Sunday Roast

Did you grow up with a Sunday tradition of pot roast for supper? It wasn’t a ritual of my childhood, but according to Husband pot roast and Sundays go hand in hand.  His mother made a roast every Sunday.  Or so he remembers.

Recently, Husband’s mother moved to be near us and we’ve enjoyed spending more time with her, especially for weekend meals.  She’s joining us for lunch after church today and Husband made the request for a pot roast.  I could hardly say no.  But, I will let you in on my little secret…

I made the roast in my sleep last night.  Or rather, the roast cooked while I was sleeping.  And you can, too, with your Crock Pot.  Come on admit it, you have a Crock Pot?!?  Well, I’m a huge fan of the fix-it-and-forget-it appliance.  Especially when I can multi-task cooking and sleeping!

There is no right or wrong way to slow cook a roast.  You need a 2-3 lb chuck roast, some veggies, seasoning, and a cooking liquid.  Use whatever vegetables you’ve got on hand. Husband loves carrots, so they are always included in my roasts.  Sometimes I use red wine for the cooking liquid.  I’ve even tried beer, and beef stock is a good fall back too.  Today, er last night, I used stewed tomatoes just because I had them in the pantry.

Here’s what I used and a recipe for you to loosely follow.

Sunday Roast (or Saturday Night While You Sleep Roast)

1 chuck roast (2 1/2 – 3 lbs)

1 TBS olive oil

3-4 carrots, sliced (I will add more for Husband!)

1 onion, sliced

1-2 celery ribs, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup crimini mushrooms (I tossed these in after I took the photo!)

1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes

1 (6 oz) can tomato paste

1/4 cup red wine (because it was the last of the bottle sitting on the counter)

1 TBS brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Brown the roast on all sides. Transfer roast to crock pot and add carrots, onion, celery, mushrooms, and garlic.  Add stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, wine (if using), brown sugar, salt & pepper.  Put the lid on and cook the roast on LOW for 10 – 12 hours.  While you are getting your beauty sleep, of course.

If you like a thicker sauce to spoon over your roast, you can easily make a gravy.  Remove the roast and vegetables to a serving platter.  Keep warm.  Add cooking liquids to a small sauce pan and reduce over medium heat.  As sauce is reducing, combine 1 TBS of flour with 1 TBS of water.  Add flour mixture to reduced roast liquid and stir until gravy forms.

What’s your favorite Sunday supper?

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Corn Soup

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We woke up yesterday to the first chill of the season.  Oh rest assured it’s not  cold cold, but for Texas there’s definitely a chill in the air.  When the view out my kitchen door looks like this, it’s time for Corn Soup to make it’s annual debut.

If you have an aversion to making cold weather comfort food with ingredients that come from containers and cans, well then this here ain’t yer soup.  But I encourage you, if you can, to over look the parts because the sum = one darn good soup.

Corn Soup has been around our family for longer than I can remember.  Maybe Mia knows its origins? I can date my own first attempts of making the soup by the tattered and aged paper I scrawled the recipe on.

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I remember calling Mia from work (once upon a time I was gainfully employed) desperate for the Corn Soup recipe.  The GSD&M note paper I wrote on puts this conversation in the 1997 time frame. Before Husband. Before Littles.  Before The Schell Cafe was even a twinkle in my eye.

Tried and true.  It’s the perfect soup for the first chill of fall.  The Littles adore it. I mean what’s not to love….

Corn Soup

(recipe may be doubled easy for a crowd)

4 cans chicken broth (I use (1) 32 oz box Swanson’s Organic Chicken Broth)

2 cans Cream Style Corn

2 cups Pace Mild Picante Sauce

2 cups sour cream

2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

Fritos

Combine broth, corn, and picante sauce in a large sauce pan.  Heat over medium flame.

Place sour cream in a medium bowl.  Gradually add small amounts of hot soup to the bowl of sour cream. Transfer back in to pot on stove.  Continue to heat over low flame, add cheese.

Serve with Fritos.

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Here’s a visual for you.  It’s very important not to dump the sour cream right into your hot soup. I’m sure most of you already know that you’ll end up with a curdled mess if you do.  I learned the hard way.  So, learn from my own mistake, take the time to slowly add the hot soup to the sour cream. Keep adding by the ladleful until the sour cream is dissolved and hot enough to pour back into the soup!

If we are trying to be fancy or add a little green to an otherwise very yellow dinner (face it folks, it’s cheese, corn & Fritos), I add chopped green onions and/or avocados.  Sometimes Husband doctors his up with chopped onions and fresh jalapeno. But this is all very high brow and completely unnecessary.

The ingredients speak for themselves.  Enjoy!!!

French Lentil Soup

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You seriously cannot imagine how many bunches of fresh spring greens arrive each week in my bushel of goods from Tecolote Farm.  I made this recipe last week using collard greens and it was such a hit that I’m making the hearty, healthy soup again at this very moment.  How is that for real-time blogging?  I wish I knew how to make and import a video (don’t they call that a v-blog?), but then you’d see that I can’t get dressed and cook all before 9 am.

Please try this lentil soup.  I used French green lentils which are the most delicate of all lentils and the most flavorful too. Last week I served the soup with crunchy French bread, but tonight I’m going to make tiny ham crostinis.

French Lentil Soup

1 TBS bacon fat (you can use butter or olive oil, but the bacon fat is better!)

1 onion, diced

2-3 medium carrots, sliced

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 cup French green lentils, rinsed and drained

1 bay leaf

1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with liquid

1 bunch of greens, collard or spinach

1/3 cup rice (I used white)

6 -8 cups chicken broth

warm water as needed

In a large pot, saute the carrots, onion and garlic in the bacon fat until soft and translucent.  Add the greens and saute until they are wilted down (about 2 or 3 minutes).  Add the lentils, bay leaf, tomatoes, and broth.  Toss in a little salt and pepper.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add the rice and cook for about 25 more minutes until the rice and lentils are cooked.  Taste for seasoning and add salt & pepper as needed.  This should be a thick soup, but you can add warm water to adjust the consistency to your preference.

This soup is so simple. With the nutritious lentils and greens it is a true one pot wonder!

Wine Braised Short Ribs

We had a crummy Valentine’s weekend.  Littlest Middlest has been sick and she spent her sixth birthday/Valentine’s Day curled up in bed watching Brady Bunch reruns.  So we are celebrating a few days late.  Because when you are six and its your birthday you MUST have cake.  And when you are Husband and its Valentine’s Day you MUST have ribs.  It’s a rule.

I have several variations for short ribs, but these simple wine braised treats will knock your socks off.  And the pulled beef sandwiches the next day are even better!

These ribs can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge right in the pot you cooked them in.  Skim the fat and reheat when you are ready to serve.  Once ribs are cooking in our house, they don’t stand a chance of chillin’ for 24 hours.

I use a mix of bone-in and boneless beef ribs for this recipe.  I like having some bones left over to make stock and think they add a rich flavor, but I find that the boneless cuts are larger and yield more meat.  Also I have issues making decisions. On important things like which cut of meat to buy.

Wine Braised Short Ribs

5 lbs short ribs (mix of bone-in and boneless)

salt & pepper

6-8 garlic cloves, minced

3 celery ribs, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 (14.5 oz) can Italian-style diced tomatoes

2 cups red wine (use GOOD wine, something you would  drink while cooking serve to guests)

1 cup chicken broth

1 sprig of rosemary

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle the ribs with salt and pepper. Allow them to sit at room temp in the salt and pepper while you cut up the veggies.  The ribs will brown better if they are already  room temperature.  See the bone-in and boneless mix?

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Brown the ribs in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  This will have to be done in two batches — it’s a lot of beef.  Brown on each side about 4-5 minutes until the ribs get nice and golden.

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Once all the ribs are browned, remove them to a platter and drain off all but about 1 tablespoon of fat.  Send a photo of the browned ribs to someone you love and tell them dinner will be ready in a few short hours.  Torture I tell you!

Add all the veggies to the pot and saute until golden brown and very tender.  Depending on your heat this will take about 6-7 minutes.

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Once the veggies are all soft and golden, add the rest of the ingredients to the pot.  Start with the wine.  Be careful it will sizzle something fierce, but it will deglaze all the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Nestle the ribs back into the pot and squeal in anticipation…

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Bring all this goodness back to a boil.  Then cover your pot and bake at 350 degrees for about 3 1/2 hours.  You’ll know the ribs are done when they are so tender they literally fall off the bone or pull apart with a fork.

Once the ribs are done, remove them to a platter and keep warm in oven or warming drawer.  Strain the veggie mixture into a bowl.  Go ahead and taste a veggie or two while you are straining all the liquid out.  Pour the liquid into a small sauce pan and let sit for about 30 minutes or so.  The fat will rise to the top.  Skim off as much fat from the liquid as you can and discard.  Add the veggies back to the liquid and bring to a slow boil to make the gravy.  It usually takes about 15 – 20 minutes for the gravy to reduce to a nice thick sauce.

Plate up and enjoy!

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Bison Chili

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Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam…

I couldn’t resist.  And, now you’ll be singing Home on the Range all day too.  Sorry.

One of my New Year’s Hopefuls (I don’t do resolutions) is to buy a side of beef.  Is that normal?  I would love to have an assortment of cuts of local, grass-fed beef stashed away in the deep freezer.  Only we don’t own a deep freezer which is a technicality of sorts.  I actually thought about giving this (the side of beef not the appliance) to Husband for Valentine’s Day, but I’m not sure I can pull it off by then.  In the meantime, I’ve stocked up on various cuts of bison from Thunder Heart Bison which I gratefully find at our Farmer’s Market.

If you haven’t stumbled upon all the reasons you should love bison, you should know that it has more protein, iron and good omegas than beef or chicken.  Plus, it has fewer calories and less fat.  It’s delicious and if you are a hearty meat eater, you should really add bison to your rotation.

This is a super easy recipe. Measuring out the spices is the hardest part!  You’ll love the flavor and your heart will thank you.

Bison Chili

1 lb ground bison

1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs ground coffee

2 tsp cocoa powder (I use Scharffen Berger)

2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

1/4 tsp allspice

2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes + their juices

2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce

2 (15 oz) cans beans, rinsed and drained (I used one can of kidney beans and one great northern)

1 – 2 cups water

1 (7 oz) can diced green chilis

In a small bowl, mix together all the spices.

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In a large pot, brown the bison until nice a crumbly.

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When the bison is browned add the onion, bell peppers and garlic.  Continue to saute until the veggies are soft.

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Add the spices and stir for a minute or two until all the meat and veggies are covered.  Then add the rest of the ingredients.

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Stir until well combined and simmer for an hour.

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Ask a hungry eight year old to taste the chili for you.  Ask the same hungry eight year old to please save some chili for the rest of his family.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Bouillabaisse

bouillfish

I fell in love with bouillabaisse the summer of 1984 when I first lived in France.  I was fifteen years old, spoke maybe two words of French and clearly had no idea what (or how) to order at a quaint restaurant one day.  Several of the students traveling in my summer program ordered la bouillabaisse so I played it safe and followed suite.  All these years later, I feel certain that no one in our young group had any clue what would arrive to our table for dinner.

We were in the south of France where every home and restaurant boasts their version of the famous French fisherman’s soup.  Created by fishermen in the port of Marseilles as a way to feed themselves at the end of the day, this stew is always filled with a generous mix of white and shell fish.  Over the centuries the stew has evolved from its humble beginnings to a classic dish that has become synonymous with the sea port of southern France.

While ingredients and techniques are varied, classic bouillabaisse always includes a mix of cooked fish, shell fish and vegetables, orange peel and pastis, a popular anise-flavored liqueur.  In the States you can find pastis bottled as its brand Pernod.  If you’ve never tried pastis you are in for a treat.  It tastes like licorice and is absolutely delightful on hot summer days.  Or cold, snowy days.  Or in French fish stew.  Or…

Don’t worry too much about the type of fish you put in the stew.  And, don’t let cost deter you from trying this recipe either.  I fully intended to buy  bass and halibut, but suffered such sticker shock I had to change plans.  Talk to your fish monger!!!  Tell him what you are making and he’ll gladly suggest appropriate fish for you.  I ended up with cod and swordfish from Whole Foods and saved a bundle!  Just make sure you stick to firm white fish and nothing too oily (no salmon or tuna!).  You want nice chunks of fish in the bouillabaisse.

Bouillabaisse

4 Tbs olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 fennel bulb, chopped

4 small new potatoes, quartered

2 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 cups white wine

1 can (28 oz) plum or stewed tomatoes

1 quart fish stock

1 tsp saffron threads

1 lb large shrimp

12 mussels

1 1/2 lbs mixed filleted, skinned fish such as halibut, sea bass, cod, rockfish, sole, John Dory, monk fish (I used cod and swordfish)

3 Tbs pastis

1 tsp grated orange peel

Rouille for garnish

3-4 Tbs water

3/4 cup bread crumbs (use bread from the baguette you must serve with bouillabaisse)

3 – 4 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

3 Tbs olive oil

bouillabaisse-stew

Heat olive oil in large casserole or stockpot.  Add onions, fennel, potatoes and saute until the onions begin to brown, about 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper while cooking.

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Add wine and scrape up the brown bits.  Add tomatoes, fish stock and saffron to the pot.

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Look at that homemade fish stock!  YUM.

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And saffron!

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Bring everything to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes.

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Add all the fish, bring slowly back to a boil.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let pot sit covered for 5 more minutes.  If there are any mussels that aren’t open, discard them.

pastis

Add pastis and orange zest.  Add salt & pepper if desired.  Garnish with Rouille.

There is an old French saying bouillabaisse without rouille is like Marseilles without sunshine.  You must make this spicy topping for your bouillabaisse, it’s delicious.

Rouille

Remove crust and tear bread into tiny pieces. In a small bowl, pour water over bread crumbs.

Using a mortar and pestle, mash garlic to a paste with the sea salt and cayenne pepper.

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Add wet bread crumbs and continue mashing to combine with paste.  Add oil in a slow stream, mashing and stirring until well combined and fluffy.

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Top bouillabaisse with rouille and serve with a crunchy baguette!  Bon Appetit!

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Hominy! Santa Fe Chicken Stew

I must say you all had creative guesses for the what’s in my blue colander quiz.  Truth be told, if my photography had been better I think you all would have guessed hominy as my secret ingredient.  I’m working on the photography around here.  Patience, friends.  I’m self taught.

Hominy is really just dried, hulled corn kernels.  To remove the germ and hard hull of the corn a soaking process must occur.  The soaking solution varies by culture and region.  In central Texas we typically find hominy that has been soaked in lime water which is the Mexican tradition.

Mia was the first to make this soup.  She passed along the recipe with such enthusiasm that I had to try it again.  We noshed on this soup all weekend and each time we ladled up a bowl we tried something different.  We all liked sliced avocados atop the soup.  The Littles garnished with cheese, of course.  Husband and I added healthy doses of Cholula.  And at some point during the weekend, I cleared a bowl that clearly showed signs crushed Fritos had been added to the soup. No one fessed up to this, however.

For such a simple and inexpensive way to feed the family, this soup should be added to your week night rotation.

Santa Fe Chicken Stew

1 bunch of green onions, chopped

2 tsp. olive oil

2 cups shredded chicken

1 can navy beans, drained

1 can Mexican style stewed tomatoes, undrained

2 1/2 cans of chicken broth

1 can hominy, drained

1 can chopped green chilies, undrained

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Saute the green onions in olive oil for 2 minutes in a large pot.  Add chicken, beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, hominy, green chilies, chili powder and cumin.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in cilantro before serving.