Category Archives: Entrees

Le Pot-au-feu

Do you remember the end of November?  You know, when it was in the upper 20s, low 30s and we all put on our hats and mittens and scarves and pretended it was winter?  But really, you know, it wasn’t.  Now this weather, this is winter weather.  This is the winter weather where I put on my hat and my mittens and my scarf and all you can see is the whites of my eyes.  This is real.

And this cold winter weather is the perfect time to enjoy Le Pot-au-feu.  Mon bf made this dish for me at the end of November, when we still just pretending it was winter.  But I know the weather we’re experiencing now is more what he had in mind to accompany this very hearty winter dish that he used to enjoy in France.  And now, I share with you his description of his mother’s recipe so that it will warm you up this weekend!

Le Pot-au-feu (from mon bf)
“Pot-au-feu” can be translated as “pot on the fire”.  It is a very simple winter dish made from vegetables and beef and is a great way to prepare a broth that is particularly enjoyable during cold days.

The bravest of you can try the bone marrow on bread which can be part of the recipe. You might also want to enjoy the broth with the ancestral tradition of “faire chabrot” – aka – pouring red wine in your broth before finishing your bowl.

“Faire chabrot” is often regarded as a poor men/farmer’s tradition, not acceptable in the high society.  Which is precisely what Alyssa and I are so keen to do it (Alyssa is, after all, a farmer’s daughter!). Regardless of any social context, you might want to try this experience for the great taste it has.

For 4 persons
Difficulty : extremely simple
Time : preparation 30 minutes, cooking 3 hours.
Cost : moderate

chuck roast 2 pounds ($9)
vegetable ($10)
3 carrots (baby carrots left unchopped are find)
1 onion (whole)
4 potatoes (cubed)
2 leeks (sliced)
3 turnips (cubed)
2 bones with marrow (optional)
garlic, salt, pepper, clove

tomato sauce ($3.8) and 1 sliced onion.

Put the chuck roast in a large pot and cover it with water. Upon heating and boiling, foam might form at the surface and has to be removed. When there is no more foam, add the peeled vegetables, one peeled (entire) onion pinched with clove.  Add more water to cover ingredients. Caution! Too much water will give a weak tasting broth. Add salt, garlic and pepper according to your taste. Keep at a gentle boil for 3 hours. (optional, add the bones with marrow after 2 hours).

Meanwhile you can prepare a tomato sauce with the remaining sliced onion. In addition to a tomato sauce, the Pot-au-feu is often appreciated with Dijon mustard and pickles.

After 3 hours, the meat and vegetable are taken out of the broth and are ready for eating.

The broth can be served as a starter after the fat has been removed from the surface. As strongly suggested earlier, the great “faire chabrot “ tradition is possible.

For the fearless of you interested in the bone marrow, the bones that were added after 2 hours and cooked for about 1 hour helps to keep the marrow in the bone so it is not lost in the broth. Take the hot marrow from the bone with a knife and spread it on (toasted) bread and add salt to your taste. Enjoy!!


See those bones and the marrow? It's going to be soooo gooood!

Pouring wine in the broth

Why are you being so polite? “Faire chabrot” Add some wine first.

Marrow on bread

Marrow from the bone.

Le Pot au feu with tomato sauce

The meat and vegetables with tomato sauce to complete your pot-au-feu experience!


Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

This was a wonderfully food-filled Thanksgiving weekend.  I made the trek back to the motherland for some delicious turkey on the grill, maple-glazed brussel sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes, corn-bread stuffing, cranberry-cherry chutney, home-baked dinner roles and maple-pecan and pumpkin pie.  Earlier today, I dined on some delicious pot-au-feu (recipe to follow later this week, I hope).  Tonight, I wrapped up my incredibly relaxing holiday weekend with this carrot and sweet potato soup.

First, I have to tell you that it was not my intention to make this soup.  I was intending to make Moroccan carrot soup instead.  But alas, it turns out I didn’t have enough carrots and I wanted some leftovers to get me through the first half of this week’s lunches.  So, this slightly heartier soup was born.  Find some delicious bread to go with it, and you’ve got yourself a wonderful winter meal!

Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 c. carrot, sliced
1 medium-large sweet potato, cubed (about 3 cups)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. 33rd and Galena Penzey’s Spice Mix **
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
4 c. water
1 14oz can coconut milk

Saute onions and garlic in oil until onions are translucent.  Add carrots, sweet potatoes, ginger and dry spices, and mix until coated.  Add water, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar; bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes, or until carrots and sweet potatoes are soft.  Stir in peanut butter.  Transfer mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth.  Return to low heat and stir in coconut milk.  Serve with bread and enjoy!

**The 33rd and Galena spice mix was included in a very kind gift I received from my aunt this week.  As I was cooking the soup, I realized it was lacking something.  Aunt J. to the rescue with a little Penzeys!  The pepper and nutmeg in this mix gave just the warmth we were looking for!

Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad

The wheat berry is one of my favorite grains so I was excited to try out this Waldorf Salad recipe I discovered in the November / December issue of Midwest Living.  I brought it over to my friend’s today for lunch and we both agreed it was pretty good.

There are a lot of pretty good recipes and stories in this issue of Midwest Living, actually.  One of my favorites is a story of a Christmas cookie – Date Pinwheel Cookies – featured on page 26 by a Minneapolis blogger.  Oh wait!  That blogger is me!  I was pretty honored to be asked to contribute a story for this issue of the magazine and I think that my grandma would be pleased as punch to see one of her recipes in a glossy magazine, even if she never would have submitted it herself.

In any case, if you’re looking for some tasty, Midwestern holiday recipes, whether they be cookies or grain salads, you’ll want to check out this very special (at least to me!) issue of Midwest Living.

Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad (from Midwest Living)
2 1/2 c. water
3/4 c. wheat berries, rinsed
1/3 c. olive oil
1 Tbsp.  dried parsely
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 large apples, chopped (ML suggests one Granny Smith and one Braeburn; I used one Fireside and one Honeycrisp)
1 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. dried currants (or cranberries, cherries or raisins)
1/2 c. grapes, halved
4 Tbsp. slivered almonds

1.  In a small bowl, combine the water and wheat berries.  Cover and chill in your refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours.  Do not drain; transfer to a medium saucepan.  Bring to boiling and then reduce to a simmer, covered for 30 mins or until tender with a chewy texture.  Drain and cool.  (I admit, I forgot to do this step and just cooked the wheat berries, sans soaking.  I think they’re fine.)
2.  Prepare the dressing.  In a screw-top jar, combine oil, parsley, vinegar, juice, sugar, salt and nutmeg.  Drizzle dressing over wheat berries, stirring to coat.
3.  In a large bowl, toss apples, celery, cranberries, and grapes.  Stir in wheat berry mixture and mix well.  Serve immediately, or chill for up to 4 hours.
4.  Serve over a bed of spinach and garnish with almonds.



Molasses-Brined Pork Chops

Hark!  What is this you’re reading!?  A new entry on VVG?

Believe it.  Today, I bring you pork.

I don’t have any really good excuses* for not posting for the past couple of months, except that I just don’t enjoy cooking or baking in my Barbie-sized kitchen during the summer.  But now that fall is here, or at least according to the calendar, I’m back in the kitchen a bit more.  Plus, my neighbor convinced me to do the October Unprocessed food challenge so clearly, I need to be in my kitchen pretty regularly now.
*I did have food poisoning back in August but I didn’t think you’d need to read my interpretation of cinnamon toast for a week.

So, what is this October Unprocessed food challenge, anyway?  Does it involve maple syrup?  In answer to the first question, basically, if it’s something that you could theoretically make in your own kitchen, it’s fair game for food consumption.  If food requires some sort of chemical process to come about (ie. sugar or corn syrup) it’s out.  Therefore, the answer to the second question is a resounding YES!  Maple syrup is in.  I can proceed!

Although recipe does not feature maple syrup, I assure you that these pork chops are still good.  They will definitely warm you on a cool fall day.  I thought they were a little too salty so I would reduce the salt in the brine next time, but I know Grandma would approve of this recipe just as it’s printed below.

Molasses-Brined Pork Chops (From November, 2003 Cooking Light)

3 1/2 c. water
1/4 c. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 c. ice cubes
4 pork chops

1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cardamon
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
3 garlic cloves, minced

For cooking
2 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp. olive oil

Step 1:  Prepare the brine.  Dissolve salt in water.  Stir in honey and molasses.  Stir in ice.  Add pork chops, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Step 2:  Remove chops from brine and pat dry.  Discard the brine.

Step 3:  Combine rub ingredients and rub over both sides of chops.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step 4:  Place flour in a shallow dish; dredge chops in the flour.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chops and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until done.  Molasses-Brined Pork Chops

Chicken Salad

A few weeks ago my friend and I went out for dinner and she proclaimed that she was on a chicken salad kick (she’s since moved on to French dips, oh well).  I don’t order chicken salad very often because it’s usually just a little too goopey for my tastes, but then I ran across this recipe in Cooking Light and thought I’d give it a whirl.  The poached cooking method for the chicken was perfect.  Plus, with a few adaptations, it was a great way for me to use up some CSA goodies.  I think now I’m on a chicken salad kick!

Chicken Salad (adapted from May 2011 Cooking Light)
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 c. chopped radish
1 c. chopped green onion
1/4 c. dried currants
1/3 c. coarsely chopped almonds

1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Fill a stockpot two-thirds full of water; bring to a boil.
Step 2:  Wrap each chicken breast half completely and tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Add the chicken to boiling water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°. Remove from pan, and let stand for 5 minutes. Unwrap chicken and shred; refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold.
Step 3:  Combine dressing ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken, radishes, onions, currants, and almonds; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve over salad greens.

Chicken Salad

Venison Kebabs

Back in November, my brothers butchered a deer for me.  Well, maybe the whole deer wasn’t intended for me, but I did come home with a cooler full of venison with my name on it.  Literally:

Frozen venison roast

It's not for you. It's 4 ME!!

So since November I’ve been trying out a variety of different meat recipes.  I never was a big meat eater, in large part because I don’t know how to cook the stuff.  I call my mom with lots of questions.  “Do I really have to “roast” a roast?  Because my apartment is already roasting.  Can I grill it instead?”  To which the answer was, as I was hoping, yes.

And you know what?  I think I stumbled upon a VVG recipe for venison kebabs that had the added benefit of using up some of our CSA loot.  If you or your loved ones killed a deer and need to think of inventive ways to eat it, I highly recommend trying it.

Vension Kebabs
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. red wine
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves chopped garlic
3/4 c. chopped green onion
1/2 c. chopped basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 – 2 pounds cubed venison (I really don’t know how much that roast with my name on it weighed.  I also had a little loin that I used.  I’m guessing it was about 2 pounds)

Mix all ingredients except venison together.  Place venison and marinade in a shallow pan or ziploc bag and mix thoroughly.  Refrigerate overnight or for 8 hours.  Place on skewers and grill over a high or medium high grill for about 10 – 15 minutes on eat side.  Enjoy!

Venison Kebabs

MMM Day ?? – Maple Bacon & Cheese Sandwiches

***Today’s post is brought to you by mom!***

The guys are still picking up sap and have just started cooking.  I brought these nice hot sandwiches down for an around-the-evaporator supper.

Maple Bacon & Cheese Sandwiches
12 sandwiches

6 whole wheat english muffins, split
1-2 pounds butt bacon
3 large tomatoes, cut into thick slices
12 slices sharp cheddar cheese
5 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
healthy pinch of cayenne pepper
healthy pinch of ground cloves

Turn oven to broil.

Fry bacon.  Whisk together syrup, water, lemon juice, mustard and seasonings.  When bacon is cooked to your liking, Add to bacon and cook for a few minutes to glaze.  Push to one side and add tomato slices.  Begin assembling sandwiches.
Place muffin halves on baking sheet, top with bacon, tomato and a slice of cheese.  Broil until cheese begins melt.

Feel free to use other meats.  Being a little short of bacon, I substituted sliced turkey, glazed in the maple mixture and topped with swiss cheese.  Yum.   Ham would be just as good.

This recipe is a loose adaptation of the Canadian Bacon Cheese Dream in Ken Haedrich’s Maple Syrup Cookbook.  His recipe also calls for a fried egg on the sandwich, which I thought might be a bit much.  When I mentioned this to the guys while eating, they heartily disagreed and of course knew full well that I just didn’t feel like frying up six or eight eggs.  Regardless, the sandwiches as made were delicious.