Dining at Disney – Kona Café

Decided to relax yesterday evening rather than finish this post, it is a vacation after all. 

Margaritas were the choice for this evenings accompaniment; I selected habanero lime, it had a very mild hint of spice. I would recommend that they allow it to be a bit hotter and ease up on the sugar.

As with all Disney restaurants they are very helpful when it come to allergies. They serve a Hawaiian bread made with pineapple juice and serve it with a house-made macadamia nut butter. For my nut allergy eldest, they brought real butter and kept the other off of the plate. For those without allergies, the macadamia butter is really good.


We had the Seasonal special roll for an appetizer, a California Roll with lightly seared Hamachi Tuna and our fish allergy eldest selected the Tomato Bisque topped with Bacon and Arugula Oil. The sushi was really good, definitely what a had a craving for. I did get to taste the soup, wow, another item I need to work on at home. 

  

For dinner, we had very varied meals, I selected the Tuna Poke appetizer along with another roll, the Hamachi Tuna-Cilantro Roll. I have to say it was too much for me, and I should have skipped the second roll even though it was really good. The poke was awesome!

My husband had the fresh fish of the day, a pistachio encrusted tile fish, which was really good and prepared well.


The boys selected the Duo of Pork and the Island Burger. The chili-rubbed pork loin elicited the only (mild) complaint; my boys are used to very moist pork tenderloin, as I cook mine until the center reaches 135, and then let it rest so that I serve it at 140-145.

  
Overall, it was a very good reasonably priced meal, I forgot to take a picture of the menu, but all Disney menus can be found, here is the one for Kona.

Dining at Disney – The California Grill

My up front disclaimer: this is my favorite restaurant on property. In my opinion worth every single penny.

As usual we started with drinks, a very dry, slightly dirty vodka martini for me and a vodka gimlet for my husband while the boys dug into the lavender focchia bread with butter and Hawaiian sea salt.

  
  

And then we ordered the wine, which was just waiting to be paired with food.


As I sit here and look out at Cinderella’s castle I am content reflecting on our dinners. My husband and eldest had the win with the filet on black truffle risotto and a side of French green beans. The steaks were a perfect medium rare and the truffle risotto was simply divine.


My youngest selected the sushi for his meal; thankfully this way I could steal a taste in trade for bites of my own dinner. He had the lobster and spicy Kazan rolls (these are a great appetizer, as are the beet salad and flatbreads). The menu changes regularly but there are certain consistencies that I have recognized over the past 21 years. 


I had the cioppino, also amazing but messy since everything is in its shell. 


Please enjoy, it’s amazing. Also, note that you need to dress for the occasion; this is not a casual restaurant.

Disney Dining – Homecomin’

Day two we elected to try one of the many new restaurants in Disney Springs, Homecomin’. The house specialties are moonshine and fried chicken. 

We decided to start with drinks and fried green tomatoes. The drinks arrived quickly, I had a Muleshine in respect of the specialty and my husband opted for the Basil Smash. Both were good drinks, but slightly sweet.

  
The fried green tomatoes were simply awesome with a salad of spinach, watercress, and arugula.

My husband and I split the hangar steak cooked medium rare with a side of Southern coke slaw. The steak was cooked perfectly and they split the plate for us (just nice). Good call by the chef, the menu said asparagus and there was none on the plate; it’s out of season and would not have been as good as the tender zucchini. The slaw was crisp and fresh, but with it being Southern slaw, I was expecting a hint if jalapeño; definitely good, but no heat at all.

  

My boys had two different fried chicken meals, the famous fried chicken and fried chicken with doughnuts. The seasoning was good, the skin was amazing, but the chicken itself was a touch on the dry side. The mashed potatoes were creamy and buttery. My son said that the doughnuts tasted as if they were fresh from the apple orchard. (If you are not from Michigan, that is high praise.)

  
So, in summary, it was a good option for our late lunch/early dinner, the ingredients were clearly fresh and high quality. It won’t make my list of favorites, but it’s certainly an alternative for classic Southern food at Disney.

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.

Beef and Barley Soup

Due to a grocery shopping error I have a lot of barley on hand, so I have been thinking of what to do with this abundance.

As I did my planning for this week, I opted against our usual Monday night pizza in favor of beef and barley soup so that I could avoid the mad rush for pizza on Halloween night. I looked up several recipes and couldn’t find one that I liked. Many of them looked bland, appeared to skimp on the meat, or in general didn’t look hearty.

So I picked up what looked good and set myself to making something I would enjoy. I gathered my ingredients (ignore the tomato paste I grabbed in my photo-taking haste and pretend it’s garlic).

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I started by prepping my vegetables (mainly so that I could use my favorite knife for all of my chopping). I chopped the onion with my food processor so that I didn’t have watery eyes.

And then I peeled and sliced the parsnips and carrots.

And sliced the celery.

Dried mushrooms (morel and porcini) caught my eye, but it’s important to remember that they are still dirty. I brushed them hard to remove the dirt, and then cleaned the board and chopped them to use as a coating on the beef.

I also used a mix of fresh wild mushrooms, that I rinsed well.

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Last, I trimed then cubed the beef. I prefer meat in soups to be very lean so that you don’t bite into anything tough. Once I cleaned it, I seasoned it with salt and pepper, then my chopped dried mushrooms (unfortunately forgetting to take the picture with the mushrooms).

I started with the mushrooms, mincing the garlic into them and cooking them on medium high heat until they were golden.

I set the mushrooms aside and browned the beef.

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Then I set aside the beef with the mushrooms and set to cooking my vegetables. I seasoned them with pepper and added the sprigs of thyme. I continued to cook them about 5 minutes until the onion was just tender.

Before returning the beef and mushrooms to the pan, I deglazed it with about ½ cup of the broth.

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Then I returned the beef to the pan and added in the broth, bay leaf, and finally the barley.

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I combined it all and brought it to a boil before reducing the heat and allowing it to simmer for 1½ hours.

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It was really tasty and exactly the consistency and flavor profile I was hoping to have.

Enjoy!

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Beef-Barley Soup

Prep 30 mins ∙ Cook 1 hr 30 mins ∙ Makes Yield: 6-8 servings ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Shannon Stacey

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 3 parsnips, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, mixed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into ½” pieces
  • a few dried mushrooms, brushed very clean and finely chopped (optional)
  • 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add mushrooms and garlic, cook until golden, then set aside.

Salt and pepper the beef, then sprinkle the chopped dried mushrooms on the beef. Add beef to pan; cook until browned, stirring frequently, then set aside with the mushrooms.

Add the onion to the pan, followed by the carrot, celery, parsnips, and thyme sprigs to pan; season with pepper and cook until the onion is translucent. Add about ½ cup of broth to the pan to deglaze the bottom, then return the beef and mushrooms to the pan. Add in the remainder of the broth with the bay leaf and barley.

Bring the soup to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-1½ hours or until beef is tender and barley is cooked, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

Paprika Recipe

Ragu Sauce

I can’t say enough about making pasta and pasta sauces; yum is really the best word. If you don’t have time to make pasta, please buy good pasta, for the few dollars more it is the difference between a good meal and an amazing meal.

On Sunday it was all about the sauce, I wasn’t even going to post since I didn’t use a recipe. My mom and a good friend asked so here we go, enjoy!

At the end, I remove about half of the sauce from the pot, then add the pasta and mixed until well coated, then I put the pasta in the serving bowl and topped with as much remaining sauce as desired and shredded Parmesan. For the pasta below, I cooked ~1 lb. of pappardelle and had 1 quart of sauce to freeze.

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Ragu Sauce

Entrées, Italian, Pastas, Sauces and Marinades

Prep 30 mins ∙ Cook 2 hrs ∙ Makes Sauce for 1½ -2 lbs. pasta ∙ Difficulty Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup porcini mushrooms, dried
  • ½ cup water, hot
  • 1½-2 onions, sweet (can use some red)
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 tsp. thyme, fresh
  • 3-4 tbsp. Italian parsley, fresh
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 oz pancetta
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 3-4 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 28 oz. tomatoes, crushed or petite diced
  • ~¼ cup heavy cream
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

DIRECTIONS

Soak the porcini mushrooms in the hot water for 30 minutes.

While they soak, finely chop the onions, celery, carrots, parsley, and thyme (for ease use a food processor).

When the mushrooms are done soaking, strain through fine strainer lined with cheesecloth into a cup to remove the silt and reserve the soaking water. Rinse the mushrooms with cold water and coarsely chop.

Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once hot, melt the butter with the oil, then add the vegetables and garlic; cook until translucent, paying attention so that the onions do not brown, about 10 minutes.

Finely chop the pancetta (or, ideally, cut it into quarters and then pulse it in a food processor until ground). Once the vegetables are translucent, add all of the meat and increase the heat to high. Let the meat just brown, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.

When brown, add the tomato paste, red wine, mushrooms, and mushroom water. Stir to combine then cook until the alcohol is mostly cooked out. Add the tomatoes, heavy cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 1 to 1½ hours, stirring occasionally, to prevent it from sticking or scorching until very thick.

Paprika Recipe

No Recipe Grill

We spent Father’s Day at my in-laws playing in the pool. Knowing this was the plan I did a quick trip to the grocery store for grillables. I was planning on surf and turf with shrimp and flank steak, but whole beef tenderloin was cheaper per pound so I decided on that instead. I made coarse cubes with all of the trimmings and froze several 4-6 ounce filets. The trimmings I seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The shrimp went into a separate bowl with juice of 2 limes, a couple cloves of garlic, ~⅓ of a seeded Serrano, and olive oil.


Before cooking I shucked the corn and put olive oil, salt, and pepper on green onions, zucchini, and potatoes.


The potatoes went in the grill first over high heat for about 20 minutes.


Once the potatoes were tender I moved those up and put the zucchini and corn on the grill.


With good grill marks on the zucchini I pulled off the veggies and put on the proteins.


They only took about 5 minutes; and the onions that I added last only took 2.


Earlier in the day I made a herbed garlic olive oil; when the oil is hot I added a couple of smashed cloves of garlic and cooked it until golden, then I removed it from the heat and added chopped basil, mint, and chives.


I grilled pita bread just to get grill marks and then brushed them with the oil and ground on coarse salt.


Perfect dinner.


Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

Steak Two Ways

I did mention on Sunday that the weekend was busy and the week wasn’t looking any better. When I got home from the soccer tournament I made my list and set to work. 


By the time I got to the grocery checkout it was already 5:30, but we still sat down to eat with my in-laws at 6:45. My MIL agreed to bring salad, bread, and dessert, so I set to work on the meal. When making my list I knew that it would need to be quick, and once I landed on steak I knew that it would also cover two meals. 

When I cook grilled steak, I like to cook the entire meal on the grill so that I can watch it all and make sure nothing over cooks. At the grocery store, the steak, asparagus, and potatoes, became flat-iron steak, baby zucchini, and baby redskins, along with all my other shopping. 

As soon as I got home I set to trimming the steak and I also made sure to pound on it with a meat mallet a bit to make sure it was even. I prefer to let flat iron and flank steak marinate for 24 hours, but with only an hour I rubbed it with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a blend from our local market and allowed it to sit at room temperature (yes this is safe!).


Then I moved onto the potatoes and after washing them I drizzled them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and white vinegar. 


Lastly, I clean the zucchini, trimmed the ends and again drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper. (Sense a theme here? Simple seasoning is wonderful and allows the flavor of the food to come through.)


The potatoes take the longest time to cook (about 30 minutes on med-high) so those went on the grill first at 6:10. 


After turning the potatoes a few times I put the zucchini and steak on at 6:30. 


Everything came off of the grill at 6:40 and I put it under my UV lamp to keep it warm while we had our salad. 


After salad, I sliced the steak, drizzled it with balsamic glaze and served. 


I knew that Wednesday was no less crazy so I packed up the rest of the steak. On Wednesday I cut it into small pieces and tossed it in a hot skillet with a bit of olive oil, chili powder, and cumin for tacos. 

Snow in April = Stew and Soup

As I watched flurries outside the window this weekend (grr) and viewed my parents posts from warm beaches (grr) I decided that the only positive thing I could do was to warm us all up from the inside. As I prepared my menu for the week on Saturday, I decided on a stew for Sunday and a soup for Monday; both could easily be made on Sunday. As an added bonus I had meat in my freezer which I could use for the effort.

A soccer game for my eldest on Sunday provided the motivation for an early start to the day. As soon as I got back I started making broth for Monday’s Chicken and Mushroom Soup. This is one of the first recipes I learned from my MIL and although I continue to play with it, the core recipe remains and it is a household favorite. It calls for chicken broth, which you can buy, but I prefer to make my own. Whenever I have leftovers from a roasted chicken that I’m not going to use, it goes into the freezer. When I checked on Sunday, I had parts from about 4 chickens and they all went into my largest stock pot. I then filled the pan with water until the chicken was just covered, brought it to a boil, and then covered and simmered for 2 hours. I scooped out the chicken and stripped off all of the good meat onto a plate.

I then strained the broth into containers for freezing, I ended up with ~27 cups! 6 containers of 4 cups each into the fridge and I set the remaining ~3 cups aside for the soup.

I’ll return to the soup later, but my next focus was Sunday dinner, Beer, Beef, and Onions. The easiest way to start is by getting out all of the ingredients. 

 Although after taking the picture I realized the beer I grabbed was an IPA (too bitter) so I swapped it for a fairly basic home brew. 

 There are a lot of onions in this recipe, which are sweet and caramelized by the time you serve them. They cook 30 minutes before anything else even goes in the pot. 

 The recipe calls for a chuck roast (which works very well in the recipe), but among my freezer findings were the trimmings of beef tenderloin (Remember waste not, want not… Rather than buy filet for special occasions, I normally opt for the whole tenderloin which is usually half the price or less. I cut the steaks and then freeze the ends and other chunks.) I had about 3 lbs. of these trimmings which I cut into large chunks, dried well with paper towels, and then seasoned well with salt and pepper. 

 Rather than add the flour all at once it works best to sprinkle on a little bit, stir it in, and then repeat until all of the pieces are coated. 

   
By this time the onions were happy and I stirred in the garlic (6 for us, we love garlic). 

 The next step is to brown the meat, (don’t try to crowd the pan, it cooks better in batches) and then move the browned cubes on top of the onions. 

    
 The other ingredients go in EXCEPT the beer and brown sugar and you stir to combine. 

   
Then the beer, just enough to cover the meat and then put it in the oven for 2 hours, stirring in the brown sugar halfway through. 

   
On to dessert and a new set of ingredients for a Rhubarb Almond Cake. 

 I was intrigued because it’s made in a tart pan, as I expected from that simple fact, it doesn’t rise much and remains a dense, moist delicious cake. 

   
Cream the soft butter, vanilla bean, and sugar in one bowl. And process the almonds, flour, salt, and baking powder. 

   
(P.S. – When a recipe says reserve the pod for another use – my favorite is vanilla sugar. It’s perfect for making vanilla ice cream. or even coffee.) 

 After adding the eggs, and then the dry ingredients you have a very thick batter and the rhubarb is folded in. 

   
Once it’s in the pan, the topping is strips of rhubarb and sugar and then I popped it in the oven with the stew. 

 I also started boiling some redskins for mashed potatoes. 

   
Back to the soup…it calls for 1 lb. of mixed mushrooms. You should use what you like and know that anywhere between 1-1½ lbs. will work. I used to make it with just white mushrooms now it depends on what looks good and what I’m in the mood to eat. For this meal, it had dried morels (reconstituted), baby bellas, white, and shiitake, in total closer to the 1½ lbs.  

  I reserve the “broth” from the reconstituted dried mushrooms after filtering out the silt. 

 The caps are cooked first in butter and lemon juice. 

 After setting those aside, the stems go in with the onion until they are soft. I also tend to start adding pepper here so that the flavor is throughout the soup. 

    
   

  After stirring in the flour the broth (chicken and mushroom) is added slowly to form a thick broth. 

    
   
 Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and blend it with an immersion blender until it’s smooth. Since I wasn’t serving until Monday, I let it cool at this point and then stirred in the mushroom caps, cream, and chicken. When I was ready to serve it on Monday I brought it to a boil and then reduced the temp to keep it warm. 

  

I then started to sear diced red onions and added in the green beans when they were crispy, seasoning well with salt and pepper. 

   
And I mashed the potatoes with about a ½ stick of butter, the remaining Greek yogurt from the cake, a bit of heavy cream, and salt and pepper.  

  

  Beer Beef And Onions

Beef and Lamb, Entrées, Tested and Approved!
Prep 2 hours ∙ Cook 3 hours ∙ Makes Makes 6 To 8 Servings ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Shannon Stacey

INGREDIENTS

  • 2½ pounds onions, sliced
  • ½ cup canola oil, divided
  • 2-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 pounds beef chuck roast, boneless, cut in 1½” cubes
  • 1½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp steak sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves, dried
  • 18-24 ounces beer, bottled, not dark
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

Cook onions in 2T. oil in a a 6-8 quart oven-proof pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently until lightly browned (~30 minutes). Add garlic, stir and cook 5 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.

Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Pat beef dry then toss with flour. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown beef in batches then add to onions as done (add additional oil to skillet if necessary.

Add all remaining ingredients except beer and sugar and stir to mix. Add beer until it just covers beef and onions. Bring to a simmer then braise in the oven for 2 hours. After 1 hour add brown sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.  

Rhubarb-Almond Cake

Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts

Prep 40 minutes ∙ Cook 2 hours ∙ Makes Yield 8 servings ∙ Source Epicurious.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for pan
  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks, trimmed
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Special equipment:
  • One 11×8″ tart pan or one 9″-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter tart pan and sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess. Slice rhubarb in half lengthwise (quarter if very large). Set 8 of the prettiest pieces aside for the top of the cake; chop remaining rhubarb into 1/2″ pieces. Pulse flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (texture should be sandy).

Place 1 cup butter and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to blend first egg before adding second. Beat until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients, followed by yogurt. Beat, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, just to combine (batter will be thick). Fold in chopped rhubarb and scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth batter and arrange reserved rhubarb over top; sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar.

Place tart pan on a large rimmed baking sheet (to catch any rogue juices) and bake, rotating once, until cake is golden brown and rhubarb on top is soft and beginning to brown, 70–80 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool before removing from pan.

Do ahead: Cake can be baked 3 days ahead. Keep tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Cream of Mushroom and Chicken Soup

Entrées, Poultry, Soups Stews etc., Tested and Approved!

Cook 35 to 40 minutes ∙ Difficulty Medium

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 pounds chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 onion, small, sliced thinly (or 1 leek)
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound mushrooms , white is delicious, add morels or others for a twist
  • 1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS

Trim tough stems of mushrooms; remove stems and set aside. Slice mushroom caps thinly.

In a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat, in hot butter, cook sliced mushrooms and lemon juice until mushrooms are just tender, stirring. Reduce heat to medium-low; with a slotted spoon, remove mushrooms to a bowl.

In the same pan, cook onion and stems until onion is tender. Stir in flour until blended; cook 1 minute stirring the mixture constantly. Gradually stir in broth and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened.

With an immersion blender, blend until smooth and then stir in salt, pepper, cream, shredded chicken, and mushroom slices; reheat until soup is boiling. 

  
NOTES

This recipe is best if you have leftovers on a roasted chicken. Boil it for broth and strip the chicken.

If not, use 2 whole breasts, just cover with water to cook the chicken and reserve the broth. If using this method add enough water (and bouillon) to the broth at the end to make 3½ cups.

If an immersion blender is not available, a traditional blender can be used, but it is necessary to do it in 2 batches.

 

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.