Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Post About Cooking!

This is a first!  Not surprisingly, as I hardly cook at all.

I have cooked though, and I have picked up some tips along the way.

Hamburgers

This is not an opportunity to go lean.  Get meat with some fat in it.  People go nuts with the sirloin, but some fresh chuck-chop is fine.

Grilling them outside seems like a great way to go, but it's almost impossible to do it without drying out the burgers.  Better to start them outside, sear them good, and finish them in the oven.  350 degrees for what, forty minutes?  Something like that.  Starting them in a pan that's hot and heavy works too.

Don't forget the salt and pepper.

Meat Balls and Spaghetti

I love a good meatball, but it's very tricky to get them right.  It's easy to dry them out, too.  So I forgo the meatballs altogether.

I would get a piece of top or bottom round and cut it into strips.  Cheap cuts, you don't need the marbling for this dish.  I always called it "Steak Pizzaola," but I'm pretty sure that's another dish altogether.

Start with a not-hot dutch oven, the big one you'd use for spaghetti.  Cut up some garlic, big pieces, and saute them for a while in olive oil.  Any olive oil is okay.  Throw in some peppers if you like, I know I do.  A Serrano pepper would be nice.  Take out the seeds, cut it in rings and saute it with the garlic.  Better to take the garlic out.

Then sear the strips of beef in the oil and put aside.

At this point you can put in a little more oil and saute some chopped onion.  Leave those in.

Put your sauce in the pot.  I'd use a jar of Prego and a can of crushed whole tomatoes.  Something like that, it was always different.  Use your own judgment.  Salt and pepper are a good idea.  I like some red pepper in there, maybe some oregano.

Bring the sauce to a boil, add the beef, and simmer for as long as you think is necessary.  When you're done, the beef should be fork tender and very tasty.  If it's not tender, add some water, or more canned tomatoes, and simmer it until you think it's done.

Make the pasta separately when the time comes.

This one was always a big hit.

Pizza

It's not as easy as they make it look on TV, but it can be done and it's worth it.

Get the dough pre-made and don't start to fight with it until it's at room temperature.  They say a pizza stone is nice, but isn't there enough crap in your kitchen already?  A baking pan is fine. Thickness is more important than shape.  If it comes out the shape of Florida, that just makes it look home made.

Don't put on too much sauce!  And don't overthink it either.  Almost any sauce that you would consider will be fine.  I like to use half goat cheese and half mozzarella, maybe put on some crumbled feta.  Very important:  not too much sauce or cheese!  It'll make the pizza soggy.

You can make it without pepperoni or sausage if you insist, but I wouldn't recommend it.  Chorizo  is nice.  Black olives are okay, chopped up.

Omelet

Omelets are a real stand-by for the non-chef.  They're easy and delicious.

The pan is always important for these things.  Now I have a nice ceramic Tefal that was made in France.  It was a little pricey, but worth every penny.  It's very heavy, and it really holds the heat. Use butter in the pan, it's worth the cholesterol. You can always eat a lot of fruit tomorrow.

Give the eggs a very good shirring.  I recommend putting in some red pepper, "to taste," a little salt, a very little bit of milk, and a drop of soy sauce, just a drop.  If you don't like the darkened color, use fish sauce.  

The top should be good and runny when you put your stuff in.  Remember to only cover half of the surface, the other half gets folded over.  I usually just go with a couple of slices of cheese and some chopped up sandwich ham.  Tomatoes work good.  Many people like chopped mushrooms, but I find that all of the mushrooms in America taste like dirt.  So maybe canned mushrooms or something. Asian fresh mushrooms are very neutral tasting, like I think that mushrooms are supposed to be.  Them you can just throw on.

Bonus Recipe:  Pasta With Sauce in One Sauce Pan

This one is fast and easy.  The cleanup is done before you eat the dish.

Boil some water (with salt) in a regular sauce pan.  Cook the pasta about 85 or 90%.  Penne is easy. Remove from heat.  Put in some jar sauce and maybe some cut up sandwich ham or a cut up half a Bratwurst.  Put the pan back on the still-hot burner, stirring more or less constantly.  This finishes up the pasta and warms up the sauce. Voila!  Dinner for one or two!

After it's plated, wash the pot immediately.  Takes twenty seconds.


This post is offered as a public service and a sincere thank you to all of my readers.  I know that you're out there, much like a person who looks in the direction of a known forest on a dark night knows that there are trees there, even if the person can't see the trees at this moment.  Thank you for your interest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good stuff!
My secret for hamburgers: mix chopped onions and some BBQ sauce and garlic powder into the raw meat, blend it in by hand, then press balls of meat into patties...you're right about needing some fat in the chopmeat, don't go for the low-fat stuff. Baste it with a mixture of bbq sauce and teriyaki or soy when it's on the grill and it won't dry out.
-E