January – Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

January – Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

I rarely braise any kind of meat in the summer or spring. Late fall and winter things are different though. Braised foods make your home smell amazing, definitely comfort food in the cold weather. And they usually provide several meals, a bonus these days of seemingly constant cooking.

I’ve made this dish several times now, it’s based on a combination of recipes. One from the New York Times and my own special 5-hour slow cooked beef stew. That one is a favorite on the blog (it was first published in 2016) and I highly recommend it as it’s walk-away-easy as well as delicious. That first recipe uses cubed chunks of beef, this one a chuck or other roast. Use a cut you would use for a pot roast. What’s so special about that recipe? One – there is no pre-searing of the meat, and two – it will cook unattended by you during the afternoon while you do more interesting things. This time I adapted the recipe to a larger roast of beef, rump or chuck or cross rib.

Note: cook this in your oven, not the slow cooker. The liquid amounts are not designed for your slow cooker, or your pressure cooker for that matter.

This is the dish to use up that half bag of cranberries left over from Thanksgiving or Christmas, or one forgotten in your freezer from last year. It’s a reason to stock up on those bags as they are a seasonal item and usually unavailable the rest of the year. The cranberries add a tart but sweet note that is addictive. 

I will let you decide what vegetables to add. Some type of onion is essential but the rest can be varied. What about a bag of those small differently colored potatoes, or young carrots, small boiler onions, shallots…or all of them?

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef with baby potatoes

Spiced Braised Beef with Cranberries and Carrots

Spiced Braised Beef with Cranberries and Carrots

The second time I made the recipe I used a bag of those baby carrots in various colors from Trader Joe’s. Both time dinner was a big hit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 beef rump roast, brisket, or chuck roast
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced into half moons
  • 1/2 package of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1-1/2 cups of tomato juice, V8, or spicy V8 (my favorite)
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water
  • 3 ½ tablespoons of instant tapioca, I used Minute Tapioca
  • 1-1/2 pounds of small boiling onions or shallots, peeled and left whole. Or 2 larger onions, peeled and cut into wedges and/or a dozen small potatoes or a couple of cups of carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • For serving – chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F
  2. In a small bowl combine the paprika, garlic, cinnamon, cardamon, cumin, salt, and pepper
  3. Dry the roast and rub it all over with the spices, let sit for 30 minutes while the oven preheats and you combine the other ingredients.
  4. In a larger bowl combine the juice, stock (or water), wine, and tapioca. Stir to mix and dissolve the tapioca.
  5. Place the roast in a large casserole or baking dish with a lid. Pour the liquid over then add the cranberries.
  6. Nestle the the onions and other vegetables at the sides.
  7. Cover and cook 6 hours.
  8. Uncover and let sit for 20 minutes before serving.
  9. Add the lemon juice and garnish with the parsley.
Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Let this simmer away, undisturbed, while you go for a hike or a walk or a bike ride… You will arrive home to the heavenly scent of slow cooked beef and spices. All you need for a complete meal is a green salad and something to mop up any juices. Mashed potatoes would be excellent here, or polenta, or a loaf of crusty country bread.

Coast trail on the headlands in Fort Bragg CA

Coast trail on the way to the lighthouse – New Year’s Day 2021

Slice and serve a good strong mustard or horseradish along side.

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Braised Beef with Carrots

Braised Beef with Carrots

It will be fall-apart tender.

January 4 is the first day of our annual 30-day healthy eating plan. With a few friends we do this every year. We cheer each other on and support each other through our individual difficult spots. For some it’s the sugar or carbs, others late night eating, and still others that 5 pm cocktail. We have all slid into comfort food the last 10 months. For 30 days we give up empty carbs, sugar, dairy, wheat, caffeine, alcohol and fatty/fried foods. We feed our bodies whole grains, beans, lean meats and lots of fruit and vegetables. It’s a reset. Yes, we usually lose weight but we also speed our metabolisms and reset our taste buds for healthier food. You can find details of the diet and some recipes by clicking on the category “30 day Metabolic Diet” on the right side of my blog. You will need to use your computer as the categories don’t show up on the mobile app.

I wonder if the folks over at the blogging party Fiesta Friday have left over cranberries? I think I will mosey on over there and add this post to the link party. It’s Fiesta Friday #362 hosted by Angie and co-hosted by Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Come on over and join the party. Click on the links to read blogs about food, travel, decorating plus arts and crafts.

As this dish is cooked without any additional fat (strain any off the sauce), it would qualify as a phase 1 or phase 3 dinner.

Again, wishing you a safe, healthy and love filled 2021.

November – Sous Vide Turkey Thighs

November – Sous Vide Turkey Thighs

I have edited and am reposting one I did in April of this year, just after the shut down here in California. I think it will be very useful at Thanksgiving 2020. Most of our holidays are going to look very different this year. Certainly they will be smaller and, and maybe because of that, less elaborate. In our household of three a whole turkey is out of the question. Turkey parts are the answer. Everyone has their favorite part so you can choose which you will serve. Some families will only consider the white meat of the breast, others the dark. We are all thigh folks in this family so that’s the way we’ll go.

I was able to score some organic bone in turkey thighs at the grocery store and immediately seasoned them with salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence. I then vacuum packed them and put them in the freezer for Thanksgiving. They will cook away starting the day before with no fuss on my part. I can concentrate on the dressing and side dishes and the birthday cake since it coincides with a family members significant birthday.

You can sous vide food directly out of your freezer. You don’t need to defrost it, just add some additional cooking time. The flavor and quality of the meat will not suffer one tiny bit. You may need to do some browning once it is cooked, but that is a last minute thing.

I generally cook the dark meat for 24 hours (yes, no mistake) at 150 degrees F. This time, because the thighs were going to be cooked while frozen solid, I added another 3 hours to the cooking time. This recipe would also work for whole legs.

I know that 27 hours sounds like a lot, but almost all of it is unattended. Just add the vacuum packed and frozen thighs or whole legs to the preheated water, let it go overnight. If you start in the afternoon of the day before, they will ready for dinner the next day. The turkey comes out tender and juicy, almost the texture of pulled pork, and it can be used in similar recipes.

Sous Vide Turkey Thighs

Sous Vide Turkey Thighs – Looks Like Pulled Pork

Since my sous vide machine doesn’t like 150 degrees for some reaon, I used a temperature of 149 degrees F/65 degrees C for 24 hours (not frozen). I added an additional 3 because they were still frozen. So a total of 27 hours cooking time.

Be sure to cover you sous vide water with plastic wrap or a lid to cut down on evaporation. Otherwise you could wake to a pan or container with the water gone or a beeping and complaining machine.

Sous Vide Turkey Thighs

Sous Vide Turkey Thighs – After Cooking, Before Browning

You can use the turkey meat immediately for chili, or tacos, in a salad or brown the skin and have them as a holiday meal.

Some recommend browning them before vacuum packing, I sometimes do that. It does add an extra layer of flavor and it is easier to press the meat into the hot pan for uniform browning when they are raw. You then can crisp them in a hot pan or the broiler as well after they finish cooking sous vide. I didn’t pre brown them this time as I was intent on getting them into the freezer. I do find that once cooked they are more solid and it’s difficult to uniformly brown all the skin unless you deep fry them. I don’t think it will be a problem at this dinner because the raisin and sausage dressing will have plenty of crispy bits.

Here they are post sous vide cooking and browning in a hot cast iron skillet.

Sous Vide Frozen Turkey

Sous Vide Frozen Turkey

They were sliced and served with mashed potatoes, a side, and dressing. You won’t believe this is turkey, the texture and taste is more similar to duck confit.

Finished baked Dressing

I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #354 as it may be useful to some members of the party just before the holiday. Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie. Click on the Fiesta Friday link to get all kinds of ideas for the coming holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

September – Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

September – Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Summer is definitely salad season and the less cooking we have to do in the warm weather, the better. This salad could easily be an entire meal, just add some crisp bread and creamy cheese on the side. You wouldn’t even need to turn on the oven.

So serve this salad in the dog days of summer. The weather man has predicted a massive heat wave this Labor Day weekend in northern California.

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

This salad was adapted from Bon Appetit (November 2008) and posted by the blog Smitten Kitchen (November 2008).

That seems like a very long time ago now, so much has happened and changed since then. In 2008 I think pomegranate seeds were mostly available in the fall, now I often find them in the store year round. They add a very satisfying crunch to the salad, a wonderful textural and flavor enhancement.

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Ingredients for about 4 servings: 

  • 2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon of coarse kosher salt
  • 6 cups of arugula (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used my fig balsamic)
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into strips
  • 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds

Method:

  1. Toss the fennel with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium bowl, sprinkle with salt. You can do this as much as a day ahead.
  2. Combine the arugula, green onions, mint, vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Toss and season with more salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the greens among plates or in a large serving bowl. Top with the fennel, drape with the prosciutto. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top
Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

I am taking this to share on Fiesta Friday, it’s #345 this week hosted by Angie and cohosted by me. Indian summer is here and cooling salads are always welcome. Please join us by clicking on the link, you will find a variety of sweet and savory recipes, craft and decorating ideas.

Stay well and safe everyone. Don’t forget to keep your social distance and wear your mask. We need to be compassionate and take care of each other.

August – Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

August – Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

For me summer is the season of non-cooking, at least as far as actual kitchen time is concerned. It’s the season of grilling and salads. An occasional foggy or cool day may call for a simple braise, but those are rare. I’d much rather spend my time out in the garden or taking a walk along the coast. But, eventually one grows weary of the repeated diet of grilled meat and grilled vegetables plus a green salad of sorts.

Enter tomato season, a little delayed and behind most of the U.S. here in Northern California. Our tomatoes aren’t really ripe until late August or early September. But I intend to take full advantage of our short season. I did manage to grow some in my garden this year but it isn’t enough to keep us in daily tomato salads.

Enter my local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from Nye Ranch, which is just down the road. They raise their tomatoes under big plastic hoops and this week, for the first time, they offered them in flats to their members. I immediately snapped one up.

Aren’t they beautiful?

Nye Ranch heirloom beefsteak tomatoes

Nye Ranch heirloom beefsteak tomatoes

The think the first tomatoes are best appreciated simply, maybe on a slice of toasted rustic bread…they only need a sprinkling of flaky salt and a drizzle of olive oil to reach perfection. Heaven! Or tomato sandwiches, try this simple one that you will need to eat at the kitchen sink, the juices will drip down your chin Tomato Sandwich and the Kitchen Sink.

Later in the season is the time to be more inventive.

Have you tried adding fruit to tomato salads? The fruit will add an extra layer of sweetness against the tart acidity of the tomato. A little flaky salt underlines the sweetness of the fruit. My father always added a sprinkle of salt to watermelon to emphasize that sweetness. As a child I though that was weird, now I think it was a wonderful idea. This salad uses stone fruit but I have seen tomato and watermelon salads on the www. It seems like watermelon would be a good combination although I haven’t tried it, have any of you? This salad uses peaches but it would be equally good with nectarines, or plums later in the season. You could stop there, it would be delicious. But, read on…

A last minute drizzle of toasted spice and seeds added a crunch to this salad. I intend to use this same seed mixture on other vegetables, maybe on simply grilled zucchini (a vegetable on which I am beginning to tire). In fact it could be my new go-to enhancement for any simple roasted, grilled or steamed vegetable.

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

In addition to the seeds this drizzle includes turmeric and black pepper. What are the seeds? My favorite cumin, plus sesame seeds. Both are toasted first to enhance their flavor and crunch.

The recipe is flexible, increase or decrease the amount of tomatoes and fruit depending on what is available in your kitchen right now and the size of them.

Ingredients:

  • 3 – 4 tomatoes
  • 2 -3 ripe peaches
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher or flaky salt
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Cut the tomatoes and peaches into wedges and position them on a large platter where you can spread them out. Sprinkle with the flaky salt and let them rest while you prepare the drizzle.
  2. Toast the cumin and sesame seeds in a dry skillet until beginning to brown and smell toasty, remove them to a small plate to cool.
  3. Warm the olive oil in the same skillet. Add the turmeric, pepper and toasted seeds to warm them and flavor the oil.
  4. Drizzle the warm oil over the tomatoes and peaches.

This salad can be made ahead and will be good for several days. It’s best warmed to room temperature before serving.

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

This recipe was developed by Ali Slagle for the Washington Post.

And if you can’t find perfectly ripe tomatoes or live in the Southern Hemisphere, try this different one with cherry tomatoes. They are usually available year round.

Tomato Salad with Roasted Lemons 

Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

Be well and safe everyone, have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

I am going to take this to the party over at Angie’s. Fiesta Friday is a virtual blogging party, this week it’s Fiesta Friday #344 cohosted by Laurena @ Life Diet Health

Come on over to sample all the wonderful recipes, decorating and craft ideas.

And please consider adding your own link at FiestaFriday.net. To be featured you will need to add links to Fiesta Friday and the cohost.

 

 

August – Easy Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

August – Easy Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

I don’t know about you but, for me, it has been far too hot to pull out my big canner. My kitchen has been warm enough the last week without adding to it. Hence this recipe for easy refrigerator pickled green beans. The pickled beans won’t last as long as regular hot water canned beans, but 6 months is plenty of time to enjoy the harvest. They also taste a lot fresher and have a better texture.

As I said in an earlier post, I came home from a week away to find about 10 pounds of green beans had been harvested in my absence. That’s a lot of green beans. We ate a good percentage of them immediately…roasted green beans with garlic and olive oil, simply steamed green beans with coarse salt and olive oil, and in a Greek green bean salad.

Fresh beans

Fresh beans – these were all bush beans

The purple ones turn greenish when cooked. They were among the earliest to mature in my garden and were very prolific.

Oven Roasted Green Beans with Garlic and Olive Oil

Oven Roasted Green Beans with Garlic and Olive Oil

I still had a fair amount of green beans left over after 3 meals. I certainly didn’t want to waste them or throw them into the compost heap.

We like minced pickled green beans on top of avocado toast, it adds a welcome sharp note to the richness of avocado (especially when topped with a soft poached egg). You can also chop them, add a good spoonful of sour cream, and use them as a sauce for steamed or boiled green beans. Or, eat them out of the jar with a slice of sharp cheddar.

This recipe makes enough pickled beans to fill 3-4 16 oz canning jars.

Ingredients
  • 6-7 cups of blanched green beans 
  • 1 c white vinegar
  • c apple cider vinegar
  • 3 c water
  • 1/4 c sea salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 sprigs of fresh herbs such as dill, mint, tarragon or thyme
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns (I used smoked ones)
Method:
  1. Sterilize your jars and lids by placing them in boiling water for 10 minutes or running them through the dishwasher. Cool upside down on a clean dish towel.
  2. First, make the brine. Bring water, both vinegars and salt, and sugar to a simmer, stirring until all salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool.
  3. Blanch the green beans by adding them to simmering salted water and cooking for 3 minutes. Drain and cool in a colander. I usually add a handful of ice on top of the draining beans and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Spread them out on paper towels or a clean dish towel to cool completely.
  4. Place a garlic clove, herb sprig and 1/4 of the peppercorns in each jar.
  5. Pack the green beans into the jars as tightly as possible.
  6. Fill the jars with brine to within 1/4 inch of the top, close the jars tightly.
  7. Place in the refrigerator, they will be ready in about 2 weeks and will last for several months.

 

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

I had enough green beans for 3 pint sized canning jars with brine leftover. So I blanched the remaining snap peas from the harvest (only 1 minute this time). I added a slice of fresh ginger and sprig of mint to the one remaining pint jar and filled it with the snap peas. There was just enough brine to cover them to the top.

Snap and Snow Peas

Snap and Snow Peas

 

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Snap Peas

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Snap Peas

Maybe some of you also have a glut of beans from your yard or the farmer’s market…

Just in case you do, I am taking this to Fiesta Friday $343 over at Angie’s. This week I am helping by co-hosting. Head on over to join or check in on the virtual party. You’ll find lots of recipes, both sweet and savory, in addition to craft and decorating ideas.