Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Honey-Soy Sauce Marinated Skirt Steak

In yesterday's Coffee Marinated Skirt Steak post, I mentioned that we marinated just one steak in the coffee marinade but that we had purchased 2 (1 lb) steaks. The second 1 lb steak turned out to be 2 small pieces of skirt steak, not one big piece. We decided to also marinate those to try to keep the meat tender. We opted for this marinade from Simply Recipes: Grilled Marinated Flank Steak.
Coffee Marinated on left. Honey-Soy-Red Wine Vinegar on right.
The marinade is olive oil~red wine vinegar~honey~soy sauce. We omitted the garlic.

This, too, is a tasty marinade, but we both preferred the coffee marinade, possibly because due to the smaller size, these honey~soy marinade ones were grilled a wee bit too long and turned out a bit too well done. Or maybe because the coffee is such a strong flavor. This marinade was a bit more mellow. There was a lovely char on top:
But they were just a bit too well done.
I'd definitely try this marinade again. It tasted really good the next day when we ate the steak cold in a salad. Hopefully, the next time we buy skirt steak packaged like this we'll be able to tell if inside the package is one 1 lb piece or two 1/2 lb pieces - the bigger pieces are much easier to cook to a desired doneness. 

This marinade would be tasty on pork, too. 

Recipe here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Coffee Marinated Skirt Steak

Once again we spent way too much time on Friday evening trying to figure out what to buy on Saturday and then cook on Sunday. Grrr! We finally decided on steaks. I left it up to SP to figure out what specific cut of meat (steak) to buy, but not to spend too much, especially since it would definitely be organic beef which is already a bit on the pricey side, and to not buy too much. I didn't want an entire 1 lb steak on my plate. He ended up purchasing 2 skirt steaks at Sunny Bridge.
He bought 2 approximately 1 pound each skirt steaks from Logan Family Farms. I was a little worried about these turning out dry and leathery. Skirt steak isn't known for its tenderness and often it is marinated/braised and used in fajitas or stir fry. Also, they are on the thin side. So I started thinking about a marinade. A quick search found a Bon Appetit recipe for Coffee Marinated Skirt Steak.
It sounded tasty and I've always wanted to try a coffee flavored/coffee rubbed meat, but at the same time, we both were a little apprehensive about how exactly a combination of strong brewed coffee-balsamic vinegar-Dijon mustard-brown sugar-oil-shallot would taste so we decided to marinate just one steak.
After about 4 hours of marinating, a quick sear on the grill, and 5-10 minutes rest, we cut into it and tasted it. The verdict: delicious! Really tasty marinade, definitely one we would use again. SP did a great job of keeping it rare-ish inside so the meat wasn't dried out or leathery. I ate the ends, which were more well done, and he ate the rarer center. I also dipped a few of my steak bites in the juice than ran out on the cutting board.
Alongside the steak, we ate grilled potatoes. We had some regular baking potatoes in the pantry and they were starting to look old, so we peeled and sliced them, tossed them with chopped onions, butter, parsley, salt, and pepper, wrapped them tightly in foil, and grilled them for about an hour.
We also made a salad of arugula, tomato, cucumber, carrot, and green olives. SP made himself an Italian vinaigrette. Since there was a package of crumbled blue cheese in the cheese drawer and it expires soon, I made homemade blue cheese dressing for myself.
It was so nice to be able to use the grill and to sit outside on the deck. I can't wait for more grilling days.

Skirt Steak Marinade recipe here.

Notes:

  • We did not use garlic or shallot; we used onion
  • Our one skirt steak was about 1 lb, but we made the full marinade recipe
  • We did not cut our steak into 4 pieces
  • We marinated it in the refrigerator for 3.5~4 hours then let it sit on the counter for about 45 minutes before grilling it

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

 1. Last Saturday we tried to go to a late breakfast/early lunch at DeLuca's in Robinson, but there was a wait and we were really, really hungry. So we went to Burgatory where, since they had been open only about a half an hour, there was no wait. I custom ordered my usual crab burger on brioche with gouda & bacon BUT we discovered they now offer bacon jam as a topping! We haven't been to Burgatory in a while, maybe since last August or September, so this was a new topping to us. Of course I had to try it (on the side). It's delicious!

SP also convinced me to try an appetizer even though it was lunch time and even though the burgers are so big and filling that my belly doesn't really have room for an appetizer: Just Fork It, pictured above. It's fries topped with braised short ribs, cheddar cheese curds, and pan gravy. Oh my gosh these were really tasty. The shorts ribs were so moist and flavorful. Definitely an order again dish - but that means no milkshake because I am super stuffed. Good thing it was a cold day so I didn't really want a milkshake.
2. Otis the Groundhog is back. He showed up this past Sunday. Hanging out in our backyard, wondering where the grass clippings and daylilies are. I've got news for you Mr. Groundhog - the calendar might say spring but the weather says otherwise and nothing is yet growing/blooming in our yard. Brown and bare, that's what it looks like. I felt sort of sorry for him - he looked so sad that the usual tasty treats were not available for munching. He also looked skinny. Usually he's so fat he waddles.

3. OK. The weather finally might be saying spring this week. It's supposed to be 70 degrees today. But this past Saturday, April 5 was freezing cold and windy and I was miserably cold even though I was wearing a turtleneck sweater, scarf, winter coat, earmuffs, and gloves.
4. Last Sunday, in addition to the Chocolate Hazelnut Pizzelles, we made some regular vanilla-anise pizzelles. I think we made way too many pizzelles for 2 people! I'll probably give some to my friend tomorrow when she visits. Her kids like them. Good thing pizzelles keep for a while.

5. My parents are coming for a visit over Easter. I haven't seen them since the end of August, so it's been almost 8 months. They arrive next Wednesday so we're busy trying to plan dinners and activities. And by activities I mean mom & I going shopping at the malls and me making a list of some house chores/projects for dad to think about possibly doing while he relaxes on the couch in the sunroom.

6. Speaking of the sunroom, we were in there for about 10 minutes last night. Despite the sunshine and the warmer temps, that room is still quite chilly (it's not on the main heating system though it does have it's own electric baseboard heat). I'm anxious to be able to spend some afternoons in there, reading or doing cross-stitch. But it still has a way to go to warm up.

7. We're trying to figure out what to grill this Sunday. It's going to be warm and sunny and we really should inspect/use the grill before we try to use it when my parents are here. You know, make sure there's actually gas in the tank. Make sure no critters have made little homes. Clean off the grates.

8. Have a great finally like spring weekend!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce

We eat a lot of chicken and are always looking for new ideas, new inspiration, something a little different, even if it's just a little tweak to an existing recipe. Like this recipe: Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce. It's simply breaded and fried chicken with a sauce.
Usually when we make breaded chicken tenders/chicken breasts, we eat them plain or dipped in a blue cheese sauce, or ranch dressing, or in mustard. This sauce is really, really tasty - I think it's my favorite. It's a maple-mustard-chicken stock sauce.
Oh my gosh. Did I mention that this sauce is really tasty?! We were spooning it over the asparagus and dipping our biscuits in it, too. In the past we have often substituted Dijon mustard for whole grain mustard, and that works perfectly fine, but lately we've been using more & more whole grain mustard when we cook. There is something extra mustardy delicious about whole grain mustard with all those mustard seeds.
This is a quick weeknight meal, which is nice, and it's simple. I think this might be our new go-to breaded chicken with dipping sauce recipe.

Recipe here.

*We used chicken tenders because that's what we had in the freezer
*You could use Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard
*We had panko, but you could use regular plain or Italian bread crumbs
*We didn't make the biscuits, we used frozen biscuits
*The asparagus was roasted

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Pizzelles

It seems like we haven't baked cookies in a really long time. I definitely have not made pizzelles in a really long time. We didn't even make them at Christmas time, the first time in 6 or 7 years that we haven't made pizzelles at Christmas time. Suddenly this past weekend, I wanted, I needed pizzelles. But not just ordinary pizzelles. Special pizzelles. A new flavor of pizzelle. Chocolate Hazelnut Pizzelles.
The last time we made chocolate pizzelles, it was a disaster. The recipe called for chopped chocolate in addition to cocoa powder, but the chopped chocolate wasn't melted, it went into the dough as little bits of chocolate. Those little bits got all melty and sticky and gooey in the pizzelle maker. The pizzelles stuck. It was a mess of stuck pizzelle, pried off bits flying around the kitchen, melty chocolate smears everywhere... I've never seen SP so annoyed in the kitchen. What was salvaged tasted horrible. Not at all pizzelle like.
The advantage here: no chocolate bits, just cocoa powder. But there are finely ground hazelnuts. I was a little worried about how the nuts would fare in the pizzelle maker.
You can see the little hazelnut bits in the dough. We ground them in the food processor, but they still weren't super fine. We definitely coated the pizzelle maker with oil - one time I skipped that initial brushing of oil step and regretted it. This time, instead of brushing on vegetable oil, we sprayed Pam cooking spray onto the maker.
Success! No sticking! These are yummy. In addition to the cocoa powder and hazelnuts, there is a bit of cinnamon in the dough. You can taste all three flavors and the nut bits blend right in - there's not a discernible crunch of nut even though the ground hazelnuts were not as fine as almonds when we grind them in the food processor.
In our experience, pizzelles taste better as they age. One Christmas we made Cappuccino Pizzelles and for the first 1-2 days, I was kind of disappointed in the weak flavors. But then, they started to 'age' and all the flavors started to shine through and they were amazing. I am hoping the same thing happens with these pizzelles. They were really good yesterday, the day we made them, and they're still really good today (of course I had to have one after lunch!), lots of hazelnut flavor, a hint of cinnamon, nice pizzelle texture and crispness, a wee hint of cocoa. But since I remember how much those Cappuccino Pizzelles improved with age I can't help but hope these get even better after a couple of days!

Also, they're really good with some Nutella spread on top, which is how I ate one last night.
Recipe here. Scroll down to Pizzelle with Hazelnuts.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

 1. Our garden is growing! I think every square/pot has growth. Pretty exciting! Someday soon these little basil guys will be tiny trees of basil:
 2. The stinkies are getting bolder. I think they are out to get me. Last night as we were watching TV I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Turns out it was stink bug - crawling up my arm towards my shoulder. I did what any normal, mature, adult woman would do. I leaned over to SP, squished my eyes shut, and started shrieking,"Bug! Bug! Get it off me! Now! Get it off! Bug!". Of course he didn't see it. I was finally able to squeal," Arm! Shoulder! Sleeve! Right side! Crawling up towards my neck! Get it before it crawls in my shirt! Get it off!"
3. Then, when I went in our bedroom to go to bed, I reached for my earplugs and the lotion, but what was there on my nightstand, on top of an earplug? "Bug! On my ear plug! Get it get it get it! Bug!" I tossed those ear plugs and got fresh ones out. Good thing we buy the super huge package of 50 ear plugs.
4. We watched Gravity last weekend. Great movie, but the thought of being stuck in space, lost in space, of just drifting along and not being in control... so terrifying.

5. SP thinks we might be able to grill this weekend. I think he's way too optimistic. At least it finally seems like spring and in the afternoons, it actually warms up to 71-72 in the house (we keep it at 69 in the winter).

6. We cleaned the sunroom last weekend. It hadn't been cleaned since Thanksgiving. Hopefully we'll soon be able to hang out in there - but it always takes a while to warm up. It might have hit 77 outside one day this week, but in the sunroom? Still quite cold, too cold for hanging out.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Beezus Kiddo Snacks Her Way Through The Strip

Today’s post comes from Elizabeth of Beezus Kiddo and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on jelly jars where I talk about a questionable home decor choice: carpeting your walls.

From Beezus Kiddo:

If you ask a Pittsburgher, especially a foodie, what are the “must do” things in Pittsburgh, you’re bound to soon hear an enthusiastic endorsement of the Strip District. The Strip District is the ‘burgh’s version of an outdoor market, and in years past used to be where all the fruit, veggie and meat wholesale purchasing happened. Now it has more of a flea market type feel with all the vendors packed into the narrow sidewalks, but snacking options abound. There are SO many things to try there, that the options can be overwhelming. Luckily for all yinz guys, I’ve done the heavy lifting and can tell identify the MUST TRY snacks on that stretch of Penn Avenue. First let it be known that while there are tons of restaurants in that area, my preferred approach is the “small bites” style. If you want the full on sit-and-eat experience, the absolute best places in my humble opinion are DeLuca’s, The Thin Man Sandwich Shopand CafĂ© Raymond

But on to the snacking!
A non-negotiable MUST eat for every visit to the Strip District are the Mung Bean pancakes sold outside Sambok Asian Grocery. They’re inexpensive ($2.50 each) and tasty. They’re all full of mung beans and have a little kick of kimchi. They are simply amazing. This vendor also sells chicken on a stick that is pretty awesome.
After Sambok, it’s worth taking a stroll down to Wholey’s. There are several different seafood snack options there, and all of them are super fresh. If you’re in the mood for something salty and fried, the fried fish sandwich is a no brainer. There’s also a sushi stand right in the door, where the selection and quality are impressive. There’s also a stand out front where you they shuck oysters and you can buy them individually and eat them right there. 
On this particular visit I opted for the New England style lobster rolls, and they were a-ma-zing. The bread was so pillowy and the lobster mixed lightly with mayo, celery and spices and heaped generously in my sandwich.
Another absolute must are the Pierogi at S&D Polish Deli. The sweet farmers cheese pierogi are absolutely out of this world. You can buy them frozen or you can order them cooked to eat right there. They have seating in the deli, so you can give your tired feet a rest while you chow down on this sweet and buttery treat.
Finally, a visit to the Strip is NEVER complete unless you stop at one of the cookie vendors (I usually opt for one of the ones outside PennMac) for a giant cookie. I love the black and whites, because they use chocolate chip cookies as the base and coat them generously with the black and white icing. Also, cannoli. So delicious.

These are all the eats I can pack in to one visit, but if you still have room for more, the tacos at the cart outside Reyna’s are the second-best in the ‘burgh (next only to Smoke in Homestead, but even in second place, they are darn good), the pepperoni rolls sold hot outside Mancini’s always hit the spot, and when the weather’s warm and Lucy’s got shop set up outside Bar Marco, do not miss her amazing banh mi sandwiches. Even though I was feeling pretty stuffed, now I’m getting hungry again! Maybe I should take another drive down to the Strip….

Many thanks to Beezus Kiddo for a terrific post! Here's a list of all the other participants: