Archive for January, 2012

Minnesota Hot Dish: Beef Stroganoff

For all of my friends from the Midwest I will be sure to make this clear: as much as I would like to have grown up or even just been born in the Midwest, I sadly did not. I am from NJ, nowhere near the Midwest, but after hanging out with my Minnesota friends too much I can develop a bit of a Midwestern accent, so I’m going to count it. Here is how this ‘Midwest’ gal cooks up a classic Hot Dish: Beef Stroganoff! This recipe is slightly tailored but originates from The Great Minnesota hot dish book by Theresa Millang.

What You Will Need: 

3 tbsp butter
2  lbs sirloin steak cut into thin 1 inch slanting strips (season with salt & ground pepper)
1 large thinly sliced onion
1 lb sliced fresh mushrooms (this amount is really to your taste so feel free to use less)
3 tbs all-purpose flour
1.5 cups beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine (or apple juice)
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried dill weed
pinch of ground nutmeg
3 minced gloves of garlic
1 cup dairy sour cream (you can use less, I only use a few tablespoons in mine)
Cooked egg noodles
pinch of minced parsley

Directions: 

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Melt butter in a large saucean. Add beef, stir and cook until browned. Place the browned beef into a 3-quart glass baking dish.

In the same saucepan, stir and cook onion and mushrooms until they are both tender. Stir in flour until blended. You will want to stir in the flour a little bit at a time so that it is easier to blend. Stir in remaining ingredients except sour cream, noodles and parsley. Quickly bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the beef.

Cover the glass dish and bake for 1.5 hours or until meat is very tender. After removing from the oven gradually stir in the sour cream. Serve over the cooked noodles and garnish with the parsley. Serve & Enjoy!!

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Italian Semolina Bread

We were lucky enough to receive a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer for our wedding, and this was our first trial with it! The wedding was about 6 – 7 months ago and for this to be our first time using the stand mixer is a bit pathetic, but let me tell you, that thing is intimidating. Now that I have used it though, I can say that I am so excited to find the next recipe I want to make with it – it made baking and mixing SUCH a breeze. Enough about my stand mixer and onto the bread now! Also a wedding gift, we received Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois so this was clearly our day to dig out the gifts we hadn’t gotten to try out get and use ’em! This cookbook had lots of great bread recipes, but we were having Italian food for dinner and decided that Italian Semolina bread would be a great match, we adapted the recipe featured in that book to what is below. I definitely plan to make this bread again and think i will be trying some other recipes included in this book. Here goes for how to recreate this bread at your home:

 What I am posting will yield 3 slightly less than a 1-lb loaves

Ingredients:

– 1.5 cups lukewarm water
–  3/4 tbsp granulated yeast
– 3/4 tbsp Kosher salt (slightly heaping)
– 1.5 cups durum flour
– 1  7/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
–  2 tsp of sesame seeds
– Handfuls of cornmeal
– Cornstarch ‘Wash’ (1/2 tsp cornstarch, 1/2 cup water)

Directions:

Mix the yeast and salt with the lukewarm water in a bowl, or lidded (not airtight) container. Mix in the flours without kneading, using a stand mixer with dough hook – Keep it on level 2 for mixing. Cover this mixture, not airtight and allow it to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top) which will take about 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, but it is said to be easier to handle when cold. You can refrigerate the dough in a lidded (not airtight) container for up to 14 days. To make the cornstarch wash: Using a fork blend the cornstarch with a small amount of water to form a paste. add 1/2 cup water and whisk with the fork and microwave (or boil) about 30 – 60 seconds until it appears glassy. This will stay in your fridge for about two weeks.

On the day you are baking (we did ours same day) dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a less than 1-lb piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides. Elongate the ball to form an oval-shaped free-form loaf. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered sheet for about 40 minutes.

You should heat your oven, baking stone and an empty broiler pan up about 20 minutes before you are ready to put the bread in. Pre-heat the oven to 450 F.

Just before baking paint the surface with the cornstarch wash, sprinkle the top with sesame seeds and slash the surface diagonally with a serrated bread knife. Put the loaf directly onto the hot stone on top of more cornmeal and pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door. Bake for about 30 minutes until deeply browned and firm.

One place we messed up was that the bread really stuck on the bottom to the hot stone. I don’t think we put enough cornmeal on the bottom of the bread or on the stone. Next time around we definitely plan to put more cornmeal onto the stone to prevent sticking. We loved this bread though and are excited to try it again. If you make it – enjoy!!

Milk Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches

During the 2011 Cookie Swap (read post here) that I participated  in I tried a few recipes before settling on the one I wanted to send to the 3 people I was matched with. One of the delicious recipes was this one. I would have sent this one, as these cookies were wonderful, but they contain dairy so I was nervous about shipping them – I didn’t want to ship out spoiled cookies, that would have been poor form. This recipe is from Better Homes & Gardens’ Ultimate Cookie Book (which is definitely worth buying, or renting from the library, whichever you are more into).

Ingredients:

Cookies
– 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 3/4 tsp baking powder
– 1/8 tsp salt
– 6 oz milk chocolate (we used chocolate chips)
– 3 tbsp butter, softened
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 egg
– 3/4 tsp vanilla

Frosting

– 3 oz chopped milk chocolate (we used chocolate chips)
– 2 tbsp butter
– 1/4 cup sour cream
– 1 to 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Cookies:
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In a small saucepan heat and stir milk chocolate over low heat until smooth. In a medium mixing bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat until combined. Beat in melted chocolate, the egg and vanilla until combined. Last, beat in the flour mixture.Divide the dough into four equal portions. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap and freeze for about 30 minutes or until easy to handle. This is  great time to frosting! (Instructions for that are below this)

On wax paper, shape one portion of dough at a time into a 10 inch long log (This is where I get a bit immature, it looked like poop, no two ways to say it, just laugh it off!).  Using a sharp knife,make the cut logs crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Place the slices 1 inch apart on an un-greased (or in my case, parchment paper covered) cookie sheet. bake for 9 – 10 minutes or until edges are set. Let stand for 2 minutes on the cook sheet before transferring to a wire cooking rack.

Spread 1/2 tsp of the frosting on each of the flat sides of half the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies, flat side down and serve! If you aren’t planning on eating them all the same day, what we did was kept the frosting in one airtight bowl and then kept the cookies in another. Frosting stayed in the fridge and cookies on the counter. When we were ready for some cookies, or to serve them, we put the amount we needed together then. It helped them last a bit longer!

Frosting:
In a saucepan heat and stir 3 oz of chopped milk chocolate (we cheated and just used 3 oz of chocolate chips) and 2 tbsp of butter on low heat until smooth. Cool for 5 minutes then stir in 1/4 cup of sour cream. Gradually stir in 1 to 1 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar to make a frosting that is smooth enough to spread.

Overall – these cookies were really different and very, very tasty! They got rave reviews from our family and friends that were lucky enough to nab a few. While the recipe above does seem a bit labor-intensive, they weren’t that bad. There were a lot of ingredients to work with and definitely more than two bowls to clean when all was said and done but it moved pretty quickly and the time you have when the dough is freezing is perfect for making the frosting. Again, if you don’t plan to eat all of the cookies that this produces at once I would highly suggest frosting only the cookies you will want and leaving the remainder of the frosting in the fridge until you are ready for it. Enjoy!

Crop Share Week 6 Report

The crop share has now ended, and I’m a few weeks behind on letting everyone know how our last week went, so here goes! This winter/fall crop-share was pretty fun, there wasn’t as much variety and when we got some ‘out of local season’ items they were mostly from states that are not within a close proximity which really disappointed me as I loved the local side of this crop-share. Overall, happy we did it, we got to try some excellent new things and kept on cranking out new recipes. This winter will be filled with posts of recipes we tried during our months of crop-sharing.

Week 6 Crops:

– Red Navel Oranges
– Cameo Apples
– Tangerines
– Green Beans
– Turnips
– Spinach
– Grapefruit

How we used it all:

Of course this crazy time between Thanksgiving and New Years was packed with parties and gatherings and more leftovers than we knew what to do with so we weren’t always as creative as we could have been in the past if our schedules were a bit less hectic. Lucky for us this week was a bit boring in that it really only offered citrus.

I used the string beans as a steamed side dish. They were very fresh tasting and a great side to our meals. I am very seriously going to start buying fresh string beans more often. I usually get lazy and opt for the frozen variety but you cannot beat the snap of a fresh string bean!

The spinach went towards the BLT pasta that I showcased in my last blog post, and it was delicious! I also really enjoy fresh spinach so that was nice to have in the house. The turnips went towards mashed turnips. They were tasty, just nothing too exciting. Again, we were pretty busy with the holidays and our menu showed it: one tired dish after another. Have some fresh ingredients to toss into the mix was really nice, but this time of year is always just so darn hectic.

Now that it’s 2012, and calmer, I’m looking forward to trying to purchase at least one new item I haven’t ever tried each month (I’m starting with attainable goals here) and trying to make a new recipe at least twice a month and will of course post my results here. We can’t wait for spring and another spring crop-share. The spring and summer crop-shares definitely seemed to be more up our alley as they offered a great variety and were much more local, which is important to me. Stay fresh everyone!

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