Family Recipes Cookbook

The cookbook I never got around to finishing…

Pasta e Fagioli—Sausage/Kale 12/10/2013

Filed under: Fall,Karin DeArmas,Soups,Stove Top,Winter — kdearmas @ 12:38 AM
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This is a mash up of about three different recipes that I’ve been experimenting with. Two from Cooks Illustrated with a few touches from two of my local lunch soup places. Makes about 4 quarts, serving 8 to 10

So I’m all about soups right now. For three main reasons:

  1. Leftover potentials: I’m a busy person and don’t have time to cook every night. But I want a home-cooked meal most nights. Soups, done carefully, can last several days to over a week.
  2. Weight-maintenance: Soups are a great way to lose/maintain weight with heavy on the liquids.
  3. Eat food/not too much/mostly plants: Soups are a great way to incorporate less meat, less carbs, more veggies in your diet.

But, there have been several issues I’ve had with soups. Predominately:

I don’t like big chunks of veggies. For all I’m trying to incorporate more plants in my diet, I just don’t like big chunks of them in my soups. So for this, I pull out the Cuisinart. It’s not necessary for this recipe if you don’t have the same issue I do, but if you do, then buy/pull out the Cuisinart and your chunky veggie issues will disappear.

Figuring out how to make them last over days without making things like the pasta a mushy mess. Cooks Illustrated recipe indicates that the pasta creates a problem. This is true, particularly if you like this recipe for the multi-meal aspect. How I’ve gotten around this is to not cook the pasta in the soup itself but make each time you eat the soup. I cook the pasta in half/half water and chicken stock to get the flavor in the pasta since I’m not cooking in the soup proper.

Tips:

Cooks Illustrated recipe indicates that the pasta creates a problem. This is true, particularly if you like this recipe for the multi-meal aspect. How I’ve gotten around this is to not cook the pasta in the soup itself but make each time you eat the soup. I cook the pasta in half/half water and chicken stock to get the flavor in the pasta since I’m not cooking in the soup proper.

If you’re like me and you don’t like the chunky vegetables in your soup, then pull out your Cuisinart and do all your chopping with that. If you’re going to do this, process your parsley and kale first (even though they go in the soup last) and set aside before doing more liquid ingredients like onions, tomatoes, anchovies, etc.

Ideally, the parmesan cheese rind makes for the best taste. But I don’t always have one handy. So a take-out restaurant sized ramekin of parmesan substitutes for the cheese rind fine. Not as good, but doesn’t really detract.

I process all the ingredients in my Cuisinart in advance for ease of preparation. Even if you decide to chop everything by hand, I recommend doing it in advance for quick assembly/cooking.

Ingredients

Prep in advance (hand chop or food process)

  • 3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped fine (I use a food processor)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup) (I use a food processor)
  • 1 medium rib celery, chopped fine (about 2/3 cup) (I use a food processor)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 heaping tablespoon) (I use a food processor)
  • 3 anchovy fillets , minced to paste (about 1 teaspoon) (I use a 2 ounce package and put in food processor)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with liquid
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves (I use a food processor)
  • 1-2 cups chopped kale (I use a food processor)
  • Chicken sausage (I prefer mild Italian or rosemary chicken sausage)

Have ready on hand:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 piece Parmesan cheese rind, about 5 inches by 2 inches (I’ve cheated here with a take-out size ramekin of ground parmesan)
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans , drained and rinsed
  • 3 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth (personally, I use home-made broth, but store-bought is fine too)
  • 8 ounces orzo or other small pasta (ditalini, tubetini, conchigliette)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)

Instructions

Pancetta/Bacon, Vegetables, and Seasoning:

  1. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add pancetta/bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and anchovies; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan.

Beans and Whatnot:

  1. Add cheese rind and beans
  2. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, 10 minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth, 2 1/2 cups water (I’ve found less water is needed, but judge for your own taste), and 1 teaspoon salt
  4. Increase heat to high and bring to boil.

Sausage:

1.       Smoosh (smoosh is a very technical term and there is even a tool for it) and brown four links of chicken sausage in separate pan

Kale/Parsley & Finishing:

  1. Discard cheese rind.
  2. Stir in 3 tablespoons parsley (I use way more than this)
  3. Stir in Kale
  4. Stir in browned sausage
  5. Put in oven at 250 degrees in covered Dutch Oven for one hour at 250 degrees (I’ve been told the 250 degrees oven is the perfect simmer and I’ve not been steered wrong since).

Serving

  1. This is where you cook your pasta
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Ladle individual pasta serving and soup into individual bowls
  4. (Optional) Drizzle each serving with olive oil and sprinkle with a portion of remaining parsley
  5. Pass grated Parmesan separately.
 

Baked Kale and What To Do With It 10/19/2013

I went through this period as I was transitioning to a more local/seasonal diet where I had one of those home delivery services. And to really force myself, I let them decide what to deliver to me as long as it was local (within 100 miles) and seasonal. Then we would force ourselves to figure out what to make with it. It was a great experiment!

I don’t do the delivery anymore because I love my Co-Op and don’t need home delivery when the Co-Op is all local/seasonal anyway. But the process really was a forcing function to get me to explore different things.

And one of those was Kale. Yes, I know. Kale is all the new trend and whatnot. And why not? It grows like a weed (I’ve been growing it myself starting this past summer) and is all super-foody good-for-you. Sometimes trends are good!

But to make it into a salad I like requires a heavier dressing than I normally like. And to make it all Southern greens style sort of takes away from the super-foody aspect (though you should taste what Reijo can do with Collard Greens! Recipe to come).

So I did some Googling and found baked Kale chips. Which were awesome!

  • Tear the kale into chip-sized pieces
  • Put in a zip-lock bag with a drizzle of olive or grape seed oil and two shakes (no more!) of seasoning salt (I like Colonel Lee’s)
  • Lay out on a baking sheet and cook at 350 degrees for 15 minutes
  • Eat as chips (my 9-year old god-daughter ate an entire tray!) or …
  • Put back in a zip-lock bag and crush it to use later in potatoes, eggs, casseroles, etc. (you’ll  get the hang of it).

In the bag, it lasts for months and is a great way to incorporate seasoning salt and kale in certain dishes. Even if you don’t like kale, I promise.

 

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon 09/30/2013

This is pretty much Julie Child’s Beef Bourguignon recipe. Which I love.  And would make more often if it weren’t so damned complicated to follow. Then one day I was making it and realized the recipe itself isn’t that complicated or difficult, just the way it’s written in the book is so damn hard to follow. Then I remember I’m dealing with Bitch Julie (who I love, but I hear her screeching voice in my head every time I get frustrated by one of her instructions). It’s not that she isn’t an amazing chef and provides detailed instructions. It’s that it’s so freaking hard to just extract one recipe from her book without having mastered all the previous ones. You have to flip back and forth and look stuff up. No wonder that crazy lady who wrote Julie & Julia is crazy.

So I decided to re-write the way the recipe is written and provide my instructions on how I make it less frustrating and confusing to make this. Because Beef Bourguignon is amazingly delicious and should be made more often. It’s also delicious as left overs so the time put into it usually guarantees you two additional nights of not having to cook. I am not trying to improve upon Ms. Julia in any way (how could I?) but only provide enough forethought should you decide to tackle this recipe. Oh, and remind myself what to do in 4-5 months when I try this again.

A few rules I follow:

  1. Don’t try this if you don’t have a dish washer. Unless you love washing dishes by hand. The only way to do this is to use lots and lots of dishes.
  2. Start with a clean kitchen and an empty dishwasher. You will need it.
  3. Prep all your ingredients in advance. ALL. Every garlic mashed, every tablespoon of flour put out in its own little bowl. Every onion and carrot sliced and put in their own bowls. Herb bag prepped ahead of time. Beef dried (do not forget to dry the beef or you will hear Bitch Julia screaming at you when it doesn’t brown like it’s supposed to). Butter sticks cut up in the right amounts for each step. Everything set out in neat little bowls ready to grab at just the right moment. Yeah, it uses a lot of dishes. Hence rule #1. But it will be so worth it.
  4. Clean up as you go! Normally I’m not like this. But in this case, take every bit of downtime in this recipe to clean up. Otherwise you will have a disaster of a kitchen just when you’re ready to pour that glass of wine and relax before the final steps of the recipe. Which ruins the mood of accomplishment you get when you make it through this recipe.

Cooking equipment you have to have:

  • A casserole (like a Le Creuset)
  • A skillet
  • A large sauce pan: you can use this for cooking broth, then cooking the bacon, then the sauce, then the potatoes (I make various variations on my smashed potatoes); there is enough time between each step to clean the sauce pan so you can reuse it
  • A colander or sieve (preferably one that fits nicely over the large saucepan)
  • A slotted spoon
  • A sharp chef’s knife

Cooking utensils it’s very very nice to have:

  • A fat skimmer
  • A garlic press
  • Lots and lots of bowls.

Other items of note:

  • Ingredients: Don’t skimp. You are not going to go through all of this only to use sub-standard ingredients. Go organic (or trusted local) and grass-fed sustainably farmed beef.
  • KNOW YOUR OVEN! The recipe says it will take 3-4 hours for the beef to cook. My oven does it in 2. It says simmer the onions for 40-50 minutes, my stovetop takes 30. Don’t just throw it in for the 3-4 hours. Check every hour for tenderness to gauge your oven.
  • “Healthy” substitutes: You’re on your own. This is French cooking so I don’t know why you’d try to find lower calorie ways to do it. Otherwise don’t try it IMO. This dish is one of your rewards for regular healthy habits. Trying to reduce the calories of a dish like this probably means you shouldn’t be trying it at all.

Time commitment: I like to make this on a cold and rainy day and I pretty much commit my day to it. But so you know, here is how the time commitment breakdown looks:

  • 1 ½ – 2 hours of prep time before you even start cooking anything.
  • 45 min – 1 hour of initial cook time
  • 1-2 hour (depending on your oven) break (hint, this is when you start the clean-up process)
  • 15 – 30 min of next stage cook time
  • 1-2 hour break time (more clean-up time)
  • 30 minutes finish time to bring to table

Where I’ve deviated from Ms. Julia without her voice screaming in my head and without dire results, I’ve noted with an asterisks and the reason below.

I’ve grouped the ingredient list by two ways here. One is by type which is how you’d make your grocery list. Then I followed by grouping ingredients in the order they are used in the recipe.

Meat Vegetables Staples Herbs/Spices
6 ounces bacon* 1 carrot, sliced 2 tablespoons flour Salt and pepper
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes 1 onion, sliced 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil ½ teaspoon thyme
2 cloves mashed garlic 3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy) A crumbled bay leaf
18 to 24 white onions, small* 4 cups brown beef stock* Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered 1 tablespoon tomato paste**
3 ½ tablespoons butter

Here’s how you’ll need the ingredients in order of the stages of the recipe:

Getting the casserole started Pearl Onions (or shallots) & Mushrooms Finishing the Sauce
6 ounces bacon* 18 to 24 white onions, small* ½ cup stock if needed
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes 1 ½ tablespoons butter (for onions) Salt and pepper
1 carrot, sliced ½ tablespoons oil (for onions)
1 onion, sliced ½ cup of stock
1 tablespoon olive oil Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)*
Salt/pepper 1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered*
2 tablespoons flour 2 tablespoons oil (for mushrooms)
2 tablespoons butter (for mushrooms)
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
2 ½ to 3 ½ cups brown beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste**
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf

Getting the casserole started

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Remove bacon rind (see below about bacon substitution)* Cut bacon into sticks 1 ½ inches long. Simmer bacon for 10 minutes in 1 ½ quarts water. Drain and dry.
  3. Sauté bacon in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
  4. Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat bacon fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon on the side.
  5. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.*
  6. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole with the onions and carrots and toss with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  7. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
  8. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).
  9. Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
  10. Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.
  11. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind (see *1). Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
  12. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours (KNOW YOUR OVEN!). The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

Pearl Onions (or shallots) & Mushrooms (While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms; I do this in the second hour of the beef cooking; if you’re oven actually takes the 3-4 hours, I recommend doing this in the 3rd hour)

  1. Heat 1 ½ tablespoons butter with one and ½ tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.
  2. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.
  3. Add ½ cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.
  4. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.
  5. Wipe out skillet and heat 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.
  6. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.

Finishing the Sauce & Casserole:

  • When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve or colander set over a saucepan.
  • Wash out the casserole and return the beef, bacon, and onions/carrots to it. Distribute the cooked pearl onions (or shallots) and mushrooms on top.
  • Skim fat off sauce in saucepan (this is where a fat skimmer really comes in handy; otherwise use a spoon but it’s not as easy).
  • Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises (I actually do it for longer than 2 minutes but I like a slightly thicker sauce). You should have about 2 ½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

– If too thin, boil it down rapidly.

–  If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock (this is why you keep about a ¼ – ½ cup stock in reserve).

– Taste carefully for seasoning.

  • Pour sauce over meat and vegetables.
  • Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes (recipe and link to follow), noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

Substitutions and Comments:

­   *1: Original recipe calls for “One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon” but I don’t generally have chunks of bacon in my fridge. I don’t think I’ve had catastrophic results just using 6 ounces of cut up bacon.

­   *2:  I have used pearl onions when available, which is what the recipe calls for. When I can’t get pearl onions, I have substituted shallots. I’ve had French people not notice the difference or even prefer the shallots.

­   *3: Seriously, you want to throw out delicious bacon fat? There’s a step later about skimming fat that’s perfectly appropriate but throwing out delicious bacon fat at this stage is heathen and you should be shot.

­   *4: If you make your own beef stock, great! If not, I recommend Better than Bouillon.

­   *5: I keep these handy for homemade tea and herb pouches. Reusable and washable.

­   *6: For mushrooms I personally like shitakes. But crimini are perfectly fine, too.

**Recipes like these that call for a single tablespoon of tomato paste are so annoying because then you have to open a whole can of tomato paste for only one tablespoon then figure out how to use the rest of it within a week or so before it goes bad. I plan on making a pasta sauce within three days to use up the rest of the tomato paste.

 

Pulla (Finnish bread) 12/25/2009


Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 cups milk – Do not use nonfat milk.
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, (~1/16 tsp. optional, non-traditional)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Glaze:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • Ground cardamom to taste (~1/4 tsp. optional, non-traditional)
  • Nutmeg to taste (~ 1/8 tsp. optional, non-traditional)
  • Cinnamon to taste (~ 1/2 tsp. optional, non-traditional)
  • Allspice to taste (~ one small pinch per loaf.  optional, non-traditional)

Directions

1.       Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it just starts to evenly form small bubbles, then remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm.

2.       Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Immediately stir in the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, 4 eggs, and enough flour to make a batter (approximately 2 cups). Beat until the dough is smooth and elastic.

3.       Add about 3 cups of the flour and beat well; the dough should be smooth and glossy in appearance.

4.       Add the melted butter or margarine, and stir well. If you wish to add cayenne pepper, do so at this time. Beat again until the dough looks glossy.

5.       Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is stiff.

6.       Turn out of bowl onto a floured surface, cover with an inverted mixing bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes. Knead the dough until smooth and satiny.

7.       Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled.

8.       Turn out again on to a floured surface, and divide into 3 parts. Divide each third into 3 again. Roll each piece into a 12 to 16 inch strip. Braid 3 strips into a loaf. You should get 3 large braided loaves. Lift the braids onto greased baking sheets. Let rise for 20 minutes.

9.       Glaze: Brush each loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar, optionally dust with cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice.  Mix and match your taste.

10.       Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes. Check occasionally because the bottom burns easily.  The bread will naturally tear between braids as it rises.

Other native variations of this bread include sliced/diced/shredded almonds and/or rasins at step 4.  A vaguely Russian(?) influence is making a glaze of Egg and Sugar and topping the hump of each braid with a few kernels of rock salt.  (See inclusive picture)

 

Beer Can Chicken

Filed under: Grill,Karin DeArmas,Main Course,Reijo Pitkanen — kdearmas @ 11:25 PM
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Beer Can Chicken

The main reason we make this is to make Chicken Stock, but it’s a great meal in and of itself.

Ingredients:

Whole Organic Chicken

Cheap beer (PBR, Ranier Beer, etc.)

Rosemary, garlic, or other savory

Salt, pepper, and seasonings of choice

Directions:

Cut off the top of the beer can (be careful)

Drink a few swallows of beer (be careful)

Put fresh rosemary, garlic cloves, or other savory of your choice to the beer

Remove giblets and other bits from within the chicken (you can reserve these for stuffing later if you have a recipe for it or if Adrienne posts her friend’s giblet stuffing recipe here)

Rub the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic pepper (or other seasonings of your choice)

Lower the chicken onto the beer can (could not find a way for that not to sound a bit sexual), be careful of the ragged beer can edges but ensure the chicken can sit upright on the beer can base.

Heat up the grill on high on both sides. Make sure it gets good and hot.

Once hot, turn off one side of the grill, leaving the other side on high.

Place the chicken on the beer can base on the off side of the grill.

Cook for one hour.

A great and easy side with this is winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc.). Simply cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, place in a roasting pan—flesh side down—in about 1-2 inches of water. Place the roasting pan on the hot side of the grill for ~1/2 hour (depending on the squash, butternut takes longer)