Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Steakhouse at home

Sometimes when I eat out at restaurants I think to myself, "I could make this better at half the price..." That's how I feel about the steak at Black Angus, Outback, etc. These restaurants serve steak that is highly overrated- the meat quality is suspect, and the steak is doused in butter to mask this. Of course this is not the case for premium steakhouses such as Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak (amazing, but with a hefty pricetag.)

Occasionally I do crave a good steak. When I do, I like to have meat that stands on its own, with very simple seasonings. Recently, my family and I had a nice cut of ribeye with simple salt and pepper- yet it was amazing! Add a few great sides (we had garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed snow peas and carrots) and you have a meal that will blow Outback out of the water.

Look at the marbling on these!

Place settings

A nice cab complements the meal


  • good quality ribeye or other
  • salt
  • pepper
  • canola oil or other high-smoking point oil (not olive oil)
  1. Cut the steaks into individual portions. Coat the steaks lightly with canola oil. Salt and pepper liberally on both sides. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan on high. When the pan is hot, place one steak in the pan and do not move for 1 minute. Turn the steak and cook for another minute. Using a spatula, brown the sides slightly. Place in a baking pan lined with foil. Repeat for each steak.
  3. Bake the steaks for 5 minutes for medium rare, 10 for medium.
**Note: You want to make sure you have a good stove exhaust or at least an open window. Cooking on high heat will inevitably result in some smoke.

Holiday Baking: Chocolate whoopie pies with peppermint filling

After seeing these pop up in several blogs, I decided to try these out for myself. I am not really into sweets myself, but I love making sweets for other people. Every holiday season I make a batch of something and wrap them up in cute little bags for the neighbors.

I was excited to make whoopie pies because they look so delicious and they are retro, a throwback to the 1950s. According to an article I read in the NY Times, they are making a comeback because they are reminiscent of a simple and carefree era. Also, I was drawn to these peppermint whoopie pies because I like the combination of chocolate and peppermint.

Who knew these would be such a nightmare. They took forever to make and the recipe I chose seemed to make double the amount I expected. They tasted okay, but not as good as I thought they would. The chocolate flavor was not strong enough (chocolate desserts rarely satisfy me unless they are rich and decadent) and the peppermint was a little overwhelming. I won't post the recipe because I was not satisfied with the taste. If you like whoopie pies, and have the urge to try the, then google peppermint chocolate whoopie pies and you can find a recipe easily. I will say one thing- they are cute though!
Here they are all packaged up and ready to go. I package them in cute bags I got from Daiso!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter Soups

I know I shouldn't whine about San Francisco winters. It doesn't snow, it doesn't go below zero... that said, it's rainy, muddy, windy, and downright depressing. And for a girl who has spent practically her whole life in warmer parts of California, the SF winter is particularly unbearable!

Soup is my favorite winter food. Remember those Campbell's commercials where the snowman comes in for a bowl of chicken noodle, and melts into a cute, freckly little boy? That's exactly how I feel... it's so warm and comforting!

Sometimes I have the kind that comes in a can or box for convenience reasons. However, I honestly haven't found one that met my standards. So I've started making soup in big batches, so I can freeze individual portions for later on. My favorites are corn chowder, tomato basil, butternut squash... and lately, turkey chili!

Here's my recipe for a fast turkey chili. I know it's not authentic... I actually just used a black bean soup recipe, but added corn and ground turkey and random seasonings on a whim. Even though it was a random experiment, it turned out really well for some reason. It's not prize-winning, but it definitely beats the can. With salsa and canned black beans, you can make it in less than 30 minutes. I love serving it with shredded cheese, sour cream, and diced onions. (Random note: I used to detest sour cream, but I think sour cream on chili has finally converted me. Not sure if I can stand it outside of this soup.)

Fast Turkey Chili

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 jar Southwestern salsa
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
1. In a saucepan, combine black beans, salsa and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer.
2. In a pan, saute onions in a little bit of oil. After the onions have caramelized, add ground turkey and bay leaf. Add salt and pepper and brown the turkey.
3. Add turkey, chili pepper, cumin to the saucepan. Simmer for 15 minutes or until thickened. Serve with cheddar, dollop of sour cream, and green onion.