Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Frog's Eye Salad

Frog's Eye Salad. Doesn't that name just sound gross? It sounds kind of like Halloween food to me.

When I look at this in a bowl, I think it should have a nice name. Maybe I will just call it something else. Maybe I will just call it ambrosia or picnic fruit salad. Or I will make up something odd like "insalata con acini de frutta" which really means nothing in Italian.

I like making up words. How about Fru-cini? Prounounced Froo-cheenee. What about Fru-cina-lata (froo-cheena-laa-tah)?

This dish uses a tiny shaped pasta called Acini de pepe. They are just little balls of pasta. For anyone unfamiliar with the pronunciation of Acini de pepe, the correct way to say it is "ah-chee-knee duh pay-pay". Wow, I didn't realize I was going to be giving Italian language lessons on a food blog. Go me!

Anyhow, I gleaned this gem of a recipe from my dear hubby's stepmom. It makes a lot of food. This fills a very large mixing bowl, and it's fairly addictive. It's sweet, but not too sweet. Since it's sticky and creamy, it sort of appeals to the comfort food desires. I think it would be very good if you wanted to add other tasty things like shredded coconut or chopped nuts.

I would normally make this using the four-flavor fruit mini marshmallows, but I found these strawberry heart marshamallows for Valentines Day. I couldn't pass them up!

1 16 oz. box acini de pepe pasta
1 20-oz. can pineapple chunks (#2 size)
1 large can mandarin oranges
1 small tub Cool-whip
1 container yogurt (any fruity flavor), 6-8 oz.
1 package fruit mini marshmallows

1. Drain the canned fruit and reserve about 1/2 cup of the juices.

2. Make the acini de pepe according to the box directions. Drain and cool.

3. Mix together the yogurt and Cool-Whip in a large mixing bowl.

4. Add fruit, marshmallows, and acini de pepe and mix.

5. Thin with reserved fruit juices and refrigerate. It should be liquidy and floaty when you put it in the fridge, after it chills about 2 hours, all the liquid gets soaked up and the marshmallows migrate to the top.

6. Makes enough for a small army or my husband's family :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Beef Prime Rib Roast

When the carnivore comes out, sometimes you just need a good hunk of beef. To quiet the beast within, I usually go for a steak, a fat and juicy hamburger, or a roast.

We've tried lots of different techniques for cooking, like long and slow, or even in the rotisserie, but for just a good "get 'er done" roast, this recipe is it.

One thing I can't stress enough is using good meat. How do you know good meat from bad meat? If you can get your roast from a reputable butcher, it will be good. If it comes from Wal-Mart, it will probably be tough. Fork out the extra couple bucks for a fresh roast. Don't bother buying the one on sale that's turned a bit brown. It will be stinky to eat.

As for the roast's preparation, it's so nice to have the butcher trim the rib bones off, then tie them back on. One local shop here (that recently went out of business) used to sell roasts with an extra layer of fat wrapped around the outside and seasoned between the layer of fat and meat. Those were the absolute best roasts and worth the price of $11 per pound! (Droooooooool!)

And what about how much roast to buy? I go for a pound per person. I have to say, this recipe will absolutely overcook a small roast, so if you are trying to get away with only 4 pounds of meat, you should not use this recipe. We like leftover roast, so we get a tad extra. Leftovers are great on French bread with Swiss cheese and Au Jus as a French Dip Sandwich.

a large beef rib roast (standing rib roast, prime rib), 6 to 9 pounds
black pepper
regular olive oil
garlic salt

1. Remove the roast from the fridge.

2. Drizzle olive oil over the roast. Sprinkle with salt, garlic salt, and pepper. Massage it into the roast.

3. Let the roast rest, covered, at room temperature for 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 400F.

5. Put roast in the oven for 15 minutes at 400F.

6. Now, you have to do some math to determine how long to cook. We go for 16 minutes per pound. 16 minutes will yield medium-rare meat. I have found that 15 minutes will get you to rare, 17 for medium, or 18 for medium-well. This roast was 7 lbs, 8 oz, or 7.5 pounds.

7.5 x 16 = 120 minutes total time.

7. After the initial 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 325F and cook the remaining time. So for my roast, we had 105 minutes at 325F.

120 minutes - 15 minutes = 105 minutes at 325F.

8. Just to make sure you are on target, poke a meat thermometer in to see what it says at the end. You should aim for 10 or 15 degrees below your "Done temperature" target. For Medium-rare, we aim for 120-125F at this point.

9. Take the roast out and let it rest in the cooking pan, covered with foil. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT! IT MUST REST 15 OR 20 MINUTES OR IT WILL BE UNDERCOOKED. If you are unsure, test the temperature again. For Medium-rare, it should be about 135F now.

10. After resting, carve it up into nice thick slices.

Meat temperatures (for step 9)
Rare: 120-125F
Medium-rare: 130-140F
Medium: 145-150F
Well: 155-165F

11. Serve with baked potatoes, a veggie like asparagus or artichokes, and some sliced French bread.