Elle’s Mushroom Bourguignon with Venison for #ElleAPalooza

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Elle loved winter (almost!) as much as I do! She was a New Englander through and through and we had a shared love for snow and cold days where you need a bowl of something hot and steamy to warm yourself up. Since we are in the middle of winter, I wanted to make one of her warming stews for #EllaPalooza and quickly decided on her Mushroom Bourguignon recipe.

I looove mushrooms and so I have been wanting to make this recipe for a long time. Too bad I waited until now, when she is no longer here to tell her how much I loved it and what a creative genius cook she was one last time.

I added some venison steak strips to the dish to stretch it because I wanted to enjoy this soup over and over again. I don’t think the stew needs it at all, the mushrooms hold their own in this dish, but if you feel like being indulgent, add some, it is quite delicious that way.

Your whole house smells good as you are cooking this dish up and you can cook it like Julia Child – one glass of wine for the pot and one for the cook! Elle suggests serving this over egg noodles, but we served ours over mashed potatoes (for Roberto) and mashed rutabaga (for myself). We toasted to Elle and thanked her for being a part of our lives and ate this delicious warming stew in her memory. It made the Elle-shaped hole in my heart warm for a few minutes. I miss you Elle!

If you would like to join the food blogging community in supporting Elle’s family, please join Friends of Elle on facebook to learn more about the auction be held to benefit her family. It is also a place where you can share your thoughts about Elle and gather with friends old and new who all loved this beautiful woman.

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs Crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 Portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, cut into chunks
1/3 pound of venison leg steaks cut into strips
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 TBS tapioca flour
1cup dry red wine
2 cups broth of your choice-vegetable, chicken, beef
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
2 bay leaves

METHOD: In a large pot, heat about 2-3 tbsp of olive oil. Add all of the mushrooms, the venison strips, about 1 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper, and sauté for about 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms, venison and accumulated juices to a bowl and set aside.

Add a couple more tbsp of olive oil, and sauté the onions and carrots for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

Sprinkle the onions, carrots and garlic with the tapioca flour, stir for about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and accumulated juices back to the pot, then add the wine, broth, tomato paste, thyme, Herbes de Provence and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Experimental Scoops for #ElleAPalooza: Hard Cider and Plum Sherbet #ElleAPalooza #Scoopapalooza

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#ElleAPalooza is an even that any blogger can join! This is our community’s way to remember a wonderful friend, mentor and blogger that passed out of our midst suddenly and sadly, Elle of Elle’s New England Kitchen. Foodies celebrate with food and we also grieve with food and that is what this event is all about, remembering our dear friend Elle in a way she would have loved, with food!

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Elle and her friend Heather from He Cooks, She Cooks started an event called #Scoopapalooza and I just found out there is also a facebook page. This is the inspiration for Scoopapalooza in their words: “The idea is to pick up a new, unusual, or super fresh ingredient from the farmers market, grocery store, or even your own garden–and incorporate it into an ice cream recipe. Because that is what summer is all about! Fresh ingredients and ice cream!”

Well it isn’t summer anymore, but I decided what better way to honor my friend’s memory than with making my own crazy concoction! I was going to go straight up and just make Elle’s amazing Woodchuck Cider Sorbet  but I didn’t feel that was really in the spirit of Scopapalooza! I needed to mix it up – do something different, bold and a little crazy. So I decided on making a sherbet, using yogurt and of course that key ingredient, Woodchuck’s Cider. I know, sounds weird, but that is what Scoopapalooza is all about, getting creative with ice cream!

Talking to Heather the other day and remarking on her Hard Apple Cider Cranberry Sorbet  and how the color looked like Elle’s hair, I knew I wanted to add a pink element to this creation. So I added some plums I had frozen over the summer. I think the plum and the apple go well together, their sweet and tart flavors, mixed with the yogurt is definitely a delicious combination. For extra sweetness and more pink I also added some Swedish lingonberry concentrate. The sherbet didn’t get as pink as I would have liked, but I am happy with the result.

I learned a valuable lesson too, while making the sherbet. I wanted to use some delicious jarred morello cherries in juice that I get from Trader Joe’s – for the sweet and for the pink. We don’t have a TJ’s near us so when I come across one in our travels I always get a jar of those cherries (more if we have lots of extra room). They are precious because I love them so much and they are so hard to come by. So I dole them out sparingly, trying to save them, make them last longer. Well I guess I let these wait a bit too long, when I opened the jar there was a fizzy sound, meaning the cherries had spoiled. So I had to throw half the jar away. Instead of enjoying the cherries while they were good and fresh. By hoarding them, I lost half the jar. Lesson learned was to enjoy things in the moment because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Enjoy life NOW. If Elle’s passing taught us anything it is that life is precious and way too short. Follow your dreams, do what you love, be passionate about what you do, or don’t do it. Live each moment in the fullness of your being.

I think Elle would have been proud of my experiment and the lessons learned in its making. I wish I could have a dish with her right now to celebrate the sweetness of life. I am sure she is making delicious ice cream and treats in the great beyond. I love you, Elle.

If you would like to join the food blogging community in supporting Elle’s family, please join Friends of Elle on facebook to learn more about the auction be held to benefit her family. It is also a place where you can share your thoughts about Elle and gather with friends old and new who all loved this beautiful woman.

Hard Cider and Plum Sherbet

INGREDIENTS:

2 c. plain yogurt
1 bottle Woodchuck’s Hard Cider (Elle’s Favorite!)
1 plum, cut in half and parboiled
4 TBS lingonberry concentrate (can also use black currant or pomegranate)

METHOD: Place all ingredients in a high powered blender, like a Vitamix. Blend until mixed thoroughly. Place in your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. I let my sherbet mix for about 25 minutes.

Post Partum Freezer Meals: Russian Borscht

 

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I loooove borscht. The first time I ever made it I was over run with beets from my CSA. This was in college and we had an agriculture program there and if you lived on campus (or off) your could buy a CSA share. This was the first time I had ever heard of a CSA by the way and I thought it was very cool and it taught me to cook lots of different kinds of produce I wasn’t used to.

So I was in my on campus apartment making dinner for my housemates. Everything in the kitchen was red, including my hands and my shirt. I loved the experience. Ever since then, I have been hooked. In fact during my pregnancy I had a dream while napping of eating borscht, so my husband made it for me. Since I love it so much, I figured it would be a perfect addition to my postpartum menu. I used beets that we had grown in our garden the year before that were roasted and then frozen. Definitely handy for a borscht lover.

This soup is restorative, comforting and deeply nourishing. Since I am such a borscht fanatic, I asked my friend and fellow blogger Sofya, who blogs at A Girl’s Guide to Guns and Butter for her recipe. She is from Azerbaijan and that being a former Soviet republic, I figured she would have a truly authentic recipe. Her recipe begins with making homemade beef bone broth which is the base of the soup. This is truly delicious comfort food.

This borscht is the best! In fact I am eating some right now. Today I served it over mashed potatoes with some fresh sauerkraut on top. In my version I was lazy and I cubed all my veggies instead of grating them. But I guess you can’t blame me for taking a short cut, I was 9 months pregnant when I made it! I hope you make some and enjoy it during the cold, cold days of winter.

Russian Borscht Recipe by Sofya Hunt

Makes approximately 7 to 8 quarts

INGREDIENTS:

For the stock:

2 roasts, such as chuck or arm, 2 to 3 lbs each, or 4 to 6 lbs soup bones (or some combination of both)
2 gallons cold water
1 whole turnip, unpeeled
1 whole large onion, peeled and studded with 10-12 cloves
2 large carrots, unpeeled
1/2 celeriac, peeled
2 large bay leaves
10 dried allspice berries

For the soup:

12 medium beets
1 medium head of cabbage, shredded (do not use the core)
2 small to medium unpeeled turnips, grated
2 medium to large unpeeled parsnips, grated
4-6 unpeeled carrots, grated
1/2 celeriac, peeled and grated
2 large onions, chopped
2 potatoes, cubed
3 sticks of butter, for sauteing the vegetables
2/3 to 1 whole 8-oz can tomato paste
meat reserved from making the stock, cubed
1 whole head of garlic, cloves peeled and minced
organic beef base, or an equivalent
additional water or stock, as needed
lemon juice, to taste
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 bunch parsley, chopped
sour cream and extra parsley, for serving

The Stock

Place meat and vegetables in cold water and bring to a simmer. Skim off the scum that will rise to the top just before the simmering point. Once the stock is simmering, add bay leaf and allspice. Cover partially and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender and the liquid had been reduced by at least half. Let cool and strain, reserving the meat and discarding the vegetables and spices. Note that I don’t degrease my stock, but if you’d like to do it, chill it in the fridge overnight and use a slotted spoon to remove solidified fat from the surface in the morning.

The Soup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wrap the beets tightly in foil and pierce the packages (the foil and the beets) with a fork in several places to allow some of the steam to escape, thus preventing them from exploding in your oven. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until a knife can be slid easily in and out. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and unwrap. To peel them easily, hold each beet under warm running water while rubbing it with your hands – the skins will slip right off. Grate cooled beets and set aside.

Melt butter in a large stainless steel saute pan or a dutch oven (don’t be taken aback by the amount of butter – it will all be absorbed by the veggies before you know it). When the butter begins to foam, add grated parsnips, turnips, carrots, celeriac, and chopped onion and saute until the onions are translucent and the root vegetables begin to soften. Reduce the heat to low and stir in tomato paste. Set aside.

Bring strained stock to a boil and add the cabbage and the cubed potatoes. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Add sauteed root vegetables and 3/4 of grated beets (we’ll be adding the rest towards the end for additional color boost). Continue simmering gently, partially covered, for 40 minutes. If your soup appears too thick at this point, feel free to add more water or extra stock until the consistency is right. If using homemade stock, add beef base (do not add extra salt until you are done adding beef base as it tends to be very salty on its own). Stir in the remaining beets, cubed meat, minced garlic, pepper, lemon juice, and more salt if needed (the exact amount of lemon juice will depend on your taste, but the goal is to strike a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity so your borscht is neither too sour, nor too sweet). Simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the beets are no longer dark-red and the garlic has mellowed out. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley.

Let cool and refrigerate overnight before serving the next day.

Post-Partum Freezer Meals: Split Pea Soup with Ham Hocks

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My crockpot became my best friend during the time I was preparing meals for the freezer. I would prep all of the ingredients during the day and then let everything slow cook over night. In the morning, I would let it cool and then package the contents in mason jars. I focused on lots of soups and stews. Meals that were mostly hands off during cooking, could be packed in mason jars, so I didn’t have to give up any of my glassware to sit in the freezer for weeks and because soups and stews are easy to heat up.

One of our favorites was delicious and hearty split pea soup. In fact I had prepared this to serve to the midwives after the birth, but we were all too tired for food, so we ended up enjoying this later.

The first step, as you will see in many of the recipes in this series, is that I first made bone broth, this time from ham hocks we had in the freezer from our last two pigs. I made the bone broth in the crockpot as well, I added water to cover the bones and added about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a couple of bay leaves – that is the way I make most of my bone broths. Then I let it cook for about 24 hours.

Once the broth was made, I got all the meat off and reserved it. Then I basically made this soup (of course in this case it was not vegan!)

I put all the ingredients in the crockpot with the reserved meat and let it cook over night.

The thing about freezer meals is that you don’t re-invent the wheel, go through blogs, cookbooks etc. and make things you already know how to make, items that freeze well. This isn’t necessarily the time to experiment with difficult recipes. Here are some of the recipes I made or made similar recipes from recipes I already had on my blog.

Sardinian Purcavru in Agru Durci (sweet and sour pork)

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

Veal and White Bean Stew 

Post-Partum Freezer Meals Series: Homemade Burgers and Meatballs

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The last post I wrote was my daughter’s birth story and it got me thinking about all the things I did to prepare for her birth. So I decided to start a series on easy Postpartum Meals for the blog. These posts will also be of interest to those who are friends or family of a pregnant woman that would benefit greatly from having meals brought to her family in those first two weeks post-birth. Or for people who just want to nutritious and healthy freezable meals.

In this day and age many new moms and dads are isolated or living far from family and friends. One of the best things I did for myself in late pregnancy was spending a week getting various healthy, nutrient packed meals in the freezer for us, so when the baby came we were all set with good things to eat.

All in all, I was able to freeze a month’s worth of breakfasts, and about a month’s worth of lunches or dinners.  We are still eating from this bounty supplemented with some quick and easy fresh meals as well and now that Alba is over a month old, we are also going out for meals sometimes also.

I have read a lot about preparing for the arrival of your baby and most articles would suggest gathering local take-out menus so that during those first few weeks postpartum where you don’t really have the time or energy for cooking, you can let someone else cook for you.

This is good in theory, but the reality is that what you eat those first few weeks is the first nutrition you will be feeding your baby, if you are breastfeeding. So for me I wanted to be sure that what she was getting was super nutrient dense.  You won’t get that from take-out.

I am going to start the series out with two super easy ideas, pre-made burgers and meatballs. I will also link you to my Pinterest board with other Postpartum meal ideas that gave me inspiration when I came up with my own menu. In the posts to come I will share a variety of soups, stews, breads, muffins, etc.

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Burgers:

Who doesn’t love a nice juicy burger? Especially at a time when your body could use more iron? Burgers are the perfect fix! Making burgers for the freezer is easy! I use 100% grass-fed beef as the base and then I like to add smoked salt and a little barbecue sauce to the meat, mix it with my hands and create the patties. The trick to this is then putting the patties on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet in a single layer and popping it in the freezer until frozen. This way you can package your burgers into 2 serving bundles without the patties sticking together. I used 3 lbs. of ground beef and got 12 patties.

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Meatballs:

I made meatballs in the same way. I flavored one batch with Italian seasonings: salt, oregano, basil and thyme and the other with Middle Eastern spices: salt, cumin, coriander, paprika and sumac. I formed the meatballs and then cooked them on cookie sheets in the oven at 350 F for about 15 minutes. After they cooled I put them in a single later on cookie sheets and popped them in the freezer, then bagged them in 2 person serving sizes for the freezer. With the Italian version we had rice pasta with meatballs and with the Middle Eastern meatballs we made Middle East Inspired Meatballs.

Here is my pinterest board with other freezable meals to get your mind and taste buds going.

 

Stone Fruit Tart (grain and dairy free)

 

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I made this delicious and seasonal stone fruit tart a couple of weeks ago and I have been meaning to share it with you all!

My forays into the kitchen have slowed down a bit due to my protruding belly which has me bumping into things and being generally less graceful than usual, however when it comes to baking, I seem to be a bit more motivated it seems another thing that has come along with this pregnancy is a bit of a sweet tooth.

I have never been into really sweet desserts and I am still not, but I do find myself craving something sweet after dinner. Sometimes it is yogurt with fruit and honey or cajeta (goat’s milk caramel), sometimes-delicious organic whole fat ice cream or some other concoction I make in the kitchen, like this tart.

I found the tart crust and pastry cream filling on Pinterest. It is from DeliciouslyOrganic.net . Carrie made a strawberry tart, but with all the beautiful stone fruits in season, I decided to change it up a little. The result was wonderful. Using coconut sugar as the sweetener gave the pastry cream a bit of a caramelized flavor, which added some depth, and the crust was perfect – flaky and delicious. It held up to the cream nicely and it seemed like the flavors of the tart got better each day that it rested in the fridge in between servings!

Have fun with this recipe – use what fruits are in season and what you have on hand and you won’t be disappointed!

Stone Fruit Tart (adapted from Deliciously Organic)

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups almond flour
2 TBS coconut flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 tsp arrowroot
3/4 tsp sea salt
8 TBS unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

1 1/2 cups coconut milk
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup coconut sugar
3 TBS arrowroot powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 large plums, sliced thin
2 apricots, sliced thin
Handful of currants as garnish (optional)

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 350ºF and adjust rack to middle position. Butter a 9-inch tart pan. Place almond flour, coconut flour, sugar, gelatin, arrowroot and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times to combine. Add butter and pulse 10 times to combine and then process until mixture forms dough. Press dough on bottom and up sides of tart pan.

Place tart pan on top of a baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, or until just turning golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes, then place tart crust in the refrigerator.

Pour the coconut milk into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, place the yolks and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using a whisk attachment, whisk mixture on medium-high for 3 minutes until very thick. Reduce speed to low and add arrowroot. Whisk until incorporated. With mixer on low, slowly (very slowly) add the hot coconut milk to the egg mixture.

When all of the coconut milk has been added, pour the coconut milk/egg mixture into the saucepan and heat over low heat. Whisk constantly until mixture forms a thick pudding. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, butter, and almond extract. Pour pastry cream into a large bowl. Place a piece of parchment paper directly on the pastry cream (this will prevent it from forming a skin). Chill for about 45 minutes.

Pour cooled pastry cream over the crust in the tart pan and spread evenly. Chill for about 3 hours. Place sliced stone fruits on top of pastry cream and serve. Serves 8

Orange Olive Oil Bread (paleo, gluten-free, dairy free)

 

Orange Olive Oil Bread

This is my first post in a very long time, but recently I have been inspired to start blogging a bit as I have made some very delicious recipes from some cookbooks I have received over the last month that I wanted to share with my readers, if you are still out there J

As I prepare to give birth to my first child in about a month, I have been looking for recipes that are easy to make and can be frozen. I plan to stock my freezer with these kinds of foods for the first few weeks after the baby is born – and this delicious recipe is definitely in the mix! If you have some great ideas, please come on over to my facebook page and add links to the thread for your favorite freezable items – casseroles, breads, muffins, etc.

I love this bread and I can’t wait to make it again. It smelled so good while I was mixing and baking it. It is moist, soft and extremely fragrant with the oranges and the olive oil – a classic Mediterranean flavor combination. I have been enjoying it all week for breakfast slathered in butter and served with a bowl of homemade goat yogurt and fruit. It is very filling and perfect for these hot summer days. In the winter I can see this bread going well topped with a rosemary compound butter.

This recipe comes from the book Paleo Indulgences: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes to Satisfy Your Primal Cravings. I have modified the recipe somewhat. First, I doubled the recipe so that it would fit in a normal loaf pan (the original recipe is for 2 mini loaf pans). I also used almond flour instead of hazelnut flour, because I didn’t have any hazelnut flour and finally, I used honey instead of maple, and I didn’t increase the amount when I doubled the recipe, in fact I lessened it. For one, I think honey pairs better with the Mediterranean flavors of olive oil and orange and secondly, 2/3 cup of honey would be too sweet for this recipe, by my taste buds. Go ahead and taste the batter before you decide for yourself the level of sweetness that you need.

INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup coconut flour
2/3 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp sea salt
10 eggs
1/4 cup honey
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest and juice from 2 medium oranges

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 350F. Place dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add wet ingredients and blend well with a hand-mixer (I used  my Kitchenaid for this recipe and it worked great – so I mixed the wet ingredients first and then added the dry).  Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil or butter. Bake 35-40 minutes or until the center of the loaf springs back when lightly pressed. Cool 10 minutes in the pan and turn onto a wire rack to cool. Store in fridge, but can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Paleo Chocolate Cream Tart with Fresh Figs

 

Doesn’t that sound just dreamy? It is hard to believe that something so sexy as a chocolate tart with fresh figs can be grain, dairy and refined sugar free. You also wouldn’t guess that it is extremely easy to make, not very time consuming and requires no baking! This is such a no-brainer it could be a weeknight dessert, but you might want to leave it for the weekend so it feels more like an indulgence.

I based this tart on a recipe from a new cookbook called Paleo Indulgences. Like I said the Paleo Gods have been shining down on me and put me in the good graces of the folks over at Victory Belt Publishing who send me the latest and greatest in Paleo cookbooks for review. I have really been so fortunate to receive these books free of charge. The books may be free, but the opinions I have are all my own. The good thing is that I have not been disappointed yet. These books have all helped me to eat Paleo for the past three months and given me such a variety of wonderful recipes to use in my kitchen, I don’t feel like I am missing a thing!

For the first month and a half of going Paleo I hadn’t eaten any sugar outside of fresh delicious summer fruits. But my mom came to visit in mid-September and I wanted to make some treats while she was here. So we looked through Paleo Indulgences and decided on the chocolate tart, mainly because Roberto is such a fan of chocolate. After the sweetness of my palette had changed it was nice to have a dessert that serves 8, yet only has 2 TBSP of sweetener, and maple syrup at that! But I am sure it will satisfy any sweet tooth, especially if you are a chocolate lover.

Paleo Chocolate Cream Tart with Fresh Figs (adapted from Paleo Indulgences)

INGREDIENTS:

Tart Shell:
1 ½ cups almond flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 TBS pure maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt

Filling:
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
1 TBS pure maple syrup
1 can of coconut milk
1 TBS of Frangelico

Garnish:
Pint of fresh figs, sliced
Cinnamon for dusting

METHOD: Chill the can of coconut milk overnight or at least a few hours, this separates the fat from the water.

Place all tart shell ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until well incorporated and starting to stick together. Place mixture into a tart pan (or you can use 4 mini tart pans). Press firmly along the bottom of the pan(s) and part of the way up the sides of the pan(s). Place on a baking sheet and chill for about an hour, or until firm.

Meanwhile, place the filling ingredients, except the coconut milk fat into the food processor and pulse until well mixed and smooth. In a separate bowl, whip the coconut milk fat and Frangelico together – scoop out the fat on the top of the can, leaving the watery part in the can and whip the fat and Frangelico just like you would whipped cream. Then fold this mixture into the chocolate mixture.

Pour filling into the tart shell(s) and refrigerate for another hour. Serve with sliced figs on top.

Will store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for 3 months.

Entered into the Fig Love Blog Hop.