Monday, April 25, 2011

Corned Beef and Potatoes

Corned beef is a great summer dish!

I once found a wad of two-dollar bills in an abandoned field. I was elated. The kind of excitement where you don't breathe for several seconds, your eyes widen, your heart skips a beat or two, and then you take off running to tell everyone. Or anyone. That wad of two-buck wonders came to almost fifty bucks!

Well, that's how I felt the other day in the grocery store. Some of the corned beef was marked way down because they were "close-dated." I was ecstatic! I bought one two-and-a-half pound beauty for $5.20!!! And then another for a little over seven bucks! Wow! Just like "the old days" when food was affordable.

When I taught school, I used the crock pot to cook my corned beef while I was away. It had great flavor but it had a tendency to be overdone and literally fall apart.

I now prefer to simmer a corned beef on top of the stove where I can monitor it just until it is fork tender for nice, non-shredded slices.

Corned beef, like any boiled dinner, is a great summer dish (it will be 86 degrees here today in the South). You don't have to use your oven or heat up a grill outside. And cold, sliced leftovers make great sandwiches. Recently, I purchased an electric hot-plate which I can plug in on the back porch. I love it. I can even use it in the winter. It's a great investment.

I do not particularly like cabbage simmered in the meat water. To me, it comes out greasy. Instead, I prefer to make it separate. I think it tastes much cleaner.
  • 1, 2.5-3 lb. corned beef
  • 1-2 carrots, broken into thirds
  • 1 rib celery, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 half large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves smashed, peels and all
  • 1-2 teaspoons pickling spice
  • 1-2, 14.5 oz. cans whole new potatoes
  • cabbage (optional)

Remove beef from the package. Rinse. Place in Dutch oven large enough to accommodate. If it's a bit of a squeeze, that's okay since the beef will shrink considerably during cooking. If a packet of pickling spice is included, just throw it away. You can buy a container of pickling spice from the grocery store that is ten times better. Sprinkle beef with 1-2 teaspoons of spice. Scatter carrot, onion, celery and garlic around beef. Add water just until it reaches the top of the beef.

Bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to LOW and simmer, covered, about 45-60 minutes per pound or until the prongs of a carving fork pierce the roast with little resistance.

Turn off heat but keep the corned beef in the pot. Open and rinse the new potatoes. Tuck them around the beef. Cover for about 30 minutes. Remove potatoes to a bowl. Cut into fourths. Dot with butter and a few spoonfuls of the corned beef broth. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried parsley (or fresh). Mix together.

Cabbage:  Melt 1-2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add some thin-sliced onion rings that you have cut into half moons. Half a cabbage into thin slices. Add to onion/butter/olive oil mixture. Spoon in a few tablespoons of the corned beef liquid. Cover and steam to your liking. Salt to taste.

Slice the corned beef and serve with potatoes and, if using, the cabbage. Always slice against or in the opposite direction from the grain of the meat. If the beef is a tad overdone and falling apart, slice a bit thicker than you ordinarily would. Serve with spiced mustard and/or horseradish.

I especially enjoy corned beef with buttered Boston brown bread. It is pretty readily available in most grocery stores. It is sold in a can. Some stores shelf it with the baked beans. Some shelf it with bread and muffin mixes. Here's what it looks like:

Notes: I think it wise to always plan an extra hour for the corned beef. You can always just let it sit in the braising liquid until ready to serve. Grilled corned-beef sandwiches are great, but don't use the customary Swiss cheese. I use slices of cheddar-horseradish which is wonderful.

I prefer the 'flat-end' cut of corned beef. It is uniform in thickness compared to a 'point-end.' I also like an even layer of fat on it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Last-Minute Easter Recipes

Okay. DON'T PANIC! Yes, Easter is just a few days away and you still have a ton of things to do. And, yes, it's all about YOU because NO ONE else is helping. Correct?

Take a deep breath. Exhale. All will be fine. And, remember, "fine" rhymes with "wine." Pour yourself a glass. Plop in some ice cubes.

Here are some pretty simple, common-sense recipes that people will love from Kitchen Bounty you might want to try. Just click on the underlined recipe name.


Nothing says EASTER like carrots. So why aren't carrots ever served with the ham or lamb? Ham? These carrots are just terrific and guests and family will ask you for the recipe. They will become a family favorite. Make ahead and re-warm before serving.
Kitchen Bounty: Baked Carrots


The most simple of ingredients take ordinary potatoes to the extraordinary. Make ahead and re-warm before serving.
Kitchen Bounty: Mashed Potatoes


If you're making a baked ham, go for it!
Kitchen Bounty: Apple-Onion Casserole


Okay, "apples and onions" is too complicated. I got you covered. Make this homemade applesauce and your guests and family will be having not seconds .... but thirds.
Two Applesauces--One Plain, One Fancy - From The Midwest - Open Salon


I can't think of a better companion to ham than sweet potatoes and apples.
Kitchen Bounty: sweet potatoes

Did you buy a pre-purchased dessert but would like to serve something homemade that says, "YEA, I made this!!!!!"? I suggest these two recipes. The lemon cake is bliss and sooooooooo easy. Cut it into squares. The raspberry cake requires a bit more beating or mixing, but so divine for a spring dessert.

Kitchen Bounty: A Simple Lemon Cake
This cake needs NO adornments.

Kitchen Bounty: Fresh Raspberry Cake
Serve with a squirt of whipped cream and a mint leaf.


Easter egg hunts. Church. Choir. Family pictures. Don't worry. How about a simple coffee cake or two? Make the following the night before and refrigerate.
Kitchen Bounty: Crescent Roll Cheese Cake Squares

Or try a classic--a sour cream, brown-sugar cinnamon, pecan coffee cake:
Foodie Tuesday--Pecan Coffee Cake - From The Midwest - Open Salon

Okay. Still in a panic but not over the sides? What to do for the MAIN MEAL?  Kitchen Bounty has you covered. I'd be proud to serve any of these recipes for Easter dinner:

Foodie Tuesday--Rack of Lamb, Just in Time for Easter! - From The Midwest - Open Salon

Kitchen Bounty: baked ham

Kitchen Bounty: stuffed pork tenderloin

Kitchen Bounty: pork tenderloin with rosemary and garlic

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fresh Raspberry Cake

Just in time for spring and summer--a light, airy cake filled with fresh raspberries. Think sponge cake, but MOIST, and scented with the sweet taste of these red jewels. Warm from the oven, it has a nice crust from the sugar and is a knock-out for breakfast. As a light dessert, it needs no embellishments. Oh, okay . . . go ahead and add a huge dollop of fresh whipped cream.

One, six-ounce plastic packet of berries is sufficient for this cake.

The original recipe is from Gourmet, but I found several variations on-line. I chose to skip the buttermilk as some others did; instead, I added 1/2 cup sour cream and increased the eggs from one to two. Next time I will skip the vanilla, too; instead, I will add a bit of almond extract and the some fresh zest from a lemon.

This cake had a beautiful rise to it. After spraying the pan, I cut a round sheet of cooking parchment to line the bottom and then sprayed that after fitting it in. The cake turned out of the pan with ease.

Yes, you could probably use other berries/fruit. Just make sure it's as fresh and sweet as possible. One foodie even cut up fresh strawberries. 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened (1/2 stick)
  • 2/3 cup sugar plus and extra 2-3 tablespoons for sprinkling on the top of the batter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 six-ounce container fresh raspberries
  • (if using buttermilk use 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk and only one egg and omit the sour cream)

Spray a 9-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper (or wax paper) and then spray the paper. Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, bakings soda, and salt.

Beat the butter until soft, pale and fluffy. Begin adding sugar in small amounts until well mixed and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Beat in the vanilla. Add egg(s) and beat well. Add the sour cream and beat well.

At low speed, mix in the flour in 3-4 batches, until just combined. Spoon batter into prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Carefully place raspberries evenly over surface. Sprinkle with the 2-3 tablespoons sugar (the original recipe called for 1 1/2 tablespoons).

Bake on middle rack until cake is golden and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan for ten minutes. 

Turn out of pan onto a rack and cool. Invert onto a plate to serve.