November 25, 2006
A Fowl-free Thanksgiving Menu

No one in our family was particularly attached to having a turkey this year so I pulled together a great birdless meal that was easy to execute and, if I do say so myself, totally satisfying to eat!

Salmon Crostini with Mustard Dill Sauce (from sfgate)
French Green Beans with Garlic Butter
Vegetarian Stuffing
Cranberry Citrus Relish (from meriko)
Potatoes Boulangere (from Gordon Ramsey's F-Word)
Prime Rib With Mint Chimichurri
Wheat and Butter Pop-overs

The potatoes were the best surprise: all the flavorful joy of a layered augratin dish without the fatty cream.

Posted by rebecca on November 25, 2006
November 23, 2006
dutch oven love - sunday beef ŕ la cocotte

I have a new cast iron 'cocotte' dutch oven. I blame the lack of insulation in my 1930's era house: it encourages one to want to make long-braised stews just to keep the oven going all day.

It being the weekend, I wanted to improvise a bit and putter. I had the seed of a recipe based on about five cookbooks: First, you marinate everything the night before. In the morning, you start with some bacon, render the fat, pull it out, brown some beef, pull that out, glaze some kind of mirepoix, pull that out, go back to the meat and braise it half the time in your cooker, add the mirepoix back, and wait...

So here is what I actually did, which isn't exactly like any of my recipes but has the parts I liked best from all of them. It's sort of a variation on beef bourgignon.

Cut 2 lbs trimmed beef chuck into 1 in. cubes
Chop some carrots and onions (this was 1 onion, 3 carrots, all that would fit in the covered dish)
Coarsely chop some garlic.
Marinate that in about a half bottle of red wine. I used a Rioja I had on hand. Add cracked black pepper. Add a generous dash of cognac.
(Go to bed. Wake up.)
Turn on the oven to 350F. this is premature, but the kitchen is cold.
Strain the veg and meat from the marinade. Pick out the meat and dry it with paper towels. Drying the meat ensures that it will brown nicely.
Put the cocotte on the stove on med-high heat (higher if you don't have cast iron). Add some olive oil.
Cut 4 slices thick cut bacon into 1 in. strips.
Sizzle the bacon until most of the bacon fat is rendered.
Take the bacon out.
Dry the meat some more with paper towels.
Brown the meat in batches.
Take the meat out and set it in the dish with the bacon.
Sauté about 1/3 lb. chanterelle mushrooms if you have them. (It's fall! I have them! Any mushrooms would do here if you like mushrooms.)
Set the mushrooms aside.
Put the veg in the cocotte. Add 2 tbsp sugar. (I like raw demerara sugar, but any sugar will do.)
Add some chopped rutabaga, more carrots, more onions.
Caramelize the veg about 8 minutes.
Take the veg out again. set them aside with the mushrooms.
Pour the reserved marinade in the cocotte.
Add about 1.5 c. beef broth.
Bring it to a boil. scrape up any browned bits on the bottom.
Add 2 tbsp apple jelly (or any clear fruit jelly)
Add 1 tbsp butter. Everything is better with a little butter.
Put the meat back into the pot.
Add a bunch of halved small red potatoes (I had 8).
Add some more minced garlic. (1.5 tbsp? I think was up to 6 cloves by now.)
Add a bouquet garni in a tea ball: I used sage and bay leaves and thyme.
Cover the cocotte and put it in the oven.
Wait 45 minutes to an hour. Die of the deliciousness wafting through the house.
Add the veg back in.
Add some more mushrooms (whole crimini, this time.) Because there's still room for a few more mushrooms.
add about 1 c. seeded, coarsely chopped roma tomatoes. (mine were some other variety, but a fleshy tomato rather than a juicy one.)
Put the lid back on. Top up the liquid if you have to.
Wait another 45 min to an hour, or until the beef is tender.
Eat in your nice warm house.

Posted by naomi on November 23, 2006
November 01, 2006
Leek Potato Soup

I've been sick this week and jonesing for some nourishing hot soupy goodness. I picked up some leeks at the store yesterday, but was sadly unable to find Carrie's infamous leek soup recipe online anywhere. Instead, I found Karine's Gastronome post and an old Alton Brown recipe on the Food Network site and improvised from there. Voila! Serve with some warm sourdough or french bread for a super tasty fall dinner.

Leek Potato Soup
4-5 medium leeks, cleaned & sliced half-way up to the dark green sections
3 tablespoons olive oil
3-6 garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped (to taste)
kosher salt
4 cups organic veggie broth
4 cups water
2 cups or 5 small potatoes (new red, yukon gold), diced small
1 cup unsweetened soy milk or heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives
white or black pepper (to taste)

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add leeks and garlic and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease heat to medium-low and cook until leeks are tender (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Add stock and water, increasing heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Add potatoes. Reduce heat, cover, and gently simmer until potatoes are soft (about 40-45 minutes).

Turn off the heat and puree. (If you have a good immersion blender - great! I find cycling through my regular blender messy but effective). Stir in soy/heavy cream. Taste, adding salt and pepper to season. Sprinkle with chives and serve. Refridgerate leftovers - they will reheat the next day nicely, or serve chilled.

Serves 4 generously.

Posted by rebecca on November 01, 2006