Thursday, February 13, 2014

Asian Cube Steak

Tangy and spicy, this recipe is amazing. 

Cube Steak is cheap and easy to make.  This cut of red meat should be cooked "wet", and here is an interesting fact: the Cube Steak was the original "hamburger", before finely ground meat patties could be made.  For an old-world hamburger, grill a Cube Steak, soak it in some condiment and put it on a single slice of hearty whole-grain bread with saurkraute.

My go-to for cube steak is to just serve it with German Spaetzle dumplings and an herb-laden brown gravy whipped up from scratch.  That is a good, easy meal and one I've never much thought of replacing.  However, due to a recent move, and a short supply of condiments, and little motivation to hit the grocery store, I had to get creative with what I had- mostly Asian stuff.  My concocutre did not start off smelling too good, and I was just hoping it would be not-disgusting.  Well, it was excellent, keeping my streak of off-the-cuff recipes that turn out well going.  I might have a new staple dinner when I crave some cheap red meat.

Ingredients: (brands I used in parentheses)
1 lb Cube Steaks
3 tbsp Hoi Sin Sauce (Sun Luck)
1 tsp Chinese Hot Chili Oil (Dynasty)
3 tbsp Classic Wok Oil, with garlic, onions, ginger and safflower (La Tourangelle)
2 tsp Tamari Extra Dark Premium Soy Sauce (San J)
Few pinches Signature Asian Seed Rub (Private Selection)
A pinch each of: onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, and ground ginger

Start your meat in the pan with nothing but the Wok Oil.  Add in everything else after they brown, stir well, flip the steaks regularly, and keep it all on Medium heat for about 7 minutes.  Then enjoy.  You are welcome in advance.

P.S. This is fairly hot.  If that is not your favorite style of food, then reduce the Hot Chili Oil by half.  If you want it really hot, then double to 2 tspn.  But just remember a little goes a long way.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Healthy Desserts

The world's greatest pecan pie is finally perfected, and I'm giving it to you free of charge.  Also a couple other "healthy" dessert ideas tacked on at the end.

What a nice guy I am, right?  Well it took me 3 attempts but here is a healthy, delicious artisan dessert for your next special occassion.  No corn syrup, no artificial ingredients, preservatives, or compromises.  Tons of natural flavor, and made with only ingredients known and available to Mesopotamia centuries ago.  I named it Canaan Pie because it is made with milk and honey, and in the Bible, Canaan was the name of the land of milk and honey.  Makes sense, eh?  I made this for "Thanksgiving in Zion National Park" with a big hiking and canyoneering group, and it was sort of a big hit, though I burned one of the pies.  Sadly, that one got sampled first, and by more people.

Part 1: Recipe for Canaan Pie:

1 cup spelt flour
1 cup kamut flour
1/4 cup barley flakes
1/8 cup slivered almonds
1/2 stick butter
1 whole egg
2 tbsp oil of your choice 
Water as needed
Standard bleached baking flour as needed

12 oz whole pecans
2 whole eggs
1/2 pint heavy cream
10-12 whole dried figs
1/4 cup currants
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp molasses
Cinammon, nutmeg, and allspice
1/8 cup plum butter or pumpkin butter (optional)

Directions for crust: 
Spelt and kamut flours are more difficult than typical wheat flour, which is part of why the wheat we use won out.  For breads, they can be heavy and resistant to rising, but in a pie crust it doesn't matter.  These traditional whole grains will give a dark hearty crust.  Mix the 2 cups flour with water and oil, and blend in your egg, and the butter (melted, or just dice it cold if you like extra work or don't have a microwave).  I did this all by hand with a teardrop spatula.  Add water and white flour as needed until you've got a good dough that is behaving itself.  Add your barley flakes now and mix them in.  This way they don't pulverize completely.  Grease your pie pan and press the dough down into it, evening with fingers.  This is not going to be a delicate dough, so you can manhandle it and it shouldn't tear.  If it does, repair is easy.  Once you've got the crust laid out well, press the slivered almonds in gently, and somewhat evenly- again, this is done in a way so as not to crush them up too much.  You want your guests to know this is a special crust, hand-pressed with almonds with care.  Sprinkle lightly one last time with white flour to help prevent too much seepage into the crust by the fillings.

Directions for filling:
Dump 'em all in a bowl.  Stir them up.  Pour them over your crust and stir them up again.  Try to make things even so one piece isn't all fig or another piece all pecans.  But not much can go wrong here.  I assure you.  You can do this.  The optional pumpkin or plum butter will not change the flavor much, but it will change the color from a gold to a faint orange (pumpkin) or mahogany (plum).  I suggest halving your figs.  Do pull the stems out, even if you leave them whole.  I suppose if you fail to do THAT then something will go wrong here.  I shouldn't have assured you of success so soon.

Directions for baking:
Bake at 350 F in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, watching closely.  You lose flavor if it singes, so pull it when the top is getting browned.  Not all ovens work exactly alike.  Will set and thicken as it cools.  Main thing is, those eggs gotta be cooked.  Serve hot or cold.  Good both ways.  

Wow!  A new leaf- an actual recipe with directions, and not so much chatter.  Perhaps there is hope for this abandoned vacant ghost-blog after all.  Enjoy.  (Sorry I don't have pictures.)

 Part 2: Recipe for "Concrete Energy"

I'm pretty sure I wrote about this a long time back.  Let's not think how far back.  But it has a new name, so I will write it more concisely with proper detail.  This is a chilled snack made with granola and a "Honey Bunches of Oats" style cereal. The two are "cemented" together with a 50/50 mix of honey and PB.  Its high calorie, and a great on-the-go treat.  

12 oz granola
12 oz Honey Bunches of Oats (or your favorite generic option)
12 oz smooth peanut butter
12 oz honey

Can you remember all those numbers?  You can tinker.  Mix the dries in a bowl while you heat the peanut butter and honey over a light simmer on the stove, stirring often.  Once they are consistent, taste them and add more of one or the other as you prefer.  

Pour your glue over the cereal and mix together with a plastic spoon.  Let sit a minute while you grease a 9X12 glass baking dish.  Pour the mix in and pat it as evenly as possible, smoothing the top.  Cover and refridgerate several hours.  Cut it into squares and eat.  Keep it cool or it will come apart, but as you practice, you'll get better at it and there will be less crumbling. 

This was a very popular item at the same "Thanksgiving in Zion" event.

Make sure you exercise before you eat this, or you will get fat.  And die of a heart attack.  Reading that last sentence legally counts as a disclaimer.  Don't look it up, just trust me.  Would I lie to you, here at this little blog?

Part 3: Reposted: Chocolate Tofu Pie

Don't forget about this one if you like somewhat healthy desserts:

Its super simple:

1 lb silken tofu
9 oz dark chocolate (melted)
Whipped cream
Raspberries (or other fruit)
1 pre-made Graham Cracker Crust (or make your own- may I suggest the kamut/spelt crust from above)?

Just blend the melted chocolate and tofu in a blender or food processor.  Pour into the pie crust, and decorate the top.  No one needs to know its good for them until they are half finished with a slice, praising you around a full mouth!  Over 15 grams of protein per slice.  Less than 30 minutes start to finish!

Part 4:  "Oat the Door" Bars (newly renamed):

Just use the basic dry formula and the basic wet formula for unflavored, or change the recipe as noted for each flavor listed below.  These make great snacks for hiking or taking to work.  I haven't made them in over a year, and I do not know what is wrong with me!  This is a good reminder.  I was thinking of them because a friend just got the dreaded "high cholesterol" diagnosis, and is morosely crunching away on store-bought granola bars on her breaks.  Oats help reduce cholesterol and these keep for weeks in the fridge without preservatives, and are way better than anything you can buy.  Not THAT much work to make either.  Once you get the hang of them.

Recipe and Directions:

Dry: To be mixed by hand with a big spoon in a big bowl
2.5 cups of oats
1 cup whole wheat flour (or replace some of the wheat flour with a couple tablespoons of soy flour which has more protein)
1-2 tbsp of flaxseed meal (omega 3 fatty acids)
Some cinammon
Some allspice

Wet: To be heated on low in a pan
4 fluid oz corn syrup (I have been using light but I think dark might be better)
4 or so oz margarine or butter
1/3 cup sugar or brown sugar (depending on which variety or which you think will taste better)

That's it. You add the melted butter and liquids to your drys, stir them, dump them in a glass 9X13 bake dish which you: 1) grease plenty 2) put in the oven at 375 for 30-40 minutes.

You can be cleaned up completely in five minutes. They are really quite easy. And very adaptable. You can add a little water (less than 3 fluid oz) if you want them more soft. You can cut a pan of them into eight bars which are squarish, or 16 smaller granola bar sized bars (the new 100 calorie size).

Here are my varieties so far:


Your add ins are: 1/4-1/2 cup craisins to your dry mixture, and  2 tsp orange emulsion to your wet

Tangy Apple Date

Your add-ins are: 1/2 cup chopped dates to your dry mix and 1 tbsp molasses and about 4 fluid oz of apple butter to your wet.

Iced Pumpkin Walnut Raisin

Add Ins: Dry: 1/8 cup or so chopped walnuts, 1/3 cup raisins, 1 cup of canned pumpkin (or a little over)

Wet: No additions

Icing: While baking (at the 15 minute mark), you will need to make your icing. Start with 2 oz butter or margaine in a small sauce pan and turn heat to low. Stir in sugar until it gets thick and squirt in a teaspoon or a little more of vanilla extract. Keep it warm With 5 minutes of your bake time left, pull out your bars and spread the icing over them. This won't cover everything evenly- I did tiger stripes. Then slide back in to bake those last few minutes and eat.  

(The pumpkin flavor is very good without the icing too.  Its not necessary unless you are using them as a dessert only).

Chocolate Coconut Cashew

Your add ins are: Either 1/4 cup chocolate chips or of make-your-own Dove chocolate chips made with a trusy knife and a little care, 1/4 cup of shaved coconut (have you noticed shaved coconut is like 3 times cheaper by weight than shredded; I don't care what shape my coconut flakes come in- do you?), 1/8 cup chopped cashews. Add all to your dry. No add ins to your wet- unless you want a little vanilla in there, which you just might. Doesn't that sound good? I bet it does.