Okay. So last night (Saturday). I made a huge pot of oxtail stew. By the time it was ready, I was tired and hungry and there was no natural light for me to take a decent photo. I decided to take the photo the next day.
Next morning, I looked in the pot and it was almost empty. Almost. Little bits of oxtail and vegetables sat in stew on the bottom of the pan. The stew was really good and I suppose we were all very hungry.
This recipe is different from the first oxtail dish (oxtail soup) I ever made. Except for the oxtails, the ingredients and method of preparation were different.
This stew contains roasted vegetables — parsnips, turnips and carrots. I couldn’t find parsnips but I did find some turnips and I used a lot more potatoes and carrorts. My stew tasted delicious but I thought it took more work than I had energy to give. It was a bit labor intensive for me — Cook the oxtails; remove the meat from the dish; put them back in; take it out again; strain the liquid; discard the solids; put the meat back in again. Ugh! Too much work for me.
So, a little confession: I only removed the oxtails from the pot once. I didn’t strain the liquid. I didn’t discard the solid veggies. Yup, I kept them all in the pot and added the roasted veggies to the stew. I didn’t have a problem and served the stew with rice. Everyone seemed to enjoy it since they barely left any stew in the pot.
I’m happy to now have two different oxtail recipes. Thanks for the stew recipe, Elise!
- 3 lbs oxtails with separated joints
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 celery rib, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 cups stock (chicken or beef)
- 2 cups of red wine
- 3 whole cloves garlic, peel still on
- One bay leaf
- Pinch of thyme
- 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch segments, large pieces also cut lengthwise
- 2 parsnips, cut into 1-inch segments, large pieces also cut lengthwise
- 2 turnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pat dry oxtails with paper towels. Sprinkle oxtails all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium to medium high heat in a 6-quart Dutch oven. Working in batches, and not crowding the pan, sear the oxtails in hot pan on all sides until golden brown. Use tongs to remove oxtails to a plate, setting aside.
2 Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until onions are translucent. Add the oxtails back to the pan. Add the whole garlic cloves, the stock and wine. Add bay leaf, thyme, and half a teaspoon of salt. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 3 hours, until meat if fork tender.
3 One hour before the meat is done, heat oven on 350°F. Toss carrots, parsnips, and turnips in olive oil in a roasting pan. Sprinkle well with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables for 1 hour, or until lightly browned and cooked through.
4 When meat is tender, remove oxtails from the cooking liquid. Either skim the fat off the top with a spoon, use a fat separator to remove the fat, or chill the cooking liquid for several hours so that the fat solidifies, making it easier to remove. If you are making ahead, at this point you can just put the stew in the refrigerator (let come to room temp first), with the oxtails still in it, and let it chill over night. The next day, scrap off the fat, reheat and then remove the meat from the dish.
5 Pour the cooking liquid through a mesh strainer into a bowl, using a rubber spatula to press against the vegetable solids caught in the strainer. Discard the solids. Return the liquid to the pan and simmer until reduced by half. Then add back in the oxtails, and add the roasted vegetables to the pan. Heat on low heat for half an hour for the flavors to meld. Add some chopped parsley before serving.
I haven’t eaten a hamburger in a long time. I haven’t eaten a really good hamburger in an even longer time. Well, I broke the hamburger-eating drought when I found this Blue Cheese Burger recipe on Elise’s recipe site. I’d never had a Blue Cheese Burger before. It was time to do something about it.
I made the burgers in a grill pan. After I took my photos of the burgers, I realized that they weren’t cooked all the way through. Ugh! I hate when that happens. So I had to put them back on the grill pan, till they were well-done. Much better.
The recipe suggests serving the burgers on hamburger buns with lettuce and mayonnaise. Yum! That’s when I realized that I didn’t have any hamburger buns, lettuce, or mayonnaise. I would have added a slice of tomato, too, but I didn’t have any tomatotes, either. Haha!
So, what did we do? We ate our burgers the way they were. Guess what? They were still delicious! No one complained.
Ed. Note: Okay. So, I made this hamburger again on another day. So delicious! I still didn’t have hamburger buns or tomatoes, but I did have the lettuce, mayo and regular bread, which is what I used. And this time my hamburger cooked all the way through on the first try. Yes! Check out the last two photos below.
Blue Cheese Burger
Here’s a tip, alhough you might be tempted to go with extra lean hamburger meat for this burger, given all the cheese. I don’t recommend it, unless you want blue cheese flavored dry burgers.
1 pound ground beef (16-20%)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves minced garlic
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese (get Pt. Reyes blue cheese if you can find it)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1- Put ground beef, mustard, garlic, onions, blue cheese, and egg into a large bowl. Use your hands to gently mix the ingredients together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix. Shape into patties, about 1/2 inch thick and larger than your bun. Chill until you are ready to cook.
2- Prepare charcoal or gas grill for cooking over high direct heat. Using tongs and a folded up paper towel dipped in vegetable oil, oil the grill grates. Make sure grill is hot and well oiled before laying down the patties. Season patties with salt and pepper. Place the patties on the clean, well-oiled grill grate. Grill the burgers for about 5 minutes per side. Do not press down on the burgers while cooking. If you don’t have a grill, you can use a grill pan or a cast iron frying pan for the burgers
Serve on hamburger buns with lettuce and mayonnaise.
Makes 4 burgers.
Bluecheese burgers made again on another day. This time I had lettuce, mayo and regular bread. Still no hamburger buns or tomatoes but it still tasted delicious!
Edna Staebler’s cookbook, Food That Really Schmecks, has been republished. In honor of this occasion, food bloggers are participating in an event called A Day That Really Schmecks. The bloggers will prepare a recipe or two from the book and blog about it. Jasmine of will post a line up of the blogged about recipes on Confessions of a Cardamom Addict on January 15, 2007.
Staebler was an award winning journalist and author. She recently passed away in 2006 at the age of 100. I’m certainly glad that it’s never too late to learn about her and her work.
From the title to its content of Mennonite Country Cooking recipes, I found Food That Really Schmecks appealing. As I read the book on the subway and at work, people who spotted the title made comments. The title alone was a conversation starter. I’m not sure what “schmecks” literally means, but I get the gist that it means something along the lines of “good, great, awesome…” that sort of thing. Anyone out there, please feel free to enlighten me.
I liked how the book is filled with recipes for seemingly everything – from Grape Wine to Milk Toast, sauces for vegetables, pickled eggs, cheese bread, porridge bread, Almond Macaroons, to Angel cake, Sponge cake and more. There are even recipes for candy! I also like that a measurement conversion table is located in the back. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a section entitled ‘A Variety of Things,’ where you can find recipes for sausages, cheese, and home remedies.
Interspersed throughout the book are Staebler’s stories about cooking Mennonites and her family, which I found entertaining. The book really packs a punch and has a lot to offer.
I decided to make the recipe entitled, ‘The Best Vegetable Soup I’ve Ever Tasted’ (another title I like). The ingredients are simple and the recipe uncomplicated.
I’m wondering, though, if there’s a typo in this recipe. ½ cup raw rice is mentioned twice. In any event, I only used the ½ cup rice measurement once and it worked out fine. The soup was light, yet filling.
Best of all, I like how Staebler encourages the reader not to take the recipes seriously but instead have fun with them. “Experiment, improvise, be a little reckless,” she writes. I did have fun and added a little Cajun Spice, which my friend had sent me, to make the soup spicier. Loved it!
There are many recipes, from which to pick. The soup I prepared was a good start and I plan on trying out more of the recipes.
Look, mom! I’m making Mennonite Country food! That really schmecks!
Ed. Note: According to Jasmine, “Schmecks” means “tasty” or “tastes very good.” Also it seems that the double posting of the rice ingredient is indeed a typo. The rice ingredient only appears once in the first cookbook printing. So that that means there should only be one listing of 1/2 cup raw rice in the new cookbook version, as well.
The Best Vegetable Soup I’ve Ever Tasted
Food That Really Schmecks – Edna Staebler
When Mother made this mild, thick soup with vegetables, rice and beef, we didn’t need or want anything else. The amounts I give are approximate.
1 large, meaty beef bone (I think it comes from a cow’s leg)
Water to cover the bone with at least 2 quarts left after the boiling
½ cup raw rice
2 medium-sized sliced raw potatoes
½ cup raw rice (Paz Note: I wonder if this is a typo, since it’s already mentioned above)
2 or 3 sliced carrots
½ cupful sliced cabbage
1 cup celery, cut up
Salt and pepper
1 small sliced onion (optional)
1 cup cut-up green beans
½ cup green peas
Lots of parsley
Boil the beef till it falls off the bone. Add the rice and boil for 15 minutes, then add the vegetables and continue boiling until they are tender but not mushy – about 20 minutes. Cut the meat into more-or-less bite-sized pieces, keeping it hot in the soup. Add the cup-up parsley and serve into large, deep soup dishes – again and again.
My first gumbo! I made my first gumbo dish! And boy, did it turn out really well! Even the pickiest eater in my family asked for seconds and thirds and ate the leftovers the next day. ))))))))
Until I made my gumbo, I’d never tasted it before. The opportunity to eat it never came up. When I started cooking, for some reason, I always thought gumbo was a very complicated dish to prepare. After seeing the recipe on Melissa’s blog, The Traveler’s Lunchbox, I became inspired to make it. It didn’t seem too hard to make.
I already had most of the ingredients, except for the sausage. When I went food shopping, I couldn’t find the andouille sausage, which was the first time I’d heard of it. However, I did find Kielbasa sausage (another type of sausage new to me). Melissa’s advice about what to do if you don’t use the andouille sausage (add cayenne, garlic powder, and dried thyme) helped a lot.
Another ingredient I couldn’t find was the filé powder. My search took me to three stores with no luck. I wonder how much different my gumbo would have tasted with the filé powder. However the end product was delicious.
One of my favorite parts of making the gumbo was making the roux. I had fun mixing the flour and oil and seeing it thicken and actually turn into the color of peanut butter. Peanut butter! Yeah, I know: It takes very little to get me excited. The roux really did bring out the “nutty flavor” that Melissa describes in her blog post.
Served with rice, the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo was very reminiscent of some West African cuisine. Perhaps that’s why that picky family member gobbled it up. My favorite part of the gumbo was
the okra everything — the okra, chicken, and sausage…
I’m sure gumbo is great to eat at anytime, but this hearty and tasty dish was especially perfect to eat on a cold rainy day, which is when we had it. I know I’ll be making more during the winter.
Melissa, thanks for the recipe!
Ed. Note: Filé powder is made from ground sassafras leaves that was used to give root beer its distinctive flavor before artificial flavorings replaced it. Southerners add filé to their gumbos to thicken and flavor them. The powder gets stringy when it’s heated, so add it only after you’ve removed the gumbo from the heat source. Filé also doesn’t reheat well, so add only to the gumbo that you are planning to serve. ~ Lowfat Lifestyle.com
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
In a Cajun Kitchen by Terri Pischoff Wuerthner
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (she admits that bone-in, skin-on dark meat chicken pieces, such as legs, thighs and wings are more traditional as well as flavorful in Cajun cooking, so that’s what I used – a much better idea, in my opinion)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup corn oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 quarts warm chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced 1 inch thick (or other spicy smoked sausage, such as Kielbasa, though my advice is to add the following if you don’t use andouille: another 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 1/2 pounds fresh okra or 20 ounces frozen okra, defrosted, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons filé powder (I left this out, as I couldn’t find any locally)
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish cooked rice, to serve
Season the chicken cubes (or pieces) with the salt, paprika and cayenne pepper; set aside. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring constantly, until the flour has turned a medium-brown, like peanut butter. Add the onions, celery, and bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the seasoned chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly (and reducing the heat, if necessary, to prevent burning).
Add the stock and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the hot sauce and sausage; reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the okra and simmer for 30 more minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the filé powder just before dishing it up. Serve in soup bowls with a mound of rice in the center of each portion.
Click on photo for larger image
A few years ago, my sister was hosptialized. Among other things, her iron levels were dangerously low. She would asked me to run across the street to Wendy’s and buy her a cup of chili. I would do this every time for lunch.
The chili was nutritious and helpful to her because beans contain protien that her body badly needed. In addition, beef is high in iron and protein. The combination of the beans and meat helped increase the iron levels in the body. Soon, her lab values for her iron test got better and better.
It’s been quite some time since we’ve eaten chili but after finding this recipe on Cream Puffs in Venice, I was anxious to make my very own homemade chili. I really liked the way mine turned out. Delicious! Okay… Well, I may have put in a tad bit too much chilli pepper (my sister complained) but I like my food hot and spicy, so I didn’t mind. It still tasted GOOD!
Also, I was able to have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Mmmm… Mmmm…Good! CreamPuff was right — hours later, the chili tastes even better! I was in heaven! I love when something I make comes out just right! CreamPuff, thanks for bringing this hearty and delicious recipe to my attention.
3 tablespoons, olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, sliced thinly
1-1/2 pounds, ground sirloin
1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 2 or 3 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano)
1-1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
16 ounces, tomato puree
1 cup beef broth (you can use water if you don’t have beef broth)
1 to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (depending on taste)
1 19-ounce can red kidney beans
1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the onions. Saute for about 5 minutes over medium heat, being careful not to burn them.
Add the garlic and carrots and cook for two minutes.
Add the ground sirloin and cook until the meat is completely browned. There should be no pink visible in the meat anywhere. This should take about 10 minutes.
Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook for two minutes, stirring often.
Add the tomato puree and the beef broth or water. Bring to a boil, stir the mixture and lower the heat to simmer.
Let the chili simmer over low heat for an hour, or until much of the liquid has evaporated and you’re left with a thick mixture. If it gets too thick, add some more water.
Add the kidney beans and the chopped bell pepper and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Taste the chili and adjust the seasoning, adding as much salt as necessary. Depending on how spicy you like your chili … and this one is spicy … you may not want to add any pepper.
Spoon the chili into serving bowls and garnish with sour cream, aged cheddar and avocado.
Note: I think this chili actually tastes better after it sits for a few hours so I like to make it in advance and reheat before serving. This chili will easily serve 6 to 8.