28 December 2009

Sunday Dinner: Ham, Potato & Cheese Chowder

What do you do with the leftover half of a 12 lbs. ham? Make soup of course!

This started out as a soup recipe, I turned it into more of a chowder. The original recipe comes from Epicurious.com. The following is what I did.

Ham, Potato & Cheese Chowder
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped carrot
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
7 tablespoons all purpose flour
5 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
4 cups whole milk
3 10- to 12-ounce russet potato, peeled, diced
2 cup packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
2 cups chopped ham
Chopped fresh parsley
Salt & pepper to taste

I basically just adjusted the amounts in the recipe and followed the directions as written. The only other difference--after the potato was soft, I smashed about a dozen pieces to thicken it up just a little more. I also eliminated the hot sauce. I was planning to bring some leftovers to a friend and she doesn't do spicy.

We were quite pleased with the results. I recommend Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese for this recipe (and most recipes, really). I also recommend not being tempted by the lazy route of buying pre-shredded cheese. I don't think it integrates as well.

The only downside: I still have about 4 lbs. of ham to use. In the freezer it goes!

17 December 2009

Sunday Dinner: Roast Beef

Last Sunday's dinner went a little more traditional since it would be the last Sunday dinner before Christmas. It was about 10 degrees last week in Portland (barely an exaggeration if you can believe it), so I thought a nice roast beef would be a perfect way to warm up. That and it was on sale at New Seasons, as was the broccoli that accompanied it. To round out our meal, I used the recipe of a friend of my mom's who is Swedish. I'm not sure what it's called, but I just call it, "those yummy Swedish potato thingies." Descriptive, I know.

To make the roast beef, I used a 3.3 lbs. tip sirloin roast (3-4 lbs. is ideal), browned it on all sides with sunflower oil (or whatever high temperature oil you choose) for about 10 minutes total over med-high heat. This helps retain the moisture and flavor of the meat during cooking.

Roast Beef
3-4 lbs. roast (I used tip sirloin)
1 T high heat cooking oil

Preheat the oven to 250 and place rack in the lower-middle position. Tie the roast, if necessary. Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil to med-high until just smoking and brown meat on all sides (about 10 minutes). Set a rack in a roasting pan and place meat in it. Roast in the oven until medium-rare (about 1 1/2 hours). Let roast rest, tented in foil, for 20 minutes. Slice and serve.
Lots of leftovers with this dish

I also made a horseradish sauce on the side to go along with the meat. I grabbed a recipe for a roast off of Epicurious.com and just used the sauce (which I called horsey sauce, even though it's about a million times better than that crap at Arby's). It was a very nice complement to the meat and was great for the leftover roast beef sandwiches we had.

Swedish Potatoes
White or yellow potatoes (as many as desired)
Unsalted butter
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Peel potatoes and slice about 1/4 inch, but not all the way through. Place small amount of butter between slices, sprinkle a little salt and pepper on all the potatoes. Place potatoes in a baking dish (I used a Le Creuset square baking dish). Sprinkle parmesan cheese on each potato and bake until tender.

Tender and crispy potatoes

I served the rest with roasted broccoli. It's a recipe I got from a Cook's Illustrated about 2 years ago and I use as often as possible. Basically, you just toss broccoli spears with olive oil and a little bit of sugar and broil it until bright green. The secret is to heat the broiler and throw the broccoli onto the hot broiler pan so it cooks through and quickly. To serve, add a splash of lemon.
A somewhat traditional Sunday dinner

11 December 2009

Slacking again

I apologize for my lack of posts. My cooking has been limited to pretty simple dinners. I will be making my first batch of homemade marshmallows this weekend, so I should have something to post then.

My absence has been due to wedding planning (booked our venues!) and getting ready to transition to a new job. After 4 1/2 years with the same organization, I'm taking a huge step in a new direction and somewhat getting out of marketing/PR for a while. We'll see how it goes. I'm VERY excited for the move and will hopefully have more time for more culinary adventures. I've also been trying my hand at sewing. Definitely keeping busy.

Next Saturday the 19th, I will be one of the lucky few to be going to a preview dinner at Christopher Israel's newest venture, GrĂ¼ner. Thanks to a couple of incredible friends, I will be sampling his new "alpine cuisine" restaurant. I will definitely post something then...and maybe even sneak a few pictures!

For now, you can look at a couple of pictures of my first attempt at ciabatta. Delicious, but very time consuming.