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My best Beef Bourguignon

Guys, this shit is crack. Dip your bread all day long, crack.

It’s Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, Dinner party worthy. Or stay in your PJs on a cold day and eat it all yourself worthy.

Be prepared, this isn’t a quick meal. I always make it the day before and finish it the next day. Or I start it in the morning and finish it right before dinner. It gives time for those flavors to develop.

This recipe has been through years of tweaks and it’s now My best Beef Bourguignon.

There are a few secret weapons to share and they can all be kept in the pantry.

  1. Cognac. Get the small bottle, it’s cheap.
  2. French Demi-glace, 1.5 Ounce
  3. Kitchen Basics beef broth. Available at Kroger and Central Market.
  4. Mutti Italian Double Concentrate tomato paste.
  5. Fresh pearl onions, so special. 2nd choice – Cipollini onions. 3rd – frozen.

My best Beef Bourguignon – Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

2.5 – 3 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 large yellow onions, quartered (will be removed after braising)
2 large carrots, unpeeled and cut into large pieces (will be removed after braising)
2 cloves garlic smashed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup cognac
1 bottle pinot noir
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Classic French Demi glace -1.5 ounces, 1/2 container
6 cups beef broth (2 boxes total needed)
—–
1 pound fresh boiler/pearl onions (or frozen)
1 pound mushrooms brown crimini
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup arrowroot flour (or corn starch – but use 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup beef broth

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on both sides. Remove the seared cubes to a plate until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Add the onions, carrots, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Turn the heat down and carefully add the Cognac. Cook for a few minutes until the onions have absorbed a good amount of the cognac.

Add the tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Put the meat back into the pot with the juices from the plate.

Add the bottle of wine plus 6 cups of beef broth to cover the meat. Stir 1/2 container of demi-glace.

Add thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 2 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

—–

In the meantime, prep the fresh pearl onions. Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch the onions for 2 minutes. Drain onions in a colander and use a small paring knife to remove the skins. The slight blanch makes this easier!  Set aside.  (If making ahead, store in a plastic bag in the fridge). If using frozen, skip all together and add onions as stated below.

Remove the stew from the oven when meat is tender. (This is where I let it come to room temp & place in the refrigerator overnight, as it’s always better the next day. If you are making and serving same day, pick up below.)

With a slotted spoon, remove large onion pieces, carrots, thyme and bay leaves. They were simply being used to develop the broth. Now they are cooked to death. Get rid of them, we are adding new ones next.

—–

Place dutch oven on burner on medium heat and let come to a simmer slowly.

Saute the mushrooms and carrots in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew.

Add the pearl onions.

Combine 4 tablespoons of arrowroot flour and 1/4 cup beef broth or water and combine until a paste forms. Stir into the stew to thicken. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

Serve with tons of bread.

Pasta with sausage, butternut squash, kale, caramelized red onion & walnuts

This recipe is for the butternut squash lover. The sweetness from the squash with the spicy sausage and crunch from the walnuts, is the perfect combination of textures and flavors. Goat cheese on top, would also be a tasty addition.

INGREDIENTS

  • large butternut squash, cut into small cubes
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage, mild or hot
  • red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 pound orecchiette, mezzi rigatoni, 0r small pasta
  • large cloves garlic, minced
  • cup chicken broth
  • bunch tuscan kale or regular kale, stems removed
  • tablespoon chopped sage 
  • 1/2 cup white wine 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Fresh Parmesan
  • tablespoons Toasted walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Toss butternut squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and the nutmeg. Roast until butternut squash pieces are tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add sausage and sauté until cooked through. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the sliced red onions and a tad more olive oil, if needed, to the same pan and cook until caramelized, about 20-30 minutes, on medium-low heat.
  4. In the meantime, heat a pot of water over high heat until boiling. Salt water generously. Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente.
  5. Add garlic to the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the kale, sausage and sage to the pan.
  6. Add white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and reduce, about 10 minutes.
  7. Turn heat to low and add the heavy cream. When the pasta is al dente, add it to the pan with the sauce. Add the roasted butternut squash.
  8. Loosen sauce with pasta water if needed. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and walnuts.

Welsh rarebit

Welsh rarebit

Welsh rarebit… there is nothing quite like it. My introduction to this decadent dish was years ago at a pub just over the Oklahoma border in Kansas.

Fast forward 14 years and chef Fergus Henderson, of the infamous St John Bar & Restaurant in London, is on my ever-growing list of must haves.

Initially, I was only after one thing…. roasted bone marrow. But then I hear…. “Welsh rarebit to start?”… from the angel in white standing next to my table. You can’t pass on the opportunity to devour, what has to be, the best thing on sliced bread: beer and cheese.

I walked in and out with the same thoughts… this place is perfection: the ambience, the food, the wine, the patrons.

Fergus, I’ll be back for more. Until then, I’m surviving winter with my best rendition and a nice glass of red wine.

Welsh rarebit (to feed six)
Extract from Fergus Henderson’s Nose to Tail Eating Published by Bloomsbury in 2004

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp mustard powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup Stout beer
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
16 ounces mature strong Cheddar cheese, grated
6 pieces of sourdough wheat bread

INSTRUCTIONS

Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour, and let this cook together until it smells biscuity but is not browning. Add the mustard powder and cayenne pepper, stir in the beer and Worcestershire sauce, then gently melt in the cheese.

When it’s all of one consistency, remove from the heat, pour out into a shallow container and allow to set. You can keep in the fridge for a few days at this point.

In a cast iron skillet, butter one side of bread and cook util toasted on one side – 2-3 minutes.

Spread cheese mixture generously on un-toasted side of bread. Place bread slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and broil for for 2-3 minutes on the middle oven rack. Eat when bubbling golden brown.

Portuguese caldo verde with cauliflower & kale

Today will be the 4th time I’ve made this soup since Fall arrived. Can’t get enough of it!! It’s incredibly flavorful and guilt free at 380 calories per serving.

Sometimes I puree it completely and sometimes I leave some cauliflower bits in the soup. It’s perfect either way. The vinegar on top should not be skipped :).

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds cauliflower (from 1 medium head)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for roasting)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (1/2 is nice & spicy)
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound smoked turkey kielbasa, sliced
  • 1/2 bag Tuscan Kale, shredded (I like more so I use 3/4 of the bag)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Sherry Vinegar, for drizzling

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 F. Slice the cauliflower into large slices and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season cauliflower with cumin, smoked paprika, and liberal amounts of salt, pepper, and olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Set aside once cooked.

Sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-medium high heat until tender and translucent and beginning to brown. Add garlic and pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about an hour. Remove from heat and purée.

In a skillet, brown sliced kielbasa and set aside.

Return the puréed soup to low heat. Add the kale and sausage and simmer another 10 – 15 minutes until the greens soften a bit. Remove from a drizzle of olive oil & sherry vinegar.

Shrimp pad thai

I can’t seem to satisfy my cravings for Asian food!! One of my favorites is Pad Thai with just about anything in it and on the spicy side. This recipe is fabulous and not nearly as oily as most restaurant versions.

Preparing this dish moves pretty quickly. Get everything prepped while your noodles are soaking.

A few tips on ingredients:

  • If you don’t have Thai chilies – use a jalapeno or crushed red pepper flakes
  • Use good fish sauce – it makes a big difference. My favorite brands are Tiparos (Kroger, $2) & Red Boat 40°N (Asian store, $5)
  • Palm sugar can be found at most Asian grocery stores. Light brown sugar is a great substitute.
  • Try chicken or tofu if you don’t have shrimp!
  • Don’t oversoak the noodles – you want them to have bite so they can absorb the sauce when cooked.

Recipe adapted from Food52.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  • 8 ounces dried wide rice noodles
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 thai chilies whole
  • 6 green onions, sliced 1 inch long
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • small handful peanuts, chopped
  • small handful cilantro, chopped
  • lime wedges

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, 2 tablespoons oil, and tamarind concentrate. Stir until sugar is dissolved and set aside.
  2. Soak the rice noodles in hot tap water for about 20 minutes, or until they start to soften but not fully tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil under high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shrimp start to turn pink with browned edges. Remove shrimp and set aside.
  5. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet. Add garlic, shallot and thai chilies. Cook over medium heat and stir continuously for about 1 minute. Add eggs to skillet and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until scrambled, about 30 seconds. Add the rice noodles and green onions and toss with tongs to combine. Pour the tamarind/fish sauce mixture over the noodles and increase the heat to high, continuing to toss the ingredients with the sauce.
  6. Add 1/2 of the chopped peanuts and cooked shrimp. Toss noodles for about 2 more minutes. Add bean sprouts and cook for 30 seconds. Dish out onto hot plates and top with remaining peanuts and garnish with cilantro.

Key lime cheesecake pie

Two of my favorites rolled into one. You can’t go wrong with this one!

 INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Cheesecake layer

  • 1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Key Lime layer

  • 1 – 14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 oz key lime juice (I use Nellie and Joe’s)
  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature

DIRECTIONS

For the crust, mix ingredients and press into 9 inch pie plate (spray with a little non-stick spray).

Mix cream cheese, sugar, 1 egg and vanilla well. Pour into uncooked pie crust. Put in refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Beat 4 egg yolks and condensed milk. Slowly add key lime juice. Pour on top of cheesecake layer.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Top with whipped cream.

Red quinoa salad with cucumber, tomato & arugula

I haven’t exactly been “burger free” since my last post… but this salad is satisfying, packed with nutrition & proves healthy food can taste almost better than a burger. It’s also gluten free & vegetarian.

I’ve never made a quinoa salad but I’ve tasted plenty. The good ones seem to have very flavorful dressings, texture and the right balance of savory and sweet. This recipe has a Mediterranean flair and minus the olives is very similar to a greek salad. I threw in some dried sour cherries but feel free to use any dried cherry, cranberry or craisin.

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup lime juice (or any citrus fruit you have)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

For the salad

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, cut in half & sliced into half moons (or 1 english cucumber)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries (or cranberries, craisins, etc)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup pistachios

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 17 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and let cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil with lime juice, vinegar & agave nectar. Season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add all of the salad ingredients, except for the feta & pistachio. Add cooled quinoa. Add the dressing and toss to coat.

Top with crumbled feta & pistachios before serving.

Sesame chicken & kale salad

I should start labeling recipes as “Trader Joe’s Recipe”. Since they’ve opened a store near me I’m there every Sunday & I can’t get enough of their produce (and their prices).

Kale is a weird green. I put it in green smoothies and cover it up with lots of fruit. Outside of smoothies & soups, I think it’s pretty awful. Until now! I had this salad at a local Dallas eatery & paid 12.99/lb. It’s so simple… no need to pay more than I’d pay for a steak!

Use whatever vinegar you like (rice wine would be great) as it really breaks the kale down. It’s best the next day, but stays great for several days.

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons orange & muscat vinegar (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

For the salad

  • 1/2 bag tuscan kale, cut, washed & tough stems removed
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, cut in half & sliced into half moons (or 1 english cucumber)
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, rinsed & drained
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked & cubed

DIRECTIONS

Mix the vinaigrette in the bottom of a large bowl. Add all of the other ingredients – toss, cover & let sit in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. It’s best the next day, but stays great for several days.

Butternut squash, short ribs & black bean chili

This experiment turned out WAY better than I thought it would. The complex flavors from the cocoa powder and ancho chili powder are a perfect balance with the rich short ribs. The nutty butternut squash is a winner to balance the heat.It makes a ton so call some friends!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 pounds short ribs, bone in
  • 1 leek, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T ancho chili powder
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ T cumin
  • 1 can Rotel (I used hot with habanero)
  • 1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (pulverized with your fingers)
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 14 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef with salt & pepper and add to pan. Cook about 8-10 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion and leeks and cook another 8-10 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chili powder, cocoa, and cumin and cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the rotel, tomatoes, beef broth & water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 1 hour.

Add butternut squash and simmer for another hour, until beef and squash are tender. Remove the ribs from the pot & shred the meat. Discard the bones. Add the shredded meat back to the pot with the black beans and cook for 15 more minutes.

Serve with cornbread & garnish with cilantro!

Tuscan Bean Soup with Chicken, Sausage & Kale

I’m always inspired by food when I travel and Tuscany has been my focus since I’ve been home. This soup is my combination of 2 memorable dishes in Tuscany… Dario’s beans & a bowl of ribollita for lunch on the street in Florence.

Dinner with Dario Cecchini in Panzano was the most memorable experience. He’s impressive being an 8th generation butcher with a big personality. His restaurants are fun & they are an experience… not just a meal. Surprisingly it wasn’t the 5 courses of meat I couldn’t forget … it was the beans! Here’s how it starts:

– Small bowl with some Tuscan salt & herbs (his blend**)
– Generous drizzle of olive oil
– Splash of red wine vinegar

This is the dipping vehicle for your carrots & raw vegetables. Then you find the bowl of bread and decide what the hell – dip it! Just when you think your bowl can do no more… a big ladle of white beans & broth are ladled into the remaining oil/vinegar/salt bowl.

Divine. That’s all the inspiration I need!

Buon appetito!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 stalks celery – diced
  • 4 carrots – peeled & diced
  • 2 leeks – cleaned, rinsed and cut into ½ moons
  • ½ yellow onion – diced
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage – natural sausage casing removed
  • 4 chicken thighs – skin-on & bone-in
  • 1 cup Pinot Grigio wine
  • 8 -10 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bag Tuscan kale – washed
  • 2 cans cannellini beans – rinsed
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

Remove the sausage from DCW Casing and tear it by hand into bite-size pieces. Heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 4- or 5-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate, leaving any rendered fat in the pot.

In the same pot, add the chicken thighs and sear until brown on all sides. Transfer to the same plate as the sausage. Set aside for later.

Add 1 Tbs. olive oil to the pot, increase the heat to medium high, and add the onion, celery, carrot, leeks, onion, crushed red pepper and garlic . Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the white wine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

When the broth reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the sausage & chicken along with any collected juices. Cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken and pull the meat from the bone. Discard the skin & bones. Add the chicken meat back to the pot with the drained & rinsed beans.

Stir in the kale, adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, and simmer until the kale is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper & add the vinegar.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil & a splash of red wine vinegar. Crusty bread is a must!