Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dude Ranch Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings

The dumplings were actually supposed to be lavender but I nixed the idea because the stew itself was on the "sweet" side and I wanted something more savory to contrast it with.

In retrospect, I would use less orange peel than the recipe called for. A good 3" slice would have been more than enough, in my opinion, to flavor the stew.

Dude Ranch Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings

4 lb beef roast, well trimmed and cut into 1" chunks
3/4 cup flour
5 tsp lavender, well ground in spice grinder, divided
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 3 tbsp
2 white onions, diced
1 medium leek, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced (about 4 cloves)
4 cups beef broth
1/4 cup whiskey
2 bay leaves
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp parsley
1 orange
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3/4 lb yukon gold potatoes (about 4), cut into 1/2" chunks
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced

for the dumplings
3/4 cup flour
1/8 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk

Combine the flour, 2 tsp lavender, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add beef chunks and toss to coat.

Heat large stock pot over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and heat thru. Working in batches, add beef to pan and sautee, stirring occasionally, until beef begins to brown. Remove beef to bowl and set aside.

Add remaining olive oil to pot. Add onion, leek and garlic and sautee about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add beef broth and whiskey to the pot, scraping the bottom to loosen any browned bits. Add beef back to pot. Using a vegetable peeler, peel a 3" strip of orange zest from the orange and add to pot. Add remaining lavender and herbs. Stir well, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 45 minutes until the beef is tender. Add carrots and potatoes, cover again and simmer another 30-45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, to prepare the dumplings, combine the flour, cheese, thyme and salt in a medium bowl. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined. Set aside.

One the carrots and potatoes are fork tender, add the mushrooms to the pot. Gently spoon dollops of the dumplings - about 1 tbsp each - to the pot. Let simmer on low 5-10 minutes uncovered. Then replace cover and let simmer another 10 minutes or until dumplings are fluffy and cooked all the way thru (test with a skewer). Ladel stew into bowls and serve immediately.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Baked Spicy Chicken Fingers

I made these as an appetizer for the Super Bowl last year and they were a hit. But they make just as tasty a dinner.

Baked Spicy Chicken Fingers

1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp hot chile sauce

1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 1/2 lbs chicken breast

Cut chicken breasts up into strips. Combine lemon juice and chile sauce in a plastic bag. Add chicken strips. Let marinade 30 minutes, turning bag halfway thru. Drain and discard marinade.

Preheat oven to 425. Combine bread crumbs and spices. Dredge chicken breasts in breadcrumbs. Spray baking sheets with spray oil and place chicken strips on in a single layer.

Bake strips at 425 for 10 minutes, turning halfway thru. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chili Lavender Turkey Pot Pie

What a delicious way to use leftover roast turkey breast. The original recipe, from The Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley, called for a handmade crust with spices, but I didn't have time so Pillsbury it was.

This recipe has quite a kick to it, so you may feel the need to dial it down a notch. I had to make some substitutions, so here is the recipe as I made it.

Chili Lavender Turkey Pot Pie

1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chipotle chile powder
2 tbsp spiced lavender seasoning *see note
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 lbs turkey breast, chopped into 1" cubes
salt and pepper to taste
pre-made pie crust

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add diced butternut squash and blanch for 6 minutes or until tender. Remove to a colander with a slotted spoon. Add carrot to water and blanch for 4 minutes. Pour into colander.

Reduce heat to medium and return pot to burner. Add oil and heat thru. Add onions, garlic, chipotle and lavender seasoning. Sautee 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add the peppers and corn and sautee 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is slightly reduced. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to coat. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until warmed thru. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer filling to a large (3qt) baking dish and let cool. Remove pie crust from fridge and let warm to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375. Roll out pie crust to fit baking dish. Place pie crust on top, overlapping the edges of the dish and sealing them with your fingers. Cut 2 or 3 vent holes in the top. Bake 30 - 40 minutes or until bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Spiced Lavender Seasoning

I had to make a couple substitutions in this from the original.

2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp dried lavender
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp harissa
1 tsp ground black pepper
dash of sea salt

Add cumin and coriander to a small skillet to toast, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to mortar or spice grinder. Add lavender and crush the mixture with a pestil until well combined. Add oregano, harissa, pepper and salt and mix until well combined. Store in air tight container.

Provencale Roast Turkey Breast with Pan Veggies

A delicious way to get your thanksgiving turkey fix without all the heavy trimmings.

Provençale Roast Turkey Breast with Pan Veggies

2 tbsp Herbes de Provance
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 7lb turkey breast

4 medium carrots, chopped
1 bunch celery, chopped
1 shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed

Combine herbes, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and garlic. Stir until salt dissolves.

Rinse turkey breast and pat dry. Place in roasting pan on a rack. Using your hands, loosen the skin from the turkey breast. Liberally apply herb mixture to the breast, under the skin. Let sit at room temp for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400*. Add vegetables to bottom of the roasting pan. Place turkey in oven. Cook for 1 hour 30 minutes or until a thermometer stuck in the breast reads 180. Remove from oven, loosely tent with tinfoil and let rest 15 minutes.

Remove veggies from pan into a colander to drain remaining drippings. Place pan on burner, add 2 cups of water or broth and warm, whisking to remove browned bits from the bottom. Combine 1/4 cup of cold water with 2 tbsp corn starch. Add to pan and whisk constantly until thickened.

Carve turkey and plate breast meat with veggies. Serve with gravy.

* For convection, heat oven to 350 and cook 1 hour or until a thermometer reads 180.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Menu Planning, Week 2

So, things got a big mixed up this week in terms of my original plan. But that's ok, because some of it lets me extend the planned m. Below is what really happened:

Saturday: White Chicken Chili
Sunday: Superbowl Party
Monday: Salmon
Tuesday: Smoked Pork Chops with Sauerkraut
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Frozen Pizza (pizza, beer and a basketball game)

And here's the plan for the next week and a half:

Saturday: Roast Turkey Breast
Sunday: Vegetarian Lasagna
Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Chili Lavender Turkey Pot Pie (using leftover turkey breast)
Wednesday: Spicy Chicken Fingers with Sweet Potato Fries
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Dude Ranch Beef Stew with Lavender Dumplings
Saturday: Shepherd's Pie (using leftover beef stew)
Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Tuesday: Lavender Chicken Breasts

Smoked Pork Chops with Sauerkraut

The Spouse had been making noise lately about wanting some sauerkraut and pork chops. This recipe is from the Wine Lover's Cookbook. It's a spin on an Alsatian choucroute. It would definitely make my German cousins happy.

It called for a whole bottle of wine to stew in! Being conservative, and wanting a glass for dinner, I added about 1/3 of the bottle and topped up with chicken broth and club soda. It also called for apples, but neither The Spouse nor I do fruit with meat.

Smoked Pork Chops with Sauerkraut

3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
4 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
6 whole cloves
3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 1/2 cup Riesling
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 22-ounce jar sauerkraut, rinsed with cold water and squeezed
3/4 pound boneless pork loin chops (about 3/4-inch thick)
1 pound smoked polish sausage
3/4 pound Yukon Gold or other yellow-fleshed potatoes, quartered
club soda and chicken broth

In a large stockpot, sauté pancetta in its own fat for 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and onions and continue sautéing for 5 to 6 minutes.

Add peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, caraway seeds, wine, and cider vinegar. Put sauerkraut into the pot and carefully place pork chops, sausage, and potatoes into the sauerkraut and liquid so that they're well covered. Top up with chicken broth and club soda as needed.

Cover pot and simmer for 50 minutes or until pork is fork-tender.

Divide meat, sauerkraut, and potatoes evenly onto plates or serve in large soup bowls.

Wine Pairing: Pair with a dry Riesling, obviously.