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!

Homemade Chicken Soup – from a bag

Had just been on one of the deadly shopping trips to Costco. You know, where you have a list of a few things and then your cart ends up being oddly full. Well one of the things that ended up as part of the cart contents was some (Israeli) pearl couscous. I happened to actually read the recipe on the back of the bag and it sounded really good. I was in the mood for some soup that day so figured I’d give it a try.

Couscous Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup each chopped onion, carrots and celery
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves (or more, of course) garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemongrass paste, optional
  • 2 cups cubed rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • S&P
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

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Directions:

In large stock port, add onions, carrots and celery with 2 tablespoons broth. Saute 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Stir in ginger, garlic and lemongrass. Add remaining broth, chicken and couscous; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add lemon juice, S&P; garnish with parsley before serving.

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This soup was great! And so easy. Since you buy a rotisserie chicken, that work is done. The taste from the lemongrass and ginger just give it such a nice twist from traditional chicken soup and I love pearl couscous. Great recipe to have on hand for winter. I also had lots of leftover so froze them. Oh, also added more chicken broth and some water when I had leftovers the next day (before freezing the rest). The couscous soaked up some of the broth, but to me that just meant more soup!

Strondin Bistro & Bar, Vik, Iceland

Was in Vik for two nights and had the choice of pretty much two restaurants. Might as well cover the territory. So the 2nd night checked out Strondin Bistro & Bar.

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A good amount to pick from on the menu but soup was something I really wanted because by Day 3 of the trip I felt like we’d have about a week of rain. Lamb is not a meat I truly have a taste for but that was the only thing I could pick from because the other soup/stew was diary based. So I went for the:

Heimalöguð íslensk kjötsúpa – Homemade Iceland traditional meat soup with lamb and root vegetables. 2,300kr.

It was quite good. The taste in the lamb was very subtle. And the rest of the ingredients were potatoes, onions, carrots that were very nice. The warmth brought it all together.

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Also needed some veggies. Iceland does not have an abundance of these things. But this Strondin place had a Miðjarðarhafssalt: salat m/sólÞurrkuðum tómötum, ólifum, fetaosti, tomötum, agurku og paprika – Mediterranean: salad with sundried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. 1,750 kr.

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That had to be one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Ignoring the lack of veggies the prior few days, the unique combo of sun-dried and ‘regular’ tomatoes in the salad and the dressing it had; SO good!

They also had some delicious bread with some kind of herbs in it to make all this even better, that was just brought to the table.

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Finally, was enjoying all this with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, Maronde Pionero from Chile, 1,250 kr. Wine was pricey as usual, but at least since I live in the DC-area, it wasn’t total sticker-shock.

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What also makes a dinner amazing is the staff. A bit shout out to Antonio, Jan and Lammi. They provided great service, making this dinner even better. Thanks!! So, when you’re in Vik, check this place out.

Also, this yellow object started coming out in the sky when we walked out of the restaurant, it was tough to identify. But it provided us this scenery.

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Lemony Lentil (and others) Soup

Cold, ugly weather. Football, football, hockey. One must have soup to feed! I have a recipe a friend gave me years ago that sounded too perfect for this type of occasion — Lemony Lentil Soup w/ Greens from Ellie Krieger. I added some stuff to it, too. I just remember this soup made a GINORMOUS amount — good word right? I was going to make half, wasn’t paying attention on one ingredient, so had to make the whole thing. And then played around because I knew I was missing some pieces of the puzzle but had good makeups.

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Ingredients

2 tsp canola oil (***used olive oil)
1 sm onion, chopped
1 lg carrot, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed (***if you’re vegetarian, sub veggie broth)
16 oz green lentils (*** for this I also used Quinoa and the Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend, which has Israeli Style Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo Beans, Red Quinoa.If you haven’t had it, try it — so good)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
6 cups chopped kale leaves (about 6 oz) (***for this I also added frozen Brussels sprouts)
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Directions

Heat the oil in a 6-qt soup pot over med-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until softened and translucent, 3 to 5 min. Add the carrot, celery, garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are softened, about 5 min. Add 12 cups of the broth, the lentils, basil, thyme, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the kale, and cook until the lentils are tender, 30-35 min, adding more broth as necessary. Stir in the lemon juice and zest, and serve.

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My pot was filled to the brim. This stuff is really good and just makes so much. I have so much leftover. It easily makes 10-12 servings. I am glad I have a good amount of food containers to put it in.

Pueblo Viejo

I love Mexican food! When I find a new place I can check out, I will. And what’s ironic is that I’m posting all these blogs about restaurants and I don’t eat out all that much. I cook the majority of my meals at home. I was away for awhile and I’m also catching up on a bunch of long-overdue blogs.

So, another place in Ft. Collins that I checked out was Pueblo Viejo.

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When they bring you the chips and salsa they also provide a unique bean dip. It’s made with pinto beans (not black beans). Nice to have something a bit different and just had some nice spices in it. Some guac was definitely ordered, too. Very good stuff!

Went for lunch and ordered some chicken tortilla soup. This stuff was amazing! They add tons of veggies to it — cauliflower, carrots and more. Not something very common and I loved it. It gives you a nice hearty meal. If you check this place out, definitely worth ordering.

Soup of the Day

Real Simple always has some good recipes to check out.  The most recent one I put to the test was their Squash, Mushroom, and Kale Soup With Dill.  All ingredients sound pretty darn good!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound mixed mushrooms (such as button and shiitake), stemmed and halved (or quartered if large) (grabbed some good ones from Trader Joe’s)
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks (about 12 ounces)
1/3 cup orzo (could even use quinoa, etc if gluten intolerant)
4 cups loosely packed baby kale leaves (about 2½ ounces)
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnishing (just used dry stuff)

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Directions

-Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, ½ 
teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 4 minutes. 
Add the mushrooms and lower heat to medium. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and have released their juices, 6 to 8 
minutes. Stir in the broth, squash, and orzo and bring to a boil. Reduce heat 
to medium-low and simmer until the squash is tender and the orzo is cooked, about 15 minutes.
-Stir in the kale until just wilted. 
Season with salt and pepper and stir in the dill. Serve topped with more dill.

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When I sampled this mid-way through I was a bit disappointed.  But then, when you add the dill…totally amazing flavor punch!  Very happy with the end result and nice one to add to the list.

Saffron Fish Stew

Even before this crazy snow started falling (so last week), I was searching for soup.  It was actually while needing to sit on the couch for several hours watching football.  So a recipe I came across to check out was Bon Appetit/Epicurious’s Saffron Fish Stew with White Beans.  I love getting something with that sharp color of saffron (and you can find it for a great price at Trader Joe’s).  When I came across this recipe it has so many of my favorite herbs.  Anything with seafood is wonderful!

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup pre-chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground fennel (love it!)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (heaven)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 thyme sprig
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh orange rind
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups clam juice
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 pound flounder fillet, cut into (2-inch) pieces (for this I just threw in a bunch of stuff from my freezer — some white fish, scallops, langoustine tails.  I also had a bag of mixed stuff from TJ’s that I’ll use next time)
1 (14-ounce) can great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
Fresh thyme leaves

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Preparation

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, coriander, garlic, and thyme sprig; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in rind and saffron; add water, clam juice, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in salt, fish, and beans; cook 5 minutes. Top with thyme leaves.

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This was so quick to make!  Served it with some rosemary bread (can’t take credit for making that).  Delicious.

Green Vegetable Soup

Cold weather, new soup.  Went for one I saw in Cooking Light — Green Vegetable Soup.

 Ingredients

3/4 cup uncooked orzo
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 2) (used frozen ones from Trader Joe’s)
1 cup thinly sliced celery (didn’t use this because I didn’t feel like getting a whole head of celery)
1 tablespoon minced garlic, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 cup water
3 thyme sprigs (went for dry)
1 cup frozen green peas
1 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1/4 pound) (used frozen ones from Trader Joe’s)
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups baby spinach leaves, divided (used frozen ones from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

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Preparation

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

2. While pasta cooks, heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat. Add leeks, celery, 2 teaspoons garlic, and salt; sauté 5 minutes. Add stock, 1 cup water, and thyme. Cover; bring to a boil. Add peas and beans, and simmer, uncovered, 4 minutes. Discard thyme. Stir in pasta and 1 cup spinach.

3. Place 1 cup spinach, basil, cheese, rind, juice, 1 teaspoon garlic, and 2 teaspoons oil in a food processor; process until smooth. Divide soup among 4 bowls; top with pesto. (I didn’t make this part).

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This stuff was ok.  I think there was way too much orzo in there.  Nothing to write home about.  It was missing a lot of flavor, thought that could be because I didn’t make the pesto.  I’m not keeping the recipe.

 

 

 

Cauliflower Meets Immersion Blender

Another new magazine…  This time it’s a recent issue of Food & Wine and a recipe that caught my attention was Cauliflower Soup with Goat Cheese.  I read through it and it does call for dairy but it can so easily be eliminated.  It’s an accent (and really just unnecessary extra calories). The recipe is another great vegetarian (I used veggie stock because it’s what I had on hard), lactose free (you can nix the cheese, too, if needed, though goat cheese is good for most lactards) and gluten free one.

Ingredients

One 2 1/2-pound head of cauliflower, cored (went for a bag of frozen stuff, did 2-12oz bags)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt
1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth (used veggie stock — great option for the vegetarian version)
3 thyme sprigs tied in a bundle, plus 1 teaspoon chopped leaves (used dried)
8 brussels sprouts (6 ounces), trimmed and separated into leaves (back to the freezer…so much easier)
4 ounces cold fresh goat cheese, crumbled (I actually used feta because I needed it for the next night, tasted great)
2 tablespoons snipped chives
1/4 cup heavy cream (nixed this so I could eat it)

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Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375°. On a work surface, cut one-fourth of the cauliflower into 1/2-inch florets. Coarsely chop the remaining cauliflower.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the leek, garlic and a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the potato and the chopped cauliflower, then add the wine and cook over high heat until reduced by half, 4 minutes. Add the stock and the thyme bundle and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Discard the thyme bundle (since I used dried stuff, it stayed in there).
Meanwhile, at either end of a large rimmed baking sheet, separately toss the cauliflower florets and brussels sprout leaves each with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, stirring each halfway through, until lightly browned and tender. In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese with the chives and chopped thyme.
In a blender (I used the much handier immersion blender), puree the soup in 2 batches until very smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the cream (did do this). Rewarm over moderate heat, adding water if the soup seems too thick; season with salt. Ladle into bowls and top with the roasted brussels sprout leaves and cauliflower florets. Sprinkle the herbed goat cheese on top and serve hot.

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Delicious soup!  The flavors all came together and worked so well.  Totally worth trying.

Make Ahead

The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

Oh My Cod

Another new recipe, of course.  What would I do if cooking magazines went out of publication?  I love posole and normally it’s made with chicken.  But in a recent edition of Bon Appetit (can you see what I get often?) there was a recipe for Green Posole with Cod and Cilantro (Duh on the last ingredient!!! How can you live without that stuff?).

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced, divided (skipped these, see below)
8 medium tomatillos (about 1¼ pounds), husks removed, rinsed (Lazy on these because I use green salsa.  I usually just get the ‘normal’ stuff from Trader Joe’s.  Well they just came out with some super spicy green stuff — Hatch Valley.  So I used one jar of the normal and one jar of the spicy, which replaced the chiles, and oh I am glad I only used one jar!)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
1 pound cod fillet (frozen chunked from Trader Joe’s)
1 15-ounce can white hominy, rinsed (used a bigger can, because that’s what I had — 25 oz)
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
3 small radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced (skipped them because it was garnish)
Lime wedges (for serving) (ditto as above)

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Preparation:

-Heat oil in a large pot over medium. Cook shallots, garlic, and half of chiles (this is the part I skipped, chile-wise because of the salsa), stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, 6–8 minutes.
-Meanwhile, purée tomatillos in a blender until smooth. 
(didn’t have to do this because of the ease of green salsa)

-Add half of tomatillo purée to pot and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup cilantro to remaining purée in blender and blend until smooth; set aside. 
(I just chopped the cilantro very well and added it a step down).

-Add cod, hominy, clam juice, and 1 cup water to pot. Bring to a simmer and gently cook over medium-low until cod is opaque throughout and beginning to flake, 8–10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in reserved raw tomatillo-cilantro purée, breaking cod into large chunks; season with salt and pepper. 
 (If you used the cubed stuff from Trader Joe’s or elsewhere, you don’t have the break down the cod, already done — simplicity in the kitchen!).

-Divide stew among bowls and top with radishes, cilantro, and remaining chile. Serve with lime wedges.

IMG_4232[1]This stuff was good!  Pretty thick/heavy, too.  A bit spicy for me, but my friends inhaled it and loved the spice.  Love getting variations on posole.  Definitely recommend giving this a try.