Seared Flank Steak w/ Black Gold Coffee Dry Rub

A few days ago, I decided to use the Black Gold Coffee Dry Rub that I generously received from Dead Rooster Co.   When I first smelled this rub, I thought of chili with a gentle hint of coffee, as the cumin and cinnamon were a little assertive.  Even though my family loves chili, it is summer in Dallas after all, and chili would have been great on a cold day.  So, I thought I would use it on a steak instead.  I also wanted to use my cast iron skillet.  So, I bought a flank steak, lathered it with extra virgin olive oil, then massaged it with the coffee rub.  I let the steak sit in the refrigerator for a few hours.  I seared it, and then finished it in the oven.

When I served the steak to my family and friends, who were visiting from out of town, they really loved it.  The rub tasted nothing like chili.  It was very bold and deep in flavor, yet it was very smooth.  The coffee, cumin, cinnamon, and rest of the spices worked very well together to yield a completely unexpected flavor.  It actually tasted like chocolate!  I have never had steak and chocolate together, but if this is what that combination would taste like, then I am all in!  It was very delicious!  The spice level of the rub was just right for the depth of its flavor and the heartiness of the meat.  I also made a very simple butter sauce and a light citrusy arugula salad to go with the steak.  That was the perfect combination!  The salad added a bit of freshness, and served to lighten the dish a little.  One of my friends actually asked me for some of that amazing Black Gold rub to take home to Montreal.

SEARED FLANK STEAK WITH BLACK GOLD COFFEE DRY RUB

2 lbs Flank Steak
3 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tablespoons Black Gold Coffee dry rub
4 tablespoons organic Butter

Begin by rinsing and thoroughly drying the flank steak.  Drizzle only 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on the steak, and lather it well on both sides.  Sprinkle the coffee rub all over the steak, making sure to massage it well into the flesh.  Cover the steak with plastic wrap, and leave it in the refrigerator for as little as 1 hour.

Remove the steak form the refrigerator, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat, pour in the rest of the olive oil.  When the oil is hot enough, gently place the steak in the skillet, searing it until the bottom forms a caramelized crust all over the meat.  That process should take about 2 to 4 minutes.  Flip the steak over, and allow it sear just like before, until the meat forms a beautiful brown crust.  Remove the skillet from the stove, and place it in the oven for about 5 – 7 minutes, depending on the oven and the size of the steak.  Meanwhile, make the arugula salad.

ARUGULA SALAD RECIPE

Take the beautifully cooked steak out of the oven, and place it on a clean surface covered with aluminum foil, so it can rest for about 10 minutes.  Remove most of the olive oil used in the cooking process.  Place the skillet back on the stove, and melt the butter over medium heat, while stirring with a wooden spoon.  As the butter melts, the stirring will help pick up all the little bits of flavor stuck to the bottom of the skillet.

On a clean cutting board, slice the steak into strips, against the grain, which will give you a more tender piece of meat.  Plate the slices of steak as you wish, and top them with the melted “butter and brown bit sauce”.  Place a little arugula salad on the side.  Serve and ENJOY!  You will love this rub!


Char Grilled Chicken w/ Olde Tymers Savory Herb Dry Rub & Chimichurri

I recently received a generous portion of dry rubs from Dead Rooster Co., Black Gold Coffee Dry Rub and Olde Tymers Savory Herb Dry Rub.  (The coffee rub will be discussed in the next post.)  My husband, Kevin, and I are hosting some of our family and friends from out of town this week.  As I will be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, I decide to use those rubs for the different meals I will be making and in different applications.  I know most people defer to smoking or barbecuing their rubbed meat.  I, however, decide to do something different, something closer to my mediterranean roots.  Even though we have the Big Green Egg that moonlights as a smoker, I decide to use it to char grill a protein covered with those new rubs I received, instead.

After smelling and tasting the savory herb dry rub, I make the decision to use it on chicken.  I butterfly two chickens, brine them for two days, lather them with extra virgin olive oil and the rub, leave them in the refrigerator overnight, then char grill them.  The flavor is amazing!  The charcoal truly compliments the savory light, yet assertive flavor of the rub.  The fresh sent of citrus kissed with a hint of smokey cumin is equally as intoxicating!  All I can say is … we loved it!

Another important thing to mention is the absence of preservatives, additives, and artificial flavor enhancers of any kind.  The only ingredients listed on both packets are salt, herbs, and spices.  As I am always quite picky about what I feed my family, I will definitely be using these rubs more often.

THE BRINE

3 quarts Water
1/2 cup Salt
1/2 cup brown Sugar
6 sprigs Thyme
2 sprigs Oregano
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 Onion
5 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Black Pepper – whole berries
2 butterflied Chickens – backbone taken out

In a large enough sauce pan, bring the water, salt, brown sugar, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, onion, garlic, and black pepper to a boil.  Turn the stove off and allow the brine to cool to room temperature.  You may want to add some ice to speed the process.  Rinse both chickens, remove their backbones (or have your butcher do it for you), and place them in a container.  You may reserve the backbones to make chicken stock at a later time, by placing them in an airtight container or plastic bag, and putting them in the freezer.  Add the cooled brine and cover the container.  Place the covered container in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.

CHIMICHURRI

3 cups Italian Parsley
3 cups Cilantro
1 cup Mint
1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
4 Garlic cloves
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Begin by washing and thoroughly drying the parsley, cilantro, and mint.  You may either finely chop them, or use a food processor to do the work for you.  I took the lazy way out and used the food processor.  So, in a food processor, begin by pulsing the parsley, then the cilantro, and finally the mint.  With a microplane grater, grate the garlic into the food processor.  Add the chili flakes, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and pulse everything just enough to get all the ingredients combined together.  Transfer the herb mixture into a bowl, then add the olive oil, and stir.  I suggest making the chimichurri a few hours to a day in advance, as it will taste better as the flavors meld together.

CHAR GRILLED CHICKEN WITH OLDE TYMERS SAVORY HERB DRY RUB

2 brined Chickens
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 tablespoons Savory Herb dry rub
2 Lemons
2 cups Chimichurri
4 + cups Arugula – 1 cup per person (optional)

Remove the chicken from the brine, and dry it with paper towels.  Lather both chickens under and over the skin with extra virgin olive oil.  Then, massage in the rub, again, under and over the skin.  Place the chickens in a container, cover them with plastic wrap, and place them in refrigerator overnight.  This allows the flavor of the rub to penetrate the chicken skin and flesh.

Before grilling the butterflied and rubbed chickens, leave them at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, before putting them on the grill.  Grill the chickens, then leave them to rest for about 10 minutes, covered in aluminum foil.  Meanwhile, cut each lemon into quarters or wedges.


Plate the chickens however you prefer.  You may plate them as a whole or in pieces.  As I was serving dinner to my family and friends, I decide to plate them in quartered pieces over arugula, and topped with the chimichurri sauce.  Garnish with a lemon wedge.  The chimichurri and lemon wedge serve as a dressing for the arugula.  I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family, friends, and I have.  Bon Appétit!


Char Grilled Pork Chops w/ Dijon Mustard Cream Sauce

Growing up in a Christian Lebanese household, we tended to shy away from pork products, unless they were in cured meat form, like salami, mortadella, Spanish chorizo, etc.  Obviously, it had nothing to do with religion; it was just based on preference.  Since my food encompasses many different cuisines, I decided to give pork chops a starring chance for Father’s Day this year, as my husband loves them.  So, I brined some porterhouse pork chops for 2 days, before grilling them over organic charcoal.  They were so juicy and flavorful!  I also made mustard and olive oil roasted potatoes and French green beans with garlic infused olive oil as part of the meal.  Kevin was happy.

PORK CHOPS AND THE BRINE

3 quarts Water
1/2 cup Salt
1/2 cup brown Sugar
6 sprigs Thyme
2 sprigs Oregano
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 Onion
5 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Black Pepper – whole berries
4  Porterhouse Pork Chops

In a large enough sauce pan, bring the water, salt, brown sugar, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, onion, garlic, and black pepper to a boil.  Turn the stove off and allow the brine to cool to room temperature.  You may want to add some ice to speed the process.  Rinse the pork chops, and place them in a container.  Add the cooled brine and cover the container.  Place the covered container in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.  I find that the longer the chops brine, the better.

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GRILLING THE CHOPS

4 brined Porterhouse Pork Chops
2 – 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Grill pan, Charcoal grill, or Gas grill.  For the best flavor, please use a charcoal grill.

When it is time to char grill the beautifully brined pork chops, remove them from the brine, and dry them thoroughly.  Coat each chop with extra virgin olive oil, then lightly salt and pepper them on each side.  Grill the chops, then allow them to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes, while you make the mustard cream sauce.  

DIJON MUSTARD CREAM SAUCE

2 tablespoons organic Butter
1 large Shallot – finely diced
1/4 cup Sherry Wine
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3/4 cup heavy Cream
1 pinch Salt
5 grinds Black Pepper
2 tablespoons chopped Chives – for garnish

In a sauté pan on medium heat, melt the butter, then add the finely diced shallot.  Allow the shallot to sauté and become translucent.  Add the sherry, letting it simmer for a couple of minutes, as the alcohol cooks out and the flavors concentrate.  Stir in the Dijon mustard.  Add the cream, salt, and pepper.  Allow to cook for another couple of minutes for the flavors to meld together.  Taste the sauce, and adjust the seasoning, if need be.

Now, that the chops have rested, and the mustard cream sauce is ready, feel free to plate the chops and top them with the sauce.  Or, you can set all the food at the table, and allow everyone to serve themselves.  I chose to plate the chops for dinner, as it was Father’s Day.  I had some chives that I chopped and garnished the chops with.  The meal was delicious and Kevin approved.  Bon Appétit!


Lebanese Kibbeh – 2rass

Kibbeh is one of those very versatile dishes in Lebanon that can be served as part of a mezze / mezza or for dinner with yogurt, many lemon wedges, tabbouleh, hommos, French fries, or anything you wish.  It can be made with different ingredients and utilizing various different applications and techniques, as in lamb kibbeh, beef kibbeh, fish kibbeh, potato kibbeh, pumpkin kibbeh, raw kibbeh, grilled kibbeh, fried kibbeh, baked kibbeh, etc.  I love it all, but for this occasion, I am making lamb kibbeh for one of my favorite people and wonderful longtime friend, Phillip Anderson.  Phillip LOVES kibbeh!  He orders it every time he goes to a Lebanese restaurant.  The version of kibbeh I am making is traditionally deep fried and served as part of a mezze; however, I am oven “frying” it, or baking it, for a slightly healthier approach and serving it for dinner.

LEBANESE KIBBEH – 2rass

THE FILLING

1 1/2 yellow Onions – finely diced
1 1/2 lbs ground Lamb
1/2 cup Pine Nuts
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tablespoon organic Butter
1/2 tablespoon Salt
1/2 tablespoon Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg – freshly grated

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small sauté pan over medium low heat.  Add the pine nuts and toast, until they are golden brown.  Please pay close attention to them, as they tend to brown very quickly.  Put them to the side.  In a larger sauté pan, brown the lamb in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter on medium high to high heat.  Remove the browned lamb from the pan, and place in a bowl to the side.  DO NOT clean the pan.  In the same pan that was used for the lamb, add the onions with 2 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Sauté the onions on medium low, until they are caramelized.  Add the browned lamb to the onions, while still on the stove.  Add the salt, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and toasted pine nuts.  Stir to combine.  Tilt the pan to allow the filling to drain a little, so the residual fat can separate.  Do not discard that fat, as it can be used in the place of olive oil in the crust*.  Allow the filling to get to room temperature.

*This is a very delicious thing my mother taught me.  Using the residual fat from the filling in the crust, will yield a much tastier kibbeh.

THE CRUST

2 large yellow Onions – puréed
2 lbs ground Lamb
1 1/2 cups Bulgur – very finely ground
1 tablespoon Salt
2 teaspoons Allspice
3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg – freshly grated
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil – or 1/4 cup residual fat from filling
1 cup Water
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil – for brushing the kibbeh

Begin by rinsing the bulgur a few times, then draining most of the water.  Make sure to leave some excess water to allow the bulgur to absorb it, as it site for a few minutes.  Place the ground lamb in a large bowl.  Roughly chop the onions, and place them in a food processor.  Purée the onions, then add them to the bowl, along with the moist bulgur.  Add the salt, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and olive oil.  Mix the ingredients until a paste is formed.  Allow to sit in the refrigerator for about an hour, to help the flavors integrate together.

Now comes the challenging part, forming the crust / paste into 2rass.  Find an open surface, such as a kitchen island or a table, and place the bowl with the crust / paste, the bow with the filling, a small bowl filled with 1 cup of water, and a large plate for the kibbeh balls or 2rass on said surface.  Make sure to grease the plate with a little olive oil, to keep the kibbeh from sticking.

Making the 2rass:

You must wet your hands with water EVERY time you start making a kibbeh ball (2ors).  After you have wet your hands, take some of the paste, depending on how large or small you want the 2rass to be, and form it into a round ball.  Push your index finger gently through the center of the ball, to form a tunnel of sorts for the filling.  With a spoon, take some of the filling, and place it in the tunnel you just formed.   Close the opening with the inside of your thumb and the outside of your index finger.  Mold the oddly shaped, stuffed oval into the shape of an American football by smoothing the paste with your fingers.  If you see some cracks forming, wet your fingers with water, and smooth out the crack.  If this process proves to be too lengthy and challenging, then roll them into balls instead.

If you choose to make these the traditional way, bring 2 quarts of grapeseed or vegetable oil to 365 degrees Fahrenheit, and fry the kibbeh until golden brown.  When you remove them from the oil, place them on a rack to drain and cool a bit.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a baking sheet and place the kibbeh on it.  Gently brush the top of every 2ors or football with olive oil.  Place in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden and delicious.  Remove from the oven and plate.  Kibbeh is always served with yogurt and lemon wedges.  Eat up!


Grilled Kafta w/ Traditional Salad & Tahini Sauce (Tarator)

Charcoal grilled meats and vegetables of all kinds are a traditional Sunday fare for the Lebanese.  Every Sunday, the grill comes out … for everyone.  Aside from the cubed and skewered garlic and olive oil marinated chicken and barely spiced lamb, kafta comes to mind.  What can I tell you about good Lebanese kafta?  It is just delicious!  You can use all lamb, or beef, or a combination of the two.  However, as lamb is much more traditionally and widely used in Lebanese cuisine, I will be using it.  Besides, to me, nothing comes close to the incredible flavor of lamb.

LEBANESE KAFTA

2 lbs ground Lamb
1 large white Onion – finely diced
2 cups Italian Parsley – finely chopped
1 tablespoon Salt
1 tablespoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a large bowl, place the ground lamb with the onions, parsley, salt, allspice, cinnamon, and extra virgin olive oil.  Don’t overwork the meat, but mix well to combine everything together.  Place the kafta in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight to allow the flavors to marry.  I usually make my kafta the day before and leave it in the refrigerator; it makes for a much more flavorful and delicious dish.

When you are ready to grill your kafta, take it out of the refrigerator and shape it as you wish.  You make shape it into patties, round meatballs (great for stews), or long tubes to skewer.  I did the latter.  I always have a little bit of extra virgin olive oil on the side to “wet” my hands with, while I am shaping the kafta.  I highly suggest placing the kafta back in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes or so, since it has gotten warm from the shaping process.  This step will allow the meat to “set” on the skewer.

Now we are ready to grill.  For best results, please use a charcoal grill; however, I chose to use a grill pan, as it is much easier to photograph without all that smoke.  After you grill the kafta on all sides, which shouldn’t take long, place on a serving dish, and cover with a piece of aluminum foil, as the meat needs to rest for a few minutes.  HOWEVER, if you wish to perform this task the traditional way, then you must have a piece of Lebanese pita bread open and ready.  Lebanese pita is very very thin, unlike most other pitas found at the grocery store.  Place the grilled kafta on the one layer and cover with the other piece of pita.  All the juices that drip, should go into this delicious loaf of Lebanese bread that will be used to consume the kafta at the table.

KAFTA SALAD

1/2 large white Onion – sliced
1 teaspoon Sumac
2 tablespoons Italian Parsley – finely chopped

 

 

Slice the onion and place in a bowl along with the sumac and the parsley.  Mix well and allow to sit for a bit, while you make the tahini sauce or the tarator.  Tarator is more of a condiment that is used with anything from fish to vegetables to meat.  It is a very easy sauce to make.

TAHINI SAUCE – TARATOR

3 tablespoons Tahini – Sesame Paste
1 cup Water
1 Lemon – juiced
1 large Garlic clove – mashed or grated
1 teaspoon Salt

In a small bowl, combine the tahini, water, lemon juice, grated or mashed garlic, and salt.  Mix well.  Plate the kafta, the kafta salad, and the tahini sauce as you like and serve.  You may want to make a kafta sandwich by placing the kafta on an open pita, add the salad and some tomatoes to it, and finish with a healthy drizzle of tarator.  It is so delicious!

 


Dijon Mustard, Garlic & Lemon Marinated Chicken

I LOVE marinades!  What is not to love about them?  You take a piece of bland protein or a vegetable, and you soak it in a marinade for a particular amount of time to infuse it with all kinds of flavor.  You may use a dry or a wet marinade to achieve a flavorful result.  In this case, I am using a wet marinade to flavor my husband’s favorite protein, chicken.

DIJON MUSTARD, GARLIC, AND LEMON MARINATED CHICKEN

THE MARINADE

4 – 6 skinless, boneless organic Chicken breasts
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Grainy Mustard
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Vouvray White wine
2 Lemons – zested & juiced
12 Garlic cloves
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper – freshly ground
pinch of Red Chili Flakes

In a very large bowl, combine the Dijon and grainy mustard with the Worcestershire sauce, white wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, chili flakes, salt, and pepper.  For the garlic, you may either mash it in a mortar and pestle, or you may grate it with the same microplane zester used to zest the lemons.  Whisk everything together and add the chicken breasts, and cover.  You may also divide the marinade into two by putting one half in a one gallon freezer bag with half the chicken, and the other half in another one gallon freezer bag with the other half of the chicken.  Now, place the chicken and marinade in the refrigerator for about two days.  I know, it is a long time, but trust me, they will be DELICIOUS and very flavorful!

COOKING THE MARINATED CHICKEN

4 (2 day) marinated Chicken breasts
2 cups of the Marinade
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10 Thyme springs
1 Lemon – washed & juiced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place a large oven proof skillet or braiser over medium high heat until hot, then add the olive oil.  Now, gently place each chicken breast in the pan, and let sear for about 4 to 5 minutes on one side, or until that side of the breasts is caramelized.  Turn the chicken over on the other side, add the thyme spigs, the marinade, lemon juice, and juiced lemon.  Place the chicken in the oven for 30 minutes.  Take the chicken out of the oven, then remove the breasts and allow to rest on a plate, covered, for about 10 minutes.  I highly suggest straining the sauce left in the braiser using a fine mesh strainer.

Now that the chicken has rested, slice it and place it in a serving platter, topped with a few thyme sprigs and a few ladles of the strained sauce.  If you would like, place a few cooked lemon wedges around the platter for decoration, and there you have it.  Dinner is served.