Beef and Shallot Stew

Winter months just call for a good stew. This is a recipe that I’ve had for a long time from Real Simple that I just think of every so often – Beef and Shallot Stew. I don’t/can’t eat beef, so I replace it with wild game. I’ve normally had venison but this time I found Wild Boar at Sprouts. It’s generally easier to have whole pieces of meat vs. ground, but sometimes you have to work with what you have.

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Ingredients

  • 4 pounds chuck meat, cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces, or 4 pounds pre-cut stew meat
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 1 1/2 pounds shallots, peeled
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions

1) Heat oven to 300° F. Season the beef with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add some of the beef to the pot and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining beef.
2) Spoon off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Add the wine and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom, for 3 minutes.
3) Return the beef to the pot along with the shallots and broth. Bring to a boil. Skim any foam. Add the thyme. Cover and transfer to oven until the beef is tender, about 2 hours. Spoon into individual bowls.

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Since I used ground meat, I didn’t need to cook the stew for nearly as long (can be a fraction of the time until the meat is cooked and onion are to the ‘softness’ you want). I serve it with some great French bread and green salad. Perfect for a cold day. Also pairs well with red wine. Cheers!

The Cache, Ft Collins, CO

With the recent opening of Ginger & Baker in Fort Collins, CO that also meant a couple new restaurants. Had to check out The Cache.

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Made a reservation a couple weeks ahead and the only times left on a Saturday were early evening or very late night. Went with the early choice. Of course the thing to start with was wine and opted for an Erath – Resplendent. It was a Pinot Noir. Had never seen that one from them and just a nice one, not too light or heavy. Also looked for it at stores the next week and didn’t see it anywhere.

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For dinner, we opted to split anappetizer – Cache House Salad, mixed greens, crispy onion, grape tomato, sourdough croutons, lemon-olive oil $8

The dressing, so amazingly emulsified, so awesome! Perfect size to split

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For the dinner, I opted for the Seared Sea Scallops, green apple-parsnip puree, quinoa, brocollini $36. Some darn big scallops. Bring it on! And I’ll say, I don’t go shopping for parsnips, but they made they taste pretty darn good!

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The other one at the table went with the Colorado lamb shank, whipped potato, haricots verts, lamb demi-glace $34. Apparently the lamb shank just sort of melted off the bone, into the potatoes, that melted in the mouth. They were devoured.

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Overall:

One thumbs down, we wanted to nibble on something before all the food came out and bread was not free but rather $11. No, that’s not a typo…eleven dollars. Really, it’s bad enough when a place charges you 5 bucks, rather than bringing it for free. But double digits? Nix that. And prices overall were a bit high for this area.

But on the thumbs up, the food was all very good, and nice presentation. The service was also excellent. A manager came out to check on us see how things were. We couldn’t have asked for more. We had one mishap with my lactose intolerance (which I told the waitress of when ordering) and it was beyond taken care of in ways I have never seen before.

So, while I will say for Fort Collins the prices are a bit high, at least everything else was great. Worth going to for a nice dinner if you’re going to splurge.

 

Give Me 3

Another Trader Joe’s problem while I discovered; scalloped Cracker Trio. Boxes of these were, of course, used as a display on aisle-end and looked far too tempting – had to try.

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The box has three flavors – Rosemary, Red Chili and Garlic. The crackers have a nice thickness to them but still are a bit soft. They sort of crumble, but in a nice way. They also almost taste like they might have some butter to them, but per the ingredient list, they do not. Perfect to pair with soups, salads and just to munch on. Recommend giving them a try.

Seared Radicchio and Roasted Beets

Was looking for a new recipe for Christmas dinner and wanted something colorful. Came across this one when flipping through Bon Appetit magazine – Seared Radicchio and Roasted Beets.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium beets, scrubbed
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 small heads of radicchio, cut into large wedges through root end
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • Flaky sea salt (for serving)

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Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Toss beets with 1 Tbsp. oil on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet; season with kosher salt. Roast, tossing once, until skins are charred and beets are tender, 40–50 minutes. Let cool.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook radicchio wedges on cut sides until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.
  • Add pomegranate juice to skillet; bring to a boil and cook until thickened and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar; season with kosher salt.
  • Tear beets open and place around radicchio; spoon dressing over. Top salad with pomegranate seeds, sprinkle with sea salt, and drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil.

 

You can roast the beets early to knock that off your list, since that takes awhile. That was helpful. I found that it took longer than 5 minutes to thicken the pomegranate juice.

Regardless, in the end, the recipe turned out great. It had the eye-catching red/bright colors for the evening and was delicious. And, had leftovers (which tasted wonderful). Definitely saving it for future use.

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Whole Grain Crispbread

Another crazy Trader Joe’s find…Whole Grain Crispbread.

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That dang store. This small plastic bag contains another form of addiction. As the back of the bag says ‘they are a really seedy, really crunchy, savory flat.’

 

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Crunchy is no lie. And I really like the crunch, then the taste. It’s hard to eat just one… Good ingredients, so they can be justified as healthy, so it’s ok to eat more than one, right?

 

Dukkah

Another problem from the grocery. That store that (often) makes you find another addiction each time you walk through the door. Thanks Trader Joe’s. This time I found Dukkah.

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It’s a nut & spice blend with several delicious ingredients, which are what make it problematic — almonds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, coriander, anise seeds and kosher salt. These are all pretty much at the top of my list.

Put in on bread with olive oil, add it to olive oil, sprinkle it on meat or veggies, you’re set! (Or just eat it straight if totally needed).

 

Cafe Vino, Ft Collins

Need wine? The name Café Vino seems like a good place to go.

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Decided to check it out for Happy Hour one evening. The Happy Hour menu title alone it great – Adult Swim.

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They have wine, beer and food specials. Now the wine is only down to $6 – would hope for something a bit better in Ft. Collins, but I’ll live. After a quick taste of both the red and white from the great bartender I actually opted for the blanco. And, it was a (semi) chard! The wine was Feudo Zirtari, 55% Inzolia/45% Chard. It wasn’t too heavy, no oak on it, and despite the fact that it wasn’t hot out, it was very nice and refreshing and I would have loved to be sitting outside on the deck with it.

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This is another one that I can’t find anywhere in the stores (did much research afterwards). Just not right that I can enjoy it in the restaurant but no further.

So, will have to return here for the wine, if nothing else. Will also have to check out their food menu at some point.

 

Stonecross Pinotage

When wine shopping, anytime I come across a Pinotage, which is very difficult in Colorado, I have to jump on it. The newest one I have come across is Stonecross at Square Beverage in Ft. Collins. Well priced at about $13. It has some nice fruit it in and I found some of the nice smokey body of Pinotage. Pick it up if you can find a bottle at your local store.

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Los Tarascos

Got together with some friends to celebrate a birthday (not mine) recently and got to check out another new (to me) place in Ft. Collins. This time it was Los Tarascos.

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Love Mexican food so I was quite excited about this. We were meeting at 6pm, but I was told to get there a little early to make sure to get some Happy Hour specials. Well, I got there at 5:45pm and I happened to be the only one to arrive early. I easily chose a Classic Margarita and dang, that thing was good. Since I knew there would be several more people coming, I ordered a few pitchers of the amazing drink. When the other attendees arrived, they were quite pleased.

At this place, they bring you chip baskets…of course. I surveyed the table and was wondering about salsa. Then I found out they have a salsa bar. You get to pick what you get to dip those addictive pieces of corn in. Dang, talk about trouble. Now, the only problem is, the containers they give you for the salsa are small. But, you can make do. They have many choices and I liked how I saw one person use a menu as a tray to carry several cups of salsa back to their table.

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Somebody at the table ordered some guac and I grabbed a bite — very good. Excellent consistency and nice spice.

As I looked through the menu I found what I love at this type of establishment — ceviche. This one was Ceviche a la Tequila — Shrimp cured in lime juice and tequila mixed with tomato, onion, and jalapeno. And for a few more dollars, you could add Octopus, which I totally went for.

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This stuff was good, with the different texture of the octopus. The only downside was that the jalapenos made it very spicy for me. I don’t have a huge heat tolerance. I picked as many pieces of it out as I could. But, I will totally go back and get more of this.

So, between the delicious margaritas, tons of salsa, good guac and octopus ceviche, this place is definitely one I’m checking out again.

Salud!

St. Vrain Cidery

Visited a friend in Longmont, CO not only to catch up with her, but so that we could check out St. Vrain Cidery.

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This place opened in 2014 by Dean and Ciny Landi with cidermaker Dan Daugherty.

Based on their site, ‘the St. Vrain Apple was last seen in 1891 by a farmer taking inventory of Colorado fruits. The name St. Vrain runs deep in the city of Longmont’s history, and our cidery’s name honors this regional apple and our city.’

They have a large variety of ciders on tap from the state, five of which are their own. While there enjoying the adult apple juice, you can order sampler flights, 4oz, 8oz or 12oz pours.

My friend and I each went with the samplers, which had four 4oz pours.

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I sampled these (ordered one more after the initial tasting, too):

St. Vrain Cidery Dry Apple (Longmont, CO) This refreshing cider starts with baked apple and a hint of tea on the nose. Fresh, dry apple flavors combine with white wine-like minerality from the Winesap apples in the blend. All followed by a clean, crisp finish. Dry. 6.6% ABV

  • Very dry, a bit too much for me. But they definitely didn’t add anything unnecessary to this cider. It’s all apple!

St.  Vrain Cidery Ironface Infusion (Longmont, CO) We infuse our Dry Apple cider with gin botanicals from Anvil Distillery’s Ironface Gin (Longmont), resulting in our first in a series of botanical ciders. Dry. 6.9% ABV

  • You definitely got that hint of gin/juniper. Subtle, unique, nice. Still very dry. I (personally) don’t like sweet cider, but I don’t like it beyond dry.

Summit Hard Cider Pineapple (Fort Collins, CO) Fresh pineapple flavors blend well with apple. Semi-Sweet. 5% ABV

  • Had to try this because I love pineapple and did have my doubts. This ranked #1 for me. I didn’t expect the semi-sweet. I was expecting it to be candy. Delicious!

C Squared Ciders Ella IPC (Denver, CO) India Pale Cider with dry hop aromas of tropical fruit. Melds into green apple flavors with clean, bitter finish. Off-Dry. 6.0% ABV

  • Just a nice basic off-dry cider. Mild on the hops but gave it a nice taste!

Wild Cider Bee Hoppy (Firestone, CO) Refreshing, crisp, dry hopped cider with citrus undertones. Finishes with a kiss of honey. Off-Dry. 5.0% ABV

  • This is the one I got after my initial tasting. Subtle citrus with very mild hop. Then the sweet at the end was awesome. Totally maintained the off-dry level though. Another one that I had my doubts about but it came in strong.

 

Was very glad that I got to check this place out. And, my friend and I happened to get there during happy hour and I think my bill was $8-$10 for all this, with tip. So, next time you’re in Longmont, check this out. Or, if you’re a cider fan, plan a trip there, you won’t be disappointed. Take your growler, too. You can get it filled with one of their five ciders.

Cheers!