Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Original Joe's Special

Joe's Special, Ukranian Joe's, Italian Joe's, Mexican Joe's, Portuguese Joe's, are all egg dishes that had their start in San Francisco back in the Gold Rush days. They are all a simple combination of eggs, butter, cream, cheese, and whatever type of tasty protein you happen to have around.

They are quick and simple to make which has made them a star attraction at places like Original Joe's in San Francisco and 13 Coins in Seattle where I worked in the kitchen on weekends thirty-five years ago during high school.  

The Original Joe's Special 

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds lean ground sir loin
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 pound fresh spinach
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

Heat the olive oil and add the crumbled ground sirloin, chopped onions, and minced garlic. Cook until the beef is almost browned and the onions and garlic are tender. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until they soften. Stir in spinach. Cook the mixture until just heated throughout. Add the beaten eggs and cook, stirring, until the eggs are firm but still tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmessan cheese.

Ukranian Joe's

Serve garnished with sour cream on top after cooking

Italian Joe's

Substitute Italian sausage for ground beef

Mexican Joe's

Substitute chorizo sausage for ground beef
Substitute Mexican oregano for italian spices
Substitute Mexican cheeses for Parmesan
Substite cilantro for spinach

Portuguese Joe's

Substitute linguisa sausage for ground beef

Farmer Joe's

Substitute country sausage for ground beef
Add fried bacon
Add fried red potato

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hot Dish Madness - Cowboy Bean Casserole

Last spring I put together some lower calorie but tasty updates to traditional casseroles and hot dishes. Having everything pre measured and portioned out really helped us track the calories and lose weight.

I used to love this bean casserole when my Mom used to make this for us when we were kids. What I have done is fancied it up a bit to give it some different layers of flavor. Serve this with a salad and you have a pretty good meal.

People have been asking me for the recipes so it is time to get them posted as we move into the cooler part of the year.

Cowboy Bean Casserole  
28 oz Van Kamps Pork and Beans 
1 Can Red Beans
1 Can Black Beans
1 lb Lean Ground Beef
8 oz Smoked Sausage
8 oz Cooked and Drained Bacon
1 Medium Onion
1 Envelope Onion Soup Mix
1/2 Cup Ketchup
2 TBS Brown and Spicy Mustard
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup French's French Fried Onions      
Total Calories    3545
Calories Per Serving    295
Makes 12 Servings

Fry the smoked sausage and set aside. Brown the lean ground beef and set aside. Slice up the onion and fry it till it is translucent. Dice and fry the bacon until brown and set aside. Mix all the ingredients with the exception of the french fried onions and put into a 9 x12 casserole. Top with the French Fried Onions and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

If you want to save a few more calories and carbs you can substitute Splenda Brown Sugar for the regular Brown Sugar.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Crispy Hot German Potato Salad

I went to an Oktoberfest party last night at an old school German restaurant in Lake Zurich, Illinois called Fritzl's European Restaurant and Pub. It has the reputation of being one of the better German restaurants in the greater Chicagoland area.

They make a fine schnitzel and have a decent German potato salad. I have always liked the traditional tangy flavor of a Hot German Potato Salad. It is a pretty old school dish whose recipe traditionally revolves around potato, onion, bacon, mustard, and vinegar.

Anyway some genius that was sitting at the bar ordered his hot German potato salad grilled/fried on the flat top. It looked great when it hit the table and it inspired this recipe which updates an old favorite. Texture and the layering of flavors is what makes this one a little different than any other one you have had.

My father was a true potato salad aficionado. He was an engineer and engineers are typically pretty precise people. He made a precise traditional mustard potato salad which remains the very best I have ever had in my life. Nothing comes close to it and the thing that made it special was the texture.

He always said what made his so good was how he controlled cooking and cooling times which resulted in the perfectly textured potato. He also precisely controlled the size and crispiness of the Walla Walla Sweet Onions, sweet pickles, and boiled eggs. Everything was the uniform perfect size so every ingredient worked exceptionally well with the other.

I use the same principles of potato salad preciseness as my father with what I call the Crispy Hot German Potato Salad. I like to serve this with grilled sausages and sauerkraut...Lederhosen optional!

2 1/2 lb Yukon Gold Potato
1/2 lb Bacon
1 Medium Red Onion
1/4 Cup Crushed Garlic
1/8 Cup Chopped Chives or Scallions
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp Brown Sugar
Paprika to taste
Fresh Dill
1/8 Cup Stone Ground Mustard
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil the Yukon Gold Potato's and refrigerate overnight. Slice the cold potato's into 1/4 inch rounds and set aside. Dice the bacon into 1/2 inch slices and fry it in a cast iron frying pan until crisp and set aside. Fry the onions and the garlic in a trace amount of the bacon grease until translucent and set aside. Fry potato rounds in the olive oil until reasonably crispy on both sides.

Combine red onion, garlic, chives, bacon, cider vinegar, and the stone ground mustard and toss with potato's and return to the frying pan for a final crisping on both sides. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with paprika, chives, and fresh dill.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Root Beer Short Ribs

Root Beer Short Ribs are all the rage these days. They are hearty, easy to make, economical, and quirky enough even to impress everyone at your next dinner party. I like to serve them over smashed red potato's with something green on the side such as steamed green beans, asparagus, or brussel sprouts.

Make sure you use a good quality cane sugar based root beer. No matter where you are in the country there is a fantastic boutique root beer. A couple of examples readily available in the Chicago area would be IBC, Stewarts, Goose Island, or Sprecher.

What makes this recipe different is kicking it up a notch with smoked chipolte powder and adding some richness by adding demi-glace while finishing the sauce.

4-1/2 pounds beef short ribs
Sea salt and pepper
Garlic powder
2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1" wedges
1 bunch celery, cut into 1-1/2" pieces
12 baby carrots, cut into 1-1/2" pieces
8 sliced garlic cloves
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 bay leaves
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 whole star anise
1 teaspoon smoked chipolte powder
One 1.5 package of demi-glace gold
3-1/2 cups beef broth
2 cups root beer

Preheat oven to 275o F. Season ribs generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. In an 8-quart Dutch oven, heat oil to high. In batches, brown ribs on all sides, about 20 minutes total. Transfer ribs to a plate and pour off all but 2 Tablespoons fat from pot.

Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, cumin, smoked chipolte pepper, and star anise. Cook until the onions are soft which usually takes about five minutes.

Return the ribs to the pot and add broth and root beer. Bring to a rapid simmer, cover, and place pot in oven. Cook until meat can be easily pierced with the tip of a pairing knife, about 3 hours. With a slotted spoon, transfer ribs to a large straight-sided skillet; discard solids by pouring/straining liquid through a sieve or strianer. Skim off fat from cooking liquid. If you have time, place liquid in the refrigerator for a little while, making it easier to discard the fat that will accumulate on top.

Add demi-glace gold to strained liquid. Boil liquid and ribs over medium-high heat until liquid is reduced by half which takes about 20-30 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on it and move the sauce around to add a glaze to the ribs.

Smashed Garlic-Bacon-Onion Red Potato's

8 medium red potatoes
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
4 strips chopped bacon
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cover the taters with cold water in a 3- to 4-qt pot and add 1 tbsp salt. Boil until almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes. Transfer to a baking sheet and lightly crush to about 3/4 inch thick with a potato masher, keeping potatoes intact as much as possible.

Finely chop four strips of bacon. Fry bacon in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it light brown and remove. Reserve the oil and add garlic and onions to the skillet and cook till translucent and remove. Add potato's to skillet and top with the onions, garlic, and bacon then lower heat to medium-low and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 20 minutes total. Serve sprinkled with cheese. Season generously with pepper.

Serves 6-8