Monday, September 29, 2014

Cookbook Review: The Homesick Texan's Family Table

I don’t know about you but I love Mexican food and many of the spinoffs of it. Things like enchiladas, Mexican rice, and guacamole are some of my favorite things to eat. So you can imagine how excited I was to receive The Homesick Texan’s Family Table by Lisa Fain. This book is full of so many yummy sounding tex-mex recipes!

What kinds of recipes did I find inside? Instructions for tamales as well as recipes are included. I once made tamales with a couple of friends and it was so fun! There are recipes for fajitas and enchiladas. Then there are kicked up classics like Chipotle Chicken and Dumplings and Jalapeno Fried Chicken. Chapter 7 includes hot sauce and salsa recipes as well as several others. There is a nice section on chile peppers that describes different types and how to use them. There are even directions on making your own chili powder and roasting fresh chiles.

If you enjoy these types of food, I highly recommend you checking out this cookbook. I am glad to have it added to my collection and look forward to making something from it soon. I will make sure and post back here to let you know all about the recipe I make.

Want some more information? Go here.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Beef Stew from My Irish Table Cookbook

I’m finally getting around to my first recipe from one of the cookbooks I reviewed. I really am sorry it took so long, but life has been pretty hectic lately. My husband and I are both back in school full-time and we have begun homeschooling our oldest. This recipe is from My Irish Table by Cathal Armstrong and David Hagedorn. You can find my review of the cookbook here.

Beef Stew
Serves 6

1.5 pounds of beef stew meat cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
4 celery stalks, diced
8 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups of veal demi-glace or store bought beef broth
1 serrano chile, coarsely chopped, with seeds
3 large bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Brown the beef: Pat the beef cubes dry on all sides with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. In a large slope-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Distribute the beef evenly in the bottom of the pan without crowding it and don’t disturb it for several minutes. If you stir the pieces too soon, they will release water and the meat will boil instead of browning. After 3 or 4 minutes, turn the cubes over and brown them on the other side for another 3 or 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a flameproof casserole and return the pan to heat.

Sweat the vegetables: Add the onion, carrots, and celery, stirring them with a flat-edged wooden spatula. As the vegetables cook, water will release and deglaze the pan. Use the spatula to scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Sweat the vegetables for 4 or 5 minutes, until translucent but still a bit firm. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Cook the stew: Stir in the flour and allow it to brown lightly for about 2 minutes. Add the demi-glace, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the serrano chile, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary. Transfer the vegetables to the casserole and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot, and braise the meat slowly for 2 hours, until it is very tender. Adjust the salt and pepper seasoning to taste. Serve hot. The stew can be made 2 days ahead and reheated gently on the stove or in the oven at 300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

My thoughts:
This stew was wonderful. I served it over mashed potatoes. Yum! The flavors were so good and it really came together pretty quickly. Your biggest thing time wise is the braising time and the chopping of vegetables. I did make a few changes, nothing major because I wanted it to be as close to the original recipe as possible. However, I try to limit our sodium so I chose to use no salt beef stock and add my own salt. I also used jalapeno instead of serrano. I was worried the serrano might be too spicy for us. I used dried herbs instead of fresh because that’s what I had on hand and I cooked it all in the same pot. There’s really no need to dirty up two pots here. I have a 5 quart heavy bottomed pot with a lid that I used.

I also want to note than when I left it on medium for the braising, I came back to stir it after awhile and it had started to stick and lose liquid. I actually had to add water to it at that time. So I wouldn’t leave this on medium for the braising but YMMV depending on how your stove and pot cooks. This does not make a super big pot of stew. It really is about 6 servings, maybe less depending on appetites. So if you want leftovers, you may want to double this.

If this recipe is any indication of the other recipes in this cookbook, you’re in store for some tasty things if you chose to add this beautiful cookbook to your collection.