Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lesson 4. Dinner is Served: Two Original Recipes

Tonight Mr. Delta has requested that I make Beef Bourguignon for dinner. Sounds fancy, but it's actually just beef stew. I think I will also make one of my signature berry tarts. So good!! I will share the recipe in a bit.

I cannot stress enough the value of being able to cook. Especially for anyone out there who is looking for that special someone. Yes, guys need to know how to cook too. True story - Mr. Delta can trace the exact moment he fell in love with me. We had been dating exactly 8 days and I ran into him in the law library at about 10:00 in the morning. I was hungry and I asked him if he wanted to come over to my apartment for eggs benedict. Exactly 53 minutes later he told me he loved me for the first time over hollandaise and we got married 2 years after that. Very effective technique, eh?

Anyway, so I never make stew. Or beef really for that matter, but I figure there is only so much Atkins brand low carb penne pasta you can feed to a man before he starts to lose all dignity. So I am going to make a concession. This stew apparently has to cook for several hours, so I am going to start prepping now.
I love this product more than anything. You cannot tell it from ordinary pasta and the nutrition is phenomenal. I buy it by the case online just so I can give it to my friends.  It will change your life.

And I'm back. The beef dish has to cook for about 2-3 hours so I started on it first. I used about a pound of sirloin cut into cubes and browned it in the fat left in the pan after I cooked 6 slices of cut up bacon and moved the bacon to the side. Special thanks to the butcher at Publix who actually took a huge hunk of sirloin roast and cut it up for me (and offered to sharpen my knives if I brought them in!)

Then I took a small onion, a big handful of baby carrots, and a celery stalk and cut them up into medium sized pieces and sauteed them in the pan after removing the meat and putting it in a casserole dish.

Then you take a tablespoon of flour and toss it around on the meat until evenly coated. Once the veggies are cooked, add them to the coated meat. Add salt and pepper. Pour on about 2 cups of beef stock and 2 cups of red wine until the mixture is just covered. Add in 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and stir. Put in the oven covered at 325 degrees for 2.5-3 hours.

So the beef bourguignon is in the oven now, so I started on the berry tart. I used blueberries since they were on sale. The recipe for the tart is something I just kind of made up. I'm not really a measurer when it comes to recipes, but I tried to note the quantities as I put them in this time. 

I love using cake mix in recipes. It has great flavors and leavening and is made with wonderful flour, and if you use it as an ingredient instead of as the whole show, it doesn't taste like a mix. So here's what you do. Get 2 bowls and put your berries in one and use the other to make the dough.

Taste your berries. Hopefully they are very tart. You want really tart berries. And you will need 12-16 oz. If they aren't very tart, add a little lemon juice. If they are, add 1-2 tsp water to coat. Then add about 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Toss around until coated and set aside.

Now take 1 cup white cake mix, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup salted butter and cut with a pastry cutter or fork until it makes jelly bean sized crumbles. The butter should be firm when you start, but not ice cold. Add a dash of salt if you only have unsalted butter. You can also add a healthy shake of cinnamon if you like.

Layer half of the crumbles into a shallow metal tart pan, press down, and bake for about 8 minutes at 400 until golden. Then add the berries and top with the rest of the crumbles. Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes until bubbly in the center.

Ready to go in the oven!

Now back to the beef! When it's almost ready to come out of the oven, take about 8 oz of mushrooms and 1 small chopped onion and braise them in some butter. I served the stew with gnocchi, so I cooked them and then put them in the pan to braise at the last minute. Layer mushrooms and onions on top of the stew. Plate, serve, and put your tart in the oven.

The finished tart. Let cool a bit and it will be firmer when you serve it. I like to serve a la mode with a little caramel sauce. The crust caramelizes from the double cooking. Yum!!!

Dinner was a great success! First time we used our wedding china and our newly functional uncluttered dining room.


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