Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Sunday, January 30, 2011

French Ham, Cheese and Egg Crepes

One of my favorite food memories of David's and my honeymoon (almost 20 years ago) in Paris is the street vendors' handmade crepes with ham, cheese and sometimes egg....They were the best!  AND there's nothing like eating a crepe while walking the streets of France with the one you love most....truly heaven on earth!  The street crepes, while sweet options were available, our favorite were their savory incarnations.  One might assume the fillings would be added after the crepe was cooked. Instead, they were cooked right on  the crepe itself...even the egg! 

To make these crepes, you need a large frying pan, preferably one that’s about 12-inches across. I used deli sliced ham and Swiss cheese for these.  Havarti and Swiss are my two favorite cheeses for these, but feel free to use your favorite sliced or shredded cheese. The amounts given below are just suggestions, as I tend to eyeball the amount of cheese I’m using. No matter how you tweak the filling, you’ll end up with a great-tasting crepe. The batter can me made in advance and will keep well in the fridge for about 2 days, as long as you give it a stir before using. Or again, I made it easy on myself and used the ready made crepes I found in the produce section of our grocery store.  Bon Appetit!

French Ham, Cheese and Egg Crepes

1 1/3 cups milk (I use low fat)
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk until very smooth. This can also be done in a food processor. Set batter aside to rest for about 15 minutes before using. Batter can also be covered and refrigerated for up to two days.

For Filling, per crepe:

1 large egg
approx. 2-oz Havarti or Swiss cheese
approx. 1 or 2-oz Ham

Add some butter or nonstick spray to a large frying pan (about 12-inches) and heat over high heat. Pour about 1/3 cup crepe batter into the pan and tilt the pan to swirl it around and coat it with a single, even layer. Once the first side cooks, flip the crepe and crack an egg right on top.

Use a fork to gently break the egg yolk, give the egg a gentle whisk and spread it evenly all over the crepe. If you’re worried about hitting the crepe during this step, you can scramble the egg in a bowl and pour it into the center of the crepe, the spread it around. Allow crepe to continue cooking until egg is set. Season with pepper, if desired.

Spread a layer of cheese over half of the crepe. Allow it to melt for about 30-60 seconds.

Add a layer of ham on top of the cheese. You can use either a single layer of ham or pile up two thin layers.

Fold crepes in half, covering the ham and cheese side of the crepe with the side that only has egg on it. Fold crepe in half again, making a finished crepe that is 1/4 circle in area and packed with many layers of crepe, cheese, ham and egg.

Serve immediately, either on a plate or wrapped up in a couple of paper towels if you want to brave the hot cheese and eat it “street-style: and start on a second. Skillet heat may need to be lowered slightly for subsequent crepes, but crepes should be nicely browned when finished.

Makes 6 large crepes (8 if using a smaller pan)

Chicken in Wine Sauce or Coq Au Vin

I've been on a bit of a French food kick lately.  I especially love slow cooked meals on cold days.  This recipe is a classic and is perfect to slow cook in the crock-pot, stove-top or oven.

2 - 3 medium russet potatoes, cut into big chunks (you can use red potatoes also)
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, sliced
3  lbs chicken thighs or drumsticks, skinned
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 bay leaf

2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
6 Tbsp. butter or margarine
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Snipped fresh thyme (optional)

In a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker place potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion. Place chicken pieces on top of vegetables. Sprinkle with parsley, salt, rosemary, thyme, pepper, and garlic; add broth and wine.  Submerge the bay leaf in the liquid.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 9 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 4 1/2 hours. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving platter; cover with foil to keep warm.

For gravy, skim fat from cooking juices; strain juices. In a large saucepan melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add cooking juices slowly, minus about a cup so the gravy isn't too thin. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. If desired, sprinkle chicken and vegetables with snipped thyme. Pass gravy with the chicken and vegetables. Makes 6 (3 1/2 ounces cooked meat, 1/3 cup gravy, and 3/4 cup vegetables servings.

Savory Crepes with Creamy Chicken, Ham and Mushroom Filling

This is a fabulously rich dish and with a slight hint of tarragon the sauce is creamy and flavorful.  Topping with Parmesan cheese adds a nice light crust.  Instead of making homemade crepes I made it easier on myself and used already made that I found in the produce department by the berries.  This recipe would be great for a dinner party because you can prepare and stuff the crepes ahead of time and place covered in the frig until you are ready to cook.  Also, you can substitute the ham with spinach to put a spin on the dish.

12 crepes, recipe follows
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, hot
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon milk
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Essence, recipe follows
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
8 ounces mushrooms (such as button and shiitake), stems trimmed, wiped clean, and roughly chopped
1/4 pound baked ham, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 cup grated Gruyere
3/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a glass 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened into a pale blond roux, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the hot stock in a steady stream, whisking to incorporate. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently with a heavy wooden spoon until thick. Add 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper, and stir to incorporate. Slowly whisk in the cream and simmer, stirring, until well incorporated and thickened. Remove from the heat and very lightly film the top with the milk to prevent a skin from forming.

In a large saute pan or skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the diced chicken, season lightly with Essence, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. To the fat and juices in the pan add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring, until they have given off their water and are starting to color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ham and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the sherry and bring to a boil, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add the tarragon and green onions, and return the chicken to the pan. Stir well to blend and cook until the sherry has evaporated. Reduce the heat to low and stir in enough of the cream sauce to bind and thicken, 1 to 1 1/2 cups. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Place the crepes on a work surface. One at a time, spoon the filling along the bottom third of each crepe, about 3 tablespoons per crepe, and roll into a cylinder to enclose the filling. Place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining crepes.

To the remaining cream sauce, add the Gruyere and stir to incorporate. Spoon the sauce evenly over the crepes. (NOTE: The crepes can be tightly covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1 day or frozen for 3 days at this point. Bring to room temperature before baking.)

Bake until warmed through and the top starts to become bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the Parmesan. Bake until the cheese is melted and the topping is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place in a chafing dish holder or on trivets. Serve hot, 1 to 2 crepes per person.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Clam Chowder Served in a Sourdough Bread Bowl

Well, it was another cloudy and cold day here in Dallas on Sunday, so David and I decided to make a hearty soup and Caesar salad for dinner.

Absolutely delicious although we prefer the New England version of clam chowder, this still was quite tasty.  This dish takes a little time to prepare, but is worth the effort.  This recipe came from the McCormick & Schmick Cookbook, so this is more a Seattle-style recipe.  I will post a New England Clam Chowder soon.

2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
4 strips bacon, chopped and fried
4 T margarine
¾ cup flour
¼ cup each carrots, onions, celery and bell pepper – all diced
1 quart water
1, 8-oz. bottle clam juice
1-1/2 lbs. canned or fresh clams, diced
1-1/2 lbs. canned or fresh baby shrimp
1 cup cream
½ tsp fresh thyme, chopped
¼ tsp sage
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp salt

mini sourdough bread rounds
oyster or saltine crackers to serve with the chowder.

Blanch potatoes until barely tender, just a few minutes. Rinse under cold water, drain and set aside. Saute bacon, drain and set aside. Return bacon grease to pot and half of the margarine. Add flour and cook roux on low heat 3-4 min. Remove roux from pot and set aside. Add rest of margarine to pot and saute vegetables until soft. Return roux to pot, add water and clam juice. Raise heat to high and cook 6-8 min until thick. Add clams, bacon, potatoes, seasoning and cream. Simmer 5 min.

Cut the top 1/3 off the sourdough rounds and reserve for croutons. Hollow out the remaining bread round, leaving about 1-inch around the sides, and 1-1/2 to 2 inches on the bottom. Save 3 cups of the inside portion of the bread, chopped, for the soup. Set aside.

Cut the reserved top 1/3 portion of the bread rounds into a small dice, enough to equal 2 cups chopped. Place the bacon in a medium skillet over medium-low heat and cook until the bacon is browned and crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside for a garnish. Increase the heat to medium and add the 2 cups of diced bread. Cook, stirring, until the bread is golden and toasted, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to use as a garnish with the soup.

Place the hollowed out bread rounds onto plates and ladle the chowder into the hollowed out portion. Garnish the chowder with the toasted sourdough croutons, and the bacon. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

La Madeline's Country Potato Soup

La Madeleine’s Country Potato Soup is a wonderfully creamy and rich potato soup. This recipe is from Executive Chef Remy Schaal of la Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe. Founded in Dallas in 1983, la Madeleine has many neighborhood cafes and bakeries in five states and Washington, D.C. This is excellent potato soup and one of Avery and Cassidy's favorites.

1/8 cup unsalted butter
2 leeks, thinly sliced (white part only)
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1-1/2 qt. chicken stock
4 large peeled potatoes, sliced evenly in 1/4 inch slices
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bacon cooked and diced
salt to taste

In a large saucepan, add butter, leeks and onions, and cook. (Do not brown vegetables.) Add chicken stock, potatoes, salt and fresh thyme. Cook for 40 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Add cream, bring to a boil and serve hot. Garnish with Cheddar cheese and diced bacon.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Scrapple with Homemade Fresh Pork Sausage in Honor of David's Grandpop


This recipe is in honor of David's Grandpop, Sara's Dad, Dick Moffitt.  For the last 25 years David's mentioned from time to time how his Grandpop would make them scrapple for breakfast when they'd go to visit him on the Chesapeake Bay.  When I ran across this recipe I had to make it for David to take him back to his early, cherished days he spent with his beloved Grandpop. 

When preparing this recipe for the first time I will admit, I wasn't that crazy about the smell, until I started the frying process.  It certainly isn't an eye pleasing dish at first either, the kids weren't too sure about this recipe, but ultimately they liked it.  It definitely is an interesting technique and will take some perfecting.  I couldn't find pork broth so I substituted that with beef broth.  Also, it's important that the sausage not be too chunky when you combine the sausage with the cornmeal mixture or the scrapple will fall apart when you go to slice it.  I think in order to get to the desired crispiness, the thinner your slices are the better.

To prepare scrapple you will need an 8 cup bread loaf pan and a board or plate that will fit into it and various items for weighting down scrapple after baking.  I used a loaf pan that was a tad smaller than the pan I used for the scrapple and a 5 lb. weight fit perfectly inside.

Traditional farm scrapple is made, literally from pork scraps and bones that are boiled up together for 2 hours or so with herbs and aromatic vegetables - carrots, onions, celery.  The meat adhering to the bones is then scraped off and chopped, along with the other pork meat scraps.  The cooking broth is strained and boiled up with the cornmeal, then the two are combined, and that is the scrapple.  We prefer using a good quality pork sausage instead of pork scraps.

4 cups pork sausage meat, preferably homemade (see recipe following)
4 cups pork stock or other flavorful meat stock in a 3-quart saucepan with heavy bottom
1 TBSP or more of fragrant sage leaves
1 cup yellow cornmeal, stone ground preferred
1/2 cup cold water
3 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute' sausage meat in a large frying pan until it turns from pink to gray, breaking it up with a fork as you do so - 5 minutes or more.  Drain in a sieve set over a bowl, and reserve  fat - which may be used for sauteing finished scrapple later.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil, adding sage to taste.  Mix cornmeal with cold water in a bowl, then whisk in a cupful of the hot stock.  Return cornmeal to stock, bring to a boil whisking slowly, and cook for 5 minutes or more until mixture is thick, like cornmeal mush.  Cover pan, set in a larger pan of simmering water, and cook for 30 minutes.  Remove from pan of hot water and boil over moderately high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until cornmeal is thick and heavy and holds it's shape in a spoon - the thicker the better, so that it will unmold and slice easily later.

Beat the cooked and drained sausage meat into the cornmeal, breaking it up so that it will blend nicely, and boil, stirring and beating 3 to 4 minutes.  Beat in the eggs.  Taste carefully for seasoning: scrapple is traditionally fragrant with sage and highly seasoned.

Butter an 8 cup loaf pan, line bottom of pan with wax paper, and then turn the cornmeal mixture into it.  Cover with wax paper and aluminum foil and bake for an hour or more in a preheated, 350 degree oven, until mixture has swelled and is bubbling hot.

Remove from oven, place a board on top of the scrapple (over the wax paper an foil) and a 5 lb weight (canned goods, meat grinder etc), and let cool.  When cold, remove weight and board, cover airtight and chill.

Once baked in its pan, scrapple will keep for at least 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.  It can be frozen; however, pork products tend to lose texture and savor after 2 months or so in the freezer.

To serve, run a knife around inside of mold on top of stove to heat and loosen bottom; unmold onto a cutting board.  Slice into serving pieces about 3/8 inch thick.  Dredge lightly in cornmeal, and brown on both sides in rendered sausage fat and/or butter.

Serve for breakfast with fried or poached eggs, or fried apple slices; or use as a dinner meat, accompanying the scrapple with green vegetables such as broccoli or cabbage, or a green salad or cole slaw.

Homemade Fresh Pork Sausage

8 cups fresh ground pork - including 2 - 3 cups fresh pork fat or blanched salt pok fat - from shoulder, rib or loin
1 TBSP salt
1 TBSP sage
1 tsp mace
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1 tsp paprika
4 - 5 TBSP white wine or vermouth
Optional other herbs: thyme, allspice

Grind pork not too fine in meat grinder or processor, beating in seasonings and wine or vermouth (to lighten the mixture).  Saute' a spoonful and taste, then correct seasonings as you feel necessary.

This is best made a day ahead, so that the flavoring will have time to blend with the meat.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slow Cooker Char Siu Pork Roast

There's nothing better on a cold day than preparing dinner early and slow cooking our meal with my crock pot, filling the house with all kinds of wonderfully fragrant aromas and tempting the family's palette for hours on end.  It was well worth the wait too.

In this recipe for Char Siu, the Chinese version of barbecue, the pork is cooked in the slow cooker for an extra tender, juicy, and stress-free meal. I served this with long-grain white rice and a stir-fried medley of red and yellow bell peppers, carrots and snow peas.  This will make excellent leftover brisket-style tacos or pulled pork sandwiches, perfect for a day full of football.

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
3/8 cup ketchup
3/8 cup honey
4 tsp minced garlic
4 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp five-spice powder
2 - 4 lbs  boneless Boston butt pork roast or pork shoulder roast, trimmed
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Place in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add pork to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours, turning occasionally.

Place pork and marinade in a slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove pork from slow cooker using a slotted spoon; place on a cutting board or work surface. Cover with aluminum foil; keep warm.

Add broth to sauce in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Shred pork with 2 forks; serve with sauce over white rice.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mamaw's Cream of Mushroom Chicken

Here's a twist on one of my Mom's recipes.  I usually serve this with long grain and wild rice and steamed asparagus or spinach.  You also have to have plenty of bread to dip in the delicious, creamy sauce.  Makes great leftovers.  This is one of Avery and my favorites!

2 - 3 lbs chicken breast, skinned
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 cup red onion or shallots, chopped
3 TBSP butter
1/4 cup red wine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pint sour cream

In a skillet melt butter over medium-high heat.  Once butter has melted saute' the mushrooms and onions for 1 or 2 minutes.  Then add the red wine.  Continue sauteing until the onions get close to being translucent; remove from heat.  Mix in the soup and sour cream.  Pour mixture over chicken that's been placed in a casserole dish.  Cover with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 - 1/2 hours.  Cook covered except for the last 15 minutes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shiner Bock Braised Short Ribs with Mascarpone Polenta & Brussel Sprout Leaves

This recipe is courtesy of our newest, favorite restaurant, Bolsa located in Oak Cliff.  David and I've had some of our best and most memorable meals at Bolsa.  I was never a fan of brussel sprouts until I ate them at Bolsa with mashed potatoes and a medium-rare beef filet....It was all truly to die for!  I've been obsessed with brussel sprouts ever since.  My kids think I've lost my mind, but what else is new.  =)

Shiner Bock Braised Short Ribs with Mascarpone Polenta & Brussels Sprout Leaves

Ingredients for Short Ribs:

4 bone-in beef short ribs
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped
4 bay leaves
2 heads garlic, cut in half
10 sprigs thyme
2 qts. Shiner Bock beer
2 qts. chicken stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
kosher salt and olive oil as needed

Method for Short Ribs:

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
2. Season short ribs generously with salt. Heat a large saute pan with oil and sear the short ribs on all sides until browned.
3. Remove short ribs and place them in a braising pot or casserole dish.
4. Sweat onion, celery, carrot and fennel. Add remaining ingredients with the short ribs and bring to a simmer.
5. Cover with parchment paper and foil and cook in the oven for 6 hours.

Ingredients for polenta:

1 cup medium grain polenta
2 cups cream
2 cups chicken stock
salt to taste

1/4 - 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

Method for Polenta:

1. In a pot, bring chicken stock and cream to a boil. Once boiling, add polenta and whisk into hot liquid. Turn the heat down to low, season with salt to taste.
2. Stir occasionally until it thickens, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mascarpone cheese.
Ingredients for Brussels Sprouts:
1 lb. brussels sprouts
salt and butter to taste
oil as needed

Method for Brussels Sprouts:

1. Cut ends off brussels sprouts and remove outer leaves. Reserve the inside hearts for another use.
2. Heat saute pan and add oil. Once it begins to slightly smoke add brussels sprout leavescareful, they will pop. Season with salt & butter.
1. Remove short ribs from oven when ready. Gently remove from braising liquid. Strain the liquid into a large pot, strain; reduce by ½, for thicker sauce.
2. Glaze the short ribs in a pan with the sauce, Serve on top of polenta, Pour the sauce over the top and finish with the brussels sprout leaves.

Moules Marinere or Steamed Mussels

The kids and David were off for Martin Luther King holiday, so we decided to prepare a French bistro-style lunch.  The menu included steamed mussels that Dylan, in particular has been begging us to prepare ever since he experienced steamed Prince Edward Island mussels for the first time at one of our favorite restaurants in Oak Cliff, Bolsa.  In addition to the steamed mussels we prepared a cheesy French onion soup and of course you've got to have some crusty, French bread to soak up all the flavorful juices from the mussels and the satisfying soup....YUM!!

Quantity note: for the average-sized mussels commercially sold, you can figure that 1 quart equals 1-1/2 pounds equals 25 mussels in the shell equals 1 cup mussel meat.

Preparing mussels for cooking:

Mussels are perishable and you should plan to cook them as soon as possible after buying them.  First, wash the mussels.  Then, with a short, stout knife, scrape off any seaweed, barnacles and pull off their wispy beards.  Discard any mussels that do not quickly close when tapped, any mussels with cracked or broken shells, any that feel unduly light (they may be empty), or any that feel unusually heavy (they may be full of sand).

Soak the mussels in a bowl of cold water, swishing and knocking them around with your hands for a few seconds, and let them sit for 5 minutes.  Lift them out, and if there is any sand at the bottom of the bowl, rinse out and repeat the process, doing so several times if need be.  Since there's nothing worse than sandy mussels, there's also a final step you can take:  Put 4 or 5 TBSP of flour in the bottom of a bowl, blend it with cold water, than fill the bowl with 4 quarts or so of cold water, add the mussels, swish about again, and let them sit for 15 - 20 minutes - the theory being that they eat the flour and while doing so disgorge the rest of their sand.  I'm sorry to report that despite all you can do, you will once in a while run into a batch of mussels that are gritty.  

Mussels should be served as soon as they are cooked;  they will toughen and dry out if you attempt to keep them warm.  However, this recipe is a starting point for many other delicious preparations.

5 - 6 lbs. mussels
3 - 4 TBSP butter
1 cup onion, minced
3 - 4 TBSP shallots, minced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
A large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
About 2 cups dry white wine or dry French vermouth

Prepare the mussels as described above.  A few minutes before serving time, melt the butter in a large soup pot with lid; stir in the onion, shallots and garlic and cook slowly for 4 or 5 minutes, until wilted.  Then add the parsley and the mussels; cover pot and shake to mix mussels with the rest of the ingredients.  Pour in the wine or vermouth and shake again.  Turn heat to high, cover pot tightly and let steam for 3 to 4 minutes (do not shake again or you may toss sand back into the mussels), until the mussels are open.  As soon as they open they are done.

Dip the mussels, shells and all, into a big serving bowl or into individual soup bowls.  Let liquid settle for a minute in the pot, then pour liquid and spoon onion and parsley, over mussels, being careful not to add any sand that may have settled in the bottom of the pot.

To eat mussels:

The best method is to use a tiny fork, plucking the mussels out of their shells.  I leave a big bowl to use to discard all of the shells.  

Hearty, Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

I've previously posted another beef stew recipe, but I like this one better.  Browning the beef in bacon fat and adding lots of vegetables to the pot add a wonderful layer of flavor.  The fresh thyme and rosemary help create a tasty and savory gravy.  This recipe is perfect for a cold winter's night.  I served this with a nice crusty bread, a simple salad and a glass of Merlot for David and me.

To change the recipe up a bit you can substitute 1-1/2 cups hearty red wine, such as Syrah or Zinfandel, for an equal amount of the beef stock.  Also, if you like, saute' 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered, in 2 TBSP olive oil over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes, and add them to the stew with the potatoes.

3 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
4 thick slices of Applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
2 TBSP Canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly grounded pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, cut into chunks
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 TBSP unsalted butter
6 TBSP all-purpose flour
4 cups beef stock
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 tsp each of thyme and rosemary. minced
1 bay leaf
2 - 3 russet potatoes

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and browned, about 7 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside.  Pour the fat into a heatproof bowl.  Return 2 TBSP of the fat to the pot and heat over medium-high heat.  Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper.  In batches to avoid crowding, add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch.  Transfer the beef to a plate.

Add another 2 TBSP of the fat to the pot and heat over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the butter and let it melt.  Sparingly sprinkle with the flour and stir well.  Gradually stir in the stock, and then stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, the 1 TBSP parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf.  Return the beef to the pot and bring to a boil.  Cover, place in the oven, and cook for 1-1/2 hours.

Cut the peeled potatoes into 1 inch cubes, add them to the pot, stir, re-cover, and continue cooking until both the meat and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes more.  Season the stew with salt and pepper.  Serve at once, garnish with parsley and the reserved bacon.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  I've not been blogging any recipes, because my camera was on the blink and before I knew it the holidays were upon us and it got crazy busy.  Now, I'm back and rarin' to start cooking and blogging again.  =)

In making the pot pie, instead of preparing individual servings in ramekins I assembled the pie in a casserole dish.  Also, I made this recipe with a rotisserie chicken and I used store-bought rolled-up pie crusts.  I used 1 layer of dough for a bottom crust in addition to the crust on top.  This dish turned out really good with a creamy sauce, a flaky crust and the tarragon added a wonderful touch of flavor.  I would recommend this recipe to satisfy any comfort food cravings you might have.  

The filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 8 hours before assembling and baking.  Also, you can freeze the uncooked pies in the freezer for up to 6 months.  

To put a different spin on this recipe you could top the pie with biscuit dough in place of the pastry dough.  Roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick, then cut out rounds to fit just inside the rim of each ramekin.  Bake at 400 degrees until the biscuit topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

6 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 lbs button mushrooms, quartered
1 cup leeks, white and pale green parts, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, finely diced
1/2 cup peas, fresh or thawed frozen
1/3 cup plus 1 TBSP all-purpose flour
4 - 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup dry sherry
2 tsp fresh tarragon, minced
4 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 sheets of pie dough
1 large egg

To make the sauce and vegetables, in a large frying pan, melt 1 TBSP of the butter over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the begin to brown, about 6 minutes.  Stir in the leeks and carrots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the peas.

In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 5 TBSP butter over medium-low heat.  Whisk in the flour and let bubble gently for 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in the stock and sherry and then the tarragon.  Bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Stir in the shredded chicken and the mushroom-leek mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Let cool until lukewarm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spoon the chicken mixture into six 1-1/2 cup ovenproof soup crocks or ramekins.

Place the unwrapped dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with four.  If the dough is chilled hard, let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes until it begins to soften before rolling it out.  Roll it out into a rectangle about 20 by 13 inches and 1/8 inch thick.  Using a 6-inch saucer as a template, use a knife to cut out 6 rounds.  Beat the egg with a pinch of salt.  Lightly brush each round with the egg.  Place 1 round, egg side down, over each ramekin, keeping the pastry taut and pressing it around the ramekin edges to adhere.  Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet.  Lightly brush the tops with the egg.  Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Transfer each ramekin to a dinner plate and serve.