Steak with Mixed Peppercorns & Pomegranate Glaze

The November 2009 issue of Bon Appetit presents Steak with Mixed Peppercorns & Pomegranate Glaze (on page 56 if you want to follow along) as Fast, Easy & Fresh.  As a side bar the magazine hints that it’s a quick dinner party dish too.  I can tell you it’s true.  Delish. And deceptively easy.

I don’t usually gravitate to steak recipes.  I mean, how hard can fixin’ steak be, right? And when you have the world’s best Cowboy Steak rub, there tends to be little reason to stray.  But, I was intrigued by the pepper and pomegranate, so I gave Bon Appetit’s recipe a whirl.

The trick to pulling this recipe off is to NOT make the blunder I did.

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If you buy really expensive, organic mixed peppercorns with a special grinder, please don’t let the bottle slip out of your hand and spill half its contents all over the floor.  It’s just not a good way to kick off your cooking.

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If you were my children this is when I would say something pithy like, “Do as I say, not as I do”.

Let’s start over, shall we? Here’s Bon Appetit’s recipe:

Steak with Mixed Peppercorns & Pomegranate Glaze

1 (1/4 lb) sirloin steak

Peppercorn mix, coarsely ground

1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided

1 cup pomegranate juice

4 tsp (packed) brown sugar

2 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar, divided

4 cups arugula

And here’s how I followed:

I poured a glass of red wine which helped restore that peaceful, easy feeling I had before I lost my peppercorns. I also cranked up iTunes (the Eagles must have been playing).

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I love rosemary so I’m sure I used more than called for in the recipe.

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I seasoned a slightly larger steak (1 1/2 lb) with peppercorns, rosemary, and salt.  In a hot skillet with olive oil, I seared the seasoned steak.

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We like steak medium-well around the Cafe, so I seared the meat about 6 minutes per side.

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While the meat was resting (after all that hard work), I made the quick and easy glaze. I used a Pomegranate-Blueberry Juice because it was 1/2 the cost as pure pom.  Plus, I love blueberries. This actually proved to be a really good call and the flavor of the blueberry was a distinct bonus.

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I added the juice, brown sugar, 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar to the skillet and stirred the mixture into the juices from the steak.

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Boil the juice, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced to a thick glaze, about 5 minutes.

In a bowl, toss remaining 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp of balsamic vinegar and salad.  I think straight up arugula is too strong, so I used a mix of baby spinach and arugula.

Slice the steak and arrange on mixed salad. Enjoy!

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Do Not Try This (Candy Corn & Peanuts!)

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I really hate to share this Halloween concoction with you.  Go ahead, try it if you dare…

A dear friend updated her Facebook status last week extolling the virtues of candy corn mixed with peanuts.  Ha! I’ll escape that one. I don’t even like candy corn!

Unless they are mixed with peanuts apparently.

I’m sorry.

Cheese Straws

One of the most shocking entries on my calendar occurred on August 8th.  The entry at the top of the day read: make cheese straws/freeze for Christmas.

I’m not sure what moonshine I was sippin’ when I added this event to my calendar, but rest assured August 8th came and went sans cheese straws.

In my defense, I actually remember adding this task to my calendar last year. I was in the throws of the holidays and wished I had planned better by freezing things like cornbread for the dressing, gingerbread dough for cookie decorating, and appetizer essentials like cheese straws. So I planned ahead and scheduled cheese straw production for the dog days of summer.

To further my own defense, I also remember laughing out loud on August 8th.  Cheese straws did not get made that hot, summer day.

But, since I find myself quarantined home again this month, week, morning I thought I’d make use of my time and make cheese straws for Christmas. My sick Little seems to have shaken the swine, but not ready to return to school.

Cheese straws have been in my family longer than I have.  The simple recipe comes from Mia’s mother’s best friend Ellen.  I’ve always called them Nana’s cheese straws after my grandmother, but apparently her neighbor should get the credit.  I’m sure Mia could share more history of these must-have holiday bites. Maybe she can also fill us in on why they are called cheese straws as they are really tiny wafers.

Truly nothing could be more simple to make than these savory bites.  Since I was blessed with two additional hands this morning, we doubled the batch and made plenty to freeze.

Nana’s Cheese Straws

2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

1 cup flour (it’s spelled flower on the original recipe! Don’t you love that?)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp red pepper (I use a bit more for extra heat)

1 stick margarine (do not use butter)

Sift flour (or flower), salt and pepper.  Combine with cheese and margarine.  Form into long rolls, wrap in wax paper and chill over night.  Slice. Bake 10 minutes at 410 degrees.

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I know it seems archaic, but please grate the cheese for this recipe.  And be sure to use sharp cheddar.

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This recipe dates itself by calling for margarine.  But substituting butter is a no no!  Don’t be tempted, your cheese wafers will spread.  Use room temperature margarine.

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Sift the salt, red pepper and flour. Then mix in the cheese and margarine.  Mix well with your hands until combined and mixture forms a ball.

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Divide dough and roll into long, skinny logs.  Roll each cheese log in wax paper.

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We are saving ours for the holidays, so I packaged them in a freezer bag.  When needed I can pull out one or more logs, slice and bake.  Make sure you slice and bake when the dough is still very, very chilled.  Allowing the wafers to come to room temp will cause them to spread.

Watch your oven carefully.  I usually take a good peek at 8 minutes as the wafers can burn in a matter of seconds.  You want them golden just around the bottom edges.

Make some this weekend! You’ll be thrilled to have these on hand during the holidays.

Have an early Merry Christmas!

Chobani Cheers!

Sometimes lunch requires a recipe.  And sometimes, like today, lunch just makes itself.

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Sorry friends, no recipe today.  But, I am sharing one of my fav O rite treats.  You’ve probably eaten Chobani for years, secretly keeping it from me just for fun, right?

First, I must offer some kind of a disclaimer.  There has been much ado throughout the blogosphere and social networking land about blogging and disclaimers. The FTC is enacting guidelines for blog writers and companies who offer products for bloggers to review.  Yackity. Yack.

I do not offer product reviews. No one (but you) knows I’m here. And if it weren’t for my PR agent mother, you probably wouldn’t have found me either. Seriously, there are many bloggers who choose to review products either for monetary compensation or for the gift of the product they endorse, or toss.  The FTC has decided that since bloggers have a major influence in the market place, rules should apply in the form of disclaimers.  You know, so everyone is crystal clear about who’s getting paid by whom for what. Only no one is clear about anything yet. The trend among leading bloggers in the sphere is to add a personal disclaimer policy to their site. Policies drafted by lawyers.  My disclaimer? I hope I never have to eat my words.

For the record (argh that harkens back to my former PR days), Chobani did not send me, my daughters, or any other representative of The Schell Cafe the yogurt we just enjoyed for lunch. I was not paid in yogurt, private school tuition, or anything in between for this post.  It just sorta came to me while I was enjoying a simple lunch with two of my Littles.

Now, let’s get back to the moment shall we?

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This Little is home sick.  Despite her ear to ear grin, she’s got the swine flu. But losing a tooth last night pretty much trumped any H1N1 negativity.

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Littlest has not  yet joined Piggypolooza! (Shout out to KimmieFTW for coining that phrase) Here she is minutes home from pre-school enjoying her logurt. Dabedy logurt, to be exact.

In a rare and very unexpected moment, I enjoyed lunch with half of the Littles.  We laughed, made logurt mustaches, and coined the phrase Chobani Cheers! This is when you find  yourself surrounded by those you love eating Chobani and you raise a spoon to cheer.

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So cheers to Chobani! While I didn’t get paid for this lunch, I didn’t have to make it either.

P.S. I do think if there were ever  to be The Cheeks of Chobani ad campaign, I’d have at least one contender.

Corn Soup

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We woke up yesterday to the first chill of the season.  Oh rest assured it’s not  cold cold, but for Texas there’s definitely a chill in the air.  When the view out my kitchen door looks like this, it’s time for Corn Soup to make it’s annual debut.

If you have an aversion to making cold weather comfort food with ingredients that come from containers and cans, well then this here ain’t yer soup.  But I encourage you, if you can, to over look the parts because the sum = one darn good soup.

Corn Soup has been around our family for longer than I can remember.  Maybe Mia knows its origins? I can date my own first attempts of making the soup by the tattered and aged paper I scrawled the recipe on.

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I remember calling Mia from work (once upon a time I was gainfully employed) desperate for the Corn Soup recipe.  The GSD&M note paper I wrote on puts this conversation in the 1997 time frame. Before Husband. Before Littles.  Before The Schell Cafe was even a twinkle in my eye.

Tried and true.  It’s the perfect soup for the first chill of fall.  The Littles adore it. I mean what’s not to love….

Corn Soup

(recipe may be doubled easy for a crowd)

4 cans chicken broth (I use (1) 32 oz box Swanson’s Organic Chicken Broth)

2 cans Cream Style Corn

2 cups Pace Mild Picante Sauce

2 cups sour cream

2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

Fritos

Combine broth, corn, and picante sauce in a large sauce pan.  Heat over medium flame.

Place sour cream in a medium bowl.  Gradually add small amounts of hot soup to the bowl of sour cream. Transfer back in to pot on stove.  Continue to heat over low flame, add cheese.

Serve with Fritos.

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Here’s a visual for you.  It’s very important not to dump the sour cream right into your hot soup. I’m sure most of you already know that you’ll end up with a curdled mess if you do.  I learned the hard way.  So, learn from my own mistake, take the time to slowly add the hot soup to the sour cream. Keep adding by the ladleful until the sour cream is dissolved and hot enough to pour back into the soup!

If we are trying to be fancy or add a little green to an otherwise very yellow dinner (face it folks, it’s cheese, corn & Fritos), I add chopped green onions and/or avocados.  Sometimes Husband doctors his up with chopped onions and fresh jalapeno. But this is all very high brow and completely unnecessary.

The ingredients speak for themselves.  Enjoy!!!

1974 (Mexican Shrimp Salad)

No. It’s not the date of my last post. But, thanks for missing me!

It’s the year Bon Appetit published the Mexican Shrimp Salad.

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Here is the recipe as Bon Appetit published it.

Mexican Shrimp Salad

2/3 cup peanut oil

2 TBS white vinegar

2 TBS orange juice

2 TBS chutney, finely chopped (I use Stonewall Kitchen Old Farmhouse Chutney)

1 clove garlic, crushed (I use 2)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp liquid hot pepper sauce (I use Tabasco or Cholula)

5 small heads of Bibb lettuce cleaned and quartered

1 1/2 lbs small shrimp, cooked (I buy whatever is the freshest regardless of size. I’ve grilled and boiled — both are amazing)

3 large oranges, peeled and sectioned (I’ve also use mandarin oranges, canned!)

2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 green pepper, thinly sliced

2/3 cup peanuts (raw, fresh peanuts are best)

Combine peanut oil, white vinegar, orange juice, chutney, garlic, salt, curry powder and liquid hot pepper sauce in a jar; cover and shake well.

Toss Bibb lettuce, shrimp, orange sections, onions, green pepper and peanuts.  Shake dressing and pour over salad mixture; toss lightly.  Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

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I’ve made this yummy salad so many times now it’s taken on a life of it’s own. In fact, I almost always have the dressing mixed and ready in the fridge.  It’s usually just Husband & I that enjoy the salad, so I find one head of Bibb lettuce works fine.  I used drained, rinsed, canned mandarin oranges.  And, I generally skip the green peppers and toss in yummy avocado instead.

Enjoy!