Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Campfire Beef Stew & Fire Roasted Hot Peppers

I went on my very first camping adventure last weekend on Mt. Laguna. The nights were cold, so I was tasked with coming up with some food to warm everyone up. 

Campfire Beef Stew

Before I left home I marinated about 3 pounds of stew beef overnight in a bottle of red wine (HINT: Use a nice burgundy or pinot noir. It does't have to be expensive, but be sure it is something you would enjoy drinking). The next day, I drained the beef, reserving the excess marinade, and dried the pieces with paper towels. I seasoned the beef with a little salt and pepper and seared it in olive oil, working in batches. I then tossed all the beef with a couple tablespoons of flour and returned it to the hot pan, tossing just until the flour was browned. I let the beef cool and packed it away for the trip. 

In the meantime, I cut up about 3 carrots, 3–4 stalks of celery, about a pound to a pound and a half of little fingerling potatoes (halved), a sweet onion and about 6–8 cloves of garlic. I seasoned the veggies with a little salt and pepper and poured the reserved marinade over them before packing them away for the trip.

When the time came to cook the stew at the campsite, I combined the beef and veggies (including their marinade) with 1 quart of beef stock in a cast iron Dutch oven and let it cook on the campfire for several hours. Serve with crusty bread for a one-pot meal to warm any cold night! 

This is a collection of jalapeño, serrano and 
cayenne peppers I grew in pots on my front porch. 
They were simply tossed in olive oil, sea salt 
and freshly ground black pepper, then 
roasted on the fire in an iron skillet 
until soft. Fiery yet delightful!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July Rum Cake!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup spiced rum
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 stick butter
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup spiced rum

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Butter and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Mix whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.

In another bowl, mix together eggs, oil, rum and water. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until thoroughly combined.

Sprinkle chopped walnuts in the Bundt pan, then pour the batter on top of the walnuts. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove cake from pan to make sure it is not stuck then return it to the pan. Pierce the cake 20-30 times with a wooden skewer to prepare for glazing.

Prepare the rum glaze. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the water, then bring to a slow boil. Stir in 1 cup sugar and continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and SLOWLY add the rum. Let cool 5 minutes and slowly pour over and around the cake, allowing it to sit in the pan and absorb all the glaze. Remove from pan and serve.

Friday, July 1, 2011

It is That Time of Year Again.... Fresh Tomato Time!

I picked up these gorgeous little red grape and yellow cherry tomatoes at the supermarket the other day. I had more more than I could each fresh, so I roasted some in the oven with olive oil, sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper and thyme. Slow roasting tomatoes at 300º for an hour or so really concentrates the flavor. They will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Roasted tomatoes are great on sandwiches, with goat cheese on crackers or bread as an appetizer and so much more!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Coffee-Chocolate-Bacon Cake

Perfect for Father's Day or anytime! Coffee, chocolate and bacon all in one place... does life get any better??

Butter for greasing cake pans
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Chocolate frosting (see below)

1 pound bacon, fried until crispy, but not burned, then crumbled

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter 2 8-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With the mixer still on low, add the coffee and about 1/3 to 1/2 of the bacon and stir until just combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake 35 – 40 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 min, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place one layer, flat side up, on a plate or cake pedestal. Spread the top with frosting. sprinkle 1/4 of the back over the icing. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Top with remaining bacon. (NOTE: You can alter how much bacon you put where to your own taste.)

Chocolate-Coffee Frosting

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 packets Starbucks VIA Italian Roast

Melt chocolate in a double boiler, set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 more minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 tablespoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't Whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

... At Least the Sandwiches Were Good!

Sadly the Steelers lost, but I think I won the Primanti Sandwich challenge! Here is a photo recap.

Roast beef and capicola combo topped with provolone on the griddle.

Meat and cheese on homemade Italian bread.

Add salt & pepper slaw...

then tomatoes...

... and finally fresh cut fries!

Stephanie's Cucina version of a Pittsburgh classic!

Go Steelers!

As the game approaches, I thought I'd post a quick update. I made the roast beef yesterday, and the bread just came out of the oven a couple hours ago. For the roast beef, I rubbed an eye of round roast down with salt, pepper and garlic, then put it in a 500º oven for 20 minutes and then dropped the temperature to 325º for another 40 minutes.

Before: Bread Dough & Seasoned Roast

The roast came out a perfect medium. After letting it rest for about 20 minutes, I sliced it up and it is ready for sandwich time!

I also made some stuffed pepperoni cheese bread with the extra dough.

And after... Sandwiches Coming Soon!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Superbowl Challenge

I have decided that maybe what I need to keep up with my blog is to set some food challenges for myself. So in the spirit of cheering on the Steelers in this Sunday's Superbowl, I am going to try my hand a making a Pittsburgh original — Primanti Bros. Sandwiches!

For those of you unfamiliar with Primanti's, they are a Pittsburgh institution. Check out their website: www.primantibros.com. Be sure to watch the videos in the news section. These sandwiches are a meal in themselves! Choice of meat topped with provolone cheese, oil & vinegar slaw, tomatoes and fresh cut french fries on soft Italian bread. My favorite is the roast beef, so tomorrow I will be baking my bread and roasting the beef for Sunday's event. I'll also be making hand-cut fresh fries on Sunday. We will have both roast beef and the popular capicola varieties. Now if only I could get my hands on some Yeungling Lager for the party!!

Stay tuned for an update on the roast beef and the bread tomorrow and the sandwich challenge after the big game! Cheers!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Food & Clay — Elements of Life

My first clay bowls — before trimming, firing and glazing.

Wow, I can hardly believe that today is February 1, 2011! I don't know where the time has gone!! The last few years have been some of the most challenging of my life, but I am finally starting to find balance in the moving forward process. I just need to channel that balance into my writing and my business. It is obvious from the gaps in my blogging that I have been less than balanced and focused, but at this moment, I lift my coffee mug to better days ahead... and lots of great food adventures to write about and recipes to share!

I have also started taking pottery classes at a local studio. I am really enjoying the time spent working with clay. It is very relaxing and helpful in clearing the mind of anything else that is going on. At that moment, you must focus on the art of creating a pot from a lump of clay and nothing else really matters. I have already made a few bowls and can't wait to learn more and get better at it and make some fun pieces that I can showcase in my kitchen. Hopefully by the time I get my new video blogs lined up for the spring, I will have some of my pottery to display while I am presenting my food!

Intense Double Rainbow that appeared outside my apartment during
the Christmas rain storms here in San Diego