Archive for the ‘winter’ Category

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes


We’ve had snow here in Seattle. Some areas have been harder hit than our house, but in the Seattle area even a couple of inches of snow is enough to bring the city to a standstill.

Luckily, before the snow hit, I fortified our home with supplies to get us through the storm (though we are running tragically low on Rum) including plenty of options for soup. To me, nothing tastes better on a cold, snowy night than a steaming hot bowl of soup.

I wasn’t planning on writing a blog about this particular soup, but after I posted the photo above a friend asked for the recipe. Since it had turned out so tasty I thought why not share it. However, since I hadn’t planned a post, the iPhone photo above is the only photo I have, no process photos. The steps are fairly straightforward though.

I served the soup with foccacia bread that I had dotted with kalamata olives. The salty tang was nice with the soup but any bread will do in a snow storm.

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
If you are not a fan of tomatoes, feel free to leave them out. Same goes for the red pepper flakes, add a little or as much heat as your mouth can stand.
  • 1 butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning mix
  • 1-2 teaspoons (or more) red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Roasted Vegetables
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • ½ onion
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. While the oven preheats, peel the butternut squash and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Toss the cubes with the olive oil, herbs, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and place them in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender and brown around the edges.
  3. While the squash cooks, cut the cauliflower into small florets. Toss them, along with the tomatoes, with the olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and place them in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
  4. Once the squash is done cooking remove it from the oven and place the pan with the cauliflower into the oven. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring once during the cooking.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large pot, combine the cooked squash with the chicken broth and bring just to a boil. Using an immersion blender (or working in batches in a regular blender) puree the soup. Stir in the vinegar and check for seasoning adding salt and pepper as desired.
  6. To serve, divide the cauliflower and tomato mixture between the bowls. Ladle the butternut squash soup around the cauliflower. Enjoy.


Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Olives and Onions

So um, yeah, 2011 can still suck it. Two days after my last post, when I thought perhaps the suck that is 2011 might be over, I rolled my ankle while leaving a client’s house after a night of catering. It was sooo dark and I just couldn’t see the edge of the driveway.

After three days of pain, I finally went to the doctor yesterday. After an exam, and a few x-rays, it was determined that no severe damage had been done (no broken bones, no torn ligaments) but it was definitely sprained. Gotta say, this is going to put a hamper on my triathlon training. Swimming is okay, biking is a maybe, but walking is a no go for at least two (but likely four) weeks.

As I am generally a glass is half-full person, I am grateful that the ankle that I rolled was my right ankle and not the left since it has not even been a year since my ankle surgery. The x-rays also showed a pretty awesome bone spur which is the likely cause of heel pain that I have been suffering through for years. So, once this triathlon is over, I can deal with that and hopefully rid myself of some pain.

So, because I have a sprained ankle and can’t really stand for long periods of time, there is not much cooking going on in my house. This makes it kind of hard create a new recipe. However, my cousin Mariah asked me to post the recipe for the short ribs that I posted pictures of in December so this seemed like the perfect chance.

Here’s the line-up:

In a heavy pot, cook the bacon until it is nice and crispy. Now honestly, you could totally skip the bacon and just warm a couple tablespoons of oil in the pan instead. How do I know? Well because I completely forgot to add the crispy bacon to the finished dish and I didn’t miss it at all (the dish ends up plenty rich on it’s own).

While the bacon renders (or the oil heats), combine the flour with salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

Dredge each of the short ribs in the mixture.

Once the bacon is crispy remove it from the pan then brown the short ribs on all side in the bacon fat (or the oil that you have been warming if you are skipping the bacon).

Do the browning in batches so that the pan isn’t too crowded (they’ll brown better that way) and once they are brown remove them from the pan.

Mmmmm, fond.

Add the chopped onions and the garlic to the now empty pan and cook until they have softened a bit.

You may ask, why use both chopped onion and pearl onions in the dish. Well, over the long cooking time, the chopped onions kind of just melt into the sauce while the pearl onions stay whole and provide a yummy bite all on their own.

Add the wine to the pan and scrape with a spoon to get all the tasty bits off the bottom.

Add the pearl onions and olives to the pan.

Then nestle in the browned short ribs and the fresh thyme. Don’t add any salt to the pot at this point because the olives are going to give a lot of salt to the dish.

Add a lid (or aluminum foil if your pot doesn’t have a lid) and pop the pot into a 350 degree oven.

After two hours take the pan out of the oven (mmm, looking good so far).

And stir in the potatoes. Adding the potatoes later in the process keeps them from getting too soft.

Put the lid back on the pot and pop it back into the oven for another hour.

With the cooking now done, if you have opted to use the bacon, stir it into the dish. But if, like me, you forget, you still get this delicious looking concoction.

Remove the thyme sprig then test for seasoning and add some salt and pepper if you want. On each plate place a rib (or two if you are hungry) and a few potatoes along with some of the olive and onion mixture. A little sprinkle of parsley wouldn’t hurt either.

Unctuous, delicious meat, falling off the bone. Perfectly tender potatoes. And did I mention the aroma in the house? Oh my.


serves 3-6 depending on your appetite

This is a bit of a “project” meal with it’s long cooking time, but it is, for the most part, untended cooking. Start it after lunch on a lazy Sunday and by dinner (or supper for those in the midwest) time your meal will be ready.

3-4 strips bacon, cut into 1″ lengths (optional, if not using substitute 2 tablespoons vegetable oil)
3/4 cup flour
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cup red wine
3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 bag frozen pearl onions, thawed
6 meaty short ribs
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 1/2 pound small waxy potatoes (yukon golds, reds or fingerling potatoes work well)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large, heavy pot, cook the bacon over medium high heat until it is brown and crisp. If not using bacon, heat oil in the pan instead.

Meanwhile, combine the flour with salt, pepper and fresh thyme and stir to combine. Dredge each of the short ribs in the mixture.

Once the bacon is crisp, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan then brown the short ribs, in batches, on all sides in the remaining bacon fat or the heated oil. As they brown remove them from the pan. Add the chopped onions and the garlic to the now empty pan and cook until they have softened a bit. Add the wine to the pan and scrape with a spoon to release the fond from the bottom of the pan. Add the pearl onions and olives to the pan, then nestle in the browned short ribs and the fresh thyme.

Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil and place in oven. After 2 hours, add the potatoes to the pot, stirring to combine. Re-cover the pot and return it to the oven for an additional hour.

If using the bacon, stir it into the dish. Remove the thyme sprig then test for seasoning and add some salt and pepper if needed. On each plate place a rib or two and a few potatoes along with some of the olive and onion mixture.

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Sausage and Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

I’ve had an acorn squash sitting in my pantry for a couple of months (luckily squash are forgiving when it comes to going bad). Now, I love squash so I’m not sure why it has been sitting there taunting me for so long, but that is just the way it goes some times.

I decided that it was finally time to cook the thing. And since it had been waiting patiently for me to cook it, I decided that I wanted to try something new and maybe a little special.

Here’s the ingredients:

1 cup rice, cooked (I used a brown and wild rice mix, but any old rice would work)
2 chicken sausages, casings removed (I used a hot Italian variety but another kind of sausage would work too)
1/2 onion, diced
5 mushrooms, sliced
2 clove garlic, minced
4-5 leaves sage, chopped
2-3 sprig thyme, chopped
2 Tablespoon Alfredo sauce (yes, I could have made a little bechamel sauce here but I had half a jar of sauce leftover from a lazy/tired night of cooking dinner, so I used that instead, and it worked great, so why go to the extra effort)
1-2 ounces Parmesan cheese, plus a little more for the top
1 acorn squash, cut in half with the seeds and what not scooped out

To start, I cooked the rice in my rice cooker. While that was going I browned the sausage along with the onion, then after a couple of minutes I added the mushrooms, garlic, sage and thyme (some rosemary would have been great too, but alas, the super cold week we had here killed off my rosemary) and continued to cook the mixture until the onions were translucent and the mushrooms were browned. I removed this from the heat and stirred in the cooked rice, Alfredo sauce and Parmesan cheese. At this point I cooled the mixture down and stashed it in the fridge (I had a big spurt of cooking energy so I cooked this filling while I made a different dinner), but I could have easily continued on at this point.

A couple of days later I continued on with my cooking. I stuffed the rice mixture into the cavity of the squash and then piled some more on top for good measure. I made a couple of rings out of aluminum foil and placed each of the squash halves on each of the rings so that they couldn’t roll around while they were in the oven.

I covered this loosely with a piece of aluminum foil and popped it in a 350 degree oven. After an hour of cooking, I took the foil off and added a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. After another 20 minutes the squash was cooked through and the rice mixture was nice and bubbly.

I served the stuffed squash alongside a pear and romaine salad.

This turned out really good. With each bite a little bit of rice, a little squash and a little sausage, yummy. The husband really liked it too, a lot. And he is not a huge squash fan so that surprised me a little. I can imagine a few variations on this meal (different rice, different meat (or no meat), different cheese) and I can hardly wait to try them.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Glazed Carrots and Parsnips

Originally I intended to write this post about my take on Pioneer Woman’s Crash Hot Potatoes (and I will add a few notes on those later) but the vegetable side dish I made turned out so delectable that I decided to write about it instead.

Here are the ingredients:

2 medium carrots
1 large parsnip
2 teaspoon butter
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 Tablespoon pecans, toasted

I peeled the carrots and the parsnip then cut the carrots on the bias into 1/4 inch slices. I sliced the parsnip in half lengthwise and removed the woody core before slicing each of the halves on the bias into 1/4 inch slices.

In a saute pan, I melted the butter and then added the vegetables to the pan along with a little salt and pepper. I added about a tablespoon of water and covered the pan so the vegetables would steam through. After a couple of minutes I removed the lid and added the brown sugar, stirring until the sugar had melted and the vegetables were cooked through, about another minute. I tossed in the pecans, gave it one last stir and that was it.

I served the carrots alongside a flat-iron steak with balsamic caramelized onions and the aforementioned potatoes (with a couple of tweaks). I used purple potatoes and Yukon golds as the potatoes, thyme instead of rosemary, and added a little sprinkle of blue cheese during the last couple of minutes of baking.

Seriously, these were so good (and the potatoes and steak weren’t have bad either). I’m sure they would be good with all carrots or all parsnips or with almonds instead of pecans. These were so easy to make too. I highly recommend these for your favorite vegetable lover (or maybe even a vegetable hater, they are that good).

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Briny Pork Chops with Caramelized Pears and Sage-Roasted Potatoes

Other than one meal when my mom visited during December I cannot recall having cooked at home in almost a month. First I was sick (really, really sick) and the little that I did eat was made (read warmed up) by my husband. Then I got busy with work (which, since I am a chef, involved lots of cooking) so I really wasn’t up to cooking when I got home (so lots of take-out). Then we went out of town (which is exhausting under the best of cases). I even canceled delivery of one of my boxes because I knew I would get to it.

I woke up this morning determined to cook. I picked up our box yesterday so I knew I would have lots of delicious new produce to choose from (plus, I still have lots of root veggies, which take much longer to go bad, stashed away too).

After a delicious “ladies lunch” out with one of my best friends and my Goddaughter I stopped by the QFC to pick up some sort of protein. Torn between chicken, pork or lamb I texted the husband for advice. Pork (with applesauce) was the reply (although I knew applesauce was not to be in the husband’s future). I considered a pork roast, then a pork loin before spying some thick-cut pork chops in the butcher’s case. Alas, they were boneless (and meat cooked on the bone is just better) so I asked the butcher to cut some special for me, bone-in, about 1 1/2 inch thick.

So, pork decided as the protein, I took a look in the fridge and pantry for potential counterparts. I turned up some garnet yams, and some pears (as a stand-in to the applesauce the husband wanted). I snipped a little sage from the herb garden and I was on my way.

Here’s the ingredients:

For the briny pork chops:

2 Tablespoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoon sugar
6 leaves sage
3/4 cup water
2 thick-cut bone-in pork chops

For the sage-roasted yams:

1/2 pound yams (garnet or otherwise)
2 Tablespoons or so olive oil
10 leaves sage
3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
salt and pepper
a cast-iron pan (trust me, this is important)

For the caramelized pears:

2 Tablespoon butter
2 pears, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoons sugar
juice and zest from 1/2 Meyer lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Now, I was cooking everything at once, so these instructions are gonna jump around a bit.

I started by making a brine for the pork chops. I combined the sugar and the sage leaves in a mortar and used a pestle to crush and bruise the sage a bit.

I then put this into a Ziploc bag, added the sugar and the water and shook the mixture until the sugar and salt had dissolved. Then I added the pork chops and tossed the bag in the fridge for a couple of hours (turning it once).

A half hour before I was set to cook, I removed the pork chops from the brine, dried them off, then set them aside for a bout a half hour so the middles of them wouldn’t be too cold when I cooked them.

Next I put the potatoes in the oven. Here they are all sliced up and ready to go.

The potatoes were inspired by a blog entry from the Food52 Website. I followed the method just about verbatim so I won’t repeat it here (but they took about 45 minutes total). I haven’t tried it with regular potatoes (as it is written) but that will be up very soon.

As soon as I put the potatoes in the oven, I heated up a grill pan, then brushed the outsides of the chops with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper. I seared the chops on one side, then flipped them and put them in the oven (alongside the potatoes) until they reached an internal temperature of 150 degrees (yeah, I know, USDA says 160 degrees, but that’s just gonna result in dry pork chops). They took about 25 minutes to cook through and they were done before the potatoes, so I just took them out of the oven and covered them with some foil until the potatoes were done too (at least five minutes of resting is important anyway).

Once everything was in the oven I started on the caramelized pears. I started by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. I added the chopped pears and sauteed for about 5 minutes. Then I added the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the salt and continued to cook the pears until they were golden brown and delicious.

To serve, I plated a few of the potatoes alongside a ginourmous pork chop then topped the pork with some of the caramelized pears, a bit of the tasty caramelizing sauce and a few of the crispy sage leaves.

How was it? Well, basically the whole time I was eating I was saying “nom, nom, nom this is so good”. The husband agreed and said that the caramelized pears were way better than any applesauce would be.

This is definitely a case where really simple ingredients, cooked well, resulted in something fantastic.

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Beef Stew with Olives and Onions

The first day of spring was a week ago. Yet when I look outside, despite the blossoms on my cherry tree, it looks like it’s still winter. Just a bit too rainy and dreary for my taste (and I usually really enjoy the rain).

I thought a nice stew might be just the ticket. There is just something I find quite soul-satisfying about a big bowl of stew.

I’ve got a few ingredients left over from my brisket testing (beef stock, red wine and sun-dried tomatoes). I took a look in my freezer, fridge and pantry and found a few ingredients to build the rest of my stew.

Here’s the ingredients

1 pound stew meat
1/2 cup flour seasoned with 1 Tbls minced fresh rosemary, salt and pepper
4 clove garlic, minced
2 cup red wine
2 cup beef stock
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbls fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 bag frozen pearl onions, thawed
3/4 cup kalamata olives
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
2 Tbls capers
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

I started by preheating the oven to 325 degrees. In a Ziploc bag I combined my flour with the seasonings, then added my stew meat, giving it a good shake to coat the meat completely.

I heated some olive oil in my fancy new dutch oven, then added the flour-coated stew beef. I cooked this, stirring occasionally until the beef was browned on all sides.

I added the minced garlic and let it saute for a few seconds before adding the rest of my ingredients (except for the parsley). I did not add any salt at this point because the stew contains a lot of really salty ingredients and I wasn’t sure how much the broth would reduce (you can always add salt, but you can’t take it away). I brought the liquid to a simmer, put the lid on the dutch oven and popped the pan into the oven to braise. After two hours I took the pan out of the oven.

Then I stirred in the fresh parsley and dished it up.

To accompany the stew I made a salad that features one of the quintessential spring ingredients, strawberries. Which is kind of ironic since my stew is a “why won’t spring get here meal”. I created this salad for a client last week and it looked very tasty. I wanted to add nuts to her salad but one of the family members has a nut allergy (but I don’t, so let’s get nuts).

Here’s the ingredients

2 Tbls pear-infused vinegar (I made this at Christmas time, sherry vinegar would be a good replacement)
2 Tbls olive oil
salt and pepper
sugar or honey to taste
mache lettuce
strawberries, quartered or sliced
3 Tbls pecans, toasted
2 ounce goat cheese

I whisked together the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Tasted it for seasoning and added a pinch of sugar. I added the mache and tossed it to coat. I put this on the plate and topped it with the strawberries, pecans and goat cheese.

Pretty, no?

Alongside, I toasted up some sourdough bread which had been seasoned with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

The stew didn’t thicken up quite as much as I expected it to. I should have added a bit of flour when I added the garlic to the pan. However, the flavors were really nice. The strawberry salad was wonderful. Really good. Plus, the strawberries in the salad helped to remind me that spring weather will get here … eventually.

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Savory Bread Pudding

I had no ideas for dinner last night, none at all. I took a look at what was left in the crisper drawer and was not inspired at all. Luckily I happened to peruse one of my favorite Web sites, Serious Eats where I found my inspiration, a link to an article titled “What to do with Leftover Bread”. Without even reading the article I had my inspiration.

Bread pudding is a versatile dish that can be made sweet or savory and with just about ant ingredients you like.

Here’s what I used

10 or so slices of stale sourdough bread, cubed
1 zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 leek, chopped
1 handful arugula, chopped
4ish ounces Parmesan cheese, divided
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 Tablespoons pesto (not pictured because I added it at the last minute)

Once I chopped all my ingredients I tossed together my bread, zucchini, red bell pepper, leek, arugula and half of the Parmesan as well as some salt and pepper and a few red pepper flakes.

I put all this into an 8″ x 8″ dish that I had sprayed with cooking spray.

Next I combined my eggs, milk and ricotta cheese. While I was working I kept thinking that the dish could use some herbage. I thought about tarragon or thyme (because that is what I happened to have) but realized that what I really wanted was basil. So, I busted out a couple of cubes of my homemade pesto out of the freezer, thawed them in the microwave and added it to the egg mixture (along with a touch of salt and pepper). I then poured the egg mixture over the bread mixture.

The great thing about bread pudding is that it needs to sit for awhile (it’s often better if it sits overnight) so if you want to make something for, say, breakfast, you can prep it the day ahead and then just pop it in the oven in the morning. However, since I decided to make this at about 2 p.m. I needed to speed up the bread/egg soaking process so I covered the pan with cling wrap and weighted it with my grill pan to make sure all the bread stayed submerged.

I popped this in the fridge for about 2 hours. When I started getting hungry, I heated up my oven to 350 degrees and I took the dish out of the fridge. Once the oven was warm I put my dish in, uncovered, to bake for an hour adding my remaining Parmesan at the 30 minute mark.

While the bread pudding cooked I threw together a little salad with a few things I had on hand. I combined a clementine, a few cherry tomatoes and a bit of fresh thyme and tossed them with a touch of olive oil and a splash of Spanish Golden Vinegar (apple cider vinegar that I infused with basil, thyme, chives, oregano, garlic and hot peppers).

The bread pudding came out nicely crisp on the top and was filling and delicious, especially on a cold, snowy night (by the way, it’s March and I am done with snow, enough already). The pesto was a very welcome addition so I’m glad it occurred to me to add it to the dish. The Orange-Tomato Salad had a nice tang that contrasted well with the richness of the bread pudding. The husband also liked it very much, even helping himself to seconds (a surprising outcome knowing his feelings about both zucchini and arugula).

This is a dish that can be made in hundreds of different combinations with whatever veggies, cheeses and meats you happen to have on hand. If you come up with a great combination pass it along, I always like to have new ideas.

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Pot Roast with Root Vegetables

This week I received a plethora of root vegetables in my CSA box. My first thought was to roast them, but then I noticed that chuck roast was 2-for-1 at the grocery store so I bought 2, stuck one in the deep freeze for later and made pot roast with the other.

I didn’t officially measure anything, instead I used “that looks about right” measurements.

I peeled and chopped my parsnips, carrots and onions (I used a red onion and a half a leftover yellow onion that I had in the fridge) and chopped my potatoes (I used multicolor fingerlings but any potatoes would work).

I tossed everything but the onions into the crock pot and added a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary and 15 or so whole cloves of garlic (don’t be afraid, when they are cooked whole they just get kind of creamy and mellow).

I browned my roast in a bit of oil in a large pan on the stove top. I made sure to brown it well on both sides and the edges. Then I added this to the crock pot.

I deglazed the pan with a cup or so of chicken broth then added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and about a tablespoon each of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. I let this simmer for a couple of minutes while I added my onion and a few crimini mushrooms around the roast.

I poured the sauce over the roast and set the crock pot to high.

Six hours later.

I removed the roast and the veggies from the crock pot (discarding the thyme and rosemary sprigs) and poured all the juices into a cup. On the stove top I melted a tablespoon of butter and added a tablespoon of flour to make a roux. I whisked in the sauce and juices from the crock pot to make a gravy.

Here it is, sliced roast, yummy veggies and gravy. Yeah, the meal is basically all brown (a little parsley would have helped), and my gravy was lumpy, but it was soooo good.

I love pot roast, and tonight for dinner, I’m going to take all my leftovers and make yummy hash (if I’m really lucky the husband will make it, it’s one of the few things he cooks really well). I can hardly wait.

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Risotto-Style Barley with Roasted Beets

Imagine that you have a picky eater at home and they ask you, “what’s for dinner?” Your reply is Risotto with Roasted Beets. You would think that the objectionable food in this scenario would be the beets, but through some freak of nature the objectionable food for my picky eater is the risotto. The man loves beets.

A lot of people seem to anxious about cooking risotto, thinking that if the pot isn’t stirred every second or if too much broth is added at a time everything will go wrong. While risotto requires more attention than a lot of other dishes, it really isn’t that difficult to make.

You’ll notice in the ingredients (and the title of the recipe for that matter) that I’m actually using barley instead of Arborio rice in my risotto dish. I’m doing this for a couple of reasons. One, barley is a whole-grain so it’s healthier. Two, barley is a way cheaper then Arborio Rice ($.73/pound versus $3.86/pound). And three, the husband does not find risotto objectionable if I use barley.

Here’s the ingredients:

3ish cups chicken broth
3/4 cup barley (or Arborio rice)
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup dry vermouth
a few golden or red beets (or a combination)
3 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

I roasted the beets the night before I made this dish while I had the oven warm for another dish. I peeled and sliced the golden beet because it was huge. By slicing it I ensured it would cook in the same time as the red beets. I tossed them in olive oil and a bit of salt, wrapped them in foil and roasted them for about 40 minutes at 450 degrees. I let the beets cool and then stashed them in the fridge for the night.

I put my stock in a small pot and brought it to a boil, then reduced it to a soft simmer (the broth needs to be warm as it is added to the risotto so that the barley (or rice) doesn’t cool too much as it is added).

In a second pot (I used a 3-qt saucier but a stock pot would work just fine) I heated up a touch of olive oil. When it was hot I added the shallot and let it cook until translucent, then I added the barley and cooked it for about a minute longer, stirring a lot. The first addition of liquid was my vermouth. I let this boil away, stirring occasionally until the pan was almost dry. I repeated this process adding the chicken stock one ladle at a time, then stirring occasionally until the barley was tender.

While the barley was going (because while it needs attention, it does not require constant attention) I worked on my beets and pumpkin seeds. In a skillet I heated a little olive oil and then added my pumpkin seeds with a little salt. I cooked them, tossing frequently until they turned roasty-toasty and some of them started to pop. Here they are:



I took the seeds out of the pan and added my golden beets which I had cut into 1/2-inch or so pieces. I tossed them in the hot pan with a bit of salt and pepper just to heat them through then removed them from the pan, then I repeated this process with the red beets.

To finish the dish, I stirred most of the golden beets, a few of the toasted pumpkin seeds and some of the goat cheese into the barley.

I divided this between my bowls and made a little divot in which I placed my red beets (I didn’t stir in the red beets into the dish because I didn’t want the whole thing to turn pink). I topped it all with my remaining goat cheese and the rest of the toasted pumpkin seeds.

How was it? Really tasty and perfect for a cold, February night. The roasted beets were sweet and delicious and the barley gave it a nice nutty flavor that was great with the beets. I told the husband that I had made it with barley instead of Arborio rice and his reply was “that must be why I like it then,” which for risotto (in my house) is high praise. Plus, he loves beets so it was hard to go too wrong.

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Kale and Bean Ragout

Last night I decided to use the Lacinato Kale. I hadn’t ever used this type of kale so I did a little research before I started. I checked Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison for some ideas on how to cook the kale (and a bit of inspiration)

Here’s the ingredients

1 bunch kale, chopped
4 slices bread
2-4 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup or so marsala wine
1 can white beans
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (a last minute addition so they’re not in the photo)
leftover pork roast
lemon juice*

I started by blanching the kale in a pot of salted water. It took about 4 minutes until it was tender (much less than my reading said it should).

Meanwhile, I sliced my bread into cubes while I warmed up about a half inch of oil in a pan (I added a couple cloves of garlic to the oil to season it). Once the oil was hot I removed the garlic and added the bread in a single layer. After a few seconds I started tossing the bread with a slotted spoon so that it would brown on all sides. Once brown I removed the bread to a plate lined with paper towels and salted them immediately. A few of them got a little more crispy (read, burned) then I would prefer so I tossed them out, but my husband called the remaining croutons the best he’s had.

Now on to the main part of the dish. I started by cooking my bacon in a large skillet. One it was nice and crispy I took it out of the pan (leaving a bit of the fat) and then tossed in the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and some salt. When the onions were translucent I added a couple of glugs of Marsala wine and my leftover pork roast. Now, obviously not everyone has pork roast just laying around and this could easily be substituted with some cooked chicken or it would make a lovely vegetarian meal (without the bacon of course). I let the wine reduce until it got a little thick than added my beans, tomatoes and blanched kale to heat through. Lastly I added a splash of fresh lemon and some salt and pepper.

To serve, I spooned the ragout into a bowl and topped it with my crispy bacon and a few croutons.

How was it? In one word, yummy. Excellent winter comfort food. Even my greens-hating husband called it tasty. I’d make it again in a heartbeat and I plan to add it to my repertoire for my personal chef clients.

*Last year I made lemoncello which only uses the rind of the lemons. I then juiced the lemons and froze the juice in an ice cube tray. I used one cube of juice (a couple of tablespoons).

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

Follow ChefDJen on Twitter