Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

1 pound strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
2/3 cup sugar (I used half Splenda and half sugar - next time I'll probably try all Splenda)
2 teaspoons vodka or kirsch (bourbon would probably also be good)
1 cup plain, whole milk yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  • Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring every so often.
  • Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a blender or food processor. Add the yogurt and fresh lemon juice. Pulse the machine until the mixture is almost smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds.
  • Chill for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Shredded Beef Tacos

2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 3 inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp oil, divided1 jar red chile sauce (15 oz. or more)

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  • Season the beef with salt and pepper.
  • In a Dutch oven over medium heat bring 1 Tbsp oil up to temp. Brown half of the beef on all sides, about 1 minute per side.
  • Remove from pan, add 1 Tbsp of oil if needed and brown other half of beef the same way.-Return first batch of beef, with juices, to the pan and cover with red chile sauce. Cover dutch oven with heavy duty tinfoil and then lid.
  • Place in the oven and cook until beef is tender and can easily be pulled apart with a fork, about 4 hours.
  • Transfer the beef to a bowl, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let stand for 20 minutes.-Reserve the sauce and let cool.
  • Shred the beef with two forks or a knife. Skim fat off the sauce, then stir about 1 cup or more back into the beef.
  • Serve with warmed tortillas, and all the fixins.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Fresh Mint Ice Cream

3 cups of fresh mint leaves (not stems), rinsed, drained, packed
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream (divided, 1 cup and 1 cup)
2/3 cup sugar
A pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
6 ounces semisweet chocolate or dark chocolate, chopped fine, kept in the freezer until used
  1. Put the mint leaves in a heavy saucepan with the 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of the cream. Heat until just steaming (do not let boil), remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Reheat the mixture until steaming, remove from heat and let stand for 15 more minutes.
  2. While the mint is infusing in step 1, prepare the remaining cream over an ice bath. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set in ice water (with lots of ice) over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside. You will use this in step 6.
  3. Using a different strainer (or just wash this one later), strain the milk cream mixture into a bowl, pressing against the mint leaves with a rubber spatula in the sieve to get the most liquid out of them. Return the milk cream mixture to the saucepan. Add sugar and salt to the mixture. Heat until just steaming again, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Slowly pour the heated milk cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm mixture, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  5. Return the saucepan to the stove, stirring the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 10 minutes. When the custard base coats the back of the spoon and you can run your finger across the coating and have it not run, it is ready and should be removed from heat immediately.
  6. Pour the custard through the strainer (from step 2) and stir into the cold cream to stop the cooking.
  7. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least a couple of hours) or stir the mixture in the bowl placed over the ice bath until thoroughly chilled (20 minutes or so). Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  8. Once the ice cream has been made in the ice cream maker it should be pretty soft. Gently fold in the finely chopped chocolate. Put in an airtight container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours. If it has been frozen for more than a day, you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften it before serving.

**Note that there is no alcohol in this recipe. A few teaspoons of some spirits such as rum or bourbon will help keep the ice cream soft over several days. Even the alcohol in vanilla extract will help. If you have no added alcohol in a homemade ice cream recipe, you will need to eat it up quickly - in a day or two; beyond that point the ice cream will quickly get very very hard.
Makes 1 quart.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Beef Stew

You can use cheap cuts of beef for this recipe like shin or flank. Even though those cuts might contain sinew, the slow cooking will melt them and you'll end up with tender cubes of meat that almost fall apart.

1. Chop beef into cubes and coat it with some plain (all purpose) flour, salt, pepper and a teaspoon of paprika, all mixed together. Dry fry in a bit of oil, in small portions, until all the meat is brown. It's not cooked at this point, just brown on the outside. Put the meat aside on a plate.
2. Add one chopped onion - another way of adding flavour to food. Even if you don't like the taste of raw onion, it should be added to food because it will add a depth of flavour you won't get without it. Fry the onion until it too is a light brown colour. When it's light brown, that means you've also caramelised the sugars in the onion - and therefore developed its flavour.
3. Chop up two carrots and two sticks of celery. Again, you don't have to like the flavour of these foods as they won't taste like they taste fresh, but they'll add flavour to your dish. Cook these vegetables until the celery has turned bright green.
4. Add pinch of salt and pepper and stir. It's much better to add small amounts of salt and pepper throughout this type of cooking, instead of once large amount at the end. Adding small amounts at the various stages will add layers of flavour instead of just adding seasoning.
5. At this point you could add a variety of other flavours - such as chilli, tomato, paprika, curry etc - or you could leave them out and go on to the next step. If you so add an extra flavour, add it, stir it in and make sure it's well incorporated into the other ingredients before going on.
6. Add the meat back to the pot and pour in some stock or water, enough to just cover the meat, a small amount of salt and pepper, stir again, bring to the boil and stir again. Place the lid on the pot and put it in the oven to slowly cook (150C) for about 2 hours.
When it's cooked, taste for flavour. At this point the meat will be tender and there will be a thick sauce covering the meat. Serve with mashed potato and green beans.