Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I Have Yum Yums!

The pain has really been taking a toll on me the past few months. It is very difficult to think about food when concentrating on just getting important things accomplished. Still, with all the lovely fresh tomatoes coming from my garden, and the wonderful surprise of beautiful carrots, I had no choice but to cook (and preserve) the bounty. So far, I have canned up salsas and tomatoes (cut up and as a plain sauce) and dehydrated a lot of zucchini and such, which is terrific (and will be blogged about another time), but the real treats have been the new recipes I have created to take care of some of the glut.

My first two recipes were created in tandem. I was whipping up some American Chop Suey and decided that, as will all foods, bacon would be a perfect boost to flavor. I could not bear to waste all that flavorful fat, so I sauteed onions in it for the dish, but realized that I made too much, so 1/2 a cup of the now cooked onions were set aside for the salad.
I also made a delicious pot roast last night. My son came by in the morning, and after poking around in the garden in the cool morning air, we walked (or I hobbled) to the local butcher to see what he had. There, I picked up five pounds of chicken backs for stock as well as 2 1/2 pounds of chuck roast. There was little fat on it, especially for a chuck roast, but it cooked up nicely in wine and dried tomatoes from last season.

I do not have pictures of everything, that tends to be one of the last things on the list to do, and as I mentioned, it has been rough these past weeks.

Without further ado, here we go.

Beef Pot Roast with Mushrooms and "Sun Dried" Tomatoes


2 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup dried tomatoes, not in oil (I used dried cherry tomatoes from last seasons garden)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped (I cut into quarters then slice them)
2 sprigs of rosemary
salt and pepper
3 large white potatoes, peeled and halved
1/2 pound or more of carrots (carrots have a strong flavor, so just enough to serve the number of folks eating) trimmed and scraped when necessary.
8 oz sliced mushrooms, roughly chopped if large
2 Tablespoons flower
2 Tablespoons butter

I use my slow cooker to make this, but it will work wonderfully on the stove top too. Just cook it on a very low simmer rather than use the slow cooking instructions. Alternative, you can use the oven on a low setting, but you will have to experiment as I have no oven to work with currently.

Since my slow cooker has an insert I can use on the stove top, I do that. Everyone else should use a heavy saute pan of some sort, just be sure it is non reactive as the wine can cause a reaction with some metals. Non reactive would be enameled cast iron, cast iron that is VERY WELL seasoned. My pans are well over a hundred years old, and I do not feel confident they are sealed enough, but that is me based on my having tried making tomato sauce in the darned things for years before figuring out why it tasted "off" all the time. Other pans to use are stainless steel or anything with a non stick surface, though the fond won't be as nice from non stick.

Salt the beef and sear in a pan on high heat using a touch of oil just to keep the sticking down a bit. The browned bits are full of flavor, so you don't need to keep it from sticking entirely, we just don't want burned bits rather than deep brown. Give it a really good sear, your patience will be rewarded (thank you Alton Brown).

Remove browned beef from the pan and add the onions. Keep an eye on it and stir until they start to get translucent. Add the garlic and cook until the smell of the garlic wafts up from the pan. Add the wine, starting with 1/2 cup to deglaze the pan. Continue adding the wine and let cook for a bit to help dull the alcohol flavor a bit. Add the beef back to the pan along with the dried tomatoes and set on high for one hour and turn to low for two more hours.

Prepare the vegetables. These are small carrots from my garden that were just gorgeous, so I left some of the stem and cleaned them very thoroughly, as well as scraping the skins off of the ones that were bumpy to be sure I removed all of the dirt. Peel the potatoes (I find the larger whites have tough skins, but if you are using younger white potatoes or red skinned types, you can leave the skin on)

Put the vegetables and rosemary in the pot, turn to high for one hour and then back to low until the vegetables are cooked through, another two hours.

To make the gravy, add the butter to a frying or saute pan and cook the mushrooms until the liquid escapes, dissipates, and the mushrooms start to brown. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes to get the raw flavor of flour out. Strain the pan juices and slowly add to the pan until you reach your desired thickness. Remember to keep it a bit thin as it will thicken as soon as it starts to cool a little.


Are they not gorgeous?
I have no pictures for the next two recipes. At least I do not right now, but it was so delicious I could not, not share.

American Chop Suey Michele Style

1 pound ground beef
6 slices good bacon
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds of plum tomatoes, peeled and cut up
1 cup chicken stock (broth will work, but the gelatin in the stock makes this amazing)
2 cups shaped pasta (traditionally elbows, but I used campenelle which was perfect)

Cook the bacon until brown and just crispy. Do not over cook as it will taste "off". Remove the bacon to drain. Pour out the fat, leaving two tablespoons for cooking the onion. Add the onions and cook until translucent and just slightly starting to caramelize. Remove 1/2 cup of onion for use in salad. Add garlic to pan and cook until the smell of the garlic wafts from the pan to your face. Remove vegetables to a bowl.
Brown the ground beef. Leave some nice lumps, you want something to chew in this. Drain the beef and add the vegetables back in along with the tomatoes and stock, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add pasta, cover and cook ten minutes more or until pasta is al dente. Add four slices of lightly crumbled bacon and stir. (the other two slices are for the salad)

Snow White Salad

I call this Snow White salad because that is the type of tomatoes I used and they are fabulous. Substitutions can be any sweet tasting tomato, preferably a cherry or grape variety.


1-2 cups of Snow White cherry tomatoes, cut in halves.
2 big handfuls of baby spinach, well washed and trimmed
1/2 cup of onions cooked in bacon fat
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
Pinch of salt, if required (to taste)

This is easy, just toss it all together in a bowl. The onions should not be hot, but warm is fine. The amount of mayonnaise is a suggestion, there is no need to use a lot, just enough to make a light dressing with the juices from the tomatoes and the flavors from the bacon and onions. Serve immediately, this salad does not keep well, to my eternal sadness.

Stay tuned for my laundry detergent tests, making dishwasher discs, and other fun things I have been doing this season aside from gardening.

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