Mmm… Paella

I originally published this last year and realized it is one of the many that the images were lost. Paella is a process and picture help if you haven’t made it before. So I have added them back and reposted for everyone to enjoy while the weather is beautiful. 

Original post…

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of you that are Moms. Instead of my regular Sunday dinner, I was watching my son’s soccer game scheduled for 6PM. Sometimes that happens.

Our spring is always busy and this week was no exception. Last Sunday, I had a soccer game in the middle of the day so I had to do some creative work with the timing.

My boys also had a 5k run early last week so I selected a dessert that I could make quickly before they got home starving. Chocolate mousse. It’s quick, delicious, and needs at least 8 hours in the refrigerator.

The amazing taste of chocolate mousse has an inversely proportional relationship with the amount of work needed to make it. In brief, it’s really easy even though it tastes like it took hours to make.

I got up at 8, as my boys were starting the run, I lolly-gagged a bit, and still managed to have the mousse in ramekins in the fridge by 9. While the recipe states to finely chop the chocolate, I tend to use chips or just beat the candy bar on the counter; or in this case I used a mix of both.

Once the butter, chocolate, and liquor (bourbon this time) melt together, allow it to cool before stirring in the egg yolks. This is a good time to beat the cream and the egg whites with the sugar.

  

                    
Once those are ready to go, the chocolate will be cool enough to stir in the yolks and then the egg whites and cream (alternating).

        
From this point they go into the ramekins and into the fridge.


After we got back from the game at 3, I started on my prep work so that I could get the stock started. The stock used some of the scraps from the prep for the paella. I also had some leftover chorizo from another use, so that went in too. I started with the shrimp, reserving the shells for the stock. I doubled everything to so that I could use it for a couple of meals. Since everything get strained from the stock, there is no need to peel the garlic or carrots.

      

Everything goes into the pot.


Once the shells gain their pink color and the vegetables start to become tender, the water goes in and you bring it to a boil and then let it simmer.

  
This gave me the time to do my other prep for the paella. The key is a good soffrito: onions, garlic, celery, and then ultimately tomato.

  
My market had 3 different brands of Spanish chorizo, so I used them all.


I also made a spice blend with sugar, salt, and smoked paprika.


I cleaned my micro greens and rinsed my olives.

  
My favorite pan for paella is my 17″ cast iron skillet, and the easiest place to use it is my grill.


By this time, the stock is done and you pour it through a fine strainer and press the solids for this beautiful stock.

    

So once with everything prepped and the grill hot, I brought it all out to my bar height table next to the grill.


The chorizo goes in first and the aroma begins.


And when they are done, set them off to the side and add the shrimp to the pan.

  
They cook quickly in the hot skillet and it’s important to not overcook them. When they are done set them off to the side wth the chorizo and keep them warm.


The soffrito goes into the hot skillet until it cooks down with the wine being added in the middle.

  

Then add the stock and once it’s hot, the saffron. When it returns to a boil, the rice.

  

After the rice goes in, stir until it comes back to a boil, and then only turn the pan so that the rice cooks evenly. I also squeezed a couple of loaves of garlic bread onto the grill from our local bakery on the market and my MIL made a fabulous salad.

When I brought it inside, I added in the zest and juice of a lemon.

  
And I served it with a rosé Sancerre.


Dessert was accompanied with whipped cream and Baileys.

  
And as mentioned much earlier in this post, this meal did become a second; I put it in a wrap with queso fresco and grilled it. It also reheated VERY well in our lunch!


Back-Burner Stock

Makes About 3½ cups ∙ Source Bonappetit.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ounces charcuterie trimmings (such as ham, bacon, and/or sausage ends)
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro stems
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mixed vegetables (such as carrots, celery, and/or fennel)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander or fennel seeds
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Shrimp shells (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add charcuterie, onion, cilantro stems, garlic, bay leaves, vegetables, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, and shrimp shells (if using) and cook, stirring occasionally, until shells turn bright pink and vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes.

Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on solids; discard solids.

Do Ahead: Stock can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.

Chorizo and Shrimp Paella

Makes Servings: 4 ∙ Source Bonappetit.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 pound Spanish chorizo, casings and ends removed, sliced into rounds
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • ¾ cup dry white or rose wine
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Back-Burner Stock
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1½ cups bomba rice
  • 1 cup green olives (such as Castelvetrano), pitted, torn into large pieces
  • 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving
  • Radish sprouts (for serving)
  • Flaky sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Process onion, celery, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped; transfer to a small bowl. Add tomatoes to processor and process until smooth; set soffritto aside.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a 12″–14″ paella pan or skillet over medium-high. Add chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add shrimp to same skillet, season with salt, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plate with chorizo.

Heat remaining ½ cup oil in same skillet over medium-high. Add reserved soffritto and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8–10 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until mixture is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add paprika, sugar, and 2 tsp. salt. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick, about 3 minutes. Add stock and saffron and bring to a boil.

Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid starts to simmer, about 5 minutes. Quit stirring; a film will form on the surface (this will trap steam, making a gooey cover over the rice, helping it cook evenly). Reduce heat to low and simmer, moving pan around every few minutes so the entire bottom gets equal time over the hottest part of flame, until liquid evaporates, 12–15 minutes.

Top with olives and reserved chorizo and shrimp. Finely grate lemon zest and squeeze lemon juice over paella, top with sprouts, and season with sea salt. Let paella rest 5 minutes before you dig in; serve with lemon wedges.

Paprika File

Dark Chocolate Mousse

Desserts, Ice Cream and Custards, Tested and Approved!

Makes 6 Servings ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Epicurious | 2004

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 Tbsp Kahlua, or other favorite alcohol (i.e., Bourbon)
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

DIRECTIONS

Combine the chocolate, butter, and kahlua in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool until the chocolate is just slightly warmer than body temperature. To test, dab some chocolate on your bottom lip. It should feel warm. If it is too cool, the mixture will seize when the other ingredients are added.

Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks, then refrigerate. Once the melted chocolate has cooled slightly, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until they are foamy and beginning to hold a shape. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

When the chocolate has reached the proper temperature, stir in the yolks. Gently stir in about one-third of the whipped cream. Fold in half the whites just until incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites, and finally the remaining whipped cream.

Spoon or pipe the mousse into a serving bowl or individual dishes. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. (The mousse can be refrigerated for up to a day.)

Paprika File

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Christmas Dinner

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I hope you had a wonderful day and dinner. 

Or Happy Holidays if you don’t celebrate Christmas, but are enjoying other festivities. 

As you likely know from reading my blog, I strongly believe that all food should be good and good food is real food. I try to hit an even higher standard for Christmas Eve dinner and this year I decided on individual Beef Wellingtons. It’s not something I have made before. 

I looked at several recipes for inspiration and ended using the recipe at the bottom. The ingredients are simple even though the taste is complex. 

Since I wanted them to be sized as individual portions I had to start with filet mignon, which you can buy at the meat counter for $18-25/lb. depending on the current market. I cannot fathom this price so I start with the whole tenderloin and trim it well then cut my own steaks. At $9/lb. the effort is worth it. 

I like my steak lean, but the most important part is removing the tendon. Overall, I ended up with 6 steaks (4-6 oz. each), three bags of extra steak (1 lb. each) including a chateaubriand that can be a small roast later, and only ½ lb. of scraps. I also had ~4 oz. of small pieces that I used to make the red wine sauce. 

    

  

I kept the steaks in the fridge overnight; no wrap needed.

I also started dessert, a Martha Stewart recipe, on the eve of Christmas Eve by making the sponge cakes. The ingredients were incredibly simple.

Any time you make a cake, it’s always best to prep the pans first.

With this recipe the butter was a close second, as it needed to be melted and cooled.

From there, I sifted my dry ingredients, and then beat the eggs and sugar. 

  
  

When they were very light I folded in the dry ingredients, followed by the butter. 

  

Baking them was very quick – 6 minutes.

   

On Christmas Eve, I returned to the steaks first, very quickly searing them in batches on high heat, then they went back in the fridge.

  

Then I washed and chopped my mushrooms, mostly baby bellas with a few wild mushrooms mixed in. 

    

All of the mushrooms went into a large skillet with oil, a few sprigs of thyme, and a healthy helping of fresh ground pepper to make the duxelle. (I love new words!) After a few minutes they release their moisture then dry and begin to brown. 

  

  

  

The next step of the beef was to set their shape. I laid out 6 pieces of Saran Wrap, each with 2 slices of Prosciutto, and then spread the Prosciutto with the duxelle, evenly divided. 

  

After seasoning the beef with salt and pepper I placed each one on a piece of Saran Wrap and folded, then tightly sealed them, and then returned them to the fridge. 

  

  

I returned to the cake by making the filling, again an easy set of ingredients. I started by separating my eggs. 

  

The mascarpone, powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt go right on top of the yolks, and then the mix is beaten until thick and creamy. 

  

The egg whites are whipped with a dash of salt and then folded into the chocolate mix. 

  
 

Each of the two cakes are cut into 3 equally sized rectangles. Place one on your serving tray and brush it with brandy and spread about a cup of the filling evenly over it. 

  

Continue in this manner until you reach the top layer, ending with a brandy-brushed cake layer. This goes into the fridge too.

  

I have prepared brussel sprouts fairly frequently lately so I won’t bore you with the details. At this point I was simply cleaning them. 

  

And then I made the glaze for the cake: chocolate and hot cream. 

  

  

I also cleaned and seasoned my redskins while the chocolate melted. 

    

  

Once the chocolate was melted, I whisked it to smooth and then glazed the cake. 

  

About an hour before I wanted to serve dinner, I put the potatoes in the oven and started the red wine sauce (aka, gravy) I used the trimmings I mentioned earlier, a few more sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf, several peppercorns, and 3 sliced shallots. 

  

When the shallots were golden I added in a splash of red wine vinegar, let it reduce to almost dry and then add 2 cups of wine. I brought the wine to a boil and then simmered it until it was reduced to about ½ cup. 

  

Then I wrapped my beef in puff pastry, I recommend an 8-9″ square per filet, and only 2 per sheet – yes you will have some scrap, but they won’t be too thin at the end. I brushed the edges and the tops with an egg wash. 

  

  

  

  

At this point (about 30 minutes before dinner) the wine was reduced and I added in the broth to reduce again, ultimately to  about 1 cup. And I put the brussel sprouts in the oven. I roasted them with crispy red onions, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. 

  

  

At 15 minutes before dinner, I put the steaks in the oven and strained the gravy. I returned most the gravy to the pan. I kept ~¼ cup into which I whisked about 1 teaspoon of corn starch and then whisked this into the rest of the gravy and returned it to a boil to thicken it. Take the beef, and everything else out of the oven when the internal temp of the beef is 135F (assuming you appreciate medium rare).

  

  

Dinner is served. 







Beef Wellington

Paprika Recipe File

Beef and Lamb, Christmas, Entrées, Season, Tested and Approved!

Makes Serves 6 ∙ Difficulty Hard ∙ Source Inspired by Gordon Ramsey

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 filet mignon steaks (4-6 oz. each)
  • Olive oil
  • 1½ lb. mushrooms, mixed
  • 4-6 thyme sprigs
  • 3 sheets puff pastry
  • 12 slices prosciutto
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the red wine sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • 4-6 oz. beef trimmings
  • 3 large shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ~4-6 thyme sprigs
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 15 oz. beef stock
  • 1 tsp. corn starch

DIRECTIONS

Quickly sear the beef in a hot pan with a little olive oil for 30-60 seconds until browned all over and very rare in the middle. Remove from the pan and leave to cool, then return to the fridge.

Finely chop the mushrooms and fry in a hot pan with a little olive oil, the thyme sprigs, and pepper. When the mushrooms begin to release their juices, continue to cook over a high heat for about 10-15 minutes until all the excess moisture has evaporated and you are left with a mushroom paste just beginning to brown (known as a duxelle). Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.

Lay 6 squares of saran wrap on a work surface and arrange 2 slices of prosciutto on each, slightly overlapping. With a palette knife, spread the mushroom paste over the prosciutto. Season each filet with salt and pepper then place one in the middle of each square. Neatly wrap the proscuitto and mushrooms, then the saran wrap around the beef to form a tight package. Chill for at least 30 minutes to allow the beef to keep its shape.

Cut each sheet of pastry in half, place on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle large enough to envelop one of the beef fillets (~8-9″ square).

Remove the saran wrap from the beef, brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash, then wrap the pastry around each filet. Brush the outside with the egg wash. Allow to rest for at leat 15 minutes before baking, if more than 30 chill in the fridge.

Meanwhile, make the red wine sauce. Heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the beef trimmings for a few minutes until browned on all sides. Stir in the shallots with the peppercorns, bay leaf, and thyme then continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallots turn golden brown.

Pour in the vinegar and let it bubble for a few minutes until almost dry. Then add the wine and boil until reduced to ~½ cup. Add the stock and bring to the boil again. Lower the heat and simmer gently until reduced to ~1½ cups. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve. Check for seasoning and return to the pan, reserve ¼ cup and whisk in the corn starch. Whisk the reserved liquid back into the pan and bring to a boil until the sauce reaches the desired consistency, then set aside.

When you are ready to cook the beef wellingtons, score the pastry lightly then bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and cooked. The internal temperature should be 135°F for medium rare. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve the beef wellingtons, with the sauce as an accompaniment.
Glazed Chocolate Layer Cake

Paprika Recipe File

Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts

Prep 45 mins ∙ Cook 55 mins ∙ Makes Servings: 10 ∙ Source Marthastewart.com

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CAKE

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for baking pans
  • Coarse salt
  • 5 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

FOR THE FILLING AND GLAZE

  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • Chocolate Glaze

DIRECTIONS

Make cake: Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Coat two 10 1/2-by-15 1/2-inch jelly-roll baking pans with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a bowl, whisk together flour and teaspoon salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs, yolks, and sugar on medium-high, 2 minutes; increase speed to high and beat until pale and thick, 5 minutes. Sift flour mixture over egg mixture; with a large rubber spatula, fold together until almost blended. Pour butter down side of bowl, folding to combine. Divide batter between pans; smooth with a table knife. Immediately transfer pans to oven and bake until cakes are golden brown and springy when pressed, 6 to 7 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Let cool completely.

Make filling: In a large bowl, stir together egg yolks, mascarpone, sugar, cocoa, and pinch of salt. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and pinch of salt until soft peaks form. With a large rubber spatula, fold one-third whites into mascarpone mixture; fold in remainder.

Invert cakes onto a work surface and gently peel off parchment. Using a serrated knife, trim cakes to measure 10 by 15 inches, then cut each crosswise into thirds. Place 1 cake layer, golden side up, on a platter; brush with brandy and spread with 1 cup filling. Repeat with remaining cake, brandy, and filling, ending with a layer of brandy-brushed cake. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Make Chocolate Glaze. Pour over top of cake and spread so it drips down sides (or spread along sides). Cover and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
Chocolate Glaze

Paprika Recipe File 

Makes 1 1/4 cups ∙ Source Marthastewart.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

Place bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium-high; when bubbling around edge, pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, then whisk until shiny and smooth.

Quick Cake

So we decided this evening to get together with some friends. I offered to bring something and was assigned dessert. My mind quickly went to my Raspberry Buttermilk Cake when I remembered that one of my good friends in this group doesn’t believe that a dessert is actually dessert if it has fruit in it. We’ll continue this debate personally, but I switched my brain to chocolate.

I recently came across this chocolate cake to make a treat for another friend who is gluten free. Aside from baking time it’s about 15-20 minutes to put it together and that includes the time to get out the ingredients and make the superfine sugar.

IMG_4279

This is how I have taken to “sifting”, it’s way easier!IMG_4280IMG_4281

And I still boil my water in a teapot.IMG_4282

The boiling water goes into the cocoa and then the vanilla, it shouldn’t be runny, but it isn’t thick.IMG_4283

In a separate bowl mix the almond flour, baking soda, and salt.
IMG_4284IMG_4286

I never buy superfine sugar, if you have a food processor, you shouldn’t either.

IMG_4287

The mixer gets the eggs, olive oil, and the sugar.

IMG_4288

They get whipped together until they are very thick.

IMG_4289IMG_4290

Add the chocolate while it stirs slowly.

IMG_4291IMG_4292

And then the almond flour mix.

IMG_4293IMG_4294

Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so that you don’t miss any good stuff.

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And then pour it into your prepared pan.

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After it’s baked it’s beautiful, moist, and delicious. 

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts, Not Shared, Tested and Approved!

Makes 8-12 slices ∙ Source Nigella.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa (sifted)
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups almond meal (or ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • ⅔ cup regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)
  • 3 large eggs

1. Preheat your oven to 325ºF. Grease a 9″ springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.

2. Measure and sift the unsweetened cocoa into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.

3. In another smallish bowl, combine the almond meal (or flour) with the baking soda and pinch of salt.

4. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.

5. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond (or flour) mixture.

6. Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.

7. Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as a pudding.

NOTES

Not extra virgin olive oil.

Paprika Recipe File

Beef and Guinness Pies (with Chocolate?)

I have mentioned before that we are suckers for pot pies around here. With me having time this weekend and about to embark on three weeks of work travel and college visits that overlap St. Patrick’s Day and well beyond, I had to do my honorary cooking with beer in advance of the holiday. This recipe caught my husbands eye, mainly because it was pot pie, but also because of the chocolate. I made a few edits before I even got started and I’ve made another below. 

Skip the chocolate. Such words never uttered in this house; I’ll modify. Eat the chocolate while you cook and don’t put it in the stew. 

Ultimately these are really good and one of the advantages is you don’t need an expensive cut of meat. With the amount of time to make the stew the meat literally falls apart. 

I also had time to make dinner for Tuesday, but I’ll leave that for another day. 

I started with my prep work. I got all of my ingredients out and then started in on the veggies. 

    

And then  moved onto the beef; it’s really important to trim it well. This was about 1¾ lbs. and I trimmed off just under ½ lb.  

  

I also prepped the ingredients for the Green beans with dill; pretty easy, rinse both and chop the dill.  

With 5 minutes left on the pot pies, I heated up the pan for the green beans, warmed some olive oil in the pan, and then added the beans seasoning them well with salt and pepper. 

  

I turned them with tongs regularly and after the pot pies were out and resting, I added in the dill. 

Time for dinner.  

 

Ok, each of these pot pies fed two people – yes including male teenagers. Depending on your crowd you could make 6 of these in smaller pie pans, you would need an extra sheet of puff pastry. 

And for dessert Ina Garten’s lemon bars – perfect (do not alter). 

Beef and Guinness Pies (with Chocolate?)

Beef and Lamb, Entrées, Not Shared, Recipes To Try

Prep 45 minutes ∙ Cook 3 hours 45 minutes ∙ Makes 4 pies ∙ Source Detroit Free Press | March 13, 2016

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ lbs. beef chuck, trimmed cut into 1′ cubes
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 shallots, peeled chopped
  • 12-16 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1⅔ cups Guinness Draught or extra stout
  • 1-2 cups unsalted beef stock or low-sodium beef broth
  • 1½ tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped or grated bittersweet chocolate or dark chocolate (optional)
  • 1 package (17.3 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Special Equipment:

  • Four 6″ pie tins or 10 oz. ramekins

DIRECTIONS

Pat the beef cubes dry with paper towel. In a large bowl, toss the beef with 2 tablespoons flour, kosher salt and black pepper. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat.  

Working in batches, brown the beef on all sides; transfer to a plate. Repeat, using another tablespoon of oil and remaining beef. 

 
 

If needed, add another tablespoon oil to the pot. Add the shallots, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, and celery.  

Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme sprigs. 

Return the beef to the pot. 

Add the Guinness and enough beef broth so the entire mixture is completely covered.  

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender, about 1½ to 2 hours.

Once the beef is done, strain the cooking liquid into a large glass measuring cup. You should have 2-3 cups. Return the beef and vegetables to the pot, discarding the thyme.

  

In a saucepan melt the butter. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons flour to form a smooth paste. Whisk in ½ cup cooking liquid over medium heat.  

Gradually whisk in the rest of the strained cooking liquid and simmer until slightly thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. If using, add the chocolate and stir to melt.  

If the sauce is too thick add more stock or Guinness. Pour the sauce over the beef and vegetables and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one sheet of the thawed puff pastry into about a 14″ square. Cut to two circles large enough to fit in the bottom and up the sides of the pie tin or ramekin, about 8-inches. Cut out two circles that will fit the top. Repeat with the remaining puff pastry sheet. Evenly spoon the beef mixture into the pastry-lined pie tins or ramekins using about 1¼ cups each.  

Top with the 6-inch circle and pinch the edges together to seal. 

Cut 2 diagonal slits in the top center. Brush the pastry with the egg. Place the pies directly on the lower oven rack. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, 45 minutes. Remove from oven. Let rest a few minutes. Serve directly in the pie tin or invert onto a plate. 

NOTES

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

The chocolate adds nothing and takes away from the pepper – SKIP IT!


Lemon Bars

Cookies, Desserts, Recipes To Try

Cook 30-35 minutes ∙ Makes 9x13x2 inch pan ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Ina Garten | Food Network

INGREDIENTS

For the crust:

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter , room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 6 eggs, extra-large, at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest, grated, from ~3 lemons
  • 1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 cup flour
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

DIRECTIONS

Preparation: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make crust: Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and creamy. 

  

  

Add in flour and salt and mix on low until just combined. Gather into a ball and flatten the dough with floured hands (or cover and press with plastic wrap) and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides.

 

Chill for at least 30 minutes. Bake crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.To make filling: In a bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. 

  

  

 Pour mixture over crust and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

 

Dust with confectioner sugar and cut to squares to preferred size.

Simple Scallops

I have finished the book for the book club I have recently joined so now I can allow myself to write. For those of you that are interested, the book is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and it weaves a beautiful tale. I wish that I could write so beautifully that the words bring you in. 

In the meantime I will stick to making food. On Saturday, when making my menu for the week I knew that I wanted scallops for Sunday dinner. When I skimmed my saved recipes for ideas I noticed one for scallops with a blood orange sauce; citrus and scallops are perfect match. Although I frequently use lemons, blood oranges are still around at the grocery store. 

The most important thing when cooking scallops is ensure that they are dry so that they brown rather than simmer, so after I rinse them and remove the side muscle, I dry them on paper towels and then I replace the paper towels and flip them over so that the other side is also dry. I always season them with salt and pepper before I cook them.

 
In addition to this I also did all of my prep work and measuring for this meal in advance, once you start cooking it only takes 10 minutes so it is much easier to have all of your ingredients ready. I also had all of my dessert ingredients ready, but since it also only took 10 minutes to cook, I didn’t bake it until after we had all eaten and cleaned up the kitchen; I’ll get to that after the meal. 

For the scallops the prep also included chopping the shallot and squeezing the oranges (they were small so I ended up using 2). I rinsed the beans, measured my couscous and water, and minced a handful of mint. 

  
When I was ready to cook, I started the water for the couscous first with a bit of butter and salt while I heated my cast iron skillet for the scallops and my skillet for the green beans. When the water boiled, I added the couscous and reduced it to a simmer and put the green beans in my skillet with a bit of tangerine olive oil, salt, and pepper over medium high heat. 

  
Once the cast iron was hot I set in the scallops, it’s important not to move them while they cook, they should take about 3 minutes to get that nice brown color; in the meantime I stirred the beans to make sure that none overcooked.  

   
After flipping the scallops and letting them cook 2 more minutes I set them aside and added the additional butter and shallots to the pan. While this shallots softened I turned off the heat on the beans and couscous and stirred the mint into the couscous. 

  
Just before serving I added the orange juice to the hot cast iron skillet, deglazed the pan, and poured the sauce into a small bowl for serving. 

  
Dessert was just as simple. Before dinner I set the butter and chocolate in my double boiler on the stove, I didn’t heat it, but with the other cooking going on they softened well. I also prepped my ramekins measured my sugar, broke the eggs into my mixer bowl, and measured the remaining ingredients into a small bowl so that I could add it to the mixer when the time came. 

   
 After we cleaned up the dishes, I started creaming the eggs and sugar and finished melting the butter and chocolate together.    

 After mixing the remaining ingredients in, I scooped the very thick batter into the ramekins. They do only take about 8 minutes to cook and are best served warm with vanilla ice cream.   

  
Seared Scallops with Blood Orange-Shallot Sauce
Makes Serves 4 ∙ Source Finecooking.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ lb. sea scallops, side muscles removed
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped (~¼ cup)
  • 1-2 blood oranges, squeezed to yield at least ¼ cup juice

DIRECTIONS

Pat the scallops dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp. of the butter and the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the foam from the butter subsides.

Add the scallops and cook, undisturbed, until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook the second side until browned and just barely firm to the touch, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter to the skillet. Add the shallot and a touch of salt; cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the scallops drizzled with the sauce and sprinkled with a little black pepper.

Chili-spiced Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes

INGREDIENTS

  • Butter for greasing ramekins
  • Regular or dark cocoa powder (for dusting ramekins)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • Pinch of cayenne

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Butter four 4-ounce ramekins and lightly dust the inside of each ramekin with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess; set aside.

Place the butter and chocolate in a double boiler, melt over hot water until almost completely melted. Stir until the chocolate is smooth.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until light and thick. Slowly add butter mixture to mixer; add flour, cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne, and mix until well combined. Divide batter between prepared ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake until sides are set and center is soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand about 1 minute. Invert each mold onto a plate and let stand for about 10 seconds. Gently tap the tops of ramekins and carefully lift to remove. Serve with ice cream if desired and berries.

Bourbon and Chocolate

…Just because it’s New Year’s Eve. 

We are attending a masquerade party this evening and a few of us are contributing snacks and desserts. I considered bourbon balls, but they have pecans in them. I try to avoid making things with tree nuts (my eldest son’s allergy – his exceptions are peanuts and almonds if you have read my other posts). 

I started skimming through Epicurious’ chocolate dessert ideas and came across this recipe for Chocolate Fudge with Bourbon Sugar. I was hooked; there is an obvious flaw in their post, but it was easily corrected and I have done so below. 

Chocolate Fudge with Bourbon Sugar

Source Bon Appétit | December 2014

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 cup demerara sugar (or raw turbindo)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 10 ounce bittersweet chocolate (preferably 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

DIRECTIONS

Bourbon sugar:

Preheat oven to 150° or as low as yours will go. Scrape vanilla beans seeds into sugar, the stir in the bourbon. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let dry out in oven overnight, leaving door slightly ajar. Mixture should feel like demerara sugar again in the morning.

  
Fudge:
Line an 8×8″ baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on 2 sides; lightly coat with nonstick spray. Heat chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let bowl touch water), stirring occasionally, until almost completely melted. Set aside.

   
   
Combine condensed milk, butter, bourbon, corn syrup, and kosher salt in a small saucepan; scrape in vanilla seeds and add pod. Heat over medium until barely hot (same as the chocolate).  

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Gently stir one quarter of milk mixture into chocolate with a rubber spatula. Add another quarter of milk mixture, stirring to incorporate (it might look broken and greasy; don’t worry, it will come back together). Continue with remaining milk mixture in 2 additions, stirring vigorously until fudge is very shiny and almost elastic, about 5 minutes. Scrape into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle with bourbon sugar and sea salt. Let cool, then cover and chill at least 4 hours.

   
  

  
Turn out fudge onto a cutting board and slice into desired rectangles, squares, or triangles.

  
Do ahead:

Store bourbon sugar airtight at room temperature up to 2 months. Fudge can be made 1 week ahead. Wrap tightly and chill. Save the extra for your coffee; yum!!

Happy Halloween!

We have great friends who have hosted a fabulous Halloween party for number of years. I am so happy that we have been able to attend the past few years. This year was no exception:


I was happy this year that my offer to contribute was accepted; I am happiest when I can share good food (although they had plenty). I brought 3 new items that can all be made in advance.

Monster Eyeballs

 

Monster Eyeballs

makes about 80 eyeballs ∙ source Epicurious.com | October 2009
INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 (3-ounce) package miniature M&Ms

DIRECTIONS

1. Blend the peanut butter with the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. (I recommend a pastry blender or your hands.)

2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper. Roll the peanut butter mixture by teaspoons into small balls and place on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the eyeballs.


3. Put the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl and melt the chocolate in the microwave: Heat on high for 60 seconds, and then stir well. If it’s not quite smooth, heat in two or three 10-second bursts, stirring well after each burst. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate, stirring frequently, in a double boiler, over just-simmering water. Avoid overheating, which can cause chocolate to seize up into a stiff mass.)

4. Take the sheet of balls from the refrigerator; use a fork or a toothpick to dip each one most of the way into the chocolate, leaving a round or oval opening of undipped peanut butter on top. (This opening in the chocolate will be the cornea.) Hold each ball over the chocolate to catch the drips, and then return to the wax paper, cornea side up.


 5. Place an M&M in the center of the peanut butter cornea to make an iris. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Store the eyeballs in the refrigerator or freezer and serve chilled.

 

Scary Barbecue Snack Mix


Scary Barbecue Snack Mix

(Way better than Chex Mix and good for all of fall (football season), not just Halloween.)

makes 8 servings ∙ source Gourmet | October 2012

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups popcorn (1½ ounces; see Cooks’ notes)
  • 2 cups coarsely broken blue corn tortilla chips (2¾ ounces)
  • 2 cups Cheddar fish-shaped crackers or other cheese crackers (3¾ ounces)
  • 2 cups corn nuts (6½ ounces) or smokehouse almonds (or 1 cup of both)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (sometimes labeled pimentón dulce)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon Tabasco (optional)
  • Special equipment: Large (18- by 13-inch) rimmed baking sheet

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat oven to 300°F with rack in middle. Grease rimmed baking sheet with oil.
  • Combine popcorn, tortilla chips, cheese crackers, and corn nuts in a large bowl.

  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and whisk in barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, paprika, chili and garlic powders, and Tabasco, if using.
  • Drizzle barbecue sauce mixture over snack mix and stir until combined well.

  • Evenly spread mixture in baking sheet and bake, stirring and turning mixture over every 10 minutes, for a total of 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack (it will crisp as it cools), then break into pieces.



NOTES

Cooks’ notes: Snack mix keeps in an airtight container for up to 1 week. If you want to pop your own popcorn, we recommend using a hot-air popper. To end up with at least 6 cups, use 1/4 cup kernels.

Pumpkin Seed Brittle  (so sad, I forgot to take a picture)

makes 16 ∙ source Bon Appétit | November 2013
INGREDIENTS

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • A candy thermometer

DIRECTIONS

Spray a parchment-lined baking sheet with nonstick spray; set aside. Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 3 Tbsp. water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Fit saucepan with thermometer and cook until thermometer registers 290°, 3–4 minutes.

Stir in pumpkin seeds, butter, and kosher salt and cook, stirring often, until pale brown and thermometer registers 305°, 3–4 minutes.

Stir in baking soda and cinnamon (mixture will bubble vigorously), then immediately pour caramel onto prepared sheet. Using a heatproof spatula, quickly spread out and sprinkle with sea salt; let cool. Break brittle into pieces.

Do Ahead: Brittle can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight, layered between sheets of parchment paper, at room temperature.