Vietnamese Steak Marinade

Vietnamese Steak MarinadeLighten up, Francis
It’s week two of the let’s lighten up menu. I’m not saying I have been totally good about it but I will say I have been doing better than usual. There may have been pizza for dinner one night ‘cause we had to do some laundry and straighten up the house as things had gotten way out of hand. There may also have been a hot dog at the softball game because I was hangry. (Youth sports is no place for hanger.) For the most part, we’ve been eating better.

Saturday’s fantastic weather prompted me to head outside and do some grilling. Per usual, we had a packed schedule. Thankfully, I was able to make a marinade out of stuff I had on hand. I poured it over some flat iron steaks that needed to be used, tossed them back in the fridge, and left for the afternoon. I threw the steaks on the grill when we returned for a quick dinner with some steamed rice and broccoli.

As it turned out, there were a lot of leftovers—which was a good thing if not unusual. For lunch on Monday I was able to slice up some of the meat and put it on a salad I tossed together with some spring mix, peppers, sliced red onions and whatever else I found in the crisper. What a light and tasty meal! Salad is not usually my first lunch choice but topped with the sliced meat it was the perfect meal.

Vietnamese Steak Marinade
Adapted from NY Times Cooking

This marinated and grilled Vietnamese flank steak is fantastic over a simple salad or steamed rice bowl with broccoli. It also is delicious with our recipe for Vietnamese Cucumber SaladRead more…

Gravlax

GravlaxHomeland
Not too long ago I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown that was filmed in Copenhagen and I found myself glued to the seat fascinated by what I was watching on the screen. My mother’s side of the family is Danish — and I don’t mean mostly Danish with a little bit of “other” thrown in. I mean, “one hundred percent my ancestors wore breastplates and rode in boats to raid your shores” Danish.

Copenhagen, and Denmark in general, have always been on my bucket list of places to visit, mainly because I want to know more about where my family is from. It never occurred to me to go because of the food. But, as I sat there watching this show, it was a revelation. Because, more often than not, when I think of Scandinavian food I am transported back to the nights my grandmother would make red cabbage. (The smell when we entered the house was horrendous. But, Gam and Mom loved it.) Other times it makes me think of the herring in cream sauce we sell here at the store. Apparently, it’s delicious. I…just…can’t…even. I’ll sell it but I don’t have to eat it.

What I was seeing on the tv screen, however, was something completely different. And, it made me hungry. To be fair, Smørrebrød is not new and, in fact, it makes a perfect lunch. But, watching the chef create classic Scandinavian dishes in a way that made the old ways new again was energizing. His emphasis on ingredients that could be grown and used sustainably was icing on the cake. Now, he did use moss that he gathered off the trees in his backyard.(Foraging is big in Denmark.) Not sure I’m ready to go there yet. But, it did get me fired up about my garden again.

If you look really closely, on the menus of the nicer restaurants around us you will notice more and more chefs creating dishes with Scandinavian influences. (Akvavit comes to mind.) I started noticing it before my virtual trip to Copenhagen and even more so since. If those sixty minutes have done anything they have made me seek those places and recipes out.

In the meantime, as I thumb through some recent cookbook purchases, I am content to make myself a little bit of Smørrebrød for snacking. And, if it includes a little homemade Gravlax, so much the better….

Gravlax
Adapted from The Spruce
Gravlax is salmon that has been cold-cured with sugar, salt, and fresh dill. Modern gravlax has a fresh, delicate flavor and is delicious served either as an elegant appetizer or as a topping for smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches). Read more…

Korean Style Fried Chicken

Korean Style Fried Chicken

Olympic Fusion Food
The Olympics start this week. Opening ceremonies are Friday night but there are some events that have already started a competition. If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time you will know how much I love the Olympics. Especially the Winter Olympics.

Why do I love the Winter Olympics? Because you get to watch sports that at any other time you would never watch. I’m not saying that I am setting my alarm so that I can sit down and watch a curling match but I AM interested in the biathlon and speed skating. Sure figure skating is cool and downhill skiing is always exciting, but ever since Eddie The Eagle, I am a fool for the ski jumping competition.

The best part of watching the Olympics is that I know for a couple of hours each night, my entire family will be in the same room watching the same thing. That may not sound like a big deal but getting everyone in the same place doing something together (and not on their phones) is a rare thing. So, since I will have their undivided attention, I plan to make the appropriate fare for watching the competition.

For watching the Opening Ceremonies It makes sense to make something with a Korean flavor. Since it is Friday night, there won’t be any time for an elaborate dinner but a little pre-made Kim Chi from our Produce department is a good start. Of course, you could always go the bulgogi route because its quick, easy and tasty but I want to do something a little different.

While searching for recipes I found this one which is perfect. It’s a nod to the host country but still allows for a little national pride ‘cause what’s more American than fried chicken? I like the boneless skinless thighs because they cook quickly but you could easily do this with whole chicken legs or even wings. Traditional recipes call for the chicken to be fried twice but I’m not that patient….

Korean Style Fried Chicken
Adapted from NY Times Cooking recipe by Julia Moskin

Fried Chicken, or chicin, became popular in Korea because of American cultural influence around the Korean War. In South Korea, fried chicken is consumed as a meal, an appetizer, or as an after-meal snack.
Read more…

Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers for the Superbowl

Amy's Juicy Lucy BurgersFor Better or Worse…or Football
My husband is a Patriots fan. Sigh. A real one, not part of the bandwagon folks who jumped on at the beginning of what has been there dynastic dominance. Born in Rhode Island, he has been a fan since birth. And, he prefers the old minuteman logo to the current slick modern version. To be fair, he’s pretty low-key in his fandom. Living in an area heavily populated with Raiders fans will do that. But still…the Patriots? Anyone but those guys.

My husband is not low key at home. The Patriots could be down 21 points but I get the constant update as to when Tom Brady will kick it in gear and start the comeback.

As you may have guessed, I am not a fan of the Patriots. In the beginning of our relationship, I was, frankly, indifferent. I even wore the Patriots shirt my beloved gave me as a show of support. (We were newly married then.) As the Patriots’ continued, I got tired of seeing the same faces and jerseys every year. Give someone else a chance, right? This year is no different. I was Jacksonville’s biggest fan in the conference championship. (They had it! The game was in the palm of their hands!) Alas, it was not to be. So now I am the world’s biggest Eagles fan. Fly Eagles Fly!

Usually, I try to do appropriate regional foods for the Super Bowl depending on who is playing, ‘cause I’m just weird that way. Not gonna lie though, as much as I love New England Clam Chowder, this year I just can’t seem to muster the energy and make myself do it. While I am not entirely opposed to making cheesesteaks (because who doesn’t like cheesesteaks?) there is a good chance that we will be at a volleyball tournament and have to DVR the Super Bowl. This means whatever we have will need to be quick or made ahead. And, we won’t be able to look at our phones ‘cause we don’t want to ruin it.

So what’s a girl to do? The answer is a family favorite that happens to be hugely popular in Minnesota, which satisfies my weird regional Super Bowl food requirement. (Also, it’s meat and cheese so it’s kinda like a cheesesteak, maybe?).

I give you Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers. I love these as do my boys. There are really easy to slap together ahead of time. Use whatever cheese you prefer but I will say that good old American “cheese” really is the best choice for authentic flavor. You could also do them as sliders if you are looking for more of a bite-sized snack.

Happy Super Bowl watching and eating! May you enjoy the wacky commercials and not have the urge to strangle your favorite Patriots fan even though he is the love of your life….

Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burger
Serves 4 Read more…

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pecan CookiesAnd A Bag Of Chips
I keep chocolate chips in my pantry because you never know when you are going to have to make something for some event. Or for that matter, you never know when inspiration will strike and it will be a good idea to put them in pancakes. Side note: It is always a good idea.

It was not in my plans to make chocolate chip cookies over the weekend until I opened my pantry and noticed that someone or something with opposable thumbs had opened the bag of chips and apparently had been using them to satisfy a craving. The result was chips spilled on the shelf. Sadly enough, I don’t think this is one I can blame on the children—unless you think 49 still qualifies as a child.

So that is how I found myself making chocolate chip cookies Sunday afternoon. Since it is January and I have been trying to avoid such things, I justified my actions by telling myself I had no choice because the chips were just going to keep spilling everywhere. That and the kids were going back to school…so it would be a nice way to take the sting out of having homework again. Never mind that it was January 7th and I was already about to blow up my New Year’s resolution. Sigh.

I did make an attempt at healthy. I added pecans and some oatmeal. (What? That counts, right?) While it may not actually have made the cookies healthier, it did make them taste pretty good. And I really only had one…handful. Right out of the oven.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookies
Yields approximately 3 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on size

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

Beat together the butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and add to the butter mixture in the bowl. Mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix briefly. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2″ to 2″ between cookies.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 17 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown, with slightly darker edges.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and as soon as they’re set enough to handle, transfer them to a rack to cool.