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Archive for the ‘Sauces’ Category

Hamburger steak…

…doesn’t sound particularly exciting, does it?  Well, what if I told you Julia Child had a recipe for it? Interested yet?  You should be.

For Julia’s bifteck hache a la lyonnaise (aka, ground beef with onions and herbs) You need:

  • 3/4 cup finely minced onions
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean, ground beef
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. thyme
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp. butter + 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine or beef stock
  • 2-3 tbsp. butter, softened

Melt the butter and cook the onions low and slow for about 10 minutes until they are tender, but not browned. Put them in a mixing bowl and stir them a bit to help them cool slightly. Then, add the beef, softened butter, seasonings, and egg. Use a wooden spoon to mix thoroughly. This surprised me a bit–I’ve made a lot of burgers, and always hear (and believe) that you have to be quite careful with ground beef because it is easy to over-mix it. However, what Julia says goes, and I tried the wooden spoon. It worked perfectly and it was kind of nice to not have raw meat all over my hands. Once the meat is well mixed, shape it into about 6 patties that are 3/4 inch thick. Right before you cook them, roll the patties lightly in flour, shaking off any excess.

Put the other butter and oil in a big skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter foam starts to lessen, cook the patties 2-3 minutes a side, until nice and golden. Take them out of the skillet and keep warm in the oven while you make a little sauce.

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Get any excess fat out of the skillet, then add the wine or beef stock and boil it quickly, scraping up any browned deliciousness as it boils. Cook the sauce until it is reduced and a bit syrupy. Take the skillet off the heat and swirl in the butter a bit at a time until it is completely incorporated.

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Pour the sauce over the warm patties to serve.

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Believe me when I say this hamburger steak is absolute glory. Tender, melts-in-your-mouth, flavorful glory. And it actually comes together really quickly, too. Thanks for being a genius, Julia!

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…is quite an ordeal, and we experienced our own first turkey-roasting this weekend.  We decided it would probably be a good idea to go ahead and have a faux thanksgiving dinner while it is just the two of us, so we could figure out the process with slightly less stress.  We stretched the meal over a couple of days to make plenty of sides, and our full menu included the turkey (of course), gravy, bacon green beans, rice and mushroom stuffing, scalloped potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.   I am not going to lie to you.  If you have never roasted a turkey, it is not as easy as your mother (who has most likely been doing this for years) makes it look.  However.  This recipe for lemony roasted turkey from Rachael Ray is probably as easy as it gets, with absolutely incredible results!!

For Rachael’s amazing turkey you need:

  • 1 14-16 lb. turkey, rinsed/patted dry–save the giblets and neck to make stock
  • 4 tbsp. butter, at room temp.
  • 1 lemon, zested and halved
  • 2 onions, roots chopped off and halved with skin on
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • salt and pepper

Here is where the fun begins…as turkey newbies, we fell into the typical trap of not allowing enough time for our very frozen bird to thaw.  Give it at least three days in the fridge!  We had to push our feast back a week, but it ended up working out.  On roasting day, cut off the first two joints of the wing, but leave the drumettes attached.  Keep the wings for your stock.  Let your turkey come up to room temperature in its roasting pan for about 2 hours.

When time gets close, aka 20 minutes out, start heating your oven to 400 with the bottom rack in the lowest position.  Meanwhile, mash together the butter and lemon zest.  Proceed to smear it all over your bird (we are talking Anne Burrell love-your-meat style), then squeeze all of the lemon juice over it.  Stuff 2 onion halves and the sliced lemon in the cavity, and the other 2 onion halves in the pan.  Sprinkle on the thyme and salt/pepper to taste.  Tie the legs of the turkey together, and pop the pan in the oven for an hour.

When the first hour is up, rotate the pan a half-turn, lower the heat to 350, and roast for another hour.  Then, after the second hour has passed, baste the turkey with the juices in the pan.  Continue to roast the turkey for another half hour or so, basting often, until a meat thermometer stuck into the inner thigh registers 150-155.  Once you reach the golden temperature, use tongs to pour any juices from the turkey cavity into the pan, and save all the drippings for some great gravy.  Let the bird rest at least 30 minutes before carving, and get to work on said gravy.

Well, before you make the gravy and while the turkey is a-roasting, make you own super-easy turkey stock.  Simply save the neck, wings, and giblets (not the liver), and toss them into a big pan along with a a quartered onion (skin on), one chopped celery rib, some parsley and thyme, 1/2 tsp. coarse salt,  1/4 tsp. whole black peppercorns, and 2 1/2 quarts water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then knock the heat back to low, partially cover (pretty sure we forgot this step…), and simmer gently for 2 1/2 hours.  Strain off any solids and your stock is ready to go.

For the lemon cream gravy you need:

  • 2 1/2 cups pan drippings (if you don’t have enough, add some chicken stock)
  • zest of one lemon (use a vegetable peeler to peel into strips)
  • 4 cups of your homemade stock (or 2 cups chicken broth + 2 cups water)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • salt and pepper

I won’t lie: Schatzi made the gravy.  And it is so fantastic–it’s one of those things you will want to swim in…anyway.  Remember those onion halves from the roasting pan?  Chuck their skins and pour all of the drippings and solids from the roasting pan into a measuring cup.  Let the liquid settle (you can toss in some ice cubes to speed up the process), then skim off/discard any fat.  Return your 2 1/2 cups of drippings and solids and the lemon strips (+premade  stock if you need) to the roasting pan.

Put the flour in a bowl and gradually stir in 1 cup stock.  Slowly mix in 1/2 cup more stock.  Then, place the roasting pan over two burners on the stove over medium-high (Rachael, you are a genius.  Thanks for sparing me an extra dirty pan!).  Bring the drippings to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits as you go, then whisk in the flour paste mixture and return to a simmer while whisking constantly.  Slowly whisk in the remaining 2 1/2 cups of stock and bring to a boil, still whisking constantly, until the gravy is nice and thickened.  Season with salt and pepper, then whisk in the cream and thyme.  Discard the lemon zest strips, and the gravy is complete!

The remaining sides will follow…but wow.  This turkey was incredible.  Juicy, and so full of flavor.  Don’t even get me started on that gravy!!!

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…is Julia Child’s fancy way of saying chicken simmered with cream and onions.  Or, as Schatzi I like to call it, Heaven in a bowl.  You may think that’s an exaggeration, but trust me.  This creamy, comforting chicken is absolute perfection.  Julia Child is famous for a reason, you know…and this dish (with a few modifications) is actually one of her easier ones.

For Julia’s delicious French chicken you need:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs. chicken, cubed
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • more salt and white pepper
  • a few drops of lemon juice
  • 3-4 more Tbsp. whipping cream
  • parsley

Now, a person will feel practically sacrilegious to modify a Julia Child recipe, but even on the weekend, we don’t have time to cut up and bone an entire chicken…so, we just bought the prescribed amount of chicken breasts and chopped them into bite-sized chunks.  It worked beautifully, and made this dish beyond easy…sorry, Julia.  Anyway, start by thoroughly drying your meat, however you choose to go about acquiring it.  She’s not kidding when she tells you meat won’t cook properly unless it is dry.  While you’re doing that, melt the butter in a large casserole (Dutch oven) over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken (don’t move it around a lot in the pan!) and cook 3-4 minutes, flipping once, until the chicken looks a bit puffy and the outsides are white.  Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.  Also, start to boil the 3 cups of whipping cream.

Now, I am guessing that if you stick with Julia’s method, you can plow ahead to step two and add the onions.  However, I needed to drain a bit of the cooking liquid from my pre-cut chicken and melt a bit more butter in my pot, first.  Once your pot is satisfactory, add the onions (I chopped, she thinly slices).  Pop a lid on the pot and cook over lowered heat until the onions are tender (but not browned), 4-5 minutes.  Add the chicken back to your pot, covering and cooking again for about 10 minutes, until the chicken puffs even more.  Only turn it once.

Next, add the curry powder, salt, and pepper to the chicken.  Raise the heat and add the cognac to deglaze the pan, boiling the liquid rapidly until it is almost completely gone.  Pour in the hot cream, continue simmering and make sure the chicken has been coated with the cream.  Return the lid to the pot and let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes.  Honestly, my chicken was already pretty well cooked, so I only let it simmer for about 10 minutes.  Here, all you need is for the chicken’s juices to run clear when pricked.  At this stage, if your cream looks curdled and lumpy, not to worry!  Julia will fix it.

Put the chicken and most of the onion on a platter again.  If there is any, skim the fat off the sauce and bring the cream to a quick bubble.  Stir it until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Then, add a few drops of lemon juice and season it with more salt and pepper to taste.  If it still looks a bit lumpy, take the sauce off the heat and stir in those few extra tablespoons of cream–all fixed!  Serve a bowl of luscious chicken smothered in sauce and a hint of parsley.

Words do not describe the amazing taste of cognac and cream mixed together.  Neither of us had ever tasted it until this dish, but there is something about it that just makes me think of the holidays (which start NEXT month?!); I think it is just the comfort and rich smell and taste of it.  If you are reading this, you must make it.  Or, come visit us and we will make it for you.  We get to keep any chance of leftovers, though…

Bon appetit!

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Chicken curry…

…has been on our list of dinners to make for awhile, and we finally got around to it last weekend!  We made spicy red curry and rice by Robert Irvine, and it was wonderful!

For this spicy curry you need:

  • 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps quartered
  • 1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Steamed rice and lime wedges, for serving

Whisk together the coconut milk, curry paste, and fish sauce.

Heat a large skillet over high heat until it is very hot.  Add 2 tbsp. oil and heat until it barely smokes.  Meanwhile, season the diced chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet, arranging the meat in a single layer.  Cook the meat, turning once, until it is browned on both sides, but not completely cooked through (4-5 minutes).  Remove the chicken to a skillet and drain off any fat.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet and cook the mushrooms until lightly browned.

Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for just a minute.  Then, return the chicken to the skillet along with the red curry sauce and bring the mixture to a bubble.  Knock the heat back and let the mixture simmer for a couple of minutes to finish cooking the chicken.

Serve a bowl of rice and curry garnished with lime and chopped cilantro.

This curry is so easy and is quite tasty.  However, next time, I would probably add a little less than the half cup of water and might add another teaspoon of curry paste.  Who needs to go out when you can make Indian cuisine this delicious at home?!

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…can be a real challenge, at least in this house!  Schatzi and I both love to cook, but it is hard to come home from a long day at work and put a fresh meal on the table.  Enter the wonder that is the fish supper!  Meals cooked with fish can literally be thrown together in a matter of minutes, like this dinner from Food Network Magazine.  It is delicious, nutritious, and comes together in “the flashest of flashes.”

For fish and mushrooms you need:

  • 4 6-oz. arctic char fillets (we subbed in whitefish)
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tsp. grainy mustard
  • 1 tbsp. chives
  • 1 tbsp. parsley
  • 2 bunches arugula, trimmed

Heat the oven to 350.  Season the fillets with salt and pepper and heat a tbsp. of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  If you use the salmon, add it to the skillet and sear until golden on the bottom, about 3 minutes.  If you use a thinner fish, cook it for just a minute.  Flip the fish onto a lightly greased baking sheet and continue cooking them in the oven for another 4 minutes, 2-3 if you use a thinner fish.

Wipe out the skillet, place it back on the stove and add the rest of the oil.  Add the mushrooms and cook without moving them for a minute, just until browned.  Stir them a bit and continue cooking until browned all over. Stir in the shallots and cook for a couple of minutes, until they are soft.  Whisk in the mustard and vinegar, bringing the mixture to a boil.  Take the veggies off the heat and add the parsley and chives.

Meanwhile, drizzle the arugula with some oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Serve a plate of salad with a fillet topped with the mushrooms.

This dinner really is super-easy to throw together, and it has under 400 calories!  I’m sure it is probably even better with salmon, but really, the sauce goes great with any plain old fish.  The next time you are in a time crunch, give this fish dinner a try.

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…is one of the recipes that made Julia Child quite famous, and for good reason!!  My obsession with food and cooking developed around the same time the movie Julie & Julia premiered, and of course I wanted to see it–a movie about cooking?  Yes, please!  Of course, it is a delightful movie and I instantly wanted Julia’s first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  My mother-in-law was so kind as to surprise me with a copy for my birthday, and I finally got around to reading a bit of it and made a dish featured in the book.  I decided my first attempt would be the beef stew with red wine, onions, bacon, and mushrooms, and wow.  It is divine!

For Julia’s famous boeuf bourguignon you need:

  • A 6-oz. chunk of bacon (still on the rind)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 lbs. stewing meat, cut into cubes
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 2-3 cups beef stock
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or mashed
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • The bacon rind
  • 18-24 small (pearl) onions, peeled & braised (recipe follows)
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, quartered & sauteed (recipe follows)
  • Parsley

This is definitely not a weeknight recipe, so make sure to plan for it on the weekend!  You need several hours to cook it well and correctly.  Begin by removing the rind from the bacon and cutting it into lardons/sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long.  Simmer the rind and lardons in 1 1/2 quarts of water for 10 minutes.  Drain the meat, dry it, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450.  Cook the bacon in an oven-safe Dutch oven (or large casserole) and the oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes, just until lightly browned.  Remove and set aside.

Reheat the oil in the pot until it is almost smoking.  Meanwhile, pat the beef dry.  Julia was huge on drying meat, as it browns much better when dry.  Saute the beef  in the bacon drippings, working in batches, until it is nicely browned on all sides.  Place it with the bacon.

Add the sliced veggies to the pot and saute them until browned.  Pour out any excess fat.

Put the meats back in the pot with the veggies and add the salt and pepper.  Sprinkle in the flour to coat the meat.  Place the pot in the oven for 4 minutes, then toss the meat and let it continue roasting for another 4 minutes.  When a nice, light crust has formed on the meat, take it out of the oven and reduce the heat to 325.  Then, add the wine and just enough stock to barely cover the meat and veggies.  Stir in the tomato paste, spices, and bacon rind.  Bring the stew to a simmer, then cover the pot and place it back in the oven, on the lower third rack.  Let the meat simmer gently for 2 1/2-3 hours (it is ready when the meat pierces easily with a fork).

Meanwhile, make the mushrooms and onions.  Heat a large skillet with 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. oil over high heat.  When the butter foam dies down, add the mushrooms, spreading them out as much as possible.  Occasionally stir the mushrooms until they are nice and brown, about 5 minutes.

For the onions, melt 1 1/2 tbsp. butter and 1 1/2 tbsp. oil in a skillet.  When the liquids bubble, toss in the onions and roll them around a bit for 10 minutes, until browned.  Then, pour in 1/2 cup red wine or stock, season with salt and pepper, and add a bay leaf, some parsley, and thyme.  Cover the skillet and simmer the onions for 40-50 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated.

When the meat has finished, pour everything into a sieve over a saucepan to strain.  Return the meats and veggies to the pot.  Simmer the sauce for a few minutes to thicken, skimming fat off the surface as it arises.  If the sauce is too thin, bring it to a rapid boil; if it is too thick, add some stock.

Mix the mushroom/onion mixture with the meats and pour the sauce over everything.  Serve a plate or bowl of stew with some boiled potatoes and garnish with a bit of parsley.

While it takes a bit of effort, this is a fun meal to cook and the payoff is tremendous.  And, Julia wasn’t kidding when she said the beef is even better the next day–it just gets more tender and flavorful!  The next time you are feeling adventurous and want to put a super meal on the table, look no further than the genius of Julia Child.

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…are a Thanksgiving staple, according to most people.  In fact, Bobby Flay lost his Thanksgiving Throwdown simply because he didn’t make mashed potatoes!  Well, when we had our own after-Thanksgiving/leftover celebration, we made sure not to skimp on the taters and gravy–they are just too good to go without!

For Food Network Magazine’s perfect mashed potatoes you need:

  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • Pepper

Put the potatoes, skins on, in a large pot with just enough cold water to cover.  Salt the water and bring the potatoes to a simmer.  Continue to cook them, uncovered, for 45 minutes (until they are fork-tender).  Drain the potatoes and use a dishcloth or paper towel to rub off the skins.  Add the butter and warmed milk to the potatoes and smash them with a potato masher or fork.  Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper.

For Thanksgiving this year, Schatzi’s sister Megan made a delicious vegetarian gravy that we definitely wanted with our leftovers!  I’m not sure if this is exactly what she found, but it is pretty darn close and is delicious.  You need:

  • 3/4 cup white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the onions and mushrooms just for a minute over high heat.

Knock the heat back to medium and pour in the broth and soy sauce.  Slowly whisk in the flour until it is dissolved.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and turn the heat to low.  Then, add the poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper, and continue simmering the mixture for 8-10 minutes until it has thickened, stirring often.

Serve a plate of potatoes topped with rich gravy.

I am so glad Megan introduced us to this gravy–it is absolutely delicious!  And, you really can’t go wrong with these mashed potatoes.  When combined, the gravy and potatoes are absolutely unbeatable!

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