A retired Vegas Showgirl walks into a bar…….

Food

Beef Braised in Red Wine

I scoff at air freshener commercials.  Instead spraying my home with an aerosol chemical that smells like apples and cinnamon I buy apples and bake.  Instead of purchasing a scented oil dispensing device that sucks energy from my wall outlet, I purchase a relatively inexpensive cut of meat and a $5 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo and let it simmer in my crock pot. In air freshener television advertisements, guests walk into homes, inhale deeply and nod approvingly.  In my house, people step through the door and shout, “Oh, my God, what are you making?  That smells amazing!”
I win. 

Right now, my house smells amazing because…

 
Brasato al Barolo or Beef Braised in Red Wine
 
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 (3-to-3 1/2 lb) boneless beef chuck roast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 lb sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves
4 (4 to 6 inch) sprigs fresh thyme
2 (6 to 8 inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups Barolo (though expensive) or instead other full bodied red wine such as Ripasso Valpolicellla, Gigondas, or Cote du Rhone
2 cups water
 
Heat oil in pot over moderately high heat
 
Pat meat dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown meat in hot oil on all sides about 10 minutes total.  Transfer to a plate.
 
Add pancetta to oil in pot and saute over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until browned and fat is rendered, about 3 minutes.  Add onion, carrot, celery and saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Add garlic, thyme, and rosemary and saute, stirring, until garlic begins to soften and turn golden, about 2 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add wine and boil until liquid is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.  Add water and bring to a simmer.  Put meat and any juices and wine mixture to crock pot and simmer over low temperature 4-6 hours.
 
Transfer meat to a cutting board and slice against the grain.  Skim fat from surface of sauce and remove herb stems.  Boil sauce in pan until reduced by a third, about 5 minutes.  Serve with meat over noodle or polenta.
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I Heart Pumpernickel

I told a few of my brewhouse regulars about my blog.  They returned on a Friday afternoon and said among other things, “We can’t wait to try your lentil soup.”
 
My dear friends, I made this recipe today.  I  can’t wait to try it tomorrow after all the flavors have a solid 24 hours to combine.  I need to make extra croutons: they are addictive!
 
Split Pea Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons  adapted from Gourmet Magazine January 2004
 
2 meaty ham hocks (1 3/4pounds)
16 cups of water
4 large carrots
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound dried split peas (2 1/4 cups) picked over and rinsed
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 cups 1/2 inch cubes pumpernickel bread (from 1 1/4 lb loaf)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup frozen peas (not thawed)
 
Simmer ham hocks in 16 cups of water in deep 6-quart pot uncovered until meat is tender 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
 
Transfer ham hocks to a cutting board and measure broth: If measures more than 12 cups, continue boiling until reduced; if less, add enough water to total 12 cups.  When hocks are cool enough to handle, discard skin and cut meat into 1/4 inch pieces (reserve bones).
 
Chop 2 carrots and cook along with onion and celery in 2 tablespoons oil in a 6-8 quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring until softened, 6-8 minutes.  Add split peas, table salt, pepper, ham hock broth and reserved bones and simmer, uncovered stirring occasionally until peas are falling apart and sou is slightly thickened, and 1 1/2 hours.
 
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
 
While soup simmers toss bread with remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and kosher salt in a large bowl, then spread in one layer on large shallow baking pan and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.  Cool croutons in pan on a rack.
 
Halve remaining 2 carrots lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices.  Remove bones from soup and discard.  Add carrots and ham pieces to soup and simmer, uncovered, until carrots are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.  Add frozen peas and simmer, uncovered, stirring, until just heated through, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt.
 
Serve soup with croutons. 

Calling Dr. Lagasse

After hanging around a cold garage waiting for my car’s diagnostic check, I caught quite a chill.  I self medicated with teas and vitamin C and zinc the moment I felt the first tickle in my throat.  I was able to dodge the flu season bullet, but with a compromised immune system and job that requires lots and lots of verbal communication I now sound like Kathleen Turner.
“I’m not really bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
It’s sexy but because I work around objects that people put into their mouths I at least want to sound as healthy as I feel.
 
I found this recipe from Emeril Lagasse’s.  I bought all the ingredients tonight.  Tomorrow I will sleep late and then I will make soup before my dinner shift at the brewhouse.  I’ll let you know how it goes.
 
Adapted from Dr. E.’s Get-Well Chicken Vegetable Soup from Emeril’s New New Orleans Cooking
 
One of my good friends in New Orleans is Derby Gisclair, one of the last true gentle men in the world.  One day Derby’s wife, Claire, called to cancel their dinner reservation because Derby wasn’t feeling well.  What does a friend do at a time like this?  I whipped up a batch of double strength chicken soup and sent it to the Gisclairs, with instructions from “Dr. E.” to bring the soup to a boil and eat it as hot as possible.  The next day showed up for lunch at the restaurant, fit as a fiddle.  Well, word got around, friends and relatives were putting in orders for “The Cure,” and soon I realized these people weren’t even sick.  Good thing; I didn’t want to get busted for practicing medicine without a license.
 
You’ll enjoy this soup even if you’re not ailing, but when you prepare it, freeze a couple individual portions, just in case.  One more hint: This is better if it’s made a day ahead and reheated.
 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs chicken meat, diced
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
10 turns freshly ground pepper
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon (altogether) creole seasonings such as paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder
pinch dried thyme
pinch dried oregano
2 cups assorted chopped vegetables such as green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, cabbage
1 cup torn spinach leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 quarts chicken stock
2 cups cooked noodles
 
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over high heat.  When the oil is hot add chicken, salt and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes or meat browns.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, green onions, garlic, parsley, basil, bay leaves and creole seasonings and saute, stirring once or twice for about four minutes.  Add the chopped vegetables, spinach and crushed red pepper and saute for 1 minute.
 
Add the stock to the pot and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes.  Add the noodles, bring back to boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Unless you’re too ill to wait, the soup will taste even better if you refrigerate it overnight.  The next day, remove and discard any congealed fat on the top  and reheat the soup over medium-low heat. 

Lentil Soup

I admit, in an embarrassed state, to all of my east coast readers that I have been feeling a bit of a chill this past week.  I feel unworthy because a chill in Vegas means the low-50’s possibly.  Still, I crave soup!

 
I have always hated curry but decided to attempt this recipe out of respect for fellow foodies.  Molly Wizenberg offers this recipe in her monthly column at Bon Appetit.  I have since made three more batches.  I have discovered curry isn’t so bad, especially  if you have fresh lemon slices and chopped green onion at hand.  Not only does the spice become palatable, I find myself craving it. 
 
Molly Wizenberg’s Curried Lentil Soup
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) curry powder
  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 4 1/4 cups (or more) water, divided
  • 1 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
  • Ingredient info: French green lentils are small, dark green, and speckled with black; they can be found at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor.

Add chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency. DO AHEAD: soup can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Rewarm before continuing.

Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and serve with lemon wedges.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Curried-Lentil-Soup-362489#ixzz1Attb8cZw


Epiphany

Yesterday I was flipping through an old Gourmet magazine and came across the recipe for Galette des Rois, a cake made in many parts of France to celebrate the Epiphany.

My first attempt at this recipe was a few years back.  I found the technique challenging but intriguing.  After hours of rolling, folding and chilling and re-rolling, re-folding and re-chilling the dough, I had achieved a rough puff pastry from scratch.  The final product was lop-sided, misshapen and ugly,  but delicious.  I wanted to try again to see if I could improve on the presentation and when I rediscovered the recipe yesterday I promised myself to make it for the Epiphany.

I talked to my Mom today.  She mentioned they celebrated the Epiphany at mass this morning.

I googled.

Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas, celebrates the visit of the three kings or wise men to the Christ Child, signifying the extension of salvation to the Gentiles.  Epiphany falls on Thursday, January 6, 2011. In most countries, including the United States, the celebration of Epiphany in 2011 is transferred to Sunday, January 2.
 
I have four days.  I’d better start rolling and folding now.
 
Galette Des Rois adapted from Gourmet Magazine 1954
 
For pastry:
1  2/3cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup ice water
 
For filling:
1/4 cup pure almond paste
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 whole almond
 
For glaze:
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar for dusting
 
Make dough (rough puff pastry):
Sift together flour, salt, and sugar into a large chilled metal bowl.  Set a grater over flour mixture and coarsely grate frozen butter into flour, gently lifting flour and tossing to coat butter.  Drizzle ice water evenly over flour mixture and gentle stir with a fork until incorporated.  Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 portions.  With the heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat.  Gather dough together with a scraper into a 6-to 7-inch square.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour. (Dough will be lumpy and streaky.)
 
Make filling while pastry chills:
Puree almond  paste, sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt in a food processor until smooth.  Add egg, vanilla, and almond extract and puree until incorporated.  Transfer to a small bowl and chill, covered, to firm at least 1 hour.
 
Roll out pastry:
Roll out dough on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 21-by-7-inch rectangle and arrange rectangle with a short side nearest you.  Fold into thirds, first the top down then the bottom up (like a letter), brushing off the excess flour, to form a roughly 7-inch square.  Rewrap dough and chill 20 minutes.
 
Arrange square on floured surface so that a side with 3 layers visible is nearest you and roll into a 21-by 7-inch rectangle, rolling lengthwise away from and toward yourself, but not side to side.   Fold in thirds, brush off excess flour, and chill 20 minutes.  Repeat rolling out, folding in thirds and chilling  3 more times.  After the last round of rolling and folding, chill rewrapped dough 1 hour.
 
Assemble and glaze galette:
Roll out dough in same manner into a rectangle 24 inches long, then cut in half crosswise.  On a floured surface, roll out each piece of pastry into a 12 inch square and transfer to separate baking sheets by rolling pastry arounf rolling pin, brushing off excess flour, then unrolling onto baking sheets.  Chill squares until firm, about 10 minutes in freezer or 30 minutes in refrigerator.
 
Put an oven rack in lowest position and another in top third of oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
 
Stir together egg and milk in a small bowl with a fork to make egg wash.
 
Using a plate as a guide, cut 1 pastry square on a baking sheet into an 11 inch round reserving excess dough for another use.  Using tip of knife and a smaller plate as a guide, score a 9 inch circle leaving a 1 inch border all around.  (If at anytime the pastry becomes too soft to work with, chill until firm.) Cut a 1/2  inch circle in the center of round to serve as a stream vent, then score curved lines close together inside 9 inch circle in a pinwheel design and lightly brush pastry all over with egg wash.  Chill scored pastry on baking sheet while preparing remaining pastry.
 
Cut remaining square into a 11 inch round in the same manner.  Brush some egg wash in a 1 inch wide border around edge of round and mound chilled filling in center, spreading to about 1 1/2 inches from edge.  Bury almond anywhere in filling.  Slide chilled pastry round gently over filling, scored side up and press edges of rounds together to seal.  Cut decorative notches, 1 inch apart, around sealed edge of galette.
 
Baking galette:
Bake on baking sheet on bottom rack of oven until puffed and golden, about 15-20 minutes.  Transfer galette to upper third of oven and continue baking until very puffed and deep golden brown 10-15 minutes more.  Transfer to  a rack to cool slightly, 5-10 minutes (galette will deflate slightly).  Serve warm.
 
Whoever gets the slice with the almond, according to tradition, will be king or queen for the day.    
 
 

New Year’s Day

My last brewhouse shift of 2010 was a distant memory when the clock rang in 2011.  I was home with loved ones and refrigerator of food waiting to become different food.   
 
My 2010 holiday season began for me the first night I watched the San Fran Ballet Nutcracker.  I bid farewell to 2010 and its holiday season the same way it began: with the second act of the Nutcracker.  I had no Gelsey, no Mikhail, but I had Alan Gilbert conducting the New York Philharmonic for a New Year’s Eve special live from Lincoln Center.  It was an all-Tchaivskovy program and a whole new way to appreciate the notes to which I plied and tondued years ago.
 
It was a perfect end and wonderful start to a new year and decade.  I like the thought of a fresh decade.  Ten years ago I was someone who plied and tondued.  I don’t anymore; now I mark time at the brewhouse.  365 days from now I might still be employed at the brewhouse but I will not be there ten years from now.  I am confident that sometime before the end of the next decade, I will be creative not corporate.
 
I thought I would start the road to creative immediately.  The future seems brighter already. 
 
Gruyere Gougeres
Emeril Lagasse’s Sauteed Scallops with Saffron Corn Sauce
Bon Appetit’s (Dec 2010) Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port

Santa Reads My Blog!

I’ve been very good this year. 

The things I will  make with this will make me very, very good for next year!