Chicken Stew

This must be the lazy cook's chicken stew. An easy 45 minutes of simmering. See for yourself:

We chopped up 1 large onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 celery stalks, 3 carrots, and  2 bell peppers.

All that we cooked in a bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes.

In the meantime we peeled and cut up 1.5 pounds of yellow potatoes and then added them to the veggies.

Then we added 2 quarts of chicken broth and a little salt, brought it to a boil and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

We cut up 1.5lb of assorted chicken parts and 1 zucchini and added them along with

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a little dried basil, dried sage, and dried thyme leaves. We brought it back to boil again and let it simmer for another 15 minutes.

At the end we removed a handful of potatoes, smashed them up with a fork, and added them back to thicken the soup. A little salt and pepper to taste.


Stir & Fry

Not knowing what our two guest girls, Emery and Claire (in the middle and on the left), would eat or thumb their noses at, we decided to all cook together. The hope was that working on it would make it easier chomping on it. An easy 20 minute stir fry was our best hope. To be on the safe side we got a small pot of salted water going for corkscrew pasta. In advance Papa had cut up 3 pork chops, 1 red pepper, and 1 green pepper into bite size chunks. There were also a couple of handfuls of trimmed sugar snap peas and 2 minced cloves of garlic.

The girls were completely stoked and ready to get cracking after quick decisive encouragement from Lily.

We began by cranking up the heat underneath a large pan and adding a couple gluggs of olive oil. Everybody got a turn. Then we chucked in the meat (Claire: "Afterwards, wash your hands. Raw meat has a lot of bacteria, Emery."). We stirred it and fried it till it looked good. While we watched the meat, we nibbled on the veggies. (After washing our hands.)

Then we added the lot to the meat and fired it for another five minutes or so. We touched it up with a little salt and soy sauce. We kept nibbling to ensure the perfect extraction point. The same with the pasta. We fished out a few pieces and let everybody declare them perfect before removing them from the stove and through the sieve.

That was it. Nice and easy and super fun. And a big success. Everybody had seconds, some thirds, and Claire announced: "I really don't like cooked veggies, but these are so juicy! (Chomp)!"

Pork Chops, Beans, and Mashers

We tried this fun and easy recipe for a dinner with pork chops, green beans, and mashed potatoes. Best part about it was that we got to use our new aquisition, a battle tested cast iron skillet.

First we got the veggies prepped. So we peeled and chopped 3 pounds of yellow potatoes, placed them in a pot, covered them with water and added a teaspoon or so of salt.

We also washed and trimmed 1 pound of green beans.

Next we took 4 pork chops with bones and smothered them with mustard and Demerara sugar.

We also poured 2 cups of veggie broth into a pot and added a couple of rosemary sprigs.

Now every thing was ready to turn on the stove. For real for real. We started all four burners and turned the oven to 350F. In one pot we got water to boil, in another the potatoes, in a third the broth. On the fourth burner we placed that cat iron skillet, got it nice and hot, added olive oil, and placed the pork chops in it. We seared the meat from both sides. For maybe ten minutes or so.

Then we shoved the skillet, meat and all, into the oven for another ten minutes.

When the water was boiling we added the beans for just about 6 minutes.

Shortly before dinner we added 2 tablespoons of butter, salt, and pepper to the broth. We also added the juices from the skillet and

put it all through a sieve for a sauce.

The only thing left were the potatoes. We drained them and mashed them up with more butter, heavy cream, salt, and a couple handfuls of Parmesan to taste. That was it: Green beans, mashed potatoes, sauce and pork chops

Oooooh yes. Goodness on a plate. A good mouthful of heartwarming comfort.

Bloody Mary Beef - Bam!

COMFORT FOOD indeed! This was one scrumptious forklicking eat'em-up dinner for the history books. You could drown all your sorrows in this dish. Not withstanding the fact that we had to open the bar early for it. A pot roast brisket in a Bloody Mary sauce. We kid you not.

This one came straight out of the hallowed pages of Jamie Oliver's new cookbook Comfortfood and - BAM! - right into our new Christmas-present Emeril Cookware casserole. A cook-off of Titans, if you will, right in our kitchen.
We started with seasoning a 2 lb piece of  brisket with salt and pepper from all sides.

Then we cranked up the heat on that casserole dish and added a few gluggs of olive oil.

We placed the chunk of meat into the heat for a good 10 minutes until it was seared all around.

In the meantime we cranked the oven to 250F and roughly chopped up one big red onion and two sticks of celery.

We reduced the heat and gently cooked the veggies for another 10 minutes.

That gave us time to get sauced. At 11 a.m. mind you. We mixed up 3 1/2 cups of smoothly crushed uncooked tomato sauce (our best description for a "passata" substitute), the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, a few drops of Tabasco sauce, 3 tablespoons vodka, and 1 tablespoon port.

All that we added to the meat and cranked up the heat to a boil.

We tied up a handful of rosemary sprigs with 2 fresh bay leaves.

The herbs got tossed into all that goodness and then ...

... we shoved it into the oven. For 5 1/2 hours. The aromas coming from the kitchen all day long made it, of course, hard to wait.

Half an hour before we were ready for dinner  we got a pot of water to a boil and tossed in a few handfuls of green beans, trimmed and halved, for just about 6 minutes. We drained them to serve.

We also boiled a pot worth of yellow potatoes, peeled and cut, until they were soft. We drained them as well and then mashed them up with about one cup of heavy cream, a few chunks of butter, salt, and freshly grated nutmeg. Oooooh, goodie.

When we brought the brisket back to daylight, we removed the herbs and pulled the meat apart with a fork.
This will be, no doubt, a holiday classic for years to come. Let's just say: New Years with all the good attentions can wait for a few days. This dinner was not for timid souls. It was made for eating.

Pasta Bolognese - All Homemade

Our first homemade Fettucini Pasta, Bolognese style. What a blast. We made this our Christmas Dinner. Not a four course affair for a change, but super-delicious. It was hard to stop eating.

We got 3 cups of super fine flour (We are still looking for Tipo 00 flour) and 1/2 cup of fine semolina flour in a bowl and cracked 12 egg yolks into the center together with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 5 tablespoons of cold water.

We mixed up the runny part, slowly adding more and more of the flour.

Eventually we used our hands and then

kneaded the dough for about five minutes.

We formed it into a ball, wrapped it into clear foil, and tossed it into the fridge for just half an hour.

Next we divided the dough into 8 equal chunks and put them into a moist kitchen towel.

Now we gave each pice the following treatment:  We rolled it out with a rolling pin.

Then we guided it through a pasta machine to create a long sheet. We did so several times, reducing the setting, folding the dough back over in half, and repeating the process. It seemed to us like the forging of Japanese steel. Thinning, folding, thinning, folding, thinning.

When it seemed that we had the perfect strip we took it through the Fettucini extension, cutting the dough into long pasta.

The more hands the better.

Then we hung the pasta up to rest and let it dry slightly while we turned our attention to the sauce.

For that we browned 1 lb of ground beef in a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

For 20 minutes.

In the meantime we chopped up 1 big onion, 2 carrots, 2 sticks of celery, and 2 cloves of garlic.

We added all that to the meat for another 15 minutes.

Then we added one 28 oz can of plum tomatoes and one 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, as well as 1 cup of red wine and 1 cup of water.

We brought all that yummy to a boil and let it simmer on the heavy side for one full hour.

When the sauce was done we shredded 2 handfuls of Parmesan (plus some more for the table) and

added it to the sauce and checked on the seasoning, salt and pepper at hand.

20 minutes before the Bolognese sauce was done, we started a huge pot of water and added 3 tablespoons of salt. When it was boiling we tossed in the pasta for just about 4 minutes, stirring, and checking until they seemed al dente. We sent them through a strainer, set the table, and ATE. Yum!

Merry Christmas. (Oh yes, while we were bored, waiting for the sauce to finish, we fixed a simple salad. We also had ice cream for dessert. So that technically was a three course meal after all.)