Who’s Hungry? A Hearty New Year’s Day Meal

I was inspired by all the discussion in the pressure cooker thread and made beef stew for dinner. I don’t have a pressure cooker, so I did this in my stockpot on the stove top.

Ingredients

3 lbs of stew meat cut into 1/2 inch chunks

2 sweet onions cut in half and sliced thin

1 whole head of garlic cloves, peeled

5 turnips (I used these instead of potatoes, if you’re a potato person, use potatoes) chopped into cubes

1 bag of carrots chopped

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Concentrated beef jus to taste

Worcestershire Sauce or A1 to taste

1/2 a bottle of your favorite dark beer (or if you prefer red wine)

12 cups of water

Roux (melted butter and flour) or cornstarch as a thickening agent – cook’s preference

(stew meat and veggies cooking down)

Directions

Take a large stockpot, place over medium high heat, and once hot coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil and 1/3 of a stick of unsalted butter. Once they are hot add the meat with salt and pepper, mix, and sauté until the meat is browned. While the meat is browning, chop, slice, and peel your vegetables. Add the sliced onions and the hole cloves of garlic to the meat, stir, and sweat off the onions and garlic. Add the concentrated beef jus (I used the better than bullion brand) and the Worcestershire or A1 and combine. Deglaze the beef, onions, and garlic with 6 to 8 ounces of the dark beer (I used Guinness stout today because they were out of Chimay Blue at the store) Add the chopped root vegetables, combine, and cook down. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Once the veggies have begun to soften add 12 cups of water, bring to a boil, and then cook until the meat and the root veggies are fork tender. Check to see if you need to adjust seasoning and do so if necessary. Then add your thickening agent of choice to bring the stew broth to your desired thickness. Serve and enjoy.

Open thread!








Who Wants Dessert? Peanut Butter Cup Pie

I did a wee bit of baking for today. My sister in law requested that I make her a peanut butter cup pie. Which I did. I also made another salted caramel cheesecake (recipe at the link). So I hope everybody wants dessert!

(sorry about the lighting…)

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Crust:

1 and 1/2 cups of crushed chocolate graham grackers

1/2 stick of sweet unsalted butter melted

Coat a 10 inch wide, as deep as you’ve got pie pan with cooking spray or wipe with sweet, unsalted butter. Combine the crushed chocolate graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Spoon into the greased pie pan and pat down from the center to the sides and then up the sides. Place in the freezer.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Base

4 ounces dark chocolate chips (use semi-sweet if you prefer)

4 ounces heavy whipping cream

Place the dark chocolate chips in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate chips. Let stand for five minutes. With a whisk, combine the hot cream and the melted chocolate completely to make a ganache. Remove the pie crust from the freezer. Pour the ganache into the bottom of the pie crust and with an offset spatula (or a non offset spatula if you prefer), gently work the ganache around the bottom of the crust and up the sides before it sets. Place in the refrigerator.

Peanut Butter Filling (Mousse)

10 ounces heavy whipping cream

20 ounces of peanut butter

2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar

Whip 10 ounces of heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks and then place in the refrigerator. Whip 20 ounces of peanut butter – whatever type you prefer – until the color begins to lighten and it becomes very, very smooth. Add between 2 and 3 tablespoons of sugar (to taste and depending on how sweet the peanut butter you’re using is). Continue to whip for another 3 to 5 minutes until the sugar is thoroughly incorporated.

Remove the whipped cream from the refrigerator and fold it into the whipped, sweetened peanut butter. Once the whipped cream and peanut butter are thoroughly incorporated remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and fill the crust with the peanut butter filling (mousse). It should look like this:

Place the pie back in the refrigerator and refrigerate for at least four hours (I let mine sit overnight).

Now we make the top.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Topping

8 ounces dark chocolate chips (use semi-sweet if you prefer)

8 ounces heavy whipping cream

Place the dark chocolate chips in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate chips. Let stand for five minutes. With a whisk, combine the hot cream and the melted chocolate completely to make a ganache. Remove the pie from the refrigerator. It must be cold. Pour the chocolate ganache onto the center of the pie and then use an offset spatula to work the ganache out to the edge of the pie so it mates up with the top of the crust. It should look like this:

Place it back in the refrigerator for at least a 1/2 hour before serving so the ganache can finish setting up on top. When ready to serve, remove the pie from the refrigerator, slice it, plate it, and eat it. Or if you’re really hard core just eat it straight from the pie pan (you know who you are…).

What I really need to do is get a silicon pie mold. Then I can chocolate ganache the entire inside of the mold, then fill it with the peanut butter mousse, then ganache the top. Once it is all set I can just pop it out of the mold and have a very large, stand alone peanut butter cup.

Anyhow: open thread!








A Late Evening Snack: Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Earlier this week I broke out the emergency tiara, frilly apron, and matching oven mitts to make a salted caramel cheesecake. This was a favor for the Mom who was giving it as a gift. So I did the salted caramel parts while she did the cheesecake parts.

Here’s the recipe.

Cheesecake

3 eight ounce bars of cream cheese

3 eggs

8 ounces of sour cream

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 cup of graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons of butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter and mix with the graham cracker crumbs to make the crust. Place the butter moistened crumbs into the bottom of a 10 inch diameter springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray or buttered. Pat down the crumbs to form the base and then place in the freezer while preparing the cheesecake batter.

Whip the cream cheese and the eggs together until smooth. Alternating between one bar of cream cheese and one egg. Add the sour cream and whip until incorporated. Then add the sugar and the vanilla.

Salted Caramel Ganache

8 ounces of heavy whipping cream

8 ounces of caramels

Place the caramels in a bowl that can be used as the top part of a double boiler. Scald the heavy whipping cream. Pour the scalded cream over the caramels and let sit for five minutes. If the caramels are not completely melted and soft and won’t incorporate with the cream, place the bowl over the top of a pot of boiling water/bottom half of a double boiler, and whisk until the caramels melt and incorporate with the cream into a ganache. Then add kosher salt to taste.

Add the salted caramel ganache to the cheesecake batter and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Remove the springform pan from the freezer and pour the cheesecake batter into it. Place in the oven and back for one hour. Then turn off the oven and let it cool with the door open for one hour. Then remove from the oven and let cool on the counter for one hour. Then refrigerate. Once the cheesecake is cold (at least several hours in the refrigerator), make a 1/2 batch of the salted caramel ganache and pour onto the top of the cold cheesecake. It will begin to set up immediately. Sprinkle with kosher salt or finishing salt and place back in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Open thread!








Christmas Cookie Exchange: A Few Holiday Favorites

I have friends coming over for dinner, so I’ll check in as I can. I’m making Sausage and Grapes over angel hair pasta by request (recipe here).

Tonight’s recipes:

Sunday is my annual cookie baking day with friends. Most of the goodies are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my yearly Christmas Eve dinner. This is the usual round-up.

Pictured above (click on any photo to see full size):

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here

Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.

Pecan Cookies, recipe below.  Much more below the fold.

Read more








Thanksgiving Files: Turkey, Turkey, Who Is Cooking The Turkey?

Spatchcock Turkey finish

This is the only way I’ve been preparing turkey since my first attempt. The only thing I changed up from that first time I prepared it, I skip the metal rack and instead place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor needs the boost the roasting veggies add.

From 2015:

Sometimes the scariest part of the Thanksgiving Dinner is the worry that the turkey will not turn out properly – undercooked, overcooked, dry, flavorless – and ruin the whole meal. I’ve cooked in bags, roasted, braised, fried, deboned – about everything but brine. I’m not a fan of brining. And still every year I worry.

This year I decided to try removing the backbone and flattening the bird, cooking it at a high temperature for a shorter cooking time. It seemed like it was fairly foolproof and stress free and the bird turned out great.

BTW, my recommendation is to always get two smaller birds instead of one massive bird – you’ll have a much better outcome with shorter cooking times. Not to mention not having to worry about fitting a huge bird in the oven. We usually do an oven bird, then grill, smoke or fry another.

For this recipe, a good set of poultry shears makes quick work of removing the backbone. I prepped the bird yesterday, wrapped it up and refrigerated it. This gave me time to make a nice broth from the backbone, giblets and neck last night (see notes below) and make the cranberry sauce, because it’s always better the next day.

Spatchcock Turkey Prep

Roasted Spatchcock Turkey

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 whole turkey (10-12 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Rimmed baking sheet, rack

In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, crush together pepper, salt, sage and rosemary and add to brown sugar. Set aside.

With a sharp knife or scissors, remove the back bone of the turkey, flip over and press down on the breast bone to break and flatten. I wasn’t quite strong enough, so I turned the bird over, scored the bone, flipped it back and tried again, this time it broke easily. I then trimmed off the wing tips. See my notes below on what to do with the back and wing tips.

Place the bird flat, breast side up, on the rack in the baking sheet. Rub with spice mix and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Before cooking drizzle olive oil over turkey and roast for 1 hour or until the temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes (during this time the bird temperature will reach 165 degrees and thighs should be 175 degrees).

Carve and serve.

NOTES: I took the back, wing tips, neck and giblets, covered them with water and simmered them for about an hour. I then used the broth for both the stuffing and gravy. I also cooked the stuffing in the oven, in a baking dish, uncovered, with the turkey. They finished up about the same time.

The next time I make this, I would forego the metal rack and instead use a roasting pan and place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor could use the boost. I do feel this is a great technique for wood grilling or smoking.

More Recipes: We have a bunch, a peck, a bushel, of Thanksgiving recipes, including my favorite Upside-Down Cranberry Cake (here), No Boil Mashed Potatoes (here), and Non-Traditional Sides (here), click on this link for all the other recipes.

How do you prep your Turkey? To brine or not to brine? My brother always smokes or fries our second bird and I’d love to try the spatchcock bird on the grill one time. What else will grace your table tomorrow? Open thread.








Thanksgiving Files: Blueberry Pie

This was my very first (!) pie attempt years ago

I have to work today, but I thought I’d put together a couple of Thanksgiving recipe posts to give you guys a chance to share your favorite recipes.  I cancelled my big Thanksgiving plans and told the relatives I’d go out early December to see everyone, instead. But I’ll still be cooking for friends, here. The weather will be in the 70s tomorrow, so I suspect there will be some hiking involved.

To get the ball rolling – dessert. From my blog:

Blueberry pie is a must at my house for Thanksgiving. This recipe is my go-to. The key is to add fresh blueberries to the cooked blueberries for the most blueberry flavor.  Originally posted in 2012

Blueberry Pie

Filling:

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on your sweetness preference, I used 1/2 cup)
  • 2-1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen (and thawed) blueberries
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest

In a saucepan, add sugar, cornstarch, water and 1 cup blueberries. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, add 3 cups of blueberries, lemon juice and lemon zest, fold in completely. Cool in refrigerator until time to put the pie together. I also chilled the bowl I mixed everything in, as well.

Crust:

  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, very cold
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Cut butter into small pieces (I actually cut frozen butter, it was easier) and place in the freezer to chill it completely. Whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in butter until it is crumbly. Drizzle in the water and mix together until it forms a loose ball (do not over mix, you want visible butter pieces). Turn out onto a floured surface, knead gently, divide into two equal pieces (I weighed them), form each into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour. While I was at it, I refrigerated my marble rolling pin and marble pastry board.

To assemble pie: roll out one of the balls until it’s about 12-13 inches (depending on your pie plate size) and about 3/16” thick. To move to your pie plate, flour your rolling pin again and fold the dough over it, transfer to the plate and it should fall into place. Gently form it to the plate and let excess dough overhang the edge – you can brush the edge with water before adding the top pastry. With all the butter, this step really isn’t necessary, it quickly seals itself. Add blueberry filling. Roll out second ball to the same size and thickness. Move to the plate and adjust over the pie plate. Now you can trim the excess dough, or you can tuck it under and then pinch to flute it. Next time I’m sure I’ll experience one of those, but this time, it was pretty skimpy for me to flute.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 375 and continue until golden brown (I had to bake another 40 minutes). You’ll probably have to tent the edges with foil to keep them from burning. I did that at the 25 minute mark. Let cool until just warm to touch for the blueberries to set if you want to serve warm.

Later today, we’ll talk turkey.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite/successful recipe for pie crust? And what desserts will grace your table this Thanksgiving (if you celebrate)? What dessert do you absolutely loathe?  Mine is minced meat pie – which my dad adores, so I try to make sure it’s available for him. Open thread.








As You Like It Bread

 

There was a complaint that there haven’t been enough recipes lately, so here is one of my faves. I developed it from a much older recipe that made four loaves, two white, one carrot-raisin, and one molasses spice. Four is far too many for me, so I cut it in half and then experimented with various whole-grain additions. I make this all the time. It’s easy and almost foolproof. The loaves in the pic are made with cornmeal.

You need a bit of experience with yeast breads to be able to work out my sketchy instructions. If you want to use whole wheat flour, I recommend no more than two cups in place of white flour.

 

Combine in a mixing bowl 2 cups of flour and 1 tbsp. of dry yeast. If you use whole wheat flour, it should be now.

Combine in a saucepan:

  • 1 cup whole grain (cornmeal, oatmeal, bulgur wheat, whatever)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. sweetener (sugar, honey, molasses, whatever)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. salt

and heat, with stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Add 1-1/2 cup cool water and add to the flour – yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Add flour until the dough is ready to knead, about 2-4 cups.

Knead until the dough is springy. Allow to rise until doubled, punch down and allow to rise until doubled again. Split into two and form into loaves in loaf pans. Allow to rise and bake 40 minutes in a 400 F oven. Turn out on a cooling rack.