Minute Steak With Seasoned Butter

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I have a neophyte chef confession to make -- I am a little daunted by the idea of making steak. Or at least I was until recently, when I finally decided to take the red meat plunge.

A combination of insecurity and falling into something of a chicken rut conspired to delay this little milestone. Which only made it that much sweeter when I stumbled upon minute steak in Gristede's -- and then found this easy peasy recipe for preparing it with mustard butter.

Within just 20 minutes, I had whipped up the seasoned butter and cooked my little steak to medium rare perfection. Any anxiety about not being able to get it just right melted as the flavorful, meaty taste hit my mouth.

What's better than a yummy, quick-to-make entree? Getting a second meal out of it too. Up next...how my first steak inspired lunch leftovers!

Fettucini Amatriciana

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Though I've been cooking regularly for five months now, there's one relatively simple concoction that continues to bedevil me -- pasta sauce.

For as much as I've become adept at following (and where necessary modifying) recipes, I can't seem to prevent my sauces from thickening too much. It's happened to me with bombolina, bolognese and, now, amatriciana.

Once again, I turned to Glamour Magazine's 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know, my sentimental cookbook favorite these days. The instructions were simple enough -- heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil, add in a garlic clove, 4 ounces of crumbled bacon and 28 ounces of canned chopped tomatoes.

Woops. Did I say 28? Actually, that's what Glamour said but I somehow ended up with only a 14-ounce can on hand when the time came to cook.

Needless to say, doing without half the amount of liquid recommended here probably contributed to the paste-like consistency. But that doesn't explain why other perfectly proportioned sauces have gone all goopy on me.

My good friend Caroline maintains that my amatriciana attempt was a tasty one (I think it helped that I threw in some diced chicken breast) . I give it a B minus.

Easy Penne Bomolina

Thursday, July 14, 2011

When you’re learning how to cook, sometimes you need to take a break from cookbook recipes and keep it simple. Or, as my beloved sister-in-law and culinary goddess Barb likes to say – use enhancements with pre-made ingredients.

Recently, during a girls night in, I did exactly that. On the menu – penne with Newman’s Own tomato and basil Bomolina sauce. To liven up the already tasty sauce, I added ¼ cup of onions, a tablespoon of olive oil, a dash of green peppers, 1/3 cup of sliced mushrooms and 5 basil leaves homegrown (natch) in a little pot on my window sill.

The additions brought out Newman’s sweetness, and made for a perfect, easy pairing with some garlic bread and a bottle of Beaujolais.


Meat-free Paella With Tofu & Veggie Sausage

Friday, July 8, 2011

There are some recipes that end up humbling a neophyte chef like me. Meat-free paella with smoked tofu and veggie sausages, my second selection from Glamour magazine's 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know, turned out to be one of them.

I had already started the cooking process when I discovered the dish called for five cups of vegetable broth -- and I only had three. Thankfully, modifying how much rice I used (1 cup instead of 1:5) took care of that discrepancy. Another mistake was less easily corrected.

The recipe calls for ½ a teaspoon of turmeric and 2 teaspoons of sweet paprika. Well, I forgot which seasoning I had in my hand and ended up dumping 2 teaspoons of turmeric in the pot instead! Upon realizing my gaffe, I quickly scooped up what I could before it absorbed into the already brewing liquid.

This meat-free concoction truly got my out of my comfort zone – and all the way to Whole Foods in Union Square. Smoked tofu and veggie sausages aren’t exactly standard supermarket fare, and I have to say it was worth the trip for my first visit to the organic mecca of food shopping. You can tell many of the people who buy here are serious about what they eat/cook, and I couldn’t help feeling a little extra dash of inspiration from it.

Overall, I would say this is a dish that requires a little patience and a lot of organization. Total prep time is 80 minutes, and includes needing counter space for various items mid-cooking -- space that my galley kitchen (like most in NYC) has little of. But I didn’t let any of that defeat me, especially since the paella is dubbed as an alternative for Glamour’s so-called Engagement Chicken. Dating or not, us single gals need some home cooking we can cozy up to.

Here’s the full recipe:

Creamless Broccoli Soup

Friday, July 1, 2011

Now that summer is here, I find myself craving lighter fare when I’m in cooking mode. Soup has been on my to do list for awhile, so I took a crack at Food.com’s recipe for creamless broccoli soup.

There’s something about pureed soup that epitomizes comfort food. And I love that this dish is both filling and, since there’s no cream, guilt free.

I made a few necessary changes to the recipe -- thyme instead of dried dill (no luck finding any at the supermarket) and no celery (didn’t realize I had none until I got home). Thankfully, the finished product didn’t seem to suffer any when I gave my soup a taste test.

Food.com says total prep time for the soup is one hour. Between reserving a cup of florets and having to puree the soup in batches, I would say it’s closer to an hour and twenty. Still, totally worth the time. Yum.

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