Friday, December 17, 2010

Spiced Butter-Glazed Carrots - FFWD

This week's FFWD recipe was Spiced Butter-Glazed Carrots. Nice recipe, however, I should have doubled the seasonings. The carrots were good, but on the plain side. I like cardamom so really would have liked more of that, in particular.

As for the photo, my husband wanted to showcase my much-maligned talent for serving monochromatic meals. Why did I serve orange buttercup squash with the orange carrots and golden chicken schnitzel when I could have made green broccoli instead?? I even almost made some Yukon Gold potatoes! He added the pumpkin and the orange to the composition just to make it even more poignant (also the tomato - and for what? contrast?). So many of my meals are composed of same-color dishes (as this blog gets longer, there will be more evidence, I am sure). I usually don't even realize it until we plate everything up and then I wish I would have planned better :).

Also this week, I made the Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic from Around My French Table and a Borscht recipe from my sister (I think from a Moosewood cookbook). Two things I've never made before & both were great! 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beef with Carrots

This recipe is a top-favorite in our house, it is constantly requested. With just a few basic ingredients, John Thorne hit on the right combination that alchemizes into the most wonderful dinner imaginable. We have served this to company a number of times and every diner has wanted seconds. Every time. It is very easy to make, too! During the long cooking, the carrots and onion melt down, mixing with the cooking juices to make a dark & rich gravy. I have even made this without the carrots and the end-result is almost the same.

The recipe is from the book Outlaw Cook by John Thorne. This is a wonderful book with a lot of good recipes and techniques as well as interesting and entertaining essays. It is currently available in paperback and John wrote to me that a reissue may be in the near future, although a hardcover edition is well worth having. I particularly recommend Bread and Cheese Pudding (I make a variation which uses Gruyere and wine), Basic Cold-Tossed Noodles (my daughter’s favorite lunch), and the Pecan Pie. Even though I hate regular pecan pie, I love this one (no corn syrup!).

As for the Beef with Carrots, John writes, “The results - given that this is, after all, a very simple dish - were all that I could have hoped for: a meal, in this household at least, whose name still, after several makings, inspires anticipation”. The same is true in our household, too. Thank you, John!!

Beef with Carrots
Outlaw Cook by John Thorne, posted with the author's permission

Makes 8 servings with no leftovers

  2  pounds carrots -- peeled or unpeeled & cut into bit-sized pieces
  5  to 6 medium onions -- cut into bite-sized pieces
  2/3  cup flour -- for dredging (use more as necessary)
         salt & pepper
  1 teaspoon dried thyme -- plus a pinch
  1/2 cup olive oil (approximately)
  4 pounds boneless beef short ribs (large strips) OR other boneless chuck cut into 3" pieces
  5 sprigs  of parsley -- minced
  4 cloves  of garlic -- minced
  2  teaspoons minced lemon zest (not too finely minced)
  1  lemon -- juiced

1.  Heat oven to 300° or convection 280°.
2.  Lightly oil a 7-quart pot or casserole.
3.  Put carrots in pot.
4.  Season flour with generous pinch of salt, pepper, & thyme.
5.  Heat olive oil in a large saute pan until it almost starts to smoke.
6.  Meanwhile, dredge strips of beef in the seasoned flour, shaking away any excess.
7.  Put the meat in the hot oil & turn with tongs to sear on all sides, transferring each piece as it is finished into the pot. Add more oil as necessary.
8.  When all the meat has been seared, put the onion in the pan, adding more if necessary to keep onions from burning.
9.  Cook until onions are translucent & edged with brown, turning often while at the same time scraping up any burnt bits of meat & flour.
10. Scrape all this into the pot.
11. Add parsley, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1 t thyme. Toss well to mix thoroughly.
12. Cover, place in oven, and cook for about 4 hours, checking occasionally to make sure that the contents remain at a bare simmer and to taste for seasoning. May need another hour.
13. Serve over mashed potatoes, or noodles or with crusty bread (we prefer mashed potatoes.

Serving Ideas : Serve with a green salad and mashed potatoes, crusty bread, or egg noodles. Mashed potatoes are best :)

• Note: Can be halved or doubled easily (original recipe is for half the amounts posted above...just not enough for us!)
• Note: For 1 1/2 or a double recipe, use a 12-quart pot.
• Advance Preparation: Can be prepared one to two days ahead of time and reheated gently on the stove or in the oven.
• Keeping: Several days in refrigerator.

My Go-To Beef Daube - FFWD

My FFWD recipe this week was My Go-To Beef Daube (no parsnips) served with mashed potatoes.

This is an excellent recipe with a complex and unique flavor due to the brandy and entire bottle of red wine. Everyone loved it! I did use a central coast Syrah as Dorie recommends; I found a $5 Petite Sirah (Crane Lake), quite a bargain and just right for the daube.

The recipe description says this can be considered a version of Beef with Carrots, which we have made countless times using a John Thorne recipe. It is one of my family’s all-time favorites; very easy to make and completely sublime. It has no wine so has a very different flavor from Dorie's daube. Recipe will be my next post!

Edited to add: this recipe is online here:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts - FFWD

For my first December FFWD recipe, I made two batches of Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts, both with cashews. Very easy!!

I made the first batch (square dish) almost to the letter. My husband & I liked (but didn’t love) them the first day because the chili powder was a bit too dominant for us; however, it had mellowed by the next day and then they were perfect! The one thing I did differently from the recipe is that I dumped the whole mixture onto the baking sheet instead of separating the nuts & draining excess coating from them. I liked the extra baked-on coating and it was easy to break up the fused nuts once cooled (I rubbed off some of the coating for the photo for beauty’s sake).

 I have several recipes for spiced/flavored nuts that I love but Dorie’s method was new to me. I really like how it is so quick, easy, and yields crispy nuts. For my second batch (round dish), I added 1 T vanilla extract to the egg white and the spices were salt, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and black pepper. Very nice but could have used more sugar and maybe more pepper (vanilla sugar would have been better than the extract because the extract watered down the rest of the flavors - or I will just use more of the spices next time). These ingredients are from our favorite nut recipe which uses pecans and a fairly involved process which takes two days. They are fantastic but using Dorie’s method with cashews was a snap. 

I'm looking forward to making these with the other spice mixtures that FFWDers have tried!
P.S. Last night I also made Gorogonzola-Apple Quiche from Around My French Table and it was excellent :).