 large carrots, peeled and thickly cut

1 pound whole baby bella mushrooms

the aioli… (from yummly.com)

3 egg yolks

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

squirt of sriracha

2 cups or so vegetable oil


how it comes together

season roast with salt, mix all spices and roll the roast well in them.  roll the spiced roast in the flour.  heat a dutch oven to high.  coat with oil and sear all sides of the roast until brown and crusty.  lower heat and add onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, sugar, wine and sriracha.  cover and let simmer for 3 hours (turn it every hour, but check on it…i don’t like my roast over-done, just tender).  in a large bowl, mix the remaining vegetables with some salt & pepper.  during the last 20 minutes of roasting, add the vegetables and cover.  roast is done when it’s fork tender.  remove roast and check the veggies and sauce for seasoning.   

while roast is roasting, make the aioli that goes on top.  combine all ingredients in food processor, while machine is running, slowly pour oil in stead stream.  continue to add until it’s thick as you like it.  i don’t add both cups of oil…like my aioli a little thinner.

the roast recipe is doctored from a ming tsai recipe on foodnetwork.com.  i added the aioli and mustard, and changed the veggie timing because i hate mushy veggies.  enjoy this one…i certainly did!


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what’s in it

tot nests…

3 small sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and moisture wrung out with a towel

1 small red potato, washed and peeled

1/4 cup flour

4 oz soft goat cheese

oil for frying

sea salt

dipping sauce…

1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1/3 cup nonfat or low fat sour cream

1/3 cup light mayo

2 tablespoons honey

cinnamon to taste – I used a bunch, like a teaspoon

4-5 shakes of red pepper flakes

a couple shakes of corriander

how it comes together

grate the potatoes and drain/wring them of moisture.  throw them in a bowl with the flour and goat cheese and mix until combined.  an electric beater makes this easier, and it’s also a little better if the cheese is room temperature.  wrap the mixture in plastic wrap to form long logs about an inch thick.  freeze them for 20-30 minutes and cut into small pieces.  

original recipe calls for you to heat the oil in a heavy saucepan, but i think it may work better to do it in a fry pan with about 1/4 inch of oil in the bottom.  i think it may make the tots look like actual tots rather than nests.  either way, heat over low heat until very hot, drop in the tots (not too many at a time) and fry until crispy.  drain on paper towels and shake with salt.  

for the dipping sauce, mix all those great things together and serve with the tots.  it’s a great combination of spicy-creamy-sweet to go with the goat cheese and sweet potato.  

this one’s not mine, but i forgot where i found it.  some other blogger who is obviously awesome as this was truly tasty.  i modified the dipping sauce on my own.  

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There I was, in my apartment, strawberry buttermilk cake iced and decorated on the counter in it’s crystal cake stand, my hair in curlers, doing my makeup and getting ready for a ladies tea party, drinking a gin cocktail and singing along to some forgotten Dean Martin song.  And I thought, I would have made a damn fine 196os housewife.

That line brought to mind all kinds of interesting foods and images…pot roast, meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, gin, card games, pencil skirts, Brussels sprouts, all those things that were so decadent and were staples of every Betty Crocker-loving housewife.  Coincidentally, I used the 1973 version of the Betty Crocker Cooking for Two Cookbook to make the scalloped potatoes for my first Family Meal.

So those thoughts and images inspired my first dinner party.   But in order to make my friends part with their cash in return for a home cooked meal, I had to make this a really special, edgy 1960s Family Meal.  In my mind, 1960s housewives didn’t exactly get paid by those they hosted dinner parties for, unless you count payment as the opportunity to clean up  the whole mess, have your husband’s creepy boss hit on you and his wife get drunk and spill her red wine on your white carpet, or if you’re lucky, your husband gives you a little bauble or access to a credit account at the grocery or Macy’s as payment.  And for those of you who are wondering, yes I do have a very odd imagination.  Anyway, menus worthy of a paid-for dinner party started forming in my mind.

The pot roast was a must, but I needed some kind of kick to it, no mushy boring potatoes and veggies for this dinner party.  At my office Christmas party last year the gift I bartered for was a Sriracha cookbook.  It intrigued me so I bribed a co-worker to take the crappy scented candle I’d picked out of the pile.  I made this pulled pork with a brown sugar / Sriracha rub that was amazing.  I decided to do some kind of spicy-sweet pot roast, and try to keep the veggies slightly firm.

So what else?  The aforementioned scalloped potatoes were essential, and I couldn’t bear to butcher Betty’s butter-laden creamy goodness, so I left those alone.  Brussels Sprouts were a done deal.  If you read the “Tastes Like Broccoli” post from a few days ago you’ll know why I had to choose those pretty little cabbage cousins.  I did them up with garlic, honey and a touch of Sriracha (yeah, I’m obsessed with that stuff).

The appetizer was a bit more of a challenge.  My aunt and uncle who were my age in the 60s were visiting from Maryland as I was putting together my menu, and I scoured them for ideas for appetizers.  They came up with Jello.  Seriously.  Jello.  And cheese and crackers.  Turns out 1960s housewives weren’t that creative when it came to appetizers.  So I improvised.  Simple…fried…tasty.  TATER TOTS!  But I couldn’t just pop open a bag of Ore Ida and throw them in the oven.  Had to make special tots…sweet potato goat cheese tots with a dipping sauce made with sour cream, Greek yogurt, honey, cinnamon and red pepper flakes.  Oh yeah.

So amazing (though the tots actually became nests as I fried them…I am terrible at frying things).  No matter, I just served them in little cupcake tins with forks.  And of course no self-respecting housewife gets through the 1960s without mastering a bundt cake, so I threw in a lemon blueberry bundt for dessert.  Just the right tart and sweet to end a great meal.

So, invitations were sent, the night arrived, and two by two some of my most supportive friends started arriving.  And…other supportive friends, I didn’t forget you.  My table only seats 10, so you’ll get the chance to part with your cash in time.  I promise.  I fried up the tot nests, let the meat rest, carved it, enjoyed bustling around the kitchen while listening to my dear friends chat about random things.  It was a really great mix of people…I tried to put together friends from different areas of my life, but made sure I wasn’t the only common denominator so they would have plenty to talk about.  I couldn’t believe how well the night flowed.  We even had some crashers that I was able to feed, and who joined the conversation perfectly.   I’m starting to think that I can do this…that I can really cook for people on a regular basis.  It’s taken a lot to get here…a lot of stress, planning, finding the right people to come.  But when that first knock on the door came and my first guests arrived, I figured out that I was doing something really important.  Something that will make me happy for a long time.  That’s exactly what I was hoping for. So, stay tuned to see what inspires my next Blue Envelope Family Meal.

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