Saturday, February 14, 2009


My new website is up and running.  It still has a few kinks, but I am posting over there now.  So please add

to your blogroll and reader!!!!!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chili Coated Beef with Barley Cake and Tomato Sauce

I like the challenge of making good food for not a lot of money. I especially enjoy trying to make a seemingly fancy, well-composed dish on a budget. I got the basic idea for this dish from another blog and adapted it slightly.

This dish is great because it uses barley - a delicious and incredibly cheap whole grain that can make the perfect starch component to a meal. The author also gave me an interesting idea - running the barley through a food processor to give it a finer texture. That gives it a fluffy lightness that is not usually associated with barley.

Chili Coated Beef with Barley Cake and Tomato Sauce

Served 2.
Leftover Potential: The cakes will loose a little of their crispness in reheating. I made three cakes then sauteed the rest of the barley and ate it like that as leftovers. Made 2 meals after the initial dinner.

Barley Cake
1 1/2 cup barley
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 cups chicken stock
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 Tbsp oil

1. In a food processor***, process the barley until it reaches a finer texture. Each piece of the barley should be approximately 1/2 the size it was before - compareable in size and shape to couscous.
2. Remove the barley from the processor, reserving about 1/4 of the mixture. Place the barley in a large heat-safe bowl. Add the garlic and onion, and toss to combine completely.
3. In a small pot, heat the chicken stock to a rolling boil. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the stock over the barley. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until the barley is soft, about 10-15 minutes.
4. The barley should absorb all of the liquid, but if it is soft and there is still stock in the bowl, drain it out. Season as needed with salt and pepper.
5. Let cool slightly, and add the egg and bread crumbs. Mix to combine. Add more bread crumbs as necessary to allow the barley to stick together as a cake.
6. Form the barley into the desired number of cakes. Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the cakes until they are brown on each side.

Tomato Sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp basil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. In a small pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
2. Add the tomatoes, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
3. Add the herbs, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside, but keep warm.

Chili Coated Beef
1 1/2 pounds steak (top round is a good cut), cubed
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
reserved barley
1-2 dried chilis
2 Tbsp olive oil
1. Season the steak with salt and pepper as needed.
2. Place the reserved processed barley back in the food processor with the dried chili(s) and process until very fine, like a coarse flour.
3. Toss the cubed steak in the barley, making sure it's well coated.
4. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the steak and cook until browned on all sides and heated through in the center (about 3-4 minutes will give medium rare pieces). Turn the pieces as necessary throughout cooking.
5. Spoon some tomato sauce onto a plate. Top with the barley cake, some vegetables, and the cooked steak. Eat immediately!
***The apartment kitchen doesn't have a food processor, I used a blender. Either will work!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tacos on Native American Frybread

One of my favorite memories of my hometown are art festivals. There's a huge one in one of the biggest parks in town, and they shut down Mass Street between 18th and 19th street to allow for an avenue of fried foods, sweets, and all varieties of things on a stick. This, of course, is a different kind of culture than what can be found at the art show, but nevertheless an important, and tasty one.

But my favorite art festival was the Native American festival at Haskell Indian Nations University. It was so different from the other shows, and among the beautiful jewelry, paintings, pottery, and performances was another new treat: frybread.

There is not much in this world more delicious to a bread lover than fry bread. Light, airy, delicate, and yet mouth-wateringly delicious, frybread is the ultimate platform for what the fair calls Indian tacos: plentiful taco toppings atop crisp and tender frybread. This recipe is just as easy as any of the other flatbreads I've made so far - with the addition of oil to the pan where it is cooked. Try it - you will be anything but dissapointed.

Indian Tacos

Made 4 pieces of frybread, and topping for at least 4 tacos.
Leftover potential: The frybread should be eaten warm right after it's prepared, but if you make more pieces than you know you'll need, there's a delicious alternative. Sprinkle the hot frybread with cinnamon sugar and drizzle with a little bit of honey.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup warm water, or as needed

oil, as needed for pan frying***

1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and add the warm butter and water. Mix to combine, the mixture will look like a shaggy mass. Knead the dough until it is smooth, 1-2 minutes.
3. Divide into 4 pieces, and round the dough slightly. Cover with a damp paper towel and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil for frying.
4. When the dough has rested and the oil is hot, pan fry the frybread (1 piece at a time is easiest) until it is golden brown and slightly puffed up on both sides.
5. Set the finished frybread onto absorbent paper towels to drain slightly.

***I pan fry the dough, rather than deep fry. This requires only just enough oil to cover the item by 1/2 way. For fry bread, that means just enough oil to cover the base of the pan used to cook the bread.

1 tbsp oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne ***These spices can be replaced with 1 packet of taco seasoning
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp oregano

lettuce, chopped, as needed for garnish
red onion, diced, as needed for garnish
tomatoes, diced, as needed for garnish
fresh jalapenos, sliced and seeded, as needed for garnish
cheese, as needed for garnish
cilantro, as needed for garnish

1. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until beginning to become translucent. Add the garlic, and saute until fragrant.
2. Add the meat, and cook until it is browned and cooked through. Add the seasoning, and stir to combine. Remove the finished meat from the heat.
3. Spoon some meat on top of each piece of frybread, and garnish as desired. Eat immediately.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Whole Wheat Pasta with Wilted Shallots, Mushrooms, and Fresh Mozzerella

Pasta makes a quick and easy lunch or dinner at the drop of a hat.  In restaurants, pasta dishes can be extremely costly, which is interesting seeing as it is generally one of the cheapest dishes for any kitchen to make.  Making pasta at home gives you the freedom to make it just how you like it.  The addition of a few different ingredients can make any pasta dish more interesting and much tastier.  

I always make my own sauce for my pasta, because there's not much more in the jarred sauces than tomato, salt, pepper, and maybe some herbs.  I can do that myself - cheaper and better.  From start to finish, this dish will take about 15 - 20 minutes.  Also known as dinner in a snap.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Wilted Shallots, Mushrooms, and Mozzarella

Served 2.
Leftover Potential: Keeps very well, re-heats perfectly.  Made 4 meals after the initial dinner.

1 lb whole wheat pasta

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
15 oz. crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp basil, chiffonade
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed
pepperocini, as needed for garnish

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 5-7 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
2.  In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
3.  Add the tomato paste.  Stir to combine.  Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer over low heat.  Season with basil, salt, pepper, and any other desired herbs.  
4.  Add the mushrooms and shallots.   Allow to cook until the mushrooms are soft and the shallots are wilted. 
5.  Add the pasta and toss to coat.  Add the fresh mozzarella, stirring to combine and distribute.  Turn off the heat.
6.  Serve in hot plates, topped with sliced pepperocini.