Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Ultimate Beef Stew

Wow, it's been awhile. Not sure I can clearly articulate what has kept me/us away: there's work, some challenges related with doing the VERY hardest work there is to do while being a principal. There is our focus on trying to eat Paleo 80% of the time and that takes so much planning & prep....by the time meals come around we are kind of just done. Those could be enough I suppose.

And then there is the good parts of life...

Views from our rental home on Red Mountain at the Corvus Vineyards house.

Like our annual, always looked forward to, trip to Washington Wine Country with good friends & this year my sister and her husband too.

There are so many great things that we love about these trips. Including things like wonderful breakfast mimosas to kick the day of before wine tasting. It was another fantastic year in the Prosser/Tri-Cities wine country.
View from our Iron Springs Resort Cabin
Or maybe it could of been my birthday weekend trip to the Washington coast, just a few miles down the road from where G proposed exactly 14 years prior that has kept me away.

It was a great weekend to romp on the beach with our beach loving bully.

In the end we'll just say life has been busy, good busy, work busy, not always fun busy...but busy and sitting down and reflecting on our wonderful meals has sadly slipped to the wayside.

Finally, Thanksgiving break is here and hopefully some time can be set aside to catch up on a few of our great meals & recipes.

Here's a recent Sunday meal that we splurged our 20% non-Paleo diet on. During late fall/winter weekends when the weather is cold and nippy comfort food seems to be a must.

This stew came about on one of those days. There was the first frost of the season, a cold brisk day and G was of course skiing most of the day and always enjoys a hearty meal for dinner after such a day.

I searched for a new stew recipe to make and came across Tyler's Ultimate Beef Stew. It had my favorite stew components; potatoes, mushrooms and red wine and a few new ones like orange zest and this fabulous horseradish cream. 

It was a fabulous stew recipe overall. Next time we make it we will leave out the orange zest, just because it became a bit overwhelming to the other flavors in the stew. But it was deliciously comforting and just as good day 1 and 2 like a good stew should be. 


Tyler's Ultimate Beef Stew (from Food Network)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying, plus more to drizzle
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 to 3 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch pieces (this cut is also called chuck shoulder pot roast and chuck roast boneless)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle good quality dry red wine (recommended: Burgundy)
8 fresh thyme sprigs
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 orange, zest removed in 3 (1-inch) strips
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups beef stock
9 small new potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in 1/2
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups frozen pearl onions, a large handful
1 pound white mushrooms, cut in 1/2
1/2 pound garden peas frozen or fresh

Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
Horseradish Sour Cream, recipe follows, for garnish
Toasted Peasant Bread, recipe follows, for serving

Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the oil and butter.

While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Season the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.

Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all those tasty bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, smashed garlic, orange zest strip, ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste, bay leaves and beef stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.

After 2 hours add halved potatoes, sliced carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms, along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Add the frozen peas during the last minute of cooking. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.

To serve, place the stew in a soup bowl, garnish with parsley, drizzle with olive oil and add a dollop of Horseradish Sour Cream. Right before serving add a slice of Toasted Peasant Bread, half way submerged in the stew.

Horseradish Sour Cream:
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Chives, finely chopped, as garnish
Combine sour cream, prepared horseradish and a drizzle of olive oil in a small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add a dollop of the mixture on top of the stew and garnish with chopped chives.

Toasted Peasant Bread:
1 loaf peasant bread, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, halved
Chopped parsley leaves
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Put a sheet pan in the oven so that it gets good and hot.

Place the bread slices on the hot sheet pan. Drizzle the bread with the extra-virgin olive oil bake for 5 minutes, until the bread is nicely toasted. Rub the bread slices with the garlic cloves, and discard garlic. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Monday, November 4, 2013

Grilled Cheese with Pear & Caramelized Onions and Tomato Soup

Is there really anything more comforting than grilled cheese and tomato soup? I'm going to say no. It's the number one school lunch order of the school year by students and adults. It's just good stuff. 

We've officially finished our Whole 30 and now we've switch over to our 80% Paleo lifestyle. Which means last Sunday night this scrumptious meal was part of our 20% life. 

We were craving a rustic grilled cheese sandwich. We picked up 3 different delicious cheeses; a soft farmers white cheese, a white cheddar and a light blue cheese and grated them with some chopped chives.
We caramelized a white onion and sliced a ripe pear and sandwiched it all in between some roughly sliced sourdough bread. The flavors of the melty cheese, richly sweet onions and paired with the sweet pear is just perfect!  

And of course if we were making grilled cheese we had to make some homemade tomato soup too. The funny thing growing up I actually hated tomato soup. I think it was because the only tomato soup I had ever had was the kind from the red & white can. And it was like soupy ketchup. I'm so glad somewhere along the way I finally tasted a good tomato soup and became a fan. This soup takes a while to cook but it's well worth it.

You start by softening onions, carrots and garlic.

Add two cans of San Marzano Italian whole tomatoes.

The recipe called for 2 cans of water we substituted 2 cans of homemade chicken stock that G had made the week before to add a bit more flavor.

It was  a perfect meal for a gray,chilly lazy Sunday at home spent nursing our allergy prone pup back to health.


Sidekick Tomato Soup (adapted from Sunset Magazine November 2013)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots 
2 large garlic cloves, chopped 
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( we added a bit more)
2 Mediterranean bay leaves
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) whole peeled organic tomatoes with juice, preferably San Marzano or Muir Glen
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano, divided
About 1/2 cup crème fraîche
About 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped chives

1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Pour in oil, then add onion, carrots, garlic, 1 tsp. salt, the red pepper flakes, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened and onion is translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. "It's important to cook your onions before you add liquid. Otherwise they won't melt in a simmering pot; they stay fibrous," advises Smith.
2. Add tomatoes, crushing them up with your hands, plus their juice and 2 cans water.  (we used homemade chicken stock in place of the water) "Canned whole tomatoes are usually higher quality than chopped," Conley says. "But chopped are okay in a pinch." Bring soup to a simmer and add half of oregano. Decrease heat to very low and simmer, partly covered, 2 hours. About 20 minutes before soup is done, add remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and the remaining oregano.
3. Remove bay leaves and blend soup until smooth. Add a bit of water if the soup looks thick, and strain if you want it silky smooth.
4. Serve soup topped with crème fraîche and chives.