Saturday, January 24, 2015

Offal isn't Awful!

Week 4: Offal - Oxtail Stew & Egg Noodles

Before anyone argues that oxtail isn't offal.
Technically, it is.

I wasn't nearly brave enough to try hearts or tripe. mostly because I don't think I could get over the grossness factor. Something about entrails really creeps me out. I'll just stick to the visible bits, thanks.

For this week's challenge, offal, I spent a lot of time considering different things I wanted to try to make. Finally after much Googling, I decided upon Oxtail Stew.
And it. was. delicious.

The Visible Bits

There's actually quite a lot that goes into this recipe, and the cook time, while lengthy, is totally worth it. I prepped throughout the day, but the final product still took about 3 and a half hours. Whew!

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 3 - 4 hours
  • 5 lbs oxtail
  • 16 oz beef broth or stock
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup onion
  • 3 large carrots (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup celery
  • 2 shallots
  • 5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chives, and basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bag egg noodles
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • olive oil, for frying


Pick up some beautiful meat from your butcher. Or do what I did and stare into the meat case long enough for some kind employee to come over and ask you if you need "help?" Either way, oxtail was as strange as I was willing to try, especially after staring into a large bag of tripe debating if I needed any more stomach lining.

Trim your oxtail of any excessive fat with a sharp knife. Then season some flour with salt and pepper and gently toss your oxtail.

Heat some oil in a large double boiler and let your beef fry over medium-high heat.

You want it to be browned, but not cooked to the bone. A nice, brown, crusty sear shall do nicely.

While your meat sears, about 3-5 minutes per side, chop your veggies. I totally forgot the potato, though the dish was filling enough without it.

After your oxtail is browned, remove it and let rest on a plate while you toss the veggies into the same pot. Stir and reduce the heat slightly.

Pro-Tip Time!

Here's a little trick I learned when it comes to chopping up fresh herbs! 

First, lay the leaves on top of each other, like a above, then ROLL your leaves into a beautifully delicious herb joint.

Do Not Smoke
After you roll, hold the rolled leaves tight as you chop away!

Take it a step further by slicing horizontally down the middle, then chopping vertically for smaller bits. For my stew, I preferred the larger pieces.

Once you've chopped up your herbs, toss them into the pot with the carrots, onions, and celery. Also add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste and stir until all the bits are bubbly and brown.

Pour in your beef stock, red wine and red wine vinegar. I added a touch of lemon at this point too. Bring this delicious concoction to a nice rolling boil for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat.

Finally, add your seared oxtails and bay leaves, 

And now we wait....

I checked the stew periodically to stir about every 30 to 45 minutes.

About 1 hour in
Slowly but surely the meat will begin to slide off the bone.

When you notice the stew to start separating, it's time to add the second 1/4 cup of flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time to avoid any clumps.

Reduce the temperature to just below a simmer after you add your flour to the stew. 

About 2 and a half hours in

Only 20 Minutes to Go...

When the oxtail is all but falling off the bone, start your egg noodles and butter sauce.

Heat your butter in a large pan and add your sliced shallots.


Here's another herb chopping tip I've learned: SCISSORS! While this might be pretty common knowledge, I didn't think to do this until about 2 years ago, Since then, rolling and using scissors have been my primary herb chopping methods.

Dat Bone Tho

After about 3 hours - almost ready!
At about 3 hours and 15 minutes, my oxtail were slowly losing their meat. The stew was delightfully thick, and the house smelled amazing.

Lastly, add the rest of your butter to your pan with the shallots and add your strained noodles. Mix it up!

And there you have it!

Oxtail isn't so awful, it's just OFFAL!

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 3 - 4 hours
  • 5 lbs oxtail
  • 16 oz beef broth or stock
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup onion
  • 3 large carrots (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup celery
  • 2 shallots
  • 5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup flour. separated 
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chives, and basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bag egg noodles
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • olive oil, for frying
This is how ya dooo it
  1. Start by rising your oxtail and patting it dry. Trim any excess skin and fat (or have your butcher do this) and season with salt and pepper
  2. Combine salt and pepper, to taste, in a large bowl with 1/4 cup of flour. Add the oxtail and toss gently to coat.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a double boiler over medium-high heat then add the coated oxtail. Sear until each side is crusty and brow, or about 3-5 minutes per side.
  4. Once your oxtail is seared, remove it from the pan and drain any drippings, should there be too much, but leave some to saute the onions, carrots, and celery.
  5. After the onions are translucent, add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes and bring to a light bubble. Add your herbs now as well.
  6. Pour in your red wine, red wine vinegar, and beef stock and bring to a rolling boil.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer and add your oxtail and bay leaves. Cover and let cook for about 2 and a half hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  8. When you notice the meat beginning to come off the bone, or when the stew is separating, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, in 2 tablespoon increments to avoid clumping.
  9. As soon as the oxtail is almost entirely sliding from the bone, heat butter in a large pan and add your shallots when it's beginning to brown.
  10. Add your chives and cooked butter noodles, some lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Lastly, place a large bone in the center of a large plate of noodles and ladle your stew over it. Serve and eat!!

Coming up on The Starving Chef: Native Australian! Last week on The Starving Chef: Alcohol!

Big changes this way come, plus recipes, food hacks and more - Only At: 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Week 3: Alcohol - Chicken Marsala

(+ catching up on Week 1: Diet Foods!)

So I have decided to (try) to complete the 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge
(Try) being the key parenthesis in that sentence. 
Full disclosure, that rice is from a bag. BUT STILL DELICIOUS.
I missed the first week because, well, frankly I completely forgot. I guess that would technically make this the 51 Weeks of Cooking Challenge - but lets not dwell on that because I'm already behind on Week 4. 


Week 3: Alcohol - Chicken Marsala with Garlic Asparagus

I know Marsala wine is a pretty liberal interpretation of "Alcohol" since I don't think I've ever actually drank the stuff outside of the sauce that I pour over my chicken. Not to mention the 'wine' used is actually cooking wine, so you wouldn't drink that anyways! 

And yep, 'drank' is the correct verbiage to use for both the wine and the sauce. But I digress...

Here's Your Line Up

Chicken Marsala is surprisingly simple and quick to make 
(provided you don't stop to take pictures every step of the way, because then it's neither of those things).

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2
  • 2 chicken breasts, flattened
  • 1 package of white mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (I use Better Than Bouillon Chicken)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp parsley leaves
  • 1 stick of butter, divided into fourths
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil for frying
  • 2 slices of bacon (optional)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 

First things first, beat the crap out of that chicken!

Using a meat mallet, or if you're feeling crafty, a frying pan, flatten the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap or in a plastic bag.

Then prep your flour with a considerable amount of salt, pepper, and parsley flakes. I believe I also added a touch of lemon pepper because flavor. Then lightly coat the chicken breasts.

Once you have your flour ready, melt some butter in a large pan over medium-high heat until it is golden and bubbling, but not quite browning. 

Food Blog Flashback

Week 1: Diet Foods - Garlic Asparagus with a Balsamic Drizzle

I suppose while this is more of a hypothetical flashback, since Week 1's challenge was an afterthought, here's the recipe for the 'diet' asparagus as my side. How convenient.
It's a RECIPINCEPTION - A recipe within a recipe 
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2ish (depending on your love for asparagus and willingness to share)
  • 1/2 bunch Asparagus
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp butter (optional if you're actually dieting or whatever)
This asparagus side is seriously simple and only takes a few minutes to complete. The key, I believe, is the glass pan. While other pans will work, it becomes too crispy on the tops for me. Generally, I will make this first and pop it into the oven at 350F for the amount of time it takes me to complete the rest of the meal - so about 20-25 minutes.

Back to the thing!

After about 5 minutes, flip your chicken in the pan and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until deliciously golden.

Remove the chicken from the pan, but don't clean it! Toss in the bacon to soak up some of the flavor instead.

While your bacon fries, clean and chop your mushrooms.

When your bacon's crispy, take it out and crumble it on a paper towel.
Then in go the mushrooms!

Dat sizzle
To finish off the sauce, add the last part of flour to the pan and stir until the mushrooms are covered. Then quickly add the Marsala wine, the chicken broth, and the crumbled bacon and stir until smooth.

And there you have it!

Pour some of the Marsala sauce over your chicken, remove the asparagus from the oven, and microwave your baggie of rice! Fast, cheap, AND COMPLETELY DELICIOUS!

Recipe TL;DR

*If you are making the asparagus as a side, preheat the oven to 350F

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2

  • 2 chicken breasts, flattened
  • 1 package of white mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (I use Better Than Bouillon Chicken)
  • 1/4 cup flour, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 tbsp parsley leaves
  • 1 stick of butter, divided into fourths
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 slices of bacon (optional)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Using a meat mallet, flatten your chicken breasts to be about 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Prep your flour in a shallow bowl and add a generous amount of salt and pepper and parsley leaves.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium-high and add approximately 2 tablespoons of butter. Bring to a bubble, but not quite browning.
  4. Dredge your flattened chicken in the flour then transfer directly into the pan (if using a smaller pan where the chicken will not fit side-by-side, do one breast at a time). Brown for 5 minutes per side, until golden and crispy.
  5. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm. Leave the drippings in the pan.
  6. Toss 2 slices of bacon into the frying pan while you slice your mushrooms. When crisp, remove bacon and crumble, and leave the grease in the pan.
  7. Add your mushrooms to the pan and saute until they have absorbed enough of the liquid and have started to brown.
  8. Then add the 2 tablespoons of flour and stir constantly until the mushrooms are covered.
  9. Finally, add the Marsala, chicken broth, lemon juice, and crumbled bacon and stir until smooth.
  10. Plate your chicken and spoon sauce over chicken - serve and enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by! I have a lot of big changes planned for this blog in the coming weeks - it's a brand new year, a brand new me, and a brand new challenge every week, so get ready for a brand new look to 

The Starving Chef - Will Write for Food

Monday, January 5, 2015

Week 2: Dairy - Crème Brûlée for One

Thus begins the 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge

And as sad as it sounds, here's my recipe for a single serving of crème brûlée.

For, ya know, when the feeling STRIKES.

Or for when you remember suddenly, while craving crème brûlée, that it's Week 2 and the challenge is dairy.

 So where is Week 1, you ask?

Yeah well, okay, I'll admit I forgot about Week 1. I have been planning on starting this challenge as part of my New Year's Resolution for several weeks prior and had lurked in the thread, from which these recipes were inspired, in preparation. 

Truly, Week 1: Diet Foods was completed, just two weeks late. Check out Weeks 3 + 1 here!

 My apologies for not having any of the cooking process. I should mention that I also was only ever intending to post a few pictures for imaginary internet points, so I didn't even think to snap pics while I was actually cooking. Won't happen again, hopefully not for at least the next 50-odd weeks.

Now on to the yummy parts.

I started eating, pictures can wait. Or not, I guess.

  • Butane Torch OR
  • Broiler set on high
  • Small cake pan
  • 1 Ramekin
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla concentrate (or bean or extract, whatever's on hand)
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 2 tbsp fine sugar

Here's How:
Prep time: 10 minutes + at least 3 hours for chilling
Cook time: 45 minutes
Preheat Oven: 325 F
  1. Place the cream in a pan with your vanilla concentrate and bring to a light simmer over medium-low heat, constantly stirring. Let cool until warm to touch, at least 15 minutes.
  2. Beat the yolks in a small bowl with the sugar until creamy and slightly pale.
  3. Then while whisking constantly, slowly pour the cream, a little bit at a time into the bowl with the eggs.
  4. Once mixed completely, spoon off any foam on the surface then pour into a ramekin.
  5. Using a single 9x9 pan, fill with water until it is about half-way up the side of the ramekin.
  6. Cook for approximately 40-50 minutes, or until the center is still wobbly, but the sides are smooth and non-moving. Depending on your oven, this can take up to an hour and a half, but luckily mine was perfect at about 47 minutes.
  7. Remove the ramekin from the water and allow to cool on the counter for about 15 minutes, then place in the fridge to continue cooling for at least 2 hours or overnight.  
If you don't have super-fine sugar on hand, don't fret! Simply grab a food processor (or Magic Bullet, in my case) and blend for a few seconds. Easy-peasy.

When Ready to Serve:
  1. Gently shake your fine sugar over the top of your crème until the surface is covered.
  2. Using a torch that can be held horizontally, melt the sugar granules until they are brown and bubbling, being careful not to stay in one place for too long and scorching the surface.
  3. Let cool for a few moments (I'll even toss mine back into the fridge for a couple minutes), then CRACK that surface with a huge spoon and enjoy!!

Thanks for stopping by! In the coming weeks, this blog will be undergoing some massive changes. 
Redesign? I think yes.

 Stay turned to 

The Starving Chef - Will Write for Food!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I've been stirred from my internet slumber to wander the world once more. It's come to my attention that Halloween is approaching, given the appearance of pumpkins and spooky decor. So in spirit of the holidays, I present to you...



But in all seriousness, this is one deliciously simple appetizer that's perfect for any spooktacular party! I was inspired while thinking about things I could make in the Jell-O molds I uncovered in our basement that must have been hidden in a box untouched since college days. Once I found the molds, the wheels in my mind started turning - and the only other thing that sounded better than a half pound of brain Jell-O...was a half pound of BRAIN CHEESE!!!

I ran to my fridge to see what I had on hand, because the scariest part of this story is ALL THAT CHEESE WAS ALREADY IN MY FRIDGE. The more I let that sink in, the more I was disgusted in what I was about to create...which made me hunger for it even more.

For a few days I sat on this brainy idea and during that time debated where to go for lunch with a friend. Bagels were suggested at a nearby cafe, where they have the best lox and cream cheese bagel spread. Upon the craving for smoked salmon and cream cheese, which is a favorite combination of mine, I realized I had just accidentally connected the dots in my mind to find exactly what would take this block of brain shaped cheese to a whole 'nother level.

We didn't end up getting bagels.

Because this blog was most definitely an afterthought - meaning I had already starting eating the brain cheese by the time I realized I had some internet gold in my fridge (I'm a sucker for imaginary internet points) - I do not have any pictures of the process it took to create this delicious monstrosity.

The only thing I really needed to purchase for my brain cheese was the salmon. Almost every grocery I've been into has a section by the seafood with fake crab meats and other miscellaneous packaged sea meats that aren't fancy enough for the display case, but aren't crappy enough for the freezer aisle. I chose one of those flattened packages of the thin smoked salmon. As one redditor pointed out, it may have been lox I used, which is brined, not smoked salmon, though the packaged described it as such. While there is a difference in flavor, which is preferential, lox is equally as good, in my opinion, to smoked salmon. Either will work in this recipe, depending on your taste buds.

Allow me a moment to show off my actual Halloween decorations. Pretty hard to get into the spirit when all you have are two windows to shine through. Clearly my neighbors need to STEP. IT. UP.

But for real, I'm pretty proud on how my ghost came out. Just the right amount of homemade and...creepy. The ghost is in the front guest bedroom, and ever since it has been up, I've left the door open to remind me to turn off the lights before I go to bed. And every night, I've heard that door shut...on it's own. Me and my puppy are both sufficiently creeped out.


Anyway, Back to the Thing

Right. So.

This was surprisingly easy to accomplish with a little creativity. First, I sprayed the mold with olive oil spray because I wasn't sure if the salmon alone would be enough to keep the cheese from seeping through and making it stick to the plastic. Then line the mold with the salmon by laying pieces next to each other horizontally until the mold is covered and the salmon doesn't slide down. I gently pressed the salmon into the creases to help add to the effect. After that, into the fridge while you melt the cheese.

There are a couple ways you can go about melting the cheese, I chose the slower of the two methods, mostly because I feel as though I can tell the difference in texture. That being said, you can microwave (in intervals) the cheese in a casserole dish OR you can create a double boiler over a pot of water to melt it. Either way, the cheese should be at room temperature to quicken the entire process, regardless which method you choose.

Cube up the sharp cheddar cheese and add to a bowl with the cream cheese and goat cheese. Decide on your preferred melting method and proceed until cheese is melty with no chunky!*

*Edit: This was entirely unintentional verbiage. I was possibly talking to my ~5 month old puppy while typing this.

Once the cheese is at a smooth consistency, add the teaspoon of sriracha and a handful of golden raisins. Those were what I had on hand, but you can use your favorite hot sauce or dried fruit bits. Stir a few times then pour the mix into the salmon lined mold. Cover with some plastic wrap and place into the fridge.

Let the cheese set in the mold for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. The cheese should not jiggle when you go to remove it from the mold!


Serve your brains with some crackers - or if you're looking to really scare your guests...carrots and celery!! QoooOOoooOOOOOo

I was lacking in decorative plates and Halloween-ish decor, so here's a bonus pic of my brain and my wand from Harry Potter in Universal Orlando. The pumpkin is actually the cap from my pumpkin juice. SPOOKY!

So there you have it! Delicious, yet disgusting, BRAIN CHEESE!!!


Recipe TL;DR:

The Set:
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 10 oz block sharp white cheddar cheese
  • packaged smoked salmon/lox (I used a kind with dill and lemon seasonings)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins/crasins/any bits of dried fruit you please
  • 1 tsp Sriracha (optional)

The Prep:
  • Bring all the cheeses to room temp
  • Cube the block of cheddar
  • Create a double boiler with a pot of water and metal/glass bowl that fits over the pot, bring water to boil

The Steps:
  1. Spray your Jell-O Brain mold with an olive oil spray
  2. Open your smoked salmon and press gently into the mold, pressing into all the grooves and creases. Stick in the fridge to chill.
  3. Melt the cheeses in the double boiler. I created mine using a metal mixing bowl that just barely touched the top of water when placed into a large pot. Or just microwave it. Whatever.
  4. Once cheese is melted, add sriracha and golden raisins, remove from heat, and stir.
  5. Remove Brain mold with the salmon pressed inside, then pour the cheese mix into the mold on top of the salmon. Stick in the fridge and chill for at least 6 hours.

The Best...Part:


To complete your brainy cheesy goodness, once the cheese is set, flip the mold onto a plate. Serve with chips and veggies.

Be sure to check out my other, not so spooky recipes, only on The Starving Chef - Will Write for Food and follow me!

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Did you make this recipe? What did you use and how did it go?? Let me know in the comments BELOW!

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