Posts Tagged 'Make Ahead Meals'



Bouef Bourguignon

I spent three whole hours this afternoon making homemade pierogi that ended up being too doughy to be truly delicious.  I really could have used a pasta machine (and a miracle!).

So instead of dwelling on my disappointment, I decided to write about something I did very right recently: Bouef Bourguignon!

Although many people instantly think of Julia Child when Bouef Bourguignon is mentioned, my recipe is from Ina Garten.  I first made the dish last February when I hosted a French-themed gourmet club meeting, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to pull the recipe back out when I hosted my Colorado family for dinner. Aside from the fact that the flavor is phenomenal, my favorite thing about this dish is that it actually tastes better if you make it a day or two ahead and gently reheat it for guests.  The time required for prep work and cooking is a bit long, but it’s worth it for me; I’ll do almost anything to reduce day-of-dinner-party stress.

Bless The Washington Post…  They reprinted the recipe exactly as written in Barefoot in Paris and saved me some trouble.  (Food Network’s online recipe is close but not quite the same…  I hate it when they leave things out!)

Here are my notes:

  • I wasn’t able to find a single 2 1/2-pound beef chuck roast (pot roast), so I bought two smaller ones.  This worked out perfectly because I was able to cut out the solid, fatty sections and just use the best parts of the meat.
  • I used brandy instead of Cognac.
  • Flambéing freaks me out, to be honest.  Here’s my technique: I make sure all flammable things are at least three feet away from the stove, and then I point the end of my Bic Luminere lighter as far down as it will go.  Standing back as far as possible, I hook the lighter over the edge of the pan and let ‘er rip.  I jump every time!
  • This time, I used a 2009 Domaine Jean Descombes (Georges Duboeuf) Morgon for the wine and it was fantastic!  It kills me when people talk about using past-its-prime wine for cooking…  The better the things you put into your cooking are, the better it will taste.  I served a bottle alongside the dish as well.
  • I reheated the stew for half an hour or so over medium-low heat before serving.  (You don’t want to crank up the heat because you could overcook the meat and vegetables.)
  • I served the stew over county bread that I toasted in the oven with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.  I intended to rub the slices with a cut garlic clove before serving, but I didn’t feel like dealing with it at the time.

Bouef Bourguignon

This was SO good.  My friend Christopher (who had the privilege of tasting leftovers both times I made the dish) and I agreed that it was even better than my first attempt…  I think I had a better cut of meat, a better bottle of wine, and a better handle on seasoning with salt and pepper this time around.  With rich broth, tender meat, and a fantastic mix of vegetables, Bouef Bourguignon is perfect winter comfort food and an ideal option for entertaining.  I love it!

Recipe link: Bouef Bourguignon

Advertisements

Sautéed German Sausages with Bacon and Apple Sauerkraut

Oktoberfest officially starts tomorrow!  In celebration, my gourmet club is having a German-themed meal.  I’ve been working on my menu for the past week, and today’s recipe is the dish I chose for the main course: Sautéed German Sausages with Bacon and Apple Sauerkraut from the October 2005 issue of Food & Wine.  It’s so incredibly delicious (provided that you have an appreciation for sauerkraut!) and most of the work can be done ahead of time, which makes it perfect for entertaining.  Here’s the recipe:

Sautéed German Sausages with Bacon and Apple Sauerkraut
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
5 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 very large onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons off-dry wine, such as Riesling
1 large sweet apple, such as Gala or Fuji – peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
12 juniper berries
4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup water
2 1/2 pounds sauerkraut – drained, rinsed, and squeezed dry (4 packed cups)
12 fully-cooked German-style sausages, such as weisswurst or bratwurst
Grainy mustard, for serving

Method:
In a large, enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the bacon and cook over moderately high heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate.

Add the onion to the casserole, cover partially and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 20 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high. Add the wine, apple, juniper berries, bay leaves, sugar, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and boil for 3 minutes. Add the water and the sauerkraut. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the apple is very tender, about 45 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Poke the sausages several times with a fork and cook them over moderate heat, turning several times, until golden and heated through, about 8 minutes.

Spoon the sauerkraut onto a platter and arrange the sausages on top. Sprinkle the reserved bacon over the sausages and serve with mustard.

Make ahead tip: The sauerkraut can be prepared through step 2 and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Sauteed German Sausages with Bacon and Apple Sauerkraut
This dish is going to be perfect on my Oktoberfest table.  It’s hearty, traditional, and delicious.  I love the hint of sweetness the apple and the wine add to the sauerkraut, and any dish topped off with bacon is practically guaranteed to be a hit with me.  I can’t wait to make it again for Sunday!
TIPS:  I made a half-recipe since I was just cooking for Dr. O and myself.  I ended up going with bockwurst for the sausages and they came in packs of four; that’s why my photo seems to be missing a few links.  I also left out the juniper berries since my grocery store didn’t have them and I didn’t have time to make a Savory Spice Shop run.

Curried Chicken Salad

Dr. O and I finally had our first picnic of the summer last week.  He loves – and I mean loves – ’80s music, so I thought it would be fun for us to check out That Eighties Band (music will play when the window opens – beware! 🙂 ) when they played a free outdoor concert at the Streets of Southglenn.  An outdoor concert definitely equals a picnic event, so I set to planning the perfect menu.

I decided to plan the meal around a recipe I’ve wanted to try for a long time: Ina Garten’s Curried Chicken Salad.  For sides, I went with extremely easy, portable treats: grapes, pepper strips with hummus, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. It was picnic perfection.  I enjoyed the chicken salad so much that I made it again on Monday, but this time I took pictures.  Here’s Ina’s recipe if you’d like to give it a try:

Curried Chicken Salad
Serves 6

Ingredients:
3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chutney (recommended: Major Grey’s)
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 large stalks)
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.  Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and dice the chicken into large bite-size pieces.

For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Process until smooth.

Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well.  Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well.  Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.  Add the cashews and serve at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten/FoodNetwork.com

Curried Chicken Salad

If you like curry, this chicken salad is simply the best.  It’s creamy (mayo), crunchy (celery and cashews), sweet (raisins), and spicy (curry and scallions).  I could happily eat it at least once a week for the rest of my life, and it’s my new go-to summer recipe.  Yum, yum, yum!

In the interest of full disclosure, I did modify the recipe a bit the second time around since it has three small issues: One, the full-fat mayo and the olive oil are heavy on calories; two, you end up with far more dressing than you need if you make the recipe as written; three, there’s absolutely no need to dirty the food processor in order to make the dressing.  Here’s my lightened, easier version, which is still incredibly delicious:

Lighter Curried Chicken Salad
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Curried Chicken Salad
Makes four 1-cup servings

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
Kosher salt
3/4 cup light mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s Light)
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons chutney (recommended: Major Grey’s)
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 cup medium-diced celery
2 tablespoons chopped scallions, white and green parts (1 large scallion)
2 tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup whole roasted, salted cashews

Method:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the chicken breast and boil for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside until cool enough to handle.  Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces.

For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk to combine.

Combine the chicken and the dressing.  (You’ll use most, if not all of it.)  Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well.  Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.  Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of cashews and serve at room temperature.

High Altitude Update: Breakfast Casserole

I was recently hit with a major influx of bread.  My dad was in town last week and my uncle was joining us for dinner at the house, so I had purchased a package of white bakery buns for barbecued chicken sandwiches.  An hour before dinner, I got a fantastic Foodbuzz-related delivery: three packages of rolls – one white, one wheat, one sesame hoagie – courtesy of Nature’s Pride.  My uncle voted for the wheat rolls that evening and I ended up freezing the white and sesame rolls, but my original package of white buns was left sitting in the pantry.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been making a concerted effort to keep my groceries bills down and to de-clutter my pantry by using what I have.  What’s one of the best ways to use up extra bread?  Egg casserole, baby.  My mom has a recipe that has been a longstanding family favorite, but I hadn’t tried it since Dallas.  With so many houseguests coming in the next several weeks, I figured it was time to add this one to my high-altitude arsenal.

I followed the recipe exactly as written except that I used some of the Mexican-blend cheese I’ve had in the freezer since the Ocho de Mayo party.  (If anyone wants to come over for quesadillas, let me know.  I still have four pounds of it!)  I also used all of the optional ingredients.  I baked the casserole for the full 60 minutes and let it stand for 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Breakfast Casserole

This is such a tasty recipe and it absolutely reminds me of being back home.  When I wrote my original post I swore I’d only use challah bread for egg dishes from that point on, but the hamburger buns did an amazing job of soaking up the egg mixture.  (The casserole sat for 30 minutes at room temperature before I baked it; I didn’t refrigerate it at all this time.)    I was a bit concerned that it might not quite be done at the hour mark because the center looked slightly juicy; I used my instant-read thermometer to take its temperature, though, and it had reached a more-than-okay 180°F.  When I cut it after 10 minutes of resting time, it wasn’t runny at all.  (I might still give it an extra 5 minutes of baking time next time just because.)

If you’re looking for a creamy, cheesy, comforting crowd pleaser, this is your recipe. Give it a try!

Link to original post and recipe: Breakfast Casserole

Lentil Vegetable Soup

When my friend had surgery a few weeks ago, I wanted to bring him some food to make his life a bit easier in the following days.  It seems, though, like so many deliverable foods tend to be heavy: lasagnas, casseroles, enchiladas, etc.  (I should probably mention that my friend’s enchiladas are better than mine anyway!)  I was looking for something healthy and portable that would stand up to reheating; Ina Garten’s Lentil Vegetable Soup was a perfect solution.  It requires considerable prep work and the cooking time is long, but the results are absolutely delicious.  Plus, I nearly filled two 12-cup storage containers with soup when all was said and done. That’s plenty for eating, freezing, or sharing.

Full disclosure: Depending on your knife skills and how quickly you move in the kitchen, you should probably count on 15 – 30 minutes of vegetable prep work before you can really get rolling with the recipe.  I’m going to write about the process as if the vegetables are already ready to go.

To start, I sorted and rinsed 1 pound of green lentils.  (Thank you, Gomez family, for teaching me long ago that this isn’t meant to happen bean by bean!)  The recipe specifically calls for French green lentils; my grocery store had one type of lentil (not French, I’m sure), so I took what I could get.  I put the clean lentils in a large bowl, covered them with boiling water, and let them sit for 15 minutes.  Once the time had passed, I drained the lentils and set them aside.

Meanwhile, I sautéed 4 cups of chopped yellow onions (3 large onions), 4 cups of chopped leeks (white part only – I needed 3 large leeks), and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic with 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of coarse salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin in a large stockpot over medium heat.  After 20 minutes, I added 3 cups of medium-diced celery (8 stalks) and 3 cups of medium-diced carrots (6 carrots) and sautéed everything for 10 more minutes.  Next, I added 3 quarts of chicken stock (three 32-ounce containers), 1/4 cup of tomato paste, and the drained lentils.  I covered the pot, brought the soup to a boil, then reduced the heat and simmered the soup uncovered for an hour.  (At this point, the lentils should be cooked through.  Keep simmering if they’re too firm for your taste.)  Once the hour had passed, I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste (I didn’t have to add much) and stirred in 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.  I delivered the soup to my friend with a container of freshly grated Parmesan for sprinkling on top.

Lentil Vegetable Soup

Oh, this soup is yummy.  The cumin and thyme help create a rich flavor profile, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had a soup more hearty and comforting.  I simmered mine for the recommended hour, and the lentils were almost al dente – completely cooked, but not even remotely mushy.  The vegetables were crisp-tender (even after an hour of simmering!), which is so much better than the “boiled to mush” vegetables you find in canned soups.  This soup earned the endorsement of my friend, his father, my husband, and my parents (my dad loves lentil soup, so my mom made it the week after I did); it’s definitely going in the “keeper” pile.

TIPS:  I used my 8.5-quart Dutch oven to make the soup; the pot size was just perfect.  Also, if you’ve never worked with leeks, please read this post; grit isn’t good!

Recipe link: Lentil Vegetable Soup

Quick and Easy Valentine’s Day Recipes

Since I just passed on these recommendations to a certain someone (I won’t give you away!), I thought I might as well share them with the rest of you.  These are recipes that I think are special enough for your sweetie but fast and easy enough for the cook to be able to relax and enjoy the evening.

Chicken with Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes – Juicy chicken with elegant presentation, plus you can assemble it a day ahead.

Goat Cheese “Ravioli” with Parsley Sauce – Use wonton wrappers to make almost-homemade ravioli.  This one can even be made a day ahead (or frozen) to make mealtime that much easier.

Halibut Meuniere – This is a fast, fresh-tasting fish option.  Love that golden crust!

Pan-Seared Steak – No grill required.  This is a great way to create a steakhouse-style meal at home.

Pear and Prosciutto “Carpaccio” – This one is more of an appetizer, but it’s gorgeous and easy.  Reduce the balsamic vinegar a day before to get things on the table even faster.

Penne with Vodka Sauce – Pink sauce is so in line with Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Chops – As I said in the original post, this one is AMAZING.  No one will believe it only took 15 minutes to make.  Be sure to get prosciutto di Parma at the deli, though…  The packaged stuff is borderline inedible.

Raisin-and-Bread-Stuffed Pork Chops – It’s comforting and delicious, and it only takes 25 minutes to go from ‘fridge to table (including a side of veggies).

Let me know if you give any of them a try!

Runzas

If you’re originally from Nebraska and you don’t live there anymore, you probably miss eating at Runza. For those of you who aren’t from Nebraska (or who haven’t had the good fortune of eating a Runza while visiting Nebraska), you’re probably wondering what in the world a Runza is. Some might call it a meat pie, though I can’t say I find that phrase very appetizing. Another friend basically suggested that I was making glorified Hot Pockets. (In a way, Josh, you’re right.) I would describe an original Runza as a small loaf of bread stuffed with seasoned ground beef, onions, and cabbage. I always get mine with cheese, but they get way more dressed up than that. (Swiss cheese mushroom Runza, anyone? How about a BLT Runza?)

Runza is a Nebraska original (started in Lincoln in 1949), and while we do have two franchises in Colorado, it’s pretty unlikely that I’m going to drive all the way to Ft. Collins or Loveland to have one. Therefore, I make my own. Until recently, it had been years since the last time I made Runzas. There’s been something about this Husker football season (maybe related to the fact that we have a game-worthy TV and more kitchen space now?), though, that has been stirring the craving.

I found a recipe on Allrecipes.com that (with a few minor tweaks) perfectly replicates that unmistakable Runza flavor. Making them is a bit time-consuming (and messy), I’ll admit, but it’s totally worth it. Plus, any extras freeze beautifully.

Here’s the recipe with my modifications:

Runzas
Serves 10

Dough Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup sugar (modified from 1/2 cup)
2 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup milk (I use 1%, but I’m sure 2% or whole would be fine)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup shortening (I use butter-flavor Crisco)
2 eggs

Filling Ingredients:
1 pound lean ground beef (I use 93/7 or 95/5 so I don’t have to drain it)
2 small onions, chopped
4 cups chopped cabbage
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 1/4 cups of shredded mild cheddar (or any cheese of your choosing)

Method:
In a large mixing bowl, place 1 3/4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Heat milk, water, and shortening to 120F – 130F. (I heated the mixture in a saucepan on the stove and used a candy thermometer to check the temperature.) Pour over flour mixture; add the eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low until blended. Beat an additional 3 minutes on high. Stir in the remaining flour (2 3/4 cups); knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (about 6 – 8 minutes). Place dough in a greased bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour.)

Dough Before Rise

Dough Before Rise

Dough After Rise

Dough After Rise


Meanwhile, brown beef and onions in skillet. Add cabbage, salt, and pepper; cook until cabbage is wilted and starting to become translucent. Continue seasoning filling with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Punch dough down. Divide into 10 equal pieces and roll each piece into a square on a lightly floured surface. Top each square with 1/3 cup meat mixture and 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Fold dough over the filling, crimp edges tightly to seal, and place on greased baking sheets. (I used a pizza stone; you could also line your baking sheets with parchment [but NOT wax paper].) Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.

Runzas

Perhaps this is blasphemy, but I think this recipe actually produces better sandwiches than Runza does itself. The filling taste is spot on, and the bread is absolutely incredible. The first time I tried this particular recipe, I didn’t roll the dough quite thin enough, so the bread was a bit overwhelming. This time, the Runzas were perfect. Perfect! Plus, I have six left in the freezer for later (to be baked for 25 minutes – rather than 20 minutes – at 350F, straight from the freezer). The bread is fractionally more heavenly fresh than it is frozen, but we’ll still have incredibly delicious Runzas without the mess. Runza lovers, you have to try this one… It won’t disappoint!

A few additional notes: Since I am absolutely crazy, I weighed the dough on my kitchen scale and portioned the pieces out by weight. I started with 34 ounces of dough, so each piece was just under 3 1/2 ounces. I did the same thing for the filling. I started with 31 ounces of filling, so each Runza got right around 3 ounces. Feel free to eyeball it, seriously; I just wanted my portions to be about equal.

TIPS:  If you really don’t want to deal with making bread dough, you could probably use frozen dough. I really feel that this dough recipe makes the sandwich, though, so I’d strongly encourage you to at least give it a shot.

Also, if you’re going to freeze your Runzas, first put them on baking sheet and then place them on a freezer shelf for about an hour. Once they’ve started to firm up, transfer them to freezer bags.

Update 1/29/10: I’ve started preheating my pizza stone before I bake the Runzas whether they’re fresh or frozen. Dr. O and I were disappointed to discover that the bottom of our Runzas hadn’t cooked through on one occasion, and this solves the problem. If you’re baking them on a baking sheet rather than a pizza stone, I’d still recommend preheating it. With the preheated cooking surface, fresh Runzas are ready in 20 minutes and frozen ones are ready in 23 minutes (at my house, at least!). Also, I’ve discovered that you can “hold” fresh Runzas in the refrigerator for an hour or two before baking. Just give them 21 or 22 minutes in the oven. I feel ready to serve these for a game day party now that I know I’ll have time to clean up the mess before everyone arrives!

Original recipe link (without modifications): Runzas




The Daring Kitchen

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 562 other followers

I want to cook…

Archives

Advertisements