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!

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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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!

Thai Pavilion

Was at National Harbor, MD and checked out Thai Pavilion. They have quite nice decor and just the doors to get in the restaurant are intricate — thick and metal with much design. You need to use both hands to open them. Couldn’t wait to get to the food!

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The menu blew me away. So many choices! It was very traditional Thai food, too. I flipped through the menu for quite awhile before finally deciding what to get. Went with a soup/salad meal:

AmNat ChaRoen or TOM YUM. Fresh mushrooms in lemon grass soup, galangal and Thai spices with chili paste. Your choice of chicken or mixed vegetables.

This was such a good soup. Just everything the description says. I got it with the veggies. Could easily have enjoyed more.

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PatTaYa orSOM TUM MA LA GORE. The most popular Som Tom. Julienned green papaya, roasted peanuts, tomatoes, and string beans tossed with spicy lime dressing.

This was so interesting because the papaya was crunchy. It wasn’t the taste I was expecting (which the waiter warned me of). It was all quite good and was brought together nicely with the lime dressing.

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Also enjoyed some Sauvignon Blanc with this. A very nice Thai dinner and this is definitely a place to return to so that more (of the many) menu items can be tasted.

I Am the Walrus

Well, actually, I just went to a restaurant called The Walrus. National Harbor, MD.

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First great/fun/cool thing about them – they have wine on tap. This perhaps used to be looked upon as an odd thing, but it’s great. Makes the wine last longer, it won’t go bad, and keeps it at the right temp. Cheers to that! I opted for the Rose (non-Moscato, of course). Nice and dry, light berry taste and perfect temp. And during happy hour, $2 off per glass.

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After looking over the menu, food-wise I went with the Butternut Squash Soup – Fresh Maryland lump crab, local butternut squash, chives and JO Spiced pepitas.  Very nice size for the dish, perfect thickness. It cooled down quickly, but nonetheless, with the crab it was even more delicious!
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Wanted more veggies and a soup/salad theme, so opted for the Roasted Beet Salad –
Roasted golden beets, goat cheese, baby greens, candied pecans, honey balsamic vinaigrette with sautéed shrimp. Good flavor and it came with both thinly sliced beets and cubed beets. The shrimp were also very nicely cooked.
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Liked the place and the service at the bar was pretty good. The initial bartender we had was perfect, then the amount of staff in the bar dropped so it was harder to get service, but it was not the end of the world. Check this place out if you’re at National Harbor.

Black Market

Black Market can mean many things. Well, the most recent place I tested the name was at Jeff Black’s version of it in Garrett Park, MD, Black Market Bistro.

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The last time I visited the place was probably 12 years ago and that was for brunch. Wow, it’s changed – it’s gotten much more popular and the menu is different.

Went on a Wednesday night and it was a solid 30 minute wait at around 7:45pm. Once we sat down, it didn’t take too long to decide what to get because we’d had a chance to glance at the menu while waiting. I will say, I ordered a heck of a lot of seafood!

So for the first course, the food that came to the table included:

Marinated Warm Grilled Squid Salad | $14 | Over Arugula in a Red Wine Vinaigrette with Kalamata Olives, Chili Flakes, Feta Cheese, Red Onions, Pine Nuts & Lemon Zest

First — the feta was genuine feta, so I could eat it. Everything other than the lettuce was hot-warm (which was perfect), and the squid was perfectly cooked. Heaven! I had to not eat it all because of the 2nd course.

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Cornmeal Crusted Oysters | $13 | House Made Tartar Sauce

The plate was demolished, or the food on the plate was. Apparently perfect — crusted and cooked to perfection, with quite a tasty tartar sauce.

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Second Course:

Swordfish special of the night. Can’t remember the entire description, but solid steaks, lettuce, nice vinaigrette, and delicious!

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New Orleans Style Barbeque Shrimp | $27 | Sweet Corn & Scallion Grits, Wilted Swiss Chard & Toasted Baguette

Bring on the grit drool and mouth watering shrimp is what I determined/heard from across the table.

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I took home a good amount of leftovers because both courses were big. The service was a bit slow and it was hard to get the waiter at some points, and then at others he was always there. But, as mentioned, it was a busy night.

A couple good wines were enjoyed, but forgot to take note of those. I think the food was the highlight of the night.

Check it out if you’re in the area. It’s definitely a hidden gem. Even if you know the area, you might have to pull out your phone to get you there from Strathmore Ave.

Cheers!

Satt, Reykjavik, Iceland

Our final night in Reykjavik, Iceland was short & sweet. We returned from Greenland and had just 12+ hours, including sleeping and getting to the airport the next morning, which was over an hour away. So it was just a matter of enjoying a final dinner. We decided to just stick with what was in the hotel, because we weren’t really near anything. The restaurant was Satt, which is Icelandic for true.

 

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As we read over the whole menu, we opted for an appetizer, the Bruschetta 2150 kr.

Grilled sourdough bread, smoked salmon, watercress

This sounds great and a nice way to start off the meal. Well, after waiting a long time, it came out. You can see to the far right that there is a bit of cream colored stuff. Well, they add a dairy-based spread on top of the bread before topping it with the salmon. This was frustrating because it’s not noted in the description and I had told the waiter I was lactose intolerant when asking questions about the menu overall. Once the bruschetta eventually came out again (honestly about 20 minutes, and the place wasn’t busy), it was quite good.

 

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Main courses at the table came down to:

Risotto — Fennel, tomatoes, fava beans, herb salad, Parmesan cream 2790 kr.
Good, traditional risotto, per the one who enjoyed it.

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My main course was a 1/2 Satt House Salad with Chicken, 1890 kr. Nice and filling — delicious, huge croutons. A good basic salad.

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We had also ordered a half carafe of wine to go with this, some Drostdy Hof Cabernet Sauvignon to be exact. Nice body to this, not overly heavy for a cab, and some nice fruit notes.

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When we had problems with the bruschetta, the manager came over to apologize. And it took so long to get the bruschetta that our wine was gone (and we were not drinking quickly). She very kindly brought us a 2nd carafe (that was topped to the brim, so more than the normal amount) and it was comped, as was the bruschetta. While our waiter wasn’t up to par, the service from the manager was outstanding.

So, we had a final meal in Iceland, have had better meals, have had worse. It was mostly the service from the waiter that made it not great.

I will also say, their brunch the next day was quite nice, so their food is decent.

Skólabrú, Reykjavík, Iceland

On the last night in Iceland we were in Reykjavík. We strolled down the ‘main’ street and looked at various menus to see what might be a fun place to eat. I had been wanting to try puffin so was also looking for a restaurant that offered that. We finally decided on Skólabrú.

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We opted to split a first course, which offered the bird I was looking for. Villibráðar tvenna: Léttretyktur lundi með geitaosti; kryddjurtum og ferskum berjum og gæsa carpaccio með rauðlauk á salati, trufflum of sítrónu sósu, or in English, Wild-duo: Lightly smoked puffin with goat cheese, herbs and fresh berries and wild goose carpaccio with red onions, herb salad and truffle-lemon dressing. ISK 2,500.

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The smoked puffin (the one on the left) was nice – in addition to the magnificent presentation! Very tender, mild unique taste. This is what’s great about traveling, enjoying different food. The goose was also amazing. Very different – a bit chewier. Very glad I got to try this.

For the 2nd course we went with Steinbítur með mango, chili og engifersóso, grænmeti og hrísgrjónum or Seawolf with mango, chili and ginger sauce, roasted vegetables and rice. ISK 4,200.

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Had never had Seawolf which is what tempted me about this. It was a bit sweet of a fish, had some ‘body’ to it and just great taste. Another one that would be nice to find at the store at home.

The wait staff was excellent and attentive so check this place out if you are in Reykjavík.

Prior to all this, had a great time seeing some points of interest while driving down to Reykjavík that day.

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La Colina, Borgarnes, Iceland

On night 2 in Borgarnes we opted for La Colina Pizzeria. It was highly recommended (as another one of the few restaurants in the city). It’s a pizzeria and they pretty much stick to that.

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They had a large selection of pizzas and we opted for the De Campo – Sósa, ostur, parmaskinsa, klettasalat, parmesan ostur, oregano or Pizza sauce, cheese, prosciutto, rucola (arugula), parmagiano reggiano, oregano – 2,700 kr. – translation $30 for a thin crust, not huge pizza.

Two of us were splitting this, a lot of it because of the price. I requested half of it without the cheese, which took the waitress a couple seconds to understand but it was delivered. The pizza had a super thin, crisp crust, which was great. They were definitely very light on the pizza sauce (because of lack of veggies in Iceland). Good prosciutto and could have had more arugula, but by now had figured out the lack of veggies, as previously mentioned. But, was very pleased with everything. Pizza in Iceland, bring it on!

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That was before the rest of the fun for the evening – an 8:30pm-ish tee time in Iceland in broad daylight. Also, had I mentioned it was windy in Iceland? Notice the flag in the 3rd picture down — horizontal.

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Ok Bistro, Borgarnes, Iceland

As my trip in Iceland continued, made it to Borgarnes.

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The first night there, checked out one of the few restaurants, Ok Bistro. The name comes from ‘Ok jökull in Borgarfjörður which through the centuries has been the smallest glacier in Iceland. In the last couple of decades it has retreated steadily and in 2014 Icelandic geologists removed the glacier status of Ok. The mountain Ok still stands tall at 1200 meters and it´s located to the west of way bigger Langjökull.’

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The restaurant was recommended by the hotel and has a high rating. Started dinner with an Einstök Icelandic White Ale. Very nice with a taste of coriander and orange. I was expecting a bit of a hefe-likeness/cloudimess to it but not at all.

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We ordered a bread basket (some places give bread free, some don’t). It was freshly baked bread with mixed pepper hummus 890 kr. Tasty.

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For a main course, started with the Minke Whale. Had heard about the whale and wanted to try it. Read about it, too, and the pros/cons. The minke is ok to eat. This was a small plate, which is what we wanted so as to just get a sample.

Grilled Steak of Minke Whale with blueberry and brennivín jam, bacon bits and birch syrup, smoked mushrooms in cream sauce (they kindly put the mushrooms in sauce on the side). 2890 kr

This was amazing. They were small pieces and everything else on the plate made it outstanding. Nice and tender and unique taste. Very glad I got to try it!

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We then wanted something else simple and the chef was able to made us a basic salad (yes, veggies). It was perfect. Just simple ingredients. And at this point, I didn’t care how much veggies cost.

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Great restaurant to check out and you looked right at mountains and water. Glad we went.

And some of the views in the area of Borgarnes include:

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