Carne Guisada is a Tex-Mex dish whose translation is “Stewed Meat”. In Josef Centeno’s new cookbook, Amá; a Modern Tex-Mex Kitchen there is no doubt that this stew shines in its simplicity. It is nothing more than beef chunks cooked with chilis, spices, tomatoes and beef broth. The 3 hours in the oven meld the flavors and soften the meat into succulent pieces.
The chef/ author, grew up having these tacos for breakfast. This makes so much sense. Folding soft meat, flavored with Mexican spices into a sturdy flour tortilla works well as breakfast in the back seat of a car on the way to school.
But we enjoyed the Carne Guisada for dinner. I have to admit that I ended up adding some condiments like cheese, onions, peppers and lettuce. They made enough that we can have then again over rice, in a bowl with tortilla chips or over scrambled eggs. I love that we can make many meals from this recipe. By the way, if you don’t have the right chilis just use what you have. I used jalepeños and 1 serrano.
2 Ancho chilis
4 Tbls oil
2 1/2 to 3 lbs boneless short ribs or chunk roast, cubed in 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
1/2 tsp sea salt
5 garlic cloves
1 Serrano chili, stemmed, seeded and finally chopped
1 Tbls oregano- preferably Mexican oregano
1 1/2 tsp cunim seed
1 tsp chili powder
2 bay leaves
2 Tbls flour
3 cups beef broth
1 cup crushed tomatoes
If using ancho chiles: using tongs, toast over open flames of a gas burner until slightly softened and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stem and seed the chilis and tear into pieces. If using jalapeños: Stem seed and chop.
Heat 2 Tbls. oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add beef and brown in batches on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Add remaining 2 Tbls. oil to the pot. When oil is hot, add onions, chilis and salt and cook over medium heat, scraping up brown bits of meat until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin seeds, chili powder, bay leaves and pepper and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
Add the flour and stir to incorporate. Add the beef cubes and their juices back to the pan. Stir. Add the beef broth and tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil.
Transfer the pot to a preheated 300 degree F. oven and cook for about 3 hours.
A clafouti is a French egg dish. It is usually a sweet batter with cherries or other fruit. Melissa Clark, of the New York Times, recently came out with a new cookbook called Dinner in French; My Recipes by Way of France. In it, she shared this recipe for a savory clafouti with peppers, ham and cheese It is perfect for a Sunday brunch. We have made it twice so far; two Sundays in a row. Adjusting to quiet solitary living has mixed results. We miss meeting with friends, dining in restaurants, shopping and traveling to visit family. But the slow pace of being home has allowed us to relax, read, enjoy the lake and plan, cook and eat interesting meals.
The second time that we made this clafouti we used cooked sausage instead of the ham and roasted red peppers from a jar in addition to the sweet green peppers. But both times we used lots of fresh basil since I have a pot of basil sitting on my kitchen windowsill. You can use anything you have on hand for good results.
I almost skipped the suggestion to garnish the finished dish with crushed red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon. Do not ignore this suggestion. The heat of the pepper flakes and freshness of the lemon juice just made it all better. Whatever we can do to “make it all better” is important right now. From my isolated home to yours.
SWEET PEPPER AND CHEDDAR CLAFOUTI
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Crème fraîche or Sour Cream
4 large eggs
2 1/2 Tbls. flour
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coarsely grated sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
2 oz. sliced ham, chopped
2 Tbls. olive oil
3 sweet peppers, preferabley different colors, seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch strips
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh lemon juice, for serving
Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, crème fraîche or sour cream, eggs, flour, basil, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheddar and ham.
In a 9″ ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the peppers and cook until they are softened and golden at the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and remaining 1/4 tsp salt and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Scrape the egg mixture into the skillet, and top it with the 1/4 cup remaining cheddar and the Parmesan. (Or, for a more elegant presentation, scrape the vegetables into a gratin or casserole dish and add the egg mixture and cheese to that). Bake until the eggs are set 35 to 40 minutes. (Mine took 45 minutes). Cool slightly then top with the lemon juice and red pepper flakes.
We are on our second roast chicken since the quarantine. When it is just the two of us, there are always leftovers. I like to turn them into casseroles, soups and salads. Here are a few ideas from previous posts.
Mexican Chicken Casserole is a lightened version of Mexican ingredients – less cheese and tortillas and more vegetables than a normal dish. Plus it has a charred tomato salsa that could stand on its own. Chicken replaces ground beef. The original recipe came from Cooking Light.
Week three of home confinement. We have fallen into a rhythm; marking the days with small household tasks, canceling airline tickets for a Fall trip to Europe, cooking, reading and cherishing our continued good health. It is on my mental list to do some major cleaning to closets and bathroom tiles. But for now, all I can manage are small steps. Trips to the Supermarket are fraught with worry. We try not to go often. Cooking has been one of the ways that restores calm. I bought a bag of Navel oranges a few weeks ago and have been using them in baked goods.
This simple one bowl poundcake came from Melissa Clark of the New York Times. Rubbing the sugar with orange zest seems to release the oils in zest and impart more flavor.
It is a treat to have this bread available for a quiet breakfast on the deck with a cup of coffee each morning. The beauty of nature soothes us in these turbulent times. Stay safe.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
1 Cup sugar
Zest of 1 navel orange
2 Tbls melted butter
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla (or 1/4 tsp Fiori de Sicilia Citrus flavoring and 1/4 tsp vanilla)
Grated nutmeg (optional) or 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup plain cornmeal
1 1/4 cup flour
In a large bowl, rub the sugar with the orange zest. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.
Whisk in the dry ingredients in this order; salt, baking soda, baking powder and cornmeal. Once smooth whisk in the flour until combined well.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let the bread cool in the pan. Remove. Slice and serve as is or place in a toaster for a crispy warm treat. Butter optional (or not).
I thought I would share an apple still life with you during these challenging days; a little art can distract us from all that is happening. Still life is a good word for these days by the way. We are living a “still life” now; no social events on our schedule. We returned to North Carolina from Florida last weekend. We are sheltering in place like so many of you. I have kept busy Spring cleaning after being away for 3 months. But I have also been busy cooking and reading. If you want to read a great series of books, I recommend Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books. The charming village of Three Pines inspires warmth with its quirky people and strong sense of community. Ironically the first book in the series is called Still Life. I have been downloading books to my Kindle. I am caught up with all of Louise Penny’s books, but am looking for more feel good books with wonderful prose and a hopeful message. Let me know if you have suggestions.
This recipe for Danish Apple Pie with Caramel Apple Topping actually came from one of the Kindle books I have been reading by Susan Wiggs; The Apple Orchard. Although this is called an apple pie, it is actually an apple cake with a crumbly surface. It is so easy in execution that you can throw it together in no time. The topping takes a little bit longer, but it is a great condiment to have on hand for this or a topping for ice cream. It will keep well in the fridge for a week or more.
We have been avoiding desserts over the last year, but sometimes life throws you a curve ball. I am feeling an occasional treat can brighten the day.
Another thing to brighten the day is this wonderful roast chicken. We will be eating on this for a few days and will turn the carcass into soup.
This is the way to distance yourselves on the lake. In these uncertain times it is hard to know what to do. We are trying to support our local restaurants and businesses in anyway that we can. The best thing we can do right now is to help others. One of my friends is making runs to Sam’s Club for food for several families so that fewer people are exposed. We have bought gift certificates to restaurants to be used later when the threat has passed and will be ordering take out from our local restaurants. Stay safe and try to weather this unexpected “still life”.
DANISH APPLE PIE WITH CARAMEL APPLE TOPPING (Slightly adapted from Susan Wiggs)
Danish Apple Pie:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups diced apples, peeled and sautéed in 1 Tbls butter until soft
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Beat the egg, gradually adding the sugar and vanilla. Then add flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt to create a smooth batter. Fold in slightly cooled sautéed apples and nuts, then p9our into a buttered and floured 8″ square pan or 9″ pie pan. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Caramel Apple Topping:
4 chopped apples; no need to peel
4 Tbls butter
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup cream or buttermilk
Melt the butter in a heavy pan. Add the sugar and swirl until melted. Add the spices and apples and sauté until apples are tender. Add the walnuts and stir. Turn off the heat, and slowly stir in the cream. Serve over ice cream or cake and keep leftovers in a jar in the fridge. Also good with yogurt, pound cake or granola. I halved the topping recipe when I made it. It is easy to do if you don’t want a lot of leftover topping.