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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jennifer's Week Eight Recipe: Hungarian Goulash

There are certain dishes that I will always associate with my grandmother. Meat pie; pork ribs, sauerkraut and homemade dumplings; apple pie; homemade fudge and caramels at Christmas; goulash. The recipe below is not hers; I did not have time to get a hold of her and I wanted to try something new. You know, so I could post something here. (Note: I made Karin's Lobster Risotto this week (with shrimp) but since that is already posted, I figured it didn't count.)

Recipe is from, found here.

Hungarian Goulash (I halved this recipe since the original - below - serves 8)

1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
3 onions, sliced (I finely chopped mine since Erik doesn't like onions - when he sees them)
2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika (I was generous with this because I love paprika. Penzey's as become a favorite place to shop. Thanks to Karin and Chris for their glowing reviews of the place.)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt (I omitted this since it seemed like there was enough salt already)

Egg noodles, cooked (I used thin egg noodles that have a specific name that I cannot remember other than it begins with a "K")

sour cream, to garnish

NOTE: I added 1 chopped bell pepper and a small can of whole tomatoes (which completely fell apart as they cooked, yum!). The bell pepper came from other goulash recipes I scouted and the canned whole tomatoes is something that my grandmother puts in hers, but she must add them toward the end since they always arrived to the table whole.

1. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook onions in oil until soft, stirring frequently. Remove onions and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine paprika, 2 teaspoons salt and pepper. Coat beef cubes in spice mixture, and cook in onion pot until brown on all sides. Return the onions to the pot, and pour in tomato paste, water, garlic and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until meat is tender.
Serve with egg noodles and garnish with sour cream.

Oh yes, I will make it again. It has a very strong "comfort food" vibe to it. It's a heavy dish, so it will probably be something I make during the colder half of the year.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Karin's Week Eight Recipe: Shrimp Curry

One of the items that is a staple in my household pantry/freezer/fridge, is frozen raw shrimp. They are fairly inexpensive, and a tasty alternative to poultry and beef. They also can be thawed out in 20 min in a bowl of cold water, which is an additional plus in my book.

This recipe came from a cookbook called Six Spices: A simple concept of Indian cooking. The author is a local one, originally from India, and most of the recipes are fairly easy to understand and to make. She also does a nice job of explaining how to make the little additions that give Indian cooking such great flavors.

Shrimp Curry

2 T lemon juice
1 tsp salt, divided
1 lb large shrimp (about 12-15), peeled and deveined (I just used the shrimp I had, regardless of size)
4 T cooking oil, divided (In my house, this is olive oil)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger, finely chopped (I used powdered ginger, about a tsp or so)
2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder (I used Penzey's Medium Chili Powder)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 c coconut milk (I used a 15oz can of coconut milk, as this was close enough)
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped (I used 1 T of Penzey's dried cilantro)

(I also added 2 tsp of Penzey's Sweet Curry powder, mostly because I had it and it smelled good. I also figured that since I was using a bit more coconut milk than called for, a little extra spice wasn't a bad thing.)

Mix lemon juice and 1/2 tsp of salt in a bowl. Place shrimp in the bowl, toss and marinate for 30 minutes. (You can get everything else ready to go while this is marinating, including measuring your rice into the rice cooker.)

Heat 2 T of oil in a nonstick frying pan. Drain shrimp and reserve the marinade. Place shrimp in the hot oil; cover the pan and cook a few seconds, turning the shrimp and cooking until they are firm and pink. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.

Pour the remaining oil into the pan and heat on med heat. Add onions, ginger, and garlic. Fry for 1-2 min, stirring continuously until onions are soft. Add the spices and marinade into the pan, and mix well. Add shrimp and remainder of the salt to the masala. Turn shrimp frequently to coat with the spices. Pour the coconut milk over the shrimp and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer the curry for another 5 minutes. Add the cilantro into the curry and serve hot over boiled rice. (I also added some frozen peas in with the coconut milk, as this curry had no veg in it, and I wanted a complete meal in a bowl. Once the peas were thawed and hot, the curry was done.)

This was a fairly easy and very tasty recipe. My live-in taste tester said that it wasn't as spicy as it smelled, but had a warming effect. This is another good winter recipe, and fit into my quick and easy lunch requirements, as the rice was done at the same time the curry was. I will probably make this again, and am now looking for other good recipes to try from this cookbook, so you may see some more Indian recipes popping up throughout the year.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Karin's BONUS Week Seven Recipe: Tunnel of Fudge Cake

At some point in the past, I thought it would be fun to have a Bundt pan, to make the fancy looking cakes that come out of it. Being me, I bought the big 12-cup sized pan, and at the time, being single had no one to bake giant cakes for, as eating too much cake is not good for oneself. Now, however, that has changed, and I reside with someone who loves to eat (and cook when the occasion presents itself). Now, the world of Bundt has opened itself to me.

These cakes are usually quite easy to make, and turn out looking fabulous, as long as you grease the pan well. I'd heard quite a bit about the Tunnel of Fudge cake over the years, and how it won a bake-off, but never made it. It was also in my Bundt Classics Cookbook. I had to make a chocolate cake for my father-in-law's birthday on Valentine's Day, and thought, "What better cake to try than Tunnel of Fudge?"

I will warn you, gentle readers, the ingredients in this cake may put you into shock, as it really does only make 1 cake.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

1 3/4 c butter, softened
1 3/4 c sugar
6 eggs (Yes 6!)
2 c powdered sugar
2 1/4 c flour
3/4 c cocoa
2 c chopped walnuts*

3/4 c powdered sugar
1/4 c cocoa
1 1/2 - 2 T milk

*Nuts are essential to the success of the cake

Heat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 12-c Bundt pan (I used cocoa powder instead of flour, as this is a chocolate cake, and I did not want white flour powder on my finished cake). In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Gradually add powdered sugar; mixing well.

By hand, stire in all remaining cake ingredients until well blended. Spoon batter into prepared pan; spread evenly. Bake at 325 for 60-64 minutes. Accurate temp and time are important, as you cannot use a toothpick to test for doneness. (I looked up several versions of this on the web, and most said when the cake pulls away from the edge of the pan, it's done.)

Cool upright in pan on cooling rack 1 hour; invert onto serving plate. Cool completely.

In a small bowl, combine all glaze ingredients; mix well. Spoon over top of cake, allowing some to run down sides. I actually used about 2x as much milk as called for in order to get the glaze to be runny enough to drip down the sides of the cake.

I would make this cake again, as it was very moist and chocolatey, however, it did not have a "tunnel of fudge" as promised, but a very moist and chewy brownie-like center. I looked up several versions of this recipe online, including the one on Pillsbury's website (as it won a Pillsbury bake-off), and they are the same as this one. Some comments though, said that the original recipe had a packet of powdered fudge frosting mix in it, and that created the tunnel of fudge part. The cake didn't look at all like any of the pictures I've seen of a cut Tunnel of Fudge cake, which was disappointing. But in terms of taste, Yum!

Guest Recipe from Linda: Scallop/Pear/Blue Cheese/Pecan Salad

The number of extra recipes and guest recipes on this blog, not to mention our foreign blog correspondant, Karin, just prove how important a good meal is to everyone. Linda sends along this recipe with her blessings.

Scallop/Pear/Blue Cheese/Pecan Salad

2-4 handfuls of salad greens
1 pear, diced
2-4 T blue cheese crumbles
1/4 c whole pecans
Balsamic vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
8-10 diver scallops (the big kind, not the little bay scallops)
2-3 T butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Makes two meal-sized salads.

While you're arranging the salad, pan-sear the scallops in 2-3 T of butter on medium heat. Salt & pepper to taste.

Rinse and dry the greens. You can use chopped Romaine (that's what I had) but mixed spring greens would be better. Use more or less depending on how much you have and how hungry you are. Arranges the greens on plates. Scatter the diced pear and blue cheese over the greens. Arrange the whole pecans around the edge of the greens. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil over all.

Note: the ripeness of the pear is key to this recipe. It can't be all mushy.

If you are adverse [Editor's note: me] or allergic to seafood, this makes a delicious side-salad without the scallops. You could also substitute grilled chicken breasts cut into strips for the scallops.

I will definitely be making this again. I used Greek EVOO and balsamic vinegar that I got at The Oilery in Door County. (Thank you, Tricia!) I served the salad with Door Country Peninsula Reisling that I purchased on the same trip. The pairing was exceptional. The salad really brought out the pear tones in the wine.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jennifer's BONUS Week Seven Recipe: Kielbasa Soup

Two recipes in one week?! Insanity!

I'm trying to use my Crock Pot more, especially on days when I work. This recipe is from Fix It and Forget It Cookbook: Feasting With Your Slow Cooker.

Kielbasa Soup

16 oz pkg frozen mixed vegetables, or your choice of vegetables

6 oz can tomato paste (EDIT: it originally said soup and that is wrong!)

1 medium onion, chopped

3 medium potatoes, diced (I also peeled mine)

1 1/2 lbs kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

4 quarts water (mine did not hold his much water. I used 3 quarts and it was fine.)

fresh parsley

1. Combine all ingredients except parsley in large slow cooker.

2. Cover. Cook on Low for 12 hours.

3. Garnish individual servings with fresh parsley.

Supposedly serves 8 very large servings.

I would make it again. Next time I may skip the potatoes, cut back even more on the water and make more of a stew and serve it with rice.

Chris's Week Eight Recipe: WWLD Hummus

No doubt many of our married (or otherwise tethered) readers envy the heady existence of a mature single woman. But remember, Gentle Readers, it's not all bright lights, handsome men and Stargate Atlantis. Sometime a woman's got to knuckle down and clean out the fridge.

And what promising ingredient did I find this time? Part of a can of garbanzo beans (aka chick peas) which is not really a surprise since I love to add the little guys to rice. Throw in some chopped red or yellow pepper and you've got yourself a tasty lunch. But instead of making a fresh batch of rice, I challenged myself to come up with a new recipe, and the first thing I do when I get into that frame of mind is think....


That's What Would Linda Do? for all those folks who don't know our esteemed guest blogger, Linda. In all fairness, you should know that Linda would never be caught dead with leftover garbanzo beans. Where did this antipathy to all things chick-pea originate? I have no idea, but let's pretend that she actually did have some leftover garbanzo beans....


Make hummus, of course! I dashed to the fridge and, sure enough, there was some leftover sesame tahini. Carbon dating revealed it to be something like 4 B.L. (Before Linda) and into the trash it went. Well, I'd just have to find a recipe that didn't require tahini. I found a nice prospect here on The following recipe is pared down and tweaked slightly to accommodate the fact that I love garlic and, being single, can eat as much as I want without worrying about who I'm going to be kissing next.

WWLD Hummus

3/4 c leftover canned garbanzo beans (chick peas)
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic - crushed & chopped
1 t Penzeys sweet curry powder
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T water
pinch of salt

Toss everything into the food processor and blend to the desired consistency. It's good right off the bat, but letting it sit around in the fridge and think about itself for a while makes it even better.

Would I make this recipe again? Let's just say that when you live alone, nobody will see you lick every last morsel off the spatula...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jennifer's Week Seven Recipe: Wookiee Cookies

Yep, another recipe from The Star Wars Cookbook Remember, it's written for children, so the directions are extremely thorough.

Wookiee Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Put the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Set aside.

3. Put the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in another bowl. using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat together until well blended and creamy, about 3 minutes. (You can do this with a wooden spoon, but it will take longer.) Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and stir with the wooden spoon until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Scoop up a rounded tablespoonful of the dough and drop onto a baking sheet. Repeat until you have used up all the dough. Be sure to leave about 1 inch between the cookies because they spread as they bake.

5. Using pot holders, put the baking sheets in the oven. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. (7 in my stupid oven)

6. Again, using pot holders, remove the baking sheets from the oven. Lift the cookies from the baking sheets with a spatula, and place on cooling racks. Let cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Yes, I will make these again. They were very yummy. I cut back on the chips, using all over 2/3 cup of each. Next time I may cut back a bit on the cinnamon since it seemed to overwhelm the chocolate just a bit. I do want them out of my house; I keep eating them.

Karin's Week Seven Recipe: Leeks and Beans

This recipe used something I don't think to use that often, leeks. It also used beans, which I like, and was fairly quick to make. It came out of my "Occasional Vegetarian" Cookbook, as I like veggie dishes, but need to add a meat to make a meal for Nate.

Leeks and Beans

3 c chopped leeks, white parts only (about 3 medium) *We ended up using 3 giant and 4 small leeks to get the 3 c chopped white bits only, and even then sorta chopped up to the leaves.
1 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2.5 c cooked white beans or canned (drained and rinsed) *I used Goya Frijoles Blancos, as these were the only thing called white beans in the aisle at the store
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1-2 T chopped fresh sage *I used Penzeys Rubbed Sage instead.

In a large pan, saute the leeks in the olive oil over medium-low heat until they are soft and just beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. *I recommend using a nonstick pan, as this is not enough oil to keep the leeks from sticking. And it took much less than 20 minutes for the leeks to start browning.

Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add the beans, salt, and pepper. Add sage here if using dried variety. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. *At this point, there is nothing to simmer, so I added some chicken stock to the pan to keep everything from sticking. Probably about a 1/2 c or so, just enough to make liquid in the bottom. The leeks absorbed it right away, so I added another 1/2 c or so.

Add sage, if fresh, and cook for 2 minutes. Serve hot.

This recipe was tasty, although in its final version not vegetarian due to the stock add. It did make a pretty dish. I served it with a standard roast chicken and cake for dessert. I don't think I would make it again, as the combo of beans and leeks had an unintended effect on the digestive systems present in our house. Or if I did, it would need lots of tweaking.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jennifer's Week Six Recipe: Hoth Chocolate

Yes, my recipe is a bit late, but due to a funeral out of state and the nastiest cold to ever invade my body, I'm a bit behind with getting a recipe up. Do not fret, there shall be two for week seven!

This week's entry comes from The Star Wars Cookbook: Wookiee Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes. Yes, this is technically a children's cookbook. (Remember that as you read the directions.) It even has a sequel that I have yet to acquire! If there is one thing this blog is doing, it's getting me to go through all of my cookbooks that have just been sitting around looking nice on a shelf.

Hoth Chocolate

1 cup milk
2 heaping teaspoons sugar
1 heaping teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
small marshmallows (optional)

1. Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Add sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla to the milk. Stir vigorously with a whisk until the sugar and cocoa dissolve.

2. Place the pan on the stove and switch on the heat to medium. Watch for tiny bubbles to appear along the edge of the pan, then immediately remove the pan from the heat.

3. Carefully pour into the mug and serve immediately with marshmallows, if desires.

Makes 1 serving

Yes, I will make this again. I found it to be quite good and not overwhelmingly sweet like the little packets can be. I have a feeling that Erik will want me to make this very often once he finds out that I can make "real" hot chocolate.

Guest Recipe from Linda: Mighty Duck!

Another recipe from the redoubtable Linda!

Mighty Duck

Alton Brown (

The original recipe used the pan drippings to make a chard side dish. If you want those instructions, check out the URL. I had plans for a different side dish, so I skipped those instructions.


* 1/2 cup kosher salt

* 1 pint pineapple orange juice

* 15 whole black peppercorns

* 1 bunch fresh thyme

* 4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 (5 1/2 to 6 pound) frozen Long Island Duck, thawed

Prepare the brine: Combine all brine ingredients (*) in a plastic container with a lid. Place the lid on the container and shake to dissolve the salt.

Prepare the duck: Remove the pop-up thermometer, liver, gizzards, and heart. Cut off the wings. Using kitchen shears, locate the spine at the base of the neck. Cut up the line of the backbone towards the neck cavity. Turn the duck and cut straight towards the rear cavity. Remove the backbone. Turn the duck over and cut straight down the middle of the breast bone, leaving 2 equal duck halves. To separate the legs from the breast, flip your halves over so the flesh side is facing up at you. Using a knife, make a crescent shape cut between the leg and the breast. Lay your knife flat against the skin and make 3 marks in one direction and then in the other, making an X. Make sure that you are cutting through the skin and not the meat.

Brine the duck: Line the inside of a plastic lexan or a pot with a zip-top bag. Place the duck quarters inside the bag, and pour the brine over the duck. Seal the bag, ensuring that all air is removed from the bag. Brine the duck for 2 to 2 1/2 hours in the refrigerator.

Steam the duck: Bring 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Place a colander into the pot and line the sides of the colander with the duck. Do not stack the duck quarters on each other. Cover and turn the heat to medium low. Steam the duck for 45 minutes.

Roast the duck: Set oven to 475 degrees F. Place a large cast iron skillet into the oven. Remove duck pieces from steamer and place legs, skin side down, into the hot skillet. Place the skillet into the hot oven immediately and cook the leg quarters for 10 minutes. Add the breasts, skin side down, and cook for 7 more minutes or until the duck takes on a deep mahogany color and the skin is very crisp.

Oh, yes. There will be a next time! This was delicious! A lot more steps than I usually am willing to put into a dish, but delicious, and worth the effort!

Notes: For the brine, I just put the ingredients in a gallon zip bag and vigorously squished it around to dissolve the salt, then put the duck pieces in the bag with the brine and put it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. If you’re careful not to puncture the bag with any sharp duck bones, you don’t really need the additional container. If you’re paranoid, go ahead and put the plastic bag into another, sturdier container.

Instead of roasting the duck in the oven, I took it outside and put a cast iron griddle on the grill, mostly because I was concerned about the amount of smoke I expected this process to generate. Next time, I won’t use the griddle. I think it would be just fine right on the grill, since I don’t want or need the drippings. I might even skip the steaming step and do most of the cooking on the grill, starting with indirect heat to cook it through, then increasing the heat at the end of the grilling time to crisp up the skin. The steaming process seemed to cook out some of the fat, though, and I wonder about how hot the fire/coals will get with all that duck fat dripping into it…

Thank you!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chris's Week Seven Recipe: Foldover Apple Pie

A few Honeycrisp apples from Whistling Well Farm lay lurking in the bottom of my refrigerator. Honeycrisps keep a long time in the fridge, but this was expecting quite a lot for apples I picked up last October. Not having enough to make a whole pie, I used this recipe from Pillsbury as the basis for a foldover apple pie. I reduced the overall sugar and had to use turbinado instead of brown sugar. (My brown sugar had petrified and I didn't feel like reviving it.) To make up for the loss of fluid in the brown sugar, I increased the amount of lemon juice. I also used cinammon instead of vanilla and eliminated the butter since pie crusts has plenty of fat on its own.

Foldover Apple Pie

1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust

2 c thinly sliced apples
1/4 c turbinado sugar
1 T water
1 T lemon juice
1 T flour
scant 1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon

Egg wash
1 egg
1 T water

Mix apples, sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the apples are soft. Mix flour, salt & cinnamon together and add gradually to the apple mixture. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, let your pie crust come to room temperature.

Unroll pie crust on an ungreased cookie sheet. Put the filling in the middle. Beat together the egg and water and brush the egg wash on the edges of the crust. Fold the crust in half, then seal and crimp the edges together. Brush egg wash over the top and cut some small vents to let steam escape. (If you've got egg wash left over, make a little scrambled egg!)

Bake 25-30 min or until golden brown.

Would I make this again? I think so. It would be fun to try with other fillings. I'd definitely remember that Penzey's cinnamon is potent and use half as much.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Karin's Week Six Recipe: Lentil and Potato Stew with Spiced Oil

This recipe is from The Occasional Vegetarian Cookbook. I've been trying to find more interesting side dishes to accompany a meat dish than the stand-by recipes involving straight potatoes or noodles. This one seemed to fit the bill.

Lentil and Potato Stew with Spiced Oil

6 c water
1.5 c lentils
1 red or yellow bell pepper
2 medium potatoes, peeled or unpeeled
2 unpeeled carrots
1 large Spanish onion
2 celery stalks
1/4 c soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 bay leaf

Cut all veggies into pieces approximately 1 inch in size, carrots a bit smaller. Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Spiced Oil
2 T olive oil or butter (I used oil)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin

Once the lentils have simmered for about 40 min, warm the oil in a small saucepan over low heat, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in spices.

Add spiced oil into stew pot and stir around. Serve hot.

This turned out much more like soup than stew. Even after letting it sit for a day and having it as leftovers. I think stew should be thick, and not broth-like. I served this with a roast chicken, and think I may be able to even add the chicken right into the soup to satisfy the carnivore in my house. The taste of this recipe is really good, but it makes quite a lot. If I make it again, I think I'll only make a half recipe. Maybe I'll see if it freezes well...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

BONUS Recipe from Chris: Experimental Cornbread

I've been experimenting with variations on a recipe for buttermilk cornbread that I found here on I use different grinds of cornmeal, 'buttermilk' variants, different types (and quantities) of sweetener, various types of flour, and so on and so on.

I made a batch this past week that seems to be as good as it gets so I'll give you the recipe. I'm sure I'll still fiddle around with it for fun, though, and I encourage you to try different variations yourself!

Experimental Cornbread

1/4 lb (1 stick) butter
2/3 c turbinado sugar
2 eggs
1 T lemon juice
1 c milk (almost)
1/2 t baking soda
1 c medium grind cornmeal
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t salt

Melt the butter and cool slightly. Beat in eggs. Put 1 T lemon juice in your liquid measuring cup, then add enough milk to make 1 cup. Mix the baking soda into the milk and add the mixture to the butter & eggs. Add cornmeal, whole wheat flour and salt and mix until just blended.

Bake for 20-25 min in a 9x9 pan at 375F, or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center of the pan.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Karin's Week Five Recipe: Carbonnades a la Flamande

The title of this recipe is the fancy way of saying I made "Beef and Onions Braised in Beer". I like the French version much better, don't you? Although, I didn't use beef, I used a venison roast. We have a lot of venison in our house, and this piece had been meant for the stew pot last week, but the stew pot got full and this did not fit in. So, as it was thawed, I needed to cook it, and this recipe sounded perfect for a wintry day. It is from the legendary Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume One.

I got the two volume set for Christmas, and already I've been inspired just by reading through the first volume. Do you ever do that? Just read a cookbook as if it were a regular book? It can give you all kinds of inspiration, ideas, and how-tos. I have been having a lot of those a-ha! moments with this book, as I always have wondered how to make the fancy sauces that all the chefs seem to know.

I will do my best to set down this recipe as Julia did. Right down to the necessary pots and pans.

Carbonnades a la Flamande

3-lb piece of lean beef (chuck or rump roast) *I used the venison roast.
2-3 T rendered fresh pork fat or good cooking oil
A heavy skillet

Preheat oven to 325deg. Cut the beef into slices about 2x4" across and 1/2" thick. Dry on paper towels. Put a 1/16" layer of fat or oil in the skillet and heat until almost smoking. Brown the beef slices quickly, a few at a time, and set them aside.

1.5 lb or 6 c sliced onions *I know this seems like A LOT of onions, but trust me, it works out.
salt and pepper
4 cloves mashed garlic

Reduce heat to moderate. Stir in onions into the fat in the skillet, adding more fat if necessary, and brown the onions lightly for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. (Our onions did not really fit into our skillet, but rather mounded up high. Have faith though, they will reduce in the 10 min and eventually fit into the skillet as promised.) Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in garlic.

9-10" fireproof casserole about 3.5" deep
salt and pepper

Arrange half the browned beef in the casserole and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread half the onions over the beef. Repeat with the rest of the beef and onions.

1 c strong beef stock or canned beef bouillon (I used canned stock)
2-3 c light beer, Pilsner type (I used just short of 2 bottles of a lightish beer called Farm Girl that no one wanted to drink.)
2T light brown sugar
1 large herb bouquet: 6 parsley springs, 1 bay leaf, and 1/2 t thyme, tied in cheese cloth (I used 6T of dried Penzey's parsley, 1/2t Penzey's dried thyme, and the bay leaf)

Heat the stock/bouillon in the browning skillet, scraping up coagulated cooking juices. Pour it over the meat. Add enough beer so the meat is barely covered. Stir in the brown sugar. Bury the herb bouquet among the meat slices. (I just mixed in my dried herbs with the liquid.) Bring casserole to the simmer on top of the stove. Then cover and place in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate temperature so liquid remains at a very slow simmer for 2.5 hours, at the end of which the meat should be fork tender.

1.5 T arrowroot or cornstarch
2 T wine vinegar (I used red wine version)

Remove herb bouquet. Drain cooking liquid out of casserole and into a saucepan, and skim off fat. Beat the starch and vinegar mixture into the liquid and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Carefully correct seasoning. You shoul dahve about 2 c of sauce. (I had more like 5 c of sauce, and so did the thickening step again to get it to a sauce consistency.) Pour the sauce back over the meat. *Can be prepared in advance to this point.

Parsley potatoes or buttered noodles

When ready to serve, cover casserole and simmer slowly for 4-5 minutes until meat is thoroughly heated through. Either bring the casserole to the table, or arrange the meat on a hot serving platter, spoon the sauce over it, surround with potatoes or noodles and decorate with parsley.

I would definitely make this recipe again. It had amazing flavors. The venison was fork tender, which can be a challenge for such a lean meat. The onions were sweet after such a long cook time, and the beer didn't really have a distinct flavor. We used Farfalle pasta shapes and served it over buttered noodles. My mom and I made this for a family get together of 7 people, and we had leftovers - it is supposed to feed 6. Everyone agreed that it was an excellent dish. The one challenge with this recipe was that it took 2 of us an hour to get the prep done before the dish went into the oven. Tasty, but time consuming to make.

Karin's Week Four Recipe: Poppy Seed Filled Ravioli Cookies

From the Betty Crocker 40th Anniversary Cookbook. This was on a facing page to the Spritz cookies I had made earlier in the week, and the pictures looked good. I also had all of the ingredients on hand, and another request for a sweet. I am not sure still exactly why I had so much poppy seed on hand, nor why there seems to be a binge on sweets in my house. And, I'd never made ravioli before, and that sounded like fun. These cookies also required rolling out, which I try to avoid when cookie baking if at all possible, so presented me with a challenge.

Poppy Seed Filled Ravioli Cookies

1c sugar
1/2c shortening
1/4c butter, softened
2 eggs
1t vanilla
2.5c flour
1t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2c poppy seed
1/2c almonds
1/2c milk
2T honey
1t finely shredded lemon peel
1T lemon juice
Poppy Seed

Mix sugar, shortening, butter, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. Divide dough into 4 equal parts, cover, and refrigerate for 2hours. Place poppy seed, almonds, milk, honey, lemon peel, and lemon juice in blender or food processor. Cover and blend/process until liquid is absorbed.

Heat oven to 400deg. Roll one part of dough (on floured surface) into rectangle 12x8". Cut dough into 12 rectangles each 2x3". Place 1t of poppy seed mixture on each rectangle and fold dough over filling. Press edges with fork (ala peanut butter cookies) to seal edges. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10min until light brown. Brush with honey and sprinkle poppy seed on warm cookies. Cool on rack. Repeat with remaining dough.

This recipe was sort of a comedy of errors in the making; mostly due to the filling. The recipe says that one can use a food processor to make the filling. One can NOT use such a device. If one does, one ends up with filling on the wall, the pup, the counter top, the cupboards, and the floor as soon as one pushes Go. Even if one places a dish towel over the top of the processor as if one is a professional chef. AND, the liquid does not really absorb, but rather oozes out of the seal of the processor and down onto the counter. I could not use a blender, as I have burnt up the gears on my current one and am without. Gentle readers, please, if you try this recipe, use a blender. You will save yourself much clean up.

On a more positive note, the dough was very easy to roll out, but not so much into a nice rectangle. My cookies came out in all shapes, not really looking like ravioli. And if you did indeed make them the correct size, you will have enough filling for at least 2 batches. I got the 48 cookies that it said, and mine were enormous. The dough is quite tasty, but the filling leaves something to be desired. If I try this again, I will make some sort of different filling.

Karin's Week Three Recipe: Nutella Pound Cake

This recipe came out of the "real food" magazine put out by the Lunds/Byerly's grocery chain - the Winter 2009 issue. My mother knows how much I like Nutella and how much my household likes sweets, and thought it would be a great recipe for us.

Nutella Pound Cake

4 large eggs, at room temp
2t vanilla
1.5 c flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1c (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 c sugar
1 jar Nutella

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan. Fill a medium bowl with very hot tap water, and set in the unopened jar of Nutella. Combine the eggs and vanilla in a large measuring cup and lightly beat together. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt (I used about 2 twists of my salt grinder) in a medium mixing bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3min, scraping down bowl if necessary. Reduce speed to medium-low and pour in egg mixture in a slow stream, stopping once or twice to scrape down bowl. Turn mixer to low and add the flour mixture 1/2c at a time, scraping bowl after each addition. After last addition, mix for 30 sec on medium.

Scrape 1/3 of the batter into the pan and smooth with a spatula. Take the Nutella out of the water bath and spread 1/2 of the jar onto the batter, smoothing with a clean spatula. Repeat with remaining batter and Nutella, ending with batter on top. Run a butter knife through the pan to create marbling.

Bake 1h 15min until cake is golden and toothpick comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for 15min and then remove from pan and cool on a rack.

I would definitely make this again. It is delicious and fairly easy to mix up. The only down side was that my cake fell in the center when cooling. This is probably due to the fact that I had to leave for work right after it came out of the oven, and so I cooled it in the pan. And, for some reason, my Nutella did not marble, but fell to the bottom of the cake, creating a "U" of fudge around the bottom of the cake. Still tasty though.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tricia's Week 6 Recipe: Tater Tot Hotdish - a variation

Hotdish or casserole, casserole or hotdish, (we can debate which is called what and add in goulash later)  I've never baked tater tot anything (besides the tots themselves) in the 3 years I've lived in my house!  I know, I am ashamed and should go hide in the laundry room.  I aimed to reconcile that tonight.  However, being that I am me, I couldn't make 'plain' or 'mom's' tater tot hotdish, I had to make up my own.  So, I started with the recipe for your basic tot-dish, and made it...esencially completely different.  I was inspired by queso dip, and an italian/pepper dish trev and I make, and mac and cheese.  I made up this recipe.

Italian Sausage Tater Tot Hotdish

1 lb spicey (hot) italian sausage (if you don't like really spicey food, use the mild - good flavor without the kick)
1 red pepper (I had frozen leftovers, so I honestly don't know how much I had...maybe a cup? - Use as much as you like)
3/4 cup salsa (I used a little 7 oz can out of the Mexican aisle at Cub, but you could use any)
1/8 cup butter
1/8 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, slightly packed
pinch onion powder
pinch minced garlic
tater tots

Brown sausage and drain, return to pan.  Add peppers, salsa and pinch onion powder stir til heated through, and place in baking dish (I am using round Pirex casserole pan).  Melt butter, add garlic, make roux with flour.  Add milk, bring to boil wisking every once and again.  Once boiling, whisk constantly for about 1 min, thickening and then add shredded cheese -continue to whisk constantly.  Add cheese sause to baking pan w/ sausage.  Stir together.  Top with tater tots.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly and tots are browned.  Cool 5 minutes, then enjoy!

Would I make this again?  Most definately!  I think I have invented a winner!  I may tweak some things, try new veg, different types of salsa, etc....but it went over well for both of us!  Yum!

Karin's Week Two Recipe: Rocky Road Fudge Bars

This recipe is the result of needing to do something with the 3lb Toblerone candy bar that is sitting in my kitchen. There really is too much of it to just eat it, so I am trying to find something that one can do with that much candy. The recipe is one of Marjorie Johnson's from her cookbook "The Road to Blue Ribbon Baking". This lady has won over 1,000 blue ribbons at the Minnesota State Fair for her baked goods. Talk about a reputation! I knew this one had to be good.

The recipe also was a chance to use up almost all the baking supplies that I had on had. These are rich bars, as you will soon see. They also require a lot of bowls and pans to make. And it only used up 3 triangles of giant Toblerone, so there will be more dessert recipes to come.

Rocky Road Fudge Bars

1/2c butter
1 square (1 oz) unsweetened chocolate (I used cocoa powder and oil)
1c sugar
1c flour
1/2 to 1c chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1t baking powder
1t vanilla
2 eggs

In large saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate. Add remaining dough ingredients. Mix well. Spread in a greased/floured 9x13 pan.

8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2c suguar
2T flour
1/4c butter, softened
1 egg
1/2t vanilla
1/4c chopped nuts (walnuts, again)
1c chocolate chips (I used chopped Toblerone instead)

2c mini marshmallows

In small bowl, combine 6oz cream cheese with next 5 ingredients. Blend until smooth and fluffy. Stir in nuts. Spread in pan over chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake at 350deg for 25-35 min or until toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle with marshmallows and bake 2 min longer.

1/4c butter
1 square (1 oz) unsweetened chocolate
Remaining 2oz cream cheese
1/4c milk
1 lb (3c) powdered sugar
1t vanilla

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, chocolate, cream cheese and milk. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Immediately pour over marshmallows and swirl together.

This recipe is good in very small doses. It is incredibly sweet and uses an entire pound of butter. If I make this again, I'd make it for a party where I know that we won't have to eat it all. Kids would probably love it, as it has all of the texture of rocky road ice cream.

Karin's Week One Recipe: Lobster Risotto

Hi there! I know I'm weighing in rather late, but as your foreign blog correspondent, this is the first chance I've had to post from "out East". I read about the challenge, and decided to try it on my own, as I have an entire cupboard of cookbooks of all types. Having now been invited to post along with the others, I'm delighted!

I hope that you won't be overwhelmed with the onslaught of recipes all in a row. I promise to put a bit more space in between in the rest of this year. Most of my entree and side dish recipes will probably be short prep and cook time, as in my household, we eat our big meal at lunch. This limits the amount of time one has in the kitchen, as I often don't like thinking of cooking a big meal the minute I'm awake, and sometimes I forget to thaw things out the night before. An additional requirement in my household is that every big meal have some sort of meat dish in it.

I really like making risotto, ever since I found out how easy it is to cook. I have a cousin-in-law who is from Sicily, Italy, and also is a chef, and he said really, once you start adding the stock in, you just need to stir it when you pass the stove and all will be well. I have a great little cookbook that is entirely risotto recipes, and in the winter it is a warm and filling meal. Also, almost a 1 pot meal, if you don't count how you heat the stock. Just what I like, Veg and Starch and Protein all in one dish!

Lobster Risotto (for 2)

1 cooked lobster, or 1lb jumbo shrimp (I used 16-20count frozen uncooked shrimp)
2.5 c fish stock (I used chicken stock, because I always have it on hand)
1T olive oil
2oz butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1t chopped fresh thyme leaves (I used Penzey's dried thyme)
generous 3/4c risotto rice
2/3 cup sparkling white wine (or dry vermouth)
1t green or pink peppercorns in brine, drained & coarsely chopped (I used plain pink peppercorns)
1T chopped fresh parsley (again with the Penzey's dried)

If using lobster, twist off the claws and set aside. Remove all body meat and put with the claws. Bring the stock to a boil in a small saucepan, the reduce heat to simmer. Keep simmering throughout. Heat the oil and 1/2 the butter in a large, rather deep frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5min until soft. Add garlic and cook 30sec more. Stir in the thyme. Reduce heat, add the rice and stir to coat in the butter/oil. Cook stirring constantly for 2-3min until rice looks mostly translucent. Stir in the wine and cook for 1min until reduced. Add the hot stock, 1 ladleful at a time, stirring after each addition until the rice absorbs it. Increase the heat to medium until the liquid bubbles. Cook for 20min or until all the liquid is absorbed. 5min before the end of the cooking time, add the lobster meat/claws (or shrimp) and heat until cooked through. Remove pan from heat and stir in the peppercorns, remaining butter and the parsley. Serve at once.

So, would I serve this again? Yes, although with the substitutions, it is maybe a completely different recipe than the one in the book. You be the judge. I had read somewhere at some time that one could substitute vermouth for white wine, and seeing as this was a lunch dish, I did not want to open a new bottle of wine. I did a 1:1 substitution which gave it an interesting flavor. I have since learned it's supposed to be more like a 1:2/3 substitution. Oh well, it still tasted good!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chris's Week Six Recipe: Wholemeal Parkins

Whilst going through my cookbooks, I came upon a little ring-bound volume by Kay Shaw Nelson called A Bonnie Scottish Cookbook. I'm sure that I picked it up on some visit or other to the Minnesota Scottish Fair and Highland Games which used to be at Macalester College in St. Paul, but which is now held down at the Dakota County Fairgrounds. (I highly recommend a visit!)

This book is full of all sorts of fascinating recipes and I had gotten it mainly for reading, not cooking, but looking through it this weekend my eye lighted upon a recipe for Parkins. I had heard about this tea-time treat, but never tasted it.

Parkins, or Parkin, is a recipe from Northern England and Scotland. Recipes vary wildly, as you would expect with any long-established, regional fare and range from crunchy to sticky, but all seem to have treacle (dark molasses) and oats. How could I resist?

The following recipe is adapted from the recipe in Kay Shaw Nelson's book and differs in that I lowered the amount of salt called for and used wholemeal flour (that's whole wheat flour for you non-Anglophiles) and turbinado sugar instead of all-purpose flour and plain sugar.

Wholemeal Parkins

1 c dark molasses
1/2 c turbinado sugar
1/2 c (one stick) butter
1 egg
1 c milk
2-1/4 c wholemeal flour
2 t baking powder
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
2 c rolled oats

Combine the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a saucepan, melt together the butter, molasses and sugar.

Whisk the egg separately, then whisk in the milk. Add this mixture slowly to the dry ingredients. Then stir in the butter/molasses mixture and mix until well-combined. Stir in the oats.

Bake in a 9x9 pan for 35-40 min at 350F or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Would I make this recipe again? Indeed I would! I have a feeling these are even going to be tastier the longer they sit around in a tightly-sealed tin. In fact, some people make these a few days in advance, but I was happy to brew up some tea and eat my first Parkins warm from the oven.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Jennifer's Week Five Recipe: Mulligatawny Soup

I had mulligatawny soup once, years ago, and I recalled enjoying it. So when I saw the recipe in The Joy of Cooking: All About Soups and Stews I had to make it.

Mulligatawny Soup

2 pounds chicken thighs, skinned and bones removed, cut into bit-sized pieces (you can buy them boneless and skinless)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons water
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (optional)

Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When heated, add the onion, stirring until golden brown, about 7 to 8 minutes. The add garlic, ginger and curry, cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add chicken and water. Cook, stirring, until the chicken loses its raw color. Stir in the chicken stock and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with rice.

Would I make this again? Well, yes, but with some changes. I may add carrot and celery to it next time. Some mulligatawny soups also have lentils - it all depends on the recipe. I knew something was missing while I was eating it last night, I just could not remember what. I looked up some other recipes for this soup and decided to add the vegetables mentioned above during the next go around. I made a double batch and froze what we didn't eat.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tricia's Week 5 Recipe: Homemade Mac and Cheese

Yes, gentle readers, I have never made mac and cheese that is not in a box.  I've been scared of it - ran and hid, infact, because I could never make alfredo sauce work.  I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that if I couldn't do that, I certainly couldn't do this!  A friend, who is a great cook and baker (though I have never had the oppourtunity to test her cooking, but I trust her) has promised me a no-fail alfredo sauce.  Knowing that, I took heart tonight, and tried to make homemade mac and cheese.  What I am really teaching myself to make here, however, is a basic bechamel sauce.  From Cooking Club  magazine, Feb/March issue, there are instructions on how to make the bechamel sauce.  One starts with a roux of 1/4 c butter and 1/4 c flour melting butter and mixing the two together, whisking constantly, for one minute.  One then adds, quickly, two cups milk whisking occasionally to incorporate the milk with the roux.  Once boiling, one wisks vigorously until sauce is smooth, then one reduces heat to gentle boil and cooks one minute, whisking constantly.  Using these basic instuctions, and the recipe below, I am making this weeks recipe. (reading my notes below, can you tell this was inspired by 1. making a bechamel, and 2. using up things in the house?)

Spicey Garlic Mac and Cheese
8 oz pasta (I used shells because they were in the house!)
1/4 c butter
1 large garlic clove, minced (I used a generous 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic from Penzey's)
1/4 c all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk (I used skim, because that is what I had!)
1/4 teaspoon salt (ish..)
1/8 teaspoon pepper (ish...)
1 1/2 c slightly packed shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (recipe calls for shredding your own, preferably over two years old.  I had a open, needed to be used package of Crystal Farms sharp cheddar shredded cheese, which I used)
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I used Franks brand, and very ish on the 1/8 teaspoon...I like hot pepper sauce!)

make pasta the way you like it.  When you take pasta off to drain, turn on burner and start melting butter in pot big enough to hold sauce.  Make Bechamel as described above, adding the hot sauce and cheddar cheese at the very end.  Whisk constantly until cheese is melted.  Either pour sauce over noodles or add noodles to sauce pan.  Serve immediately.

I would definately make this again, though I would change a few things. First, there is WAY too much sauce for 8 oz. noodles!  There was drowning!  Second, there wasn't enough hot sauce, so I added some red pepper flakes and a bit more cracked black pepper.  If I had to do again, i'd either double the noodles or 2/3 the sauce.  (Yes, I realize that ratio doesn't quite work out :P)  I also think it would be tasty the way the original recipe stated, baked.  The original recipe had you put all this in a greased casserole dish, then put garlic croutons on the top, and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.  This might be tasty if you added some red peppers and green peppers, and some bacon, then baked w/ garlic croutons on top.  Yup...I will try that itteration next! 

Hrm...what if you put tater tots on that too much starch?