Provencale Beef Stew

On November 14, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
4

In 1993 I took a French Bistro Cooking class that was taught by one of the chefs from The Heathman Restaurant & Bar.  It was my first cooking class that led to many other classes that summer.  Oddly, the thing I remember most about this particular class was my “helping” with cleanup and rinsing a Heinkel chef knife and placing it in the dishwasher. The instructor freaked out on me and scolded me for putting a fine kitchen knife in the dishwasher. She was right, but as a 21 year old guy whose parents idea of a quality knife was a Ginsu knife set, I had no idea.

 

Fortunately, I walked away that evening with a quality beef stew recipe that also serves as the foundation for a great macaroni gratin dish too (more on that recipe tomorrow.)

 

Daube De Boeuf A La Provencale (Provencale Beef Stew)
Serves 6-8

3 lbs. stew meat (beef round or chuck)

Marinade:
4 carrots, peeled and cut into thick ‘half moons’
3 onions, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 rib celery, thickly sliced
4 sprigs fresh parsley
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
1/3 cup brandy
1 bottle robust red wine (Cote du Provence, Cote du Rhone, Minervoise or Languedoc)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
2 whole cloves

3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. mushrooms
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
salt and pepper

The day before serving the stew, in a large non reactive bowl, combine the marinade ingredients.  The peppercorns and cloves may be tied in a cheesecloth to remove before serving, if desired.  Toss well.  Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

Drain and reserve the liquid from the meat and vegetables.  Remove the meat from the vegetables.  Transfer the liquid and the vegetables (and the cheesecloth, if using) to a large non reactive casserole.  In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil over high heat.  When foam begins to subside, add half the meat.  Sauté, tossing, until browned all over, about  5 minutes.  with a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to the liquid and vegetables in the casserole.  Repeat with the remaining beef.

Stir the tomato paste into the casserole.  bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to very low and simmer, skimming occasionally, until the meat is very tender, about 3 hours.  While the meat is cooking, in the same skillet in which the meat was browned, add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes; set aside.  When the meat is tender, (discard the cheesecloth, if using) stir in mushrooms, orange zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

The recipe can be prepared 2 to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.  Reheat before serving.

Tagged with:
 

Squash Casserole

On November 2, 2011, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
2

I have to admit before moving to a more vegetarian diet, I really didn’t find many uses for squash (or zucchini.) It’s kind of a dull, often mushy vegetable. Fortunately, vegetarian cooking has caused me to rediscover how great squash can be and dishes like this one put the vegetable to good use with minimal effort.

Of course, the big secret here is a nice thick crust of mozzarella cheese. You can use soy mozzarella cheese if you are vegan. That’s the only change to the recipe below necessary to go from vegetarian to vegan.

Squash Casserole
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
3-4 yellow squash or zucchini, chopped into 1-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can of cooked lentils, drained
1/2 cup cooked brown rice

Preheat oven to 350. In a casserole dish, combine all of the ingredients but only 1/2 a cup of the cheese. Stir it together and pat it flat. Now add the other cup of shredded cheese to cover mixture. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, watching to get a good brown coloring on the cheese.

Tagged with:
 

Arugula, Tomato, Feta Couscous

On October 30, 2011, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
2

Every Saturday morning the boys and I head to swim class where they learn to navigate the water and I spend time figuring how I’m going to navigate my cooking for the coming week.  It’s a great 30 minutes to explore new cooking blogs.  One recent find is the blog The Kitchn (Kitchen – minus the “e”, because I’m sure thekitchen.com was already taken.)

I bought some arugula at the Farmer’s Market and was looking for something new to do with it. Thinking I had some orzo pasta at home too the Dinner Quick: Arugula with Orzo and Garden Tomatoes looked like a good choice for lunch today. When I arrived home, I was out of orzo pasta but had some Trader Joe’s Israeli Couscous I decided to substitute. I made a few other tweaks too, including added saute pine nuts.

Arugula, Tomato, Feta Couscous
Serves 4

1 cup Israeli couscous
1 bunch of arugula, large chop
Olive oil
1 Tablespoon dried basil
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 ounces goat or feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper

Cook the Israeli couscous per package instructions. While that is boiling, saute the pinenuts in a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Let them brown, cooking for about 4 minutes, turning often. Empty the pine nuts into a mixing bowl.

Add a little more olive oil to the saute pan that had the pine nuts and cook the chopped arugula till it just starts to wilt. Add it to the mixing bowl. Add some olive oil again and saute the tomatoes adding the dried basil, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 3 minutes then add them to the mixing bowl.

Crumble the feta cheese into the mixing bowl once the couscous is ready.  Now add the couscous and add a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste.

Serve.

Tagged with:
 

Beef Ragu Chiantigiana

On October 9, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
0

Beef Ragu Chiantigiana

Ragu is a maligned word in the pasta world.  It usually conjures up the idea of a highly acidic $3 pasta sauce. The word ragu is derived from the French word ragoût, from ragoûter, that means to revive the taste.  This recipe is here to revive the name ragu back to its roots of being a slow cooked meat and vegetable sauce that is rich in flavor.

Beef Ragu Chiantigiana
Serves 4

1 lb ground beef
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbs chopped fresh sage
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 cup Chianti or other dry red wine
1 1/2 cup pureed tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 lb pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano

Heat olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Place ground beef in pot and season with salt and pepper. Brown meat all over for about 5 minutes. Transfer meat to a bowl.  Do not rinse pot.

Add carrot, celery, and onion and saute until soft and lightly browned about 10 minutes.

Return meat to the pot and add garlic, rosemary, sage, and marjoram and saute briefly until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup of wine and stir, scraping up bottom bits of pan. Let the wine reduce until almost gone, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add the tomato puree and simmer the ragu, uncovered for 1 hour. As it cooks add a 1/4 cup of beef stock every 15 minutes, letting it reduce after each reduction.

After the hour is over, add the remaining 1/2 cup of red wine and cook for another 15 minutes letting the wine cook off. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasoning.

Immediately before serving, blend in the butter; toss with the pasta. Serve with shaved Parmesan.

Tagged with:
 

My First Attempt at an Alice Waters’ Recipe

On August 26, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
2

It’s no secret to those who read this blog regularly that I am an advocate of local food, but I’m just another person in this movement. The chef most responsible for giving local food a renewed prominence is without a doubt Alice Waters. Her restaurant Chez Panisse is a mecca for the local food movement. I still haven’t been to Berkeley, California even though I was born in California and lived there for 11 years, but 99% of my time was spent in Los Angeles.

With no near term plans for a trip to Berkeley, I decided to pick up one of Alice’s cookbooks from a Border’s that was closing (sad to see Border’s go.) I found a copy of her Pasta, Pizza, Calzone cookbook.

The book is organized by season since her cooking philosophy is using fresh, local ingredients of course that means fresh and local in her region of Northern California so it’s not always local to everyone. I did find one recipe that met local, fresh ingredients for an August in Texas. I found some great Sweet 100 local tomatoes at Whole Foods and bought some basil and made fresh linguine pasta. The recipe also called for bread crumbs, olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. It was very simple, almost too simple.

The flavor was okay, but that was mainly due to the recipe calling for an unnecessary large amount of bread crumbs – 1 1/2 cups. I reduced it to 1 cup and even then only used about a 1/4 of a cup and that was still too much for two people. The recipe should’ve called for a teaspoon garnish on top for each dish and it’s a change I’ll make on my next attempt at this.

The Sweet 100 tomatoes were excellent as they provided such a vibrant, summer taste that really brought out the joys of simple summer food which I’m sure was the whole point.

Tagged with:
 

Orecchiette with Kale and Cherry Tomatoes

On August 6, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
0


This is a very simple dish and a great way to put some fresh kale to use. It’s likely even people who do not normally like kale will find it enjoyable in this dish.

Best part this dish takes less than 15 minutes including preparation.

Orecchiette with Kale and Cherry Tomatoes

Serves 4

1 lb Orecchiette pasta
1/2 bunch of kale, cut into large pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
1 tablespoon butter
4 leaves of fresh sage

Cook pasta according to directions, most likely around 8-9 minutes.

Add garlic and a about a table of olive oil to a saute pan. Cook garlic for about 2-3 minutes making sure not to burn on medium heat. Add butter and hand tear small pieces of fresh sage into pan. Cook for about 1 minute then add kale. Cook kale for about 4 minutes turning frequently. Remove everything from the pan to a small bowl. Do not rinse saute pan.

Pasta should be done. Drain. Once pasta is finished, add remaining olive oil to saute pan. Add kale mixture and tomatoes. Cook for about 2 minutes then add pasta. Stir everything together and add Parmesan Reggiano mixing it so everything is coated.

Serve with a chunk of bread.

Tagged with:
 

Lentil and Cauliflower Curry Stacks

On February 8, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
0


The flavors in this dish make up for its lack of beauty in presentation. The yellow curry with cinnamon really brings the dish to life.
If you don’t want to use Pappadums (a crisp Indian flatbread), you can also use the lentil mixture to fill a piecrust with for a vegetarian Indian Pie. Or you could make pastry stuff turnovers with the mixture too.

Lastly, if you want to make this dish Vegan, substitute the butter with a product like Earth’s Balance.

Lentil and Cauliflower Curry Stacks
Serves 4

2 Tbl butter (or Earths Balance for a vegan version)
1 medium onion, sliced thin in to quarter moons
1 1/2 Tbls yellow curry paste
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 cremini mushrooms, thinly chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups dried brown or green lentils
1 (13 oz) can chopped tomatoes
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 head of fresh cauliflower, cut into small florets
oil for deep-frying
8 small Pappadums

Heat butter in a large pan over medium heat and cook the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the curry paste, garlic and mushrooms cooking all for 2 minutes until mushrooms are soft.

Add the vegetable stock, tomatoes, lentils and cinnamon and mix well. Bring to a boil and cook for 40 minutes until lentils become tender. Add the cauliflower in the last 10 minutes and cover. If the curry is too wet after 40 minutes, cook longer uncovered until most of the liquid is evaporated. Remove cinnamon sticks.

About 5 minutes before the lentil mixture is done, heat oil in a saucepan on medium-high. Drop Pappadums, one at a time, into oil. They will quickly puff up so act quick and flip using tongs to straighten out the Pappadum. Each one takes about 4 seconds on each side. Remove and pat both sides with a paper towel.

Assemble by putting one Pappadum on a plate and spoon lentil mixture into it. Place another Pappadum on top and add some more lentil mixture. Serve.

 

Tagged with:
 

Fusilli Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Broccolini

On January 31, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
1


My wife and kids like a simple pasta dish that is on California Pizza Kitchen’s menu. This is my attempt at mimicking it, and according to everyone it was a success. It’s fairly basic garlic and oil coated pasta dish that I’m sure a lot of restaurants offer as it is quick and simple.

I substituted Bartolini brand Torcetti for the Fusilli. Highly recommend.

Fusilli Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Broccolini
Serves 4

1 lb fusilli pasta
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Tbl dried Thyme or 2 Tbls fresh Thyme
8 oz. oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
1 bunch broccolini
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a dash of salt, and cook pasta to desired doneness, see package directions usually 10 minutes.

While pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and salt and cook for 2-3 minutes before garlic slices burn. Add sun-dried tomatoes, thyme and broccolini to pan and coat cooking for 4 minutes on medium heat. Turn heat down to simmer.

What pasta is done, drain the water and add cooked pasta to sauté pan turning up the heat to medium and tossing to coat the pasta with the olive oil and vegetables. Add the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese last and turn to coat.

Serve immediately. You can add more cheese if you like after plating the dish.

 

Pizza Rustica Insane-ica

On January 30, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
0


In a world of $5 Hot ‘n Ready pizzas, why would anyone ever make a pizza from scratch at home? First of all it costs a small fortune with the San Marzano tomatoes, organic shredded mozzarella, and “sustainably raised” pepperoni. Secondly, it takes 30 minutes to cook the sauce, you have to roll the dough, and then you have to watch it incessantly in the oven to make sure it doesn’t burn yet the crust gets crispy.

Homemade pizza is for the insane.

There I said it. It really is, but sometimes it comes out perfect and puts the $5 pizza to shame. Tonight was one of those nights.

We had made what looked like a foolish decision last weekend at the local Italian market here in Dallas, Jimmy’s Food Store, when we purchased some frozen store-made pizza dough. The one great thing about pizza is how fun it is for our twin 4 year old boys to put on the toppings of their personal pizza. Kids love making pizza and it really is ideal for getting kids involved in cooking.

With easily $20 spent on ingredients we were ready to make some home-made pizzas.

Pizza Rustica
Makes 2 Pizzas

Make 1 recipe of Pizza Sauce (see below)

Pizza Dough (preferably from a local Italian Market)
1 Green Pepper
1/2 Red Onion, sliced in half-moons
Small can of sliced black olives
1 package of Applegate Farms Pepperoni
1 lb of shredded mozzarella cheese

Thaw the dough if frozen. I put it in the refrigerator the night before using and by dinner time the next day it is ready for use. It’s best to also place it on the counter a hour before using to let it come to room temperature, but this step is not necessary. It just makes the dough a little easier to work with.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Move the oven rack to the lowest position if your heating element is on the bottom of the oven. This works best to help the dough cook. If your oven has the heating element at the top, move the oven rack near the top, but you will have to gently cover the pizza with foil on top after 6-7 minutes of cooking and continue cooking 5 more minutes so as not to burn the top of the pizza.

Slice dough into 2 pieces and dust a board lightly with flour and work dough either by hand or by hand and rolling pin. What you want to do is make the dough really thin, almost where you can start seeing through it. Don’t worry about it being perfectly round or square, shape isn’t important.

Once the dough is ready move it on to parchment paper (or aluminum foil though the pizza will stick a little if using foil.) Spread some of the pizza sauce on the dough then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Add toppings to desired taste. Then move the pizza leaving it on the parchment paper to the oven rack. Place on oven rack and cook pizza for 6-7 minutes watching closely after 5 minutes to get to desired brownness on top. Gently place a piece of foil on top of the pizza when the top looks done, then cook for another 5 minutes. The final 5 minutes of cooking helps cook the pizza crust which can be doughy if taken out too soon.

Slide the parchment paper on to a cookie sheet to remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool for 2 minutes before slicing. Slice and serve.

Pizza Sauce
Makes enough for 2-3 pizzas

2 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbl butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
16 ounces of tomato puree
2 Tbls grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp basil, dried
1 tsp oregano, dried
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf

Heat butter and olive oil in a small pot. Add the onion, celery and garlic to the pot and heat until translucent, about 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Do not burn. Add tomato puree and remaining ingredients and stir and heat to a boil. Once at boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf and set aside to cool for 10 minutes and use on fresh pizza dough.

 

Tagged with: