Saturday, April 5, 2008

For The Birds

Tonight I had a grilled ostrich burger. I prepared it medium rare and it was delicious! Better than beef and it was so juicy. It's a bit expensive but I thought well worth it. I have had ostrich before but never as a burger. I must say that I'm not passionate about burgers in general, but I could be so for these!

I dressed my burger with some baby field greens, onion, mustard and ketchup (mixed of course). I made a bowl of crab (imitation of course, which I like) and pasta salad and had a very cold Bass ale to wash down my feast.

Along with all that and watching a very moving and inspirational "We Are Marshall" I would say that it was an evening well spent.

Now what's for dessert...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Good Food, Good Fire

I had a small dinner party tonight and it was really fun and very casual. I had my dear friends, Joe and Albert over, and my neighbor, Clint joined us. The food turned out really well, and there was plenty to go around with some leftovers.

After the meal I had to roast my Hello Kitty marshmallow sucker that Carmen, Chris and the boys gave me for Christmas. It was hard as a rock, but surprisingly it roasted and grew puffy. It was pretty good. The royal icing front was fireproof and didn't even melt. I peel it off. It was like eating plaster. Clint made the fire and he did a good job. That baby put out a lot of heat, and we sat around it and chatted.

This was all that was left of the feast. We dug in so furiously that I didn't even get a decent picture of fantastic it really was. This stew was so good and hearty, and very flavorful. It's very easy to make, but you have to have some time to kill. I took an hour long walk while the stew was stewing away. It was well worth all of the cooking time.

Corsican Beef Stew

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
6 garlic cloves
2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
4 ounces lardons, or thick bacon cut into strips
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced
1-1/4 cups dry white wine
2 Tbsp passata (or use tomato paste, I boosted this amount to about 3 Tbsp)
pinch of ground cinnamon
sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf ( I threw in 2 small ones)
2 cups large macaroni
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper

Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain, set the mushrooms aside and reserve the liquid. Cut three of the garlic cloves into thin strips and insert into the pieces of beef by making little slits with a sharp knife. Push the lardons or pieces of bacon into the beef with the garlic. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan, add half the beef and brown well on all sides. Repeat with the remaining beef. Transfer to a plate. Add the sliced onions to the pan and cook until lightly browned. Crush the remaining garlic and add to the onions with the meat.

Stir in the white wine, mushrooms, cinnamon rosemary and bay leaf and with salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 30 minutes, stirring often. Strain the mushroom liquid and add to the stew with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer very gently for 3 hours, until the meat is very tender. I cooked my for 4 hours. It doesn't do anything to the integrity of the dish. I think it made all the more better.

Cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling, salted water for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Lift the pieces of meat out of the gravy and transfer to a warmed serving platter. Reduce the gravy to a nice consistency. Drain the pasta and layer in a bowl with the gravy and cheese. Serve with the meat.

I served this with roasted asparagus and we had the tiramisu afterwards. Oh, a little antipasti was the appetizer. We only drank one bottle of wine. Hmmm...probably for the better!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Warm & Satisfying Soup

I love making soup, and I make soup out of virtually anything. Today was a bit chilly and I was doing some house cleaning so I wanted something warm and easy. I took some leftovers from my fridge and some staples from my pantry. It was awesome!

Easy Turkey Sausage Soup

1 cup jarred spaghetti sauce (whatever you have on hand, I had basil and garlic)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon dried porcini mushrooms
1 spicy turkey sausage link, pulled out of casing
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (or more if you like)
1 cup elbow macaroni
dried herbs (use what you like, I used rosemary, basil, oregano, and my favorite fennel)
fresh ground pepper
large pinch kosher salt
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Put about a quart of water in a pan and add dried mushrooms. Bring to boil and add sausage and let simmer. Break into smaller chunks if needed. Add garlic, onion, spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, and herbs. Bring back to a boil and add macaroni. Cook until pasta is tender and the soup has reduced a bit. Drizzle on some olive oil and serve hot.

Serves 2 or 1 large, large portion.

It's so simple to make, and it's basically having pasta, sauce and meat, but you've added water and enriched with a little more tomato paste. You could add a bit of leftover red wine as I think the slight fruitiness would be tasty.

It's filling and very satisfying on a cool day.