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Chef’s Night Recipe: Beef Burgundy

[When Bob isn't wandering the markets in search of new products and exotic produce, he's back in the kitchen cooking.] It's winter and that means it's time for braising and pot roasting. This recipe works fine by either method, or a combination of the two. The most important thing this dish needs is time - so plan ahead to give it plenty. It only gets better the longer it cooks. We prepared this as one of the Winter Comfort Foods for a recent Chef's Night menu and it's been featured in a photo gallery by The Hungry Dude's Joe Hakim, a Photo Gallery on the Rogue Estate Facebook and an article in Real Detroit Weekly. Enjoy! Beef Burgundy to serve a table of 4 This is a very flexible and forgiving dish that is perfect for the beginner. Ingredients are inexpensive and short of full out neglect,  it's tough to actually mess up. Like most soups; leftovers taste even better the following day. The software: 3lbs Beef Short Ribs or Flatiron Steaks, roughly chopped 2 Tablespoons peanut oil, vegetable shortening or bacon fat 2 cups diced yellow onion 2 tablespoons crushed garlic (more if desired) 3 cups diced carrot 1 cup finely diced celery 2 cups full bodied red wine - I used Chateau de la Taille Bordeaux 2 cups beef stock 2 tablespoons butter juice of 1/2 lemon 1 star anise Salt Black Pepper 3 hours of time from prep to serve The hardware: A Large (12"+) pan or dutch oven, preferably cast iron. Large (2+ Qt) saucepan optional. The Method: Prep all ingredients before starting - this will make things go much smoother during assembly and cooking. For the wine - use something you'll enjoy drinking, since there will likely be some leftover. If it tastes good in a glass, it'll taste good in a recipe. When chopping beef & veg, smaller pieces mean less cook time. This recipe was timed with beef cut to roughly 1 1/2" cubes. 1/4" dice on the onions and 1/4" slice on the carrots & celery. With everything cleaned, sliced, diced and ready, add the oil or fat to the pan and heat it on med-hi until nearly wisps of smoke appear. Salt the beef and add to the pan carefully (It will spit a little). Don't over crowd the pan - brown in batches. Brown on all sides. When a good color & crust is on the beef, remove to a bowl. A good set of tongs is the best tool for this job. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic. Cook the onions and garlic down until they're translucent. Crank the heat up to high and add the wine to the pan to deglaze. Use the tongs or a spatula to scrape all the stuff off the bottom of the pan and mix it around with the onions and wine. As the Wine begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low. (If using a sauce pan, transfer everything over to it at this time.) Return the beef to the pan, add the carrots, celery, beef stock and star anise. Give everything a stir and let it simmer for at least 2 hours. Reduce the heat as needed. Things should be bubbly but NOT boiling. Time is your most important ingredient here. Don't fuss over the pan. Check every 30 minutes, give it a stir, add beef stock and/or wine as needed to keep everything 1/2 submerged. As the beef and carrots become tender enough to mash with a fork around the 90 minute mark, allow liquid to reduce and thicken. After 2 hours, everything should be tender and the liquid should be thick, similar to gravy. If not, cook a little longer. Fish out the star anise, add the butter and lemon juice, stirring everything to combine. Taste the liquid and add salt & pepper as desired, serve immediately. Not surprisingly, this dish will pair perfectly with the wine you used to cook with. Goes great with some fresh, hot bread of any type on the side for scooping, or even just as a carrier for butter. ;) We look forward to your questions and success stories in the comments below or on our Facebook! -///    
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.

Squash for Adults

When I was a child, any kind of winter squash was my enemy. My mother was fond of acorn squash, roasted in the oven until soft, and pureed with brown sugar and margarine (ugh). To me the uniform texture, midway between watery and gummy, held no appeal. And I associated the sweetness of squash with the gagging texture, which may be partly why I've always been a fan of savory foods over sweet ones. My mind was set until a Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house, where she served a squash dish that included onions and a breadcrumb topping. It made a difference - both the savoriness and the sweetness from only the natural sugars in the fruit. Moreover, there was a textural contrast that I loved. Now, I like almost all winter squash. But when I prepare it, I like to marry differences in texture, PLUS invite the right balance between sweet and savory. Today I dreamed up a dish I call "Squash Three-way", a naughty name you would never find on an insipid jar of over-processed baby food. Essentially it's a two layer dish with a favorite simple topping - roasted pepitas, which are the hulled seeds of certain varieties of pumpkins or squash. The first layer is a basic savory latke, replacing the potato with shredded winter squash. The second is a sweetened mash of winter squash, upon which rests the slightly crunchy pepitas. Squash Three-way Recipe for 3 servings (scale up as necessary, swingers!) For the mash: 1 small to medium French variety winter squash (Sucrine Du Berry, Rouge D'Etampes, or Baby Golden Hubbard) 1/2 cup chicken stock (optional) 4-5 Tbsp butter Pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, allspice blend) 2-3 Tbsp brown sugar For the latkes: 1 medium (7-inch) Delicata squash 1 large shallot 1 extra large chicken egg, beaten 1 tsp baking powder 3-4 Tbsp All Purpose flour Salt & Pepper to taste Ground dried sage to taste Ground dried oregano to taste 2 Tbsp corn or canola oil for frying For the topping: Handfuls of roasted, salted pepitas (available in Mexican or health food stores, and many Trader Joe's) Prepare mash: Preheat oven to 350°. Halve French squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Roast cut side down in a pan with 1/2 cup stock or water for an hour or until soft (while roasting, prepare latkes as below). Let cool. Scoop pulp into bowl, discard skins. Add butter and spice. Mash with a fork to a smooth consistency. Keep warm. Prepare latkes: Halve Delicata squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Peel skin from flesh. Grate raw flesh with a box grater (better yet, one of these: http://www.germandeli.com/bohachgr.html). Thinly slice shallot and mix with grated squash. Add baking powder, flour, salt, pepper, herbs, and mix well. Add beaten egg and stir thoroughly. Heat oil over medium heat until hot. Drop mixture in 1/3-1/2 cupfuls into hot oil, pressing down slightly. Fry 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain and blot, keep warm. Assemble by topping latke with mash, and sprinkle pepitas on top. Enjoy, but be careful any photos don't find their way onto the Internet!

Hope mom doesn't see this!

Sunday Morning Breakfast: Pretzel Bread French Toast

This one is worth getting out of bed for: chewy, salty pretzel bread meets the cream & cinnamony egg wash of french toast with a quick dip of sweet maple syrup an that awesome bit of salt for a killer quick and impressive breakfast to ward off any hangover. The software:
  • 2 small pretzel bread baguettes
  • 1 chicken egg
  • 1 duck egg (or a second chicken egg)
  • 2 tbls buttermilk (plain milk works fine here, too.)
  • 1 tbls sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of cardamom
  • pinch of sea salt
  • butter
  • 3 tbls real maple syrup
  • pretzel salt (optional)
The method: The pretzel bread I buy from Zingerman's is about 7" long, 2-2.5 inches wide on average. The recipe scales up or down easily - add 1 pretzel bread per additional mouth and increment the rest of the ingredients accordingly.  As for the egg portion - I use duck eggs whenever and where-ever possible. They taste better and they are just fantastic in anything even slightly resembling pastry. That said, if you can't find duck eggs, chicken eggs work fine. Organic and free range farm fresh being the preferred choice in any situation. First order of business here is to grab that pretzel bread you picked up a couple days ago and forgot to eat and slice it into 1/4 inch thick medallions and set them aside. Put your griddle or fry pan to the fire. Your heat target is the high side of medium, enough to get a sizzle from an egg without scorching your cooking fat. In an appropriately sized mixing bowl, use a whisk to combine the eggs, buttermilk, flour, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Whisk it for at least a minute while your pan warms up to get everything distributed and get some air in there, too. When the pan is ready, lube it up with some butter, dredge your pretzel medallions, shaking off excess egg and place in the pan.  If you have any soft pretzel salt, sprinkle 2 or 4 grains onto each while the sticky uncooked side is still up. Like any other french toast variety, we're going for a just browning stage before turning, same on the other side and remove to a plate. This will go pretty fast, so don't get distracted or the smoke detector will wake everyone up. If you have a large quantity, put the oven on warm when you begin and keep the finished piles of pretzel french toasts in there until service time. Use real maple syrup if you can get it - it is SUCH A better flavor than the bizarre space aged chemical "maple syrup flavor" found in things like Mrs Butterworth. Pour syrup into a small bowl for dipping and warm it up in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Arrange everything and serve immediately. Hooray, you are now the champion of breakfast. -///
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.