Archive for the ‘One Pot Meals’ Category

Super Bowl Sunday Shrimp: BBQ Shrimp

February 4, 2018

No chips and dip for this girl this Super Bowl Sunday!  Don’t get me wrong, I love chips and dip.  Tonight I decided to up my game.  Shrimp and more shrimp.  Let’s start with BBQ Shrimp.  This really, really couldn’t be easier.  Easy to do for a few or a crowd.  Messy for sure.  And totally worth it!

This is so easy you don’t even have to shell the shrimp!  Most New Orleans recipes use head-on shrimp.  I got my shrimp at the grocery store and they come without the heads.   I’m okay with that.  They also came shell-on, but de-veined.  Perfection!  I only made 1/2 a pound of these because I’ve got etouffee coming later, but I could eat a whole pound of these, or more, without batting an eyelash.

All it takes is Worchestershire, lemon juice, pepper, creole seasoning and butter.  That’s it.  Now, my sauce separated tonight so the butter didn’t integrate into everything else to make a unified sauce.  Know what?  Still good.  Doesn’t look nice.  Tastes great.  And it’s football food so I’m going to go with taste!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb large raw shrimp , unpeeled
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon, reamed)
  • 3 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning (I use Tony Chachere)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cups (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • Crusty bread as accompaniment

Here’s what you do:

In a large skillet combine shrimp, Worcestershire, lemon juice, black peppers, Creole seasoning, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute on each side. Reduce heat to moderate and stir in butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly and adding more only when butter is melted. Remove skillet from heat. Place shrimp in a bowl and pour sauce over top. Serve with French bread for dipping.

The constant stirring matters.  It’s what keeps the sauce from breaking.  I was slicing bread and looking for leftover containers, etc while I made these so the stirring didn’t really happen.  Thus the ugly sauce.  Served with local Billy Bread from Lecker Baking.

10 minutes start to finish.  Can’t beat that!  Grab some napkins and gather round!



Andouille, Mushroom, Tomato Pizza

January 15, 2018

It’s been a day of domesticity here.  I made most of a dress and baked 2 loaves of bread.  Not hard to imagine that I might not have much left when dinner time rolled around.  I could have eaten leftovers.  I had the Greek Butternut Squash Greek Salad for lunch.  And I hate to eat leftovers on my days off when I, theoretically, have time to cook.  I try to keep naan and fresh mozzarella in the house. With those two things you can have pizza anytime!

Pizza is a fantastic way to get rid of odds and ends:  one link of andouille; a few sliced mushrooms; some mascarpone.  Throw in a little pecorino, mozzarella and a naan you’re all set.


Here’s what you need:

  • A naan
  • Pretty much anything you want to add

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oven to 450
    • I have a Pizza button on my convection oven that provides high heat and circulating air.
  • Put your toppings on the naan.
  • Bake 10-15 minutes until it’s crisp and bubbly

Here’s what I did tonight:

  • Heated a pizza stone in the oven
  • Spread a thin layer of mascarpone over the naan
  • Slice the andouille and sear on both sides
  • Add andouille, mushrooms, sliced tomatoes to the naan
  • Top with diced fresh mozzarella and grated pecorino
  • Bake 12 minutes

Here’s what I thought:

The mascarpone provides a fantastic creamy balance to the spicy andouille.  Add in the earthiness of the mushrooms; the freshness of the tomatoes; and the saltiness of the pecorino and you have all your bases covered.  Top with cheese, because that makes a great pizza, amazing.  It was awfully hard not to eat the whole thing, and I still might!


Catfish Curry

January 2, 2018

Yep, catfish curry, Thai style.  It’s really flipping cold in Virginia this week and I wanted something warm.  I also had a drawer full a vegetables that I bought with a plan I have long since forgotten.  And also some catfish that needed a plan ASAP.  Curries are pretty flexible about what you put in them and I adore anything in coconut broth, so here we are.

You’ll need a few pantry staples if you want to be able to throw a curry together on the fly.  All of this is readily available in the Asian foods section of a standard grocery store.  Curry paste – red, green, yellow, all of the above.  Coconut milk, the canned kind, not the refrigerator kind.  Lite is fine.  I only use regular coconut milk if a recipe specifically says that Lite won’t work.  Fish sauce.  It’ll be in a bottle, not a jar.  And it’s funky, but adds a lot of depth.

Pretty much every fish curry recipe you’ll find calls for “firm, white fish.”  Something like haddock or cod or sea bass.  If you’re worked with catfish you know there’s nothing firm about it.  It dang near falls apart when you cut it in pieces.  Still, it’s what I had and mild enough that I figured it would work.  I actually started with a Chicken and Vegetable Curry recipe from my Cherry Bombe cookbook.  That’s how flexible Thai curries are.  Fish instead of chicken.  Cauliflower instead of bok choi.  No jalapeno.  Add brown sugar.

You really can kind of wing it as long as you pay attention to your substitutions and their cooking time.  It takes fish much less time to cook than chicken and cauliflower much longer than bok choi so I adjusted accordingly.

What do you need?


2 T oil (canola, safflower, something plain)

1/2 an onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 inch peeled fresh ginger – all chopped fine

2 bell peppers, sliced

2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced or diced

1/2 small head of cauliflower, cut small and pre-roasted

2 T green curry paste

1 can lite coconut milk

1 T fish sauce

2 catfish fillets, cut into 1 inch chunks

1 diced jalapeno (optional, and not included above)

1 pinch brown sugar (optional)

How do you do it?

It looks like kind of a long list of ingredients, but it’s really easy to make.  Do all your chopping ahead of time.  Keep items that go in the pot together, together on the cutting board.  Then you can just scrape them right off the board into the pot.

I recommend dicing your own onion, garlic and ginger.  The flavor is just nicer.  But if you have to choose between ordering a pizza or using frozen diced onions and garlic and ginger from a jar, do what you have to do.  Be aware that there’s water in the pre-chopped things so when they hit that hot oil they splatter!  Be prepared!

Heat the oil in a medium stock pot or large pan.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger.  Saute 3-4 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, peppers, and cauliflower.  Saute 5 more minutes.

Stir in the curry paste.  Cook 2 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and fish sauce.  Bring to a low boil.

Add the catfish.  Make sure it’s covered by the liquid.  Reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 10-15 minutes until the fish is cooked through and the sauce thickens a little.

Stir in a pinch of brown sugar.

Serve as a soup or over rice.


How did it turn out?

It’s ugly, but it’s good.  Not my favorite curry, but good.  I think it needs another vegetable.  I’ve got some carrots that I can roast tomorrow and add in to the leftovers.  They’ll add some sweetness and some texture.


Potato, Poblano and Chorizo Tacos

April 16, 2013

It’s installment two in Taco Week!  We’ll call this taco crack.  Serious awesomeness.  I don’t know any other way to describe it.

I have no idea what qualifies this for inclusion in Cooking Light, but I’m awfully glad it’s there.  It feels pretty sophisticated for tacos.  Roasted poblano peppers, local chorizo, charred tortillas.  Fancy.  But before we get too far above ourselves let me point out that this is hash.  Plain and simple.  Potatoes, vegetables and meat all cooked together.  It’s hash.  And it’s amazing.

Chorizo tacos

Let me start with what I left out or substituted.  I left out the corn.  The sweetness would be a fantastic addition, but I really think you need fresh kernels and it’s nowhere near corn season in Central Virginia right now.  There’s corn in the stores, but I’m holding out for the local stuff.  I left out the lime wedges, which would also have been great, but I was starving by the time I got this made so I just didn’t get around to the lime wedges.  I substituted freshly shaved parmesan for the manchego because that’s what I had.  I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock because I had some in the fridge.  I don’t think the recipe suffered at all.  I’ll finish the ingredients portion with a big kudos to Sausage Craft.  I used their chorizo, removed from the casing.  It’s spicy, but not too hot and has an amazing flavor.  Another winner from Sausage Craft.

To make this a little easier on myself I chopped the onion and roasted the pepper last night.  It saved a little prep time tonight.  Using pre-minced garlic would shave a minute or two off as well.  Other than that this is pretty quick and pretty straightforward.  I used a big cast iron skillet, which I generally recommend.  It heats evenly and holds the heat really well.  I’ve found that the top from my large chef’s pan fits the skillet well, but since you only have to cover this partially you can use a dinner plate or whatever top you can find.  Nothing special about the prep.

This is a terrific taco filling.  Really terrific.  This has football season taco bar written all over it.  It would also be great for brunch with an over easy egg on top.  Or great lunch food served on lettuce.  Or great hangover food served with a Bloody Mary, Mimosa or beer on the side – I assume.  (My mom reads this).  Truly I can’t wait for lunch tomorrow when it’s time to eat the leftovers!

Good? So far beyond good!
Easy? Yep, it’s hash. Just really good hash.
Good for company? You’ll be the hit of the brunch crowd.
Special shopping? Chorizo might not be available in your regular grocery. Check a farmers’ market (my preference) or a specialty store or a Latino market.

Potato, Poblano and Chorizo Tacos


2 poblano chiles
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups diced white potato
1 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces Mexican raw chorizo, casings removed
3/4 cup unsalted vegetable stock
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 ounce parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)


1. Preheat broiler to high.
2. Cut poblanos in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place poblano halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil for 8 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel; coarsely chop.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add potato; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove potato; place in a large bowl. Add onion to pan; cook 3 minutes. Add poblano, red pepper, and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion mixture to potato. Add chorizo to pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes, stirring to crumble. Return potato mixture to pan. Stir in stock and salt; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes or until potato is tender, chorizo is done, and liquid almost evaporates.
4. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, heat tortillas over medium-high heat directly on the eye of a burner for about 15 seconds on each side or until lightly charred. Arrange about 1/3 cup potato mixture in center of each tortilla; top with 1 1/2 teaspoons onions and 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese.

Cuban Chicken and Hominy Stew

February 5, 2013

Today was not a good day.  On top of some significant challenges at the office, I came home to a house where one dog had a stomach issue and another decided that a boot box was his enemy and needed to be destroyed.  Lots of cleanup to manage.  The last thing I felt like doing was cooking.  Truly.  But I stopped at the store on the way home to pick up a pepper and an onion so I could make this dish so I forged ahead.  Glad I did.  A little comfort food was exactly what I needed.

Cuban Chicken and Hominy Stew

Let me start by saying this was supposed to have plantains instead of hominy.  The store I stopped at for the pepper and onion is a scary store that offered no chance of picking up plantains so I decided the hominy, which I already had at home, was an acceptable substitute.  It’s possible that the plantains would have thickened this into a more stew like consistency, but probably not so much.  I also used a pint of home canned tomatoes instead of fresh.  February is not a time to buy fresh tomatoes in Virginia.  I didn’t have a whole cup of sherry so I used 2/3 sherry and 1/3 marsala.  If I’d had port I would have used that instead.  Nothing else in the way of ingredient subsitutions.  I even measured the spices.

This can reasonably be described as a 30 minute meal.  I roasted and pulled some chicken breast on Sunday so I didn’t have to deal with chopping chicken tonight.  And clearly draining a can of hominy and a jar of tomatoes is less cumbersome than peeling and chopping plantains and tomatoes.  Even having to deal with those things, though, you’d be pretty close to the 30 minute mark.  And it’s all in one pot too so that’s always good.

Speaking of good.  This stuff is good.  It’s soup-like, not stew-like, but the flavors are terrific.  The sherry/marsala adds a wonderful sweetness to balance the salty broth and tomatoes.  The hominy gives it a starchy richness.  I added a squeeze of fresh lime juice to my bowl to add a little bright citrus as well.  Without it, the sweet was almost too much.  Next time I’ll add a little chopped avocado garnish too.  That would put this over the top.

I almost made only a half recipe thinking that I might feel inclined to cook later in the week.  I may, in which case I’ll freeze some of this, but for now I’m really looking forward to the leftovers!

Good? So good.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? A terrific weeknight dinner with friends.
Special shopping? Nope. Even in Virginia you can get cooking sherry in the grocery store.

Cuban Chicken and Hominy Stew


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 pint chopped, peeled tomatoes
1 cup dry sherry or port
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 C chicken broth
2 C roasted, shredded chicken breast
1 can white homniy, drained
Limes, cut into wedges


Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, and bell pepper; sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in tomato and next 9 ingredients (tomato through broth). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in hominy and chicken; cook 10 minutes or until tender.
Serve with lime wedges.

Black-Eyed Pea, Collard and Ham Soup

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2013.  In this part of the world collards and black-eyed peas are a good luck tradition for the new year.  They’re supposed to bring wealth and prosperity.  The story goes that black-eyed peas saved the starving Civil War South because Sherman’s troops considered them to be food for livestock and thus left those crops  while other foodstuffs were stolen or destroyed.  Most often you serve them as part of Hoppin’ John.  I love Hoppin’ John, but I was looking for a new way to have collards and black-eyed peas this year.  I stumbled on a soup recipe.  New Year’s Day in Central Virginia is gray and rainy this year.  How smart do I look for planning soup?! 

Black-eyed pea and collard soup

The original recipe actually calls for chickpeas and swiss chard, but it offers black-eyed peas as an alternative. I used the last of the black-eyed peas I put up from the farmers’ market.  I decided to use a large bunch of collards instead of a small bunch of chard.  Since collards are hardier than chard I figured they’d hold up better in soup anyway.    I also punted the chicken stock.  I had to make pot liquor for the collards anyway so I decided to use that as the broth.  That allowed me to leave out the bacon.  And I left out the tomatoes.  Tomatoes are a precious commodity around here this year because I didn’t get to do any canning last summer.  The few quarts I have left have to last 7 more months.  Now that I think about it the soup I made only vaguely resembles the recipe that I started with, but I really like it.

The pot liquor that I used in the soup and that I’ll use on the rest of the collards today is made with ham hocks, garlic salt, Seasoned Salt and Tabasco.  Sometimes I make it with smoked turkey instead of ham hocks, but pigs are good luck for the new year and fowl are not.  I used 2 ham hocks to make 3 quarts of pot liquor.  Just put the ham hock and seasonings in a big stock pot with 3 quarts of water.  Bring it to a boil; reduce the heat and let it simmer for an hour or so.  You’ll end up with a smoky, slightly salty broth with a little kick to it.

 This is a very earthy soup.  The collards and the peas both lean in that direction.  The carrot adds a little sweetness.  Next time I’d probably use 2-3 carrots instead of just one.  I love the smoky flavor of the broth and the kick from the broth and the added red pepper flakes is terrific.  Of course you can adjust that to your taste.  One note about the collards.  For New Year’s you’re supposed to cut the collards in long ribbons to represent long prosperity.  That’s what I did.  Gotta tell you eating long ribbons of greens out of a soup bowl is not a pretty business.  The soup is yummy so tuck your napkin under you chin and enjoy!

Good? Good and good luck too!
Easy? Sure, prepping the collards and broth takes time, but it’s not hard.
Good for company? Not fancy, but makes plenty for sharing.
Special shopping? Nope. I had a devil of a time finding black-eyed peas this year, but normally that’s not the case.

Black-Eyed Pea, Collard and Ham Soup


1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 (6-ounce) piece smoked ham steak, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
l bunch collards, stemmed and sliced into thin ribbons
1 quart smoked ham hock broth
2 C fresh black-eyed peas
Hot sauce, as needed


Add olive oil to a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. To the same Dutch oven, add the onion, garlic, and carrot, and saute until the vegetables are tender, roughly 4 minutes. Add the ham steak and red pepper flakes and adjust the seasonings with salt and black pepper, to taste. Add the collards and saute until they begin to soften.

Stir in the broth and black-eyed peas. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Add hot sauce to taste.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Rosemary

December 21, 2012

I’ve done a fair amount of entertaining of late.  That’s left me with little energy to make a decent dinner on the nights when I’m home.  Not to mention the shopping and wrapping and getting a new pup settled in.  Tonight I decided I needed something a little nicer than take out or leftover chicken enchilada casserole.  I had two lamb shanks left in the freezer.  Lamb is always a little special.  Decision made.

Braised Lamb Shanks

The nice thing about lamb shanks, or shanks of any kind, is that they’re wicked easy to cook.  They pretty much have to be braised or slow roasted to make them tender enough to eat so there’s a lot of time when you’re not doing anything and the house is starting to smell fantastic.  I only made one real substitution tonight.  I had some beef stock in the fridge that needed a purpose so I used that and skipped the chicken stock in the original recipe.  I didn’t have any fresh thyme so I used dried. Oh, and I used baby carrots because I had some.  Pretty amazing that other than that I followed the recipe.  I only made 1/3 of the recipe since I only had 2 lamb shanks, but that’s plenty.  That gives me a few, but not too many leftovers.

The thing to remember when you’re braising is that every flavor gets extra intense as the liquid cooks down.  That means that you need to use good ingredients.  Use good wine.  Whatever you’re drinking is fine.  Use good tomatoes.  I’m excited that I still have some garden tomatoes on the canning shelves.  They’re the best.  Some commercial roasted tomatoes with garlic would be an ample substitute.  And of course, use good lamb.  Buy local if you can.  Kudos, as always, to Pair-A-Dice Farm for mine.  So mild and yummy. It’ll be many months before I see them again at the farmer’s market.  I miss them already!

Okay, back to the braising liquid.  I’ll tell you that it smelled a little off when I got all the ingredients in there.  Something about the combination of red wine, rosemary, time and lemon zest just didn’t quite go.  I was worried.  No need.  It turned out great.  Rich and brown and warm.  The carrots add just a touch of sweetness and the lemon the tiniest bit of brightness  and the rosemary just the right amount of earthiness.  One caution, be careful about the salt.  It will intensify with everything else as it cooks and if you use commercial tomatoes they may have salt already.  Just wait until you’re kind of close to the end to decide if you need to add salt.

The recipe doesn’t give any serving ideas for this.  Most often you see lamb shanks served over white beans or polenta, or grits in my part of the world.  I’ll probably go the grits route with the leftovers.  Hard to beat having grits for dinner.  I’m sure any of those options would work just fine.  In fact, it worked just fine to eat it right out of a bowl!  A good cure for a cold and windy December night.

Good? Very good.
Easy? Yep. Throw everything in the pot and wait for the magic to happen.
Good for company? Definitely.
Special shopping? Nope.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Rosemary


2 lamb shanks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 C baby carrots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 C dry red wine
1 pint diced tomatoes with juices
1 1/2 C beef broth
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest


Sprinkle shanks with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add shanks to pot and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer shanks to bowl.

Add onions, carrots and garlic to pot and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Return shanks to pot, pressing down to submerge. Bring liquids to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer until meat is tender, about 2 hours.

Uncover pot; simmer until meat is very tender, about 30 minutes longer. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold; cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over medium heat before continuing.) Transfer shanks to platter; tent with foil. Boil juices in pot until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over shanks.

Autumn Cranberry Beef (Lamb) Stew

December 9, 2012

This is my 400th post!!  Many thanks to everyone for sticking with me. I know my posts have been pretty sporadic for the last few months.  (A girl’s gotta work and this girl has been working a ton)!  I’m hoping to be a little more consistent over the next month or so. Partly I miss writing about food and partly I miss cooking and partly I miss being at home enough to feel in control of what I eat. 

Cranberry Beef Stew

It’s a misty, cool December evening and stew seemed like a pretty good idea.  I’m also still trying to eat through the freezer stores and this was a help in that regard.  Of course I made a few adjustments.  The recipe calls for 3 pounds of beef.  I didn’t have 3 pounds of beef that I wanted to use in stew and three pounds of meat seemed excessive.  I used one pound of beef, one pound of lamb and lots of baby bella mushrooms.  That way I didn’t lose any bulk, but I did cut a little fat.  I added some carrots.  After reading the reviews, I halved the pearl onions.  I used homemade cranberry sauce and some extra salt.  All good. 

This is a stew so it’s not hard, it just takes a long time.  I did mine on the stove top, but you could do it in a slow cooker too if you wanted to put it on in the morning and leave it all day.  You add the slurry (flour and water mix) at the end to thicken it so if you do it in a CrockPot just transfer it to a pot at the end and bring it to a simmer before you add the slurry.  It thickens up beautifully.  Honestly it’s the mixture of flavors that really makes this.  The beef and the lamb go nicely together.  The cranberry sauce adds a wonderful sweetness.  A little extra earthy from the extra mushrooms.  A little bitterness from the pearl onions.  Some extra salt for balance.  Yum.

The recipe calls for you to serve this over noodles.  The comments recommend serving it over mashed potatoes.  It’s stew so I just ate it out of a bowl.  That worked pretty well.  There’s just no need to add the extra carbs and calories.  Feel free to serve it with a little bread if you need something extra.  And maybe a little salad.  I intended to have a salad, but there have been lots of visitors tonight so I just didn’t get around to making a salad.  No matter.  It’s not pretty, but this stew is just the right thing for a cold and rainy night. Or if you’re lucky enough to have snow dish up a bowl and watch the pretty snow while you eat.

Good?  Quite good.
Easy? Yep, the pot does all the work.
Good for company? Probably good football watching food.
Special shopping? Nope. But if you buy the cranberry sauce just remember to get whole berry sauce.

Autumn Cranberry Beef (Lamb) Stew


1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound beef stew meat cut into 2-inch cubes
1 pound lamb stew meat cut into 2-inch cubes
Olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 (12-ounce) Guinness Stout
1/2 (10-ounce) package frozen pearl onions, thawed
2 (10-ounce) packages baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce


Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; sprinkle over beef. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef and lamb to pan; cook 6 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add chopped onion, broth, bay leaves, and stout; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours or until beef is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in pearl onions and mushrooms; cook, covered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine 1/4 cup water and flour in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and cranberry sauce to pan. Cook 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

Portuguese Sausage and Kale Soup

November 1, 2012

Finally back in the kitchen after nearly a week.  Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, luckily without much incident in Central Virginia, and the cold temperatures have come to stay.  Add that to the fact that I have two freezers still ridiculously full.  Sounds like soup time.  I pulled two bags of chicken legs and a pound of sausage out of the freezer.  There’s some room in there!  Of course I’ll probably be freezing some of this soup.  Well, at least I have room for it now.

I went the long way around on the soup, as per usual.  When you make a brothy soup I really recommend homemade stock.  So, first I made 2 quarts of chicken stock today – one for this and one for some future use.  I used a slightly wilted bunch of lacinato kale from the farmers’ market.  The recipe calls for a pound of kale.  That seems like a lot of kale and not normally the way kale is measured.  Still, I decided that one bunch wasn’t enough and headed out to get more.  Sadly Kroger only had curly kale today.  I don’t care for curly kale.  It’s hard to chop and other than oysters in stew I don’t think food should be ruffly.  Still, I got the curly kale and managed.  Anyway, I used a quart of my home canned tomatoes.  No small thing since I didn’t get to do any canning this year.  Tomatoes are going to be a precious commodity this year.  The freezers contained no chourico so I substituted Sausagecraft‘s San Miniato sausage and a little crushed jalapeno/serrano pepper.  Add some onion, potatoes and chickpeas and there you have it.

The flavor of this soup is really good.  The broth, tomatoes and sausage make a great salty and acidic base for the green and earthy kale.  The onions and garlic perform their usual aromatic magic.  I assume that the chickpeas and potatoes are added to give the soup a little heft, make it more of a main dish soup.  Next time I’d leave them both out.  In fairness I’m not a big fan of the chickpea in it’s non-hummus form.  I think their texture is weird and that really stands out here.  The potatoes just don’t add anything except carbs and calories.  Serving the soup with crusty bread takes care of both of those and it tastes awesome.  Dump the potatoes, stick with the bread.  I dressed my ciabatta with a little olive oil.  Yum.

One other thing about this recipe.  It says it makes four servings.  Now, I followed the amounts in the recipe pretty closely.  I’m not sure on what planet this is only four servings.  If you really want four servings I recommend making a half recipe.  I’ll have four servings to eat and four more to fill up that space in the freezer.

Good? Good.  Even a bit better than good.  Hearty and good for a cold night.
Easy? It absolutely could be. Buy a good quality stock.
Good for company? It certainly makes enough to share, but it’s not dinner party food certainly.
Special shopping? Nope.

Portuguese Sausage and Kale Soup


2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium white waxy potatoes, like yukon golds, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1 pound kale, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and pepper
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzos (chick peas), drained and rinsed
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 pound sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 quart chicken broth
1/4 t crushed red pepper
Warm, crusty bread


Heat oil in a deep pot over medium high heat. Add potatoes and onions, cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic, bay leaves, and kale to the pot. Cover pot and wilt greens 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add beans, tomatoes, chourico, and broth to the pot and bring soup to a full boil. Reduce heat back to medium and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.

Remove bay leaves before serving.

Serve soup with hunks of crusty bread.

Creole Oyster Stew

October 20, 2012

Today was the kind of day that reminds me how happy I am to be a Virginian.  I drove over Afton Mountain and through part of the Shenandoah Valley with a friend.  Bright sunshine, warm temperatures and beautiful Fall leaves.  Pretty hard to beat.  But there’s more.    A little antiquing/junking that resulted in the purchase of a gorgeous hand-beaded cashmere sweater for $17 – even better.  But wait, there’s more still.  Oysters from Urbanna made into a rich and creamy oyster stew.   Nothing more required.

Honestly there’s not a lot of Creole to this stew.  It’s very mild.  Too much spice and you’d lose the flavor of the oysters.  I made half a recipe of stew.  It’s just me so I try to make small batches of things that don’t keep very long.  I won’t have any trouble getting through this – assuming I don’t have a heart attack.  There’s nothing light about this.  It has bacon, bacon grease, butter and heavy cream.  Fortunately only small amounts of each.  A little indulgence from time to time is good for the soul.

This is pretty easy to make.  Only one pot.  I didn’t substitute much today. I used dried thyme instead of fresh because that’s what I had.  I left out the parsley because the parsley in my vegetable drawer was beyond saving.  The other change I made was that I made a half recipe of stew, but used the full amount of celery and onions to give it a little extra bulk.  Other than that I followed the instructions.  If you don’t want to use bacon I think you could leave it out.  I’d probably add just a touch of liquid smoke for the flavor though. There’s a wonderful mix of flavors here.  Creamy, buttery, briny and smoky.  If I’d had some parsley there would have been a nice bright green accent too.  And it’s pretty.  Using white pepper keeps the stew clean.  And the oysters have beautiful ruffles when they’re cooked.

I highly recommend oyster stew as the end to a beautiful Fall day.  Buy local oysters if you can. And only in months that end in “ber.”  Enjoy!

Good?  So good.
Easy? Yep. Minimal chopping. Just some stirring.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? No, but be picky about your oysters.

Creole Oyster Stew


3 slices bacon, crumbled
2 T unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch cayenne
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 pint oysters, picked over for shells, liquid drained and reserved
2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream


In a large pot, cook the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.

To the fat remaining in the pan, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook gently, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the green onions, garlic, salt, white pepper, cayenne, and thyme and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring, to make a light roux, about 3 minutes.

Add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the reserved oyster liquor and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid thickens, about 4 minutes. Add the oysters and simmer until the oysters start to curl, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the cream and reserved bacon and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Serve hot with French bread.