Sunday, October 29, 2006

Jer: Beef Stock

I am a girl of value extremes. Have been all my life. I proudly pair a $10 fleece bought on a clearance rack which I boast was the “best deal” in the entire store with a $400 pair of Tod’s loafers because in my opinion they are the “best shoes” ever made. When I order I often ask the waiter what he thinks is the “best dish in the restaurant” and I’ll happily pair it with the most inexpensive glass of wine on the menu. Our Asian beef stock soup tonight was a classic rendition of this tendency. I bought the cheapest beef bones I could find in the market - huge joints with no usable meat that cost $1.85 a package then finished the soup off with overpriced morels because they really are the best at soaking up homemade anything. My noodles were from Trader Joe’s but my leeks were grown in the Chino family field, simply the best fruit and vegetable grower I have ever patroned. Throw in some top shelf sirloin and simmer with a little ponzu, crushed star anise and juniper berries, and a dash of cinnamon then finish off with sliced semi-boiled egg whose yolk finished cooking in our broth and voila, a hearty fall meal for two that was as delicious as it was easy to make and a reminder that unless you are willing to use homemade stock, you really shouldn’t bother with serving a bowl of soup at home. Unless of course it’s Snow’s Clam Chowder, simply the best canned soup on the market.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Elaine: Beef Stock

One hour of roasting the short ribs and oxtails with the veggies on a sheet pan was one reason why my stock was so extra tasty. After transferring all the roasted morsels into the pot, I deglazed the sheet pan by pouring boiling water over the caramelized crunchies and making sure every bit went into the big pot. I added a couple peppercorns but didn't want to turn it to frenchy with the herbs since I knew I wanted to use it for Nyeng-Myun. I simmered the bones for 4.5 hours. The first night I used the rib meat and stock for the Taiwanese Beef Noodle soup that Cath posted a while back.

This evening, I made my Nyeng-Myun. So fast and easy when you have the ingredients. It was the perfect dish to enjoy the stock because its such a simple noodle dish that features the stock. Next time, I'll definitely take the extra time to freeze some stock into ice cubes to make the noodle soup ICE cold. I also didn't make it spicy enough for my taste. Instead of korean pear, I thinly sliced some granny smith apple on my kyocera ceramic blade mandoline (love this tool...small, light and really easy to clean). I forgot to take the pic with the egg in the dish because I was too anxious to eat it. After I stopped for a second to lift up my head to breathe from inhaling my Neng-Myun, I realized my eggies were still waiting for me on the stove. I'd totally make this again. There is no way to get such tasty stock out of a can. And the frozen stock is too expensive to touch...granted buying short ribs and oxtail ain't no bargain either. Looking forward to using the rest of the oxtail and stock for some Beef Mushroom Barley soup.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Wild Berries!

I never imagined wild berries growing just blocks from my house - free to pick for anyone who is willing to tackle their thorny vines. We spent the latter part of July and early August picking blackberries. I would take a pint tupperware out with me on my daily walks with Caffrey, our dog, and was always able to fill my container. So, needless to say, blackberries were a staple in our diet over the summer months. I made berrie pies, muffins, and coffee cakes.

Huckleberries are also available (FREE if you are willing to hike for them!) in September. We went on a great hike with our neighbors and spent more time amidst the huckleberry bushes than hiking! If you've never had huckleberries they are just fabulous! They are most like a blueberry but much smaller and more flavorful - a bit of a wild taste! They take forever to pick because of their size. Which is likely why they cost so much at the farmers markets. Steve and I picked nearly a gallon. We came home and had huckleberry waffles for dinner and pancakes for breakfast the next morning. I froze the rest and am looking forward to popping them out and baking this winter!

Just a few weeks ago I received an email from someone in my neighborhood who had just harvested her concord grapes! She was giving them away - first come first serve. So, I couldn't resist....I came home with 2 grocery bags full of concord grapes. I froze them and am hoping to make jelly anyday now.

Ashley: Kofte with Eggplant Salad Round 2

Hi Gals! Sorry I've been so absent lately. We just got back from vacation and I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. I downloaded our pics from vacation and I came across some that I've been meaning to post. This was my second attempt at my recipe posting. I waited for World Spice to get in Syrian Aleppo pepper and I do have to say that it makes a considerable difference tastewise if you can get your hands on it. I'm looking at this picture longing for the beautiful summer evenings as I am surrounded by the darkness and rain of Seattle winters!

Pumpkin Apricot Cupcakes

I had this delicious pumpkin cupcake at Sweet Mandy B's bakery the other day...and I craved for more when I got home. So I was on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin cake recipe. Everything I found had veggie oil in it. But I wanted the real thing...butter! I finally found one but it had apricot puree in it. I actually had a can of apricot filling so I decided to be adventurous that day. Guess what? It was actually a perfect pairing for me. A moist yummy treat to kick off the Fall/Halloween season.


2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Apricot Puree
3/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 oz. box confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350.
Sift first 6 ingredients into medium bowl. Blend Apricot Puree, pumpkin and buttermilk in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with pumpkin mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scoop batter equally among muffin tin.Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nyeng-Myun (Korean Noodles in Cold Beef Broth)

This one is for those of you who have access to Korean groceries. Cath and I love this light dish. I'm going to try and find these noodles this weekend.

Nyeng-Myun (Korean Noodles in Cold Beef Broth)
From: Dok Suni
Servings: 4 servings

3 cups beef broth
3 cups radish kimchi juice
1 1/2 pounds buckwheat and flour noodles

4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons hot mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon beef stock

7 ounces radish kimchi
1 medium-size Korean pear
2 fresh kirby cucumbers
4 hard-boiled eggs

Combine 3 cups of the beef broth with 3 cups of the kimchi juice. Mix in the seasonings. Chill the broth.
Prepare the noodles. In boiling water, cook the noodles for 2 to 3 minutes. The noodles will not clump is the water is hotter than 100 degrees. Strain and rise through cold water. Put aside.
Prepare the garnish. It is faster and easier to use a shredder to cut the vegetables. Cut the kimchi and Korean pear into thin slices, almost transparent. Shred the cucumber, or chop fine. Slice the beef from the broth to use as garnish as well. Halve the eggs. Put aside.
Use a deep and wide bowl to serve this noodle soup. Make a swirl with the noodles and place in the bowl. Gently pour in the broth and, last, add the garnish.
At the table, have rice vinegar, hot mustard, and red pepper flakes ready for the guests to spice up their soup to taste.

They usually serve the soup with a couple thin slices of cold beef that was probably used to make the beef broth.

Pho - Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

For those of you who want a hot steamy bowl of spicy beef noodle soup to enjoy your homemade beef broth, try this pho recipe:

PHO (Serves 4)
6 cups beef broth
1 (1/4-inch thick) slice ginger
2 shallots
2 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1/2 pound piece boneless beef sirloin, trimmed of any fat
3 ounces dried flat rice noodles
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
1/8 cup minced scallions
1 small white onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro sprigs, washed and finely chopped
1 small thin fresh red or green Asian chilie, sliced very thin
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
Lime wedges for garnish

In a 2 quart saucepan bring broth, ginger, shallots, star anise, cinnamon, and cloves to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
With a very sharp knife cut sirloin across the grain into very thin slices.
In a large bowl soak noodles in hot water to cover 15 minutes, or until softened and pliable.
While noodles are soaking, bring a kettle of salted water to a boil for noodles. Drain noodles in a colander and cook in boiling water, stirring 45 seconds, or until tender. Drain noodles in a colander. Set aside.
Strain broth into saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in fish sauce, salt and pepper. Add sirloin and sprouts and cook 30 to 45 seconds, or until sirloin changes color. Skim any froth from soup.
To serve, divide noodles into 4 bowls. Ladle soup over noodles. Sprinkle scallion greens,thinly sliced white onion, cilantro, chilies and basil over soup and serve with lime wedges

A trick to cut the beef super thin is if you pop it in the freezer for 1 hr which makes it easier to cut thinner slices. I'd throw the meat into the individual bowls raw if you prefer pinker meats otherwise boil it up to your hearts content.
I always put a mixture of this yummy chili sauce and hoisin sauce into the soup.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Recipe 12: Beef Stock

Okay, here it is, the much anticipated Recipe 12! I wanted to do something on the basic side since after missing so many recipes myself I didn't feel like I could ask you guys for something too crazy (not that I'm ever that crazy--especially these days!). I'm craving something savory after the Mont Blanc I guess too. And plus, I've never made beef stock before! Robert and I are faithful makers of chicken stock but for some reason have never tried beef. Thank you to Jer for giving me the idea.

This is a recipe from Julia Child's The Way to Cook and is meant just as a starting point. I do like the idea of roasting the bones first but I'm not sure how I feel about adding tomatoes! I'm not even sure you need all the veggies--with chicken stock we sometimes add just an onion and a clove or two of garlic and maybe some peppercorns so that it really tastes only like chicken. I don't know though, maybe with beef you need to round it out a little more. As long as you have good bones I'm sure it'll turn out. She suggests using shank, neck, knuckle and leg bones plus any scraps from the freezer. She also says oxtails will "give extra flavor and a pleasantly slightly gelatinous texture"! Anyway, hopefully this will be fun for everyone and be good inspiration as we move into soup season!

Brown Beef Stock


3 to 4 pounds (4 quarts or so) meaty raw beef bones sawed into pieces of 3 inches or less
2 each: large carrots, onions, and celery ribs, roughly chopped
6 or more quarts cold water
A large size herb bouquet (parsley, bay leaf, thyme) plus 4 allspice berries and 6 peppercorns
2 large cloves of unpeeled garlic, smashed
1 large unpeeled tomato, cored and roughly chopped, or 1/2 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more as needed later

Special equipment suggested: A roasting pan for the bones; an 8-quart kettle with cover for simmering the stock; a colander and fine-meshed sieve for straining

Browning the bones (30 to 40 minutes)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the bones and 1/2 cup each of the chopped vegetables in the roasting pan and brown in the upper third of the oven, turning and basting with accumulated fat several times until they are a good walnut brown. Scoop bones and vegetables into kettle; pour out and discard accumulated fat.

Deglazing the roasting pan
Pour 2 cups of the water into the pan and bring to the boil over moderately high heat; using a wooden spoon, scrape browning juices into the liquid, then pour the liquid over the browned bones in the kettle.

Simmering the stock (4 to 5 hours)
Add the herb bouquet to the kettle and the rest of the vegetables listed, with enough of the water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches. Bring to the simmer on top of the stove; skim off and discard gray skum that will collect on the surface for several minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cover loosely, and maintain at the slow simmer, skimming off fat and scum occasionally, and adding a little boiling water if the liquid has evaporated below the surface of the ingredients. Simmer until you feel the bones have given their all.

Straining and degreasing
Strain the stock through the colander into a bowl, pressing juices out of the ingredients. Degrease the stock and season lightly to taste. Strain again, this time through the fine-meshed sieve into a clean pan or container.

NOTE May be prepared in advance; chill uncovered, then cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Cath: Mont Blanc

Finally posting my Mont Blanc--sorry for the huge delay everyone! We've had guests for the past week and a half basically, not that that's an excuse at this point I know! Anyway, some thoughts...this was soooo tasty! Rob and I both loved it. You can't eat a lot of it though, definitely very rich! I wish I'd read Jer's suggestion about the Saran Wrap before I attempted this because I did have a terrible time unmolding it. I made it in a 2 quart bowl and had high hopes but I guess I let it defrost a little too long before I tried the unmolding. Come to think of it, I think I took it out of the freezer right before trying to get Mila to bed--rookie mistake because that always takes longer than I think it will! As it was it basically ended up a huge melty mess so I refroze it and then served it in ramekins. Oh well. It was fun making the brittle and not as hard as I thought it would be. Good find Elaine!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Mont Blanc Update

Pete's mom Jane is a wonderful cook. A few nights ago she served a delicious dessert that had a very similar flavor and texture to the mont blanc we made last month. When I asked for the indgredients I was pleased to recognize the egg whites, sugar and cream from our mont blanc recipe! I love how this cooking group has allowed me to recognize techniques and foods I was not familiar with before.

For those of you who have not yet made the mont blanc yet I wanted to share with you Jane's method for freezing the mont blanc as I thought if was quite clever and made for a lovely presentation. She lined a bread pan with saran wrap (enough saran wrap so that it was hanging over the sides). Then she put the mouse into the bread pan and let it set in the freezer. When she was ready to serve it she flipped it onto a cutting board (and the saran wrap allowed it to come out very easily and for it to hold its shape when it was flipped over). The result was a frozen mont blanc in the shape of a loaf of bread. She then cut the loaf into 1-1.5 inch slices (similar to how you would cut a loaf of banana bread) and served the slices with rasberry coulis drizzled atop. The method of freezing it into a loaf and then slicing made for a really nice presentation. I think it would be especially nice with our mont blanc recipe given we have the brittle surprise on the inside.