Tag Archives: carrots

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

24 Jul

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Every few weeks, I gather my pennies and buy a nice piece of meat from my happy farmer’s market vendors. I like the challenge of picking out a random cut and learning to cook it with love. If I am going to spend the money on a well-raised meat product, I want to cook it up special.

I recently picked up some stew beef (before that was lamb merguez sausages for a spicy pasta dish. woah!). For a week, the stew beef sat in the freezer as I threw around ideas on what to make with it. My farmer’s market vendor mentioned beef carnitas, which sounded like a nice way to ring in the summer–a meal of beef carnitas, charred tortillas, avocados galore, and summer tomatoes.

But somehow I got hooked on the idea of a simmering beef stew. Yes, a simmering beef stew, in the middle of July. I guess I like to torture myself (see: last year’s carrot cake with cream cheese frosting). On the other hand, all of the food magazines (and fashion, too!) are prepping for their winter issues in the middle of summer, so I am simply blending in with the crowd on that front.

After flipping through recipes and asking trusted cooks well versed in meat, beef bourguignon was the answer. But alas, I don’t have a Dutch oven. My roommate, however, has a slow cooker, and it was high time I thought to use it.

To help me get in the mood, I watched this video all the way through at least twice, maybe more (oh hush!).

This recipe is involved. But having the slow cooker do most of the actual cooking helps out a ton. I divided the cooking process into 2 days. Day 1 was my slow cooking of the beef. On day 2, I re-heated the beef in the slow cooker and added in sautéed mushrooms and pearl onions, and some more red wine!

I served my beef bourguignon with lightly buttered egg noodles and a rustic romaine salad with some slivered almonds. And some bread on the side, with olive oil and salt for dipping and sprinkling.

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Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

serves 6, adapted from the infamous Julia Child, and an Epicurious Slow-Cook recipe

**I used less meat than Julia recommends. Why? Because meat can get expensive, and using less of it is better for me, you, the animals, and the environment. 1 1/2 pounds of meat can stretch to feed a lot of people when it is bulked up with delicious buttery vegetables and red wine sauce. A little meat + a lot of veg=my idea of a great meal.

For the Slow-Cooked Beef: 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 lbs stew beef, cut into rustic cubes

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced

1 medium onion, sliced

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 cloves minced garlic

1 bay leaf

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup red wine (I used a beaujolais wine)

salt and pepper, to taste

For the Braised Pearl Onions:

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

18-24 pearl onions, peeled (I used frozen ones and defrosted them before cooking)

1/2 cup of chicken broth or red wine

For the Sautéed Mushrooms:

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 lb of mushrooms

Directions: 

Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the stew beef and sauté until browned on all sides. Place the browned beef in the slow cooker pot.

In the same pan, add a dash more oil and sauté the onion and carrot for about 5 minutes. Add the flour, tomato paste, garlic, and bay leaf and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the broth and wine and stir. Pour this mixture into the slow cooker pot with the beef. Cover and cook on low setting for 7-8 hours.

Once the meat is tender, pour the contents of the slow cooker pot into a sieve set over a saucepan. Return the contents back to the slow cooker pot.

**At this point, you can let the beef mixture and the sauce cool and set it in the refrigerator overnight. If you are eating right away, continue with the rest of the recipe.

Skim the fat, if any, off of the top of the sauce. Slowly heat the sauce until it thickens slightly. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Follow the directions for the pearl onions and mushrooms. Once they are sautéed and ready, add them to the slow cooker meat mixture with the reduced sauce and cook on low for 1-2 hours.

Finishing touches may include a cup or so more of red wine, salt and pepper, more garlic….

Serve over buttered egg noodles.

For the Pearl Onions: 

Heat the butter and oil in a skillet. Once bubbling, add the peeled onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

Pour in the 1/2 cup of broth or wine. Simmer slowly for about 15 minutes.

For the Mushrooms:

Place a skillet over high heat with butter and oil. As soon as you see the butter foam subsiding, indicating the pan is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4-5 minutes. During the sauté the mushrooms will first absorb the fat. In 2-3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

French Lentil Soup

7 Apr

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When it comes to legumes, I almost always think of beans, too often forgetting about lentils (shame on me). Lentils are so easy to make and provide a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, iron, and magnesium.

This soup is great for a light lunch or dinner, or even a mid-day snack. After a quick chopping session, everything gets thrown into a pot and simmers for an hour. This provides time for you to get other things done, allowing the soup to be left alone except for a little stir here and there.

Flipping throughAlice’s In the Green KitchenI was reminded of her “green kitchen manifesto:”

green kitchen manifesto

I understand that sometimes these tips are easier said than done, and that location and income are huge factors that affect the desire and ability to keep a green kitchen. Try focusing on 1 or 2 of these components, and see where that takes you…

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I purchased my French lentils in the bulk section of my local health food store. Aren’t they beauties? These girls are hold their shape nicely when cooked, and pack such a comforting flavor.

The soup is great on it’s own with some toast or pita. You can also serve it with fluffy brown rice or quinoa. A few dabs of yogurt or a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar add some oomph. Or even a poached egg right on top, the yolk dripping right into the broth…

French Lentil Soup

4-6 servings

adapted from Alice Waters’ In the Green Kitchen

1 tablespoons olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and diced (I used 1 carrot and 1 parsnip)

1/2 onion, peeled and diced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 cup French green lentils, rinsed

7 cups of water or vegetable stock

Fresh ground pepper

Heat a large saucepan or soup pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to dry and soften. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender and the onion translucent. Add the garlic and cook briefly to release the aroma.

Add the lentils and stir while adding the water/stock and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the lentils crush easily and have a creamy texture. Mash some of the lentils in the pan using a whisk or a quick go with the immersion blender to thicken the soup slightly. Season with pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Healthy Carrot Breakfast Bread

2 Apr

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Last summer, in the blazing heat, I made an enormously decadent cream-cheese frosted layered carrot cake. It was absolutely fantastic, but sometimes I crave the challenge of making something secretively healthy (and not cloyingly sweet) that still packs that satisfying punch. In other words, I want to eat cake for breakfast and not feel bad about it.

I love a good quick-bread, especially for breakfast, slathered with nut or seed butter and washed down with a hot mug of coffee. This Carrot Breakfast Bread scratches that itch for me. It’s packed with carrots, pulsed oats, and a touch of yogurt, oil, and fruit (I used up the last of the charoset that I made for Passover). It’s sweetened with agave and chopped dates, and simply feels right to eat first thing in the morning.

I was feeling lazy (and efficient, mind you), so I used my blender to speed up the preparation time. First, I pulsed my oats in the clean, dry blender. After that I grated my carrots in there, and then I mixed my wet ingredients together in the blender. Just a few pulses and some mixing together by hand and that’s it.

Of course, if you are not a fan of unfrosted carrot cake, you could always enjoy this healthy carrot bread frosted with Love and Lemon’s cream cheese frosting. It’s all about balance.

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Healthy Carrot Breakfast Bread

adapted from LoveandLemons

2 cups flour, I used 1c. oat flour (pulverized oats in the blender until they turned to flour) and 1c. all-purpose flour

2 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

spices: 1 T. cinnamon, 1/4 t. cloves, 1 t. ground ginger, 1/2 t. nutmeg, pinch of salt

1 lb. carrots, peeled

2 eggs

1/2 cup of agave

1/4 cup canola oil or coconut oil

1/4 cup plain yogurt, I used plain, low-fat Stonyfield yogurt

1/4 cup applesauce or mashed/pureed fruit such as banana

1/4-1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped dates

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly dust a loaf pan with flour.

I used a blender for this recipe; you could also use a food processor. Grind your oats in the blender until they look like flour. Transfer to a bowl and whisk together the 1 cup of oat flour with the 1 cup of all-purpose or whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

Take your peeled carrots and chop them into rough bite-sized pieces. You will need to do this next step in batches: throw a small amount of the carrots into the blender and pulse until a fine chop (not totally a puree but not giant carrot chunks…somewhere in the middle). Dump the finely chopped carrots into a large bowl. ***Note: you could also grate the carrots by hand, but I was lazy.

Next in the blender go the eggs, agave, oil, yogurt, and applesauce. Pulse for about 20 seconds until everything blends together. Pour this mixture into the carrots and stir it all together with a rubber spatula.

Add the dry mix to the wet and fold with a rubber spatula until it all comes together. Fold in the chopped dates. Dump everything into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with some cinnamon and maybe a dash of sugar on top. Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, rotating half-way through baking.

Serve for breakfast with some sunflower or almond butter and a hot mug of coffee or tea.

Carrot Cake With Orange Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

30 Jul

Yep. I made a gigantic layered cream cheese-frosted carrot cake. In the middle of summer.

Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut. My gut wanted carrot cake.

There’s walnuts and fresh ginger. Those are the kickers. Sweating like a crazy lady, I grated 1.3 pounds of carrots by hand. I called it my workout for the day.

I baked the cake in two 9-inch cake pans to make a two-layer cake. They baked off with nice, flat, even tops, so I did not have to trim the cakes before frosting. Hallelujah.

I’ve used bundt pan in the past. You could make your life easy and do it that way, too. Or you could join in me in the madness of layer cake making in the middle of summer.

Pro tip for ultra silky frosting: You MUST MAKE SURE YOUR BUTTER AND CREAM CHEESE ARE ROOM TEMPERATURE so that everything whips up nice and silky smooth. You may want to sift your powdered sugar to get rid of lumps.

When I frosted the cake, I used a combo of different techniques I learned from reading, watching videos, and working in restaurants. In the end, I did it in my own free-form sloppy way, but somehow it turned out looking pretty great.

Cake frosting is a bit complicated, there’s this thing called a crumb coat, then the cake gets refrigerated for about 30 minutes, and then I put on the final layer of frosting. You could read Joy’s tutorial to help you get started. Melissa Clark has a great video tutorial as well. I recommend using a small offset spatula. I don’t have a cake stand or cardboard cake rounds. I just used a flat plate and turned the plate as I frosted. Works fine.

Oh, and never frost a cake that is right out of the oven. Make sure it is completely cool. Meg Ray from Miette Bakery in San Francisco will vouch for this tip.

I hope I didn’t scare you. Maybe one day I will attempt to do a more in-depth cake frosting tutorial, but I’ve got to get a little more confident first. Just have fun. Good luck. Don’t forget to share.

Carrot Cake with Orange Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from Martha Stewart

NOTE: The original recipe calls for 3 sticks of melted butter. I swapped canola oil for the butter to reduce the saturated fat content of the cake. I wanted to save up and use the butter in a rich cream cheese frosting instead.

Serves 10-12; store any leftovers it in the refrigerator (I actually think the cake tastes better a few days later cold from the fridge…)

Ingredients

* Unsalted butter, for pans
* 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
* 1 cup walnut halves
* 1 1/3 pound large carrots, peeled
* 3 large eggs, room temperature
* 1/3 cup buttermilk (I have used plain Greek yogurt in the past and it works just as well)
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 2 cups sugar
* 1 ½ cups canola oil
* 1 ½- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (depending on how spicy you like it)
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Cream Cheese Frosting (this makes a LOT of frosting, you will probably have some left over)

*3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
*3 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
*3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
*1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
*2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
*Pinch of salt

Directions

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans (or a bundt pan). Dust pans with flour, and tap out any excess. Set pans aside. Spread nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan, and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and let stand until completely cool. Reduce temperature to 300°F. Roughly chop the nuts, and set aside.

2. Peel the carrots and grate them to yield 1.3 pounds, or a little over 3 cups (you could also use a food processor).

3. Peel the ginger (I like to use a metal spoon) and use a microplane to grate the fresh ginger.

4. Place carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, vegetable oil, and ginger in a large bowl; whisk until well combined.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined. Fold in the toasted nuts.

6. Divide the batter between the two cake pans (I weighed my pans to make sure they were even), and bake until a cake tester inserted into the middles comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove pan from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, 15 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.

7. To make the frosting: place butter in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, and beat until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add sugar, orange zest, ginger, and salt, and beat for 5 minutes.
*any leftover frosting can be kept in an airtight container for about 7 days (I had a little over a cup leftover).
Frost the cakes as you wish. I recommend watching some online video tutorials first.