Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beef Bourguignon

As you know from the last blog, Jan's birthday is in October. She love love loves October...fall foods, crisp air, yellow leaves....you know the deal. As a result, October is simply called Jan's birth month, and she likes to celebrate all month.

This year I wanted to take her out for dinner, but her version of "out for dinner" meant "out to the wood burning oven". OK OK I thought that was reasonable...probably cheaper too...and if she cooked, I would be her assistant and write a blog about it. So here we go...

This was her itinerary for her birthday. Light the fire in the oven, and get the temperature to maybe 350 degrees. That seemed easy enough. So far so good. She wanted to try a french dish, Beef Bourg...something. I couldn't say it, but she couldn't either. Evidently this dish cooks for hours and hours, and during that time she wanted to go on a hike, and have appetizers on the Caribou River. Sounded good to me.
This is her new birthday present. Cast iron from Finland. I liked the handle. I think she liked it better than the vacuum cleaner I got her. We won't dwell on that, so onward to the oven. I got the temperature to 450 degrees. I thought that was close enough. She did too. The new pot and the french stew went into the oven, and we were on our way...
The birth month girl...

...and her sherpa, carrying her prize winning leaves in my backpack. I think I'm doing a pretty good job at this birthday stuff.

Now, on to the appetizers...and her favorite wine holder on the Caribou River. My backpack now had cheese and crackers instead of leaves...but I forgot the picnic blanket. In my mind, that was the minor part. Jan, on the other hand, would forget the corkscrew, but not the blanket.

Back to the oven where the mushrooms are added for one of the final steps. Now the oven is where it should be...about 350 degrees. Keep in mind, I have been adding wood periodically. Afterall, that was one of my responsibilites as the assistant.
I have to say. This was lookin good. Really good. Jan toasted some baguettes in the oven, then swiped a garlic clove over the warm toast. It smelled great.

The french stew was served over the garlic toast. It was an amazing meal...probably because of my assistant skills.

I will let Jan write the recipe:

Beef Bourguignon
combined recipe from Barefoot Contessa and The Kitchen Window, Minneapolis
adapted to feed 2 - 3 people

4 oz thick applewood smoked bacon
good olive oil
1 1/2 lbs chuck beef cut in 1 inch cubes
1/2 lb carrots in 1 inch chunks
1 onion, sliced
1 large clove garlic
1/2 bottle good red wine (I used a Pinot Noir)
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoon flour
1 lb fresh mushrooms

Cook bacon until crisp.

Dry beef cubes with paper towel, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and brown in olive oil. Remove from pan. Add a little more olive oil, onions, carrots, some salt and papper, and sautee for 10-15 minutes until onions are lightly browned. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.

Put meat and bacon back in the pot with the juices, and add the wine and enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add tomato paste and thyme.

At this point, I brought it to the wood burning oven which was 450 degrees...a bit hot maybe, but it seemed to work fine. We let it burn down to a small flame before we added more wood, and so most of the cooking time it was about 350 degrees.

About 15 minutes before eating, we added the mushrooms which had been sauteed in butter, and the 1 1/2 tablespoon of flour which had been smashed with a tablespoon of butter.

We let this simmer to thicken a bit and used that time to toast the baguette, rubbing with a clove of garlic after they were hot and toasted.

We served the beef over the toasted bread, and sprinkled with fresh parsley...

(ps from the assistant) I think I did a pretty good job. I even found a candle.

Oatmeal Date Cake

Jan's birthday is in October, and she says the leaves are always peak for her birthday. This year was no different. The leaves were good. Humble as I am though, I think the cake I made for her was even better.
Oops. Slopped a bit on the sides as I slid it in the oven.

After it was done, I spooned on the icing. Coconut, butter, pecans, sugar to be broiled. How does one broil in a woodburning oven? A flame of course. I added some kindling to the coals. Now it's starting to get fun.
Not a bad broiler.

This is absolutely my favorite cake. Moist and delicious. I ate most of it. But just so you don't think I am selfish, it's Jan's favorite cake too...and I let her have a piece.

Oatmeal Date cake

from Doris Lund

  • Pour 1 cup boiling water over:
  • ½ cup(+) chopped dates
  • 1 cup oatmeal.
  • Let cool.
  • Cream together the following:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter
  • Add flour mixture:
  • 1 cup flour (+)
  • 1 tsp soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Add oatmeal mixture
  • Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes or until center is done. This is easiest in a 7x11 pan, but a square 9x9 works or a springform pan (adjust baking time).
  • Mix the following, spread on warm cake and broil for 1-2 min until brown:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 3 Tbls milk
On my way back to the cabin with a warm cake in the bag! Even guys can cook (and eat!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

mushroom pizza

Not to worry....we did not use these mushrooms on our pizza. Aren't they gorgeous though??

Instead, we used baby portobello mushrooms and some shitake mushrooms. They were simply sauteed with garlic, salt and pepper in butter and olive oil. After stretching the pizza dough, we drizzled it with olive oil, layered lots and lots of mushrooms, and sprinkled gobs of parmesan cheese on top! We declared it our favorite pizza of the summer!

Not as much color as the yellow mushrooms (: but very very tasty!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Roasted Vegetables

...simple signs of fall...

...simple flavors of fall...

ButternutSquashTinyYukon Gold

Toss with olive oil....be generous! These vegetables were roasted without a flame and were done in 25 minutes. A small fire would have created brown crispy edges and probably would have been done 5-10 minutes sooner. With a flame, the vegetables would have to be watched closely and rotated occasionally...no distracting chit-chatting allowed... (I speak from experience....)

...Simplicity at its best....delicious!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bacon Gruyere Frittata

I love picnics...my family thinks I am obsessed with them. My car always has a picnic blanket in the back...I give picnic baskets for shower gifts even when the couple has no interest...I firmly believe that food tastes better outside...

As summer comes to an end, we grasp every opportunity to picnic ... including breakfast. Last weekend, the morning temperature was 37 degrees, but the oven was still 400 degrees! We can't waste that perfect brick temperature! A quick assessment of the refrigerator ... only three eggs, but enough miscellaneous ingredients to make a mean frittata!

Bacon Gruyere Frittata

3 eggs
1 Tablespoon milk
carmelized onions (left over from the pizza)
chopped tomatoes
crisp smoked bacon...4-6 strips
fresh thyme
gruyere cheese...1/2 cup or so...
parmesan cheese sprinkled on top

I think traditionally, a frittata is made on a cooktop and finished in the oven, but we wanted to try the entire dish in the brick oven. The eggs were beaten with the milk, and the onions, tomatoes, thyme and bacon were gently stirred in. It was topped with shredded gruyere cheese and sprinkled liberally with parmesan cheese (because I sprinkle everything with parmesan cheese...)

We baked this about 15 minutes with the door closed.

Who knew three little eggs could poof like this??!! (:

The breakfast picnic was sunny and 48 degrees warm; the food was hot and tasty!! A thermos of hot cider and fleece blankets made it a memorable final picnic... (although it won't really be the final one...just don't tell my family.)