Thursday, November 26, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Company Pot Roast

I knew I shouldn't have procrastinated on this post. Here I am the night before Thanksgiving and I still didn't have my post that is due on Thanksgiving done. The apple pie is in the oven now so I have a little break to get this done. To everyone else in the US (or even if your not) - Happy Thanksgiving - enjoy the meal.

This post isn't about Thanksgiving dinner though - it is about this weeks Barefoot Blogger recipe - Company Pot Roast. The name of this recipe kind of got me into trouble - my wife decided that it must mean we have to have company over to eat it. That is OK though - gives me a chance to try out a few recipes. I served the pot roast over Ina's rosemary polenta recipe and served a Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake for dessert.

So how was the pot roast? I would have to say it was very good. It is not really what I am used to since there are not really any identifiable vegetables in it when you serve it. I think that would take a little getting used to for me. That being said - blending all the vegetables into the sauce makes a very tasty gravy - and probably a lot healthier than your standard gravy too. The only question I had on the recipe is - who uses a Prime cut of meat for pot roast? I thought the whole point of pot roast is that is used a little bit of a cheaper cut of meat.

Thanks to Lisa at Lime in the Coconut for this recipe. I haven't had much time to check out her blog yet but it looks like she has some nice photos of her recipes.

Company Pot Roast
Serves 8

  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 3 branches fresh thyme
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.
  4. Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on the stove top over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Remove the strings from the roast, and slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cheesecake

I love cheesecake - I think most people do. I have a terrific recipe for pumpkin cheesecake and I rarely get the option to make it. I could probably make it on Thanksgiving but I have a hard time making things that are not the traditional recipes on that occasion. We had company over last Friday so I decided to take the opportunity to make the pumpkin cheesecake.
I don't watch movies more than once, I don't travel to the same location twice, and I don't make the same recipe twice. I have made this recipe in the past and I am making it again so you know I think it is good. if I make a recipe more than once you know it is good. This cheesecake is creamy and rich and has just the right spices. Even the graham cracker crust is spiced. The topping is probably unnecessary but it is very nice. I made it without the bourbon this time and it is still very good without the alcohol.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
Serves 12 to 16


  • 9 whole graham crackers, (5 ounces), broken into large pieces
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-1/3 cups (10-1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place the crackers, sugar, and spices in a food processor and process until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl, drizzle the melted butter over, and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened.
  3. Turn crumbs into prepared spring-form pan and spread the crumbs into an even layer. Using the bottom of a ramekin, 1 cup measuring cup, or drinking glass, press the crumbs into the bottom of the spring-form pan. Press the crumbs as far as possible into the edges of the pan. Using a teaspoon, neatly press the crumbs into the corners of the pan to create a clean edge.
  4. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 30 minutes. When cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two 18-inch-square pieces of heavy-duty foil, set the spring-form pan in a roasting pan.
  1. Bring about 4 quarts water to a simmer in stockpot. While the crust is cooking, whisk the sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside.
  2. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels. Spread the pumpkin on the towels and cover with a second triple layer of towels. Press firmly until the towels are saturated. Peel back the top layer of towels and discard. Grasp bottom towels and fold the pumpkin in half; peel back the towels. Repeat and flip the pumpkin onto the baking sheet; discard the towels.
  3. Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a standing mixer set at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula. Add about a third of the sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl and add the remaining sugar in two additions, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add the remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give a final stir by hand.
  4. Pour the filling into a spring-form pan and smooth the surface; set the roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of spring-form pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when the pan is shaken, and the center of the cake reads 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours. Set the roasting pan on a wire rack and cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the spring-form pan from the water bath, discard the foil, and set on a wire rack; run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake and cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.
  5. To serve, remove the sides of the pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the pan bottom to loosen, then slide the cake onto serving platter. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Editors' notes: Depending on the oven and the temperature of the ingredients, the cheesecake may bake about 15 minutes faster or slower than the instructions indicate; it is therefore best to check the cake 1 1/4 hours into baking. Although the cheesecake can be made up to three days in advance, the crust will begin to lose its crispness after only one day. To make slicing the cheesecake easy and neat, use a knife with a narrow blade, such as a carving knife; between cuts, dip the blade into a pitcher of hot water and wipe it clean with paper towels.

Brown Sugar and Bourbon Cream
Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon
  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the heavy cream, sour cream, brown sugar, and salt until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve the cheesecake, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours, stirring once or twice during chilling to ensure that the sugar dissolves.
  2. When ready to serve the cheesecake, add the bourbon and beat the mixture until small bubbles form around the edge, about 40 seconds; increase speed to high and continue to beat until fluffy and doubled in volume, about 1 minute longer. Spoon the cream onto individual slices of cheesecake.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Crème Brulee

The first Barefoot Blogger recipe for November is a fun one - Crème Brulee. I think Crème Brulee was probably the first real fancy dessert that we had after we were married. We liked it enough that my wife and I went to a community education class that taught how to make a dinner that had Crème Brulee as the dessert. We have tried to make it a few times with varying levels of success so I was excited to get the chance to try it out again.
This recipe was easier than the recipe I have done before. There is really no cooking on the stove other than scalding the milk (and you can do that in the microwave if you want to cheat.). This recipe uses a little liqueur so I will now be a little closer to making that Grand Marnier purchase worth it - it is expensive but it can be used in a lot of recipes. The recipe says to use a cooking torch but don't go purchase one just for this if you have one in the workshop - a normal propane torch works great.
The recipe was easier but I think it was just as good. I do think I like a little more vanilla flavor so I might use a vanilla bean like my other recipe next time - just cook the vanilla bean with the milk and scrape the insides into the milk when done. The liqueur taste was very mild and I only noticed it on the first bite or two. The only other change I might make to the recipe is to strain the custard before you put it into the ramekins. Sometimes, no matter how careful you are when you pour the milk into the egg, the egg will cook a little. I only noticed this in the last dish I poured that there was a little cooked egg to mess up the smooth texture a little and straining would have prevented. I made the full recipe since I like this so much. It does keep pretty well and they are just as good a few days later.
Thanks to Suzie at Munch and Nibble for this months recipe. Go to her blog and check out her very cool Halloween cake.

Crème Brulee
Makes 5-6 servings

  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.
  3. Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.
  4. To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar carmelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Chicken Chili

Here is another good fall/winter recipe to wrap up the Barefoot Bloggers "Week with the Barefoot Contessa". I was originally going to make the Roasted Potato Leek soup but it had a few hard to get ingredients that I knew I would not be able to get at my normal grocery store so I went with the Chicken Chili.
The recipe was easy to put together. Once you get the main part of the chili cooking you roast the chicken in the oven. This gives it a lot better flavor than just cooking it in the pot with the Chili. I probably didn't wait long enough for the chicken to cool off to break it up for the chili. It reminded me of one of my first jobs at the Big Boy where I had to pull all the leftover chicken off the bone for soups and salads. I never wanted to wait until the chicken was cool enough then either.
I made the chili without the peppers since Lara won't eat peppers at all. I think it would have been a little better with the peppers but the chili was still very good and flavorful. When I normally make a chili I go for more complicated recipes where I have to roast peppers and they take a lot longer to make. I don't think this measures up to a recipe like that but I think it was very good for a chili you can make in two hours - definitely better than most restaurant chilies if you ask me.
Make sure to check out the Barefoot Bloggers website in the next week or so. She is going to create a round-up post showing what everyone made for this challenge.

Chicken Chili
Serves 6

  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
  • 1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
  • 1/8 cup minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 4 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For serving:
  • Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream
  1. Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Add to the pot with the basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks. Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Caramelized Butternut Squash

I guess I lied on Monday when I told you to check back on Tuesday. I decided I would only be able to do three of the five recipes so I will be posting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So for my second recipe I chose the Caramelized Butternut Squash. It is definitely that time of year in Minnesota - it has been very cold, even for MN. This recipe is for Butternut Squash but I picked up a Buttercup squash instead. You can pretty much use any of the winter squashes interchangeably.
The recipe is very easy to put together. I cut the recipe in half and used only one squash. The only tricky part was peeling the squash - This is probably a good reason to choose Butternut - I think the smooth squash would have been a lot easier to peel. Once I got past that the rest was a snap.
The squash tasted very good. It was a hit for the entire family, including Victor. The brown sugar just adds a little sweetness - not too much at all in my opinion. It is a little more effort than the way I normally roast squash just cut in half but this recipe will be a nice way to mix things up on occasion.

Caramelized Butternut Squash
Serves 6-8

  • 2 medium butternut squash (4 to 5 pounds total)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut off and discard the ends of each butternut squash. Peel the squash, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch cubes and place them on a baking sheet. Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize. While roasting, turn the squash a few times with a spatula, to be sure it browns evenly. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Barefoot Bloggers is doing something a little different this month. For the week of Nov 2-6 they are having a "Week with Barefoot Contessa". The idea is that we make a new recipe for every day of the week and blog about it. I think it sounds like a great idea. The selected recipes all sound good to me and I am going to try to make at least three or four of them this week. I better get to it since it looks like I am going to be busy.

The first post was for a dessert - Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars. I love making desserts but I am not really a bar person so this will be something different for me. The bars were easy to put together. The only problem I had was getting them out of the pan. Around the edges they really stuck to the pan. Once I managed to chisel the edges out the rest came out easily.

I am very glad I tried this recipe. They bars were excellent. To me these were like a good peanut butter cookie and the jam just added a little something extra. I would for sure make these again for a church potluck or something. Make sure to check out the blog tomorrow - there should be more.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Makes 24 Bars

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
  • 2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
  5. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.