Beef Bourguignon

It’s rainy and cold outside. It’s my favorite weather for slow cooked Beef Bourguignon. Not only is it a rather easy dish to prepare, it fills the house with comforting smells and warmth from the oven 🙂

Try it out and let me know what you think.

20141219-203527.jpg

Beef Bourguignon
serves about 6
* 2 lbs stewing meat (beef cubes)
* 1 bottle of Pinot Noir
* 2 TBSP fennel seeds
* zest from 1/2 a navel orange
* 1 bay leaf
* 8 sprigs of thyme
* 6 slices of thick cut bacon, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
* a carton of crimini mushrooms (try to get small ones or cut larger ones in half)
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 2 handfuls of baby carrots
* 2 TBSP tomato paste
* salt and pepper to taste

Put the beef, wine, fennel, bay leaf and orange zest in a non-reactive bowl and marinate overnight.

~3 hours before you want to serve dinner, take the beef out of the marinate and let it sit on paper towels. Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.

In a large Dutch oven, render the bacon until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels. Dump all but 2 TBSP of the bacon grease. Keep the 2 TBSP in the pot.

Sear the semi-dried beef in the bacon grease. (Make sure you turn the meat only once and only when it has a nice golden crust. It shouldn’t take too long per side. ~1-2 mins). You also might need to do this in multiple batches. Don’t crowd the pot. Once seared, remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

Add the onions and carrots scraping up any of the browned bits in the pan. Cook on medium for about 5 mins.

Add the tomato paste and stir until it takes on a deeper red color. Add the thyme, marinade (minus the orange peel), and the beef and any beef juices from the reserve bowl. Cook on the stove until slightly simmering.

Cover the pot and put it in the oven at 325 degrees for one hour. Make sure it’s not boiling at this point. If it is, turn down the oven to 300 degrees. Give the pot a stir.

Set your timer for another hour. Check the meat at this point. It should be getting tender and moist. Add the mushrooms and bacon back to the pot. Add 1/2 cup of water and a tsp of salt. Cook for 30 more minutes.

Take it out of the oven (leaving the lid on the pot). Let it settle for about 20 minutes. Check for salt and pepper. Add accordingly.

Serve with egg noodles, boiled potatoes or French bread.

Enjoy!

Last Year’s Turkey: Hoping to recreate the magic

So last year, I BBQ’d the turkey. It was ah-maze-ing. Truly. It was golden and juicy. Even the white meat was delicious (I’m a dark meat kinda girl but dang the whole bird was so good).

Of course, I didn’t document the recipe. So, I’m going to make one up/partially remember and jot it down. I hope it works as good this year as it did last year. I’ll let you know after Thanksgiving.

The Best BBQ'd Turkey

BBQ’d Turkey on a Gas Grill

  • 1 16-18 pound turkey (we use Mary’s heritage birds), giblets and neck and all the other strange stuff inside removed (save the neck and leftover carcass for stock)
  • Brining mix (I use Stonwall Kitchen’s Farmhouse Brine or Williams-Sonoma brine)
  • 2 quarts of water
  • Brining Bag
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 1 bottle of chardonnay
  • handful of fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 yellow onion cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 orange cut in half
  • 1/2 head of garlic (1 whole head cut in half across the cloves)
  • salt and pepper

2 days before Thanksgiving: Clean your bird and then put her in the brining bag then put the whole thing in a foil roasting pan. Heat 1 quart of your water in a big pot and add the brining mix. Let cool. Once cooled, add the brining mix, water and extra 1 quart of water to the brining bag/turkey. Refrigerate the whole thing for 24 hours.

The Day Before Thanksgiving: Take the turkey out of the brining bag and toss the brine. Rinse the bird quickly and dry with paper towels. Put a couple layers of paper towel in the foil roaster and then the bird – unwrapped- into the roaster. Place in fridge uncovered for 24 hours. This will dry out the skin and make it so it will be crispy when you roast it.

Thanksgiving Day: Remove the turkey from the fridge. Salt and pepper the inside of the cavity. Fill the cavity with the thyme, onion, orange and garlic. Tie up your bird so the legs and wings are held in tight to the bird. Add pea sized pieces of butter under the skin (use care doing this so you don’t break the skin). Salt and pepper the outside of the bird.

Put the bird, breast-side up, on a foil roasting pan and let her rest.

Heat remaining butter in a pot. Add Chardonnay and put 1/2 the mixture in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Getting Ready

Ignite the grill and turn all burners to high. Close the lid and preheat 10 to 15 minutes to bring the grill to 500 to 550 degrees. Set two side burners to medium heat and turn off the center burner. You’ll want to keep the bbq around 375 degrees. Position your turkey in the pan in the center of the cooking grate and place the lid on the grill. Try to keep the grill covered unless your basting it. I remember basting the turkey about 4 times. If you see the bottom of the pan getting dry, add more of your Chardonnay/butter mixture to the bird.

Cook 11 to 13 minutes per pound or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone registers 165 degrees and the juices run clear. Transfer turkey to a platter. Let stand for 15 minutes before carving.
Happy Thanksgiving!!! xoxoxo

Making Room In the Fridge For Thanksgiving

We often have remnants of veggie odds and ends in our crisper. I’ll usually make a quick soup with the veggies, broth and some thyme and oregano. It’s a family staple. But I thought I’d try something new since I also had a bunch of eggs from the girls (our chickens).

This is also a quick meal you can prepare in the “week before Thanksgiving” calm.

Cleaning the kitchen frittata

Egg and Veggie Frittata (kinda)

  • 4-5 eggs, beaten
  • Any veggies cut into bite sized pieces (I used broccolini, cabbage, leeks, peas and zucchini) Leeks are really good in this.
  • 3 TBSP goat cheese (chevre)
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a large non-stick pan. Add all your veggies and cook until just tender. Reduce the temperature to medium/low. Add the eggs and goat cheese. Move the bottom of the eggs around so they begin to cook through (but don’t stir). Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Flip the egg mixture and cook until fluffy.

Enjoy with a nice salad or toasted bread!

Easy Dinners A Week Before Thanksgiving – part 1

I don’t know about you but my counter space is starting to get filled up with preparations for Thanksgiving. With spiced nuts, savory jams, stuffed olives, stuffing, pumpkins, spices, stock, fried onions, and other scrumptious bits waiting for the BIG day taking up space on my counter, it’s super hard to get inspired to cook tonight’s meal. And, I don’t want to spend too much time cooking when I know I’ll be packing in two days worth of stove watching in a week.

So, it’s dinners like clam linguini/spaghetti that I turn to in times like these (it doesn’t hurt that they’re super easy and delicious).

Clam Linguini

Super Easy Clam Linguini

Serves 2.5

  • 15 little neck clams (live)
  • a splash of white wine (and then you can drink the rest of the bottle while preparing and eating your easy dinner)
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into super thin slices with the peel
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes (we save these for after the kiddo gets her serving)
  • a pinch of parsley for color and freshness
  • linguini for 3 (you can use spaghetti in a pinch)
  • salt
  • reserved pasta water
  • Parmesan cheese

Start a pot of water over high heat until boiling. Add a good 1 TBSP of salt to the boiling water (this is the only salt in the dish) then add your pasta. Cook according to the package directions.

In a pan, heat your butter and oil. Add shallots and garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 min). Add clams and a splash of your wine. Cover and let steam until the clams open. Once opened, add your lemon and cooked pasta. At this point, you might need to add a bit of the reserved pasta water (I usually add 1 – 2 ladles).

Sprinkle with parsley and serve with Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Enjoy!!

Late Spring Lobster and Mint Pasta

I know. I know. At least I’m back and I have loads to share.

This recipe is so random that it inspired the return just so i can archive it for frequent rotation.

Who knew mint and lobster were delicious together. Oh and be aware, we showered it with Parmesan – a classic “no, no” with seafood pasta. But seriously, you should try it … You might like it.

Lobster and Mint Pasta

(Feeds 2.5)

20140511-085931.jpg

* 2-3 lobster tails (ours were tiny and I wish I had 3. Whole Foods has 2 for $12 right now)
* 1 shallot, sliced thin
* 1-2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
* 2 knobs of unsalted butter (~ 2 TBSP)
* 1 TBSP olive oil
* 7-10 mint leaves, cut thinly
* 2 pinches of red chili flakes
* a handful of spaghetti or linguini (don’t throw out the pasta water)
* salt for pasta water
* Parmesan

Boil a big pot of water for the pasta. Add a large handful of salt to the water prior to adding the pasta. I heard once that the water should be as salty as the sea. If you do this, you won’t need to add any more salt.

In another small pot, steam the lobster tails until they are pink (~5-7 mins). I have this great silicon steamer that fits into any pot. If you don’t have this, put a bit of water in your pot then one small plate (that fits in the pot) facing down and one facing up on top of it. Make sure these plates are heat safe. Then put the lobsters on that plate.

In a pan, melt 1 TBSP of the butter and add the olive oil. Cook the shallots and garlic until tender.

Once the lobster tails are cooked, pull the meat from the tails and slice them into 1″ pieces. Add them to the shallots and garlic. Add the remaining butter. Add cooked pasta straight from the boiling water to the pan. Add a few spoonfuls of pasta water to the pan ~1/4 cup. Cook a bit until the sauce coats the pasta.

Now if you have little ones at home, reserve the chili and mint for the adults to add to their own dishes. Otherwise, add the chili flakes now.

Serve with mint and Parmesan. Mmm!

Summer’s bounty as a Mediterranean and quinoa salad

The other night was a warm one (I know, it’s Summer and it’s supposed to be warm). Well in our little hometown, we’re usually blanketed in coastal fog June through August which makes it super chilly and wet.
So given the rarity (and desire not to “cook”), our family celebrated the Summer’s bounty with a Mediterranean chopped salad over quinoa. It was scrumptious. In fact, I’m all ready to make it again along with the fried squash blossoms from last night.

20120719-205320.jpg

Mediterranean chopped salad

  • 1 medium zucchini quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/2 small summer squash quartered lengthwise and sliced (great for color)
  • 1 medium cucumber diced
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 1 handful of black olives sliced
  • A good hunk of Harley Farms feta cheese broken up with your fingers
  • 2 small heirloom tomatoes diced
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup (or a mini handful) of fresh mint leaves chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Mix first nine ingredients in a bowl.

Put cooked quinoa (I liked it a bit warm but it’s also great cold) into a bowl. Drizzle the quinoa with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Dress with the chopped salad. Eat!

Scrump-dilie-umptious!

Note: this can be made a day ahead. But don’t blame me if you can’t keep your paws out of the dish.

Picnic Dinners

Sometimes, picnic dinners are the best. Whether the baby took longer than expected to go to sleep, there was traffic getting home and it’s now 7:30, it’s too hot outside to turn on the stove (that would be nice), or you just don’t have the motivation to cook, a hodge podge of condiments, cheeses, meats and crackers are what’s necessary (especially if it also includes a glass of wine).

I always have crackers, some cheese and olives on hand for this occasion. You could even freeze some artisan cheese and pull it out when you get home. Once you’ve got your “grubbies” on, the animals are fed and you’ve had some time to unwind from the day, your cheese will be ready to snack on.

I was lucky enough to find myself in Santa Cruz yesterday and so I stopped in at El Salchichero. One of the cheeses is a farmstead goat cheese called Capricious from Achadinha in Petaluma and is so freaking good. The other cheese is a triple cream brie. We also had some assorted olives, roasted tomatoes, crackers and bread, figs, dark chocolate covered almonds and extremely local honey (like from the house 4 doors down local).

My favorite combo was a cracker with the Capricious, a sliced fig and drizzle of honey.

Go get in your grubbies* and have a carpet picnic tonight.

*Mom would call her house clothes or pajamas “grubbies” and it stuck.