Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Baked Cheese Grits Topped with Flank Steak

Sometimes I get truly obsessed with food. This springs infatuation is with cheese grits, polenta, sauteed baby spinach leaves and poached eggs. I do believe I could eat them all at the same time in the same big bowl. There have been a lot of pictures and recipes for these items in the culinary magazines and on The Food Network. Now I know who to blame for my compulsions.

I had purchased a couple of flank steaks from our local Sam's Club. I was going to make this Peruvian dish made with a spice called aji amarillo. There are no Peruvian grocery stores in Columbus, IN, but I was told that the spice could be obtained in Latin Markets. This is not true. No matter how many times I said [ah-HEE] [ah-mah-REE-oh] the Latinos just shook their heads. No telling what they said about me when I left. So having the steaks and no spice I had to improvise. Thinking about my newest craving for cheesy grits I figured out what I needed to do.

Baked Cheese Grits Topped with Marinated Flank Steak

Baked Cheese Grits
I found this recipe on The Food Network courtesy of Emeril Lagasse
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves 6

Here's the finished grits
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick grits (not instant)
1 egg
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Gruyere
1/3 cup grated Parmesan 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart casserole with 2 tablespoons of butter.

Combine remaining 1/4 cup butter, water, and salt in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. When mixture comes to a simmer, add the grits, stirring until thoroughly combined. Continue to cook the grits at a simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Adding the cheeses
Meanwhile whisk together egg, cream and pepper. Stir into cooked grits along with cheese. Pour mixture into prepared casserole. Bake until set, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand about 5 minutes before serving.

Marinated Flank Steak

This recipe came from
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 6 hours and 25 minutes
Serves 6


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak


In a medium bowl, mix the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, and ground black pepper. Place meat in a shallow glass dish. Pour marinade over the steak, turning meat to coat thoroughly. Cover, and refrigerate for 6 hours.
Preheat grill for medium-high heat.
Oil the grill grate. Place steaks on the grill, and discard the marinade. Grill meat for 5 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.
Cut steak on the diagonal
Plate the grits and add slices of flank steak cutting it on the diagonal to ensure its tenderness.
Notes:  When I added the egg to the grits and baked it I thought maybe it would set and come out more like a polenta. But it didn't. The grits were creamy and tasted delightful when infused with the Gruyere - a different take on cheese grits normally made with a cheddar. Leftover steak was used for fajitas and leftover grits got topped with a poached egg.
I want to send out a high five to my mother-in-law Betty who taught me this Spring, on a recent visit, that berries are delightful on a bed of baby greens - now if I could learn to make her fantastic pimento cheese!
Life is good - enjoy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Barbie's Tuna Salad

I truly hate giving up this recipe. There are a couple of recipes that a girl likes to keep in the secret archives to pull out at the right moment and this just happens to be one of them.  Back in July of '09 I published my favorite secret Bar-B-Que Beans recipe and today I'm giving up the tuna recipe.  Both simple and quite frankly delicious.

I found this little gem on (Allrecipes is my goto place when I have an ingredient leftover that I don't know what to do with. Just plug in the ingredient and like magic you have a way to use it.) This tuna salad recipe has been reviewed by 738 people and has received a rating of 4.75 out of 5 stars.  It even has curry powder in it and they still love it.

The name "Barbie's Tuna Salad" has always seemed quite weird to me. Where the recipe originally came from is still a mystery to me. When I make it I like to picture a lady from the 1960's, wearing a bikini, caring a tray of tea sandwiches, around a swimming pool saying "Canape anyone?"

I like to go top drawer with the tuna.  No Starkist here - I prefer the top shelf Albacore tuna from Costco :-).

Barbie's Tuna Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serving 4


Not too top shelf - Aldi Mayo and generic relish
1 (7ounce) can white tuna, drained and flaked
6 Tablespoons mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1/8 Teaspoon dried minced onion flakes
1/4 Teaspoon curry powder
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 Teaspoon dried dill weed
1 pinch garlic powder


In a medium bowl, stir together the tuna, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, and onion flakes. Season with curry powder, parsley, dill and garlic powder. Mix well and serve with crackers or on a sandwich.

I love to put this out for guests with crackers and it's great on crusty toasted bread with lettuce and tomato.

Polish Pottery my friend Robin gave for my birthday

When my kids decide to marry it will be on the buffet table along with my bar-b-que beans and my favorite Filipino Cracker Nuts whether they like it or not!!!

Life is good - enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Orange

After yesterdays post on homemade pasta I have to share the sauce recipe that was behind my madness. It comes from the May 2011 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. (I know I keep using Bon Appetit recipes but they are so tempting.) This pasta sauce is made with prosciutto and oranges. I told several folks that I was going to make this and the look on their faces was well...yuk!  I have to say that these two ingredients combine really well together creating a delightfully different flavored and silky sauce.

Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Orange

Serves 4


Kosher salt

  • 12 oz. egg tagliatelle or fettuccine (preferably fresh)
  • 2 Tbsp. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1" pieces
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute before al dente, about 2 minutes for fresh pasta, longer for dried. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto; sauté until browned, about 3 minutes.
  • Add reserved pasta water, orange juice, half of zest, and cream; bring to a boil. Add pasta; cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and divide among warm bowls.

    You definitely can't eat this everyday but for a special occasion the taste and mouth feel is worth all the calories. I have interchanged whipping cream and half-n-half without much sacrifice in taste and flavor and that should help reduce a lot of the fat and calories.  Hey you only live once!

    Life is short - enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homemade Pasta

This past week has been a real adventure for me and a lot of fun - I learned to make pasta. The May issue of Bonappetit Magazine had this luscious looking sauce recipe that was placed on a pile of homemade pasta. I had always wanted to make pasta but not having the stereotypical heavy set Italian grandmother to teach me I avoided even trying. So I did what I usually do in such a situation - I made a list!

  1. Find a machine to make the pasta.  This was easier said than done, but after some research and user reviews I settled on the Italian Imperia model purchased at Williams-Sonoma.

Check out how beautiful this little machine is - sleek, bright and modern. I have to admit that one of the reasons I picked it was because it was red.

2. Find a pasta recipe.  Luckily the Williams-Sonoma website has a video of Jessica, their culinary expert, who gives you the recipe and shows you how to make the pasta using the Imperia machine.

The addition of #3 & #4 didn't happen until my first batch of pasta failed and stuck together. After consulting with my friend Chef Jeff Maiani at Bistro 310 I had to add more to my list. He said the pasta was probably too wet!

3.  Semolina. I couldn't locate this at my local Kroger, so I purchased a boatload from You can make a firmer pasta by just using semolina, but this time I used it to sprinkle on the pasta as it was drying to keep it from sticking.

4. And last but not least is the drying rack. Now that I have had a bit of success I don't really think the rack is necessary, but I like the way it looks and for $12.95 at why not?


  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 3 eggs

1.  Place flour on countertop and make a well in the middle of it.  Add three eggs to the well.

Using a fork mix eggs briefly and begin incorporating the flour into the eggs. Try not to breach the flour wall. Mix until you can begin kneading with your hands.  Mix in as much of the flour as you can. Using a blade knife scrape up leftover flour, and stuck on bits, and place it in a sifter.  Sift flour over dough until the dough won't absorb anymore.  Both times I had flour left over.
Pasta after kneading

Using your blade cut the pasta into four equal sections and place in a bowl covered with a wet towel. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

Now the fun begins. Take out one section of the pasta and roll it into a small rectangle.  Using the widest setting on the machine run pasta through flattening it into a larger 
rectangle. Fold the pasta into thirds (ends to the middle) and run the pasta through again beginning with the open edges. Williams-Sanoma says two to three times the Italian box the machine came in says nine times. I went with the Italians!

This particular machine has six setting one a bit smaller than the next. At this point you begin flattening the pasta 

into a larger rectangle (no more folding into thirds) by running it through each of the smaller rollers rolling only once per level. Since I was making Tagliatelle I only went down to the fifth setting. I now dusted each sheet with the simolina and let them hang to dry on the drying rack for 15 minutes.

Now you begin cutting the pasta. Roll each slightly dry sheet through the cutter shape that you desire. (This particular machine only had two different cutting blades although you can purchase different ones.) Dust the pasta with the semolina and hang to dry until you are ready to cook it.

So there you have it.  My first batch was a complete failure the second wasn't half bad. I have attempted many difficult things in the kitchen and for some reason I thought this might top the list.  It did not. It was really fun and the end result was really worth it.  Give it a try!

Life is good - enjoy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti

The May 2011 issue of BonAppetit Magazine is loaded with all thing Italian. From sauces, known as gravies, to biscotti, to taramisu to my favorite -  fresh pasta. After reading through all the recipes I have decided that I am indeed Italian. (Although there is not a drop of Italian blood in me.) I want to inhale, taste and share every recipe in the magazine. Call me Mama Mia!

I decided to start with the simple biscotti. Having never made a biscotti I thought they might be a bit difficult. The only problem I had was lifting the partially cooked "logs" to the cooling racks before the slicing began. Be careful, be very very careful.

Picture taken from Bonappetit website

I copied this picture from the BonAppetit website. I wanted you to see the beautiful green pistachios next to the bright red cherries.  My picture (down below) shows brown pistachios because I used roasted instead of raw nuts.

Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti
Makes about 4 dozen


  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine first 6 ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and next 5 ingredients. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; beat on low speed until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. Fold in cherries and pistachios.
  • Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Using floured hands, shape each dough half into a 16"-long log. Brush off excess flour; transfer logs to prepared sheet, spaced 5" apart. Flatten each log into a 2"-wide strip. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until browned and set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 250° and arrange 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third.
  • Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer biscotti to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut each strip diagonally into 2/3"-thick slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on baking sheets.
  • Bake biscotti, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until crisp, about 40 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to racks; let cool. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

This particular recipe comes from Karen Demasco, located in Locanda Verde, New Your City. She says that the "[b]iscotti are the perfect ending to a great meal, especially with an expresso. A scoop of ice cream makes them even more special." I have to agree. Now who can I give all these biscotti to.

Life is good - enjoy!