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meat » digest LA
chicken steak, spaetzle, and roasted asparagus

chicken steak, spaetzle, and roasted asparagus

After a hard workout at Brick Crossfit, I stopped by Lindy & Grundy to pick up some meat. Lindy & Grundy makes unique cuts of meat to use as much of the animal as possible. Today, I picked up a chicken steak. I guess it is a cut of steak that maximizes the available meat, but is good if tenderized. When I was planning dinner, I realized that I had asparagus in the fridge, but no starch. Luckily, this morning my neighbor left me half a dozen eggs and this ominous note.

note from my neighbor

note from my neighbor

I saw his present and thought… eggs! What can I do with these? So I looked and found a recipe for spaetzle over at Smitten Kitchen. A perfect use for my eggs.

I made spaetzle once long ago when I was engaged and living in Chelsea in NYC. These single LA spaetzle were much better little pillows of buttery goodness. I topped the spaetzle with fried sage leaves fresh from my garden. Now who wants to come over and help clean my kitchen and keep my neighbor at bay?

flinstone-sized lambchop, quinoa, asparagus

flinstone-sized lamb chop, quinoa, grilled asparagus

For dinner tonight, I made a Flinstone-sized lamb chop from Lindy Grundy. I put a spice rub on the lamb chop and grilled it on both sides and then finished it in the oven. For the quinoa, I cooked it following the instructions using homemade chicken stock instead of water. For the grilled asparagus, I… you know… grilled it. Delicious! The quinoa was rich and amazing. I loved the lamb chop, but it was so hard to eat.

brownie & vanilla ice cream

brownie & vanilla ice cream

I was craving a sweet treat so I baked some brownies. I learned how to bake, as a kid, because it is so easy to whip up a delicious dessert just from pantry items and because I have an incredible sweet tooth. I started with this brownie recipe from Epicurious. Weirdly, I didn’t have a metal bowl or a brownie pan. I have been so focused on cooking since I moved to LA that I had neglected baking tools. Now at least I know what to buy next time I am creeping around Surfas jonesing for something to buy.

roasted short ribs, potatoes, brussel sprouts, & salad

roasted short ribs, potatoes, brussel sprouts, & salad

It has been a while since I posted about food. Today I spent some time walking through the Brentwood Farmer’s Market and I picked up a bunch of random ingredients that caught my eye. I  got some grass fed short ribs, brussel sprouts, leeks, beets and two boxes of Thin Mints.

For the short ribs, the guy from the farm place gave me a recipe his wife loves. Of course, I looked at the list and said, “yep, got all of that.” I got home and started to prepare the short rib recipe, which calls for the ribs to be cooked smothered in sliced onion (it is like Waffle House up in here) and realized I didn’t have any onion. Oy vey. So I sliced up leeks and shallots and didn’t so much smother the ribs as gave them some friends to keep them company.

I also cooked a bit of bacon, crumbled it, and cooked sliced brussel sprouts in the bacon fat. I saw a great video yesterday about how to cook bacon the right way. Following the advice, I cooked it over low heat for about 20 minutes and flipped often.

SInce the ribs took 2.5 to 3 hours to cook, I roasted some little potatoes and beets in the hot oven to keep occupied. WIth the beets roasted and short ribs still going, I started making a gigantic salad with my homemade pickled onions, carrots, hearts of palm (me gustan los palmitos) , artichokes, corn, tomatoes. Overall it was nothing amazing, but it is so nice to pull together such a big dinner with a few ingredients and pantry supplies. If only I could remember to keep myself in onions.

ny strip steak & shredded brussel sprouts

ny strip steak & shredded brussel sprouts

Every once in a while I will be sitting staring at an ingredient and remember that I have a subscription to watch the always helpful cooking videos at Rouxbe.com.  This time the ingredient was a NY strip steak that I picked up at the store the other day. It was on sale, which is perfect for my “austerity” measures to save money.

I watched the How to Cook Premium Steak video and learned so much:

  • Temper the steak (bring it to room temperature) by putting it in a turned off 200 degree oven.
  • Season liberally with salt and pepper 15 minutes before cooking.
  • Before cooking, pat with a paper towel and drizzle with oil.
  • Then, the big secret… flip the steak every minute until it reaches the right temperature.
  • Rest the steak for 10 minutes on a rack and tent with foil.

I tested the doneness by touch and when I thought it was medium rare I double checked with a thermometer. When you flip the steak every minute, the inside cooks really evenly without overcooking the outside. Tempering it first helps. Pretty cool and my kitchen didn’t fill up with smoke like it normally does when I pan fry steak.

For a side I tried to make the shredded brussel sprouts with bacon that my dad made the other day, but I really didn’t know how he made them. So, I cooked some bacon, drained some fat, chopped the cooked bacon and then cooked the sprouts in the bacon fat. It tasted a bit too good so it probably coulda used less bacon. I guess I’ll just have to wait for papa Kempner to comment on this post tomorrow.

salad with pickled onions

salad with pickled onions

Just in case you think I just eat bacon and steak, I also ate some salad with pickled onions. I made these onions way back on October 31st and canned them. I had to slice 3 lbs of red onions! These onions make any salad taste better although this one had hearts of palm so it was off to a pretty good start. After I canned them, I made a little video of all the bubbles escaping from the jars. Vacuums are neat.

Vacuum seal of pickled onions from Michelle Kempner on Vimeo.

beef borscht

Hot Beef Borscht with Sour Cream

With the extra cabbage in the fridge and fond memories of shredding meat, I continued my Christmas hibernation by making beef borscht. I have only had borscht at two places. One is the famous Veselka in the East Village of New York where it is honestly a pretty bland beet broth. The other place is The Olive Tree Cafe in Greenwich Village. It is a sort of touristy restaurant that is part of a comedy club, but the borscht is beefy and amazing served with great pumpernickel bread. So I guess I wasn’t sure if I even liked borscht, but I already had the cabbage so I walked over to The Farmer’s Market and bought short ribs.

I was following the Hot Beef Borscht with Sour Cream recipe from Epicurious. The recipe is a two step process. First you make a beef broth with the short ribs. You then shred the beef, chill the broth and remove the fat. I have to stop right here and say that short rib is the most amazing food ever. I think I could eat short rib for every meal and be happy.

Step two is a broth with beets and cabbage that you add the beef stock and beef to. This is where the recipe goes wrong. I love beets, but I don’t think I can look at a beet again for a long time. I halved the recipe and added lots of seasoning, but it still blandly multiplied in the pot. No more borscht. From reading the comments over at Epicurious, I realized that there are different types of borscht, but yadda yadda yadda unless I am at Olive Tree Cafe, I aint eating borscht again. No real lessons learned here other than I need to spend more time with mister short rib.

pulled pork in dutch oven

pulled pork in dutch oven

Over the holidays, I made massive amounts of shredded meat dishes even though it was just me by myself for a week.  By the way, if you ever shred meat and have a pet cat, you can expect some very attentive cat eyes trained on you in wonder for the whole process. This pulled pork recipe came from William Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking. I am a bit dubious of a recipe that calls for barbecue sauce as an ingredient, but I guess when you are already cooking pork for hours some short cuts may be warranted. I made the pork in a Lodge dutch oven, which is quickly becoming my favorite brand.

pulled pork and slaw

pulled pork and slaw

I made the accompanying slaw, also from the William Sonoma cookbook. It is 2 kinds of shredded cabbage with grated onion and carrots. The dressing is mayo, honey, cider vinegar and celery seed. Weirdly, while I loved tasting the pork while I was shredding it; I couldn’t really bring myself to eat much of it once it was all prepared. Maybe there is only so much pork one girl can eat, but I kind of suspect it was the barbecue sauce.

I think the real lesson in all of this is that I should probably avoid shredding meat during holidays that I am spending by myself.

grilled lamb and roasted veggies

grilled lamb and roasted veggies

I went to the doctor today for a cold that won’t go away and she suggested that maybe I just need to take it easy… what?! I thought I was taking it easy… I didn’t even go on my third planned business trip this month. For my mellow night at home, I decided to cook some lamb chops I bought at the Culver City farmers market. Nothing much to learn here since you all know I likes the lamb, but I did find out just how expensive sustainable lamb is to buy. I am going to have to find a better compromise for the omnivore’s dilemma.

For a side, I roasted some asparagus, squash and potatoes that I had laying around the house. You know back when I cooked dinner for the husband, I used to just cook some way too complicated main thing and no sides. He would always tease me about it. Now I can’t imagine cooking dinner without sides. It is like Vladimir said in Waiting for Godot, “Never neglect the little things in life.”

Grilled Radicchio and Lamb Chops

Grilled Radicchio and Lamb Chops

You don’t have to read my blog long to know that I still have a lot to learn about cooking. It has taken me a while to eat something at a restaurant and even realize that I am eating food that I could actually make at home. The other day I ate at Chego! and noticed that I really loved the radicchio in the grilled caesar salad. It sounds simple, but I had never touched radicchio outside of a restaurant. My sister recently sent me a Lodge reversible stovetop griddle/grill so I decided to buy a little radicchio to play with at home.

Lodge reversible grill pan

Lodge reversible grill pan

I separated the radicchio leaves and brushed them with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper and wilted them on the grill for about a minute on each side. To serve, I simply sliced the leaves and topped with a little grated parmesan.

lamb chops cooking

lamb chops cooking

I then sprinkled the lamb chops with dried rosemary, thyme, basil, salt and pepper and grilled them about 4 minutes each side to medium rare. Sometimes I try to wing simple recipes and end up regretting it, but this turned out fantastic and only took about 20 minutes tops. The best part is that I had just picked up a lemon, lamb chops and radicchio at the grocery store without any idea what I was going to do and had everything else I needed. The next challenge will be trying to eat sustainably. I was sad when I noticed the lamb chops were marked “from Australia” on the packaging.

lamb chops and summer succotash

lamb chops and summer succotash

After work today, I turned down the normal happy hour at Akasha and rushed home. I did a P90X workout and then set to work on making summer succotash and lamb chops. I first made the summer succotash a few weeks ago and loved it. Of course, that time I made it on a weekend and had all day. Between all the bean shelling and bacon cooking just to prep for the recipe, it felt rushed.

I also had some lamb chops that I bought yesterday. I had never made lamb chops before, but my buddy at work said I could just broil them in a toaster oven. I sprinkled them with a spice mix the grocery store gave me and salt. Then I just broiled them around 6-7 minutes on each side. Not bad. I really have to focus some of my cooking learning on all the basics of cooking meat.