Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kroyt (Cabbage Borscht)

As a child, I was always very suspicious of old world, Eastern European Ashkenazi food (that's my heritage). When I found out what kishke really is (stuffed intestines) I thought my parents were trying to trick me into eating something scary every time traditional food was served up by parents and grandparents. Also, I loved my grandma's chicken papperkash till I questioned the rich, irony flavor...I'd been tricked into eating liver, gross (I've never been much of an offal-lover)! Borscht was another Ashhkenazi delight that made me nervous. The crazy florescent purple color and the fact that it's generally made with beets made my apprehensive childhood self apprehensive. Luckily, I've come around to kishke, papperkash (sans liver) and borscht, among others. I didn't have any beets in my veggie drawer, so I opted for a southern Russian rendition made with cabbage. The characteristic sweet-and-sour flavor come from the addition of brown sugar and lemon juice at the end.
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 cups beef broth
5 cups water
28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, with juice
1 medium red cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
2-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice, to taste
2-4 tbsp brown sugar, to taste

Heat the oil in a large stock pot and add onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent. Add broth, water, cabbage, bay leaves, tomatoes with their juice (break up tomatoes with hands to smaller pieces), salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, covered for about an hour and a half. Add lemon juice and brown sugar, starting with a lesser amount, add more to desired taste. Remove bay leaves. Serve either hot or cold, whichever you prefer.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Marinara Sauce

I strongly believe in sauce - mostly every food I can think can be enhanced by being dipped in, drizzled with or doused in sauce. Sure there are exceptions, but they are few and far between. I woke up yesterday morning craving one of my very favorite marinara sauces. It's simple to make and arguably one of the best things to come out of one of my failed relationships (he gave me The North End Italian Cookbook, which this recipe is adapted from).
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon mixed dried Italian herbs
28 ounce can of whole plum tomatoes, hand crushed or chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh basil, chopped

In large heavy skillet, on low heat, slowly heat the oil, garlic, onions, red pepper flakes and dried Italian herbs. Let cook for about 5 minutes or until garlic is brown. Raise heat to medium-high and add tomatoes and carrots. Let sauce come to soft boil and cook for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and basil. Use blender or hand immersion blender to reach desired texture (I gently pulsed for about 20 seconds).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pecorino Romano

My friend Beth raves about her brussel sprouts recipe so much that I figured it was time to give it a try. Good God...she was right! Roast halved brussel sprouts with plenty of extra virgin olive oil (slow and low at 350 degrees for 45 minutes), season to taste with salt and freshly cracked pepper, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of grated Pecorino Romano before serving.
The recipe and prep was simple and yielded delicious results.
Thanks B!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lemony Wild Mushroom Risotto

Risotto was a dish I strictly ordered in restaurants and was too intimidated to try to make, until last winter when my friend Mindy gave me a tutorial. Since then I've cooked up many a pot of risotto with very few mess ups. Just stick to the basic formula of slowly adding stock to the Arborio rice and stirring patiently for 20-25 minutes until the risotto reaches a creamy consistency. I love how easy putting together risotto is relatively easy, but guests are always so impressed whenever I serve it up.

Wild mushroom risotto is my absolute favorite, so I was intrigued when I came across a variation of it on - add lemon zest. I don't think I'll ever go back! The slight acidity and fragrant citrus aroma permeating the risotto brought out the earthiness of the morel, baby portabella, lobster, shitake, crimini and oyster mushroom mix.
I swear that once you master risotto once, you'll impress yourself time and time again.

2 cups hot water
1/2 oz dried mixed wild mushrooms (my mix included morel, baby portabella, lobster, shitake, crimini and oyster mushrooms)
1/2 cup quartered baby bella mushrooms
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
2 shallots, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1 scallion stalk, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak dried mushrooms in 1/2 cup of hot water. Warm chicken broth and 1 1/2 cups of water in sauce pan and maintain a low heat.  In medium-size skillet, warm 1 tablespoon butter over moderate heat and add shallots and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes before adding baby bella mushrooms. Strain dried mushrooms and squeeze out excess water. Add excess water from soaking into chicken broth and re-hydrated mushrooms to skillet. Add rice to pan with an additional 1/2 tsp butter; stir constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in wine and stir for 1 minute until absorbed. Ladle in 1/2 cup simmering broth and cream; simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is absorbed. Continue adding 1/2 cup of broth and stirring for around 20 minutes, until it is the consistency of a thick soup and the rice is still a bit firm. Stir in remaining butter, parsley and lemon zest. Season to taste. Sprinkle each serving with chopped scallions.

Proceed to high five yourself!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hungarian Beef Goulash

Goulash is one of the most satisfying cold weather foods I can think of. Hell, I love it so much I'll eat it in 90 degree weather. When it's in the single digits as it has been in my neck of the woods, I've got hearty Hungarian stew on the mind.
1 1/2  pounds  boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
1 tbsp   butter
2 white onions, chopped
2  garlic cloves, minced
2  tablespoons  paprika (I've said it before, I'll say it again -- smoked paprika is the best!)
1  tablespoon  red wine vinegar (or really whatever thinner vinegar you have on hand, I don't think it makes a huge difference if you sub with apple cider or a white balsamic. I'd avoid a rich, dark balsamic vinegar)
24 oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon  caraway seeds, crushed
3  whole bay leaves
1  cup  water
14 oz can fat-free, low-sodium beef broth
6 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 peeled carrots, cut into 3/4 inch disks
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Dredge beef in flour and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Melt butter in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add beef to pot and cook until brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan and reserve.

Add onion and garlic to pan and sauté until lightly browned, then stir in paprika and vinegar. Cook mixture for 4 minutes before returning beef to pot. cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, crushed caraway seeds, bay leaves, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 cup water and beef broth. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Add chunks of potato and carrots;  cover and cook until potatoes are tender (about an hour and a half). Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper and lemon juice. Discard bay leaves.
Serve with crusty bread and a dark beer. Kyler picked up an amazing rustic rosemary garlic potato bread from Uprise Bakery and we drank Founders Breakfast Stout (Currently my fave beer in the whole wide world. It's a damn shame that it's seasonal and the season just ended...thus we stocked up).