Thursday, March 24, 2011

On a Misson!

At the bookstore

I made a (not so) quick stop over at the used bookstore near my work in search of a couple of books on my list. I am currently on the hunt for From a Baker's Kitchen: Techniques and Recipes for Professional Quality Baking in the Home Kitchen by Gail Sher, and What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained by Robert L. Wolke. The store didn't have either book, however, it was easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of books!

Does anyone have any other recommended reading for cooks?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New York Reuben

New York Reuben

Apparently no one knows where the Reuben sandwich originated.  A quick web search will tell you that there are multiple stories of this sandwich's origin.  Even the Random House College Dictionary might be incorrect.  After some light reading I have concluded that the Reuben sandwich was created some time between 1914 and 1956, in either Nebraska or New York, by a man with either the first or last name of Reuben.  Possibly.

Regardless, it's a delicious sandwich.  My history with the Reuben sandwich is slightly more definitive.  Within the last two years my husband ordered one at a restaurant.  After stating that I'd never had a Reuben before, he offered me a bite, which I accepted.  It was decent.  Sometime later we were on vacation, hungry and traveling through the small town of Arco, Idaho.  It was around 9 pm or so, still completely light out, and the entire town had gone to bed.  One small deli remained open.  That night we split a fantastic Reuben sandwich in our hotel room.  Almost a year later I have fond memories of our visit with the sweet college girl in sweats that built our sandwich and how that night I added that sandwich to my list of favorite restaurant foods.

This week, however, I added that sandwich to my list of favorite meals to make at home.  It was a sandwich so fantastic that I ate until it was gone, despite my full stomach.  It was a sandwich so amazing that my husband requested it again.  Soon.  And our roommate requested it for his birthday.  Wow.  I'm blushing.

We may all know what a Reuben consists of--it's fairly simple:  Rye bread, sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and either Russian or thousand island dressing.  For an pretty darn good ingredient ratio, Family Circle does a splendid job breaking it down.  I looked at several recipes and theirs was my favorite.  Once I figured out how much of what I would need to get, the rest is pretty basic--you can put your own spin on it, or leave it be.  Really, there isn't much to alter in a sandwich with so few ingredients, but I made the most of choosing the best ingredients to up my sandwich's yum factor.  For this I headed to Plowboys in Fountain Valley, home of my favorite butcher counter, deli counter and produce department.  The corned beef was lean, the Boar's Head Gold Label Swiss was just the right strength, and the sauerkraut was New York style (wahatever that means).  And since it was St. Patrick's day, I walked out with the last loaf of rye bread.  On a side note, I am told that Russian rye isn't as strong as Jewish rye, so depending on your taste buds, one may make a better sandwich than the other.  My lucky loaf was Russian and we were very pleased with it, as it was a more milder taste than what we expected.

Now for building the sandwich ... since I based mine on the Family Circle recipe, I'd recommend reading through that first if you want to try this.  Then I played it by ear.  I used more meat per sandwich, less cheese (although I'd be tempted to add more next time), and more sauerkraut.  I toasted two slices of bread for each sandwich, topped one slice with dressing, meat, warmed sauerkraut and cheese, and then toasted them in the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese was melted and bubbly.  I then added the second slice of bread for a complete sandwich and served with a side of red potato salad.  Yum.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Two Quick and Yummy "Comfort Food" Recipes

As anyone reading this blog can tell, the last couple weeks have been busy ones outside of the kitchen.  In fact, I didn't do a lot of cooking, and when I did, it was mostly what I call "short-cut cooking" ... using ingredients or whole entire meals right from a box, can or jar.  Or between two slices of bread.

I did, however, come across two really great classics with a healthier twist than something from a box.  I know Hamburger Helper is easy, but these were also easy, easy to manipulate, and taster ... in my opinion.  First, my husband requested sloppy joes--which I have to admit I've never made.  Not once.  Not ever.  Not even from a can.  The second was a beef stroganoff.  I love the idea of beef stroganoff, however, every recipe I've tried (including the boxed kind) I've always found to be too heavy, too rich or too salty.  This one I though to be the best of all the ones I've tried.

I found both recipes using the Whole Foods Market recipe app on my iPhone.  It has a lot of really cool features and good recipe choices, so if you have a smart phone and like food, I recommend it.

All Natural Better-Than-Boxed Beef Stroganoff

I made a couple of minor adjustments in both recipes. In this one I substituted real garlic for dried and skipped the onion; for the noodles I used traditional egg noodles.  And while the cheese on top was super good, I didn't use quite as much.  If you make this, keep in mind that the serving sizes are SMALL.  The recipe tells me this serves six, but my husband and I ate the whole pot between the two of us.  For a family, I'd recommend doubling the recipe and maybe a side salad if you're super hungry or have teenagers.

Old-Fashioned Sloppy Joes

I personally loved this recipe.  It is quite the comfort food!  I used a white onion instead of a yellow one (just personal preference), but basically followed the recipe exactly and they turned out fantastic.  I really do hate when you try a recipe and it doesn't at all turn out as described, or it is just plain old bad!  The beauty of this recipe, though, is that I keep ALL of those things on hand, and only needed to run by the store for some meat and buns.  I used only one pot and the work required was so minimal--I'm likely to make this again sometime soon just because it requires so little thought!  Unlike the stroganoff, we had some leftovers and they kept well and were still great two days later.

Overall, I was impressed with both recipes and have already recommended them to several people.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chocolate Cheesecake Squares ... preview.

We have both had a crazy, busy week .. but we promised desert! Actually, I promised cupcakes, but instead we brought some very yummy chocolate topped cheesecake bars. Here's is my preview ... Sara's Review is soon to come:

Chocoloate Cheesecake Bars

Chocoloate Cheesecake Bars