Tag Archives: carrots

Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy

6 Nov
Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy

Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy

After we harvested the last of our ripe tomatoes before the first freeze hit, I decided to grab a bunch of the green tomatoes and hope for the best. These languished on the countertop for a couple of weeks as they slowly ripened. Yesterday I decided I better do something with the ones that finally ripened. Older tomatoes like this need to be cooked down, so slow-roasting them all day seemed the perfect way to spend my Sunday while binge-watching Chopped episodes. And it made the house smell divine!

While I used fresh tomatoes for half this recipe (I blanched and peeled them first), by all means use all canned tomatoes, and preferably San Marzano. Mine were fire-roasted but plain works equally as well. I had to add some additional water during the cooking since I didn’t have the canned juice to go with fresh tomatoes.

This recipe is halved, but by all means double it, as this tomato gravy can go with a multitude of dishes beyond pasta. We served it over rice with garlicky sauteed shrimp. I plan on poaching some eggs in the leftover sauce for a future meal. So rich and incredibly tasty!!

Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy
Adapted from Serious Eats/J. Kenji López-Alt

2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
8 baby carrots
1/2 medium onion, halved
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Fresh and Canned Peeled Tomatoes

Fresh and Canned Peeled Tomatoes

Lower rack in oven to bottom position and preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a large bowl, crush the tomatoes thoroughly with your hands. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the crushed tomatoes to a container and refrigerate until later.

Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a Dutch oven until butter is melted. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil, and cook for about two minutes until garlic is fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, carrots and onion until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.

Tomato Gravy Ready to Slow Cook

Tomato Gravy Ready to Slow Cook

Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar and place in preheated oven. Walk away and enjoy your day, coming back to stir about every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add a little water if needed throughout. The sauce should reduce by about half and darkened to a deep red, about 5 to 6 hours.

Remove from oven, then discard onion quarters and carrots. Add the reserved tomatoes and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately over pasta, rice or any which way you want. Leftovers can be refrigerated up to a week or frozen. Reheat from frozen with 1/2 cup water.

p.s. Austin Street Taco followers: I’ve closed my cart down now for the winter, but had a meeting today about a possible and exciting future venue next year! Stay tuned!

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The Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

19 Feb
Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

Hey wait a minute! Don’t click away just yet! I know the word Campbell’s and Experiment in the same line might lead you to run away in culinary terror, but this was a mission. A mission to replicate this red and white childhood favorite can of good ole’ American soup without all the nasties in it. Well, as many as I possibly could without compromising the original goal. I kind of crack myself up, as the tomato soup’s goal last week was to NOT taste like the canned version. No wonder my husband never understands me.

If you look up recipes for “copycat” Campbell’s bean with bacon soup, you will find in the recipe comments that many readers say it didn’t taste anything like the soup in the can. Then if you look at the ingredients they used, then the ingredients on the can, it’s no wonder.

Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup Ingredients

Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup Ingredients

I printed out the ingredients label and studied it to come up with a reasonable facsimile. Besides water, pea beans is the first ingredient. According to Wikipidia: “in the USA the name ‘pea bean’ is also used to describe small white common beans.” Well the beans from my local bulk food store section seemed to fit this perfectly, as the name on the bin was “small white beans.”

Tomato puree was a no-brainer, I used tomato paste and water. Bacon and carrots? Yep, I can do that. I skipped over all the unknown and nasty stuff, and then saw dehydrated onions. I had a whole spice jar of those! Most other recipes used fresh onion, in addition to celery and garlic. As much as I wanted to use all of those, I had to stick to my guns on this one.

Another thing unique to the canned variety is that the carrots and bacon are just wee bits in the soup, not huge chunks.

campbellscondensed-bean-with-bacon1

With that in mind, I pulsed both the carrots

Minced Carrots

Minced Carrots

and bacon into minced bits in my Ninja processor before cooking together. I didn’t bother rinsing the Ninja before adding the bacon.

Minced Bacon

Minced Bacon

Sugar is also mentioned twice, so decided to some add brown sugar too, but not too much.

My last dilemma was yeast extract (Marmite anyone?) and natural smoke flavoring. A bit of googling told me that soy sauce has the same umami and flavor profile as yeast extract. My bottle of liquid smoke wasn’t as “natural” in ingredients as I would have desired, but it was Stubb’s so I gave myself a pass on that. I left those out until all the other ingredients had a chance to meld in the slow cooker all day, then would do a taste test. Plus bacon has a smoky flavor, and I used ham stock instead of water, which also has a smoky flavoring. Time would tell.

The Results? Drum roll please…

Close — VERY close! The texture was not quite right as I should have removed some beans before pureeing the soup, but I was so excited to use my new immersion blender that I totally bypassed that step.

But when you crunchle in a bunch of saltine crackers, the texture doesn’t matter much at that point because the soup is Mmm, Mmm, Good!

Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

1 pound small dried white beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1 cup finely minced carrots
6 slices bacon, finely minced
2 tablespoons dehydrated minced onion
3 tablespoons tomato paste plus one cup water
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
4 cups homemade ham stock, or water
Low-sodium soy sauce, to taste
Stubb’s liquid smoke (or other brand), to taste

Cook the minced carrots and bacon together in a skillet over medium heat until the bacon starts to crisp, about 15 minutes. It kind of freaked me out because the bacon fat never really released, did the carrots soak it up? At this point add the minced onion then cook for a few more minutes, stirring.

Dehydrated Onion Added to Mixture

Dehydrated Onion Added to Mixture

Once the onions look fairly hydrated, add the tomato paste and water, plus the brown sugar and stir to combine.

Tomato Paste Added

Tomato Paste Added

Pour the mixture (which vaguely resembles baby food) into a large slow cooker, then add the ham stock or water, and beans. Stir to combine then cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours, or high on 4 to 6 hours until the beans are tender. Add additional water as needed. At this point the bacon grease did release, which I removed from the top. It was only about 2 tablespoons.

Soup Before Pureeing

Soup Before Pureeing

Using an immersion blender, puree about half the soup. You can also do this in batches in a blender.  For a really smooth consistency for the base, remove some of the beans before pureeing, then add them back in.

At this point I did a taste test. It still needed some smoky flavoring, so alternated a few dashes at a time between soy sauce and liquid smoke. I stirred and tasted, ate a saltine cracker in between, until I found the right balance. Use caution with liquid smoke, as it is very strong. I might have added one drop too much.

Serve hot in bowls, with lots of saltine crackers on the side. I assembled a quick Caesar salad on the side since this was our dinner. If anyone makes this, please let me know what you think. Did this even come close to your expectations?

Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

 

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Sous Vide (Sorta) Beef Bourguignon

26 Nov
Sous Vide Beef Bourguignon

Sous Vide Beef Bourguignon

I say “sorta” because I only cooked about half the ingredients via the sous vide method, as I was concerned my gallon zip-lock baggie would not hold it all. This also turned out to be an accidental birthday dinner for my husband, as when I started the process 24-hours earlier it hadn’t dawned on me I’d be serving it the night before his birthday.

Don’t have a sous vide machine? No worries, you can make this on the stove top in a Dutch oven. Simply cover and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours until beef is tender.

This made an elegant dinner, with beautiful rich flavors and fork-tender beef. I served this over a cauliflower puree, but it can also be served over mashed potatoes or noodles.

Sous Vide Beef Bourguignon

1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more if needed
4 slices thick-cut bacon (reserve 1 tablespoon grease)
1 1/4 pounds stew meat (chuck beef) cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons flour, divided
2 carrots
2 thick slices from a large sweet onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 bottle of good dry red wine, such as Burgundy or Pinot Noir
1 cup beef broth, homemade or low sodium
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
8 ounces baby bella (or cremini) mushrooms, sliced if large
8 ounces thawed frozen pearl onions
4 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided

The Main Players

The Main Players

Set your sous vide in a large pot of water to 149 degrees F (65 C).

Cut the bacon into lardons and cook in the oil in a Dutch oven or deep cast iron skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon to paper towels to cool. Reserve one tablespoon of grease and refrigerate it.

Browning the Beef

Browning the Beef

Dry the beef with paper towels and season with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tablespoons of flour to coat. In the same pot with the remaining hot bacon grease, cook the beef in batches until browned on all sides. Add the beef and bacon to a 1-gallon zip-lock bag.

Peel the carrots and cut into cross-wise slices and slice the thick onion slices in half. Cook in the remaining oil in the pot (add more if needed) for about 10 minutes, then add the minced garlic and cook for about a minute more. Add the vegetables to the bag.

Veggies and Beef in Bag

Veggies and Beef in Bag

Deglaze the pot with the red wine, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add the beef broth and tomato paste, stir to combine, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced a quarter in volume, about 15 minutes.

Add the wine mixture, the thyme sprigs, and bay leaf to the bag. Seal using the water immersion technique, add to the sous vide pot and clip it to the side. Cover the water bath with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation. Sous vide for 24 hours.

Sous Vide

Sous Vide!!

After 24 hours, melt 2 tablespoons of butter plus the one tablespoon of reserved bacon grease to a Dutch oven. Saute the mushrooms until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the thawed pearl onions and cook for an additional five minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Baby Bellas and Pearl Onions

Baby Bellas and Pearl Onions

Melt two or more tablespoons of butter and add 2 tablespoons flour and whisk until it forms a paste. Remove bag from sous vide pot and carefully pour the liquid from the bag into the pot. Bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking constantly until sauce is thickened.

Beef Bourguignon Ready to Serve

Beef Bourguignon Ready to Serve

Add the mushrooms and onions and the rest of the contents of the bag to the pot and stir to combine. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Serve over cauliflower puree, mashed potatoes, or noodles. Bon Appétit!

Sous Vide Beef Bourguignon

Sous Vide Beef Bourguignon

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Chicken Dumpling Casserole

5 Nov
Chicken Dumpling Casserole

Chicken Dumpling Casserole

The last time I made chicken dumplings the hubs complained it was too soupy, so decided to make it into a casserole where it would thicken up nicely for him. Typically I would make this with celery in it, but since I didn’t have any and trips to the store are few and far between for me, I substituted some fresh mushrooms we had on hand instead. And to make it a tad fancier, I added some basil that I dried from my garden to the dumplings too.

I precooked the chicken with my sous vide immersion circulator earlier in the day, but you can substitute rotisserie chicken instead. I have been experimenting with that cooking method and FINALLY cooked a pork tenderloin that was juicy and tender as any beef tenderloin you could have!

Juicy Pork Tenderloin

Juicy Pork Tenderloin

Yes, pork is safe to eat when pink in the middle! My husband was a little put off by the pink, so he pan-seared his slices in a hot cast iron pot for a few seconds on each side. No sous vide recipe as of yet until I have a solid recipe for you.

But back to the dumplings. This is thick and hearty, yummy comfort food, perfect for welcoming in the winter!

Chicken Dumpling Casserole

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3 cups homemade or low sodium chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups cubed cooked chicken

Dumplings

1 cup biscuit/baking mix
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, sauté onions, carrots, and mushrooms in the olive oil and butter until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic in the last minute.

Carrots, Onions, and Mushrooms

Carrots, Onions, and Mushrooms

Stir in flour, salt and pepper, basil and mix until blended. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add peas and chicken and mix to combine. Pour into an oil-sprayed 2-quart casserole dish.

Chicken Dumpling Filling

Chicken Dumpling Filling

For the dumplings, combine baking mix and basil in a small bowl. Stir in milk with a fork until moistened. Drop by tablespoonfuls over the chicken mixture.

Bake uncovered 30 minutes. Cover and bake 10 minutes longer. Serve in bowls with a side salad.

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Bloody Mary Beef Stew

4 Jun
Bloody Mary Beef Stew

Bloody Mary Beef Stew

When I read a fellow foodie blogger had made a Bloody Mary Pot Roast, I thought to myself “I SO have to make this!” But being lazy like I am, I instead used some pre-cut beef stew meat we had in the freezer, along with a pre-made Bloody Mary mix. You see, I drink like maybe one or two Bloody Marys a year. (Specifically one on New Year’s Day, and sometimes another one on Mother’s Day.) But what to do with all that leftover Bloody Mary mix? So I end up freezing it. This recipe idea gave me the perfect excuse to defrost it and make this wonderfully flavorful and spicy beef stew!

Dr. Swami and Bone Daddy's Bloody Mary Mix

Dr. Swami and Bone Daddy’s Bloody Mary Mix ~ Da’ Good Stuff!

The original recipe is by my friend Mollie, aka the Frugal Hausfrau and she concocts her own homemade Bloody Mary sauce to pour over a full chuck roast. You can read that version here. By adding some additional beef broth and various chopped veggies, you end up with a one-pot full-meal deal! What is not to like about that? I recommend serving with a nice crusty piece of French bread. So tasty! Hubby agreed.

Bloody Mary Beef Stew

1 1/4 pounds beef stew meat
2 tablespoons flour
Ground pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup Bloody Mary mix (I used Dr. Swami and Bone Daddy’s)
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 clove)
1 cup baby carrots
3 medium potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
2 cups homemade or good-quality beef broth
1 shot glass of Vodka
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup peas, thawed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prep the veggies. Unwrap the beef stew meat and leave it on the plastic wrap on the butcher paper. Season with ground black pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste. Sprinkle the flour over the meat, mixing it around until all pieces are coated.

Seasoned and Dusted Beef Stew Meat

Seasoned and Dusted Beef Stew Meat

Heat the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef stew meat and cook (in batches) until browned on all sides. You don’t want to cram all the meat into the pot at once or it will steam instead of crisp up.

Browning the Stew Meat

Browning the Stew Meat

Remove meat and set aside on the butcher paper after removing the plastic wrap from it.  (See how I did that? No dirty plate!)

Add the chopped onions to the pot and cook until starting to soften. Add in the minced garlic for a minute or so. Deglaze the pot with the beef broth, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the ingredients except the peas and bring stew up to a simmer. Season with more ground black pepper, if you wish.

Beef Stew Ready to Go Into Oven

Beef Stew Ready to Go Into Oven

Cover, turn off heat, and carefully place into preheated oven. Cook covered for 2 hours. Remove from oven and stir in the thawed peas. Serve in bowls with crusty French bread and butter.

Bloody Mary Beef Stew

Bloody Mary Beef Stew

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Homemade Sweet and Spicy Chile Sauce and Shrimp Spring “Unrolls”

29 May
Sweet and Spicy Chile Sauce with Spring Unrolls

Sweet and Spicy Chile Sauce with Shrimp Spring Unrolls

I tried. I really really tried. I wanted to make shrimp spring rolls to go with this amazing chile sauce I came up with, but spring rolls were not to be. During the fourth attempt at rolling the same rice paper, it fought back and exploded in the middle, dumping the contents onto the plate below. I threw my hands in the air, added more lettuce to the mix, and used the dipping sauce as a salad dressing. Take that spring unroll!

It was quite delicious, if I don’t say so myself! I wish I made more of the chile sauce, as it really does make an amazing salad dressing and of course would go great with spring or egg rolls too. I let hubby roll his own, and he didn’t have much success either. I think we both tried to put too much in each one. But we both ended up with a lovely meal, mess and all.

Rather than bore you with all the details of what went in my “salad,” I basically used the same recipe that I used another time a made spring rolls, but used medium whole shrimp instead of diced deli shrimp and switched up a few of the veggies/herbs. Recipe here —> Shrimp and Vegetable Spring Rolls with a Spicy Peanut Sauce. OK let’s get to the chile sauce (and double this up if you want more to grace your fridge for future use):

Homemade Sweet and Spicy Chile Sauce
Adapted from picturetherecipe.com

4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/8 cup water
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Sambal Oelek
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with same amount of water
3/4 teaspoon fish sauce

Add the sugar to a small sauce pan, then whisk in the rice vinegar and water. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil, whisking until sugar is dissolved.

Whisking the Chile Sauce

Whisking the Chile Sauce

Add the minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and Sambal Oelek. (You can substitute Sriracha if you don’t have any.)

Adding the Sambal Oelek

Adding the Sambal Oelek ~ Shhh! It’s the secret ingredient!

Turn heat down and let simmer for several minutes until it slightly thickens.

Whisk in the cornstarch slurry, then simmer at a high bubble until the sauce clears and thickens. Turn off heat, stir in the fish sauce, then set aside to cool down.

Cooling the Chile Sauce

Cooling the Chile Sauce

Once cool, store in airtight bottle in the refrigerator until ready to use. Serve as a dipping sauce with spring rolls, or as a sweet/spicy dressing to any salad.

Sweet and Spicy Chile Sauce with Spring Unrolls

Sweet and Spicy Chile Sauce with Shrimp Spring Unrolls

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Turkey Chipotle Posole

30 Apr
Turkey Chipotle Posole

Turkey Chipotle Posole

As a lot of you know, I’m a spicy kind of gal, and I like spicy food. This posole, which is a traditional Mexican soup/stew, makes good use of leftover turkey or even chicken. I bought a deli-roasted turkey breast recently for a quick week-night dinner, but with the daughter not eating at home that night we were left with a bunch of leftover cooked turkey breast.

We had a cold snap, and what better thing to make in a cold snap is a nice spicy, warming stew? This ended up making more than I thought it would, but ate the rest for lunches.  Don’t scrimp on the toppings, as the cabbage, lime, and radishes really complete this. And you can always cut way back on the spices/chiles for a milder version.

After opening a few cans and a little chopping, dicing, and processing, this posole comes together in a snap all in one pot. I always freeze any leftover canned goods, clearly labeled, for future use. I can’t imagine ever using an entire can of chipotle peppers in a recipe unless I am feeding an army. And my local grocer only sells 30-ounce cans of hominy, which, after draining the liquid, yields about 2 cups of hominy. Hominy freezes well too.  Even if it’s already warm in your neck of the woods, do try this flavorful posole, if anything to warm your heart. Plus it also gives you good reason to open a bottle of Mexican beer to wash it down! UPDATE: A kind reader reminded me that Cinco de Mayo is coming up. So hey, why not make it for that day?!

Turkey Chipotle Posole

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 to 1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce (or less), diced fine
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons Ancho or Pasilla chile powder (or other or less)
2 cups cooked and shredded turkey or chicken
4 cups homemade or low sodium turkey or chicken broth
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 corn tortilla, processed fine
1 cup hominy, white or yellow is fine
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Ground black pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste
Shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, and lime wedges, for garnish

Puree, Peppers, and Hominy

Puree, Peppers, and Hominy

Open up all those cans and chop/slice/dice all the veggies.

In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the next 6 ingredients (through the chile powder), and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Spicy Veggie Base

Spicy Veggie Base

Add the remaining ingredients except the garnishes, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until ready to eat.

Posole Ready to Simmer and Cover

Posole Ready to Simmer and Cover

Ladle into bowls, and garnish with fresh sliced cabbage, sliced radishes, and a lime wedge to squeeze into the stew. (Don’t forget the beer to wash it all down!)

Turkey Chipotle Posole

Turkey Chipotle Posole

 

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Quick and Easy Ham and White Bean Soup

23 Apr
Quick and Easy Ham and White Bean Soup

Quick and Easy Ham and White Bean Soup

Spring has been on a springboard in my neck of the woods in terms of temperature. While it is now seasonably cool, we had a great stretch of really warm and sunny weather for the last week. With cooler weather, there is nothing better than a hot bowl of comforting soup. And with leftover ham and ham broth in the freezer, this meal was a snap!

After I took my photos, hubs and I both decided we wanted it creamier so I processed half of it in my Ninja then stirred it back in. This step is optional, and I didn’t even take another photo of it creamy that way as I can be lazy that way. Just like you can be lazy in making this soup as it’s that easy!

Quick and Easy Ham and White Bean Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup each chopped onion, celery, and carrots
4 ounces chopped ham
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups ham broth (you can sub in chicken or veggie broth)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
Small sprig of thyme
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke (I used Stubb’s Hickory)
1/8 teaspoon smoked Paprika

The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity

Saute the veggies in the oil until soft, 5 to 7 minutes.

Ham, Veggies, and Spices

Ham, Veggies, and Spices

Add the ham, garlic and spices and cook 2 to 3 minutes more.

Ham Broth and Beans

Ham Broth and Beans

Pour in the ham broth and beans. Add the rest of the seasonings, and taste to adjust.

Simmering the Ham and Bean Soup

Simmering the Ham and Bean Soup

Simmer for about a half hour or more until ready to eat. Optional: Puree half the soup in a blender or processor and stir back in before serving.

Ta-Dah!

Quick and Easy Ham and White Bean Soup

Quick and Easy Ham and White Bean Soup

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Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu Pappardelle

20 Feb
Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu

Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu

We cleaned out our indoor freezer last weekend, and lo and behold we found a package of meaty soup bones from our 2014 cow. Not to be wasteful, I knew I had to cook those babies low and slow, to extract all the flavor from the bones and preserve any shred of tasty beef hiding amongst the gristle and bone. Yep, I can do this!

Meaty Soup Bones

Nice Meaty Soup Bones

I had President’s Day off work, and knew I’d be a happy camper just spending the day putzing around the kitchen and cooking, all thoughts of laundry and house chores away from my mind — already completed over the weekend.

This was also a good chance to use up some dried Porcini mushrooms that had been languishing in my bin of assorted bulk spices and what-nots. I looked at the package, fearing they were long expired. Apparently dried mushrooms last a LONG time, as the expiration date was more than a year in the future! Combined with some also-languishing Cremini mushrooms in the fridge, I knew I had the base for a slow-cooked braised ragu. Combine that with some good-quality tomatoes and hearty Pappardelle pasta, and voila! Ragu is served. With lots of fresh-grated Parmesan cheese, of course.

Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu Pappardelle

.25 ounces dried Porcini mushrooms
2 to 3 ounces Cremini mushrooms
2 meaty beef soup bones
Ground pepper and salt, to taste, for seasoning beef
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion
8 to 10 baby carrots
1 rib celery
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 strips of cooked bacon (can also be uncooked)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Up to 1 cup good-quality red wine, divided
Mushroom stock (from soaking the Porcini)
Up to 2 cups beef stock, divided
28-ounce can San Marzano peeled tomatoes
3 sprigs thyme
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
8 ounces Pappardelle pasta
Good quality Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Additional chopped parsley, for garnish

Soaking the Porcini

Soaking the Porcini

Place dried Porcini mushrooms in a glass bowl (I used a Pyrex measuring cup) and pour about a cup of boiling water over them. Top with a folded paper towel to keep mushrooms submerged. (I learned that cool tip from the package of mushrooms!) Allow them to rehydrate for about 20 minutes. Discard paper towel and remove mushrooms, squeezing out the liquid from them. Strain the mushroom stock through a coffee filter into another cup. Set mushrooms and liquid aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place a Dutch oven or other pot with an oven-proof lid on stove over medium high heat. Season the soup bones liberally with ground pepper and some salt, to taste. Dredge soup bones through the flour, patting flour in to coat.

Browning the Soup Bones

Browning the Soup Bones

Add oil and the bones to the pot, browning on each side for about 4 minutes. Don’t forget the sides! Turn off heat, remove bones and set aside.

Chopped Veggies and Bacon

Chopped Veggies and Bacon

Add the onion, carrots, celery, and bacon to a food processor (you can also mince these by hand). Pulse until finely chopped.

Next, finely chop the Porcini and Cremini mushrooms.

Porcini and Cremini Mushrooms

Porcini and Cremini Mushrooms

Turn heat back on under the pot, and check for amount of oil. Add additional if needed, you’ll want about a tablespoon. Add the vegetable mixture, mushrooms, and cayenne pepper and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until softened. In the last minute or so, add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

Cooking the Veggies and Bacon

Cooking the Veggies and Bacon

Next, stir in the tomato paste and 1/2 cup wine, mixing until completely combined. Stir and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Reducing the Wine

Reducing the Wine

Pour in the reserved mushroom stock and about a half cup of the beef stock. Add the can of peeled tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Also pour in the liquid from the can. Stir until combined, then submerge the soup bones into the sauce. Bring up to a simmer, toss in the three sprigs of thyme and cover tightly. Place in preheated oven.

Tomato Sauce and Soup Bones Ready to Braise

Tomato Sauce and Soup Bones Ready to Braise

Cook for three hours, or until meat is tender and falling off the bones. Once tender, remove pot from oven. Remove soup bones to a plate and let cool for about 10 minutes or safe enough to handle.

Shredded Braised Beef

Shredded Braised Beef

The sauce will have thickened by this time. Stir in up to another cup of beef broth and red wine and bring up to a slow simmer on the stove.

Meanwhile, cook the Pappardelle pasta according to package directions. Reserve some of the pasta water before draining.

Once the beef is cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers, discarding any gristle/cartilage.

Beef and Mushroom Ragu

Beef and Mushroom Ragu

Return the shredded beef to the sauce and stir in the chopped parsley. Pour in a small amount of pasta water to further loosen up the sauce. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings, if needed.

Plate the cooked and drained pasta on a platter, then pour the ragu sauce over top. Grate a generous amount of Parmesan cheese over top and sprinkle with additional chopped parsley. Serve on plates or in bowls.

Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu

Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu

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Coq Au Vin ~ Rare Recipe Challenge

24 Jan
Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin (Chicken in Wine)

I recently joined in with a group of fun foodie blogger to participate in a recipe challenge. Lina over at Lin’s Recipes “challenged” us to choose from a list of exotic recipes from around the world we had never made before so that we could all expand our food horizon’s beyond our own country. I read through the list then sheepishly asked if I could use a post from a couple of years ago, because hey, at that time it WAS new to me! She graciously agreed. Thank you Lina!
Rare Recipe Challenge

Head on over to the Rare Recipe Challenge to see what others have made!  The cooks have a week to add their entry, so check back often to see new recipes added throughout the week.

Thank you Lina for creating this fun challenge for the month of January (new year, new recipes!), and a great big thanks to Jhuls for judging the entries. She can be found over at thenotsocreativecook.wordpress.com .

So without further adieu, I bring to you my story of cooking the French dish Coq au Vin!

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After feeding our foreign exchange student a healthy (or unhealthy you might say) dose of American food, I decided to surprise her one night with a traditional French dish. She walked into the kitchen and I motioned her over to the crock pot. I lifted the lid and said, “Tah Da! I made you Coq au Vin!” She had a very puzzled look on her face. I said it again nice and slow, like this: “COKE UHH VEEEEEN.” Blank look. “You know, chicken in wine!”

“Ohhhh, yes, yes. It’s Coh ah Vah,” she replied. There is barely a hint of the k and n sound, but I could not seem to quite get that part right and we had a few giggles at my poor attempts. So after I thoroughly corrupted the French pronunciation, I was hoping I didn’t do the same to the meal. For one, I couldn’t find a true Burgundy wine at the store, so settled on a Pinot Noir. I also knew my daughter wouldn’t eat the mushrooms in it, so added some baby carrots. I did, however, ask Caroline what the French typically served the dish over — potatoes or noodles? She said potatoes, so then I asked her if they were boiled or mashed? Another puzzled look from her then had me pantomiming round circles for boiled and banging my fist on the table to simulate mashing. Ahh, the second one, mashed potatoes!

Browning the Chicken

Browning the Chicken

After her bowl was filled twice and mopped dry with thick slices of French bread, I can say that the meal was a success! This dish is typically made with skin-on chicken thighs and legs, but all I had were large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. So I lopped them in half, and hoped they wouldn’t come out too dry. I think using a slow cooker helped retain some of the juiciness but I think next time I would cook them only about 3 hours on high instead of 4 hours. But I was very satisfied with the results, and now I know how to properly pronounce this lovely meal even if I can’t actually say it right.

Mushrooms and Pearl Onions

Mushrooms and Pearl Onions

Coq au Vin (Chicken in Wine)

4 slices of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken, skin on or skinless
1/4 cup flour, divided
Ground black pepper, to taste
Mrs. Dash or salt, to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
8 ounces frozen pearl onions, thawed
8 ounces small button mushrooms
2 cups whole baby carrots
1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
Fresh parsley, chopped
Mashed potatoes and French bread, for serving

Vegetable Medley

Vegetable Medley

Cook the bacon in a large skillet, remove from heat, and drain bacon on paper towels. Leave about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease in the skillet, or if you used lean bacon then add some vegetable oil to make up for it. Season the chicken with pepper and Mrs. Dash or salt, to taste. Dust the chicken pieces with 1/8 cup flour, reserving the rest, and add the chicken to the skillet over medium high heat. Brown the chicken for several minutes on each side. Remove and set aside on a plate.

Chicken Vegetables and Bacon

Chicken, Vegetables, and Bacon

Add the tablespoon of oil to the skillet over medium heat, stir in the rest of the flour, then add in the pearl onions and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker, add the baby carrots, then return skillet to heat. Deglaze the pan with the wine and chicken broth, scraping up all the yummy brown bits.

Wine Mixture

Wine Mixture

Whisk in the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, oregano, and bay leaves. Cook and stir for about 5 more minutes and turn off heat. Place the chicken over the vegetables in the crock pot, add the bacon on top, then pour the wine mixture over all. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, or low 6 to 8 hours.

Coq au Vin Ready to Cook

Coq au Vin Ready to Cook

Make your mashed potatoes in the last half hour or so of cooking and keep over low heat until ready to serve. Spoon mashed potatoes into bowls, top with the chicken and vegetables plus juices, and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. Have lots of thick-sliced French bread for sopping up all the savory juices. Enjoy!

Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin (Chicken in Wine)

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

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