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!

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!

savoring summer

Summer always means fresh pesto sauce. And fresh pesto is totally easy to make.

All it is is olive oil, huge bunches of fresh basil, salt to taste, fresh garlic cloves, a pinch of thyme, a sweet onion, a dash or two of balsamic vinegar,and a red bell pepper if you have one laying around.

Today I probably used about a cup and a half of olive oil. I easily used four cups of fresh basil because my plants need it to be pruned.

You blend it all together in a food processor or blender and you let it sit in the refrigerator to chill so the flavors meld. When you go to heat it up with pasta you can add pine nuts and grated fresh Parmesan cheese. I also like to sauté chicken tenders and add that to a pesto and pasta dish.

People also use pesto sauce in vegetable soups like tomato in particular. Some people also like to add anchovies and sun-dried tomatoes, but I don't really care for that taste combination with pesto sauces .

Often homemade pesto will not be as thick and gummy as store-bought pesto sauces but those sauces have thickeners and / or preservatives in them. I love homemade pesto sauce, store-bought not so much.

I will also note that I saw the "West Chester Food Co-Op" is advertising a Gazpacho Adaluz (I put them in air quotes because they aren't a real bricks and mortar store they are just a booth I don't understand at the West Chester Growers Market. ) So I thought I would remind my dear readers that I shared such a recipe with you five years ago. It is called Kendall's Gazpacho as it is named after my late mother in law who bought the recipe back from Spain many decades ago.

Click here for the recipe to Kendall's Gazpacho. and the photo you see below is a batch of the gazpacho I made recently. The color of the soup is determined by the color of your vegetables. So when I use green bell pepper it stays green. When I use an orange or red bell pepper, the soup takes a red or orange hue. This is different from other gazpachos and doesn't actually have as many tomatoes as you would put in one of those.

Anyway I hope you make yourselves a batch of pesto and/or gazpacho before the end of the summer. The flavors of fresh vegetables this time of year can't be beat!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen.

summer recipe back to basics: purple coleslaw


I have been remiss. I haven’t blogged any recipes lately. This evening for dinner we were grilling marinated chicken thighs and my neighbor had given me a beautiful head of purple cabbage so I decided to make coleslaw.

Here is the recipe:

Purple Cabbage Coleslaw

Ingredients

4 cups grated purple cabbage 

1 cup grated carrots

1/2 grated large vidalia onion 

6 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard

5 tablespoons organic cane sugar (Turbinado)

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar 

2 tablespoons fresh minced dill

Freshly ground salt pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Directions

I read somewhere once that purple cabbage is really good for you. A super food full of antibiotics, vitamins, fiber, and other good stuff. I think it also makes a tastier coleslaw. I also add vidalia onion to my coleslaw and fresh dill to the dressing, which I think keeps it fresh and different.

First finely grate cabbage, carrots, and onion. My “Pro Tip” here is I put these vegetables into a fine mesh strainer after grating and set them over a bowl and press gently for some of the extra liquid to drain out.

Mix the cider vinegar, sugar, cumin together. Unless you want a grainy dressing, make sure the sugar is fully dissolved before proceeding and adding the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, olive oil, and fresh dill. Whisk the dressing together briskly and refrigerate for a few minutes.

Next put your veggies in a clean bowl and pour the dressing on top of it. Mix well and then use a little spoon to taste and adjust for salt and pepper as needed. I like fresh ground pepper in coleslaw.

Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Enjoy!

brandywine in black is april 2nd!

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Time to get out those picnic baskets and find the perfect black black tie outfit! It is time for Brandywine in Black!!!

Fabulous and fun doesn’t even begin to describe it!

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Ok so the details: guests wear black and pack picnic baskets and coolers with their favorite foods and drinks, along with table settings  (don’t forget the candles and flowers!) and go to a fabulous Brandywine Valley location, which is kept secret until the day before the event.  There is dinner, dancing, and prizes for best tables. 10897956_1534592770140358_3460803892338082119_n

It’s an indoor pop up event…In black….in black tie and this year the accent color is yellow, but be careful lest you end up a bumble bee!

There are so many black tie events that are ho hum. This is not one of them. This is a wonderful group of people who are as nice as they are elegantly dressed.

So this year’s event:

Brandywine In Black 2016
Welcome to the Third Annual Brandywine In Black – the Brandywine Valley’s most sought after Pop-Up BYO dinner every year as Spring commences.

This year’s event will be held on Saturday, April 2 beginning at 6pm and ending promptly at 11pm. In keeping things ‘secret’ we’ll announce the location of the event on the morning of Friday, April 1. The event will be indoors.

We’re very excited about this year’s event and spectacular venue but most important our beneficiary organization.

10985616_1534593863473582_3655846880359217771_nThis year’s beneficiary is The Young Friends of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. We’re happy to support this local group promoting our open spaces, conservation and an appreciation for the local arts. The group holds several functions each year reaching out into the community to raise funds for various operating programs. You can learn more at http://www.youngfriends.org.

Also this year, we’ve expanded our ticket capacity. 10985616_1534591926807109_8366187536680059867_nAnd, although the dominant color is Black, this year we’ve added the accent color “Yellow” commensurate with Spring. Last, additions to the Silent Auction will bring some exciting new items for individuals and families.

Stay tuned to our Facebook Page for more information and future announcements!

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Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets. Put together a table or join the community table! I suggest if you put together your own table add the extra service table. And it’s not paper plates and plastic glasses, either. Much like Brandywine in White and Diner en Blanc, it’s fine table linens and real dishes, glasses, and decor. The top secret location will be revealed to event subscribers April 1st!

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This is one event you will love.  The photos seen in this post have been graciously provided by the fine folks at Brandywine in Black/Brandywine in White.

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when life gives you LOTS of apples…make apple cake

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Fall means a bounty of fresh apples. Fall also means apple cake. So I made one today. I did not give it enough minutes to cool, so I did have to put the cake back together ever so slightly.  It happens. Still looks delicious and will taste even better.

Here is how I made it:

 

    • 6 cups peeled thinly sliced apples (today I used giant Golden delicious from IMG_4357a friend’s tree)
    • ¾ cup turbinado or white sugar
    • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon cardamom
    • 3 cups flour
    • 1 hearty tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 cup light brown sugarIMG_4356
    • 1 cup oil
    • 1/2 cup orange juice
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • 1 cup pecan pieces
    • 2/3 cup seedless black raisins
    • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

How to mix up and bake:

  1. Mix apple slices with cinnamon and ¾ cup turbinado or white sugar and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in a bowl and put to side.
  2. Combine dry ingredients including nutmeg and cardamom in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Beat eggs with 1 1/2 light brown sugar.
  4. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the oil to the wet ingredients, then add theIMG_4358 orange juice and lastly the vanilla and beat for 1 minute. (batter will be rather thick)
  5. Pour 1/3rd of the batter into a greased and floured tube or Bundt pan
  6. Layer  1/3rd of the apple slices, raisins, and nuts over the batter.
  7. Repeat with layer of batter, then apples, raisins, and nuts, then batter, then final layer of apples, raisins, and nuts.
  8. Drizzle the cake with a bit of the remaining cinnamon-sugar goop from the apple bowl.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and about 20 minutes or until tester comes out  clean.
  10. Allow cake to cool in pan on wire rack for 25 – 35 minutes, then turn cake out onto wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Dust top with confectioner’s sugar

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easy summer entertaining

  Entertaining in the summer is so easy and fun! Fresh fruit and vegetables and flowers are so readily available and it is easy to be casual.

I am not for the paper plates and plastic cup casual, though. I like to make things look nice for my guests.

Last night was one of those nights. We got together with some of our favorite friends from high school and we don’t get together as often as we should and I wanted it to be special. 

  I did my table in my vintage finds that were season appropriate- Fiestaware and a cool Vera tablecloth.

I served summer food with my culinary twists. Started with a real gooey traditional French Brie with fresh strawberries on the side as well as crackers. Melon wrapped in prosciutto but not just cantelope, a lucious canary melon too.  And a super fresh caprese salad with my own garden basil. 

  For dinner, sweet cornbread muffins with dill, chili powder, and cinnamon. Chuck roast I had marinated for two days and roasted (they were supposed to be for the grill but Mother Nature changed the weather up). The roast was tender and flavorful!  

  We finished with a seasonal greens salad topped with sliced thin rings of lolipop scallions, Mert’s Nuts (the salad crumbles), goat cheese crumbles and a simple mustard vinegarette. Dessert was a triple berry trifle with three layers of pudding (lemon, coconut, white chocolate) and cookies my friend brought from Isgros.

  And on a whim along with some lovely French Rosés I served prosecco. The food was fresh and simple and the table seasonally festive. I did it buffet style so my guests could mingle and eat what they chose while catching up.

   

 Best of all it was just one of those fun evenings where it all felt like it was only five minutes long! Good friends, good food, good conversation and fun! 

Thanks for stopping by!