Monday, February 28, 2011

Good Meat Cookbook Giveaway Winner

Julian Draws a Name From the Hat 

The Name is Passed to Sebastian

And the Winner is... Susan!
Congratulations Susan!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Salted Browned Butter Healthier Rice Crispy Treats

In reality this post is a final attempt to get my blog to be featured on Foodgawker and Tastespotting while the Good Meat Cookbook giveaway entry period is still open.  Don't forget that you have until 11:59 PM Eastern Standard time on Sunday February 27 to leave a comment on the Good Meat Cookbook Giveaway post to be entered for a copy of this amazing book by James Beard award winning author Deborah Krasner.   I am not saying that these rice crispy treats are not tasty.  Nor am I saying that they are not worth your time and energy to make them.  I would have shared them eventually, but as they are photogenic I decided to share early.

My mother never made rice krispie treats.  As a woman who referred to iceberg lettuce as "junk food" and made a convincing argument for marshmallows being disgusting puffed sugar, it is really no surprise that she did not make them.  Her description of marshmallows kept me from trying one until I was eighteen.  I suppose to be completely honest I would have to say I never tried a plain marshmallow before I was eighteen.  I probably ate my weight in rice krispie treats at every bake sale at my school when I was growing up.  I never knew they contained marshmallows, but somehow they were an illicit favorite.

Now that I have children of my own it is not my mother's brainwashing that kept me from making rice krispie treats at home.  It is because marshmallows are really puffed high fructose corn syrup, not sugar.  However the other day I found vegan marshmallows which are high fructose corn syrup free.  When I brought them to the register the cashier told me how much she loves them.  Then when she saw the whole grain rice puffs she said in an awed voice, "You're making healthy rice krispie treats."  Personally I think they are less unhealthy or even healthier, calling them healthy is still a stretch.

The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen and it is for Salted Browned Butter Crispy Treats.  I figured if I was going to the trouble of buying better quality ingredients I might as well start with the best recipe I could find.  While these are not health food they are rich, nutty and buttery.  Tastier then your average rice krispie treat and with at least reduced guilt when you indulge.

Salted Browned Butter Healthier Rice Crispy Treats
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen just by upgrading the ingredients

8 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce bag vegan no high fructose corn syrup marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups puffed whole grain rice cereal

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8 x 8 x 2 inch pan (mine was pyrex).

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Continue to cook the butter over medium heat, stirring often, until it becomes golden brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes.  Don't walk away while you are browning the butter because butter can go quickly from browned to burnt.  As soon as the butter is browned and fragrant turn the heat off and add the marshmallows, stirring them in well.

Turn the heat back on to low and continue to stir until the marshmallows are completely melted and smooth.  When I made them at first the marshmallows did not want to melt at all and I began to panic that healthier marshmallows don't melt.  Eventually the mixture became melted and smooth.

Once the marshmallow butter mixture is completely smooth turn off the heat and add the cereal and salt all together.  Stir well and quickly spread in the buttered pan.  Press the top down firmly with a spatula to make sure it is evenly spread in the pan.  Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice: Parboiled

I have a personal rule when planning dinner, everything I serve has to be something I am comfortable with someone making an entire meal out of.  It sounds like such an unlikely thing, for someone to make a meal out of only one thing on the table.  However not when there are children are at the table.  My children have often made complete dinners out of one dish, or even one item in a dish.  One day they might eat only the beef and the next time it is served they might eat only the peas in Chinese Hamburger with Peas (although now I am happy to say that is a dinner everyone in the family eats and enjoys).

Children are randomly picky, suddenly refusing the dish they previously ate their weight in.  They also have a natural instinct for finding which food has zero or low nutritional value.  So because of this I decided everything I serve must not be a nutritional zero.  Thus began the switch from white to brown rice, and many nights spent cursing as I once again served rice that was chewy and hard, only edible when eaten completely smothered in another dish.  I tried longer cooking times, more liquid, soaking etc and still  served rice that was not Al Dente or to the tooth but rather was hard and incapable of soaking up the sauces around it.

 I could always  make Volcano Rice and Uncle Ben's Brown Rice without fail, but I really wanted to make a simple brown jasmine rice.  I knew the Uncle Ben's Rice was parboiled so when I stumbled across this "recipe" I decided to try parboiling it first.  The only problem was the "recipe" tells you how to parboil it, not how to prepare it once parboiled.  So I experimented until I had a recipe that worked every time.  The best part is it takes slightly less boiling time overall then when just cooking it without parboiling.  If you want you can also parboil it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a few days until you want to cook it (next I plan on trying storing it in the freezer).

Don't forget to enter my Good Meat Cookbook Giveaway.  Entry period ends Sunday February 27th at 11:59 PM.

Parboiled Brown Rice

This recipe is tested using Lundberg Brown Jasmine Rice, I am sure it would work with other varieties of brown rice, you might just need to play a little with the amount of water added in the final cooking to get it just right for your taste.

1 cup Brown Jasmine Rice
salt to taste
1 tsp butter or Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Bring a large volume of water to a boil, not as much as you need to boil pasta but enough for the rice to roll around freely in it while boiling (I would guess I used at least 6 to 8 cups for 1 cup of rice).  Once the water is boiling add the rice and boil uncovered for 15 minutes.  Drain the rice and add back to the pot with 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cup water (the smaller volume of water will give you a slightly more firm finished rice), 1 tsp butter and salt to taste if you want more.  Sometimes I also add 1 Tbsp of say sauce.  Bring to the boil and turn down to the lowest possible simmer for 20 minutes.  (My stove does not do a great simmer so I just randomly turn the burner completely off for up to 5 minutes at a time during the 20 minutes of cooking time.  Most of the time I am in the kitchen cooking another part of dinner so it is only a matter of turning the flame on and off every once in a while).

The basic recipe to cooked the already parboiled rice is 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 parts water to 1 part of rice before parboiling plus 1 tsp fat.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Good Meat Cookbook Giveaway!

For the last several years the cookbooks I have added to my collection have mostly been focused on vegetables.  As my cooking evolved to be as seasonal as practical I found myself most at a loss when I stared down the same vegetables every week.  At the same time we began buying sustainable and humanely raised meat from local farmers by the whole or part animal.  Most of the time I could find an appropriate recipe in my collection of cookbooks.  Although I did face a stumbling block with many of the organ meats and other lesser known cuts lurking in my freezer.

The organ meats are listed as "optional" on the cut sheet but I could not bring myself to say no.  Many factors went into that decision.  Firstly, I had paid for the animal, ALL of the animal.  In addition I feel it is more respectful to the animals we eat as well as our planet not to waste what we don't know how to deal with.  The world could live off of what we in this country throw away.  However I still struggled with some of these cuts.

One year I made one of my families favorite dishes, an Armenian lamb and beef sausage, using the heart and kidneys of that years lamb.  The smell when I ground the meat prevented me from enjoying the finished product.  As I was alone in the kitchen when I made them the rest of my family enjoyed the finished product as they normally would.  Sebastian looked a little surprised when I did not limit the number he ate the way I usually do.  We shared them at a neighborhood pot luck where they were enjoyed by my neighbors as well.

Another problem I have found when cooking with a whole animal is scale.  I once pulled apart my freezer searching for 2 more lamb shanks to complete a recipe.  The problem was the recipe called for 6 lamb shanks, a recipe designed for cooks who are disconnected with the farmer's who grow their food and the cuts available per animal.  I needed a meat cookbook that explained the techniques necessary to prepare grass finished meats, that shared how to prepare everything, not just the choice cuts.

This Fall after reading an article about Deborah Krasner's new cookbook, Good Meat,  I knew right away I needed this cookbook.  I needed it not only because Krasner's cookbook collection makes mine seem small, I needed it for all the insight on how to cook sustainable meats.  I have now been cooking with it for half a year and I only have one complaint,  it is so large that it topples over my cookbook holder.  Every time I use it I have resorted instead to balancing it precariously on a step stool or the box from my new food processor.  However I am really not complaining about a cookbook so filled with recipes and advice on how to fill out a cut sheet that it is too big, or at least not complaining a lot.  Every recipe I have tried so far from this cookbook has been a success.  Some have even elevated cuts of meat my family usually disdained to favorite dinners.

I contacted the author, Deborah Krasner, and I was able to arrange a copy to give away to one of the readers of this blog.  A copy that is now signed by the author!  To be entered in the drawing just leave a comment telling me which of the following recipes you would most like to see on my blog.  I will share the top vote receiving recipe here after I announce the winner of the cookbook.  In addition I would also love to know if there is a specific cut of meat you need help finding a recipe for.

I am not going to give out multiple entries for this giveaway, mostly because I am not good at keeping track of many different things.  However if you are a regular reader of Hippo Flambe sharing this giveaway with your friend's means cookbook publishers are more likely to give me books to giveaway in the future.  I am also not going to use a random number generator to select the winner, because I have two very random boys who would be crushed not to have a role in the fun.

Lamb Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Green Olives

Brightness from preserved lemons, richness from olives and complexity from ginger, cumin, saffron, cinnamon, paprika, parsley and cilantro.

Salt and Spice Cured Loin Lamb Chops

You start by mixing up the salt and spice cure, a blend that will add complexity and subtly to other meats as well.  The blend is then mixed with olive oil and herbs before being rubbed on to the lamb chops to marinate.  After the meat is grilled the lamb is savory and sweet and irresistible.  A dish I prepared and then told the boys they better hurry up and come to the table, before I ate all of the lamb.

Salt Seared Burger with Red Wine Reduction

This technique for cooking a grass fed burger is inspired.  It produces a juicy, caramelized burger with a red wine reduction to gild the lily.  The same technique can be used for a perfect sirloin steak.

Beef Liver Mousse

As a young child I used to enjoy the "sport" of ordering beef liver in restaurants.  I never enjoyed the dish itself, but I could worry down a few bites in order to enjoy the reaction from the waitress when I ordered it.  Happily this pate does not taste like that liver did, instead it is reminiscent of chopped liver and french pate.

Roasted Cardamom, Oregano, and Garlic Chicken Thighs

I was prepping this dish while hanging out with a friend.  As I crushed the cardamom she smelled them in wonder.  "I would look at a recipe that calls for cardamon and just ignore it.  I would not have realized it smells so wonderful."  The smell of the cardamom comes through in the finished thighs as the perfume of the cardamom is blended with the oregano and garlic on these succulent thighs.

To be entered into the cookbook giveaway please leave a comment telling me which recipe (Lamb Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Green Olives, Salt and Spice Cured Loin Lamb Chops, Salt Seared Burger with Red Wine Reduction, Beef Liver Mousse, Roasted Cardamom, Oregano, and Garlic Chicken Thighs) you most want me to share.  Please tell me as well if there are any cuts of meat you need recipes for.  I would also love to know who you, my readers are.  Please make sure I have a way of contacting you.  So either include your e-mail address in the comment, (you should use spaces in your e-mail address to avoid unwanted spam), or send me your e-mail address at: robin at hippoflambe dot com,   a blog address in the url, or link to a blogger profile that is not private and includes a way to contact you.  If try to contact someone and I do not have a way to do so I will draw a new winner.  Entries are closed at 11:59 PM (eastern standard time) Sunday February 27th.

Giveaway is now Closed.  My children will draw the winner later today (February 28th)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Browned Butter Brownies (with or without pecans)

This past Wednesday the Burlington School district had their first snow day since Sebastian (my third grader) was in kindergarten.  It could not have come at a better time for my family.  Right in the middle of a small school vacation drought.  Early in the day on Tuesday most of the surrounding school districts declared the following day a snow day before a single flake had fallen.  Burlington however has a higher percentage of poverty and in the winter school means heat and food for many children, and for that reason rarely close for a mere snowstorm.  I was sure if we had a snow day it would be declared at the last possible minute.  However shortly before 7 PM we received the robocall canceling school and I did a little dance at my seat.  (I really did, I think I might have been even more excited then my children).

My husband played hooky from his work as well and we got to steal a midweek day in the snow.  We began, shortly after a breakfast of Liege Sugar Waffles, by stepping out our front door to X-county ski to the park with our sleds.  We returned home starving and snowy, which for most families means breaking out mugs and making hot chocolate.  The only problem is Sebastian only likes the idea of hot chocolate. When faced with a mug of his own, even when I make it with milk, melted bittersweet chocolate and sugar,  he only takes a few tentative sips before allowing his brother, the liquid chocolate addict, to finish his share.

These brownies can happily satisfy a post snow adventure for my whole family, and you can even take them with you as an easily transportable snack.  I like that they rely on cocoa powder, which for most people is far more easy to stock then bakers, bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate.  Somehow I still needed to rely on my neighbors pantry for some of the cocoa powder called for.  Brownies aside, it was a great snow day.  After the sledding we played monopoly and then the boys went outside with a neighbor flopping into patches of untouched snow.   The editing of memories are already whitewashing any whining of overtired boys that happened and focusing only on the day spent playing. I am sure my boys will remind me of this day for long to come, "remember the snow day when we skied to the park, played monopoly, ate sugar waffles for breakfast...?"

One more note on these brownies, which I am not going to say "Are the best brownies ever" as was stated by many commenters on Bon Appetite's website.  Personally I have many brownie recipes that I love and I refuse to trouble myself with declaring a favorite.  Instead I choose to make whichever recipe suits my mood at any moment.  These are suitably rich and decadent even though they use cocoa powder in place of chocolate because of the browned butter.  Browned butter is nutty, richer and sweeter because the sugars have been caramelized and the flavors intensified.  However given my deep love of brownies and love to play, next I am going to try these olive oil brownies.  Maybe I will make my friend Heather's decadent mint layer brownies instead...

I made the browned butter brownies in 2 pyrex loaf pans so I could make half of the batch with pecans and leave the other half naked for my heathen children.  If you enjoy nuts in your brownies they really do help balance the richness of this recipe.  Although neither of my boys complained once about their version without the nuts.  They did not even notice how much less height, and therefore deliciousness there was without the nuts.  I made these using only whole wheat pastry flour as I realized several years ago a good brownie recipe has enough chocolate to allow you to use any flour you want without anyone knowing the difference.  Not that these can now be classified as health food, but I see no reason not to add more whole grains to my diet any time I can.

Browned Butter Pecan Brownies
Adapted from Bon Appetite

Nonstick cooking spray (I used Reynolds release foil and eliminated this step)
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat
1/2 to 1 cup pecan pieces (I used 1/2 cup for half of the batch, use 1 cup for all nut brownies)

Preheat to 325°F with a rack in the lower third.  Line either one 8x8x2-inch pyrex dish or two 8x4.5x2 inch pans with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray (or don't bother if using nonstick foil). Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan (my pan was 3 qts).  Cook the butter, stirring often, until it becomes golden brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend and then allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Butter/cocoa mixture will still be hot, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one until no signs of egg are present before adding the next one.  When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes.  If making some with and some without nuts pour half of the batter into one prepared pan before stirring in the nuts and adding the rest of the batter to the second pan.  Otherwise add the nuts to the whole batch and pour into prepared pan.

Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes (I think mine were more like 35 - 40). Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into up however you want. 

The recipe states these can be made 2 days ahead, perhaps that is the longest they were able to resist them in the test kithcens.  I was able to hide mine and store them for at least a week.