Grilled Hangar Steak

As of today, I am closing down my charcoal grill, and it will be recycled into whatever scrap metal anyone interested is wanting to use it for.  I grilled a hangar steak, some chicken wings, and some leeks.

Hangar steak is something I only recently discovered, and it responds best to the simplest of treatments.

Hangar steak, grill, recipe

Hangar steak (wing at upper right background)

I go in for knee surgery next Thursday.  It’s a benign tumor that was considered “idiopathic” or “undetermined” etiology for a couple too many years.  No longer.  They have to cut in from both sides, and there are nearby things such as a major nerve and a major artery.

I’m also, as readers may recall, moving from Connecticut to Massachusetts shortly.  My Connecticut grill is a cheap Weber knock off, and is scheduled to be scrapped.  So, no more grilling ops this year.

I find the procedure bordering on scary, so I’m doing “comfort food” my style this week. I went out for sushi lunch recently, and ate steamed artichoke (leaves and heart dipped in a good tart dressing the night before; back in the day it was Catalina, and while I’ve since made a work-around, Annie’s Balsamic Vinaigrette  is quite good and still provides the desired tartness without any nauseating HFCS sweetness, or a list of faux-foodstuffs I’d prefer not to ingest.  It is also thick enough to adhere to the leaves properly.

At any rate, a good grilling was called for.  This particular steak came from Ox Hollow Farm, in northwestern Connecticut.  They have a farmstand along Route 7, which is now closed down for the season.  It was 0.8 ounces in size, and I cut it in half prior to grilling.

You’ll notice, while I think a little salt is essential, I’m not about to heavy-handed spritz the stuff on like Gordon Ramsey or many other big name chefs.  Tried that.  Once.  Bleah.  I want the salt to accentuate the meat, not take it over like an invasion.  The secret is:  don’t burn out your taste buds by using too much of the salt.  A PINCH will do it!  (Unless, perhaps, your taste buds are already burnt.)

Prep Time:  1 hour to bring to room temp.
Cook Time:  About 15 min, but will depend on grill, steak thickness, and done-ness preference.
Rest time:  About 10 min.
Leftovers:  Yes.  I prefer not to cook leftovers further, but to eat them cold.

Grilled Hangar Steak

  • 1 hangar steak, 0.75 – 1 lb, cut in half or thirds
  • about 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (about half per side)
  • a PINCH of salt per side
  • a sprinkle of garlic powder per side

That’s it!

Bring out your steak about an hour before you actuallycook it, to let it get close to room temperature.

Get your grill going – I use charcoal with a chimney starter, so I like to plan on that taking 25 minutes to get that ready.

I put on the seasonings about 15 minutes before I’m ready to grill.  Like chefs do, shake the seasonings on about a foot and a half above the steak.

Bank the coals on one side.

I put the meat in the in-between space between hot and cooler – the edges of the charcoal.

This was a thick steak, over an inch.  I cooked it 10-12 minutes one side, and flipped it for another eight for medium rare.  You can use a meat thermometer (mine was up in Massachusetts, but this is beef from a pastured farm, I’ll take my chances).  It did turn out medium rare.

Remove from grill, and allow to rest, about ten minutes.

Slice into, and enjoy.

(I ate the one half [0.4 pounds], and refrigerated the other half to serve cold with a salad  I also enjoyed the leeks, which I’d added to the grill at the same time, and flipped at the same time, but in a cooler corner.  The wings were marinated separately, and some were reserved to re-heat later in the oven.)



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Cookbook Season: Some Good Basics, Part II

In today’s post in this (short!) series of cookbook reviews, I am going to consider the two overview vegetable books I have in my home.  (VEGETABLES, by James Peterson, and PERFECT VEGETABLES, by the friendly folk at Cook’s Illustrated.)  Note, these are vegetable cook books, not necessarily vegetarian, let alone vegan.  But again, it would be easy in  nearly all cases to make substitutions (fermented tempeh, mushrooms?), and the purpose of both books is to showcase best cooking methods and the versatility of the vegetables so chosen here.  These books would be useful, too, for someone transitioning from omnivore to vegetarian or vegan, without a desire to go through the “junk food vegan” phase.  Vegetables are dang tasty in their own right, and the SAD standard American diet often gives them short shrift.  (I once knew a newly-minted vegetarian who gained well over 50 pounds her first year – she hated vegetables (other than salsa!), and could more correctly be described as a starchitarian.  This doesn’t need to happen.)

Again, I always switch my oils to healthier oils.  Olive and extra virgin olive (low temps) to avocado or grape seed or coconut (regular or high temps).  A splash of sesame oil as a garnish for flavor, but don’t cook with it.

cookbook g-g veggies overall-

Books on veggies, plus a couple books that are strictly vegetarian. Personally, I love perfect veggies. Crispy, not often fat-fried, but raw, or steamed or sauteed.

VEGETABLES James Peterson’s recipes are tested, although not as severely as the Test Kitchen, but he brings a good perspective into the conversation, focusing on specific broad categories of food (in this case, plants), and writing extensively about it.  Peterson writes about 64 veggies (a couple categories are combined together, as in Zucchini and Summer Squash are treated the same, which is logical).  As well as standard veggies, he tackles a few veggies that are in the more rarified category:  Fiddlehead Ferns, Kohlrabi, Burdock, Collard Greens, and Watercress.  As a devotee of my local farmer’s markets, I am so glad to see all these things included!  (Even though I am now allergic to fiddleheads, in the days when I could enjoy them, they were a stunning seasonal veggie sometimes even carried in a local supermarket.  If you can eat this item, please do enjoy!  I’ll salivate vicariously!!!)  All cookbook authors consider tomatoes and tomatillos to be vegetables instead of fruits these days, and Peterson is understandably no different.  General readers would MISS having a section on tomatoes! (I’d have to agree, taxonomy to the wayside!)

The first chapter discusses techniques for cooking:  boiling, steaming, sautéing, deep frying, braising, broiling, glazing… There is a short discussion on the best ways to re-heat veggies. While this chapter could be longer, it has the info there at your fingertips.  In the middle of the book, there’s a table for grilling tips – vegetable, preparation, cooking time/methods.  There’s a section on how best to stuff pasta with vegetables.  (You know: ravioli, dumplings.) And, of course, there are salads.

Peterson tells you what to assess for when evaluating your veggie purchase at the food stand, farmer’s market, or supermarket.

Each veggie comes with recipes. Yes, some of the recipes come with meat as well:  “Brussels Sprouts with Bacon”; or, perhaps, using pork or duck fat with sautéed vegetables.  There are work-arounds should you not wish to eat meat (or just pork or so forth).   You may not get the same exact flavor profile, but if you are eating vegetarian or vegan, I’m assuming you wouldn’t want to!

Many (not all) of my favorite veggies are here.   I will list a few below.   

Asparagus.  Peterson thinks that the thicker the stalks, the better.  Actually, around here, I’ve gotten endeared with the pencil thin stalks, which I’ve grown to love.  His cooking times and techniques do work well with thick stalks.  I cut the time for my lovely thin stalks.

Beet (beetroot) info is invaluable.  Do NOT discard the beet greens!  (One of many reasons I hit farmers’ markets.)

There is a decent section on chilies.

I do appreciate that this book discusses recipes for Jerusalem artichokes, which I grow, and which can become (almost) invasive here in the northeast.

Legumes mentioned are: chickpeas, peas, shell peas (which covers most of the hard beans), and string beans.

Many varieties of mushrooms have short spaces devoted to them.  I’d like to find a specific mushroom cookbook, however.

It is good to know the author differentiates between types of potatoes. Even though I don’t eat that many potatoes (I’m NOT a starchitarian), it would have been good if he’d written up a few more definitive potato recipes.  That section is too short for a book that tries to encompass a lot of useful information on the world of vegetables. BUT, you will find more potato info in the back half of the book.

The first major half of the book discusses these veggies and more, the second half provides recipes that combine veggies and other foodstuffs (some with meat, some with out. This second half has chapter divisions as follows:  Vegetable Salads, Fried Vegetables, Vegetable Gratins and Casseroles, Grilled Vegetables, Pasta Gnocchi and Rissoto, Pickles and Brine, Pureed Vegetables, Roasted Vegetables, Braising, Soups, Tasty Starters for Parties and Meals, and …  a lot more.

The book isn’t long on photography, but there’s a centerfold section with actual photos of prepared dishes, and how-to demo photos. Sectioning tomatoes is rather useless, IMHO, but several of the other photographic techniques can be useful.  There are a few photos of finished dishes.

The book contains some recipes from around the world, but I’d probably not use most these often in my kitchen.  But I do recommend this book.  There is a lot of info in here for the cook wanting to learn, or to expand horizons.

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PERFECT VEGETABLES.  Okay, perfection is in the eye (or taste bud) of the beholder, but most of these seem to be headed in that direction.   If your dream is southern-style soggy, you may not find perfection here (or in the other book).   This is the one from Cooks Illustrated.

We have 53 vegetable sections here, with zucchini and yellow summer squash again sensibly sharing the same chapter.  Rutabagas and turnips share, too.  Less usual veggies include Broccoli Rabe, Edamame, Escarole, Radicchio, Plantains.  In each section, a “master recipe” (or two…) is highlighted, and some additional recipes on similar themes are also provided.  And again, when it comes to Test Kitchen, I’ll both 1) try my best to use sugars on a limited basis, and more from more tart and savory sources than they do (NO NO NO, you do NOT need to add ANY sugar to mashed sweet potatoes, as they do in their “Master Recipe” – the things are called “sweet” for a reason!, and 2) I will tend towards healthy cooking fats and oils, which they don’t emphasize in any of their books.  (YES, I plan to post a healthy cooking fat blog entry down the road.  Probably not going to happen in 2017, but who knows?)  But these are things simply to be aware of, and work your way around!

The cover asks, “Would you make 23 batches of oven fries to find the best version?”  No.  I eat fries (oven or otherwise) about five or six or seven times a year.  But, I’m glad these folks are there to volunteer to do this and find the best for the rest of us.

The potato section of a cookbook such as this is a useful indicator:  This book gives a more extensive overview of the various types of potatoes.  While not definitive – you need someone studying the potato heritage of the Peruvian Andes for that! – this book goes well beyond the Peterson book in description and potential recipes (although I hate to admit, I only buy Yukon or related gold potatoes, although Russets are great for steak fries, which I’d never cook at home).  The potato salad section discusses the best mayos to purchase, and hints as to how to make your own… and of course, when I go on picnics in hot weather, I don’t add mayo to this type of dish at all! Noting that I am not a frequent potato person (I WANT those 40 lbs to stay OFF), I’m pleased to see this cookbook has recipes geared towards potato type, and which people can cook with, when some starch is decidedly indicated in a food plan.

They have great ideas for asparagus — a LOT of great asparagus plans.  I’d say asparagus is one of my top fave veggies, actually.  I may not be interested in the high carb suggestions (for the most part), but this book goes to town on asparagus.

The avocado section is good.

The bok choy section does give you indicators for types of bok choy/brassica veggies. A truly worthwhile section of this book.

There are a lot more sections for brassica veggies… all extremely worthwhile but for the sake of space, I’ll let you surf, yourself.

At the end of the book, past the list of veggies, is a chapter on making vegetable soup  This is worth it.

This book also has a centerfold of (small) color photos.  (And the cover photo IS steak fries…)

Another great feature, especially since this book has been recently published, and is reasonably up to date on cookware:  they have cookware recommendations.  (Both Consumer Reports and ATC recommended the main paring knife I do have.)  There are illos for preparing, say, broccoli.  And cleaning a garlic press.  I may have missed their garlic press recommendation, but I’d say, go for the Pampered Chef one… YMMV.

This culinary explorative book is highly recommended.  If you want books in your kitchen, in addition to any of your favorite online blog recipe links, I’d seriously recommend both these books.

Would I recommend one of these over the others?  No, I’d suggest getting both. Essentially, they complement each other, and fill in holes the other will leave out.  Although if you need equipment recommendations should you be starting out, I’d probably buy the Cook’s Illustrated book first.


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Cookbook Season: Some Good Basics, Part I

There are a LOT of actual, physical cookbooks in my domicile, and while I have divested myself of some, I love just picking up a book and surfing through.  Yes, one can surf on the Net for specific ingredients, but sometimes I get more inspiration by just doing curious random check-ins on the books in my home.   I’ve accumulated a good variety here.

Cookbook Reviews

I figure here I’ll go through some general cookbooks that are fairly recently published, just for fun and a change of pace.  I consider them overview books, technique books.  I am going to chop this discussion up into several posts through December, so we don’t go on and on and on and on in one overlong blog entry.

cookbooks gg-

I’ve purchased three Cooks Illustrated cookbooks, and three James Peterson cookbooks, and I do recommend them.  I’ve also included The Flavor Bible, sort of to tie things together.

The list: 

  • Cooks Illustrated, The Science of Good Cooking: Master 50 Simple Concepts to Enjoy a Lifetime of Success in the Kitchen (2012).
  • Cooks Illustrated, Perfect Vegetables. (2003)
  • Cooks Illustrated, Meat Book: The Game-Changing Guide that Teaches You How to Cook Meat and Poultry with 425 Bulletproof Recipes (2014)
  • James Peterson, Vegetables. (1998)
  • James Peterson, Fish and Shellfish: The Cook’s Indispensable Companion (1998)
  • James Peterson, Sauces. (1998)
  • Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs (2011)

PS, I’ve had a problem setting up an Amazon account for credit – when I get that fixed, I’ll retroactively link to their Amazon pages.  Right now, it’s not a priority.   

The three Cooks Illustrated cookbooks are produced by America’s Test Kitchen.   The other titles they have don’t particularly interest me, but they do have a large variety of other books available.  One critique I’ve heard is that some of the books repeat over-many recipes from others of their books.

There’s a Paleo book, but I’m more fascinated by Paleo authors who take their inspirations from around the world, and aren’t trying to make frequent Paleo-ified breads and sweets.  As for as their comfort makeover book, that book approaches makeovers from the low fat/high carb perspective, which doesn’t suit me – besides, one person’s comfort food is another person’s run-and-hide-from food, and vice versa.  (How many people do you know that regard beef tongue as a serious comfort food???  Well, you sort of know me, by pixel at any rate!)  Manicotti?  Eh.  Meh.  So, I regard the term as non-informative.

THE SCIENCE OF GOOD COOKING:  One great thing about the Cooks Illustrated / America’s Test Kitchen crowd is that they do a lot of taste and technique testing.   They also, as evidenced by The Science of Good Cooking, investigate the why’s of how a certain technique works, or does not work.  They’re not shy about informing you.

This particular cookbook is divided into 50 concepts, which are explored as principles and then with defining recipes. We should all know by now, “Resting Meat Maximizes Juiciness”, but others will probably be more obscure:  “Green Vegetables Like it Hot – Then Cold”.  “Salt Makes Meat Juicy and Skin Crisp”.  “Rinsing (Not Soaking) Makes Rice Fluffier”.  There are also concepts for those who like to bake and make sweets, but I will seldom use those concepts.  But they’re there, for those who will, and maybe for an odd day that I do.  I recommend this book:  there will be something new for everyone, even if it’s not the same something.  The concepts will also help start you on the way to creating your own recipes, grounded in basics.

There are illustrations of techniques, but no photos, alas.

cookbooks gg meat science-

MEAT BOOK: Just as with Catholics during Lenten fasts, this book doesn’t consider seafood as fish.  There’s the James Peterson book for that.   They cover beef, pork, lamb, veal, chicken and turkey – but I have other books that refer to game meats, and duck.  And you can cook goat the way you’d do lamb.  They also don’t consider offal, their loss – but the book, quite frankly, is plenty big as it is!!!   One could even say it’s… meaty….

So, yes, this book is very comprehensive on techniques, nearly all of which I’ve found useful (that I’ve gotten around to trying.  They do recommend grinding your own meat, which now that I have a larger kitchen, I’ll be purchasing a meat grinder.  You know the quality of your meat, and you can pick the cut  your particular needs desire.  (At this point, I don’t buy ground meat unless I know it came from one or two animals – so, I am strictly local in my ground meat purchases.  This also means I can have medium rare hamburgers, something I stopped eating back in the Crack in the Jack major health scare days…  I attempted Gardenburgers in defense, but please, if I eat a veggie burger, it’s gotta be real food, not contain a kitchen-sink list of ingredients which combined pretend to taste like meat… I’m fine if my veggie burger tastes like nicely-seasoned beans and mushrooms!)

I like the fact they discuss just about every cut of beef, pork or lamb – in tables, they list the cuts, the flavor and tenderness levels (no, they won’t always coincide), any alternate names, and best cooking methods for each cut.  Very useful reference.  For each recipe, and you can consider them example recipes in many cases, they tell you why their preparation works.

I also appreciate, don’t use Italian dressing as a marinate.  It generally makes your meat mushy.  Unless you make the dressing yourself, it also generally comes with a bucketload of ingredients that were the sort of thing that has encouraged me to become my own chef:  I really do like knowing what’s in my food!

However, I’m really not on board with this poultry brining thing.  Simply put, I don’t like salty chicken. While I may use (low sodium) soy sauce or teriyaki sauce for that Asiatic feel, it’s the umani glutamate taste I’m after. Otherwise, I simply don’t use salt on poultry.  Well, one time I ruined a perfectly good heritage turkey by brining it in salt.  I even rinsed the thing off as fully as I could (which Meat Book doesn’t suggest), and while the meat was tender as all get out, it was so salty I barely could eat it.  And yes, I brined it “right”.  Reluctantly, I didn’t save the carcass for bone broth.  I just couldn’t.

I do understand that sugars will help brown up meats faster and better.  But aside from some Thai recipes and the like, my tendency is to use tart ingredients – lemon, lime juice, flavored balsamic reductions – to serve the same purpose.  Nothing wrong with adapting a very valid principle to your personal taste buds and concerns!  (I didn’t lose 40 pounds and improve my triclyceride profile by adding simple sugars to my meats and veggies!)

Some of the “world cuisine” foods seem a bit off to me, but that’s probably because I live in a good metropolitan area with access to nearly all the rare ingredients, and Cooks’ Illustrated rightfully wants people living just about anywhere in the country to be able to find most of the ingredients.  (This is why I have a large stash of cookbooks for regional and world cookery.)  A few years ago I attempted an oven-cooked chicken tandoori, from a recipe gathered from an Indian cook whose other recipes have always had me salivating… it didn’t work.  Theirs won’t really work, either.  Ovens just simply don’t get hot enough.  Most of us don’t have tandooris (nor do I), but I’ve been able to approximate the taste on the grill.  Of course, apartment dwellers often can’t have grills, so I applaud the effort, but the methodology Cooks Illustrated goes through to help approximate the experience – even if you are cooking it in the oven:  Definitely marinate your chicken in the yogurt mixture for at least half a day!  (And these days, you can find turmeric just about anywhere.  Add it!)  On the other paw, I’m glad they didn’t add in “food coloring” which unfortunately a lot of Americanized Indian restaurants do nowadays.

There are some really spot-on pork ideas, recipes and concepts.  Roasting a Boston “butt” is going to be more flavorful and tender than roasting a pork tenderloin – such a fine line between underdone and dry!

The book does have a small grilling section, but for more extensive grilling skills, consulting a Steve Raichlen book will stand you better.  But if you just want the basics… they’re here.

I do recommend this book, despite my reservations on brining (PS, I do salt my beef and pork, and well, ham comes brined…)  A lot of people are indeed fine with brining poultry; it’s just not for me.  And I’ll note that even Christopher Kimball on that America’s Test Kitchen TV show often disagreed with the conclusions of the suite of taste testers his own people hired.  No book is going to get it 100% “right” for everyone – the value in this particular cook book is that it provides ideas and reasons for cooks, beginners and proficient, to consider in upping their game in the kitchen.  It is both a jumping-off point for a technique or more you may have never before considered, and a good background for home use.  And, it’s plenty big, even without showcasing duck!

Again, no photos (other than the cover), but there are illos.

cookbook g-g meat-

(Next up: Both of those vegetable cook books…)

This blog post has been brought to Fiesta Friday’s Link Share.


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The Australian Finger Lime (Paired with Scallops)

Just a Sample, folks – I ate this for a noon snack on Thanksgiving, before going over to a Thanksgiving Dinner that would start at two, presumably.  Taking a little edge off the desire for lunch, and something healthy, before the feast.  Besides, I only had one finger lime.  Expand upwards with this recipe if you have more finger limes!  This was simply a taste test!  (AND, it passes with flying colors!!!)

finger lime scallop2-

Finger lime pulp on a sea scallop.

The Australian finger lime (Citrus australasica- hey, it’s got its own species name!) is a small citrus fruit with a unique shape – it is short and elongated.  Also unusual, the pulp inside consists of many small little balls, slightly smaller than those of Japanese flying fish roe.  This is a small tree or a large shrub indigenous to Australia.  It has thorns, and the leaves are smaller than those of more common citrus plants.

Finger Lime, Scallop, Recipe

Home grown, just prior to plucking.

I ordered one last spring, and kept it outdoors all summer.  Recently, I dragged it and all the other citrus plants indoors, and it appears to be doing well.  Technically, you should remove all fruit its first couple years, as it needs to put its energy into growth and roots, but leaving one fruit on seemed quite acceptable.   It was a dark green, then became almost a green-brown.  When I tugged it lightly prior to eating, it separated from its tree with ease, which assures me that it was more than ready.

Recipe, scallops, finger lime

Relative size of Australian finger lime. Which appears to be normal. The other lime is a Thai/kefir lime and this is smaller than usually seen.

The fruit itself has a slight citrus aroma, which once you slice inside, is magnified. The little spheroid shapes spill out once the skin has been cut.  There is very little pith, and I could not determine if there were any seeds.  Surprisingly, the balls of pulp were somewhat pinkish in coloration.  This was dissimilar to photos I’ve seen.  I tasted a few (probably five of them) by themselves — a very nice and enjoyable lime flavor.  Sweet and tart at the same time, much like a… lime?  There’s a little bit of crunch to them, somewhat like the aforementioned flying fish roe.

recipe, finger lime, scallops

I cut this on the diagonal a couple times. The small pulp balls expand out to enjoy the space.

This is supposed to pair well with seafood, as does any conventional lemon or lime.  So I thawed out a few sea scallops for the taste test.  I decided a basic pan fry would be the way to go for the scallops.  As I feel that cooking the finger lime would lessen its flavor profile, I decided to add the lime pulp as the scallops rested.

scallops, recipe, finger lime

The finished plate. Perhaps a good restaurant amuse d’ bouche? (I did squeeze the rest of the pulp on the scallops before consuming, this was for the photo).

The real secret to pan fried scallops is to use a hot skillet, and to make sure the scallops are dry, not wet from any water.

I’ve stopped using coconut aminos for the most part – besides being pricey, they simply taste too sweet for me in most dishes.  Your mileage may differ.

Prep time: 5 minutes on a slow day.
Cook time: About 6 minutes.
Rest time: Long enough to plate and add the finger lime bits.
Serves:  this is just a morsel, for testing.

The Australian Finger Lime (Paired with Scallops)

  • 3 or 4 sea scallops
  • ½ tablespoon ghee or butter
  • a scant ½ teaspoon low sodium GF soy sauce, or for Paleo and for soy-allergies, try coconut aminos.
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper.
  • 1 finger lime

In a skillet, heat the ghee or butter to medium/medium high, do not let the butter scorch or give off smoke, but you want this hot.  Test with a drop of water, if the water sizzles, you are good to go.

Add scallops, not touching each other.  Sprinkle with the soy, and then with the ground pepper.

Allow to sizzle for about 3 minutes, flip.  They should be browned and lightly crispy on the hot side.

Add a little more ground pepper if desired, just a half-pinch…

Sizzle another 2-3 minutes, remove and plate.

Slice the lime on the diagonal.  The little balls inside will pop out.

Spread over the scallops on the plate, squeezing the rind to get at all of them.

Sit back and ENJOY! Savor slowly — the lime works well with the scallops, and vice versa.

recipe, finger lime, scallops

Up close and personal.

PS: The next day I tried the fruit of the Thai/kefir lime. I see why this is not anything that appears in recipes.  Even for me, it is way too bitter! The rind is even more bitter! The pulp is dry and practically devoid of juice.  Perhaps that small one was not quite ripe, but it had fallen off the citrus plant on its lonesome, and the fruit itself had a great aroma.   However, there are two large kefir limes on that tree:  I’ll give them a try sometime (but not expecting much — it is the leaves that should be the star of that show.  

Thai limei, kefir lime

Thai or kefir lime, the fruit here is a little over an inch in diameter.


Thai lime, kefir lime

The fruit, sliced in half.

Oh, and yes, my bearss lime tree is flowerining!!!  Nice! 

bearss lime

The flower of a Bearss (supermarket) lime. I’m surprised to see fall flowering.

Your cohosts at the Fiesta Friday food share this week are Judi @ and Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau

Drop by and say hi!  Or share your own dish!

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Skirt Steak Stir Fry Featuring Persimmon

I discovered a new fruit the other day.

The persimmon ( Diospyros sp.) is alleged to taste like apricot; I find it similar but not identical.  And I like it better.  Much better, so much that I am now plotting to buy my own tree or two, raising them myself; read the end of this post for more info.

The type I bought was an Asian persimmon (Fuyu) being sold at Whole Foods.  This is the most available commercially.  It looked like a somewhat-off tomato.  I picked up a couple and decided what to do with them…

recipe, persimmon, stir fry, skirt steak, gluten-free, mushroom, bok choy

Cookin’ with Persimmon (and a few other things.)

I had some skirt steak, which is a type of beef that lends itself to stir fries (as well as fajitas, of course), and I needed to cook it.  Hopping around my fridge, I discovered the other ingredients that went into my tasty stir fry.  This is one of those dishes best to be inventive with – what’s on hand?  I’m writing this one up, because I’m glad I added the persimmon.  (I tasted a small piece raw, too – very good that way as well, although the sign at Whole Wallet said that if not quite ripe, they can be astringent.  I think my purchases were ripe.)

recipe, persimmon, stir fry, skirt steak, gluten-free, mushroom, bok choy

Prep station

At my farmers’ market, I found bok choy, and bought a bunch of a purple-leafed baby bok choy.  I’m sure there’s a more proper name for the purple leafed variety, but it wasn’t labelled at the farm stand.  If someone knows, I’d appreciate the information.  (The photo isn’t any good, so you’ll find it at the end of this post.)  In any case, if you are looking for ideas, any baby bok choy or similar leafy brassica can be used.

persimmon stir fry condiments-

Prep Time:
Cook Time: 10 – 15 minutes
Rest Time: not much
Serves:  2

Skirt Steak, Persimmon, Bok Choy, Mushroom and Scallion Stir Fry

  • 6-8 ounces skirt steak, sliced
  • 1 persimmon, stem removed, diced
  • Baby bok choy, chopped – separate the stems from the leaves since you will add them into the stir fry separately.
  • 3 button mushrooms, or preferably, more.  Chopped.
  • 1 green scallion, chopped – separate the thick white area from the flat greens since you will add them into the stir fry separately.
  • 1.5 tablespoon GF teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon GF low sodium soy sauce (or sub in GF low sodium  “dumpling sauce”)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.  (I really really like Trader Joe’s, grown in California.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, white or black
  • 1/3 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
  • About a tablespoon of avocado oil (or other healthy high temp cooking oil).

Prep all of the above, and set your skillet on the range or cooktop at medium high.

When a drop of water makes the oil sizzle, add the mushrooms and the whites of the scallion.  Allow the mushroom to cook to softness, about three minutes.  Stir gently.

Add the stems of the bok choy.   If you like your meat more well done, add your meat now.  Or wait two or three more minutes.  Stir.

And then, if you are like me and like to see a little pink, add that meat at this later point.  Stir.

Add all the condiments and seasonings immediately after the meat, and continue stirring gently.  Watch the meat to see that it gets to your preferred level of done-ness.

When you are about ready, top with the rest of the bok choy, and the green part of the scallion, and stir another minute or two, until the green leafy bits of bok choy slightly wilt.

Remove from heat and serve it up!

This would be great served up with a side of white yam noodles (heated in broth).  If you are eating grains, rice noodles are a speedy option, too.

recipe, persimmon, stir fry, skirt steak, gluten-free, mushroom, bok choy

What is the specific name for that baby bok choy on the left? Inquiring minds wanna know! Sorry about the lighting here.  Oh, and that fruit up there at 11 o’clock?  That’s the persimmon.

Afterthoughts on Persimmon:  I am so enamored of the persimmon that I am now planning on growing one or two persimmon trees next year.  I’ve investigated the Internet, and apparently there are three overall types of persimmon tree:  the native American persimmon (hardy from zones 4 to 9, requiring both male and female trees to bear fruit), the Japanese/Asian persimmon (Fuyu or Hachiya varieties, one tree only required), which can’t stand freezes, and a “Magic Fountain” weeping persimmon (hardy from zones 5-9, and self-fertile).  I am leaning towards this new-fangled weeping persimmon, to plant as a fruit-bearing accent piece in my front yard – because, well, weeping… and because I won’t need to drag it into a greenhouse with the citrus trees, as with the Japanese varieties.  Although I’ll also consider adding a couple of the regular American persimmon trees to my back yard.

And the second persimmon I bought?  I am planning to put it in a salad, much like one would a tomato.

Visit Fiesta Friday, and share a recipe… or explore the links.  This week’s cohosts  are Judi @ and Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau


Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Squid Stuffed With Seafood (and Some Veggies)

I like food challenges, as long as they’re not of the ilk of “Combine Ritz crackers with Marshmallow Fluff and hazelnuts, and show us your dish”, which is what a lot of Chopped seems to be.  Indeed, I like to make sure house guests get foods they’re not allergic to, have religious predilections against, or just simply hate.  It can be a balancing act, with a variety of foods available so no one is displeased, if I’m entertaining a large number — but I find this enjoyable to provide for.  (My own predilection is to keep the junk food [and the stuff any of our grandparents would never have recognized] out, and still make a great meal.)

I’ve joined a group known as Fish Friday Foodies, and they challenge people to monthly seafood meals.  Alas, I’ve been too busy the last several months to participate, but this latest challenge (for November) appealed to me.  Stuffed Seafood is the theme.  See them here at:

Turns out you can stuff the fish, or use the fish to stuff something else.  Or, in my case, I’m going to stuff seafood with seafood.

stuffed squid, recipe, gluten-free, crab meat, scallops, mushroom, sweet potato, apple, Paleo

Stuffed, and served!

My local Stew Leonard’s had squid in their seafood case, whole squid (but cleaned), and those enticing squid tubes that cry out to be stuffed.  Indeed, I’ve done a stuffed squid once before, please do drop in and visit!  You’ll get some squid anatomy lessons there as well…

I could have done something different, but this store doesn’t feature large squid tubes on a regular basis, so… I’m doin’ it!  And no, this recipe won’t remotely taste the same as the other one.

stuffed squid, recipe, gluten-free, crab meat, scallops, mushroom, sweet potato, apple, Paleo

After stuffing three tubes/squid bodies, plenty to go!

Prep time: Mostly during the sweet potato roasting time – about 20 minutes.
Cook time: Sweet potato for 45 minutes, pan fry for about 5 minutes, stuffed squid 35 minutes.
Rest time: Not necessary.
Serves:  Two squid per person.

Squid Stuffed With Crabmeat, Scallops, Squid, Sweet Potato, Apple, Mushroom

  • 1 medium sized sweet potato
  • Cooking oil, perhaps a tablespoon.  (I used bacon fat here)
  • 6-8 squid tubes, about 4-7 inches in length
  • squid tentacles.  
  • 2 large button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4-5 large sea scallops, sliced into chunks
  • ounces of lump crabmeat
  • 1 apple, cored and diced.  Skin may be kept on.
  • 2 scallions/green onions, diced.   Slice the white parts thinner than the green parts, and keep separate.  
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • A teaspoon of cooking oil (grapeseed or avocado work nicely).

Clean the sweet potato, but you can leave the thin parts of skin on, if you wish.

Slice the sweet potato for quicker roasting, and coat with your choice of a cooking fat or oil.  Wrap in aluminum foil and place in another pan to contain any drips.

Roast the potato at 425 F (218 C) for about 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Mash with a fork, and set aside.

Re-set the oven to 375 F (190 C) and continue prepping.

In a skillet with a little oil, cook the scallion whites and the mushrooms until the mushrooms are soft.

Clean the squid as needed… see my earlier blog post, Stuffed Squid with Onions, Mushrooms, Spinach, Baked with Tomato Sauce, for tips and techniques.  Chop up the tentacles (they only gave me two sets of tentacles) and the squid “fins”.

In a bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, tentacles, fins, mushrooms, scallops, apple, scallions and spices.  Mix with a large spoon or with your hands.  Add in the lump crab meat towards the end of mixing, so you don’t break up the lumps.

Stuff the squid tubes, using a small spoon and fingers.  Make sure the stuffing goes to the end of the tube.  Don’t overstuff…  squid will shrink upon cooking.  However, none of these stuffing ingredients will expand, so don’t worry too much.

Place on lightly-oiled baking pan, lightly oiling (paper towel is useful) the tubes themselves all around.

Bake for 35 minutes.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Plan on two per person, especially if the squid bodies / tubes start as 6-7 inches.  Perhaps serve with a fruit salad or a tossed leafy green salad with vinaigrette.
  • If the squid are small, consider serving them as appetizers for company.  (Or, for yourselves!)
  • Leftover stuffing?  I added some of this plus Provolone cheese to my omelet the next morning!
Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Kale, Apple, Pear, Onion, Brussels Sprouts, Squash Casserole

Vegan and Gluten-Free.

I apologize for the lack of a photo of the finished meal – just haven’t been myself lately.  Too many things on my plate, and I’m not talking supper.

kale, vegetarian, vegan, recipe, casserole

Home grown Russian kale prior to harvest.

This was prepared for a potluck this past weekend.  It turned out really good, and it was all eaten, so I wanted to post the recipe anyway.  But let’s say many casserole photos don’t come out stunning to begin with, so I beg your forbearance this time!

The kale, apple and pear are all cooked together at the same time (steamed) while the rest of the ingredients (minus the peach balsamic) are roasted together at the same time.  Then, everything is layered and combined into a casserole dish.

kale, vegetarian, vegan, recipe, casserole, onion, Brussels sprouts, squash

The roasted portion of this dish… Prior to the oil and actual roasting…

Instead of peach balsamic, consider other stone-fruit balsamics, if that’s what you have to hand.  Or just a balsamic reduction.

kale, vegetarian, vegan, recipe, casserole, balsamic vinegar

The peach balsamic vinegar, a brand picked up at one of the local farmers’ markets

The kale, by the way, was home grown Russian kale.   This type is not as bitter as some are.  I will assuredly grow this variety again next year!  It is awesome no matter how huge the leaves get.  (A little extra steaming time is nothing in the scale of things.)

Prep time: About 20 minutes.
Cook time: 50 minutes for the roasting, 25 for the steaming (I ran them concurrent so 50 total).
Rest time: Not needed, but fine.
Serves:  A decent sized group at a potluck, I think we were 16.
Leftovers:  Re-heats nicely, oven or microwave.

Kale, Apple, Pear, Onion, Brussels Sprouts, Squash Casserole

The Roasting Part:

  • 1 large onion, sliced in slivers
  • a good 20 or so Brussels sprouts, sliced in half
  • 2 baby delicata squash, or one small delicata, or a small amount of winter squash, your choice.  For delicata, slice off ends, cut lengthwise twice, remove seeds.  Other squash may require skin removal.  
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme.  (Fresh would be best, but I didn’t have.)
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground white pepper (black is fine, too).  
  • 1.5 tablespoons avocado olive oil.  (You can use other choices, including olive oil.)

Pre-heat oven to 425 F (218 C). Lay out all the veggies in a pan, one layer if possible.  Sprinkle with the herbs and spices.  (Photo shown on this page elsewhere).  Drizzle the oil over.  Using your hands to mix, coat the veggies with the oil and seasonings.  Cover tightly with close-on metal foil.

Oh, NOTE:  Things will roast better if you pat them dry after any rinsing!

Toss into your oven for 50 minutes.

Remove, set aside, still covered.

The Steaming Part:  (for which I did all the prep during the beginning of the roasting part.

  • 1 large bunch of kale (lotsa leaves).  I wish I’d thought to weigh…  You want a lot; it will cook down.  Rinse, remove any thick stems, and coarsely cut into edible sizes.  Kitchen scissors are faster than knives for me.
  • 2 apples.  Core, and roughly dice.  (You don’t need to skin them.)
  • 2 Bosc pears.  Core, and roughly dice.  (You don’t need to skin them.)

Get your steamer ready with water, and add the kale and fruit.  I put a layer of kale on the bottom, then some fruit, more kale, the rest of the fruit, then the rest of the kale.  Didn’t want the fruit to seep through the steamer holes.

Bring to a boil, and reduce to a good simmer, and start counting 25 minutes.  If you are using a younger, more delicate kale, you can stop simmering sooner than that.  Test leaf texture starting about 15 minutes in such a case.

The Combo Part: 

Into a casserole dish, start by layering in your kale/fruit concoction, followed by a layer of the roasted component.  (And do chop up your squash into mouth sized pieces as indicated.)  Continue on, but before the final layer, drizzle in over the surface:

  • Peach Balsamic Vinegar (or other stone-fruit Balsamic, or a Balsamic reduction), about 1.5 tablespoons

Add the final layer or two as available.

Bringing to a Pot Luck:

This was pretty much room temperature when I arrived — putting in the oven, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes at 400F (205C), and then serving on an electric hot plate works fine.  Re-heading in a microwave-safe dish, that’s also an option (obviously to take less time).

Since there was nothing to bring back home with me, I figured I’d better jolly well write this one up!  Apparently, someone liked it!

PS: Where I can, from now on I will be including metric measurements in with Fahrenheit and so forth.

Come join us at Fiesta Friday!  Fiesta Friday is co-hosted this week by Judi @ and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas and Spoons




Posted in Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments