Semper Paratus et Coctus

Steak + Guinness = WIN :)

Beef Soba Noodle “Faux” Phô!
I LOVE me some phô…and though I have found a suitable place in downtown Key West that offers amazing steamed pork belly dumplings and a vegetarian version of this tasty Vietnamese classic, I still favor the authentic version featuring raw beef strips, tendon, and tripe. To make this soup…well, all the recipes I’ve perused online seem time-consuming and complex, to say the least…boiling bones? Yellow rock sugar? 6 or more spices? Not that I don’t appreciate the complexity of phô, it’s rich history, or the time recipe authors take to post these dishes so home cooks can replicate them, but I was fresh from the gym, hungry, and eager to eat, like, NOW.
Thanks to chefinyou.com, and fellow cook “DK” who posted this, I was able to make a few changes and get my phô fix in a fairly painless and speedy way! It is soooo delicious! Enjoy!
http://chefinyou.com/2010/06/soba-noodle-soup-recipe/
My changes: I know most traditional versions have rice noodles, but I liked the above link featuring buckwheat soba noodles since I enjoy them so much (wheat = yum!); I used chicken stock because that’s all I had on hand at home, though beef stock would have been awesome as well; I added some thinly sliced raw steak to the bowl at the end (don’t worry, the heat from the broth cooks it perfectly once it’s stirred in), as well as garnishes of basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, thinly sliced jalapeño, cilantro sprigs, and a sprinkle of fish sauce and spicy chili sauce.

Beef Soba Noodle “Faux” Phô!

I LOVE me some phô…and though I have found a suitable place in downtown Key West that offers amazing steamed pork belly dumplings and a vegetarian version of this tasty Vietnamese classic, I still favor the authentic version featuring raw beef strips, tendon, and tripe. To make this soup…well, all the recipes I’ve perused online seem time-consuming and complex, to say the least…boiling bones? Yellow rock sugar? 6 or more spices? Not that I don’t appreciate the complexity of phô, it’s rich history, or the time recipe authors take to post these dishes so home cooks can replicate them, but I was fresh from the gym, hungry, and eager to eat, like, NOW.

Thanks to chefinyou.com, and fellow cook “DK” who posted this, I was able to make a few changes and get my phô fix in a fairly painless and speedy way! It is soooo delicious! Enjoy!

http://chefinyou.com/2010/06/soba-noodle-soup-recipe/

My changes: I know most traditional versions have rice noodles, but I liked the above link featuring buckwheat soba noodles since I enjoy them so much (wheat = yum!); I used chicken stock because that’s all I had on hand at home, though beef stock would have been awesome as well; I added some thinly sliced raw steak to the bowl at the end (don’t worry, the heat from the broth cooks it perfectly once it’s stirred in), as well as garnishes of basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, thinly sliced jalapeño, cilantro sprigs, and a sprinkle of fish sauce and spicy chili sauce.

NY Strip Steak, Creamy Portabella Brown Rice, & Roasted Brussels Sprouts for 2!

No grill? No problem! Just about any tasty hunk-o-beef  can be prepared with a simple frying pan (which provides the yummy possibility of using the pan juices to make a sauce). The brown rice is a spin-off of mushroom risotto (plus, more fiber is always a good thing). Brussels sprouts are a veggie some are hesitant to try, but believe-you-me, these ones pack a flavorful punch that even picky eaters often surprisingly love (crispy, salty outside, tender, cabbage-esque flavor inside). Add a simple bacon and avocado salad on the side, and indulge in a restaurant-quality meal at home! (be sure to start the rice first, then the sprouts, and lastly the steak…for perfect timing purposes)

Steak:
2 NY strip steaks
Montreal seasoning blend
Pan spray
1/4 sweet onion, sliced thin
1 T butter
1/4 c red wine

In one pan over medium-low heat, melt butter and add onions, stirring occasionally.

Beforehand, let steaks rest at room temp for 30 minutes. Dry both sides with a paper towel, then sprinkle both sides with seasoning. In another pan sprayed with cooking spray, over medium heat, add steaks. 5-6 min per side, for medium, flipping once.

Once steak is done, turn off the heat and place on a plate to rest and loosely cover with foil, let rest 10 min. (top with some blue cheese crumbles if you like at this point).

Add the red wine to the steak pan, swirl to catch the browned bits, then pour into the onion pan, and lower heat to “low” to reduce into a thick, bubbling onion sauce :) serve over steaks.

Mushroom rice:
1 T butter
1 T minced garlic
1 c brown rice
1 c chopped Portabella mushrooms
1/2 c heavy cream
1 1/4 c chicken stock
Onion powder, salt, pepper to taste

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, stir, cook until fragrant. Add rice and mushrooms, cook and stir constantly for about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Once bubbling, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 50 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through.

This Brussels sprouts recipe from Ina Garten & Food Network has served me well: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-brussels-sprouts-recipe2/index.html

NY Strip Steak, Creamy Portabella Brown Rice, & Roasted Brussels Sprouts for 2!

No grill? No problem! Just about any tasty hunk-o-beef can be prepared with a simple frying pan (which provides the yummy possibility of using the pan juices to make a sauce). The brown rice is a spin-off of mushroom risotto (plus, more fiber is always a good thing). Brussels sprouts are a veggie some are hesitant to try, but believe-you-me, these ones pack a flavorful punch that even picky eaters often surprisingly love (crispy, salty outside, tender, cabbage-esque flavor inside). Add a simple bacon and avocado salad on the side, and indulge in a restaurant-quality meal at home! (be sure to start the rice first, then the sprouts, and lastly the steak…for perfect timing purposes)

Steak:
2 NY strip steaks
Montreal seasoning blend
Pan spray
1/4 sweet onion, sliced thin
1 T butter
1/4 c red wine

In one pan over medium-low heat, melt butter and add onions, stirring occasionally.

Beforehand, let steaks rest at room temp for 30 minutes. Dry both sides with a paper towel, then sprinkle both sides with seasoning. In another pan sprayed with cooking spray, over medium heat, add steaks. 5-6 min per side, for medium, flipping once.

Once steak is done, turn off the heat and place on a plate to rest and loosely cover with foil, let rest 10 min. (top with some blue cheese crumbles if you like at this point).

Add the red wine to the steak pan, swirl to catch the browned bits, then pour into the onion pan, and lower heat to “low” to reduce into a thick, bubbling onion sauce :) serve over steaks.

Mushroom rice:
1 T butter
1 T minced garlic
1 c brown rice
1 c chopped Portabella mushrooms
1/2 c heavy cream
1 1/4 c chicken stock
Onion powder, salt, pepper to taste

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, stir, cook until fragrant. Add rice and mushrooms, cook and stir constantly for about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Once bubbling, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 50 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through.

This Brussels sprouts recipe from Ina Garten & Food Network has served me well: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-brussels-sprouts-recipe2/index.html

Stove-top seared ribeye steak & my fave salad!

Who needs a grill?! Not THIS guy, and certainly not you! Steak can be enjoyed without the assistance of a charcoal, gas, or even an electric grill!

Ribeye: a perfect ribeye is marbled with fat, so don’t be afraid of the white lines in the bright red meat…it adds flavor, juiciness and like my grandpa always said, “no fat, no flavor, no FUN!” :) Sprinkle with montreal steak seasoning on each side, let rest at room temp for 15 min, then sear 6-7 min each side in a sprayed pan over medium heat, or to desired doneness. I use the following method to check my steak, to get the perfect medium-rare I love: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/the_finger_test_to_check_the_doneness_of_meat/

Pan sauce: let steak rest 10-15 min to keep the juices in so they don’t escape when you first cut into it. It’s tempting to dig right in, but please—for the love of meat, let it rest and you’ll be happy you did. Make a pan sauce and it’ll provide the waiting time you need while making an amazing topper for your steak. Add 1 T unsalted butter to the pan juices over medium heat. Stir to melt. Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 c red wine, heat til bubbling. Add onions, and even some jalapeño or mushroom slices if you like, and reduce sauce while stirring until it reaches a thick consistency that coats the back of a spoon. Pour over your steak, and ENJOY!

Salad: my fave includes blue-cheese stuffed olives, feta, red onions, spinach, tomato, avocado, and Italian dressing :)

Stove-top seared ribeye steak & my fave salad!

Who needs a grill?! Not THIS guy, and certainly not you! Steak can be enjoyed without the assistance of a charcoal, gas, or even an electric grill!

Ribeye: a perfect ribeye is marbled with fat, so don’t be afraid of the white lines in the bright red meat…it adds flavor, juiciness and like my grandpa always said, “no fat, no flavor, no FUN!” :) Sprinkle with montreal steak seasoning on each side, let rest at room temp for 15 min, then sear 6-7 min each side in a sprayed pan over medium heat, or to desired doneness. I use the following method to check my steak, to get the perfect medium-rare I love: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/the_finger_test_to_check_the_doneness_of_meat/

Pan sauce: let steak rest 10-15 min to keep the juices in so they don’t escape when you first cut into it. It’s tempting to dig right in, but please—for the love of meat, let it rest and you’ll be happy you did. Make a pan sauce and it’ll provide the waiting time you need while making an amazing topper for your steak. Add 1 T unsalted butter to the pan juices over medium heat. Stir to melt. Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 c red wine, heat til bubbling. Add onions, and even some jalapeño or mushroom slices if you like, and reduce sauce while stirring until it reaches a thick consistency that coats the back of a spoon. Pour over your steak, and ENJOY!

Salad: my fave includes blue-cheese stuffed olives, feta, red onions, spinach, tomato, avocado, and Italian dressing :)

Breakfast yesterday: crispy corn beef hash with tomato and onion, topped with over-medium eggs and cheese! :)

Breakfast yesterday: crispy corn beef hash with tomato and onion, topped with over-medium eggs and cheese! :)

Beef, egg, & veggie sliders!

Grill small beef patties seasoned with Montreal seasoning and red pepper flakes til preferred doneness, fry whole eggs over-hard and cut to size to top the patties. Place on split sweet hawaiian rolls, top with lettuce, tomato, onion and sauce of your choice. Cute, mini burgers, full of flavor! We simmered some frozen green beans with butter, garlic, and pepper for our side dish, but fries would also be perfectly paired here! :)

For Tater’s awesome slider sauce: stir together BBQ sauce, sriracha, ketchup, mustard, duck sauce, tiger sauce, and cholula to taste :)

Beef, egg, & veggie sliders!

Grill small beef patties seasoned with Montreal seasoning and red pepper flakes til preferred doneness, fry whole eggs over-hard and cut to size to top the patties. Place on split sweet hawaiian rolls, top with lettuce, tomato, onion and sauce of your choice. Cute, mini burgers, full of flavor! We simmered some frozen green beans with butter, garlic, and pepper for our side dish, but fries would also be perfectly paired here! :)

For Tater’s awesome slider sauce: stir together BBQ sauce, sriracha, ketchup, mustard, duck sauce, tiger sauce, and cholula to taste :)

Sweet chili BBQ rib salad! “What’s THAT?”, you say? :)

Romaine, baby carrots, sliced onion, cucumber, and tomato, topped with leftover BBQ rib meat (pull from bone and gnaw off the rest, lol) and a drizzle of sweet chili sauce (I love Mae Ploy’s brand).

This would also be lovely with some fresh corn kernels shaved off from the cob, maybe some cilantro or even some drained and rinsed canned black beans…get creative (especially with leftovers…any meat can be made into a great protein-rich salad)!

Sweet chili BBQ rib salad! “What’s THAT?”, you say? :)

Romaine, baby carrots, sliced onion, cucumber, and tomato, topped with leftover BBQ rib meat (pull from bone and gnaw off the rest, lol) and a drizzle of sweet chili sauce (I love Mae Ploy’s brand).

This would also be lovely with some fresh corn kernels shaved off from the cob, maybe some cilantro or even some drained and rinsed canned black beans…get creative (especially with leftovers…any meat can be made into a great protein-rich salad)!

H & L Asian Market, our golden find since we have been in Charleston… Kind of sad to be leaving it behind when we just discovered it today! 
   Any ingredient under the sun is there, like kimchee, live seafood, chicken uterus and kelp, specialty produce and tasty imported snacks…even woks and herbal remedies…it was like an Oriental culinary/cultural Disneyland, and we wandered up and down the aisles in awe as we marveled at the goods and wares, wishing we had a fortune to spend on random tasty treats and wondering how some of the stranger ingredients might be transformed into something interesting and possibly edible :)
   The highlight (which is to say a lot since the market itself was a sight to behold) was the in-store eatery, a modest though impressive little deli-style counter with a plain dining area to the side. You can order take-out, but for the full experience we opted to enjoy the ambiance and novelty of the surroundings and take in mammoth bowls of Phô and an appetizer of Vietnamese egg rolls at a little formica table-booth by the window overlooking Rivers Avenue..
   The fried rolls were meaty and delicious, balanced by the simple butter lettuce offered to wrap it in a crispy blanket and some fresh cilantro, basil, and tangy yet light dipping sauce. The Phô was hearty, authentic, and all one could ever ask for in a bowl of soupy-heaven…bits of tripe, rare beef and meatballs resting in a nest of tender rice noodles and a simple, clear broth with green onions—bursting with goodness. Served with fresh lime wedges, bean sprouts, cilantro, basil and table sauces of hot rooster chili sauce, soy, fish sauce and hoisin…Oh. My.
   I got a taste of the rewards of living dangerously and ordered a can of basil seed drink. It is basically flat cream soda suspended with pulpy seeds that squeak and burst between your teeth. A fun drink that was delicious over ice and made me feel like a little kid again :)
   All in all, a glorious find, a wonderful food victory, and some of the best Phô I’ve had since San Diego…I will miss this diamond in the rough…but now I have another reason to come back to Charleston besides the scenic marshlands, warm beaches and historic downtown area…this little Asian market is a must-visit for anyone looking to add a little more spice to their palette! :)

H & L Asian Market, our golden find since we have been in Charleston… Kind of sad to be leaving it behind when we just discovered it today!
Any ingredient under the sun is there, like kimchee, live seafood, chicken uterus and kelp, specialty produce and tasty imported snacks…even woks and herbal remedies…it was like an Oriental culinary/cultural Disneyland, and we wandered up and down the aisles in awe as we marveled at the goods and wares, wishing we had a fortune to spend on random tasty treats and wondering how some of the stranger ingredients might be transformed into something interesting and possibly edible :)
The highlight (which is to say a lot since the market itself was a sight to behold) was the in-store eatery, a modest though impressive little deli-style counter with a plain dining area to the side. You can order take-out, but for the full experience we opted to enjoy the ambiance and novelty of the surroundings and take in mammoth bowls of Phô and an appetizer of Vietnamese egg rolls at a little formica table-booth by the window overlooking Rivers Avenue..
The fried rolls were meaty and delicious, balanced by the simple butter lettuce offered to wrap it in a crispy blanket and some fresh cilantro, basil, and tangy yet light dipping sauce. The Phô was hearty, authentic, and all one could ever ask for in a bowl of soupy-heaven…bits of tripe, rare beef and meatballs resting in a nest of tender rice noodles and a simple, clear broth with green onions—bursting with goodness. Served with fresh lime wedges, bean sprouts, cilantro, basil and table sauces of hot rooster chili sauce, soy, fish sauce and hoisin…Oh. My.
I got a taste of the rewards of living dangerously and ordered a can of basil seed drink. It is basically flat cream soda suspended with pulpy seeds that squeak and burst between your teeth. A fun drink that was delicious over ice and made me feel like a little kid again :)
All in all, a glorious find, a wonderful food victory, and some of the best Phô I’ve had since San Diego…I will miss this diamond in the rough…but now I have another reason to come back to Charleston besides the scenic marshlands, warm beaches and historic downtown area…this little Asian market is a must-visit for anyone looking to add a little more spice to their palette! :)

Dinner tonight: Ropa Vieja (slow-cooker-style)!
   I love my slow cooker… Throw it all in the pot, then set it and forget it! It’s amazing how low heat and several hours can intensify flavors and make a dish taste even more complex. Also, Cuban food is something that’s very close to my heart, having grown up in Key West. :)
   Another awesome recipe from Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/slow-cooker-ropa-vieja-recipe/index.html
   With the following changes: I ran out of cumin a couple days ago, so I used a pinch of red pepper flakes and a pinch of oregano; I couldn’t find skirt steak or flank steak at my nearby grocery store, so I used a flat iron cut. It came out very tender and delicious still, but I was a little disappointed because it didn’t shred into the characteristic long strands Ropa Vieja normally has; I was short on time (in other words I forgot I was making this dish today and remembered at around 3 this afternoon) so I cranked it up to “high” for 4 hours instead of “low” for 8 hours; I wanted to add some fiber to the dish so I served it over brown rice instead of Spanish rice or white rice. Still tasted amazing!
   Serve as is, or paired with Cuban black beans & rice http://www.goya.com/english/recipes/Classic-Black-Beans-Rice
   Or some sweet plantains (plátanos maduros…OMG these are my weakness!) http://icuban.com/food/platanos_maduros.html

Dinner tonight: Ropa Vieja (slow-cooker-style)!
I love my slow cooker… Throw it all in the pot, then set it and forget it! It’s amazing how low heat and several hours can intensify flavors and make a dish taste even more complex. Also, Cuban food is something that’s very close to my heart, having grown up in Key West. :)
Another awesome recipe from Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/slow-cooker-ropa-vieja-recipe/index.html
With the following changes: I ran out of cumin a couple days ago, so I used a pinch of red pepper flakes and a pinch of oregano; I couldn’t find skirt steak or flank steak at my nearby grocery store, so I used a flat iron cut. It came out very tender and delicious still, but I was a little disappointed because it didn’t shred into the characteristic long strands Ropa Vieja normally has; I was short on time (in other words I forgot I was making this dish today and remembered at around 3 this afternoon) so I cranked it up to “high” for 4 hours instead of “low” for 8 hours; I wanted to add some fiber to the dish so I served it over brown rice instead of Spanish rice or white rice. Still tasted amazing!
Serve as is, or paired with Cuban black beans & rice http://www.goya.com/english/recipes/Classic-Black-Beans-Rice
Or some sweet plantains (plátanos maduros…OMG these are my weakness!) http://icuban.com/food/platanos_maduros.html