Wednesday, October 22, 2008

country style short ribs. delish.

All I seem to crave is comfort food (that and a good cheeseburger, but that my friends is another story). My body must be aligned with the changing of the seasons. The leaves have turned and some are flying off into Never-never land. Others are holding on tight, stubborn, I suppose. I'm not resisting the change and in fact over the weekend, I busted out my slow cooker and made a fabulous country ribs with potatoes, carrots and onions. Served with a horseradish cream sauce and a dash of chopped italian parsley, it's not only hearty and delicious, it's GOOD for you. So treat yourself to this one, it's worth it.
Country-Style Beef Short Ribs with Horseradish Cream
6 tbs. sour cream
2 tbs. prepared horseradish
1 tbs. dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/4 lb. boneless beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat and goobers
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 onions, sliced
1 lb. small white potatoes, halved (or quartered depending on size)
1 1/2 c. baby carrots (I substituted 3 decent size carrots, chopped)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 c. low sodium beef broth
2 tbs. Worcestershite sauce (I always have a hard time saying this word, just ask Paul)
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
3 tbs. cold water
1 tbs. chopped flat-leak parsley
1. To prepare the horseradish sauce, combine the sour cream, horseradish, mustard and 1/4 tsp. of the salt in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, at least 4 hrs or overnight.
2. Sprinkle the ribs with the remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt and the pepper. Spray a nonstick pan with oil and saute the meat on medium-high heat, until browned (about 8 minutes).
3. Transfer ribs to slow cooker and add the onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic, and bay leaf. Pour the broth and Worcestershire sauce over the meat and veggies. Cover and cook until the meat and veggies are fork tender, 4-5 hours on high and 8-10 hours on low.
4. About 20 minutes before the cooking time is up, combine the flour and cold water in a bowl until smooth. Stir in about 1/4 c. of the hot broth and stir until blended. Add to the slow cooker and mix into the stew. Cover and cook on high until the slow cooker until the sauce thickens. Discard the bay leaf. Stir in the parsley just before serving (or top the stew off with it like I did in the photo above). Serve with the horseradish cream.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

a worthy foodie blog.

The temperatures have dropped, we took a liking to indian summer warmth and breezes that Northeast Indiana experienced over the last two weeks. But alas, all good things must come to an end.I have serious baking ambitions this weekend. It's my desire to visit Cook's Orchards again and pick up a new variety of apples I've never tried before - Jonathan. I hear these are great for baking and I'm in the mood for some apple crisp (have no fear, I'll be posting pics next week).
I stumbled upon a new foodie blog that richly deserves praise and adoration (I found it through Orangette's blog). It's called The Wednesday Chef and it's delightful in every respect and then some. So put on some soothing tunes, grab a mug of your favorite coffee or tea and enjoy these delectable tidbits.

Friday, October 10, 2008

pumpkin walnut bread.

Nothing says fall quite like the sight of farm stands and grocery stores overflowing with apples, pumpkins, gourds, squashes and indian corn. The warm spices of apple cider mulling and fires crack-a-lackin'! It warms my little heart just thinking about it. This month's issue of Gourmet features the latest cookbook selection The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table. Cindy has been a contributing instructor at The New School of Cooking in Culver City, California where I attended cooking school. Her classes are known to sell out fast, so if you're ever in the "neighborhood", I would definitely recommend signing up for a class!
The featured recipe (Pumpkin Walnut Bread) caught my eye and as I normally do, I folded the corner of the recipe with the intention of baking. Earlier this week, I finally got to the recipe - simple, easy and oh so worth the wait (for a quick bread, why does it take an hour to bake?). It tasted like pumpkin pie, sweet, but not rich, moist and tender. A fine crumb indeed. It didn't even require a douse of salted butter, but if you were feeling dangerous I wouldn't be opposed to it. Accompanied with hot cider, a cup of Old Crown Roasters coffee, or even a spot of tea would compliment this scrumptious midnight snack, breakfast treat, or fall dessert.
Pumpkin Walnut Bread
by Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup (2 3/4 ounces) water
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
1 cup (9 ounces) canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup neutral-flavor vegetable oil (such as canola)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped toasted walnuts

9 by 5-inch Loaf Pan, Parchment Paper, Large Bowl, Whisk, Medium Bowl, SIlicone or Rubber Spatula, Cooling Rack, Serrated Knife

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat the loaf pan with melted butter or high-heat canola-oil spray and line it with a piece of parchment paper that extends 1 inch beyond the edge of both sides of the pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt until thoroughly blended. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Add the sugar and blend well. Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and blend well.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended and smooth. Add the walnuts and stir until they are evenly distributed. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and level the top.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until the bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. To serve, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife. Any leftovers should be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Getting ahead Pumpkin Walnut Bread freezes beautifully for up to 8 weeks when double-wrapped in plastic and placed inside a resealable plastic freezer bag. Defrost, still wrapped in plastic to avoid condensation on the cake, for at least 2 hours before serving.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hot off the Press!

Check out page 15 of today's published Whatzup magazine for my restaurant review! It's a hoot!

Monday, October 6, 2008

apples, apples and more apples.

Not too far from my humble abode resides Cook's Orchards, one of the many apple orchards in Northeast Indiana. I'm oh so lucky to have one within a few miles! On Sunday, Paul and I went there, we were craving this variety called Honeycrisp, which you can only get in Indiana and Michigan, by the way. We picked up 1/2 peck of honeycrisp apples, some no sugar added cinnamon apple butter, apple cider and something evil called Amish Peanut Butter. Okay, perhaps I went a little far with the word "evil", but this product (while not apple-related) could become a real problem. It consists of peanuts, marshmellow cream, and maple syrup. It's too die for - slices of honeycrisp apples dipped in this delicious concoction, blows "caramel" out of the ball park.

sourdough starter day #3

Two weekends ago, Paul's kids were over and we watched Baking with Julia on PBS - she's such a riot. Her guest (whose name escapes me) featured making decorative sourdough breads with braids, wheat designs and more. It was intricate, lovely and motivated my butt to finally start mkaing some sourdough bread! I don't think this time around I'll be creating "art" bread, but I definitely am going to make some sourdough boules. I've got a few decent bread resources in my "library" (though I consulted the world wide web also) and I decided to go with The Tassajara Bread Book. Brown's sourdough starter consists of 2 1/2 cups warm water, 1 tablespoon dry yeast, 2 teaspoons sugar or honey and 2 1/2 cups of flour (I use unbleached all-purpose in this first round). Mix them all together in an airtight container and allow the starter to ferment for 5 days. The photographs above shows my starter as of today, it's day 3. Brown advises bakers to stir the starter once a day and notes that the starter is often thick and muddy in appearance. Upon stirring the starter this morning, I inhaled the yeasty aroma of the starter, the tangy qualities that define sourdough bread so well. It made me smile. I've got 2 more days before I can actually begin making sourdough bread. Happy baking!

Friday, October 3, 2008

johnny appleseed festival.

Many west coasters and even east coasters cannot appreciate the midwest enough, we have more festivals than both coasts combined! Once the snow melts and the trees start sprouting, Indiana has festivals practically lined up for the summer and fall. This year we attended the Johnny Appleseed Festival in Fort Wayne. As depicted above, this is where the famous "Johnny Appleseed" (aka John Chapman) is buried. No joke. Johnny Appleseed Park is taken over for a weekend by antiques, farmer's markets, games, arts, crafts and fair food. And folks, this fair definitely celebrates the apple. I ate my first apple dumpling and Paul had some apple cider. This place was hoppin'! Most people were dressed up from the era that Johnny Appleseed was alive and if you've never had REAL kettle corn made over a hot fire, you don't know what you're missing! This kettle corn was sweet nut not overpowering likewhat most of us are used to and the apple dumpling really let the apple speak for itself encased with sugar and cinnamon in a pastry envelope. We thought it was better than Kendallville's Apple Festival which we attended last year.