Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Outside, Hearty Pot Roast and Biscuits Inside

With temperatures in the twenties and the snow ready to fly, it was the perfect weekend for comfort food. I've been making a lot of brisket and short-ribs over the past year and wanted to try something different. I fought off a few crazy women at the grocery store and brought home a nice beef chuck boneless eye round. Out came the slow-cooker, the meat could roast while I got to work on some cheddar-scallion biscuits and latkes.

In the spirit of holiday creativity, I made up my own pot roast recipe. I checked an old Cooking Light slow-cooked pot roast recipe for cooking tips and then opened the fridge to pull out the ingredients. For the roasting liquid, I had a bottle of unused Castle Rock Pinot Noir (no red drinkers at my Thanksgiving feast). We had enough for dinner, and two lunches each (6-8 servings, depending on how hungry you are).

For the side dishes, I cooked up three options. First, cheddar-scallion biscuits. Second, traditional potato and onion latkes. Third, sweet potato and scallion latkes. All delicious, and all great with the pot roast! I'll write up the latkes tomorrow. For this post I'll focus on the pot roast and biscuits.

The biscuits were inspired by a post at Playing House but made following a recipe from TracyFood. The biscuits were unbelievable. Buttery, flaky, cheesy, scallion-y, mmm.... The only change I would make next time is to add a little less salt. For my biscuits I used a cheddar-jack cheese mix. Visit TracyFood for the full recipe! Now on the meat...

Snowy Weekend Pot Roast
1 3-ish lb. beef chuck boneless eye round, tied together
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2-3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup Pinot Noir (or other red wine)
1 cup reduced sodium beef broth
2 bay Turkish leafs
Kosher salt and pepper (I forgot to measure)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1.5 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon sage

Set up your slow-cooker
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a medium sauce pan (big enough to pour in your liquid and veggies)
Rub salt and pepper on all sides of the roast
Sear meat in pan, approximately 2 minutes per side
Remove meat from the pan and put into the slow cooker
Add a little more oil to the pan, and then add in onions
Cook for about 8 minutes, until they are just beginning to brown
Add in garlic and cook for 1 minute
Pour in wine and beef broth, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan
Stir in sage and thyme
Carefully pour the liquid over the roast in the slow cooker
Put the carrots, parsnips and potatoes around the meat
Put in the two bay leafs and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper
Cover and cook on high for 2 hours
Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 3-4 hours, until tender

The biscuits on the side were fabulous! I'll let you check out TracyFood for the recipe, but will share my mouth-watering photos below.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Chanukah!

We celebrated Chanukah toward the end of the holiday this year, and even extended our celebration by an extra day. I didn't have time during the week to cook up any traditional holiday fare. With an impending snow storm this weekend there was plenty of time to cook up some Chanukah treats! I'll start with dessert and work backwards to dinner.

There are a few readers out there who are interested in reading about my experiment with making a modified Chanukah food. Instead of traditional fried sufganiyot (jelly donuts) - I found a recipe for sugar donut muffins that I turned into jelly donut muffins!

I used a basic buttermilk muffin recipe from my well-worn copy of Joy of Cooking along with some techniques from a recipe on Baking Bites . The idea to inject jelly in the center was all mine. One of my pet peeves is that all the commercial jelly donuts are filled with raspberry jelly, my second least favorite fruit (peaches are #1). I wanted these to be just the way I like them! To get strawberry preserves into the middle, I used a pastry decorating bag with a long narrow tube on the end.

Tomorrow at work is our holiday potluck happy hour, so I doubled the recipe to make enough to share. I averted a small disaster, after mixing all the ingredients in the first batch and pouring in to the muffin tin, I saw the sugar still sitting on the counter. Oops! So all the batter came out of the pan, the sugar was mixed in, and then the muffin tins were filled again. I made a mix of mini-muffins and regular muffins. A warning, these are buttery, sugary, delicious and not at all healthy. But if you figure they are a once or twice a year indulgence, who cares! Enjoy!

The sequence is: 1) Bake the muffins, 2) Coat in butter and sugar, 3) Fill with fruit preserves, 4) Try to refrain from eating them all yourself.

Jelly Donut Muffins
Adapted from Joy of Cooking's Basic Muffins Recipe
This will yield 12 regular muffins or 24 mini-muffins

Dry Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Wet Ingredients
2 large eggs
1 cup of low-fat buttermilk
2/3 cup sugar (don't forget!)
6 tablespoons warm, melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Set up a wire cooling rack for the muffins when they are done
Grease either standard 12-muffin tin or 24-mini-muffin tin
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, set aside
Whisk together the wet ingredients in a bowl
Add the wet ingredients into the large mixing bowl (dry ingredients) and mix until just moistened (be careful not to over mix - the batter won't be smooth)
Using a greased tablespoon, scoop the batter evenly into the greased muffin tin
Bake until a toothpick stuck in the center of the muffins comes out clean, about 12-15 minutes

For the sugar donut part:
1 stick of warm melted, unsalted butter in a shallow bowl
1/2 - 1 cup of sugar in a shallow bowl

When the donuts are done baking, remove from the muffin tins and set on the wire rack
Brush the top of the muffins with the melted butter
Roll the muffins in the sugar and then place on the cooling rack
Repeat until all the muffins are coated in sugar

For the Jelly Filling
1/2 - 1 cup of strawberry preserves

Fill the pastry bag with the strawberry preserves and push it down to the tube
Stick the tube in the top of the muffin and squeeze for about 2 seconds, pulling the tube out as you squeeze
Be careful not to overfill the muffins (they will break apart)

Enjoy warm or at room temperature. And be sure to have a large glass of milk to wash them down! This will be on my holiday recipe list every year now.

Friday, December 18, 2009

More Food on the Way

Since preparing my Thanksgiving feast, I've been busy finishing up my first semester of MBA studies. That said, I have been cooking and photographing, but haven't had time to get the posts up on the blog. Now that I've made it through, I'll have time to share the tasty meals that I've made over the last few weeks.

In the meantime, you can check out a full description of my 'not so classic' pumpkin pie at The foodies behind Local in Season asked me to write up some kitchen adventures to share with their readers - and as a regular reader, how could I say no? Take a minute to check out the site and read all the great ideas for local and seasonal dishes!

Tonight I'm still celebrating the end of the semester and will let someone else do the cooking and bartending. Tomorrow I'll get back in the kitchen to fry up some end of Chanukah latkes and bake some sugar donut muffins (with jelly inside). Have a great weekend!


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