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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beef Bourguignon...Sans Mushrooms

Although this blog started when I lived in France, I rarely post French recipes any more.  I don't know why that is--I do cook French food, but I just never get around to posting it.  So I'm taking care of that this week.  Today I'm tackling the ever-so-French Beef Bourguignon.  It sounds fancy, but really it's just a French beef stew.  Typically it's made with mushrooms too, but since my husband and I aren't fond of fungi, I just leave them out.  If you'd like to add them, just slice some, saute them in a little butter, and add them toward the end of cooking.  You'll definitely want to serve this with crusty bread and some wine.  I usually drink the same bottle that's used in the cooking process.

This makes quite a bit, but no one minds in my household.  Leftovers are a welcome addition to our busy lives.  :-)

Beef Bourguignon
Adapted from Ina Garten

1 Tbl olive oil
8 ounces bacon, cut into matchsticks
2 1/2 pounds stew beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
1 Tbl tomato paste
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 Tbl unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole pearl onions

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Toss the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add about 1/2 cup of the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all of the bacon and veggie bits.  Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with their juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Combine the butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

CSA Week #2

This week we received a ton of greens from our CSA.  I don't mind, though--I love greens!  And you know what?  They're easy to freeze to use up later if you just can't eat all of them in one week.  Also, we're starting to get herbs.  Yahoo!  This week we got:
  • Kale
  • Beet Greens
  • Collard Greens
  • Spinach
  • Mesclun (not shown here)
  • Cilantro
I ran across a recipe for a raw kale salad that I'm going to try this week.  The collards will go in the freezer after a quick blanch.  I'll used them in a stuffed shells recipe I tried last year and loved.  We're leaving for vacation on Saturday, so I won't be able to use everything up before going.  Freezing is a CSA member's best friend.  ;-)

What did you get in your CSA this week?

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tarragon Potato Salad

I absolutely love potato salad.  I'll eat it any way it comes--slathered with a mayo concoction or drizzled lightly with olive oil.  What a big surprise, then, when I found out that my husband is kind of middling on this potato goodness.  I've spent the better part of the seven years we've been married looking for this potato salad--the ONE he actually requests I make.  The flavor is light and slightly reminiscent of lemons.  (That would be the tarragon.)  It's perfect for picnics or potlucks since it contains no mayo, and it's just plain pretty.  I've made it with basil when tarragon was not to be found in the grocery store, and although it's still quite tasty, the tarragon version blows the basil one out of the water.

When entertaining, I've often tripled or quadrupled the batch with no problems.  Just make sure you have a big enough bowl!

Tarragon Potato Salad
I ripped a page out of a mystery magazine long ago for this recipe and now can't find it.  The recipe belongs to someone, but I'm not sure who!

2 lbs. small Yukon Gold or red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbl plus 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
4 oz. bacon, cut into matchsticks
1 cup coarsely chopped green onions
½ cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley
¼ cup lightly packed fresh tarragon (or basil)
1 ½ Tbl Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
¾ tsp freshly ground pepper
6 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups diced celery
      2 Tbl cider vinegar

Place potatoes and 1 tablespoon of the salt in a large pot; cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil over med-high heat.  Reduce heat to med-low.  Boil gently 8-10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Drain.  Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet.  Let stand10-15 minutes or until no longer steaming hot.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in medium skillet over med-low heat, stirring frequently, until crisp.  Drain on paper towels.

Place green onion, parsley, tarragon, mustard, sugar, remaining 1 tsp salt and pepper in food processor or blender.  Process until finely chopped.  With machine running, pour in oil.  Scrape down sides of bowl; process until smooth.

In large bowl, stir together potatoes, celery, vinegar and bacon.  Add dressing; toss to coat.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Braised Turnips with Lemon and Herbes de Provence

I don't think that I had ever eaten a turnip until I joined my CSA two years ago.  The first time around, I tried mashing them with potatoes, which was good, but I wanted something more from the beautiful Hakauri Turnips we were getting.  I used a trusty Google search, and came across this recipe for Braised Turnips.  I love these so much that I haven't bothered trying to make anything else with them.  I also love them so much that I fight with my four-year-old daughter over the last one.  I have no shame.

Braised Hakauri Turnips with Lemon and Herbes de Provence
from Sassy Radish

1 bunch Hakauri turnips (about 1 lb)
Juice from one lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, smashed lightly with your knife and peeled
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp herbes de provence

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Wash the turnips and trim their greens. (Save the greens--you can use them for something else later.)  Place the turnips in a baking dish and combine with the remaining ingredients. Mix until the turnips are evenly coated.  There should be about a 1/2 inch of oil/lemon juice combo.

Cover the dish and cook in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the turnips are fork tender.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

The Week in Review

Last week I didn't get around to writing up a weekly review.  I'll try to make up for it today.  :-)
  • We'll start with a little appetizer with a kick.  Life's Ambrosia posted a recipe for Sriracha Ranch Dip back in April.  I'm a huge Ranch dressing fan and I love spicy food, so the combo is perfect for some fries or veggies or even some homemade chicken nuggets!
  • I love enchiladas, and someday, when I can get a decent picture of them, I'll post my enchilada recipe.  In the meantime, you may want to try Our Life in Food's Mexican Poblano Casserole.  It looks fabulous and easy to make.
  • And finally, if you've had enough of the spicy, you'll need a sweet to cool you off.  I made Ezra Pound Cake's version of Sara Foster's Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie the other day for a student party, and out of two pies, we only had one tiny piece left!  This would be great for those summer get-togethers that will surely come once all of the rain goes away.  :-)
What have you been reading this week???
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    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    CSA Week #1

    This was the first week of our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Yahoo!  I love getting fresh veggies every week, and I also love trying new things.  We get our CSA through Rolling Fork Farm, and we love the produce and the people!  (Hi, Carl!)  This week we got:

    Easter Egg Radishes
    Pak Choi

    I think that Pak Choi is like Bok Choi, but I'm not sure.  We'll be trying it in a stir fry this week, and I'll let you know how it turns out!

    Are you part of a CSA?  If so, what are you getting right now?

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    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Asparagus and Leek Quiche

    Mother's Day was an extra special day this year.  Besides the fact that we celebrated my son's first birthday and baptism that day, we also had our mothers in town to celebrate.  I wanted to make something special to celebrate all of the love, but with the birthday and baptism, I just didn't have as much time as I would have liked to make an elaborate meal.  I settled on brunch and made two quiches (a Quiche Lorraine and this Asparagus and Leek Quiche), Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread and a Tossed Strawberry Salad.  I prepped everything for the quiches and salad the night before and baked the bread.  All I had to do on the morning of Mother's Day/birthday celebration/baptism was throw the quiches together, bake them while I was getting ready, and then present everything at brunch after church.  Phew...I'm still tired!  ;-)

    The meal was a lot of work, but not because of this quiche--it came together pretty quickly.  The presentation was lovely and the taste and texture buttery.  I wish I could say that I had made my own crust, but I wimped out and bought a store-made one.  I made up for that with local asparagus, eggs, cream, and bacon.  The presentation is stunning and makes it a great potluck dish.
    Asparagus and Leek Quiche
    Adapted ever so slightly from Stacey Snacks

    1 pie/tart dough, homemade or premade
    1 Tbl olive oil
    1 bundle of asparagus, rinsed and ends trimmed
    2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced into half-moons and rinsed thoroughly
    3 strips bacon, cut into matchsticks and cooked
    3 eggs
    1 cup cream or half and half
    Pinch of nutmeg
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    3/4 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded

    Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of your tart pan.  Place the dough in the tart pan and press against the sides.  Trim or fold the excess over into the side of the pan.  Cover with foil and fill with pie weights (or uncooked rice).  Blind bake the crust for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

    Set aside enough asparagus to decorate the top of your quiche.  Cut the rest into 1-inch lengths.  Saute the asparagus pieces (not the decorative pieces) with the leeks over medium heat until the leeks start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

    In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Add the bacon and cheese and mix well.

    Spread the asparagus pieces and leeks on the bottom of your tart crust.  Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables.  Decorate the top with the rest of the asparagus.

    Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until the top starts to brown and puff up.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Mint Juleps...Better Late Than Never!

    Mint Juleps are always associated with the Kentucky Derby in this part of the country, and although the Derby happened over a week ago, this beverage is a refreshing drink that can be enjoyed throughout the summer.  I had had mint juleps before, but had never made them at home.  This year, though, we had family from Wisconsin and California in town to celebrate my son's first birthday, so we had an impromptu Derby party.  My mother-in-law made us hats out of construction paper, and I made us drinks.  We all chose a horse to back and cheered them on with our homemade hats and drinks in hand.

    We used Maker's Mark for our juleps.  You can use any good-quality bourbon...just make sure to save the really good stuff to drink straight up.  :-)  I've seen lots of different versions, some of which include muddling the mint in the bottom of the glass and some of which just involved throwing some leaves in the glass, but I liked this one because the mint is infused in the simple syrup.  The perk to this is that you can use any leftovers in iced tea or other drinks...or just save it for your next Mint Julep.  ;-)
    Mint Julep
    From Epicurious

    Minted Simple Syrup:
    1 cup water
    1 cup sugar
    1 bunch mint (about 40 leaves)

    Scant ounce of minted simple syrup
    2 cups crushed ice
    2 ounces bourbon
    Fresh mint sprig, for garnish

    Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.  Raise the heat slightly and simmer for about 5 minutes more.  Remove from the heat and add the mint.  Let steep for about 15 minutes.  Strain and refrigerate for about 3 hours or up to a week, covered.

    In a bourbon glass or a silver mint julep cup, add a little less than an ounce of minted simple syrup.  Add about 1 cup of ice, bourbon and a splash of water.  Add enough ice to almost fill the glass.  Stir well and garnish with mint.

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    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Birthday Boy!

    I have a good reason for not posting anything in the last few days...my little boy turned one yesterday!  We had a crowd in to celebrate, and although I cooked up a storm, the festivities left little time for blogging.  I'll get back to it later this week when we've all recuperated.  :-)

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    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Strawberry Tossed Salad

    This is all that was left of a giant bowl of salad after a recent potluck...
    Before I moved to Kentucky, I went to grad school in North Carolina.  While there, I made lots of amazing friends, and one in particular loved to cook.  She always brought the most amazing goodies to gatherings, but her Strawberry Tossed Salad was my hands-down favorite.  It's fresh and sweet and crunchy and just plain ol' good at the same time.  And Lara was generous enough to share the recipe with me before I moved here.  This is extremely lucky for me since every spring I start dreaming about this salad...  :-)  Go make it yourself before strawberries are out of season!

    (Lara recently started her own food, culture and art blog over at Durham Food & Art, so go check her out!)  
    Strawberry Tossed Salad
    Serves a crowd

    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/3 cup red wine vinegar
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/4 tsp paprika

    12 cups greens of choice (I like fresh spinach--it holds up well to the dressing.)
    2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
    1 cup monterey jack cheese
    1 cup honey roasted cashews or sugared pecans

    Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk or in a jar with a lid and shake.  Let sit for at least an hour, but don't refrigerate it or the olive oil with harden.

    When ready to serve, toss all of the ingredients in a large bowl.  (Don't make the salad until you are ready to serve.  The cheese, strawberries and nuts get soggy fast.) 
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    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Moroccan Carrots

    When I made the lamb tagine for Easter, I misread the recipe and thought that carrots would be in the stew.  I realized this mistake once the stew was already on the stove, and since fennel was the only real vegetable in the tagine, I really wanted those carrots somewhere.  I quickly googled for Moroccan carrots and found this simple recipe on Epicurious.  Thank goodness!  They were quick, simple, and flavorful.  The spices worked well with the simplicity of the tagine, and everyone loved them, including my little guy!

    These were best after sitting for a little while.  I made them about an hour in advance, but after reading reviews, a lot of people recommended waiting at least two hours.  I think next time I might cut back slightly on the oil, but the recipe below reflects the original measurements.  This served our small family, so double this if you are serving larger appetites.
    Moroccan Carrots
    Adapted slightly from Epicurious
    Serves 4

    1/2 lb carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/4-inch thick rounds
    1 small clove garlic, minced
    1 1/2 Tbl olive oil
    1/4 tsp ground cumin
    1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp sugar
    Pinch of cayenne
    2 tsp fresh lemon juice
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Steam the carrots for about 3-4 minutes, or until they are just beginning to become tender.  In a skillet, heat the olive oil in moderately low heat and add the garlic, stirring for about 1 minute.  Add the cumin, cinnamon, sugar, cayenne and carrots and saute for about one minute or until the carrots are well-coated with the spice mixture.  Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer the carrots to a bowl and let come to room temperature.
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