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Archive for July, 2008

For the many of you who read the blog religiously I wanted to fill you in on the further outcome of the pulling of my tooth. (For those of you that haven’t ready about it, check out the polenta entry by clicking here.)

I feel pretty good, I really didn’t need to take the pain pills, other than the first day and you can tell by the blog postings in the past week that it hasn’t slowed down my eating habits. In fact I think I’ve eaten more food since the tooth was pulled than I did before. HAHA. So I’m almost back to normal and should be completely back in business in a few weeks.

Thinking about it, I guess nothing in my life stops me from eating. If I get stressed I eat, if I’m bored I eat, depressed… bring on the food the more the merrier. I eat when I watch TV, I eat when I read and I guess I still eat when I get teeth pulled. What is up with this? I would probably eat while I work out if I could. To those of you out there who are like me, there is a solution though, it’s painful to say the least… I exercise quite a bit and I eat small portions most of the week. I do go crazy a few days every few weeks though. In fact I ate almost a whole container of Double Stuff Oreo cookies last night.

Anyway on to the frittata. Before I met Nancy I didn’t know what a frittata was and I don’t think I had ever eaten one. For that matter, I think I had never eaten strata or quiche either. That changed quickly. Our restaurant is know for producing incredible quiche and frittata. In fact Reno Magazine voted us ‘Best Quiche’ last year and we make at least three different versions of quiche every day and most of the time sell it all before the end of the day.

Frittata is an Italian omelet. It is basically eggs, sometimes cream or milk filled with a various combinations of herbs, meat, cheeses and/or vegetables. Unlike a French omelet it is served open-faced and though started on the stovetop, it is finished in the oven or under the broiler. At the restaurant we make them often with whatever fun stuff we have around. We cater for a doctor’s office in town about once a month and they always ask for our frittata with Italian sausage, spinach and herbs.

I’ve watched others make them, but I haven’t made my own until this week. I made one first on Friday morning then again on Sunday morning because on Friday I forgot to add the cream and salt. Yes, I’m a bit of a perfectionist with certain things.

I ended up looking at a million recipes in my very large collection of cookbooks and decided that I wanted a basic version to start. Something that would be quick and easy, but taste great. I settled on onion, bacon, cheddar cheese and spinach. I was close to doing asparagus or potatoes, but I wanted for my first version to be something quick that anyone can make for their family without much effort.

My first dilemma was should I bake the bacon, see my baking bacon recipe, or since I only needed a few pieces go with the microwave version. On Friday for sake of simplicity I went with the microwave, but was unhappy with the result, so on Sunday I baked the bacon. Much better!

In the end, the below recipe is a great start for frittata. In the future I will be experimenting with other ingredients and hope to make a version with chorizo next time.

Bacon, Cheese and Spinach Frittata (serves 4)

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 cup spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 6 cooked slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup + some (see below) cheddar cheese, or cheese of choice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Heat oil in oven-proof, nonstick 9 or 10” pan, over medium heat, add onions and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. While the onions are sautéing in a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, half and half, cooked bacon and cheddar cheese.

Add in the spinach with your softened onions and cook them until wilted about 1 minute, stirring around a bit to distribute the heat. Spread out the spinach and onion mixture on the bottom of the pan and then pour in the egg mixture. While the eggs are setting, gently lift the cooked egg at the edge of the frittata with a wooden spoon so that raw egg from the top can run underneath. Continue cooking until the bottom is lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Sprinkle some grated cheese on top of the frittata (1/4 cup) and slide into your warmed oven. Bake until eggs are set on top and cheese is melted. Remove from oven; remember that the pan is super hot. Place an oven mitt or a towel over the handle so nobody in the house burns themselves. Serve right away or at room temperature.

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Tri Tip is one of my go-to’s when I want meat for dinner and leftovers to make sandwiches or put on a salad the next day. You can prepare it in under an hour with limited hands on time, and have a very filling and satisfying meal. Best of all, you can usually pick it up for around five dollars per pound which is much less than many other cuts of beef. If you have never tried it, then you are missing out.

Tri Tip was the first meat I was entrusted with, to cook, for the restaurant. We have many different recipes that take advantage of tri tip for our catering division and most include using a dry rub, grilling and then slicing very thin on our slicer. We constantly receive incredible feedback about our results and thus I was super stressed when Nancy asked me to grill 10 tips for a catering one night. She had to work another catering and I was pretty much the only one who had the the time to get it done.

I wasn’t worried about the rub, the recipe was written down. But I was worried about overcooking the meat. Now to be fair, I had made some at home in the past, but never with this type of pressure. To make matters worst I didn’t have access to anyone else, I was all alone.

Things ended up working out fine… mostly because I paid attention to a few important details that I want to pass along. First off, after rubbing the meat I let it sit at room temperature for 45 minutes so it would warm up a bit and cook the middle faster.

Second I sometimes setup a two stage fire on the grill, with the back two burners turned to high and the front turned down to very low. This allowed me to position the tips that are thicker on one end, with the thinner portion over the low heat, thus I didn’t overcook the thin part while trying to get the thick part up to temperature. If the tip your purchased is fairly consistent in thickness, don’t worry about it!

Lastly I used an instant read thermometer. I knew that I want the meat to be 130 degrees when I pulled it off, with a target internal temp of 135 degrees after it rested. Now I will admit that I had to use that thermometer much more when I started then I do now, but I will tell you there is no shame in using it. It is much better than slicing a piece open, letting out the juices, so you can take a gander at what the inside looks like.

So with all this said, last night I decided to grill some tri tip, make some aioli and grilled corn on the cob. The tri tip recipe was inspired by the Niman Ranch Cookbook along with the aioli. The corn was out of my head, but it is pretty darn basic. I wanted to use a marinade instead of a dry rub tonight, thus the use of someone else’s recipe as my building block. I’ve still not convinced myself to let out the Dish secret rub recipe, maybe in the future.

I can tell you though that Nancy and I have eaten quite a bit of tri tip and no recipe would make it onto this blog if it didn’t past muster with both of us. This one did. The aioli was a perfect complement to the simply seasoned meat

If you follow these simple tips and practice a bit, you will soon be making some killer tri tip.

Grilled Tri Tip with Black Olive Aioli (serves 3 to 4)

  • 1 tri tip steak, approximately 2.5 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pitted oil-cured black olives
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Place steak in a small, nonreactive baking dish. Combine the olive oil, rosemary and black pepper in a small bowl and stir well. Rub the mixture evenly over the tri tip. Cover with plastic and wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or up to 24 hours. (I marinated the steak for about 1.5 hours on the counter while working out, tasted great).

Remove the tri tip from the refrigerator for 1.5 hours before cooking.

Prepare and light a charcoal grill for direct grilling, or heat gas grill on high. While the grill is warming up start the aioli.

Aioli

  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup olive oil

To make the aioli in a food processor, place the garlic and salt in the work bowl and process to chop as finely as possible. Wipe down the sides of the food processor to push the pieces back to the bottom. Add the mustard and lemon juice and pulse to combine. Add the egg yolks and, with the motor running, add the olive oil in a SLOW, thin, steady steam until all of it has been incorporated and the mixture is thick and completely emulsified.

Add the olives to the aioli, mix and season with cayenne to taste. I used a few dashes!

When the grill is ready, remove the tri tip from the marinade and season with a liberal amount of kosher salt on both sides. The more the better, don’t be shy. Place the steak on the cooking grate directly over the coals, cover the grill, and cook, turning once, for 18 to 24 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 130 degrees for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Now grill the corn.

Shuck the corn, place the corn on a plate and drizzle with olive oil. Turn to coat. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter for basting the corn as it’s cooking. I just melted the butter in the microwave, quick and easy. Place corn on the grill, grill for 6 to 8 minutes, turning every few minutes and basting with butter.

The meat should be ready to cut now. You will want to cut it into thin slices, across the grain of the meat. Serve with aioli, which was awesome!

Let me know what you guys think and how you cook your tri tip steak!

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