Tomato-Buttermilk Marinade

April 27, 2010

Chef’s Notes: I concocted this recipe to use on some steaks that weren’t a very good cut of meat and needed a marinade. It worked great to make the meat tender and gave it just a hint of flavor.

I also tried the marinade on boneless chicken breasts and it was quite simply amazing. It made the chicken moist and incredibly flavorful.

I cut both the steak and chicken into strips (about 1/2-inch wide and 1-inch long) and cooked them in a grill pan. I marinated the steak about 4 hours and the chicken about 45 minutes.

Tomato-Buttermilk Marinade
(makes 1 cup)

1/4 C. tomato paste
1 T. minced onion
1 T. minced garlic
1 tsp. herbs (I used 1/4 tsp. each of thyme, oregano, tarragon, and Penzy’s Mural of Flavor)
1/2 tsp. brown mustard seed (or 1 tsp. stone ground mustard)
Pinch of salt and pepper
1-2 tsp. hot sauce
1 T. olive oil
3/4 C. buttermilk

Combine all ingredients except buttermilk in food processor; process until combined. Slowly add buttermilk and process until thoroughly mixed.


Dinner Party Menu

April 24, 2010

I love everything about hosting a dinner party – planning the menu, choosing dishes and table decor, shopping, cooking…and of course the company and the food! It has been entirely too long since I’ve been able to do this, so I was über excited about this dinner party.

The biggest challenge was choosing a menu that would satisfy the preferences of all the guests. Instead of settling for just one dish that would be at least somewhat appealing to everyone, I decided to make two main dishes with accompanying sides.

So, here is the menu (with links to the recipes):

Porkchops with a Rootbeer Reduction Glaze and Caramelized Onions
Peanut Butter Cornbread

Spinach-Artichoke-Basil Penne
Nutty Stuffed Mushrooms

Steamed Brussels Sprouts and Carrots with Lemon-Thyme Infused Butter

And for dessert:
Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits

Spinach-Artichoke-Basil Penne

April 24, 2010

Chef’s Notes: The original recipe was difficult to follow because it didn’t give exact measurements for a lot of the ingredients. The sauce I created based on my guesstimates was not adequate for the amount of pasta. In this post, I’ve listed the ingredient amounts that I used, but reduced the amount of pasta to what I think would be a more accurate amount. I also substituted basil for the mint.

Spinach-Artichoke-Basil Penne
(Serves 4-6)

12 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , divided
1 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
5 oz. fresh spinach, stems trimmed
1 shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 C. chicken stock
1/2 C. fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1/4 C. lightly toasted slivered almonds
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large clove garlic, minced and mashed up into paste with a little salt
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese

Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring up it up to a boil to cook the pasta, season with some salt and cook to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water.

Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in medium nonstick skillet. Add artichokes to heat through and lightly brown at edges.

In the bowl of a food processor add the shallot, 1/2 cup chicken stock, spinach leaves, basil, almonds and salt and pepper, and garlic. Turn processor on and add in about 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.

Scrape the pesto into the artichoke pan and loosely cover with foil. Bring mixture to a simmer over low to medium-low heat and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the reserved pasta cooking water, the pasta and the cheese. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce and heat for 1 minute. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Nutty Stuffed Mushrooms

April 24, 2010

Nutty Stuffed Mushrooms
Makes 12

12 cremini mushrooms
2 T. olive oil, divided
1 T. butter
1 shallot (yield 1/4 cup minced)
1/4 C. plain dry bread crumbs
1/4 C. finely chopped pecans
4 T. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 tsp. Penzy’s Mural of Flavor spice mix
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
Pinch of basil
1/4 C. mayonnaise
1 T. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Clean mushrooms by rubbing with a dry paper towel. Remove stems and set aside. Place mushroom caps in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange mushroom caps on baking sheet, stem side down. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown. Drain liquid and place mushroom caps in 9X13 glass baking dish, stem side up.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Finely chop the mushroom stems and add to the skillet with the shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until tender.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, pecans, 3 tablespoons of the cheese, the spices, mayonnaise, and balsamic vineagar. Add shallots and mushroom stems; stir to combine. Stuff the mixture into the mushroom caps and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon of Parmesan.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until mushrooms are golden and heated through.


Modified from this recipe.

Porkchops with a Rootbeer Reduction Glaze and Caramelized Onions

April 24, 2010

Chef’s Notes: The original recipe called for “reduced veal stock” to make the glaze. I had never heard of this so I substituted chicken broth. Apparently this was a bad choice because it never reduced to a “thick syrup” as it was supposed to. It was a good recipe nonetheless, and the dinner guests I served it to enjoyed it.

Porkchops with a Rootbeer Reduction Glaze and Caramelized Onions
Serves 6

6 porkchops (about 5 oz. each)

Spice rub:
3 tsp. Penzy’s Mural of Flavor spice blend
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash extra spicy spice blend
1/4 tsp. Mexican oregano

Distribute spice rub evenly over all chops, covering both sides. Heat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium high heat. Add 2 or 3 chops to grill pan, cook 5 minutes per side, or until there are noticeable grill marks. Repeat with remaining pork chops. Put grilled chops on baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Place the chops on serving plate and drizzle with the glaze. Top with caramelized onions.

The instructions for the glaze from the original recipe:
2 cups root beer
2 cups reduced veal stock

To make the glaze, combine the root beer and stock in a medium heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to a thick syrup, about 1 cup, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the heat.

Caramelized Onions
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 pounds yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the heat and serve hot.

Peanut Butter Cornbread

April 24, 2010

Chef’s Notes: I modified the original recipe by adding additional peanut butter but it made it very heavy. This is the recipe without my changes.

Peanut Butter Cornbread
(serves 6-8)

1 ¼ C. all-purpose flour
¾ C. cornmeal
3 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. kosher salt
1/3 C. coarsely chopped salted peanuts
1 C. minus 2 T. skim buttermilk
3 T. honey
2 T. unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 10-inch pie plate with vegetable oil and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and chopped peanuts. In a separate bowl, beat together the remaining ingredients. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Spoon the batter into the pie plate and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool slightly before slicing.


Original recipe appeared in Ladle, Leaf and Loaf by Lisa Cowden.

Brussels Sprouts & Carrots with Lemon-Thyme Infused Butter

April 24, 2010

Brussels Sprouts & Carrots with Lemon-Thyme Infused Butter
(serves 6)

3/4# fresh brussels sprouts
1/2# fresh carrots
1/4 C. butter
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1 T. fresh chopped thyme

To prepare vegetables, cut the stem-end from each brussels sprout and place in medium-size bowl. Cut the end from each carrot and cut into 1/4-inch thick circles; place carrot slices in bowl with brussels sprouts. Fill bowl with water, add a dash of salt, and let the vegetables soak for at least 15 minutes or up to several hours. Rinse and then place in steam basket over boiling water. Cook until tender crisp, drain, and place in serving bowl.

Melt the butter in a small skillet over low heat. Add lemon juice and zest; heat over low heat for 10 minutes. Add thyme and heat for an additional 3-5 minutes. Pour over vegetables and serve.