Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Homemade Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

img_3906This past summer I visited my parents in Southern New Jersey for a few days.  They are just over half an hour from Philadelphia – home of the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich.  I did have a great sandwich during my visit.  Upon my return to California I wanted to make it from scratch, not using the frozen minute steak product that I have used in the past.  After a quick search on the internet I discovered that the best meat to use is Rib Eye.  There is no going back!  Delicious.  The first two times I made it I completely forgot to take pictures of my sandwiches, so of course.. I had to make them again (and forgot again) and again.  I prefer them on a good crunchy French roll, but a Kaiser roll will do the job.

In order to slice the steaks paper thin, it really helps to freeze the steaks for 45 minutes before slicing them and having a nicely sharpened chefs knife will make it an easy process as well.

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 rib eye steaks, freeze 45 minutes before slicing super thin against the grain
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sweet onion (like Maui or Walla Walla or other), sliced thinly
  • bell peppers (red, green, yellow as you desire) washed, stem and seeds removed, sliced thinly
  • mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
  • Provolone Cheese (2 slices per sandwich)
  • 4 crunchy French rolls, split in half and toasted

Instructions:

Freeze the steaks for 45 minutes to help the meat become a little stiffer and easier to slice paper thin.  I remove the bone first as well as large pieces of fat before slicing.  Using a nicely sharpened knife begin cutting each steak thinly at across the grain. You want it to be as thin as possible.

Season the steak with salt and pepper.

Slice your French rolls and toast them under the broiler.

In a large non stick skillet saute the thinly sliced onions in about 1 tablespoon of canola oil.  Season the onions with salt and pepper and cook over medium  high heat until the onions have softened and caramelized.  Remove the onions to a bowl and over with foil to keep warm.  Saute the peppers next, using the same skillet.  When the peppers are softened, remove them to a second bowl.  Next, saute the mushrooms in the same skillet until they are golden brown, adding more oil if necessary and seasoning with salt and pepper.  Remove to a bowl and cover with foil.

Heat the same skillet over High- medium high heat and add 1 teaspoon of canola oil.  Add a quarter of the shaved steak to the pan and cook for 1 minute.  Stir.  Cook an additional minute or two as you desire.  Mound the steak in one area of the skillet and top  with two slices of provolone cheese.  Allow the cheese to melt.  With a spatula, carefully lift the cheese topped steak and place on the toasted roll.

Repeat with remaining steak.

I like to have each person top their cheese steak sandwiches with sauteed onions, mushrooms, or peppers as desired.

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Austrian Bread Dumplings 101

Semmelknôdel (Austrian Bread Dumpling) was one of my favorite foods growing up in Austria. I have wanted to make a tutorial of sorts for Americans (like myself) to make this wonderful food even though you are not in Austria to enjoy them.  If you love stuffing (dressing) you probably will like this.  They are dumplings made of bread, egg, milk, flour, and regionally also includes cooked bacon.  The region of Tyrol in Austria uses bacon in them.  They call them Speckknôdel.  In this blog post I will have step by step instructions.  If you do not want bacon in them, just leave it out (but why would you?)

To start off, use a stale baguette – you know.. it was sitting on your counter a few days too long but is not completely dried out yet, you still can cut it into cubes with the centers of the cubes slightly soft but pretty dry on the outside.  I also made them with Ciabatta bread with success.  Semmel in Austria is like a Kaiser roll.  Except here in the States, Kaiser rolls are often soft and not the crisp texture that they have in Austria, so I found that a French Baguette does the job perfectly!

Cut the 3 days old French Baguette into 1/2 inch cubes and place the cubes in a large bowl.

Add 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

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Cube 8 ounces of bacon and fry them in a non stick skillet until crisped up.  Remove the cooked bacon with a slotted spoon and place the bacon bits on a paper towel to drain.

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Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the skillet.  Saute 1/2 cup chopped onions over medium heat until cooked and lightly browned.  Add the cooked onions, cooked bacon, and 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour to the bread cubes in the bowl.

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Mix the bread cubes, bacon bits, onion, parsley, flour by hand to combine.

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Pour 3/4 cup (6 oz) of cold milk into a measuring cup.

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Add two large eggs to the milk.

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Whisk the egg and milk mixture until well combined.

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Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread cubes mixture in the large bowl.  Begin to combine it by hand (my cheapest kitchen tool), tossing the mixture until it takes on the liquid.  Your hands do get a bit messy, but cleans up with soap and water! 🙂

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Form the dumplings into snow ball sized balls.

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You want the breadcrumb mixture to be quite sticky.. flour sticking to your hands.  If you press on the dumpling with your finger and it falls apart, it is not sticky enough… see?

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Sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour over the bread mixture if it does not hold together well.  I added about 3 tablespoons of flour and combined it with my hands again.  This time it was quite sticky!  Perfect!

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Once again I formed them into balls and this time they stuck together nicely.  You don’t want to squeeze them to death, but you do want nice firm dumplings that hold together nicely.

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The dumplings should be about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

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I formed 6 dumplings.

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Fill a large stockpot with 3 inches of cold water and place over a burner over high heat to bring it to a simmer.

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When the water begins to simmer (bubbles are starting to come up from the bottom, but it is not at a full boil). Add 1 tablespoon of salt.

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Carefully lower the dumplings into the salted, simmering water and reduce the heat to medium high, keeping it at a simmer, do not let it boil.  Set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes.

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After 15 minutes the dumplings will have softened up a bit but still hold their shape

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Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl.

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Serve with a meaty gravy like Rahmschnitzel

or Beef Rouladen or Wolfgang Pucks Beef Goulash with Red Cabbage.

Trouble Shooting:

Help me.. they fell apart!!! Well, not all is lost,  you can make Serviettenknôdel- loosley translated “napkin dumplings”. (if they fall apart, they did not have enough flour added to the mixture and were not sticky enough, but there is hope.. you can scoop the dumplings that have fallen apart out with a slotted spoon and place the bread mixture into a clean kitchen towel (you can also use foil).  Form the bread into a log and wrap the bread mixture tightly in the kitchen towel.  Tie off the ends of the towel and place it in the simmering water.  Cook 15 minutes.  Unwrap and slice into 1/2 inch slices.  Serve.)

My favorite way to use up leftovers .. if you are lucky enough to have leftovers:

Cut the cold dumplings into slices and then melt about half a tablespoon of butter in a non stick skillet… fry the bread dumplings turning over from time to time until golden brown.  Add an egg to the skillet,  season with salt and pepper and cook as you desire.  Yum: Breakfast is served!  This is called Knôdel mit Spiegelei (Dumpling with sunny side egg)

IMG_3048I blogged this dish already, but some time ago: https://goodcookbecky.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/semmelknodel-austrian-bread-dumplings-with-bacon/

 


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Greek Chicken Roulades

IMG_2874Well, it has been a while since I have blogged more than one  item in a week!  I have been in the mood to try new recipes.  Here are two recipes from Cuisine at Home.  I did not have enough Kalamata olives to make this dish, but did have olive tapenade in my fridge that I used in the filling.  Also, I doubled the recipe from the original.  I made Cuisine at Home’s recipe for Creamy Orzo to go with this.  Both recipes are easy to prepare, prepared in about 30 minutes, and tasty, in short: they are keepers. Start cooking the Orzo first. Now for the recipes:

Creamy Orzo with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes

adapted from Cuisine at Home | Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 4 oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Instructions:

In a small saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil.  Add the orzo and bring to a boil again.  Reduce heat, and boil, uncovered, for 9 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Turn off heat.  Drain any excess liquid.  Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, salt, and pepper.  Serve warm with Greek Chicken Roulades.

 

Greek Chicken Roulades

adapted from Cuisine at Home | Serves 4 (doubled from original)

  • 1/2 cup olive tapenade (originally 24 Kalamata olives)
  • 6 Tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 6 Tbsp minced oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed of fat
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 12 Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Instructions:

Combine the olive tapanade, breadcrumbs, minced sun dried tomatoes, lemon zest, minced garlic, and dried oregano in a small bowl.

Slice or pound the chicken breast halves to 1/4 inch thickness.  Spread about 1/4 of the tapenade mixture on the chicken breast halves.  Roll up and secure chicken roulades with toothpicks.  Repeat with remaining 3 chicken breast halves.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Sear the rolls of chicken about 3 or 4 minutes each side until golden brown.  Remove the chicken to a platter.

Saute the minced shallots in the same pan you cooked the chicken in for about 2 minutes.  Add the white wine.  Cook for a few minutes until the wine has reduced by about half.  Add the chicken broth and the chicken rolls back into the pan along with the chopped Kalamata olives.  Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.  Cover, and cook for about 10 minutes.

Remove the chicken roulades to a clean platter.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and cornstarch and stir to a slurry.  Add to the sauce in the pan and whisk in.  Cook to thicken.

Remove toothpicks and cut the chicken rolls crosswise to show the filling. Serve with Creamy Orzo and the white wine sauce.

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Sage Butter Sauce

IMG_2851I love cooking!  My passion for cooking started in my Mom’s kitchen as a small child.  Of course now, I may need therapy because I can not stop myself from looking at cookbooks and cooking magazines.  I am afraid to count how many are in my collection – one gem that I often look through is the magazine Cuisine At Home. I recently re-visited an issue that had a recipe for Parmesan-crusted chicken, but what really caught my eye was the sage butter sauce that was with it.

I did make chicken cutlets to go with it, but it was not the same recipe. (Slice chicken thinly into cutlets, dredge in flour, then in egg, and coat in bread crumbs on both sides, fry in canola oil, over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes each side until golden brown.  Keep warm in 300 F preheated oven on wire rack.)

Sage Butter Sauce

adapted from Cuisine at Home Magazine | Serves 4

  • 1 medium shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp butter, cubed
  • 2 tsp minced fresh sage
  • salt, to taste
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • cayenne pepper, to taste

Instructions

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the tablespoon of butter and saute the shallots until softened, about 4 or 5 minutes.  Add white wine, heavy cream, chicken broth, and lemon juice.  Cook stirring occasionally for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by about half.  Add butter to the sauce,  one tablespoon at a time until butter melts completely after each addition, whisking constantly.  Add chopped sage, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.  Stir and keep warm until serving.

Serve over chicken cutlets and cooked pasta.

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Shaking Beef

IMG_2829My husband had a dish called Shaking Beef at PF Chang’s and gave me a taste of his dish.  I loved the flavors instantly.  Months have passed since then and it still was a dish I wanted to make at home.  I found this recipe by Mark Bittman at the NY Times. It is not quite like the one at Chang’s, which has roasted potatoes and broccolini in the dish as well. Perhaps next time I will make it using roasted potatoes and broccoli.  I did use watercress and lettuce (half and half each) this time, but next time will just stick with the lettuce as it is cheaper and in my opinion tastier.  I did use beef tenderloin like the recipe called for, but next time will change that to something like flat iron steak and cut it thinly to save on costs there!  That said, it was a really tasty dish and I look forward to making it again.  Here is the recipe:

Shaking Beef

adapted from Mark Bittman (NY Times) | Serves 4 | approx

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs beef tenderloin, trim of excess fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 5 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white wine (or rice wine)
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 bunch watercress and half a head of red leaf lettuce, washed and dried
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Instructions:

In a zip top bag, combine the garlic, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the canola oil and add the steak cubes.  Refrigerate for about two hours.

For the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the remaining tablespoon of sugar, rice-wine vinegar, white white, soy sauce, fish sauce and stir.

In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. (This is for additional seasoning at the table if you desire)

Cut the lime into wedges (also for seasoning just before eating).

Thinly slice the red onion and cut the scallions into pieces.

Heat a wok over medium high heat and add 3 tablespoons of canola oil.  When the oil is shimmering add half the beef cubes at a time.  Sear for 4 minutes, turn the steak cubes over and repeat to brown.  Add half the red onion slices and scallions and cook for half a minute longer. Add half the sauce to the beef mixture and cook for a minute longer.  Melt half the butter into the sauce and remove the beef onion mixture to a large bowl.  Repeat with remaining oil and beef following the same process. Finishing with the sauce and butter. Add to the bowl of cooked beef and onions.

Place the watercress and lettuce on a large platter and arrange the beef and onions on the bed of lettuce. Pour the sauce over the beef and onion mixture.

Serve.  Season with additional salt and pepper mixture if desired and squeeze lime juice over the beef.

Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker Sweet Fire Chicken

IMG_2397I love the Sweet Fire Chicken that is served at the chain Panda Express, and I found this Slow-Cooker recipe at another blog site: Creme de la Crumb (link).  On a day when temperatures are hovering around 100, I had no interest in heating up my kitchen by turning on the oven or standing over a hot stove.  I steamed some Jasmine Rice to go with this dish.  I did like this dish a lot – I used only 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, since my children were also eating and did not want them to be overwhelmed by the spices, but I think you certainly could use the full 2 teaspoons in the original recipe if you like a little kick.  I think it would be closer to the original cooking it over a wok, but this is not bad! Not bad at all!  I will make it again!  This could easily be made ahead and popped into zip- lock bags and put in the freezer for the days when you have no time to cook.  Just thaw and put in the crock pot! Now the recipe:

Slow Cooker Sweet Fire Chicken

adapted from Creme de la Crumb

Serves 6 | Cook time 4 hours

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can pineapple chunks, drained

Sauce:

  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp sweet red chili sauce (I used May Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Finish with:

  • 4 Tbsp cold water
  • 3 Tbsp corn starch

Instructions:

Place a crock pot liner in your slow cooker. (This is something I only recently discovered and love the ease of clean up).

Put the diced chicken breast, red bell pepper pieces and pineapple in the slow cooker.

In a medium bowl, combine the sauce ingredients and pour into the chicken, stir.  Cover with a lid and turn on to high for 4 hours.  30 minutes before serving, combine the cold water and cornstarch and pour over the chicken.  Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.  Stir and serve over steamed rice.

Thank you Creme de la Crumb for this wonderful recipe.  It is an instant favorite already!

I discovered  May Ploy Chili Sauce on a family vacation to Hawaii and was pleased to discover it for sale in my local supermarket – it may be in your Asian ingredients section of your supermarket.

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Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup

IMG_1122The first time that I made this soup, I was in LOVE!  It is adapted from a Taste of Home Cookbook.  I like it with and without spinach but do like adding grilled chicken to the soup as well.  I made a few changes to the original.  I used laughing cow cheese instead of cream cheese and cilantro instead of basil.  If you have an immersion blender this soup is easy to make – but you can use a regular blender of food processor if you do not have an immersion blender.  I recommend you get one,  they are one of my must have tools in the kitchen and have made making soups and shakes much easier.

I liked this soup so much that I made it a second time in the same week.

Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup

adapted from Taste of Home

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 quarts low sodium chicken broth
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 wedges laughing cow cheese (garlic herb or other is great)
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz can kernel corn, drained
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach (optional)
  • 2 chicken breast halves, grilled and diced (optional)

Instructions

In a large stockpot, saute the diced butternut squash, carrots, and onion, and ground cumin in the olive oil over medium high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the minced garlic and cook stirring for 1 more minute.

Add the chipotle peppers, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, Laughing Cow cheese wedges, and cilantro and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes, or until the carrots and squash are soft enough to easily pierce with a fork.

Blend the soup with an immersion blender (or food processor or blender).

Add the black beans, corn kernels, baby spinach (optional) and diced cooked chicken (optional) and heat through.

Serve immediately.

This dish is also very good with grilled cheese sandwiches.

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