Monthly Archives: March 2014

Beef Braised in a Tomato and White Wine Sauce with Fennel Seeds and Saffron (Brasato di Manzo allo Zafferano)

Brasato_di_Manzo1 (1 of 1)This braise of beef hails from the Puglia region of Italy, and although hearty, I believe it’s prepared year-round there. Another simple and delicious Mediterranean dish, this recipe’s unique ingredients all come together during very nicely the braising process. Wonderful over freshly made soft polenta (recipe for future post)! I hope you’ll try this tonight (or next weekend)!

1/3 cup olive, plus 1 tsp
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp fennel seeds
2 1/2 lbs trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/4 tsp saffron threads
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 14-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices, hand-squeezed into small bits in bowl
1 tsp sugar
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In small pan, heat 1/3 cup olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and gently cook for 2 minutes (don’t brown!). Add fennel seeds and cook another 1 minute. Combine olive oil mixture well with beef in a large bowl. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, bring wine to a boil in a small bowl. Remove from heat and add saffron. Stir, cover and let steep.

In a large Dutch oven, heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil over high heat. Add marinated beef, salt and pepper, and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add tomatoes and wine/saffron mixture to pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until cooked down a bit,  deglazing about 5 minutes.  Add back beef. Increase heat to high and stir until beef mixture begins to boil. Cover and place in oven. Cook until beef is just about falling apart, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Stir in sugar. Serve over polenta and garnish with parmesan and parsley.

Serves 6.

 

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Greek Stewed White Beans with Tomatoes, Oregano and Olive Oil

Fasolada1 (1 of 1)My best friend growing up was (is) half Greek. Her family often had me over for dinner. The meals were always spectacular, and typically featured Greek cuisine. This is where I tasted my first fasolada (φασολάδα). It was delicious! It’s a comfort food in Greece, and I’ve finally decided to make it myself — I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner because it is so simple to prepare, and I think this version is really good. I remember my friend’s mother’s version as having more tomatoes and less carrots, and lots of olive oil (and I’ll try that next time), but again, I really enjoy this version. Give it a try and let me know what you think! (Note:  this also does well in a slow cooker, on low, 7 – 8 hours).

1 lb cannellini beans, soaked overnight or flash-soaked by bringing to a boil in 8 cups cold water, boiling 2 minutes, removing from heat and letting stand for 1 hour, then draining
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery
1 28-oz can whole, peeled tomatoes, crushed in a bowl with hands
2 Tbsp tomato paste
5 Tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
5 cups cold water
3 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Additional olive oil for serving
Additional chopped parsley for garnish

In a large Dutch oven or similar pan, bring beans and 8 cups cold water to a boil. Add all other ingredients except salt and pepper (I’ve read that adding the seasoning during the cooking process makes the beans tough — wouldn’t want that!). Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. My version is a bit thicker than others, so add additional water if you prefer soupy. Remove from heat, season with the salt and pepper. Garnish individual servings and drizzle with a bit more olive oil and parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 6.

Spanish Cannelloni (Canelones Rellenos)

Canalones1 (1 of 1)Although cannelloni are of Italian origin, canelones rellenos is a popular dish in Barcelona, Spain (thought to have been brought there by Italian migrants in the 19th century). With a unique use of herbs and sherry, the fantastic flavors of this dish are distinctly Spanish. These canelones are delicious, so I hope you’ll give them a try tonight!

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 1/2 oz ground beef
4 1/2 oz ground pork
3 oz chicken liver, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 leek (white part), chopped
3 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 1/2 Tbsp sherry
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
4 Tbsp chopped parsley
9 oz dried cannelloni tubes
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
4 cups milk
4 oz tomato purée
1 cup grated parmesan or manchego cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add beef, pork, chicken liver, onion, leek, 1 1/2 tsp Canalones2 (1 of 1)salt and 1/4 ground black pepper. Cook 10 minutes, breaking up lumps with the back of a wooden spoon. Add sherry, thyme, diced tomatoes and 2 Tbsp of the parsley. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cook to room temperature.

Using your hands, fill the cannelloni tubes with the meat mixture and place them in a 13×9-inch ovenproof dish that has been sprayed with cooking oil.

Meanwhile, make a white sauce by melting the butter in a medium sauce pan. Whisk in the flour and cook 2 minutes, until you have a nice, pale yellow roux. Add nutmeg and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Gradually whisk in the milk. Return to medium heat and whisk constantly for 15 minutes, until thickened.

Pour white sauce evenly over cannelloni. Scatter dollops of the tomato purée over the top. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake for about 45 minutes, until lightly browned. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve.

Serves 6.

Baked Mac and Cheese with Gruyère, Cabbage and Sage

Mac_n_Cheese1 (1 of 1)What could possibly be better than the combined flavors of garlic and sage! Add cheese and throw in some pasta, bake it, and you have heaven in a dish! This mac and cheese is delicious, and so easy to prepare. Serve with a green salad, and you have a meal. This recipe can easily be cooked in a single casserole, but I made it in individual ramekins, because I thought they’d be more photogenic. Anyway, I hope you’ll try this dish!

1/4 olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely grated or minced
6 sage leaves, torn into small pieces
10 oz uncooked rigatoni pasta
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 cups savoy cabbage, thinly sliced into 1/2-inch strips
1 cup grated gruyère cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sage; saute another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Strain pasta, reserving water. Place cooked pasta in a large bowl; set aside.

Bring reserved pasta water to a boil in a pot. Add potatoes and cook 7 minutes. Add cabbage and cook 1 more minute. Strain.

Combine potatoes and cabbage with pasta. Stir in 1/2 cup of the grated gruyère,  parmesan, salt and pepper.  Divide equally into 6 single-serving size ramekins that have been sprayed with cooking oil. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup gruyère (or more!) over ramekins. Place into oven on a cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes, then broil for a couple of minutes until nicely browned. Serve.

Serves 6.

Flavorful Indonesian Minced Meat Parcels (Bebotok Sapi)

Bebotok_Daging1 (1 of 1)There are a few varieties of bebotok in Indonesia. They are made with minced fish, lamb or beef, and maybe even chicken, I’m not sure. In this recipe, I use beef (sapi). These yummy meat parcels are typically steamed in pandan or banana leaves — I had neither on hand last night, so I used foil. I’m sure the fresh leaves add to the aroma, but I think mine turned out just fine. These are delicious, and I hope you’ll give them a try tonight!

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
2 medium onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, very finely grated or minced
1 1/2  tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 tsp)
3 Thai bird chilies, minced
4 candlenuts, grated
1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed, lower white portion very finely minced (or 1/2 tsp lemongrass powder)
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
1 Tbsp tamarind water
3 eggs, 2 of them hard-boiled, the 3rd beaten in a small bowl)

In a medium bowl, mix together beef, onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat wok over high heat. Add coriander, cumin, ginger, chilies, candlenuts and lemongrass; Bebotok_Daging3 (1 of 1)stir-fry for 1 minute. Add beef mixture, and brown for 5 minutes — stir constantly to break meat up. Add the coconut milk, lime leaves and tamarind water, stirring well. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until mixture is just about dry, about 20 minutes. Remove meat mixture from heat. Transfer to a bowl and let cool, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the hard-boiled eggs.

Cut sheet of aluminum foil into 14 7″X7″ squares. Place 1 egg slice in the middle of each square. Stir beaten egg into meat mixture. Spoon 2 heaping Tbsp of the meat over each egg slice. Fold opposite sides of the foil in over the meat and egg, sealing the parcels into squares.

Prepare a steamer — I used a large, shallow sauce pan, placed a cooling rack in it and filled the bottom with water, just below the rack.

Place the meat parcels evenly into the steamer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove meat parcels from steamer. Serve with steamed rice, sliced cucumber and an assortment of your favorite Indonesian sambals.

Serves 6.