Friday, September 25, 2009

Satay, Saturdays, and The Weekend's Looking Up

It's friday night, and I'm getting gas at Costco.

That's the start of an exciting weekend, I tell you. I can foresee a trip to Home Depot and maybe a nap on Sunday afternoon. Living the dream.

So I call my wife, tell her I'm at Costco, and ask if she needs me to pick up something for dinner.  She says she has no plans so I offer to make something.  Luckily Costco has packet of only 2 flank steaks so i get those (normally they come in packs of like 20.).  Of course, I have no plan, but now I have steaks.

On the way home I'm reminded of a Peanut Satay recipe I made about a year ago.  These flank steaks would be perfect. 

We end up having everything I need.  1/2 can coconut milk, 2 spoonfuls curry powder, 1 sp salt, 1 sp sugar, a little pepper and 1/2 sp coriander seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle. 

The freshly ground coriander smells so amazing.  It makes the dish.

I cut the steak in strips and throw them in the marinade.  It is at that time I realize we have way, way too much food.  So I tell my wife (who is a saint, a saint I tell you.) to hit the phones and see who wants to come over. It's 6:30 already.

I make some sticky rice, a quick homegrown tomato salad, and then an easy Thai Peanut Sauce (click here for the recipe). I fire up the grill, put the steak satay on skewers and await our guests.

What a fun night.  Everyone likes eating satay off the skewers and the tomato salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar goes over well. Everyone spreads the peanut sauce over their sticky rice because it makes such a great combination. 

Later, we ended up making some more sticky rice, Jan ran and got a mango so we could have Sticky Rice with Mango, one of our favorites. Recipe below.

Maybe the weekend won't be so bad after all.(See video and all recipes here)

Cook well,

Rob Barrett

Sticky Rice with Mango.

In a rice cooker or bamboo steamer make 3 cups sticky rice.

In a small pan heat 1 can of coconut milk, 1/3 cup sugar and a t of salt.  Bring to a boil and stir until combined.  Turn off heat.

Cut up a mango into small pieces.  

Add coconut mixture to rice and stir to coat.

Scoop rice mixture into small bowl add mango pieces and enjoy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finally A Chore We All Benefit From, or Rob's Coconut Pecan Apple Crisp Recipe

"Girls, get pickin' some apples."

And so started our saturday.  We only have one apple tree, planted in memory of our second daughter Ashley, but it brings forth a lot of great tasting apples, especially this year. We don't spray our apples, so they're kinda gnarly, but they taste good, once you cut around the wormy parts.

We were having some guests over that night and I decided to try a new way of making apple crisp.  The last couple ones we made were from church cookbooks, normally a good source, but they all left me wanting. 

First, we get out our trusty apple peeler which is such fun.  

Then after cutting around the bad parts, we accumulate the equivalent to 4 apples of small pieces. We added 3 spoonfuls of fresh lemon juice, 1 spoonful vanilla, 2 sp sugar, 2 sp vinegar (apple cider or white wine) and a pinch of salt.  We stirred them around until they were evenly coated.  Then into an 8 x 8 pan they went.  (we fired up the oven to 375)

In another bowl we combined 1 cup brown sugar, 1 handful chopped pecans, 1 handful sweetened coconut flakes, a pinch of salt, stirred it around and then cut one stick or softened butter in to it.  Basically you smush the butter and chop it with a fork until you have just little bits of butter covered with the brown sugar mixture. (they make a great utensil for doing this)

We then poured that mixture over the apples and baked for 45 minutes at 375.  

I don't want to spoil it for you if you're going to make it yourself, but WOW.

Try it and let me know what you think.

cook well,

Rob Barrett

Rob's Coconut Pecan Apple Crisp.

4 apples

3 spoonfuls fresh lemon juice

1 sp vanilla

pinch of salt

2 sp sugar

2 sp white wine vinegar

1 stick of butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 handful choped pecans

1 small handful cocnut

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375.  

Peel, core and cut up 4 apples in to small pieces, place in bowl.  Add 3 spoonfuls of lemon juice, 1 sp vanilla, 2 sp sugar, 2 sp apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar) and a pinch of salt.  Stir to coat and place in 8 x 8 pan.

In another bowl add 1 cup brown sugar, 1 handful chopped pecans, 1 handful sweetened coconut flakes, and a pinch of salt.  Stir to combine then add 1 stick of butter, softened. Cut butter with the mixture (break apart with a for or butter cutter) until just coarse. Pour over apples, don't pat down. 

375 for 45 minutes.

Let it sit for 10 minutes then serve with vanilla ice cream. Yum.

© 2009 Cooking For Dads

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Louie and Me, or Learning to Be Gracious

I'm on my way to do a cooking segment on one of my favorite shows, Twin Cities Live, and I get the call that I'll be cooking with Louie Anderson instead of the normal host.  My first thought is that I could have made something with onions (John, the normal host, doesn't like onions) but my second thought was, "How fun."  Little did I know I was about to learn so much.

Louie would be the third celebrity I would cook with in 3 months.  Cooking with Kathie Lee and Steve Schrippa had it's moments (here's my experience on the Today Show) so I didn't know what to expect from Louie.  He's won Emmy's, performed all over the world, had numerous shows, and been doing this a long, long time.

First thing I notice about Louie is that he hangs around back stage while we're setting up and he's friendly.  I like that.  While we cook, he's funny but doesn't insult my food the way previous celebs have.  He adds a lot to the segment while still letting me show my recipe. He's also the same off camera as he was on.  I like that a lot.

But the lessons came afterwards.  Once we were done he came up to me and told me I did a good job and that he enjoyed the segment.  I, at best, was only OK so he was nice to approach me and say that. He certainly didn't need to, he could have just headed back to his dressing room and left. But he made the effort to find me and compliment me.

Back stage there were some of the crew that were taking pictures with him, something I was hoping I could do.  I was hanging around like a 3rd grader who wants to get in to the kick ball game but is too shy to ask. Rather than wait for me, HE calls me over and says he'd like a picture with ME.  This was just a way to save me the embarrassment of asking him.  What a total class act thing to do.  I was so impressed.

For someone who's had such success in the industry and to still be so nice to a guy from Eden Prairie, I'm just sayin'. Wow.

Here's the link to our segment.

Rob Barrett

Cooking for Dads

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cooking for Dads 2 Year Anniversary

2 years ago today I posted my very first Cooking for Dads episode. 

I had this little idea for a video recipe for visual learners but never thought it would go any where. Finally I called my friend Jonathan, he came over and we shot 2 episodes, thisone and the red pepper pasta. I edited this together, and let Jan see it. When it ended she turned around, gave me a high 5, and said go ahead and post it, let's see what happens.

It funny to watch it now. I made so many mistakes I turned it into a game. I even said cream is our friend. It isn't. I had only made this recipe one time before and at the end I wasn't even sure it tasted good, you can see it on my face.

Who would have thought this would go all the way to the Today Show, USA Today, a Barbara Walters' Special, and many TV cooking appearances.  What a ride.

Thanks for all the support and help over these past 2 years and 82 episodes. It means a lot to me.

Here's that fateful first episode.   Cheesy Chicken, Peas and Potatoes.
Cook well, it's worth it. Rob

Monday, September 14, 2009

Listening to my body, the first quarter

So I'm reading this new book about eating raw and listening to your body. It sounds really interesting and has lots of nice, pretty pictures. There was a lot of stuff like, "your body knows what it needs, just listen to it, it will crave what nutrients are appropriate and necessary."

I've been trying to incorporate a few of the eating raw tips over the last couple of days.  Just some little things here and there, a carrot here, an apple there.

On Saturday, I'm in the middle of a tough 26 mile bike ride and it hits me around mile 20 I haven't eaten anything in since breakfast.  So I stop at Byerly's, one of our great grocery stores in MN, and decide I'm going to walk around and "listen" to my body, let my body tell me what it wants. 

As I walk by the deli aisle, my body already knows what it wants.  Fried Chicken! 

I decide to keep going and walk by the sushi section. Nothing

How about some fruit or veggies? Mmm, apples.  My body is silent.

Even in the salty snack aisle my body only says one thing and now it's shouting. Fried chicken or maybe some Wings!. Rats, this isn't working. 

So I head over to the deli window full of hot, juicy, crispy pieces of wonderful.

I pull out my wallet.

I take a deep breath.

I grit my teeth, close my eyes and say, "I'll have the sushi with the brown rice."  :-(

Soggy, tasteless, mush. Maybe my body was right.

Mind over matter, Mind - 1, Body - 0. End of the first quarter.

Rob Barrett

Cooking for Dads

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How To Say Thank You, Or A Great Win, Win, Win.

So, we have a new puppy. Her name is Stella, mainly so when she is lost we can go down the street yelling ,"Stellllaaaaa, Steeeeellllllaaaaa." Now only 1 1/2 weeks into it, and still not potty trained completely, we need to have our niece take her for the weekend. Yikes, that's a great niece.

How to say thank you. Hmmm.

In an unrelated story, I stop at Rainbow Foods in MN and am buying a little steak for my dinner when the butcher tells me it's the last day of their Snow Crab sale - one bunch for $3.99. I get that instead. While he's wrapping it up, he throws in a smaller extra bunch and then asks me if I'd like some broken ones. I say sure and picks up a huge heap of assorted legs and craws and throws them in. Wow, what am I going to do with all this crab?

Well, what I'm going to do is heat the grill to 400 degrees and put the legs on for 2 minutes a side, melt some butter, cook up some rice and invite my niece and her roommates over for a thank you dinner. (add some chicken, that original steak, slice up some tomatoes drizzled in Sesame Ginger dressing and some clams.)

Here's the score, Rainbow Foods wins because they get to get rid of some crab that they would've had to throw and makes a great impression on me, I win because I get a great way to thank my niece and her roommates, and my niece and friends win because the crab was really, really good.

Win, win, win.

Cook well, it's worth it.
Rob Barrett

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Losing One Of My Favorite Ice Creams, or Ben and Jerry's Go Political

I wish food companies wouldn't try to make buying their products a political statement.  With today's announcement that Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream will change the name of their popular Chubby Hubby (a personal favorite) to Hubby Hubby in Vermont to celebrate the adoption of homosexual marriage by that  state, they have complicated the buying process.  Rather than just purchasing a wonderful ice cream treat with chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels, now we are making a tacit political statement in parallel with the their belief and position on the issue.  

First of all I respect their political and moral conventions, as I hope they do mine. Many people of different beliefs can still respect one another's convictions.  The unfortunate practice of barnacle-ing their ideologies to otherwise apolitical merchandise is the problem for me.  Now I will be unable to purchase one of my favorite ice creams for the fact that it communicates my nod in agreement with their statement.  But I also wouldn't want Kemp's to come out with The Obama Health Care Plan Stinks Old Fashioned Chocolate Milk. 

I also uphold their ability to do so (make their ice cream political).  We have free speech in this country. But part of that free speech includes the consumer's decision not to buy that product.  The speech is free from imprisonment but not from free market consequences.  Ask the Dixie Chicks.

I remember the old days when music was music and ice cream was just that, ice cream.  Then again, I may just be showing my age.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How To Make Fresh Salsa, or How To Attain Perfect Happiness

Hopefully by now you've been able to harvest some tomatoes. While it's been a bad year for growing crops (even Martha Stewart couldn't grow tomatoes this year) making salsa from whatever does grow is one of my favorite things. It's healthy, tasty, and goes so well on so many things. If you've never made salsa before you will be so glad you did.

I make mine in a food processor but you can do it by hand. Simply chop everything as finely as you can and then stir them together.  (My friend Deborah B. taught me that.)

Here's how I do it:

Rob's Fresh Salsa

3 tomatoes cut in half, preferably Roma tomatoes)

1 green pepper - seeded, ribbed and cut in quarters

1" of a jalapeno pepper - seeded. (you can add more if desired.)

handful roasted corn

10 - 15 sprigs cilantro cut in half

pinch of salt

half of a large or a whole small  onion cut in quarters

Juice of half a lime

1 large spoonful grape or raspberry jelly (very important)

Place everything in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped or chop by hand and combine.  Serve with chips and hopefully beer, or over eggs, use it in pasta or on really anything you're thinking of eating.

Keep remainder, if any, in the fridge and it should keep for a week or so but is best right after you make it.

Cook well, it's worth it.

Rob Barrett, Jr.