Sunday, March 29, 2009

beef brisket part 2

toot! toot! mutha f'n toot!

i kicked a beef brisket's ass last night!

i let that baby marinate, wrapped up tightly in foil, for almost 2 days before sticking it in a 300 degree oven at 11:00 am on saturday morning. i didn't even peek in or loosen up the foil. i just stuck it in the oven.

it's a good thing i didn't have to do too much prep work. ring of fire (a redonkulous drinking game), dancing at thursday's and a shot of (bad) tequila in honor of a friend's birthday put a real hurtin' on me so most of saturday was spent on my couch watching pbs.

about 5:00 i finally drug my ass off the couch (dinner was scheduled for 7:30) and got started. first i peeked in at my brisket.

this is after 6 totally unattended hours.

my first side dish was mk's baked beans. first things first - i had to fry up some bacon.

once the bacon was crisp i drained it on paper towels, let it cool and then crumbled it. i poured out the drippings and browned 1/2 a chopped onion and a pound of ground chuck. i drained the beef and in a big mixing bowl added the beef, the bacon, butter beans, kidney beans, pork 'n beans and
some ketchup, brown sugar and spices.

i poured all of that into a casserole dish and it baked for about an hour.

i also decided to roast some potato wedges and make some candied carrots. i candied our only vegetable! ha!

i cut the potatoes into wedges and tossed them with olive oil, lemon pepper and sea salt. i just roasted these on a big cookie sheet.

while i was slicing the carrots i melted about 3-4 tablespoons of butter in my skillet. once it was starting to brown i added the carrots and a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. the carrots cooked over medium heat until they were nice and caramelized. mmmm.

i also whipped up some of my kick ass bbq sauce. this sauce seriously rules. i get a ton of compliments on it. it is worlds away from that sugary sweet ketchup based stuff i grew up with. ick.

the vinegar and mustard gives this sauce real tang and the cayenne is the perfect kick. it's good on anything. delish!

as you can tell from the photograph the brisket was very fatty. roasting it fat side up lets all that goodness soak into the meat but i certainly don't wanna put it on a sandwich!

since the meat was so tender the fat just pulled off with a knife and fork. pioneer woman says to put the meat back into the sauce once you cut the fat off and slice it up but that was a no go. my marinade cooked down pretty far and it was too thick and sticky to put the meat back in. instead i shredded the meat and served it on a platter with the bbq sauce on the side.

here's the whole spread.

aNw brought a really good salad which was very refreshing considering the meat loaded, buttery, saucey mania we were indulging in.

it was so good that towards the end of the evening i walked into the kitchen and saw some peeps dipping the meat right into the sauce. ha!

i did it too though and was good.

brisket conquered!

toot! toot!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

klopek? what is that slavic? NO!

the tour de lenten fish fries continued last night with a trip to the slovak j club. wow. delicious. i didn't think the poles could be beat but the slav's can really fry!

i went with the fried shrimp cuz i was feeling classy however the fried perch is all you can eat and a snagged a lil' piece for stormin' norman. delicious.

for $7 each we got two big baskets of bread (VERY delicious - the best bread we've had so far according to kp) and i had coleslaw and pierogies for my sides. oh man. the pierogies were so delicious. so very delicious.

the slavs definitely know what the fuck is up with pierogies.

i washed down this fine meal with a $2 labbats. delightful.

the slovak j club gets an A+++!

next friday - i'm not sure yet where we'll end up but the shriners are on our list.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

beef brisket part 1

my brother said he wanted to hang out on saturday. we were planning on getting some super good fish and making homemade sushi but then that plan fell through. i'd been pondering what i could make for him and a few other family members and friends instead when i was inspired by paul lukas's meat bracket.

a friend sent me that link and said, "a tournament bracket you might care about." boy was he right! at first i thought i'd try my hand at the competition favorite - standing rib roast. then i found out how much standing rib roast costs (EGADS!) so i needed an alternative plan.

beef was still on the brain though so i consulted a few of my favorite cooking/recipe websites and blogs and came across a pioneer woman recipe i'd looked at many times before -
beef brisket.

if you know me at all then you know i live (and would die most likely) for good bbq. good smoked brisket is sooooooooooooo good. so, so, so good. but i don't have a smoker. or any other fancy equipment and according to the pioneer woman i don't need one for good brisket.

so, where would i get a big ol' slab of brisket...hmmm..... a while back another friend told me about kirbie's family meats in stow but i hadn't had a chance to get out there yet. this was my chance! i called 'em and they confirmed that they did in fact have beef brisket and lots of it.

i headed there straight from work.

when i got there i saw a bunch of small pieces of trimmed brisket (intended for corned beef i'm sure) in the case for $5.99/lb. what? that wouldn't do at all.

i said, "i need a big ol' slab with lots of fat on it. you got that?" and of course, because kirbie's family meats is a small, family run, locally owned butcher and specialty shop they did. he brought out a big ol' slab and said, "it's $2.50 per pound. this one is 12 1/2 pounds."

i said, "i'll take it!" and here it is.

here are all the fixin's for pioneer woman's marinade.

i mixed all of that (beef consomme, lemon juice, soy sauce, liquid smoke and chopped garlic) together and then added the brisket to the giganto roasting pan i bought a few years back when i hosted thanksgiving.

and again.

then i covered that baby good and tight with a bunch of foil.

i stuck this in the fridge and it's gonna stay there for the next 36 hours.

stay tuned for part 2.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

another holiday to cook for. i love it!

the tour de lenten fish fries 09 continued with a trip to the polish american citizen's club last friday (well, two fridays ago by now).

this one had been talked up quite a bit by my good friend aNw. i trust aNw so i knew we were in for somethin' special....and oh man was it ever special!

first of all, i appreciate any place where beers are $2 and i appreciated this place even more since the bartender was the oldest polish woman i've ever seen.

for roughly $13 i ate one of the best fried fish dinners of my life. we had a large crew for this round - nine people to be exact but the poles hooked us up with a large table in the back and there wasn't a disappointed one among us.

now, you may be thinking $13 is a lot but let me tell you what the poles served up. we got a few baskets of kick ass fresh bread and also a nice size salad. i opted for the 1/2 perch & 1/2 shrimp with fries. i got about 4 or 5 small pieces of fried perch and about a half dozen fried shrimp. it was glorious. GLORIOUS.

and the best part - the poles host a fried fish dinner every single friday of the year. they don't need no stinkin' lent for good eats! polish american citizen's club gets an A++ for sure! they blew the eagles and irish right outta the water.

sadly, this past friday i had to miss a day of the tour. i think the crew - good friends that they are - decided to return to the polish american club so that i wouldn't miss anything. bless them. i think this week we'll be checking out the slovak club so stay tuned.

in other news - last tuesday was st. patrick's day. i decided to celebrate with good friends, good eats and good beer not assholes, bad bar eggs and shitty green beer.

(ps. i ripped that cartoon from the viper. i suppose i can give credit where credit is due.)

sunday night i made the soda bread.

here are some of my supplies - the dry ingredients if you will.

(notice those super cute and sturdy measuring spoons? those were the prize for my third place finish in the library soup cook-off.)

here is me adding the wet ingredients (buttermilk & eggs) to the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt & baking soda).

and here's some of the good stuff. melted butter. mmm!

and because i'm crazy i baked 5 loaves.

once these were done (you can check for doneness by popping them out of the pan and "knocking" on the bottom of the loaf. if it makes a thud it's done) i let them cool on a wire wrack and then wrapped them up tight in plastic wrap.

one went to the martini's house for his annual "state of grace" party. one went to aNw. why? she has a bun in the oven so i feel compelled to bake/cook things for her and her bun.
one loaf went to work with me to buy the praise of my co-workers, one loaf was served with some kick ass irish stew and the fifth one was just for kicks.

traditional irish stew is made with lamb but lamb is expensive and i am broke. plus i had two pounds of stew beef in my fridge that i got from my dad. free beef or costly lamb? hmmm....

first i chopped up all my veggies - potatoes, onions, carrots and parsnips.

then i layered the veggies and the beef in my kick ass new dutch oven (which is definitely the best investment i've made in quite some time!) and seasoned it with some salt, pepper and a couple of bay leaves.

then i added the guinness. mmmm....guinness.

because i'm poor and i wanted to drink more of the guinness than i was willing to put in the stew i finished it off with a lil' beef stock.

i put the lid on and let this simmer over low heat for about 2 hours.

a while back my fellow blogger, xenia inquired about good coleslaw.

here is what i came up with.

first, you chop up some cabbage. i used red and green cuz it looks pretty.

then i added a few heaping tablespoons of sugar and some cider vinegar.

then i realized that i forgot to add the carrots so i julienned a couple of those and added them to the mix. i also added about a tablespoon of keith's homemade hot vinegar just for a lil' extra zip.

i covered the slaw with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge so the cabbage could soak up all the goodness. yum!

when my friend mk and i were in ireland a few years ago we ate at a lil' pub that served their stew over mashed potatoes. i thought that was one of the best ideas ever in the world so i did i decided to do it myself.

i peeled and boiled the taters and then smashed 'em with some butter, chopped green onions, salt, pepper, a lil' milk and a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese.

i sliced one of my loaves of soda bread and invited in the crowd.

some friends and i gobbled up this goodness and slugged down a few beers and enjoyed our st. patrick's day.

maybe it was the stew or the beers or the beginnings of "darby o'gill and the little people" or gasp! dare i say the fact that we are all growing up but the party dispersed rather early.

however, we all slept with full bellies and we all made it to work on time the next day without feeling like death.

happy st. patrick's day!

Monday, March 9, 2009

hangover soup

saturday was my brother's birthday. we started out not-so-slow with sushi and sake and then headed out for an evening of unbridled partying. the time change and one more hour at the bar didn't hurt anything either.

i had a great time and went all night. but sunday i felt like death.

and i was starving.

so i made hangover soup (aka potato and leek soup) a la julia.

this is probably one of the easiest and most delicious soups to make. it's fancy name is potage parmentier and i've made it before.

it was perfect for the amount of energy i was willing to expel and for the ingredients i had in my fridge.

first - i cut up some potatoes. any kind. i leave the skins on cuz i think they taste delicious.

then i cut up some leeks.

then i put the veggies in a pot with water and salt.

this simmer for about 40 minutes or so until the potatoes are tender. i mashed it all up with a potato masher and put in about a tablespoon of butter.

yum. yum. yum.

and i only had to leave the couch for like 15 minutes.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

tour de lenten fish fry 2009

i am not catholic and i certainly did not give up anything for lent. i do LOVE fish fries though so some friends and i are touring the local clubs and bars and trying to eat as much fried fish as possible in the next few weeks.

churches are out as they do not serve beer but lil' ethnic clubs and VFWs are right up our alley!

last friday we tried out the fraternal order of eagles medina aerie #2224 because stormin' norman's dad is a member.
and a past president!

the eagles charged $9 and did it all-you-can-eat buffet style. delicious! there was a lil' salad bar, breaded (not battered) cod fillets, fries, cheesy potatoes, green beans (eh, i can always pass on canned green bean. blegh.), bread and chocolate pudding.

good eats (and a lot of 'em!), cheap beer and fantastic conversation with stormin' norman's folks leads me to grant the eagles high marks. a B+ for the eagles!!

last night the crew tried out the ancient order of the hibernians on brown street in akron. a few of my friends have become members and really have been talkin' this joint up.
i was stoked to give it a whirl.

for $7 you got one piece of fried cod and two sides - i went with cole slaw (nice and vinegary - none of the mayonnaise-y shit. blegh!) and mac-n-cheese (delish! but such a teeny lil' bowl of it). we each got a lil' ticket and college girls came along and took 'em back to the kitchen.

and then we fell of the radar apparently. luckily the $3.25 guinness kept my hunger at bay. when the food finally came out (an hour and a half later!) it was pretty darn tasty. however, the service was so poor and the set up so wobberjawed that i cannot in good faith give them marks as high as the eagles.

i think the hibernians were a fine crowd - just very unorganized and ill equipped in the kitchen (order some more fryers hibernians!). i'd love to go there for cheap beers but i don't think another fish fry is in my future.

good friends and guinness on draft are definite bonuses and helped the score however it wasn't enough to overcome an hour and a half wait for one piece of cod. the hibernians get a C+.

next week the polish american club is on the agenda.
i've heard a lot about this place. it's a lil' more pricey ($9.25-$12.75) but their menu seems pretty fancy - perch, orange roughy, scallops and shrimp!

i'll report back.

oh, and if you're interested in local akron fish fries check out this list that the beacon printed on ash wednesday.

and the tour continues......

Monday, March 2, 2009

some things never get old

i am super close with my two brothers and two cousins. i was the only girl growing up but the five of us are thick as thieves - probably due to the fact we spent damn near every waking moment together! for birthdays i like to host a cousin's dinner at my place and make a big spread. last friday was my cousin's birthday and then my brother's is this coming saturday so i figured i could kill two birds with one stone. we decided to expand the guest list a lil' and we moved the location to my cousins' in order to accommodate the crowd.

saturday my cousin bill and i hit the west side market for provisions.

then i took him out to lunch for his birthday. we tried out le petit triangle - a lil' french cafe in ohio city. we tried escargot which i thought were delicious. (bill rated them as a B but later claimed, "that escargot escar-went right through me!" ha!) i ordered the croque madame (DELICIOUS!) and bill went with a smoked trout salad.

that evening i rocked out to my cousin and brother aka one half of the ravenna arsenal and managed to work up quite an appetite for sunday family dinner. (i believe this near starvation is classified as "hangover hungry.")

so the menu. i would need some hearty eats to fill up this crowd. i decided to go with a family favorite which you have seen before - cioppino and some gumbo. a nice caesar salad and some crusty french bread would round it out.

i decided to go with the gumbo shop's recipe for chicken and andouille gumbo (i went there when i was in new orleans a few years ago and i remember that it was tops!) and pioneer woman's caesar salad.

first things first - the roux. 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup vegetable oil stirred continuously until it gets a deep, dark brown color.

here is it when i first started.

and here are my gumbo fixin's (with the exception of the okra which i had already fried and set aside).

and here is the roux again later.

in an ideal world i would have let this get even browner but i had time constraints. c'est la vie.

while i stirred and stirred and stirred the roux until my arm hurt my sous chefs worked on the appetizer - another family favorite a la pioneer women.

once the roux was as brown as i was gonna let it get i added the veggies - chopped onions, green peppers, red peppers, garlic and celery. this cooked in the roux until they were tender.

then i added a can of stewed tomatoes, the sauteed okra and the sliced andouille and cooked it for about 15 more minutes.

once that was lookin' good i added some fresh basil and some salt, pepper and cayenne. i also added the chicken stock. oh, the stock. i forgot. the very first thing i did before the roux and before cleaning all my seafood was to start the chicken stock.

i picked up a whole fryer at the market and had them hack it into 8 pieces. i covered the chicken with cold water in a large stock pot and simmered it for about 2 hours. i strained the liquid twice and then let the chicken cool on a plate. god bless my fabulous sous chef colleen who did the very dirty job of pulling all the chicken meat from the bone.

and here is my fabulous sous chef again chopping two onions for the cioppino.

so at this point the gumbo is simmering on the stove over low heat and it was time to start the cioppino.

i melted a stick of butter and then added two chopped onions, some minced garlic and a bunch of chopped parsley. once the onions were soft i added a big can of stewed tomatoes, a lil' tomato paste (thanks for the kick ass tip about paste removal aunt aggie!), the rest of my chicken stock, two bay leaves and a bottle of white wine. i stirred this all up and simmered it over low heat.

while my soups were simmering i started the caesar dressing. i showed up to the cousins' house sans appliances and inquired about a blender or a food processor. bill went to the attic to investigate and came back with a real gem. once it was cleaned up it worked like a champ.

so the dressing was 4 anchovies, two cloves of garlic, a few tablespoons of dijon mustard, a teaspoon of worcestershire, one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and the juice of a lemon.

the pioneer woman says to slowly pulse this mix but we learned that the ancient food processor only had one speed - super f'n fast. and it was loud. oh man was it loud! so i super f'n fast pulsed the ingredients and then after scraping the sides slowly drizzled in the olive oil while the processor was ragin'.

you're also supposed to add some grated parmesan to this but i forgot. oops.

i washed and chopped some romaine lettuce and used a vegetable peeler to shave some nice pieces of good parmesan onto the salad. i also added some croutons. (i totally cheated and bought them but i was overextended as it was and homemade croutons damn well could've thrown me into a tail spin!).

i forgot to take a picture when it was first assembled but here it is after we tore through it.

and here is the gumbo. i made rice to serve it over.

and here is the cioppino.

this was my crowning achievement of the night. my cousin dave looked skeptically into the pot and made some weird faces early on but by the end of the evening he admitted that although he never thought he'd be eating clams or mussels he was loving 'em! woohoo! another convert!

i asked aunt aggie to bring dessert and boy am i glad she did. you can tell we loved these fancy brownies by the fact that this platter was completely full only a few hours before. i even took some home in a sandwich bag!

another successful family dinner. cooking for my family is one of my very favorite things to do in the whole wide world and the fact that they all tried my homemade caesar dressing despite the fact of being totally grossed out by anchovies and some people were trying certain shellfish for the very first time in their lives and loved it - well, that just makes it all the better.

later on after it was just the five of us again - six counting mike who may as well be part of our crew - my brother kenny had the quote of the night, "you know, some shit just never gets old. like you guys!"