One More Winter Meal

March 23, 2015 § 2 Comments

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 As much as I love cold weather comfort foods, the season for hearty stews and soups is coming to an end. Rhubarb appearing in my dreams, cravings for all things green, edible or not, have started.

We had a few of what I consider warm days….40 degrees and no wind chill and those were enough for me to want to pack up my casseroles, open all the windows and start digging for dirt. 

Then today, a reminder that spring is still not as close as I thought. More comfort food for a little while longer I guess.

Here then is one more hearty meal to make it through until spring really does arrive.

Pot roast is one of my staples in the arctic months, and so easy to make. Just spend a little time browning the meat and cutting onions and the oven does the rest. If you make enough you can have leftovers and hot pot roast and gravy sandwiches for a few days as well. I suggest making this a day ahead, it’s so much more flavorful after a day or two.

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Braised Pot Roast with Carrots and Parsnips

Beef chuck roast, about 3 to 4 lbs

fat for browning, 2 or 3 TBL

good salt and pepper

1 bay leaf

thyme or oregano (a few sprigs) or dried (1 TBL)

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, cut into large chunks

2 parsnips, cut into large chunks

1 clove garlic, smashed

2 cups red wine

2 to 3 cups beef or vegetable stock

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Season the roast well with salt and pepper. In a large casserole or Dutch oven, heat fat (bacon fat, lard, olive oil) until very hot and brown the roast well on all sides. Remove to a plate.

Add the chopped onion, garlic, carrots, parsnips and bay leaf to the fat remaining (add more if you need to) and sauté about 5 minutes until vegetables are well coated and softened.

Add wine and bring everything to a boil, stirring up all the bits on the bottom. 

Return the roast to the pot, add the broth and herbs. Make sure the liquid comes halfway up the roast, add water or more stock if needed. When simmering again, cover and bake about 2 hours, until meat is very tender.

To make gravy, remove the meat, all but 1 of the carrots, parsnips and bay leaf. Keep warm.

Carefully puree the liquid in a blender, a few cups at a time. Please be careful, hot liquids in blenders can become dangerous if filled too high. Blending the liquid with some vegetables will thicken the sauce without having to add any of the usual thickeners like flour or arrowroot. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Return the meat, vegetables and sauce to the pot and keep warm until it’s time to eat.

You can cut the roast into large chunks or shred with 2 forks. Serve with mashed or boiled potatoes and pour sauce over all. 

 I like to serve this with applesauce, which if you don’t have can be made while the roast is cooking.

Happy Spring!

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illustration by me

Another Cooking Day

February 16, 2015 § 4 Comments

I’m not going to mention the S word in this post. Let’s just say I am surrounded by incredible amounts of cold and white, as far as the eye can see. Seems like every few days more comes. And today it came with wind, white wind.

It’s way too cold to go out into it so I find myself standing in the kitchen again, creating  delicious smells to waft through the house. It’s only 2 o’clock and already I’ve made braised lamb shanks, beef vegetable soup, salmon quiche and these Cheddar Parmesan Crackers.

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Now this isn’t going to be one nights dinner, though I don’t doubt Kevin could eat it. He’s pretty much outside all day and needs nourishment every half hour! Especially with all that white stuff that gets in the way of everything.

I really like making crackers, you basically just put the ingredients into a food processor and blitz everything together. With these, I baked half the recipe and put the other half into the freezer. Then I can can just take them out on a moment’s notice. You really don’t need cheese with these, they’re quite rich, though they would be good with a slice of apple or even chutney. And perfect with a glass of white wine, like Riesling.

 

Cheddar Parmesan Crackers

4 oz grated cheddar cheese

2 oz grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp good salt

good pinch cayenne

4 TBL unsalted butter, softened and cut into smaller pieces

2 TBL water

 

Place all ingredients except butter and water into food processor and pulse 5 times.

Add the butter, pulse again until butter pieces are very small.

Add the water, 1 TBL at a time until dough holds together. If it’s still crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tsp at a time.

After taking the dough out of food processor, roll it into a log about 9″ long and square the ends. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate about 2 hours.

Then preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the log into slices about 1/4″ thick.

Place on baking sheet an inch apart and bake 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Turn crackers and bake another 4 or 5 minutes.

Cool on a rack.

You can freeze this as well, and I recommend cutting it into smaller sections in case you’re only going to use some of it.

 

Makes about 3 dozen crackers.

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Recipe from The All American Cheese and Wine Book.

 

 

Sage, Bacon and Cheddar Cornbread

January 14, 2015 § 5 Comments

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Today was a stay inside kind of day for me. It started out gray (as usual) and then started snowing a little bit. I had a few things in mind for dinners throughout the week and for some reason just decided to cook them all.

I started off with a sort-of stew of braised oxtails with fennel. As that was in the oven I started a version of pot roast, with lots of onions, red wine and tomatoes. Then I put a big pot of beef stock on to simmer, using up some leftover bones from the freezer and adding some fresh ones to it. That’s been simmering all day and will be for another few days.

I still needed some cooking therapy I guess so cornbread came to mind. I wanted to jazz it up a bit, so I added bacon, cheddar cheese, sautéed onions and sage to an otherwise plain cornbread recipe.  I used a cast iron pan to cook the bacon and onions in and then kept it hot as I made the batter, then spooned it on top. Once it came out of the oven I felt the urge to add even more cheddar, (probably because I’d been nibbling on some the whole time) so I sprinkled another 1/2 cup on as it cooled, making a nice cheesy glaze.

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This is best served warm. To reheat the next day, wrap in foil and place in hot oven for about 10 minutes. Or, I like to melt a little butter in a pan and add some slices of cornbread to it. Makes a great breakfast, topped with a fried or poached egg.

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Ingredients:

3 pieces bacon, cut into pieces

1 large onion, sliced

3/4 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour, I use white spelt

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup sour cream

2 Tbl butter, melted

1/4 cup cheddar, grated, for top

dried sage for top

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a cast iron pan, about 8″, cook the bacon until almost done, remove to a plate.

Add the sliced onions to the pan, adding more fat to the pan if you need it. Cook until golden.

Put the bacon back in with the onions, and keep the pan warm while you mix up the batter. You could put in the oven but keep an eye on it.

In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Add the grated cheddar.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, then add the milk, butter and sour cream.

Add wet to dry, mix.

Spoon into the hot pan with the bacon and onions, sprinkle crumbled dried sage over the top.

Bake about 15 minutes, until tester comes out dry.

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with the 1/4 cup grated cheddar.

 

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I’ll be giving you the recipes for the oxtail stew and pot roast soon…..oh one more thing…I also made the chickens a treat: melted some old peanut butter, added some seeds, oats, and grains then popped it into the freezer for tomorrow’s treat….think I’m done for this day!

Happy New Year Wishes

December 31, 2014 § 6 Comments

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The garden is asleep.

The last of the kale is still sticking it’s head out of the snow.

Days are now starting to get longer, literally minute by minute. I know we all can’t wait for spring but I always remind myself how quickly it will be here and then another year will be gone.

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On this last day of the year, I want to thank you all for taking the time to read my blog. I really appreciate it and the comments and encouragement that I’ve received. It’s what keeps me going!

I’ve been working on a cookbook this past year, and I’m almost finished. Just a few more recipes to make and photograph. Details coming soon!

So Happy New Year! Enjoy every day on our magnificent planet!

 

Christmas Morning Coffee Cake Muffins

December 22, 2014 § 4 Comments

 

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We’ve all been planning our holiday dinners and feasting. Chances are we’ll have had many hours of shopping, decorating the table, and the actual cooking of that duck or roast. When Christmas morning breakfast rolls around we want it to be easy, but still special.

I like to have something homemade for a breakfast treat, like scones  or muffins. This year I was planning on making a coffee cake, then at the last minute I decided to put the batter into muffin cups. This way people can just grab and go and get to those presents!

If you plan ahead, you can make these a few days before then just reheat. If not, make the batter and get them into the oven while everyone is waking up and the coffee is finishing its brew.

Pile them into a basket and put them out next to the coffee pot, the smell will fill the house and get everyone into the kitchen fast!

 

Coffee Cake Muffins

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup organic sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups flour, I use white spelt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Topping:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup nuts, sliced almonds or chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a muffin pan or line with baking cups.

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the eggs and beat until well combined.

Mix the baking soda with the sour cream in a separate bowl, then add to egg mixture.

Add vanilla and beat well.

Combine flour and baking powder, add and beat until well combined.

Spoon into muffin pan and sprinkle with topping. 

Bake 20 to 30 minutes, (depends on your oven) until tester comes out clean. You can also just make a regular coffee cake, pour batter into a greased 8″ or 9″ pan, square or oblong or round, and bake a little longer, about 10 extra minutes.

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Edible Christmas Gifts

December 16, 2014 § 2 Comments

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Here it is Christmas time already, and if you’re thinking of giving edible gifts now would be a good time to start. Here are a few delicious and simple suggestions that will hold up until Christmas. Find yourself some pretty jars, boxes or tins, some ribbon and something to write your recipe’s name and ingredients on, put on some music, maybe have a glass of wine and start cooking!

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One of the things I like to make (and eat) are Biscotti. They keep really well and you can make a lot of variations. Homemade Granola, made with healthy coconut oil, is another favorite that you can improvise with endlessly. These Pistachio Date Bites don’t even require baking. For chocolate lovers, I make my flourless and gluten free Chocolate Torte and just bake it in a square or oblong pan, cut into squares then dust with confectioner’s sugar.

If you thought ahead and even if you didn’t,  Fruit Infused Vodka makes quite an impressive gift. If you’re starting it now, just jot down a reminder to let it sit for awhile on the gift tag.

I like to decorate my containers with greenery too, just cut a few sprigs off a pine tree, maybe some berries if you can find them, wrap it all up in ribbon and there you go!

Cranberry Nut Biscotti

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 TBL soft unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

zest from 1 orange

1/2 cup nuts of your choice, pecans, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt.

Beat butter and sugar about 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy and creamy.

Add eggs, vanilla and zest. Mix well.

Add flour mixture, then stir in cranberries and nuts.

 

Form into a ball then divide in half. Shape into 2 logs, 16″ x 2″ then move to the cookie sheet. Space about 3″ apart. Flatten slightly.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer to rack to cool for 30 minutes. Turn down oven to 300 degrees.

On a cutting board, carefully cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick pieces.

Place on a rack on a cookie sheet (so heat can get to the underside) cut side down.

Bake another 25 to 30 minutes until lightly brown.

Remove and let cool completely.

 

Granola

4 cups rolled oats (gluten free preferably)

2 cups shredded coconut

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

3/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 cup chopped apricots

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup pepitas

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup unsalted cashews

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix oats, coconut, almonds, pecans or walnuts. Whisk the melted coconut oil with the maple syrup, then pour over the oat mixture. Mix until everything is well coated.

Put this mixture onto a large baking sheet, about 13 x 18 in. You don’t want to crowd things.

Bake about 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until nice and brown. Keep an eye on it towards the end, it can over-brown quickly. I hate over-browned granola!

Remove from oven, let cool, then stir in apricots, sunflower seeds, pepitas, cranberries and cashews.

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Pistachio Date Bites

2 cups pitted Medjool dates

1 cup unsalted pistachios

3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

cocoa powder and extra coconut for rolling

 

In your food processor, finely grind pistachios.

Remove 1/4 cup and set aside.

Add the dates and shredded coconut and blend until it sticks together.

Remove into a bowl, and with your hands form into 1 inch balls.

Roll in the reserved pistachios or cocoa powder.

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Best of stored in fridge and then take out a half hour before eating (or giving).

 

Some other ideas for you: ultra-rich walnut brownies, jars of homemade applesaucepoundcake and of course cookies of all kinds make delicious and thoughtful gifts. Happy baking!

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Biscotti recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Crunch Pie

December 4, 2014 § 5 Comments

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Testing recipes for my upcoming recipe book!

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