Thursday, February 26, 2015

Company Pot Roast

When cold weather arrives, there’s nothing better than a comforting pot roast simmering in the oven to warm you up. I know many of you have had to endure a very brutal winter and bone chilling temperatures. Believe me, you have all of my sympathy. So much so that I made my husband promise I would never have to be cold again and we follow the sun to Florida for the winter. But occasionally it even gets cold down in southern Florida. A couple of evenings our temperatures dropped down into the thirties, which is cold for this area. Those temperatures may sound warm to you if you’re in New England, Boston or Canada. However, I think that you might be surprised to learn that there are many families here, such as the ones who pick our Florida crops, such winter tomatoes, oranges and strawberries, that have no heat in their homes, much less insulation, which we all take for granted.

As you can see, this pot roast has a thick rich tomato sauce, which is perfect over creamy mashed potatoes. Some people might call it tomato gravy. However, it’s different from our normal recipe which contains chunks of simmered carrots, onions, and tomatoes. I suggest that you strain the sauce if it ends up a bit runny as ours did. While we did enjoy this version of pot roast and it really took the chill off of, personally I like my old pot roast recipe, Boeuf a la Mode from Louie Diat’s French Country Cooking for Americans, better. Louis Diat was the French Chef at the Ritz Hotels in Paris and London for years. When Cesar Ritz opened the new Ritz-Carlton in New York, he sent Diat to the US to be the Chef and it was there that he created the potato leek soup we now know as French vichyssoise. Louie Diat’s beef a la mode recipe is strictly country French cooking and a bit old fashioned. While his recipe is certainly not as fancy as this new one, I found the tomato sauce in this recipe a bit too rich and “tomato-e” for me. It might be because I’ve come down with a cold and my taste buds are off. That being said, the thing I did learn from this recipe was Ina’s suggestion of adding a splash of red wine before serving to give it an edge really worked. I’ve definitely taken note of that and will try that in the future with other red wine sauces. One more great tip from Ina.

We used a bottom round roast as opposed to the prime boneless beef chuck called for. I think it’s a shame to use prime beef when it’s going to be simmered for a long time. As with any long simmering dish such as this, resting in the refrigerator overnight is highly recommended. And don’t forget that splash of red wine just before serving.

Company Pot Roast
Adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten – serves 8
Printable Recipe

1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied (we used a bottom round roast)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour
Good olive oil
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
5 large garlic cloves, peeled, crushed & finely chopped
2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy, plus a splash before serving
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 branches fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
2 branches fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with salt and pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.

At this point, if you have time, let the pot roast come to room temperature and allow it to sit in the refrigerator, covered, overnight. Meals such as these benefit from sitting overnight. When ready to proceed, skim off as much fat as possible and reheat gently at 325 degrees F until it is heated through.

Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on the stovetop over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Add a splash of red wine before serving to give the sauce a nice edge, then taste for seasonings. Remove the strings from the roast and slice the meat. Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme and serve warm with the sauce spooned over. Excellent with mashed potatoes to fully take advance of the sauce.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm and Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday.
Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Clementine and Honey Glazed Pork Chops

Clementines aren't just for breakfast. This recipe for clementine and honey glazed pork chops is a great way take them from mornings to a splendid evening meal. Clementines first originated in China as an accidental hybrid of the mandarin. If you can’t find clementines, I’ve seen mandarin oranges under the brand name Halo, which will also work in this recipe. And if you’re in Florida, bags of small Florida tangelos are currently available.

I’ve probably told you the story of the first time I tasted a clementine. I was in line at a supermarket check-out counter one year during Christmastime and the man behind me had a box of clementines in his cart. The line in front of us was long and out of curiosity I turned to him and pointed to his box of clementines and asked, “Are those good?’”

With a rather surprise look on his face, he replied, “You’ve never tried clementines?” He reached into his box of clementines and took one and proudly handed it to me. “Try this,” he said, “I promise you that you’ll always remember the day you first tried a clementine.” And he was right - I always will remember my first clementine.

Another thing I’ve learned this year about clementines is that although they can tolerate being stored at room temperature for a few days, they hold up better in your fridge’s crisper drawer. To think, all of these years I’ve been storing mine at room temperature.

Simple rice with chopped parsley, recipe here, and green beans gremolata, recipe here, make a nice accompaniment to clementine & honey glazed pork chops.

Clementine and Honey Glazed Pork Chops
Adapted from Publix Family Style, serves 4
Printable Recipe

6 clementines, small mandarin oranges, or small tangelos, divided
½ cup honey
¼ cup champagne white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus a few sprigs for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 8-ounce bone-in pork chops, 1 inch thick

To prepare the marinade, zest, then juice 3 clementines. You should end up with about 1 tablespoon zest and 6 tablespoons juice. In a medium bowl, combine clementine zest, orange juice, honey, vinegar, rosemary and ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Place pork chops in a resealable plastic bag set in a shallow bowl. Pour marinade over pork chops, seal bag, and turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours.

Preheat broiler. Remove pork from marinade. Transfer marinade to a small sauce pan and set aside. Quarter the remaining 3 clementines. (Our clementines were fairly large, so I cut them in eights.)

Place pork chops on a rack of an unheated broiler pan. (Cover your pan with heavy duty foil for easy clean-up.) Season both sides of the pork chops with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Broil chops 3 to 5 inches from the heat 4 minutes or until the glaze darkens and any exposed parts of the pork chops turn brown. Turn chops over and add Clementine quarters to the pan. Broil 5 to 7 minutes more or until pork registers 145 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. If your chops are thick and start to burn on the edges, which ours did, remove from the broiler and bake in the oven at 350 degrees F until they reach 145 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

While the chops are cooking, heat reserved marinade over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 8 minutes or until reduced by half. To serve, spoon honey reduction over pork chops and broiled clementines. Garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary. Boiled rice with chopped parsley and green beans gremolata make a nice accompaniment.

* * *

On another note, Larry of Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings and Chris of Nibble Me This are hosting their 6th Annual rendition of their Blogger’s Get-together at Larry and Bev’s house, Almost Heaven South, on their dock at Tellico Lake in Greenback, Tennessee. The final details are not complete, but the party will be held on Memorial Day weekend and the theme this year will be Tapas. If you’re interested in attending or want to know more, please contact Larry at Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings. 

Unfortunately Meakin and I will miss this year’s event because we’ll be in the South of France, but in the past years we’ve attended every one of these blow-out events and can absolutely guarantee you that a great time is had by all and there’s absolutely no chance you’ll go away hungry. Plus it's lots of fun to chill out down by the dock and talk food with fellow bloggers. To prove the food is fantastic, here are two examples of previous get-togethers.

A Hawaiian Luau, link here

Hawaiian Luau

and a Crawfish Boil, link here.

Crawfish Boil

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm and Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday.
Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chicken Cutlets with Raspberries, Lemon Rice & Green Beans Gremolata + Valentines Day Dessert Ideas

Chicken cutlets with raspberry make a perfect entrée for an intimate evening, such as Valentines’ Day. I’ve paired it with lemon rice and Ina’s green beans gremolata for an easy-to-put-together dinner. If you also have in mind a fancy dessert but want to be able to prepare it in advance, I have three suggestions for you, starting with a decadent chocolate raspberry tart if you want to continue the raspberry theme, recipe here.  

Still on the thoughts of chocolate, the classic French chocolate mousse is always a winner, recipe here.

And of course you can never go wrong with Crème Brûlée, recipe here.

The chicken cutlets with raspberries recipe comes together very quickly by using thin cutlets, available in the poultry section of your market, saving you the time of pounding regular chicken breasts. Frozen raspberries work perfectly fine (no one will guess they are frozen, promise) for the sauce of red raspberries, but it’s nice to add a few fresh ones to garnish the finished dish. I always think rice is a nice addition to a dinner that contains a sauce. Lemon rice is an excellent dish when you need a delicate, fresh flavor with an important main course. And of course Ina’s green beans gremolata are so versatile and pair well with almost any chicken dish.

Chicken Cutlets with Raspberries
Slightly adapted from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Sheila Lukins and Julie Rosso, serves 6
Printable Recipe

12 thin skinless, boneless chicken cutlets or 6 whole chicken breasts (12 halves), skinless, boneless, and pounded thin (1/4 inch)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
½ cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed if frozen
1 knob of cold, unsalted butter
Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
A few fresh raspberries for each serving as a garnish

Sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the chicken, a few pieces at a time, in the butter just until browned on each side. Remove to a warm serving platter.

Pour the vinegar and wine into the pan to deglaze it. Stir in the raspberries and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and a knob of cold, unsalted butter and stir to incorporate into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts and serve immediately. Garnish with chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and a few fresh raspberries for each serving. Serve with lemon rice.

My Mother’s Rice – method works every time
From My Carolina Kitchen by Sam Hoffer
Printable Recipe

My mother had a very easy but unusual way to cook rice and I’ll share her method with you. It always turned out perfectly, no lumps or sticky clumps, and no fancy cookers. She cooked the rice in lots of boiling salted water, the same way you cook pasta. Twenty minutes for white rice, 35 minutes for brown. After draining it well, she put the rice back in the pan, stirred in a pat of butter, and left it covered on the stove for up to twenty minutes before serving. Her preferred brand of rice was Uncle Ben’s converted rice and I’ve never used anything else, so I’m not sure how it would work with other brands. But I will add that this recipe has never let me down. Recently Cooking Light magazine recommended the same method.

Lemon rice: 
Inspired by The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Sheila Lukins and Julie Rosso, serves 4 to 6

Proportionally for every cup of uncooked rice from recipe above, stir in 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest to cooked rice after is has been drained. Let the rice and lemon zest mixture stand together, covered, for 5 minutes in the pan. Add some finely chopped fresh herb of your choice (flat-leaf parsley or dill) along with a pat of butter, check for seasonings and serve immediately.

Green Beans Gremolata
Slightly Adapted from Foolproof, by Ina Garten, serves 4 to 6
Printable Recipe

1 pound French green beans, trimmed
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (I used a mixture of toasted almonds, walnuts, and pistachios)
2½ tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch them for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Drain the beans in a colander and immediately put them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve their bright green color.

For the gremolata, toss the garlic, lemon zest, parsley, Parmesan, and nuts in a small bowl and set aside.

When ready to serve, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Drain the beans and pat them dry. Add the beans to the pan and sauté, turning frequently, for 2 minutes, until coated with olive oil and heated through. Off the heat, add the gremolata and toss well. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and serve hot.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday , & Food on Friday at Carole's Chatter.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Truffle Omelet with Fine Fresh Herbs and a Port and Sour Cream Filling

I first became enchanted with the idea of making an egg dish with truffles after I recently read about it in Georgeanne Brennan’s charming memoir A Pig in Provence, about her days in Provence and the infamous truffles.  She had been in Provence barely a year when a neighbor introduced her to the seasonal gathering of truffles. Traditionally most truffle hunters used cochons (pigs), but today dogs are preferred. Enter an old truffle hunter, Monsieur Capretti, who relays the story of how his grandfather took him truffle hunting as a young boy and shared his he secret of how to look for truffles, as he said, “With no pig, no dog, no nothing, just your wits.” 

Monsieur Capretti’s grandfather told the boy that if he could find truffles, he could sell them and would always have money. It would be his inheritance he said, but he must work for it. His grandfather’s method was to find the circles around the base of the oak trees, called the brûlé, where all of the grass is dead. Then break off a branch of an Aleppo pine from the forest and tear all but the top leaves off to make a switch. His grandfather demonstrated by brushing the ground with the tip of the brush and pointed out the truffle fly, who is drawn to the perfume from the truffles and lays its eggs there, thus providing the clue that the truffles lay beneath the ground.  Now the hunter could employ his own wit and skills to find the truffle without the assistance of the traditional pig or dog. His grandfather then used a tool, much like a screwdriver, pushed it gently into the ground and pulled out a hard, lumpy truffle. Voila, he had uncovered a large truffle, about the size of a grapefruit.

Monsieur Capretti goes on to share his recipe for Oeufs Broûllé , or eggs with truffles, with Georgeanne. He explains that he takes eggs from his chickens, “good eggs” he calls them, and stores them along with the truffle together in a jar. His belief is that the smell of the truffles will go into the eggs.

In two or three days, Monsieur Capretti removes the eggs and truffle from the jar. He then breaks the eggs into a bowl, cleans the truffles and grates it into the eggs. The egg mixture is left to stand for a few minutes, then sea salt is added, and then the eggs and truffles are cooked in butter to make his “Oeufs Broûllé."

Since then we’ve been anxious to try eggs with truffles, but there was little to no chance we were going to find a fresh truffle in south Florida, at least not in our town. Then low and behold a fresh truffle lands in our laps. Our friends Larry and Beverly of Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings brought us a fresh white truffle as a gift when they came down for lunch a couple of weeks ago.

Quite by chance I stumbled upon a Martha Stewart video on the internet for a truffle omelet with a port and sour cream filling. I combined Monsieur Capretti’s recipe with Martha’s and added fine fresh herbs to the egg mixture for color and extra punch along with a bit of cream and hot sauce to enrich the flavor of the omelet. In Martha’s video (you’ll find a link to the video if you take your mouse and hover over her name under the title of the recipe that serves 5-6) her guest Chef gives some good tips about using fresh truffles. Not one to waste ingredients in his restaurant, he freezes any truffles he has left over. (I didn’t know fresh truffles could be frozen.) He also chops his truffles and all along I thought I had to have a fancy truffle slicer. He also emphasized that you do not want to overcook truffles. He barely heats his truffle in butter.

We had never eaten a fresh truffle and thought that they had a rich earthy flavor, weren’t as strong as truffle butter, and were indeed a real treat. Did the smell of the truffles go into the eggs while they sat with them for a couple of days? We’re not so sure about that, but it certainly didn’t hurt anything and it makes a good story.

Don’t fret if your omelet doesn’t come together properly. The way we look at it is if the omelet fails for whatever reason, there’s no shame in turning it into soft scrambled eggs and spoon the filling over the top as a sauce. Actually that’s what we planned to do if we encountered problems. Toasted slices of a French baguette spread with good butter, a couple of slices of fresh tomatoes, and spring mix fresh greens tossed in My Carolina Kitchen’s house French vinaigrette, recipe here, make the perfect accompaniment to the truffle omelet for a lovely Sunday lunch.

I wish to thank Larry and Beverly for the fresh truffle. It was a very special treat and this one is for you.

Truffle Omelet with Fine Fresh Herbs and a Pour Sour Cream Filling 
Adapted from A Pig in Provence, by Georgeanne Brennan and a Martha Stewart video – serves 2 – advance preparation required
Printable Recipe

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 truffle (about 1 ounce), coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon port wine or Madeira
5 large eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon each fine fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, thyme leaves, and chives
1 tablespoon cream or water
Dash of hot sauce such as Tabasco
Few chives for garnish
Slices of toasted French baguette, buttered for serving

Two or three days before you prepare the recipe, place the eggs in a jar along with the truffle and store in the refrigerator in order for the smell of the truffle to go into the eggs.

For the filling, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add chopped truffle, sour cream and port. Stir to combine. Set aside and keep warm.

For the omelet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a non-stick sauté pan (we used an 8” pan) over low heat. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs together with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, the fine fresh herbs, cream and hot sauce. When the sauté pan is well heated, pour in eggs. As the omelet cooks, tip skillet to incorporate some of the runny parts with more cooked parts until there are some curds swimming in the eggs.

Continue cooking, making sure eggs cover the entire surface of the skillet, using a spatula to push together any holes that may have formed.

Pour truffle mixture over the center of the omelet. Run spatula along right side of omelet to loosen eggs from skillet. Place spatula under right side of eggs, making sure that the spatula is well underneath the eggs to offer maximum support, and lift right side over the filling in one fluid motion. Folded omelet should look like a half moon.

Lightly press down on omelet with the spatula to seal omelet together. Do not press hard. You do not want to flatten the cures. Lift up skillet with one hand, and hold a plate with your other hand. Tilt skillet and let the curved edge of the omelet slide onto the plate. Cut in half and serve immediately with toasted slices of a buttered French baguette.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm and Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday.

Have a great weekend everyone.