"I'm not a chef; I just cook." - Rachael Ray

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon is a classic French dish with a reputation for being difficult.  In fact, it was the debut dish of Julia Child's The French Chef.

If I had to describe the dish, I would say it is - Beef Stew, The French Way.

This Beef Bourguignon recipe is rather simple and this is what you'll need: A rump roast, a bottle of red wine, an onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, unsalted butter, flour, and quality beef stock.

First, you will need to cut the rump roast into manageable cubes, roughly an inch or two in size.  Now you need a somewhat fatty cut of meet so it doesn't dry out after 2-hours of cooking.  I recommend getting a whole roast and cutting it yourself.  After cutting the beef, pat it dry with a paper towel then season with kosher salt and pepper.
Next pour a tablespoon of cooking oil or bacon fat into a dutch oven heavy-bottom pot and heat on medium-high.  Place the cubed meat in the pot, but don't crowd the bottom or the pieces brown well.  Browning should only take 1-2 minutes on each side.  Removed the seared meat and place in a bowl.  
Now add one chopped white onion to the pot and lower the heat to low.  Let the onions cook for 5 minutes or until tender, then add 2 tablespoons of butter and chopped celery.  Let it cook for two more minutes then add 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and stir frequently.  This will make the roux and will be the base of the dish. Cook this on low heat for another two minutes then return the beef to the dish along with any juices.  Then pour in half a bottle of red wine.  Stir and let it reduce for about 5 minutes or until it becomes very thick. When the broth becomes thick go ahead and add 2-3 cups of good beef stock.  I used Swanson beef stock and I'm very happy with the results.  Add the sliced carrots and mushrooms.  Last, tie a bundle of thyme and place it into the broth.
Turn the heat to simmer and you might even need to use a flame tamer.  Cover and let it cook for two hours, checking on it every 15 minutes or so.  If it reduces too much, add more beef stock to adjust.  Taste the broth and adjust salt to taste.

Instead of putting potatoes into the pot itself, I decided to make mashed potatoes and served the Beef Bourguignon on top of it.  Though this isn't traditional, it tastes wonderful.  The broth is a great gravy and goes very well with the mashed potatoes.  Garnish with thyme and enjoy. You've just made Beef Bourguignon!

Thursday, January 28, 2010



Love tender meet and puff pastry?  Then take a pork tenderloin, wrap it in prosciutto ham, mushrooms, and a puff pastry!  It is just as tender and tasty as its cousin, Beef-Wellington.

Recipe for Pork-Wellington - First dry and season the pork tenderloin, keeping it simple with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Sear the tenderloin on the grill or on the stove for simplicity.  This takes 3 minutes for each side.
Once this is done you can further season the beef with herbs like thyme, English mustard, anything you want.  Next prepare the mushrooms.  Puree or finely chop ~3 cups worth of mushrooms.  Next, cook the puree to get the water out, this takes about 8-10 minutes on medium-low heat.  The mushrooms give flavor and also help keep the puff pastry from getting soggy.
Now assemble the Wellington.  Take a defrosted puff pastry and roll it out somewhat.  You want it big enough to surround the tenderloin and not too thin.  Line the puff pastry with prosciutto ham, or another type ham of your choice. Then spread the cooked mushroom puree on the ham.  Place the tenderloin in the middle then egg wash the edges and wrap.  Egg wash the outside and chill in the refrigerator for twenty minutes.          
Lastly, place the Wellington in a 400° oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Here is a video to show you all these steps.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Foodie Friday: Shish-Kabob Wrap with Sautéed Onions, Peppers, and Tomatoes!

A low-carb wrap served with rice.

This dish was inspired by Anthony Bourdain's recent visit to Istanbul, Turkey. Originally I was going to use Tandoori bread, but it wasn't flexible enough to use as a wrap.

Recipe for Shish-Kabob Wraps - Take any type of protein: beef, pork, lamb, even chicken.  Pat the meet dry then cut it into small cubes.  Season the meet with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and paprika. For the Kabobs, grill on high heat for ten minutes turning once. You can cook the kabobs on the stove on high heat for 8-10 minutes or in the oven at 375°F for 20 minutes.  

Next, chop one onion, a red and green bell pepper, and one tomato.  Heat a pan on medium heat, add some olive oil and sauté the onion and bell peppers for about five minutes stirring occasionally.  Turn off the heat and add the chopped tomato, then cover.
Spoon the vegetables onto the bread of your choice, add the kabob meat and wrap!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Salt 101

Salt, a quintessential ingredient.  It can help bring a dish together or completely overwhelm every other flavor. Salt can be a tricky ingredient requiring constant tasting, adjustment, and re-tasting to get it just right.  There are three basic types of salt: Table, Kosher, and Sea salt.  Each have their own texture, potency, and uses.


The fist type is common table salt.  It is very fine, the smallest of the three types.  Table salt is also the most potent: a small amount will go a long way.  If a dish is bland, this salt will bring life to it.  I would not recommend cooking or seasoning with table salt as it is too strong and could potently ruin a dish.  However, it is very useful for salting certain bland foods that really absorb salt, like potatoes and other root vegetables.

Kosher Salt is by far my go-to salt.  The salt crystals are much larger than table salt and are not uniform in shape.  It is also the least potent of the three salts.  When seasoning meats before cooking, you can be very generous.  If you are grilling or searing meats, keep in mind about half of the seasoning will fall off as you move and turn the food.  Salting meats with kosher salt is also a good way to remove water / moisture, allowing you to better sear in the flavors and juices.  You cannot sear something wet. Olive oil, which isn't H20, will sear.
Because of the large salt particles and the milder flavor, this is the salt I prefer to cook and season with.


Without a doubt this is sea salt.  Comparatively, sea salt crystals are much larger than table or kosher salt.  It is also a very strong type salt.  Sea salt is the "fancy" or "gourmet" salt, with some brands costing 10 times more than kosher salt. This salt is derived from evaporated sea water and most every place with salty water will sell their own brand of salt.  You can cook with sea salt, though it is better used as a garnish or topping. Its large size makes it noticeable and appealing.  Since sea salt is expensive, I prefer not to cook with it.  I mostly use it for puff pastries and garnish; for everything else, kosher salt works fine for me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mahi-Mahi with Chopped Pecans Warm Spinach Salad.

Pan seared Mahi-Mahi, topped with chopped pecans, on a bed of warm spinach.

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Recipe for Seared Mahi-Mahi -  Season the Mahi on both sides with olive oil and 1t of salt and pepper. You can use lemon pepper if you prefer.  Place skin side up on a hot, non-stick pan.  Cook for 3-4 min on each side.  Next, sprinkle the chopped pecans on the top side of the Mahi.  Garnish with parsley and lemon zest.

blog wilted spinach balsamic v pecans bacon

Recipe for Warm Spinach Salad - Things you will need:  Bacon, Onion, Garlic, Balsamic Vinegar, Roasted Pecans, Sugar, and of course Fresh Spinach.

First fry 3 to 5 strips of your favorite bacon depending on how much bacon you want in the salad.  Next add 1cup chopped onion and 1t minced garlic to the bacon drippings, cook for 3min on mid-low heat.  Then, carefully add 1tsp of Balsamic Vinegar.  Now add your spinach, it will cook quickly - less than 1min.  Remove the spinach - Now I removed some of the excess grease with a paper towel.  Add the previously cooked bacon, chopped and the roasted pecans, chopped or whole.  Now you will want to season the spinach, salt and pepper to taste and about 1t of sugar or splenda.

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Mahi-Mahi is a somewhat delicate fish with mild flavors. The fillets are thick and satisfying. So if you're tired of tilapia or salmon, seared Mahi-Mahi is a welcomed change at a reasonable price.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ultimate BLT

Thick Bacon, Tomatoes, Romaine Lettuce, and an Egg.  On Italian style bread with Pepperjack cheese.    


A BLT is really all about the ingredients.  From the bread to the mayonnaise they all impact the dish in their own way.  Now what makes this an "ultimate" BLT? The egg!  The runny yoke can be a little messy, but it makes the dish "ultimate" for me.  This recipe came from Youtube of all places.  Watch it for yourself and see if you are tempted like I was.


Cornbread & Milk

Cornbread baked this afternoon.

When dinner is ready, cornbread is a hard dish to beat.  What's better? Well...warm, moist cornbread with the butter still melting on top.  It is a good idea to keep a extra packet of "Martha White's Cornbread Mix" on hand. They come in handy whenever a cornbread craving hits.  I recommend grabbing a piece along with a glass of milk - As far as satisfying combinations go, cornbread & milk are one of the best.