I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Erik's Mom's Beans

Over the weekend we had a family get together/bbq at my wife's parent's house. I was called upon for the grilling and the beans. I decided to make this easy recipe for beans that I learned from my friend's mom. I took a cross country trip with them to help move my friend to NYC. We went out in a motorhome and we would always have a nice homecooked meal at night. She made these great beans that everyone seems to like.

Erik's Mom's Beans

A few strips of bacon
1 onion, diced
1 large can of baked beans, your choice - I just used Campbell's Pork n Beans
a good healthy squirt of Heinz 57
a good healthy squirt of Mustard
a good healthy dash of pepper
a good healthy dash of chili powder

Fry the bacon and remove to cool. Brown the onion in the bacon grease, then add the rest of the ingredients and cook over low heat for a while - like 15 to 20 minutes or until the rest of your food is done.

Ease of making
[*********-] 9/10

[*********-] 9/10

[******---] 9/10

Craving Factor

[********--] 8/10

Overall (average of the 4) -

[********@-] 8.75/10 - DAMN GOOD. You should definately know how to make these beans.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Cheesesteaks again!

I had another cheesesteak again. I couldn't resist. I pined away for one all week long and I just had to make one. I decided to make a rating system. I used to just rate things on a scale of 5 heads exploding. 1/5 was pretty poor, you might be better off with takeout. 5/5 was amazing - must try food. I decided to make the scale a little more descriptive. I am sure I will have to modify it based on suggestions but here goes.

There are 4 catagories.

1) Ease of making, scale of 10.

1 is something like you have to dig a pit in the backyard, build a fire, bury the food and cook for several days.
10 is boiling water.
7 is you can walk a 5 year old through it with close supervision.

2) tastiness, scale of 10.

1 is not consumable by humans - dog food or shoe leather or nettles. 10 is a food that you eat that by itself gives you a euphoric feeling. This happens occasionally without any alcohol or anything else being consumed. 7 is darn good food, better than you can get in a chain joint.

3) expense, scale of 10.

10 is water from the tap. 1 is Charlie Trotters ($100 per person without alcohol, the most expensive food I have ever had). 3 is take wife out for a steak at a medium quality steakhouse, a step above say Outback.

4) Craving factor, scale of 10.

10 is I dream about it at night, during the day and spend months or even years trying to figure it out. Gino's Pizza for example. 1 is cursed food - I actively try to seek it out and destroy it. 5 is good food. I'll make a 5 at least a few times a year. 7 is a regular staple food, something that is very comfortable.

So for the cheesesteak:

Ease of making
[*******---] 7/10

[*********-] 9/10

[******---] 6/10 (assuming you use a strip steak and cheez whiz)

Craving Factor

[********--] 8/10

Overall (average of the 4) -

[*******@--] 7.5/10 - DAMN GOOD. Should be a bullet in everyone's arsenal.

Here's to the cheesesteak, and may your life be blessed with many thousands of them!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Philly Cheesesteaks

I had some left over Italian beef so I decided to make one of my other favorite sandwiches - the Philly cheesesteak. If you haven't had a Philly cheesesteak in Philly, then you probably don't know what you are missing. A lot of restaurants offer Philly cheesesteaks, but honestly its not the same thing.

Here is exhibit A

Notice the hoagie bun, the sauteed (carmelized) onions, the thinly cut steak and the cheez whiz. This one has mushrooms on it as well. It doesn't look anything like the cheesesteaks at Applebee's does it?

Here is exhibit B

This one has white cheese, onions and meat. When I first started getting cheesesteaks I was a medical student. I always got mine with white cheese, but gradually I have started preferring the Cheez Whiz. I used to get my steaks from a place in Chicago that was right up the block from where I lived called Philly's Best. I have had cheesesteaks in Philly and they are the same steaks. I couldn't detect a difference. There are a few secrets I learned from my pilgrimages to Philly and by eating at Philly's Best and getting to know the owner over 4 years.

1) Use good steak. Some places use thinly sliced ribeye. I like to use leftover Italian beef because I can use a nice cheap cut of meat and it turns out just as tender as if I used a piece of steak.
2) Don't just saute the onion, slice it thin and carmelize it. To do that you heat a pan up to medium/low heat. Drop in a little canola oil and put your sliced onions in. Stir them occasionally. The onions will sweat off a lot of the moisture and turn caramel colored over about 10-15 minutes. One of the side benefits is that the onions loose their bite and actually become sweet.
3) Cook the steak on the griddle (or cast iron skillet for those of us who are professional-stove-challenged) with a little oil until it is just about done, then add in a good dose of onions. Stir it up a little so that everything is combined, then squirt a little water on.
4) Immediately after squirting the water, put the bun over the meat and onions. The bun will be sliced open first and placed face down. Let everything cook for a couple minutes. Scoop the bun and the meat/onions onto a plate and top with either Cheez Whiz (my preference) or sliced processed white American cheese, only the very cheapest. If you use Whiz it will already be melted. If you use sliced cheese it will melt fairly quickly, especially if you wrap the whole mess up in a little tin foil. I do that if I am making more than one steak and I want to serve them to everyone hot.

The bun cooking on top of the meat/onions is very important. The steam from the meat and onions permeates the bun with flavor and softens it so that it is unbelievably tasty.

I think the above photo was taken when Kerry was trying to show that he was a man of the people and ate regular people food occasionally when he wasn't flying around the country in his wife's fleet of jets or on a yacht somewhere. I for one question that what he is eating is even a cheesesteak. I would put it more in the category of submarine sandwich. Compare what he is eating to exhibits A and B above. I rest my case.

Italian Beef

One of the things I miss from Chicago is the Italian Beef Sandwich.

Shown in the photo is a beef and sausage combo with cheese fries from Portillo's. Making Italian beef is fairly easy. You can make Phili cheese steaks with the meat as well.

Italian Beef

4 pounds eye of round, sliced thin, with the grain
1 bay leaf
2 T olive oil
1 T Italian Herbs

Marinate meat in the above ingredients overnight. The next morning put the meat and the marinade into a crock pot and add:

1 quart beef broth
6 ounces of beer

Cook in the crock pot all day. Meat should be very well cooked and practically falling apart.

To make the meat into a sandwich you need a hogie bun and a grilled Italian sausage. You also need some Giardiniera peppers.

Put a grilled sausage in the bun and top with beef. Next put some peppers on (if desired). Ladle a little of the juice over the whole mess and eat!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

More Ioweegan Greek Food

The title says it all. We were hungry for Greek food. Unfortunately the food I make at home is better than the Greek food you can get out in Kansas City. Here are a few recipes to try, everyone a winner.

Ioweegan Greek "Lamb"

What Iowan knows anything about lamb? Sheep are the poor man's cattle but you usually only try raising them once, and there is no way in hell you are going to eat a lamb. Here is a recipe you can try in Iowa.... beef instead of lamb but made in the Greek way. It makes use of a great invention - the George Foreman Rotisserrie!

4 pound eye of round beef roast
garlic cloves (as many as you like)
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
fresh ground black pepper
Cavender's Greek Seasoning (or just salt)

Poke holes in the meat with a knife. Push the garlic cloves down inside the meat. Combine the rest of the ingredients and put into a ziplock bag. Marinate overnight or for a day or so, as long as you like.

Cook on the rotisserie for about 2 hours, or until outside is browning nicely. Brush the meat every so often with the marinade. When the meat is done it will have shrunk a little.

Xoriatiki (Greek "Village" Salad)
4 Ripe tomatoes - diced
1 Cucumber - peeled and diced
1 Red onion - diced
1 Green pepper - diced
1/3 lb Feta cheese
1/2 cup Olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon

Cut the vegetables in slices and mix in a salad bowl. Top with the olives, capers and oregano and cover with "crumbled" feta cheese. Pour the olive oil evenly. The ingredients above will make enough for several batches of salad. You put the stuff above over lettuce and voila - a Greek Salad!

Garlic Yogurt Cucumber Sauce


2 cups yogurt
1 Cucumber
4 cloves Pressed garlic
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 tspn Vinegar
Diced dill
Salt Pepper

Grate the cucumber and strain tightly using a cloth until very dry. Mix in all the other ingredients.

Greek Lemony Potatoes

You will have to cut this recipe down unless you have a massive family.

12 Peeled and chopped potatoes
4-5 Lemons
2-3 cups Chicken broth
1/4 cup Shortening
Olive oil
Garlic (fresh or powdered)

Wash the potatoes. Cut into quarters lengthwise, and place in a large and deep enough baking pan. Sprinkle or lightly brush the potatoes with olive oil. Put the chicken broth in the pan, add the juice from 3 lemons and top off to about 1cm deep with water if needed. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper, orgenano, and finely chopped garlic or garlic powder. Turn the potatoes over and repeat the seasoning. Cut 1/4 cup of shortening (or lard) into 1/2 in. by 1/2 in. cubes and distribute evenly amongst the potatoes. Cover the pan and place in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender inside. Uncover the potatoes and broil for a short while to brown and crips them as desired. Squeeze a lemon or two over them.

Greek Green Beans

A bunch of fresh green beans, washed
olive oil
Cavender's Greek Seasoning

Combine beans and rest of ingredients in a baking dish and cover tightly. Bake 45 minutes at 375. Uncover and broil until browning. Remove from oven and squeeze a little lemon juice over.