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Boeuf Bourguignon

If you’ve seen the movie Julie & Julia, you know that Julia Child’s rendition of this classic French dish is what got her first book deal.  When her soon-to-be-editor, tested this recipe from Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking manuscript, she new she had found something special. The rest is history.

Boeuf Bourguignon (which translates into Beef Burgundy – as in the wine) is basically just a beef stew in a red wine sauce.  Slow cooking a normally tough cut transforms the beef into a delicious fork-tender delight. Serve on it’s on , over rice, or with potatoes.

This version is from the kitchen of another talented chef, my sister Susan.

Enjoy!

Boeuf Bourguignon

4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 large onion)
1 1/2 cups finely diced carrots (about 5 small carrots)
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.5-ounce) whole tomatoes with juice
1 bottle (750 ml) good red wine (preferably Pinot Noir or Burgundy)
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups fresh button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole white pearl onions

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Pat the beef dry with paper towels and generously season with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. In 2 batches as to not over-crowd the pot, cook the meat until nicely browned on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer the meat to a plate.

Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat until crispy and the fat has rendered, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, thyme, bay leaves, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes, red wine, and chicken stock and stir to combine. Return the beef to the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and place in the oven. Cook until the beef is fork tender, about 2 hours. Remove from the oven and place on the stove. Discard the bay leaves.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and sauté until softened and golden, about 4 minutes. Add the cooked mushrooms and frozen onions to the stew. Bring the stew back to a boil and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot.

Serves 6.

Time Saving Tip: You can use fresh pearl onions in this recipe, but they need to be peeled and cooked first. Frozen onions are equally delicious and save you 15 to 20 minutes of preparation time.

Do Ahead: This stew can be made a day or two in advance. In fact, I think it may be even better the second day. Just reheat the stew on your stove top over medium-low heat.

Freezes Well.

Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

I love peanut butter!

Whether in a dessert, paired with chocolate (Mr. Reese’s was  genius in my book), in a PB & J sandwich, I just can’t resist it. (I have to admit most often I just eat it by the spoonful straight from the jar!)

When most people think of peanut butter, they think of dessert or the classic children’s sandwich, but did you know that peanut butter is absolutely wonderful in savory dishes?

When I was writing my book Simply Salads, one of the first dressings that came to mind was a peanut dressing I had once enjoyed at a restaurant.  

The cloyingly sweet peanut butter makes a delicious sauce when paired with Asian-cuisine staples such soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and fresh ginger. 

Peanut sauce is also very versatile. In addition to a salad dressing, I often use it as a marinade for grilled chicken or shrimp, or as a dipping sauce for veggies, spring rolls or chicken satays.

Which peanut butter to use?  I developed this recipe using good old Jiff creamy peanut butter. Crunchy peanut butter works fine as well; the sauce will just not be as smooth. If you want to use natural or freshly-ground peanut butter, you may want to add a little extra honey.

So … Peanut butter lovers beware.  The dressing in this colorful and tasty salad is addictive.

Enjoy!

Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing
From Simpy Salads by Jennifer Chandler

For the Peanut Dressing:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh peeled ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup canola oil
A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:
1/2 cup Peanut Dressing
1/2 cup fresh snow peas
1 bag (5 ounces) Spring Mix salad blend
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 carrots, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a traditional grater
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
2 limes, quartered, for garnish

For the Peanut Dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, canola oil, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad:
Bring salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Add snow peas and cook until vibrant green and crisp tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Drain the peas and immerse in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain again and place in a large salad bowl.

Add the salad blend, chicken, carrots, scallions, cilantro, and peanuts and toss. Add the dressing to taste and gently toss to coat. Garnish with lime wedges.  Serve immediately.

Tip: To save time, pick up a roasted rotisserie chicken at your local grocery for this recipe. The meat will be fresh, juicy, and flavorful. 

Makes 4 dinner salads

Crock Pot Beef Stew

Do you have a crock pot?  I didn’t think I did. Then one day last year I decided to clean out my pantry.  And low and behold, what did I find tucked at the very back of the top shelf?  A brand-spankin’ new crock pot.

I thought “Now where did this come from?”  As I was scratching my head in puzzlement, I opened the lid and lying inside was a gift card from Goldsmith’s Department Store (which by the way has been a Macy’s for a long, long time). The enclosure read “Best Wishes! Happy Cooking!” It seems this long-forgotten crock pot had been a wedding present.  It had been tucked away waiting patiently to be used for over 11 (Yes…I said 11!) years!

Neither my parents nor my grandparents had a crock pot so I had never used one before.  It was one of those wedding gifts where I appreciated the thought…but I didn’t really have a use for it.  (Now that I have discovered it, I am so glad that I didn’t gift it to Goodwill like I had that huge Japanese rice cooker I had gotten.)

As chance would happen, my sister had recently been telling me about this great beef stew she had made.  So I decided to give it a try in my “new” crock pot.  Before heading off to work that morning, I browned the meat and threw all the ingredients in.  With a bit of skepticism, I turned the pot on and headed out the door.  I thought “This is too easy to be true.  Will this taste good?  Will it be done when I get home?”

When I opened my back door hours later, I was hit by the delicious aroma of wine, tomatoes and garlic.  I rushed over to the pot and lifted the lid.  I was thrilled to discover a simmering pot of juicy and tender beef stew.  The beef literally fell apart at the touch and the tomatoes, wine and beef had rendered a delicious sauce.  I though “Wow!  Paul is going to think I spent all day in the kitchen!”

All that was left for me to do was boil a pot of rice.  (Heck…maybe I should have kept that Japanese rice cooker!) And since I had used a little wine to deglaze my browning pan, I also had almost a full bottle open to enjoy with my “no-effort” gourmet dinner!

So, here is a recipe that will turn even the most skeptical slow cooker skeptic into a crock pot enthusiast!

Enjoy!

P.S.: I am still trying to build up my crock pot recipe repertoire, so feel free to share your favorite slow cooker recipes!

Crock Pot Beef Stew

This is one of my favorite work-day dishes. I place everything in the crock pot before I head off to work…and when I come home, I have a delicious home-cooked meal waiting to be served.

4 pounds chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup good red wine, such as a Merlot or Shiraz
1 can (28-ounce) whole tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
2 bay leaves

Generously season the meat with salt and pepper.

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium–high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot. Working in two batches so as not to over crowd the pan, cook the meat, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Place the meat in a crock pot. Pour the red wine into the skillet, scraping the brown bits off the bottom, to deglaze the pan. Pour the wine mixture into the crock pot.

Add the whole tomatoes to the crock pot, breaking them up with a spoon or fork. Add the garlic, carrots, and the bay leaves. Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours. Adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: If you do not have a crock pot, you can still make this dish. Instead of putting the ingredients into a crock pot, place them in a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot with a lid and bake in a 250 degree oven for 3 hours.

Freezes well

Mac-n-Cheese with a Twist

Here’s to 2010!

Happy New Year!  Don’t know about you…but I am so excited about 2010.  It’s going to be a big year for me with a new book, some exciting new food adventures on the horizon … and this new blog!

As with all my cooking…my recipes are about getting good food on the table simply.  My posts will offer quick, easy and delicious ideas for your next meal.  I’ll also occasionally share some fabulous food finds and dining adventures.

Right now I am knee-deep in the developing stages of my next book Simply Suppers.  Set to be released in the Fall 2010, Simply Suppers is all about comfort food you can get on the table in no time flat. My editorial deadline is the beginning of March, so I am spending my days (and nights) cooking, testing and re-testing some satisfyingly delicious comfort foods.  Since I genuinely love to cook, the adventure of writing a cook book is truly a lot of fun and something I feel blessed to be able to do for a profession. (Thanks to all of you who made my first book Simply Salads such a national success!)

For my first blog entry, I’d love to share with you a recipe for these chilly January nights…my homemade and ultimately delicious Mac-n-Cheese with a Twist

Unlike the orangey-yellow boxed variety that many of us grew up on, homemade Mac-n-Cheese is a ooey, gooey, creamy delight for both the kids and grown-ups at the table. It’s a sinfully good indulgence that I just can’t pass up.

I like to use two cheeses in mine.  First, a sharp, tangy white cheddar that adds a delicious bite to the sauce.  Next, I throw in some Gruyère which adds a sweet nuttiness.  Then to truly make this pasta dish stand out, I add country ham, fresh herbs and crunchy topping made from crusty artisan bread.

Enjoy!

Mac-n-Cheese with a Twist

Serves 4 to 6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for the casserole
½ pound macaroni
2 cups low-fat milk
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 ½ cups grated white cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ pound country ham, sautéed and cut into small dice
3 slices crusty French bread, minced to breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Butter a large casserole dish and set aside. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni until it is just tender, about 4 to 6 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil, remove from the heat, and set aside.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. When the butter foams, add the flour. Cook, whisking, for one minute. While continuing to whisk, gradually add the milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5 to 8 minutes. Do not brown. Remove the pan from the heat. 

Stir in the nutmeg, 2 cups cheddar cheese and ½ cup Gruyère cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the macaroni into the cheese sauce and stir until well coated. Add the diced ham, thyme, and parsley and stir until well combined. Place the mixture in the casserole dish.

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, remaining cheeses, and the melted butter. Evenly spread the bread crumb mixture over the top.

Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Serve warm.

Back to the Basics: Prefer just plain old mac-n-cheese? No problem. Just omit the herbs and country ham.

Food Fact:  I just love the nutty flavor of a Gruyère. Great for melting, this firm cow’s milk cheese hails from Switzerland and is now found in most grocery stores. Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheeses are acceptable substitutes.


Jennifer Chandler

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