Friday, March 31, 2006

Beef Bourguignon with Pasta and Green Peas

Adapted from Julia Child. This is the King of Beef Stews. Classically is it served with potatoes rather than pasta. Serves 4 nicely.
In a heavy oven proof casserole brown 4 slices of bacon, which has been cut into pieces, in 3T olive oil. Remove the browned bacon from the pan and brown 1 1/2 pounds of beef stew meat in batches. Take the time to do this; it makes a much nicer looking dish if the beef is nicely browned. When all the beef is brown, return it to the pot along with the bacon, 1 rib of celery, 1 carrot, and one onion. Add 1/4 C flour and stir until the beef is coated. Place the casserole in a 400 F oven for 5 min, remove and stir and replace for another 5 min to brown the flour. Over medium heat, add 2C of a good red wine. (Remember, never cook with wine that you wouldn't drink). Deglaze the pan by stirring the wine to remove backed on particles. Add 2C beef stock, 2T tomato paste, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 bay leaf, 2T thyme, 1t ground black pepper. We never add salt until the end because the flavors tend to concentrate. Place the covered casserole in a 250 F for about 3 hrs. Adjust the liquid level periodically so that it barely covers the meat by adding more wine and stock. Remove from the oven and add 8oz. sliced mushrooms and about the same amount of pearl onions. Return to the oven for another hour. When the meat is done, remove to a warming plate, discard the carrots, celery and onion and simmer the sauce until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Adjust the seasonings. Serve over potatoes or pasta. Peas make a nice addition.
Wine: You can serve the same wine you used in the recipe; in this case a Haywood Cabernet Sauvignon.
Without doubt, one of our favorite meals.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Grilled Hamburger with Chick Pea Salad

We have been fans of the Weber Kettle Cooker for many, many years. As you will see, we cook everything from burgers to the Thanksgiving turkey on it. We like them medium rare so I grill them, lid on, for 7 min on one side and 5 on the other. I also grill onions, and add cheese when i flip them.
For the salad: Mix one can of Chick Peas with other ingredients that you like; this one contains kidney beans, green beans, green peas, banana peppers, red onion and bacon. It is dressed with white basalmic vinegar and olive oil.
Potatoes: Frozen crispy potato product of your choice.
Wine: Haywood Cabernet Sauvignon, $5.99, or, if you prefer....what is more American than a burger and a beer.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Stuffed Rigatoni with Meat Sauce

The spinach stuffed rigatoni used here before with the mushroom sauce but this time served with the meat sauce previously mentioned. A very simple "leftover" type meal.
Wine: This time we had a bottle of the Haywood Pinot Noir; $5.99


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stuffed Peppers with Pasta

For the stuffed peppers: We like to use a variety of peppers and par-ticularly enjoy spicy peppers such as Poblano and Hungarian Wax (pictured). Mix together 1 pound lean ground beef, 1 slightly beaten egg, 3/4 C raw white rice, 3T Worcestershire Sauce. Stuff the peppers with the raw mixture, do not precook. Place the peppers in a slow cooker and pour over 8 oz. tomato sauce. Cook on low for 4-5 hrs.
Pasta: Under cook the pasta and place in the slow cooker with the peppers for the last 45 min.
Wine: Any dry red wine such as those mentioned above.


Ham Loaf with Mushroom-Cheese Potatoes and Peas

Adapted from a local supermarket recipe
For the ham loaf: Mix 1 1/2 pounds ground ham with 1/2 pound ground fresh pork, 1/2C bread crumbs, 2 slightly beaten eggs. In another bowl, mix 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and 1C sour cream. Add half of this mixture to the ham mixture, mix well and form into a loaf. Bake at 350 F for 1 hr. The recipe suggests warming the remaining sauce and pouring over the loaf when served. We used it in the potatoes:
Potatoes: mix the above soup mixture with 3 C diced raw potatoes. We use a prepackaged frozen brand but you could use fresh. Add 1 C grated chedder cheese. Bake at 350 F for one hour.
Wine: Canyon Road Chardonney, mentioned above


Spicy White Bean Soup

Adapted from Bon Appetit
Prepare the beans: We used dried Great Northern Beans which were cooked in a slow cooker for about 4 hrs. Stove top methods produce the same result, or, you could use canned pre-cooked beans. You want about 1/2 pounds of dried beans for 4-6 servings.
While the beans are cooking, saute 1/2 pound of your favorite spicy sausage in a skillet. Use bite-sized pieces. Add 1 C diced celery, and 1 C diced onion. You could add green pepper if you wish. When they are soft, add 2 minced garlic cloves and 2T thyme.
Puree part of the cooked beans until smooth. We generally use about 1/2 of the beans and leave 1/2 whole. Add the beans to the sausage mixture and serve.
While any type of dry white wine would be good with this soup, so is beer.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Creamed Dried Beef (Not just for breakfast anymore)

I think this is a nice meal for when time is of the essence. For the Creamed Dried Beef: Cut jarred dried beef into managable pieces. Saute in a skillet with 2T of butter until slightly browned. Add 1/4C flour and continue to warm gently until the flour is cooked, 2-3 minutes. Add milk until the desired consistancy is reached. Remember, the mixture will not reach its maximum thickness until it boils gently. I find that about 2C milk is about right. Serve over biscuits or toast. The vegetable pictured is edamame. Wine: Haywood Chardonney $5.99;


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Salad

For the pasta: This is a pretty easy dish. I like to "adjust" pre-prepared sauces but sauteing some chopped onion and garlic with the meat before adding the sauce from the jar. The pasta is cooked al denta, drained and then added to the sauce before serving. This porcedure keeps annoying puddles of water from appearing on the plate. For the salad: This is a simple green salad with a dressing prepared by whisking together 1/4C olive oil and 3T of your favorite vinegar plus salt and pepper to taste. Wine: Harwood Cabernet Sauvignon $5.99


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Cheese Souffle with Steamed Broccoli

Adapted from Julia Child
There are practically no end to the variations possible with this recipe. While we used swiss cheese, you could easily substitute blue, chedder or a spicey jack. In addition, the same recipe can be adapted to create dessert souffles.

For the souffle: Seperate 6 eggs. This version of the recipe uses only the whites, but the yolks can be incorporated into the white sauce. In a sauce pan melt 3T butter. Add 2T flour, 1/2t dry mustard and heat well until bubbly. slowly add 1/2C milk or light cream and stir until thickened. Add 1 1/2C coursely grated swiss cheese and stir until well mixed. Add 1/2t salt and beat the egg white to stiff peaks. Fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the cheese mixture. Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold until the mixture is uniform. Transfer to a buttered souffle dish and bake at 375 F for 25-30 min until golden brown.

For the broccoli: Seperate the head into flowerettes. Place in a microwave proof dish and add 2T water. Microwave on high for 2-3 min depending on the amount of broccoli.

Wine: Beringer Stone Cellers Chardonney ($5.99)


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Favorite Take-out

Without a doubt, our favorite is Take-away from Outback. Pictured is the 11 oz. sirloin special with baked potato and house salad. Their garlic mashed potatoes are excellent as well. I have found if I place two medium-rare sirloins in the microwave for 1 min, the are warmed through but the doneness is not effected. Reheating the potatoes is done in a similar manner. We find the steak to be consistant in quantity, quality and preferred doneness....two complete dinners including the wine is about $30.
Wine: Jacobs Creek Shirz-Cabernat ($5.99).


Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Olive and Lemon Couscous

Adapeted from Gourmet magazine
For the chicken: Cook 1/2t cumin, 1/2t paprika and 1/4t ground black pepper in 2T olive oil until fragrant. Brush the spiced oil onto boneless, skinless chicken breasts, reserving the pan to finish the sauce. Cook the chicken breasts until nicely browned in a grill pan.
For the sauce: Heat 1/4C orange juice, 1T honey, 1t lemon juice, 1 cinnamon stick (about 3") and 1/4t red pepper flakes. Simmer while the chicken cooks. When the chicken is done, remove to a plate and keep warm while the sauce is finished. Strain the sauce to remove any solids and place in the pan used to make the spiced oil. Use the sauce to deglaze the pan, then add 2T butter to finish the sauce.
For the Couscous: Saute 2 cloves of garlic in 3T of olive oil; add 1 3/4 C water and bring to a boil; add 1 1/2 C couscous and cook according to package instructions; add 1C chopped kalamata olives and 1 1/2t finely grated lemon zest. Finish with 1/3C chopped parsley.
Serve the chicken and couscous with the sauce topping.
Wine: Beringer Stone Celler Chardonnay ($5.99)


Friday, March 03, 2006

Pork Tenderloin with Fennal Shallot Relish and Edamame

Pork Tenderloin with Fennel Shallot Relish and Edamame

For the pork: Place pork in a marinade consisting of 1/4C olive oil, 3T white wine, 1 clove minced garlic, 1T minced shallot, salt and pepper to taste. Marinade the pork for several hours or overnight. Brown the tenderloin in an oven proof pan then place the pan in a 450 F oven for about 20 min or until it is done to your liking. I cook it to an internal temperature of 140 F.

For the relish ( Food and Wine Feb, 2006): Cut a small fennel bulb in 1" cubes; saute the fennel with a diced shallot and a minced clove of garlic until the fennel is tender; remove from the pan and add 1/4 to 1/2t red pepper flakes, 2 chopped anchovie filets, 1T capers, 1/4 C chopped kalamata olives, 3t red wind vinegar. Serve with the pork.
For the edamame: prepare according to package directions. We frequently serve them as a substitute for lima beans.
Wine: Joseph Phelps White Pastiche; $12.00; one of our favorite wineries


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Rigitoni with mushroom cream sauce

Rigitoni/mushroom cream sauce; spinach salad with pears and kalamata olives and apple vinigrette.

For the rigitoni: These are frozen rigatonis stuffed with ricotta cheese. The brand is Mama Cizzi. Prepare them according to the package directions.
For the sauce: Melt 2T butter in a sauce pan. Add 3T flour and allow the flour to cook gently with stirring for 3-4 min. Saute 8 oz. of sliced mushrooms until golden brown. Add 1t tarragon. Add milk to the flour butter mixture until it reaches the desired consistancy, I used about 2 cups. When the sauce is hot and bubbly, add the mushrooms. Spoon over the hot rigatoni.
For the salad: Clean and sort the spinach leaves. Add calamata olives and sliced pears. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil with 3T cider or apple juice. Add 1t of fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the salad.
Wine: We served a Stone Cellers by Berrenger Chardonney. ( $5.99)


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

For many years now, my wife, Deanna and I have enjoyed our common interest in cooking. We like to try new and interesting recipes that we come across. We enjoy putting our menu together and tweeking the recipes we find. We dine together most every night depending on our schedules. Most evenings we cook, but we also enjoy an evening out of fine dining, and sometimes not so fine dining.
I am retired and my wife soon will be, so we do not encounter the time constraints that many busy younger couples do.
We have established this blog as a cooking journal for ourselves, and to encourage other couples to spend time together exploring the endless joys of cooking as a couple.
A word about wine: When ever possible we will post a website for the wine we have with the meal. We think there are some very drinkable wines out there for under $10. You will seldom see a wine listed for more than $15. We are strong proponents of "drink what you enjoy" but I do think it is important to give some thought to which wine you drink and experiment. The wine should not overcome the meal but neither should it disappear in the background, so we choose wines which we think compliment the meal.
Herbs: Again….experiment. If you don’t like the herbs we use or you can’t get them, use others.