Ridiculously Good Fried Chicken

IMG_3916 If you follow me on instagram (kitchen3n), you’ll notice I went on a little trip recently! I had the opportunity to help organize a company retreat at the magnificent Qasr Al Sarab in UAE (about 2 hours south of Abu Dhabi). It was my first time abroad since having my kids so you can be sure leading up to the trip I juggled feelings of anxiety and excitement…but mostly anxiety. IMG_4979_2 IMG_5032_2 IMG_5073 IMG_5090_2

As difficult as it was leaving the kiddos behind for a whole week, it was so refreshing and rewarding to immerse myself in work, in a new place, with faces that I don’t see often. The food at the resort was fabulous and plentiful. UAE is truly a mix of ethnic groups and it shows in the dining options. Traditional emirati dishes are punctuated by South Asian, Filipino and pan-Arab foods. Some of the most memorable items I had were fresh labne (strained yogurt), congee (chinese rice porridge with dried shrimp and soy sauce), stewed tomatoes, bbq beef short ribs, and mustard (yes – the condiment, a whole grain, fruity, spicy concoction) atop veal chops – ugh, it was heavenly. IMG_3905 

One thing they did not have, was my fried chicken. That, you have to come to Kitchen3N for. My fried chicken is special in that I brine it in a buttermilk, salt and spice mixture that gives it incomparable tenderness and flavor (a nod to smitten kitchen’s buttermilk roast chicken). Then, to make it even more special, the coating it gets before hitting the hot oil is a combination of flour, bread crumbs and even more seasoning. Finally, I finish it in the oven on a wire rack atop a baking sheet because I can never seem to get it cooked throughout without burning the outside when I stick to just the stove top method. Thanks for the idea, Ina.IMG_3908 

I don’t even know why I’m disclosing my secrets. Yes, I want you to have outrageously good fried chicken. No, I’m not opening a restaurant any time soon. I suppose these are good reasons for sharing. IMG_3909

I used to be horrid at fried chicken. I would impatiently put the chicken in before the oil was hot enough. I didn’t bother with the extra step of finishing in the oven so half the pieces would be pink inside. So now, when I make fried chicken, though it is a production with the brining, coating, frying, and baking, it is so worth the end result. I mentioned in earlier posts the immeasurable importance of a candy thermometer (pun!). It is essential in regulating the heat of the oil, as it varies so much from when all the pieces are just placed in, to when they are cooked, to when the pan is empty again in between batches. I kept my oil between 325 and 350 – this is optimal for ensuring the outside doesn’t brown too much.

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Though I wish I could share a no-frills fried chicken recipe with you that didn’t involve more than 2 steps or kitchen gadgets, these were the things that I’ve found to set mediocre fried chicken apart from Ridiculously Good Fried Chicken. These are like Throwdown-with-Bobby-Flay Good Fried Chicken.

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I served mine with some creamy dreamy mashed potatoes. But serve with a side salad if you are watching your carbs ;)

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs chicken legs and thighs, skin on or off
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs (preferably panko)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or chili powder
  • vegetable or peanut oil for frying

Directions

  1. Several hours or the night before cooking, combine buttermilk, garlic, paprika, salt and both peppers in a bowl or gallon ziploc bag. Combine well and add the chicken legs and thighs. Let marinate for at least two hours, but better yet at 6-8 hours.
  2. Pour oil into a cast iron skillet or casserole pan so the oil is 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. Turn on the flame and using a candy thermometer inserted into the oil and attached to one side of the pan, bring the heat up to 325 degrees F. This takes about 10 minutes or so over high heat.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and set aside. The wire rack is essential here because if you place the chicken directly on the baking sheet, the underside will get soggy.
  4. In a shallow dish combine flour, bread crumbs and remaining seasonings. Carefully take out chicken pieces, shaking off the excess and place into flour/bread crumb mixture. Coat evenly, 3 to 4 pieces depending on the size of  your pan, and carefully lower into the oil. Regulate the heat so it doesn’t go above 350 or below 325. After 5-7 minutes, flip and cook until the other side is golden brown (another 5 minutes or so). Place on the wire rack and continue with the next batch.
  5. When all the pieces are fried and placed on the wire rack over the baking sheet, bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes check one of the thigh pieces for doneness by cutting right through the middle and ensuring that the meat closest to the bone is not pink and the juices run clear. If not done, stick back in the oven for 5 more minutes.

Over the Muffin Top Blueberry Muffins

IMG_3893 I wasn’t planning on posting anything anytime soon. I’ve been swamped with work and caught in a whirlwind of Pre-K applications. If some of you have read my previous posts, you know I had been planning on homeschooling my kids. I felt I could provide them with a much more tailored education than could be provided at a public school – supplementing my kids’ homeschooling with extracurricular activities like soccer or dance classes, for the socialization, discipline, and physical outlet.

IMG_3889  But the extracurricular activities aren’t exactly panning out. My kids (ages 4 and almost 3) have such intense stranger/separation anxiety that they don’t want to participate. That’s not the only thing. As parenting young children evolves, it goes from becoming a physically demanding endeavor to an emotionally taxing one. As my days are less and less filled with diaper changes, bottle prep, washing, rocking to sleep, etc. those pockets of time are increasingly filled with

  • negotiations – how many times can you re-wear the same old tutu? when IS bedtime really?
  • refereeing – who deserves that toy? how do you ask patience of an almost 3 year old when you are running out of it?
  • cleaning up spilled milk/juice/paint – i literally cry over spilled milk

IMG_3897 So, we’ve made the decision to enroll our daughter in Pre-K, and my son, when he is ready, next year, God willing. I think it will be good for me – and by extension, the kids. I’ve found in my conversations with other moms (full time workers, part time workers, and stay at home homeschooling mothers) that mothers who work part time have the best of both worlds. They have an outlet in the form of work – using their intellect, getting tangible rewards, conversing with other adults, etc. Plus, they get to spend a good amount of time with their kids afterschool or whenever. There are obviously exceptions to this. I can’t imagine my previous boss allocating any less time from her profession, or rather, her mission in life, to anything else. On the other end of the spectrum I’ve seen some homeschooling moms who just have it together and are getting it done!  IMG_3900 But until my baby girl starts her long, arduous journey of education, she will continue helping me out in the kitchen. Somehow both kids helped with making these (from sifting the dry ingredients, to scooping batter) and despite it all – they came out decent looking! These started off with good intentions – part whole wheat flour, part almond flour. But ended up getting a sprinkling of butter/brown sugar/cinnamon that – you guessed it – sent them over the muffin top. It’s got that nice sugary crust that bakery style muffins have. Everyone is crazy about brown butter these days and I am, too. But not so much browning butter, then adding it to the batter. I like when the food cooks in the butter (pancakes, toast, you name it), so that the browning happens at the surface, where it can impart a crunch when possible and elevate the whole flavor profile of said food.

Try these crunchy, nutty, fruity, delicious muffins. Recipe adapted from Food.com.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (if you don’t have this, then you can use all purpose flour, but it won’t be the same!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • half pint of blueberries
  • 1/4 cup butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin pan with 18 muffin liners.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda together in a bow. Add the whole wheat flour, almond meal, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Stir with a whisk (if you try to sift the latter 4 ingredients, I’ve found that it just doesn’t pass through the mesh).
  3. In a separate large measuring cup or bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk and vegetable oil. Beat with a fork or whisk until well combined. Add to the dry ingredients, incorporating everything slowly. Take care not to over mix as that will toughen your muffins. Add the blueberries and carefully fold into the batter (you don’t want to mush the berries!).
  4. Using an ice cream scoop, evenly distribute the batter among the muffin pans. In a separate bowl, combine diced butter, brown sugar and cinnamon with your fingers. Dot the tops of each muffin with the butter/brown sugar mixture and bake for 20-30 minutes in preheated oven.

Tiramisu

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Tiramisu is the rare dessert that can compete with chocolate anything. And, no, the dusting of cocoa powder on top does not a chocolate dessert make. Fluffy zabaglione – an italian custard composed of raw eggs, sugar and usually some flavoring, layered with espresso or coffee soaked ladyfingers. It is the most delicious no-bake dessert you can whip up. Though, not in a snap. This dessert is best served cold, having spent the previous night in the fridge. The hardest part of this recipe, is the wait. Yes, my husband dug into his birthday tiramisu about 3o minutes after I assembled it. And yes, he enjoyed it. But you can bet when he had it the next day, the MMM! reverberated around the apartment.

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For some reason, it’s hard to come by a tiramisu in this country without some sort of liqueur or marsala. Same goes for the top tiramisu recipes online. But I can’t recall having a single tiramisu during my time in Italy that was made with alcohol. Unless my memory serves me wrong. However,  my suspicion that traditional tiramisu is not made with alcohol was confirmed with the recipe of the ladyfingers package. Then again, tira-mi-su does mean pick-me-up. Either way – this is an alcohol free recipe for those of you desiring one.

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The whipped cream is something I added in lieu of a whipped egg white that the original recipe suggests. When has a cup of cream, whipped, hurt anything (except the needle on the scale?).

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I also used regular ol’ brewed coffee. My espresso machine was decommissioned ages ago. My limited NY kitchen counter space could not accommodate it. So regular brewed coffee it is – and trust me, you do not miss a thing.

 Ingredients

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 16 oz mascarpone cheese, at room temp
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 cups brewed coffee
  • about 18 ladyfingers, available at Italian groceries, more if you are using a longer pan
  • cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions

  • Using a stand mixer or hand held electric beater, beat egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until pale yellow. Add mascarpone and continue beating until well blended.
  • In a separate bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add the cream to the egg and mascarpone mixture, by folding gently with a spatula so as not to deflate the whipped cream.
  • Carefully pour coffee onto a plate with raised edges. In a square dish, spread 1/3 of the cream mixture along the bottom. Briskly dip a ladyfinger into the coffee, and place it on top of the cream, repeating with more ladyfingers until they are arranged in a single layer (see above pictures). Spread half of the remaining cream on top of the ladyfingers. Continue by soaking the remaining ladyfingers briefly in the coffee and arranging them on top of the second cream layer. Spread the remaining cream on top. Dust the top with cocoa powder. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours. It’s best the next day.

Lessons in Spatchcocking

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Don’t double check your calendar. It is in fact, March. I cooked a whole turkey in March.

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What else are you going to do when your buddies over at Honest Chops send you a 17 pound bird? Since we didn’t do the whole turkey day shebang last year, I got to try out the spatchcocking technique I read about over at Serious Eats. So you see, it isn’t a word I made up for my kids. It’s a cooking technique that requires removal of the backbone (seriously, this turkey has seen better days), then pushing the bird down flat to encourage even cooking. People go all kinds of crazy to ensure breast meat doesn’t dry out. In past years I’ve tried brining in a brining bag (thanksgifiasco 2011 – brining bag broke and peppercorns were still being found in corners of my apt six months later). I’ve flipped the bird half way through the cooking process – starting breast down, the finishing breast up.

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This time I really wanted to try dry brining. But ain’t nobody got room in their fridge for a 17 lb bird to do its thing for 3 days!! I couldn’t even defrost this thing the “proper” way, according to “US Department of Health guidelines”. I left it out on my counter for 24 hours and am living to see the light of day. Please don’t do the same, then sue me if you get sick. Just do what the Man says and defrost in your fridge for 08765336789 days.

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This is not a technique I’d recommend if you’re petite like me. Unless, of course, your even more petite desi mom is around to help and manages to whack that bird flat without breaking a sweat. I should’ve known – plenty of experience with that backhand.

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Key takeaways:

  • It’s hard removing the backbone with regular ol’ kitchen shears. If this is something you want to try, I’d recommend getting poultry shears.
  • Once I did get it out, I loved having the backbone available, along with the innards, to make turkey stock. It just bubbled away on the stove top while the bird cooked in the oven. Soups, pastas, quinoa and rice pilafs for dayssssssss.
  • The cooking temperature was wayyyy too high. I appreciated how fast the thigh meat cooked through, but at 450 degrees, things were smoking up and my smoke alarm kept ringing. I turned the heat down to 425 and carefully poured in some water into the baking sheet to keep the veggies and juices from scorching. Even then, at 1 hour and 10 minutes, the breast meat had dried out. Why oh why?!

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I have no idea where this beautiful gravy bowl came from. Does this happen to you? If you’re the beautiful soul who gifted this piece to me, please stand up. Thank you! I don’t even care for gravy – this is all beautiful, luxurious, reduced pan drippings. Happy Spatchcocking!

Technique from Serious Eats.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 2 onions, halved
  • 2 heads garlic, halved

Directions

  1. Combine all the spices in a bowl and smear all over the spatchcocked turkey.
  2. Placed halved vegetables on an aluminum lined baking sheet. Place wire rack over the veggies. Drizzle the turkey liberally with oil and lay on the wire rack. Bake according to directions. I would go with a lower cooking temperature, say 350 degrees F, for 70-90 minutes depending on the size of your bird. The best way to tell is by sticking a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh and getting a reading of 165 degrees.

Mini Turkey Pot Pies

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Confession: I’ve never made an actual pot pie. Like with the flaky crust and roux (butter and flour mixture) thickened meat and vegetable filling. It just wasn’t something that was a regular on our dinner table. And given my zabihah-halal dietary restriction, ordering chicken pot pie at any ol’ restaurant just wouldn’t do. But, one day last summer (or was it two summers ago?) I was taking my New York-obsessed-child-prodigy of a niece around the city. After an eventful day of Top of the Rock, TKOs at Bouchon Bakery, and bumping into Naomi Watts in Soho, we were making our way through Chelsea Market and (I) decided we would have a well deserved sit down lunch at the green table.

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Everything was so good. I couldn’t eat my salad fast enough. That’s right. The salad. But when my entree came out, it knocked me out of my seat it was so good. A mushroom pot pie. It was so earthy, so filling, so delicious. Not at all bland as I’d envisioned pot pies to be (I’m sorry! It’s just all the times I’ve watched it being made, there were few flavorings beyond chicken stock, salt, pepper and parsley.) This one, I could tell was made with the broth from reconstituting porcini mushrooms. That’s what gave it that special umami note.

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I took a shortcut with these little guys since I had some puff pastry sheets in the freezer and 0.0000018394 minutes these days for anything. I didn’t even make a proper roux for the filling. I simply sauteed the awesome Honest Chops ground turkey with onions, carrots and garlic. Added some dried thyme, salt and pepper. Then vegetable stock for moisture and half a package of cream cheese for creaminess. At the end, some frozen peas and chopped parsley for color and pizazz.

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I’ve been dying to showcase this beautiful muffin pan from Anthropologie that my dear friend Jaf had gotten me for my birthday ages ago. Oh, Anthropologie, why can’t you have more stuff on sale?

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You can pretty much en robe anything in puff pastry and it will be delectable. It’s just the magical combination of butter, flour and salt. But you wouldn’t be surprised if I told you that at our house, these were topped with Sriracha, right? Don’t worry – you have my permission to do the same.

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Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 thin carrots (or 1 large), diced small
  • 1 lb ground turkey (white meat)
  • 2 large, fresh cloves of garlic, minced (garlic is fresh when the bulbs are held together quite tightly)
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp salt (more or less depending on your stock)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock (can use water if needed – just check the seasoning at the end)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 puff pastry sheets, defrosted (leave it out on the counter for 2 hrs to defrost)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray muffin pans with non stick cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over pretty high heat. Add onions, carrots and meat, breaking up the chunks of meat. Cook until meat is no longer pink, 5-7 minutes. Next add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add stock and lower the heat to medium. Let cook 2-3 minutes until liquid reduces a bit. Add peas and cook for 1 more minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cream cheese and parsley. Stir until cream cheese has blended in and parsley is incorporated. Set aside.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out one sheet of the puff pastry until it’s slightly larger than the area of the muffin pan. Using a sharp knife, cut out 6 or 12 rectangles, according to the size of your muffin pan. You should get 12 pot pies out of a regular muffin pan, or 24 mini pot pies from a mini muffin pan. Fill each gap with a rectangle of puff pastry, with the corners hanging extending beyond the borders a bit. Add 1 to 2 tbsp of the meat mixture and fold over the corners to cover as much as possible. Do this for all the rectangles. Brush each one with the egg and bake in the preheated oven for about 18-22 minutes. Tops should be golden when done.

Lamb Chops with Spiced Pistachios and Yogurt Dipping Sauce

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I think I’m like most of you when it comes to lamb chops: straight up with a rosemary and garlic rub. But my copy of Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook had been sitting on the shelf long enough. Sure, I’ve looked through the pages MANY a time to drool at the beautiful, glossy pictures and so earnestly wish I were friends with Deb. But the execution just hadn’t happened. And though I’ve never had pistachio crusted anything before, I did have (almost) all the ingredients on hand for this recipe. Which is rare.

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I was lucky I had just enough pistachios left over. You can bet that I was shelling them there were two bodies hovering around me picking them out of the bowl. It worked because I was working with such a small batch (the recipe was written for 6, I had just two lamb chops). And contrary to the directions in the recipe, I crushed the pistachios with a rolling pin instead of a food processor. Does anyone else find it a huge pain in the butt to clean the food processor? Sure, some spices made its way out of the ziploc bag as I banged out the mix, but doing so over a cutting board helped rescue some escapees.

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This was the first time I used chaat masala to actually cook something. Chaat masala, for all you non-masala eaters out there, is a South Asian spice mix. It’s bright. It’s funky. It’s spicy. It’s savory. It’s Heather from work. A combination of some usual (cumin, coriander, black pepper) and some unusual (dried mango powder, black salt, asfoetida) ingredients. It usually adorns pani puri, bhel phuri, chatpati, and other street foods that if consumed every day, from actual Dhaka street vendors, over the course of 2 weeks will give you the nastiest stomach bug known to man (truth). I usually put it over fruit and yogurt to make fruit chaat. It’s delightful.

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The spices, the cooking method, the superb meat – it’s like when all the pieces come together to make a beautiful work of art!

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I have nothing further to add to this glorious hunk of meat. It didn’t even need the yogurt sauce. But. If you do go down that road, make sure to add 1/4 cup of shredded cucumber to make a proper raita. I didn’t have cucumber on hand, but I did have some handy dandy black salt (it’s got a wonderful smokey/savoriness to it that’s hard to imitate).

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Recipe adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I used 1/3 of the recipe for the chops.

Ingredients

Raita

  • 1 cup full fat plain yogurt
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of black salt (if you don’t have black salt, do a 1/4 tsp cumin)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh mint or cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated cucumber
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Chops

  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 3 tsp chaat masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 6 lamb chops, 3-4 ounces each
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. For the raita: mix all the ingredients in a bowl and adjust the seasonings to taste.
  2. For the lamb chops: pulverize the nuts with the spices in a food processor or by putting them in a ziploc bag and beating with a rolling pin. Pour onto a plate and set aside.
  3. Season lamb chops with salt and pepper and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat a cast iron or other heavy skillet over high heat. Add oil. When it’s hot but not smoking, add chops, two at a time. Cook for 2 minutes on each side then place directly onto nuts. Coat in nut mixture then place on baking sheet. Finish cooking the chops in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Valentine’s Surf and Turf: Rib Eye Steak & Jumbo Shrimp

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This Ribeye from Honest Chops was absurd…

Ly delicious. I’ve only had a handful of steaks in my life. Namely because halal steaks are so hard to come by. Most halal butchers don’t differentiate between all the wonderful cuts (I think we’ve discussed this before). Nowadays, you can find some halal steaks at select NYC restaurants by way of Creekstone Farms. However, the last steak I had at Marc Forgione, just wasn’t that great. Not so much a reflection of the meat, rather the preparation.

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When you cook up your own steak, you can season it to your heart’s content. My absolute favorite part of steak is the salty, peppery, crusty exterior you get when the seasoning’s just right and the caramelization’s just right. The last time I had the pleasure was when my brother in law owned a butcher shop and gifted me an entire tenderloin. You can bet I sliced off the tip and made myself a filet mignon that was to die for. It was my first proper steak. There was a party in my mouth.

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This gorgeous, bone-in Rib eye from Honest Chops is perfect for my surf and turf Valentine’s Day meal. I’m going to be transparent here: I’m usually not big on Valentine’s Day. I remember how much it sucked being single and watching every other girl get showered with balloons and chocolates and yadda yadda. But, now that I am married, who’s gonna say no to some good chocolates once a year. Amiright?! But for my good friends over at HC – I am pulling out the big guns (read: shrimp):

  • Perfect, just shy of Medium, Rib eye Steak
  • Skewered chili and garlic Jumbo Shrimp (hey, if both people have garlic, then it cancels out, right?)
  • Baby Spinach Salad with pears, blue cheese, dried cranberries and slivered almonds with a honey balsamic dressing

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Hear me out on the cooking time before people start going all Planet of the Apes on me for daring to go anything beyond medium rare. Pretty much any recipe I read on rib eyes advised on a cooking time of 3-4 minutes per side over a high heat (either grill or pan) for medium rare. However, after reading this article on Food52, I decided on 5 minutes per side to just venture beyond the medium rare stage (I’m not crazy about the metallic taste of blood, so sue me). They say rib eyes are best just shy of medium doneness. I personally just tried reaching for an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. And though my meat thermometer never reached 145, I trusted the cooking temp and time and tented the meat with foil after the allotted 10 minutes. Oh My Goodness. Was it a perfectly cooked piece of meat. I could eat it for days. I could tout it as a body scrub, once the whole coffee scrub craze passes.

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I cooked up some caramelized onions and peppers to serve alongside the steak – but it totally didn’t need them! So I’m not bothering including that here. The skewered jumbo shrimp is a luxurious compliment to the steak. Alongside, is one of my favorite salads. You don’t want to go heavy on the carbs for your Valentine’s day meal and risk passing out from a food coma! I had a Costco sized pack of jumbo shrimp, but you can easily halve the recipe for two. Finally – don’t pour all the dressing at once! Leftover dressed salad is no fun.

 Ingredients

For the steak

For the shrimp

  • about 2 lbs of jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

For the salad

  • 3 oz organic baby spinach
  • half an anjou pair, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (if blue cheese is too strong for you, substitute goat cheese)
  • 3 tbsp toasted slivered almonds (just add slivered almond to a warm pan and heat until lightly browned. Keep a close eye on them!)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Make the steak: leave the steak out at room temperature for 45 minutes. Heat a cast iron skillet (preferable but any heavy skillet will do the trick) over high heat for 5 minutes (for me that’s at heat level 5 out of 6 on my hottest burner. I actually toasted my almonds in the cast iron skillet as it was heating up. Clever girl, Naureen.) Rub your steak with the garlic clove (optional) and season it liberally with salt and pepper. Add some vegetable or olive oil (NOT extra virgin) to your pan and immediately add the meat. It should sizzle. Do. Not. Touch. It. For the next 5 minutes. When 5 minutes are up, flip it over and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Finally, remove from the pan and cover with aluminum. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. While the steak rests, cook the shrimp. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the shrimp with the garlic, chili, oil and salt and toss to combine. Add to skewers, 3 per skewer (TIP: soak your sewers in water for at least 30 minutes to keep them from burning). Arrange on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.
  3. For the salad: combine spinach, pear, blue cheese, dried cranberries and almonds. Combine the next 6 ingredients in an empty jar, put the lid on, and shake! Use dressing as required.