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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.



Indonesian Shrimp Curry (Udang Kari)

Indonesian_Shrimp_Curry1 (1 of 1)I’m very fond of just about any dish that has lemongrass in it. The original recipe called for ground lemongrass, but I prefer the brightness of fresh lemongrass for this recipe. This Indonesian curry can be served as a main dish with steamed rice, or as one dish of a few for an Indonesian-style meal. This is an easy dish for a mid-week dinner, and it’s good so I hope you’ll try it!

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic coves, peeled and finely grated or minced
1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed and the lower 6 inches very finely minced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sambal ulek
1/2 tsp terasi
1 tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk
1 lb peeled shrimp (uncooked, frozen or fresh)
1 Tbsp kecap manis
Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric, cumin and sambal ulek. Saute gently for 3 minutes.

Add the terasi, salt and coconut milk to the onion mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add shrimp and simmer for 20 minutes, or until sauce is quite thick. Stir in kecap manis and serve with seamed jasmine rice.

Serves 4.

Roast Turkey Panini with Spicy Chipotle Mayo

Panino4 (1 of 1)For those of you who have panini presses at home, this is a quick and yummy recipe for a mid-week dinner. What makes it is the chipotle mayo — it’s pretty spicy, so add less of the chipotle pepper if you prefer less heat. Chipotle chili peppers are smoke-dried jalapeño peppers, and for this recipe, you want to use the variety that you purchase in a 7-oz can, in adobo sauce.

1 small chipotle pepper (see my notes above about using chipotle peppers that come in adobo sauce), minced
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 pinch salt
1 loaf fresh ciabata bread, cut into 4 sections, then sliced horizontally in half
1 ripe tomato, thinly sliced
Fresh romaine lettuce
Deli-style (thinly sliced) roast turkey
White American cheese slices
Prepare the chipotle mayo by whisking together minced chipotle pepper, mayonnaise, ground cumin and salt.

Spread the chipotle mayo on the tops and Panino5 (1 of 1)bottoms of the bread slices. Build sandwiches by placing on each a few ounces of turkey, followed by a couple lettuce leaves, a couple slices of tomato and a slice of cheese. Cook panini (sandwiches) in hot press until bread is light brown and crunchy.

Serves 4.