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Have Fun Cooking, Add Joy with Creating!

By Jane Butel  March 24, 2020

In these days of restricted movement and socializing--cooking new dishes can make for a good time.   Perhaps you have been collecting recipes from a cookbook you have never cooked from or a clipping from a newspaper or magazine or saw something on line that piqued  your interest for a "some day to try".  Have fun creating dishes from those saved recipes. Eating healthy is ever more important.  Adding fruits and vegetables in greater abundance is always good.  As are grains, beans and rice.

Feeling virtuous the other day while shopping, I bought a bunch of fresh, organic kale.  The first night, I prepared a salad out of my newest cookbook, "Simply Southwestern" which calls for very thinly sliced kale, almost in a chiffonade, then making a tart citrusey  dressing.  A few days later, again, I sliced the kale thinly--but not quite as thinly as for the salad and made a yummy stir fry using very unlikely ingredients--cubed and peeled sweet potato, diced red, yellow and green bell pepper and onion slices all very quickly stir fried in a bit of olive oil and seasoned with rice vinegar and soy sauce--served sprinkled with sesame seeds.  Amazingly delicious!

If you are having to postpone a trip to another country or region--try enjoying making some dishes from that country to expand your taste buds. and get you ever more ready to go there when the virus subsides.

Always use chiles in your diet as they build up your immune system as well as helping your total body. Remember 1/2 teaspoon a day 66% of the time of the hottest chile you can endure will stave off cancer and heart disease as well as keeping your cooking more exciting.

To help put more spice in your life--I am discounting my best selling cookbook, "Hotter Than Hell" until March 26 at midnight.  I just made the "Bitchy Bourguignon" recipe over the weekend for dinner guests and it is so amazing.  It freezes well too.  I am selling the book, autographed  for only $15.00.  You can have a lot of fun with it!

Here's couple of fun recipes to try--

CARBONADES WITH DUMPLINGS

A special stew-like casserole that is tremendous for early spring or fall days, after a football game or leaf raking or other rigorous outdoor activity. It’s a splendid follow-up for a beer keg party too. (It uses up stale beer very well.) There are several tricks to assure marvelous flavor which I’ve tucked into the directions. A critical one is to crisply brown the outside of the beef cubes, a few at a time, to create a rich brown sauce. You can either freeze a whole casserole ahead or prepare it a day or several hours before and leave it simmering while you’re out. This great stew originated in Belgium. 

Temperature: 325°F

Cooking time: 3 hours or more

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

½ cup or more cooking oil

½ cup flour

4 pounds lean roasting beef such as round, arm, or rump cut into 1-inch cubes

6 large onions, thickly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

¼ cup dark brown sugar or molasses

½ cup dry red wine

? cup chopped fresh Italian  parsley

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried leaves, crushed

1 Tablespoon salt or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pint beef stock (fresh, canned, or beef bouillon)

1 quart beer or 2, 12-ounce bottles or cans plus water 

  1. Heat oil in large heavy frying pan and brown floured beef cubes a few at a time until each is well browned. A medium-high heat works best. Add more oil if necessary.
  2. As cubes are browned, place in bottom of 6-quart or larger Dutch oven or other heavy casserole with a tight-fitting cover. Lightly brown onion slices.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Add onion slices to top of casserole. Add garlic, sugar, half of wine, herbs and seasonings.
  4. Pour off excess oil, then deglaze frying pan with the beef stock and add to beef-onion mixture. Stir casserole together lightly and skim off extra oil.
  5. Add beer and cover casserole. Bake until meat is tender—at least 2 hours. Add remaining half of wine and cool, if planning to freeze.

 

Freezing hints: Package in rigid cartons or a very large bowl. Thaw stew, if frozen, overnight or for a day in the refrigerator.

 

  1. To serve, bring carbonades to a simmer while preparing dumpling dough. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Do not freeze with dumplings. If you wish to freeze leftovers, freeze the dumplings separately from the carbonades. 

maximum recommended freezer storage: 3 months 

DUMPLINGS 

1½ cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons fresh or 1 tespoon dried, minced chives

2 Tablespoons  fresh minced parsley

2 Tablespoons soft butter

½ cup milk or enough to make soft dough 

  1. Mix dry ingredients together, then cut in butter, being certain butter is well distributed. Then add milk and stir just to make a soft dough, adding more milk if needed.
  2. When stew is at a bubble—but only simmering, never boiling—add dumpling dough by first rinsing a metal tablespoon in hot stew, then dipping out a spoonful of batter and holding batter-filled spoon in stew just long enough to release dumpling. Repeat until all batter is used. Make certain stew is barely bubbling.
  3. Cover tightly and cook for 15 minutes without peeking. Test to see if dumplings are done by pricking with a tester or fork. If no dough clings to tester—serve it up! 

Serve with cold beer, a simple vegetable, and light salad. The cooking pot is the best serving container for the stew as it will maintain heat best—critical for fluffy dumplings.

CIOPPINO

Super hot and so much fun! Served with a warmed loaf of French or Italian bread and a tossed green salad, this robust seafood stew is guaranteed to wow your guests. Cioppino is one of my longtime favorite entrées for entertaining. It’s best served at intimate, informal dinner parties—preferably with only four diners or even just two since it’s quite messy to eat.  This recipe is of Italian origin.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup caribe chile

4 large red-ripe tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1/2 cup Burgundy or other good-quality dry red wine or to taste

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 bay leaves

2 Tablespoons minced fresh basil or 1 Tablespoons dried basil

1 Tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

12 cherrystone or other small clams, scrubbed and soaked in cornmeal water for 30 minutes

1 pound medium shrimp with the tails left on, shelled and de-veined

1/2 pound king or other crab legs

1 (1 1/2-pound) lobster

18 bay scallops (about 1/4 pound total)

1/2 pound firm-fleshed white fish such as cod, cut in 1-inch cubes

1/4 cup dry brandy (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet, paella pan, or wok using medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until garlic just starts to turn golden. Add caribe, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, basil, oregano, and salt. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, or until flavors are well blended and sauce is somewhat reduced; add a little water if sauce starts getting too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Place clams, shrimp, crab, lobster, scallops, and white fish on top of sauce, arranging it in a pretty pattern. Cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until shrimp turn pink, lobster turns red, scallops and fish are opaque, and clams pop open. Discard the clams that do not open. Also discard the bay leaves. If desired, quickly heat brandy. Carefully flame and pour over cioppino just before serving.

To serve, divide seafood equally among large, shallow bowls (you’ll need to cut lobster apart). Be sure to provide bibs and plenty of napkins.

Makes 4 servings.

 

 

 

 

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