Dinner By Dagny

Not just food, food with flavor

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Broiled Steak and Roasted Corn on the Cob

What does one do while you are anxiously awaiting your kids return from their vacation, and your husband being busy for the evening?  Well, I find some new cooking techniques to use.  One could argue that broiling and roasting are not new, but I usually boil my corn and grill my steaks.  I have grilled my corn, where you soak the corn husks so they don’t burn, and then the corn steams in the husks.  Unfortunately my grill is broken.  I have a grill pan, that I use pretty regularly but that usually makes my house pretty smoky.  With the weather over 100 degrees this week, that wasn’t quite what I was looking for.  Although I’m not sure turning my ovens on was a better alternative.

Ingredients

2 steaks (these were NY strip)

1 corn on the cob

Roasted Corn

A little internet searching told me that roasting corn is amazingly simple.

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and roast in husks for 30 minutes.

That’s it. The silk removes easily, the husks don’t burn and the corn is pleasantly steamed.  Your inner child will enjoy it too as you can use the husk as a handle.

Broiled Steaks

1.  Bring steaks to room temperature and season to your liking

2.  Preheat skillet or broiler pan under broiler for 15-20 minutes

3.  Lay steaks on pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side

4.  Set oven to 500 degrees

5.  cook for 1 minute on each side for rare, 2 minutes on each side for medium

6.  Let rest

Results

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The one on the left is rare for my husband and the one on the right is medium for me.  I started slicing from the smaller end, so it is a little more well done in the picture below.  I don’t think my pan was hot enough as I didn’t get the searing I was hoping for.  I also used a oregano, olive oil, adobo marinade that was kind of bland for my steak (although it had worked on my lamb chops previously).

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I sat back, relaxed with a glass of wine and my dinner.  I enjoyed the quiet solitude of my house for the last few hours.  It was a nice evening.

Fresh Peach Cobbler Take 2 with a Rum Caramel Sauce

My husband enjoyed his momma’s peach cobbler so much, he picked up peaches from the farmer’s market.  Like usual, I decided ahead of time to mix it up a little, but I didn’t quite realize how much I’d have to do so.  It was sort of a series of unfortunate events that turned out better than expected. It seemed that my cupbards were a little bare of the original ingredients.  So I improvised.

We invited some friends over, and therefore I had a reason to make the peach cobbler.  I had been holding off for time reasons as well as not wanting to make an entire pan for just me and my husband.  This is definitely a recipe that needs you have the ingredients prepped before you start.   I didn’t quite do that which accounts for many of my issues.  Although had I done it, I don’t know that it would have turned out the same.  I got the pan out, put it in the oven to preheat with the butter.  I got my stool out so I could reach the flour, and determined I didn’t have any whole wheat flour.  No worries, I used only all-purpose flour.  I reached for the sugar and found I had only brown sugar.  So I used that, but cut it down significantly.  As you might have figured out, I’m a big fan of adding alcohol to food.  This especially applies to baked goods.  My intentions were to let the peaches soak in about 1/2 cup of rum, but I misjudged and poured 3/4 of a cup.  There was only a little bit left in the bottle, and I didn’t want to waste it so I added that as well for a total of 1 cup rum.  I followed the recipe pretty well after that.

I had some leftover cobbler and was heading to a girlfriend’s birthday party.  This friend has quite the sweet tooth so I thought I would make a batch of caramel rum sauce to accompany it. I followed this recipe pretty closely, with the exception of the one necessary substitution (and no, it was to add more rum).

Peach Cobbler

Original Ingredients

9×13 pan

1 cup of whole wheat flour

1 cup all porpuse flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups of milk

6-8 peaches, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup butter

Dagny’s Ingredients

9×13 pan

2 cup all porpuse flour

1 1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup of milk

1 cup rum

6 peaches, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup butter

Directions

1.  Put butter in pan and put pan in oven while its pre-heating to 350 degrees

2.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and milk together

3.  Pour batter in on top of melted butter

4.  Layer fruit across entire pan

5.  Bake for 1 hour, check cobbler for doneness.  It may need an extra 15 minutes

Caramel Rum Sauce

Ingredients

2 cups brown sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 1/3 cup milk

1 cup water

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup rum

2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

1.  Combine sugar, cornstarch, milk, corn syrup and water in a heavy saucepan

2. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly

3.  Cook for additional couple of minutes

4.  Remove from heat and add rum, vanilla and butter

5.  Stir to mix in butter

6.  Let stand at room temperature until cooled

*Can be stored in fridge up to 2 months

Results

The peach cobbler was definitely different than my mother-in-law’s, but it was equally good.  It went perfect with a little vanilla ice cream, or dipped in the caramel rum sauce.

Fresh Peach Cobbler, Green Chili Sauce and A Week in the Country

My husband’s family hails from Oklahoma and while my kids go back a few times a year, I only ever visit ever few years.  Since I had the time and I hadn’t been in a while, I decided I would venture out for a week.  I could meet my nephew, who is almost 2, and enjoy the 100+ degree heat.  Although, when I arrived a little over a week ago, it was cooler in Tulsa than it was in Washington, DC.

My in laws live in Oilton, a little town about an 1 and 1/2 hours from Tulsa.  They live in a 3 bedroom house with outbuildings for a library and an art studio (my mother in law is a writer/teacher and my step father in law is a master pastelist).  There are also 2 chicken coops and a decent size garden (below picture is of the garden with 1 chicken coop and the library in the background).  My mother in law does a lot of canning and freezing of fruits and vegetables for the winter. For this particular visit, and apparently for about the last month, they have been living with limited cell signal and no satellite internet.

My mother in law started our vacation by asking if anyone would be interested in going to the farmer’s market on saturday morning.  I love the farmer’s market and volunteered, until she told me that she’s wasn’t going to “shop” but rather to sell some of the 15+ dozen eggs she had in her refrigerator.  She adds about 9-12 eggs a day, and my family did their part to keep inventory in check (3-5 eggs between my girls, 2 for my husband, 1-2 for me, plus the 4-5 for my in laws).  Fresh eggs have much more yellow yokes and the egg whites tend to much thicker.

Needless to say, she sold 7 dozen eggs but brought home 1/2 bushel of fresh peaches, 6 pounds of okra and 20 pounds of tomatoes, which she canned almost immediately.

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These were some of the best peaches I have had in a really long time. I definitely indulged myself with 4-5 peaches a day.  My mother in law also used some of these peaches to make a very delicious Peach Cobbler.

Sharon’s Peach Cobbler (although I should probably attribute it to her mother)

Ingredients

9×13 pan

1 cup of whole wheat flour

1 cup all porpuse flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups of milk

6-8 peaches, peeled and sliced (this can be any fruit you want, however the juicier peaches seemed to work better than the blackberries.  If you choose to use berries, I would recommend macerating the berries with a little bit of the sugar)

1/4 cup butter

Directions

1.  Put butter in pan and put pan in oven while its pre-heating to 350 degrees

2.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and milk together

3.  Pour batter in on top of melted butter

4.  Layer fruit across entire pan

5.  Bake for 1 hour, check cobbler for doneness.  It may need an extra 15 minutes

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I am not a big desert person.  I don’t really like chocolate or anything too sweet.  This had a perfect balance of sweetness and fresh fruit.

In addition to the fresh peaches, I also was spoiled with lots of garden fresh tomatoes.

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These cherry tomatoes were brought over by a friend.  These were really good too, but I had to compete with my youngest daughter for these.  When I left, there was just a handful left for her.

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Fresh Green Chili Sauce

I have mentioned before that enchiladas are one of my specialties.  Within the last year, I found a way to bring store bought green chili sauce up to my liking and have incorporated that into my enchiladas.  Despite the fact that I made enchiladas on July 4th, I made them again while we were in Oklahoma.  When I raised the question on what I should do about the green chili sauce, I was volunteered the use of a couple of bags of frozen green chilis from New Mexico.  I was then left with the task of figuring out how to turn that into fresh green chili sauce.

Ingredients

3 garlic cloves

5 tomatillos

1/2 onion

2 cups frozen green chilis

1 jalapeño

1/2 cup cilantro

juice of one lime

1-2 green tomatoes

Directions

1.  Chop ingredients to size appropriate for food processor or blender

2.  Blend until all ingredients are finely chopped

2.  Add salt/pepper to taste

Results

It was as simple as that.  I did learn that the chilis I used had quite a kick.  Unfortunately, I was starting to cook pretty late in the evening and I was concerned about getting people fed rather than taking pictures.  The sauce was vibrant and bright.  If I had more time, I would probably have put into into a saucepan and let it simmer together for a little bit.

All in all, it would was good visit.  We had access to some fantastic farm fresh food and good company.

Perfect Cornbread

We held a Cruzan Sunday at our house on Sunday.  This usually equates a fun group of people who get together for food and drinks. Unlike most of them, this one was planned in advance so we had quite a combination of attendees.  As is always the case, there was a discussion about what sort of food we should cook and the tasty cocktails.  We have gotten in the habit of cooking a bone-in pork roast caribbean style (with garlic, oregano, thyme embedded in the meat) and slow cooked for several hours on the grill.  We also had some Bajan scotch bonnet pepper sauce that was more mustard than pepper sauce, so I used that as the basis for my pulled chicken barbecue sauce.

These are pretty standard family favorites, but this time we had one more fantastic contribution…perfect cornbread.  I have attempted to make cornbread before, both from mixes and and from scratch and I never liked the results.  They were ok, but never what I wanted.  This time we did a few things differently.  First, while cleaning up, my husband decided to take his leftover field corn (from last year’s garden), separate out the corn kernels and grind it into cornmeal.  I searched through lots of recipes online and read all the reviews.  I like my corn bread sweet (but not overly so) and I like the corn flavor.  I found this recipe at allrecipes and took the reviews to heart.

Ingredients

2 cups cornmeal

2 1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup butter

Directions

1.  Separate corn kernels from cob

2.  Grind corn kernels into corn meal

3.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees

4.  In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and milk.  Let stand for 5 minutes

5.  Grease 9×13 baking pna

6.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar

7.  Mix in cornmeal mixture, eggs and butter

8.  Beat for 5 minutes with electric mixer

9.  Pour batter into prepared pan

10.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 -45 minutes.  Start checking at 30 minutes, and every 5 minutes thereafter until it’s done.  Knife inserted into center of the cornbread should come out clean

Results

This was declared the best cornbread people had ever eaten, repetitively by our guests. It was perfect for my palette.  My husband declared it good enough to enter his company’s bake-off with, despite the required additions of bacon and cheese.

Fried Catfish

My husband grew up in Oklahoma and has very fond memories of his mom cooking him catfish.  Years ago, I had a pretty low opinion of catfish and to this day, it’s not one of my favorites.  Not only is it a bottom feeder (or maybe because of it, I don’t know), I find it generally a pretty oily fish.  When my husband first started experimenting with making fried catfish, he did the typical soaking in milk, dredging in eggs and tried suggestions like coating in mustard before dredging in corn meal.  These experiments were edible, but he knew that it didn’t match up to his momma’s.

The next time he was in Oklahoma, he watched his mom make her version and took pretty deliberate notes.  He realized that most of the typical steps were unnecessary and it really was all about small pieces and a little bit of patience.  This is a favorite of our girls, and I have come to appreciate this preparation method.  It’s really the only way I will eat it.

Ingredients

1.5 pounds catfish filets

1 cup cornmeal

Adobo to season

Oil for frying (we use olive oil because it’s what we have)

Directions

1.  Cut the catfish filets in equal size strips

2.  Dredge the catfish pieces in cornmeal

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3.  Fry catfish for 90 seconds on one side

4.  Flip catfish and fry for 90 seconds on second side, then an additional 15-20 seconds

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4.  Remove catfish to drain on piece of paper towel

5.  Season with Adobo

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Results

As I said before, this is the only preparation of catfish that I enjoy.  My husband ate his over a salad, and the rest of us enjoyed it with baked potatoes, a corn and red pepper salad, and peas.

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