Sunday, March 31, 2013

ChezCindy: Roasted Salmon with Spring Herb Sauce

Roasted salmon with spring herb sauce is an easy elegant meal that presents well as a formal dinner main course, as a brunch buffet item, or as a regular weekday meal.  It is delicious hot from the oven or served at room temperature.  The prep and cook time are minimal, with ingredients you most likely have in your pantry.

I don't often use dried herbs, but in this recipe they work well.  And it cuts down on the prep time as there is no chopping.  A creamy mustard-mayonnaise sauce is baked onto the salmon, with additional sauce served at the table. 

Ask your fish monger for a side of salmon, frozen or fresh is okay.  If you do not have a full side, you can use several pieces, lined up together.  I leave the skin on when roasting, as it slides off easily once fully cooked.  Or you can have the skin removed by your fish monger.

Roasted Salmon with Spring Herb Sauce
Side of salmon, about 1 1/2 pounds, up to 2 pounds
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon dried chives
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
kosher salt
cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. 

Mix together the mayonnaise, both mustards, dried herbs, brown sugar, lemon juice and zest in a medium bowl.  Place the salmon skin side down, onto the parchment lined baking sheet.  Season the salmon by sprinkling it with kosher salt and black pepper.  Spoon half of the mustard herb sauce over the salmon, saving the rest for serving at the table.  Spread the mustard herb sauce to cover the salmon completely.  Sprinkle with additional cracked black pepper. 

Place the salmon into the hot oven, roasting for 20-25 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees at the thickest part of the salmon.  Remove from the oven; allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Using the parchment paper as an aid, transfer the salmon to your serving tray.  Serve with the remaining mustard herb sauce. 

Follow this link for my recipe for roasted vegetables to serve as a side dish.    

ChezCindy: What to do with all those bananas?

Banana Bread with Mini Chocolate Chips and Ginger

My husband eats the same breakfast nearly every day; cereal, milk, sliced banana and a glass of orange juice.  It makes sense for him.  It's easy; there's no thinking involved.  Definitely no cooking.  It's healthy.  So why not?  I could no sooner eat the same breakfast everyday than I could fly to the moon.  None the less, we often end up with over-ripe bananas that don't make the cut for his breakfast.  I hate throwing them away.  So I am generally on the prowl for new recipes using bananas.  Fortunately, there are many.  Banana cake, breakfast muffins, breads, banana cream pie. The New Orleans favorite, Bananas Foster.  Banana split ice cream Sundaes, yogurt banana smoothies.  The list does go on.  Although, I have never ventured into using bananas for savory.

This banana bread recipe has become my favorite.  Not quite traditional in that I use mini chocolate chips and crystallized ginger.  It is based on a recipe from author Molly Wizenberg, in her book A Homemade Life.  The ingredients come together quickly and the bread stores well in the freezer for several months.

 If you have not baked with crystallized ginger, I encourage you to try it.  Crystallized ginger is fresh ginger that has been slowly cooked in sugar water, and then rolled in coarse sugar to preserve it.  It has the texture of a gummy candy and is sugary-spicy to taste.  It is really great when baking ginger snap cookies, gingerbread cakes and breads.  You can buy this at the regular grocery store, located where they sell dried fruits. 

Banana Bread with Mini Chocolate Chips and Ginger
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Gently whisk to combine.  Add the chocolate chips and the chopped ginger; stir to coat the chips and ginger. 
In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing with a fork to combine with the bananas.  Add the buttermilk, vanilla, and melted butter.  Stir well to combine.  Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture, using a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bring the batter together.  Prepare a 9x5 inch loaf pan by spraying it with cooking spray oil.  Transfer the batter to the loaf pan; smoothing out the top. 
Bake for 60-65 minutes until the top of the loaf is golden brown, and the center is set.  Allow to cool in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the pan, and cool completely on a baking rack. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

ChezCindy: Casey's Ketchup Steak

Please enjoy my original post from a year ago, at the close of this update.  Today, I am offering some additional helpful tips to making the ketchup steak. 

Because this dish is made with an inexpensive cut of round steak, it is important to really pound the steak to yield a fork-tender outcome.  In the picture below, you can see the thickness of the meat starting out, and how thin it becomes by pounding it.  After cutting the steak into individual portion sizes, I place a piece of steak in a zip-lock plastic bag; using a meat mallet, I pound it until it is half of the original the thickness. 

Use more onions than you think should be necessary.  The recipe calls for 2 large soft-ball size onions.  Cut them very thin.  The onions cook down to actually melt into the sauce, helping to thicken it. 


Take the time to brown the meat in the butter, creating great color and delicious bits of goodness that will add to the final flavor of the sauce.  The kitchen will smell wonderful like brown-butter beef. 

The final results are like no other dish I have ever eaten.  Families from all backgrounds find it to be comfort food like no other.  The ketchup thickens, the onions melt, and the steak is fork-tender.  It is best served with mashed potatoes.  And, it is great the next day as left-overs. 

I hope you enjoy and join in the annual tradition of making Casey's Ketchup Steak.

My Original Post:
February 3, 1922, my dad, Casey, was born.  He was a cook in the US Navy during World War 2.  The story goes that my dad made up this recipe for the sailors on board his ship and everyone loved it, including the Captain.  When the Captain came to the kitchen to tell the cooks how much he enjoyed the meal, he wanted to know what it was called.  Being the quick thinker my dad was, he stated "Greek Steak" which made the meal sound even more exotic.  After the war, as a married man with 6 kids, my dad did some of the cooking relating back to his experience as a cook in the Navy.  When he made this meal, we all thought is was pretty special.  For kids to have steak, a rarity for us, and ketchup!  How much better could it get?  Forget the exotic name.  We called it Ketchup Steak. 
Now that my dad has passed away, the family has begun a tradition to make Ketchup Steak on or around his birthday.  Even though many of us are not in the same town any longer, it is a way for us to come together and pay homage to our dad. 
It is a simple recipe with just 4 ingredients.  Traditionally we serve it with mashed potatoes and a vegetable, (corn is the family favorite).  Enjoy.

Casey's Ketchup Steak
1 1/2 pounds of round steak
2 large onions (softball size)
20 oz ketchup
10 oz water
3 T butter
black pepper to season

Cut the steak into portion size pieces.  Pound each piece to tenderize.  Slice the onions into thin slices.
In a large straight-sided skillet, on medium heat, add the butter to melt.  Add the steak pieces to begin browning,- can be done in 2 batches to avoid over crowding the pan.  Once the steak is browned on both sides, add the sliced onions.  Continue browning the steak, moving the onions around, until the onions have wilted.  Add the ketchup, water, and sprinkle with black pepper to taste.  Stir to combine.  Bring to a gentle boil.  Lower the heat to barely a simmer.  Cover the pan.  Simmer for 2 hours.  The steak should be fork-tender and the onions almost melt into the sauce.  The sauce will have thickened.  Serve over mashed potatoes. 

ChezCindy: Crazy Good Blueberry Scones!

I first made these blueberry scones a couple of years ago, and not again since.  My notes reflected that they were "Excellent!".  Making them again this morning, they have been upgraded to "Crazy Good!".  If there can be a scale of measurement for how delicious food is, in my version, Crazy Good exceeds Excellent. 

To make things even more enticing, this is the easiest scone recipe you will ever make.  There is no rolling out of the dough.  Why did I wait 2 years to make these again???  Once the dough is made, you simply scoop out 1/2 cups and drop onto a baking sheet.  Less mess to clean up than rolling out dough.  I like that. 

Winter is the perfect time to make scones.  Scone ingredients need to start out cold and stay cold.  Key steps are to use cold butter straight from the refrigerator, or even slightly frozen from the freezer.  I used frozen blueberries, which made the dough extra cold.  Keeping the butter cold, once incorporated into the dough, gives the scones the desired flakiness.  This applies to the dough waiting to be baked, while those in the oven finish baking.  I use 4 baking trays; 2 in the oven and 2 waiting to go into the oven.  Winter helps with this process because I can keep my waiting trays outside (if it is not snowing) or in the garage to stay cold.  Sounds a bit crazy, but do what you can to keep the waiting dough away from the heat of the oven. 

When scooping out the dough, place each mound of dough onto the baking sheet with enough space to spread without touching each other.  Allowing space between the unbaked scones will yield a crisp edge and a soft interior. 

Serve the scones warm from the oven, drizzled with honey or butter.  If you have left-over scones, warm them slightly in the oven to resume some of the crispness.  A cold scone will be more soft and cakey.  Not bad, just different than warm from the oven. 

Blueberry Oat Scones
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
11 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 3/4 cups half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 rimmed baking trays with parchment paper. 
Working in a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir to combine.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch pieces; add to the bowl.  Blend until the mixture resembles a rocky road with pieces of butter the size of peas.  Add the oats and blueberries, stirring just to combine.  (If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw them before adding to the dough.)  While the mixer is running, add the half and half and vanilla, mixing just until the dough comes together.  The dough will be very thick and wet. 

Using a 1/2-cup measuring cup, scoop out the dough and drop onto the prepared baking sheets in slightly rounded mounds, allowing ample space between each scone.  Sprinkle each scone top with a bit of raw oats and sugar. 

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Rotate the baking sheets for even baking, and bake for another 11 minutes.  Remove from the oven; slide the parchment paper off the baking trays to cool the scones.  Repeat with remaining dough.