Posts Tagged ‘hearty’

Do you love white?

You know: rice, potatoes, pasta, bread, flour, bechamel (mmm, bechamel…)

Well, you don’t need me to tell you.  We’ve all heard we need to eat less white. (Naturally) colorful foods typically have more of the good stuff: vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, flavonoids, and fiber.  Unfortunately, DayGlo-orange Kraft Mac doesn’t count as the right kind of colorful.  Michael Pollan tells us; the federal government tells us—but it’s hard to apply all this good advice.

Lately, I’ve been making a concerted effort to put more color on our plates. Sometimes this means buying some flourescent produce and rushing home to ask Chef Google what the heck I can do with it.  That’s fun, in a kind of Iron-Chef-challenge way.  But sometimes, it’s just easier to work the good stuff into recipes I already make.

Which explains this chicken shepherd’s pie with spinach and sweet potato mash.  It’s got tons of the good stuff bathed in a little cream to help it go down with a smile.

Because a little white is alright.

To be honest, I like my revamped version better than the original. The faintly sweet topping plays off the creamy, herb-spiked base really nicely.  And the chicken is considerably lighter than beef or lamb.  I hope you enjoy my update to the classic.  Dig in!


-1 lg. sweet potato or yam
-3 med. or 5 sm. white potatoes (enough to weigh 1 1/2 lbs. together with the sweet potato)
-1 Tbsp. butter
-1 Tbsp. herbed cream cheese (I used porcini-mushroom flavored) or sour cream
-1/4-1/2 c. milk, as needed
-salt and pepper, to taste

Peel and cube all the potatoes and boil in a medium pot of salted water until tender.  Drain and place in a medium bowl.  Set aside the pot for later use.

Whip together the potatoes, butter, cream cheese (or sour cream), seasoning, and as little milk as needed to form a thick but spreadable consistency.

Preheat the oven to 425F.


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I’m salivating thinking back on this meal (which was admittedly only a few hours ago). Well, I couldn’t wait to share it with you. Tender chunks of beef, slow-braised in a dark beer broth with lots of caramelized onions, shallots, and plenty of herbs. All that, plus tangy mustard and a whiff of wintery spice make this an easy dish to fall in love with.

If you like pot roast, boeuf bourguignon, or beef goulash, you will adore carbonnade. Don’t get me started on how good your house will smell while this simmers on the stove. Sit back and enjoy a glass of Belgian beer while you wait. Salut!

-1 lb. stewing beef, such as chuck roast (avoid pre-packaged stew meat, which tends to be gristly)
-1 Tbsp. flour
-1/2 lb. shallots, peeled and halved (about 5 med.)
-2 small onions, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin
-1 Tbsp. butter
-olive oil, as needed
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 c. vegetable or beef broth
-1/2 pint (300ml) dark Belgian beer, such as Chimay Blue
-1 Tbsp. brown sugar
-3 bay leaves
-leaves of 4 fresh thyme sprigs
-handful of parsley, chopped
-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
-2 gingersnap cookies plus 1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, or one piece Lebkuchen (German gingerbread)
-1 tsp. Dijon or spicy mustard
-salt and pepper, to taste

1. Trim and slice the beef into 1-in. cubes. Pat dry with paper towels (to ensure your meat browns, not steams). Sprinkle with the flour, salt, and pepper, and toss well to coat.

2. Heat half the butter and a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a deep, thick bottomed pot on medium-high until bubbly.

3. Add half the meat to the pot and allow one side to brown thoroughly.  Do not stir for several minutes until a dark crust forms.  Turn with tongs and brown the remaining sides.  Remove the seared meat to a bowl, leaving the oil behind.

4.  Add more olive oil (if needed) and the remaining beef to the pot. Brown and remove to the bowl.

5.  Add the remaining butter to the pan, reduce the heat, and add the shallots and onions.  Stir and shake regularly until softened, browned, and caramelized all over.  Take care not to burn.

Not there yet…


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I had a chocolate craving the other night, but since there was only hot chocolate mix in the house (pursuant to the theory: if you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it), I made cookies instead.  Oatmeal raisin cookies, in fact.  I’m more of a chocolate chip girl, but that wasn’t possible, given the current Schoko-drought.

I have freely admitted that baking is not my forte.  As per usual, I didn’t have all the ingredients the recipe called for.  Brown sugar (the soft, molasses-enriched stuff) just doesn’t exist in Germany.  I was also thinking about tweaking a recipe I’d never made, which doesn’t usually bode well.

Fortunately, the cookie gods smiled upon me, and the cookies came out great—chewy, soft, and delicious—despite my meddling and substituting.  Even without chocolate, they were satisfying.  (Especially for breakfast the following morning.)

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

625 commenters can’t be wrong—this is a great recipe.  I’m even tempted to call it foolproof. 🙂  Here’s my take on the classic: (more…)

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Lentil Soup

This is a great hearty soup for the chilly months. You could halve this recipe, as it makes a ton. Or, invite people over 🙂

-2 Tbsp. olive oil
-1 Tbsp. butter
-1 med/lg. onion
-1/2 lg. shallot
-2 cloves garlic
-3 medium carrots
-3 stalks celery
-1 parsnip, peeled (optional)
-1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
-3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
-1 sprig rosemary, whole
-fresh thyme leaves stripped from 4 stalks (approx. 1 Tbsp.)
-shake of cayenne pepper
-1/4-1/2 tsp. cumin
-1/4-1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed
-lots of fresh black pepper to taste
-3 bay leaves
-2 tsp. salt, or more to taste
-1 tsp. each chicken and beef broth powder (or use equal parts chicken and beef broth in place of water)
-approx. 64 oz. water

-1 lb. lentils, rinsed (brown are fine)
-1 c. uncooked barley, rinsed

-1 lb. Polish Kielbasa, cut into large dice

1. Finely chop onion, garlic, and shallot in food processor. Sauté over very low heat in 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in your largest, heaviest pot.

2. Dice carrots, celery, and parsnip (small and uniform), add to onion mixture. Cook a few minutes.

3. Add herbs and tomato paste, cooking until fragrant. Add water, broth powder. Bring to a boil.

4. Add lentils and barley, and only 1/4 c. of chopped sausage. Reduce to a bare simmer. Stir occasionally.

5. Simmer 35 min., then stir in remaining sausage. Simmer 25 min. longer.

6. Let soup cool uncovered. Skim off fat that rises to the top by gently pressing a paper towel flat against the surface. Repeat after 10 min.

Remove rosemary sprig and bay leaves, and serve heated through with toasted pita bread.

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