Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chianti Braised Short Ribs with Crockpot Mushroom Risotto

When we go to Salt Lake, or to Casper to shop, we usually eat at Olive Garden at least once while we are there.  We discovered their Braised Short Ribs, that are served with a delicious mushroom risotto.  Here is my version I created at home.
Even though it is served at an Italian resterant, it is a typical French type of recipe:  browning meat with bacon fat, and braising in wine.  Much similar to the Coq au Vin I posted in my last entry!

Braised Chianti Short Ribs
4 slices of bacon cut into lardons (cut crossways into little strips)
2 lb beef boneless short ribs
1/2 tsp rosemary
2 cloves garlic
2 C pearl onions (scald in boiling water for 30 seconds, and place in ice water to peel)
bottle of Chianti wine
Dredge ribs in a little flour, salt and pepper.  In a dutch oven, fry the bacon pieces and then brown ribs in the fat.  Add just enough Chianti to come 2/3 of the way up the ribs.  Add dried rosemary you've rubbed to crush in your palm, onions and cracked garlic cloves that are peeled.  Using a spatula, scrape under the ribs to release the brown bits into the wine, and spoon wine over the top of the ribs.  Cover and bake in the oven for two hours at 350 *F. 

The risotto is a slow cooker recipe, but takes the same amount of time as the ribs.  This is not a true risotto, because you don't stand stirring the pot constantly, and adding more liquid in small batches.  It is, however delicious, and easily made in the crock pot!  You just need to stir it about every half an hour, and then every ten minutes the last half an hour.

Slow Cooker Mushroom Risotto
5 C Beef or Chicken Stock
2 C Arborio Rice
1 pkg. dehydrated cream soup mix like mushroom, or cream of chicken
2 C sliced button mushrooms
2 T butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp marjoram
right before serving:  add in 1/2 C grated Parmesan Cheese

In a skillet, brown mushrooms in oil until golden.  Place in slow cooker with other ingredients.  Cook on high setting, stirring every 1/2 hour, and then every ten minutes the last half hour.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sides for Grilling: My Not Really Recipes Recipes

I had plans that we would grill for supper tonight.  After looking outside, I see I may have been optimistic in my planning.  It has been cold and rainy, and we've even had snow.  It finally dried out enough I could get the arena worked so we can train, but it might get muddy again today.  Worst case scenario, I'll get out my broiler pan, and cook inside. 
I have several standby recipes that I use for grilling side dishes.  Food that just tastes good with good ole beef on the barbecue, or lamb or whatever. Actually, there not really even recipes, but more like food combinations.
Potatoes and Chard
Don's favorite is potatoes and swiss chard.  You just add in the diced stalks and leaves of chard when you boil up cubed potatoes.  Put the potatoes and chard in a pot, and cover with cold water.  Add a sprinkle of mustard seed, and a pinch of red pepper flake.  The two vegetables have similar cooking times, and since it is a somewhat bitter green, the water gives that bitter some place to go.  I've tried it with other greens, but it isn't as tasty.  It sounds very simplistic, but after they are drained, and with a tiny bit of butter and cracked pepper on top, it is a delicious combination.

Corn and Zucchini Salad
Corn that you cooked on the grill (on the cob and cut off), or frozen corn (that's been defrosted in a colander) you dry roast in a skillet until it's lightly charred mixed with diced zucchini that has been grilled.  I cut the zucchini into 1/4 inch planks, and drizzle with a little oil, salt and pepper.  Then I grill them until they are just starting to get grill marks on each side before dicing them up; it only takes a couple minutes each side.  Fresh parsley can be used as an ingredient in this recipe, and I'd add about 1/4 cup chopped before tossing it with the dressing.  Dress the salad with oil and red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. Served with sliced ripe tomatoes and some creamy cottage cheese, it's perfect with grilled chicken.
If you aren't a fan of parsley, the salad is good without it.  I always have plenty in the garden in the summer that needs used up, and it is a mineral rich herb that's really good for you.

New Potatoes with Herb Butter
The third is a boiled new potatoes with an herb butter sauce. I use either red or white new potatoes, and just scrub them and cut the bigger ones in half, so they all cook at the same time, then into the pot with cold water covering them.  Once they are boiled, and they slip easily off a knife when pierced, I drain them and put them back in the hot pot.  Add four tablespoons of butter, and a big bunch of fresh minced dill and cook on medium high heat until the butter is melted.  The hot potatoes kind of drink in the butter, and that little cooking makes the dill bright green and smell amazing.  Top with coarse sea salt and cracked pepper.  Great served with grilled steak or lamb chops, and steamed broccoli.

Brussels in Horseradish Sauce
1 lb of fresh or frozen brussels, just halved, and boiled in water until they are tender,  then drained.  In a small saucepan, combine a heaping T of grated horseradish (not sauce, but plain horseradish) and 4 T butter.  Add a pinch of red pepper and salt and pepper.  Once the butter melts and bubbles for a couple minutes with the grated horseradish, pour it over the drained brussels.  This is great served with grilled chops or barbecued ribs and Rice Pilaf.  The bold flavor of brussels matches well with tangy pork.

Rice Pilaf, or Homemade Rice a Roni
1/3 C broken spaghetti pieces
1 C white long grain rice rinsed in a sieve to remove excess starch
1 T butter
Stock in a box, beef or chicken or vegetable
1 T fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 C fresh or defrosted frozen peas (optional)
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat.  Add broken spaghetti pieces and well drained raw rice.  Stir until the spaghetti gets toasty brown, and most of the rice turns opaque.  Add in about 2 cups stock, or enough that it covers the rice by 1 inch (from the tip of your thumb to the first joint is 1 inch).  Add thyme, salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, and cover and simmer until rice is done, and most of the liquid is absorbed. If the rice doesn't test done, and the liquid is almost gone, add a splash more until it tests done.  Add in fresh or defrosted frozen peas and cover and remove from the heat.  After a few minutes, fluff rice and serve.   

Wedge Salad
Awesome with steak, this is a classic steakhouse recipe.  Just cut a head of iceberg lettuce in half through the middle of the core, and then cut into wedges.  I usually can get six out of a good sized head.  Remove the core from the pieces, and plate individually, or plate on a huge platter, and dress each wedge. You can top it with bacon, or smoked dried tomatoes that are finely diced. 
Top with dressing:
Try making your own dressings rather than buying store bought.  It really only takes a couple minutes to make them, and they last just as long in the fridge as store bought, and taste so much better.
Basic Creamy Dressing:
1/3 cup low fat mayo and enough buttermilk and other ingredients to fill a quart jar 2/3 full.  That is my basic measure for creamy dressing. You need to add the buttermilk last to make sure there is enough room in the jar to shake it, or blend it to combine the ingredients, so the amount is going to vary depending on what kind of dressing you make.  I have an immersion blender, and I use it all the time to blend dressings etc...instead of shaking them up.  I would not use it on the blue cheese, or thousand island, however.  We like it chunky.  Below are the ingredients I would add in to the basic creamy dressing mix.
For Thousand Island:  add in a whole diced dill pickle, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/3 C ketchup, steak seasoning, and a whole boiled egg that you've crumbled to bits with your hand.  Adjust the thickness of this dressing by the addition of more buttermilk if necessary.
For Blue Cheese Dressing:  add to basic recipe: 1/3 C crumbled blue cheese, steak seasoning, 1 tsp garlic powder, and the zest and juice from 1 lemon.
For Ranch:  Add 1/3 C chopped fresh chives, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/4 C red wine vinegar, 1 T agave nectar, steak seasoning, and 1 tsp Mrs. Dash garlic and herb mix. Add to basic creamy dressing.
For French Dressing:  I do not use the basic creamy dressing recipe, but instead use:  1/4 can condensed tomato soup.  1/4 C red wine vinegar, 2 T sugar or splenda,  3 T olive oil, 1 tsp garlic powder, salt and white pepper. Shake until combined, or blend with an immersion blender. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Insomnia, or Canning in the Stinkin' Dark!

I could not sleep last night.  To compound my troubles, our satellite tv is not working due to the snowstorm we've been having the last two and a half days.  I have watched every movie on the shelf, so I was going through my cookbooks to try and get sleepy.  I had to do something, and Lord knows I wasn't going to do anything like clean for heaven's sake!  Well, I didn't find anything interesting in reading material, so I wandered up to the kitchen to see what I could whip up.
They had beautiful tomatillos at the store when I had my last shopping day, and really nice green onions.  I had several pasilla peppers that needed used, and a whole bag of limes, so after wasting a half hour sharpening every knife in the kitchen, I put together this salsa.  It is a small batch, but made two pints I canned, and almost one more for the fridge for immediate consumption.  I will use it up quickly, as it is great served hot over eggs for breakfast huevos, awesome with chips as a snack, and the flavor tang for tasty posole.  It is great served over broiled fish in a fish taco, too!

Mean Green Salsa
8 large tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and diced
4 pasilla peppers, diced and seeds removed
2 jalapenos diced
8 scallions diced
2 C diced white onion
zest from 2 limes
juice from 4 limes
1/3 C cilantro
2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed in your palm
1 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp canning salt
Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Cook until tomatillos soften and start to break down.  Pack in hot sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Makes 2 2/3 pints

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coq Au Vin

Believe it or not, it's snowing here today.  So we are burning soggy wood in the fire, and I am making Coq Au Vin for supper.  You will love this recipe, it's wonderful comfort food, and smells so good while it cooks!  This is a super easy recipe.  One of the first chicken recipes I mastered as a new bride.  The recipe calls for Burgundy wine, but any red will do.  I have a Shiraz on hand, so I will use it.

Coq Au Vin
2 lbs chicken cut in peices (I have boneless skinless thighs as this is what we like)
4 slices bacon diced
1/2 yellow onion diced
1 lb sliced mushrooms (crimini is best, but we have button, so I'll use them today)
1 C celery diced (use the leaves if you can in this dish)
1 bag frozen pearl onions
1 tsp thyme
2 T garlic
2 bay leaves
2 C burgundy wine
In a dutch oven on medium heat, sweat diced onion with the bacon pieces until the onion is translucent.  Turn up flame to hot brown the mushrooms.  Remove vegetables and bacon with a slotted spoon, and brown chicken thighs. Remove thighs and add a couple T flour.  Whisk flour into bacon fat until it becomes browned and smells nutty.  Deglaze pan with wine, add back in vegetables, garlic and herbs.  Salt and pepper to taste, and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Place in a 350*F oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Serve with hot rice, or boiled potatoes.