Tuesday, March 24

Cinnamon Wheat Banana Bread

I have a substantial vat of wheat germ since I bought it for Aunt Elaine's hearty pancakes and with the health freakish intention of putting it my morning oatmeal. (However, that is less than savory). My wheat germ wealth being what it is, I'm throwing wheat germ into my baked goods. It's great once baked into muffins, breads or pancakes. Good source of fiber, gives a grainy heartiness....and is very crumbly. So I think the inclusion of wheat germ may warrant an additional egg, or maybe some olive oil? I'm not sure. Taylor agreed this bread was pretty good. And it doesn't even have sugar in it! All the bananas don't need added sugar but the original recipe called for it. If you're more interested in the sugar than in the mountain-man-esque wheat germ, substitute the 1/4 c. wheat germ for sugar.

Cinnamon Wheat Banana Bread
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs, beaten (I recommend 3)
1/4 c butter, melted
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/4 c. wheat germ
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Oven to 350. Grease or butter a 9 x 5 in bread pan. Add eggs and butter to mashed bananas in large bowl and mix. Combine all remaining dry ingredients separately and mix into banana mixture until completely moistened. Spread mixture into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour.

Modifications: 1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans would be extra delicious!

Monday, March 16

Chicken Fried [Venison] Steaks

This was serendipitously good. Venison is too chewy in my opinion to be enjoyed like a steak since it is so lean. This is why I planned to do something similar to my Parmesan Chicken with them. However, I was surprised at how tender they were and how well this turned out. I attribute it to the stellar performance of my new discovery, McCormick's Grill Mates. They have a variety of steak rub-esque selections and come with a marinade recipe on the side. I thought, why not. I bought a few varieties originally to try with chicken breasts; since I'm ready to venture out from Taylor's favorite Stubb's Marinade. And figured I could try tossing them with vegetables before roasting as well. So this isn't a rock star recipe...mostly I wanted to pay tribute to the Grill Mate's solid performance. When one endeavors to cook something edible nearly every night, savory shortcuts are always welcome.

One more recommendation. If you're using stainless cookware (as opposed to non-stick). I recommend using one pan large enough to pan fry all of these at once or using two pans. I have never had much success doing multiple batches of this type of thing in the same skillet without lots of scraping and still seemingly unavoidable baked-on residue.
meet the shortcut stars.

Actually one more recommendation. This is a messy endeavor. I've found the mess is minimized buy using rimmed bowls or, more candidly, those perfectly sandwich sized square tupperware for the flour, egg and breading "stations" respectively. Furthermore, tongs also really help avoid smattering eggy - floury - bready crumbs all over the kitchen. That probably could have gone unsaid. Wouldn't you like to think. But this is the first time I used tongs for all this breading and was actually able to sautee my spinach simultaneously without dousing the handle of my pot in goo.

Pan Fried Venison Steaks
6 4oz Venison Fillets
marinade of choice (or see mine below)
1 c. bread crumbs
2 T. Grill Mates Seasoning or herb of choice such as thyme or simply fresh cracked pepper
3/4 c. flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 T. butter
olive oil
Add marinade to large freezer bag and place fillets inside, with bag sealed, gently mix fillets with marinade from the outside with hands while rubbing it in and tenderizing. Marinate fillets for 4-6 hours.

Coat each fillet with flour, then egg, then breading. While battering, heat large skillet or flat bottomed sauce pan with with lid over medium low heat (a 3 on my range). Add 1 T. butter and allow to coat bottom of pan. Add steaks as soon as butter is completely melted. Cover and cook on low/medium about 6 minutes per side or until juices run clear when lightly pressed. I've found I can finalize the crunchy coating at the very end by increasing the heat slightly and flipping once more to each side, about a minute each. Should be very slightly pink in the middle and will cook themselves a bit more once removed.

My Nothing Special Marinade
1/4 c. olive oil
1 T. Seasoning (such as Grill Mates Garlic and Herb)In case you're a purist, I don't think these are really "chicken fried" since I think that involves a deep frier. Hence the title schizophrenia. However, they are reminiscent of those big ol' chicken fried steaks from some small town Texas diner. I recommend mashed potatoes with these, or maybe even homemade macaroni and cheese which I'm considering trying soon. Stay tuned.

Isn't my picture appetizing? Hm. Probably not unless you're a high school football player. I realized I'd been depriving my faithful readers of savory pictures so I grabbed the camera and documented this lovely dish. For your loyal readership, I give you beautifully photogenic fried steaks.

Tuesday, March 10

White Lasagna with Chicken and Satueed Mushrooms

I thought this had great flavor and wasn't too rich since I used 2% milk and there's not much cheese. It's a pretty good base for any additional ingredients --like prosciutto, spinach, diced roma tomatoes.... I think it's a good balance between the food I like and the comfort food that Taylor is partial too.

White Lasagna with Chicken and Sauteed Mushrooms
adapted from Gourmet
3/4 cup minced shallots (about 6)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 3/4 cups whole milk (I used 2%)
1 cup rich chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
12 (7- by 3-inch) no-boil egg lasagna sheets
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup sauteed sliced mushrooms
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Cook shallots in butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add flour and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, 3 minutes. Add nutmeg, then slowly whisk in milk and stock. Bring to a boil, whisking, then simmer, stirring occasionally, just until sauce lightly coats back of spoon, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool to warm, stirring occasionally. Stir in eggs, salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 cup cheese.

Spread about 1 1/4 cups sauce over bottom of an 11- by 8-inch baking dish. Cover with a layer of 3 lasagna sheets. Coat sheets in about 1 1/4 cup sauce, sprinkle with cheese, mushrooms and chicken. Repeat layering 3 more times, then top with remaining sauce and remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake, uncovered, until browned, 45 to 55 minutes.

Sauce can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered (once cool).

Update {07/13}: I halved this recipe but thought that I needed to up the flour to compensate for the less thick 2% milk. Such is not the case, equal parts butter (fat) and flour is the base of this type of sauce. Then add and stir liquids to desired consistency. Halving it should not be a problem.

Sunday, March 8

banana and wheat germ muffins

I'd been craving muffins and finally had sufficient excess bananas to justify mashing them up. When they were just reaching the point of being too ripe, I put them in the refrigerator. Then we waited until Saturday so they could have their day. This recipe calls for 3/4 a cup of sugar; I only used 1/2 and am not even really convinced it needs any. But some people want their muffin to be a dessert.

Banana and Wheat Germ Muffins

adapted from Bon Appetit
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 c sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 16 muffin cups with foil muffin papers or spray lightly with cooking oil. Sift dry ingredients into medium bowl. Mix in wheat germ. Combine bananas, milk, eggs, oil and vanilla extract in large bowl and whisk to blend. Mix in dry ingredients. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, dividing equally.

Bake muffins until tops are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Taylor has yet to try them. Each time I offer he feigns "not hungry." He usually does that when I bake breads and muffins. Someday he'll realize he's been missing out.

Tuesday, March 3


Baby Rosemary! My mom brought this home for me from our new favorite grocery store in South Austin, Newflower Farmer's Market .....which, by the way, is life changing. Especially on Wednesdays. Last week, I got blueberries for 88 cents instead of 3.89.

Back to Baby Rose. Now whenever my recipes call for rosemary, this is where it will be coming from! ....and maybe even when they don't call for it. If I can keep her alive, I may start a little potted herb garden on our patio.

Chicken Gyros with Cucumber Salsa and Tsatsiki

First I have to say that it is so typical of Epicurious to categorize this as "Quick & Easy" when it involved not only homemade tsatsiki but homemade salsa and homemade garlic sauce. This was certainly good --all the flavor I'd expect from an Epicurious recipe but not what I'd call "Quick & Easy." Save your categories for Top Chef, Epicurious.

Chicken Gyros
adapted from Gourmet
2 cucumbers, divided
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided
5 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
dried parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4-5 tablespoons cup fresh rosemary, chopped
1 (12-ounces) package naan bread (four 8-inch pieces)
or 4 (8-inch) pita rounds
1/2 roast chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded (about 2 1/4 cups)
8 leaves of spinach, shredded or chopped

Peel and grate 1 cucumber, then squeeze it with your hands to remove excess water. Stir together with yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, one third of garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to make tsatsiki.
Cucumber Salsa
Cut remaining cucumber into 1/4-inch pieces and stir together with tomatoes, onion, dash of parsley, mint, remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and dash of salt and pepper to make salsa.
Garlic Oil Spread
Gently simmer oil, oregano, rosemary, remaining garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and dash of pepper in a small heavy saucepan, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes. (I did this in the microwave.) Generously brush one side of bread with oil and toss chicken in with the remainder. Stir to keep warm while toasting bread.

Heat bread, oiled side up, on cookie sheet, covered with foil, 3 to 4 inches from broiler 3 minutes. Uncover and broil, flipping bread for even coloring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes.

Open pita and fill with spinach, salsa, chicken and tsatsiki. Or serve all ingredients on top of pita or naan bread. This is even better as leftovers, as chicken stored in garlic rosemary sauce has marinated in the flavor. YUM!

I accidentally put oregano in the salsa. Don't do that.