Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon

I get a little giddy when I think of this dish.  This is a soul satisfying dish that is the perfect entre for entertaining.  Since this is a one pot meal that you put on the stove and forget about, and only have 5 minutes of time you need to take at the end to finish it, this dish affords you all the time in the world to actually socialize with your guests.  Demi glace is a hard item to find.  If you have a local gourmet food store, you can likely find it there.  On this blog I have a recipe for it, however most home cooks aren’t willing to put out the time to actually make it.  If you have any relationships with local chefs you could possibly buy a quart or so off of them if they were willing to sell it.  Otherwise I have a source for mail order here.  It’s about $5 per 6 oz.  This dish is traditionally made without the Demi glace or meat glaze, so you can omit both if you don't want to go to the trouble.

6 oz of bacon cut into ¼ “ strips or lardoons
3 Lbs cheap roasting beef such as chuck or London Broil, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 ½ cubes 
2 Tbsps Tomato paste 
2 Tbsps all purpose flour 
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 ounces butter 
4 onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsps Tomato paste 
2 Tbsps all purpose flour
3 cups red Burgundy
6.5 ounces demi glace 
6 carrots, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
on the bias 
2 oz butter 
1 lb mushrooms quartered 
1 garlic clove
1 bouquet garni (* see note)
A little chopped flat parsley
2 oz butter softened 
2 oz meat glaze  

* bouquet garnit is 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 bayleaves, and 4 sprigs of parsley tied together with butcher’s twine.

 For meat glaze.  Put 6 oz of Demiglace on the stove in a saucepot, and reduce to about 2 ounces.  It will be very thick and syrupy.  Remove from heat and place in a ramekin for later.

 For the beef.  Massage the first 2 Tbsp of tomato paste into the beef, and try to cover all the beef with tomato.  Mix some salt and pepper into the 2 Tbsp of flour, and then add to the beef making sure to cover as much of it as you can.  The meat will be sticky, but don’t worry.  Now, turn on your vent fan, or if it sucks as the fan in my own kitchen does, open a bunch of windows, all your doors, etc.  I actually have a small fan I put in the window facing outside to suck a lot of the smoke out.  Put a 7 ¼ quart dutch oven onto high heat.  (DO NOT USE NON-STICK, IT WILL NOT WORK!!!)  Add the olive oil, and wait until the oil starts to smoke.  Once it does, add maybe 2 cups of the beef, and spread it out into the bottom of the pot.  You want space in between the beef cubes.  If they are stuck together as they most likely will be, separate them.  Now brown the meat, and I mean BROWN IT!  Don’t be a sissy and take it off when it starts to look a little grey.  Also, don’t stir it around.  Leave the beef alone on each side for about 30 seconds to a minute.  When that batch of beef is DARK BROWN remove it, and put it into a large mixing bowl.  Brown all the meat in small batches.  Yes it takes some time, but your patience will be rewarded.

 While the beef is browning , in another sauce pot, boil one quart of water and reduce to a simmer.  Add the bacon and blanch in for about 3 minutes.  Most commercial bacons have a heavy salt content, and this will remove a lot of the salt from the pork thus allowing you more control over the salt content of your dish.  While the bacon is blanching, place a large sauté pan on medium high heat.  Remove the blanched bacon with a slotted spoon, and put it into the sauté pan to brown.  The fattier the bacon, the better, so invest in the cheap stuff, we want a lot a grease.  Remove the browned bacon, and into the bacon grease add the mushrooms, and brown them as well.  Mushrooms have a lot of water in them, so cook them a while in order to get that water out.  Remove the shrooms and place them in the same mixing bowl as the browned beef.  Into the bacon pan add the carrots and brown them as well.  They don’t need to be as brown as the beef, but some good color would be good.  After the mushrooms and carrots have been sufficiently browned, add a half cup or so of the red wine, and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.  Pour the wine reduction into the mixing bowl with the carrots, beef, and mushrooms.

 Back to the dutch oven now.  There should be a large amount of burnt stuff on the bottom of this pot.  DON’T WASH IT!  This is pure flavor, and the base for the sauce.  Add 2 ounces of butter to the pot, melt the butter, and then add the onions.  The onions will give up a lot of water as well, so while the onions are cooking, scrape the bottom of the pot.  When the onions have sweated for about 2 minutes, add the remaining tomato paste to the onions as well as the rest of the flour.  Keep stirring and scraping.  We want the flour and tomato paste to cook for a good 2 minutes before you deglaze.  After they have cooked for a full 2 minutes, add all of the red wine, and scrape up whatever new solids have stuck to the bottom of the pot.  Add the beef, mushrooms, carrots, and anything else that might be lurking in that mixing bowl.  Add the demi glace, bouquet garni, bacon, and garlic.  The wine should come up to be level with the meat, if it is under, add more wine until it comes up to the level of the stew.  Bring to a gentle boil and reduce to simmer uncovered for 2 ½ to three hours. 

To finish, remove the stew from the heat and taste.  At this point if it needs more salt or pepper add it.  Stir in the remaining softened butter and meat glaze off of the flame.  Serve in bowls.  To make this more of a one pot meal you can add cubed Yukon gold potatoes about 20 minutes before the stew is finished cooking.  I like to serve this with a side of Gratin Dauphinois or over egg noodles.



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

This happens to be one of my wife Kendall's favorite meals.  It works best pared with a grilled cheese sandwich, and a cold fall evening.

3 lbs fresh pumpkin peeled and sliced, and roasted in oven drizzled with melted butter for 45 minutes to one hour
1 onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
2 carrots chopped
1 ancho chile seeded and
5 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup *
1 cup heavy cream

In a large dutch oven sweat the onions, carrots, and celery in butter with cloves, ancho chili, and cinnamon.  Add stock, roasted pumpkin, nutmeg, and maple syrup.  Cook on low temperature for one hour.  Puree soup in batches in your blender.  Be careful to only fill your blender jar half way if you are pureeing hot liquid and use the lowest setting.  Have a firm grip on the top of the blender lid otherwise it will all end up on your ceiling.  Put back into the pot and add cream.  Serve hot and enjoy!

*Grade B maple syrup is the second tapping of the tree.  The tree needs to work harder to produce the sap for this, so it pulls more nutrients from the ground and a more intense maple flavor is the result.  Grade A will work, but use real maple syrup and not the Mrs. Butterworth's Please.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pablo's mom's rice

This is another one of my favorite things.  Gandules or pigeon peas, and sazon seasoning can be found in the Mexican section of your local mega mart as well as your local Mexican grocery store.

1/2 lb salt pork cubed, or if pre sliced cut into strips
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
1/8 cup finely chopped cilantro stems
1 can Gandules (pigeon peas)
1 1/2 cup rice
3 cups chicken stock
2 packages sazon seasoning
1/2 cup cilantro leaves chopped

In a 2 quart pot, bring water to a simmer.  Add the cubed salt pork and blanch for 2 minutes to remove much of the salt.  Remove from water and blot dry with a towel.  Discard the water.  In a large pot add the olive oil and bring up to medium high heat.  Add the salt pork and brown.  Remove the pork from the heat.  If there is a lot of grease left over drain all away except for a couple of Tbsps.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent.  Add the chopped cilantro stems and pigeon peas, and finally the rice.  Continue to stir for another minute and then finally add the chicken stock.  Add the sazon and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cover for 20 minutes.  Stir in the cilantro leaves just prior to serving and top with the crispy salt pork.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

salad nicoise

Lets talk a little bit about this salad.  In a fancy restaurant you might have a beautiful piece of seared tuna sliced thin and served as the centerpiece to this salad.  I have to agree that it is a nice touch, but we’re talking country French here, and I think that the canned stuff is actually more authentic than the fresh albeit more elegant seared tuna steak.  That being said, I would stay away from Charlie the Starkist tuna, or the Clucker of the Sea.  A fine can of oil packed tuna is what you want.  Healthy gourmet has the right stuff.  Also I prefer the marinaded rather than overly salted canned anchovies, but if you can only get the canned ones, let them soak in water for a couple of hours changing the water twice, and then set them in olive oil for a few minutes.  This will take a lot of the unpleasant saltiness out of them.  Yes I said bottled marinated beans or asparagus.  The French can their vegetables for the winter, and lettuce is actually a winter crop but asparagus is not, so it would stand to reason that they would mix mediums here.  And quite frankly I love the really good canned vegetables.  Again, not talking the cans of beans or asparagus you get in the canned vegetable aisle of Kroger.  You might have to look a little harder for the good stuff.  This salad embodies both the pantry and the earth, and that’s why I like it.  You can substitute grape or cherry tomatoes for the others if you like.  I like the smaller ones simply for the look.  The hard boiled eggs are a must.  Get your mise en place ready for this one early. 




1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup tarragon vinegar

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

1 medium shallot, minced

1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves 

2 Tbsp minced fresh basil leaves 

2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves 

1 Tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper




2-3 cans of tuna

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and either halved or quartered 

10 small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 1/4 pounds total), each potato scrubbed and quartered

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces

3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths

1 small red onion, sliced very thin

8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise
(French jarred marinated green beans are actually preferred.  You could also substitute jarred marinated asparagus.)

1/4 cup niçoise olives 

2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and/or several anchovies (optional.  If you can find fresh marinated anchovies all the better.)



1 Whisk lemon juice, vinegar, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.  Or place all ingredients except for oil in your blender and turn on lowest speed.  While blending open the feed tube and slowly drizzle in the oil for a better emulsion.

2 Bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold water (*or chicken stock) to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes.  Remove potatoes from cooking liquid and set aside to cool to room temperature.

3 While potatoes are cooking, toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on a serving platter.  Mound tuna in center of lettuce. Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl; arrange tomato-onion mixture on the lettuce bed. Arrange reserved potatoes in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.

4 Return water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and green beans (unless using canned ones!) Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans and let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds; dry. Toss beans, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste; arrange in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.  I use white asparagus as well cooked the same way, or pickled.

5 Arrange hard boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies in mounds on the lettuce bed. Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers , and serve immediately.

*by cooking the potatoes in chicken stock you get a much better flavor, and you can re-use the stock for whatever other project you are doing.  The stock will have potato starch in it which can help as a thickener.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Toasted Ravioli or T-Ravs

I’m from St. Louis originally, and I have to say that this is one of my favorite things to eat.  Every restaurant in St. Louis, and I mean EVERY restaurant has toasted ravioli on the menu as an appetizer.  I’ve seen it in a Mexican restaurant in the city, figure that one out.  I guess tradition is tradition.  Now, one of the funniest things about this is no one makes their own ravioli.  They all come from “The Hill” in St. Louis, which is the Italian neighborhood.  They come frozen, and are thawed, breaded, fried, and passed off as their own.  Since producing ravioli in mass quantities can involve seriously expensive machinery, no one wants to incur the cost, but everyone wants these little morsels on their menu.  My favorite comes from a sports bar called “Rigazzi’s”  (they make their own!)  this place usually has one of the St. Louis Cardinals dining there.  So here’s the recipe the way most of the restaurants make em. 

2 large eggs
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk (thicker and richer taste than regular milk for this recipe)
1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs 
1 1/2 cups good-quality marinara sauce (the recipe on this blog would be just the one!!!)
about 4 cups vegetable oil for frying 
24 fresh bite-size ravioli, thawed if frozen 
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan  

In a shallow bowl beat together eggs and evaporated milk. Put bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. In a small saucepan heat sauce over moderate heat until hot and keep warm, covered.

In a small heavy kettle (about 5 quarts) heat 1 inch oil over moderate heat until a deep-fat thermometer registers 350°F. While oil is heating, dip ravioli in egg to coat, letting excess drip off, and dredge in bread crumbs, knocking off excess. Arrange ravioli as coated on a tray.

With a slotted spoon gently lower 4 ravioli into oil and fry, turning them occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. With slotted spoon transfer ravioli as fried to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 350°F. before frying remaining ravioli in same manner.

Transfer hot ravioli to a platter and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Serve ravioli with warm marinara sauce for dipping.

Monday, August 24, 2009


So last night I braved the timpano for the first time, and it turned out great.  This is a very fun recipe, and if it turns out right, you will end up the big hero.  If not, well, it still tastes good.   By the way, there is no right or wrong for this, you can put anything in one of these.  I like different pastas because I think it makes a much more dramatic presentation.  

Pasta Crudo

3 cups all purpose flour
3 ounces cold butter cubed
4 ounces cold lard cubed
5 egg yolks
ice water

In a food processor, add the flour, butter, and lard.  Pulse until all are incorporated and the mixture resembles tiny little pebbles.  Add the egg yolks and pulse some more until all are incorporated.  Remove the mixture from the food processor to a stainless steel bowl.  Slowly add ice water a Tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together into a workable ball.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 3 minutes.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Sauce One

2 oz unsalted butter
2 oz all purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/8 cup pesto sauce
2 egg yolks
cracked pepper

Melt your butter in a large sauce pan, and whisk in your flour.  Keep whisking until the flour takes on a wonderfully nutty aroma, and turns a slightly darker blonde.  This is called a blonde roux.  At this point whisk in your milk, continue to whisk as the mixture thickens.  Add your heavy cream and continue to whisk.  If the mixture becomes too thick, add more milk an 1/8 cup at a time until it no longer thickens past a nice saucy thickness.  Whisk in the cheese, pesto, and cracked pepper.  Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the egg yolks.  Tempering the eggs is not necessary. 

Sauce two

Two cups marinara sauce (recipe on blog)
2/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients together in a stainless steel bowl, no need to heat.

Remaining ingredients

1 lb cooked spaghetti
1 lb cooked rigatoni
1/2 lb sliced sharp provalone cheese
1/4 cup slice pepperoni
2 cups of quartered meatballs
1/4 cup sliced green Italian olives
6 sliced hard boiled eggs

Combine the pesto cream sauce with the spaghetti.  You may not need all of it.  Set aside the remaining sauce to garnish.  Combine the red sauce with the rigatoni.

On a well floured surface, roll the pasta crudo into a circle 1/4 inch thick.  Using a timpano mold, or a 5 quart dutch oven, or even a wide but shallow stainless steel bowl, drape the dough over the top of the cooking vessel, and tuck it neatly inside.  There will be a lot of overhang, don't worry about that.  Take a few of the provalone slices and layer them on the bottom.  Add about 2 cups of the red pasta, and put that on the next layer.  Sprinkle with some of the olives, add some slices of hard boiled eggs.  Add another layer of pasta, this time 2 cups of the spaghetti.  Smooth it out, and toss in the meatballs forming another layer.  Add more olives.  Add another 2 cups of the red pasta.  Smooth it out as best you can and add the second half of the eggs.  Cover the eggs with the remaining slices of provalone cheese.  Add 2 more cups of the spaghetti.  Cover with the pepperoni.  Now, fold the overhanging dough over the top of the pasta to completely cover.  If you need to patch it, don't worry it should work out OK.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the dough is a beautiful golden brown.  

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Put a serving plate upside down on top of the timpano, and invert, removing the baking dish.  Now, let it rest another 15 minutes before you slice into it.  If it cools it will stay together.  If not it will fall apart.  Slice, and serve on a plate drizzled with remaining white sauce and some marinara.  Garnish with a basil leaf.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The worlds best slaw

From my family picnics into the mountains I developed a love of coleslaw.  Granted, it was usually the coleslaw from a popular fast food chain who's founder looked like a skinny santa in a southern searsucker suit.  If ya'll can guess who I'm talking about.  Coleslaw did mean an evening drive up Junction Creek Road in Durango colorado, eating fried chicken under the aspens beside a beautiful little river.  For some reason, every time I eat any kind of coleslaw, I feel nostalgic for the mountains, and temporarily drawn back to that former chapter of my life.  Since I started cooking on my own I've looked for a good recipe, but so many of them seem laden with heavy mayonnaise, so I developed my own.  This one is a lot lighter than your traditional slaw, but not lacking in taste.

1 peeled jicama shredded into matchstick sized pieces (a root that is in most mega marts, just ask your produce guy)
2 cups red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

1 Granny Smith apple cored, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (can be found in most mega marts.  Really just white wine vinegar that's sweetened but I won't tell if you won't.  You can use regular balsamic if you like, it just makes it look like mud, still the same flavor though.)
2/3 cup safflower oil or other nuetral flavored oil
2 Tbsp honey
pinch salt
1/2 tsp white pepper

In your blender combine all the ingredients except for the oil.  Turn the blender on, and slowly drizzle in the oil through the feed tube at the top.  Toss enough dressing to lightly cover with the salad ingredients, and refrigerate at least 2 hours for the dressing to fully work it's magic.  Remaining dressing is wonderful on salads, and will keep for a week.  If you like, you can toss about 1/3 of a cup of blue cheese in with the coleslaw for a nice bite!