Friday, May 13, 2011

Beef, Bean, & Barley Soup

Prepared May 5, 2011. It was mighty comforting on a cold day in May. A meal in a bowl. soup Improves with time. Up to a point, like the rest of us.

3 lbs beef marrow bones
2 T canola oil
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
2 c carrots, cut in large dice
2 c yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1-1/2 oz tomato paste
12 oz skirt steak, flank steak, or beef plate, cut in 1/2 inch dice
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 14 oz can beef broth
4 c hot water
1/2 c dry navy beans, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
1 c ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
2 T mushroom powder
2 bay leaves
1/2 c pearl barley
2 T lemon or lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a heavy dutch oven over medium heat, add the oil, and the bones. Slowly brown the bones, turning frequently to color all sides. Add the mushrooms, and brown lightly. Add the carrots, and cook until lightly browned. Add the onions and garlic, and cook a few minutes. Make room in the pan, and add the tomato paste. Cook it a few minutes. Mix in the beef, trimmed of fat and membranes, and continue cooking until lightly browned. Add the wine, and cook until almost evaporated. Add the water, broth, tomatoes, beans, and bay leaves. Heat to a fast simmer, cover, and cook 2 hours. Add the barley, cook until tender, remove bay leaves, and finish with citrus juice to brighten the flavor. Correct seasoning and serve. Serves 6.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Crook's Corner Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits is a Crook's Corner classic. The late Bill Neal influenced chefs across the South, and diners still enjoy this recipe at this landmark restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC. This tradition has been carried forward by Bill Smith. A lot of ingredients and steps, but quick, simpler than it looks, and worth the effort. Adapted from Southern Living magazine. Our recipe reverses from the traditional way of making grits. They come out lump-free.

Cheese Grits
2 c water
2 c chicken stock
3/4 c half-and-half
3/4 t salt
1 c white or yellow corn grits (not Quick or Instant)
3/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 T butter
1/4 t white pepper
Shrimp Sauce
3 bacon slices
1 lb medium-size saltwater shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 t black pepper
1/8 t salt
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 c sliced mushrooms
1/2 c chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c chicken stock
2 T fresh lemon juice
3/4 t Louisiana pepper sauce
lemon wedges
Stir the first five ingredients together in a medium saucepan and bring to a fast simmer. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just thickened. Off heat, stir in final four ingredients, cover, and keep warm.
Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.
Sprinkle shrimp with pepper and salt; dredge in flour. Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and sauté 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly brown. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet.
Serve shrimp mixture over hot cheese grits. Top with crumbled bacon; garnish with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Agua Fresca de Melon

Adapted from Internet recipes. Summer, 2008. An always-welcome refreshing drink on hot summer days.
5 c (1,135 g) cubed and seeded melon (from about 3 pounds melon; see Note)
1/2 to 3/4 c sugar 
1/3 to 1/2 c lime juice
8 c cold water, divided
In a blender, whirl melon, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 cup water until very smooth. Pour into a large pitcher (at least 3 quart). Whisk in 1/3 cup lime juice, 7 cups water, and add more sugar and lime juice to taste. Chill until cold. Serve over ice. Makes about 2 1/2 quarts.
Note: Very ripe cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon all make delicious aguas frescas.