German Cheese Fondue

I made the following for my Oktoberfest event. You can read and get other recipes from the event HERE.

Megan & Matt’s German Cheese Fondue
recipe from HERE

1 sack, 10 ounces, 2 1/2 cups, shredded sharp Cheddar, available on dairy aisle
1/4 to 1/3 pound, 4 to 6 ounces, Gruyere, shredded
1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup German lager beer
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
A few drops hot sauce
A few drops Worcestershire sauce

For Serving:
1 1/2 pounds cubed or thick sliced and browned wursts: knock, brat or brot,
1 package mini party franks (recommended: Boars Head)
1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
1 small jar mini Gherkin pickles, drained
1 small jar pickled onions, available on vegetable aisle
1 small, round loaf rye, pumpernickel or sour dough bread, cubed

Combine cheeses in a bowl with flour. Add beer to a small pot and bring up to a bubble over medium heat. Reduce the heat to simmer and add cheese in handfuls. Stir constantly, melting the cheese in batches. Stir in a figure-eight pattern with wooden spoon. When the cheese has been incorporated fully, stir in the mustard, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Transfer fondue to warm fondue pot.

In a large skillet, bring 2-inches of water to a boil and blanch the cauliflower for 2 to 3 minutes, drain and arrange around the fondue pot.

In the same pan, bring the cooking water back to a boil and add the mini franks and sliced wursts. Cook, uncovered until all the liquid has evaporated. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan to crisp the casings. Pile wursts and dogs near fondue. Complete the dipping selections with dishes of pickles, onions and cubed bread.

Autumn in my Kitchen

I love the fall weather! To celebrate the first weekend of fall-like weather here in Chicago, I prepared maple braised pork ribs which I served with a butternut squash risotto.

Here is my recipe for the maple braised pork ribs, which is versatile enough for making in both a crockpot or conventional oven:

1-2 lbs pork ribs
maple rub (recipe below)

Maple Rub
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
splash of worchestershire sauce
salt & pepper to taste

Combine above ingredients in a bowl.
Consistency will slightly clumpy and paste like.
Coat pork ribs with this paste using your hands – a basting brush isn’t as effective.
Place coated pork in a dutch oven or shallow baking pan.
Bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for 3-4 hours OR
Place coated pork in your crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours.

I served this with a butternut squash risotto, using a jarred butternut squash puree which I got from Wiliams Sonoma.

When I made my basic risotto recipe, I used chicken broth and about 1/2 cup of the puree I stirred in while my risotto cooked. I also added 2 cloves of minced garlic, finely chopped small onion and a few springs of fresh thyme leaves.

Ravioli Raves!

It was a lazy day off for me today and to keep up with the spirit, we had homemade ravioli that was sleeping snugly in my freezer. I’ve found making homemade ravioli was a great way to use up leftover meats & veggies and the ravioli we had tonight was no exception.

Tonight, our ravioli was filled with grilled steak, caramelized onion and blue cheese. To finish the meal, I made a rosemary balsamic cream sauce garnished with sliced green onion.Here is my recipe for the rosemary balsamic cream sauce. You can use this over chicken, pork, steak or even your favorite pasta for something different and flavorful.

1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1-2 springs rosemary
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
pinch of kosher salt
few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter

– Combine all ingredients except cream & butter in a medium saucepan.
– Bring mixture to a low boil and reduce heat to low.
– Allow mixture to reduce by letting it boil on low for 25-30 minutes.
– Mixture should thicken enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
– Allow the mixture to cool, as it will thicken even more.
– In a saucepan, pour reduced sauce through a sieve to remove big spices.
– Allow sauce to boil and add cream.
– Stir & take off heat.
– Slowly stir in butter.
– Pour sauce over meat as a finishing sauce or over pasta.

*The sauce is best made in advance for the flavors of garlic and rosemary to infuse the sauce.

Fajita Friday!

It’s Friday… and I’m starting my weekend nice and easy! From the dinner party I held a few nights ago, I had some leftover sweet bell pepper slices. I didn’t want them to go to waste so I made a simple beef fajita filling to serve with cilantro lime rice.
A fajita is a generic term used in Tex-Mex cuisine, referring to grilled meat served on a flour or corn tortilla. Beef (skirt steak) is commonly used as well as chicken, pork and even shrimp. In restaurants, the meat is often cooked with onions and bell peppers and is served with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, cheese and tomatoes.

Although skirt steak is the most popular beef cut used in making fajitas, many purists insist that the use of other meats, such as chicken should not be considered “fajitas.” Regardless, use of the word fajita has evolved from the term for a cut of beef to include the cooking method (thus chicken fajita) and also to define the grilled strips of peppers and onions that usually accompany the meat. Well tonight we are not purists when it comes to fajitas. I used my grill pan to prepare the beef which was sauteed with bell pepper strips and red onion.

Here is my recipe for beef fajitas over cilantro rice:

1 lb beef skirt steak or round, cut in thin strips
colorful bell pepper slices of your choice
1/4 large red onion, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
pinch of kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
olive oil for cooking

In a grill pan, add a touch of olive oil.
Add beef strips and all ingredients except the bell peppers and onions.
Allow the beef to cook through.
When beef is almost cooked, add onions.
When onions have slightly softened, add bell peppers.
Season with additional salt & pepper to taste.
I served this with cilantro lime rice.