mmmm, that smells good!

I have never had the flu eight or nine days before… before now, that is. And I have had enough chicken soup to cluck. And yes, I make my own soup and bone broth (thanks Instant Pot!) so I know what is in it. Needless to say, I have made a serious dent in my freezer soup supply.

I need to eat something different for dinner, so since the Giant Peapod delivery got through yesterday’s snow and this morning’s roads (yes I do treat myself to this once in a while, no judging), my version of beef stew/ boeuf bourguignon is in the oven now doing the low and slow for a couple of hours.

This recipe will probably seem a little disjointed to some because it’s more like a guide to creating your own version versus a hard and fast recipe that is written down with precise measurements. Sorry, but it’s like when I am making fresh pasta – the measurements of flour I use depends on how the dough feels to me as I put it together.

It’s not hard to make this. It’s a 2 lb pack of stew meat, veggies, one can of crushed tomatoes, half a container of cooking broth, wine, herbs, spices, garlic salt and pepper. I used Herbes de Provence primarily. The fresh vegetables I used this time were mushrooms, two onions (one red and one sweet white), parsnips, small red potatoes, carrots, celery.

I tossed the beef cubes in a bowl with Wondra flour (yes the stuff that is the trick to a less lumpy gravy is also tremendous when you need to toss meat or chicken in flour for browning), Herbes de Provence, garlic, and a little kosher salt.

For this recipe I brown the meat in a combination of olive oil with a little added walnut oil. You go lightly on the walnut oil or the taste will overwhelm your dish. It’s just a couple small dashes and it adds a different flavor layer when you’re cooking.

I browned the beef for like 10 minutes in my big vintage Dansk stew pot or Dutch oven whatever you want to call it, and then added herbs and spices. The additional spices I added included cumin, sweet Hungarian or Spanish paprika (I keep both in my spice rack so it really just depends which I grab at the time), fresh black pepper, a little additional dried rosemary, and a nice pinch of the red chili pepper blend I get from Los Poblanos in New Mexico.

Then I add the onions, followed by the celery, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms. I add a little more salt and pepper to the vegetables. Everything browns together for a little bit (like 10 more minutes) and then I add the tomatoes (1 28 ounce can of crushed) and a half of a bottle of wine. Only a couple of gifted and too upscale reds for stew were in the wine rack so today I used the Rioja Rose I keep in as a Sangria base. And a couple of dashes of Worcestershire Sauce. (I almost forgot!)

I let the alcohol cook off the wine slightly and then I added half a container of Swanson cooking broth. I also add a couple of pieces of orange peel (2″-3″ each- no white.)

I then turned off the stove and put into the pre-heated oven (covered and at 300°.)

It’s now in the oven for a couple of hours on a cook time timer which will shut the oven off completely when it hits two hours. This dish cooked covered in a slow oven, means flavors will meld together nicely.

I love stews and hearty soups in winter. Thanks for stopping by!

Biscotti Two Ways

Christmas always means biscotti, or should.  Only my inner Italian hadn’t made them in a few years. So, I decided to drag out my recipe and tweak it. Biscotti, also called cantuccini, are Italian biscuits that originated in Tuscany if memory serves (traditionally almond or anise) .

They are twice-baked, oblong,crunchy, and delizioso.  The word originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning “twice-cooked.” They are also so truly uncomplicated and simple to make that I reminded myself today I should make them more often.

I updated my recipe and tried a new twist.  I created Cranberry-Almond and Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti.  And yes they are that good.  I blame Ancestry.com for making me remember my Italians today!

Without further ado:

BISCOTTI TWO WAYS

BASE RECIPE:

8 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted

1  cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 large eggs

2 cups flour

Coarse sprinkling sugar (you know the sparkly fancy holiday stuff – Home Goods always has it!)

To turn them into Cranberry-Almond also add:

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon anisette or ½ teaspoon anise extract

To turn them into Chocolate-Pistachio also add:

1 teaspoon coffee extract

1/3 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa

3/4 cup chopped fine pistachios

4 oz (1/2 bag) Heath Toffee Bits

2 teaspoons cinnamon

How to mix it all together and bake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line pan with baking parchment paper or use silicone baking sheets (I use commercial sheet pans from Chicago Metallic with silicone liners I bought separately – I do NOT use dark pans they burn everything – aluminum – silver only.  Also known as Uncoated Large Jelly Roll Pan, 16-3/4 by 12-Inch)
  2. In a big bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, extracts, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed of your mixer, add the flour, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky.
  4. REFRIGERATE the dough a couple of hours wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. ( A lot of recipes and chefs say you do not have to, but I refrigerate a lot of my cookie doughs before dividing and baking.) Allow to warm up about 15 minutes before dividing and shaping.
  5. Plop the dough onto the baking sheet. Divide it in half with a knife(carefully, don’t mess up your silicone baking sheets, parchment paper, or pans), and shape it into two approximately 9 1/2″ x 2″ logs, about 3/4″ tall. Straighten the logs, and smooth their tops and sides- I use my fingers and the back of a wooden spoon. Sprinkle with sparkle sugar and press that in top
  6. Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven.
  7. Using a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water, lightly but thoroughly spritz the logs, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  8. Wait 5 minutes, then use a sharp serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 1/2″ to 3/4″ slices. Be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they’ll fall over during their second baking.
  9. Set the biscotti on edge on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes (NOTE: Chocolate ones took almost 32 minutes on the second bake), until they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden. They’ll continue to dry out as they cool.
  10. Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Store airtight at room temperature; they’ll stay good for weeks.

 

You will get about 30 biscotti a batch depending on size. Sometimes a couple less, sometimes a couple more.  Depends on the dough Lincoln logs.

Buon Natale!

 

deluxe pumpkin bread

Let the madness begin! Almost time for Thanksgiving! This morning I made the cranberry orange relish and this afternoon, pumpkin bread.

I somehow managed to pinch a nerve in my neck/shoulder so it has been slowwww going.

Here is the recipe for the pumpkin bread:

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon each ground nutmeg, cloves, cardamon

3 eggs

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup canola oil

2/3 cup white sugar

2/3 cup packed brown sugar – I prefer light

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup diced dried apricots

1/2 cup dark raisins

1/4 cup minced candied ginger

In one mixing bowl combine all the dried ingredients

In a second mixing bowl combine all the wet ingredients with the sugars.

When the wet ingredients and sugars are mixed, stir in the dry ingredients. Then fold in the nuts and dried fruit and candied ginger.

Pour into two greased and floured 8″ x 4″ loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes (or more- today my oven took 1 hour and 5 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

YUM!

swedish meatballs….my way

I love old school recipes.  One from my childhood is Swedish meatballs.  Not because we had any Swedish heritage – it was just one of those dishes my mother would make for us.  Over the years I have tweaked a basic recipe to suit me.

The weather has finally turned crisp and fall-like so I thought tonight would be a good night to dust off the recipe and prepare Swedish meatballs.  My recipe is NOT made with heavy cream and I add mushrooms and a couple of other herbs/spices. But the flavors work and you get that old school Swedish meatball flavor…enhanced.  Some add caraway seeds to either the gravy or meatballs, I add celery seed to the gravy

I also do something that I doubt anyone else does – I will prepare the meatball mix ahead of time the day I am cooking and refrigerate until it is time to make the meatballs.  That allows the spices to meld and perfume the meat mixture better.

Panko bread crumbs are superior to regular bread crumbs in my opinion, but the most important thing to remember is to use PLAIN breadcrumbs. This is not the recipe for flavored breadcrumbs.

Some use mashed potatoes, I like wide egg noodles.

I hope you enjoy my recipe if you try it. Watch the salt you add because of the sodium in most broths.

Swedish Meatballs My Way

  • 1 pound meatloaf mix
  • 1 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped x 2 or 1 cup
  • ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon White Pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • Splash of buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • 8 oz package baby bella mushrooms slices thin
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups beef broth or bison broth
  • 1 cup evaporated Vitamin D canned milk (also great for homemade macaroni and cheese) or half and half
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a medium sized bowl combine ground beef, panko, parsley, allspice, nutmeg, onion, garlic powder, white pepper, cumin, paprika, mustard powder, dash of buttermilk, salt and egg. Mix until combined. Put in refrigerator and chill a couple of   I do this because meat mixture flavor deepens.
  2. Roll into  20 + small meatballs. In a large dutch oven heat olive oil and 2 Tablespoons butter. Add the meatballs and cook turning continuously until brown on each side and cooked throughout. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.
  3. Quickly sauté ½ cup minced onion and baby bella mushrooms
  4. Add 4 Tablespoons butter and flour to skillet and whisk until it turns brown. Slowly stir in beef broth and milk. Add Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard and dill and bring to a simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a small dash of nutmeg (I mean small!) and celery seed.
  5. Add the meatballs back to the skillet and simmer for another few minutes. Serve over egg noodles or as the Brits call it, a “good mash” or plain mashed potatoes. I prefer egg noodles.

chutney!

One of the best smells in a fall kitchen is when you are making chutney. Chutney is sweet, pickley, and savory and it just has wonderful aromas.

For me, chutney is one of those kitchen sink kind of prospects as far as recipes. In other words, what I have available in my kitchen dictates what kind of chutney I make.

Today I made Apple – Tomato – Plum chutney. I had a bunch of beautiful fresh tomatoes that someone had gifted us that we were not going to eat before they got too soft, so I blanched all six of them in hot water to make it easy to remove the skins and then I chopped them up and threw them in the pot with:

  • Five medium apples peeled, cored ,and chopped
  • Six plums, mostly peeled and chopped
  • Four green tomatoes, chopped
  • One large red onion, chopped
  • One large sweet onion chopped
  • One red bell pepper, chopped
  • One poblano pepper seeded, de-veined and minced
  • Four jalapeño/Serano peppers seeded, de-veined and minced
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar and 1/2 cup white wine vinegar (I did not have any malt vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • Mustard seed, quatre epices, cinnamon, pickling salt (1 1/2 teaspoons), fresh cracked pepper, cumin, dill weed, curry powder.
  • 8 teaspoons honey

I cook everything in my Maslin pot. You bring everything up to almost a boil and then you reduce to simmer, and the chutney cooks down for an hour and a half to two hours – I just sort of eyeball it and I know when it’s the right consistency.

I have a vintage cookbook that I love that I use as a guide. Alison Burt’s Preserves and Pickles from 1974. I bought it at a church book sale years ago, but you can easily find copies on eBay and Amazon that are very inexpensive.

When the chutney reached its desired consistency for me, I jarred in sterilizesterilized jars and did the full immersion hot water bath for canning.

Right now my chutney is all beautiful and jewel toned and cooling on wooden cutting boards on my counter. When they are completely cool, I will tighten the lids on the jars and add the labels.

You can also make chutney that you do not put up that you just jar and refrigerate and it’s good for a few months that way.

Fall canning and preserving is so much easier than you think.

Try it!

simple summer salad

Simple summer salads are the best thing in the world. Produce is at it’s peak, herbs are fresh, and it doesn’t get better than that.

One of my favorite summer salads are fresh tomatoes, a cucumber, red onion, and a combination of Italian flat leaf parsley, fresh dill, Italian basil and a simple vinaigrette. If I have a sweet red bell pepper I will often add that as well.

To make the vinaigrette it is equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small canning jar. Add salt and pepper to taste, garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of sugar.

When I make vinaigrette for a mixed greens salad, I will add Dijon mustard to the above mix.

You can see the size I mean in the photo above. You will only use maybe 3 tablespoons of dressing on the salad, but save the rest for regular lettuce salads and just refrigerate.

Peel and cut your cucumber in half lengthwise. If it is not the English hot house burpless variety, remove the seeds.

Toss cucumber into the bowl.

Slice and rough chop fairly thin about half of a large red onion.

Add onion to the bowl.

Take your tomatoes, cut the core out, and slice into large bite-size pieces. Sort of small wedges. Small enough you don’t need to use a knife to cut your salad, but large enough that the tomato doesn’t disintegrate.

Chiffonade the basil leaves. In layman’s terms, that means gently roll up your basil leaves and create thin ribbons by cutting off “slices” of the rolled basil.

Rough chop the Italian flat leaf parsley, and do the same gently with the fresh dill.

Put all the herbs on top of the salad and give one light toss and then add literally 2 to 3 tablespoons of the salad dressing and mix gently and either serve or cover and refrigerate until serving.

And I almost forgot — fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste!

Leftovers are good for a day afterwards, provided you refrigerate.

This is a totally simple, easy to make salad, and it’s delicious! Thank you to my friend Sara for giving me vegetables from her garden. The herbs in the salad came out of my garden!

Bon appétit!

corn bread….with fresh corn 🌽

Corn Bread made with fresh corn.

Yum.

It’s an easy solution to not wasting corn on the cob that you may have cooked but not buttered and eaten. It also makes your cornbread not as dry as normal cornbread can be and adds a layer of flavor/texture.

It could not be simpler to make:

1 cup of white all purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal (Mine came from Anselma Mill)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

Dash of powdered ginger or cinnamon (but not together)

1 cup whole milk

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup melted butter with 2 tablespoons bacon grease

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup fresh sweet corn cooked and drained

** The wildcard if you want to spice it up is to mince one fresh jalapeño pepper and add it to the batter

Preheat oven to 400° F and really grease a 9″ x 9″ baking pan (I use butter.)

If your fresh cooked corn is still on the cob use a knife and take it off the cob. Let it sit in a strainer over a bowl so any additional liquid drains out.

Mix together all dry ingredients.

Stir in all wet ingredients.

Stir in fresh corn, and if you are using the wildcard minced jalapeño this is where you add that as well.

Do not over mix or your corn bread batter will be tough.

Before you add your batter to your pan put the greased pan in the oven for 2 or 3 minutes.

Pour batter into the pan, and bake at 400° F for 25 to 28 minutes.

It might be baked sooner — so you might want to check it with a toothpick or a skewer and see if it comes out clean from the center of the pan. I have gotten pretty good at eyeballing it over the years, so if the edge of the cornbread has kind of separated from the pan and it’s a nice goldeny color— it’s done.

Cool enough to serve warm, or eat at room temperature. Make sure you wrap leftovers tightly or it will dry out.

Enjoy!