Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What's More Comforting than a Guiness? [Guiness Braised Beef over Steamed Red Potato Recipe]

David says I need to post my failures too.... BUT today is not that day because this recipe is a KEEPER.  

The original recipe came from CHOW [which I adore] but tweaked a few ingredients and cut a few steps out and don't think it suffered for it.... because while I am not usually a fan of English food, this was seriously YUM.

So, here's what you need

over steamed Red Potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds beef chuck cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
black pepper
6 slices bacon, large dice
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, large dice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups Guiness draught style stout
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 1/4 cups beef broth
1 pound steamed red potatoes, quartered

While heating the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, generously salt and pepper the beef cubes. Add the beef to the pan and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate; set aside. Drain any remaining fat or liquid from the pan and add the bacon cooking until crisp, about 8 minutes. Again, using a slotted spoon, transfer to the plate with the beef but do not drain the bacon fat because.... bacon fat is the nectar of the Gods and should never be drained.  Reduce the heat to medium, add the butter and onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 4 minutes.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly about 2 minutes, it will seem clumpy, fret not. Pour in the Guiness and stir breaking up those lumps and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the mixture simmer until reduced by half, approximately 4 minutes.

Return the beef and bacon to the pan along with any accumulated juices and add the carrots and set the bouquet garni on top of the "stew".  I used fresh parsley, thyme and a couple bay leaves for my bouquet garni and secured it with kitchen string.  Isn't is pretty?

Add the beef broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tightfitting lid, and simmer until the beef is tender, stirring halfway through, about 2 hours....  with 45 minutes to go, steam your red potatoes.... when they are done spoon the beef over and enjoy! 

FINALLY English food I did not hate!

Pin It! Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, January 30, 2012

Have I mentioned I adore Tarragon? {Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce Recipe}

A while back I started French Wednesday as a weekly event.... it's evolved into Tarragon Tuesday.  It's quite simple.  I adore Tarragon, it really makes me happy to cook with it.  It's the smell. I can't even classify it but it is REALLY aromatic.  Fresh Tarragon of course is the best but even dried Tarragon will waft up and getcha.  I will say, Farmer PopPop has had a hell of a time growing it fast enough..... I have EVERY other spice out back but he cannot seem to keep me in Tarragon..... hmmmm I wonder where the problem lies?

That said, this is a great quick weeknight dinner.... the rice takes longer than the chicken.  So start your rice, I use my trusty rice steamer and set it for 45 minutes then start your prep.  

Here's what you'll need to serve 4

Tarragon Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 TBSP Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
2 TBSP Unsalted Butter
1/2 medium onion diced
20 baby carrots cut in half lengthwise
12 Asparagus stalks cut in 4 pieces [throw away dry end]
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley [or 2 tsp dry]
2 TBSP chopped fresh tarragon [or 2 tsp dry]
1 1/2 cups white wine [use a sweeter one like a Riesling]
3/4 c. Half & Half

Editorial Comment:  Let me say, I really don't count my stalks or carrots.... but I'm giving you a count as a guide.  If you like asparagus more.... use more, if you prefer peas to asparagus.... sub them out.  This is really about what you & your family like, so don't turn the page if you hate asparagus just substitute, this recipe would be awesome with any veggies or mushrooms.

On with dinner, heat your oil in a large, deep saute pan over medium high while you cut your chicken breasts into 3 pieces.  Generously kosher salt and pepper the breasts then add to the pan in a single layer.  Brown both sides, approximately 2-3 minutes per side then remove to a dish with tongs.  

As an aside, I never use a fork when cooking meat.  I read it somewhere.... probably Bobby Flay the Grill Master :) but I read you shouldn't pierce your meat while cooking and I believe it to be true.  It makes sense to me, you poke holes, juice runs out, it's then dry meat YUK..... so remove your meat with tongs to a dish, the sides may still have some pink, that's ok, you're not done.

Chicken is resting, add butter to pan, melt, then add onion, veggies and spices.  Saute over Medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Then increase heat to medium high, add wine, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer for few minutes before adding the chicken back.  Stir and cover.  Cook at a simmer for 10-15 minutes then stir in half & half.  

Allow half & half to heat for a few minutes, then serve over rice.  Be generous with the sauce.... it's TO. DIE. FOR. Well, maybe not die.  But it's darn good.

Pin It! Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cough Cough Sniff Sniff {Tortellini Soup Recipe}

You know you're not feeling well when you can't blog.... but you know it's not the flu and "just" a cold when you still want to cook!

I was feeling pretty lousy yesterday, hadn't gone grocery shopping yet and so thinking of my friend Barbie's Tortellini Soup, I made a huge pot of what turned out to be a very loose rendition based on what I had in the house. That said, it was an awesome "Kitchen Sink" Soup..... so yummy, everyone wants to have it again tonight and I am glad because I'm still not quite right.

Chicken, Tortellini & Meatball Soup
a/k/a It-Was-In-The-Freezer/Fridge-So-It's-In-The-Soup Soup
10 c. Chicken stock 
3 chicken thighs, skin removed
1 small onion diced
2 c. sliced carrots
4 cups diced tomatoes [I used one 26 oz. Pomi]
1 cup Tomato sauce
1 c. Marsala cooking wine
16 oz. bag tortellini
1/2 bag [approx 1 lb] of frozen Italian style meatballs
2 tsp. each Celery Seed & Black Pepper
2 TBSP each:
Garlic Powder
Parsley Flakes
Kosher Salt

I used my 7 quart stock pot with a colander insert, because I think it's easier when you are cooking chicken and then de-boning.

First, bring the stock to a low boil, add the chicken and simmer for 20 minutes,  remove the colander/chicken and set aside to cool.

Bring the stock back to a strong boil, add the Marsala and allow to boil 5 minutes then add the onion, carrots, tomatoes, tomato sauce & spices.  Reduce to a simmer and simmer 20 minutes.  While that's cooking, debone the chicken and break into small pieces and add to the pot.  

I mentioned I use Pomi products.... I just think they are superior to any other "canned" tomato product and if you cannot use fresh, it's the next best thing.

After 20 minutes add the tortellini, I used Schwans frozen 6 cheese, but I'm a Schwan's girl [Barella makes a nice one that just comes off the pasta shelf], and the meatballs, again I used Schwans Italian Style return soup to a simmer and cook for 20 more minutes.

Spoon into bowls and top with grated Parmesan~Romano and a couple homemade croutons [recipe below].  

AHHHH, I felt better instantly.

p.s. I mentioned homemade croutons.  They are sooooo easy it's ridiculous to NOT make them in my opinion.  I swear people eat one and immediately propose marriage.... they are THAT good.


1/2 cup [1 stick] butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 (3/4 inch thick) slices Italian Loaf Bread cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; spray large jelly roll pan with non-stick cooking spray [I use olive oil flavored].

In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in garlic; cook and stir for 1 minute. Turn off heat, add bread cubes and toss to coat. Spread on jelly roll pan in single layer.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until crisp, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent burning. Cool completely before storing in Ziploc baggie to maintain freshness.

Sorry so skimpy in picture.... they ate them ALL!

p.p.s. To give a shout to the original soup that ROCKS......

Barbie's Tortellini Soup
1 lb. bulk Italian Sausage

1 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic sliced

5 cups beef broth
1 c. water
1 c. red wine
2 c. canned diced tomatoes
1 c. carrots
1 c. tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. each basil & oregano
8 oz. fresh cheese tortellini
1 1/2 c. sliced zucchini
1 medium green pepper sliced
3 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Brown sausage in pot, remove from pot draining all but 1 TBSP of fat.  Brown onion and garlic in fat until tender.  Add cooked sausage, beef broth, water, red wine, tomatoes, carrots, tomato sauce, basil & oregano bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and simmer uncovered 30 minutes.

Skim fat from soup, add remaining ingredients and simmer covered 20 minutes.

Serve with Parmesan.


Pin It! Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Cornbread Incident

Today was an exciting day indeed I came across a cast iron corn-stick pan in my travels and decided to make it mine.  I love cornbread. It's a Webb thing.  And after the Old Woman's "cornbread incident" we take our corn bread making very seriously at Chez Webb. I would tell you more but then I'd have to kill you, suffice it to say we all bow our heads and reference it softly [if at all].  

Back to my awesome new toy. Here she is!
Only $17 at Angela's Restaurant Supplies, such a deal.  

Enough chitchatting, let's make Cornbread.  This is all you need to make awesome cornbread (don't tell the Old Woman I use sugar.... It's just not proper cornbread!)

But I discovered today that if you want to make Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
cornbread [and I believe we all do] you will need some of this

That's the sound of Angel's singing. They really do sing when you open a bottle of Madagascar vanilla. And so today it joined my official rock n roll cornbread recipe.

Heidi's Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Cornbread Recipe
              2 cups Martha White Cornmeal Mix [no substitutions acceptable]
              1 3/4 c. buttermilk
              1 egg
              1/3 cup sugar
              1 & 1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
              1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 450, spay the pan well with cooking spray [I use olive oil spray but I imagine anything but Baker's Joy would be o.k.]  You want it glistening.  Put the pan in the oven to heat for 7-8 minutes.
While it's heating, beat the egg with your mixer then add the rest of the ingredients to the beaten egg.  The batter should be VERY pour-able, I added an extra 1/8-1/4 cup of buttermilk to get the consistency right. Once the pan is hot, carefully fill the cornears..... don't skimp.  I filled to the top just about and I think they turned out perfect.  I used a one cup liquid measuring cup to fill them and it worked beautifully.
I found they only needed to bake about 11-13 minutes.  Set your timer for 10 and watch them closely after ten, remember the bottom will be darker than the top when you take them out so remove them when the top is just golden.  Immediately tip them from the pan.  
Put pan back in oven, re-spray with cooking spray and reheat the pan for a couple minutes before refilling.  This recipe made 4 batches or 28 cornsticks.

They won't last long as the whole house will smell so good you WILL be invaded!

Bon Appetit.

And while you munch your Cornbread Heidi Style.... 
please enjoy a little Cornbread Dave style....

Pin It! Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Next Victim

I love that people can be so thoughtful.  TRULY.  I was the recipient of a couple random acts of thoughtfulness today.  That's a great day.  

Tonight Heidi the lawyer [not to be confused with Heidi that eats Risotto & drinks Mojitos] spoke with a Support Group.  Really, I was a friend of a friend giving some good people with full plates some information on how to run a marathon.... GOTCHA.  Ok, I was talking lawyer stuff, I can own it.  I hope I was helpful.  Much to my surprise, instead of a bunch of lawyer jokes I was gifted an awesome bit of sunshine from the leader of the group.  

a/k/a My Next Victim.
Everyone send good JuJu to this poor plant that I HEART so very much but that has some pretty bad odds of survival after doing the Heidi Death March.

That said, wasn't that REALLY sweet?  I thought so, I hope she didn't take it wrong when I announced it was My Next Victim.  I feel confident Mel will take it under his wing.

The second Random Act of Kindness was a good friend inviting me out to lunch, just because she wanted to make sure I was grieving Ruthie o.k.  Go figure.  We are ALL so busy but it was special to spend a little time chattin' it up about Ruthie.  Didn't know I needed it, sure glad someone did, cause I did.

But enough about me.  HA! like that's possible!  

wait for it.

wait for it.

yup, here's my restaurant review....

It is my humble opinion that the best part of lunching in downtown Daytona is that whatever you are in the mood for it's there and for the most part..... it's awesome.  NOTE:  I'm pretty happy sitting at my desk having the Jimmy John's guy deliver my order in less than 5 minutes but when you want something more interesting than an un-wich it's nice to have options.  
So, when Shirley invited me out and said I could pick, I decided to go old school... my FIRST downtown lunch spot... there's always something special about the first....

The Dancing Avocado

This place really is a must do for lunch in the newly revitalized Beach Street Area in Daytona.... We ate on the porch which is really lovely this time of year [kinda reminds me of Key West.... I know, it's a problem].  Truth be told, I truly haven't had anything I haven't loved.... Angel's sing here.  Great breakfast burritos, INCREDIBLE Dave Burger [over 109,000 sold or some crazy number] or the Dancing Avocado Melt... that's what I had today.  Avocado, red onion, tomato on whole grain wheat [I hold the sprouts]. It's my favorite. You will adore this place.  They have it all offering a Vegan menu, Gluten Free or full on MEAT.  We didn't indulge today but their deserts are To. Die. For.  House made.  Everything about it reeks grassroots, hippie inspired: Cool decor, bohemian waitstaff.  Check it out.... it's SO 1970 you will L-O-V-E it.

oh and if nothing else, stop by and grab a couple ducks & a veggie burger to go.....

Dancing Avocado Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Pin It! Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Some Would Say "You're Watching Too Much Hell's Kitchen Heidi" {Risotto Recipe}

In retrospect I could've called this blog, Hello my name is Heidi & I eat Risotto and drink Mojitos.... because I am and I do.  More than the average bear I'm guessin' and so, how could I not blog my dinner on a night that I'm making Risotto?  It's my signature dish.... it's the perfect food [unless you are dieting] and one I think everyone should add to their repetoir of "go-to" dishes.... I can always make risotto as long as I have Arborio in the house (and I always do) because it's a vehicle for anything. 

NOTE:  The recipe serves 4, but I double it for my family of 6 and have plenty for after-school snack left overs.... 

Tonight I had fresh asparagus and a pork loin in my fridge. So I decided Asparagus & Beer Braised Pork Risotto.... 

 I'm a no fuss girl when it comes to braising my meat. This is all you need:
and a piece of meat of course.... 

Beer Braised Pork Recipe
1-2 lb. pork loin
2 tbsp Kosher Salt
1 small onion quartered
2 tbsp olive oil
2 bottles of beer
Preheat oven to 350.  Kosher salt the exterior of the roast generously while heating your oil in the Dutch oven. I used my Temecula basil infused olive oil [which I heart very much]. Once the oil is hot but not smoking sear the roast on all sides. Approximately 2 minutes per side. While the roast is searing peel and quarter an onion. Then throw it in the pot with two Landsharks (or your beer of preference... I'm a Landshark girl, all about that island feel.... Key West take me away). Bring to a simmer, put lid on Dutch oven and put in oven 90 minutes. 
I often do the protein midday and just leave in the pot covered at room temp until I am actually making the risotto... or you can start the risotto about 20 minutes prior to the meat being done whatever your schedule allows. At some point you will need to pull the meat and have it ready, I do it in between adding broth while cooking the Risotto.

Note: anytime you are using a braised meat, Risotto is more of a project for a day when you have time. I've made with quicker weeknight ingredients, like shrimp and green beans or chicken and pea, stick with me and I'll revisit and reinvent Risotto a time or two.... it's inevitable, but this post will get your feet wet.

As usual, I digress, cut your asparagus in 3 inch segments [approximately 1 cup], discarding the tough end and blanch it for 3 minutes.

ok meat braising or braised.... asparagus blanched and set aside. 
Here is my method for Risotto.... developed from Think Like A Chef by Tom Colicchio, one of my heroes.  Not to digress AGAIN, but that is one book I highly recommend if you love to cook.  Really gave a great perspective on cooking and recipes and I credit it for my ability to think outside the box in the kitchen.  

Back to business, here's what you need for Risotto:

Risotto Recipe
5 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion [diced]
1 cup Arborio Rice [Risotto]
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan/Romano Cheese [if desired]
salt & pepper to taste
In a saucepan, heat the chicken broth to a boil then turn down to simmer. In meanwhile heat large saute pan [5 quart] with olive oil on medium heat, add onion, saute about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add Arborio Rice and saute until translucent [about 4 minutes].  Sprinkle with kosher salt, add 2 cups stock and stir at a low simmer.  Continue adding the stock 2 cups at a time about every 5-7 minutes... stirring nearly constantly. After about 20-25 minutes the risotto should be tender. Add butter, Parmesan and whatever protein/veggie you are using..... for me tonight, the pork and asparagus, stir well and allow to marry for 10 minutes on extremely low heat, stirring frequently.  Salt & pepper to taste.


it's romantic, it's fancy, it's Wednesday and yes, the kids LOVE it!

Pin It! Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Slowly Finding My Way

"This is awesome. You are either steadily losing your mind, or slowly finding 
your way...either way, I totally support EVERYTHING you do! ♥"
How's that for an awesome reaction to my endeavor.....  I like to think it's the
latter.  Just sayin'

That said, I really wanted to write something again today even though I had nothing too exciting happen.  I was a lawyer and chauffeur, neither of which was blog worthy unless you want to count when I raised Cain at the Doctor's office for making us wait an hour and a half for my Dad's appointment..... but let's not go there.  Let's go to a happier place.  A place where I'm a Food Critic living in a loft in NYC spending my time eating fine food and sipping on marvelous concoctions of bliss and getting paid for it..... Oh yeah, that's someone else BUT what is me is that over the past several years I've taken to reviewing restaurants and I'm thinking since this blog is all about food & drink & fun stuff involving the two that my Food Critic secret life has found a new forum...

I'm going to start with my favorite "local" restaurant.... a stone's throw from Ormond..... if you have a good arm that is.  Also close enough to try next time you come to Orlando for a Disney trip.....

The Ravenous Pig in Winterpark
Living in Ormond where creative dining is almost nonexistent this restaurant is a real treat. We've taken the whole family and arrived early on a Saturday night and managed to get seated in dining room without a reservation but I would definitely recommend making reservations on any night. 
You MUST try one of their specialty drinks they are fabu. Par exemple.... The Franco75. Thyme. Rosemary. Absinthe. Vodka. Yum. I have plans to recreate for sure. For appetizers they serve everything from hot pretzels to die for to a scallop & suckling pig dish. The pork melts in your mouth.  Both are as different from each other as you can imagine and WONDERFUL.  

For entrees the fan favorite remains the pork porterhouse with a caramel balsamic glaze. It is hands down the best piece of pork I've ever tasted. 

But that said..... you cannot go wrong, I promise.  The gnocchi with sweetbreads (which everyone young and old tried and loved) were delish as was the pub burger with truffle oil fries. The only thing I was not very impressed with was dessert. It wasn't "house made" I'd skip it and have an extra appetizer! Definitely something for every palate with a menu that changes daily depending on what is available locally. 

To sum it up.... If you're a foodie TRY THIS PLACE. If not, still try it ;)

As a random addendum.... I  have been informed that I might be incorrect about the non-house-made dessert statement.... and since then I've noticed some pictures in their FB feed of some pretty FABULOUS looking desserts AND SO I may need to be corrected on my "accusation." I won't know for sure until I go again.... but wanted to throw out there that I MIGHT have called that wrong... or caught a bad day.... or whatever.... you should STILL check the place out, I stand by that ;)

The Ravenous Pig on Urbanspoon
Pin It! Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, January 23, 2012

THE Dragonberry Mojito

In life I have found my defining moments are rarely seen "in the moment" but rather in hindsight.  I mean, who knew that when my friend Jessyca said I should go to The Conch Republic in Key West for a Mojito that a whole new era would begin in my life. Seriously, WHO KNEW?

Well, it did change somehow that day I had my first Dragonberry Mojito and for some unknown reason it sparked something in me.... and it became the seed for Facebook Groups, party themes and an endless quest for new variations on my new found friend The Mojito.

And so, here I am 3 years later starting a blog about food, drinks and entertaining and as I struggle for a starting point it seems clear that I should hearken back to the Dragonberry Mojito, which is really where this started.... this being the need to quest out new recipes and share them with anyone who would pretend they cared.

And so, I introduce [or reintroduce if you're an old friend].... 

                                        The Dragonberry Mojito

2 parts Bacardi Dragonberry Rum
1 part simple syrup
8 mint leaves
3 sliced strawberries
4 lime wedges

Muddle to perfection
fill appropriate glass with ice
top with club soda and....

aaahhhhh, it's summer :)

so, most people just have the drink, pay their bill & leave..... I decided to refocus my whole existence....

and so it begins.....

*invitation by my awesome friend Sylvia at Paper Dance ...she's a genius.
Pin It! Print Friendly and PDF