Posts tagged ‘Winter’

Pot Roast

Pot Roast

There is a great scene in Wedding Crashers where a middle-aged, pajama-clad Will Ferrell yells to his mom (who is in the kitchen) from his seat in front of the TV, “MA!  The meatloaf! We want it NOW!”  Whenever I make the retro dishes that RJ loves so much — Meatloaf, Beef Stroganoff, Mac n’ Cheese, Pot Roast, I always think of that scene.  Something about being that faceless mother figure with a boy who only eats meat and noodles.  Strange, I know.  Anyhoo… this pot roast is full of retro goodness, complete with slow cooker appliance and a can of Campbell’s soup.  I may be more than a little hypocritical, given this previous post and my known distaste for processed food products, but for some reason I just really wanted to try this recipe.  And it came out really well.  I feel shame…

I have a couple versions of pot roast in my arsenal, but this one is great for the slow cooker.  The tender meat and the beefy-tomato sauce basically epitomize comfort food, especially when draped over fresh linguini pasta (from Dave’s).  Even my recalcitrant husband ate up all of his carrots since, as he said, they were the perfect size.  Finally, the swirl of balsamic vinegar added right before serving added just the right amount of acidic zip to wake up the palate.  I highly recommend this recipe for two reasons: dinner #1 and dinner #2 (aka Leftovers).  Dinner #2 involves stirring shredded leftover pot roast into a homemade tomato sauce with red wine and lots of garlic.  A healthy dose of parmesan cheese and a side of garlic bread are all that’s needed to round out the meal (for RJ anyway — I would recommend some salad or greens as well!).  Here’s a look at that ragú on cheese ravioli:

shredded-beef-leftovers
Easy Pot Roast with Rich Tomato Gravy
, adapted from The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes
(Serves 6-8)

3-4 lbs. beef pot roast (cross rib, rump, or chuck roast)
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
2 Tbs. flour
1 can (10 oz.) condensed tomato soup
1/2 c. condensed beef broth (undiluted)
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. packed brown sugar (optional)
2 Tbs. balsamic or red wine vinegar (optional)

Pat roast dry with paper towel. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add roast and cook, turning, until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer beef to slow cooker insert.

pot-roast-browned

Reduce heat to medium. Add onions, celery, and carrots to pan and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened. Add garlic, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring for one minutes. Sprinkle mixture with flour and stir. Add tomato soup and beef broth and stir to combine, cooking until thickened. Stir in Worcestershire sauce.

pot-roast-sauce

Pour sauce mixture over roast, cover and cook on Low setting for 10 to 12 hours or on High setting for 5 to 6 hours. Remove roast from slow cooker and place on serving platter. Stir in brown sugar and vinegar, if using, to pan juices. Pour sauce over roast or serve in a separate sauceboat.

pot-roast-donepot-roast-gravy

If you want to plan ahead you can cook the vegetables and sauce the night before, and store it in the refrigerator.  The next morning, brown roast (this step may also be skipped if you are really pressed for time, though the browning really adds flavor), put the meat in the slow cooker, then pour the sauce over the beef.

Another option would be to cook the whole recipe the day before you’re serving and store the sauce and meat together in the fridge.  The next night, slice the roast and place slices in a casserole dish, covered with the sauce.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until warmed through (or simmer on the stovetop until piping hot).

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October 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

Blood Orange Tart

Blood Orange TartGenerally I consider glazed fruit tarts to be a summer treat – something ideal for the back porch on a muggy evening after a meal of grilled meats and cold beer.  Nothing beats the supple flavor of a juicy strawberry on a light lemon custard and buttery sablé crust after a hot day.  Only in-season and perfectly ripe berries are worthy of such a spotlight: thus summer and fruit tarts are inextricably linked in my mind – so much so that the tart concept doesn’t even occur to me when I think about making a dessert in the months from October to May.

I think you can probably guess from the above picture that my formula has been reconfigured.  This was a great recipe found in my favorite magazine, and it features one of the best winter fruits out there — the blood orange — so I made an exception to the rule.  This tart, on the whole, is an exception to the rule — the crust has a fabulous sweet and citrusy tang, contrasted with a unique, almost savory, brown-butter custard filling.  Topping it all off is a two-toned layer of jewel-like orange slices, glistening with a translucent currant glaze.  I can see this tart being served at an elegant brunch or at a New Year’s Eve party – it looks just so festive and is a perfect ‘special treat’ in the cold and drab winter months.

Just in case you  were wondering, I can tell you that my absolute favorite part of this dessert is the crust.  I had a couple of snafus in the baking process (the dough stuck to the foil lining) but once repaired and filled, the crust really stood out as exceptional.  I would use this orange-scented dough for my next (summer) strawberry tart with pleasure.

Orange and Brown Butter Tart, from Fine Cooking issue #97 (January/February)

For the tart shell:
5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
Pinch of table salt
5 oz. (10 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

For the filling:tart dough
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 cups whole milk
3 Tbs. cornstarch
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher or table salt
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the topping:
3 large navel or blood oranges, or a combination
1/2 cup orange marmalade or red currant jelly, as I used
1 Tbs. orange liqueur, such as Cointreau

In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt a few times to combine. Add the butter and orange zest and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal, six to eight 1-second pulses. A teaspoon at a time, pulse in up to 1 Tbs. water until the dough just holds together in clumps. Press the dough together, shape into a 6-inch disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Dough pressPress the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom—the dough sides should be 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. To smooth the bottom, cover with plastic wrap and press with a flat-bottom measuring cup or glass. Freeze the covered shell for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

Remove the plastic, line the dough with parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake the tart shell until the top edges are light golden, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment and beans, reduce the heat to 375°F, and continue to bake until the shell is golden all over, about 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.

brown butter tart fillingIn a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until it melts and the milk solids turn brown, swirling the pan occasionally for even browning, about 3 minutes. Immediately pour into a small heatproof bowl to stop the cooking.

In a medium bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch. Whisk in the eggs.

In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining 1-3/4 cups milk, the sugar, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Take the pan off the heat, whisk about 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture, and then whisk the egg mixture into the hot milk. Return to medium heat and continue whisking until the filling boils and becomes very thick, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the brown butter and vanilla.

Tart FillingSpread the filling evenly in the tart shell and set aside at room temperature while you prepare the topping.

Make the topping:

Using a sharp knife, trim off the peel and pith from the oranges. Halve the oranges lengthwise and then slice them thinly crosswise and remove any seeds. Arrange the orange slices on the top of the tart in concentric, slightly overlapping circles.

Stir the marmalade in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted, 30 to 60 seconds. Strain and then stir in the Cointreau. Brush enough of the mixture on the oranges to give them a shine (you may not need it all). Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving so the filling can set up.

tart-glaze

April 8, 2009 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

Cooking with Beer – Beef and Guinness Pie

Dig in beef stew!

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet.  This recipe is about as Irish as you can get – meat pie.  The stew is rich with stout flavors and studded with bites of spicy green peppercorn.  While I did go all out and made my own puff pastry this time, I have also made this dish with store-bought.  The biggest difference is the thicker, more buttery bite of the homemade – if you have the time, do it yourself!  As you can see, my pie tops fell into the soup bowls a little bit — I recommend making sure there is a substantial overlap of the dough over the sides before you bake.  That being said, the slightly soggy, meaty pastry floating in the stew is pure heaven!

Beef and onionsBeef and Guinness Pie, from Gourmet magazine, October 2004

(serves 4 as a main course)

2 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tbs. water
1 1/2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 c. beef broth
1 c. Guinness or other Irish stout
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. drained brined green peppercorns, coarsely chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Rough Puff Pastry dough (see below, or use the highest quality prepared dough you can find)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Beef stewPat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate. Heat oil in a wide 5- to 6-quart ovenproof heavy pot over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl.

Add onion, garlic, and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and thyme and bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Discard thyme and cool stew completely, uncovered, about 30 minutes. (If stew is warm while assembling pies, it will melt uncooked pastry top.)

Put a shallow baking pan on middle rack of oven and increase oven temperature to 425°F.

Divide cooled stew among bowls (they won’t be completely full). Roll out pastry dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick. Trim edges and cut dough into quarters. Stir together egg and water and brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around each square. Invert 1 square over each bowl and drape, pressing sides lightly to help adhere. Brush pastry tops with some of remaining egg wash and freeze 15 minutes to thoroughly chill dough.

Bake pies in preheated shallow baking pan until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and bake 5 minutes more to fully cook dough.

Rough Puff Pastry Dough

Pebbly dough1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 5 Tbs. unsalted butter, frozen
5 to 6 Tbs. ice water

Sift together flour and salt into a chilled large metal bowl. Set a grater in flour mixture and coarsely grate frozen butter into flour, gently lifting flour and tossing to coat butter.

Drizzle 5 tablespoons ice water evenly over flour mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.

Test mixture by gently squeezing a small handful: When it has the proper texture, it will hold together without crumbling apart. If necessary, add another tablespoon water, stirring until just incorporated and testing again. (If you overwork mixture or add too much water, pastry will be tough.)

Gather mixture together and form into a 5-inch square, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 30 minutes. (Dough will be lumpy and streaky.)

Roll out dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 15- by- 8-inch rectangle. Arrange dough with a short side nearest you, then fold dough into thirds like a letter: bottom third up and top third down over dough. Rewrap dough and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Arrange dough with a short side nearest you on a floured surface and repeat rolling out, folding, and chilling 2 more times. Brush off any excess flour, then wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.

Guinness Pie

March 28, 2009 at 12:57 pm 1 comment

Gingerbread Pudding Cake

Gingerbread Pudding Cake

As I look at the title of this post, I keep hearing Tweety Bird say “I thought I saw a puddy’cat!”  Moreover, I am not sure “pudding cake” really sums up how incredibly scrumptious this dessert actually is.  The very unusual baking method creates a cake with two very distinctive features – a beautiful cracked surface which recalls the floor of an ancient sea, long since dried up, and a moist bottom layer that gives way to an undercurrent of thick molasses syrup.

Today we received our most recent onslaught of snow (about 14 inches and counting), proving to me that we are not yet finished with winter and I can continue to – ahem – build up my winter coat with decadent desserts and can keep the deep and spicy flavors coming for at least a couple more weeks.  This cake was a prize find of a couple of winters ago.  I love how it recalls the familiar and nostalgic taste of gingerbread, yet also provides the unique and surprising texture of a molten chocolate cake.

Paired with a nice dollop of whipped cream – the rustic version – or possibly a quenelle of vanilla (maybe even coconut?) ice cream – the elegant dinner party version – this cake is a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

Gingerbread Pudding Cake, from Bon Appetit (not sure of the issue – it was a clipping!)

See the height of the water!

See the height of the water!

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons beaten eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups hot water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Top of the cakePreheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×8 inch glass baking dish. Whisk flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and salt in medium bowl.
Using an electric mixer, beat 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl until blended. Beat in egg. Stir molasses and 1/2 cup water in a 1 cup glass measuring cup.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, butter mixture and molasses mixture together beating to blend. Repeat until all seperate mixtures are now one and transfer to prepared dish. Sprinkle brown sugar over the top.

Stir 1 1/2 cups hot water and melted butter in 2 cup glass measuring cup. Carefully pour over top of batter (don’t worry, there will be lots of liquid on the top). Bake until gingerbread is cracked on top, about 45 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream and top with extra sauce from the bottom of the pan.

Pudding cake

March 2, 2009 at 3:08 pm Leave a comment


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