Crock Pot Pork Stew Agrodolce

November 19th, 2017

Pork Stew Agrodolce

The days are counting down until Christmas; Christmas Tour that is.  My home will be on the tour with three other homes in my neighborhood on December 2nd.  All of this means that Thanksgiving has barely registered as I have been pulling out the Christmas baubles.  Thankfully, we will be having Thanksgiving at the kids’ home, so much of the responsibility is not on my shoulders.

When I am busy, I like to rely on my Crock Pot for meals.  This pork stew has the addition of raisins and vinegar which give the dish a sweet-and-sour (agrodolce) tang that is very pleasing.  The recipe comes from one of my favorite Crock Pot cookbooks, The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone.

Pork Stew Agrodolce

The pork was very tender and it was delicious with Basmati rice.  I substituted dried cranberries for the raisins.

Christmas Mantel

We will get our tree after Thanksgiving but all of the rest of the decorations are in place.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone.  Christmas will be here (for some of us) before we know it.

PORK STEW AGRODOLCE

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large onions, chopped
2 large celery ribs, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup golden raisins (I used dried cranberries)

Pat the pork dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the pork, without crowding the pan.  Brown the meat on all sides and transfer it to the slow cooker.

When all the meat has been browned, reduce the heat to medium.  Add the onions and celery to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until golden.

Add the wine and vinegar and bring it to a simmer.  Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker.  Add the carrots and raisins.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until the pork is tender.  Serve hot.

Great with rice or polenta.

Printable Recipe

 

Birthday Dinner and Beer Pairing

November 9th, 2017

Birthday Menu

Our Son Michael recently celebrated his 40th birthday at Crawford and Son restaurant in Raleigh.  It was a food and beer pairing executed by Chef Scott Crawford and Full Steam Brewery Executive Sean Wilson.

Birthday Michael and Kristen

Our wonderful Daughter-In-Law Kristen organized everything and it was a magical evening with 40 of Michael and Kristen’s friends and family.

Frisee Salad

The first course was a Frisee Salad with Smoked Trout, Honey Crisp Apple and Ramp Vinaigrette.  It was paired with Full Steam’s Deep Chatham Wild Paw Paw Ale.  The woodsy ale complimented the wild ramp and smoked trout salad.

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The main course was Braised Beef Cheeks with a Mushroom Ragout and Campo Cheese Grits.  It was paired with Fullsteam Igor Imperial Stout.  The beer was deep and rich.  I loved the beef cheeks.  They were fork tender and cushioned by the very best cheese grits that I have ever tried.  Campo cheese is a semi-hard Spanish cheese that is a combination of cows’ milk, goats’ milk, and sheep’s milk. It is very similar to Manchego cheese.  I will be experimenting with this recipe.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

The dessert was a Pumpkin Cheesecake with Toasted Meringue, Hazelnut Praline and Caramel.  It was paired with a 2016 Persimmon First Frost.  The beer is fruit forward with hints of holiday spices, so it went very well with this pumpkin cheesecake.  Scott Crawford is an amazing chef.  Each course was executed flawlessly.

Chef Scott Crawford

We have a long history with Chef Scott Crawford.  At one time he was the Executive Chef at Heron’s Restaurant in Cary.  Since opening his own restaurant in Raleigh, Crawford and Son has gained a loyal following.  Kristen’s Mom, Darla and I have had our picture taken with him before.

Chef Crawford seven years ago.

This was taken 7 years ago at Heron’s.

Michael

As a beer enthusiast and home brewer, Michael was in his element at the restaurant.  Happy Birthday Sweet Son.  We enjoyed your celebration so much.  Some pictures courtesy of Darla A. and David W.

Dining in France

November 1st, 2017

Rabbit

The above picture was taken in our kitchen last night.  It was an evening of dining by candlelight with a wood fire crackling.  It was not an intentional romantic meal, but a necessity because of loss of power from rain and a wind storm.  David made braised rabbit. It is an old recipe from Marcella Hazan that he has made before. The meal put us in mind of the food of France even though it was an old recipe from Italy. Europeans eat meat that some of us in the USA ignore.  While in France we ate Lapin (rabbit), Snails, Pig Snout, and Beef Cheeks.  I should say, one of us ate the Pig Snout and it wasn’t me.  But it is always interesting to eat in France.

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While onboard our Viking Ship that sailed from Avignon to Lyon on the Rhone River, we dined very well.  Here is a sample menu:

Escargots a la Bourguignone: baked escargots with shallots, garlic, parsley and butter, pictured above.
Kir Royal: cassis sorbet with sparkling wine
Beef Tenderloin with four warm spices, Vitelotte potatoes mousseline, oyster mushrooms
Tarte Croustillante au Chocolat Noir de Valrhona: Crisp dark Valrhona chocolate tart with mango salad

Chocolate Tart

The beautiful dishes went on for a week and we enjoyed every one of them. My compliments to our chef Daniel for outstanding service.

Viking Chef

Sorry for the blurry picture.  The staff was very open to satisfying our every need.  Chef Daniel was kind enough to make a special escargot dish for me to photograph.

Le Petit Chatelet

We arrived in Paris on Oct. 4th, my birthday.  We chose to eat at a small restaurant across the Seine from Notre Dame Cathedral called Le Petit Châtelet.  Steaks were cooked over an open fire by our friendly hostess.

Le Petit Chatelet

If you get a chance to visit, try to get a table in either of the second floor windows with a beautiful view of Notre Dame.

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Another evening, we discovered a small 16 seat bistro called Le Coup de Torchon.  It was very close to our apartment in the Latin Quarter.  I learned something on this trip.  After walking all day, it is smart to have good dinner options close to where you are staying.  We no longer have the stamina for evening jaunts and navigating the Metro system.  Le Coup de Torchon was a quiet oasis in the busy Latin Quarter.  Coup de Torchon translates loosely to ” Clean Slate”.  I have to admit that I was curious about the one quiet, but helpful, waiter and the one chef in the kitchen.  By the way, I just checked out the restaurant on Trip Advisor.  Someone snapped our picture while we there and posted it along with his dinner pictures.  Check it out.

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The Veal Stew was delicious and the prices were very reasonable.  We actually ate there twice and ended our second visit with a hug and handshake to our sweet waiter.

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No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to Cafe Varenne, one of Ina Garten’s favorite hangouts in the St. Germain des Pres region.  We met a couple from our cruise ship there.  They also followed up the cruise with time in Paris. Jen and Renon were so much fun to be with and we are hoping that they will come to visit us in Lake Lure from their home in Houston.

cafe-varenne

Slow roasted lamb shank is one of the entrees on the menu.  Also we saw several people sharing Cafe Varenne’s famous 7-hour leg of lamb.  It is presented whole and then sliced into serving pieces in the kitchen.

Pig Snout

I will end this with David’s dish of Pig Snout.  He said it was good.  But I prefer to leave you with the rabbit recipe.

RABBIT WITH ROSEMARY AND WHITE WINE (Marcella Hazan)

3 to 3 1/2 pound rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup celery diced fine
1 garlic clove, peeled
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Salt and Pepper
1 bouillon cube and 2 tablespoons tomato paste (or mustard) dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water

Soak the rabbit in abundant cold water overnight, in an unheated room in cold weather or in the refrigerator.  Rinse in several changes of cold water, then pat thoroughly dry with cloth or paper towels.

Choose a sauté pan that can contain all the rabbit pieces without overlapping.  Put in the oil, celery, garlic, and the rabbit, cover tightly, and turn the heat on to low.  Turn the meat occasionally, but do not leave it uncovered.

You will find that at the end of 2 hours, the rabbit has shed a considerable amount of liquid.  Uncover the pan, turn the heat up to medium, and cook until all the liquid has simmered away, turning the rabbit from time to time.  Add the wine, rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Allow the wine to simmer briskly until it has evaporated, then pour the dissolved bouillon cube and tomato paste or mustard mixture over the meat.  Cook at a steady, gentle simmer for another 15 minutes, or more, until the juices in the pan have formed a dense little sauce, turning the rabbit pieces over from time to time.  Transfer the entire contents of the pan to a warm platter and serve promptly.

Printable Recipe

 

France: The Week in Paris

October 15th, 2017

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There is no better way to start a blog post on Paris than with French bread.  Baguettes are available in every Boulangerie in France and it seems that every other person that you see on the street has one tucked under his/her arm.  This was my attempt at duplicating it a while back.  You can find the recipe here.  We are back from our two week trip to France and are slowly easing back into our normal time zone.

Place Vendome

On a drizzly day in Paris, we walked from our apartment near Notre Dame Cathedral in the 5th Arrondissement to the Place Vendome in the 1st Arrondissement.  We were with our French friends Laurent and Carole.  Place Vendome is home to the Paris Ritz Carlton where Lady Diana was staying before her unfortunate accident.  The Ritz is temporarily closed for renovations.  All of the high end jewelry stores are also on the square.

Palais Royal

We also visited the Palais Royal.  The inner courtyard was transformed in 1986 by a controversial art installation known as Les Colonnes De Buren.  The artist, Daniel Buren, envisioned a conceptual grid of varying heights of black and white striped columns.  Many thought that the whimsical columns clashed with the classical architecture surrounding them.  But today it appears that people are enjoying the whimsy.  There was even a bride and groom posing for their photographer on two of the taller columns.

Carole Palais Royal

Our French friend Carole also posed.  I couldn’t enhance the previous picture because it was on another camera, but this was from Instagram on my iPhone.  Love the options for enhancement on Instagram. Love Carole’s French elan.

Luxembourg GardensOn a sunnier Fall day we spent some time in the Luxembourg Gardens.  The Luxembourg Palace was commissioned by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of  Henry IV.  She designed the gardens to conform to designs from her native Florence.

Notre Dame Cathedral

David got up early one morning and walked the several blocks to Notre Dame with the intention of climbing to the top of Notre Dame Cathedral to commune with the gargoyles.  I am pleased to report that he made it to the top.

David at Notre Dame

The 400 steps winding upward were a challenge but he was proud that he made it.  Not bad for a 70 something guy.  The views of Paris were awesome.

Shakespeare and Company

We enjoyed visiting the iconic Shakespeare and Company.  This bookstore has been around for decades and was a hang out for some of our most illustrious American authors.  Browsing the books was enjoyable and we also appreciated the staff who Googled information for us.  It is such a friendly place.

Paris Flower Market

After leaving Shakespeare and Co. we crossed the bridge to the island of Ile de Cite to walk through the Flower and Bird Market.  It is always a tranquil place in the busy city.

Eiffel Tower

We ended a day with a river cruise on the Seine.  J’aime Paris.  There will be more about restaurants in my next post.

Pain D’Epices – French Spice Bread

September 23rd, 2017

Pain D'Epices

We leave for France on Tuesday.  It has been a long time in the planning.  In honor of our upcoming trip, I made Mimi Thorisson’s Pain D’Epices.  It is a humble spice bread that is good in so many ways.  Serve it warm smeared with butter, top it with hummus for an appetizer, or spoon on your favorite jam. It can be anything that you want it to be. It is both sweet and savory. The following are some of the places that I am considering visiting in Paris.

Le Petit Chatelet

We will be staying in the Latin Quarter on this trip.  We previously stayed in the 7th Arrondissement near the Eiffel tower. I am very familiar with that area of Paris.  The Latin Quarter is in the 5th Arrondissement on the Left Bank.  There are so many historical points of interest there. Our apartment is a block from the Sorbonne, the famous Paris University specializing in the arts, humanities, and languages.  But it is also close to Shakespeare and Company. The original bookstore was opened in 1919 and was a refuge for many early American writers like Hemingway and Ezra Pound. The current location is close to The Notre Dame Cathedral.  Le Petit Châtelet is next door to Shakespeare and Company.  Even though it is in a touristy area, the restaurant is authentic and charming with a delightful view of the cathedral.

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Le Caveau du Palais is in a quiet pocket on Ile de Cite.  The restaurant is what the French call charme fou, utterly and incredibly charming.  It is on Place Dauphine, a tranquil triangular park. Outside seating is a pleasant option while watching elderly men playing Pétanque in the adjacent park.

Le Caveau du PalaisIt would be a pleasant place for lunch.

RobertetLouise_RibSteaksintheFireplace

With Gingham curtains at the windows and the smell of wood smoke in the interior, Robert et Louise has been a Marais destination for generations.  Specializing in steaks cooked over a wood fire, it would be a good choice on a cool evening for French comfort food.

chez-la-vieille

But for our special night out, we have chosen Chez la Vieille.  “La Vielle” literally means old woman.  The restaurant was started by French cook Adrienne Biasin who had a strong French temperament.  When it closed in 2012, Chicago born chef Daniel Rose (of the popular Paris “Spring” restaurant) decided to re-open it.  It has been redesigned but retains many of the old school dishes like blanquette de veau.

I will try to post to the blog while we are traveling.  But I will definitely be posting pictures to my Instagram account.  Hope you follow me there.  Au Revoir.

PAIN D’EPICES (Mimi Thorisson)

5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup almonds finely chopped
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup lavender honey
1 large egg yolk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan with butter

In a large bowl, combine the flours, almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.  Add the honey, melted butter, and egg yolk and mix well.

Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Unmold and let cool at least slightly before serving.  This is good at room temperature.

Printable Recipe

 

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.