Category: Winter

Slow Oven BBQ Ribs with Spicy Broccoli-Potato Salad

Slow Oven BBQ Ribs with Spicy Broccoli-Potato Salad

Barbeque ribs made in my kitchen oven on a cold, cold day made it seem like…well, somewhat nearer to summer, let’s say!

 In the middle of of the winter, I become entranced with the idea of summer food.  I crave hamburgers on the grill eaten outside at the picnic table.  I adore the idea of Sangria and a big crab salad.  (I have the opposite reaction when in mid-July I crave beef stew. Every year.)

Maybe it’s just vacation that draws me.

But I really think it’s the food.

So I make a summer meal the best way I can.  I throw a checked tablecloth on the dining room table, put the beer mugs in the freezer, and make something we typically only eat in the summertime.  Like ribs.  Just in time for Super Bowl or any other cold February day.  Brrr.

 Here’s how… in (mostly) chronological order with photos:

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               Cook’s note:  These ribs cook for three hours. You’ll make the broccoli-potato salad during the last forty minutes (or earlier, if you’d like).

slow oven barbeque ribs and spicy broccoli-potato salad
makes 1 rack of ribs and plenty of potato salad for 4-6

Disclaimer!  These “recipe” ingredients (with the exception of the bbq sauce and the mustard vinaigrette) and the methods are pretty loose;  I did not document my process as I often do.  Use your best cooking sense and make this meal your own.  For instance, I do not measure rub ingredients; I mix a rub and smell it to see if it’s about how I’d like it.  (Click on “favorite rub” to find a rub you’d enjoy.)  And I don’t put brown sugar in my rubs, which most people do.  My brown sugar is in my sauce.  Do make  your own barbeque sauce…link provided below.   Or take a basic recipe from somewhere and make it your own.  Don’t buy sauce; it’s a ripoff.  You’ll love having it in the refrigerator for burgers or chicken.  Have fun!

 Preheat oven to 300 degrees    Dry ribs with a paper towel and rub both sides well with your favorite rub.

  • I like approximately 2 teaspoons each kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, rosemary, and dehydrated onion and garlic.  I then add 1/4 teaspoon each ground cayenne and cinnamon.  Mix this all together in a small bowl before rubbing on ribs.  (Enough for one rack of ribs–or make more to your taste.)  Some cooks apply this rub the night before, storing rubbed ribs in the refrigerator.  I do it right before I cook them.

Place rubbed ribs on a foil-lined sheet pan and let roast 2 1/2 hours, turning over once midway through cooking time.  In the meantime, make your own barbeque sauce.  (Scroll down for my “recipe.”)

About 40 minutes (or more),  before the ribs are done, start the potato salad:  Place 10-12 red potatoes in a heavy Dutch Oven with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt along with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.   Heat pan over medium-high flame and cover tightly. Reduce heat to medium low.  Let cook twenty minutes or so, turning down heat if potatoes are browning too quickly or turning up if they’re not cooking.   (If you’d like a boiled egg in your potato salad, now’s the time to make one. Without the egg, the broccoli-potato salad is a hearty vegan dish.)

 Cut two larges heads of broccoli into florets and chop 2 tablespoons red onion (finely)  and 1/4 cup each  fresh parsley, red or yellow bell peppers, carrots, and celery.  Set aside all the vegetables except broccoli.

 Add broccoli to pot and cover for another ten minutes or so or until both potatoes and broccoli are tender.  They may get crispy or browned–no matter.
 

In the meantime, check the oven:
 
After about 2 1/2 hours:  Remove ribs from oven and brush thickly with barbeque sauce. Return to oven.  Repeat every ten minutes 2-3 x until ribs are tender and browned (or until they’re cooked to your liking.) 

Back to the potatoes and broccoli:

 When broccoli and potatoes are tender, remove from pot, chop into 1-2-inches pieces and place potatoes in a large bowl.  Season lightly with salt and pepper, a pinch of crushed red pepper,  and drizzle well with Mustard-Tarragon Dressing while hot (see below for dressing recipe.) Stir well.  Add the broccoli along with reserved chopped fresh vegetables and a chopped boiled egg, if using.  (Skip egg for a vegan version.) Stir well, taste and adjust seasonings, adding more dressing as needed.  Serve warm or at room temperature with extra dressing at table.  (You can choose to add the broccoli along with the potatoes if you like; it’s simpler.  I like the vinaigrette to hit the hot potatoes.)

When both potato salad and ribs are done, cut ribs into two-rib portions and serve with warm or room-temperature broccoli-potato salad.  Enjoy!

Wine, if you’re not drinking beer for the game:  Any California zinfandel.

        ——-Recipes——–

 Barbeque Sauce

2 cups each ketchup and chili sauce
1/4 cup each lemon juice and red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons each yellow mustard, Worcestershire, A-1 Sauce
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4-5 Big swigs of Tabasco or other hot sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons celery seed

 Whisk together in a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium flame. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Lower heat to simmer and let cook 30 minutes.  Store leftovers in a tightly sealed jar for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

 
Mustard-Tarragon Dressing

1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced or grated

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

3T white wine vinegar (I like Chardonnay, but any will do.)

9T extra-virgin olive oil (the best you have for this salad)

1/2 t kosher salt and 1/4 t fresh ground pepper

2 drops hot sauce, such as Tabasco or more to taste

1T chopped fresh tarragon  or 1 t dried

In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, mustard and vinegar. Slowly add olive oil, whisking all the time or after every addition. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce and tarragon. Whisk until well-emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.   Store leftovers in a covered jar so you can shake the dressing right before each use.
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Sing a new song,
Alyce

38 Power Foods, Week 29 — Pecans — Light Winter Vegetable Gratin with Savory Granola

38 Power Foods, Week 29 — Pecans — Light Winter Vegetable Gratin with Savory Granola

Each Friday, a wonderful group of women reaches across cyberspace and joins culinary hands to salute one very healthy food, one single beautiful ingredient from Power Foods : 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients.  (Scroll down for the list of blogs.)

I won’t say it’s not a challenge to come up to that gorgeous plate each week.  If I’m busy learning music for church or have my daughter home, or am busy with the soup book, I sometimes can’t give the opportunity the intelligent focus and attention it deserves.  I used one great recipe for more than one blog recently….life can get ahead of me sometimes.  Hopefully I’m forgiven!

This week, the week of pecans, I had the time I needed to give this a good stab.  To give it my undivided creative space.  I’m grateful for the opportunity and the chance to move one sweet iota further in my cooking and writing.  I hope you’ll enjoy the idea of this light vegetable gratin…which is maybe a bit more like a terrine in character, though not in the size and shape of a terrine.  There’s no cream and no butter here unlike most gratins.  There is a crusty, crispy topping; it’s a savory oatmeal granola without butter (yes, it has olive oil) to which I’ve added the traditional gratin component of cheese, but also finely chopped pecans.

While pecans are an American nut staple grown in the southern states, they’re not terribly common in other parts of the world, with the exception of South America. High in protein (though lower than almonds and walnuts), they are also high in healthy unsaturated fat, a good source of fiber and vitamin E,  calorically dense, and weigh in at nearly two-hundred calories per one ounce serving. Store them in the freezer and use as needed.  They are excellent for baking, cooking, and for general snacking.

 LIVESTRONG NUTRITIONAL INFO FOR PECANS

Gluten-free and easily vegan (leave out the Parmesan), this winter vegetable gratin with healthful  pecans in its topping is not only a gorgeous side if you need or your partner really needs a chop… but is a lovely lunch or entree for those in love with vegetables. (You might add more pecans for protein for the vegan version.)  A sharp knife, a shallow dish (I used a heavy quiche pan in lieu of a gratin dish as I liked the shape, but even a 2 quart Pyrex would do), and a boatload of winter vegetables are the central components of your beautiful, filling meal.  Try this:

 

winter vegetable gratin with savory granola

 

vegetables:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided (needn’t be extra virgin)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 stalks celery, trimmed, stringed, and sliced thinly
  • 2-3 parsnips, peeled, and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, cored, and sliced thinly
  • 1 turnip, peeled and sliced thinly  
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth                                       
  • 2 tablespoons white wine      
  • finely grated lemon rind, optional garnish (at table)       


granola: (in a medium bowl, mix together well:)
 

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon each:  kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/8 (pinch) aleppo pepper (can sub crushed red pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese (omit for vegan version)
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped finely
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, rubbed well in your hands or chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable broth   

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 Celsius).  In a small bowl, mix together red onion, garlic and parsley; set aside. With 1-2 teaspoons oil, brush the inside of a 9-10shallow casserole dish or gratin dish.
  2. Layer carrots, celery, parsnips, fennel, and turnips in dish, drizzling each layer with a little olive oil, salt/pepper, and sprinkling each layer with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the onion mixture.  (Place the rest of fennel at center if possible.)  Mix the broth with the wine and pour over the vegetables.
  3. Top  with savory granola mixture* by crumbling it evenly over the vegetables. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 30 minutes until granola is crispy and vegetables are tender.
  4. Serve hot with a bit of finely grated lemon rind, if desired.  

*You may not need all of the granola; you can eat the rest as is for a good snack.
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 If you liked this, you might like my Derby Pie–a Pecan-Chocolate-Bourbon specialty made only for the Kentucky Derby–May 3-4, 2013.

Or you might like my Go Nuts!  which can be made with all pecans or a mixture of  nuts:

 

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Here’s our wonderful group of bloggers.  Join us!

Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

… … … …

P.S. If you linked my cinnamon rolls to your blog, I’d love to know who you are!  It’s now my top post in nearly five years.   I’d like to thank you….

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Streamlined Beef Burgundy with Vegetables

Streamlined Beef Burgundy with Vegetables

In St. Paul, there’s a high below 1 degree Fahrenheit today.  It was -14 degrees when I got up and pressed the button for coffee this morning.  I stayed home, cried throughout the inauguration, and did what any self-respecting, frozen food blogger would do.  I made beef burgundy…or boeuf bourguignon…  If you can spell it, you can make it.   

The inauguration poet, Richard Blanco’s poem, “One Today” was one of the highlights for me.  The other was James Taylor singing “America the Beautiful,” of course.  The speech was so, so fine.

ANYWAY….After all the stir! about Julie and Julia for all that time….and all the hype about boeuf bourguignon, I think we may have come down to earth.  I no longer hear neighbors rolling the name of the dish around their hungry tongues and the Meryl Streep or Amy Adams talk is long past the appetizing roles of Julia and Julie.  For the record, I’d love a whole movie about Julia starring Meryl Streep. Sadly director Nora Ephron last year crossed the river and is now surely writing all kinds of wonderful things God doesn’t require her to any longer sell.

Beef burgundy, after all, is just beef cooked in burgundy–which is simply–and not so simply– a lovely French wine made in the Burgundy area of France from Pinot Noir grapes.  (We make incredible burgundy here in the states–visit Oregon and taste their perfect  Pinot Noirs.  See below for a brief note about that.)  I won’t tell if you cook the beef in some other red wine that you just happen to have or in beef stock if that’s your preference. Of course, then it wouldn’t be beef burgundy.  It would be beef cooked in red wine or beef stew.

And the feeling that it’s not beef burgundy if it’s not made according to Julia’s recipe is just not right.  HELLO!  Is beef stew not beef stew if we don’t make it exactly like our mother did or the same as some cookbook recipe? There are, I’d guess, many French cooks who cook up beef and Burgundy with a few other additions.  (Though the French are sticklers for form. See below for a French blogger’s take/photos on the dish.) The typical beef burgundy recipe is, like many French dishes, short on vegetables, and long on directions. While mine still takes 3 hours in the oven, I’ve made a few short-cuts, and added a few more vegetables for health and balance. It’s worth doing a day (or night) ahead and just heating up if you’d like to serve it for company.  You then can focus on dessert, the table, work, or giving the house a lick and a promise.

I love that we make most dishes with what’s available or what we need to cook or eat.  (I buy several big chuck roasts when they’re on sale at Whole Foods. Then I’m ready for really cold-day meals. My big freezer is, however, in the garage; I have to brave the below zero temps to bring in the meat!)  We are not bound to anything written down on earth or on the internet or on Grandma Sadie’s well-worn and stained recipe cards.  Use your heart and use your God-given imagination.  Turn on the stove, dream, and cook.  And while you’re at it, enjoy feeding someone; they’ll enjoy eating this, I promise.

(As I set the table tonight, I glanced through the weekend edition of WSJ, which — funny/odd–had an article on cooking beef burgundy in a pressure cooker!  Worth pursuing.)

streamlined beef burgundy  with vegetables
-serves 6-8                                                          can be made a day ahead and reheated
 

  • In a 6-8-quart Dutch oven or oven-safe pot, heat 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter over medium flame.  Add 2 cups thawed frozen pearl onions and 8 ounces of cut-in-half button mushrooms.  Sprinkle with a generous pinch each of black pepper and dried thyme.  Let brown, then stir, and let cook a bit more until tender.  Remove from pot, cool, and refrigerate until later.  To the pot, add 3 chopped pieces of bacon and let cook until  nearly done.  Remove from pot, cool, and refrigerate until later along with the onions and mushrooms.  Leave  bacon fat in pan.  In 3 batches, brown very well 3 pounds of beef chuck roast, cut into 1-2 inch pieces, dried with towels, floured, salted and peppered. (If the pan becomes too dry, add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil. All the brown in the bottom of the pan will come up later.) When last batch is nearly browned, add 2 finely chopped yellow onions, 2 finely chopped stalks of celery, and 3 chopped cloves of garlic.  Let cook a couple of minutes, stirring, and pour in 1/4 cup brandy (or red wine) and bring to a boil.  Stir to bring up bits at bottom if the onions didn’t do the job.  Let cook 2-3 minutes, stirring.  Add the beef you browned earlier back into the pot and stir.   
  • To pot, add 3 peeled carrots cut into 12 inch pieces,  2 each peeled and sliced parsnips and turnips (small), and 1 cored and sliced fennel bulb.  Stir in 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 2 Turkish bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon tomato paste.  Tie up a half-bunch of parsley and lay it on top.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Taste and, if necessary (and I think it is), sprinkle vegetables with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, and, if desired (I desire), a pinch of crushed red pepper.  Pour a 750ml bottle of Burgundy (Pinot Noir) or red Rhone wine and 2 cups beef or chicken stock over all.  Cover and place in oven.
  • Cook until beef is tender, 2 1/2 – 3 hours. When beef is nearly done, add the reserved pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon, return to oven until quite hot–perhaps 15 minutes.  (If you briefly  heat the onion mixture before adding it to the stew, you’ll save time.)
  • Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  If too thin, thicken stove top with the addition of a tablespoon or two of flour whisked into 1/4 cup water or wine.  Stir in and bring to a boil, cooking until thickened up a bit.  **  If stew is too thick, add  1-2 cups of chicken or beef stock (not wine) or water and let heat again stovetop.  Taste and re-season if necessary.  I like the stew to be loose enough for dunking bread (as I note) or for mashing up a root vegetable in.  In other words, you need the gravy.
  •  Serve hot garnished with a little chopped fresh parsley or, if not needed until tomorrow, cool totally, cover, and refrigerate overnight.   Next day, re-heat over low flame slowly, covered, stirring often for a half hour or so.  It should come to a boil at least briefly before serving.
  • I like it best with big chunks of baguette for dunking, though the usual suspects are new potatoes or, according to my French teacher, egg noodles.
  • Typically a little green salad with vinaigrette is served here in the states with the beef.  I also like it with some quickly steamed green beans and a drizzle of  mustard-vinaigrette as a salad.  It’s nice to have something with a bit of crunch for contrast.  Serve with  Pinot Noir ^^ or French Burgundy.

**You can also use equal amounts of butter and flour, mashed together (buerre manie)–perhaps a tablespoon or two each.

A PHOTO STORY:

I had no French brandy or cognac; I do keep Asbach Uralt in the house.
I used an inexpensive A-Z Pinot (2008) for cooking.
I freeze tomato paste in small bags and just take out what I need.

THE WINE–skip this if you’ve got the wine figured…

Quality Burgundy (French) is pretty pricey, though there are some at lower price points worth drinking.  Check at the wine shop if you’re set on a European wine.

^^There are many great Oregon Pinots--Sineann, Ken Wright, Cristom, Bethel Heights, WillaKenzie, Soter,  Privé, Domaine Serene, and more… Read about Oregon Pinots here, though F&W gives a different list of favorite wineries.  These are, mostly, special occasion wines ($40 and up), but a couple of vineyards are producing  lower-priced or entry level Oregon Pinots (Ken Wright –$30–and Tony Soter–$20– that I know of).

Beef Burgundy is worth a special occasion wine like an Oregon Pinot Noir.  It’s a fine meal you don’t make too often.   But….if you really can’t splurge for the night…  A much lower-priced Pinot that’s not a shame to drink might be A-Z or even Angeline.   Inexpensive (or cheap) Pinot Noirs aren’t worth drinking.  (I’d rather drink coke and be sober is the tag line.)  You might want to buy a French Rhone red wine instead, which is a blend often dominated by the Syrah grape,  inexpensive, a decent value, and consistently tasty.  Ask someone at the wine shop which Rhone they like.  Buy three bottles if you can; one to cook with, one to drink, and one for leftovers.  You could try different producers and see which you like best.

OTHER INFO YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

Even quicker Beef Burgundy made with sirloin steak stovetop. 

A French food blogger’s boeuf-bourguignon with lots of photographs.

Want to watch Julia’s first French Chef show on how to make Boeuf Bourguignon?  It’s very entertaining and there’s tons to learn! See her taste the stew out of the cooking spoon… Note her washing machine and dryer in the kitchen and hear her say SEWTAY.

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Chicken and Carrot Stew

Chicken and Carrot Stew

Happy New Year!

While I seldom blog recipes from other places, this easy chicken stew from Bon Appétit is luscious and makes a quick change from my typical  winter beef or lamb stews.  I’ve made it a time or two for friends, fixing it mostly beforehand, adding the cream right before serving.  A scoop of rice and some fresh, sauteéd spinach make for a healthier and well-rounded meal and even lowers the price per serving.  However, not to fear:  this recipe uses inexpensive chicken thighs to start with.

 My kitchen is still a Christmas kitchen--tins full of cookies, crocks full of nuts.  Leftovers in the frig. Christmas dishes in the cupboard.  On and on.  I’m really still in holiday mode and am not back to a regular routine of grocery shopping, cooking, writing, blogging, choir rehearsals, etc.  It is only the tenth day of Christmas (10 Lords-a-leaping!) and I celebrate all twelve days of Christmas plus Epiphany.   Come Sunday night (January 6–Epiphany), you’ll find a table full of people at my house, still decorated, come to have one last, light Christmas romp complete with games. 

 Monday morning will find me contemplating what will, by then, look like a very old Christmas mess, putting it all away and doing a thorough clean before contemplating returning to work on the soup book.  Until then, I’m cooking quick meals, heating big pots of soup or bolognese  I froze earlier in the season, ordering pizza, or hitting favorite restaurants while my daughter’s home.  After all, a kid, even a 25-year-old one, at home for the holidays likes to have their favorites.  And Mom, Mom’s a bit tired of cooking.  I can’t believe I said it, but it’s true.  (Thank God for the freezer.)

While you’re putting away your own holiday mess, cook up this fast stew and see if it doesn’t become one of your favorites.  It’s made mostly from food you might already keep in the larder or freezer (I always have boneless chicken thighs for quick soups.) and if you don’t have the leeks, substitute onions.   If you’re looking for lighter meals, you might try substituting non-fat evaporated milk, half and half, or a lower-fat milk for the cream.   Try this:

chicken and carrot stew from Bon Appétit  
4 servings (perhaps 6 if you add the rice and spinach)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups 1/4-inch-thick rounds peeled carrots (about 3 medium-large)
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 medium)
  • 1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Fresh thyme sprigs (for garnish)

Preparation

  • Cook carrots in large saucepan of boiling salted water 3 minutes. Add leeks to pan with carrots and cook until carrots are tender, about 3 minutes longer. Drain; set aside.

  • Sprinkle chicken with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Whisk flour, thyme, and paprika in medium bowl. Toss chicken in flour mixture. Heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium- high heat. Add chicken to skillet and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Add wine; boil until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Scatter carrots and leeks over chicken. Add broth, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add cream and mustard. Stir until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Season sauce to taste with sea salt and pepper. Transfer to large shallow bowl. Scatter parsley over and garnish with thyme sprigs.

Read More http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/04/chicken_and_carrot_stew#ixzz2GpkItqiz

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 Interested in entering a bread recipe contest?

 Jan. 31 Deadline for National Festival of Breads Entries!

Remember that your original bread recipes must be submitted via the online entry form by Jan. 31. Please, be sure to include King Arthur Flour and Fleischmann’s Yeast in your ingredients list! Recipes that do not include these two ingredients will be disqualified! Click on the link to read the rules.  
  Enter by January 31, 2013  http://www.americasbreadbasket.com/nfob

Sing a new song,
Alyce

38 Power Foods, Week 25 — Dried Beans — French Beans with Smoked Sausage and Chicken

38 Power Foods, Week 25 — Dried Beans — French Beans with Smoked Sausage and Chicken

Nothing like the fragrance of rosemary for remembrance filling the house in December.

 I’m not a cheap cook, but I have always looked for inexpensive ways to provide our daily bread.  Raising a house full of kids, I often had no choice.  Even today, when we’re empty nesters with a bit more funds than when the kids were home, I look for ways to save a bit here and there because it’s the right thing to do.  It’s often healthy, too.   I buy the best I can find for the least amount of money.  If you’ve ever cooked for a soup kitchen, or worked in a food pantry, you’ll know that beans go a long way, are low in calories, and high in fiber.  They’re filling and versatile.  They can also be yummy.  Hence this pot of smokey-fragrant “French” beans with lots of

  • smoked ham (or pork chop)
  • vegetables,
  • big flavors of rosemary, thyme, and bay, 
  • browned chicken thighs, legs, (I like Kadejan chicken from Glenwood, MN) and…
  • sausage pieces.

What makes the beans French?  Probably the herbs and the nod toward a très simple and abbreviated version of cassoulet, which takes three days to make using the traditional method.  I use regular navy or white beans; the French often use  tiny white beans called flageolets.  (For my easier, but still two-day version of cassoulet, click here.  I’ll freely admit it needs better photos…phewee.) If you don’t know what cassoulet is, it’s a holiday or large-group gathering winter French meal that includes beans, vegetables, sausage, duck confit, pork, and more.  There are layers of cooking involved and a final, huge deep oven-baked pan of oh-my-cook goodness to feed the masses.  Lots of lusty red Rhone wine is required, as are copious amounts of baguette to soak up the never-should-be dry bowlful.  Cassoulet is a celebration I occasionally do for Christmas Eve.  This year, I’m trying not to conquer the world in just one day; I have no idea what we’re having, though a great big bowl of Bolognese is in my freezer.  (What riches!)

While this is not a fast recipe (nor is it the three-day marathon), it’s one to enjoy making when  you need to be at home anyway.  I think it truly is a one-dish meal.  You could add a salad if you want, but I’m not sure you need bother.  A little cheese afterward perhaps.

Maybe make this when snow flies or folks are on the way and a nice pot of anything will be the relaxed ticket for the evening.  I’m convinced the reason many people don’t cook (or say they don’t have time to cook) is because they just don’t stay at home.  Our running, crazy world keeps us distracted and sometimes isolated despite all of our “connectivity.”  There’s a lot of feeling good to be done around a bit slower life that includes some cooking and sharing of meals.   Invite someone over to play cards for the afternoon while this is in the oven (and everyone oo’s and ah’s over the great smells) or serve for a post-holiday meal to use up some of the ham you made for Christmas or New Year’s.

Here’s the “recipe” in photo form…   It’s really a method and precise amounts aren’t truly necessary.  Use your inner creative cook!

french  beans with smoked sausage and chicken
  serves 6        
 Cooks note:   You’ll need to soak a pound of  dry white beans overnight just covered with water or
                       quick-soak them by covering with water, bringing to a boil, and covering for one 
                       hour before beginning this recipe. 

Simmer over medium heat a minute or two in an 6-8 quart heavy pot*: 2 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of crushed red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper...until fragrant.  (Flavor the oil.)  Do not add salt until beans are at least half-way cooked.

Chop 1 large onion, 3 cloves garlic, 3 stalks celery, and 3 carrots.

Add vegetables to pot with 2 rosemary sprigs, 1 teaspoon dried Thyme and 1 bay leaf. Stir. (The rosemary will come apart during the cooking.  You’ll remove the leftover twig at the end.)

While the vegetables cook for five minutes, or so, chop 1/2 cup smoked ham, ham hock, or smoked pork chop.  (I just cut some off a ham hock and froze the rest of the ham hock.  Cook another five minutes, stirring.
To bring up the browned bits on the bottom (deglaze) the pot, add 1/2 cup white wine.  Simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring.

 

Pour in 5 cups chicken stock and 2 tablespoons tomato paste.   Bring to a boil.  Add one pound rinsed and soaked dry white beans.*   Reduce heat to simmer.

Cover and let cook an hour or so until beans have just begun to soften.  Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; taste and re-season if necessary.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meantime, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large skillet heated over medium flame.  Salt and pepper well 6 chicken legs and thighs** and cook them about ten minutes on each side until nicely browned, but not done all the way through.  

Slice about 8 ounces of smoked sausage  into 1/2″ thick slices   (I used Aidell’s smoked Italian Sausage with Mozzerella; Kielbasa would be fine) and..

add to the pan of browned chicken.  Let cook about two minute or until hot.  Add chicken and sausage to the pot of beans, gently pressing chicken down into the bean mixture not necessarily to cover, but to moisten.
Bring to a boil, cover, and place pot in preheated oven.  Let bake until beans are tender and chicken is cooked through, about an hour.  Taste and re-season as needed.  Remove rosemary “branches,” but leave bay leaf in. Whoever gets it has good luck!
Serve hot in large, shallow bowls with sturdy bread and a big glass of red Rhone.

*If you use a 6 quart pot instead of a 8 quart pot, you may not be able to fit all of the chicken in it. Put four pieces of chicken and all of the sausage in the pot before baking and continue cooking additional two pieces of chicken stove top until they are done.  Cool and reserve to add to the pot when the beans are tender and  you take it out of  the oven.  I used the Le Creuset 26, which translates to close to 6 quarts.  Make sure you check your pot’s manufacturer’s directions for the safest oven temperature.  Some pots are 350 degrees Fahrenheit; some are 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

**I like dark meat for slow cooking.  If you like breasts (white meat), go ahead and use them, but I think they will get over done here unless you almost totally cook the beans stove top first and only
put the entire pot into the oven for the time it takes to finish the breasts.

about dried beans (from livestrong.com)

Pinto beans, black-eyed peas and lentils are some commonly-eaten dried beans. The recommended serving size for pinto beans is 1 cup. This serving contains 120 calories, no fat, 10 g of dietary fiber and 9 g of protein. Black-eyed peas should be eaten in 1/2 c serving sizes, which each yield 130 calories, 0.5 g of fat, 5 g of dietary fiber and 10 g of protein. Lentils should be eaten in 1/2 cup servings, each of which contains 115 calories. A serving of lentils contains 0.4 g of fat, 7.8 g of dietary fiber and 8.9 g of protein.  (White beans are a bit more calorie-wise)

about our blogging group
We’re just getting ready to take a break from group  blogging for the rest of December….We’ll be back cooking in cahoots come January:
 
 I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about tasty beans at these sites:

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

 If you liked this, you might also like:
Sing a new song; cook some beans,
Alyce 
Winter Squash-Mushroom Salad with Sherry-Truffle Oil Vinaigrette

Winter Squash-Mushroom Salad with Sherry-Truffle Oil Vinaigrette

There are meals when the main course is light, delicate — a brothy-frothy soup  or a small piece of white fish with a few vegetables.  Or maybe you just have some squash leftover you’d like to make into a pretty “meaty” meal. On the other hand, this would also be a decidedly different and total side for a few great slices of pork loin or a lovely duck breast over the holidays.  If any of those things is the case or even if none is, this is your salad.

It starts with cooking a whole acorn squash and about half of a normal-sized butternut squash (I do both in the microwave for recipes like this.*) If you like, a Hubbard or a Turban squash could be used instead.   Let the squash cool a bit and then peel and cut it into one-inch pieces.  Meantime, a few mushrooms are sautéed, stirred into the squash pieces, and gathered together  with a decadent vinaigrette.  A bit of cheese,  a handful of fresh spinach and arugula, some chopped nuts for crunch and  you have your salad.  Couldn’t be easier, quicker, or more luscious.  So winter.  So warming.  So if you’re cooking squash one night for dinner, fix an extra couple so you have have this the next day.   Here’s how:

winter squash-mushroom salad with sherry-truffle oil vinaigrette

  • 4 cups cooked winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.) peeled and cut into 1″ pieces*
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms sliced and sautéed in butter  (about 1 tablespoon) with 5 leaves of sage finely minced or julienned **
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup each fresh spinach and arugula
  • 12 large shards —or peels– of Parmesan cheese (use a potato peeler) 
  • Sherry-Truffle Oil Vinaigrette (below)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped nuts, your choice (I liked a mix of almonds and cashews.)  
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries or cherries, optional 

1.  In a large bowl, mix squash and mushrooms with sage and parsley. Salt and pepper generously.  
2.  Stir in the peeled Parmesan carefully.
3.  Drizzle salad with enough vinaigrette to moisten lightly.  Toss gently, but thoroughly to make sure all of the ingredients are covered with dressing.  
4.  Divide the salad between four salad plates and top each with a tablespoon of chopped nuts and 1/2 tablespoon of chopped cranberries, if using.
5.  Serve immediately.
  
*To cook squash in the microwave:  Pour 2 tablespoons water in a 3 quart Pyrex or microwave-safe dish.  Carefully cut acorn or butternut squash in half; scoop our seeds and strings.  Add a peeled clove of garlic or a peeled shallot to each squash half.  Place squash in dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Microwave on high about five minutes, remove from oven with mitts and, with a small sharp knife, check for doneness.  You want the squash just tender, not mushy.  If it’s not done, put it back in the microwave and cook another minute or two and check again until the knife is easily inserted. Repeat if necessary.  Add the garlic/shallot (mince them) to the salad.

**If you don’t have fresh sage, use 1/2 teaspoon (dry) rubbed sage. 

 Sherry-Truffle Oil Vinaigrette*

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced.
  • pinch each kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustart
  • 1 tablespoon Truffle oil**
  • 3 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil.      

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegars, shallot, salt and peppers, and mustard.  Drizzle in oils, whisking, until well-combined.

A book you can trust from beginning to end–wonderful recipes and great wine advice, ideas, and thoughts.  Nearly ten years old now, it has stood the test of time in my kitchen.

*This vinaigrette is one, with a bit of change, from Andrea Immer’s (Robinson) book, Everyday Cooking with Wine, which is one of my favorites.  She uses a recipe much like this for her Warm Wild Mushroom salad, which is one I often make.

**Can use all olive oil.

around the hood 

 My choir’s (I use the pronoun loosely) cantata was last weekend and they blew it out of the sanctuary!  In between a Taize Advent supper, Lectio Divina and service, the last rehearsals and worship, the wind whipped and more than 12 inches of snow covered our world.  More than 600 crashes and 1,000 cars in ditches in a 24-hour period!   Two of the crashes happened to my folk trying to get to worship or rehearsals in the hilly terrain of our church, Prospect Park United Methodist in Minneapolis.  (Everyone’s ok.)

The temperature sits at 8 degrees Fahrenheit now (way below zero with windchill) and the pups and I are inside except for quick forays out into the white for pee breaks.

Here are some of my favorite pics from our yard:
 

Hydrangea in snow.

South yard lilacs.

West fence picket.

Hello, snow.  How gorgeous you can be.

 Sing a new song and put on your favorite holiday album,
Alyce 

Beans and Cornbread — Cold Day Supper

Beans and Cornbread — Cold Day Supper

I don’t know if Friday Night “Dinner and a Movie” is still on. Last time I tuned in, it offered decent film viewing as well as little vignettes and cooking segments presented by talented folk.  The music was the late 40’s jump tune (Louis Thomas Jordan), “Beans and Cornbread!”  Loved it.  I don’t know what it is about the phrase…  Once you hear it, you just start walking around going, “Beans and cornbread uh uh uh…Beans and cornbread…”  The “uh uh uh” is the tenor sax.

I raised my kids on bean soup and corn bread (or plain old beans and cornbread), though I don’t think I knew the tune back then…  It’s a good tune!!  And  I still make it a couple of times a season. Simply put, we’re always glad to get it.  It’s inexpensive, fairly healthy, and goes a long way.  Dried beans have a long history south and north of the Mason-Dixon line and both Dave’s mom and my mom made big pots to feed their families.  So it’s comfort food for both of us.   In fact, the first meal I had at Dave’s house when we were dating was a pot of ham and beans.  (Crock-pot fare was big in the mid-70’s.) He’s quick to remind me that in his house, beans were always served with ketchup.  In my house, ketchup with beans would have been anathema.  Yuck.  Hot sauce, yes.  Vinegar with hot peppers, probably.  Ketchup, no.

 

This is a ham hock from our little corner store, Widmer’s.

Beans are a good reason to cook a ham; you’ll  have the ham bone.  No ham bone?  Buy a ham hock or two as well as a ham steak if you like a lot of meat. Have a great butcher?   Have him/her cut that big ham hock in half for you.  You’ll only need half.  Wrap the other half well in foil and freeze for up to two months.

But there are beans and there are beans. There’s cornbread and there’s cornbread. You can make all kinds…  Here’s another version I offered on Dinner Place last spring:

Black-eyed Pea Soup with Yellow Pepper Salsa and Corn Muffins

Just for grins and giggles, let’s say you just want to make plain old very yummy bean soup.   You’d like to know how to make a truly tasty cast iron pan of corn bread.   You can.   You can scratch that itch for a fine, old-fashioned meal.  Even if  years ago you did do the Elvis sneer– or squint and whistle in through your teeth when you knew there were beans for supper.   My guess is you don’t do that any more.  In fact, when you’re on a road trip, you may pull in to Cracker Barrel for just such a lunch.

And, uh, oh, by the way, if you invite friends to share this sumptuous repast and throw in a couple of bottles of Côtes du Rhône (choose an inexpensive version of this dry French red blend)…you’ll be at the top of the heap with them for your “rustic” choice in dinner fare.  Pick up a baguette to add to the bread basket.  A few olives in a bowl for starters.  Sounds like a good New Year’s Day plan.

(Cups to grams conversion here.)

Here’s how:

beans and cornbread alyce style

              bean soup  (made in two stages–broth/beans and soup)
                                         makes 10 – 12 servings
 First the broth and cooking the beans half-way:
 1# dried white or navy beans, rinsed well, picked over and soaked overnight or quick-soaked*
1 Smoked ham bone or smoked ham hock
6 cups chicken stock
3 quarts water (or more as needed to keep beans cooking freely) 
2 bay leaves  
1/2 teaspoon Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic,  minced
1 onion, cut in half                                                
1 stalk celery
1 carrot  
10 sprigs fresh parsley and 2 large sprigs thyme tied in a bundle**
4 drops hot sauce (or to taste) 

*You do not have to soak beans contrary to common wisdom.  They will, however, cook more evenly and (rumor has it) be less gassy if you do soak them.  Place the cleaned and sorted beans in the pot with water just to cover overnight.  Or for quick soak:  place cleaned and sorted beans in pot just barely covered with water and bring to a boil for two minutes.  Turn heat off, cover pot, and let sit one hour before making soup.  Discard soaking liquid for either method.
 
**Or use just the parsley tied and add 1 teaspoon dried thyme
 

  Add all of the broth ingredients to a large (10-12 quart) stock pot.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer.   Let cook about an hour or until beans are just beginning to soften. Take out ham hock or bone and cool a bit.  Remove any usable meat, chop, and return to pot.  Discard bone.  Remove herb bundle and discard.  Remove large pieces of vegetables, cool briefly and chop; return to pot. Don’t take out the bay leaves. Whoever gets them has good luck. Continue below at “Make the Soup.”

 Second, make the soup:

Add to the broth the following:

2 cups ham cut into half-inch pieces
3 tablespoons tomato paste (or 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes)   
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup each chopped onion and carrots 
  
 Bring the pot of soup to a boil.  Reduce heat to a healthy simmer and cook another 1-2  hours until beans and all vegetables are tender.  (The time will depend somewhat on how high you have the heat, how done the beans already were, etc.)  Add water, if needed, to ensure vegetables are all cooking very freely in liquid.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.   If you’d like  a thicker soup, remove two cups of beans and vegetables and mash or puree in the food processor.  Return mashed vegetables to pot and taste again for seasoning.  Serve hot with corn bread, butter, and honey.  Store cooled leftovers well-covered in the refrigerator three days or in the freezer for up to six months.

Variations:  Want a slow-cooker bean soup?  Try this one.
You can also slow“cook” bean soup in the oven like my friend Tony does.  Try this.
It doesn’t take much to convert this to a more French version.  Read here. 

{printable recipe for bean soup}

 

       alyce’s corn bread
makes one 9″inch cast iron pan  (can use 9″ baking pan if necessary)  
8-10 servings

  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided  (1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons for batter; 1 tablespoon to grease pan)
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 cup milk
    1 tablespoon finely minced onion
  • 1 1/4 cups white or yellow cornmeal
    3/4 cup unbleached white flour
    1/4 cup white, granulated sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper    or more to taste
  1. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 Celsius).  Place rack at center.
  2.  Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter and set aside.
  3. Heat a 9″ cast iron skillet (23 Le Creuset) on the stove top over low flame with  the tablespoon of remaining butter.   (If using a baking pan, simply grease the pan.)  Tilt and tip skillet from side to side to coat the entire pan with a film of butter.  Remove from heat if butter begins to burn.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, onion, and reserved melted butter.  Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, mix well the dry ingredients (cornmeal – pepper).  Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and mix until just barely combined.
  6. Pour batter into hot skillet or greased pan. I let the pan sit there a minute or two.  Using hot pad for skillet, carefully move skillet to oven center rack. 
  7. Bake about twenty minutes or until bread is golden brown with crispy edges and a toothpick inserted at center comes out clean.  Serve hot with honey and butter.   Wrap leftovers carefully and store at room temperature for one-two days or up to one week in the refrigerator.  (Good crumbled in milk for breakfast.) 

{printable recipe-corn bread}

  two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

Came home from a trip to find someone had (we guess) a bit too much holiday eggnog and ran our fence down.  Sad.

 

Back from the groomer.  A bit embarrassed by the regalia.  Cute babies, HUH?!

Better late than never:  a little of the Thanksgiving baking above and below:

Maple-Bourbon Pecan Pie

 

 

Cranberry-Apple Tart with Almond Paste Crust

 

Pour the pumpkin mixture into a pie plate on a baking sheet that’s already in the oven.

 

C is for Cherry

 

My One-Minute (microwave) Pumpkin Custards made into tiny pies with an Anna’s Ginger Thin.

 Sing a new song; make a pot of beans,
Alyce

Guinness Beef Pot Pie with Cheddar-Dill Biscuits or I’m So Full I Don’t Know Where I’m Going to Sleep Tonight

Guinness Beef Pot Pie with Cheddar-Dill Biscuits or I’m So Full I Don’t Know Where I’m Going to Sleep Tonight

Made in a deep, heavy 8 quart cast iron pot with a  lid  (Dutch oven)

Last year around this time, I made a pot roast with big pieces of butternut squash and halved onions in the oven.  A day later I took the leftovers, including the gravy, and made stew.  Stew from leftovers is definitely an improvement over freshly made stew.   There’s a deeper, fuller, and more flavorful rich quality–without question.  It’s just that there’s usually less than when you make a fresh pot. That stew made very quickly with the addition of more onions, celery, and Guinness stout, etc., was divine.   I mean it, it was an incredible stew.

No who knows totally why one time things are so scrumptious you want more and more — and another time (same ingredients and method apparently) it’s like, “This is ok. Yeah, we can eat dinner here.”  Perhaps it’s the quality of the meat (in the case of stew) or maybe it’s a little pixie dust.  Your taste buds might be on their “A” game so that you are able to season the pot in an extraordinary way.   Truly, I just don’t know.  I know when I’m tired — really exhausted– the meal prepared under those circumstances is plebian.  I just did that recently, so I know.  I know when I don’t give something my undivided attention that it’s bound to be less interesting.  (As in the kids are hungry-throw a bunch of cut-up chicken in the oven and make some rice for God’s sake.)

Despite the fact that I make several pots of stew over the winter each year, I remembered that one.  I also remembered I was determined to recreate it from scratch if possible.  Hence this pot of stew that, by the end of the cooking, morphed into one big pot pie.

Options:
If you’d like stew only, add a cup or two more liquid, and skip the biscuits. I did not try it, but I’d guess it’s possible to make the stew all day in the crock-pot–cutting down the amount of herbs–, pour it into an oven-safe pot and bake with the biscuits right at dinner time.  Another option might be (again, I didn’t try this) to cool the stew and top it with puff pastry.  (If you put the puff pastry on hot stew, it’ll be melting.)  That might appeal to some cooks more than making biscuit dough.  Like Bisquick biscuits?  Go on; I won’t know, though I encourage you to learn to make biscuits.  I once knew a woman whose husband insisted he married her because she could make beaten biscuits in her sleep.

Come cold, there’s little more satisfying than a pot of stew in the oven. (Play cards.  Listen to music.  Watch “Michael.”)  One of the interesting things about this stew is it’s made without potatoes though you could add some if you’d like.  I prefer root vegetables and stick with carrots, turnips, parsnips, as well as celery, onions, garlic, and butternut squash.   Serve this with another couple of cold Guinness stouts or a glass of your favorite Syrah or Côtes du Rhône if you’re not a dark beer person.  (You’ll still love the stew; I promise.) 

Here’s how in a picture recipe (scroll down for separate ingredients list and biscuit recipe):

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  To an 8 qt Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons canola oil. When hot, add 2-3 pounds beef chuck (seasoned well with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper) cut into 1 – 1 1/2 inch pieces. Brown well in two batches, removing the first batch to a plate while you cook the second.

To the second batch of browning beef, add 2 large chopped onions.  When beef is nearly brown, add four cloves chopped garlic.  Cook a minute, return first batch of beef to the pot, and stir in 3 tablespoons flour. Cook 2 minutes, stirring.

Pour in 2 cups each beef broth and Guinness stout and stir well to scrape up the bits at the bottom of the pot. Add 1 bay leaf,  1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, a large sprig each of fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage.* Stir in 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish or a good hard shake or two of Tabasco.
Add 4 ounces quartered button mushrooms along with one each turnip and parsnip , 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, and 1 cup of  butternut squash, all cut into around 1/2 inch pieces.
Bring to a boil stirring occasionally.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Cover and bake in the oven 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until beef and vegetables are tender and sauce is thickened. 

 Remove from oven and take out the fresh herb sprigs.^ If stew is very, very thick, add a little water or broth.  Biscuits will soak up a lot of the liquid.
Meanwhile, make cheddar-dill biscuit dough. It’s a very wet dough.  (See below for recipe.)
Spoon biscuit dough (I used a wooden spoon) onto the top of the cooked stew. Brush biscuits with a tablespoon of melted butter. Biscuits will rise and expand to nearly cover top of pie. 
Return to oven and bake uncovered another 20-30 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.

Serve hot with a crisp green salad.  Store leftovers well covered in frig 2-3 days.  Rewarm in another casserole in oven.

Serves 6

Ingredients List:  2-3 pounds beef chuck roast cut into 1 – 1 1/2 inch pieces; salt and pepper; 2 large onions; 4 cloves garlic; 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour; 2 cups each beef broth and Guinness stout**; 4 ounces button mushrooms; one each turnip and parsnip; 2 carrots; 1 cup cut butternut squash; 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1 bay leaf, and 1 sprig each rosemary, thyme, and sage*; 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish or Tabasco.

*You may substitute two teaspoons each dried rosemary (crumbled) and thyme with 1/2 teaspoon ground sage.

**If you don’t want to use beer, use all beef broth.

^ Leave in bay leaf.  Whoever gets it has good luck!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Cheddar Dill Biscuits for Pot Pie:

  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1/2 cup (4 tablespoons) cold butter, diced–plus 1 more tablespoon, melted for tops of biscuits
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup milk

Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add cold butter and using a pastry blender or two knives (you can use just your fingers or even do the whole thing in a food processor), cut in the butter until the butter is mostly blended and the mixture appears sandy.  Stir in cheese.  Pour in milk and mix well without over-mixing.  (Using a large spoon, divide dough fairly evenly around the top of the pot pie and brush with the tablespoon of melted butter before baking.)

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood
It’s my Mom’s birthday today…Lovely to remember her on her special day.  She crossed the river in  ’85. One of my mom’s many good lines was, “I’m so full I don’t know where I’m going to sleep tonight.” 

I often think of her in view the Hopi poem I heard again yesterday at the funeral of a fine, fine man… 

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet white doves in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.
 

In the house and yard this week….. 

I’ve re-worked and re-photographed one of the favorite recipes on both blogs–Cherry Tomato Chicken Pasta with Basil.  Updated version coming soon to a blog near you.

The 30 Second and No Pan to Wash Egg on Dinner Place (Cooking for One)–my other blog.
Miss Gab loves to stay under the piano–whether I’m working there or not.

Tuck ready for HIS close-up

The last roses of summer from my huge, old fashioned bush.  I brought them in as buds over a week ago!
Saturday, I baked oatmeal chocolate chips for the authors in town for Opus and Olives, one of the premiere literary events in the Twin Cities held each fall  at the Crown Plaza Hotel in St. Paul. (Mark Shriver said he’d eaten his six all in a row; he’d had no food in hours while traveling!)  Dave and I also went the banquet and enjoyed a fine meal with great folks while we listened to the each author speak.  (My favorite was Cheryl Strayed, but then again, I adored her book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.)

Meantime,  we have lots of ripe cherry tomatoes from the garden to eat and…

more ripening!  (It’s October 17…)

 And, because it’s October, I’m listening to the choir’s Christmas cantata (or playing it at the piano) every day.  This year, it’s By Heaven’s Light by Allen Pote.  For fun, it’s even on youtube, though it’s in six (I think!) different segments.

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Pie 101 – Derby Pie

Pie 101 – Derby Pie

“Derby” Pie or  Pecan-Chocolate-Bourbon Pie.  Can you say decadent?

When someone needs something baked, I do it if I can.  If I have the time.  Not everyone bakes.  I love to bake and need an excuse now that there are only two of us in the house.  If I bake for an event, I somehow always manage to make enough so that we can share a sample or even have a tiny sweetness for ourselves.  (If it’s pie, it’s usually for Dave; I eat a bite, that’s it.  He loves pie too much for me to eat much.)

(Aside:  After I saw how many people read my basic Pie 101 post, I thought I’d begin a series (quite intermittent) on pies.  I hope  you like them.  Anywho, read on.)

Dave’s baby pie in a 4″ ramekin.  He was so relieved.

My friend Roberta likes to give Kentucky Derby parties and her pie baker was a no-show.  I was happy to have an afternoon in the kitchen, though I had never before baked Derby Pie.  I had baked many a pecan pie (the easiest pie to make except for custard and, by the way, pecan pie is a kind of custard pie as it contains eggs and melted butter) and this didn’t look much different–once I figured out what it was.  And while it wasn’t terribly different, it sure tasted differently.   Think of pecans.  Then think of what they taste like sweetened up a little.  Add chocolate.  Bourbon.  You have the picture.  And oh, how lovely this would be for Thanksgiving.

I don’t know from bourbon, but this is what I bought.

But to begin with,  I  couldn’t locate a recipe in any one of my many cookbooks.   A bit embarrassing.  But not much.

This is my cookbook corner.  That’s not all of them, of course.   And no Derby Pie. Hmph.

I thought it was odd that there was no “Derby Pie” even in any of my baking books; I have a few baking books!  Back to the computer to discover that “Derby Pie” –or the term itself– is patented and can only be baked by the Kern family in Louisville, Kentucky.  In other words, they have a monopoly on it.  Once I knew exactly what Derby Pie was, I began to look on other sites for a recipe.  I found dozens –some too simple and some too complicated– and settled on one (below) from examiner.com, a site I wrote for for a few years.  It looked like a recipe I could easily triple or quadruple, which was my day’s goal.

Warming the eggs in warm water since I forgot to take them out the night before.  Room temperature eggs are needed for baking.  I left them about 10 minutes.  Warm eggs crack easier and are less likely to leave bits of shell in your bowl.
Collecting the pie plates.  I keep a couple in my kitchen and the rest downstairs. I use pie plates for a lot of cooking.  They’re perfect for anything in the microwave (vegetables, leftovers) and I bake biscuits in them because you can take the Pyrex plate to the table and the biscuits stay warm.  I almost always use glass pie plates for even baking and for seeing the crust when checking to see if the pie is done.  Do not ever use disposable aluminum pie plates; they’re just too shallow and lightweight.
Toasting all the pecans at once on a half sheet pan.  I like to buy pecans in the fall from Georgia growers.  Often churches sell pecans for fundraisers.  Buy enough for the year then and freeze them.  I make a lot of spicy pecans for Christmas and also at other times of the year for nibbles with wine. (below)

Here I’ve mixed them with other nuts for gift giving or cookie trays.  Recipe here.

For photos of the making dough portion, turn back to my Pie 101 (Step-by-Step) or use your own favorite.  My own dough recipe–scroll down.  Do not use a sweetened dough here.

Dough in all four pie plates, including the baby pie for Dave.
Mixing each pie’s ingredients separately to make sure each pie has enough of everything.
Carefully filling the shells so that I don’t spill the filling onto the pie dough.  Some people do this on the oven rack.
This one is baked in a deep dish stoneware plate from Pampered Chef.  Emile Henry also makes a good deep dish plate.

Glass Pyrex plate

Side view of deep dish pie.

The baby.  You can bake pie in about anything that’s oven proof.  Apilco (French porcelain–excellent dishes for everyday and any day) makes large coffee cups that are oven-proof–as does Corning Ware.

The whole gang all done.    Enough for a Kentucky Derby Party.    How about Thanksgiving?

derby pie

  • Recipe for 10-inch Single Crust Pie Crust  (see below for my crust recipe or use your own)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted (and cooled or it’ll cook your eggs)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup Karo light corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs  (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla  (I like Nielson-Massey vanilla; some prefer Penzey’s.)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (You see -above- I used Jim Beam.  You may know more and choose better.)
  • 3/4 cup gourmet chocolate chips (I use Guiradelli or Guittard; Callebaut is lovely, but pricey and hard to locate.*)
  • 1 1/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, shelled and chopped in half if desired

 How To Make Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Roll crust according to my directions in the Best Ever Pie Crust Recipe, or use Alyce’s crust below,  or use a store bought pre-baked pie crust, line a 10-inch deep dish pie pan with the dough, and flute the edges as desired.
  • In a large mixing bowl, on medium speed with whisk attachment, whip butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon together until frothy.
  • Remove bowl from mixer, and fold in chocolate chips and pecans or walnuts. Blend well.
  • Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until set.
  • Serve warm, or cool completely before serving with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • Yields 8-10 slices.   Derby  Pie Recipe courtesy Donna Diegel, Examiner.com

*You can also choose an excellent semi or bittersweet baking chocolate like Valrhona or Callebaut and chop your own chocolate if you like.  BTW, I sometimes order Valrhona chocolate from amazon.com though it is sometimes available at Whole Foods or better grocery stores.)

Alyce’s Pie Dough Recipe:

Pâte Brisée-— Made in a Cuisinart — This is the dough I use most often.
                                                        for each 10″ pie shell 
1 1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup or 1/4#  unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 8 pieces (1 stick) 
1/4 cup ice water (measure 1/4 cup water into a 1 cup measuring cup half full of ice)

Place flour and salt in the work bowl of the food processor fitted with steel blade.  Pulse a couple of times to distribute salt.  Add cold butter and pulse briefly several times until butter is worked into flour in several different sizes (1/4″ – 1/2″).  With machine running, slowly pour water through feed tube until dough begins to come together.  Stop machine and carefully remove dough from work bowl.  Working quickly to avoid melting the butter within the dough, form into a ball and then flatten into a disc.  Roll out and fill immediately (see above) or chill, well-wrapped,  1 hour or up to two days ahead. 

Sing a new song; bake a new pie,
Alyce

50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #44- Nigella Lawson – Guinness Gingerbread

50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #44- Nigella Lawson – Guinness Gingerbread

A tender, quite moist gingerbread from Nigella.

Gingerbread is Christmas, right?  Maybe New Year’s Day?  Certainly a cold-weather dessert.  Except that I love it.  I’d eat it in July if I were willing to turn the oven on.  Which I’m not.*  So that’s why it’s April and there’s Nigella Lawson’s gorgeous Guinness Gingerbread on the blog. (Two “n’s” and two “s’s” in Guinness–tells you  alot about how much I know about Guinness.  I did tour the brewery in Dublin once and actually drank a tall one.)  If you’ve been following along on this trip, I’ve joined a group of great food bloggers who are each week cooking, testing, and writing about one of Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Game-Changers.  And, you guessed it, this week (number 44) is Nigella’s week–I’m so grateful.  After all, I needed a reason to make gingerbread in the spring.  Didn’t I? (Cold and nasty in St. Paul today after a great, warm spring.  I was happy to have a warm kitchen.)
   *I have just installed a combination microwave/convection oven above my rangeThis may help with summer baking.  More later!

If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Nigella on tv or reading one of her books, you just need to do it.  Picture a well-fed, very pretty British woman with a great accent sneaking out of bed in the dark to raid the refrigerator of crispy fried pork fat or snarfing down the last, well-hid piece of flourless chocolate cake.  Not only is she real with a capital R, but she’s fun and brings more than a bit of the seductive into the kitchen, where it surely belongs.  Whatever…it’s great to watch someone enjoy what they do and Nigella does that in spades.  Isn’t that what really draws us to people?  I adore friends who are happy in what they do.

For a biographical sketch that may surprise you, check out Nigella’s Food Network biography page here.  Not only has Nigella been a food tv star for several years and written a variety of best-selling cookbooks, but she was Deputy Literary Critic of the (London) Sunday Times before setting out to follow her own drummer as a free-lancer.  No small apples.

For a list of all of Nigella’s books, lots more info and recipes, check out her website.

But!  If you’re intrigued by the gingerbread:   get out a 9×13 pan and get baking.  Easy as pie (which isn’t easy–who said that?)  you warm up some butter, a cup of Guinness stout and a couple of other things, whisk in a few dry ingredients, pour into a greased pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Cool, cut, and serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or Crème fraîche.  Nothing better.  My own notes are in red.  Enjoy!

Guinness Gingerbread by Nigella Lawson

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 sticks 10 (tablespoons) butter, plus some for greasing
  • 1 cup golden syrup (such as Lyle’s) (I used Organic Corn Syrup plus a little Molasses.)
  • 1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness) (There’s just a taste left for a chef’s snack!)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • (I added 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 rectangular aluminium foil pan or cake pan, approximately 13 by 9 by 2-inches

Directions

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line your cake pan with aluminium foil and grease it, or grease your foil tray.

Put the butter, syrup, dark brown sugar, stout, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves into a pan (2-3qt saucepan)  and melt gently over a low heat.

Organic Corn Syrup with a little molasses poured in…quite pretty.

Dave was so sad that I bought a whole 6-pack.

Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and baking soda. You will need to be patient and whisk thoroughly to get rid of any lumps.

Whisk the sour cream and eggs together in a measuring jug (4c glass measuring cup) and then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again to get a smooth batter.

Pour this into your cake/foil pan, and bake for about 45 minutes; when it’s ready it will be gleamingly risen at the centre, and coming away from the pan at the sides.

Let the gingerbread cool before cutting into slices or squares.

Add sweetened or spiced whipped cream, Crème fraîche,  or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.  Just a winter dusting of powdered sugar is lovely if you’re into simplicity:

For grin and giggles, watch this Nigella Interview:

If you’d like to read more great recipes, try one of the other blogs on our trip visiting 50 Women Game-Changers in Food:

Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden
Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita – Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Mary – One Perfect Bite, Sue – The View from Great Island, Barbara – Movable Feasts
Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo, Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen, Annie – Most Lovely Things, Jeanette – Healthy Living
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table
Kathy – Bakeaway with Me, Martha – Simple Nourished Living, Jill – Saucy Cooks
Sara – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

Next week we’ll feature Diana Kennedy, the very fine Mexican cookbook author.  Join us!

Sing a new song,
Alyce