Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sloppy Joes - Part Deux

Never one to leave well enough alone, or remember something I did yesterday, I whipped up a new SJ recipe. It pretty much rocked and was super easy.
You're welcome.

1 lb ground meat (beef, turkey, whatever)
1 c onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c green pepper, finely chopped
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp mustard
3/4 c ketchup
a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
brown sugar if needed - maybe a tsp

Toss a glug of olive oil into a pan over medium high and add the veggies. Saute until fragrant, then add the meat. Cook, breaking meat up into smaller bits until cooked through. At this point you can add the chili powder and a bit of salt as the meat cooks.
Drain off any fat from the meat, then add the Worcestershire, mustard, ketchup and brown sugar, and stir well to combine.

You can cover this and let it simmer for a bit, or go ahead and eat it right away if you're in a time crunch; it's pretty damn good right from the get go.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Champagne Risotto

Giada, Giada, Giada.
How do you know the way to my heart so well? Crispy prosciutto and champagne? Seriously? Please just stop toying with me already and let me move in.

Champagne Risotto
4 thin slices prosciutto
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
12 asparagus spears, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
3/4 cup Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
3/4 cup Champagne
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the slices of prosciutto on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until the prosciutto slices are almost completely crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. The slices will crisp up even more as they cool. Reserve for garnish.

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Blanch the asparagus in the chicken stock for 2 minutes. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon. Set the asparagus aside and keep the chicken stock at a low simmer.

In another medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat in the butter. Continue toasting the rice, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes more. Add the Champagne and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the asparagus, remaining butter, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Spoon the risotto into serving dishes and garnish by breaking the crisp prosciutto into smaller pieces over the top of the risotto. Serve immediately.

Holy Christmas Cookie Exchange Options, Batman!

Martha's 365 options, of course.
Gourmet's faves from 1941-2008?!?! Yikes, that'll take a lifetime to get through!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tomato, Basil & Garlic Halibut

I stumbled across this recipe (yeah, it's from ConAgra, hence the brand names) and thought it looked easy and healthy and tasty. What more do you need really?

Tomato, Basil & Garlic Halibut
1 Teaspoon Ground black pepper
1 Cup Fresh basil leaves chopped
1 Can Hunt's Tomato Paste (6 oz ea)
1 Cup Water
1 Teaspoon Garlic powder
1 Teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 Pounds halibut fillets
1 Tablespoon Fleischmann's Original Margarine
1 Can Hunt's Tomato Sauce (15 oz ea)

Combine garlic powder, thyme and pepper in small bowl; sprinkle evenly over both sides of fish.
Set aside.
Melt Fleischmann's in large skillet over medium heat. Add fish; cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned on both sides. Remove from skillet; cover to keep warm.
Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil and water to same skillet; mix well. Carefully return fish to skillet, being careful not to allow sauce to cover tops of fish fillets; cover skillet with lid. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with fork and sauce is heated through. Serve fish with the sauce.

There were only two of us so I halved this recipe (except the margarine - I didn't want the fish to stick). It was pretty one note so I think I'll have to tweak it a bit before it's a keeper.

Joe's Spaghetti Bolognese

My roommate makes the most amazing, homey, hearty, rich, robust, delicious spag bol I've ever had in my life. Aside from the wild boar ragu at Myth (* sob *). note to self to get resos at Zinnia for Sean O'Briens wild boar meat sauce; nom.

He's made it twice now and every time I smell it cooking I come running. The first time I just had to have a taste, even though I had already eaten. The second time I was lucky enough to get my own gigantic portion. I determined then and there, that I simply must have this dish for my birthday dinner. He seemed to think I was teasing him, but oh no. This spag bol is the way I think spag bol was meant to taste. It's perfect.

Since he'll be off in lalaland (psh) for my birthday, I can't demand he make it for me and my friends as a gift in honor of the kickoff to my 32nd year on Earth. Damn.

What's a girl to do except to insist that he divulge all of his Mexican-English based Italian cuisine secrets? Last night was the night that he looked over my shoulder and walked me through it and well; I came close. There is just something that I can't quite grasp. Some weird, teeny tiny little spark that I was just unable to capture. Is it umami? Bay leaf? Acidity? I cannot tell but it was woefully absent from last night's attempt. To say I'm devastated is to put it mildly. That spark is what I wanted to serve! Without it, it's just spag bol! Good spag bol, but not Joe's LIFE ALTERING spag bol. It's a depth of flavor that I can't quite figure out, but I know I felt like I wanted to add a little wine to the sauce thinking that's what it was.

My birthday sucks already. :o( I hope someone brings cake.

Joe's Spaghetti Bolognese
serves 4-5
1 half of a medium/large white onion, finely chopped
1 half of a shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, smashed
8 oz of sliced mushrooms
1 lb ground beef (80/20 or 85/15 - you need some fat)
Mild Italian sausages - enough for each person to have one (I also used some of those Aidell's sundried tomato ones)
1 jar of Ralphs/Cala Foods tomato basil pasta sauce
pasta of your choice
olive oil
1-2 tbsp butter
salt & pepper
dried basil
4-5 bay leaves
Italian seasoning
red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese

Put a tbsp of olive oil into a large saute pan over med-hi. Add the butter and let melt.
Toss in the clove of garlic, the shallots, and about half to 2/3 of the onion and saute for a minute. Add mushrooms and saute just til the mushies get some color and start to soften. Pour the onion/mushie mixture into a bowl and set aside.

In the same pan, add a teeny bit more oil (only if necessary to prevent sticking), and add the ground beef and remaining raw onion. Cook until browned and then pour off fat.
While meat is cooking in one pan, cook the sausages in another pan. Add a little oil so they don't stick, and sprinkle them with some Italian seasoning.

Add the jar of pasta sauce to the drained meat and stir the onion/mushie mixture back in. Toss in a tbsp or so of dried basil, a few dashes of red pepper flakes (you don't want it SPICY per se, just with a little bit of an undertone from the peppers), some oregano (1 - 2 tsps maybe?), and the bay leaves, and give it a good stir.
If the sausages are done, nestle them into the sauce as well, if not, you can do so once they are ready.

Let the sauce come to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover. Let simmer for 45 minutes or so; stirring a couple of times.

With 15 or so minutes left, get your pasta going.

Drain pasta, serve, and top with a generous portion of pasta sauce and a sausage. Top with a sprinkling of cheese.

Cry because of some undetermined depth of flavor that is missing that makes it not quite Joe's.
No wait, you don't even know what you're missing, so just enjoy it. I'll cry.

The clever gang over at Chowhound has plenty of nommy sounding suggestions too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beef Bourguignion

Ever since the movie I've been thinking about it. Much as I love my SB-esque beef & butternut squash stew from Giada (seriously, I dream about that damn stuff), it's worth seeing what the real deal, the ULTIMATE, is like.
I do NOT feel compelled to cook my way through Julia's books however. Or Martha's.
I'll happily stick to my own silly little blog, snagging tasty recipes from wherever, that I can then bastardize and healthify to my own liking. This one however, is worth a shot, in its full, unaltered glory.
Bon appetit.
One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
18 to 24 white onions, small
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered

Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.

Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust).

Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.

Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.

Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.

Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.

Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.

Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

Birthday Cocktails

I like to honor the Sandra Lee in me with a little birthday inspired Cocktail Time. . .
Last year, no wait, two years ago? we had the Candy Cane and the Sugarplum (which I believe was some sort of blueberry vodka based beverage). This year I'm not straying far from that and I think I'll do the Candy Cane again, but swap out the mediocre Sugarplum for my favorite bubbly drink, the Champagne Cocktail.
See, I loves me some blueberries, and I found BLUEBERRY BITTERS. Blueberry. Bitters. Y'all. I was looking for a recipe for bitters to see if I could make my own blueberry ones, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a link to some clever people that have done all the work for me. I am hoping and praying that this is delicious, but we shall see.
For those of you unfortunate enough to have made it this far in life without the pleasure of a Champagne Cocktail, let me break it down for you:

Drop a sugar cube into a champagne glass and douse it with a generous hit of bitters. Top with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.

Seriously that easy and so yum. See how blueberry bitters could be awesome here? I do!

Now about that Candy Cane. . . I can't remember exactly what I did, but let's try this:

1 shot of Godiva white chocolate liqueur
1 shot of vanilla vodka
1 shot of peppermint Schnapps

Garnish with a mini candy cane (as the crushed peppermint candy rim I tried to go with was a bit of a nightmare).

I admit, it might not be equal parts of all three, but you can start there at least. Please keep in mind that while this is all milky delicious and candy tasting it is pure alcohol so don't go guzzling them down and then driving out to do your Christmas shopping.

Oh, and in honor of my roommate (who had never had one of these if you can even imagine) - maybe I'll also serve Snugglers. Should we rename them Snuggies to remain culturally relevant?
(BTW, Snugglers are hot chocolate with peppermint Schnapps). Might sound girly, but after a cold day of cutting down trees and stringing lights, they are just what the doctor ordered. As long as the doctor in question is Sandra Lee.

(it doesn't really kick off til 1:23, but I have no idea how to edit video, so, fast forward or something)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ina does it again

Darn that Ina Garten for tempting me with nomtastic deliciousness yet again. Delightfully French, and maybe even somewhat healthy, a little, somewhere, if I try. But hey, French people are thin, so maybe it's okay.

Mustard Roasted Fish
4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces creme fraiche
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons drained capers

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Combine the creme fraiche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it's barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it's done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
4 to 5 pounds broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.

Honey Vanilla Fromage Blanc
32 ounces fromage blanc
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup good honey
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
Vanilla seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

Ripe stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, plums
Berries such as raspberries and strawberries
Citrus fruit such as oranges, cut in segments
Raspberry Sauce (see below)

Stir the fromage blanc, cream, honey, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and vanilla seeds together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble, spoon the fromage blanc mixture into shallow bowls. Place the fruit artfully on top and drizzle the dessert with raspberry sauce. Serve with extra raspberry sauce on the side. I find that some people like it less sweet with just a drizzle of sauce while others prefer more sauce.

Raspberry Sauce
1 half pint fresh raspberries
1/2 c sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 tbsp framboise liqueur

Combine raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, jam, and framboise into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until very smooth. Chill.

Turkey Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup

I made a yumtastic soup last night. Totally SB friendly, healthy, yummy, and super super easy.

1 medium onion; diced
2-3 cloves of garlic; minced
4 turkey sausages, sliced into disks (I used Aidell's sundried tomato)
1 huge can of chicken stock
1 bunch of kale - washed, large stems/stalks removed, and roughly chopped
2 cans of white beans (great northern, cannelini, whatever)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Heat olive oil (2 tbsp or so) in a large stock pot. Sautee the onion and garlic until soft, then season with salt and pepper.
Add the turkey sausage and cook a bit longer - I like to see the sausage a bit browned.
Add the stock and the beans. Add the kale bit by bit (as it fits in your pot!) and stir to combine. Cover the pot and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until kale is wilted and everything is heated through. Taste broth for seasoning and add any additional seasoning as necessary - maybe even a dash of red pepper flakes if you like it spicy.