101 Cooking For Two - Everyday Recipes for Two: January 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Green Beans with Bacon and Onions

Another green bean recipe. I like this one for several reasons. First the beans can be cooked ahead and saved for several hours. You then finish up starting 12-15 minutes before serving. Second IT HAS BACON ! This is mostly a CI recipe except I added some M-salt. This is a garlic - salty seasoning sold locally in west Michigan by friends of the family.

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No Knead Bread

This is not a low carb recipe... big surprise there. Actually after I get the hang of this with real flour, I plan on try a low carb flour substitute. But that's for another day.

This recipe or variations of it has apparently been making the rounds on blogs and internet sites for years. The originator of the technique is Jim Lahey, a New York baker. An article in The New York Times in November of 2006 apparently set off a rage through blogs and internet sites which is still going on. We first saw a post on Savory Reviews (see my blog list) this month and in-spite of our low-carbing, we must try it.

Since I first saw it, I have done some research and found lots of variations. Admittedly they all are only minor variations but I decide to give the inventor credit and some of my money. I bought his book. I will follow his recipe but many sites commented on the need for a little more salt.

A note about the Dutch Oven that is recommended. Many have knobs that will melt if heated above 400 degrees. This recipe was so popular that it was blamed for an epidemic of knob stealing to replace the melted knobs. I bought a Lodge Dutch Oven and this is my first project with it but then I found the knob melts at 400. So before my first use, I replaced the knob with a Le Creuset stainless steel knob from Amazon for $10

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Chicken Parmesan

NEWER IMPROVED VERSION - Chicken Parmesan - An Easy Company Feast -Click here

This is a variation of the Lighter Chicken Parmesan from CI that I have been using for over a year.

This is a great company recipe. I did this for 10 at Christmas in the form presented here along with the expected pasta and it went very well.

Rating 9.5 Always impressive in appearance and taste. 

(printable recipe)
 Tools: nothing special

1 1/2 cup bread crumbs- you may need up to 2 of not Panko
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 medium to large chicken breast - skinless, boneless 
1 - 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 eggs
2 T water
1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 1/2 t garlic powder
Simple sauce:
1 6oz can tomato paste plus equal amount water
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 finely minced small onion
1 T basal - fresh if available
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper

1) Preheat oven to 450 convection (475 standard oven)

2) Prepare large shallow pan with rack. Aluminum foil on bottom would save cleanup time. Spray rack with PAM

Bread Crumbs: 
3) Heat a medium skillet on high with 1 T olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and brown. Panko bread crumbs would be good here or the crumbs of your choice.
4) let cool and add shredded parmesan

Create breading line
5) Use large plates or breading pans.
6) Pan #1 1/2 c flour. 1 1/2 t garlic powder, 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t pepper. Mix well
7) Pan #2 three egg whites combined with 2 T water and mix well
8) Pan #3 browned bread crumbs mixed with parmesan cheese.

9) Cut Breasts into cutlets by cutting them horizontally.

10) Dry the chicken cutlets with a paper towel. Dip in the flour mixture. Coat both sides and shake of the excess. Dip in the egg wash and then the bread crumbs. Press the crumbs firmly onto the breast. Place on rack. Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray (Lightly)
11) Place on a middle oven rack and cook for about 20 minutes until temp of 170.

12) While cooking create your sauce. Add tomato paste with equal amount of water to sauce pan over medium high heat. Add 2 cloves garlic crushed or minced. 1/2 finely minced small onion. 1 T basal - fresh if available. 1 t salt. 1/2 t pepper. Bring to simmer and decreased heat to low and simmer until needed.
13) Remove the breast from oven when internal temp is 170.

14) Coat top of each breast with a generous amount of sauce and them as much mozzarella as you can get to stick.

15) Placed back in oven and cook until top is browned.

1) The chicken breasts are easier to cut when still partially frozen. But I think they hold the breading better if not frozen.
2) Use any marinara sauce you want to replace my simple sauce. This will only make a small amount for topping the chicken. Not enough for pasta if you want that.
3) I frequently will do chicken cutlets on the grill and for baking. It allows the meat to cook through without drying out the outside. Both breading and skim can protect meat from drying on a grill or in an oven but if you are just putting on some butter, seasoning and garlic, you need them to cook through faster.>

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Simple Roast Bone-in Skin-on (Split) Chicken Breast

Sometime you just want simple. Minimal fuss and muss. I had no specific plans when I to the store to pick up a prescription and get something for dinner. Nothing struck me as the next post or even anything I really wanted to fuss with. I grabbed the 99 cents/lb chicken breasts ($3.34 for three). I was tired of breading things so the skin on would keep it moist. So home to find a recipe that would be simple or just do it myself. The search of CI site lead to a simple recipe. Yes, they do have some. I of course added more garlic but otherwise followed the recipe

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Parmesan-Sesame Crackers

My DVR recorded a Good Eat's with Alton Brown last night. He did crackers. Check it out at Flat is Beautiful: Going Crackers.  Way to many carbs for me, but I do crackers too, low carb of course

This is a modification on a recipe from Blain's Low Carb Kitchen.  The show has no new episode but I did enjoy it when it was airing on FIT TV. The original recipe had poppy seeds. I prefer sesame seeds and I also added the salt. The original recipe calls for soy flour which Blain used extensively to lower carb counts. Any flour or flour substitute can be used. It has been done with good results with standard all-propose flour. 

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So how is a recipe like the Pirate's Code?

Part three of this quote is the answer.

Captain Barbossa to Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean:
"first, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement, so I must do nothing, and secondly you must be a pirate for the Pirate's Code to apply and you're not, and thirdly the code is more of what you call guidelines than actual rules"

So a recipe is "more of what you call guidelines than actual rules".

I consider it play time. Time to experiment. I love Cooks Illustrated recipes. I always learn something. I love Alton Browns stuff. Again I'm learning.

So relax and enjoy your cooking... they're just guidelines REALLY.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Green beans with red onion and bread crumbs

It's about time I did a vegetable. I find many variations of ways to cook green beans, I have tried and use most of them. We do a lot of green beans since they fit a low carb diet.

This time I needed something with the chicken cordon bleu. I did extra bread crumbs for that recipe so I used them here. It worked very well.

Pre browning the bread crumbs here helps keep them crisp.

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CHICKEN CORDON BLEU - I planned it this time

Unlike my spontaneous Cordon Bleu last week, I planned this one. I decided to do the "stuffed" method instead of wacking it with the meat pounder and rolling it. That is an option if you want or need to take out aggression.  If you do the rolling method, use slices of cheese and ham. Dicing works better for stuffing.

(printable recipe)
Tools: small edged cookie sheet with rack. One large knife for chopping and several small knifes. Pam. Aluminum foil.

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (because there are three in the package)
2 oz diced ham
2 oz diced swiss cheese
2 green onions
1 cup bread crumbs -panko or home made low carb
1/4 cup parmesan cheese shredded
1 egg
1/2 cup flour (I used a low carb type)
1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp olive oil

1) Oven to 425 convection.

2) Heat a medium skillet on high with the olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and brown. I used low carb bread run through a food processor. 1 slice makes 1/2 cup of crumbs. If not low carbing then panko bread crumbs would be good.

3) Mix the flour, onion salt, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl.  I use  breading pans from William-Sonoma. In a second pan/bowl separate the egg, keep the white, toss the yoke, add 1T water and whip with a fork. In a third pan/bowl place the browned bread crumbs.Add the parmesan cheese to the bread crumbs.
4) Line the pan with aluminum foil. Spray the rack pan heavy with Pam. It won't help the cooking but makes clean up better.

5) Prep the stuffing. Mince the green onions. Dice the Swiss cheese and ham together in 1/8-1/4 inch pieces. Toss together with the green onions.

6) Prep the chicken breast. Pat dry with paper towels. Trim the fat. Lay a breast on a cutting board. Cut a slit about 1 1/2 inch long and deep into the thick side of the breast. Expand the pocket to extend into most of the breast. BE CAREFUL not to put a hole in your pocket.

7) Assembly: Stuff the chicken breasts. You could use a toothpick to close the pocket but I didn't and had no leaking. Dip in the flour mixture. Coat both sides and shake of the excess. Dip in the egg wash and then the bread crumbs. Place on rack.
8) Place on center rack of a 425 convection oven. Insert meat therommeter and cook until 180 internal temp. About 40-45 minutes.
Looks good served with the Green beans with red onion and bread crumbs.

Notes: The onion in the stuffing was very nice but the left over breast was to much onion. This is not a good left over dish anyways due to the coating.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Finest Kind Ribs

Ribs are a religion to some requiring hours of fussing to create the prefect ribs. They must be boiled, or smoked or who knows what else. Ohhhh BS...

I decided ribs should be cooked somewhat like I cook brisket. It's tough but responds to long cooking at a lower temp, sealed in foil. I have added liquid smoke but it is really not good.

Here is my original recipe... totally KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

UPDATE-Useful links
Recipezaar # 16732 - Gates & Son's KC BBQ Rub
Recipezaar # 16745 Gates & Son's KC BBQ Sauce
My Memphis  BBQ Sauce - You must try this

(printable recipe)
Tools: Wide heavy aluminum foil, 1/2 sheet baking sheet, boning knife

1 slab pork back ribs (pork spare ribs also are fine here)
Rub (you can find many recipes for rub or I use Gates from Kansas City)
BBQ sauce (again I use Gates)


Clean the ribs by stripping the pleura off the inside of the ribs (the tough membrane for you non-medical people).
Trim any fatty areas as much as possible.
Sprinkle heavily with the rub and rub in.
Seal tight in aluminum foil.

Cook at 300 for approximately 2 hours . Place the 1/2 sheet pan the next level down to catch any dripping.

Remove, open one end of foil and drain the fluid and fat. If you are precooking for later then re wrap and refrigerate or freeze. Or I frequently freeze prior to cooking and then add an extra 30 minutes to the cooking time.

To eat now, place on the sheet pan and open. Lightly brush a sauce of your choice on top (bottom is optional).  Finish off under a broiler or on a grill for about 4-5 minutes (per side if you did both sides) until crusted.

These will fall off the bones and taste great.

We use Gates rub and sauce (of course...is there anything else worth eating) (Gates Site )

Notes: These are very moist and falling off the bone. If you want it "dryer" open the foil for the last 20-30 minutes.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Taco Meat Shoot Out…I lost

For years I have used a simple recipe for taco meat that was from a small Mexican cookbook that I got in southern California. It is quick and much better than the typical taco served in a restaurant and vastly superior to the package mix. I can whip this out in 30 minutes start to finish. I have been very satisfied… until now.

As you know, recipes for the same thing tend to look very similar. So when I saw a vastly different one from Cooks Illustrated, I decided to have a have a taco shoot out. I was sure I wouldn't change much… not my personality. But the new recipe won hands down. You'll forget you are eating ground beef. This is wonderful but took me 90 minutes to do. See my notes at the end about how I'm going to try to cut the time down. 

Newer version is as good, much much faster and easier... click the link...

Old Recipe:
2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup tomato sauce
2 T. chopped parsley
2 T. chili powder
1 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
Brown meat and onions, drain grease. Add other ingredients and simmer uncovered for 10 mins.

New Recipe:

(printable recipe) 

Ingredients: This was a single pound recipe that I tripled for leftovers
3 lbs ground beef 90% or better-see note
1-2 T vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium onions)

3Tablespoons minced or pressed garlic (about 9 medium cloves)
6 T Chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 ½ t oregano
¾ t cayenne pepper
1 ½ t salt
pepper and added salt to taste

1 ½ cup tomato sauce
1 ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth (I will probably eliminate this… see note)
1 T brown sugar
2 T vinegar

1) Over medium high heat, add oil. Cook onions until clear. Add garlic and spices. Cook about 1 minute until very fragrant.
2) Add ground beef and cook until browned. As usual, break up the meat and scrap bottom of pan frequently with wooden spoon.
3) Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar and vinegar.
4) Cook down for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

1) Be sure to use lower fat ground beef. There is no convenient point to suction it off as in the previous recipe. I had 80% ground chuck having read the recipe last week.
2) I will try pre-crushed garlic. I know it's cheating but it's being cooked anyways. (Saving 10 minutes)
3) I took me about 45 minutes to reduce the final product to a reasonable consistency. At 10 minutes, it was taco soup.  Some of this may be related to the 80% beef not being as dry. Next time I eliminate the chicken broth or add it last  and only add the amount to make it a consistency that will cook down in 10-15 minutes.  (Saving about 30 minutes)

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Masses of Pizza Dough

After the previous low-carb pizza recipe, I though I would post a very high carb recipe.

My home made pizza has been a family favorite for 30 plus years. With only two of us and keeping carbs low, the only time the pizza pans come out is during holidays. At both Thanksgivings and Christmas, the occasion called for "masses of pizza". With one of the family being severely milk allergic, it's easier and safer to just do it yourself.

Here is the dough recipe. I'm not allowed to make the sauce so you're on your own there. Topping are your choice also. 

Ingredients (for 5 large pizzas 16 inch round or 1/2 sheet size)
8 cups Water
Flour- you will need a lot. Most of a 10 lb bag
1 T salt
3 pack Quick rise yeast
4 T oil
1 1/2 T sugar
The amounts of salt, oil and sugar are approximate. I have never measured. 

1) In large bowl (our BIG monster cookie one) 8 cups of warm not hot water. I do “pre-warm” the bowl with hot water so it doesn’t cool everything off. Add three packs of quick rise yeast, the sugar, salt and oil. Let set for 5-10 minutes after mixing will.
2) Add flour. Start with 16 cups (2 cups per cup of water). Mix well. Add more flour to get right consistency. This should be not too stiff.
3) Let rise until double in size (about 45 minute). If you have time, punch down and let rise a second time. I almost never do this.
4) Cut into fifths and spread out and top.
5) Sauce and toppings your choice

I generally bake at 375-400 for approximately 25 minutes. This varies by oven, convection etc.
With our two ovens I do “rotate” the pizzas after 10-12 minutes by moving the bottom one to the top and rotating 180 degrees. The cheese only part browns faster and should be further down in the oven longer.

Notes: This was a one pizza recipe 35 years ago then went to a 2 pizza recipe. That was 3 cups of water, 1 pack yeast, 7+ cups of flour with some oil, salt and sugar.  Feel free to adjust salt, sugar and oil but I don't think it matters a lot.  The ratio of water to flour should be about 1 to 2 to start and add flour to get the right consistency which should not be to stiff. The yeast can vary some. For four pizzas at Thanksgivings, I used two packs and for 5 at Christmas I used 5. If you use sausage, you will need about  1/2 lb per pizza. Green pepper about 1/2 large per pizza. Pepperoni lots- you can never have to much pepperoni. I do think the deli sliced pepperoni is better than that in the little bags.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Quick Low-Carb Pizza

The conversion from our old high carb diet to low carb involved dealing with our pizza “addiction”. We were poor planners of meals so many last minute decisions leading to a lot of ordered pizza. Plus we liked it.  Many suggestions are floating around in the low-carb community. Hamburger crusts- very disgusting, cream cheese/ egg concoctions with many steps that are highly prized by the inventors and followers, etc. You are getting the point that pizza just won’t be the same but we can make it something good for what it is.

For the crust, we now use Flatout Flat Bread. At only 6 net carb for a large single size pizza, it tastes good, is cheap, available at our local Meijer’s and seems to last forever in the fridge. We did use low carb tortillas but they are thinner and a little harder to use.

With a little planning, this can go real quick. Tonight I got home at 6 pm and we were eating fresh homemade pizza by 6:20.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Beef Tenderloin – Part 4- Tenderloin Roast – The whole enchilada

This is our traditional Christmas dinner. We cook the whole thing at once.  Follow the cleaning instructions in part 1 but don’t cut it up.

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Beef Tenderloin – Part 3- Tenderloin Roast

I again can’t follow a recipe very well. This is mainly the Alton Brown recipe with comments on what I did or would do different.

(printable recipe)

Rub:(I didn’t feel the cumin added much. I will eliminate it next time or more likely use Penzey’s English Prime Rib Rub)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin

Rub – see above and note.
1 to 1 1/4-pound tenderloin roast
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (I added about a teaspoon to the pan and added about 2 gloves of garlic)

1.    Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. convection (add 25 degrees if not convection) with the grill pan on the center grill.
2.    Roll roast in seasonings rub, coating well.
3.    Preheat a large pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add 1t oil without garlic and then brush the roast with the oil/garlic combo, and sear on all sides, approximately 8 to 10 minutes total cooking time. Remove the roast to a plate, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
4.    Place the roast back onto the grill pan, put in the oven and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F, approximately 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, wrap in foil and insulate with a towel to retain heat, and allow to rest for 30 minutes before cutting. Alton uses 135 to remove the roast but I just not an ultra-rare person.

If you want a sauce, see the wine sauce method in part 2.

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Beef Tenderloin – Part 2 - Steak a poivre (Pan-seared steak with black pepper and red wine)

The Alton Brown recipe involved flame and open fire. Not in my kitchen. Also I don’t have the cognac. MS-NBC had a recipe that appeared safer. I also referenced a recipe in a CI (Cooks Illustrated) cookbook. I added them all together and here we go.
Ingredients:  4 tenderloin filets mignons (also works with strip, or rib-eye steaks, 4 to 6 ounces each)
Black pepper About 2 T coarsely crushed
3 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
3/4 cup good red wine
Garlic one clove


1. Salt steaks lightly. Sprinkle the steaks liberally with coarsely grind pepper about 2 tablespoon of pepper and press it into the meat. Do not blacken or do just one side. Let set for about 30 minutes to get to room temperature.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes; turn the oven to 300° F and preheat oven pan (grill pan). The skillet MUST not be non-stick. I use my good All-Clad 12”.

3. Put 2 tablespoons of the butter (or olive oil) into the skillet; when the foam subsides, turn the heat up to medium-high and put in the steaks. Cook the steaks for about 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare meat, a bit longer if you like it medium to well done. Use a meat thermometer to check for about 130-140 temp.  I undercook them a bit as they will continue to cook in the oven. Transfer the steaks to the oven on the grill pan in the oven.

4. Over medium heat, add the remaining butter to the pan, along with the shallot. Stir until the shallot softens, about 1 minute.
5. Add the wine and one glove fresh garlic, raise the heat to high, and let most of the liquid bubble away.

6. You must use a meat thermometer. Remove when done to taste (about 140-150 for me). Pour any juices that have accumulated around the steaks into the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve.

Notes: I got rid of Allspice that was mixed with the pepper in the original recipe . Decreased the pepper. Put garlic in the sauce instead of tarragon. Also the heat is wrong for an electric stove. Do 4-5 minutes per side at medium-high and cook until 130 at least. I also increase temp of oven to continue some cooking instead of keep warm only.

Note 2: All pictures taken at a later date with the modifications mentioned.

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