Slow Cooker Brisket

May 28: National Brisket Day

We have eaten our fair share of beef brisket as Texas residents. Whether barbecued, braised, baked, smoked or slow cooked, brisket is delicious shredded as a sandwich or taco filling or sliced and served with BBQ sauce, potatoes and sweet baked beans.

Brisket is a primal cut from the portion of beef breast or lower chest and can be a little tough and stringy. So the meat must be cooked slowly with some liquid to keep it moist and tender.

For a Tex-Mex touch, we slow cooked our brisket with beer/cerveza for a tender and tasty meat filling in soft or crispy tacos. Leftovers could be eaten with BBQ sauce between burger buns for a hearty sandwich. Whether for tacos or sandwiches, try this slow cooker brisket recipe for National Brisket Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Muy Bueno Cookbook)

Ingredients

  • 2-4 pounds beef brisket
  • 2 ounces liquid smoke (recommended 2 ounces per pound of brisket)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 ounces beer
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Line the crockpot container with slow cooker bags for easier cleanup. Place the beef brisket in the container, fat side up. Pour in the liquid smoke. Add the bay leaves.

Pour in the beer. Cover the crockpot with a lid and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 6-8 hours. Remove the brisket from the crockpot and transfer to a cutting board. Shred the brisket, discarding the fat, and place in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Notes

  • This slow cooker brisket is similar to our kalua pig (Hawaiian pulled pork) recipe.
  • Learn more about beef brisket from the Better Homes & Gardens website.
  • Smokin’ hot! We once attended Rodeo Houston’s World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest as guests of Highlander’s company’s associate sponsors. There were lots of tents/booths and barbecuing activities going on at the grounds of NRG Stadium. Coincidentally, the tent/booth to which we were invited won the contest in the best brisket division! However, unlike our brisket, they did not use a crockpot–just the Texas-sized grills!

Char Siu

May 16: National Barbecue Day

Many people think that barbecues involve a grill. This recipe for char siu involves an oven.

Char siu, Chinese-style barbecue pork, is one of Islander’s comfort foods. After church on some Sundays, her family would go to Chinatown in Honolulu and buy a piece of red pork meat hanging by the Peking ducks in the windows of Asian grocery stores. Sunday dinner was simple: char siu, sticky white rice and a vegetable side dish (see Notes). Char siu is also chopped up as a filling in manapua (Hawaiian word for char siu bao—Chinese buns) or sliced as a garnish for saimin and fried egg noodles.

While it may be simple to buy it ready-made at the store, it is quite easy to make char siu at home. Meat is marinated in an auspiciously red sauce (which freaked out Highlander the first time he saw it in our refrigerator looking like something from a horror movie/insane asylum). It is then baked in the oven (which makes this seem more of a roast than a barbecue). Islander especially loves the char in char siu—the blackened parts of the juicy pork from being caramelized!

Try this baked BBQ recipe for Chinese barbecue pork as something different on National Barbecue Day. Char siu is also appropriate throughout National Barbecue Month in May.

Recipe

(Adapted from Foodland and Serious Eats)

Ingredients

  • 3-5 pound pork (loin, shoulder, ribs, butt or belly)
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sherry or rice cooking wine
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • few drops of red food coloring (optional)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce and sherry or rice cooking wine.

Stir in the sesame oil, Chinese five spice powder and red food coloring. Mix well. Cut up the pork and place in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for a few hours (overnight is best).

Remove pork from the marinade and let the sauce drip back in the bowl. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet (easier for cleanup). Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for around 45 minutes or until the pork is cooked through (adjust cooking time for different pork parts). Remove from the oven and let the pork rest for a few minutes. Slice and serve.

Notes

 

Crepes Suzy

May 6: National Crepes Suzette Day

Highlander had to undergo fire safety training for his job in the oil and gas industry. Even with his background and reassurance (plus the fire extinguishers he put around the house), Islander is frightened about flambéing her fruity foods (Crepes Suzette, Cherries Jubilee, Bananas Foster, etc.). So she found a simplified and shortcut Crepes Suzette recipe, which uses store-bought crepes and marmalade for the “Suzy Sauce”. The orange-flavored liqueur is still included as an ingredient but it does not have to be ignited. The alcohol cooks off in the heat and the sauce is still sweet for this delicious dish. For a fast French food without the flame, make Crepes Suzy for National Crepes Suzette Day. Bon appétit!

Recipe

(Adapted from About.com Desserts/Baking)

Ingredients

  • 12 ready-made/store-bought crepes
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter (we used French butter)
  • 12-15 ounce jar orange marmalade (we used one that has champagne in it)
  • ¼ cup orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Curaçao or Triple Sec)
  • 2 tablespoon brandy (we used Cognac)
  • orange, thinly sliced (optional garnish)

Directions

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat. Stir in the orange liqueur and brandy. Simmer on low for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol.

Mix in the orange marmalade and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat. Add a crepe to the sauce and quickly fold it in half, being careful not to let it soak or it will get soggy. Fold in half again and transfer to a plate. Continue folding the rest of the crepes one by one in the sauce. Arrange crepes on a plate, layering a few on top of each other. Garnish with orange slices. Spoon some more Suzy sauce on top of the crepes and orange slices.

Notes

 

Bantha Milk

May 4: Star Wars Day

Want something super simple to drink as a last-minute observance of Star Wars Day? Then prepare Bantha Milk—that (in)famous blue beverage first seen in “Episode IV: A New Hope” where Luke’s aunt Beru served it to him for supper as a nutritious drink. Wookieepedia lists other appearances of Bantha Milk in movies and books within the Star Wars universe. There are also boozy Bantha Milk cocktails, Blue Milk shakes and various versions of this recipe. But we wanted to post a quick and easy drink recipe that is sure to be a total “blue milk run” to celebrate Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you!

Recipe

  • Milk (cow, goat, sheep, almond, coconut, cashews, etc.)
  • Blue food coloring

Directions

In a clear pitcher, pour the milk. Add a few drops of blue food coloring. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to drink. Pour into glasses or cups and serve cold.

Notes

  • The “lightsaber straws” are actually plastic spoons that came in a cereal box a long, long time ago and a galaxy far, far away.
  • Serve Bantha Milk with Wookieee Cookies.
  • See our Theme Menus and scroll down to the Star Wars section to see a list of recipe ideas.

 

Battenberg Cake

battenbergcake

April 30, 1884: The Wedding Day of Princess Victoria and Prince Louis of Battenberg

As marriage sponsors at church, we are always intrigued with foods related to weddings. Battenberg Cake, with its distinctive checkered pattern and quilt-like markings, has a royal wedding history. It was reputedly created in honor of the German Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt when they were married on April 30, 1884. The princess is the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England. Though the royal groom was born in Austria and raised in Germany, the family name eventually became Anglicized from Battenburg (Battenberg) to Mountbatten to disassociate with the Nazis during the World War. The cake itself seems to represent the alliance (marriage) between Germany and England with the two colors!

Battenberg Cake is a terrific teatime treat. Try this royal recipe for bridal showers, nuptial celebrations and the anniversary of the Prince and Princess of Battenberg.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 box pound cake mix (we used Betty Crocker brand)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • red food coloring
  • yellow food coloring
  • apricot jam
  • 2 packages marzipan

Directions

Prepare the pound cake mix according to the directions on the box. In a mixing bowl, combine the pound cake mix with the butter, eggs and milk. Add the almond extract.

battenbergcakesteps1

Mix until the batter is smooth. Divide the batter equally in two bowls. Tint one with red food coloring and stir until the batter is pink. Tint the other with yellow food coloring and mix well. Pour each into two separate, same-sized greased loaf pans.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 35-45 minutes, testing the cakes for doneness. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Trim off the brown edges from the four sides of the cake.

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Level out the tops. Stack one cake on top of the other. Slice down the middle to create long, rectangular strips of cake.

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Stir the apricot jam in a small bowl until smooth. Generously spread the jam on one side of the cake strip. Attach an opposite colored cake strip to the side. Brush more jam on the top of the two cake strips. Repeat with the other cake strips, topping them with opposite colors. Brush all crumbs away and spread more jam on the sides, including the top and bottom of the cake.

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Knead the marzipan to soften. Roll out on a clean, flat surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Keep rolling until the size is large enough to cover the sides of the cake. Brush apricot jam on the marzipan. Carefully wrap the marzipan around the cake.

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Trim off the excess marzipan. Make a neat seam on the bottom and overlap the edges. Turn the cake around and make light criss-cross markings on the top. Chill until the marzipan and jam are set (around 15-30 minutes). Slice off the ends to make the cake look neat and finished. Cut ¾-inch thick portions and serve during tea time.

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Notes

  • In lieu of the apricot jam, a thin layer of vanilla frosting may be used to “glue” the cake strips together.
  • Search our blog for other royalty-inspired recipes.

Saltimbocca alla Romana

saltimbocca alla romana

April 21: Birthday of Rome (753 BC)

We were fortunate to have visited Rome, Italy, twice, in our lifetime (so far!). The first time was for Highlander’s 50th birthday (April 20) and the second time was for a family vacation to visit Islander’s brother at his congregation’s headquarters where we got to meet his Superior General and other brothers and sisters from around the world serving in God’s missions.

While in Rome, Islander did as the Romans probably do and ate veal cutlets with prosciutto and sage. The tender beef combined with the salty and earthy flavors were a “jump in the mouth” (the literal translation of “saltimbocca”). We ate different delicious foods in Italy, occasionally treat ourselves at Italian-American restaurants on “date nights” and “month-aversaries” and sometimes cook Italian dishes and post the recipes on our blog.

To celebrate the birthday of Rome, we made Saltimbocca alla Romana. Try this tasty recipe and experience the flavors of Italy jumping in your mouth!

Recipe

(Adapted from Italian Chef)

Ingredients

  • 6 veal slices for scallopini
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup dry white wine

Directions

Use a meat tenderizer to pound the veal into thin pieces. Place a sage leaf on top of each veal slice. Cover each with prosciutto.

saltimbocca alla romana

In a flat dish, combine the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge both sides of the veal in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil. Slip the veal slices prosciutto side down into the skillet and cook on medium high heat until brown on one side. Flip to veal slices and brown on the other side. Transfer the veal to warming plate lined with paper towels to absorb the grease.

saltimbocca alla romana

In the same skillet, mix a tablespoonful of the seasoned flour into the meat drippings/grease to make a roux. Stir in the chicken broth and white wine and heat until thickened (may stir in another tablespoonful of seasoned flour, if necessary). Serve the veal hot and spoon the gravy over it. This veal meal is perfect with pasta!

saltimbocca alla romana

Notes

  • Avoid overcooking the veal or it will be tough to chew.
  • Make Marsala Veal for a similar dish to Saltimbocca alla Romana. Both Italian dishes have a flour coating and are served with a wine-based gravy.
  • Search our blog for more Italian recipes.

 

Animal Cracker/Cookie Pie

April 18: Animal Crackers Birthday

Animal crackers and cookies were among our favorite childhood snacks. Even now as adults, we still light up like little kids when we find a box of Barnum’s stuffed in our Christmas stockings or open one up as an extra birthday preview present (you know—the prelude to the main gift).

We wanted to nosh on some nostalgia in celebration of Animal Crackers Birthday by making an animal cracker/cookie pie. The pie crust substitutes graham crackers for animal crackers. The filling is frozen pink-lemonade ice cream to match the colors of the animal cookies, although any flavor is good (guava, strawberry, raspberry, etc.). We also decorated the pink pie with white whipped cream swirls and colorful sprinkles for a final, festive touch. Animal cracker/cookie pie looks pretty for a party and is perfect for Animal Crackers Birthday.

Recipe

(Adapted from Real Food Real Kitchens)

For the animal cracker pie crust

  • 1 2/3 cup crushed animal crackers
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions

Crush the animal crackers (pulse in a food processor or place in plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin) into a fine powder. Place the crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the butter and honey and mix until everything comes together.

Press in a 9 or 10 inch pie plate, covering the sides and bottom well. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven cool completely on a wire rack. Freeze the pie crust to make it firmer (optional).

For the pink lemonade ice cream filling

  • 3 cups vanilla ice cream
  • ½ – 1 can frozen pink lemonade juice concentrate, thawed (to taste)
  • few drops of red food coloring

Directions

In a large bowl, mix together the vanilla ice cream with the pink lemonade (½ – 1 can according to tartness and taste). Add a few drops of red food coloring to get the desired shade of pink. Spread the filling mixture into the pie crust. Cover and freeze until firm.

For the decorations

  • whipped cream
  • colorful sprinkles
  • frosted pink and white animal cookies

Directions

Swirl some whipped cream on the edges of the frozen pie (we used Wilton tip 1M and a decorator’s piping bag). Sprinkle some colorful non-pareils on the pie. Garnish with frosted pink and white animal cookies. Freeze until ready to slice and serve.

Notes

  • Learn more about the history of animal crackers from the Real Food Real Kitchens website.
  • Learn more about the history of frosted animal cookies from Mother’s Cookies brand website.
  • There are many brands of animal crackers and cookies—even chocolate flavor!