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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Beef Stew

I apologize for the lateness of this post.  I was in Ann Arbor running around all day yesterday before attending the second day of the Ann Arbor Folk Music Festival.  I suppose I could have found a coffee shop to camp in and write this entry (goodness knows there are endless choices of coffee shops in Ann Arbor).  But I decided to do some rare shopping while I was there.

John has been telling me he was craving beef stew with barley for a little over a week now.  And of course, since he brought it up, I started craving it as well.  Despite the fact that I had just made a batch of Brunswick stew, I felt this would be a good thing to keep him stocked up for the next week.

I did some research to try to learn how to make effective beef stew (mine usually turns out more like beef soup). Once I had cobbled together ideas for what I thought would be an effective recipe, I gathered the ingredients that I had on hand.  Then on the way to John's place, I stopped and picked up the rest.  I chose to use a red blend from my stash for the red wine, a decision I might rethink if I use this recipe again, however, it was tasty wine, so while not as hearty as I might prefer, still nice enough.

I wanted something that I could start on the stove, but finish in the crockpot.  This recipe worked very well for this purpose.

Hungarian Beef Stew with Barley
  • 1 1/2 lbs stew beef
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 8 small (or 2 regular) red peppers, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb red-skinned potatoes, large dice
  • 3 carrots, coarsely diced
  •  3/4 cup barley
1. Prepare the vegetables.  Season the beef with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add 1/3 of the beef to the pan and sear on each side.  Remove beef and set aside.  Repeat two more times with remaining beef.

2. Add onion and peppers to pan.  Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.  Add flour, paprika, caraway seeds and garlic.  Continue cooking for 1 minute.  Add wine and stir, cooking, until thickened, making sure all dark bits are stirred up from the bottom of the pan.  Add the remaining liquids, mix well.  Cook about 1 minute more and then remove from heat.

3. To assemble: Place carrots and potatoes into the bottom of the crockpot.  Place beef on top and then pour wine mixture over all.  Cover and cook on LOW for about 6 hours.  Adjust seasoning and add barley.  Mix well and then cook, covered, for another 1-2 hours on LOW, or until the barley is cooked.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Prime Rib

As I arrived back in Midland from my family trip to Florida, I saw that Jack's Farmers' Market had boneless rib roasts on sale.  Since I needed something to eat for the few days in town before leaving for New Orleans, I figured what the heck.  After all, my brother, Steve, told me about the roast he made for Christmas and it sounded really good.  Now, this was my first attempt at making prime rib, so I started out doing some research.  After my debacle with the ham in the crockpot, I decided to actually roast it in the over (as it should always be done).  But there are a lot of different recipes out there and it was hard to decipher the best way to prepare it.  So, I contacted my brother and got his input.  First things first, you must do a dry brine with these cuts.  That means rubbing the meat with kosher salt and placing it, uncovered, in the refrigerator at least 2 hours (in this case, I did overnight - about 10 hours). 

Once you have it brined, you then must take it out and allow it to come to room temperature, at least 2 hours.  Now, my poor brother tried to make yorkshire puddings in between roasting and searing the roast and ended up with an oven fire, so he didn't get to sear.  But I managed to do all the steps, so here's how it works.  Oh, and did I mention that this recipe is only 3 ingredients?

Prime Rib Roast
  • 5-5 1/2 lb boneless rib roast
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh-ground pepper
 The night before roasting, prepare a dry brine.  Rub the roast on all sides with kosher salt and place, uncovered, in refrigerator.

The next day, pull the roast out and allow to come to room temperature, at least 2 hours on the counter. 

Preheat oven to 350F.  Season roast with pepper (remember that it has already been salted).  Place on a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour.  Without opening the oven, turn off the heat.  Allow to sit for 1 hour.  Then turn oven on to 400F and set timer for 1/2 hour.  This will allow for the sear.  Once done, pull from over and place on a cutting board.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes before slicing (although, there was still a bit more blood after slicing than I like, so 30 minutes might be better).

Note: Although this picture shows close to medium-rare, it is still a bit more cooked than I prefer, so I would probably shorten the cooking time just a little.  But it was still closer to medium-rare than medium, so it was all good.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza!

Because our paint night was cancelled tonight, I invited my friend, Lawrence, to come over and have dinner.  He had a friend in town who had come to cheer Lawrence on in his Santa Clause race in the morning.  I met this friend a month or so ago and he's very interesting.  He works in Aeronautics.  Because he's in a science world, I find him fascinating.  So always glad to have the two of them to dinner.  And now that I have my own beautiful house, I have the space to entertain AND I have a beautiful kitchen to cook in. 

Thus, it was a very busy day of cooking and cleaning.  It started with "Christmas Crack" or Chex mix.  This would be my third batch this year and I try to only make it when I have an excuse to share.  This was followed by Magic Bars (my version this year has dark chocolate and PB chips).  Finally, to the main dish. About two months ago, I updated my pizza supplies, including individual sized deep dish pizza pans.  Seeing them on the counter made me want to try my hand at making Chicago-style deep dish pizza.  I have resisted doing this in the past because I love the crust and I am always worried that the recipes are not quite right.  There is a different texture to Chicago pizza crust and that is what I love able it.  After some searching, I found a recipe to try out.  But at the same time, I decided that I would also make my own pizza sauce for this (given that I have those beautiful home-canned tomatoes).

Well, the result was incredible.  The crust was light and crunchy, exactly what I expected.  We chose sausage and pepperoni (very traditional) and I made my own sauce which was exactly right for this pizza.  Can't wait to try it again and change up the fillings.

Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza

For crust
  •  3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 cups flour
  •  1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp suger
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp corn meal
For sauce
  • 1/2 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28-oz jar home-canned tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried basil (during the spring/summer, consider using 2 Tbsp fresh basil)
  • 1 1/2 cups part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 15 slices turkey pepperoni

To make crust:
Add the water and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Add flour, oil, sugar, salt and corn meal to the bowl and turn the mixer to low.  Mix until just combined and increase speed to medium, kneading for 2 minutes.  Place the dough ball into a large, greased bowl and set in a warm place for up to 6 hours (or until dough has doubled).  

To make the sauce:
While the dough is rising, make the sauce.  In this case, I cooked and crumbled the sausage in a large skillet.  Once cooked, remove the sausage to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.  Remove all but 1 Tbsp of the drippings.  Add onions and cook until starting to brown.  Add garlic and cook one minute longer.  Add tomatoes and basil.  If tomatoes are whole, halved or quartered, use an immersion blender to puree until consistency of pureed tomatoes (you may use pureed tomatoes as well).  Cook for about 20 minutes to meld flavors.

To assemble pizza:
Preheat oven to 475F.  Lightly butter 3 individual-sized deep dish pizza pans (or a 12-inch cast iron skillet).  Sprinkle with additional corn meal.  Punch down the dough and let rest for 15 minutes.  Divide into three balls and place one in each prepared pan.  Use your fingers to press it into the bottom of the pans and up the sides. 

Sprinkle crust with mozzarella cheese (this keeps crust from becoming soggy).  Layer sausage and pepperoni.  Then spoon sauce over all.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crust is browned and the edges of the pepperoni that peek through the sauce are also browned.  Allow to set for 5 minutes before cutting.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Different Bean Soup

I have been craving bean soup ever since my friend, Bill LaFevre, posted that he was making split pea soup a couple weeks ago. I even thawed a ham steak thinking I would make bean with ham soup. But at the same time, I thawed the beef shanks I got with my last CSA delivery and figured I would find something to do with those as well.

Because ham keeps better than raw beef, I decided to braise the beef shanks first. I braised them in chianti and port with onions and garlic. It made my house smell heavenly and the result was quite yummy. But even better than that, the wine/port mixture I braised the meat in became this beautiful wine stock. As soon as I tasted it, I abandoned the idea of bean with ham soup and decided to use the beef and stock to make my bean soup. I was not disappointed! This will probably become one of my go-to fall soup recipes!

Braised Beef and Bean Soup

2 beef shanks** (about 3 lbs)
1/2 bottle chianti
1 cup tawny port
1 lg sweet onion
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp Magique herbs***
1 Tbsp Olive oil
3 cups fresh "dried" navy beans*
32 oz beef stock
3 carrots
Water as needed
Salt and pepper, to taste.

Braising beef

Combine chianti, port and herbs in a zipped bag. And beef shanks and turn to coat. Seal bag and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear beef shanks on both sides, about 3 minutes.

Slice onion thin and place in crockpot with garlic. Place beef shanks on top. Pour marinade over beef and cook, on HIGH, for 1 hour. Once the liquid is boiling, reduce heat to LOW and braise 6-8 hours.

When meat has pulled away from the bones, remove shanks and vegetables to a plate. Allow to cool enough to handle and pull as much of the fat, plus bones, from the meat. Chop the rest.

Cool the remaining stock until fat sets. Remove the fat.

Assembling the soup

In a large Dutch oven, combine beef, wine stock, beef stock carrots, beef stock and beans.  Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook, covered, for about 2 hours, adding water ad needed, until beans are cooked. Adjust seasonings.

*farmers market ingredients
**CSA ingredients
***fleur de sel aux herbes de provence

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Jack's Bacon

Every once in a while, I stop by Jack's Market to get bacon and sausage. They have the best thick - cut bacon. I also had leeks and spinach that I needed to use. I figured that would be a great combination for a quiche.

Bacon Spinach Quiche with Leeks

2 slices thick - cut bacon
1 med leek*
3 cups baby spinach, stems removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 eggs**
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper
1 cup Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. When cool, chop into small pieces. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp bacon grease. Cut white part of leek in half lengthwise and then slice into 1/4 - inch slices. Heat pan and add leeks. Cook about 2 minutes. Add spinach and cook until just wilted. Add garlic and cook one more minute. Remove to paper towel to drain excess moisture.

Prepare baking dish with cooking spray. Place vegetables and bacon into bottom of dish. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with salt and pepper. Slowly add milk until well mixed. Pour over vegetables. Sprinkle with swiss cheese.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife, inserted into center, comes out clean. Allow to set 5 minutes before serving.

*farmers market ingredients
**CSA ingredients

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Chicken Chili

A couple weeks ago at the farmers market, I bought a couple pounds of fresh navy beans.  Something that I discovered being a member of a CSA, was that fresh "dried" beans are so much better than beans from the grocery store!!!!  You don't even have to soak them.  I even talked mom into buying some.  Since I went to Sam's Club the other day, I had purchased a rotisserie chicken ($4.99 for a very large bird!).  So, this morning, I decided to make white chicken chili.  Of course, it helps if you check to make sure you have all the ingredients!  But when I looked in my cupboard, I didn't have green chiles.  So, I looked in my pantry and found a jar of medium hot Hungarian peppers (also from my CSA).  I've actually had them set aside because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them.  I figured they would be a good substitute.  Well, it only took an hour of simmering for the beans to cook and the peppers were better than green chiles!

White Chicken Chili
  • 1 lb fresh "dried" navy beans*
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion*
  • 4 medium hot Hungarian peppers**
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 cups shredded chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
 Rinse the beans and sort.  Place in a large Dutch oven and add chicken stock.  Bring to a boil; then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook.  While beans are cooking, chop onions and peppers.  Heat olive oil in large skillet; add onions and saute until they become translucent.  Add the peppers, garlic and chickens and heat through.  Add these to the soup.  Add seasonings.  Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until beans are cooked.  Add water as necessary.

*Farmers market ingredients
**CSA ingredients 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Stuffed Eggplant

I had puchased a couple small eggplant at the farmers market last week and needed to use them. In light of the fact that I had also made ragu last week, I thought this would be a good time to try my hand at stuffed eggplant. After hollow in out the eggplant halves, I combined the ragu and eggplant flesh with panko and cheese and stuffed the mixture into the shells. After baking, I ended up with something quite yummy!  I think next time I would include some sweet peppers. But this was quite tasty.

Stuffed peppers
Preheat oven to 350F. Hollow out eggplants and chop removed flesh. Microwave the eggplant with 1/4 Cup water for 5 minutes on HIGH.  Heat ragu, add cooked eggplant, panko and cheese; mix well. Spoon mixture into the eggplant shells. Cover with provolone slices. Bake 45 -50 minute, or until eggplant is cooked and cheese is melted and golden brown.

*farmers market ingredients