Monthly Archives: November 2013

Sweet Indonesian Beef in a Flavorful “Dry” Sauce (Dendeng Sapi Manis)

Dendeng_Sapi_Manis1 (1 of 1)Like many Indonesian beef dishes, this calls for a lean, relatively less tender cut of meat. It is braised for quite a while until tender, and the cooking liquid has just about evaporated. In fact, the name of this recipe, Dendeng Sapi Manis translates into English as “Sweet Beef Jerky.” However, this dish is nothing like dried-out American beef jerky;  on the contrary, it’s tender and delicious. I hope you’ll try this dish!

1 lb top round beef, thinly sliced into 2-inch pieces
1 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Laos powder
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely grated or minced
1/2 tsp terasi
1 tsp tamarind water
1 1/2 cups water
2 red Thai chilies, sliced on the diagonal

Combine meat with coriander, cumin, Laos powder, nutmeg, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add meat mixture and brown on all sides for 4 minutes.

Add onion and garlic, and cook for another 1 minute. Add the terasi, tamarind water and water. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil.  Cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours. Remove lid and increase heat to high. Cook until most of the sauce has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Garnish with the red Thai chilies, and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Serves 4.

Chicken with Pearl Onions and Mushrooms Simmered in a Red Wine Sauce (Coq au Vin)

Coq_Au_Vin1 (1 of 1) Yum, French comfort food! The first time I had this French classic was at a restaurant in Germany — it was delicious! Over the years, I’ve taken bits and pieces from various recipes to create this lower-fat/lots of flavor version. You could also call this a “lazy man’s coq au vin,” because I remove the chicken from the bones after the dish is cooked, and add it back to the sauce. A great meal for a chilly fall evening, I hope you’ll try this recipe!

3 1/2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (I cut a whole chicken into 8 pieces, and trim off any bit of fat I can find)
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 ground black pepper
2 slices bacon, coarsely diced
1 Tbsp butter
20 pearl onions, peeled
8 oz button mushrooms, stems trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup brandy
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

In a medium glass bowl, combine wine, bay leaves, thyme, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Add chicken and stir well. Cover and let marinate in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Heat a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp and golden brown. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Reserve 1 tsp of the bacon fat.

Heat butter and 1 tsp bacon fat in a large, non-stick skillet over low heat. Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic, and saute for 5 minutes.

Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade. Add the chicken and 1/2 tsp salt to the onion mixture. Increase heat to medium-high, and cook the chicken until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour.

Transfer chicken to a Dutch oven. Pour brandy into the skillet with the onion mixture and boil, deglazing for 30 seconds. Pour over chicken in Dutch oven. Add the marinade, onion/mushroom/garlic mixture, chicken stock and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces, and let cool for a few minutes. Discard skin and remove chicken from bones (discard bones, as well). Add chicken back to sauce and sir well for 1 minute over low. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve with steamed or mashed potatoes. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 4.

Italian-Style Saffroned Lentil Soup (Minestra di Lenticchie e Zafferano)

Saffroned_Lentil_Soup1 (1 of 1)I have a “go-to” lentil soup recipe that I’ve been making for several years. It’s a typical lentil soup with carrots, thyme, etc., and it’s very good. I wanted to try a different version; I found this Italian lentil soup recipe, and it’s delicious! I think the toasted saffron steeped in warmed Cognac are what make this dish. I hope you’ll try it!

1 lb Italian or French (de Puy) lentils, rinsed and soaked in cold water for 1/2 hour
1/4 tsp saffron threads
3 Tbsp Congnac, warmed
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus a bit of additional for toasting the baguette slices
3 oz pancetta, diced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
6 cups cold water
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 baguette, thinly (1/2 inch) sliced on the diagonal
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley

Lightly toast the saffron in a small, heavy skillet over high heat, then stir into 2 Tbsp of the warmed Cognac in a small bowl. Set aside to steep.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and saute for 5 minutes, stirring in the garlic the last 30 seconds. Add bay leaf, water, lentils, saffron/cognac mixture, tomatoes and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring well. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1/2 hour. Remove from heat and stir in the red wine vinegar. Season with additional salt, if desired (I added another tsp salt, and thought that was good). Let soup sit for a bit, uncovered.

Meanwhile, whisk together in a small metal bowl the cream, remaining 1 Tbsp Cognac and ground cloves until thick. Cover and place in refrigerator.

Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add baguette slices and lightly brown on both sides.

Ladle soup into bowls. Place a dollop of cream mixture over each and garnish with parsley. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

Serves 6.

Bolognese Meat Sauce (Ragù alla Bolognese)

Bolognese_Meat_Sauce1 (1 of 1)When I was studying in Italy, I would often go down to the mensa (university cafeteria) for dinner. When I started the year off, I was a bit shy, so anything comforting (like food) helped me along. I loved the pasta con ragù alla bolognese — delicious and very comforting! Italian restaurants that I’ve dined at here in the US that have this on the menu don’t seem to get it right, so made it my mission to find an authentic recipe for ragù bolognese. I found and adapted a recipe from Saveur Cooks, Authentic Italian, which is spot-on! Some may not prefer chicken liver, but it’s used in a small amount and it’s a must! The liver, prosciutto, milk, wine (and all the other ingredients) are what make this dish authentic to me. I hope you’ll try this dish!

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 – 3 slices imported Italian prosciutto (about 3 oz), minced
1 chicken liver (about 1 1/2 oz), minced
1 1/2 ground sirloin
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup milk, heated (but not scalded!)
1 cup beef broth
1 28-oz can pureed plum tomatoes
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated Italian parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent (but not browned), about 4 minutes. Add celery and carrot and saute for another 3 minutes. Add prosciutto and chicken liver, stirring about 3 minutes.

Increase heat to high. Add ground sirloin, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir constantly, breaking up meat so that it is very fine (I press the uncooked meat with the back of a wooden spoon and stir, stir stir) for 5 minutes.

Add wine, stir and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add milk, stirring until milk has evaporated, about 4 more minutes.

Add broth and tomatoes; bring back to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer very gently for 2 1/2 hours. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper (I added another 1 tsp salt and thought that was perfect). Serve over rigatoni and sprinkle each serving with the parsley and parmesan.

Serves 4.