Saturday, April 21, 2018

Beef, Barley and Mushroom Soup

I love barley but rarely ate it, mostly because there weren't any recipes in my repertoire using that ingredient. Once in a blue moon, I'd come across beef and barley soup as a menu item in a restaurant, and always made a point of ordering it. Tastes like beef stew in soup form and the barley lends a really nice soft-chewy texture that doesn't dissolve like rice would in your mouth. I came up with this version after a late night craving and it really hits all the flavor points that epitomize this soup.


Ingredients:

2.5 lbs. beef chuck (pot roast), cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-oz. package sliced button mushrooms
5 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1.5 lbs. mini Klondike or Yukon Gold potatoes, halved or cut into large dice
14.5 oz. can diced roasted tomatoes
Two 32-oz. boxes of beef broth
4 cups water
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. caraway seeds
2 tsp. marjoram (or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves)
2 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried thyme (or 2 sprigs fresh)
1 tsp. black pepper
3 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup pearled barley

*Optional: 1/4 cup marsala wine added when the carrots and potatoes go in. I didn't use this ingredient in the recipe, but I think it would really add to the flavor of the soup.

1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large heavy pot (I like to use enameled cast iron) over medium heat and add the chopped onions. Stir frequently until lightly browned and season with a little salt and pepper. Add the chopped garlic and stir to combine. 

2. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper and add to the onions and garlic in the pot; brown on all sides. 

3. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook 1-2 minutes or until softened; stir in the bay leaf, caraway seeds, marjoram, parsley, thyme, black pepper and salt. Add the canned tomatoes and cider vinegar.

4. Pour in the beef broth and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes. 

5. Add the diced carrots, potatoes and pearled barley, and cook another 45 minutes at a simmer, partially covered. 

6. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, before serving. 




Beef chuck (used for pot roast).


These are mini Klondike potatoes, which can be cut in half or in thirds. If you can't find these, you can substitute with Yukon Golds, which are larger, so just cut these into large dice. I leave the skins on because they are very thin and easy to eat. 


Cubed beef and potatoes.


Sliced button mushrooms, diced carrots, onion, minced garlic and thyme sprigs.

Fire-roasted diced tomatoes, pearled barley, beef stock, cider vinegar, caraway seeds, parsley
flakes, and oregano leaves (instead of marjoram).


Brown the chopped onion in a large pot until lightly browned; season with a 
little salt and pepper and stir in the garlic.


Add the seasoned beef and brown on all sides.


Add the sliced mushrooms and cook 1-2 minutes until softened.


Add the herbs, spices, salt and pepper.


Add the roasted tomatoes and cider vinegar. 


Add the beef broth.


Add 4 cups water.


Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes. 


After 45 minutes, add the carrots and potatoes. 


Add 1 cup of pearled barley; bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and 
cook another 45 minutes. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper, if needed, before serving.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Irish-Style Beef & Guinness Stew with Pearled Barley

I made this for St. Paddy's Day last month and just got around to posting it. The recipe is an amalgam of several I found in my cookbook collection and online. All the recipes I perused called for the addition of the iconically Irish Guinness stout beer, but not all included pearled barley. Since I happen to LOOOOOVE pearled barley (a ridiculously under-used and under-appreciated ingredient IMHO), I just had to use it in this version. Parsnip is also not requisite, but one large root, along with its cousin the carrot, add a nice subtle sweetness to this dish. 



Ingredients:
6 slices bacon, diced
4 lbs. beef chuck, cut into 1" cubes
1/2 cup flour
2 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large parsnip, diced
4 large carrots, diced
5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes or 4 large russet potatoes, diced
3 tbsp. tomato paste
3 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh (or 1 tsp. dried) thyme
2-3 sprigs fresh Italian or flat leaf parsley
11-oz. bottle of Guinness Stout beer
2 cups water
4 cups regular or low sodium beef broth
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup frozen green peas

1. Add 1 tbsp. vegetable oil to a large Dutch oven or heavy pot and heat over medium heat. Add the diced bacon and cook until most of the fat has rendered. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

2. Season the beef cubes well with salt and pepper and coat with flour. Add to the rendered bacon fat in the pot and brown in batches (add more vegetable oil, as needed). Remove browned beef with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

3. Add the chopped onions to the same pot and cook over medium low heat, covered, until softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Turn up the heat to medium high, add the garlic, parsnip, carrots, and potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Add the Guinness Stout and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring well. Add the tomato paste, beef broth, water, Worcestershire sauce, reserved bacon bits, bay leaves, thyme and parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 2 hours or until beef is really tender. Check occasionally and add a little extra water if needed.

5. 1 1/2 hours into the cooking time, stir in the pearled barley. About 5 minutes before the beef is done, stir in the frozen peas. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls and serve.


Diced carrots, parsnip, potatoes, celery, chopped onion and garlic. If using Yukon Gold potatoes, you can leave the skin on. If using russets, you need to peel the skin. 


Beef chuck roast. 


Beef chuck cut into large cubes and diced bacon. 


Tomato paste, Guinness Stout beer, beef stock and Worcestershire Sauce. 


Blot the beef dry with paper towels and season well with kosher salt and pepper. 


Dredge the seasoned beef lightly in flour. 


Render the fat from the diced bacon then remove the bits with a slotted spoon to a 
paper towel-lined plated; set aside.  


Brown the beef in the rendered bacon fat (add a little extra vegetable oil if needed) in batches. 


Remove the browned beef to a plate and set aside. 


Brown the chopped onions in the same pan over medium low heat, covered.  


Stir in the potatoes, carrots, parsnip, and garlic.  


Add the Guinness Stout and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring well. 

 Add the tomato paste, beef broth, water, Worcestershire sauce, reserved bacon bits, 
bay leaves, thyme and parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and 
cook for about 2 hours or until beef is really tender.

1 1/2 hours into cooking, add the pearl barley; cover and continue simmering 
until the beef is very tender.  


About 5 minutes before the stew is done, stir in the green peas.

 Taste and season with salt and/or pepper as needed.








Saturday, April 14, 2018

Thai Green Curry Chicken (Gaeng Kiow Wahn Gai)



Ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs. (2 pkgs.) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2" dice.
2 Chinese eggplants, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2" dice
1/4 cup green curry paste (or a little less if you want less spicy)
2 1/2 cups coconut milk
4 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. palm sugar or brown sugar
6 Kaffir lime leaves
1 1/2-2 cups whole Thai basil leaves
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into long strips
1-2 jalapeno peppers or Fresno chiles, seeded and julienned into long strips

1. Heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a wok or large saute pan over high heat. Add the diced chicken and eggplant and season with a light dashw of salt. Stir occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the eggplant slightly softened. 

2. Add the green curry paste and toss well to combine. Stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, palm sugar, and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is softened. 

3. Stir in the Thai basil leaves, red bell pepper, and jalapeño or Fresno chiles. Turn off heat. 

4. Taste and re-season if needed with extra curry paste, fish sauce, and/or sugar.

5. Serve with steamed jasmine rice. 











Moroccan-Style Beef Stew with Chickpeas and Couscous

Don't let the long ingredients deter you from making this dish. Ras el Hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that, like Indian curry powder or garam masala, can vary in its ingredients depending on who makes it. In this version, I made a spice combination derived from about a half dozen recipes that I found online and in my cookbook collection. I used beef in this stew, but you can also substitute with lamb. And, of course, a light couscous on the side is the perfect accompaniment to soak up all that incredibly aromatic sauce.


   
Ras el Hanout Moroccan Spice Blend:
1 tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. mace
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper


Ingredients:
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 lbs. beef chuck, cut into 1" cubes & patted dry with paper towels
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 medium carrots, diced
5 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 15-oz. can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I like to use the stems)
Zest of 1 lemon, about 2-3 tsp.
4 cups water
1 tbsp. Harissa
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

COUSCOUS:

1 cup couscous
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3-4 tbsp.)
1 small cucumber, diced
1 plum tomato, diced
1 scallion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. honey

1. Add all the spice blend ingredients together in a bowl and stir to combine; set aside.

2. Season the cubed beef with salt & pepper; set aside.


3. Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, season with a little salt and pepper, and saute until lightly browned. 


4. Add the seasoned beef and chopped garlic and saute until the beef is browned on all sides. 


5. Add the spice blend and toss to coat the meat mixture. Stir in the carrots, tomatoes, olives, raisins, chopped cilantro stems, and lemon zest. Add the garbanzo beans.


6. Add 4 cups of water, the Harissa, tomato paste, and 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt; stir to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer; cover and cook 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is very tender. Taste & adjust for seasonings (salt & pepper).


7. In the meantime, make the couscous: place 1 cup of couscous in a medium bowl; pour 1 1/4 cups boiling water over the couscous. Stir lightly then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap; let sit for 20 minutes or until the couscous is rehydrated. Fluff the couscous lightly with a fork, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to use. 


8. To serve: you can either serve the stew over the couscous or serve them in separate bowls. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. 


Lemon zest, chopped cilantro, tomatoes, carrots, garlic and onion. 

Garbanzo beans (chick peas), ground cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, turmeric, 
coriander, paprika, cinnamon and ginger. 

 Garbanzos, golden raisins, Harissa paste, and kalamata olives.

Beef chuck roast. 

Kalamata olives, chopped. 

Beef chuck roast, cut into large dice. 

Saute onions in 3 tbsp. olive oil; season with salt and pepper.  

Add the beef and chopped garlic. 

Stir in the spice blend. 

Stir in the carrots, tomatoes, olives, raisins, garbanzo beans, 
chopped cilantro stems, and lemon zest.

 Add the garbanzo beans.

 Add 4 cups of water, the Harissa, tomato paste, and 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt; 
stir to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer; 
cover and cook 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is very tender. 

For the couscous: chopped cilantro, tomato, cucumber and lemon juice.