Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grilled London Broil with Roasted Vegetables

For whatever reason, I haven't bought veggies in a while.  Can't figure out why (brain is not on yet this AM).

Oh I remember why. 

3 weeks ago, David tore up everything in the garden, (except the pepper plants) roto-tilled for 2 days, and replanted the beds with fall stuff...which means beans, broccoli, lettuce, onions, kale, and a couple of other things I can't recall at this moment. 

It does means in about another month, I'll have some more fresh veggies to pick.  Until then, I had to go see what was at the store yesterday.  Everything was on special, well...everything I wanted to buy anyway ;-).  I bought all of this:

And this doesn't include the bag of baby spinach, a second bunch of asparagus, and the 4 other red peppers I bought ('cause I can't help myself...Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce anyone?).  The asparagus was $1.77 /lb, the peppers were 4 for $5.  What a deal! 

As you know by now, David always keeps his eyes peeled for a good piece of beef.  Last time he went to the store, he saw a London Broil marked down.  I of course, threw it right into the freezer for later.  Later has come folks...and paired with a pan of roasted veggies, this was a quick, simple weekday dinner.

Grilled London Broil with Roasted Vegetables

1 London broil (about 2 pounds) or steak of choice
1 tablespoon steak seasoning blend (like McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak)
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch
1 small yellow squash, sliced 1/4 inch
1/2 red onion, quartered
1/2 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed
salt and black pepper
1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Season the steak on both sides with the grill seasoning.  Let it hang out in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, prep all your vegetables and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Drizzle some olive oil on a large sheet pan.  Toss the vegetables with the salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, basil, and a little more olive oil.  Then spread it out on the sheet pan. 

Mama always said, "You need to eat your vegetables!"  Don't forget to call her and tell her you did.  (No need to thank me...and you're welcome ;-).

Roast the vegetables for about 20 minutes, or until they're tender (but not soft...we want a bit of crunch still).  Give the pan a little shake and rotate it about halfway through the cooking time. 

While the veggies are roasting, let's grill the steak up.  I like London Broil on the rare side, but you cook your beef the way you want to.  I grilled ours over medium flame on the gas grill outside for about 8 minutes per side. 

Let the steak rest for a good 10 minutes before serving.  This redistributes all the juices and the beef will stay nice and tender.

Serve the steak with the roasted veggies on the side.

If you prefer other vegetables, by all means roast 'em instead of using what I did.  My kids love roasted green beans, and Roasted Broccoli, (which comes out especially good with the broccoli from our garden). 

So there you have it, a steak dinner, with vegetables and no guilt involved.  Unless you eat a brownie afterwards, which I most certainly did not do. 

Okay...I did.  But I only had half of it.  I gave Gabriel the other half.  He was happy.  I mourned. 

God bless your table tonight!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Whole Roasted Orange Chicken

We went through a very brief period of unemployement last spring.  David was able to find a new job after just  weeks...truly a blessing.  When we found out he would be leaving his previous job, I started cutting back on our grocery bill, and we made a list of everything in the freezers and used those items first before going out to buy more.  Even though David has a new job, I've been cooking more frugally ever since.  I wouldn't say our grocery bill is significantly less, but I now look at my freezer lists and plan my meals around what we have or what's on sale in the store ads. 

I had some oranges, parsley, and a whole chicken, and figured I could roast the bird using those ingredients.  I searched the internet for some ideas, and modified this recipe just a tad--I also cut back on the butter and added more garlic. 

Another thing I did was look for a way to brine the chicken.  I referred to this article from Cooks IllustratedI like a really juicy roast chicken, with crispy skin...and knew I'd have to brine the bird first to get the results I wanted.  This takes some pre-planning, but it's not hard at all.  And as you can see, it really worked.  I have never had a roast chicken turn out so gorgeous!

I wish I could have garnished the platter, but my chicken weighed nearly 5 pounds (and took longer to roast than I expected).  So it was nearly 7 PM by the time we sat down to eat.  I snapped a couple of pics and David swiftly took the carving knife to it!  Everyone loved, even Christina said it was good.

Whole chickens are usually the most economically way to buy poultry, so next time they're on sale, give this recipe a try.

Whole Roasted Orange Chicken

1 whole chicken (3-5 pounds)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Handful of fresh parsley, stems removed
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 orange
4 cloves garlic
salt and black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup orange juice

Early in the day, or the day before
First things first-- brining the chicken.  If you skip the brining, that's okay, but this step will guarantee juicy meat and crispy skin.  Rinse the chicken cavity and discard the giblets.  You will need a very large pot or very large zip-top bag to brine the chicken.  Make sure you have ample room in the fridge, cause this bird's going to be hanging out in there for a few hours. 

Here's my pot of brine mixed up...I know, it looks like it's just water...but it's not.   

I mentioned this article from Cooks Illustrated which tells you how to brine meat.  Refer to the chart on page 17 to make your brine.  My bird weighed nearly 5 pounds, so I used 4 quarts of water, 16 tablespoons of Morton Kosher Salt, 8 tablespoons of sugar, and I brined the chicken for 5 hours. It says one quart of brine for every pound of meat, but not to exceed 2 gallons of brine.  So a 5 quart pot was a good size to use.  Once you've got the brine mixed up, just put the chicken in, and let it soak for a while. 

After 5 hours, I took the chicken out, poured the brine down the drain, and patted the chicken dry with some paper towels. 

Now we need to let the chicken air, uncovered in the fridge.  Place the chicken breast-side up and let it chill out.  The Cooks Illustrated article says overnight is best, but I only did mine for 3 hours.  If you've go the time, do it overnight. 

Meanwhile, you can get the stuffing together. 

Zest both the oranges and put it into the orange juice. 

I know the recipe says only one orange, but I knew one of the kids would walk through the kitchen and want the other one, so I peeled and quartered both.  (Sure enough, Gabriel and Rebecca came through the kitchen and split the second orange). 

Take 1/2 of the garlic slices and gently slide them under the skin of the chicken.  If you need to, carefully loosen the skin under the breasts, drumsticks, and thighs (which are easier to get to if you turn the bird over). 

Before going any further, I want to show you the pan I'm going to use to roast the chicken.  The best thing to use is a small rack inside a larger roasting/baking pan, but I only have large cooling racks, and I wasn't able to find a smaller one at Walmart.  So, I took a small, mini-muffin tin, flipped it upside down, and put it inside a 9x13 pan. 

Make sure to use a good quality pan, since we'll be roasting the chicken at a high heat.  If you don't have a mini-muffin pan, crumble up some balls of foil and lay the chicken on top of them, or if you have one of these v-shaped racks, you can use that too.  The idea is to try to create some space under the bird so the heat can get to it, and roast it more evenly. 

Season the inside of the bird with some salt and pepper.  Then stuff the cavity of the chicken with the rest of the garlic, parsley, oranges, onions, and 2 tablespoons of butter.

Now we're going to tuss the chicken.  Trussing the bird will keep the stuffing in place, and make the roast more compact, allowing for more even cooking.  If you need some help with this technique, here's a simple video you can watch.  Just make sure you use oven-proof kitchen string, which you can find at any grocery store (especially around Thanksgiving).  I also made 2 holes in the skin flaps at the top of the cavity and ran the string through there, so my cavity would stay shut (this step is completely optional). 

Almost ready to roast!  Here's my bird, 2 steps away from the oven.  If you look closely, you can see the slivers of garlic under the skin. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and brush the chicken all over--don't forget the underside too.  Then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, top, bottom, get the idea, right ;-) ?

Time to roast!  Ready or not, you're goin' in!

 Roast the chicken, wing side up for 15 minutes.  Then flip it over to the other wing side, and roast for another 15 minutes.  I used some foil balls to keep the chicken on its side.  (This is where a v-rack could come in handy, but that's okay...we can improvise.  I don't think a lot of home cooks have a v-rack lying around). 

After the first 30 minutes, (15 minutes on on side, 15 minutes on the other side) here's what the chicken will look like.  Turn the oven up to 450 degrees and rotate the chicken breast side up.  I had a couple foil balls propping up the backside, which was the heavier end.   

Continue to roast the chicken for about 20-25 minutes longer, or until a meat thermometer registers between 165-170 when inserted into the thigh.   My bird weighed nearly 5 pounds, so it took about 35-40 minutes to finish. 

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or platter, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Lands sakes alive people, would you look at that?  Isn't it a beatiful sight? 

While the chicken is resting, take the pan drippings and add to a small pot along with the orange juice. Place over medium heat until the sauce is hot and slightly thickened.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with the chicken.  Honestly, I wasn't a big fan of the sauce.  It tasted like greasy orange juice because I didn't take the time to skim off the fat beforehand.  But the sauce went into a container and into the fridge-- the next day, the fat had solidified, and I was able to remove it quickly before reheating it for dinner.  This time, it was MUCH better.  So, note to self, degrease the sauce first (I should have use my fat separator). 

David and the kids all said this was one of the best chickens I'd ever put on the table.  I made Sauteed Spinach and Sweet Potato Fries on the side.  Rebecca kept sneaking pieces of the crispy skin until we made her stop. was really good, I'll tell ya!

This recipe did take some time, but the results were so worth it.  I will definitely make this again, but not during the week like I did this time...I'll save it for the weekends when I'm not so rushed.  What an awesome Sunday dinner this would be!

God Bless your table tonight!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rustic Peach Pie

I had a few peaches left over after making the Peachy Keen Pork Chops, and decided a dessert was in order.  We hadn't had dessert in a while, and my sweet tooth was starting to suffer from withdrawl. can't blame me if you don't like what the scale says the day after though, especially if you can't help yourself and have a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a slice of this pie (which of course, is a MUST).  So I recommend a good, 2 mile walk afterwards...and probably more if you have seconds.

Rustic Peach Pie

For the crust:
2  1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water
1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
4 ripe peaches (not too soft, but not hard either)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup ground almonds
1 teaspoon cinammon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sugar

We'll do the crust first so it can chill out in the fridge while we make the filling. 

Combine the butter, flour, and salt in a food processor.  (If you don't have a food processor, just use a pastry cutter or two table knives to incorporate the butter into the flour).

Pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. 

Add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms large clumps.  You may not need all the water.
Dump the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap and gently pat it all together.
Wrap the crust up in the plastic and chill for at least 1/2 an hour.

Now we can start on the filling...and we'll have to peel the peaches first.  The easiest way to peel fresh peaches is by blanching them.  Bring a pot of water large enough to hold the peaches to a boil.  Use a sharp knife to gently score an "x" on the bottom of each peach. 

Drop the peaches into the pot, and let them boil for about 2 minutes, or until you see the skins starting to peel back at the "x." 

Remove from the pot and immediately place the peaches into a bowl of ice water to cool them down and stop the cooking process. 

When the peaches are cool enough to handle (it only takes about 5 minutes), gently peel the skins back--they should slide right off. 

Lay your naked, blushing peaches on a cutting board, and slice 1/4 inch thick.  Don't they look purty?

I only ended up with 3 peaches instead of 4.  (One of them tasted like sawdust, so I threw it out.  Always taste your fruit when you're making a pie!)

Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Add the brown sugar, and stir until the sugar has melted. 

Add the peaches, salt, cinammon, ginger, and nutmeg...

and continue to cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the peaches are tender.  They don't need to be cooked all the way through, so if they're still a tad firm, don't worry about it :-). 

Now we're ready to put this pie together. 

Prepare your sheet'll want to use your largest one.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray or use a silicon baking mat.

Take the pie crust from the fridge and flour your work surface generously.  Roll it out to 1/4 inch thick.
Roll the crust up onto the rolling pin, and carefully transfer the crust to your sheet pan. 

Sprinkle the center area of the crust with the ground almonds.  I just blitzed some sliced almonds in my mini-food processor until they were very fine. 

Gently spoon the filling into the middle of the crust. 

Carefully pleat the crust around the edges, pulling it up over the peaches, all the way around.  The filling will still be showing in the middle.  
Brush the edges of the pie with the beaten egg and spinkle with the sugar.  I used some turbinado sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is a deep golden brown.

Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Rebecca LOVED this pie.  I let her have 2 pieces, because Joshua and Christina didn't want any, so their share had to go to somebody, right?

This is a great pie to make on the spur of the moment...easy to assemble and no messing with 2 crusts like a traditional pie.  A scoop of vanilla ice cream really takes it over the top.  Oh, and it makes the house smell awesome!

Try this pie can substitute apples, nectarines, plums...whatever suits your fancy.
God bless your table tonight!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Peachy Keen Pork Chops

I know Texas grows great peaches, and I'm not going to put down in any way the state I've lived in for the past 19 years.  But...I will say I still haven't had a peach as good as the ones I had when I lived in Georgia during my high school years.  Very, very close...but not the same.  I am sure it has to do with the climate, the soil, something is just missing.  Maybe it's because I still miss Georgia after all these years. 

I saw huge piles of peaches at the store earlier this week, and wanted to make some peach relish alongside some grilled pork chops.  This is easy, fresh, and just the perfect way to close out the summer here (even though it's really not going to cool off until November).  I made these over the Labor Day weekend, along with a Rustic Peach Pie, because I always get to grilling around those summer holidays. 

You can make the peach relish one day in advance, but it really will not hold up any longer than that...the peaches will get mushy on you.  It's best made early in the day, and then refridgerated until lunchtime/dinnertime. 

Peachy Keen Pork Chops

2 peaches, peeled and thinly sliced (they should be ripe, but not too soft)
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
salt and black pepper
4 bone-in or boneless pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Take the sliced red onions and put them in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes.  This will draw out some of the bitterness, and mellow the oniony flavor for the relish. 

Drain the ice water, and pat the onions dry on some paper towels. 

In a large bowl/container, combine the sliced peaches...

the onions, honey, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, mint, a pinch of pepper, and a sprinkling of salt. 

Allow the flavors to meld for at least 1/2 an hour before serving.

Now all we have to do is grill the pork chops.  Season both sides with salt, pepper, and dried thyme. 

Grill over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes per side.  Take care not to overdo it...pork goes easily from tender to a brick.  Pork bricks and peach relish just don't do well together ;-). 

Serve the grilled pork chops with the peach relish.  I made scalloped potatoes (outta a box...just because) and roasted green beans on the side.

This is one of those summertime meals that can't be beat.  And you don't have to heat up the kitchen to make it! 

God bless your table tonight