Steak and Guinness Pie: Bacon, Steak, Guinness, and Cheese. What more is there?

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I have been wanting to make this Steak and Guinness Pie so I could blog about it for a long time. This recipe is my adaptation of a steak and Guinness pie recipe of Jamie Oliver’s. He uses a puff pastry for the crust where I choose to use a regular pie crust.

This is a great soul warming comfort food that would be fantastic on a cold winter day; especially one where you were snowed in.

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This recipe is written to use a single nine inch pie pan which works very well. I just happen to have small, five-inch, one and a half cup individual pie pans that I like to use for dishes like this.

Ingredients

4 slices bacon (sliced)
1 pound beef (cut into ½ to ¾ inch pieces)
1 onion (medium dice)
2 stalks celery (diced)
2 carrots (diced)
4 ounces mushrooms (quartered)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 Guinness
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon rosemary (minced)
1 bay leaf
2 pie crusts
1 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
Flour for dredging

Directions

Fry the bacon in a 12″ cast iron skillet. When completely browned, remove from skillet with slotted spoon leaving the grease in the pan. Set bacon aside. Dredge beef cubes in flour and add to skillet to brown on all sides and then remove beef from skillet and set aside.

Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Leave vegetables in the skillet and add the Guinness and deglaze the pan. Add the stock, bacon, beef, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the beef is tender, about 2-3 hours.

Line the bottom of a pie pan with the first pie crust and fill with beef stew. Sprinkle the cheese over the beef stew and cover with the top pie crust. Crimp the two shells together and make a couple slits in the shell to allow steam to vent during cooking. Mix the egg and water and brush it onto the top of the pie crust. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in a preheated 350° oven until golden brown on top.

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ItaloAmericano Cuisine: Veal Parmesan

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Before you even ask, “How could you cook with veal,” and tell me “It’s inhumane!” Let me tell you this veal came from a responsible producer. You can read about them here: Strauss Farms Veal. Don’t be afraid to cook with and eat veal; just choose your producer with care.

Veal Parmesan, as well as chicken Parmesan, is a wonderful Americanized Italian food. You will have a hard time finding it in Italy. It is another one of those wonderful cases when Italian immigrants modified a common food from their homeland to fit their new life.

Here’s what I did for veal Parmesan:

Ingredients

2 veal cutlets (about four ounces each)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup shredded provolone cheese

Instructions

1. BREAD VEAL. Place flour in shallow dish. Beat eggs in second shallow dish. Combine bread crumbs, ¼ cup Parmesan, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in third shallow dish. One at a time, coat veal cutlets lightly with flour, dip them in egg, and dredge in bread-crumb mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer to wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet and let sit 5 minutes.

2. COOK VEAL. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat ½ cup oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook cutlets until lightly browned, about 2 minute per side. Transfer to wire rack set inside baking sheet and bake until veal is tender and deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. MAKE SAUCE. Meanwhile, pour off excess oil. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until sauce is thickened; about 10-15 minutes. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper; cover and keep warm.

4. ASSEMBLE. Combine remaining Parmesan and provolone in medium bowl. Top browned veal cutlets with cheese mixture and bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Transfer half of sauce to platter and top with veal cutlets. Spoon remaining sauce over cutlet. You may also serve with a thin spaghetti. If you do, plate spaghetti and then top with sauce, veal cutlet and remaining sauce.

Kabobs: A Given on “National Something on a Stick Day”

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Today is National Something on a Stick Day.  National Something on a Stick Day doesn’t necessarily mean food on a stick. It is a day when you simply put something on a stick and display it. However this is a food blog and human beings have been putting all kinds of food on sticks for centuries so naturally I thought of making kabobs.

Tonight I made my Garlic – Rosemary Beef Tenderloin Kabobs with Bacon Wrapped Asparagus. I know this is somewhat of a repeat but it is a recipe that begs to be repeated. I made a slight change in the oil used this time and was very pleased with the results. I have been using walnut oil a lot lately in place of olive oil; especially in situations of higher heat. Walnut oil has a higher smoke point and there for doesn’t give off flavors as quickly. I think it worked very well with this recipe.

Garlic – Rosemary Beef Tenderloin Kabobs

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup walnut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 1 pound beef tenderloin, trimmed and cut into approximately 1” cubes
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Onion cut into large chuncks
  • Mushrooms (Your choice. I prefer Baby Bella.)

Instructions

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large shallow dish or heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; add beef. Cover or seal, and chill several hours, turning occasionally.
  2. Remove beef from marinade, discarding marinade.
  3. Using bamboo or metal skewers, alternate beef, onion and mushroom.
  4. Sprinkle evenly with pepper, and let stand 30 minutes letting beef come to room temperature.
  5. Grill over medium hot coals 10 to 12 minutes turning frequently to cook all sides and meat is cooked to desired doneness.
  6. Remove the kabobs from the grill and let rest 4 to 5 minutes before serving.

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Ingredients

Bacon
Asparagus (4 to 5 spears per person)

Directions

Wrap one slice of bacon around four to five spears of asparagus per serving. Grill over direct heat turning frequently until bacon is cooked and asparagus is tender; 5 to 10 minutes depending on heat.

Beef Stroganoff over french fried potatoes with dilled sour cream

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Foods change. Immigrants learn to improvise with ingredients when moving to a new land or substitutions are made when a recipe travels to a new land when the original ingredient is not readily available. Beef stroganoff is no exception. Beef stroganoff originated in Russia. From there it migrated to China were it was served with rice. Later, beef stroganoff came to the United States where the dish was served over egg noodles. So what starch was beef stroganoff originally served with in Russia? Believe it or not, french fried potatoes.

I like to serve my beef stroganoff over hand-cut, french fried potatoes with a dollop of dilled sour cream. I will share my tips for making great fries in a future post. Here’s my beef stroganoff recipe:

Ingredients

1 ½ Pounds beef tenderloin or sirloin top loin
4 Tablespoon butter
1 Large onion, thinly sliced into half moons
½ Pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoon oil
¼ Cup flour
1 ¼ Cups beef broth
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 Teaspoons freshly chopped dill
½ Cup sour cream

Directions

A couple hours prior to cooking place the steak in the freezer to slightly freeze. Freezing the steak for a couple of hours helps to firm up the steak allowing you to more easily slice the steak. Also, take all but two tablespoons of the sour cream and stir in the dill. Refrigerate sour cream allowing the dill and sour cream to marry.

Trim beef of all fat and slice thin strips against the grain.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan and fry the steak about three minutes. There should be a considerable amount of red showing on the meat. Remove steak from pan and set aside. Melt remaining butter and sauté the onions until translucent, about five minutes.  Add the sliced mushrooms, and sauté 2-3 more minutes.  Lightly salt and pepper onions and mushrooms as they cook.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.  In same pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil, whisk in the flour and add beef bouillon to make a gravy-like sauce.  Stir in the Dijon mustard and two tablespoons of sour cream. return the beef, onions, and mushrooms and simmer 5 minutes more.  Adjust salt and pepper seasoning.  Serve over french fried potatoes and top with dilled sour cream.

Chili — Nothing like a good bowl of red on a cold winter day

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You can’t have just one bowl of this chili. I use shredded chuck roast and shredded pork roast instead of the ubiquitous hamburger. The beef and pork compliment each other and gives chili a flavor and mouth feel you just can’t get with ground beef. This is how chili should be made.

Chili

Ingredients

1.5 lbs Combination of shredded chuck roast and pork butt roast (Recipe follows)
1 T Olive Oil
1 Onion
4 T Hot Mexican Chili Powder
1 Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes with garlic
1 Can Mexican Styles Stewed Tomatoes
2 Cans Red Kidney Beans (Optional)
1 46 oz Can Tasty Tom (Spicy V8 will also work but Tasty Tom is better)

Directions

Heat olive oil in large stew pot. Add onion and chili powder and sauté until onion just begins to get tender. Side Note: Sautéing the chili powder along with the onions brings out a somewhat smokey flavor to the powder. Add shredded beef and heat until warm. Add tomatoes, beans and Tasty Tom. Heat until chili begins to bubble. Reduce heat and simmer for as long as you like.

Shredded Beef or Pork

Ingredients

beef roast or pork butt roast – trimmed of fat approximately 2 to 3 pounds
1 onion – coarsely chopped
4.5 oz jar minced garlic – unless you want to mince all that garlic
1 to 2 bay leaves
Oregano
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Cumin
olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325F. Rub the beef thoroughly with olive oil. Generously season both sides of the roast with the salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Spread entire jar of minced garlic on top side of roast. Top with onion. Add bay leaves and wrap the meat in heavy-duty foil sealing the edges all around with tight crimps. Place the meat in a baking dish and bake for about 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until the beef is tender enough to fall apart. If you hear much sizzling as the meat cooks, turn the heat down.

When the beef is fork-tender, unwrap the top of the foil package, push aside
the onions, and cook another 5 to 10 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and let the meat cool. Shred it into long shreds with a fork. Beef may be stored in the refrigerator (for up to a week) or frozen. I use this style of shredded beef and pork for tacos, burritos, chimichangas, chili, shepherd’s pie or any other recipe in place of ground meat.

Fall is the perfect time for comfort foods

I love fall. I love the cooler weather, football, the colors, my birthday and most of all, all the wonderful comfort foods. This past weekend, Susan and I hosted the Eastern Iowa Wine Club at our home. It was an enjoyable evening with good friends, food, and really good wine. It was also an opportunity for me to cook some of these comfort foods that I really enjoy. The night’s menu consisted of a Roasted Butternut Squash Chipotle Soup, Wine Braised Short Ribs, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts. The hit of the night was the soup.

I am of the opinion that people need to eat more squash. It is versatile, delicious and so very good for you. There isn’t too much you can’t do with squash. Here is a Roasted Butternut Squash Chipotle Soup creation I came up with for the night. Please bear in mind that I was cooking for 16 people. If you half this recipe you should be good with plenty left over. It is every bit as good warmed up.

Ingredients

Approximately 8 pounds of roasted butternut squash
Three carrots
Three stalks celery
Two small to medium sized onions
Several cloves of garlic
8 cups chicken broth
Olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
Two canned Chipotle peppers.

Directions

Roasting the Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 375° F. Slice squash length wise in half and scoop out seeds. Rub olive oil over cut side of squash and place face up on baking sheet. Season with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and fresh ground nutmeg. Roast until squash is fork tender, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Making the soup
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in large pot. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and salt and sauté until soften, about 10 minutes. Scoop flesh from roasted butternut squash into pot. Add chicken broth and diced Chipotle peppers along with some adobe sauce from peppers. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Working in small batches, transfer soup to blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Stir in cream and serve.

Here is what I did for the Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs. I served them over a Rosemary Thyme Whipped Potato. Again, the following recipe was for 16 people. You will want to cut this recipe down.

Ingredients

Approximately 16 pounds of beef short ribs
6 carrots thickly sliced
6celery stalks thickly sliced
2 medium sized onion coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic minced
Fresh ground black pepper
Kosher salt
olive oil
2 750ml bottle of decent hearty red wine
Rosemary
Thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 325° F. Season ribs with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Heat a large dutch oven or similar heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Working in batches, brown the ribs on all sides. Remove ribs and clean out pot. Add the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until onions are softened; about 4 minutes. Add the Rosemary and Thyme and pour in the bottle of wine. Brink to boil. Add ribs back and cover pot with lid. Place into oven. Let braise for 3 hours.

Serve with potatoes, rice, noodles or some other starch.

I know, I know, most people turn their nose at Brussels sprouts. That is more than likely because all they have ever eaten are bitter, boiled sprouts. Roast these puppies until they begin to caramelize and you have a totally different and delectable treat. Here is my recipe:

Ingredients

Brussels spouts
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano (aged at least 18 months)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut the stem end off of each sprout and remove the outer leaves. Add enough olive oil to evenly coat the sprouts. Season sprouts with Kosher salt and pepper. Then drizzle Balsamic vinegar over sprouts. Roast sprouts for about 40 minutes stirring about every 10 minutes until they are evenly brown. Shred Parmigiano Reggiano over sprouts and roast for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and serve.

Want the best meatballs you’ll ever eat? The secret is to bake them!

Here is a meatball recipe that is a little out of the ordinary but is my absolute favorite. It is based off Alton Brown’s Baked Meatball recipe. My version strays the most because I do not use ground lamb in mine like he does. It isn’t that I am opposed to eating lamb; rather, I live in Vinton, Iowa. Ground lamb just isn’t readily available to me.

The sauce for tonight’s dinner is from Coralville, Iowa based Galassi Foods. Susan and I have been wanting to try the sauce for some time. We tried the Sweet Tomato Basil. Although we found this sauce just a little too sweet for our liking, we will definitely try their other varieties.

Both were served over Barilla pasta. Barilla is another Iowa made product. What can I say, we try to support our local producers as much as possible.

Here is tonight’s recipe.

Ingredients

¾ pound ground pork
¾ pound ground round
5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
1 whole egg
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
1 ½ teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup bread crumbs, divided

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, ground round, spinach, cheese, egg, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and ¼ cup of the bread crumbs. Using your hands, mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Use immediately or place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Place the remaining ¼ cup of bread crumbs into a small bowl. Using a scale, weigh meatballs into 1.5-ounce portions and place on a sheet pan. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds, roll in the bread crumbs and place the meatballs in individual, miniature muffin tin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

This recipe will make approximately 20 to 24 meatballs. I like to make a whole recipe and then freeze uncooked the ones I will not eat that day.