Beef and Bacon Stew

December 19th, 2018

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With the holidays fast approaching, thoughts turn to warming comfort food.  I would even consider this Beef and Bacon Stew a worthy meal for Christmas Eve or Day.  It has been a challenging week.  We were hit by a freak snowstorm that normally would not occur in North Carolina.  Five days without power tested our coping capacity.

Snow in 2018

It was a test of our capacity to get along without things we all take for granted.  We stayed warm because our home is well insulated and  we have a gas fireplace and a wood burning fireplace.  We stayed well fed because we have a gas stove and oven, plus the grill grate in the fireplace.  We stayed hydrated with jugs of water and other drinks.  The only thing missing was a shower.  That’s why we have friends.  Thank you to Ron and Jackie for a much needed clean up and a delicious dinner.  But next year we are getting a whole house generator.  Weather in our area seems to have taken a more violent and unpredictable bent.

 

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David is actually responsible for this delicious stew.  Over the years he has been cooking more of our meals with creativity and elan.  While I was finishing my wonderful new book in the series from Louis Penny, Kingdom of the Blindhe was chopping and assembling this flavorful dish.  It did require a new ingredient.  Miso Paste.  I found it at Whole Foods in the refrigerator section near the cellophane boxed lettuces.  Do not leave it out as it adds a great depth of flavor to the sauce.

Chistmas silliness

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  I couldn’t resist including this outtake of our Christmas card photo shoot.

BEEF AND BACON STEW (BON APPETIT)

1 Bottle of dry red wine
1 2 1/2 boneless beef chuck roast
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more
8 oz. bacon
3 medium red onions
3 medium carrots
8 coves garlic
4 large sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp. white miso paste
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup parsley leaves and tender stems
Crusty bread (for serving)

Complete recipe here.

Country Captain

April 7th, 2018

Country Captain

This wonderful chicken casserole has been in my wheel house for a long time.  I first blogged about it here.  This version came from Sam Sifton at the New York Times.  I love the addition of lots of tomatoes. But the basics of the dish are still here: chicken,curry, dried fruit, almonds, and bacon.  It is perfect for a crowd.

Country Captain

The port of Charleston saw many products from the Orient in the 18th and 19th century.  Curry powder was one of them and this dish became popular with hostesses all over the south.  FDR was very fond of Country Captain and had it served to him often in Warm Springs, Georgia.  It is best served over rice.

Country Captain

We are back in beautiful Lake Lure enjoying our home and especially my kitchen, although David was the one responsible for this delicious meal.  So glad that he loves to cook as much as I do.

COUNTRY CAPTAIN

1/4 cup flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbls butter
3 pounds chicken pieces (We used thighs and legs)
4 slices bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, seeded and diced
2 tsps celery, diced
1 Tbls minced garlic
2 Tbls curry powder
3 Tbls dried cranberries or currants
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes and their juices
3 Tbls slivered almonds, toasted
Cooked white rice

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the thyme in a bowl.  In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat until it foams.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off excess, and fry, in batches if needed, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the skillet.

Return the skillet to medium heat, add the bacon and fry until crispy.  Transfer to a plate.  Once cool, crumble and set aside.

Add the onion, pepper, celery, garlic, curry powder and 1 tablespoon of the cranberries or currants to the skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof casserole large enough to hold the chicken snugly in one layer.  Arrange the chicken on top.  Pour the remaining sauce over and around the chicken.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook for 15 minutes more.

Top with the crumbled bacon, remaining cranberries or currants and slivered almonds.  Serve with cooked rice and any condiments you wish.

Printable Recipe

Mystery Bars

March 28th, 2018

Mystery Bars

Recently we hosted our dear friends for bike week in Florida.  We enjoyed many great meals together, both at home and at the great restaurants in New Smyrna Beach.  I am never alone in the kitchen when we are together.  There are many great cooks in our group.  One day Barbara decided to spend some time preparing some of her favorite recipes.  One was her homemade biscuits with country ham which I will blog about some time after we get back to NC.  The other was her version of Mystery Bars.  We passed a plate of them after our meal of Beef Bourguignon.  They were an elegant ending to a great meal.

Mystery Bars

Elegant you say?  That was what struck me.  A small morsel of rich tasting flavor hit me immediately.  They are nothing more than lots of butter and dark brown sugar with what I consider the mystery; Black Walnuts.  All of it is rolled about in confectioners sugar.  Amazing.  You will always have what you need on the pantry shelf for a quick and easy dessert.

It was a wonderful week which also included one of the guys making two batches of boiled peanuts in a crock pot.  I also made Barbara’s Chicken Poppy Seed casserole, which I blogged about here.  Jackie brought a great smoked salmon dip and David made wonderful ribs and Big Charlie’s Gumbo.

Manatees

Last Sunday, after everyone had left, David and I went on an excursion to Blue Spring on the St. Johns River.  During the winter months Blue Spring, with its constant temperature of 73 degrees, becomes home to hundreds of manatees.  Manatees are marine mammals that live in the shallow rivers, bays and estuaries of coastal areas.  They rarely venture into waters below 63 degrees.  They are slow moving giants related to elephants, but totally aquatic; although they surface often to breathe.  I had a one on one experience with a manatee a few years ago when we still owned our Florida home on a canal.  One surfaced next to our dock when I was home alone.  I had heard that manatees appreciate fresh water so I turned on the hose and sprayed it into the water.  The manatee got under the spray and turned over onto her back and let me spray her stomach with water.  She was playful and huge.  I kept looking around hoping someone would come around to experience this amazing event with me.  But it turned out to be a one-on-one moment.

Alligator

Alligators are afraid of manatees.  Manatees are much too large to attack.  Even so, mother manatees must protect their calves from alligators.  If an alligator threatens a calf, several female manatees will coordinate protection by attempting to crush the alligator between their bodies.

Our trip to Blue Spring brought us close to many species including manatees, alligators and great blue herons.  We enjoyed a picnic on the grounds and came away appreciating nature on a beautiful spring day.

Mystery Bars

We head home in a few days.  I have a few mystery bars left to munch on in the car.  I appreciate Barbara sharing this wonderful recipe.  There are many Mystery Bar recipes on the internet, but I haven’t found one like this one.  It is a keeper, an elegant keeper.

MYSTERY BARS

2 eggs
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
Dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped black walnuts
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Beat eggs.  Add brown sugar.  Beat.  Add flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in nuts.  Pour into 9×13 inch dish.

Bake at 300 degrees F for 45 minutes.  Cool completely (Very important).  Cut into squares.  Roll in powdered sugar.

Recipe does not turn out right with store brand dark brown sugar.  Use name brand such as Domino.

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.

Double Mustard/Cream Chicken Breasts

January 13th, 2016

Mustard Chicken 2

When something light but still decadent is desired, you can’t do better than a boneless chicken breast smothered with a double mustard cream sauce over baby arugula.  You might call this a juxtaposition of good and bad.  The goodness of lean chicken and vitamin packed baby arugula with the richness of alcohol spiked cream and mustard.

Mustard Chicken 1V

 

While visiting the family over the holidays, my DIL Kristen made a similar dish, sans the alcohol, for dinner one night.  It was amazing watching the children digging into the chicken.  The arugula was also slathered with the sauce and they ate every bit of it.  It is a great way to get your kids to eat vegetables.  We loved it too, so I did a Google search for something similar.  The Pioneer Woman came to the rescue.  Granted her version had a whole cup of brandy in it, as opposed to what Kristen made, but it was really, really good.  I ended up having to substitute Madeira and white wine instead of the brandy.  Inexplicably, the liqueur cabinet here in Florida held no brandy.

Mustard Chicken 3

Be sure to visit Ree’s site for a complete pictorial on how to make this great dish.  It couldn’t be easier.  On its own, this would make a great luncheon dish or a light supper.  Add sides for a more complete dinner.  Hope you give it a try.

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