Saveur Magazine Classic Recipes No. 61 – Carbonnade (Flemish Beef and Beer Stew)

Beef and Beer Stew

I had heard about this dish a log time ago.  My friend Kiana, who lives in Brussels, was always posting on Facebook that she was making it.  Initially, I thought she was talking about Carbonara, a.k.a, spaghetti carbonara.  Then, I humbly learned that not only was it not even close to carbonara, but the only thing similar is that it both has bacon in it, at least according to this recipe.

I was obviously intrigued about making this, and was quite pleased upon seeing it in the magazine.  This became a no-brainer, since the weather is quite accommodating here in Madrid at the moment.  This beef stew begs for rainy or snowy days and toasty evenings snuggled under a blankie.  This is the stuff of wood chalets and fire places my friends.  Unfortunately, I don’t have either.  But, I can imagine my friend Kiana and her gorgeous family eating it a-la-ski-lodge, in their pj’s all snuggled around their fire.  Dreamy!

Anyhow, I digress.  The stew is quite easy, and the ingredients readily available.  It is imperative that you use a nice dark beer, preferably Belgian.  I used Chimay Red Cap, in absence of any other type of Belgian beer here in Spain. Kiana recommended Rochefort……if you can find it, use it.  But, what I thought gave this dish such an elegant and nuanced flavor, was the tarragon.  Oh, my beating heart.  The sauce, well, it speaks for itself.  If you don’t make this, you’ll be sorry.  Really.  I’m that serious.

So, on to the ratings:

Overall Points:  8.9/10 – the most points yet!

Difficulty:  Easy to medium, just cause it takes a long time

Availability of ingredients:  Readily available, except maybe for the tarragon

2 lb beef chuck, cut into 2″ x 1/2″ thick slices

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup flour

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

4 slices bacon, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise

2 cups Belgian – Style ale, like Ommengang Abbey Ale

1 cup beef stock

2 tbsp. brown sugar

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

3 sprigs thyme

3 sprigs parsley

2 sprigs tarragon

1 bay leaf

Bread, for serving

Season beef with salt and pepper in a bowl; add flour and toss to coat.  Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Working in batches, add beef; cook, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a plate; set aside.  Add bacon; cook until its fat renders, about 8 minutes.  Add remaining butter, garlic, and onions; cook until caramelized, about 30 minutes.  Add half the beer; cook, scraping bottom of pot, until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes.  Return beef to pot with remaining beer, stock, sugar, vinegar, thyme, parsley, tarragon, bay leaf, and salt and pepper; boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.  Serve with bread.  Serves 4.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Roasted Butternut Squash and Orange Soup with Ancho and Chipotle Cream

Butternut Squash Soup

It’s cold here.  I mean, I know it isn’t as cold as some parts of the world, but for a Caribbean gal like me, it’s damn well near freezing.  These last weeks, I find myself drinking cupfuls of tea every day, and dreaming of really warm things like oatmeal, stews, and of course, soups.

Since in South Africa I saw butternut squash EVERYWHERE, and the first shopping I did here had a big crate full, so I thought, why not?!  I did have to wait a while to make it, because I love roasting squash. (Remember I didn’t have an oven until last week?)  I love roasting it because it brings out its natural sweetness.  The kitchen also was super warm and cozy with the lovely aroma emanating from it.  I also had some oranges, so I decided to grate a little bit of the zest into the onions, and then juice the rest of it to put in the soup.  It completely changed the dish, for the better!  It tasted fresher and brighter.  But of course since I like contrasts, I needed a little zip too, so I toasted and soaked some ancho chiles and pureed them with some ground chipotle pepper into the cream.  The result?  Phenomenal.  I hope you try it too!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 medium-sized butternut squash, halved and roasted at 190C (375F) for about an hour, let cool

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 a large onion, chopped

1 tsp grated orange zest

Juice from 1 orange

5 cups vegetable stock

1 cup 2% milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large ancho chile, toasted, soaked and seeded

2 tsp (or more, heck, I like it spicy, but it’s totally up to you) ground chipotle powder

1/4 – 1/2 cup heavy cream

Parsley leaf, to decorate if you are so inclined

In a large stock pot, add the olive oil and set the heat to medium low.  Add the onion and zest.  Saute until it is translucent, about 6-7 minutes.  In the meantime, peel the squash and cube it.  Add to the onions along with some salt, pepper and cook for about 5 minutes more.  Add the juice and stock and raise the heat to high.  Let it come to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium low and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

When the squash is easy to mush, add the milk and purée with an immersion blender. Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Pass it through a chinois (or not, if you want it chunkier, omit this step) and return to heat.

In a small bowl, cut the ancho chile up into strips.  Add the chipotle and the cream and with the same immersion blender, blend until it is smooth.  Add some salt and pepper to taste.  (So your cream won’t whip, heat it up a little).

Serve the soup in bowls, and drizzle with the ancho chipotle cream.  Garnish with a parsley leaf.  Serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Strawberry Jam Tea-Cakes

cupcakes

 

On Monday it was Paolo’s birthday, and as custom here in Spain, when it’s your birthday, you bring the treats.  So, a couple of years ago I had prepared these for Paolo to take into work, and he asked for them again this year.  I love these cupcakes, as they are really cakey, and nothing is better than biting into this luscious strawberry filling!  My favorite part has to be the glaze, though.

I remember as I was making them that there was something that I needed to do with the glaze, and after making them this time, I now realize that you have to make double the amount of glaze for them to truly be covered in it.  If not, it just seems to pool messily on the bottom, leaving much to be desired on top!  But, that said, next time I am sure I will remember.  (Or will I?)

This is a recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart, whose cupcake book I pore over time and time again.  I love looking at the glossy pictures of these beautiful cupcakes.  Unfortunately, not all the recipes work out.  I am constantly confounded by this, as I have had many issues with Martha’s recipes.  You’d think such a monstrous sized company would have a recipe-proofer, but alas, even Martha has her imperfections!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Martha Stewart Cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins

3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for tins

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp finely grated orange zest

4 large eggs, separated, room temperature

1/2 cup milk

1 cup strawberry jam or preserves

Citrus Glaze (Recipe Follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Brush standard muffin tins with butter, dust with flour, tapping out excess.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. With and electric mixer on medium high speed, cream butter, sugar, and zest until pale and fluffy.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating just until combined after each.

3.  In another bowl, with an electic mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites to soft peaks; gently fold into batter.  Spoon 2 tbsp of batter into each prepared cup.  Make an indentation in the middle of each; fill with one tbsp jam.  Top with an additional 2 tbsp batter, covering jam completely.

4. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cake tester inserted in centers of top layers comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Run a small offset spatula around the edges, and turn out cakes onto wire racks and let cool completely.

Makes 12 cupcakes

5.  To finish, drizzle cakes evenly with glaze, and let set, about 30 minutes.  Glazed cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days in a single layer at room temperature in airtight containers.

For the Citrus Glaze:

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, more if needed

1/4 tsp finely grated citrus zest

3 tbsp fresh citrus juice, more if needed

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.  If necessary add more juice to thicken or more juice to thin the glaze.  Use immediately.

Makes about 1 cup

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipes No. 74 – Garides Saganaki (Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta)

shrimp

Sometimes, you come across a recipe and you read it and think, hmmm, ok, sounds nice but you really don’t think much of it.  Well, this one was like that for me.  Last night, with Paolo’s parents here on a visit, we decided to give it a try, and we were all spectacularly pleased with it.  First of all, it was super easy to prepare, and very quick.  If you have these ingredients on hand, you can make this dinner in 30 minutes, tops.  Secondly, the flavor!  Oh my lord…..the tomatoes and melted feta were heavenly, add to that the nuanced hint of the ouzo, it turned an already delicious dish into something more than special.  The secret to this dish is to really buy the best ingredients possible.  Since it only has about 8, and in small quantities, it really begs for you to go all out.

shrimp2

One thing that I absolutely recommend you to do.  Have lots of fresh crusty bread on hand.  You’ll be sopping up this sauce for sure!

Overall points: 8.5/10

Difficulty: Easy

Availability of ingredients: Readily available, if you can’t find Ouzo, use any other anisette liqueur

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped

1/2 medium hot green chile, stemmed and finely chopped

1 1/4 cups canned whole, peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 large head-on shrimp (about 12 oz.) bodies peeled (heads and tail shells left intact), deveined

4 oz. Greek feta, coarsely crumbled

2 tbsp ouzo

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

1. Heat broiler to high.  Heat oil in an 8″ round metal gratin dish or a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and chile, and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, and season to taste with salt and pepper; cook until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.

2. Arrange shrimp in dish, spoon some sauce on top, and continue to simmer until shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.  Scatter feta around shrimp, then transfer dish to broiler, and broil until feta begins to melt, about 2 minutes.  Remove dish from broiler.  Warm ouzo in a tiny pot over low heat, then ignite it with a kitchen match and pour over shrimp and feta.  When flames die out, garnish dish with parsley, and serve.  Serves 2.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Carne en Posta – Braised Beef Colombian Style


Carne en Posta

Carne en Posta is a staple of Colombian cuisine. You can basically find anything “En Posta”, from chicken to fish, but at my house, beef was the norm. Traditionally it is from the Caribbean region of Colombia, where my family is from (Barranquilla!) but now you can find it almost everywhere. This recipe was passed down from generation to generation in my family, and now I am the proud recipient! At my house we serve it with Arroz Con Coco (coconut rice, a staple in Cartagena) and Ensalada de Repollo (cabbage salad).

posta

As always, there are endless variations because everyone in Colombia has their own unique recipe. I am happy to share mine with you.  Make sure you have a side, like rice or bread, because this sauce is DIVINE my friends, truly finger lickin’ good!

 

2 lb. eye of round (cleaned of all fat)

1 tbsp ground cumin + 1/2 tsp

1 tbsp garlic salt + 1 tbsp

1 tbsp achiote (annatto seed)

1 tsp ground coffee

3/4 cup vegetable oil

dash of vinegar (whichever will do)

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 large green pepper, chopped

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

10 cups of hot water

1/4 can coca cola

 

Rub 1 tbsp of cumin, 1tbsp of garlic salt and 1tsp coffee over roast, and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, add the 3/4 cup of oil to the achiote seed in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until oil is red and fragrant. Be careful not to let the oil burn. Strain 1/4 cup of oil into a large heavy bottomed stock pot, and set aside the rest of the oil and seeds. Turn heat to high, and brown meat all over. Take pot off of the heat, take out meat and reserve on a plate and strain the rest of your oil into your stockpot and lower your burner to low. Place pot back on the burner and add the dash of vinegar and deglaze your pan.

Add your chopped vegetables, the remaining 1/2 tsp of cumin and 1 tbsp of garlic salt and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes. When the vegetables are soft, place the meat and its juices back into pot and cover with the water. Raise heat to high, cover and bring to a rolling boil. Take off the cover, lower the heat to medium and boil for 1 hour.

Take the meat out and slice into 1/2 inch slices, put back into pot with any juices that have accumulated and add the coca cola, boil for another 2 hours approximately or until the meat is fork tender.

When it is done, take the meat slices out, strain the liquid into another bowl, wipe your original pot so there are no vegetable bits and discard the veggies if you like (or not, sometimes I don’t strain but it is a matter of personal taste). Return your cooking liquid and the meat to the pot and cook for a little more if the sauce needs thickening.

posta3

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Bobotie Spiced Pork, Apple and Carrot Chutney with Turmeric Rice; A South African Inspired Dish- An Amazing Holiday

Image

I’m back!  Yes, it has been a long, long time.  Since I last wrote, I basically packed up my whole house in Barcelona, spent 12 marvelous days in Cape Town, South Africa and it’s surroundings, then flew back to Spain, but to my new city, Madrid, and set up house here.  It has been sad, exhilarating, and frustrating at its best and worst!

Since moving in to our new house, which is gorgeous, I haven’t been able to post because we had to wait for our internet to be set up.  But finally, they came yesterday and I am up to date with the world again!  Our new house is amazing, and my favorite part is obviously the kitchen.  We have a pantry……and a large double door fridge (which here in Spain they call a ‘American Fridge’), and we’re able to fit a table to seat six in the kitchen.  So excited to begin to create so many goodies in this amount of space.  This is true luxury for me!  The only catch is that the oven doesn’t work.  But they are coming to install a new one tomorrow!  Wooo hooo!  Gone are the days of over/under cooking from my previous and ancient oven!

Anyhow, our vacation to South Africa was amazing.  My best friend Miki is from South Africa, but her family is German/Japanese.  The reason of our visit was to attend her wedding.  And what a beautiful and fun wedding it was.  We reunited with old high school friends and new ones I have made along the way thanks to her.  Oh, and to totally make you even more jealous, her family owns vineyards in Stellenbosch.  Yes, we were more or less drunk everyday.

Stark-Code Vineyards, my friends' family farm where the wedding was held

Stark-Code Vineyards, my friends’ family farm where the wedding was held

Now, apart from the wedding, my family and I went on Safari, and also did a few tours in Cape Town.

Inverdoorn Game Reserve

Inverdoorn Game Reserve

 

3 year old White Rhino

3 year old White Rhino

 

A few of the Cheetas on the reserve

A few of the Cheetahs on the reserve

 

Mama Cape Buffalo checking us out

Mama Cape Buffalo checking us out

 

south africa 2012 451

One of two hippos on the reserve

One of two hippos on the reserve

 

I love Zebra Print!

I love Zebra Print!

 

Cape Barbary Lion

Cape Barbary Lion

 

south africa 2012 113

Sunset with the Cheetah's

Sunset with the Cheetah’s

We made it all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope, which was breathtaking, and also did a Township tour, which was heartbreaking.

View of Lion's Head from Table Mountain

View of Lion’s Head from Table Mountain

 

Food wise, South Africa is a very diverse country.  There are so many cultural influences, from Malaysian to Indian to German to Dutch….the list goes on.  Here are a few things I learned about eating in South Africa:

1.  They eat a lot of meat.  Beef, lamb, pork, Springbok, Ostrich, you name it.  It is on every menu.  My new favorite is Springbok, but I don’t think my butcher has any.

2.  They put bananas on pizzas.  Huh?

3.  They put butternut squash on EVERYTHING.  Each and every menu had something with butternut.  Salad, pizza, pasta, dessert.  You get the idea.

4.  They’re obsessed with avocados, or as they call them, avo.

5.  They make Buffalo mozzarella from Cape Buffalo.  Still damn good!

6.  They make kick ass wine.  (But I knew that already)

That said, one of my first meals in the house was a dish inspired from the flavors of South Africa, and Miki’s wedding menu.  I was so impressed with the different spices, their use of sweet and savoury, that I had to make something like this to alleviate my depression upon returning, and to try to eke out every last moment we had.  Served with a well chilled glass of Pepin Conde Sauvignon Blanc that we brought back, of course!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

For the pork-

4 slices of Pork Loin, 1 inch thick

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Salt, to taste

Olive oil for the pan

For the chutney-

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp chopped fresh ginger

1 tsp chili pepper

2 apples, peeled and chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Juice of 1 Lemon

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup unsulphered molasses

1 tsp salt, more or less

Water to cover the ingredients

For the rice-

1 cup long white rice

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

2 cups water

Fresh Spinach

In a small stock pot, add the olive oil and butter over medium low heat.  Add the onions, ginger, chili and sauté for about 5-7 minutes, or until softened.  Add the rest of the ingredients, with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium low, and let simmer for about an hour.  If it is getting too dry, add some more water.  Cook until it is thickened, keep warm.

In the mean time, make the rice.  Wash your rice, and in a bowl, mix the water with the turmeric and salt.  Place in a deep sided pan, add the rice, and bring to a boil, covered.  Let boil for 2 minutes, then lower the heat to medium low, and simmer until the water is evaporated.  Keep warm.

In another bowl, mix all the spices for the pork.  Coat the pork well on both sides with all your spices.  In a frying pan, heat up the olive oil over high heat.  Just before it starts to smoke, add the pork and cook, about 4 minutes on each side.

To plate, place a bit of the fresh spinach and top it with a pork slice.  Then add some chutney and rice.

Enjoy!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla