Peter Aitken's Recipe Collection

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cooking recipes kitchen food 12


Cathy's London broil

From my good friend Cathy, a terrific cook.

1/2c soy sauce
1/2c red wine or sherry vinegar
1/2c vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1/2 TB freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients. Put in a heavy ziploc bag with a 3-lb (more or less) top round roast. Marinate in the fridge for about 12 hours, turning once in a while.

Remove the meat from the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it. Drain and reserve the marinade. Grill the meat over a medium hot charoal fire for about 8 minutes per side, basting regularly with the reserved marinade. Cook to your liking, the time depends on the thicknerss of the meat and the heat of the fire. Medium or medium-rare is best. Remove to a cutting board, sprinkle with salt if desired, and cover with foil, let rest for about 5 min. Slice thinly on the diagonal and serve.

My favorite meatloaf

Meatloaf is real confort food to many people, myself included. There are as many ways to make it as there are cooks, here's my way.

1-1/3 lb ground beef chuck
2/3 lb ground pork shoulder
1/2c carrots in chunks
1/2c red bell pepper in chunks
2/3c onion in chunks
2 cloves garlic peeled
1c coarse dry bread crumbs (for variety use all or part corn bread crumbs)
2 eggs
1/2c heavy cream
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper


Mix over low heat until sugar is dissolved:

1/2c ketchup
1 TB brown sugar
1 tsp Worcerstershire sauce
1/2 tsp Tabasco

Put veggies and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Add to bowl with other ingredients and mix thoroughly with clean hands. Do not use an electric mixer, this is the road to chewy meatloaf! Form into a loaf in a roasting pan (do not bake in a loaf pan) and place in a 350 degree oven. After 20 minutes brush with the glaze. Bake for about 1 hour, until the temperature in the center is 160 degrees.

Classic pot roast

Nothing fancy here, just a delicious classic. I like cooking finely chopped vegetables for the full time with the meat - they essentially dissolve and add flavor to the sauce. Then I add bigger chunks of vegetables near the end to eat with the meat.

One boneless chuck roast, about 3 lbs
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp powdered bay leaf
1/2c each finely chopped onion, carrot, and celery
1c sturdy red wine
Beef stock, canned is fine (low salt)
1 TB tomato paste
1c carrots in 1 inch chunks
1c celery in 1 inch chunks
1/2c turnip in 1/2 inch chunks
2 TB flour
1 TB butter, soft

Peel the garlic and cut into slivers. Pierce the roast all over with a thin paring knife and insert the garlic. Pat dry with paper towels and rub with the salt, pepper, and bay.

The ideal pan for this is an oval enameled casserole such as le Creuset. The shape will fit the meat evenly all around allowing a 1-2" gap. This lets you cook the meat without adding too much liquid.

Heat 1 TB oil in the pan over medium high heat until smoking. Add the meat and brown for about 10 minutes on each side. Regulate the heat so the meat is browning without the oil burning. Remove the meat to a plate. Add the chopped veg to the pan and cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the wine is mostly gone. Add the tomato paste and return the meat to the pan along with any juices that have accumulated. Add beef stock until it comes about 1/2 way up the sides of the meat. Bring to a simmer, cover, and put in a 325 degree oven. Check once in a while and regulate the oven heat to maintain a gentle simmer. If necessary add more beef stock. After 1-1/2 hours add the remaining veg and distribute them in the liquid around the roast. After 1/2 hour add the butter and flour, kneaded together to a paste, mixing it into the sauce. Cook for another 1/2 hr. If desired skim off excess fat, then serve. 

All day pot roast

This is an easy recipe and sits in the oven, unattended, all day.

One 2-3 lb boneless chuck roast
1 envelope instant onion soup mix.
Freshly ground black pepper

Pat the roast dry with paper towels and brown on all sides in a heavy skillet, using a little oil. Transfer to a large square of heavy duty aluminum foil.

Put the soup mix and 1 tsp pepper in a mini-prep and pulverize. Rub all over the meat.

Wrap the meat in the foil (does not need to be really tight) , then place in a baking pan with the seams on top. Bake at 225f  for 8 - yes, eight - hours. The timing is not critical, obviously.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 1/2 hour. Open the foil - you should have a cup or so of juices. Pour those into a bowl and skim off excess fat if needed. The meat will be falling-apart tender. Serve the meat with the juices. Goes great with homemeade egg pasta.

Catalan Style Beef Stew

A marvelous, rich dish that is even better if you cook it a day ahead and then reheat.

2 lbs beef stewing meat, preferably chuck, cut into large cubes
4 TB olive oil
3 large carrots peeled and cut into 1" sections
12 shallots, peeled
1-1/4c pitted prunes
2 c hearty red wine
1/2c toasted pine nuts

Season the beef with S&P. Pat dry then brown on all sides in the olive oil in a heavy casserole. Reduce heat and add all remaining ingredients except the pine nuts. Cover and simmer slowly for 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until the meat is very tender, stirring occasionally. During the last hour, check the liquid level. If too low, add some water. If too high, increase heat slightly and leave the cover ajar. Serve sprinkled with the pine nuts.

Chili con carne

My take on this wonderful dish, inspired by a visit to New Mexico. The chili powder makes all the difference, make sure you get a high quality product. If someone tells you that "real" chili does not have beans or tomato in it, smile kindly and pat them on the head. They are probably from Texas and cannot help it.

2 TB vegetable oil or bacon fat
1-1/2 lbs boneless chuck
1c diced onion
1c diced red and/or green bell peppers
4 cloves garlic minced
5-6 TB chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2-16oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 oz baking chocolate, chopped.
2 tsp sugar
2-16 oz cans pinto beans
1-16 oz can red kidney beans.

Trim the beef of fat and gristle and cut into 1 inch cubes. In 2 batches, zap in a food processor until minced but not ground. You might want to stop 5-10 seconds before you would if you were making hamburger.

Heat the oil over high heat in a heavy Dutch oven until smoking. Add the beef and stir until it loses its pink color. Don't worry if the meat gives off some liquid. Add the chopped vegetables and reduce heat to medium high, Cook for a few minutes, stirring. Add the spices and stir for a minute or so. Add the tomatoes, chocolate, and sugar and stir. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, adding water as necessary to maintain a medium-thick consistency. Add the drained beans and simmer for 1/2 hour. Correct salt and serve.

Steak with green peppercorns

This is a recipe that I cannot reproduce precisely because I "play it by ear" every time I make it. I give approximate amounts, but do not treat these as gospel. It is exceptionally good.

Four 10 ounce (or so) high quality steaks (shell, porterhouse, rib eye, etc.), preferably dry aged.
1/2 c green peppercorns (usually found packed in vinegar or brine)
2 TB butter
2 Tb finely minced shallots
2/3c heavy cream
1/2c Calvados (apply brandy)*

Mash the peppercorns to a coarse paste. Rub on all sides of the steaks. Put the steaks one atop another and cover with a cutting board weighted with some canned goods. Let sit for at least an hour, at room temperature. Scrape most of the pepper off the steaks, leaving more or less pepper according to taste.  Heat a cast iron skillet until very hot. Test by dipping your finger into water and flicking a few droplets into the pan. If it is hot enough they will form little round balls that skitter around the pan for a few seconds before they evaporate. Dry the steaks with paper towels. Place in the hot skillet and cook without moving for 2-3 minutes, until a nice crust forms on the bottom. Turn, reducing the heat slightly, and cook until small droplets of bloody liquid start to form on the top surface, signifying medium rare. Immediately remove the steaks to heated plates and reduce the heat to medium low. Add the butter and, when it is melted, the shallots. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two, scraping up any residue that was left in the pan by the steaks. Add the Calvados and a minute later the cream. Simmer briefly, correct salt, and pour over steaks.

* Lacking Calvados, an acceptable substitute is equal parts of Cognac and apple concentrate. Make apple concentrate by boiling apple juice or cider until reduced to half its volume. The result is slightly sweeter, but still delicious.

Pan fried steak

With top-quality meat, a delicious meal is only minutes away. I learned the style of eating steak with lemon in Florence, Italy. You cannot duplicate the Florentine beef here, but it is still a delicious and simple way to eat steak that really lets the flavor of the meat come through.

1 or more steaks of your choice, 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick*
A cast iron fry pan large enough to hold the steaks with ample space between them.
Salt, pepper
Lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 475f

Have the steaks at room temperature, and sprinkle with pepper. Put the pan (do not add oil) over high heat and leave it there for 5-10 minutes until it get really hot. If you dip your finger in water and sprinkle it into the pan, the water should form small balls that skitter around the pan. Dry both surfaces of the steak with paper towels, brush with a small amount of vegetable oil, and place in pan. (If you have a fume hood, this is a good time to turn it on!) Cook for 2-3 minutes then turn. Place pan in oven and cook to desired degree of doneness (medium rare at most!!).  Remove to a warmed plate and tent with aluminum foil. Let sit for 5 minutes then serve. Each diner can add their own lemon juice and salt.

* My preferences for cuts of beef tend toward porterhouse, rib eye, and New York strip. Filet mignon, while very tender, is in my experience less flavorful than these other cuts. If you cannot find prime beef locally, I highly recommend Allen Brothers as a mail order source of the highest quality beef and other meats. 

Mushroom-Madeira sauce for steak

This is a lovely sauce for pan-fried steaks. This recipe makes enough for 4 steaks. You can substitute Marsala for the Madiera for a slightly different taste.

1c good beef stock
1/4c finely minced shallots
1/4c finely minced mushrooms
2 TB butter
1/3c Madiera

After pan-frying the steaks, remove them from the pan and keep them warm. Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter. When it has melted, add the shallots and mushrooms and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the wine and stir, scraping any browned goodies from the bottom of the pan, until the wine has reduced by about 80%. Add the stock and raise the heat. Reduce to about half. Correct seasoning, pour over steaks, and serve.

Braised beef cheeks

Beef cheeks - not actually the cheek but the chewing muscle - is rarely seen but is worth looking for. Because it gets so much exercise it is tough, but cooked properly it becomes fork-tender and extremely flavorful.

Beef cheeks almost always need a lot of trimming before cooking. It's not unusual to lose as much as 50% of the weight to trimming.

Here's how I make them.

4 cheeks, trimmed of excess fat and cut in half
4 TB bacon fat or other oil
1 c coarsely chopped onion
1 c coarsely chopped celery
1 c coarsely chopped carrot
1 leek, chopped
1 red sweet bell pepper, chopped
12 cloves garlic peeled and left whole
1/4 c flour
3 TB tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
1.5c sturdy red wine
beef stock

Pat the cheeks dry and brown well in half the fat in a heavy oven-safe pan (le Creuset is great for this). Do this in 2 batches if needed to assure good browning. Remove from pan. Sauté the vegetables and garlic in the remaining fat until soft and just starting to brown, about 10 min. Sprinkle the flour over and mix well. Add wine, tomato paste, thyme, and a good grinding of pepper. Bring to simmer and return cheeks to pan. Add enough stock to just cover the cheeks and bring to simmer. Cover and cook in 325f oven for 1.5-2 hours. At this time the cheeks should be very tender - remove from pan and keep warm. Skim fat from sauce if needed, correct seasoning, and simmer uncovered for a while if needed to reduce volume. Serve. Goes well with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, white rice.

Oxtails Roman style

Oxtails are one of the tastiest cuts of beef. They require long, moist cooking but the result can be pure ambrosia. This recipe is my modification of a recipe of the same name from The Talisman Italian Cookbook, which is unfortunately long out of print. Can be served with mashed potatoes (my favorite) or white rice.

4 lbs oxtails, trimmed of excess fat
2 TB lard or olive oil
2 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
1-1/2c each coarsely chopped onion and carrot
4 large or 8 small cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2c of a sturdy dry red wine of good quality, such as a Barolo
3 TB tomato paste
6 stalks celery cut into 2" pieces
Chopped parsley.

Wipe the oxtails dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat the lard or oil in an oven-proof pan that is large enough to hold all the oxtails in one layer. Brown the oxtails on all sides over high heat and remove from pan. Brown the bacon, onion, garlic, and carrots in the same pan. Return meat to pan and add the wine. Simmer until most of the wine has evaporated. Add the tomato paste (dissolved in a little water) and enough extra water to just cover the oxtails. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook in a slow oven (300-325 degrees) for 4-1/2 hours. Regulate the heat so the liquid is just barely simmering. Parboil the celery in 2 quarts of boiling water for 4 minutes, then drain and add to the meat. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and check the sauce. If it is too thin remove the solids from the pan and boil the sauce down to the desired consistency. You may want to skim excess fat from the sauce too. Correct seasoning and serve, sprinkled with parsley. This goes very well with plain white rice and a hearty red wine such as a Barolo or a Spanish Pesquera.

Oxtails with celery and tomato

Here's richer and more complex version of oxtails. See Oxtails Roman style for the simpler version.

1/4 lb pancetta (preferred) or American-style bacon, diced into 1/2" pieces
4 lbs oxtails, trimmed of excess fat
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
3 stalks celery, cut into 3" pieces
2 TB tomato paste
2c dry white wine
2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1-28 ounce can Italian tomatoes, drained and crushed

If using American style bacon, simmer in water for 5 minutes then drain to remove excess smoky flavor.

In a large Dutch over-type pan (le Creuset works great for this) cook the bacon or pancetta until it renders most of its fat. Remove and set aside, leaving fat in pan. Pat oxtails dry with papers towels. Turn heat to high and brown oxtails on all sides, in 2 batches if necessary. Remove from pan and lower heat. Add carrots, onions, and diced celery; sauté for about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook until paste starts to caramelize, stirring frequently. Add wine, cloves, cinnamon, and marjoram; bring to boil and cook 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and S&P to taste. Return bacon and oxtails to pan; liquid should come at least 1/2 the way up the meat. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in 325F oven. Regulate heat to maintain a steady simmer. After 45 minutes turn the oxtails. Cook an additional 45 minutes, then add remaining celery to pan. Cook for 45-60 minutes more; meat should be falling off the bones. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Quick corned beef hash

The "quick" in this recipe comes from the use of canned corned beef. Generally I find the canned corned beef to be unsuitable for other uses given its soft crumbly texture and high level of salt. I had a craving for hash recently, so decided to give it a try. The result was quite good. I like to serve it for breakfast with a fried egg or two on top.

1 can corned beef
2 large boiling potatoes
1 small onion
salt, pepper
2 TB butter
2 TB oil
1/3c heavy cream (optional)

Peel and boil the potatoes and dice fine. Peel and chop the onion. Mix in a bowl with the corned been and add pepper (a lot!) and some salt. Go light on the salt as the beef tends to be salty. Note: the "ideal" ratio of ingredients will be 4 parts beef, 3 parts potato, 1 part onion. This is just a guideline, however. Heat the butter and oil in a nonstick skillet that is large enough to hold all the hash in a layer abut 1 inch thick. Add the hash to the pan and use a spatula to press it down firmly. Pour the optional cream over the hash. Cover the pan and cook over medium low heat for about 10 minutes, until a lovely brown crust forms on the bottom. Invert onto a plate and serve.

Argentine empanadas

Based on a Bernard Clayton recipe, these are a real treat.

1 recipe flaky pastry dough
1 c chopped onion
1 TB olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c raisins, plumped and drained
2 tsp brown sugar
1 TB hot paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 c chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped.

Sauté the onion in the oil until soft but not browned, 5-10 min. Add the beef and cook until the raw color is gone. Add all remaining ingredients except olives and eggs and cook slowly, covered, for 30 minutes stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add olives and eggs. If the mixture seems dry you can add another TB of oil. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 400f.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into circles of the desired size - 7 inches is typical (use a pot lid for a template) but you can make smaller ones for appetizers. Put some filling on one half of each circle, leaving about a 1 inch border. Moisten the edge with a finger or brush dipped in water, fold the dough over and seal by pressing with the tines of a fork. Trim the edge if you want a nice neat appearance. Combine dough scraps and roll out to make additional empanadas. Use a skewer or thin knife to poke a couple of steam holes in the top of each empanada.

For a golden crust, brush with 1 egg beaten with 1 TB milk. Place on a cookie sheet, preferably non-stick, and bake for about 20 minutes.

Note: In my experience there is always leftover filling. It can be frozen for later use.





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