Sunday, March 23, 2014

Slow Cooker All American Meat n' Potatoes


Nothing says "American comfort food" than meat and potatoes.  This recipe is my homage to the All American Meat n' Potatoes classic dinner. Really simple every day pantry ingredients, an economical cut of meat and of course potatoes make-up this recipe.  And the best part? It all goes in the slow cooker. So when you get home at the end of a long work day, the scent of rich beef, and slow cooked onions hit you right when you walk in.  All you have to do is decide what to serve it with.

Serves 3 - 4

1 pound  of round -  3/4" top round steaks, sliced in half - (about 4 steaks - like little filet mignons without the cost.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 large onions, sliced in half moons
1 tablespoon minced
1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup white wine
Onion powder
4 red potatoes cut in quarters (unpeeled is just fine)

  • Heat a stainless steel pan over medium heat, add oil, butter and all the onions.
  • Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt. Stir and cook for 15 minutes at medium low heat until the onions are a deep golden brown but not burnt. 10 minutes into the cooking process, add the garlic.
  • While the onions cook, salt and pepper the meat, then add a generous dusting to each side of the meat of onion powder. Set aside.
  • Deglaze the onions with 1/4 of the beef stock, allow to evaporate*.
  • Add the potatoes to the bottom of the slow cooker, spoon half the onions over the potatoes.
  • Lay the meat slices over top of the onions and then spoon the remaining onions over top.
  • Slowly pour the remaining beef stock and the white wine over top.
  • Cook on high for 4 hours, low for 8 hours.
  • You'll have a nice broth at the end of the cooking cycle. To thicken the broth, remove the meat, potatoes and whatever onions are left  with a slotted spoon and set aside. 
  • Leave behind 2-4 of the potatoes in the slow cooker with the broth and using an immersion blender buzz through until you have a nice thickened sauce. Tip: Start with 2 potatoes and add in the remaining two, one at a time or until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
Serve this as is, over rice, mashed potatoes (yes double carbs!), egg noodles, toasted bread, it's really up to you. To drink? Beer or a robust red wine. Enjoy!

*Recipe Notes:
You can make the onions the day before, even up to two days ahead of time, Just keep in a tightly sealed container in the fridge until ready to use.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Grilled Tomato & Garlic Bread a la Catalana


Lately I seem to be indulging in a lot recipes that originate in or are inspired from my trips to Spain. This very simple recipe is one that I make often when I am grilling and it surprises people just how delicious it actually is. The recipe is from the region of Catalonia in Spain.  If you happen to visit Barcelona, you'd probably be apt to find it there - it is quite popular.  This recipe takes the simplest of ingredients, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and bread to absolutely delicious and it's very addicting too! Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Next time you grill, try this recipe, I promise you will not be disappointed!

1 loaf of ciabatta, French or if you can find it Spanish bread. Cut in half length wise so that you have the top and bottom of the bread in two big slices, and then cut in quarters.
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and one end cut off
2 large tomatoes
Olive oil, preferably Spanish
Salt - Kosher

  • Heat your grill to high heat.  Grill each side, avoid burning, just a little char and a few grill marks will do.**
  • Rub the garlic over the inside of the bread
  • Rub the tomato over the inside of the bread
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper
Aside from serving it with grilled chicken, steak etc., I love to serve it with a board of serrano ham (a dry-cured Spanish ham), manchego cheese and paper thin slices of Spanish chorizo and, of course, a glass or two or three of red Spanish wine. Enjoy!

**Notes:  You can also toast the bread in the oven or on a grill pan.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Easy Ground Beef Curry

I have been on an Asian kick lately. Asian flavors have been dominating my taste buds for some reason and the best part about it is that Asian cooking is generally very easy, quick food to make. This beef curry I made in about 45 minutes; another good weeknight dinner without sacrificing flavor. Asian food, for some reason, reminds me of my grandmother. I am always mentioning her, but I can't help it because she was she a huge role model in my life. She and I would order Chinese food on Saturday nights when I came to sleep over while the parents were out to play. We would drive to Canton Chinese food, order the food (she did not believe in phoning the order ahead of time), sit and wait for the order to be ready, pay and take it home. The beginning to a series of fun Saturday nights was always with Chinese food. We would always order the same thing; me the chicken with broccoli and her I believe was the special friend rice and chicken wings.
Wednesdays with Eryka

It was our tradition; we would eat then play Bingo or Parcheesi, watch her favorite Saturday night variety show and we'd end the night with my favorite show: I Love Lucy or The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour! I'm happy for these memories as well as for the developed taste for Asian food that start for me at a local Chinese restaurant and now that expanded beyond that. I hope you enjoy this recipe on Wednesdays with Eryka!

2 tablespoons oil
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, diced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 1/2 cups stock

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a saute pan. Over low-medium heat, cook the onion, pepper, cumin seeds and bay leaves. Stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the spices are fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook and stir for about 10 minutes.

2. In the same saute pan, add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute then add the ground beef, coriander, turmeric and chili powder. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the meat is browned.

3. Pour the stock into the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer , stir occasionally for about 20-25 minutes. Season with salt when done and discard the bay leaves. Serve with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Grilled Cabbage "Steak"


First, Happy St. Patrick's Day! 
No, I am not sharing a recipe for corned beef and cabbage (CB&C), I am pretty sure there will be plenty of that to go around today in  the blog-o-sphere of food. And I am pretty sure those sites have a heck of a lot more experience then me, making CB&C, since I confess I have never eaten nor made it. GASP!
What I am sharing is my continued love for the under-rated and under-appreciated cabbage.
More specifically, my grilled cabbage "steak". Why call it "steak"? Because it's cut like a steak, and it's thick, chunky, smokey and just slightly charred ... like a steak.
There is even, just like you might have on a grilled steak, a very simple glaze that deepens and brings out the cabbage's natural sweetness.
Come on ... show your love for the cabbage, fire up the grill and make yourself a cabbage steak.

Serves 4 - 8

Fire up your grill to high heat (gas or charcoal - your choice)

To cut and prepare the cabbage steaks:
1 head of cabbage
Salt - Kosher or give pink Himalayan salt a try, it's pretty cool
Olive or grapeseed oil

  • Slice the cabbage in half, then quarters then eighth. (DO NOT REMOVE THE CORE this is what keeps it together) You should have nice thick "steaks" now. Right? I'll assume you've nodded in agreement.
  • Oil each side generously
  • Salt and pepper each side, generously

3 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 pinches of salt
1 or 2 pinches of cayenne (optional - you can use more cayenne if you want)

  • In a small sauce pan, over medium low heat, add brown sugar and butter. 
  • Allow to melt and stir.  
  • Cook until sugar is completely dissolved and incorporated into butter, stirring often. 
  • Add salt and cayenne (if using). Cook and stir for 30 second. Turn off heat.
To Grill: (Cooking time may be more or less depending on your grill)**
  • Place the oiled cabbage steaks on the hot grates of your grill, leaving space in between, do not crowd. 
  • Brush the top side with glaze. Cover, grill 3-5 minutes. 
  • Turn over with a large spatula. Brush the top side with glaze. Cover, grill 3-5 minutes.
  • Turn over again, Cover, grill for one minute.

Serve with any grilled protein or make it a vegetarian meal and just grill other vegetables too. Don't forget the beer! ENJOY!

**Notes:  Because all grills are different and only you can know your grill's hot and cold spots, be sure to check it during the cooking time, so you don't end up with a big inedible heap of cabbage.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Decadently Creamy Mushrooms, Onions & Beef Sauté

Here's  a recipe that doesn't have a back story, except that I defrosted sirloin strip steaks instead of  round steak which I was going to use to make a quick stir-fry. Yes, I could have made a stir fry with this cut too, but I was craving something creamy and just a tad decadent. This recipe has some of my favorite ingredients; sirloin, mushrooms and onions in a thick cream sauce that has a hint of thyme and a touch of butter.
You don't have to use strip steak to make this recipe, certainly you can use thinly sliced skirt steak or another cut of beef*. But if you have the opportunity to splurge, this recipe will do the splurge justice.

Serves 2 - 4

1 pound of sirloin, cut in bite size pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion
8oz mushrooms, thick sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup low lowfat milk
1/3 cup half & half
1/2 to 1 teaspoon corn starch

  • Salt & pepper your sliced beef. Set aside.  
  • Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle lightly with 2 pinches of salt. Lower heat to medium  and saute 5-8 minutes. 
  • Sprinkle with thyme, stir  to distribute evenly. Add in butter, stir, lower heat to medium low and allow to saute an additional 3-5 minutes until onions and mushrooms are a light golden brown.
  • Remove onion and mushroom mixture from pan, set aside.
  • Raise heat o medium high, and brown beef in small batches, till all the beef is browned.
  • Add onion and mushroom mixture and all the beef back to skillet, stir to incorporate.
  • Pour in white wine, lower heat to medium, allow to reduce by half.
  • Add milk and half & half, bring to a low simmer.
  • Using a small colander, add half a teaspoon of corn starch and lightly sift over simmering sauce. Stir immediately to incorporate. 
  • Add 2 -3 pinches of salt and a generous grind of black pepper.
  • Simmer an additional 2 minutes
  • For a thicker sauce add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch in the same manner.
Serve over white fluffy rice, or egg noodles and a glass of red wine. Enjoy!

*Recipe Notes: 
Since the first time I made this recipe I have used different cuts of beef to experiment and while the strip steak is by far the best, here are a few more economical cuts you can consider using and work just fine:
Flank, top round, round tip, round sirloin tip center and round sirloin tip side.

You may also want to consider tenderizing the thin strips of  cheaper, less tender cuts of beef by using baking soda.  Here is a link to my post on how properly use and when to use baking soda to tenderize proteins: Baking Soda as a Tenderizer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ginger Tomato Chicken


Ginger is an underrated ingredient that I have grown to love. Although it can be overpowering at times, it definitely adds a lot of flavor to your dish. I usually use ginger in more Asian recipes since it is popular in a lot of Asian recipes. This recipe is  a fusion of Italian and Asian; Italian because of the olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and Asian because of the coconut milk and ginger. Coconut milk is a hidden gem at your grocery store. It adds nice body to your sauce or even for a stew believe it or not. It doesn't add too much flavor but it certainly makes your sauces/stews have a creamy consistency, which I tend to enjoy. You can pair this with brown or white rice or pasta because the sauce is creates is versatile for either one. Or serve with a nice green vegetable for that extra fiber! As usual of most of my recipes, this is a pretty simple and quick recipe you can whip up after a day at work. The most time consuming part of the recipe is simmering the sauce and waiting to eat. Enjoy!

1 lb chicken breast, butterflied
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, grated
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium heat and brown the chicken breasts on both sides. Remove and set aside.

2. In the same pan, add more oil and saute the garlic, ginger, stock and coconut milk. Bring to a boil.

3. Add the can of tomatoes and the chicken into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and baste chicken with sauce. Cook until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with white or brown rice.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Weekly Recipe Round-Up March 3-7, 2014

This was a big week at 
The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon as we celebrated our Food Blog's One Year Anniversary. We've posted over 180 recipes and are looking forward to posting many more in the new year.  Having the support and kind words, likes and shares from our followers and fellow food blogger has made it all worth while, especially at moments when we wondered if it was worth it. And you know what? It sure is! Thank you all for your continued support!

Don't forget to spring forward this weekend as we catapult into daylight savings time in the U.S. I for one am happy about the time change.  It's been really hard to go out running because by the time I get home from work it's late and it's dark. I am not a good night time runner, not to mention that the park I run at has lights off by sundown. The time change also means I have time to photograph my recipes with natural lighting and that alone is good reason enough! I think this week may be the last of the "cold" weather in South Florida and that I will miss dearly but as the famous philosopher Jagger once said "... you get what you need". 

This week's Recipe of the Week was featured on Wednesdays with Eryka, Caramelized Ginger Chicken.  It had the most shares, pageviews and likes from our awesome followers and for that we Thank You!  Here's a look back at what was cooking in the kitchens of The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon this past week.

Featured on Monday:

Red Curry & Coconut Lentil Soup

This is an easy to prep and cook soup that's perfects for weeknight meals. It's vegetarian, spicy, thick, rich in flavor yet light. Loaded with carrots and potatoes, fiber rich red lentils and lots of warm spices.  Makes a big batch, enough for two meals, so you can eat one, freeze one.

Featured on Wednesdays with Eryka:

Caramelized Ginger Chicken

The chicken is seared over high heat then simmered in a rich sauce of ginger, soy, shallots and garlic. Truly delicious!

Featured on Friday:

The perfect quintessential classic Spanish meal. The mix of various seafood is simmered in a sauce that is first infused with tomatoes, onions, peppers, lots of garlic and of course saffron, then thickened with ground almonds and enriched with seafood stock and sherry. Finally it is quickly flambe'd with brandy and sprinkled with parsley.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Zarzuela de Marisco - Spanish Seafood Stew


One of the dishes that I enjoy having at local Spanish restaurants and on the trips I've made to Spain is Zarzuela de Marisco (zar-zoo-ella de ma-reese-co). Basically, a Spanish Seafood Stew. It's what I consider the perfect quintessential classic Spanish meal. It' warm and hearty and simply delicious. What I love about this recipe is that you use small amounts of seafood to make the whole, so it really isn't as expensive as it may seem at first. The sauce is what makes this dish so special, you simmer tomatoes, onions, peppers, saffron and lots of garlic, then add in ground almonds to thicken the sauce, seafood stock and sherry or wine. The seafood is cooked till just done to keep everything tender.  My favorite part is dipping big pieces of bread into the sauce and scooping out a piece of shrimp and just chowing down. Really, if you have bread, you don't need utensils! 

Serves 4-6

2 -3 fish fillets (get a variety such as snapper, sea bass, mahi) cut into thick chunks
1 pound mussels
1 1/2 pound large shrimp (deveined and peeled - save the peel)
1/2 pound baby octopus, cleaned and cut down (save any cutaway parts)
1/2 pound calamari rings - sliced in thick rings
1/2 large scallops
2 small lobster tails, (shell removed - save shell)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 large onion chopped/diced
2 bell peppers (get  1 red, 1 green) diced
5 - 7 cloves garlic minced
4 large tomatoes chopped or 2 - 14.5 oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup ground almond
2-3 bay leaf
A pinch of saffron
Salt & pepper - to taste
1 cup cup sherry or white wine

1 1/2 cups seafood stock*
1/4 cup brandy or rum

2 to 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

  • Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add oil, onions, peppers and garlic. Saute 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are translucent. Lower heat if needed.
  • Stir in tomatoes, almonds, bay leaf, saffron, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Sauce will be thick.
  • Add sherry/wine and stock, stir, bring back up to a boil, then lower heat to low and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add in all the fish and seafood, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Make sure to NOT overcook.
  • Add brandy, and light with a match.  Be sure to take off heat if cooking on gas stove. Let the flames die down.
  • Taste, adjust seasonings, sprinkle parsley over top and gently stir through.

Serve with a big generous loaf of crusty bread, or serve over white rice and a good crisp, dry white wine.

*Recipe Notes: You can make your own seafood stock by using all the shells from the seafood and the trimmings from the onions, garlic and bell peppers. Place them in 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Use in the recipe or freeze for use at another time.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Caramelized Ginger Chicken


Tired of bland chicken? Look no further because this recipe is absolutely delicious. It is warm, sticky, sweet and lick your fingers good. This recipe use the lovely ginger and it may not seem like the star ingredient but it sure adds that little extra something. Although, for me and my recipes, this is definitely a lengthy recipe in that there are a lot of steps and a total of 3 pans to wash... which I hate doing! However, it is well worth it because the flavor is just intense. Caramelizing the sauce just marries it to the chicken, which makes it messy but oh so good. This is great weekend, barbeque, sports watching, poolside recipe. This would be wonderful with just chicken wings; and I can guarantee it is a crowd pleaser. One ingredient you may not be familiar with that is used in this recipe is fish sauce. Fish sauce you say? Yes, fish sauce! You can find it at your local grocery store in the Asian foods section or  at a local Asian food market...if all else fails and you still can't find it, I suppose the internet is always an option!  And I hope you didn't say "fish sauce eeewwww", because all it does is add a rich saltiness to the recipe. I do recommend using bone-in chicken pieces to add more flavor, your chicken will stay moist and will hold up through the high heat searing process. I hope you enjoy this sticky, gooey, yumminess as mush as I did. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 lbs chicken (thighs, drumsticks, wings, breast)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 green onion, sliced on diagonal

1. In a large pot, heat oil over high heat; let the pan get hot. Add the chicken to sear on all sides. Sear in batches for better results. Transfer all the chicken pieces when done searing to a plate and set aside.

2. In a separate saucepan, over low heat, combine sugar, lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons of water and to dissolve the sugar; stir occasionally. In another saucepan, over low heat, add the fish sauce, soy sauce and 1/4 cup of water and heat until sauce comes to a simmer; set aside.

3. In the saucepan with the sugar mixture, raise the heat to high to a boil. Boil without stirring until the mixture caramelizes and turns an amber color, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully pour the fish sauce mixture into the sugar mixture. It will bubble vigorously. Stir until smooth; set aside.

4. Return the large pot that you cooked the chicken in to a medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger and pepper and saute together, stirring, until shallots wilt. Return the chicken to the pan. Pour the caramel sauce over the chicken and reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Uncover the pot and continue to simmer for an addition 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Sprinkle the finished chicken with the fresh green onions and serve with jasmine rice.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Red Curry & Coconut Lentil Soup


As the last of the "cold" winter days breezed through South Florida this weekend I wanted to make one of the Hubs favorite soups, Red Curry & Coconut Lentil Soup. The Hub is a big fan of anything that has coconut in it, so this soup is always a home run. It's an easy to prep and cook soup that may become one of your "go to" weeknight meals. It's vegetarian, spicy, thick, rich in flavor yet light. And it's what I call C1G2 meal (cook once, get two) because its a big batch, so you can freeze the leftovers for another no fuss, no cook, weeknight dinner and that makes it a home run for me.

Serves 4-6

2 1/2 cups of red lentils
4 cups vegetable stock*
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of canola or grapeseed oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 large carrots, halved and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large baking potato, cubed, about 1/2"
1 whole Thai chili pepper, pierced with a fork*
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 can of light coconut milk. (I have found that the best tasting is Whole Foods 365 organic light coconut milk and it's not ridiculously over-priced either)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

It's Our One Year Anniversary at The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon


It's hard to believe that it has already been a year since I wrote and published my very first post at The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon. I started it as a way to keep track of my recipes. and because like millions of Americans, I had recently lost my job in Marketing and needed something to keep me busy. I also needed to hone my skills in social media for the work force and I figured what better way than to be engrossed it in. And surprisingly those 10 months of joblessness in many ways turned out to be a blessing. It certainly made the Hub and I realize how much we spent on frivolous things, dinning out, and accumulating stuff. It was a very good lesson and one we took to heart, now that I am back at work, we save a lot more than we use to and we still enjoy our life but now it is via experiences, instead of unnecessary "stuff".
My journey  in running a food blog has been an interesting, entertaining, maddening, educational, joyful, frustrating and yes, even thought provoking. I remember milestones like my very first "like", my very first comment and the very first share. Those were epic moments and I was elated! I did many a happy dance in my family room.
Those first 3 months had me wondering if it was worth my time and effort, when at the end of the day I would see a grand total of  5 visits and maybe 10 pageviews, if that. Then, somewhere around June-July it all started to click and I was socializing more on Google+ and "somewhat" getting the hang of it. I started reading, researching and learning more about blogging, following and meeting new bloggers and building great relationships with so many wonderful folks. While photography was always a hobby, food photography always seemed to elude me but I slowly improved my food photography skills by using natural lighting, learning new tricks on food styling and getting a lot of pretty plates, bowls and props most of the time at dollar stores, goodwill and in the clearance aisle of stores like Marshalls or Ross.
I have learned that just when you think you can't get any better or learn anything new, you do improve and you do learn more.
Often times I was shocked at what recipe(s) seemed to take a shine with people and disappointed when the recipe(s) I thought would get the most notice didn't. This never fails to amaze me, astound me even.
I had and still have the wonderful opportunity to have my daughter as a contributor and she is featured every Wednesday, on Wednesdays with Eryka. Here recipes are simple, quick and easy to make. They are all about comfort food without a lot of extra work and the results are nothing short of delicious.
I thank all you wonderful followers, visitors, fellow bloggers, my Google+ communities, friends and family for all your support, all the likes, shares and comments.  Each of those moments of support has meant the world to me.
I can only continue to grow and improve my blog by the inspiration that I take from my fellow food bloggers.
I especially want to send a big thank you to The Hub and my daughter, Eryka. They have, since day one, believed in me and have been my biggest cheerleaders. I love you both more than words can ever say.