Monday, August 2, 2010

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Red-Wine-Braised Oxtails

I was in quite a mood a couple weeks ago in the meat department. Sometimes I see strange cuts of meat and I get too excited. Next thing I know, I am putting away turkey legs and oxtails!
I finally decided to commit my entire Saturday afternoon and make oxtails for our date night. Oxtails are Aaron's favorite so I had to find a really good recipe! This one was nice and simple, and I already had most of the ingredients! This recipe takes about 4 hours, but 3.5 of those hours is just you sitting on the couch while the oxtails cook themselves in the oven! It turned out very tender and delicious, so it is very worth it!

1 bottle of dry red wine
6 large oxtail pieces (about 3 pounds total)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves
2 medium carrots
1/2 medium onion
2 celery ribs
6 thyme sprigs
3 bay leafs
3 cups beef broth
salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a 4 to 6 quart heavy saucepan boil wine until reduced by about half. Trim oxtails and pat dry. Season oxtails with salt and pepper. In a deep heavy ovenproof kettle just large enough to hold oxtails in one layer heat 1 tbsp butter over moderately high heat until foam subsides and brown oxtails on all sides. Transfer to bowl. Coarsely chop garlic, carrots, onion, and celery. Add vegetables to kettle and cook in 1 tbsp butter over moderately low heat, stirring until softened.

Arrange oxtails over vegetables and add reduced wine, herbs, and enough broth to just cover oxtails. Bring liquid to a boil and braise oxtails, covered, in middle of oven 3 to 3.5 hours, or until meat is very tender but not falling off the bone. Transfer oxtails with a slotted spoon to a bowl and keep warm. Pour braising liquid through a fine sieve into a large saucepan and discard solids. Boil liquid until thick, shiny, and reduced to about 1 3/4 cups and whisk in remaining tablespoon butter.

By the way, this sauce makes for an excellent dip for the Bacon Bread. I'm just sayin'.

Heather's Chocolate Caramel Matzo

My friend Heather brought these deliciously addicting dessert to the office when she had just started working at our museum...right away I knew I would be friends with her!

4 to 6 sheets matzo or 40 saltine crackers or crackers of your choice
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
A big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-or bitter chocolate chips
Extra sea salt for sprinkling
1 cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie/baking sheet completely with foil, then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit. (I thought about skipping the parchment paper, but I'm so glad I didn't. If you don't, the toffee mixture you pour over the crackers would stick to the foil and that would be no good! So yes, definitely use parchment paper.)

Line the baking sheet with matzo or crackers, covering all parts. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pout it over the matzo or crackers. You'll want to spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.

Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 8-15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. You can reduce the heat if you see this happening. I made two pans of this, and the pan on the bottom got burned...but actually tasting the two I liked the burned taste! That's just me...but do make sure it doesn't burn to the point of BLACK caramel. I had bits of that too and that is just a waste of good butter and sugar.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. An offset spatula works great here. If you're using them, sprinkle the chocolate with toasted chopped nuts. Wait 10 minutes for it to cool completely or stick it in the fridge. Sprinkle sea salt over them.


Jennifer's Bacon Cheddar Bread with Parmesan Crust

My friend Jennifer made this bread at last year's Pork-Off competition, and after I ate it, I begged her for the recipe. One year later, I finally got around to making it! She gave me the recipe handwritten on the most adorable recipe card, and now I am going to digitize it for her.


3 oz Parmesan, grated on large holes of box grater
5 slices of bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 medium onion, minced
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 oz Gruyere, extra-sharp cheddar, or mild Asiago cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 5 x 9 inch loaf pan with cooking spray then sprinkle 1/2 cup Parmesan evenly in bottom of pan.

Fry bacon over medium heat until crisp, 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towel and pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat from skillet. Add onion to skillet and cook until softened, 3 minutes. Set aside.

In large bowl whisk flour, baking powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Using rubber spatula, mix in cheese cubes, breaking up clumps until cheese is coated with flour. Add bacon and onion, and stir.

In a medium bowl whisk together milk, egg, and sour cream. Using rubber spatula, gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan: level surface. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan evenly over surface.

Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. You can broil on high for 3-4 minutes if you want the top to be extra crispy! Cool in pan 5 minutes on wire rack. Invert loaf from pan and continue to cool until warm, about 45 minutes.

Nicole's Manchego, Onion, and Bacon Appetizer

An easier than easy recipe for a party that Nicole taught me.


1 block of Manchego cheese
5 slices of bacon (preferably thick, but thin will do too), cut into 1 inch pieces (they'll shrink after they cook
half of a medium sized red onion

Fry the bacon on the stove until crisp. Take out and drain on paper towel. Throw away all the fat other than two tbsp.

Cut onion into slices big enough to wrap around half inch cheese cubes. Caramel in the bacon fat with salt, pepper, and paprika.

Cut the cheese into half inch pieces.

Wrap the cheese in the caramelized onions and top with a piece of bacon. Secure with toothpick.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Salt Crusted Baked Fish

The fish says: "Hello! I am sleeping! In my salty sleeping bag!

Mmmm the garlic inside was yummy...

Although this fish dish uses 1.5 lb of kosher salt, the actual fish is not salty at all! Which means daddy can eat it guilt free! Mom and dad, you can do a small miniature version of this fish when you get a toaster oven, or you can go to wooyi's house and make a feast out of this with some salad!

2 pounds of coarse or kosher salt
1 cup water
2 pound whole red snapper or whatever fish you prefer.
1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Garlic, basil, bay leaf, or whatever fresh you have handy

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
In a bowl stir together salt and water until combined well. On a large baking sheet spread half of the salt mixture in a rectangle just larger than the red snapper and set fish on top. Halve lemon crosswise and cut 3 slices from 1 half, reserving remaining half. Insert slices of lemon and herbs into cavity of fish. Pat remaining sale mixture over fish to cover completely and bake in the middle of oven for 20-25 minutes.
Rap all around edge of salt crust with the back of a large spoon to loosen and lift top off. De-bone, lift the meat and skin from the fish and put onto platter. Squeeze juice from reserved lemon half over fish and drizzle with oil.

Stir fry mushrooms and tomatos with olive oil (or butter if you're feeling wild!), garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Surround the fish with this colorful mixture!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mmmm Carrot Muffin Yeah!

Makes 8 muffins:

3/4 cup skim milk
2 egg whites
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup grated apple
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp sugar (or substitute 6 packs of splenda if you're trying to avoid sugar)
1 teaspoon baking flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Optional: golden raisins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat the milk, egg whites, and oil until smooth.

Stir in apple and carrot. Combine the dry ingredients.

Stir into milk texture just until moistened.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Top with raisins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes.