Savory Asian Venison

December 14th, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

This time a year we get friends and family dropping off venison almost weekly.  This is the epitome of local produce.  These deer were harvested within a 30 mile radius of our home.  When butchered properly, venison is a very tender, lean, and well tasting meat.   You may hear from time to time people talking about venison being gamey.  This usually only happens with poorly butchered meat where too much fat remains in the cut.  The fat on venison is not a good thing as compared to beef.

Most of the time we usually end up with stew meat as the hunter rarely lets go of the steaks or roasts.  This meat however, is not just good for stew, it can be used in a number of ways.  Here is a recipe I came up with tonight which may change the way some have thought of venison in the past.

My inspiration for this dish is from Asian sweet and sour recipes, but I cut a lot of that out and just kept the savory aspects.  This dish can be served over rice, or egg noodles.  I usually find that green beans go well with this, and in the picture below, I used roasted green beans with garlic and summer savory, a recipe I hope to include here soon.

Savory Asian Venison

Asian Venison

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Jeffs Grilled Chicken Ratatouille

December 13th, 2007 by Jeff in Main Dishes

For some of my friends and family, the first question is going to be “What is Ratatouille?” Well, it is basically a French term for “tossed food” or “tossed vegetables”. The primary ingredients are tomatoes, zucchini, onions, peppers, and garlic. They are pretty much cooked together and produce wonderful flavors.

I decided to step mine up a bit and add some mushrooms, chicken, and grill it instead of cooking it traditionally. The flavors from the grilled vegetables will make you look at them in a different light. It is hard to believe what grilling can do to plants!

The chicken part of this dish is really not a part of Ratatouille per say, but my recipe combines the similar flavors so that the chicken goes hand in hand with the veggies.

As for presentation, the colors are so vibrant in this dish, short of serving it on a manhole cover, there really is no way to make this look unappealing.

Chicken Ratatouille

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
4 cloves of garlic.
3 bell peppers (different color for each. I use red, yellow, green), halved, seeds and stems removed.
2 medium zucchini, cut in half.
1 large red onion cut into thick rings (don’t break them up).
1 container of cherry tomatoes (about 30).
1 container small whole fresh mushrooms (about 30, I used baby bellas).
About 1 cup of white wine.
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.
2 tablespoons Herbs De Provence, – (More…)



Substituting Olive Oil For Butter

December 4th, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

The last few weeks I have been conducting an experiment. I have been using olive oil in place of butter as often as possible. I came to the conclusion that we are eating way too much butter when I noted that for a two week period, we generally require 3-4 pounds of butter to be in the fridge. Sorry, but that is just too much. Now butter does have its place. I cannot even think of sitting down for Saturdays big breakfast without buttered toast, so eliminating it completely is not my intention.

As much as I like to cook, we are a busy household here where my wife and I both work many hours at our respective jobs and this requires we make some shortcuts for meals. Usually I try to make the main course from scratch, but many times for the side dish, I just use a boxed side dish, such as rice, pasta, potatoes, etc., from a box. Almost without exception, these instant side dishes all call for butter or margarine. So my experiment focused here first. Instead of using butter, I substituted Olive Oil (usually extra virgin) in a 1/1 ratio. As for the pasta and rice dishes, there was little to no difference in taste and texture. In fact, I found that most of the time, the dish tasted better.

The one dish I found that – (More…)

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This Years Turkey Recipe

November 20th, 2007 by Jeff in Main Dishes

This years early Thanksgiving was a hit. Every year we have what we like to call “Losers Thanksgiving”. It is a tradition that started about 15 years ago when talking to my best friend. I was telling him about my Thanksgiving plans I had, where I would go back home and visit the family. All of his family had moved away, and he basically told me he was not having any Thanksgiving and was just going to work through the holiday.

Feeling bad for him, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I decided to make a huge dinner, with duck, stuffing, cranberry, etc., and invited him over. Breaking his chops, I called it Losers Thanksgiving since nobody wanted him for the holiday. It’s a guy thing, we say such things to each other totally understanding it’s basis in humor.

Well, after a couple years of this, Losers Thanksgiving became somewhat of a tradition. Even though eventually my friend got a girlfriend (actually a few since then), he fell out of the tradition, but it lived on. It became a time for friends and select family to get together before they went to their traditional Thanksgiving. Every year, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, we invite friends, neighbors, and family we would not see for the holiday over for an easy dinner that basically was a traditional feast.

Every year I try to make the Turkey a bit different. – (More…)

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Spicy Grilled Flank Steak With Optional Mushroom Pan Sauce

October 26th, 2007 by Jeff in Main Dishes

I have never really had too much flank steak in my life. I don’t know why, I just never got around to buying and trying it. So the other day I am in the supermarket just looking for something different to make. Staring at the butchers window I see this flank steak. Now I have seen them cooked on many a cooking show but I have never actually eaten it, or cooked it before.

So what the heck, I buy it and decide to try and make my own rub for it. When we sliced this up, everyone at the table was astounded how well this came out.

While I was searching for spices to make the rub, I came across one that I had never used before: Cardamom. Reading the spice guide in the store it basically had little information on it other than some people use it in pot roast. So, I figured I might be able to use it, and if not, I will try it for my next pot roast.

When I got home and opened the spice bottle of the Cardamom seeds and smelled it, I nearly coughed. It has an aroma similar to a vapor rub, i.e. vicks. I gave it the one eyebrow look and wondered if I should not just put this bottle in the back of the spice cupboard.

Well, always up for something new I – (More…)

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Chicken Riggies White

October 4th, 2007 by Jeff in Main Dishes

Chicken riggies is an Upstate NY thing. I have already written about how to make the red version, so I decided to show you how to make the more common white recipe. Mostly the difference here is the cream you add at the end and you also use less herbs and different oils.

Where I come from, a bit North of Utica NY, just about every family function includes a dish of riggies. It is a powerhouse of a meal so unless your feeding 10-15 people, prepare for leftovers.

1 1/2 – 2 pounds cut up bite size boneless chicken (white or dark or both).
About 2 tablespoons olive oil.
1 large yellow onion, diced.
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped.
1 20 oz. jar of sweet peppers, drained, lightly chopped.
1/4 cup of pickled hot cherry peppers, lightly chopped.
3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
About 1/2 cup of fresh basil, lightly chopped.
2 cups or so of chicken broth.
1 28 oz can/jar crushed tomatoes.
About 24 oz of dry rigatoni, prepared as per directions on the box (reserve some of the liquid).
3/4 to 1 cup of heavy cream.
Salt and fresh ground pepper.

In a really large sauce pan, add the olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat to medium/medium high. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces and cook in batches until just done in the sauce pan and remove.

Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 2-3 minutes until onion just – (More…)

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Garlic And Thyme Crunchy Potatoes

September 19th, 2007 by Jeff in Side Dishes

To date, there are probably at least 3 million different ways to prepare potatoes. Around our house, it usually ends up being either mashed, scalloped, baked, or twice stuffed. With the exception of the baked potato, most take quite a bit of time to put together. Have you ever wanted just an easy potato recipe that is full of flavor but only takes a couple minutes to prepare? Well, this is the one.

Herbs and potatoes have gone together probably since they first torn out of the ground. There is something about potatoes that they just accept flavor so easily. Just cooking a potato along side of a fragrance will infuse that flavor into it. This makes cooking them very easy and rewarding.

4-5 large potatoes (any kind besides sweet), cut roughly into 1 inch pieces.
Extra virgin olive oil.
4 cloves of garlic with the skin still on.
2 bunches of fresh thyme.
Salt and fresh ground pepper.

Preheat oven to 375.

Lightly oil a large glass baking/casserole dish, and place the cut potatoes into the dish. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil all over the potatoes. Mix up with a spoon. Add the cloves of garlic to the potatoes, spacing them evenly. Sprinkle with some more salt and pepper and drizzle with a little more olive oil making sure you hit each clove of garlic with the oil.

Place the bunched thyme – (More…)

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Time To Ready The Herbs

September 18th, 2007 by Jeff in Life

It is starting to get that time of year, at least here in the Northeast, where you have to think about the frost. As the temperature drops, and the baseball gets more exciting, you have to make some decisions about your herbs.

As I wrote before, I had a few of my favorite herbs set up around the house in planters. Now I have to consider what I am going to do with them BEFORE we get into frost. I am one of those who does not have a west or south facing window, but the east window does catch most of the sun in the morning until around noon – 1 o’clock. This limits what I can bring inside for the winter and let grow. (More below…)

I have decided that the only herbs I will try to keep for the winter is the rosemary and the basil. The mint I will harvest and freeze, and the thyme, sage, and oregano I will dry for later use.

It is always so nice to use fresh herbs when cooking that I am really going to miss it. I have already transplanted the rosemary and basil into pots ideal for the indoors and they seem to be liking their new home. It is best to get them transplanted now and let them get used to the new pot before – (More…)

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Cheesy Salsa Chicken

September 8th, 2007 by Jeff in Main Dishes

With the relative success of my garden this year, I was fortunate to have a large amount of tomatoes and peppers. After canning a couple cases of tomatoes, I decided to make up some spicy salsa. It was nothing too out of the ordinary, just some tomatoes, red/green/yellow bell peppers, garlic and a couple handfuls of chopped jalapenos. Before I canned it, I took a little taste and it was pretty hot.

My wife and kids are not much for hot tasting foods. In fact, they think Dijon mustard is spicy, so I figured this salsa would be around for a while except for giving away a pint here and there.

Well, after seeing a few salsa chicken recipes I decided to throw this one together. I have only made it twice, but both times it was a hit. The cooking process took much of the heat out so even the kids had no trouble with the remaining flavor.

This recipe can be made with any salsa, even store bought, but let me recommend that you go for one of the more spicier versions as it will lose some of the heat during cooking. I would also recommend you find a salsa that is low in sodium. Ideally, you would want to use your own home made salsa.

4-5 chicken thighs and 4-5 chicken drumsticks.
About a cup of flour.
Salt and pepper.
Vegetable oil.
8-10 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded.
Chicken – (More…)

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Getting That Steakhouse Sear

August 15th, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

Every since those infrared grills have been coming out, I keep reading stories on-line that lament the fact that you can’t get a good sear on a steak when grilling on your average gas/charcoal grill. My response to all of this is “Since when?”

It really sounds to me like there is a campaign on, pushing this new technology down the consumers throat. Like if I don’t use an infrared grill, I can’t make a good steak. Yeah, right!

I make London broil on the grill all the time and it comes out just as seared and beautiful as it would in any steakhouse I have been to. Now my photography skills are lacking, so view this next photo with that in mind. I cooked this steak up today on my regular gas grill and you be the judge:

Perfect Seared Steak

As you can see, there are perfect grill marks, the outside is seared just as it should be and the entire steak is screaming flavor. I let this beast rest for about 10 minutes and then I sliced it up. It was dripping wet and a perfect medium rare.

Now don’t get me wrong, you will have an easier time in a steakhouse getting this result, but doing it on your own grill is simple. Just spice up your steak as you – (More…)

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