Thursday, March 16, 2017

Guinness - BRILLIANT!

Years ago, I saw Jamie Oliver make this hearty dish on his show "Jamie At Home". The recipe was not available online, so this is just an interpretation, but I'm sure Jamie would approve. This recipe has a lot going for it! The Guinness gives the beef a deep savory flavor, along with the Irish cheddar and puff pastry top, it's really, really good! (Perfect for my "Irish Dinner Night"! If you missed the beautiful starter, click here.) I also love the idea of serving the peas on the side, so they don't loose their color and texture in the stew. It may take a little time, but it's easy and looks impressive! This stew is better made a day ahead, which makes it a snap to put together for a party!


Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie


Serves 4-6, Can be made in a large deep dish pie pan, or, to make it more dressy, I like to make individual servings in my Apilco Lion Head Soup Bowls.

Ingredients:

Day 1
3 pounds beef brisket, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 yellow onions, sliced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
2 sticks of celery, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
8 oz. mushrooms (whatever kind you want), sliced
1, 14.9 oz. can of Guinness
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1 cup beef stock, or more if needed

Day 2
2 handfuls shredded Kerrygold Irish White Cheddar
1 package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1 package frozen peas

Directions:

Day 1
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and saute until slightly browned. Next, add the rosemary and garlic, stirring constantly. When you smell the garlic (about 1 minute), add the butter. Then add the celery, carrots, and mushrooms. Stir. Now add the beef. Stir and add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the flour and stir well to coat. Pour in the Guinness. Finally, pour in the beef stock just to the top of the stew. You don't want it to completely cover the meat. Bring just to a boil, cover, and throw in the oven for 2 1/2-3 hours, until the beef is tender. At this point, I allow the stew to cool and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2
Remove the stew from the refrigerator and remove the hardened fat on the top. Place on the stove over medium heat to rewarm, slightly. Remove from the heat and fish out the rosemary stem. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Stir in 1 handful of the cheddar. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface, big enough to generously cover your pan. If making a deep dish, you may have to "glue" both pastry sheets together with a little water before rolling out. If making individual portions, cut into squares big enough to generously cover the tops of the containers. Carefully, with a sharp knife, lightly score the top of the pastry or pastry squares in a diagonal pattern in both directions. (Like a diagonal grid pattern.) Do not cut all the way through the pastry!

Pour the stew into your pan, or evenly distribute between individual containers. Top evenly with the remaining handful of cheddar. Brush the edge of your pan or individual containers with the beaten egg. Carefully lay the pastry on top, making sure it is sufficiently "glued" on. If using a deep dish pan, gather the excess pastry and lightly squish it together and inside the rim of the pan, making a crinkly ruffle around the edge. Brush the tops with the beaten egg. If using individual containers, place on a rimmed baking sheet.


Bake for 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Remove from the oven. Cook the peas according to package instructions and place in a serving bowl, allowing each guest to spoon peas over each serving to their liking. Enjoy!

*Don't forget to check my blog for the yummy dessert! 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pompeii, We Owe You One!

On August 24, 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted burying Pompeii in volcanic ash 10' deep. Mount Vesuvius is projected to have spewed an ash and pumice column about 66,000' high for about 18 hours. It is estimated that at least 2000 people died in Pompeii. Poor Pompeii. It was lost for about 1700 years before it's ancient ruins were accidentally discovered in 1749. Today, it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and draws about 2,500,000 visitors every year.

As a result, Mount Vesuvius created an especially fertile soil perfect for growing the best plum tomatoes in the world, San Marzano tomatoes. If you are lucky enough to find these, you must make the classic Neapolitan pizza, Pizza Margherita, named after Queen consort, Margherita of Savoy. The crust is thin and crisp, topped sparingly with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil (the colors of the Italian flag). One of my favorites, this delicious pizza reinforcing the idea that less is definitely more!


Margherita Pizza

Makes 1 large pizza.

Ingredients:

1, 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, whole and peeled
4 oz. fresh buffalo mozzarella, drained if packed in water
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or chiffonade
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet

Directions:

Prepare pizza dough. Rinse and drain the tomatoes in a colander. Squeeze them by hand and allow to drain some more in the colander. (Be careful, I've squirted juice on my husband from across the kitchen!) Preheat oven to 500 degrees with rack on the lowest setting. When the dough is ready, roll it out as thin as possible. Place it on an oiled baking sheet. Spread the tomatoes across the dough, leaving room for the crust. Sprinkle with the sliced garlic. Tear the mozzarella into pieces and place over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. You can put the basil on now, but it will turn black while cooking; so, I prefer to put it on after it comes out of the oven. Bake according to My Basic Pizza Dough instructions. When done, garnish with the basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Yummy!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Mardis Gras and the Best Jambalaya!

Mardis Gras (aka., Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday) is February 28, marking the last day of fatty food indulgences before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. While some people around the world celebrate the day eating pancakes, I prefer a delicious bowl of jambalaya! I first acquired a taste for this spicy sausage and seafood-laden dish from a friend in college who made a batch along with freshly baked bread every Sunday. Although I think he used Zatarain's and a tube of Pillsbury, it was always a good time! Just like chili is in Texas, jambalaya is classic Louisiana party food, making it the perfect choice for Mardis Gras!

Jambalaya is a dish steeped in ambiguity. So much so, you can stir up heated discussions regarding just the root of the word "jambalaya!" One theory is that it comes from the Provencal word "jambalaia," meaning mishmash or mixture. Another theory is that it comes from the Spanish word "jamon," meaning ham, combined with "paella," the classic Spanish rice dish. The third theory is that it comes from the French "jambon," meaning ham, with a contraction of "a la" and "ya," the African word for rice. And finally, it might come from the Native American Atakapa tribe's saying, "Sham, pal ha! Ya!" meaning "Be full, not skinny! Eat up!" 

If that's not enough, contrary to popular misconceptions, jambalaya is not specifically a Creole dish. In fact, there are two kinds of jambalaya. Creole which contains tomatoes, and Cajun which does not. I prefer it with tomatoes. I also think the key to a really great jambalaya is tasso. Tasso is a highly seasoned smoked pork. I am lucky to find it locally, but you can order some from cajungrocer.com. Andouille sausage is also authentic; however, if you can't find it or don't want to add it to your Cajun Grocer order, you can substitute Spanish chorizo, not Mexican chorizo, which is not the same thing. Finally, I would be remiss not to mention "the holy trinity." Similar to mirepoix and sofrito, it is the base to most Louisiana cuisine. It consists of finely diced onion, celery, and green bell pepper. I use red bell pepper because I detest green bell peppers in any form. 

Just like cioppino, it's hard to make a bad jambalaya. Jambalaya is very adaptable and can contain shredded chicken, venison, oysters, etc. Feel free to add what you have on hand, or prefer, to make it your own! If it gets too thick, just add some water! So celebrate Mardis Gras this year with a delicious bowl of jambalaya, lots of crusty bread, cold beer, and a bottle of Tabasco (or Crystal) hot sauce. Beads optional!


Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya

Serves 8

Ingredients:
1/2 cup tasso (or chopped ham), 1/4-inch dice
14 ounces Andouille (or Spanish chorizo, or other smoked sausage), 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper (or green), chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning 
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 cup long grain rice
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Italian parsley, chopped for garnish


Directions:
In a large pot or dutch oven, brown the sausage on each side in batches, set aside. Add the tasso, onions, celery, and bell pepper to the pot and saute until tender. Add the garlic and cook one minute. Add the tomatoes (with can juice), stir and break up with a wooden spoon. (An old-fashioned potato masher works great too!) Add the stock, browned sausage, Cajun seasoning, thyme, cayenne, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove the cover and raise heat to a boil. Add the rice, stir, cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Taste the rice to make sure it's done!) Remove the lid and add the shrimp. Cook for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through. Remove the bay leaves and serve with a garnish of parsley. Add hot sauce to taste at the table, along with crusty bread.