Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jewish Holiday Cooking: Calling all Matzoh Brie Recipes

Hag Sameach! Happy Passover! And in honor of Passover, Mom has written a Passover post on the blog section of her website, Food Talk with Jayne. This time, her post is on Matzoh Brie and Minas, the Sephardi alternative. And, once again, she's holding a contest and asking for your ideas and recipes! Savory, sweet, whatever. All are welcome and the winner gets a copy of her book, Jewish Holiday Cooking. Good luck!

To send in a Matzoh Brie or Mina recipe, write it up in the contact form on Mom's site, or else write it up on your own blog and send her an e-mail linking to your post. Or leave the link to your post in the comments section here and I'll be sure it gets to her. Happy cooking!

For more information on Jewish Holiday Cooking, see here.

To get started on your matzoh brie and minas, here are some recipes.

Links to other delicious-sounding kosher-for-Passover recipes:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jarret de boeuf braise

Today's dish is another one inspired by an early post, this one Braised Veal Shank with Thyme, the second dish I ever published. But, when I made this last week, I realized I had no thyme. And the beef shanks at Whole Foods looked far more appetizing than the veal. So I adapted the recipe in another ways and here you have it.

I must say, especially since I haven't had much time to cook lately, this was far and above the best meal I'd made in a long while. The meat was tender and flavorful, rich but not overbearingly so. The addition of Chinese five-spice powder (my new favorite spice blend) added a wonderful hint of sweetness. Finally, this is the kind of dish you can prepare, put on the stove and then leave to cook while you do any number of other things. These days, that is a perfect dish indeed.

Jarret de boeuf braise

Preheat oven to 350 F. Rub 1/8 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, oregano and five-spice powder on all sides of beef shanks. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat in an oven-proof pot big enough to hold shanks in one layer. Pour a small handful of flour onto a plate. Dip each side of each piece of beef into the flour. Shake off the excess and place the shank into the pot. Turn the heat down to medium and brown the beef, about 3 minutes per side. When done, transfer beef to a plate.

Add the rest of the olive oil to the pot. Add the onion, carrots, bay leaf and remaining salt, pepper, oregano and five-spice powder. Cook for 12 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan every so often to prevent sticking. Add the beef on top and cover everything with chicken broth. Put the pot into the oven (preferably covered to keep it from drying out) for 1 hour, 10 minutes. Place 1 shank on each plate and cover in sauce and veggies. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Links to other delicious-sounding recipes that use beef shanks:

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Aloyau de boeuf au reblochon

March 29 was a very exciting day--my blog's third birthday! That's right, ladies and gents, on March 29, 2005, I wrote my very first post--Filet de boeuf au livarot. I had a beautiful wheel of livarot that we had brought back with us from a weekend away in Bayeux and, not wanting to just eat it plain, I got to thinking about what to do with it. Luckily, I came up with the Rib-Eye steaks au livarot, which became a signature dish and which launched this blog.

Rewind five months. I was living alone in Paris; the Boy was still in the States. And I wasn't living in a chic one-bedroom near Place du Chatelet; I was in a chambre de bonne in the 15th, at the far corner of the city. My cooking equipment consisted of a hot plate and a microwave. I hadn't found a butcher or fishmonger and, frankly, felt silly making elaborate meals just for me. Instead, I made a lot of frittatas, simple pastas and lentils cooked with everything but the kitchen sink. I also bought a fair amount of already-prepared food.

But I dearly missed good food, even more so because I was living in Paris, where I was constantly surrounded by some of the most delectable foods I'd ever witnessed. One lonely evening, I stumbled upon my first food blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, and was instantly addicted. Every night after that, as I sat eating my lonely dinner, I stared at my computer screen, devouring whatever delicacy Clotilde had whipped up that night. And little by little, my own meals started becoming more enlightened. They were still simple, but now there were herbs and I began experimenting with vegetables and other products I'd never encountered before.

Fast-forward back to March, 2005: the Boy had joined me in Paris and we had an adorable une piece on Rue St-Denis, just off Place du Chatelet. There was an oven and a stove and, for the first time, I was responsible not just for my meals but for the Boy's as well. This new responsibility made me ever-more creative and, as I started created new recipes and more-or-less reteaching myself how to cook as I faced new ingredients and measuring systems, I began wondering how to record all this wonderful creations. So, late on the night of March 29, when the Boy was in China with his family, I created this food blog.

I know there have been lapses, and a lot has changed since that night, and, really, I never dreamed I would have kept this fascination with cooking and creating so long after leaving Paris. But, apparently, I have and I am sure that this has a lot to do with you, my readers. So open up a bottle of wine (we enjoyed a Cabernet Sauvignon) and enjoy this recreation of the first dish I ever shared with you, adapted, as it must be, for my New York circumstances. Enjoy and A votre sante. Here's to many more!

Aloyau de boeuf au reblochon

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a pan over medium heat. Mash three cloves garlic with 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, pepper and five-spice. Rub mixture all over both sides of steaks. Raise flame under pan to high and sear steaks 3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan, place steaks on a plate and place plate in a turned-off oven to rest.

Turn the heat down to low and add the onion and the chopped garlic to the pan. Cook gently about 6 minutes, stirring every so often. Turn heat back up to high and deglaze with water and apple cider, then cook another 3 minutes, until reduced by half. Turn heat back down to low and add milk, remaining tablespoon butter and cheese. Move everything around pan, ensuring the chunks of cheese are well-distributed and just beginning to melt. Also take this time to scrape up any bits of garlic and meat that may be stuck to the pan and will add another delicious dimension to the sauce. Add piment d'espelette and remaining salt, pepper and five-spice, as needed.

To serve: spoon sauce over steaks and top with parsley. The sauce also went wonderfully with some mustard greens I served alongside. Enjoy!

Links to other delicious-sounding steak recipes: