Wednesdays with Donna Hay: Beef Ragu with Creamy Polenta~

31 01 2015

I don’t know if I can keep up with 2 groups…but I’m trying!  Donna Hay is a new chef to me…but I love the recipes I’ve been reading.  I’ve joined up with some very nice ladies cooking at Wednesdays with Donna Hay…They’re cooking out of an assortment of Donna Hay materials, thankfully….some from her website too!  The dish for Wednesday, February 4th is Sarah’s pick,  Slow Cooked Beef Ragu.

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I had to make a couple changes….  There is no beef brisket right now.  Not without buying a huge hunk o’ beef…  I’m thinking that St. Patrick’s Day is about 6 weeks away…corned beef is in the brine…so no brisket.  I’m not usually daunted by not having THE specific cut of beef, and I didn’t let it stop me this time either.  I had a cross rib roast in the fridge, so cross rib would work.   I cut it down to approximate the size of brisket so it would cook right, and that was that.  I was good to go until we got to the polenta part…  Instant polenta?  No….doggone it.  So, I hunted down a creamy polenta recipe using standard polenta and blended the recipes.  What I ended up with was a bit too soft, but ever so creamy regardless!!  It got soft but firm after it set about 45 minutes, but by then…we’d polished off our servings.  The polenta is a nice change from potatoes and even substitutes for bread as well.

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Personally…. I’m betting this is going to be even better tomorrow.  It strikes me as one of those type of dishes.  A lot of French casserole recipes that are slow cooked suggest putting the dish into the refrigerator after cooling and serving the next day.  I’m thinking by tomorrow the meat will pull all those flavors deep inside and it’ll make another wonderful supper sometime this week when I’m getting tuckered.  I can make the polenta again and see if I can do it better a second time!

Would I make this again?  You bet.  I’ll try to get back and update after we have the re-runs.  Ooh…yes…and with hot buttermilk biscuits and a salad…  Too bad I already have plans for tomorrow…but it sure won’t be the usual Super Bowl fare!  I’ll be stepping back to the recipes from Whisk Wednesday to roast a chicken with kielbasa and cabbage.  This comfort food is perfect for February…if we were having typical February weather!  It was 70+ outside today.  Loving it, but praying for rain and a snow pack!

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Eating with Ellie: Shotgun Wedding Soup

28 01 2015

This post will prove beyond all doubt…I am not a photographer!  I don’t have the right setting to try to make my pictures perfect, and I really don’t have the time to get crazy about that.  It’s cook and take some snapshots, or well…nevermind.  I’ll cook and we’ll leave it at that!  Having said that….trying to get a decent shot was the hardest aspect of this dish!!Featured image

I made the full recipe of Ellie Krieger’s Shotgun Wedding Soup…I wish I knew why!  It was way too much for just the two of us.  I thought maybe that there was only 8 cups of broth would make the batch on the smallish side…but I neglected to take into consideration 1/2 pound of meat and eggs…and some cheese…and a lot of baby spinach.  I’d been warned a half batch as a lot…silly me.  That’s okay…. I love this kind of dish for lunch.  Or a small serving with something else for dinner…there’s an idea!!

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Again…this Weeknight Wonder recipe went together super fast.  It had a nice flavor and a wonderful aroma.  I just couldn’t get a good picture without the flash dancing off the little bit of oil that came to the top of the bowl.  So…you don’t really get to see just how pretty it was…the delicate yellow against the emerald green of the spinach.  I’m sorry.  It really was pretty.  You’ll have to trust me on that part.  Margaret made a great selection!

I followed the recipe almost to the letter…I wasn’t absolutely strict about measurements.  I decided my eggs weren’t quite large enough…or I was a little heavy handed with the parsley…or maybe the parmesan…so I added a small egg and then it looked fluid enough.  I found my mouth wanted some kind of Italian seasoning though.  I’m not sure if I wanted a bit of oregano in the broth or in the meat.  But…messing with the meat might change the delicate texture.  I’ll have to play with a much smaller batch to see what I think in the end!  We had the soup with a big side salad, but a side of pasta would be pretty yummy too.

Next week we have Peggy’s choice… Penne with Grape Tomatoes, Spinach, and Toasted Garlic.   And I have the whole week with only one job.  Time for catch-up cooking!!





Eating with Ellie: Shrimp with Spinach, Garlic and Smoked Paprika

20 01 2015

This week’s recipe is Kayte’s choice….Shrimp with Spinach, Garlic and Smoked Paprika from Ellie Krieger’s Weeknight Wonders.  Reading the recipe, it sounded Spanish, and tapa-ish to me, so I hunted through recipes until I found a side dish to go with.  You see, this is actually a salad, and the recipe serves 4…usually.  With the addition of Greek Lemon Roasted Potatoes, the Spanish thing took a backseat, but these Mediterranean flavors blended really well.  We were decidedly pleased, and would love to find this as a restaurant offering.

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With only a few ingredients, this recipe goes together fast!  This is a recipe where you want to make sure you have everything together before you heat your pan.  You must prepare your mise en place….(in my best Julia Child voice)!  Especially the seasonings.  You’ll appreciate it so very much when you get rolling.  If you’re going to take pictures while you’re cooking, make sure the camera is at the ready when you finish cooking the garlic.  I almost blew it!

I made one minor change to the recipe.  Rather than using cayenne with the smoked paprika, I used a sprinkling of chipotle chili powder.  That let me continue the smoky theme, but added a tiny bit of warmth to the dish.  I elected to use a stove-top wok as my cooking vessel.  It gave me a great puddle of oil that made it easy to remove the garlic slices.

DSCN3951This recipe disappeared from our plates almost as fast as it came together.  It was seriously tasty.  The shrimp were sweet and succulent, having cooked only a few minutes.  The spinach was nice along side…just a little tiny bit of mild bitterness to foil the sweetness of the shrimp (and the potatoes were the perfect lemony tang to play along).

DSCN3957Next week, Margaret has selected Shotgun Wedding Soup as our recipe.  It looks interesting and it’s another quick fix recipe.  I can hardly wait until my copy of Weeknight Wonders arrives!  I’ve missed cooking like this…and having recipes that are good, reasonably healthy and FAST are right in line with what I can manage right now.  These recipes remind me of cooking through Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta.  I still grab that cookbook frequently!





It’s Been a Long, Long Time….

18 01 2015

I don’t want to confess that I remember that song…  *giggle*

Oh my GOSH it’s been a long time since I’ve posted!!  Which is not to say I haven’ t been having food adventures, but I haven’t posted about them.  Another day we’ll talk about fermented foods….particularly the world’s best dill pickles and an incredible blueberry-cabbage kraut that has amazing immunity powers…  No…those are for another day.

I’ve recently caught up with a cooking buddy from back in the days of Whisk Wednesdays….Kayte… She has two little groups going and I’m in need of cooking inspiration and discipline!  Eating with Ellie is a cousin of Craving Ellie in my Belly from the same span of time in history.  I didn’t get involved with that group…but always enjoyed Kayte’s blog posts.  Ellie Krieger’s most recent cookbook, Weeknight Wonders, is right up my alley: healthy dishes that literally go together in minutes.   The second group is Wednesdays with Donna Hay.  Her recipes look fun and a bit more challenging.  We’ll see how the time parameters go….  There are some of her recipes that are already calling my name loudly and clearly!!

I’ve cooked my first Eating with Ellie dish, and we’re beyond pleased.  Her Shrimp with Spinach, Garlic and Smoked Paprika is simply wonderful.  I served it with Greek Style Lemon Potatoes.  Add a glass of a dry white wine (Chardonnay, in my case) and you’ve got a wonderful little dinner for two.  *sigh*  That’s what I was looking for!!

More later when the camera is charged and the photos edited!!