Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Peppered Salami and Feta Omelet [Mike]

 I love omelets. 
 I love making them. 
 I love eating them.
Here’s a new one for me. 3 eggs, a splash of milk, Ricotta Cheese, Peppered Salami, and topped with Feta Cheese. Tomato garnish. Hmmm! Not bad!

World's Easiest Summer Lunch [Rhonda]

World's Easiest Summer Lunch
Degree of difficulty: what did I just say? Easiest!
Time: 5 minutes, if.
Serves: one very hungry dancer or two politely sharing.

Columbus was enjoying almost-record heat, and after going hard for an hour-plus at a Michael Nicholson hip hop event in a large gym with 150 sweaty others, no AC, no fans, I came back home obviously hot, but famished, needing something filling but cool, and right now. And maybe mayonnaise wouldn't immediately spring to mind, but when you mix it with two ingredients and gently coat cooled steamed shrimp or (splurge!) crab meat, it makes one amazing summer salad.

Magic Mayo:
1 big dollop any brand real mayo
1 small splash ponzu
1 slightly bigger splash good soy sauce (I like Yamasa brand)
Mix and serve, baby, mix and serve.

Suggested soundtrack: Big Sean's "Early in the Morning" (not responsible for the content of this message)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

White Asparagus, Spinach, Pancetta, and a Poached Egg [Zack]

White asparagus is in season in Belgium and it's invading menus everywhere.  It's for good reason - it's really delicious!

I've been fantasizing about making this dish for a few weeks.  I figured the combination of the savory white asparagus along with some sauteed spinach would play really nicely when they are topped with some croutons, crisped prosciutto, and a (hopefully) perfectly poached egg.

This is a great dinner to have if you are sick of eating big slabs of meat, but don't want to quit cold-turkey for a meal.  And plus, I think you'll enjoy the interplay of this veggie-centered meal.  If you like your poached egg with a runny center, it will add a great creamy quality to the dish - you can save the hollandaise for a special occasion :)


We are going to cook the prosciutto and the croutons first since they don't need to be hot when the dish is served.

First, put prosciutto into a cold frying pan with 1 tsp of olive oil and turn the heat on to medium.  It will slowly render down the prosciutto and will crisp it after about 8 minutes.  Just watch it and flip it when needed.

Cube your bread as large as you like croutons.  Add 1 T of garlic butter (or regular) and 2T of olive oil to a pan on med-low heat. Let the butter melt and swirl it around until it coats the bottom of the pan.

Toss the croutons in the butter to evenly coat them.

Add in your dried oregano, onion powder, and salt.  Continue to toss every minute or so to ensure that all sides are being browned evenly.  If you think it looks too dry, you can always drizzle a bit more olive oil on top.

Transfer both your prosciutto and croutons on a separate plate to await the final step of putting everything together.

Get a large pot of water boiling for your poached egg.

Since white asparagus is thicker than normal asparagus, you should peel off the outer layer.  It tends to get woody otherwise.  Peel it just like you would a carrot and cut off the bottom 1-2 inches of the stem as well.

Add this to a medium-low pan with a 1T of olive oil.  Toss for a few minutes in the oil.  Add the shallots and then cook for another minute.

Toss in your handfuls of spinach and cook for another 3 minutes.  Take off of the heat until you are ready to serve.  It should still be hot as long as you don't screw around with the eggs too long.

Back the heat off a bit on your boiling water so it comes back down to a simmer.  Crack each egg into a bowl.  Swirl the water around so it looks like a typhoon and drop the egg gently right into the middle.  The encircling water will fold the whites over the yolk so you have one solid poached egg!

After 3 to 3.5 minutes, extract the poached egg and plate the whole dish.  Serve with an appropriate Belgian beer.  Here, I had a Golden Carouls Classic.

8 white asparagus spears
3 large handfuls of spinach
1 shallot
2 eggs, poached
4 slices crisped prosciutto

3-5 pieces old bread
1 T garlic butter (or regular butter)
2-4 T olive oil (depending on how thirsty your bread is)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp onion powder

Song:  Selah Sue - Crazy Vibes (great Belgian singer!)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Limited Kitchen – Simple Citrus Salad [Matt]

Citrus salad is a bit of an over-promise only because it implies that you would do something strange, like put some sort of fruit in your salad. Leave that for the jello.

- lean mean chicken breasts (organic and as free of constraint as possible, pay the extra 2 bucks) - mixed green salad
- a few lemons (i'm sure you'll make this more than once with all that free-range chicken that I got you to buy)
- croutons
- parmesan reggiano
- olive oil / balsamic (or apple cider vinegar if that suites your style better, but if you do that add a splash of spicy mustard. variations can be riveting)
- avocado, tomato, and olives can all be great additions depending on your tastes

The night before:
Preheat the oven to 'hot enough to cook your chicken.' While your oven heats, take the chicken breasts out of container. Wash under warm water. Blot with a paper towel. Trim off any fat or unsightly bits. Grab a few of your favorite spices. Toss them on the breasts. Have fun with it. Throw the spiced breasts on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Put them in the oven and let them cook through.

When done, let them cool and then cut them into 4 - 6 oz servings pending your future-immanent lunchtime hunger. Stick the baggies of cooked chicken in the fridge.

The big day of:
Morning prep - wash the salad. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic into a small container. Here's the most exciting part... now cut the lemon. Squeeze it into the dressing mixture. What just happened there will change your salad from being standard, boring, chicken on a salad into a zesty smile-fest. 

The under-taxing prep continues when you grate cheese into a baggie and place croutons in another (to cut down on baggie consumption Ziplock has created a 3-section salad container that is pretty great). So now you should be good to leave your abode with your bagged chicken, mixed greens, dressing, croutons (only a few, otherwise it kinda kills the point of a salad), and grated parmesan.

In your work kitchen:
Grab a large bowl (or I guess bring one if your work place is really cheap) and place chicken inside. Use a fork and knife to cut the chicken breast into bite size portions (saves work later and potential stains on your pants). Place the cut chicken in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Remove chicken from microwave and add your baggie of dressing (this helps cool the chicken to room temp so it doesn't wilt your lettuce on contact).

Drop in your greens. Throw in your croutons. Sprinkle that cheese. Use your fork and knife as mixing tools.

 Now eat your zesty, healthy, salad that tastes like fun instead of sadness.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stuffed French Toast (Tom)

Emeral was a no-show on Mother’s Day. So I took it upon myself to make my kid's Mom a special breakfast served in bed. 

For 2 servings you will need: 

-         1 French Baguette sliced in rounds Your baker can slice it for you.
-         4 oz. Cream Cheese. Whipped or the soft spreading kind
-         4 oz. Cherry Preserves
-         1 oz. Butter
-         1 Egg
-         ¼ Cup Milk
-         2 Drops Vanilla Extract
-         Cherry or Raspberry Syrup. At room temperature.You can find this in a specialty shop or your grocer will carry Smucker’s brand.
-         Bacon or Ham is optional 

Beat egg, milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Heat a frying pan to medium heat. Add the butter to the pan. Spoon one side of 4 rounds with the cream cheese. Then spoon one side of 4 rounds with the cherry preserves. Put together like a sandwich and place them in the egg wash mixture in the bowl. Coat all sides generously. Remove and place the toast in the melted butter pan. Cook one side for approximately 1 ½ minutes then flip over cooking the other side for about the same time. Both sides should be golden brown. Serve on a plate. Pour some sauce over the toast and enjoy.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Homemade Beef Jerky [Zack]

Sometimes people are adventurous with their food.  Rarely is your food more adventurous than you are.  I'm proud (and/or jealous) to say that my first batch of homemade beef jerky has traveled to the top of the world.  Here it is at the summit of Aconcagua, Argentina - the highest peak in the Southern and Western Hemisphere at 6,962m.

Our good friends John and Martina decided to ditch out on corporate life and take a 7 month hiatus to backpack around the world, climbing the tallest mountains on many different continents.  Even though we were sick with envy, Lauren and I wanted to get them a proper going away present.  But what do you get people who just sold all of their life-long possessions at a flea market for 1 EUR a piece??

Beef jerky was our answer.  It's great for hikers - the weight to protein ratio is amazing and it gives a much-needed boost of salt.  It would also remind them of us because it's very American - imagine a cowboy sitting under a tree in the shade, hat tipped low, gnawing on a piece of beef jerky.  Cowboys had it figured out - if they let strips of beef dry in the sun, they would became much lighter to carry and wouldn't spoil.

I was surprised at how great homemade beef jerky tasted and how simple it was to make.  In summary, you pour all of the ingredients into a bag, let the meat marinate for 1 day, then put it in a low-heat oven to dry it out until it feels like beef jerky.

It's preferable to use a cheap cut of meat because any fat creates a chance for it to spoil.  Save the rib-eyes for the grill!


Below a picture of the necessary ingredients:

Trim any fat off of your beef.  Place it into the freezer so it firms up.  It’s a lot easier to slice the meat evenly if you put it in the freezer for about an hour.   It’s important to try to maintain the same thickness for all of the slices of beef because you want even drying.

Dice or chop your ginger, garlic, onion, and chiles.  Place them in a large zip-lock bag.  Measure out your soy sauce, vinegar, honey, sesame oil, and brown sugar.  Stir to mix and pour it into the bag.

Take your steak out of the freezer and make sure it’s firm to the touch, but not a solid brick (or else you won't be able to slice it).  Slice each piece ~1/8 inch thick and place into the marinade bag.

When you are finished, squeeze out as much air in the bag as possible and massage the marinade around the meat. Refrigerate for 1 day.

Take the meat out of the bag and drain off the marinade. Place the meat on a grated oven rack, leaving a little space around each piece.  I put a tray below it to catch the marinade that drips off during the drying process.

Put into the oven at 150 F / 75 C for 3-4 hours.  The time really depends on the thickness of your slices.  If you've ever had beef jerky before, just take it out when it feels like the stuff you get out of the package.  The low temperature will dry out the beef strips and you’ll be left with jerky in a few hours!

Bag it up for your hiker friends, or place it in a covered container.  It should last for a few weeks, but it's doubtful that it will make it through the first evening.

1/2 inch ginger
3 cloves garlic
2 birdseye chiles
1/2 red onion

3/4 cup light soy sauce (or 1/2 cup regular)
2T rice wine vinegar
1/2 T sesame oil
4 T honey
2T brown sugar

2 lb steak (900g)

Creativity Options:
Add lemongrass and cilantro to the marinade for a Thai feel
Smoky paprika will give a nice deep flavor
Tons of freshly cracked pepper is a great variation

Song:  Robin Thicke - Compass or Map

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Apricot Jam Marinade [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: easy Time: 10 minutes to make the marinade, 20 minutes to heat grill and cook Serves: 2 to 4 Fire up your grill for a super-easy chicken breast with an apricot jam marinade(nice for a pork tenderloin or pork chop). Make a huge batch and freeze the leftovers in small containers for another night. Great in salads or creative paninis.

Apricot Jammin’ on the Grill Ingredients:

½ cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons minced scallions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Boneless chicken breasts (3 or so, sliced in half to be thinner cutlets)

Combine all ingredients except chicken breasts in bowl. Mix well. Rinse the chicken breasts, pat dry, slice in half longways to make a thinner cutlet. Put chicken breasts in marinade, refrigerate, and marinate for at least 4 hours. 

 Grill over hot coals. The chicken is thin, so it won’t take long.

Serve and enjoy!