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.
Earlier this week I talked about my Marrakesh box from Try The World, and what I did with the sardines from it. Now I'd like to tell you what I did with the rest of the items, which was to make this beautiful lamb and couscous dish!
First I took cubed lamb and tossed it with some of the kefta rub, then browned it in batches.
It's time for another collaboration with Smells Like Brownies (although we actually made this back in June, oops!) - not vegetarian this time, but rather pescetarian. A hearty tomato based broth filled with all kinds of seafood - Cioppino. Melissa actually chose this dish for her blogging group, the Secret Recipe Club. For more info on that, check out her post here.
Making the broth takes up the most time in this recipe, but you want to let it simmer and develop deep flavor, so it's worth it. Olive oil, garlic, shallot, oregano, and a bay leaf go in first; followed by bell pepper, tomato paste, and red wine. Oh yeah, and red pepper flakes - watch it here, this is where you determine your spice level. Next comes canned tomatoes in their juices, clam juice, lemon juice, and veggie broth (not stock). Let it do it's thing for 30 minutes before adding in some mussels.
I meant it when I said this soup was full of all kinds of seafood. While the mussels simmer away; prep the rest of the seafood - scallops, red snapper (or something similar, like halibut), and shrimp. Who knew a bunch of raw seafood could look so pretty?
After the rest of the seafood is cooked through, top with fresh basil and parsley and dig in. Serve with some crusty bread for dipping and eat right away! This Italian stew is perfect for any time of year - hearty and warming, but not heavy - so enjoy!
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.
Is there anything better than a big pot of comforting beef stew in the Winter? Maybe if you add a lot of veggies, Middle Eastern spices, and some apricots for sweetness. Yum, yum, yum. At least I thought so - my husband wasn't really sold on the whole sweet things in a stew concept, and he doesn't like all those vegetables getting in the way of his meat. But whatever, I thought it was awesome. If you are not limiting carbs, you could serve this over some couscous and let it soak up all the juices.
Start by cooking some red onion and browning some beef chuck that has been seasoned with cumin, ginger, and cinnamon. I feel like red onions only work well in specific places, and this is one of them. Cooking them enough that they start to caramelize and release some sweetness is the way to go, here. Remove the meat to a plate temporarily and deglaze the pot with some red wine to scrape up all those browned spices and good bits that are stuck to the bottom.
Add in some sweet potato, apricots, and a can of whole tomatoes in their juices; then add enough water to cover and let simmer for a few hours. Your house is going to smell AWESOME. For reals.
After it is done simmering and the meat and potatoes are all soft and luscious - throw in some chickpeas and spinach. Oh my gosh. There is so much going on here! The apricots absorb the liquid and plump up, and the sweetness from them and the sweet potatoes contrasts the warm spices. I love all the different colors and textures, too. Let's get cooking, peeps!
Holy Mockingjay, Batman - I am so excited about this post! Food 'n Flix and Cook the Books have teamed up to do a double post for The Hunger Games, with Heather from girlichef hosting! Announcement post is here.
The Hunger Games is the first book of a trilogy about a dystopian alternate timeline where war has reduced America to 12 Districts ruled by a Capital. As punishment for a rebellion, all 12 Districts must offer up 1 boy and 1 girl between the ages of 12 and 18 as a tribute to compete in the Hunger Games each year. These children must then fight to the death in a televised spectacle with only 1 survivor. To make things even worse, all of the Districts are purposefully kept in a state of starvation except for the District of the winner - which is given ample food for a year until the next Hunger Games (hence the name). Food, therefore, is extremely important and a focus throughout the series.
The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is an extremely tough teen who would do anything to protect her family and especially her little sister, Primrose. When Prim is selected as Tribute (a death sentence for the timid 12 year-old), Katniss volunteers to take her place. Before being entered into the death-match proper, the Tributes are primped and pampered and paraded around the Capital. It is here that Katniss experiences luxury and an overabundance of food for the first time in her life.
Her favorite dish is a Lamb Stew with Dried Plums - it is mentioned frequently and even sent to her as a present when she is fighting for her life. I decided that the stew would be the perfect dish to make for this post, served on some wild rice that seemed fitting for the setting. I also served it with goat cheese rolled in herbs (inspired by the cheese that Primrose makes from her prized pet) and rustic seed bread (inspired by Peeta - Katniss's love interest and fellow Tribute, whose family owns a bakery).
I bought a huge 10 lb pork shoulder at the store a while back when I was making pulled pork - it was the only pork shoulder available in the whole store! So I took it home, butchered it and cut it into three sections and froze two of them. I used one of the sections to make yummy carnitas, but I wanted to do something new with the last piece. That is where my Essentials of Slow Cooking cookbook came in handy, and I found this recipe for pork that is slow simmered in broth and orange juice with apricots, thyme, and mustard for a sweet and savory treat.
I saw this recipe on the Food Network while getting my nails done and immediately wanted to make it. We didn't have any plans for Halloween night, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. It turned out to be a pretty fortunate decision, because Jasper came up with the idea to invite some friends over to play a horror board game at the last minute (read 5PM Halloween night). I had already started making the chili and I knew it would be great for a crowd. Funny thing was, we hadn't seen each other in so long that we wound up talking all night and never getting to the board game!