Monday, September 15, 2014

Beef Stew with Pearl Onions, Carrots, and Turnips with Carmelized Onion Gravy Over Thick Puree of Cauliflower and Parsnip

  • Three tablespoons olive oil
  • Three large yellow onions
  • Four slices bacon 
  • Two pounds boneless beef stew meat (I used beef ribs)
  • One 32 oz. box unsalted beef stock (or homemade if you are lucky enough to have some around)
  • Three bay leaves
  • One large or two medium turnips
  • Five medium carrots
  • One tablespoon olive oil
  • One 16 oz.bag frozen pearl onions 
  • One 16 oz. frozen peas
  • One large parsnip
  • One 16 oz bag frozen cauliflower
  • One quarter cup heavy cream
  • One tablespoon unsalted butter
Cut off ends of three yellow onions. Peel. Cut in half lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise. Over medium high heat heat three tablespoons olive oil in large dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup pot. Add onion slices to hot oil. Cook until brown, stirring every three or four minutes. This will take about fifteen to twenty minutes.

Cut bacon crosswise into quarter inch lardons. In heavy skillet over medium high heat cook lardons until some of the fat renders, approximately three minutes. Add to browned onions in dutch oven. Cut beef into bite sized pieces, approx. 1/2 to 3/4 inch dice. Brown in batches n bacon fat. As each batch is finished, add to dutch oven. Turn heat off under skillet, but do not discard any leftover drippings.

When all meat has been added to the dutch oven, add the stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 and 1/2 hours.

While the dutch oven simmers,  cut off ends of carrots and turnips. Peel. Cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.  I generally roll cut the carrots, and slice, then roughly chop the turnips to avoid symmetrical pieces. This is purely an aesthetic choice: it will have no effect on flavor.

Reheat the pan drippings from the bacon cooking/beef browning steps over medium high heat. If needed, add one tablespoon olive oil. When hot, about one minute, toss in the entire contents of the bag of frozen pearl onions. The moisture from these will help deglaze and loosen any luscious browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Scrape up all these bits and continue cooking the pearl onions until they are heated through and some are browned a tiny bit. This whole step will take about six minutes. After this, put all contents of the skillet into the dutch oven. Add the carrot and turnip pieces to the dutch oven as well. Stir and cover. This will cook about another thirty minutes before serving.

Peel parsnip and cut into one inch pieces. Put in microwave-safe two quart dish, add about an inch of water, and cover. Microwave on high for five minutes. Once done, add contents of bag of frozen cauliflower. Cover and microwave on high for another six minutes.  Once this is done, uncover and let cool two minutes. Drain. Put cooked parsnips and cauliflower into food processor. Add cream and butter and process for about thirty seconds, or until smooth. Salt to taste. Scrape back into microwave-safe dish and recover.

Add frozen peas to the dutch oven, raise heat to medium, cover, and continue cooking for three minutes. 

If cauliflower and parsnip puree has cooled too much, return to microwave and reheat.

To Serve:
Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of puree into center of wide shallow bowls. Ladle 1 and 1/2 cups of stew around  puree. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove bay leaves as you find them.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sicilian(ish) Chicken Stew

As we continue to be iced in, I had to come up with something tasty made with what I had around the house. Granted, my freezer/fridge/pantry staples are such that we'd never go hungry, but I was out of the golden raisins and sun-dried tomatoes that I'd normally add to this. So I improvised and it turned out just fine.

4 Tbsps olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup frozen pearl onions
1 medium carrot, peeled and roll cut into medium dice (about 3/4 inch pieces)
1 large shallot, finely chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into 3/4 inch dice
2 medium zucchinis, cut into 3/4 inch dice
1/4 cup mixed pitted olives, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. capers
2 tsps. Italian seasoning (mine contains oregano, basil, fennel, thyme, rosemary, but use whatever you have)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 Tbsp. apricot preserves
3 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
Red pepper flakes
Lemon wedges

Heat oil over medium high heat in deep, heavy pan. Add chicken pieces and cook 'til browned on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

Put frozen pearl onions into hot oil and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Add carrot and cook another minute. Add shallot, garlic, bell pepper, and zucchini. Stir and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add chicken, olives,  capers, and wine and cook 2 minutes, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add drained tomatoes and 1 Tbsp apricot preserves. Stir. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Just before serving, stir chopped parsley into pan and stir for 30 seconds. Spoon stew into shallow bowls and  add red pepper flakes and lemon juice to taste. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese and Stewed Apricots

This is just something I threw together this morning with staple fridge and pantry items.  If you don't have carb issues, you can use sugar or honey instead of the Splenda, or may use apricots in heavy syrup. With my 10 inch crepe pan, this makes about 8-10 crepes, but different size pans will produce different numbers.

Timing is everything when making crepes. The batter should be made at least 5 minutes, or up to 2 hours before you start cooking the crepes to let flour particles absorb liquids. This is the time to make your filling. Once you start cooking the crepes, each one will take less than a minute, so you won't have time to do more than give your filling a stir.

I use a blender and a good French copper crepe pan, but you could improvise if you don't have these. However, whatever pan you use to cook the crepes should have sloping sides to make turning and removing the crepes easier.

Crepe Batter
3 large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend for 15-20 seconds. Scrape sides if necessary and blend to combine thoroughly. Set aside for 5-10 minutes while you make your filling.

Stewed Apricot Filling
1 can unsweetened apricot halves in juice, reserving one TBSP juice
3 Tablespoons Splenda

Open can of apricots and cut each apricot half into slices, approximately 5-6 per half. Put apricots, juice, and Splenda into small saucepan over medium-low heat. Your goal here is to heat, not cook, although it won't hurt if this comes to a boil. Just be sure not to burn it!

Cream Cheese
I like plain bricks of old-fashioned cream cheese, because I find the texture more predictable than the whipped or spreadable varieties, but suit yourself here.

In a small bowl, beat 4 oz cream cheese and the Tbsp reserved apricot juice together to blend. Set aside.

Cooking the Crepes

Note: Cooking each crepe takes less than a minute, so the following steps happen fast. Have all your tools at hand and don't turn your back, or your crepes will be tough.
Another Note:  It's really easier to turn the crepes with your fingers. They're less likely to be torn this way, but you'll need to move fast.

Heat crepe pan over medium high heat until a few drops of water sprinkled on the cooking surface skitter across the pan an evaporate almost immediately. Put a tiny pat of butter in the pan and use a paper towel to wipe out excess. Save the paper towel to wipe out the pan if crepes start to stick or if crumbs are left behind when you turn or remove a crepe. It is very important that the pan be crumb-free before pouring batter for another crepe.

Pulse the blender for 3-5 seconds to re-stir batter. Pour enough batter to coat pan bottom (about 2 Tbsps for my pan), swirling quickly to distribute thinly over entire bottom. If a bit of batter goes up the pan sides, it's fine. Cook until the batter is no longer wet, about 20-30 seconds. During this time, loosen the edges all around with a silicon spatula. Turn and cook other side for 5-10 seconds. Remove from pan. Stack crepes as they are completed. I usually pulse the blender every two crepes to make sure the batter stays stirred, but your own experience will guide you here.

Personally, I prefer to fold crepes and eat them with a knife and fork. This is especially true when, as in this case, the filling is very juicy and there is a syrup to drizzle on top. Here's how:

Think of each crepe as a clock face. Between 12:00 and 3:00, place a slightly rounded teaspoon of cream cheese. Between 3:00 and 6:00 place 3-4 slices of apricot. Now, fold the half of the crepe from 6:00-12:00 over the 12:00-6:00 side. Fold again into quarters, so that the 12:00-3:00 cream cheese quarter is on top. Place onto a plate. Drizzle a bit of the juice from the apricot over the crepe. Enjoy.

A final note: The variety of fillings for crepes is limited only by your imagination. This recipe is a one I just came up with this morning because I was hungry, and last night's ice storm made heading out to the store unappealing, if not impossible. Use whatever you have on hand and let me know what you come up with!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

French Onion Soup

After deciding to try going without using our freezer for at least part of the year, I had to find something to do with all the bags of frozen pearl onions I bought when they were on sale around Thanksgiving. French Onion Soup sounded good and tasty for the colder weather we're expecting this week. These amount make about a gallon of soup. Reduce amounts to suit your preferences. This is very low carb, despite the addition of a little flour and sugar, but it is definitely not low fat. Yum!

3-4 lbs. beef marrow bones, sawed into  2-4 inch lengths.
3-4 medium sweet onions (Vidalia, Walla Walla, etc.)
5 10 oz. bags frozen pearl onions
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3-4 large cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup white sugar
1 bottle dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Salt to taste (I used 3 Tbsps in the whole batch, but you'll likely want more.)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put marrow bones in baking dish and roast for 1 hour.
After roasting, put the bones in a large stock pot with 3 quarts water. Bring to rolling boil, then reduce heat slightly and cover. Cook, at a slow boil for 30 minutes. Remove bones from pot and use knife to loosen marrow, if needed. Return bones and any loose marrow to the pot and cook for another 30 minutes.

While bones are roasting, peel and slice sweet onions. After the hour of roasting is complete, put beef fat in electric skillet. Add half stick butter and heat to melt butter. Set heat to 300 degrees. Add sliced onions and bags of pearl onion to skillet. Stir to coat onion with the butter and beef fat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes.(This will have gotten you past the marrow loosening; the bones will have another 15 minutes to boil.) The goal is to caramelize the onions, cooking them until they are mahogany-colored. If they start to burn, reduce the heat a bit, but don't worry about a few very dark patches.
Add garlic and cook another 5 minutes.

In a medium size bowl, make a slurry with the 1/2 cup flour and a half cup of the wine. Add to onions and garlic and stir thoroughly to distribute the slurry. Cook about 3-5 minutes to remove any raw flour taste. Add  the sugar. Stir.
Pour in remaining wine, stirring to completely incorporate wine. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to remove any bits of onion clinging to the pan. Cook until the liquid is nearly absorbed and very syrupy.

Remove beef bones from stock pot. Add onions to the stock pot and stir. Add salt. Cook until mixture boils, 2-5 minutes. Use immersion blender to completely chop and incorporate onions into the stock. The texture will be that of a thick, slightly chunky, sauce. Taste, and add salt as needed.

To serve traditionally,  ladle soup into earthenware bowls. On each bowl, place a thick slice of toasted baguette. Sprinkle with a generous handful of gouda, swiss, or mozzarella cheese. Place bowls under broiler for 1-3 minutes, until cheese melts and begins to bubble.
To serve without adding the carbs of the bread, put a skillet over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles when dropped onto the cooking surface. Drop 2 oz preferred cheese into small heaps in skillets. Cook until cheese spreads and begins to bubble slightly. This will only take a minute or two, be careful not to burn the cheese. Place each cheese "crisp" on top of soup. Let sit one minute to soften bottom crust of the cheese.


Best Creamy Salad Dressing

This is the base I use to make creamy salad dressings. You may add herbs or substitute other cheeses, or go without cheese altogether.  For this batch I used feta, but often use parmesan instead. This is almost completely carb-free and has decent protein and calcium. Obviously, amounts dictate calories.

1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup full-fat mayonnaise
a few Tbsps half-n-half or milk
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Peel and finely chop garlic clove. On cutting board (or using mortar and pestle) combine garlic and salt and mash together to form a smooth paste. Stir in crumbled cheese (or finely shredded if using non-crumbly cheese).

If you prefer a somewhat thinner (more pourable) dressing, add half-n-half or milk by tablespoons, whisking after each addition. Go very slowly here as it can get too thin more quickly than you might imagine.

Put this dressing in a jar or squeeze bottle and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld. In the refrigerator, this will keep for at least a month. (To be honest, I've never had it around long enough to go bad, I eat it at least every other day.) This also makes a great dip for veggies or chips.

Combine yogurt, mayo, and garlic-salt paste in bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kathy's Asian Slaw

Finally, for all those who have requested this, here's the recipe for the slaw. I can't even begin to say how many this serves, because I've never not run out of it long before appetites for it were exhausted.

I've never really made this exactly the same way twice, so you should feel free to make additions and substitutions as you like. If you want this to be a bit more filling, you may toss in some cooked spaghetti, rice, or ramen-type noodles. We also like to top this with some thin slices of soy-sauce and garlic marinated flank steak, or shrimp. Now that I think of it, edamame would probably be good, too, as would daikon.

One gadget I use to cut the jicama is a mandolin. You can cut these 1/8" matchsticks by hand, but the mandolin saves a lot of time.


1 head celery cabbage - about 1.5 lbs (Napa works, but isn't quite the same flavor)
1 small head bok choy - about .5 lb
8 oz. snow peas - fresh, not frozen
1/2 medium jicama - about 3/4 lb.
12 oz. bag broccoli slaw (you can handcut the brocolli stems into 1/8 inch matchsticks, if desired)

Slice the celery cabbage crosswise very finely, about 1/8 inch - almost chiffonade
Slice bok choy crosswise very finely, also about 1/8 inch slices - if  the leaves on the bok choy are very broad, make three of four lengthwise cuts before slicing crosswise.
Cut snow peas lengthwise into 1/8 inch matchsticks. Just discard the string edge, rather than prestringing the pods. (Using kitchen shears to do this works very well.)
Peel jicama and shred on mandolin, or cut into 1/8 inch matchsticks.

In large bowl, combine celery cabbage, bok choy, snowpeas, jicama, and broccoli slaw. Toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Cover bowl with shower cap, or damp towel and refrigerate.


1/2 cup Vietnamese spring roll sauce
2 Tbsp. cup soy sauce
1 inch piece of fresh ginger,very finely grated
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup tahini
1 clove garlic, crushed

Place all ingredients in medium bowl and whisk 'til completely combined and smooth. Alternately, put everything in a food processor and let 'er rip.


Chopped peanuts 
Sesame Oil
Fire Oil


Right before serving, pour dressing over slaw and toss thoroughly. Sprinkle 2 Tbsps. white sesame seeds and 2 Tbsps black sesame seeds over slaw and toss lightly.  Sprinkle Add-ins as desired.

Ratatouille-inspired Vegetables with Garlicky Sauteed Scallops on a Bed of Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I came up with this one this morning to use up some Farmer's Market vegetables and some old wrinkly potatoes. I also had some large scallops in the freezer and thought that sounded good. Mediterranean cooking at its most Teige. : ) If you want to reduce the carbs even further, omit the mashed potatoes. Also, lemon zest may be used where I list Lemon Verbena, although the dish will be more acidic. Scott is allergic to citrus, so I've developed some tasty alternatives. The amounts below serve 4 for lunch.

Ratatouille-inspired Vegetables

6 Tbsp. olive oil
6 oz. frozen pearl onions
4-5 large fresh garlic cloves
3 small (4-5 inch long, 1-1.5 inch diameter) zucchinis
1 Japanese eggplant - 2.5 to 2 inch diameter x 10 inches long
2 medium (2.5-3 inch diameter) fresh tomatoes
Thyme - 1/2 tsp. dry or 2 tsp. fresh
Oregano - 1/2 tsp. dry of 2 tsp. fresh
1/2 tsp. finely minced fresh lemon verbena leaves
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Roll cut or dice eggplant into small pieces, approx. 3/4 inch
Roll cut or dice zucchini into small pieces, same size as eggplant
Peel and minch garlic
If using fresh herbs, remove leaves from stems and finely mince thyme and oregano together.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbps. olive oil to pan. Swirl to coat. Add frozen pearl onions. Cook, shaking pan every few minutes 'til onions start to caramelize, approx. 7 minutes. Pour onions into small bowl. Set aside.
Return skillet to medium high-heat. Add 4 Tbsp. olive oil to skillet. Add eggplant pieces and immediately toss or stir to coat evenly with hot oil. Continue cooking 'til eggplant softens, about 5 minutes. Add last Tbsp olive oil, the garlic, and the zucchini. stir and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add pearl onions, chopped tomatoes, thyme, oregano, lemon verbena, and 1/2 tsp. salt to eggplant and zucchini in skillet. Stir. Reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking 'til juices thicken, about 10 more minutes. Cover, and reduce heat to low. If vegetables start to become too dry, add water 1 Tbsp at a time to maintain thick, but moist texture.

Garlicky Mashed Potatoes

3 medium russet potatoes, preferably a little old or flabby
3 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt

Fill medium saucepan with 2 inches cold tapwater. Peel potatoes. Cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Place in water in saucepan. Peel garlic cloves and place in saucepan with potato slices. If needed, add cold water to barely cover potatoes and garlic. Put over high heat until water boils. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and continue cooking until potatoes are tender, approx. 10-15 minutes. Drain.

Put potatoes and garlic cloves through a potato ricer into a medium metal bowl. Add cream, butter, and salt and stir until smooth. Do not overstir, however, as potatoes will become gummy if overworked. Put 2 inches of fresh water in the pan you used to boil the potatoes and bring to simmer. Cover bowl holding mashed potatoes and place it over the simmering water to keep the potatoes warm.

Garlicky Sauteed Scallops

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
12 large sea scallops

If scallops are frozen, be sure to thaw thoroughly before starting Garlic Mashed Potatoes. 

Mince garlic cloves
Pat scallops dry with kitchen towel.

Place heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and butter. Melt butter and wait for for foam to subside. Add scallops to hot oil around edge of skillet and cook for one minute. After this one minute, add the garlic to center of pan and cook with scallops for one additional minute. Turn scallops and cook for two additional minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

To serve: 
Working quickly, spread a quarter of the Garlicky Mashed Potatoes (approx 1/3 cup) in a 5-6 inch circle on a dinner plate. Carefully spoon a quarter of the Ratatouille-inspired Vegetables (approx 3/4 cup) into potato circle, leaving 1/2 inch edge of potatoes visible. Place three scallops on each plate, on top of the bed of vegetables. Over the scallops, spoon a bit of the liquid remaining in the skillet, including some of the garlic bits. Sprinkle red pepper flakes and salt to taste over all.