Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Master Chef Flank Steak Recipe

So this post is dedicated to my audition for the show Master Chef. I honestly was not too excited to try and get on some reality show where Gordon Ramsay was going to yell and throw food at you if it was not up to standard. In addition, I knew there would be a lot of weird people there who sit around and watch these reality shows all the time with nothing better to do.
But I went through with it after being constantly harassed by one particular individual...And no, it was not my wife. The requirements were to make a dish that could be served at room temperature for the judges. You were not allowed to plug anything in to re-heat the dish and you had to be able to plate your dish and clean up your area in 15 minutes. The audition was at a Le Cordon Bleu location in Tukwilla, about 20 minutes from our house in an industrial park belching diesel fumes, and it was at 8:00AM in the middle of winter.
I chose to do an old standby from my family that is great right off the grill or at room temperature in a salad or on a sandwich. It's creative title is called Asian Flank Steak. I also included a spinach salad and a wild rice pilaf - both of which would also hold at room temperature and are excellent. I worked that night before and got everything in order - the only thing I had to do was grill the meat, let it rest, and put everything in containers to transport it to the complete dog show that was about to unfold in the industrial park cooking school.
I found the place nestled next to the Ikea distribution center, with a large parking lot and an even larger line snaking out of the front door. The temperature outside was not too cold, probably around 42 degrees or so, but it was damp and so after about fifteen minutes 42 felt like 22. Once in line I quickly figure out I was surrounded by complete psychos. In front of me was a ex-Navy sous chef out of some batter cruiser galley and the first question out of his mouth was, "Hey how's it going? So what did you make?" I told him hamburgers. The people watching almost reminded me of the Puyallup Fair. But everyone was nice and we made small talk until the line started moving into the school itself. From there we went into a large test kitchen that was full of work tables and were told we had five minutes to plate our dish and that after that a judge would come around to talk with us and try our dish.
The judge came around and took and bite and I described the dish and where it came from. I could not read her facial expression at all - it could have been dog poop and you wouldn't have been able to tell. After the tasting was over, they called about five names out of the fifty or so that were in the room and they made it to the next round. I however, was not one of them. After the whole process and stress of putting everything together, part of me was glad that I was not called.
The contest is over but the Asian Flank Steak lives on!!!! This recipe came from my uncle's ex-wife, about 30 years ago, and has been a staple in my family since. It is easy to take camping and hiking, and is very easy to assemble on vacation if you have a grill and a kitchenette on hand. The most important part of this recipe is to use ground ginger instead of fresh ginger. You would think that fresh ginger would add more flavor but fresh ginger actually has an enzyme in it that breaks down the tissue of beef. It does not do it with chicken, pork, or fish, just beef...And I have tested it out myself with flank steak skewers and they turned out mushy and the texture was not good at all. And with that, here is Asian Flank Steak.


1) 1 Beef flank steak.
2) 3/4 Cup vegetable oil
3) 1/4 Cup soy sauce
4) 3 Tablespoons honey (or sugar if you don't have honey - honey is better though)
5) 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
6) 1 Clove garlic, minced or mashed
7) 2 Teaspoons ground ginger
8) 3 -4 Green onions

Take all ingredients and process in a food processor until chopped up and fairly smooth. Rinse the flank steak, pat it dry, and place it in a Ziploc bag that will hold it and the marinade. Pour the marinade in. You may want to double-bag it because if it leaks, you will be very angry. Let it marinate overnight.
Start a grill, preferably charcoal. Over medium-high heat, grill the steak for five minutes with a timer and then turn it over for another five minutes. Do check the steak because there is sugar in the marinade and that tends to burn over a high open flame - turn it if needed. Take it off the grill and let it rest, covered with foil in a 150 degree oven for 10 minutes. Carve and serve. Wild rice and a spinach salad is money with this.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite things to eat and make because it tastes great, it's super easy to make, and you can make it pretty quick. I call this MY Chicken Piccata because normally when you order it or see it in a cookbook, it's sauteed in a pan and served with a lemon, caper, and most important: BUTTER sauce. I like to first pound the chicken out and then dredge it in Panko. Panko is one of the greatest things to come from Japan - yes - Japan. It is a very small and crispy breadcrumb that is out of this world on chicken and pork. Since Panko has become very popular, stores of course raise the price. What a load of crap. It's breadcrumbs! How expensive can they be? Well, go to Metropolitan Market or another "specialty store" and you will see the Sunluck brand in a SMALL, green box for $3.99. I have a secret Asian market that sells Panko for $1.99 and the box is three times the size of the Sunluck brand. It's made by Kikkoman and I personally think it makes a crispier crust.
Now, back to Chicken Piccata. The Panko adds a great crust to the chicken and just makes the dish taste that much better. The only trick to this dish is to not over cook the chicken - Surprise! Surprise! Don't overcook chicken! Has anyone heard that before?!

This will serve two people.


2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup flour
3/4 Stick butter - chill out - just go for a run after dinner and you'll be fine.
2 - 3 Tablespoons capers
2 Tablespoons shallot
1 Cup white wine
2 - 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Handful of Arugula
Slices of tomatoes...Preferably from your garden but probably from a store this year.
Salt and Pepper

1) First, rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Get out some wax paper and put the chicken between two sheets and pound it with a meat mallet until it's about 1/2" thick. Be gentle or you will pulverize the chicken breast. If you don't have a meat mallet, use the un-opened (there is a story that will be told at a later date) bottle of wine and gently beat the crap out of the chicken.

2) Make sure you do your prep work: Dice the shallot and set aside. Juice the lemon and set aside. (WARNING: if you use the bottled lemon juice in the yellow bottle, the kitchen gods will be angered and will strike you down).

3) Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk in a little milk, set aside. Mix the flour and Panko in a dish or pie pan and set near the eggs. Make sure to liberally salt and pepper both sides of the chicken and then coat in the egg mixture and then into the Panko/flour blend. Move the meat around and press it down to get the Panko to stick. You want to make a crust. Once you have the Panko on the chicken, set it down on a plate and do the same with the other piece of chicken. I try and make a sort of assembly line with the egg and Panko so that I go right into a hot pan from the Panko instead of on the plate - I hate doing dishes.

4) Get a decent-sized non-stick saute pan out and add a little olive oil and about 1 tablespoon of butter. You want the pan on medium-high heat. Hot, but not smoking. Heat until the butter is bubbling and just beginning to brown and then add both breasts. Cook the breasts for 5 minutes a side. Set a timer and you will have perfect chicken. This also depends on how big and thick your chicken breasts are - you will have to adjust the cooking time to the size of the meat. The Panko should be a nice golden brown. Once the chicken is cooked, put it on a plate a put it in a 150 degree oven to keep warm while you finish the sauce.

5) Do not get rid of the oil and brown bits in the pan - they are needed for the sauce. Do not wipe the pan out. To the pan, add the shallot and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes or so. Once it has cooked down, add the wine and reduce until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the capers and lemon juice and continue to cook for a minute or so. Turn the heat down and add the butter last and swirl it around to melt it into the sauce.

6) Get out two plates and fan the Arugula out on the plate - use a fair amount, it's part of the meal and not meant to be a garnish. Place a chicken breast on top of the Arugula and spoon the sauce over it. Add tomatoes to the side and devour.

*This takes about 30 minutes, start to finish. I will add pictures when I get another damn memory card for the camera!!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

You should not drink and bake...

Fool-Proof Roast Beef

This recipe comes from my dad, Gary. It is very easy to make and the roast beef comes out perfect every time. The only time it doesn't come out perfect is if you get a tough piece of meat. We have done this with beef but I bet venison and elk would also beef good. This is the base version. You can add herbs and other vegetables if you wish. Feel free to experiment!


1 4 -5 Lb. Roast (remember it will shrink during cooking so make sure you have enough. But do not get one that is too big to brown in the pot)
2 - 3 Yellow onions
2 - 3 Carrots
3 - 4 Cloves of garlic
1 - 2 Containers of beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste


Oil a large pot and bring it up to medium-high heat. While the pot is heating up, take out the meat and rinse it off and then pat it dry. Make some holes in the meat with a knife and stick slivers of garlic all over the roast. Make sure to push them down into the meat with your finger so they don't all fall out. Make sure you salt and pepper the roast before browning. DO NOT forget this part or the meat will not taste the same.

Brown the beef over medium-high heat. Carefully flip the meat with tongs or whatever gadget you have. If you have burned yourself many times like I have, you can use your hands because all the feeling is gone. Once the meat has been browned, take it out and set it aside while you prep the rest.

Cut up the onions into medium size pieces and do the same with the carrots. In the same pot that you browned the meat, add the some more olive oil and then add the onions and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes or so. Once the vegetables have cooked down, add the meat back to the pan on top of the onions and carrots. Add the beef broth to the pot - enough to almost cover the meat, but do not fully submerge it - this is a roast, not soup. I also like to add a bunch of herbs tied with kitchen string (bouquet garni') to the pot for some extra flavor - usually rosemary, thyme, parsley, etc.

Next comes the most important part: covering the roast. Cut of enough foil to totally cover the pot.

After you have covered the pot with foil, place the lid on top and put the roast into a 325 degree oven and let it cook for 3-4 hours. Do not open the oven, do not take the lid off, and whatever you do, do not take the foil off of the pot while in the oven. Once the 3-4 hours is up, take the roast out of the oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. Take the meat, onions, and carrots out and put them on a large serving platter.

Make sure you have horseradish!!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Spicy Szechuan Beef Soup

Well tonight Elaine is gone with Quincy so I am on my own...and that means...Cooking HOT food!!! I usually try and think up something hot and new when she is gone. Basically, I am my own Guinea Pig on the heat and taste scale.
I love soup and with the weather getting cooler, warm soup is always good. I have been wanting to make MaPo Tofu for a long time (will discuss that dish in another post) so I thought I would fashion this new soup after that but without pork or tofu. So I am going to settle on round steak that is browned and then simmered for a few hours to break it down a little. Behold...
1 - 2 star anise
1 TBL spoon Szechuan peppercorns
1 TBL spoon fennel seed
1 TBL cumin powder
1 TBL  red pepper flakes

1 TBL spoon Chinese hot bean paste
1/2 t-spoon fish sauce
1 t-spoon sesame oil
5 1" pieces of cilantro STEMS, chopped (stems have a ton more flavor, but need to be cleaned better - very sandy)
1 TBL spoon chili oil
2-3 Fresno chilies, chopped
1-2 Serrano chilies, chopped
1" piece ginger, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped

*NOTE: Use 1-2 Thai chilies in place of Fresno and Serrano if you have them. 4-5 if you want to die young.

2 Lbs. beef round or sirloin
1 " piece of ginger, chopped
1/4 C soy sauce

1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
3 C beef stock
2 C water

First, marinade the beef for 30 mintues or so - not more than an hour though.

Grind all dry ingredients in a spice grinder and toast in a dry skillet - set aside.

Combine all wet ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth - set aside.

Drain beef of marinade and try to wipe off as much excess moisture as possible - if not, the oil will go ape shit on you and then you'll be burned - not cool at all. Stir fry on high heat until browned but not done. Set aside.

Heat some oil over high heat and stir fry onion and carrot. After about two minutes, add the wet paste and stir fry. Be careful to keep stiring - with any sugar it will burn easily. Add the meat and stir to coat and let cook for another minute. Add the stock and water and bring to a boil - then bring down to a simmer on low and cover with both tin foil and the lid. Simmer for 2 - 3 hours. When done, add cabbage and simmer 10 minutes. Check seasonings and add fish sauce, etc. if needed. Garnish with cliantro and cabbage and have a towel to wipe your head.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Documenting Jordan's kitchen adventures

I am so lucky to have an amazing cook as my husband.  He is continually creating something new, healthy, and delicious to eat.  I always tell him to record all of his fabulous kitchen creations but that never seems to happen.  I thought it would be fun to document and share some of his adventures in the kitchen here.  Hope you enjoy!