Ring of Fire Seasoning Rub

You can find many variations of this rub online. We use it on everything from pork, chicken, fish, beef and vegetables. We found it originally from Alton Brown, who happens to be one of our favorite TV personalities. He always brings a smart amount information to help you understand the food and the process. This post is really just as a reference because we use it so much in a lot of recipes that I needed a place to record our variation so we can reproduce it easily.

Here is our variation of the Ring of Fire Spice Rub:

  • 1 part curry powder (see recipe below)
  • 1 part chili powder
  • 1 part adobo powder
  • 1 part ground cumin
  • 1 part smoked paprika
  • 1 part cayenne powder
  • 1 parts cocoa powder
  • 1/2 part garlic powder
  • 1/2 part onion powder
  • 1/2 part ground black pepper
  • 1/2 part salt

The good part about this rub is that you can adjust it to you specific taste. For example, most of them don’t call for the cayenne but we like the heat so we always include it. Also, we usually cut back a little on the cocoa, but that’s just our personal preference. The original recipe has 2 parts cocoa powder.

While making this again, we realized we didn’t have curry powder. Here is the substitute we now use:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom (see below)
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne powder

Finally, for this recipe, we realized we didn’t have cardamom. So, after looking online for a substitute, we found a recipe for 1 part cinnamon and 1 part nutmeg.

 

 

Sunday Pot Roast Stew

Beef Stew in bowl

Pot Roast Beef Stew

Cold, wintry days scream for a hot stew at dinner time. This is the kind of stew that you get anxious as the bowl gets empty because you don’t want it to end. If I didn’t care about portion size or my waist size, I would have kept eating until this was all gone! This stew takes a little more time than we have to spend on week nights so it’s a great stew to make on a Sunday afternoon. Just put it all together and let it simmer until you’re ready to eat. We threw this together after looking for some recipes online. We couldn’t find a recipe that really matched what we wanted so we just picked the pieces we wanted to include in our stew. It really only takes about 1/2 hour to get the ingredients ready and cooked and then another 1 1/2 to 2 hours on a simmer.

I think of this recipe as having three steps. First you brown the meat. Then you get the vegetables cooked. Finally, you add the meat back to the vegetables and let the stew simmer for 2 hours.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of roast cut into cubes (sirloin or chuck roast)
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of bacon fat
  • 3 carrots, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch discs
  • 1 large (or two medium) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 turnip, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 12oz can of beer (we used Michelob Ultra)
  • 1 tablespoon smoke paprika

Directions

Heat the first 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or oil in a large dutch oven.

Start by cutting your roast into cubes and getting the meat ready to cook. Then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. coat the meat thoroughly. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and the flour will be absorbed. Now, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and mix into the meat to give it a good coating.

Put the meat into the hot bacon fat or oil and brown for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until the meat is browned on all sides. For example, while it was browning, we turned the meat every 2 minutes or so. Once browned, remove the meat into a heat-safe bowl. You could also brown this in 2 batches or use a big skillet where all the meat can be on one level. Our dutch oven didn’t allow us to have one layer so we had to mix it more than normal.

Stew beef browning in dutch oven

Stew beef browning in dutch oven.

Add the additional tablespoon of bacon fat to the dutch oven and let it melt. Once melted, add the carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables cook down for about 10 minutes.

Carrots, onion, celery carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks cooking in the dutch oven.

Carrots, onion, celery carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks cooking in the dutch oven.

Then, add the potatoes and garlic and gently fold into the other vegetables. Now add the thyme and rosemary and mix well.

All the vegetables and spices added to the dutch oven.

All the vegetables and spices added to the dutch oven.

Then add the meat back into the dutch oven and pour in the beef broth, beer and smoked paprika. Bring the mixture to a boil in the uncovered dutch oven.

The beef has been added to the vegetables and spices.

The beef has been added to the vegetables and spices.

Once you reach a boil, cover the pot and reduce for a simmer. Simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat and potatoes are tender.

The pot roast stew simmering in the dutch oven.

The pot roast stew simmering in the dutch oven.

Our Sunday Beef Stew

This is our beef stew after it has simmered for a couple of hours. As you can see, the liquid has thickened up and become a nice, rich, brown gravy.

Cioppino – San Francisco Fish Stew

Our Austintatious Life

Here is our stew, ready to eat.

I’ll admit, I’d never had this fish stew. Maybe that’s because I haven’t been to San Francisco before and we live far enough from the ocean that good fresh seafood is hard to come by. However, I do love fish and I was looking forward to this dish.

Cioppino is a stew that originated in San Francisco by Italian immigrants. The story is that the immigrant fishermen would use the catch of the day to make a stew while on the boats. As Italian restaurants started becoming popular, the stew became popular with everyone else. There are a ton of recipes online for this stew and, apparently, one of it’s best attributes is that is very versatile. We used the recipe provided by Luke but made a couple modifications based on what’s in our pantry and creativity. For example, some of the online recipes…

View original post 461 more words

Happy New Years!

I love traditions, especially ones that involve food! This year, we did the same thing as last year (all most previous years) by making my favorite Black-Eyed Pea Soup. I like the soup better than just plain peas, plus, we add a lot of meat to it. This year we added 1 lb of beer braut German sausage and about 6 slices of bacon. We also used a handful of peppers from our last batch of peppers we picked on our plants before we cut them down. They were all very small and a mix of jalapeno, poblano and serrano peppers.

New Year Day black-eyed pea soup

New Years Day black-eyed pea soup

We also tried something new today – baking cookies from scratch. Curt found some whole-wheat pastry flour at the store and was going crazy waiting to find something to do with it. Well, he ended up making Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies. They turned out really good, especially for a first attempt.

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the newness category, we also made homemade biscuits from scratch. I know, this isn’t anything special, but it was both of ours first attempt at biscuits from scratch. I’ve only made them from the pre-made rolls that you buy in the store. It was easier than we thought so we made two batches. The first is a buttermilk biscuit and the second was the standard regular biscuit recipe on the flour package.

Homemade biscuits, buttermilk on the left, regular milk on the right.

Homemade biscuits, buttermilk on the left, regular milk on the right.

I hope you have a great new year and aren’t afraid to try new things but still hold true to the traditions that make you who you are.

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

This recipe is a variation of the Tomatillo Green Sauce that I posted a few years ago. In this one, you don’t need a grill and you still get a great sauce. For our broth, we used a home-made broth that we made with the bones from a smoked turkey. I love the smokey flavor that comes from a broth like this. You can use whatever broth you want. The peppers we used are all from the last harvest from our plants that we picked just before our first freeze. A lot of the peppers were pretty small so we wanted to use them up before they go bad.

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Our Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and cut in half
  • 3 to 5 cloves of garlic
  • 4 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 small (or 1 large) green bell peppers
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves only
  • 1 cup of chicken or turkey broth
  • Zest and juice of 2 lime

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the seeds from the poblano peppers and bell peppers. Also, since the seeds and inner membrane contain the heat, remove the seeds from some of the jalapeno peppers. We leave the seeds in 2 of the jalapeno peppers to keep some heat in the final sauce.

I will note that we cooked our peppers first and this made removing the seeds harder. The peppers get slimy and the seeds stick to the cooked peppers so make it easier on yourself and remove the seeds before cooking.

Roasted jalapeno, poblano and bell peppers

Roasted jalapeno, poblano and bell peppers. As you can see, we are in the process of removing the seeds from the roasted peppers. It would have been much easier to remove them before we roasted them.

Once you’ve taken the seeds out of the peppers, put the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, poblano peppers and onion into a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. We put about a teaspoon of both salt and pepper.

Prepare your baking sheet by putting a layer of foil on it and giving the foil a light coating of olive oil. With all the vegetables coated with the olive oil, salt and pepper, spread them onto your baking sheet in an even layer. Take care to make sure the cut halves of the tomatillos are facing up. This will keep all (or most) of the juices from the tomatillos from spilling out.

Tomatillos, jalapenos, poblanos, bell peppers, onions and garlic before being roasted.

This is our baking sheet with all the vegetables spread out before we put them in the oven to roast. Notice that the cut sides of the tomatillos are facing up. This keeps the juices from spilling out and making a mess.

Place the baking sheet in the center of your oven and roast until the vegetables are soft. This will probably take at least 20 minutes but might be longer. Ours took about 30 minutes until the tomatillos were soft.

Once roasted, put the vegetables into a large pot or dutch oven. Add the cilantro, lime juice, lime zest and broth. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Tomatillos, onions, garlic and cilantro in our dutch oven.

Here are the tomatillos, onions, garlic and cilantro in our dutch oven. At the time, we were getting the seeds out of the peppers.

Now, use your immersion blender to turn this into a sauce. You can use a food processor or blender if you don’t have an immersion blender.

The immersion blender while making the tomatillo sauce.

Here is sauce while we were using the immersion blender. I hope you can tell it’s pretty liquefied with just a little amount of chunks.

Once it is cooled, you’ll have a great sauce for chips or using as a base in Mexican dish. We’ll be mixing ours with grilled pork for a pork stew.

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Our Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

You can use it immediately, store it in the refrigerator for a few days or put it into a freezer bag and freeze it for a later day.

Bacon-Maple-Bourbon Walnut Pie

This twist on a classic pie comes from our realtor’s monthly magazine, American Lifestyle. We decided to add the bourbon to kick it up a notch. It’s the holiday season, so why not take it over the top! The bacon is really the cool element and it really adds an interesting flavor to this pie. In our recipe, we used a light maple syrup instead of the dark. I think the dark will be better but it did taste great. We also over chopped the walnuts and it probably would be better to have the larger pieces of a courser chop for some texture in the pie.

Bacon-Maple-Bourbon Walnut Pie

Bacon-Maple-Bourbon Walnut Pie

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 4 ounces of thin-cut bacon slices
  • 5 tablespoons of solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of very cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

For the filling:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup of dark maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 cups of coarse chopped walnuts

Instructions

Preheat your over to 350 degrees.

First, make the crust. It’s a simple process similar to the patte brise, except you add BACON! Start by frying the bacon in a skillet on medium heat until they crisp. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes. Once crisp, transfer the cooked bacon slices to a paper towel. Now, save the bacon fat from the pan. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and then put the rest of the leftover bacon fat into a heat-safe measuring cup. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then add in enough shortening so the total volume is 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons).

Now that the bacon fat and shortening are ready, pour your flour into a bowl and add the fat from your measuring cup.  Cut this in with a pastry cutter or fork until it resembles coarse cornmeal.

Mix 2 tablespoons of cold water and the vinegar together and then add to the flour mixture until a soft, non-sticky dough forms. Form the dough into a ball, dust it with flour and roll into an 11 inch circle. Place a pie plate in the center and trim the edges.

Now that the pie dough is ready, start on your filling. Beat the eggs together with maple syrup, sugars and vanilla extract into a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed. Mix in the reserved 2 tablespoons of bacon fat and the bourbon.

Crumble the bacon into small pieces in the bowl. Stir in the walnuts and then pour the filling into the pie crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes, until puffy and brown. There should only be a slight jiggle in the center. Let cool before slicing.

Fennel, Onion & Sausage with Penne

This post is long over due. We fell in love with fennel over this past summer. We were at the farmer’s market and went to the booth of our favorite farmer. We always get peppers from him because he has the best variety, especially the shishito peppers. He talked us into getting a couple really large pieces of fennel. We didn’t know what to do with it but said “OK” and took some home with us. As luck would have it, later that weekend we saw an episode of Lidia’s Italy using fennel in a sauce with sausage and serving it with ziti pasta. It’s actually a pretty easy recipe so we tried it, and really liked it. It’s amazing how much the fennel changes when you saute it.

We’ve adjusted this recipe from Lidia’s, just because we can. You can find the original recipe on Lidia’s website. The original recipe calls for a pound of pasta but we find that 1/2 pound is plenty and allows the fennel and sausage to be the stars of the dish. Plus, it gives plenty of pasta for 2 grown men to have dinner and have some left overs for lunch on a later day. We also like using the sliced link sausage instead of ground sausage for the same reason. We usually get the best sausage we can get. This time we’re using Hot Chicken Italian Sausage. We served this with steamed summer squash with red pepper flakes.

20161228_Fennel_Sausage_Pasta.jpeg

Fennel Sausage Pasta

Ingredients

  • Salt for the pasta water
  • 1/2 pound penne
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage, we use linked sausage
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, cut into half-moon slices
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or pecorino cheese

Directions

Heat a pot of water to a boil and add the sausage. Parboil the sausage for 5 minutes and then put it in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking it. It would be just as tasty grilling the sausage.

Save the water and use it for the pasta. Skim the water to remove the fat floating at the top and add some fresh water to get enough for your pasta. Heat the water back to a boil and then cook your penne following the directions on your package. Reserve 3 cups of the pasta water to add later for the sauce.

To prepare the fennel, trim the bulb and remove any tough outer parts. Reserve the fronds. Slice the bulb in half lengthwise, remove the core and then slice each half in 1/4 inch thick lengthwise slices. Separate the slivers of fennel if they are attached at the bottom and then cut the long slivers in half, so you have about 3 cups of 2 inch long slices of fennel.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until they sizzle and wilt. Next, add the fennel and cook for another minute or two. Once the fennel has started to soften, add the garlic. Sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon if salt and the red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Now, push the onion & fennel to the side of the pan and add the tomato paste. Stir the tomato paste in the spot you added it to for a minute or two until it is sizzling, then stir it in with everything else.

By  now your sausage should be finished cooking. Slice your sausage links into 1/4 inch slices and then add it to the mixture in your skillet.

Ladle in the reserved pasta water and stir well. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let the mixture cook until the flavors meld and the sauce is thickened, about 6 minutes. Add more water if the sauce reduces too rapidly.

Add the cooked penne into the sauce and gently fold it into the sauce. Allow it to meld for few minutes. Now add the fennel fronds and mix it into the sauce.

Once it is ready, sprinkle on the cheese and allow it to melt. Then serve into warm pasta bowls.

20161228_Fennel_Sausage_in_pan.jpeg

Our pasta cooking in the pot