Friday, February 26, 2010

Beef Daube

We enjoyed this version of beef stew. It made about 4 - 6 servings. My one thought on it is that it had too much Worcestershire sauce, however, it has no Worcestershire sauce in it. Hmmm...not quite sure about how that happened. I am guessing it was the wine and herb combination. I really liked it though and it was a nice variation of our typical beef stew. I was very excited to have fresh herbs from my flower (herb) beds to use for this. We ate this with roasted beets and warm homemade whole wheat bread and strawberry freezer jam.

Beef Daube
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

1 T extra virgin olive oil
4 oz bacon, diced
2 lbs stew meat, cut into 1 1/2- 2" cubes
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 lg onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
5 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
3 - 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1 t dried rosemary
2 - 3 strips orange peel
1 c rough red wine (like one from the Cotes du Rhone region of France)
1 T red wine vinegar
beef or chicken stock (or water), as needed

Cook the bacon in the olive oil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Brown meat, working in batches in leftover bacon drippings in pan. Turn cubes as they brown and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove browned beef with slotted spoon and set aside. Turn the heat down to medium and saute the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme, rosemary, orange peel, and more salt and pepper. Cook until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and vinegar, and boil for 1 minute. Return the beef to the pan (not the bacon though).

Cover and simmer over low heat for about an hour, then add the bacon. Continue to cook until meat is tender, another 30 - 90 minutes (my grass fed stew meat took about 1 1/2 - 2 hours). Add stock or water if mixture starts looking dry (the meat should be mostly covered with liquid).

Adjust salt and pepper as needed and serve.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brownie Buttons

It's been awhile (a week or two maybe) since I've posted a dessert recipe. I just discovered these in the past week and have made them twice already. These are, in fact, the perfect brownie recipe. What makes these better than the other perfect brownie recipes? you may find yourself asking. Well, let me tell you.

These are very easy to make (especially if you leave out the orange zest). You can make the whole thing in the time it takes to preheat the oven. You only need one pot (in which to melt the butter, brown sugar, and chocolate). Plus, they only take 15 - 18 minutes to bake.

These brownies pair oranges and chocolate. Mmmm....

These make a small batch. Come to think of it, that may be problem. There is no picture because of the small batch problem. They were eaten before I had a chance to photograph them. Very rarely, do I want to make a 9 x 9" pan of brownies or worse, a 9 x 13" pan of brownies. These are bite sized and make only 12 little cupcake size of brownies. Perfect for an evening snack.

I am craving chocolate just thinking about Brownie Buttons.

Brownie Buttons
adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Grated zest of 1/2 orange (optional)
1 t sugar (optional)
1/4 c plus 2 T all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/4 c butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/3 c (2 1/2 oz) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 large egg

In a small bowl, using your fingers, mix together the orange zest and sugar. Set aside. Meanwhile, over very low heat, melt butter, chocolate and brown sugar, watching frequently to be sure nothing overheats or burns. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, egg and orange zest. When the mixture is well blended, stir in the flour and salt, stirring only until it is incorporated.

Spoon the batter into 12 lightly buttered mini- muffin cups (one pan's worth). Bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 15 - 18 minutes, or until the tops of the brownies spring back when touched. Cool for 3 minutes and then remove from pans and cool on racks as long as you can wait (which is not at all. Warm brownies...).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not Very Orange Chicken

(Sorry about how dark this picture is. Photographer error).

I loved this recipe because it represented a couple of accomplishments for me. One, I again successfully fried something (woohoo!! Maybe there is hope for my biscuits.....not related to frying, just related to things I have a hard time doing in the kitchen). Two, I made something that tasted as good as or better than something I could have bought at a Chinese restaurant (which is rare, because I tend not to cook much Chinese food).

I choose this recipe to serve as the main course for the scallion pancakes. The kids really liked it, as did Curtis and I. It took a lot more time than I expected. I read the recipe and thought, that's easy, it will take no time at all. Not the case. I ended up frying 3 or 4 batches of chicken before it was all cooked which took quite a while. In the future, I will probably allot myself 45 minutes to fry the chicken. That was the only time consuming part of the recipe. The rest was easy and fast. My only complaint about the recipe itself was that it didn't have much of an orange taste. The sauce was wonderful, just not particularly orange. I will make this again sometime, though. I just won't expect it to be orange.

This recipe will serve 4 - 5 people.

Not Very Orange Chicken

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2" cubes or so
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 - 2 eggs, beaten (use one to start with and then a second if you need more)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
canola or vegetable oil

1 1/2 c water
2 T orange juice
1/4 c lemon juice
1/3 c rice vinegar
2 1/2 T soy sauce
1 T orange zest
1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 t ginger root, grated
1/2 t garlic, minced
2 T green onion, chopped
3 T cornstarch
1/4 c water

In a 9 x 9" pan or other shallow dish, combine flour, salt and pepper. Beat egg in a small bowl. Dip chicken, one piece at a time, in egg mixture and then place in flour mixture, turning to coat entire piece of chicken. Fry chicken in batches of canola or vegetable oil heated to 375 degrees (I used my black skillet for this, you can use a deep fryer if you have one). Turn as necessary (oil should mostly cover each piece of chicken) and fry until completely cooked. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 c water, lemon juice, orange juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Blend well over medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in brown sugar, orange zest, ginger, garlic, and onions. Bring to a nice rolling boil. Combine cornstarch and 1/4 c cold water. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into sauce. Stir and boil until sauce thickens. Pour sauce over breaded chicken. Garnish with green onions and orange slices. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Scallion Pancakes

I combined Shrove (Fat) Tuesday, the Chinese New Year (2 days late), and celebration of China's gold in pairs figure skating (they were incredible!!! I love the fact that they have been skating for many, many years and aren't just a pair of teenagers.)

We all really enjoyed these. It reminded me a little of naan. M even eagerly devoured them because she remember Mae on Sid the Science Kid (PBS kid's science show) loves scallion pancakes. We dipped these in lemon wasabi sauce I received free at the grocery store last week. I think just plain soy sauce would be good with them too. The dough needs to rest 30 minutes. Mine ended up resting much longer than that and turned out just fine. If you would like good pictures of the process of making these, check out this website.

This recipe makes 8 pancakes.

Scallion Pancakes

2 1/2 c white flour
1 c warm water
Canola or vegetable oil
Kosher salt
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped

Mix flour with water until it forms a smooth dough. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic (I didn't know a non-yeast dough could feel like this, but it does!). Coat lightly in oil, return to bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll each section of dough out into a thin rectangle at least 12 x 9" on a lightly floured surface. Lightly brush the top of the dough with oil, then sprinkle it evenly with scallions and kosher salt. Starting at the long end, roll the dough up tightly (creating a long snake). Cut the rolled dough in half. Coil one half into a round bundle. Roll out the bundle into a flat, smooth, round pancake. Heat a 10" skillet over medium high heat, and oil it lightly with canola oil. When the oil shimmers, lay the pancake gently in the pan. It should sizzle (not burn). Cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes on the other side, or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining dough. Cut into wedges and serve immediately with soy sauce or another dipping sauce.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Steak Diane

I don't know if this is actually French or not, but I decided it could be since it had a cream sauce over top. I made this for Valentine's Day using some beef tenderloin I discovered in my freezer a couple of weeks ago. This was wonderful. I'll definitely consider this again next year when I am trying to decide how to use my beef tenderloin. This will serve 4.

Steak Diane
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

4 tenderloin fillets, 4 - 6 oz each (I suspect mine were much smaller than that, about 4 oz tops)
freshly ground black pepper
3 T butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 T minced shallot
1 t Dijon mustard
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c cream
salt and pepper, to taste

fresh chives or parsley for garnish

Flatten the steaks to about 1" (or slightly less) thick. Sprinkle steaks liberally with pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature for up to one hour. Melt 2 T of butter into the skillet. Once melted and no longer foamy, turn heat up to medium-high and put on steaks. Cook for about 3 per side (for medium-rare steaks, longer for more well done steaks). Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe out the pan. Add 1 T butter to the pan and saute the shallot until it softens, about 1 minute. Add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and cream to the shallots and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the sauce at a steady bubble and add the seared steaks and any accumulated juices to the pan. Cook, turning 2 - 3 times, until the meat is done to your liking. Transfer to serving platter and spoon sauce over meat. Garnish with fresh chopped chives or parsley

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nanaimo Bars

Before this recipe was featured on, I had never heard of Nanaimo Bars. It turns out that most people in the US haven't heard of Nanaimo Bars unless they've been to Vancouver and happened to have them there. Nanaimo Bars is a regional specialty of Vancouver. Curtis, being a Canadian citizen whose mother lived in Vancouver for years, had heard of these and was excited when he heard I was making them in honor of the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.

My one warning about this recipe is this: Be prepared to share these bars. It makes a lot of bars. By a lot, I mean a cookie sheet entirely covered cookie sheet. Cut up, it makes between 72 - 100 bars, depending on how small you cut these (and I would recommend pretty small because they are rich).

Curtis and the kids loved these. I had mixed feelings toward them. I think I would like them much better if I had left out the coconut entirely. I don't love them, but I am working very hard to put a dent in our remaining 40 bars that are hanging out in my refrigerator. Next time I make this, I will definitely cut the recipe in half.

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
3 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
2 c shredded coconuts
1 c almonds, pecans, or walnuts, chopped fine
1 c butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c plus 2 T cocoa
2 large eggs, beaten
Middle Layer
1/2 c butter, at room temperature
4 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c vanilla instant pudding powder
Top Layer
12 oz (about 2 c) finely chopped semisweet chocolate
1/4 c heavy cream
2 T butter

For the bottom layer: stir together graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt butter, sugar, and cocoa. Once the butter is melted, add the eggs. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until mixture reaches 160 degrees (this is to reduce the risk of salmonella poisoning because the bars aren't baked). Immediately pour over the graham cracker mixture and blend thoroughly. Press firmly into an even layer in a 12 x 18" cookie sheet (a half-sheet pan with sides).

For the middle layer: Beat together the butter and confectioner's sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and instant pudding powder. Add to the butter mixture and beat 1 - 2 minutes. Spread in an even layer over graham cracker mixture and refrigerate. This is easiest to do using your fingers as the layer is rather thick in consistency. Once spread out, the layer will be thin.

For the top layer: In a top of double boiler over simmering water, combine chocolate, cream, and butter. Stir until melted and smooth. Cool until just barely warm, but still liquid and pour over vanilla middle layer. Spread evenly and smooth the surface. Refrigerate until chocolate topping is firm, then cut.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Teriyaki Salmon

This was the main course for my Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremonies. I recognize Teriyaki Salmon may be a bit of a stretch, but there are a lot of salmon in Canada and Vancouver has major Asian influences. So, teriyaki salmon it was.

This was great. We all loved it, but in my family, I can almost never go wrong with fish. Curtis cooked this on the Big Green Egg. I'll include the cooking instructions from the original recipe, but I am sure you easily grill this as well on a gas or charcoal grill.

Teriyaki Salmon
from Gourmet

1/3 c soy sauce
2 T mirin or medium-dry Sherry
2 1/2T cider vinegar
2 T sugar
1 1/2 T (or 1/2 t dried) peeled ginger root, grated

1 1/2 lbs salmon, cut into 4 pieces

In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, mirin, cider vinegar, sugar and ginger, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Simmer until reduced to about 1/2 c and cool to room temperature. Place salmon steaks in a large baking dish in one layer. Pour sauce over top and marinade for 15 minutes.

Cook salmon in preferred method until it easily flakes and is cooked through. Our preferred method is to grill. However, you can cook it on the stovetop. Heat a 10 inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat with a little oil. Add salmon, letting marinade drip into baking dish (in other words, reserve marinade) to pan and reduce heat to medium. Saute, turning once, until just cooked through and browned well. Remove from pan. Add reserved sauce to pan and boil, stirring, 1 minute.

Serve with rice (wild rice is good!).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympic Foods

We are Olympic junkies at our house, in particular, the winter Olympics. Our kids get to watch TV in the afternoon and/or evening to see the Olympics. Curtis and I spend way too much time talking about it. The Olympics have even bled into our food.

I've decided that over the next two weeks, I should cook foods from countries who are at the Olympics. I started by saying it would be from the four countries that are major contenders to win men's Olympic hockey (Sweden, Russia, Canada, and of course, the US). Then I realized Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) and pancakes were in order. Scallion pancakes immediately came to mind because I had about 3 bunches of scallions that desperately needed to be used. Since scallion pancakes by themselves don't constitute a meal (even in my sometimes slacker balanced meal world), I found some other Chinese recipes and decided to celebrate China's gold in pairs figure skating. Here's a little of the Olympic foods we've been eating. Recipes for many of these things will follow.

Opening Ceremonies (Oh, Canada!): Teriyaki Salmon, Canadian Wild Rice, and Naniamo Bars
A Little bit of Sweden: Swedish not-Lamb Stew
French (because the French are rocking the Nordic events): Steak Diane and Roasted Root Vegetables
Chinese Pairs Figure Skaters Rock (and aren't teenagers!!): Scallion Pancakes and (not very) Orange Chicken

I need to find some Russian recipes (that should be fun) and maybe a Swiss or German one as well.

Aaah...I love the Olympics!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage

Yay! For two weeks in a row we've gotten cabbages. I have an interesting relationship with cabbage. I've learned to like it just in the time I've been a part of a CSA. I am always excited the first couple of times we get cabbage, but by May, my crisper usually has at least 2 or 3 large cabbages just hanging out.

This recipe is going to help change that. I love this recipe. Curtis loved this recipe. Baby I loved this recipe. The two older ones? Well, they didn't, but they will by the third or fourth time we have this in the next 6 months.

This was pretty easy to make--the cabbage took a little to cook, but not too bad. We will be eating this again. I served this over rice. It would serve 4 - 6 people.
Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage
adapted from Gourmet

1 (2 lb) head green cabbage, quartered lengthwise and cored
1/2 c chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lb onion, thinly sliced
1 T olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
1/3 c dried cranberries
3 T red-wine vinegar
1 T packed brown sugar
2 T parsley, chopped

Place cabbage in a deep 12-inch skillet with broth (I used my cast iron/black skillet), 1 sliced garlic clove and rounded 1/4 t salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cook, covered, turning cabbage occasionally until very tender (from about 20 - 45 minutes. I know that's a wide range, but cook until it's the tenderness you like). Add more broth or water if skillet gets dry. Meanwhile, cook onion and remaining garlic in oil in heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to medium high and stir in ground beef and 1/2 t of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, cranberries, vinegar, and brown sugar and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt.

Pour sauce into skillet with cabbage and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Roasted Root Vegetables

I decided the turnips had sat in my refrigerator long enough. I needed a simple recipe that was easy and a versatile side. I adapted this recipe from epicurious. I will make it again and again. The sweetness of the carrots offset the distinct taste of the turnips. M didn't love it (but she's been sick and hasn't even eaten the foods she loves normally well), but both J and baby I ate it. Curtis and I agreed that it was a great way to eat turnips.

Roasted Root Vegetables
adapted from epicurious

3 - 4 carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2" slices
1/2 - 1 lb turnips, cut into wedges 1/2" thick

1/4 c olive oil
1 T white wine vinegar
1/2 t dried oregano

Combine the olive oil, white wine vinegar, and oregano in a small bowl. Toss carrots and turnips with olive oil dressing. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Roast in a preheated 450 degrees oven for 25 - 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Broccoli Salad

Curtis doesn't like this salad. My kids also aren't big fans. They would rather eat plain, lightly cooked broccoli. As for me, this is one of my favorite ways to eat broccoli. I only make it about once a broccoli season though since I am the only one who eats it.

Broccoli Salad
adapted slightly from Simply in Season

3 c broccoli florets, cut into smallish pieces
5 slices thick bacon (or about 10 slices of your typical store bought bacon), fried and crumbled
1 c raisins
1/3 c coarsely chopped peanuts
1/3 c sugar
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 c mayonnaise

Mix together broccoli, bacon, raisins, and peanuts in a large bowl. Set aside. In a separate small bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, and mayonnaise. Pour about half of dressing over broccoli mixture. Taste. Continue to add dressing until you think it has enough.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Roasted Cumin Carrots

We had this with Easy Chicken Masala. The carrots were wonderfully sweet and flavorful. If you are unsure what to do with the big bunches of carrots we've been getting in our CSA boxes, this is a great start---a recipe uses 12 medium-large carrots! This will serve 4 - 6, depending on how much the people eating like carrots.

Roasted Cumin Carrots
from Bon Appetit

12 medium-large carrots, peeled, cut on diagonal into 1/2" thick pieces
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 t cumin seeds
2 t coarse salt

Combine carrots and all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Spread in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Roast carrots in preheated 400 degrees oven until tender and lightly caramelized, turning carrots over once, 35 - 40 minutes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chicken Masala

Mmmm. We loved this. The Indian spices weren't too spicy for my kids to like it, but spicy enough that Curtis and I found it interesting. I especially liked that I could make this pretty much entirely ahead of time. I marinated the chicken while the kids were napping and it supper time, just pulled it out of the fridge, put it on the onions and baked it. It couldn't be easier to make in that wonderful unhappy hour right before supper. We had this with cumin-roasted carrots. This will easily serve 4 - 6 people

Easy Chicken Masala
from Bon Appetit

1 c plain yogurt
1/4 c fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T garam masala
2 t coarse salt
1 large garlic clove, pressed
1 (4 - 4 1/2 lb) chicken, cut into 8 pieces (remove backbone, throw in pot and boil for a while to make some good chicken broth)
2 small onions, cut into 1/4" thick slices

Mix yogurt, chopped cilantro, olive oil, garam masala, salt, and garlic in a 13 x 9" glass baking dish. Add chicken to marinade, one piece at a time, coating all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours (and up to one day). Position rack in top third of oven. Arrange onions on think layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Top with chicken pieces in a single layer, spacing apart for even roasting (chicken will still be coated with marinade). Discard leftover marinade. Roast chicken in preheated 400 degrees oven on top rack until cooked through and juices run clear when thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Serve chicken on top of onion slices and spoon pan juices around.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Not Chicken Tetrazzini

I started out attempting to make this recipe, Mustard Chicken and Orzo Casserole with Dill and Capers. However, the farther I got in the recipe, I the farther I strayed. It turned out I only had lemon herb seasoned chicken breasts, I didn't have enough fancy mustards and just had yellow deli mustard. I didn't have enough orzo or enough celery. I was explaining to Curtis how I had changed the recipe and his response was twofold: "Then I can call it chicken tetrazzini." and "At some point, you have to admit the man is bald." (as in, you've changed it so much, it's not the same recipe any more).

Despite all that, we liked it pretty well. I'll probably make it my way next time as well. It uses lots of fresh dill, which is why I chose it. This makes 4 - 6 servings.

Not Chicken Tetrazzini
based loosely on a recipe from Gourmet

3 c water
1 3/4 - 2 lbs chicken breasts (you can use lemon-herb marinated chicken breasts)
3 T butter
3 T all-purpose flour
3/4 c heavy cream
4 T mustard (yellow, dijon, and coarse-grain mustard or a combination)
3 T bottled capers, rinsed
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 - 1/2 c fresh dill, chopped
1/4 c sour cream
2 - 4 celery ribs, cut diagonally into 1/4" slices
1 c fideo (vermicilli) or orzo

Bring water to simmer in large heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Add chicken and simmer very gently, turning once, 6 minutes total. Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate to cook and keep broth warm, partially covered. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred with your fingers.

Melt butter in a 3 quart heavy saucepan over low heat, then add flour and cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes. Add warm broth all at once, whisking, and simmer gently, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes. Whisk in cream and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. remove from heat and stir in mustards, capers, salt, pepper, nutmeg and dill (to taste). Transfer 1/2 c sauce to small bowl and stir in sour cream to make a topping. Set aside. Stir chicken into sauce (not the sauce with sour cream).

Meanwhile, cook celery and vermicilli in a large pot of boiling salted water, for 6 - 8 minutes. Drain. Stir pasta and celery into chicken mixture, then transfer to a gratin dish (or a 11 x 7 shallow dish), spreading evenly. Spoon sour cream topping over top and spread evenly. Bake, until heated through in a preheated 350 degrees oven, until sauce is bubbling around edges, 25 - 30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

My search for recipes containing oranges continued and I came across this recipe for Vegetarian Black Bean Chili. I decided to use this recipe to cook up a batch of black beans. As the black beans were cooking though, I realized they were a little spicy for my kids, so I used an equivalent of 2 cans of home-cooked and 1 can of store bought beans.

It turned out great! It wasn't really vegetarian since my home-cooked beans were cooked in bacon grease, but we're not vegetarians so that wasn't a problem. We all enjoyed it, except for J who has decided he's not a big bean fan (however, now M is. I am convinced they trade off liking foods just to vex me!). The toppings were definitely a plus for the meal. This serves 4 - 6.

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 oranges
2 T olive oil
2 c chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, pressed
2 - 4 t chili powder (adjust according the the black beans you are using. Mine were spicy so I didn't add any chili powder)
4 t ground cumin
2 t ground cinnamon
3 (15-oz) cans black beans, drained (or the equivalent of home-cooked black beans, about 5 1/4 c)
2 (14.5-oz) cans diced tomatoes in juice

crushed tortilla chips
grated cheddar cheese
sour cream or plain yogurt
chopped fresh cilantro
hot sauce

Grate enough orange peel to measure 1 1/2 t. Juice oranges.

Heat oil in heavy large sauepan over medium high heat. Add onions; saute 5 minutes. Mix in garlic and spices. Add beans, tomatoes, and half of orange juice. Simmer over medium heat until heated through and flavors blend, stirring often, about 15 minutes.

Mix in orange peel and remaining orange juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with hot sauce, sour cream , chopped fresh cilantro, cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gnocchi with Beef Ragu

I was disappointed in this recipe. The ragu turned out great---it tasted wonderful. It wasn't what I was imagining though. I imagined a tomato sauce with big chunks of beef--I guess more of a bolognese than a ragu. This didn't have enough tomato for my liking--it reminded me more of a beef burgundy---or just a beef in wine reduction. I'll probably make it again, I just won't think I am getting a wonderful tomato sauce from it. The other thing I may do is add a second can of crushed tomatoes and reduce the red wine to 1 c (or even just 1/2 c) to make it more of a tomato sauce.

I initially chose this recipe because it used oxtails and I had an oxtail hanging out in my freezer, just waiting to be used (the result of our split quarter of beef). The recipe called for 5 lbs of oxtails and I had a measly 4 oz, so I also added 2 lbs of stew beef. Good thing too. I couldn't end up getting any meat off the oxtail, so I decided the oxtails contribution was rich beef flavor in the broth instead of chunks of meat. I was thrilled to be able to use all my own herbs for this. I have successfully grown at the new house--oregano, thyme, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, and mint have all wintered over (thus far, and I suspect we are done with the coldest weather). The bay leaves were gathered from the bay tree at our old house before we moved (and stored in my coat pocket over the summer until I found them this winter when I put my coat on). I hope to plant a bay tree at this house this spring.

I served this over gnocchi (ahh---how I love thee, gnocchi, let me count the ways). This makes 6 - 8 servings.

Beef Ragu
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 lb stew beef, fat trimmed and cut into 1" squares
all purpose flour
1/2 c olive oil
5 large celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, very coarsely chopped
2 c dry red wine
1 (14-oz) can crushed tomatoes with puree (in other words, don't drain the tomatoes)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
2 large fresh rosemary sprigs
3 bay leaves
2 c beef broth
1 c chicken broth

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper, and then flour. Heat 2 T (or so) of oil in a large ovenproof, dutch oven over high heat. Add beef in batches and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 - 15 minutes, being careful not to overcrowd beef so it browns. Transfer cooked beef to bowl. Add celery, carrots, and onions to pot. Reduce heat to medium-high and saute until vegetables brown, about 15 minutes. Add wine and tomatoes. Boil until thickened to a chunky sauce, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in garlic.

Tie parsley, rosemary, and bay leaves with kitchen string and add to pot. Return beef to pot in a single layer (if possible). Add all broth and bring to boil. Cover pot, place in preheated 325 degrees oven. Braise stew meat until very tender, about 2 hours. Transfer meat to a baking pan or large cutting board. Using a pastry blender or potato masher (that's right, multi-tasking kitchen tools ROCK!), crust juices and vegetables in the pot to a coarse sauce. Use pastry blender to break stew meat until small chunks and add to sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over gnocchi or other desired pasta, noodles, or even rice.