Monday, January 31, 2011

Beef Stew a la Bittman

Beef Stew a la Bittman, originally uploaded by essgee51.
While I typically make stew the lazy way, this time I bothered to brown the meat. It made a big difference, and I'll definitely be making the time investment in the future. The stew turned out to be rich, comforting and flavorful, but next time I think I'll use a fattier cut of meat and up the umami quotient (perhaps with Worcestershire or soy sauce, anchovies and/or tomato paste). Recipe, with my modifications, below.
  • 2-4 tbsp. neutral oil (used grapeseed - started with 2 tbsp. but had to keep adding more because of the lean meat)
  • 2-1/2 lbs. stew beef, in chunks
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed + 4-5 cloves (1 heaping tbsp.), chopped
  • 2 large onions, cut into eighths
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups liquid (used 2 cups beef broth from a very good concentrate I found + 1 cup red wine)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 6 small/medium potatoes, cut into 1-2 in. chunks (used Yukon Gold)
  • 5 medium carrots, cut into 1-2 in. chunks
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 10-oz. package frozen peas and pearl onions
Heat large pot or Dutch oven on medium-high for 2-3 minutes;. Add oil, then wait another minute. Add crushed garlic clove, then remove once it begins to turn golden-brown, about a minute.

Brown meat, working in batches and seasoning the meat with salt and pepper as you go. Remove meat and reserve, then drain excess oil if necessary (wasn't in my case, since the beef was very lean).

Lower heat to medium. Cook onions, stirring often, till softened, about 10 minutes.

Add flour and stir till completely incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.

Return meat to pot. Add liquid, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes undisturbed.

Add carrots, potatoes and mushrooms to pot. Cool till vegetables are tender, anywhere from 30-60 minutes (closer to 60 on my finicky stove). Adjust texture of sauce to taste, adding liquid if you want it soupier and boiling for 5 or so minutes if you want to reduce it.

Add peas, pearl onions, chopped garlic. Simmer for another 10 or so minutes, till peas are warmed up and garlic has infused stew. Adjust seasoning, then serve.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Curried Split Peas and Carrots

Curried Split Peas and Carrots, originally uploaded by essgee51.
Alas, no ham hocks handy, but I still wanted some split pea goodness. Followed a base recipe for Kenyan curried split peas from Extending the Table, added standard mirepoix portions of celery and carrots (my fridge contains a softening surplus of both), and cooked till the peas were mushy. Very good with rice and sausage - sort-of roasting the spices gave it a wonderfully warm tang.
  • 1 cup split peas
  • 2 tbsp. oil (used olive)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (around 2 cups)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped (around 1 cup)
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped (around 1 cup)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 tbsp.)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
Soak the peas or pre-heat if you're into that (I was lazy and didn't). Put the peas in a pot with 3-1/2 cups of water, bring to a boil, then simmer. Cook till the peas are mushy (recipe claimed 45 minutes with pre-soaked peas, took me more like 1-1/2 hours with unsoaked ones), adding the celery and carrot about halfway through (I like to keep a bit of firmness in both).

Meanwhile, put oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook till they're translucent, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook till it's aromatic, about 1-3 minutes.

Add the curry powder, cumin and salt and stir to coat thoroughly (the bottom of the pan was pretty dry by then, so the spices got semi-toasted, which added a nice pop to the flavors). Cook for another minute or two.

Combine the spice mixture with the peas and stir thoroughly. Adjust seasoning then serve over rice.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil

The usual "after" picture was nice, but I figured this one was more interesting. This dish, again courtesy of Signore Bittman, was quick, strong and delicious with sausages and a chopped scallion on the side. Thanks to John's family for the fancy extra-virgin olive oil! My take on the recipe below.
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 14-oz. package pasta - spaghetti in this case (original calls for 1 lb. fettucini, but all I had was the smaller packages of whole wheat)
  • lots of salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley for garnish (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then cook the pasta in it according to directions.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt in a small pot over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, till the garlic is golden - about 3-7 minutes, depending on your burner. Turn off the heat if the pasta isn't ready yet.

When pasta is done, drain it and reserve a bit of the cooking water in case. If necessary, reheat the garlic and olive oil - mix it with the pasta, seasoning with salt and pepper and garnishing with the parsley if you like.

Poached Chicken with Lemon Sauce

Chicken and Leeks, originally uploaded by essgee51.
Another quick, easy dinner via Bittman. Used more leeks than called for (because I love them) and didn't reduce the sauce (too hungry), but it still turned out very good.
  • 3 tbsp. butter (originally 4)
  • 3 medium leeks, diced, with some of the green (originally 2) - about 2-1/2 cups
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • /12 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1-1/2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into 1-1/2 in. chunks
  • 2-1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley, chopped, for garnish
Put 2 tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When it's hot, add the leeks and cook till they're softened, about 5-7 minutes.

Add wine, stock and herb; bring to a boil and let bubble for 1-2 minutes.

Add chicken, turn heat down to medium-low. Cook till done, 7-10 minutes (original recipe: cook till almost done, remove from pan, turn heat to high, reduce sauce to 3/4 cup, re-lower heat, return meat to pan, then proceed.). Add the rest of the butter and the lemon juice, a bit at a time.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper, adjust seasoning, then serve.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dinner Component: Braised Endives II

Dinner, originally uploaded by essgee51.
Last night's repast was simple but hearty and flavorful. We basically repeated this soy-ginger mackerel braise (the sauce was delicious over rice) and quickly braised some endives (more quickly and simply than I did here, hence the rewriting of a recipe).
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 fat endives, cored and halved
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • salt and pepper to taste
Brown endives in butter over medium heat, about 5-7 minutes.

Add juice and water, then cover and simmer till tender, anywhere from 15-25 minutes depending on how you like them.

Adjust seasoning.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chickpeas and Baby Spinach

Chickpeas and Baby Spinach, originally uploaded by essgee51.
Easy and healthful. Based largely on this NYT recipe, with a couple of tweaks. Made us a delicious dinner over couscous with a generous squeezing of lemon and even more freshly-ground black pepper.
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground (lazily used cumin powder)
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas
  • 1 cup water or broth (I used beef bouillon)
  • 1 7 oz. package baby spinach
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
Over medium heat, saute the onions in the oil till they're soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, tomato paste, cumin and salt. Stir and cook till the paste darkens.

Add the chickpeas, some cayenne and broth. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the spinach one handful at a time, stirring till the leaves wilt before adding the next batch and lightly salting. Once all the leaves are in, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, adjusting seasoning and adding lots of black pepper.

Remove from heat, adjust seasoning and serve over rice or couscous, with lemon slices.

Mirepoix Tuna-Tomato Sauce

Mirepoix Tuna-Tomato Sauce, originally uploaded by essgee51.
Testing out Flickr's blogging functionality and documenting this variant of this tuna-tomato sauce staple. Basically added a mirepoix for more vegetal goodness, a dash of cayenne pepper for zing, and a can of tomato sauce for added liquidity.
  • 8-10 oz. pasta (used whole wheat penne)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (about 1 cup in picture)
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced (about 1/2 cup in picture)
  • 1/4 cup carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup in picture)
  • 1 5 oz. can chunk tuna, drained
  • 1 12 oz. can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato sauce, to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne powder, to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh herbs for garnish
Prepare pasta according to instructions.

Meanwhile, saute onion, celery and carrot in oil over medium heat till onion begins to soften, 3-5 minutes.

Add tuna and stir to mix thoroughly. Add tomatoes, turn heat to medium-high, then cook till mixture begins to become saucy (10-15 minutes), or less if you're impatient. If it gets dry, add some tomato sauce.

Season with cayenne powder, salt and pepper. When sauce is at desired consistency, remove from heat, adjust seasoning, garnish and serve over pasta.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.