Easy Shoulder Roast

It’s been over a year since I put anything on the blog – I’ve gone through some major life changes. The first was I had a baby 6 and a half months ago – a sweet girl we call Darling Girly. The second was a few months ago, when we moved into our first home. I still can’t find half of my things, but we are settling in.

These days, recipes are kept pretty simple as my kitchen time is limited thanks to a teething Darling Girly who is starting to try to crawl. My older kids recently requested that I make a ‘yummy roast, the one with no wine or fancy stuff ‘.

Mommy heard you, kids!   Here is the recipe, for other rushed-off-their-feet parents looking to make an easy roast.

 

 

1 roast, about 5 to 7 lbs (shoulder is best, but French will work nicely as well)

2 bags carrots, ends cut (you can peel if you prefer – I don’t, I scrub well)

2 medium Spanish onions cut into quarters

1/2 tbsp  salt

1/2 tbsp  black pepper

1/2 tbsp granulated garlic

2 oz dried parsley

 

To prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 295F. In a large roasting pan, lay out the carrots to form a plank for the roast to rest on.
  2. Scatter quartered onions along edges of pan

3.Add the spices and parsley, starting with salt, then pepper, garlic, and ending with parsley

4. Loosely cover roast with  heavy-duty foil, place on top shelf.

5.Cook at 295F for 3 hrs, the remove from oven and let rest for 2 hrs more.

 

 

 

 

Quick Bone Broth

The weather is turning colder, and I feel a strong desire to cook heartier, more filling meals. One of the things I love to make are homemade broths and stocks – they are incredibly economical, you can customize them to your preference, you get a lot for just a bit of work, and they add so much flavor to even the simplest and plainest of food. There is a lot of room for flexibility as well -you can cook it for 3 hours, or for as many as 12 or even 24.  You can roast the bones first, or use fresh, raw bones. Add more vegetables, different herbs or spices – the choices are yours and they are endless. You will notice there is no salt and pepper in the recipe – that is deliberate to prevent over-seasoning whatever final dish you are preparing with the broth. This recipe is also easy to divide or multiply as needed.

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Ingredients: 

2 lbs chicken bones

1 lb chicken necks

6 frozen cubes of parsley

4 frozen cubes of basil

4 frozen cubes of garlic

1/2 lb carrots

1 head of celery

1 medium Spanish onion

small amount of oil for sauteing

 

  1. In a heavy stock pot (at least 8 qts) add a small amount of oil to the bottom of the pot. When it gets hot, add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook on medium high for 7-10 minutes, or until the vegetables soften and get a bit of color on them.
  2. Add the cubes of frozen parsley, basil and garlic. Stir into the vegetables and let soften. Then add the chicken bones, necks, and water til an inch or two from the top.

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3. Bring to a boil, then lower flame til there are lazy bubbles floating to the surface every few seconds. Skim any scum from the surface as you are able to.

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4. Cook for about 3 hrs, or until the the broth is deep gold in color. Strain with a fine mesh strainer to remove as many impurities as possible.

Coq au Vin

The air is getting a tiny bit crisp, and I can feel autumn in the air. It’s one of my favorite seasons for many reasons – I stop to look and smile when I see the leaves change color as they wave on the trees, then dance in the air as they fall to the ground. I am thrilled at the abundance of late summer produce that beg me to prepare and and store them for a sweet taste of summer in the colder months soon to come. I love the High Holidays – happy times with family seated around the table enjoying delicious food and wine. This recipe is one that will grace my Rosh Hashanah table – it is easy to prepare and freezes well. Traditionally, coq au vin calls for chicken with bones in it, but it is still considered coq au vin if you use large skinless, boneless chicken cutlets such as these.  It is important to remember not to overcrowd the pan- use two pans, or work in batches if you need to. This recipe makes quite a bit, so feel free to halve the recipe if needed.

Ingredients:

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5 full chicken cutlets, cut in half to make 10 individual pieces (boneless/skinless, cleaned of fat)
5 packages of button mushrooms (cut into quarters)
1 750 ml bottle of Cabernet or other dry red wine (not marsala or anything fortified)
2 large Spanish onions, diced
packed 1/2 C each fresh basil and parsley, minced
4-6 large garlic cloves, minced
Flour for dredging
4 tblsp black pepper and dried tarragon
2 tblsp salt
oil for sauteing
1) Prepare chicken breasts by making sure they are very dry by patting excess moisture off with a paper towel. Add the salt, pepper and dried tarragon to the flour, mix to combine, dredge cutlets, set aside. (as shown in picture above).
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2) Heat oil in the bottom of TWO high-sided frying pans (just barely to cover the bottom) and when hot add the onions. 5-7 on mid high til starting to get color.
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3) Add garlic and fresh herbs. Lower heat, cook, stirring often for 3-5 mins.
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4 )Add mushrooms, and stir to combine. Add1/4 C of  red wine, cook til mushrooms are just starting to shrink, about 10 mins. Remove from fire and reserve.
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5) Add oil to bottom of the same two pans, enough to make a thin layer, and in batches pan fry the cutlets (about 5 mins per side, but do not cook through) til you get light brown color on the outside.
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6) When all chicken is cooked, divide between both pans ( it’s okay if it’s a bit tight) and re-add the reserved mushroom mixture.
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7) Cook on low uncovered for about 20 mins, stirring carefully once or twice. It is done with the chicken is soft and cooked all the way through (cut a cutlet open if need be to test), mushrooms are only 1/4 of their original size, and the wine has reduced at least 1/3 of original amount.

Pepper Steak Ziti with Mushrooms

School has started again (my boys started school this past week; my daughter starts next week) and when dinnertime comes, they act like they haven’t eaten all day. They need something to eat that is healthy and filling -and in a hurry. The best way to distract your kids from their hunger pangs while this cooks is to do what I did: get them to help with the prep! They will be thrilled to help, and more willing to eat something they helped make!

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. pepper steak

3 portobella mushrooms, sliced

1 pk crimini mushrooms, cut in half

2 shallots, sliced thin

3 garlic cloves, minced fine

6 large fresh basil leaves, minced fine

1 C dry red wine

1 tsp. dried tarragon

1 tsp dried parsley

3 tblsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

32 oz vegetable stock

16 oz ziti noodles

olive oil for sauteing

 

To Prepare:

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Heat a chef pan or pot, and add a small amount of olive oil to the bottom. Add the shallots and saute on high heat til they just start to brown, then add the garlic.

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When the garlic starts to brown, lower heat and add 1/2 cup of the red wine.

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Add the portabello and crimini mushrooms, cook for 7-10 mins on medium heat, then add the pepper steak.

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After 5 mins, add your herbs, 1 C of vegetable stock, 1 tblsp of the salt and the black pepper. Stir well to combine, lower flame and let simmer as you prepare the pasta.

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Using the remaining vegetable stock, as well as an additional 3 cups water and 2 tblsp salt, boil the water for the ziti. Add pasta when water is at a roiling boil.

Cook pasta for 5-7 mins, then strain and add to the pepper steak mixture with 2 cups of the pasta water.

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Cook on medium high for 10 mins more, lid covered, stirring once or twice in between.

When pasta is done to taste, turn off flame and let sit covered for 5 mins. Stir and serve immediately.

Lamb Meatballs with Pepper-Tomato Broth

It’s been an interesting few weeks – we made the move from big-city Brooklyn to the suburbs of New Jersey.  I’ve been busy with all the things people need to do when they move, especially from one state to the other. Between making sure my husband had a way to commute to his job on Brooklyn everyday to finding ways to keep our children (9, 7, and almost 6) entertained, I am just starting to settle in. It took a bit of time to get used to my new kitchen, but things are coming together and delicious food is being made once more!

When I made this recipe, I served it with polenta (and it was completely delicious!) You could serve this with your favorite grain or starch – rice, pasta, or even quinoa would be just as tasty. Or you can eat it as is for a delicious, light summer soup.

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For the Lamb Meatballs:

2 lbs ground lamb

10 oz plain panko crumbs

3  extra large eggs

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp onion powder

1 Tbsp dried tarragon

1 Tbsp dried parsley

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp rubbed sage

1 tsp porcini powder

1. Combine all ingredients well. Form into golf-ball sized balls.

2. Chill in fridge raw to firm up until you are ready to cook, about an hour. Make 3 dozen small meatballs.

 

For the Pepper- Tomato Broth

4 large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped

3 yellow bell peppers, sliced

3 orange bell peppers, sliced

2 medium white onions, sliced

1 750 ml bottle of Chardonnay ( you will want one not aged in oak -I used Abarbanel)

32 oz vegetable stock ( I used Imagine Foods Organic)

6 oz tomato paste

3 oz each dried tarragon and dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Oil for sauteing

1. Heat a large stockpot (at least 12 Q) and add oil. When oil is hot, add onions and cook on high for 5-7 mins, stirring often

2. Add the tomatoes and peppers, lowering flame to medium low. Cover and let vegetables sweat for 10-15 mins, stirring once or twice.

3. Add the wine, stock, paste, as well as the herbs and spices. Stir well to incorporate and bring to a simmer.

4. Simmer vegetables covered for 30 mins, stirring once.

5. Using an immersion blender, blend all ingredients well, making sure they are no large pieces left behind.

6. Raise tempertaure so a few, lazy bubbles appear on the surface, and add  the previously made meatballs directly into the broth. After 3 mins, take a spatula along the sides of the pot to stir carefully.

7. After 5 -7 mins, remove one meatball and cut in half. If the meat is cooked all the way through, it is done. Serve while hot.

Simply Inspired Kitchen – Essential Kitchen Utensils

It’s been a while since I posted, and this time it is for a very happy reason- we are moving to Lakewood, New Jersey in a few short weeks! Our family has lived in Boro Park (a neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY) for almost 9 years, and now it is time for a change. DH and I want our children to grow up in the same type of environment (the suburbs) as we did. I’m busy packing, deciding what I can pack now (winter clothes, Passover dishes) and deciding what I need to pack at the last minute.

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I consider myself very blessed, especially in the kitchen department. I have a great deal of equipment, and it is a challenge to decide what to pack now and what needs to be packed closer to our moving date. When I really thought about it, I realize that I have certain kitchen utensils I use on a daily basis. So, want to see what I cannot pack til the night before I move? Let’s take a closer look.

1) Custom reclaimed wood cutting boardwww.ourdailysalt.com  (Prices vary)

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This is my favorite cutting board – Chef Felisha Wild of Our Daily Salt made this board especially for me. It is larger and thicker than an average cutting board. The best part? It’s made from 100% reclaimed wood. I use one side for carving and butchering meat, the other (slightly longer) side I use for prep work.

2) Le Creuset French Press in Marseilles www.lecreuset.com/french-press ($65)

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I do my best cooking in the early morning. Early mornings require coffee, and I make my half-decaf coffee in my French press. I dump in some coarse ground coffee (right now I am loving the Espresso Roast from Starbucks) fill with hot water, and in a few minutes I have delicious coffee!

3) Wusthof Classic 8″ Cooks Knife and 8″ Carving Knifewww.amazon.com (Prices vary per authorized merchant)

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I’ve been using Wusthof knives since I was in cooking school. Each blade is fashioned from one blank of high carbon, stain-free steel, and has a full tang that is triple-riveted. The part I like best – the full bolster and finger guard. These are some serious knives! Since I have small children, I keep my knives well out of reach in my Bodum Universal Knife Block (about $40) The inside is filled with little tiny plastic sticks that allow me to slide my knives straight in and not worry about them touching or the tips bending.

4) Berard Wooden Spoonswww.amazon.com (Prices vary)

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I love these wooden spoons – each spoon is crafted from a single piece of olive wood. They are extremely smooth and easy to hold. The pointed spoon is great for mixing or scraping fond (the browned, yummy bits left over after searing or roasting) off the bottom of a pan. The larger ones also double as serving spoons.

5) Joseph Joseph Scoop Plus (Large) – www.josephjoseph.com (starting at $8)

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This silicone scoop/colander is so easy to use – no more getting my glasses foggy while I strain pasta or vegetables! My favorite use is for baby red potatoes – I love that it doesn’t tear at the skins.

6) Bodum Bistro Spatulas and Tovolo Tip-Top Tongs–  www.bodum.com and www.amazon.com  (Prices vary)

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All my spatulas, slotted spoons, fish turners, and slotted pasta servers are from the Bodum Bistro line. They are a super-strong plastic or stainless steel with silicone body. Each utensil is finished with a bumpy silicone grip that makes it easy to handle even when wet. They also clean very easily, and don’t absorb food odors or stains.  All of my ladles and tongs are from Tovolo – I really like the stainless steel and silicone utensils they offer. Extremely sturdy, can take a beating, and very easy to clean.

I love these products so much, I decided that one lucky person will get a chance to have one of my Essential Kitchen Utensils! (Value not exceeding $75) Enter to win via the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post for your chance to win today! Giveaway ends 8/10/15.
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Tuna Ceviche

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, and I am happy to finally be back and with a delicious recipe to share! There were many factors that kept me from posting, however, the reason why I was away for so long as due to health related issues. Thankfully, I am being treated and am well on the road to recovery.  Now that I am feeling better, I am eager to be in the kitchen and make delicious food once again.

One of my all time favorite foods is fresh tuna. Sear it, serve it as sashimi, grill it – it doesn’t really matter. One of the easiest way to prepare  fresh tuna, however, is ceviche. A ceviche is simple – take a  really, really fresh fish, cube it up, add an acid (usually in the form of fresh citrus) , some salt, pepper, and herbs,  refrigerate for at least an hour and serve. The acid ‘cooks’ the fish by changing the texture, and you have an extremely healthy dish. Pretty simple, right?

While the standard ceviche recipe calls for raw peppers, onions, and cilantro, I have found that I prefer my recipe to be a bit different.

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Tuna Ceviche

Ingredients:

1lb best quality sashimi tuna, cut into cubes while still mostly frozen

juice from 4 lemons

2 dozen kalamata olives, pits removed and cut in half lengthwise

handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely minced

3 Persian cucumbers, cut into quarters lengthwise and chopped

Sea Salt and Coarse Black Pepper

 

To prepare:

Note: It is VERY IMPORTANT to work with the fish while it is still mostly frozen, and that all the ingredients you work with stay cold. 

1) Combine the cubed tuna and the fresh lemon juice in a glass bowl. Add a little bit of salt and pepper. Place in the refrigerator and let ‘cook’ for about 30 minutes. 

2)  Add your olives and parsley, use a spatula or your hands to prevent breaking up the tuna. Return to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.

3) 5 to 10 minutes before you want to serve it, add the cucumbers and add more salt and pepper if desired.

 

 

 

Pot Roast

It has been so cold lately! I’m talking flannel pajama, hot water bottle, three- pair- of -socks cold. On nights like that, I like to make a stew like this. It’s simple, hearty and warms the body as it fills the belly. This preparation is very similar to a pot au feu – the biggest difference is the presentation. I serve this as a one course meal- broth, meat and veggies all together in one bowl. Pot au feu is served as two separate courses – the broth is served as a starter, and the meat and veggies are served as the main, along with some boiled potatoes, mustard, and other accompaniments.

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I plan on serving this for one of my Purim seudot as well – we make two, one around 11 in the morning and one around 4pm- because it is that simple and delicious. You might notice the lack of onions and garlic in this recipe- it is deliberate. To boost the flavor but stay away from onions and garlic, I cooked the shallot til very brown, and added a large parsnip and a turnip. All this gives the stew a fresh sharpness so I don’t miss the onions and garlic!

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Ingredients:

1 piece of chuck or pot roast, between 2 to 3lbs

1/2 of a 750ml bottle of dry red wine

1/3 C orange juice

1 sleeve celery, cleaned and chopped

1 large parsnip. peeled and sliced

1 turnip, peeled and sliced

2 lg carrots, peeled and sliced

1 shallot, sliced thin

1 large handful fresh parsley (leaves only, minced)

Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare:

1) Add salt and pepper to the roast on both sides. Sear on both sides, about 8 mins per side. Remove from pot and set aside

2) Lower flame, then add the shallots and celery, cooking until the shallots start to get very brown

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3) Add the carrots and parsnip,the red wine and orange juice. Keep flame at a mid-low setting and let the vegetables sweat, til you have a very good broth started.

4) Add the meat, and top with the parsley and turnip. Add a small amount of salt and pepper, and water til everything is just barely covered.

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5) Cook for about 1 and a half hours on low, or until the meat is fork tender.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

The inspiration: A need for a delicious, minimally processed tomato sauce full of good flavor.

I love making things for myself -I like the concept of being able to control what goes into what my family and I eat. Processed foods have a time and place, but with all the additives they contain, I prefer to use them as little as possible. So I am always pushing myself to make more at home, and one thing we love is tomato sauce. We have meals that feature tomato sauce at least twice a week – grilled fish and brown rice with tomato sauce mixed in, or pasta with beef or chicken and tomato sauce are two examples that come easily to mind. The point is, for something I feed my family so often, I want to make it as healthy and flavorful as I can.

The innovation: Not adding sugar to the sauce, and not peeling the tomatoes first.

When I first started researching tomato sauce recipes, I got really discouraged – the recipe always calls for sugar, and to peel the tomatoes, or blanch then peel the tomatoes. I didn’t want to do either.  I didn’t want to add sugar because I wanted to make something completely healthy and as minimally processed as possible. I didn’t want to have to spend the extra time working on the tomatoes, either. This recipe is a chunky but not especially thick – if you are looking for a tomato sauce recipe like you see in a magazine or on TV, this isn’t it. It’s chunky with real tomato and fresh vegetables and herbs, and the small amount of sweetness comes from cooking down the onions and garlic. Using the best quality tomatoes will improve the sweetness as well.

My re- interpretation: Homemade Tomato Sauce

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Recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce

4 lg cloves garlic chopped

6 stalks celery rough chopped

1 lg Spanish onion rough chopped

6 fresh sage leaves rough minced

1 small handful fresh tarragon leaves rough minced

8 fresh basil leaves rough minced

Olive oil for sauteing

5 lb ripe Roma tomatoes (look for ones that are bright red and only the slightest bit soft or not soft at all) cut into quarters

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (look for a can that says Imported from Italy)

2 packages crimini mushrooms cut into halves

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 of 750ml bottle of dry red wine ( I prefer Burgundy)

 

1) Heat olive oil in the bottom of a 10Qt or larger stock pot. Add garlic and onion, cook on high heat til they have a golden brown color.

2) Lower heat, then add celery, fresh herbs and mushrooms with the red wine, cover with lid and leave sweat for at least 30 mins, or until vegetables look more tender.

3) Add fresh and diced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper ( use a little now, adjust later as needed) and let cook covered at a low simmer for at least 1 and a half hours. The vegetables should be tender, and there should be a significant amount of liquid in the pot.

4)At this point, take a immersion or hand blender and blend everything into the pot together very well, til mixture is chunky. Cook a bit longer, about 30-40 mins, then turn off heat and allow to cool completely before storing away. This will make a large quantity of sauce – I filled 4 2lb deli containers.

Gluten Free Pancakes with Mini Chocolate Chips

The inspiration: A blizzard, and having my whole family home for breakfast

Most of the day yesterday and into much of the day there was a large snowstorm ( they call it Juno. Why I am not sure). But in any case, we got a good foot or so of snow, and my husband had off work and my kids had off school. When the family is all together for breakfast, I treat us all to homemade pancakes. I find it too difficult trying to get three kids and a husband out the door every morning to cook a hot breakfast, and this is the only one everyone agrees on.

The innovation: Making a family favorite healthier using Michael Ruhlman’s Ratios

There was one problem with me just getting into the kitchen and whipping up a batch of homemade pancakes, though. I was now on a primarily gluten-free, lower fat, lower sugar, lower processed/refined product diet. So how was I going to make pancakes for everyone and not be tempted to have one myself?  I decided to make them gluten free, and to keep the percentages exact, I turned to my culinary bible, Ratios. I primarily use this when I am baking, so I don’t end up with a disaster on my hands. I have a gluten free flour blend that is a 1:1 exchange for wheat flour. I doubled the recipe, used Earth Balance for butter, almond milk for regular milk, and gluten free flour for all-purpose, but the percentages are his- and once again they gave me a beautiful end result.

The reinterpretation: Gluten Free Pancakes with Mini Chocolate Chips

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Ingredients:

2 C unsweetened vanilla flavored almond milk

4 large eggs

1 stick Earth Balance (4 oz)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 3/4 C  gluten free flour (make sure it is a 1:1 for wheat flour)

6 Tblsp turbinado sugar

4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

Pam or other oil cooking spray

Mini chocolate chips (optional – I used Enjoy Life’s Mini Chips)

 

To prepare:

1) Melt the Earth Balance and set aside

2) Combine the wet ingredients- almond milk, eggs, and vanilla extract.

3) Combine the dry ingredients- flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. If you find there are lumps in the baking powder or flour, sift them out.

4) Combine the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and add the melted Earth Balance. Whisk together to make sure all ingredients are incorporated.

5) Ladle mixture into desired size pancakes into a frying pan sprayed with Pam. Add chocolate chips and cook til bubbles start to appear, then flip over. Cook for about 2-3 minutes more.