Valentine's Day is coming up. Are you wanting to stay home and cook something special? I have some ideas for you!
I consider Beef Wellington to be very romantic - it's decadent and it takes a lot of work, so it's definitely a special occasion food. Check out this post for the recipe.
Steak is a quintessential Valentine's dish. I have long used a method of quick aging with salt to tenderize and season even cheaper cuts. Find the method in this post, along with recipes for Spinach and Gruyere Souffle and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Compote. I used a compound butter to top the steak in that post, but since then have more often made a pan sauce by deglazing with sherry, then adding butter.
For one of our earliest Valentine's, I made an herb crusted standing rib roast; along with a chopped salad, heart shaped roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus, and Yorkshire pudding. All of the recipes are in this post, along with some pretty decorations.
Remember when I thought that the fall SRC post was my last one? Well, I had completely forgotten that I still had one more regular Secret Recipe Club post. Oops! Luckily I did remember in time and was able to look through my assigned blog - Making Miracles.
Rebekah is a mother of two who traveled extensively as a child, including living in Africa - wow! Most of her meals are "quick, easy, and family friendly", but sometimes she has time for something more complicated. She has also been a surrogate for many years resulting in 4 baby girls, 2 of whom are twins! What an amazing gift! I can't imagine how challenging and rewarding that must be.
On Rebekah's blog I saw lots of casseroles, and you KNOW I love casseroles. I was particularly interested in this Crockpot Turkey and Rice Casserole, this Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole, this Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken Casserole, this Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole with Doritos, and this Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole.
I let my husband look through all of my top choices (so generous of me *wink*). He picked out these classic Stuffed Shells, and I was happy to oblige! But then I ran into a problem - the store didn't have any jumbo pasta shells! I thought I remembered having a box at home, so I bought the rest of the stuff and went back to check. It turns out that what I had was actually large shells, not jumbo. I was out of time and had already bought the other ingredients, so I decided to improvise.
May has five Mondays this year, which means - themed Secret Recipe Club post! Falling on Memorial Day, the theme for this reveal is Picnic/BBQ and my assigned blog was A Day in the Life on the Farm. Wendy and her husband are former police officers who moved out to the country and became farmers. They treat their animals humanely, are part of an organic CSA, trade with other farmers, and live sustainably as much as possible - I am so jealous! I dream of being a radical homemaker, but don't have the commitment. I was on a specific mission this month, but I look forward to perusing the blog more thoroughly.
I actually made three recipes from Wendy's blog this weekend, in order to have a full meal for the holiday. She had tons of recipes that are appropriate for the challenge, and I chose BBQ Beef Sandwiches, BLT Pasta Salad, and Black Forest Trifle. Each of these was easy to make with the help of store-bought ingredients, so that I didn't have to spend a full day in the kitchen. And each of them was a big hit!
Today is Secret Recipe Club reveal day! I was assigned Searching for Spice, written by Corina - a mother of two (I love the nicknames she gives her kids: Little Miss Spice and Master Spice). She loves international cuisine, making food from India, Mexico, North Africa, Thailand, and China. She prefers to stick to recipes that aren't terribly time consuming - like this Italian Chicken and Lemon dish, this Lamb Meatball dish, and this Chicken Pie. But sometimes, she will go for a more complicated recipe, too - like this Chicken Biryani and this Cassoulet with Confit Duck.
I ended up choosing this Korean Bulgogi recipe, because I just recently discovered Korean BBQ, and it is awesome! Bulgogi is definitely my favorite thing to order, so I loved that Corina had a recipe I could try. She served it with rice and lettuce to make wraps, I decided (inspired by my Spam dish) to make it a rice bowl, topped with a fried egg. It turned out great!
This year for Valentine's Day we decided to stay in, and we both agreed that I should make Beef Wellington - a very special occasion dish of filet mignon and mushrooms wrapped in puff pastry. You can find many recipes out there for this dish, but mine has some secret weapons to keep the puff pastry from getting soggy, the beef from getting overcooked (look at how nice and pink it is, even after 20 minutes in the oven), and to add extra flavor. It is not difficult, but it is time consuming with many steps - which is why it is a special occasion dish (plus it's soooooooo rich). So read on!
First up, sear the filet. (I made 4 servings because it would use a whole package of puff pasty - I have never had good luck with refreezing it.) You want to get a nice sear on all sides, including around the edges, but don't cook the steak all the way. Remove the filets to a plate and allow to cool a bit, then cover and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. This step is what will keep the beef from overcooking in the oven.
You may have heard about Snowzilla, the crazy blizzard that dropped 30 inches of snow in as many hours on the east coast this weekend. People were were panicking about it all week and preparing for the end of the world. (Not that they were wrong, our street still hasn't been plowed, 3 days after the end of the storm.) I knew that we would want some comforting food options, so I made a big batch of chili and decided to revisit and revamp my old recipe for you.
Hubby likes both ground meat and tiny bits of steak, and not too many beans or extra frills. So this chili is his extra special version made just for him. Plus I made it in the slow cooker so that it would be easy - that part's for me.
It's Secret Recipe Club time again! This month I was assigned Sarah's Kitchen - a name that I love, obviously. Sarahs of the world unite! Sarah is from England, but now lives in Texas - which is kind of funny because I'm from Texas and once lived in Ireland (which I realize is not the same as England, but is geographically/culturally similar). Spooky.
Anyway, I was clearly craving a casserole while looking through Sarah's blog because every recipe I was drawn to was one. Like this Stovetop Beef and Penne Casserole, this Eight Layer Casserole, these two Mexican Casseroles, this Chicken and Dumplings Casserole, and this Turkey Tetrazzini. They all looked tempting, but as soon as a saw a recipe for Pastitsio, I was done. This Greek lasagna like casserole is one of my all time favorite dishes. So let's make it!
Start by sauteing onions and garlic, then browning beef. I actually chose to use half beef and half lamb.
When the beef is browned, stir in tomato paste.
Pot roast is a pretty standard American meal. Many folks have their own recipes that they love. But just in case you don't, here's mine! An herb crusted beef roast goes into a pot with potatoes, veggies, red wine, and beef stock until it is super tender - yum.
First step - rub that beef. Combine kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning to make a rub. Sprinkle over and press into the meat.
The you are going to brown those veggies and sear that beef. Heat olive oil in a heavy dutch oven until very hot. Then add an onion and carrots and cook until really browned. Remove the veggies temporarily, add more oil, and sear the beef on all sides. Then take that out, too, because you need to deglaze.
The January pick for Food 'n Flix is the 1987 Danish film Babette's Feast (now included in The Criterion Collection), chosen by Culinary Adventures with Camilla. This is the story of two deeply religious and puritanical sisters who live on the remote coastline of 19th Century Denmark. They give up much in their lives in order to live the way that they were raised and to help the people of the village. Late in their lives, a French refugee comes to stay with them for many years and cooks them a fabulous meal to thank them. The sisters and villagers are afraid to give in to the decadence of the meal, but it ends up healing many of their wounds and rifts. It is a story about the healing power of food and how it can show love and thanks.
The food cooked in the movie is quite extravagant and I didn't think I could take on turtle soup or quail stuffed with foie gras and truffles, so instead I decided to just go French in general. I must have been influenced by all the soup that the Danish villagers ate (and the stew meat in my freezer), because I made a French stew with beef and red wine - cooked low and slow in a crockpot.
Beef is seasoned with salt and pepper and placed into a bowl with onion, garlic, shallot, celery, carrot, thyme, bay leaves, and lemon zest.
This is the fun part - a whole bottle of red wine is poured over the ingredients and then left to marinate (refrigerated) overnight. The wine is the stock for this stew, and the flavor permeates everything. So make sure that you use a good one! I suggest a Cotes du Rhone for this.
So I got this combination of ingredients into my head and couldn't stop thinking about all the ways I could use them. Pasta, pizza, tarts - the list goes on. I decided to caramelize a big batch of onions, roast a big squash, and use them all week in a few different dishes.
First off, I peeled and cut up a large (4 lb) butternut squash and laid the cubes out on a baking sheet. I drizzled them with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg. Then I roasted them at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I used some right away, and stored the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.
For the onions, I bought one of those bags that has about 5 onions in it, sliced them all, and threw them in a large pan with olive oil. After they turned translucent and soft, I turned the heat down from med-hi to med-lo and let them caramelize. This will take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. About halfway through, I added a few sprigs of thyme. Once they were really brown, I added a splash of sherry to de-glaze the pan and removed the thyme stems. Again, I used some right away, and stored the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.