Friday, January 27, 2012

Beef Casserole With Carrots, Onions, and Cream

This week's IHCC theme is a potluck choice of any recipe from one of Tessa Kiros' cookbooks.  I selected a beef dish from her book Falling Cloudberries.  Tessa writes that this is an adaptation from a popular Finnish dish called Karelian stew.  She also points out that you can add a few fresh herbs or other spices to the pot and even use a mixture of meats (veal, beef, and pork).

It couldn't have been easier and goes to prove that a good tasting meal can be derived from the simplest of ingredients.  And speaking of ingredients, here is the cast of characters for this recipe.

Topside of beef, carrots, onion, parsley, bay leaf, allspice, and cream.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could purchase tiny bundles of parsley instead of  huge amounts? 


Throw everything except the parsley and cream into a heavy casserole.  The recipe calls for 8 allspice berries.  I only had ground allspice so I closed my eyes and imagined what 8 berries would look like after I ground them up; then I measured out a teaspoon and threw it in the pot.  As you can tell, I'm very scientific in my methods.

Next, pour about 3 cups of water or enough to come 3/4 of the way up the side of the meat.

Cover the casserole and bake at 350°F. for about two hours.  Turn the meat a couple of times during that period.

After two hours the meat should be very tender.  Remove the meat to a resting plate and cover with foil.  Discard the bay leaf and berries (if you actually had berries).  Remove the carrots and onion and measure out 3 cups of the liquid.  My liquid actually measure out to exactly 3 cups.

I admit I became somewhat giddy when I read the instructions to use a food mill to pureé the carrots and onions.  I love this kitchen tool of mine and I don't use it a lot.  However, it was just not happening with the onions; I wasn't getting the result I wanted.

So I dumped it all in the blender with a little bit of the juices and pureéd until it was smooth.

I whisked the pureé into the cooking liquid (that I had poured into a small saucepan) and added the parsley and cream.  While that was heating up I sliced the meat and plated it up with some egg noodles.  As instructed I ate the sauce like it was soup poured lots and lots of sauce over the meat as well as the noodles.

Beef Casserole With Carrots, Onions,and Cream
Adapted from "Falling Cloudberries" by Tessa Kiros
Serves 4 to 6

3-1/4 pound piece of lean silverside or topside of beef
2 large carrots
1 large red onion
About 8 Allspice Berries (I used 1 tsp ground Allspice)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Mise en Place:
  • rinse and pat dry the beef
  • peel carrots and cut in 1-1/2 to 2 inch chunks
  • peel onion and cut into quarters
  • chop parsley
  • measure out cream
  • measure 3 cups of water
Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Put all the ingredients except the cream and parsley into a heavy casserole dish and add about 3 cups of water, or enough to come about three quarters up the side of the meat.

Cover the casserole dish and bake for about 2 hours, turning the meat over a couple of times until it is really soft.  Remove from the oven.  Lift out the carrots and onions with a slotted spoon and pass them through the fine disk of a food mill, or pureé them (I pureéd mine in the blender).  Discard the bay leaf and allspice berries from the casserole.  Remove the meat from the casserole and keep warm.

Measure about 3 cups of the cooking liquid and return this with the pureéd vegetables to the casserole (you can freeze any leftover cooking broth for another use).  (Note:  my liquid actually measured out to exactly 3 cups).  Add the parsley and cream to the liquid and heat through.  Adjust the seasoning if necessary.  Serve the beef in thick slices and serve with a lot of sauce poured over it.

I am sharing this recipe over at IHCC

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lemon Ginger Chicken

If you like lemon and you like ginger, this recipe allowed both flavors to shine individually while at the same time you have that combination of both melded with the brown sugar that produces a near candy-like taste in your mouth.

I cut this recipe out of the Parade magazine that comes with your Sunday paper.  Is this magazine still stuffed inside the Sunday paper along with all of the coupons and flyers?  It's been so long since I've actually bought a Sunday paper I couldn't tell you.

Here's what we'll start with:  chicken, lemon, fresh ginger, fresh lemon juice, garlic, lemon extract, flour, ground ginger, paprika, salt, black pepper, chicken broth, light-brown sugar and corn oil.  My oil might look a little questionable to you, with writing on the label and all.  I recently used that oil to fry up a boat load of okra.  I save my oil in the refrigerator and re-use it until I cook something like fish or shrimp.  I also save bacon drippings in a jar in the refrigerator.  I'm frugal that way.

The first order of business is to cut up your chicken into 8 pieces, rinse and pat dry.  I saved the back and gizzard and made a couple of cups of stock for another time.

Combine all the ingredients for your marinade, which is the fresh lemon juice, garlic, fresh ginger and the lemon extract.  Pour this over your chicken in a large bowl and toss (good time to be wearing your kitchen gloves!).  Cover the bowl with Saran wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

While your chicken is marinating, pour the oil into the sauté pan.  Mix the flour, ground ginger, paprika, salt and pepper in a paper bag, and measure out your chicken broth and brown sugar.

See the circle of what, at first glance, looks like foam?  That's actually a little cornmeal used in frying the okra that escaped through the strainer.  This oil is cold and the cornmeal almost immediately formed this halo.  Alton Brown, please explain this phenomenon to me.  I know there must be an explanation and I know you'd have the answer.

Okay, now you can heat up your oil.

Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and pat dry (save the marinade!!).  Place several pieces at a time in the paper bag and shake to coat in the flour mixture.  Fry chicken in batches

until it's golden and crispy.

Place browned chicken in a roasting pan and pour the broth and the reserved marinade in the bottom of the roasting pan.  Pat the brown sugar on top of the chicken pieces then top with your finely sliced lemon slices.

I love Meyer lemons so I used those for my thinly sliced lemons to top the chicken.

Bake for 45 minutes, uncovered, in a 350°F oven.  Baste once after 20 minutes.

This is a great chicken dish hot from the oven so serve immediately.  The original recipe suggests it is just as good the day after, at room temperature.  We did have it as leftovers (heated), but I might suggest before storing overnight, I would remove the lemon slices; they tend to turn bitter.

One other thing about this recipe...make sure you have the 2 hours for marinating this recipe.  You don't want to marinate the chicken in it over night because it will partially cook your chicken.  You will notice a little bit of a change in the chicken just in that 2 hours.

Also, the recipe says it serves 2.  ????.  Maybe if you're really, really hungry.  I think it can easily serve more when you serve with a salad and a side dish.  But hey, it's up to you in the end.

Lemon Ginger Chicken
Serves 2

1 chicken (2 pounds), cut into 8 serving pieces
1 cup fresh lemon juice - about 3 large lemons
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
4 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 cups corn oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
4 Tbsp. light-brown sugar
2 lemons, slice paper-thin (I used Meyer lemons)

Mise en Place:
  • Cut, rinse and pat dry the chicken
  • squeeze lemons for fresh juice
  • mince garlic
  • peel and finely chop the fresh ginger
  • combine your flour ground ginger, paprika, salt, and pepper in a paper bag (or large baggie)
  • measure out your corn oil and pour in sauté pan
  • measure out chicken broth
  • measure the brown sugar
  • slice the 2 lemons paper thin (I used a mandoline)
Wash chicken pieces well and pat dry.  Place in bowl.

In a small bowl combine lemon juice, garlic, fresh ginger and lemon extract; pour over chicken, toss well and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove chicken from marinade.  Pat dry.  Reserve marinade.  Fill a paper bag with flour, ground ginger, paprika, salt & pepper.  Place chicken pieces in bag, two at a time, and shake to coat.

Heat corn oil in a 10-inch sauté pan until very hot.  Fry the chicken until golden and crisp - 5 to 7 minutes.  When all chicken has been fried, discard oil. (whatever)

Place chicken, skin-side up, in a roasting pan.  Pour chicken broth and reserved marinade into bottom of pan.

Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over chicken pieces.  Pat slightly.  Arrange lemon slices evenly over the chicken.

Bake uncovered 45 minutes, basting once after 20 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Risotto con zucchini

Aside from being one of the most delicious dishes on earth, there are several other reasons I love risotto.  The possibilities of what you can add to it are endless;  it can be a side dish or your main entreé;  it's an easy technique; and, it's the perfect therapy for those cooks who feel the urge to stir the pot every nanosecond.

I'm cooking another recipe from this beautiful cookbook "Twelve ~ A Tuscan Cook Book"  by Tessa Kiros.  It's 'Rice is Nice' week over at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  If you pop over there you can read all about Tessa and see what the other gals selected for this week's recipe.

Here we have all of our ingredients ready to go.  The stock is on the burner getting hot.  Ready to throw in the other bit pot are the onions, garlic, zucchini, parsley, basil, arborio rice, wine, butter, and Parmesan cheese.

 In hot olive oil, sauté the onion until it begins to soften

 Toss in the garlic and cook for another minute

 Toss in your zucchini and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat with the olive oil.  Toss in half of the parsley and basil and combine.

 Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon, which will become your best friend, so that the rice is coated with the oil.  Let cook for a couple of minutes.  Pour the wine and cook until the wine has evaporated. 

A little side note here...  see this little gadget attached to the rim of the dutch oven?  It's one of my favorites and is the handiest little thing ever to hold your cooking utensil!!  Christanne & Char are always giving me fun and useful gadgets for the kitchen.   Okay, back to cooking.

 Begin to add stock to the rice a ladle or two at a time.  Stir with your wooden spoon, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so the rice doesn't stick.  When the rice has absorbed all the liquid, add some more ladle by ladle.  See how there is still liquid when I push my spoon across the bottom of the pot?

 Now, see how the liquid has absorbed?  It's magic.

 Once your rice has reached the consistency that you want, which is creamy, yet slightly firm and a little bit of liquid left, you can finish off your risotto.  Stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese and the remaining parsley and basil leaves.

See how creamy this is?  Delicious!  Here's the recipe for you.

Risotto con Zucchini
Serves 6

6 cups vegetable stock
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium white onion, peeled & finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
1 pound, 5 ounces small zucchini (courgettes) trimmed & finely sliced
a handful of chopped fresh parsley
about 6 basil leaves, roughly torn
1 pound, 2 ounces risotto rice
1 cup white wine
1-3/4 ounce butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Mise en Place:
  • Pour stock in large pot and begin heating on stove
  • chop onion
  • chop garlic
  • slice zucchini
  • chop parley
  • tear basil
  • measure out your wine, butter and Parmesan
Heat the stock in a saucepan on the stovetop.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed separate saucepan suitable for risotto, and add the onion.  Sauté until it has softened slightly, then add the garlic.

Sauté for another minute.  Add the zucchini slices, season with salt and pepper, and cook on a gentle heat for a few minutes.  Toss in half of the chopped parsley and basil.  Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat with a wooden spoon, cooking for a minute or two.

Add the wine and when it has evaporated, add a ladleful or two of hot stock.  Stir, taking care to move all the rice at the bottom of the pan to avoid sticking.  When the rice has absorbed the liquid, add more stock and stir.

Continue in this way until the rice has achieved the right consistency, which should be creamy, yet slightly firm and a little liquid.  If you run out of broth, continue with hot water.  Taste the risotto after 20 minutes -- it may need another 5 minutes or so.

Stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese, the remaining parsley and basil leaves.  Serve immediately with extra grated Parmesan cheese.

I am sharing this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Hand-Me-Down Casserole

An article in the November 2005 issue of Guideposts caught my attention for a couple of reasons.  I saved the whole article because I thought it a sweet story about how this recipe had been passed down and around and became a staple for Doralee Forsythe Simko's family at Thanksgiving and how so many people had adopted it as their "go-to" recipe for church suppers. 

Mrs. Voight, a neighbor whom she babysat for during her teens, taught her how to make her Asparagus Almond Casserole.  Doralee took it home to her mother, who began making it for special family occasions and church suppers.  Friends and relatives alike were asking her for the recipe.  The recipe took on the name of whomever was cooking it; Mrs. Forsythe's Asparagus Casserole, Janet McKinney's Asparagus Casserole, Mom's Asparagus Casserole, and so on.

The recipe itself intrigued me and at the same time made me make the face that my mother always called 'smelling your upper lip'.  The reason for the scrunched up face was this.

When I was young, we would have canned asparagus at home and I liked it; I think more so for the texture than taste.  The spears were so soft they were creamy.  But, that was before I had ever tasted fresh asparagus.  Once I experienced asparagus plucked out of the ground the canned variety became a whole different vegetable; and one that never graced my table again. 

A comment that Doralee made about this recipe was that she made it her own by adding her own little touches.  A photo showed her with the ingredients and she's actually using fresh asparagus.

The combination of ingredients and the addition of mayonnaise to the white sauce piqued my curiosity so I thought I would see for myself what it was about this recipe that made it so beloved within the circles it was passed around in.  So, I chose to stay true with the original ingredients.  The only thing I did differently was toast the slivered almonds first.  

Once your eggs are boiled and the white sauce made it's a matter of assembly.

In a greased baking dish, layer one half of the asparagus spears, half of the egg slices, half of the almonds and top with half of the sauce.

Repeat the layering with the second half of the ingredients then top with some crumbled saltines.  Bake for 30 minutes.

I believe what people must love so much about this casserole has to be the creamy, creamy texture with the snap of the crisp almonds.  It also reminded me of creamed eggs (hard boiled then baked in a white sauce).  I admit I found myself eating helping after helping trying to figure out why I was enjoying it so much!  If you can't handle the canned asparagus or hard boiled eggs you will not care for this recipe at all.  I haven't decided if I would make this again using fresh asparagus.  Maybe it should be left as it is and enjoyed for what it is.

Asparagus Almond Casserole
Serves 8

5 Tbsp butter
5 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup juice from canned asparagus
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 - 15 ounce cans asparagus
5 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
3/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
3/4 cup cracker crumbs

Mise en Place:
  • Boil eggs, cool, peel, and slice
  • Toast the almonds until golden brown & cool on pan
  • Open up asparagus cans, draining very well and reserving 3/4 cup of the liquid
  • Crush a handful of saltine crackers in a baggie
  • Measure out milk
  • Measure out flour
  • Measure out mayonnaise
In a saucepan, melt butter.  Add flour and blend making a roux, cooking for about 1 minute.  Add the milk and asparagus liquid to the roux and whisk until smooth.  Cook over low heat until thick.  Add the mayonnaise and mix well until sauce is formed.

In the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish arrange half of the asparagus, half the eggs, and half the almonds.  Pour half of the sauce over the top.  Repeat the layering and top the casserole with cracker crumbs.  Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Greek Macaroni-Spinach Casserole

The clipping today is from an issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.

 Start with assembling all of your ingredients.  Elbow macaroni, butter, olive oil, ground beef, onion, garlic, salt, allspice, pepper, canned tomatoes, frozen spinach, milk, eggs, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and

 crumbled feta cheese.  I guess this is the "Greek" portion of the recipe.

The first thing you want to do is cook your macaroni, toss it with the melted butter and set it aside.

For the meat sauce, sauté the beef, onion and garlic; then add your spices, tomatoes and water.  While this simmers for about 20 minutes you can begin to assemble your casserole.

Layer half of the macaroni on the bottom of a greased baking dish.  Spread with all of the spinach and the feta on top of that.  Layer the remaining half of the macaroni.
Spoon the meat mixture on top.  Spoon the mixture of milk, eggs and Parmesan over the top of the meat sauce then sprinkle with the bread crumbs.  Pop in your preheated oven for about half an hour then let it rest before serving.

My thoughts:  This is not a bad little recipe.  It is definitely a stick-to-your ribs dish.  Serve with a tossed salad it makes a nice meal.  This would also be a good recipe that you could assemble the night before and pop it in the oven when you get home from the office.

If I make it again I would increase the macaroni to 12 ounces.  I used ground tenderloin because that's what I had in the freezer and I think it made it a little greasy.  This recipe would benefit from using a 90% lean ground sirloin.

Here's the recipe

Greek Macaroni-Spinach Casserole
Serves 8 

1 pkg (8 oz) elbow macaroni
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
2 Tbsp. salad or olive oil
1 lb. ground beef or lamb
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash allspice
Dash pepper
1 can (1 lb) whole tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup water
2 pkg (10 oz-size) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Mise en Place
  • Measure out your macaroni, olive oil, spices, water, feta, & milk
  • Melt butter
  • chop onion
  • peel and crush garlic
  • drain spinach and squeeze dry (get as much liquid out as possible)
  • open your tomatoes and crush with a fork in the can
  • grate Parmesan & measure
  • grind up fresh bread crumbs & measure
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 12" x 8' baking dish.  Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.  toss with melted butter and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, sauté beef, onion and garlic in oil, stirring, over medium heat until meat is browned.  Add salt, allspice, pepper, tomatoes and water.  Bring to boiling; simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Layer half the macaroni on bottom of prepared dish.  Spread with spinach; sprinkle feta over spinach.  Layer with remaining macaroni; spoon meat sauce over the top.

In small bowl, beat together milk, eggs and Parmesan cheese.  Pour over meat sauce.  sprinkle with bread crumbs.  Bake 30 minutes.  Remove to rack to cool 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pollo con Olive e Salvia

Last week I ran across this fun website and thought it sounded like too much fun, as well as a really good excuse to purchase more cookbooks (for the sake of research, of course).

Tessa Kiros is the site's current featured cookbook author.  I ordered two of her cookbooks (they all sounded divine).  I purchased "Twelve:  A Tuscan Cook Book" and "Falling Cloudberries:  A World of Family Recipes".  Shhh...don't tell my husband.  I buy and hide cookbooks like some women buy and hide clothes.  Hanging head in shame.  They magically appear on my bookshelf after an appropriate length of time.

This week's  I Heart Cooking Clubs assignment is "Under the Tuscan Sun".  Since I have not received my cookbooks yet I chose the recipe that Tessa features from her "Twelve" book.  After making this recipe my anticipation for the arrival of her cookbooks has heightened immensely.

There must be some law we're breaking by making such a elegant dish with such unpretentious ingredients.

Tessa makes this note about the olives to be used, "The olives used in this dish are sold in Tuscany as tostate (toasted), and, probably because of the way they have been sun or oven-dried, result in a delicious dry, yet almost chewy flavor.  I doubt that just any olives will be the same.  Try and find oven-dried or sun-dried olives from an Italian delicatessen, sold loose and shiny with hardly any olive oil, for this dish."

I found some good olives at Central Market.  They were not pitted.

Never fear; I grabbed my trusty cherry pitter to solve that little problem.

The main ingredients you will need are the olives, fresh sage leaves, garlic, white wine, olive oil, salt & pepper and or course your chicken.

The recipe calls for a chicken, cut up.  You can do this yourself or, here in Texas you can find it packaged as 'Pick-o-the-chick' (breast, thighs, legs and wings).  Naturally I couldn't find one so I grabbed a package of breast halves and a package of leg / thigh quarters.

Gather all of your ingredients together (I'm a mise en place kinda gal!), pre-heat your oven and put a flame to the skillet! 

It all comes together in a large skillet on the range-top then is transferred to the oven for around 30 - 40 minutes. 

And this is what you are blessed with.

The meat was succulent, the olives and garlic were perfectly cooked.  I made sure I had a little bite of olive with every bite of chicken.  Then I started eating the olives like candy, mmmmmmmm.

I would highly recommend this recipe and here it is.

Pollo con Olive e Salvia
Serves 4

1 chicken (about 1.5 kg / 3 lb. 5 oz) - interiors removed, skinned and cut into 8 portions
5 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
200 g (7 oz.) good black olives in olive oil (drained)
4 cloves garlic - peeled and lightly crushed with the flat of a knife blade
about 20 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup of white wine

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Heat the olive oil in a large, wide saucepan or casserole dish (I used a large skillet) suitable for oven use as well. (If you do not have such a dish, you can transfer the chicken to an oven dish after it has been browned).  Add the chicken and brown on all sides (it should take 10 - 15 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper on all sides.  Add the olives, garlic cloves and sage leaves and cook for a couple of minutes more to blend the flavours.

Pour in the wine and transfer the dish to the hot oven.  Cook for 30 - 40 minutes.  the chicken should be moist and golden and the sage leaves and olives should be crisp and there should be only a little thickened, sauce.  Remove from the oven.

If you would like a little more sauce, then transfer the chicken, sage, garlic and olives to a serving plate, add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan and put the dish onto the stove top.  Scrape up the bits with a wooden spoon mixing them into the sauce, let it bubble up for half a minute or so and serve over the chicken.

I'm sharing this post with IHCC 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

I purchased a bag of fingerling potatoes at the market this week so I ferreted through the "Vegetables" folder the other day to find a recipe to try.  I found "Roasted Potatoes" from the May 1995 issue of Cooking Light Magazine.

It produced a great tasting side dish and one that I'll use again.  The bread crumb coating was killer and I'm going to use what I had left over on a fish fillet tonight.

The recipe was easy and fast to throw together.

I don't keep white bread around the house and didn't really want to buy a whole loaf to make such a small amount of breadcrumbs.  I was very surprised to find this...

Isn't this the cutest little loaf?  I tore it up in my food processor and it made just the right amount of crumbs.

Here are the main ingredients for this dish

You'll need little potatoes (the recipe calls for small red potatoes), fresh bread crumbs, Romano cheese, garlic, parsley, oregano, paprika, olive oil and salt and pepper.

After scrubbing your potatoes and tossing them with the olive oil, you toss them around in the breadcrumb mixture. 

Place them in a baking dish that's been coated with cooking spray and stick them in a 400°F oven and let them bake for about 50 minutes or until tender.  That's all there is to it!

I made these as an accompaniment to a wonderful Tuscan chicken recipe that I'll share later.

Roasted Potatoes
Yields 8 servings

3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Romano cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. paprika
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
24 small red potatoes (about 3 pounds)
Vegetable cooking spray

Mise en Place:
  • scrub potatoes
  • process bread for breadcrumbs
  • grate Romano cheese
  • chop parsley
  • measure out herbs & seasonings
  • mince garlic
  • spray baking dish with cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Combine the first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.  Combine oil and potatoes in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal bag, and shake to coat potatoes with oil.  Toss potatoes in breadcrumb mixture.  Place potatoes in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 400°F for 50 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.