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Monday, February 13, 2017

Recipe Review from 2/6/17

Weather has been giving us a bit of mental whiplash up here -
Monday - started the week with 30*F,
Tuesday - 12" of snow
Wednesday -  followed by -10*F with windchills
Thurs - more of same
Friday - 40* and sun (not kidding, I think it actually hit 44* mid-afternoon).
Saturday - 32* with drizzle, mist and fog.

My entryway is deluged with winter boots, wet weather boots, medium jackets, heavy jackets, etc because I just don't know what I will need next.

But, it's still winter and that means SOUP! 

Meal Plan for week of 2/7 was a bit all over the place: 
Sun (L)  soup and grilled cheese   (Superbowl!)  Brats, homemade baked beans, chips and dip
Mon (Yoga/Andy Vet)  leftover brats
Tues - Meatball, butnut and tomato stew   Tortellini stew
Wed (work Souper Bowl - STUFFED!)  grilled cheese
Thurs (yoga)  leftover brats
Fri (yoga) leftover tortellini stew.
Sat (L)   Meatball, butnut, and tomato stew  (S)  leftover tortellini stew
lunches  (Me) tortellini soup   (D) sandwiches

New England Style Baked Beans (modified slightly from America's Test Kitchen, Jan/Feb 2017)  gluten free
A-maze-ing!  I almost forgot to brine my beans and hit 8 hours exactly, though I could have done the "quick soak" but I forgot about that bit.  Assembly is fairly quick: chop and plop, bring to a boil, then bake three hours.  That's where this becomes time consuming - check on the hour, stir, add liquid if necessary and put back in.   In a way, perfect for Super Bowl weekend. 

End result was perfectly baked, perfectly seasoned, baked beans.  My beans didn't explode, they were tender, and the sauce saucy.   Recipe called to remove the onion, but mine just melted and there wasn't anything to fish out. This could be made vegetarian by omitting the pork and either adding some smoke flavor OR some bourbon or similar; I think that could impart some nice flavors. 
ATK notes - You'll get fewer blowouts if you soak the beans overnight, but if your pressed for time, you can quick soak your beans by combining the salt, water and beans in a large Dutch oven and bring them to a boil over high heat.  Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let stand for one hour.  Drain and rinse and continue with recipe.

1 lb (2 1/2 cups) dried navy beans, picked over and rinsed.
6 oz salt pork, rinsed, cut into 3 pieces
1 onion, halved
1/2 cup molasses
2 tbsp dk brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf

1. (See ATK note above)  Dissolve 1 1/2 tbsp salt in 2 quarts cold water in a large container.  Add beans and let soak at room temperature for at least 8 hour or up to 24 hours.  Drain and rinse well.

2.  Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300*.  Combine beans, salt pork, onion, molasses, sugar, soy sauce, mustard, pepper, bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp salt and 4 cups water in a large Dutch oven.  Liquid should cover the beans - add more water if necessary.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover pot, transfer to oven and cook until bears are softened, about 2 hours.

Note - after 1 hour, stir the beans and add water if necessary.  Liquid should just cover the beans.

3.  Remove lid and continue to cook until bears are fully tender, browned and lightly crusty on top, about 1 hour longer.  Liquid will reduce slightly and drop below top layer of beans.

4.  Remove pot from oven, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.  Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, scrape any browned bits from sides of pot and stir into beans.  Discard bay leaf and any remaining onion (mine completely dissolved).  You can keep or discard the pork.

Let beans stand, uncovered, until liquid has thickened slightly and clings to beans, 10-15 minutes, stirring once halfway through.   Serve. 

Hearty Tortellini Stew  (Ckng Light, Jan/Feb 2017) 
This comes together very quickly as long as your chicken stock is thawed ahead of time.  Yeah, bit of frustration on my part there...

I also HALVED the recipe from what's written below, except I did use the entire package of pasta.  I wanted those little nuggets of yummy goodness.   I didn't need such a large amount and I didn't want to freeze half for later.  Half a recipe should make about 6 lunches, depending on how "soupy" yours turns out.   

Pretty good, a bit bland (some red pepper flakes would have been perfect, but I'm out),  hearty and perfect for these cold winter days.  If serving for supper, add some crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 large)
2 cups chopped fennel bulb (about 1 large)
1/4 cup minced fresh garlic
2 (8-oz.) pkg. sliced cremini mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
8 cups unsalted vegetable stock
4 cups water
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 (15-oz.) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (15-oz.) cans unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained
6 cups stemmed, chopped curly kale
1 1/2 (9-oz.) pkg. whole-wheat 3-cheese tortellini
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion, fennel, garlic, and mushrooms; cook 15 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Add stock and next 5 ingredients (through chickpeas); bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in kale. Add tortellini, or follow freezing instructions. Cook 8 minutes or until tortellini are done.Remove pan from heat; stir in vinegar. Divide soup among 12 bowls; sprinkle with parsley.
  3. From Cooking Light: HOW-TO FREEZE: Cool soup completely. Once cool, add tortellini. Freeze flat in a large ziplock freezer bag for up to 2 months. THAW: Microwave soup in bag at MEDIUM (50% power) for 8 minutes or until pliable. REHEAT: Pour soup into a large Dutch oven; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook 25 minutes or until tortellini are done. Stir in red wine vinegar. Top with parsley.

This one grabbed my attention with the 35 min prep time and use of butnut squash (I'm down to the last 5 from 29!)  Ckng really need to check the assembly time on this one.  Even with having the Husband prep the squash of time, this took over an hour from start to finish. 

Point - it takes 20-30 minutes alone to dice part or a whole squash (again, did this ahead of time).
Point - meatball assembly, using a 1" scoop, is still 20 minutes.
Point - cooking times for the meatballs unrealistic.
Point - cooking times for the squash is totally unrealistic (unless their squash was tiny dice?)  Mine was bite sized, what I usually do for soups/stews/chili's.

My modifications (and there are a lot of them in this one):
  •  I had to cook my meatballs in two batches because they didn't all fit in my Lodge Dutch oven (thus adding an extra 10 minutes), and they were not cooked completely through (on purpose). 
  • I KNEW the squash was not going to cook in 8 minutes, so after all sauteing was done, stock  added to mix, I put my meatballs on top, covered and;  
  • Added a drained, squished can of whole tomatoes
  • Simmered for 20 minutes until squash and meatballs were cooked through.  
  • During last five minutes, I added the diced zucchini on top. 
Whew!  After all of that, was it worth it?  Yeah, I have to say so.  Saucy, flavorful, good blend of spices in the meatballs. and perfect for a damp and chilly February afternoon.

1 1/2 whole-wheat bread slices (such as Arnold 100% Whole Wheat Bread), cubed
1/3 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 pound ground sirloin  I used ground pork.
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
5/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped butternut squash
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 1/4 cups unsalted beef stock (such as Swanson)
I used 1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes, drained.  Set drained tomato sauce aside for another use.  Squish tomatoes till chunky and add tomatoes and juicy goodness to dish.  
2 cups chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup unsalted tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets  I subbed 2 small zucchini, diced. 

  1. Place bread cubes in a bowl; pour milk over bread. Let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Gently combine soaked bread cubes, beef, cumin, coriander, pepper, 1/4 cup cilantro, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Gently shape into 12 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs.
  3. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add meatballs in a single layer; cook, turning to brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate. Add squash, onion, and garlic to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cauliflower; cover and cook 3 minutes. Return meatballs to pan; cover and cook just until meatballs are cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro.

Madeleines  (Chocolate and Zucchini Blog)
I have followed Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini fame for years - probably from the start of her first blog in fact.  I've always enjoyed her perspective on cooking, her recipes are approachable (I have her first cookbook!), and I love her sense of humor.   So when I decided I need to stop buying Madeleine from Starbucks and start making my own, I went straight to her blog.  She's French, and she would know how to make these little delectable cakes of spongy goodness.

I requested and received a Madeleine pan for Christmas, rolled up my sleeves and made my first batch.

Two downsides to this recipe - you have to prep it at least 12 hours in advance; and it makes a lot.  

The upside of this recipe, it worked (my cakes had "the bump!"), and it makes a lot.

I did follow the recipe/assembly part as instructed, using lemon as my flavoring.   She does note that you can use almond, vanilla, or other citrus, and she has a recipe for chocolate Madeleines.

Where I deviated was I put my batter in a gallon zip-loc bag instead of leaving in the bowl then transferring to a pastry bag.  This worked to a degree:  it's a lot of batter and when you start piping into the molds, the batter is cold and stiff. I did have a ziploc blow out.

My recommendationDivide the batter into THREE bags ahead of time.  Taking out what you need when ready.

There is definitely a learning curve to how much batter should go into the molds, another reason to divide the batter into multiple bags - it's easier to pipe out.  Plus, because this can be made up to three days in advance, you don't have to make it all at once, just the one bag. 

I followed her baking directions the first time, then deviated after that.  I found the whole "chill the pan for 2 hours" annoying (and I only have one pan), so I started skipping.  Seemed to work fine.

After all was said and done, by batch number three, I was getting the hang of it.  I brought in some samples to my co-workers and they observed the flavor and texture was similar to a classic American baked cake donut.  While I would make these again, I'm not sure I will do this recipe (don't get me wrong, it is a great recipe!), but some experimenting may be needed to find just the right flavor/sponginess/bump size, etc.   

Sadly, I still have a great fondness for Starbucks chocolate dipped Madeleine's...

photo from Scifi with Paprika blog
  • 6 large eggs
  • 250 grams (1 1/4 cups) unrefined blond cane sugar 

  • Zest of one organic lemon, finely grated
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 375 grams (13 1/4 ounces, about 2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 400 grams (1 3/4 cups) melted unsalted butter, hot, plus more for brushing
Instructions  (all notes below are Clotilde's)
  1. Prepare the batter the day before. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar and lemon zest, then whisk in the milk.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir with a clean whisk to remove any lump. Sprinkle the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, whisking all the while.
  3. Whisk in the melted butter, cover, and refrigerate until the next day. The batter will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to three days.
  4. Two hours before baking, brush a madeleine tray (preferably tin) with melted butter, making sure no excess butter pools in the ridges. Sprinkle the mold thoroughly with flour, then tap upside down over the sink to remove excess flour. (After my first batch, I forgot to flour the mold and merely buttered it, which turned out to be enough to prevent sticking.) Place the tray in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

1 comment:

Karl A. said...

That's a wild weather swing. It's 70* and sunny in Vegas right now... just saying...

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