Thursday, May 27, 2010

Did You Know...

Did you know if you do an online order for store pickup at The Container Store.
If you call them when you are on your way & tell them what kind of car you are driving.
You can roll up in front of the store & they will bring it out to you.
Too bad Kroger doesn't do that.
That would come in real handy for the summer, when my child thinks that we should never EVER leave the house for any kind of errands.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

British Beef and Onion Pie: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

I have already blogged about this recipe a little in my review of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook. This dish takes a bit of advanced planning but it's well worth it. It simmers on the stove for an hour, then it needs to cool, then you put on the top crust, then it bakes in the oven for 40 minutes. I suggest that you simmer it one night & pie it on the following evening... or do what I'm doing tonight. Ethan & I will eat it as a stew tonight, then I'll put the leftovers into a casserole & tomorrow I'll bake it off with the crust. You can also bake the pie crust cut into shapes by itself on a greased cookie sheet, then top each bowl of filling with a pie crust float (and that way there is not fighting over who got more crust.) There is a specialty British food product, it's called Marmite, I don't know of anything similar to substitute and it really does contribute a LOT in flavor. I was able to find it in the International food Aisle in both H.E.B. and my local Randall's supermarket, so look out for it, it's a tiny little bottle. A note about the beef, you don't cook it and then drain off the fat, you break it into pieces, then you simmer it in broth... so I would suggest using beef with a lower fat content! Also you can top this same dish with mashed potatoes & cheese and it would make a smashing shepherd's pie! I'll add photos of the pie crust when I bake that off (but we've started eating & it doesn't look promising for much in the way of leftovers, after all. Meanwhile you can see a pretty picture of it in the cookbook on my post about Menu Plan Monday.

British Beef and Onion Pie

3 medium Onions
2 carrots
2 stalks or celery
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (this is a great herb to grow, yourself!)
olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 pound good quality ground beef (see blurb above)
1 teaspoon English Mustard (I used Coleman's Powdered Mustard)
1 teaspoon Marmite (it's sticky spray your teaspoon with Pam 1st)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 quart (32 oz) beef broth, preferably organic
2 9 inch pie crusts (you're going to combine them to make one thick top crust, I used Pillsbury I know how to make from scratch but once they came out with the kind rolled into a scroll, I don't bother to make my own anymore.)
1 large egg or a splash of milk (to brush the pastry)

To make your beef filling
Peel and roughly chop your onions, carrots, and celery, don't worry about technique, just chop away until fine. Remove the rosemary leaves from the woody stalks and chop finely. Place a large (Dutch oven or Stockpot) type pan over high heat. Add 2 lugs of olive oil, all the vegetables, the rosemary, and the bay leaves. Stir every minute for around 10 minutes or until the veggies have softened and lightly colored. Stir in the ground beef, breaking up any large chunks with a wooden spoon. Add the mustard, Marmite, Worcestershire sauce, and 2 teaspoons of flour. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer with the lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring every now and again to stop it catching (sticking.)

To make your pie
Fill a large baking dish with the beef filling and allow it to cool down. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator 10 minutes before you need to roll it out. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Dust a clean work surface and your rolling pin with some flour and lay the pie crusts on the top of the other, then fold in half and roll out the pastry to 1/8 inch thick (I didn't fold & just rolled the two layers together & they kind-of started to separate on me, so I think folding is better.) Once it's large enough to cover your serving dish easily, wind the pastry around the rolling pin and unroll it over the dish (don't worry if it breaks or tears, just patch it up - you'll get the hang of it!) Run a knife around the edge of the dish to trim off any excess pastry. Using a fork, press down around the edge of the pastry to crimp it. Make a hole in the middle of the pastry using the tip of a knife. Brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg or a little milk. Bake on the bottom shelf of the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp.

To serve your pie
Place the pie in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves. As it's so scrummy and rich, it's best served with some simply steamed greens like broccoli or peas tossed in a little butter.

No milk & no wheat if you leave off the crust.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How Will I Pull This Off?

Went to the doctor, today, about my recent tummy troubles. He said I need to cut out Dairy & wheat. Pasta with cream sauce is like my favorite thing in the world, but I guess I am going to have to go back to loving shrimp. Wish me well!

Jamie's Food Revolution - New Cookbook

I had a lot of inquiries about my Menu plan Monday post where I mentioned that I had a new cookbook. Well I hadn't made any recipes yet, so I really couldn't weigh in. I've been kind-of burned out on cooking, lately. This has a LOT to do with tummy troubles I have been having that I begin to suspect are due to a recently developing lactose intolerance.

For my birthday I got Jamie Oliver's cookbook. Jamie's Food Revolution a book that sort-of goes along with the recent ABC television series (You can still watch the full episodes online, here at ABC's website)

So now that I have made three recipes out of the book, I would have to give it a mixed review.

Tonight we had Broccoli and Pesto Tagliatelle page 46. The family liked it well enough, but I thought that it would have more flavor than it did, and I nearly doubled the amount of cheese and green pesto. I did forget to add the fresh basil until after we were eating. It was certainly quick to throw together with not too many ingredients. I used Spinach Tagliatelle, we like spinach and that was the only tagliatelle I could find at the market. I will probably make it again.

On Monday I made Chicken and Leek Stroganoff page 34. The recipe is listed as taking 19 minutes. It was quick, but cutting up the chicken & leeks took me a bit of time, and I had bought mushrooms already sliced (I had to slice mushrooms it seems to take an eternity if you are going to have a decent volume of them in your dish. When I tasted the sauce in the pan I thought the leeks had given it the flavor of a heavenly elixir, not so much as we ate the dish. Robert and I ate it, and I think you could solve the flavor issue by using TWO leeks instead of one & chicken broth in place of water when you add the white wine. But Ethan flat out refused to eat it because he said it had no taste. And you know, neither the subtle wonderfullness that leeks impart, nor the meaty goodness of mushrooms hold much sway with a 11 year-old boy.

On Friday I made British Beef and Onion Pie page 175. It called for a previously unheard of British product called Marmite. Even Robert was unfamiliar with it, and his Dad is from England. But I found the stuff at H.E.B. the market that has International foods up and down both sides of the aisle. I also made a number of rookie goofs in getting this recipe on the table. On Thursday I had a hard time with Ethan's homework & was behind hand getting dinner started so that I cooked the veggies only & Robert brought home Panda Express for Dinner. On FRIDAY when I went to finish the rest of the dish I discovered that I missed beef broth on the recipe list but I could hardly call my husband with a take-out emergency a 2nd night in a row, so I used chicken broth with a beef bullion cube thrown in. THEN I had read the instructions to see that it had to bake for 40 minutes & planned for that. But missed the little detail about simmering the pot for ONE HOUR prior to making it into a pie. Oh dear!

So finally my beef pie was ready for its crust. The recipe says to let the filling cool before adding the crust, but that was out of the question due to time. So I put the crust on hot, it melted, fell into the center of the pie, the broth seeped out the steam hole so the pastry was under water the whole of the 40 minute baking time. I spooned out all the doughy pie crust, tossed that & we ate the filling in bowls like beef stew. What a disaster ...that is until we tasted it. What wonderfully beefy flavor (remember I used chicken broth!) How on earth had this happened, I cook all the time with onion, carrots and celery but never have they tasted like THIS. Do you think it was the Marmite? Or the dish knowing that it had a lot to make up for? It was so good that I immediately ran out and bought beef broth and more ground beef! I'm making it again tomorrow or Friday. I also greatly suspect this is what prompted to me to think that 221 Baker Street Pub & Grill might not be jam packed on Mother's Day.

So I have to give the Jamie Oliver book a mixed review. Two easy lacklustre dishes and one heavenly where have you been all my life time consuming one. There are a lot of photos and a lot of fish dishes (fish dishes a drawback for me as I don't eat fish) but quite a number of shrimp dishes which pay me back for the fish. So I'll keep at it. And to me the beef pie is worth the cost of the book. Especially as you can also make it as a shepherd's pie!

I'll get up some recipes in the coming days, but at least now you have the book review.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Cranford Novellas

I just finished writing a review of this book for Amazon, it occurred to me that I should share it on my blog as well.

The Cranford Novellas (Girlie Book Classics) (Kindle Edition) by Elizabeth Gaskell

This collection of novellas was delightful. I was looking for something to read while doing Mom waiting. I needed stories compelling enough to grab my interest quickly in short bursts at a time, but not so overawing that I would have trouble putting them down when my wait was over. These books were perfect for that. I found the stories charming, was always happy to get back to them & had that reader's regret, when I came to the end of them.

These are the stories on which the PBS mini-series, Cranford, is based. I was impressed by the skill of the adaptation of weaving these several exclusive stories into a whole for the mini-series. I think I rather enjoyed the novellas the more for having followed a single thread through out. It is rather more like having a story related to you, than like reading a book. Oddly enough the thread which least interested me in the mini-series, that of Lady Ludlow, was my favorite among the novellas.

According to Wikipedia Elizabeth Gaskell was a Victorian Era novelist best known for her biography of Charlotte Bronte. I have linked her name to the Wikipedia article. Novellas included in this collection are: Cranford, Mr. Harrison's Confession, and My Lady Ludlow.

You can watch "the making of" video for the mini-series on YouTube Here: Unfortunately PBS has blocked the Embed code so you have to go to Youtube to watch it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Rediscovery of Reading

Book reading.
Its so much less chaotic than the Internet.
No urgency, no inbox, no unmarked tweets, no friend requests or new follows to sort through. It just, like- a story. There whenever I pick it up.

I can pop in for a few pages while waiting at the pharmacy, or linger for hours, lounging under a tree.
Its all the same to the book.
Pick one up!

The Invisible Woman

I've read this before in an email... but as a Mom who feels sometimes like no one appreciates the things I do... its good to return and be encouraged again. Thank you, Wendy, for sending this to me & reminding me, again. I needed it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

My husband was in an accident with my van last week (he's OK, the van is in the shop.) Between that & a sick child I was housebound for all but one day last week. So I was thrilled to pieces to have his car, today, to be able to get out and do some long overdue marketing, thus the menu planning.

This weekend I got a new cookbook Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution - so most of my recipes are from the new book this week. Review of cookbook & verdict on recipes Here.
Beef & Onion Pie recipe Here