Between Seasons… A Savory Transition

If art imitates life, then food imitates nature… especially when the seasons change.

Cause to celebrate!

Shish kebobs marinated in an earthy balsamic vinaigrette…

Paired with tender-crisp peppers and onions.

Simple and delicious.

(No secret recipe here… just a brief swim in “Newman’s Own” and a spritz of olive oil on the veggies.)

Summer and autumn on a plate.

The best of both.

As the seasons shift, please make it a point…

To savor change.

Enjoying the transition,

~ Kim

Boeuf… It’s What’s For Dinner

I don’t speak a lick of French, but I love the cooking terms.  They make me feel more animated.  (Not that I need any help in that department.)  Try saying ragout without a hearty goo on the second syl-la-ble, or mirepoix without a saucy little kiss at the end.  (Julia Child I’m not, but there’s joie de vivre in my kitchen!)

Earlier this month, we feasted on a fabulous roast infused with garlic and smeared with Dijon.  “Pardon me, but would you happen to have...  (Yes, the chauffeur was undeniably British, but Grey Poupon remains indelibly etched in my mind.)

After we ate our fill, I relegated the rest to the freezer for future consideration.  Then inspiration struck.  Voila!  Ragout.

Traditionally, ragout is prepared by searing fresh cubes of meat and simmering them to perfection.  However, my schedule requires speeding things up now and then — kinda like being on “Chopped” in the comfort of my own home, without Ted Allen.

But no matter how rushed I am, a mirepoix is a must.  The marvel of this 2:1:1 ratio of onions, carrots and celery cannot be overstated.  (Unless you dice the onions last — then it’s 1:1:2.)

Confession.  For all of my French word frenzy, I forgot to add one vital ingredient: Cabernet.  I dispensed it in a goblet instead…

Weeknight Ragout

Leftover roast beef (preferrably using this recipe)

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 c. onion, diced

1/2 c. carrot, diced

1/2 c. celery, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 c. beef broth or bouillon – another fun word!

1 c. red potatoes (unpeeled), cubed

1 fresh tomato, seeded and chopped

Cabernet, to taste…

1/4 t. ground thyme

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Green onion tops sliced diagonally, for garnish

Cut the roast into cubes; set aside.  Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or heavy kettle, sauté the onions, carrots and celery in oil until translucent.  (Take your time – “sweating” brings out the maximum flavor.)  Add garlic; sauté briefly until fragrant.

Pour in broth and bring mixture to a boil.  Add potatoes and tomato.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are barely tender.  If desired, add wine.  (Or not…)  Stir in beef and thyme.  Simmer until heated through.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls.  Garnish with green onion tops.  Makes 2 lovely servings.

One last thing.  Ragout is generally more of a stew, thickened with a roux.  Woohoo.  But I was content with the way this turned out, so I served it au naturel. ;)  C’est la vie!

Enjoying ma petite foray in the kitchen,

~ Kim

The Prodigal Daughter Returns With Butter

Hi!  Sorry I’ve been out of the loop for awhile, but we just got back from Minnesota.  I’d forgotten how unpredicatable my home state can be in the Spring — it snowed on May 1st, there were windchills in the 20′s on May 2nd, and my car frosted over on May 3rd…

Don’t get me wrong — Minnesota is a beautiful place to live!  It’s just that this Okie export isn’t used to “unseasonably cold weather” (even for Minnesotans) in May.  But, I came home with a heart-full of warm memories and that’s all that matters.

I also came home with a pound of butter…

My Mom likes to surprise me with “culinary gifts” — jars of roasted red peppers and sun dried tomatoes, ramekin sets, unique kitchen utensils, cookbooks and the like, along with hugs and an enthusiasm for “my cooking” that makes me feel special and loved.   (Thank you, Mom.)  I’m one blessed daughter!

But when Mom pulls out the Hope Creamery Butter, I swoon.  (She knows I love it so…)  Hand-packed and creamy, it elevates every recipe to “something special.”  (Just like Mom!)  Hmmmm… what shall I make?

First up on the list was a long overdue batch of chocolate chip cookies for the hubby.  “God blesses us so that we can bless others…”

Then it was my turn…  I wanted something simple and sublime.  My thoughts turned to Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli’s amazing recipes (who, aptly enough, works at a restaurant named Butter.)  I settled on her Seared Porterhouse With Oozing Maitre d’ Butter – oozing is good.

While a Porterhouse wasn’t in the budget after our road trip, I did have a pretty nice chuck steak ready to throw on the grill (even though her recipe called for stovetop searing — next time I get my hands on a Porterhouse, I will!)  With Maitre d’ Butter oozing all over, it was everything I’d hoped it would be, and more.

By the way, that glob of pistachio green on the plate isn’t “jello,” it’s Asparagus Pesto  – another trial recipe.  Although it doesn’t have anything to do with butter yet, here’s how you make it…

Asparagus Pesto

1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1″ sections (remove woody ends before slicing)

3 fresh basil leaves (or dash of dried basil)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup toasted pecans

1 small clove garlic

1/4 tsp. sea salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil (or more as needed to reach pesto consistency)

Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor; blend until smooth.  (Mine turned out a little “chunky” but it was marvelous!)

Credit:  Adapted from a recipe attached to the fresh asparagus spears (no author given.)  They suggested serving it over pasta, which I’m making tonight.  But instead of tossing it with olive oil (per the recipe), I’m using butter.  Lots and lots of butter.  It’s Mother’s Day weekend, right?

Enjoying life one pat of butter at a time (except this weekend…)

~Kim

P.S.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Life Is Like A Pilaf

Sometimes life is like a pilaf – bits and pieces thrown together with savory results.  Take last Friday, for instance…

After working full time for the third week in a row (following a two year hiatus spent primarily on sedentary pursuits…), I was starting to feel frazzled.  Then the phone rang, twice.  Not one lunch offer, but TWO.  God is good.

I juggled my Day Planner (aka slightly crumpled Post-It note stuck to the front of my wallet so I “won’t forget”) and accommodated both requests – one lunch date for high noon and the other for next week.  (Having something to look forward to keeps me going.)  Then I settled back into work with a smile, happy with my pilaf-of-a-life.   My husband says I’m easily amused.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d have to agree — I generally rate a 9 when it comes to savoring thrown together affairs.

Here’s a pilaf we enjoyed this weekend…

Paisano Pilaf

2 T. butter

1 c. long grain white rice

2 c. water

1 t. Kosher salt

1 jar (6.7 oz.) grilled artichokes in oil

1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes in oil

1 roasted red pepper, jarred or previously roasted

1 T. capers (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 350.  On your stovetop, melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add rice; stir 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to give off a nutty aroma.  Add the water and salt; stir until mixture comes to boiling.  Cover with a lid; using pot holders, carefully transfer to oven.  Bake 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and roasted red pepper.  (Need not thoroughly drain the artichokes or sun dried tomates; the residual oil adds to the flavor.)  Place this friendly-looking mess on a heat-proof plate on your stovetop to warm the veggies slightly as the rice bakes.

After 25 minutes, remove rice from oven and fluff it with a wooden spoon, making sure to “squeegee” any stubborn rice from the bottom and sides of the pan.  Let sit uncovered for 5 minutes to “dry,” then stir in the warmed, chopped veggies.  Serve with hot-off-the-grill steaks, kabobs, chops or salmon.  Or, try it alongside roast chicken, beef or pork loin.  Enjoy!

Recipe credit:  Oven-baked rice method adapted from Emeril’s “Real Deal Rice Pilaf.”  (I threw in the rest.)  Use whatever combo of add in’s tickles you!

Enjoying life at it’s pilaf finest,

Kim