Sunday, July 26, 2009

Camping with some gourmet style

I'm really getting the hang of this gourmet camping thing. I remember the first time Bryan and I used our plastic camping wine glasses: I had votives lit all over the campsite, and this couple walked by and complimented how lovely our site looked. I've never forgotten my wine glasses since!

We like to camp in style, and lucky for us, so do most of our friends. Salami, cheese, crackers, grapes and even some nuts make pretty much the best snack indoors or out, as far as I'm concerned! We even picked up some garlic and herb cheese curds at the Poulsbo Farmers Market that went oh so nicely with my cheap white wine!

For our first night of dinner I marinated some steaks using Mom's Barbecue Steak recipe. Of course, I took one bite of it and said, "This isn't as good as Mom's," to groans from the rest of the group who said it was delicious. And it really was, but I do think I'll use a little less soy sauce and a bit more Worcestershire sauce the next time I make these steaks.

Julie grilled them to perfection, along with some grilled corn on the cob that Andrew spiced up for us and some potatoes thrown in the coals. I fixed them up Mom-style (she ALWAYS fixed up our baked potatoes for us, and I wish to emulate that extreme act of Momness) with butter, sour cream and some onions Veronica chopped up for me.

The steaks were so big, we even had an extra one that we wrapped in foil and I devoured the next day while everybody else was eating sausages. Selfish? Perhaps, but I did share!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Maybe I should look at the recipe next time

I learned a valuable lesson last night. It's much easier to not ruin Mom's recipes if I actually bother to look at them first.

Yesterday I marinated some country-style pork ribs to make my uncle's Chinese Barbecue Pork. When it came time to put them on the grill, I opened up my cupboard and saw a jar of Char Siu Sauce (aka Chinese Barbecue Sauce), and I panicked. I was sure I'd messed up the recipe so I had Bryan put that sauce on instead of the Hoison sauce, which not only does the recipe call for, but it's also what the pork had marinated in all day.

Well, it turns out the two sauces don't have that different of a flavor, so it still turned out delicious. But no, it's not as good as Mom's since I, of course, ruined it!

I did not, however, ruin my own recipe for my favorite grilled veggie, zucchini. Well, one of my favorites, but since it's so easy, it's often on the grill.

Grilled Zucchini
4 zucchini, cut in 1-inch pieces
2-4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. sea salt
1 t. Mrs. Dash Garlic Seasoning
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, then place cut side on grill heated to medium high. Turn when zucchini starts to brown and grill marks show up on zucchini, about 5 minutes. Cook other cut side until brown and zucchini is soft, about 5 more minutes.

Toss Zucchini in same bowl, then serve.

P.S. Doesn't Bryan look cute behind the grill?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dim sum-style green peppers

Do you love dim sum but hate the greasy feeling in your gut later on? Yeah, me neither, but Mom really does. As a matter of fact, I have to fight tooth and nail to get her to meet me in the International District, even though secretly I know she likes the food.

Now I have proof. You know those Stuffed Green Peppers they serve at dim sum restaurants, usually they have shrimp in them and they come with a sauce on top? Well, Mom made a heart-healthy and superdelicious version that sounds like it just might be easier to make. Instead of shrimp, which is packed with cholesterol, she used chicken and pork. And we did without the salty sauce. However, if you decide to make this, I wish you luck in finding the pickled mustard. In case you didn't already figure this out, I would suggest looking for it at some sort of an ethnic store.

Peppers Stuffed with Pork and Chicken
1/4 pound chicken breast, trimmed of fat and cut in chunks
3/4 pound boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed of fat and cut in chunks
1-inch piece of pickled mustard, cut in chunks
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. vegetable oil
2 t. corn starch
1 t. sugar
2 Pasilla peppers, seeds removed and deveined

Pulse chicken, pork and pickled mustard in a food processor until it's ground like hamburger meat. Move to a bowl, then add the soy sauce, vegetable oil, corn starch and sugar. Let marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.

To prepare the peppers, cut each in half lengthwise, then cut again widthwise so you have four somewhat equal pieces. Then you'll want to cut appetizer-size pieces lengthwise so that they each are about two inches wide.

Spoon some of the stuffing in each of the pepper pieces until it's all used up. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the peppers with the meat down for a few minutes, then turn them to cook the green side. Repeat the process until the meat is brown and cooked through, and the peppers are brown and soft, about 10 minutes.

And here's what we had with the peppers. No salt, no seasonings, just grilled tilapia. Yes, it's looking at you!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Smoked ribs to warm my home

Honestly, I do want to apologize to all my vegetarian friends out there. I swear, I do not eat huge slabs of meat for dinner every night. I even used to be a vegetarian! But now that I'm back on the meat, it's all I want in the summertime. Meat off the grill, meat on a stick, meat on a bun, you name it.

Anyhoo, for those of you who live in the area, you may have noticed that after the perfect Fourth of July weekend, the weather is no longer quite as ideal for barbecues. Just in time, Bryan got a rack of smoked ribs that spent enough time in the coals to only need a warm-up in the oven. Kept me from having to turn on the heat (I'm kidding!)!

And where did Bryan get this rack of ribs? His colleague, who participates in barbecue competitions under the name SouthPaw BBQ, made them for us in one of his many weekend practice runs for the mere price of cost. Cooking on Monday nights has never been easier! Check out the smoker SouthPaw cooks with and other photos here.

We did an informal taste test with Mom's Barbecue Ribs, and really, with such a unique, smokey flavor, there's simply no comparison. The smoker definitely makes the meat a bit drier, but I really like the way it falls off the bone, whereas I kind of have to gnaw it off Barbecue Ribs. On that note, I can't say I've ever had a bad homemade rack of ribs, so maybe I'm not the best judge.

After the last few experiences with SouthPaw, Bryan and I talked about buying a smoker. But I think a lot of the flavor in their meats comes from their experience and the rub they use. Besides, I was eavesdropping on the bus the other day and heard somebody raving about a smokehouse on our route, Jenson's Old-Fashioned Smokehouse. I finally stopped there last week and I do believe that place will soothe my craving if SouthPaw goes to the big time and we lose our connection.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Steak is great, but so is life

What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger.

So when Mom makes three pounds of the most delicious steak that Charlie cannot eat, it only makes him stronger. Of course, he says he doesn't want to eat it anyway, but when I take a bite of the juicy deliciousness (sorry, the photo was an afterthought and it shows!), I have my doubts about his honesty. Especially since the meal was a belated Father's Day gathering.

At least now we know he'll be around for many more.

Mom's Barbecue Steak
3 pounds tri-tip steak
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. (or less) water
1 t. (or less) sugar
1 t. chili garlic sauce
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c. white wine (optional)

Marinate overnight, and turn often to distribute marinade evenly.

Turn grill on high, and cook about 5 minutes per side after grill is sizzling hot.

Like I said before, it's all about the heat!

Julie also wanted me to share the recipe for Mom's awesome Potato Salad. I make it all the time and only Chelsea seemed to like it, but maybe it's more of a hit than I suspected. Some people aren't fans of hidden fruit in their potato salad, but it helps reduce the amount of mayo you need, so I suppose that could be considered a healthy compromise.

On that note, Mom didn't add any salt to her Potato Salad last night, and it still tasted great. However, I usually add kosher salt, Lawry's Seasoning Salt and a little freshly ground pepper (and sometimes a few slices of cooked bacon chopped up!). So as usual, make yours to taste!

Potato Salad with Apples and Pineapple
4 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut in bite-size chunks
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
2 baby dill pickles, diced
1 apple (she used Fuji but isn't particular), chopped
1 small can pineapple tidbits
1 T. mustard
2 T.-1/4 c. mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients and chill before serving.