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All posts for the month December, 2009

Greensbury LogoTwitter is a wonderful place.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

One of my big pushes for 2009 and continuing into 2010 has been to really get to know the people who make the food I eat.  The farmers markets in Kansas City make that very easy to do with produce, less so with meat.  That’s not to say there are no meat producers selling at farmers markets, but there are not a lot.  And those that do appear at farmers markets tend to sell non-traditional meats.

That’s why I was so happy to meet Greensbury Market via Twitter.  Not only did I get to interact with people who know meat farmers, I also have met people who want the same things from their protein that I want.  Name, we want our meat to be healthy, local, sustainable, delicious.

According to their site, Greensbury Market was started by four “meat guys” who wanted sustainable, local, organic meat.  As the story goes, they quickly realized other people wanted the same thing, but didn’t have the time to find or the access to the farmers who were making their meat the right way.

Fast forward a few years and today, they offer organic beef, chicken, and pork with products including

  • steaks (several cuts)
  • burgers
  • all beef hotdogs
  • chicken breasts
  • chicken sausage
  • pork chops
  • Italian pork sausage

And more!

chicken_1Now, because they are awesome Greensbury Market sent me a sample of both their organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts and a couple of organic steaks.  Both were frozen and came in vacuum sealed bags.  We’ll get to the steaks in another post and just talk about the chicken breasts for now.

First of all, I will admit to having reservations about the fact that the breasts were frozen.  While it’s probably unreasonable to expect someone from Greensbury Market to drive to Kansas and slaughter a chicken at my door (not to mention creepy and more than a little illegal) there is always something about meat that’s been frozen.  It’s … well … thawed. 

Undeterred, I put a couple chicken breasts in the refrigerator and came back the next day to find two perfect looking, whitish-tan chicken breasts that, quite frankly, looked better than the ones in the store.  That was a good sign.

I had plans for those chicken breasts (see recipe below), but I wanted to give you, the reader, the fairest assessment of the chicken breasts that I could: the Blog Well Done Official Chicken Test.  (What, you didn’t know there was an Official Chicken Test?)  It’s pretty simple.  I seasoned the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and pan seared it for about 6 minutes on a side and then removed it to a plate.  I let it sit for a few minutes and then dove in.

So, the main complaint about chicken is that it’s boring, right?  Sort of flat and flavorless?  Good news O gentle reader.  The Greensbury Market chicken breasts were full of a mild, sweet, but earthy flavor that you don’t get from the frozen bags of chicken from the store.

Which is good.  However, there’s one small problem: price.  Greensbury Market is not going to replace my weekly trips to my local Hen House anytime soon (come on lotto!).   However, the best dishes come from the best ingredients so, next time I have a dinner party and want an ace in the hole, I am so going to order some more meat from them and make something fantastic(er).

Okay, so know that you know they’re good, what did I have in mind for those chicken breasts? 

Naked Buffalo Strips

(That manages to sound racy and disturbing at the same time, doesn’t it?)

Anyway, my thought was to marinate the chicken the same way I would marinate buffalo wings, then bake in the oven until done and serve with buffalo sauce and ranch.  Sounds good, huh?

Making Naked Buffalo Strips

This recipe is all about the brine, which I cheerfully stole and repurposed from Chef Robert Irvine of Dinner Impossible fame.  Even the little bit he reveals on his show never lets me down. 

Oh, and don’t worry, this looks like a lot of ingredients, but they all pretty much get poured together.  It’s easy.  Promise!

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 habanero with four slits cut in the bottom
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white pepper (or black if you don’t have white)
  • 4 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 4 Greensbury Market chicken breasts cut into tenders
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 bottle hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • Ranch dressing

In a gallon bag or large plastic container with a snug lid (word of advice, look for the lid BEFORE you pour the stuff in there.  I never do and half the time I can’t find a lid.  Just saying.) pour in the salt, broth, habanero, garlic, brown sugar, white pepper, paprika, and chicken.  Seal and let the chicken brine for about an hour (or more.)

After the chicken has been brined, preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and put the tenders on it, careful not to crowd the chicken too much.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

(Quick note: pour out the brine into the sink and forget about it.  Seriously.  Even looking at that brine is enough to give you salmonella.  Well, that last part was a joke, but don’t try to reuse it.)

While the chicken is cooking, make the buffalo sauce by melting the stick of butter and adding the hot sauce and cayenne.  Then stir well.

Serve the chicken on a bed of rice with the buffalo sauce and ranch dressing on the side.  Enjoy!

Sauces

Sauces

Need a festive New Year’s dip, try

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Dishes made for a party or whipped up a quick dip for friends coming over to watch The Big Game should be three things:

  1. Quick
  2. Delicious
  3. Ridiculously Bad For You

Really, I should have saved this dish for unResolution month (starting in just a few short days), but I thought to heck with it.  New Year’s Eve is rapidly approaching and we all need to consume some calories before everyone in the world simultaneously hits the gym.  So throw this dip together, put out some corn chips, and say good bye to 2009!

Oh, and Jessica, if you are reading, this dip is made with chicken, not buffalo.  Just saying.

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Lentils Are Not Catfood

Lentils Are Not Catfood

Hold your hats, ’cause it’s

Lentil Soup Time!

Now, first of all, you may be wondering what’s up with the cat.  Well, I believe that kitty there truly encompasses what most people think of lentils.  People seem to that that they look like cat food, sometimes they smell like fat good, and, of course, if it looks like cat food and smells like cat food, it’s probably cat food.

Well, I say no way!  Lentils are really good, especially if prepared properly.

However, that’s the key…preparing them properly.  The good news is, it’s just not that hard!  Once you master that trick, you will be on your way to wonderful lentils every time!!

Also, I mentioned this recipe has “pistou.”  Don’t be afraid of the term, pistou is just pesto without the nuts!

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Fantasy Top Chef

Fantasy Top Chef

Okay, the final bell has run (yes, like two weeks I go, sorry, I’m lame) and a winner was chosen.  At this point, I feel pretty safe in assuming you already know it was Michael Voltaggio who won.

Anyway, this marks the final

Fantasy Top Chef Report

For season 6.  So we need to finish up talking about it and then we’ll talk about

Matsutake Mushrooms

So here was the final standings:

Me: 27
Michele: 23
Josh: 18
Karen: 16
Debbie: 13
Colleen: 13
Elise: 8

Yay Michael V and Robin!  Who knew they’d be such an unstoppable culinary combination.  All that kitchen tension, yet they still came together for a big Fantasy Top Chef victory for me!  For me!!

Okay, enough of that.  I shouldn’t gloat about my winning on my own blog too much.

Well maybe  a little more…

I am the champion, my friends…

Now I’m done.

Anyway, the ingredient/challenge/thing that really interested me in the finale was Tom’s comment about how hard Matsutake mushrooms are to cook properly.  That was something I did not know.  Shitake mushrooms are a dream to fix.  They take heat well and they taste really good. 

Matsutake…apparently not.  At least according to Tom.

The weird thing I found was that none of these sites:

Wild About Mushrooms
Seattle Post Intelligencer
Mycological Natural Products on Matsutake Mushrooms

Discuss in any detail the difficulties of cooking them.  Sure, they say they can be tough (as in chewy tough), but Tom seemed to talk about them like they were an incredibly difficult culinary challenge.  Hrmm…

The best advice that I gleaned from those sites seems to be to marinate the mushrooms in a blend of soy and spices.  Then to cook them 2-3 minute a side or until they brown.

Or chop them into small pieces and toss them into a rice cooker.

Enjoy!

French Fries

French Fries

Today for lunch BWD, Jr. was given an option for where to go for lunch/brunch.  The Farmhouse and Blanc Burgers + Bottles.

He was told he could get eggs and ham and toast at The Farmhouse or hamburgers at Blanc Burgers. 

His question in his four year old drawl:

“Do they have french fries at Blanc burgers?”

“Yes, son.”

“I want to go to Blanc burgers.”

Sorry Chef Michael.

Thanks to roland for the picture.

Mirepoix for the Soup

Mirepoix for the Soup

Okay, I can’t wait another second.  I better post my recipe for

Beef Barley Soup

See, I say I better post it because my wife has somehow gotten it into her head that it’s her recipe.  Which is pure balderdash, I can gaurantee.

See, I had surgery on Monday (hence the drop off in my posting.)  And on Tuesday, I was asked what sounded good for lunch.  Not really wanting to put too much burden on my tummy, but not wanting to starve myself, either, I told my wife what sounded best to me: the makings of beef barley soup.

“Get a pound of stew meat,” I said.  “Then add some chopped carrots and celery and an onion.  And some garlic.  Then add two quarts of beef broth.”

“And barley?” she asked.

“Yes, of course.  I’m on painkillers, but yes.  Add barley.”

“Where is the barley?” my wife asked.

“In the rice section.”

“In a plastic container or a bag?” she asked again.

“In a box.”

So off she goes, gets the ingredients, makes the soup and some lovely potato bread.  Then viola!  She makes a hearty soup that’s pretty easy on the ol’ tum-tum.

So, all is good until I see on Facebook she’s claiming that she just fixed the best meal of her life.  I’m feeling pretty good about myself.  My recipe enable her to make her favorite meal…but alas I keep reading!  Next, she offers to send HER recipe for the soup.  Surely that’s a typo, I feel.  I mention it to my wife, but she claims because SHE figured out to cut two large carrots, it’s her recipe, not mine.  *Gasp!*

This, of course, means war.

A war I will win by posting the following recipe and thereby claimining it as mine.  (Of course, it’s a pretty basic beef barley soup.  I’m pretty sure there are hundreds like it, but you get the picture.)   This is the version I passed to my wife and that she used to backstab me and claim as her own.

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Cooking the Cowboy Way

Cooking the Cowboy Way

Cooking the Cowboy Way

The good folks at Andrews McMeel sent me Cooking the Cowboy Way: Recipes Inspired by Campfires, Chuck Wagons, and Ranch Kitchens by Grady Spears with June Naylor to review.  This may have something to do with my previous comments regarding the impossibility of dissolving my marriage on the grounds of my wife not liking seafood in Kansas, a state in love with it’s barbecue.  But either way, I’m always happy to review cookbooks and learn new ways to cook, especially when I get back to my cowboy roots.

Actually, that’s a lie.  I have no cowboy roots, but maybe I could grow some with the right cookbook?  Maybe Cooking the Cowboy Way could let me do just that.  Weighing in at 222 pages, the book is divided into 10 chapters, each featuring the cowboy cuisine of a different region from Alberta, Canada to Sasabe, Arizona, to Arlington, Texas to right here in Kansas City, MO.  Each chapter begins with a write up of the area and the cowboys that live there and then showcases regional specialties as prepared by the owners of famous ranches, cowboy eateries, and barbecue joints at each location.  

Spears is given some pretty amazing access into some of these restaurants and manages to snag  signature dishes from each ranch or restaurant, including the Jackstack Hickory Pit Baked Beans (recipe below), a flavorful mole sauce from Sasabe, and Lonesome Pine Ranch’s Kolaches (Czech pastries for breakfast or dessert.)  Also, every chapter is graced with dozens of professional color photos, both of the food, and the cowboys who eat it.

Cooking the Cowboy Way: The Good

Overall, Cooking the Cowboy Way is a great cookbook with lots of good recipes for how to cook beef, poultry, fish, and other meat according to traditional regional styles.  The mole sauce, for instance, stuck out as being something that looked really good, but something I could make despite having so many ingredients.  Plus, I learned something about my own town…apparently we were one of the originators of the Arnold Palmer drink, a mixture of half lemonade and iced tea.

Plus, the photography in the book is nothing short of stunning.  They’re the kind of pictures that make you want to get on a horse and run down some cattle.  Which having ridden a horse before, I can tell you is sure recipe for saddle sores.  But that’s another story.

So, the book gets high marks there.

Cooking the Cowboy Way: The Hrmm…

So, the one thing that surprised me about the book was that I was expecting something a little less… civilized.  Spears went to restaurants and ranch owners to get their recipes.  I was expecting something a bit more primal, like a campfire cookbook or something that would let me cook 120 meals with nothing but a knife, my Dutch oven, and a campfire.

It wasn’t that.  Sadly, I could make everything with a stove, a couple burners, and the other accoutrements of civilization.

On the other hand, I got the recipe for Jackstack’s hickory pit beans, so I guess civilization isn’t so bad.

Cooking the Cowbow Way: The Recipe

So, here is the bean recipe I keep talking so much about.  See, in Kansas City we have more BBQ places per capita than anywhere else in the world.  Still, for the most part, the debate about where the best BBQ can be found boils down to two places: Fiorella’s Jackstack (a family owned chain of barbecue restaurants) and Oklahoma Joe’s (a BBQ place that started in half of a gas station.  Though to be fair, it was a large gas station.)

My personal favorite is Jackstack.  It’s 1A, but 1B is definitely Oklahoma Joe’s.  Really you can’t go wrong either place.  One of the things that nudges Jackstack ahead of Okie Joe’s, though, is their baked beans.  They’re sweet and smoky and just packed full of meat.  I’d be happy with them and some fries…heck, I’d make the greatest loaded French fries in the history of humankind with that…

So of course, when I saw the recipe in the book, I knew that was the recipe I’d try from the cookbook. 

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Fantasy Top Chef

Fantasy Top Chef

Okay, we’re back with another Fantasy Top Chef update.  This is the second to last one for this season.  I know I’ll miss it.  But anyway, let’s see those standings.  (By the way, this represents two weeks since I forgot to update last week.)

Me: 26
Michele: 23
Josh: 18
Karen: 16
Debbie: 13
Colleen: 13
Elise: 8

Wow, that was close, but thanks to the fact the producers seem to want to keep Robin around, it looks like I am going to squeak out a narrow victory.  Yay me!!

And no, I didn’t rig it!

Cooking With Grapes

For whatever reason, this particular episode didn’t really talk to me that much in terms of the dishes that were made.  Not sure why.  I, for instance, love ducky duck.  Maybe I am just depressed because my favorite chef left.

If anything, the elimination challenge featuring cooking savory dishes with grapes was the most interesting thing to me.  It’s not something I had thought that much about, but I bet it would be pretty good.  Especially when you’re on a train passing the vineyards that easily could have produced said grapes (except the Concordes, why Bryan, why?  How could you make Michael Chiarello mad?)  So, here are a few recipes I’ll be trying.  See what you think:

Beef brisket with roasted grapes: http://www.recipe.com/beef-brisket-with-roasted-grapes/

Pork Kebobs with Red Grape Sauce: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sandra-lee/pork-kebobs-with-red-grape-sauce-recipe/index.html  (Yes, I like Sandra Lee…sue me*.)

Shrimp and Grape Salad: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/recipe.php?recipeId=706

Enjoy!

Oh, and as always, I totally swiped that picture from Bravo’s website.

* Don’t sue me.

Brie

Brie

So on yesterday’s inaugural Foodies’ Night In (#fni) Twitter chat sponsored by @cookingwcaitlin, we were talking all things cheese with @AlouetteCheese

And as things go, we started talking about baked brie because what cheese conversation would be complete without talking about baked brie?  There were lots of suggestions about making it with fruit and jam and honey and while that’s good, it’s not my thing.  I like my brie savory with a little bite to it.  So let’s talk about making

Baked Brie with Spicy Sundried Tomato Pesto

Making baked brie is actually really simple.  I did a lot of research on the topic and found that all recipes really seem to follow the steps laid out in this eHow article.  Basically all you do is bake, top and eat.

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