Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Orecchiette with Veal, Capers and White Wine

Here is another recipe I got from Food & Wine magazine. I really liked this one, and it tastes even better the next day. I only made two tiny changes, of course, but the recipe still came out fantastic. If you're one of those people that has a problem with veal, then I suggest you use 1/2 pound ground chicken or turkey and 1/2 pound ground pork. I think if you use all ground turkey or chicken the meat sauce will be too dry. Also, note that orecchiette takes longer to cook (about 15 to 18 minutes). I made this when Matt was still here and he's not a big fan of "al dente" so I overcooked my pasta just a tad bit, but the dish still came out fabulous. I also used regular chicken stock, and it was seasoned just perfect, but if you're watching your salt intake, then use low-sodium chicken stock.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed
  • 3/4 pound orecchiette
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the veal, season with salt and pepper, add the red pepper flakes and raise the heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veal is no longer pink and any liquid has almost evaporated, about 8 minutes.

Add the white wine to the skillet and boil over high heat until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chicken stock, thyme, rosemary and capers and simmer over moderate heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta well and add it to the skillet along with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, chopped parsley and butter. Cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to bowls and serve right away.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Caramel Pecan Bars

Last Christmas I received a magazine subscription to Food & Wine magazine. Although the magazine has so many great recipes, it seems that their end-of-year issues tend to have the most delicious recipes, probably so that their readers can make them for the holidays.

This recipe is straight out of the magazine and, like a science experiment, nothing was changed or tweaked. The bars are slightly gooey yet crunchy. If you want the bars to be slightly less gooey, you can place them in the fridge. The recipe says it makes 16 bars, however they are quite sweet that we cut them into smaller pieces and we got more like 24 bars.



  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound pecan halves
  1. Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the cubed butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle on the ice water and vinegar and process until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Turn the crumbs out onto a sheet of wax paper and knead just until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until slightly chilled, about 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of wax paper to an 11- by-15-inch rectangle (1/4 inch thick). Trim the dough to a 9-by-13-inch rectangle and place it in the baking pan. Cut the remaining dough into 3/4-inch-wide strips and press them up the side of the pan to form a rim all around. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Line the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the dough is just set. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake the crust for about 12 minutes longer, until lightly golden and set. Let cool.
  4. Make the topping: In a large saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey and salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until foamy and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the curry powder (if using) and cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer inserted in the caramel registers 240° (soft ball stage), about 10 minutes longer. Add the pecans and cook for 2 minutes longer. Pour the filling over the crust, spreading it evenly. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and the topping is bubbling. Let cool completely. Slide the parchment onto a cutting board. Cut into bars and serve.
Make Ahead

The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coq au Vin

This coq au vin recipe is supposed to be ready in 90 minutes, but it took me much longer than that. I made the wine reduction sauce first in the morning and let it get to room temp; by the time Matt got home from work in the evening, I finished off the recipe. The result: pure deliciousness. I served my coq au vin over egg noodles, but you can serve it with a side of mashed potatoes, or even over rice.

Make sure you use a medium-bodied, fruity red wine such as Pinot Noir or a Rhône Valley Grenache. Avoid bold, heavily oaked red wine varietals like Cabernet and light-bodied wines like Beaujolais.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 to 6)

  • 1 bottle fruity, smooth, medium-bodied red wine (I used Pinot Evil Pinot Noir)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 ounces bacon , preferably thick-cut, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs , trimmed of excess fat and cut in half crosswise
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 24 frozen pearl onions , thawed, drained, and patted dry (about 1 cup) (see note above)
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms , wiped clean, stems trimmed, halved if small and quartered if large
  • 2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1. Bring all but 1 tablespoon wine (reserve for later use), broth, parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 3 cups, about 25 minutes. Discard herbs.
  2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat until browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper-towel-lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons fat in small bowl; discard remaining fat.
  3. Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of chicken in single layer and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining chicken and 1 tablespoon bacon fat.
  4. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add pearl onions and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and flour; cook, stirring frequently, until well combined, about 1 minute.
  5. Add reduced wine mixture, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; add 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Return chicken, any accumulated juices, and reserved bacon to pot; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer until chicken is tender, about 25 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.
  6. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken to large bowl; tent with foil to keep warm. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer sauce until thick and glossy and measures 3 cups, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and reserved 1 tablespoon wine. Season to taste with salt. Return chicken to pot and top with minced parsley. Serve immediately.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Beef Burgundy

We made a trip to Minnesota for Thanksgiving, which by the way I am very proud of our little Stella. She was such a good baby flying for the first time and didn't fuss at all. While we were there visiting my husband's family, his tia Cindy Blaha had a gathering for us at her house. There was a lot of food, but to me the most memorable was the beef bourgogne. The meat was tender and the sauce just right. I found this Crock-pot recipe from America's Test Kitchen and it's actually quite simple and it doesn't have too many ingredients. I think the hardest part of this recipe is the waiting!

A tip about this recipe is to make sure to use the low setting on your slow cooker; the stew will burn on the high setting. Serve with boiled potatoes (the traditional accompaniment), mashed potatoes, buttered egg noodles, or over toasted French bread.

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 to 8)

  • 8 ounces bacon , chopped
  • 4 pounds beef stew meat (preferably chuck)
  • 1 large onion , chopped fine
  • 2 carrots , peeled and chopped fine
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 cups Pinot Noir
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 package white mushrooms, sliced
  1. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and refrigerate. Pour half of bacon fat into small bowl; set skillet with remaining bacon fat aside.
  2. Dry beef thoroughly with paper towels. Season beef with salt and pepper; place half of beef in slow cooker insert. Heat skillet containing remaining bacon fat over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook remaining beef in single layer until deep brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer browned beef to slow cooker insert.
  3. Add reserved bacon fat to now-empty skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrots, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and stir until beginning to brown, about 45 seconds. Transfer mixture to slow cooker insert.
  4. Return now-empty skillet to high heat and add 1 1/2 cups wine, chicken broth, and soy sauce. Simmer, scraping up brown bits, until pan bottom is clean, about 1 minute. Transfer wine mixture to slow cooker insert.
  5. Stir bay leaves and tapioca into slow cooker insert. Set slow cooker on low, cover, and cook until meat is fork-tender, about 9 hours. About halfway through the cooking, add the sliced mushrooms.
  6. When ready to serve, discard bay leaves and stir in reserved bacon. Bring remaining 1 cup wine to boil in large skillet over high heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir reduced wine and parsley into stew and adjust seasonings. Serve.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Matt's Oatmeal Cookies

My hubby is the baker in the family and he's perfected this oatmeal cookie. Be warned, though, because they are very addicting. You can use a walnuts or a mixture of walnuts and pecans. Also, he sometimes uses half cup of raisins and half cup of currants in the batter and the cookies simply come out scrumptious.

INGREDIENTS (makes about 30 cookies)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup of raisins

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in oats, nuts and raisins until just blended.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Cookies should be at least 2 inches apart.

Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Leftover Recipe: Potato Croquettes

I made mashed potatoes last night and had leftovers so I decided to make these croquettes tonight. The picture is not mine; it's from the Food Network, but they looked just the same. I wanted a sauce for them and developed one by combining a little mayo, a little cranberry sauce, a little bit of finely chopped jalapeno and lime juice with salt and pepper and mixed it. It was quite tasty with these croquettes. This is a great recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas leftovers.

INGREDIENTS (makes about 15 croquettes)

  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped green onion
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Sifted dried bread crumbs (I used Panko bread crumbs)
  • Vegetable oil, enough to fill pan 1/2-inch

Add milk, salt, pepper, chopped onion, beaten egg yolks and flour to mashed potatoes. Chill and then shape using an ice cream scoop. Dip in the beaten egg, then roll through bread crumbs. Fry each croquette in shallow oil until brown on all sides.

Cook's Note: Cook in small batches, giving each croquette at least 2 inches of space around it to not overcrowd the pan. This prevents the croquettes from crumbling while frying.