Brussels Sprouts Lasagna

Just when you thought it was safe to wear short sleeves..

Seriously, what’s up with this weather? Yesterday it was 83 degrees and picture perfect. Today, the wind is blasting and the temperature is 58. Tomorrow the forecast is 81 and calm.

And I’m accused of being fickle? Sheeeeesh……

Anyhoo, this lasagna, although unusual, was tremendously well received at Chateau W (aka our house). An amalgamation of two similar recipes, I used crepes instead of the standard lasagna noodles, and the end result was outstanding. It’s light, full of flavor and if you prepare the crepes ahead of time, it comes together in a snap.

Speaking of crepes, I always use Alton Brown’s recipe. They come out perfect every time – just make sure to follow the directions and let the batter rest for at least several hours. I usually make a double batch, stack the finished crepes between sheets of wax paper, and freeze them. However, the posse love them fresh out of the pan, dusted with cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.

That sounds so good right now, I think I want to go prepare a batch….
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Brussels Sprouts Lasagna – adapted from Serious Eats and How Sweet Eats

  • 12 crepes
  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, pale green and white part only, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 16 ounces white mushrooms, stems removed, wiped clean, and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 3 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbs. flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigian reggiano cheese
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the sprouts, shallots, and leek; season with pepper, stirring to coat. Cook until the sprouts soften and become bright in color, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the sprouts from the skillet and set them aside in a bowl.

Using the same skillet, add the remaining olive oil. Add the mushrooms, stirring well to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Season with black pepper and thyme.

In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Once it’s hot, whisk in the flour. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly as the mixture comes together. Cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the parmigiano reggiano cheese, the marinara sauce,and pinch of cayenne.

To assemble the lasagna, spread 1/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the 9×13 dish. Lay three crepes across the bottom of the pan, then top with 1/2 of the brussels and 1/2 of the mushrooms. Sprinkle on 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Spread about 1 cup of the sauce over the top of the cheese. Repeat layers, ending with a top layer of crepes. Cover the whole thing with the rest of the sauce, spreading it out to the edges. Cover with a  sheet of foil and bake until bubbling around the edges, about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Pork Ragu

I don’t know about you, but Sunday is one of my favorite days of the week. I suspect that it’s most likely a throwback to my childhood, when one Sunday a month, Mom would spend the better part of the day cooking up a big pot of sauce for our dinner. The process was an event in itself, as she would shoo us kids (and Dad) out of the kitchen so there weren’t any distractions, and begin what I now recognize as a true labor of love. The sounds were unmistakable – the pots being pulled from the cabinets, the chopping of the onions, the blender grinding up chunks of bread for homemade breadcrumbs…….. and it didn’t take long until the house was filled with the aroma of her delectable homemade meatballs, spicy Italian sausage, and falling-off-the-bone meaty pork ribs…..mmmmm.

Eventually, Dad would sneak into the kitchen and slyly steal a meatball or two….and feign innocence  when questioned by three sets of eyes wanting a bite as well. It wasn’t fun being at the bottom of the food chain….

While I don’t have her recipe for that treasured family piece of history (something about copyrights, patents and not in my birthright……), one bite of this sauce immediately transported me back to those Sunday evenings, when dinnertime meant pasta, sauce, wine, and bread…. all while surrounded by your family.

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Pork Ragu – adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 1½-lb. boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup dry red wine

Season pork with pepper. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Sear the meat, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 10–15 minutes; transfer to a large plate.

Drain all but 2 tbs. fat from pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Tie rosemary, oregano, and bay leaf into a bundle with kitchen twine; add to pot along with pork, tomatoes, and wine. Add water just to cover meat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, until meat is very tender, 1–1½ hours.

Discard herb bundle. Using 2 forks, shred meat in pot; cook, uncovered, over medium heat until sauce is thickened, 8–10 minutes. Serve over pasta with freshly grated cheese.

 

Impossible Taco Pie

Math has never, nor will it ever, be easy for me.

And I can accept that. 

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For other members of our illustrious family, however, it’s as…… wait for it.….. simple as pie.

And yes, that’s probably the oldest and worst pun on Pi Day :)

Impossible Taco Pie – adapted from Betty Crocker

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Original Bisquick mix
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese (3 ounces)

Heat oven to 400°F. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Cook ground beef and onion in 10-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in seasoning mix (dry). Spoon into pie plate; top with chilies.  Stir milk, eggs and Bisquick mix until blended. Pour into pie plate.  Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 8 to 10 minutes longer. Cool 5 minutes. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

 

Spoon Bread

Can I be honest here? The name of this recipe confused me. A lot.

At first, I thought it meant you mixed it with a  spoon. Except you use a whisk for the preparation.

Then, I thought it meant you ate it with a spoon. Except you cut it into squares. 

 What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

Thank you, Shakespeare, for identifying the fact that the name of this bread doesn’t reflect what it really is.

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Spoon Bread – adapted from Rebecca Rather

More pudding-like than bread-like, it reminds me of a very soft cornbread. We all loved it though,  and leftovers are wonderful warmed up and served with a side of jam.

3 1/2 cups milk
2 tbs. unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8-inch square baking dish. Heat the milk and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low and slowly sprinkle in the cornmeal, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the baking powder, then the eggs, one at a time, beating until the batter is smooth and the eggs are thoroughly incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and puffy. Cut into squares, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Chicken Fried Steak

You know, I’m not one to brag (I find it to be such an undesirable trait), but I am on point and have made more than a few impressive dinners lately.

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Is that bragging? No? Good.

Although I said I probably wouldn’t make chicken fried steak again (I prefer chicken), this was too good to pass up.  You know how bad I am about making the same recipe twice….

Besides, in all seriousness, J and Alexander love chicken fried steak  – in fact, Alexander took the remaining piece of steak as a sandwich to school the next day – he got to it before Sabrina did. To say she wasn’t happy is an understatement….

Anyway, once you get the hang of it, this is surprisingly simple to prepare. Time consuming, yes, but simple. I also think that the type of steak I picked up for this recipe go-round was much better than last time – it wasn’t tough at all, and cooked up to crispy perfection.

Verdict? This will definitely go on the monthly roster of recipes. Now if I can just perfect my white gravy making skills…..

Chicken Fried Steak – adapted from Serious Eats

  • 4 long, thin sirloin tip steaks (about 2 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 quart canola oil (depends on the size of your pan) 
  • For the Gravy:
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tbs. coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste

For the Steaks: Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Place steaks onto a sheet of foil, and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder, pound steaks out to an even 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness.

Place cornstarch in a shallow dish. Whisk together egg and 2/3 cup buttermilk in a separate shallow dish. Whisk together flour, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, baking powder, and cayenne pepper in a third shallow dish. Drizzle remaining 1/3 cup of buttermilk into seasoned flour and rub with fingertips until mixture is coarse like wet sand.

Working 1 steak at a time, coat well in cornstarch. Lift steak, shake off excess cornstarch, then transfer to egg mixture. Coat steak well in egg mixture, lift steak, letting excess egg drain off, then transfer to seasoned buttermilk-flour mixture. Coat steak well, pressing seasoned flour all over to help it adhere to the meat. Lift steak, shake off excess flour, and transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining steaks. Let steaks stand for 10 minutes.

Place oil in a large skillet to a depth of 1 inch and heat to 375°F over high heat. Carefully lift 1 steak and gently slide into oil. Cook, flipping occasionally, until golden brown and crisp on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes total. Transfer steak to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 steaks.

For the gravy: Transfer 1/4 cup of hot frying oil to a medium saucepan placed over medium high heat. Add flour and whisk constantly until mixture turns light brown, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk. Stir in pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; season with a bit of salt and additional pepper to taste.

Transfer steaks to plates, top with gravy, and serve immediately.

Chicken Chile Verde

Last week, I was standing in our local market, looking in the produce department for inspiration as to what to make for dinner. I ran through the usual list of suspects – cauliflower (just made a fabulous souffle that I haven’t posted yet), collard greens (made those recently too), eggplant (hmmm, haven’t made eggplant parmigiana lately), and then, I spotted the tomatillos. I thought to myself, someday I’ll make something with those, since I’ve never prepared them before. I’ve encountered more than a few recipes for them (especially here in Texas), but have never taken the leap and actually bought them.

Until now. As luck (or fate, whichever you prefer) would have it, the current issue of Food and Wine showed up in my mailbox that very same day, and the recipe for Chicken Chile Verde practically jumped off the page at me. It was sign from the tomatillo gods, I was sure of it. I went back to the market that afternoon, grabbed a pound of the paper-covered green orbs, and set about making this chile. I did come home first, I didn’t actually start cooking right then and there, but I think that’s kind of a given, isn’t it? Although I’m sure my popularity would have increased dramatically if I had cooked in the middle of the market….

Anyway, this recipe gets extra props for being exceptionally simple to prepare and extremely good. In fact, the leftovers were turned into Chile Verde enchiladas, which the posse will enjoy this evening – while J and I dine with the Queen Mother (and Dad!) for her birthday. Something about crab legs for her (that’s crab with a “c”, not a “k”…) and copious amounts of pasta, chicken parmigiana and wine.

Disclaimer: The first part of the last sentence is true, the second part of the sentence may be what I’m hoping for ….

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Chicken Chile Verde – adapted from Food and Wine

  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 1 pound tomatillos—husked, rinsed and quartered
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large jalapeño, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 white onion, minced
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • Pepper
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Steamed rice, chopped avocado and sour cream, for serving

Roast the poblanos and jalapeño directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning, until charred all over. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel, stem and seed the poblanos and jalapeño, then cut into 1/2-inch dice.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, and sauce until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatillos, water,  poblanos, jalapeño, garlic and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

In a blender, combine the boiled vegetables with the cilantro and reserved cooking liquid and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining onion and the poblanos and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the sauce and bring to a boil, then simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve the chile verde with steamed rice, avocado and sour cream.

Beef Bourguignonne Pot Pie

Sometimes, in life, one must give credit where credit is due. And this, my friends, is that time. Right here, right now.

Can I be honest with you? …..like I would lie.… Seriously, I totally nailed this pot pie. I mean, it was perfect. Like I impressed myself “perfect”. And as we all know, we do tend to be our own worst critic. But not the other night, and not with this. Lest you think that I might break my arm patting myself on the back, the other three members of the house wholeheartedly agreed with me on this one.

It was “absolutely delicious, honey”, “really good, Mom, and “wow, Mom, your pie-crust making skills have really improved”.

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An A+ dinner, and one for the record books.

Beef Bourguignonne Pot Pie – adapted from Bon Appetit

The only major change I made to the recipe was to use my new favorite pie crust, instead of the puff pastry originally called for. Oh, and I used wine instead of broth. Because I think it tastes better :)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup plus 1 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 2″ pieces
  • slices bacon cut into ¼” pieces
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, finely chopped
  • garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbs. brandy
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cups red wine
  • 5 tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • 8 ounces pearl onions, peeled (I used frozen) 
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry (two 14-oz. packages or one 17.3-oz. package), thawed
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend

Position a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400°. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high. Season ½ cup flour with pepper. Add beef and toss to coat; shake off excess. Working in batches as needed to avoid steaming meat, cook beef, turning often, until browned all over, 8–10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.

Cook bacon in same pot, stirring often, until brown and crisp. Add ¼ cup wine and cook, scraping up browned bits, then add onion, leek, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and parsley and return beef to pot. Add brandy and simmer until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add thyme leaves, bay leaf, and wine and season with pepper; bring to a simmer. Mix 1 tbs. flour and 1 tbs. butter in a small bowl until smooth; stir into meat mixture. Cover pot and braise in oven until beef is very tender, 1–1½ hours.

Melt remaining 4 tbs. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and pearl onions and cook, stirring, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Season with pepper. Add mushrooms and onions to stew, cover pot, and return to oven. Cook until onions are very tender, 25–30 minutes. Let stew cool.

Meanwhile, working with one at a time, roll out pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface until about 4” larger than baking dish (use a 2-qt. oval or an 8” square). Place 1 sheet on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill. Transfer remaining sheet to baking dish. Lift up edge and let dough slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about 1” overhang. Transfer stew to baking dish. Brush edge of pastry with egg.

Using a cutter, punch out a circle in the center of chilled pastry. Drape pastry over filling and trim to a 1” overhang. Press edges of dough together to seal and fold overhang under. Crimp edge, then brush top of pastry with egg. Bake until crust is deep golden brown, 30–35 minutes. Let pie cool slightly.