Sunday, September 30, 2012

beef stew with homemade bread bowls

To celebrate my 100th post and meeting my goal of posting every day for the last month, I will share my favorite fall recipe with you! 

Bread bowls (makes 4)
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 envelope of active dry yeast (1/4-ounce)
1 tsp salt
1 tbs vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups flour 
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbs cornmeal
1/2 egg white
1/2 tbs water

Stew (makes 4 small portions, or 2 full-sized with leftovers)
2 lbs stew beef
2 tbs vegetable oil
4 cups of water (separated)
1 bottle of red wine of choice (separated)
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
2 medium onions, roughly diced 
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 dash ground cloves
1 dash ground nutmeg
3 large carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 small/medium potatoes, diced
10-15 mushrooms, sliced

1. For the bread bowls, stir together the warm water and yeast in a large bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add flour gradually, beating at a medium speed with an electric mixer with dough hooks until soft dough forms.


2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to grease. Cover and let rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk. If it is chilly in your home, heat oven to 100 degrees or preheat oven to lowest temperature and then turn off heat.

3. Meanwhile, begin the stew. Brown the beef in the vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Add diced onion. Stir for 4 minutes and add minced garlic as the beef juices start collecting in the pot.

5. Add 2 cups of water, 2 cups of red wine, 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and ground cloves. Stir, simmer, and cover for 1 1/2 hours, checking occasionally.


6. After dough has risen, place on floured surface again, punch down and knead. Create 4 small dough balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise for another hour (or until they gain in size again).

7. After the hour and a half of covered simmering has completed, remove bay leaves and add chopped vegetables to the mixture, along with another 2 cups of water and 2 cups of red wine. Sprinkle more salt and pepper. Drink rest of red wine while cooking. Cover and simmer for another 1 hour.

8. Occasionally uncover to stir and smash beef bits to spread about.

9. Once the separated dough balls have risen again, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix egg white with a splash of water. Brush egg mixture over dough. Sprinkle salt and topping of choice (I used sesame seeds, so they would look like big toasty hamburger buns!) and pop into preheated oven for 15 minutes.

10. After 15 minutes, remove bread bowls and brush with remaining egg mixture. Pop back into oven for 12 more minutes, until crispy and toasty.

11. Let cool on cooling rack. When cool, cut top off of bowl and scoop out the center.

 12. Remove cover from stew, continue to stir and mash beef until to desired consistency. If you prefer a thicker stew, feel free to mix in a bit of flour.

13. Scoop into bread bowls, serve, and enjoy on a chilly evening!
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Saturday, September 29, 2012

barleycorn's craft brew

For T's birthday, I gave him a coupon for a beer brewing session at Barleycorn's Craft Brew in Natick. He has always loved beer & the processes surrounding any aspect of beer, so this was the perfect gift. Today was a cloudy gray and chilly day, the perfect day for being inside & brewing some beer for a few hours. We headed over for a 2pm brewing appointment, and spent the next 2.5 hours preparing every bit of the beer.


First, we measured out the grains, according to the recipe we picked. 

Next, we milled the grains.

The milled grains were put into the muslin brewing bags. We steeped the bags in water like tea, before adding in the extract and stirring.

Next we brought the mixture to a boil, increasing the foamy top and then letting settle five times, before measuring and plopping in the hops.

Over the two and a half hour brew time, there were a few waiting periods where we looked through the local beer paper. Who knew there were so many breweries, pubs, and restaurants surrounding craft beer in Massachusetts (not I)?!

heh heh...pumpKAN get it?
After adding the final hops, we drained our product into a large canister, adding the yeast, and rolled away to ferment for the next 2 weeks.

In about 3 weeks, we will head back to bottle our own 12.2 gallons-worth of beer to take home with us for the fall season!
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Friday, September 28, 2012

brasstacks dinner

Monday night was my first Brasstacks dinner. I mentioned Brasstacks about two months ago here and won the lottery last month when I found out I had the chance to go to one of these legendary dinners. On Monday, Brasstacks held their last summer harvest dinner at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, where all items were local and mostly recently foraged by the chefs themselves. I headed over, giddy, grinning, and nervous...I had no idea how many people would be there, how many courses there would be, what should I wear? So many questions, so much excitement. 

T & I headed over to Formaggio was dark, almost abandoned looking on the outside. We knocked...there was a pause...and then we were greeted and brought into a transformed space exuding warmth, acceptance, excitement, and friendliness (and immediately handed 2 glasses of sparkling wine mmmmm). There were 3 tables with about 10 seats each. Tightly squeezed in to promote conversation & perfectly positioned to see plating and preparing of each dish. We headed up to pick from the charcuterie and stared at everything in amazement, while our pre-meal treats waiting patiently for us.


The Formaggio Kitchen charcuterie consisted of linguica, chicken liver mousse, duck pate, served with Brasstacks pickles. Next we were introduced to our treats (from back left-right-front in the top picture): grilled cousa squash with sprouted grains, fennel & almond (my favorite); baked hyslop crabapple with chicken liver, cider vinegar & poppy seed; roasted new potato with cultured cream, shad roe & salt pork; and in front, the tomatoes with pickled chilis, elderflower vinegar & mint (T's favorite). Also shown are the tasty snack of the husk cherries roasted in salt pork. All were presented on natural plates of slabs of birch branches and stones.

Next, we moved onto the first course (all of which were paired with a respective wine): soused bluefish with cucumbers, horseradish & pretty nasturtium.


Next was my favorite dish of the night, I could really eat a large portion of this every day and never get sick of it: sweet corn samp with Maine crab, bayberry leaf, sea urchin and samphire. Pretty much perfection in a bowl.

Woven between the courses were explanations and derivations of the plates, all drawing inspiration from old New England fare and techniques. Also woven in were the seemingly endless glasses of wine. Next was the matelote of Spanish mackerel with eggplant, barley & tomato relish.


The final savory course of the evening was my almost-tied-for-first (and T's favorite) course of silver Cornish chicken roasted in wild juniper with chicken mushroom, fermented broccoli & a bread sauce. Also, it was obviously one of the prettiest dishes.


The local cheese course was provided by Formaggio Kitchen, and was delicious, because really...who doesn't love cheese? Brebis Blanche, Tarentaise, and Brother's Walk. Obviously not the best picture because I was too excited to get started.

The final course was the Maine chocolate potato cake with sheep milk, wild grapes & black walnut. While being plated, it resembled Saturn and I had no problem finishing this dish whatsoever.


After a long & memorable night, we were stuffed full of wine, tasty food, and new information. We were introduced to many new foraged foods and interesting people. For professional pictures taken of the event check their facebook page... and remember, if you want to be entered into the lottery for a chance to go to one of these amazing dinners, friend Brasstacks Boston on Facebook, you will thank me 2,723 times if you win.

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