Oxtail Soup Disaster and Recovery

May 23, 2009

oxtail

I bought four pounds of oxtail from North Star Neighbors through the Nebraska Food Cooperative last month.  The oxtail sells for $2.95 a pound.  I got around to using it earlier in the week.  My original plan was to use up the last of my kimchi making a Korean inspired soup.  Somehow during the process, I forgot about Korea and drifted to Mexico for inspiration.  That’s when things went wrong.

My plan was to sear the oxtail, simmer for two hours, and during the last hour, add the aromatic vegetable bits that I had dutifully saved in the freezer.  I forgot to add the aromatics during the last hour, which turned out to be a good thing.  Not wanting to cook the meat into oblivion, I pulled the meat and added the vegetables to the broth, and simmered for an additional hour.  Then disaster struck as inspiration kicked in — I decided to add some smoky heat to the broth, in the form of one ancho chile and four chipoltle chilies.  Someone out there is probably cringing right now, who knows much more, or even a little more than I do about these dried peppers.  I was reveling in the bouquet the broth was giving off as I took my first taste….. and then bletch.  All it tasted like was, well I don’t know how to describe it, a smoky, bitter, bad.  I paused for a bit and then thought, add some salt and acid, and the soup will be back on track.  I added salt and it was a bit better.  I grabbed a bottle of red wine and added a cup or so, tasted, added more wine, tasted, and then added the whole bottle.  The broth still tasted terrible.  Now I was in a real pickle.  I was at the end of my culinary recovery ability.  Part of me wanted to press forward, add the meat and vegetables and make the soup.  The other part, the rational part, finally won.  I poured the whole works down the drain.  I pulled the meat from the bones, put it in the fridge and we ate cold cereal.

oxtail_chard

Luckily, due to the fact I hadn’t cooked the chilies with the meat, there was flavorful, tender beef to use.  I decided to attempt making a barbecue sauce for the meat.  For a side I settled on a Sicilian Style Sauteed Greens recipe, from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, using the swiss chard I purchased from the farmer’s market.  I turned to the Internet for a barbecue sauce template and settled on one from Culinary Cafe.  I’m happy to report both the swiss chard and the barbecue turned out wonderfully.

Barbecue

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds of oxtail, cooked until tender and pulled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 onion diced and caramelized
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

In a sauce pan, over medium high heat, add butter and onions.  Saute onions until just beginning to brown on the edges.  Then reduce heat to medium low, and slowly cook onion until caramelized.  While the onion is cooking, combine: brown sugar, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, cayenne and black pepper.  Once the onions are caramelized increase the heat to medium and add the spice/oil mixture, deglazing the pan.  Next, add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 30 minutes, add meat and warm through.

Sauteed Swiss Chard

Ingredients:

Greens

  • 1 pound swiss chard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper

Nut mixture

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup raisins, roughly chopped

Directions:

Pull stems off chard and chop.  Cut chard leaves into one inch strips.

Next prepare the nut mixture.  In a large saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil, red pepper flakes and onion.  Cook until onion is soft, then add garlic.  Once garlic has added it’s flavor, about one minute, add the nuts and raisins.  Cook until the raisins are soft, approximately two minutes.  Pull mixture from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and chard stems.  Cook stems for one minute, then begin adding chard leaves a handful at a time, as the leaves wilt, stirring between handfuls.  Once the chard is tender, reduce heat to medium, add the butter, stir to incorporate.  Add the lemon juice, stir, and add the nut mixture.  Stir for about a minute and pull off the heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

By Kenton


Farmer’s Market Produce

May 16, 2009

2nd_farmers_market

Items in the picture.  Clockwise starting with the flowers: edible chive flowers, radishes, young dill, chives, swiss chard.  In the bowl, asparagus.

Today the weather was colder than last week at the Village Point Market, due to the wind.  But the sun was shining and more farmers and more customers were out.  The cool weather keeps the produce fresh I guess.  Soon we’ll be complaining about the heat.

Well I did it again, I failed to get the name of one of the farmers I purchased from.  Last week I saw some nice looking chard just as we started making the rounds.  By the time we came back I heard, “That’s the last of the chard.”  So this week I started with his stand and bought two nice bunches of swiss chard.  Next up I stopped by Wolff Farms.  I talked to Duane Wolff for a bit about his farm.  He’s from Norfolk and has been farming since 1979.  He grows produce and grass fed beef.  I bought some nice radishes from him.  Xiong’s Gardens had the first dill of the year.  I got a couple of their young bunches.  They grow their produce in North Omaha and Missouri Valley.  The asparagus I got from Grandview Farms of Fremont.  Asparagus was all he was selling, so I asked him, “You must grow a lot of asparagus.”  He replied, “Four acres.”  That’s a lot of asparagus!  The chives I bought from Black Sheep Farms.   They had a terrible tragedy last week.  They lost several chickens to a varmint of some kind .  You can read about it on their blog.  The chive flowers I got from Bryan Family Farm.  I also picked up another 1/2 pound of moral mushrooms from him.

Last week I forgot to mention meeting Christy from Real Foods.    She’s put together a nice group.  We joined after we got back from the market last week.  Also my apologies to Brian Davies from Harvest Nursery for not stopping by to say hello.  I just totally spaced.

By Kenton


First Farmer’s Market

May 13, 2009

first_farmers_market

Items in the picture. Clockwise starting with the mushrooms: moral mushrooms, jerusalem artichoke, baby romaine, rhubarb, asparagus, daylily, pac choi. In the center, musclun.

Last Saturday was the second farmer’s market of the season and the first visit by us. We have several farmer’s markets in Omaha, but we decided to start off with the Village Point Farmer’s Market. There weren’t many vendors present, it’s still early for this part of the country. In fact there weren’t many people period. I suspect the 45 degree weather had something to do about that. Never-the-less we we’re excited to see what we could find and we weren’t disappointed. I love trying new foods and we found three we had never eaten: moral mushrooms, jerusalem artichokes and day lily stems. The moral mushrooms were sold by Bryan Family Farm and we also purchased mesclun, baby romaine, pac choi and rhubarb from them. The other two farmers we purchased produce from, I didn’t catch their names. I should have asked. Hopefully they’ll be there next time we visit and I’ll add their names later to this post. At any rate a young woman who will have to remain a mystery for now, had a small but interesting group of produce. We purchased jerusalem artichokes and daylilies from her. They were the first two things we tried upon arriving home. We tasted the jerusalem artichokes raw and they reminded me of jicama, sweet and starchy. We added some of the daylilies raw to a salad. They really didn’t have much flavor and we’re a little fibrous. We’ll try them cooked a bit next. We also purchased asparagus from another woman. The last food we purchased was two different goat cheeses, Chevre Frais and Natalie in Gray, from Shadow Brook Farm.

All-in-all we had a very nice morning at the market and were happy with our haul. Most of the produce has already found it’s way to our stomachs! Hopefully I’ll find the time to post some of the meals I’ve cooked with the ingredients.

By Kenton


Challenged! Make Your Own Yeast

May 12, 2009

raised doughBe careful what you joke about.  After watching a food challenge cooking show, I joked that Kent and I should come up with challenges for each other.  He immediately challenged me to make my own yeast for bread making.  Well, I couldn’t back out of it so I started researching.

There are actually several options for making your own yeast.  Most sources talk about using potato water but they called for hops.  I didn’t want to mess with trying to track down hops so I kept hunting.  Finally, I came across a site with a recipe for yeast water that seemed like something I could easily do with what I already had at home.  It uses raisins.

http://originalyeast.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-to-make-yeast-water.html

I put the raisins in a jar with tap water.  In about a week, the raisins were floating and there was a layer of foam across the top.  I used a peasant-style pot bread recipe from Nancy Baggett’s Kneadlessly Simple cookbook. It is a kneadless bread that relies on a slow rise of over 18 hours.  For the second rise, you fold in the outer edges of the dough.

preparing for the 2nd riseThe recipe is available at

http://bakingbites.com/2009/04/no-knead-pot-bread/

Instead of mixing instant yeast into the 2 cups ice water, I simply used two cups of the yeast water.  And guess what?  It rose!  Woo Hoo!From the photo, it looks like it didn’t rise on the one side.  That is more the result of my clumsiness in moving it from the bowl to the hot stew pot.  In transferring the dough, I accidentally collapsed the one side.  I really liked this bread despite it being a white bread.  That’s mostly because of the crust.  Placing it in the hot pot really created a wonderful chewy yet flaky crust.  This is a crust that you do not want to cut off.

I’m not sure if I can just add water to the jar and continue to generate yeasty enough water, but I’ll give it another try with another bread.peasant pot bread


Disaster Averted

May 3, 2009
Cherry Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Cherry Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Cherry Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Baking is chemistry.  You read that again and again.  You need certain ratios and must measuring accurately or things fall apart.  My failed rhubarb bread with the missing from a few posts ago is proof of this.  But sometimes you get to baking you don’t have what you thought you had in the cupboard.  Or frig.  I know, I know.  A person should set everything out before beginning to bake so you know you have all the ingredients.  To be honest, I rarely do that.  And I realize that the rhubarb mess wouldn’t have happened if I had done that.  But still, I never learn.

Yesterday I decided to try this recipe I found in Midwest Living.  From the beginning, it seemed doomed.  First, I substituted oil for butter.  The recipe called for 1 c. butter, but I had recently read that you can substitute oil for butter but that you need to watch the moisture level.  So I reduced it to 3/4 c. canola oil.  Next I discovered I didn’t have any eggs.  But a month or so ago, Kent had emailed me a site that gave a list of substitutes for eggs.  One of them was banana.  So in went a banana.  Then I remembered that I had three egg yolks in the refrigerator so they were thrown in.  This should have been a disaster.  But lo and behold, it worked!  These are actually pretty good cookies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together:
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon

With a hand mixer, mix the dry ingredients with

3/4 c. canola

Then continue mixing and add

1 ripe banana
3 egg yolks

If you can, continue to blend with the hand mixer and add

2 c. flour

Then stir in

2 c. oatmeal
1 c. dried cherries

Drop tablespoon-sized rounds onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 18-20 minutes