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Recipe: Bouef Bourguignon

3 Apr

So I watched Julie & Julia the other day (I know I’m a bit late to the party) and Julia Child’s Bouef Bourguignon is elevated to some kind of magical cult status in that movie. It will ease your worries! Soothe your soul! Impress your friends, relatives, and newspaper columnists!!!!

So I kind of figured, geez. If this one dish can single handedly transform my life, why WOULDN’T I want to make it? And immediately, if not sooner. I found the recipe online and began my Saturday morning trek for the ingredients. I live across from a Whole Foods so most of the ingredients were not difficult to find, but I forced myself to venture to Trader Joe’s for the wine. I’m a “starving” grad student, and Boston liquor stores are a total effing ripoff for wine. I regularly find bottles of wine I would pay $5 for in a grocery store in California being peddled for $8-10 at your friendly neighborhood liquor store. Boo. TJs it was.

I gathered my ingredients. Beef, bacon, veggies, wine, broth, flour, seasonings. I looked at the instructions. SO MANY STEPS. I decide to take it slow, one step at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself, Steffany! You’re going to do this right! If Julia Child tells you to cook the mushrooms separately, you will cook them separately goddammit! You will remove the bacon to a plate before you cook the beef! None of your laziness!

So I do. And it takes FOUR HOURS. And I divided the recipe in fourths, so it would take at least six to make as written. In the third hour of cooking, I began to think to myself that the next time I went to a restaurant and they tried to charge me $20 for a serving of bouef bourguignon I would pay it gladly, because some poor schmuck had to stand in front of a stove for god knows how long making the damn thing. In the end, I had bouef bourguignon. I also had sore feet, an aching back, and I was slightly lightheaded (that was probably my fault – I didn’t eat all day because I was making something EPIC and didn’t want to spoil my appetite). It was good. Really good. And if you refrigerate the whole thing and wait until the next night, it will be really REALLY good. But I couldn’t help but think that there were much easier ways to make beef stew. There is one step that I will probably elect to skip should I ever make this dish again, and that is when you separate the broth from the meat and veggies after taking the whole thing out of the oven. I’m sure it’s there for a reason, but I found it wholly unnecessary (especially since you just turn around and add the broth BACK to the meat!) and kind of difficult. You’re supposed to pour the stew into a sieve set over a saucepan, set aside the meats, wash out the casserole, put the meats back in the casserole, simmer the liquid in the saucepan and add broth if it’s too thick, then put the liquid back in with the meats that you just separated it from. (AGH! WHY?)

I had actual homework to do that day. Instead, I made bouef bourguignon. Now, to be fair, it tastes different from any beef stew I have ever tasted. It is meant to go over boiled potatoes or rice or pasta, so it kind of has more of a ragu-like texture and is not particularly soup-y. I think it is worth trying, just be prepared to lose your day to it!

6 oz chunk of bacon

3 lbs lean stewing beef

1 sliced carrot

1 sliced onion

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 TB flour

3 C red wine, NOT cooking wine. In fact, you should never buy cooking wine. Only use a wine you would drink in your cooking. If you wouldn’t drink it, why in god’s name would you bother eating it??

2-3 C beef stock

1 TB tomato paste

2 cloves mashed garlic

1 bay leaf

18-24 small white onions, brown basted in stock (we’ll go over this)

1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms, sauteed in butter

ALRIGHTY. Here we go.

Remove the rind from the bacon a cut it into sticks 1/4″ thick and 1.5″ long. I used bacon slices.

Simmer in a pot of water for 10 minutes, drain and dry. Heat your oven to 450˚. Saute the bacon in 1TB of olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Conserve the oil, that is what you will be browning the beef in.

Cut the stewing beef into 2″ pieces. Mine are probably more like 1″, but I wanted to trick myself into thinking there was more meat than there actually was. I do this a lot…!

Dry the beef in paper towels in order to ensure that it browns. Heat the oil until it is nearly smoking. Saute the beef in the oil a few pieces at a time until it is nicely browned on all sides. Add to the plate with the bacon.

Saute the carrot and onion in the same oil until they are browned.

Pour out any excess cooking fat, then return the beef and bacon to the pot with the veggies. Add the salt, pepper and flour and toss to combine. Set the casserole uncovered into the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Take the casserole out and stir the ingredients, then return to the oven for 4 minutes more. Remove and reduce heat to 325˚.

Stir in the wine and stock so that the meat is just covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to a simmer, then cover, take off the heat, and put in the oven. Allow to cook in the oven for 2.5 – 3 hours. Try to regulate the heat so that the stew is at a gentle simmer the entire time.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and the mushrooms. Slice the mushrooms into quarters and saute in butter (I used 1 TB for 1/4lb of mushrooms). You may not want to use all that butter, which is fine by me. You can always use olive oil instead, or an olive oil/butter mix. Mushrooms sauteed in butter are really, really good though! Maybe just this once, eh? Saute until they are browned and delicious looking. Set them aside until the meat is done.

You’re basically going to do the same thing with the onions. Mrs. Child says to brown-braise them in stock, but I the recipe I downloaded from some website didn’t have the page with those specific instructions on it. So I made it up, but it seems pretty authentic to me! Peel your onions and leave them whole. Saute them with butter and when they are starting to look a little brown, add some beef stock (I used 1/2 C stock for 9 pearl onions). Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then uncover and swirl the onions around so they get a nice deep brown color on their edges. Keep them aside with the mushrooms until the meat is ready.

This is when the recipe gets to the crazy part that I hate. The recipe says that, once the meat is done, to pour the contents into a sieve set over a saucepan. Mmkay. I used cheesecloth. That was a bad idea. Should you choose to follow this step, use a colander.

So you pour the meats into the colander/sieve/cheesecloth, separating the liquid from the meat. The liquid should all be in the saucepan. Wash out the casserole dish and return the bacon and beef to it. Add the mushrooms and the pearl onions.

Return to the liquid, and simmer for a minute or two, skimming the fat off of the surface (I saw no fat. Maybe you will). You should have about 2.5 C of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon. If it is too thick, add some beef broth. If it is too thin, boil it down some.

Pour the sauce over the meat and veggies.

You are supposed to serve it over some boiled potatoes or, failing that, some rice or some buttered noodles. I was starving so I ate it with buttered bread.

Good luck and godspeed, my friends!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Goat’s Milk CHEESE!

28 Feb

I finally got around to hauling out my kit from Urban Cheesecraft and making some queso.

And it was AWESOME.

I love making things that you usually have to buy (marshmallows, anyone?) because it makes me feel oddly powerful. Like, eff you world! I can MAKE SHIT. If the zombie apocalypse came tomorrow, you would definitely want me with your roaming band of survivors. I’m not a big fighter, but I can knit (which means I carry pointy sticks, more conducive to vampire slaughter, but still), I can sew, and I can cook. I know how to make bread and butter, though we will have to find a suitable lactating animal for the latter. You know, cow or goat. When the zombie apocalypse hits you won’t want to be too picky. For all you smartasses who think you can’t make butter from goat milk, YOU’RE WRONG.

So my cheese-making experience was fantastic, except that I almost over heated my milk. One of the crucial steps in cheese making is separating the curds from the whey, which occurs when you heat your milk. I assumed that I would be able to very visibly see the curds separate, that they would be able the size of cottage cheese curds. Not so! The curds were so tiny I could hardly see them and I thought I hadn’t heated the milk enough. Fortunately I read the FAQ over at Urban Cheesecraft and discovered that not all curds are large. In my case, I ended up dipping a metal spoon into the heated milk, and when I pulled the spoon out it was dotted with tiny white specks. Curds!

So, what follows is your basic goat cheese making technique, found in the recipe book that came with my Urban Cheesecraft kit. You can find online recipes, too, but I highly recommend buying a kit from the good people at Urban Cheesecraft! It’s not as though you can’t make cheese without it, but they make it so much easier. Mine came with yards of butter muslin, molds, a thermometer, vegetable rennet, citric acid, cheese salt, and recipe booklets.

Soft Goat’s Cheese

I cut the original recipe in half.

1 quart goat’s milk

1/2 tsp citric acid

1/4 C water

cheese salt (which is just flaked kosher salt). Make sure the salt you use doesn’t have iodine or anti-caking agents.

butter muslin (very fine cheesecloth)

thermometer

colander

big bowl

cheese mold (optional)

Grab your goat’s milk.

This is the first time I had ever bought goat’s milk. I was understandably curious.

Tastes just like moo cow milk. Yum!

Dissolve the citric acid into the water and put aside.

Pour your goat’s milk and the citric acid/water mix into a large pot and clip a thermometer to the side of the pot. You want to make sure your thermometer tip is not touching the bottom of the pot, it should be suspended in the middle of the milk so it can take an accurate reading. Don’t use an aluminum pot, either.

Slowly heat the milk to 185˚F, stirring occasionally. Keep the heat at medium-low. You do not want to over boil the milk, nor do you want to over stir. (So, just make sure you aren’t stirring constantly and you’ll be fine!)

Once the temperature reads 185˚ the curds should have separated from the whey. If you can’t tell (and like I said, I couldn’t), grab a metal spoon and dip it in to the milk and take it out. If it has little white dots on it, the curds have officially separated.

These are curds. I know, I can't see them either.

Turn off the heat and let the milk sit for about 10 minutes. While you are waiting, grab your colander, line it with the cheesecloth, and put it over a large bowl.

Slowly pour the milk into the cheesecloth lined colander, and allow to drain for 15 -30 minutes.

Once it has drained, add the salt and herbs if you like. I added a bit of rosemary, but although it flavored the cheese well, the rosemary itself was a little bitter. If I were to do it again, I would use something sweeter like basil or thyme.

Gently stir to combine.

Line a cheese mold with cheesecloth and place it over another bowl or a plate. Scoop the curds into the mold.

If you don’t have a mold that’s ok. You can just scoop the curds into a piece of cheesecloth and tie off the top. This way would probably work better if you suspend the bag over a bowl somehow, maybe by tying it to a cabinet handle with a bowl on the bottom. The reason you’re scooping the curds into the cheesecloth bag or mold is to further drain and shape the cheese. The longer you leave it to drain, the more firm your cheese will be. Regardless of which method you choose, allow to drain anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. I left mine for about an hour.

Now that your curds are chillin’, you’ve got lots of whey to worry about.

Pour it into an airtight container. It will keep for about 2 days. Urban Cheesecraft gives lots of suggestions for how to use whey. You can feed it to your kitty, use it in place of broth in soups and stews, or make hot chocolate with it instead of using milk or water. Basically, you can use it in any recipe in place of milk or water. They do give this warning, though-whey has LOTS of lactose.

When your cheese is ready, remove it from the cheesecloth or mold and put it in a container. The cheese will keep for a week or two.

You can use it however you like! The first thing I did was put it on some leftover caramelized onion pizza.

I also made two batches of pasta – sun dried tomato and goat cheese, and brussels sprout, sausage, and goat cheese. Yum!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Marshmallows!

8 Feb

I know you were probably hoping for cheese. Sad day. But I got distracted yesterday when I realized that I had all of the ingredients for marshmallows in my cupboard (yeah, this is what happens when you cook a lot. You end up with random bits of foodstuff, like envelopes of gelatin and corn syrup from that one time you made that cake/pie/candy thing).

So as I was saying, I was sitting around thinking about how much I wanted some hot chocolate, but we all know that hot chocolate isn’t really worth it unless you’ve got some whipped cream or at the very least some marshmallows and I didn’t have either of those things and I didn’t want to go to the store. So I lay despondently around in total depression (tiny violin playing in the background) until I remembered that I could actually make my OWN marshmallows.

Yes.

This is the full recipe, but I actually cut everything in half. I also stole the recipe from Alton Brown. It’s ok though, he’s used to it.

3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin

1 C cold water, divided

1.5 C granulated suagr

1 C light corn syrup

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 C powdered sugar

1/4 C cornstarch

Nonstick spray, or olive oil.

Put the gelatin and half of the water in a large mixing bowl.

Mix the corn syrup, sugar, salt and the rest of the water in a saucepan, cover and heat over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Uncover, and using a thermometer heat the mixture to 240˚ F. I used my super-spiffy meat thermometer.

You can do the same, as long as you have a thermometer that goes up that high. You just have to be careful that the thermometer tip is not touching the saucepan at all, or it will mismeasure the temperature. I employed the use of a rubber band.

Once the mixture hits 240˚, take it off of the heat immediately. While you wait, grab a pan (mine is 8″x8″) and grease it all over using the cooking spray or olive oil. In a separate dish, mix the cornstarch and powdered sugar. Coat the pan using the cornstarch mix, and reserve the leftovers for later use.

Now, you’re going to combine the gelatin with the sugar mixture by slowly drizzling the heated sugar mix into the gelatin, while you constantly whisk it all together. This is super-easy if you have a stand mixer. I do not. In fact, I don’t even have a hand held electric mixer, so I used my whisk and MY HANDS. My shoulder kind of hurts, but I have fabulous muscles.

Any way you choose to mix, it takes between 10 – 14 minutes to reach the correct consistency. It will get really fluffy.

And then, it will start getting super-glossy and very difficult to whisk. That’s about when it’s done. You want to add the vanilla in the last 2-3 minutes of whisking.

Pour into your prepared pan, using an oiled spatula (or spoon, what have you) to evenly distribute.

Sprinkle the top with enough of the cornstarch mix to cover, again reserving the rest.

Let the marshmallows sit uncovered for at minimum 4 hours. Once this time has elapsed, turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting surface and cut into squares. You might need to coat your knife with some of the cornstarch mix.

Coat the cut marshmallows with the remaining cornstarch-sugar mixture.

You can store the finished marshmallows in an airtight container for up to three weeks. Enjoy!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Crab Like Dad Makes

11 Jan

In case you haven’t guessed, this is crab the way my dad makes it. It’s not much of a recipe, more of a “throw everything in there and mix well” sort of deal, but I’ve never had crab this way unless it’s with my dad.

Here in San Francisco (back home for winter break, woo!) it’s dungeness crab season. Dungeness is the most delicious of all of the crabs (even the ichthyologists think so, as its latin name is cancer magister, ie, master crab), and yes I’ve had soft shell and blue and even king but dungies are still the tastiest, thanks. Unfortunately, you can only get them on the pacific coast and only from Alaska down to Santa Cruz, CA, so the majority of people probably don’t eat them. Which is just tragic.

Dungeness crab season is always really exciting, because the price lowers to almost nothing. I decided to have a crab feast with my friend Jake because:

1. It was $5.99/lb at Whole Foods.

and

2. Anders doesn’t eat crab.

So I went off and got myself 2 crabs at about a pound each (pre cooked). The lovely fish monger at Whole Foods even cleaned and cracked the crab for me, so I had almost nothing to do by the time I got home. Aside from eat some delicious crab, that is.

Dad’s Crab

2 lbs of cleaned and cracked crab (If you go to a decent fish monger they’ll do it for you. Otherwise you should probably go here.)

2 lemons

olive oil

salt

cracked black pepper

french bread, for serving

Put the crab pieces in a strainer and rinse for a few minutes under cold water.

Put the crab in a big bowl. Drizzle heavily with olive oil. Add the juice from both lemons, plenty of cracked pepper, and salt. Mix thoroughly. Don’t freak out too much about proportion here. Let loose. I’d advise you not to go too crazy on the salt, though, because it’s difficult to repair overdoing it on the salt.

Let everything hang out in the fridge for about 15 minutes while you grab the french bread and cut it into pieces.

I just serve it as is, in the giant bowl accompanied by french bread. The trick is that you have to suck the lemon-olive oil deliciousness off of the crab pieces before you go crazy cracking the crab for the meat inside.

So, pick up your crab piece.

Suck.

Eat.

Mop up juice from the bowl with the french bread.

I never said this was going to be neat.

❤ stef

Recipe: Apple Brown Betty

11 Nov

This is the second recipe from my little Childhood Recipe Series. I got it from another American Girls Cookbook, this time from Samantha Parkington‘s . In the series, Samantha is a girl living in the turn of the century. She is an orphan living with her grandmother (whom she calls Grandmary) in an upper-class household. One of her friends is an Irish servant girl named Nellie, and eventually both Samantha and Nellie are adopted by Samantha’s Aunt. Her books talk a lot about class disparity, woman’s suffrage, and child labor.

I don’t think I mentioned in the last post, but Addy is an African-American slave who escapes from a plantation with her mother. They both live in Philadelphia, and later on in the series her father (who had been sold to a different plantation when Addy was young) joins them. Her storyline deals mostly with prejudice and the difficulties Addy and her family encounter, even being in the Free North.

Anyway. I love the American Girls. Can you tell??

I made this recipe for Apple Brown Betty for the first time about 12 years ago (yeah, I was 12. I CAN DO THE MATH!), and I hadn’t made it since until this weekend. I’m not sure why, because it is really easy and super-delicious. It’s basically butter, breadcrumbs, sugar and apples. Easier than any apple pie, but twice as good. I’m not going to even try to touch the whole Thanksgiving meal thing, but if you’re looking for a twist on the traditional apple pie this would be a delectable alternative (look at me, breaking out the $5 words!).

Personally, I adore pie, but I’ve never been able to master the art that is the pie crust so I end up buying the pre-made stuff. This is kind of like apple pie, but there is no crust involved. I compare it to making lasagna – you just layer, layer, layer.

Recipe

4 apples

1.5 C bread crumbs

1/2 C brown sugar

3 TB butter

Cinnamon

1/3 C milk

Hard Sauce:

1/3 C butter

1/3 C powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8×8 in plan with BUTTER! Or you can use cooking spray.

Peel, core and chop the apples into 1/4″ slices.

I’m working with a severely reduced kitchen, so my carrot peeler is MIA and I don’t actually own an apple corer. To get around that I used a paring knife to peel, chopped the apples in half and kind of sliced the core out of either side.

Cored apples. Sorta.

Sprinkle 1/2 C of the bread crumbs onto the bottom of the pan.

Follow by half of the apples, 1/4 C of brown sugar and 1 TB of the butter (chop the butter into small pieces and lay them evenly over the apple slices). Sprinkle the cinnamon over everything.

Add a second layer of breadcrumbs and repeat. So to clarify, you will have two layers of apples, butter, cinnamon and sugar, before you move to the next step which is the top of the dessert.

Top with 1/2 C of breadcrumbs and 1 TB butter cut into small pieces. Pour 1/3 C milk over the entire thing.

Bake at 375˚ for 45 min – 1 hr. While it is in the oven, take the 1/3 C butter for the hard sauce, cut it into chunks and put it in a bowl to soften.

I would suggest keeping a close watch on this while it bakes. I think my oven might bake at a very high temperature, because I had it set at 350˚ and my Apple Brown Betty was done in only 30 minutes. Once the top is a medium brown, you’re good to go and you should take it out.

Browned and ready!

When you take it out of the oven, make the hard sauce. Grab your softened butter.

Cream together with the powdered sugar and the vanilla.

Dab the sauce all over the top of the apple brown betty while it is still warm. This will allow the sauce to melt into the dessert.

You can serve immediately, or wait until it cools. I like to eat it warm.

You’re going to need some milk for this.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Butterbeer! Part One.

31 Jul

Earlier in the week, a friend emailed me a link to a recipe for real, Tudor-style butterbeer. Apparently butterbeer is not just the stuff of Harry Potter culinary lore, but a real drink imbibed by real people with a real recipe to boot.

This brought to mind my high school days, when I would make faux butterbeer for my friends using homemade  hot buttered rum mix and root beer. I would warm up the root beer on the stove and whisk in the hot buttered rum mix, and serve to friends dressed in festive hats and robes. We always saw Harry Potter on opening night, and we always dressed in costume (we did the same thing for Lord of the Rings). We were were (and sometimes still are) those kids!

When I discovered the root beer/hot buttered rum mix drink I was ecstatic, because it brought an additional air of authenticity to our festivities. When my friend emailed me the REAL butterbeer recipe, the memories came back and that, coupled with the fact that the newest Harry Potter movie has recently been released, inspired me to devote this blog entirely to butterbeer.

And so begins DinnerLove’s two-week Butterbeer extravaganza! This week I am bringing you the non-alcoholic root beer variety, and next week I’ll feature the tudor-style alcoholic recipe. Woohoo!

Butterbeer

Root beer, at least 16 oz

Hot buttered rum mix:

1/2 stick of butter

1 C brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

Leave the 1/2 stick of butter on the counter for a bit to soften it up. Alternatively, you can soften it in the microwave but I always manage to screw that up somehow and end up with a big liquid mess.

So, all you do is cream your ingredients together. Put the butter, sugar and spices into a bowl and stir until they are all combined.

Use 1 TB mix per 8 oz of root beer. I’m only making enough for one person (this stuff is really sweet!) so I heated 8 oz of root beer. When the root beer is warm and bubbly, add the buttered rum mix.

Whisk the mix into the root beer until it is dissolved. Watch the root beer, it will foam up if you’re not careful!

Pour into a big mug and enjoy!

In my opinion, the non-alcoholic variety is probably more true to the Harry Potter books than the tudor-style alcoholic beer recipe. I know that the drinking age in the UK is 18, but Harry Potter and Co have been drinking butterbeer since they were at least 12 and I seriously doubt that Madame Rosemerta would stand for a gaggle of drunk pre-teens in The Three Broomsticks, especially when they have Voldemort to fight off. Could you imagine? Harry wasn’t exactly an A student when it came to magic. If he were drunk he would have been dead!

Until next week, my fellow muggles. Enjoy!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Coffee Can Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

11 Jul

I love homemade ice cream.

I also love to make ice cream, because I can do whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want. Peach ice cream? You got it! Chocolate custard? You betcha! Caramel swirl with m&ms, chocolate chips and peanuts? Why not? Dooooo iiiiiit.

The only problem is that I don’t have an ice cream maker. I used to, but it was a cheapie one from Target and one day a few years ago it stopped working. I had it running for nearly eight hours before I realized that the little paddle inside wasn’t spinning, so the ice cream couldn’t become ice cream, just liquidy mess. It sucked.

I hadn’t bothered to make ice cream since, because I thought you needed a proper ice cream freezer and I don’t have one. It turns out, you don’t need a freezer at all, just some ice and salt and ingenuity. These things I have in spades, which is why tonight I will have vanilla custard ice cream for dessert, and you can, too.

Recipe from Fanny at Chez Panisse by Alice Waters.

2 egg yolks

1/2 C sugar

1/2 C milk

3 drops vanilla extract

lemon zest

1/2 C whipping cream

First you will need one very large jar and one small. The reason the recipe is called “coffee can” ice cream is because you are meant to use two coffee cans, but I don’t buy my coffee in cans. Jars or tupperware will work just as well. The small jar will hold the ice cream ingredients, and it needs to have a very tight seal. The large jar will hold the small jar, the ice, and the salt.

Separate the egg yolk from the white and put the yolk in a small saucepan.

Add the sugar and whisk. Heat the milk (I used the microwave) until hot, but don’t let it boil. Slowly add the milk (about 1-2 TB at a time) to the yolk and sugar until completely combined.

Heat gently, stirring all the time. You want to thicken the mixture slightly, either until it reaches 170˚ or it coats the back of a metal spoon and you are able to draw a line through it with your finger.

You are supposed to strain it at this point, but I didn’t. This did not negatively affect the finished product, but hey. If it makes you feel better, strain your custard. I don’t like to follow directions.

Add the vanilla and the lemon zest and put the mixture into the fridge and allow it to cool. Once cool, stir in the cream and put the mixture in the little jar. If you wanted to add fruit or chocolate pieces to your ice cream, this would be the time to do it. Put a piece of saran wrap between the jar and the lid.

Put the jar in the freezer overnight, until it is frozen half solid.

Take it out and pack it in the larger tupperware with ice and salt, and shake for about 20 minutes.

If the ice cream is too soft for your liking, you can put it back in the freezer until it is more hard.

Serve!

Add chocolate fudge if you like.

Hooray! Ice cream without a crazy ice cream freezer/maker/mabob.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Clafouti Cutie!

26 Jun

A clafouti is a French custard/cake-y dessert baked with fresh fruit. According Wikipedia (which is my handbook for life) the traditional fruit is cherries, though I decided to use plums because my mom has a tree and I am inundated with them. Santa rosa plums are taking over my LIFE!

This recipe is a bit like the ricotta cake I posted last week. It is certainly just as easy, but it has a different texture. It isn’t as cheesecake-y, more cake-y, plus it has all of that awesome fresh fruit. If you thought I was crazy calling ricotta cake breakfast material, you must accept that this clafouti definitely qualifies. It has fruit! FRUIT!

Oh, and as a side note, I’m visiting Boston for a few day this coming Monday and I would love food/sight/must see suggestions, if anyone’s got em!

Recipe adapted from Almost Vegetarian by Diana Shaw.

Ingredients:

1/2 C milk

1/2 C ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1/2 C sugar

1/2 C flour

1 tsp vanilla

2 C fresh fruit, your choice. Cherries, blueberries and plums are all great options!

Set oven to 425 degrees.

Mix together the milk, ricotta, eggs, sugar, flour, and vanilla using a blender, food processor or handy-dandy immersion blender. (Have a mentioned how much I love my new immersion blender? Because I LOVE IT!)

Chop up your chosen fruits.

Spread the fruit onto the bottom of a pie plate or vaguely pie plate-shaped baking tin.

Pour the custard-y batter on the top of the fruit.

Bake until puffy and delicious looking, 30 to 35 minutes.

You can eat the clafouti warm, but it is much, much easier to cut when it is completely cold.

Eat for dessert, breakfast, or snacktime. Especially snacktime.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Blue Cheese Stuffed Steak and Caprese Salad

13 Jun

My boyfriend hates steak. He eats meat. He eats ground beef, pork chops, sausage and pretty much any other type of meat known to man, but will not touch steak. I’m not sure why. He probably doesn’t even know why.  In any case, I think he’s nuts and anytime I want a steak I have to concoct new and exciting ways to eat it. That’s why I decided to take a sirloin steak my mother gave me and fillet it and stuff it with onions and blue cheese. The salad was thrown in as an afterthought for two reasons. One, you can’t have a meal with just meat. It’s just not right. Two, I have a bunch of basil and tomatoes that need eating.

I have to warn you that the recipes that follow don’t have any specific measurements. You really don’t need them for this, it’s more of a “stuff steak with as much blue cheese as you like” type of deal.

Stuffed Steak with Blue Cheese and Red Onion

1 sirloin steak, about 1/2 lb. You can use more if you like. You could also use a meat other than sirloin if you wish. Flank would work well.

Blue cheese. I used a few slices, less than 3 oz

Red onion, sliced thin. About 1/2 of a small onion, or to taste.

Steak seasoning

Salt and pepper

Tools:

Pan that can be used both on the  stove top and in the oven.

Butcher’s twine.

Grab your steak.

Using a super sharp knife, butterfly the steak by slicing it in half width wise and opening it up.

Slice your red onion into very thin slices.

Saute the onion with a bit of olive oil for about a minute or two. This will make them sweeter.

Slice the blue cheese.

Layer the blue cheese on the steak.

Put the sauteed onions on top.

Season with salt and pepper.

Now roll the steak up, and secure every inch or so with butcher’s twine. Season on all sides with steak seasoning. I always use Old Bay.

A note about butcher’s twine-I didn’t have any, so I used sewing thread instead. It worked just fine, but you should probably buy yourself some butcher’s twine anyway. I keep meaning to pick some up, but I always forget. Plus, you really have no idea if your sewing thread with hold in the high heat you will be cooking the steak in.

Using the pan that you sauteed the onions in (make sure it is oven-safe!) sear the steak roll on all sides so that it has a nice crust.

Once it has been seared, put the whole pan in a 400˚ oven for 15 minutes. I like my steak rare to medium rare, so 15 minutes was perfect. Leave it in 5-10 minutes longer if you prefer yours medium to well done.

Remove from the oven, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute. Plus, keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook during this period, raising in temperature up to 10˚.

While you wait for the steak, make the salad.

Caprese Salad

1 medium-large tomato

Fresh mozzarella

Handful of fresh basil

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Dried oregano

Garlic powder

Salt and pepper

Cut the tomato and the mozzarella into large cubes.

Grab a handful of basil and cut into strips.

Put all three ingredients into a bowl together.

Add the salt and pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, and a splash of olive oil and a smaller splash of balsamic. Eyeball it. Use less than you think you need at first. You can always add, but removing ingredients is difficult. Just like mascara, or eyeliner. (I apologize to my male audience members, who may or may not have any idea of what I’m talking about!) Mix together.

Once the salad is done (and 10 minutes have elapsed) cut the steak into slices.

Serve with the salad.

Ok, now, when you eat the steak, but a piece of steak in your mouth, followed immediately by a piece of tomato.

Mmmmmmmmmm.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Lemon Thyme Donuts

5 Jun

Today is National Doughnut Day, which is pretty awesome. Every year I find out about more semi-obscure holidays extolling the virtues of all kinds of foods. Examples: National Popcorn Day, National Pie Day, National Candied Orange Peel Day, and National Cherries Jubilee Day. You should go look around on that website. There is a celebration nearly everyday.

So in honor of today’s holiday, I decided to make some donuts. Makes sense, yes? Though I do wonder, how does one officially spell “donut”, anyway? I see it spelled “donut” and also “doughnut” and am very confused. Which is correct? Does it matter? Is one more popular than the other? It seems to simply vary from one shop to the next, without rhyme or reason. I’ve elected to use “donut” because there are fewer letters. Also, the Donut Wheel, the best donut shop ever, utilizes that spelling. I bow to them as the donut gurus.

Donuts with Lemon-Thyme Glaze

Donut recipe from Secret Donut Recipe; glaze modified from their vanilla glaze recipe.

Donuts:

1 C warm milk

1 pkg yeast

2 C flour

1/2 C warm mashed potato

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 C sugar

2 TB oil

Yes, this recipe uses potato. At first I thought that potato was a very strange ingredient, but I decided to give it a chance because I love potato bread so much. It was not a mistake. These donuts are amazing! Very easy to handle and results in a fluffy and moist donut. Give the potato a chance!

So first, what you will want to do is prepare the potato. Prick it all over with a fork, and put it in the microwave to cook. If your microwave has a baked potato setting, use that. Otherwise, microwave for a minute or two at a time and check it . The potato should be soft to the touch. Let the potato cool and warm the cup of milk. Add the yeast to the milk along with a pinch of sugar and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Cut the potato in half and scoop out the insides. Add the flour, sugar, and salt.

Mix together and add the milk and yeast, and 2 TB of oil. Mix with your hands (or using a stand mixer, but I don’t have one of those) until the dough forms a cohesive ball. The dough will be a little sticky.

Spread a surface with flour, turn the dough onto the surface and knead a few times.

Spread to 1/4 – 1/2″ thick. I did mine about 1/4″ using just my hands and a cylindrical rum bottle. I don’t have a rolling pin, either!

Cut donut shapes using either a donut cutter (which I also do not have) or circular household objects. I used a drinking glass for the large circle and a bud vase for the small circle. I’m resourceful!

Let the donuts rise for 10 minutes. While you wait, fill a cast iron pan 1/2″ with oil and heat. I heated mine at about medium heat for 10 minutes and the oil temperature was perfect. During this time, you should also make the glaze.

Lemon-Thyme Glaze

2 TB warm milk

1/2 tsp butter, just a little shave off of a stick

1 C powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp dried thyme

Warm the milk and the butter. Add to the powdered sugar and mix. Add the lemon zest, vanilla, and thyme. Mix together. Feel fee to leave out the lemon and thyme if you would prefer a simple vanilla glaze.

Cook the donuts until golden brown on each side. This only takes a few minutes, so be sure to watch carefully.

Let cool on a plate lined with paper towels. When the donuts have cooled, dip them into the glaze to cover and put them on a plate to allow the glaze to set.

Look at that deep fried glaze-y shine. Perfection! And yes, they absolutely do taste as delicious as they look!

Now excuse me, I have a half dozen donuts to eat.

❤ Stef