Saturday, April 21, 2018

SOME LIKE IT HOT!...

AND some like it cold. One of the many things I like about spring is one day hot; one day chilly. Here are two soups to fit both days. First, a cold Ginger-Infused Sweet Potato Coconut soup. I make a lot of soups using coconut milk rather than cream. The coconut flavor is subtle and adds just as much creaminess as heavy cream.

GINGER-INFUSED SWEET POTATO
COCONUT SOUP
WITH BOURBON CREAM AND MAPLE PECANS
Ingredients:
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 shallot, diced
2" knob fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
4 cups rich chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
Sprig of fresh sage
Salt/Pepper to taste
Notice the chicken stock has turned to gelatin...
that means lots of goodies and lots of flavor!
Preparation:
Add potatoes, shallot, ginger root and fresh sage to a large soup pot. Cover with 4 cups rich chicken broth. Add salt/pepper. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer 45-50 minutes until potatoes are very tender.
Remove sage. Let cool slightly and stir in coconut milk. Blend until soup is very smooth and silky. Add either more water or broth until you have a good consistency. I wanted this soup to be thick so didn't add any additional liquid to the soup. Chill and serve with Bourbon Cream and Maple candied pecans. You can also serve this soup hot, but I think it is more interesting as a cold soup.

TO MAKE BOURBON CREAM:
Add 1 Tbsp. bourbon to 1/3 cup heavy cream. I used Mexican Crema, which is a little lighter than heavy cream with a delicious flavor. Season with a dash of salt and white pepper.
TO MAKE MAPLE CANDIED PECANS:
Heat 1 Tbsp. butter in a small skillet until bubbling. Add 3/4 cup chopped pecans and 1 Tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup. Stir until nuts are coated.
My friend Diana Makes ready to dig in to soup and salad!
I served the soup with Baby Arugula Salad. To the arugula I added Blue Cheese, sliced Baby Beets and more of the Maple Candied pecans. I dressed the salad with a (store-bought) ginger dressing.

On those spring days when it feels more like February here is a soup to warm your soul. It is hearty, rustic and has a wonderful old world feel. I got this recipe from my friend Debby Vis. As with all soups take lots of liberties to put  your 'stamp' on it! I think it would be delicious with rabbit instead of chicken and will try that next time.

ITALIAN STEW 
 

Ingredients:
1 lb. hot Italian Sausage, cut into 1" chunks
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Chicken legs and thighs (I used 4 of each.)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups rich chicken broth
1 bottle white wine (Deb used 2 bottles and it was delicious!)
12 small red potatoes left whole
4 carrots, roughly chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, chopped (I used baby portabellas.)
2 zucchini, sliced
Broccoli, crowns removed, stems chopped
1 cups parsley divided; 1/2 to cook down and 1/2 fresh  to garnish
1 can cannellini or other bean, rinsed and drained
Salt/Pepper
Hot Pepper flakes
 

Preparation:
In a large skillet brown the sausage in 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Remove from pan. Liberally salt and pepper chicken. Brown chicken pieces in same pan. Add meat and all veg except broccoli crowns to a large soup pot. Cover with 4 cups chicken stock and 1 bottle of vino. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add cannellini beans, broccoli crowns and taste for seasoning. Cook another 15 minutes. Serve with the last 1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley and parmesan cheese.

You may also add greens, such as spinach, escarole, kale and any type of bean.

That's all for today...I only have 2 more radiation treatments and then will be CANCER FREE! My hair is slowly growing back and I am looking forward to life returning to normal!
Even the cook gets to enjoy a martini on a Friday night!
 
TUNE IN AGAIN SOON FOR
ANOTHER EPISODE OF:
 


Friday, March 30, 2018

CLASSIC BEEF WELLINGTON!

I posted a Beef Wellington recipe a few years ago, (http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=beef+wellington) but in that recipe took a few shortcuts. This is the "real-deal" and I think one that Gordon Ramsey would approve of. You may think judging by the last few posts that all I cook is beef. Not true, but I try to post the more interesting recipes and lately those seem to involve beef.

CLASSIC BEEF WELLINGTON
This recipe does involve quite a few steps, but is not difficult and completely worth it!

Ingredients:
1 lb. beef tenderloin fillet
Salt/Pepper
Olive Oil for searing-about 2 Tbsp.
1 lb. mushrooms (I used baby portabellas and white buttons mixed.)
1 clove garlic, minced (for the duxelles)
2 Tbsp. shallots, minced (for the duxelles)
4 thin slices of Proscuitto
2 Tbsp. mustard (I used my favorite: Maille Dijon*.)
7 oz. puff pastry (I used frozen. Defrost completely before using.)
2 egg yolks, beaten

*The Maille brand originated in Marseilles, France in 1723. It was sold to the multi-national consumer goods company, Unilever in 2000, but I still love the mustard. Wish I could've tried it before it was sold and now mass produced.

Preparation:
Season fillets liberally with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet until it is nearly smoking. Sear fillets on all sides until just browned.

Remove the fillet from the pan. Let cool and then brush all sides with the mustard.
TO PREPARE THE DUXELLES: Chop the mushrooms, add minced garlic and shallots and put them in a blender. I used my mini-max, which is a great chopper. Puree until the mixture becomes a paste. Add a dash of salt.

Heat a frying pan on medium high and add the mushroom mixture. Stir the mixture allowing the moisture to be released from the mushrooms.
This is what it looks like when it first goes in the pan.
 
And this is how the consistency changes once moisture begins to release.
When the moisture has been released from the mushrooms remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap. Place the prosciutto on the plastic wrap so the pieces overlap. Spread the mushroom duxelles on the prosciutto.

Place the beef in the middle, roll the prosciutto around the beef using the plastic wrap to create a tight barrel. Start by folding the 2 ends around the beef and then roll the longer pieces up and around. The plastic allows you to tighten your roll.
Even though this has been a few steps up to this point, now you can let this beef chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes or for up to a few hours so this nearly qualifies as a "do-ahead" meal preparation.

When you're ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface roll out puff pastry to a size that will fit around each beef fillet. I erred on the side of way too much pastry as I didn't want to be short. Better to cut it to fit than not have enough pastry. Generously brush the pastry with the beaten egg yolks.

Unwrap the beef fillet and place in the middle of the puff pastry. Fold the pastry around the fillet trying to minimize overlapping pastry as that will not cook through. The pastry is quite forgiving and you can almost stretch it to make a completely sealed roll without much overlap. Cut away any excess pastry and avoid making pastry any more than 2 layers thick.

Place the pastry wrapped fillet on a baking sheet and cover with more egg yolk. Gently score the top of each fillet being careful not to go all the way through the pastry. Sprinkle the tops with course sea salt.

Now we're finally ready to bake. Place in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Pastry should be golden brown and if using a meat thermometer it should read 125-130. I took mine out at 125 as both my husband and I like our beef on the rare side. Plus it does continue cooking even after removing from the oven.
Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. I prefer to serve in 2 large pieces, but you can also  cut into 1inch thick slices.

All for today. This is Easter weekend and I want to wish each of you a happy, blessed and beautiful holiday. No cooking for me this year. I will be the happy guest of my good friends Francine and Jim Manspeaker.
I am simply bringing the rolls!
 
HAPPY EASTER!
 
MUCH LOVE!
 
Tune in again soon for another episode of:




Easter 2014 Jer and me preparing grilled coconut shrimp.
 



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

NOT FOR THE FAINT OF...

HEART!
In honor of Valentine's Day I thought I would share the Braised Heart I made the other night. I had never eaten beef heart, so also have never cooked it, but I treated it as you would any other tough cut of meat by slowly braising in rich, wonderful flavors. And it turned out to be delicious!

BRAISED BEEF HEART

Ingredients:
I beef heart* (Or in my case 1/2 beef heart.)
1/2 cup flour
4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
6 small potatoes, whole with skins on
3 carrots, cut in 3" pieces
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed and rough chopped
1 cup rich beef stock**
1/2 cup red wine
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 Bay Leaf
Salt/Pepper

* The average beef heart weighs 3 to 4 lbs.

* I happened to have some very rich beef stock left over from beef ribs I had made awhile back, but store-bought beef stock would work, too. Having stock of all types made and tucked away in the freezer gives me a great feeling of comfort and security.
Preparation:
First you must thoroughly clean the heart. I clean all meat before cooking, but with organ meat it is particularly important. Rinse the heart under cold water and pat dry. Remove all visible silver skin.
And then remove anything that doesn't look like meat.
There's lots of stuff in there that comes out pretty easily using a pulling/cutting technique.

Next, cut the heart into 1" thick slices and remove some of the thick outer fat.
Liberally salt and pepper the heart slices and dredge in 1/2 cup flour. Add the flour to a zip lock bag and drop the heart into the bag. This is an easy way to coat all sides of the heart with the flour.
Heat 4 Tbsp. Olive Oil in a skillet over high heat and quickly brown the heart slices on all sides. Add the potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic. Reduce heat to medium high. Cook the veg for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally to coat with pan juices and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.


Add Beef Stock, red wine, bay leaf and fresh rosemary. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

The heart is very lean so, although not tough, it has a thick almost chewy consistency, but the flavor was out of this world! I wouldn't cook this weekly, but what a wonderful treat once in awhile.

WISHING ALL YOU ROMANTICS
A VERY HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

Until next time...Keep on Keeping On in the Kitchen!

Monday, February 5, 2018

BEST EVER BOSTON BAKED BEANS!

I have always believed my Mom made the best baked beans. That was until I tried this recipe, which I found online at Simply Recipes. I did change a couple things and this is what I came up with...
SLOW-COOKER BOSTON BAKED BEANS
Ingredients:
1 pound dry white beans-I used Navy Beans
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. salt
3 cups hot water
3 pieces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
Preparation:
Soak beans overnight in water with at least 2 inches of water above the beans as they will absorb lots of water. Next day drain beans.
Mix molasses, brown sugar, mustard, ground cloves with 3 cups of hot water.
Line the bottom of your slow cooker (aka Crock Pot) with half of the bacon pieces. Add half of the beans. Add all of the diced onion. Top with the rest of the beans and remaining bacon. Pour the molasses water mixture over the beans to just cover the beans. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 hours until the beans are tender. Check the water level in a few hours to make sure beans remain covered. My beans did not dry out and the 3 cups of water was the perfect amount to make nice juicy and tender beans! I served the Boston Baked Beans with Pigs in Blankets, Coleslaw and Cape Cod Potato Chips!

That's all for today.
Valentine's Day is right around the corner
and I will share with you my recipe for
Braised Beef Heart!

Monday, January 22, 2018

PUMPKIN RAVIOLI'S MADE VERY EASY!

This Ree Drummond recipe (Food Network's Pioneer Woman) makes Pumpkin Ravioli's so easy and if you didn't know you were not using pasta you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.


I made these with the help of our good friends Dennis and Diana on the occasion of Dennis and Jerry's birthday last November. We always enjoy cooking together!
Birthday Boys, Dennis and Jerry
November 13, 2017
PUMPKIN WONTON RAVIOLI
Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 large egg, slightly beaten
48 wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups shaved parmesan cheese
6 sage leaves, rolled and very thinly sliced or I fried them.
Freshly ground pepper
Getting them filled.

"Many hands make light work"...
my Mom used to say that all the time!

 
Preparation:
Melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and heat it for a couple of minutes (do not brown). Add the pumpkin puree, 1/2 tsp. salt and the chili powder. Cook this filling for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, to warm it and cook off some of the excess liquid. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly while you get the other components ready.
Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet, set aside. Melt the remaining 6 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat; let it cook and bubble up for an additional minute or so, until the foam is golden brown. Watch it carefully and take the pan off the heat as soon as it's ready. Because I decided to fry the sage I used this brown butter to fry the sage in which also gave the butter a lovely flavor. Finally, beat the egg with 1 Tbsp. cold water to use as your wonton glue. Now you're ready to form raviolis.
 
These raviolis were wrapped up in short time!
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Lay out a few wonton wrappers at a time (As you see we laid them all at once, no problem as we worked quickly. You don't want the raviolis to dry out.) and spoon about 2 tsp. of the pumpkin mixture in the middle of each one. Then, one at a time, dab your finger into the egg wash mixture and "paint" around the pumpkin on the wrapper. Lay a second wonton wrapper on top of each one, match up the edges and press the two wrappers together, gently pressing out any air bubbles as you go. To seal the ravioli, use a knife or square cutter to neatly trim the edges. Set them aside while you work on the rest. We decided to seal the edges of each ravioli tightly with our fingers and not trim giving them a more rustic look, but be careful of fingernails as they go through tender wonton wrappers very easily.
Diana's wonton is bleeding pumpkin!
 
We really brushed on the egg wash even
after sealing so the raviolis would stay together.
Drop a few ravioli at a time into the gently boiling water.

Boil them until tender, 2-4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and place on a platter or serving plates. Spoon a little bit of the browned butter over the ravioli, then sprinkle on parmesan shavings, sage (either fresh or fried), toasted pine nuts and a little freshly ground pepper.

We completed the birthday feast with lightly steamed green beans in butter, very garlicy garlic bread and a tomato Caprese salad.
Diana was in charge of garlicy garlic bread.

And Dennis made the Caprese salads:
Sliced tomato, Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil, Olive Oil, S/P

And our finale was a French-style apple pie (Thanks to Martha Stewarts recipe: http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=martha+stewart+apple+pie, scroll down to find the recipe. This was a LONG blog!) topped with home-made vanilla ice cream. I'm going to have to blog this recipe. It is my favorite vanilla ice cream!
 

Well, that's a wrap for today!
I love celebrating birthdays
and especially love Dennis and Jerry's!

Can't wait to see what we'll come up with next year!

Until next time...

KEEP CELEBRATING!


Saturday, January 6, 2018

"FOOD OF THE GODS"...OXTAIL SOUP!


How did OXTAIL SOUP get its name since it is generally made from beef tail? From what I learned an ox is a castrated bull, but any breed of cattle can be trained to be an ox. Generally the largest bulls are selected so they are able to accomplish the most work. I suspect that OXEN are a different breed from BEEF, but in the same family, but am not sure. Possibly when oxen were more prevalent as 'beasts of burden' used for plowing fields, etc. you truly were eating ox tail, but now beef is much more common and I am sure the flavors are similar. Please weigh in on this debate!

Oxtails weigh on average between 2 to 4 lbs. Mine came from my rancher friend, Duncan Blair, and were already skinned and cut into pieces weighing about 5 lbs. total. They are bony and rich with gelatin and marrow. They need lots of cooking, which is why they generally go into a stew or are used as stock. I used my new slow cooker. Turns out they are eaten in most parts of the world, and why not?...Great taste, lots of nutrition and accessible if you raise beef or know someone who does. I have become a huge fan of eating every part of the animal. (I love Fergus Henderson's cookbook, The Whole Beast-Nose to Tail Eating). I found 3 different recipes online and took the best of all to come up with this simple, but delicious version.

OXTAIL SOUP
Ingredients:
5 lbs. oxtail
1 qt. beef stock
2 bay leaves
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped, include leaves
4 carrots, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
3 red bliss potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup good red wine divided in half
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp, allspice

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
Several sprigs of fresh sage

Parsley for garnish
Our good neighbor Brian is an adventurous eater!
I didn't want to go too crazy with spices as never having eaten oxtail I really wanted to taste it, but you can add cumin, curry, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, paprika, cinnamon, cardamom--these are all spices commonly found in other recipes. You can also add different types of beans--cannellini, kidney, shell, etc.; or grain, such as barley or faro. The spices vary regionally. I kept this dish more like beef stew.

Preparation:
I chose to cook over 2 days so I could skim off the excess fat after cooling overnight. Oxtail tend to be fatty.
Add all ingredients up to the diced tomatoes, second 1/2 cup of red wine and fresh sage to slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. Let cool completely and refrigerate overnight. Next day remove most, but not all of the fat which will have hardened at top of dish. Return to slow cooker, set on low.

Add tomatoes, the second 1/2 cup of wine and several sprigs of fresh safe. Cook on low another 5 hours. Remove the sage. Adjust for seasoning. Garnish with parsley. You may either remove the meat from the bones or serve rustic style bones and all. That is what I did as picking up the bones and getting them very clean was half the fun. I served with a big green salad and hot French bread and lots of red wine. Next time I would cook for 13 hours. They were tender, but not completely falling off the bone.
Lori is about to dig in! We love dining with the Itule's!
I have some additional treats from Duncan Blair
including some beautiful hearts and kidneys
so stay tuned for more offal cooking!

THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY!
 
PLEASE JOIN ME AGAIN SOON
FOR ANOTHER EPISODE...
After a big day of cooking there is nothing like
lounging on our front porch enjoying the late afternoon January sun!