Friday, March 29, 2013

Last Minute Easter Favorites!

Happy (almost) Easter!

Just thought I'd do a post with some suggestions (and the recipe links) for your Easter brunch or dinner table. A little sweet and a little savory. Some main dishes and some sides. And of course, some desserts.

Enjoy!


Sausage, Bell Pepper and Leek Strata
Recipe HERE

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lyonnaise Potatoes ~ Great Side for the Holidays!



If you've been searching for the perfect side for your Easter ham or your Holiday roast, your search may be over! This version of Lyonnaise potatoes differs a little bit from the classic French method of preparation. It's based on a long time side dish from a favorite restaurant that's just a few minutes South of us near Saratoga Springs. It's called The Chez Pierre. I don't have their actual recipe, but I've had and enjoyed it so many times at this wonderful restaurant, I was able to come up with a version that I think is a pretty decent copy.

The classic version entails sauteing thickly sliced, par-boiled potatoes in butter, onions and parsley and then putting them in the oven to finish cooking, which is certainly delicious in it's own right, but the restaurant's interpretation is a little more rich and creamy. So, I went for rich and creamy. (I know... you're shocked, right?) It's made with chicken stock, cream, sauteed onions and garlic and lots of buttery Gruyere cheese. Yup. That's a far cry from being lo-cal, but in my book, it's a freebie because it's a dish that I only make once or twice a year for special occasions. Which is good, because you kinda can't stop eating them.  My version saves a little bit on time too, because I don't par-boil the potatoes.


Lyonnaise Potatoes
(Serves 4+)
  • 4 Large Russet Potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 Yellow Onions, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic, coarsley chopped
  • 3-4 Cups Gruyere Cheese, shredded
  • 6-8 Tbls Butter, cut into small cubes or slices
  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 Cup Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep all of your ingredients.

In the largest, highest sided skillet you have, saute the onions and garlic in two to three tablespoons of butter and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper, until they're softened and lightly golden brown in color. Remove them from the pan to a plate or bowl and set them aside.

(You can use a sturdy metal baking pan if you don't have a skillet that's at least 12 inches in diameter ~ and remember... never use glass or porcelain on the stove top. It will crack and/or shatter from the direct heat)






I used an all stainless pan, but a non-stick should work just as well.




In the same skillet, over low heat, melt another two tablespoons of butter and start adding the first layer of potato slices. It's fine if they overlap a bit in spots, but try to use the thinnest slices you can, if that becomes necessary.



Next, layer about a fourth of the onion and garlic mixture over the potatoes, give them another pinch of salt and pepper and follow with a quarter of the Gruyere. Dot each layer with a few small pieces of butter. Continue building layers, until you reach about two or two and a half inches from the top of the skillet, ending with the last cup of the cheese.




Pour the stock and cream over the potatoes and dot the top with the remaining butter and a little more salt and pepper. If there isn't enough liquid to come half way up the sides, just add a little more stock or cream. Turn the heat up to medium and bring it all up to a simmer.


Place the pan (uncovered) on the center rack of your preheated oven and bake for roughly 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Check at about 45 minutes, if your oven tends to run a little on the hot side. You want a fork or the tip of a paring knife to go into the center with little to no resistance. Remove the pan to a trivet or hot pad and allow it to cool slightly and settle a bit before serving.



Remember... that skillet handle is going to be blazing H-O-T when it comes out of the oven. I usually lay a thick folded kitchen towel or a pot holder over the handle while it's resting, so that I don't absent mindedly reach for it with my bare hand. I learned that little (and very painful) lesson the hard way, a long time ago. :~(


Serve these as a side with grilled steak or chicken and just about any kind of roasted meat or poultry. Any leftovers can be frozen in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. Just make sure to place a layer of cling wrap directly on the surface of the potatoes, before putting the lid on. This will help prevent any ice crystals from forming and causing that nasty freezer burn.

Enjoy!





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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blog News ~ New Series!

Hi everyone!

Just in case you haven't been to my other blog ~ Spilled On The Kitchen Table ~ lately, (or at all) I wanted to announce a new series of tutorials that I'm doing there. It's called "Bling Out Your Blog".

In it, I'll be covering different ways to help you personalize your blog. It will include tips on using the Blogger Template Designer, editing HTML code and how to use some of the awesome outside resources that are available to help make your blog, well... a little bling-ier.


To be honest, since I started working on these tutorials, I've actually had some second thoughts about the changes I've recently made to the look of this blog and I'll probably be changing things up again here in the coming days. I don't know where my head was at when I chose the color palette. When I look at it, all I can think is "Hmmm, 50 shades of gray" And yes, I read the book and I'm not sure where my head was at then, either. 'Nuf said.  Anywhoooo...

These are the 2 "basics" tutorials posted, so far:

1) How To Re-Size Your Photos In Blogger
(which includes a mini tutorial ~ Changing The Dimensions of your Blog)

2) How To Back Up Your Blog

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Guinness Braised Beef Short Ribs


Happy St. Patrick's weekend, everyone! What's on your menu for the day??

I'm 100% Irish and I grew up eating some incarnation or other of the traditional boiled dinner, (not just on St. Patrick's Day, mind you) so I'm always trying to come up with new ideas for our St. Pat's Day dinner. Last year, I braised a beef brisket in a good Irish Ale, cooked up some traditional Colcanon and fried up some cabbage with bacon and onions. I seriously thought about making it again this year, but as they say, variety is the spice of life, right? Well, the hubs and I have been seeing (and eating) all kinds of braised short rib dishes in restaurants here at home and when we've been traveling and I've been wanting to make my own version for some time now. So St. Patrick's Day gave me the perfect reason to give it a try!

(This is a dish that you want to start early in the day or even the night before, if you can. It is a bit labor intensive - but it's soooooo worth the time.)



Guinness Braised Short Ribs
  • 4 Lbs Beef Short Ribs (bone-in)
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 2 Medium Turnips, **peeled and chopped
  • 4 Lg Carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 Tbls Ketchup
  • 1 15oz Can Guinness Stout, draft style (14.9oz to be exact)
  • 2-3 Cups Beef Stock/Broth
  • Vegetable or Light Olive Oil
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
** I was able to find some lovely baby turnips, so 1) I didn't have to peel them and 2) I was able to chop half of them and cook the other half with some carrots to serve as a kind of edible garnish alongside the dish. If you can only find larger turnips, you can peel them, chop half and cut the other half into quarters or eighths. It's totally up to you. :~)

Remove the short ribs from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you wish to cook them, so they can come to room temperature. If there is an excessive amount of fat on any of them, trim a little off, but don't remove any more than necessary. Ribs are naturally well marbled with fat and fat is what makes cheaper cuts of meat tender and gives it an incredible depth of flavor. Keep in mind... This is not a low-fat dish. LOL

Place 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour in a large zip-top bag. Add the dried thyme, onion powder, cinnamon, salt and fresh ground pepper. (about a teaspoon of each) Twist the top of the bag closed and give it a good shake to distribute the seasonings. Using tongs (or clean hands) place 4 or 5 of the short ribs at a time in the bag, twist to seal and shake well. Remove each rib from the bag, being careful to tap off any of the excess flour as you go. Pile them up on a platter until you have all of them done.


Heat about 2 tablespoons of vegetable or light olive oil in a large, heavy dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the short ribs to the pot in a single layer, spacing them about an inch apart. When searing or browning meats/poultry, don't overcrowd the pan or the meat will give off quite a bit of liquid and will basically stew in it's own juices. That prevents the meat from getting that nice golden brown crust on it and that crust is what helps to keep the meat tender and juicy. And remember... brown equals flavor my friends, so please, please, please be patient and brown your meat in small batches. Your taste buds will thank you for it. OK. Lecture over. :~) Remove the browned ribs to a plate and loosely cover them with a little foil to keep them warm.


To the same pan, add the chopped onions, turnips and carrots and season them with a bit salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and saute for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the vegetables to take on a light golden brown color or caramelize, just like the meat. You might need another tablespoon or so of oil, if it has dissipated while cooking the beef.


Once the vegetables are nicely caramelized, add the short ribs back to the pot. At this point, you can start adding the rest of the ingredients. Start with a heaping tablespoon of ketchup and give it a good stir, so that the meat and veggies are well coated with it. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the Guinness. This might foam up a bit, but it will subside in a minute. Once the foam subsides, add the beef stock/broth. Toss in your bay leaves and a little more salt & pepper and turn the heat back up just a bit. Once it comes to a simmer, give it a good stir and place the pot in your pre-heated 350 degree oven and cook it for 2 hours, covered. After the 2 hours are up, remove the cover and continue to cook it for another hour to hour and a half, uncovered. The meat should be falling off the bone.


When the ribs are done, take the pot out of the oven and remove just the ribs to a large platter. The sauce in the pan will have quite a bit of fat/grease in it. This is why making it ahead of time is important... You need to remove this fat from the sauce. There are two ways of doing this: (I did it a little backwards by not removing the meat from the sauce before cooling it down, but hey... ya live, ya learn and you all get to benefit from my mistake!)




1) If you are making this the day before, you can refrigerate the sauce right in the pan, once it has cooled down to room temperature. The next day, the fat will have solidified and can be removed easily with a spoon or spatula. (Tip: save a couple of tablespoons of the fat if you're going to saute the additional turnips and carrots later. I know that might sound gross to some, but it really gives the vegetables the added flavor that they would've absorbed if they'd cooked along with the ribs)

2) If you wish to make it the same day, cover the platter of ribs tightly and refrigerate them. Then, you can remove the sauce to a large bowl and cover and chill it in the fridge. This will take at least 1 to 2 hours, but if you start it early in the morning, you should have no problem.

Whichever way you choose to do it, remove the meat from the bones (the ones that are still on the bone, that is. lol) while it's still warm. It's much easier. There's also a little bit of thick fat left on a good number of the pieces, so I just remove that as well and I discard it.




Once everything has been chilled and defatted... Heat the sauce over medium-low heat, adding the meat back in once it warms up a bit. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until everything is nice and hot.


The sauce will be very thick and a little chunky. You can leave it this way, but I like to use the stick blender and a bit of beef broth to thin it out and make it smooth before I add the meat back in.





I chose to serve mine over mashed potatoes and parsnips, but it would be just as delicious with plain mashed or roasted potatoes. Even simple boiled potatoes would be 1,000% improved with these delectable short ribs accompanying them. Trust me... You will not regret the time spent making these. They're so tender and moist, they practically melt in your mouth. This is definitely one that will be going on my keepers list! The Hubbs agrees!


The Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips recipe is HERE.


If you want to garnish with the carrots and turnips, blanch them first in some simmering salted water, drain and set them aside. The turnips should blanche for about 5-6 minutes and the carrots for about 3-4 minutes.




Put a little oil, butter or reserved fat from the ribs in a saute pan. (I used some of the reserved fat from the ribs for the added flavor!) Add the blanched carrots and turnips to the pan and saute over medium heat, stirring often, until they're a light golden color, fork tender and heated all the way through.



Looking for a Brisket recipe? Well then, you've come to the right place! Check out another great idea for your St. Patrick's Day feast, my Ale Braised Beef Brisket HERE!


Enjoy!
Mary

Of course, I'm linking this up with my dear friend, Kat'leen for her 5th annual St. Pat's blog Crawl! To join in or to check out all of the goodies, click HERE





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