Beef and Guinness Stew

I should be writing about something you can make for your Thanksgiving dinner but I made this for dinner last night and it is just too good not to share immediately and it might be something to make on the Sunday after the holiday when you have had enough of turkey leftovers.

IMG_3654

Loved the oven roasted potatoes

A few week ago a couple of girlfriends and I went on a road trip to Simon Pearce a handmade glassware company; its about an hour and half from my house in Quechee, VT. This is my second visit to the combination store, glass blowing workshop, restaurant and bar.

My first visit was on Mother’s Day which happened to be a lovely day in May when my husband and I were on our way back from a weekend in Montreal. It was an unexpected treat. The property is on the river and there is a beautiful covered bridge and waterfall which you can enjoy while eating your meal.

May Simon Pearce

our May visit

I would suggest if you want to eat here; and you should; put your name in for a table and then walk around the store and glass blowing workshop. Learn from our mistake, well mistake is a little harsh. It just gave us more time to walk around.

IMG_3645

I’m a dork I used a clothespin because I couldn’t figure out my daughters stand – till this morning

Both times my food was excellent and I would go back again; although after talking with our waiter and him bringing over a copy of the latest book that has some of the recipes included in it and of course I ended up buying it. Between me and my daughter (mostly my daughter) we are going to need a library just for our cookbooks/magazines.

IMG_3646

I had a 4 pound chuck roast I cut up

IMG_3647So I had their beef stew and the depth of flavor was so intense I figured it had to have been on the stove or in the oven for hours. I was pleasantly surprised that we were eating in just about 2 hours and most of it was the pot simmering on the stove.

IMG_3649

all the love on the bottom of the pan – scrape it up when you add the liquid

IMG_3650My daughter came home after work and reheated a bowl for herself and said it was ridiculously good and worth buying the book for.
IMG_3651

IMG_3653

after an hour and half

Beef and Guinness Stew with oven-roasted potatoes
This is exactly how their recipe – I will also share how I made mine

Ingredients:
2 & 1/2 pounds of beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil

Instructions:
Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large stewpot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and brown the beef in batches, adding 1 tablespoon olive oil to each batch, over medium high heat. Using slotted spoon, remove the beef from the pot and set aside.

3 carrots, peeled and sliced (blanch and set aside)

1 large onion
2-3 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. Flour
1 bottle Guinness Stout
2-3 cups beef stock
(I used my carrot water and added a tablespoon of beef base plus a container of unsalted beef broth so mine was a little less thick than there’s)

Add onions and a small amount of olive oil to the stewpot and cook over medium heat until translucent. Once the onions are caramelized, add garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and cook for 5 minutes. Add flour and mix well. Add the browned beef back to the pot and add the Guinness. Bring to a boil and add beef stock. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 & 1/2 hours, or until the beef is tender. Add the carrots and adjust the seasonings before serving

Ingredients:
2 pounds small red potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. Paprika

IMG_3648

the Paprika added a little heat – which was nice!

IMG_3652Instructions:
Cut potatoes in quarters.  In a bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet in one layer (do not overcrowd). Roast for at least 1 hour in 400 degree F oven or until brown and crisp. Flip twice during cooking to brown every.

Recipe from the Simon Pearce Restaurants

Roast Chicken with Bread and Arugula Salad

I did it again; I made something that needs to be shared and didn’t take pictures. Why do I do this to myself? I often wonder if it is so I have to make it again? I doubt it I think I was a little pressed for time; who makes a new roasted chicken recipe during the week for friends? This girl does!
IMG_3634.JPGI knew it was going to be good since it was an Ina Garten recipe and she is a rockstar in the kitchen. And roasted chicken is her thang. Yes I wrote thang on purpose. I can’t be certain how many ways there are to roast a chicken, or how many different ways I have roasted chicken or even how many of them were Ina’s recipes. But everyone should have at least one favorite way to do so and make it often. This one is a keeper, very moist full of flavor and pairs perfectly with the arugula salad.

I actually roasted 2 chickens in two separate pans; one cast iron as instructed and the other in a stainless steel. The bread I used was not thick enough for the cast iron and came out too burned for me. It worked perfectly in the stainless. Thank you KP for asking if I was going to take a picture so I actually have a couple to share just before we dug in.
IMG_3633.JPGRoasted chicken for me is home, warmth, comfort, family and friends. What dish brings you home?

Notes: Season the chicken 24 to 48 hours before you roast it
I hate reading a recipe and get excited about making it and then find out I should have started it a day or so before. 

Roast Chicken with Bread & Arugula Salad
Ingredients

1 (4-4½ pound) whole chicken (try finding a Bell & Evans)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large garlic cloves, smashed flat
1 lemon, quartered
2 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 thick slices of country bread – ¾ in thick
Olive oil
Arugula salad (see below)

Directions
Place the chicken in a baking dish, Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the breasts without breaking the skin. Carefully slide the sprigs of thyme and the garlic under the skin. Put the lemon in the cavity. Ina ties the legs together and tuck the wings under the body. I didn’t do either of those thing and it worked out for me. You do you!
Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 or 48 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500’F, take the chicken out of the fridge to warm up a bit. Place the bread in a medium 10” cast iron skillet in a single layer. Pour a little olive oil over the bird and place the bird breast side up on the bread. Roast for 30 minutes, turn the bird over and roast for another 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Wrap the skillet tightly with aluminum foil and allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for a full 30 minutes. The bread will be almost burnt on the bottom and soft with the pan drippings on top.

Place the dressed arugula salad in a large, shallow serving platter. Put the chicken and bread on a cutting board. Cut the bread into 1 inch squares and sprinkle it on top of the salad. Carve the chicken into thick slices and place it on top of the salad. Spoon the juices over the chicken, sprinkle it with sea salt and serve warm.

Salad ingredients
¼ cup Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup olive oil
½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
2 tablespoons dried currants
6 cups baby arugula, lightly packed (6 to 8 ounces)

Directions
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper together in a mason jar, or small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, stir in the scallions and currants, and set aside.

Place the arugula in a large bowl, add the vinaigrette, and toss well.

Recipe: Ina Garten make it ahead

Cranberry-Pistachio Cookie Bar

So last week I mentioned having some cookie bars cooling while I was writing. They are all gone, no I didn’t eat them all by myself I had some help. Actually it is kinda funny that my son who doesn’t live here anymore but works with my husband so is here most mornings does a drive-by of the stove and immediately looks to see what might be packaged up to snack on.
IMG_3626.JPG
My name is Donna and I am a snack-a-holic. (stop laughing KP) we have not one but two snack drawers and anything homemade goes on the shelf above the stove, mostly to keep my dog from counter surfing. Which he has done a few times.

IMG_3615Back to the cookie bars. I am going to blame the magazines I was going through to try to get rid of a few. Out of a half dozen or so I think I got rid of two. That is not how you clean out your magazines/catalogs. While going through them I came across one that they had me at the title Cranberry-Pistachio bars. One of my most favorite combination of sweet and salty is cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate. I have made cookies, biscotti’s and bark with these three magical ingredients and have NEVER been disappointed.
IMG_3622.JPGThese bars are thick, dense and chewy; not too sweet or salty just the right amount I think. Though they did not list white chocolate I had to add a drizzle of some of it melted on top.

Cranberry-Pistachios cookie bars
Preheat oven to 350’F – line a 9×13 pan with foil, spray non-stick spray

Ingredients
¾ cup butter, melted
1¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated white sugar
½ cup honey
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cup salted pistachios, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions

In a stand mixer bowl, beat the melted butter, sugars and honey on medium until fluffy about 3-4 minutes. Scrape as needed. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the vanilla.
IMG_3616IMG_3617In a small bowl, whisk the flour and salt. Add them to the wet mixture, beating until combined. Add pistachios and cranberries till combined.
IMG_3618IMG_3620Press batter into pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes out slightly sticky. Let cool completely in the pan. Optional drizzle of white chocolate. I took a handful of chips and in a Pyrex measuring cup; melted them in the microwave for about a minute. Then drizzled them on the cooled bars. Slice and enjoy!
IMG_3621.JPG
IMG_3625.JPG

Recipe adapted from Southern Lady magazine

Apple Galette – Rustic Tart

I am in a bad way! I have not only been craving baked goods; containing flour, sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla etc. I have been making way too many of them; which also means eating them.
IMG_3610.JPGLast weekend I made 2 different kinds of dessert, as I write there is a pan of cookie bars cooling on the stove. It is a little early to be packing on my winter weight. Yeah like that’s what it is; well that is what we call it when our pants get a little tighter and the baggy sweaters come out.
IMG_3612.JPGMy sister-law was up for the weekend and I had bought some apples the week before that were still in the bowl on the counter. So I decided we were going to make something with them. I can’t be certain but I do not recall ever making a galette and I have always wanted to. What I didn’t know was my sister-in-law had never made a homemade dough before. So many people; including me on occasion; buy pre-made dough from the store; making one from scratch can be well worth the extra 10-20  minutes. Plus it takes me longer to run to the store than to just make a simple crust.
IMG_3600So I held a little cooking class in my kitchen that was enjoyed by everyone. I enjoy showing/making, she enjoyed learning and everyone else enjoyed eating.
IMG_3601IMG_3602A galette is a simply a fancy word for a rustic tart. I mean if you were going to present or try to sell one. I mean you could probably get $3 for a slice of a rustic tart; but by calling it a galette you could probably get $5.

Tart dough
1½ cups (6¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon table salt
11 tablespoons (5½ ounces) cold, unsalted butter – grated or cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons milk

Fruit Filling
5-7 Granny Smith – 4 cups of apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Cinnamon
IMG_3603.JPG
In a stand mixer add the flour, sugar and salt. Using the paddle attachment combine the dry ingredients for a about 30 seconds. On low speed add the cold butter to the flour mixture until the flour is no longer white and it can hold together when you squeeze it together in your hand. Around 1-3 minutes. If there are any butter pieces larger than a pea squeeze them to break them up.
IMG_3604In a small bowl mix the egg yolk and milk and then add them to the flour mixture. On low speed mix until the dough just comes together, about 20 seconds. The dough will look crumbly and dry. Dump the dough onto a clean lightly floured surface. Working it with the heel of your hand, push and smear it away from you, gather it back up and repeat until the dough come together and is pliable.
IMG_3607Press it into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap; let it rest in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. The dough can last up to 4 days in the fridge or a couple of months in the freezer. Place it in the fridge overnight to defrost. Let the dough sit on the counter for 15 minutes before the next step. Preheat the oven to 350’F
IMG_3608While the dough is resting prepare the fruit. Peel, core and slice the apples, add the sugar and cinnamon and some flour. Taste an apple and if it needs more sugar now is the time to add it. Roll the dough on a floured surface into a 13-14 inch circle. It does have to be a circle It doesn’t have to be perfect, remember it is called a rustic tart.
IMG_3609On a sheet pan covered with tin foil or a silpat mat. Place the round dough and add the apples to the center of the dough. If you want to make it pretty line up some of the apples that will be seen through the open part of the top. Fold the edges of the dough over some of the fruit to create a rim about 2 inches wide. Working your way around the dough pleating as you go.
IMG_3610

Make an egg wash by beating a whole egg in a small bowl with a fork. Using a pastry brush, brush the pleated dough evenly with some of the egg wash. Sprinkle with whatever sugar you have on hand. I used sugar in the raw.

Bake until the pleats of the dough are golden brown, about an hour. Once done transfer to a rack to cool. When cool enough to handle, transfer to a cutting board or plate and slice. Serve it warm or at room temperature. Top with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If you want to make a smaller tart you can quarter the dough into four separate disks and wrap each one in plastic wrap. When you roll out the dough into 7 inch circle. When you pleat the dough it should have a 1 inch rim.

When the tart’s ( we each made one) were in the oven I showed my sister-in-law the first dough I was shown how to make when I was a kid. Flour, water and oil. which I still make. I am glad I showed her the galette dough first the second is so easy though not as flaky and buttery but is the only dough I make when making curly cues. Dough rolled out covered with butter cinnamon and sugar rolled up and sliced into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.  

Creamy Pasta and Beef

Tis the season for comfort food – do you really need a season to enjoy comfort food? I don’t think so! I know I can and do make and enjoy a comfort meal more times than not. My comfort food go to meal starts with roasted chicken. I can and have roasted a whole chicken for Sunday dinner more times than any other Sunday meal. Sometimes I even roast two. Which is why there are at least 3-4 containers of chicken stock in my freeze at all times.
IMG_3595

Soups are another one of my comfort food staples. I usually make a soup over the weekend for a quick grab and go lunch option for the week. So I guess it’s good thing I always have stock available. Maybe it’s all part of the cooking equation; I have so I make. That kinda makes sense now that I say it out loud.

Maybe they call it comfort food because it’s on the heavier side of the food pyramid? (I do know that it isn’t) For the record I love salads but I wouldn’t call it comfort food. I would call it more of a necessity, again probably because of the roasted chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy and the rich broth soups I need or should eat a salad or two only so the scale doesn’t roll it’s eyes at me; another for the record – it does all the time.
IMG_3592

So here is a quick and easy comfort food meal that you can make any night of the week. And maybe make a tossed salad to go along side of it. Plus don’t forget the fresh loaf of bread; remember you are also eating a salad so it’s totally legal.

Ingredients
box of medium pasta shells – cook according to directions and set aside
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound of ground beef
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning – if you don’t have this see below
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
15 ounce can of tomato sauce
¾ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

Heat olive oil in a stock pot or large skillet over medium high heat, add the ground beef, crumble and brown till cooked through ;drain the excess fat and remove the beef to a bowl or plate.

Add the onion cook for about 2-4 minutes until they are translucent then add the garlic stirring frequently. Cook for another minute or so. Add seasonings cook for another minute or so. Add the flour and cook till it is slightly browned this should take a couple of minutes.

Gradually whisk in the beef broth and tomato sauce. Bring it to a boil; reduce heat stir occasionally and simmer until it thickens around 10 minutes.
IMG_3594

Add the Pasta, beef and cream until everything warms and melds together. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.  

If you don’t have a jar of Italian seasoning – it is generally made up of the following spices so I suggest adding a sprinkle or two of the ones you do have. Or pick the ones you like the best. Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Basil, Rosemary, Sage and Parsley

adapted from online Damn Delicious

Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

I am sitting here this morning drinking my tea and trying to figure out what to say. Which is kinda funny for me, as most of my friends and family will gladly tell you; I always have something to say.  Just sharing –  It took me longer to write this than it did to make a platter of these the other night. 
IMG_3590Today is our first frost, last night my Red Sox lost the first game of the series. I used up the last of my balsamic that I brought home from Italy. And I think I might have worn my flip flops for the last time this year. The day has nowhere to go but up – I hope.
IMG_3583I do have a quick and simple appetizer that I probably paid at least 12 euros for 3 little bites in Greece. But I will be adding these to my list of go too App. I have some friends that have been asking me to come up with an appetizer class. They say they always make the same things every time they are asked to bring something. Which I totally understand. You make something that everyone likes why wouldn’t you make it over and over again. I get a sense that I have to bring something different every time I am invited to someone’s home. I am sure I bring most of it on to myself, I write a food blog I can’t disappoint my people LOL.
IMG_3584This recipe is so simple I am almost embarrassed to write a blog about it. But if you want a new app to bring to a party or just make a light snack for yourself; I won’t judge you.

Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

Prosciutto, thinly sliced
Mascarpone, room temperature
Balsamic vinegar
Greens for decoration

There are packages by the deli with pre-sliced prosciutto, slice each one lengthwise down the middle.
IMG_3585I found it easier to work with the Mascarpone when it got warmer. I put mine in a pastry bag. You can use a ziploc bag or skip the bag and use a couple of spoons to dollop some on the end of each piece of Prosciutto.

Roll each piece and stand them on end, drizzle with the balsamic. Adding some greenery finishes off the simple plate nicely. When I make these again I might roll the meat and then fill with the mascarpone using my pastry bag. I think they would look much nicer. 
IMG_3586
Mascarpone, Cream Cheese
Mascarpone simply put is less tangy than Cream cheese

Bacon, Pancetta, Prosciutto – I love all three
Now a quick little lesson in the differences between Bacon, pancetta, prosciutto
Three pork products that look alike, taste somewhat similar, and even get regularly substituted for each other.

All three are cured meat products Bacon (usually found sliced) and Pancetta (can be sliced thin or cubed) are from the pork belly and need to be cooked before eating. Bacon is put through a smoking process where Pancetta is unsmoked. Prosciutto (sliced and cubed) is from the hind leg and does not have to be cooked to be eaten.
I hope this simple explanation clears things up a little for you.
IMG_3589

Cider-Sage Pork Roast

Sometimes dinner just comes together; at least in the beginning; I’ll explain more about that in a bit. I had picked up a pork roast on my last shopping trip. There was a little cider leftover in the fridge and some of my herbs are still going strong especially the sage.
IMG_3582.JPGLast Tuesday I think I was a little over ambitious; I blame vacation and not having a kitchen for a couple of weeks and the weather; fall is coming, well actually weather wise it is here and I love cooking roasts; it helps take the chill out of the air in the house. My husband keeps saying “winter is coming” but he is a Game of Thrones fan and he loves to ski.
IMG_3570.JPGThe front cover of one of my favorite foodie magazines Fine Cooking had a roasted pork loin on the cover that I wanted to try. It does help to actually read a recipe through before jump in and start making it. Which I hadn’t done; thankfully there was exactly 4 cups of cider left in the fridge; it was meant to be. If nothing else the brine was easy and made the pork taste exactly as I thought it would. A little sweet from the cider, just enough salt and very juicy – which you need to cook it to the correct temperature to help with the juicy part.
IMG_3575.JPGI had to run to the store after work to pick up the things I didn’t have on hand and that’s when it went and usually does go sideways. I needed a couple of apples and ended up grabbing enough to make an apple pie. Really Donna on a Tuesday night; what is wrong with me? There were going to be 5 of us for dinner and I started with making the pie crust around 5:30 I think we finally ate dinner around 7:30 – 8:00.
IMG_3577.JPG

While the pork was outstanding and cooked to perfection, I will admit it wasn’t because I had a firm grasp of the cooking process. It smelled like something was burning so I checked the oven and my potatoes, apples and onions were mostly charcoal. Since it was getting late I flipped the convection switch and the oven was on a ridiculously high temperature plus everyone was around the island looking at vacation pictures. Needless to say I was distracted and shit happens. But I made apple pie 🙂

Cider-Sage Pork roast

Brine
4 cups apple cider
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup kosher salt
3-5 cloves garlic, cut in half
3 lb. center cut pork loin

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together 2 cups of the cider, sugar, salt and garlic and bring to a simmer until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add the other 2 cups of cider and cool to room temperature. Add the roast to a bag or bowl and cover with the brine, seal and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
IMG_3569
IMG_3572.JPG
Roast
16 fresh sage leaves
3 large granny smith apples, 2 inch wedges
1 ½ lb small potatoes, similar to Yukon gold, halved – I used my potatoes from our garden
1 large red onion, ½ inch wedges
3 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups apple cider

Preheat oven to 425’F with the rack in the center of the oven
Bring the roast out to the counter to come to room temperature about 20-30 minutes.
IMG_3578.JPGIn a large roasting pan, toss the apples, potatoes and onion with half of the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast until they are mostly tender around 20 minutes. While they are in the oven remove the pork from the brine and place on some paper towels. Discard the brine. Dry the pork. Using kitchen twine or if you are lucky enough to have silicon bands like mine. Tie in three evenly spaced spots. Take 12 sage leaves and place them under the twine. Season roast with black pepper.
IMG_3579.JPGWhile the veggies and apples are roasting, in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, Add the rest of the olive oil, and when hot sear all sides of the loin, don’t move the pork until it releases from the pan, which will ensure a nice brown crust.

IMG_3580.JPG

sorry about the lousy picture – but you get the gist

Place the pork roast onto the apples, potatoes and onions in the roasting pan. Reduce the heat to 350’F (which I didn’t do, another part of my problem) roast for about 60-80 minutes or until the roast registers 145’F check on it after 60 minutes. Once done let it rest for about 15 minutes.

I also missed this step. While the pork is resting, make a pan sauce. Pour off and discard any of the fat. Set the pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter, flour and the rest of the sage leaves torn into large pieces. Cook making sure to stir up ant brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cider and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
IMG_3574Remove the twine and thinly slice the pork. Serve with the apples, potatoes and onions along side the sauce.

Adapted from Fine Cooking