Beet, Orange, & Goat Cheese Salad Recipe
Recipes

I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago when I was feeling inspired to experiment with some delicious goat cheese left over from a previous meal.  You can prepare the beets, oranges, and dressing ahead of time then just assemble when ready to eat.

Beet, Orange, & Goat Cheese Salad (Makes Approx. 4 Large Salads)

Ingredients:

 3-4 Fresh Beets

2 Oranges

1 Medium Shallot

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 Tablespoons Sherry Vinegar

1/4 Cup Orange Juice

1 Teaspoon Orange Zest

Baby Mixed Greens (I used a mix of baby spinach, butter, and romaine)

Goat Cheese (choose a fresh, bright tasting cheese to complement the citrus)

Salt & Pepper

Chopped Walnuts to Garnish

You can assemble and prepare the dressing, oranges and beets a day ahead of time.  To start, roast the beets.  Wash the beets thoroughly and cut off the top stems and bottom root.  They should be flat on both sides.  Rub them with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place them in enough foil to be able to seal at the top and sides.  Roast at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until tender.  Once they have cooled, remove the skin and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  Place the cubes in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper.  Allow them to marinate overnight for the best flavor.  Peel the oranges and separate into groups of 2 sections.  Cut each group into slices and store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to assemble the salad.

To make the dressing: Mince the shallot and combine with 1/4 cup orange juice, the orange zest, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, and some salt and pepper (to taste).  Whisk together until well combined then continue whisking while slowly adding the 1/4 cup olive oil.  You will need to re-whisk the dressing before using.

To assemble the salad:  Wash and dry the mixed greens thoroughly.  In a large bowl, place the greens and a few spoonfuls of the dressing and toss.  Divide the greens between the 4 plates and add the beets, oranges, and goat cheese.  To finish, spoon a few spoonfuls of dressing on each salad and top with the chopped walnuts.

A note on the goat cheese: The fist time that I made the salad I used Selles sur Cher which is an ash covered, fresh, tangy, and crumbly cheese.  The second time I made it I used Valencay which is also ash covered with a fresh and tangy flavor but had a slightly more dense texture which I think worked even better than the Selles sur Cher in the salad.  I found both cheeses at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, MA and I’m sure that at any artisan cheese shop they would be able to recommend a goat cheese with a similar profile to work in the salad. 

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Chili con Carne Recipe
Recipes

Although I’m not really a football fan I do always look forward to the Superbowl for one reason…the food!  It’s a good excuse to eat some things like hot wings and nachos which I don’t eat regularly.  Justin doesn’t like the consistency of beans such as black or pinto in chili, so a few years ago I found a great recipe  for Chili con Carne which is basically just meat, peppers, tomatoes, and some spices.  The recipe comes from the Williams-Sonoma Mastering: Soups & Stews cookbook which is one of my favorites.

Chili con Carne (serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

1 Jalapeno Chile

1 Serrano Chile

1 Poblano Chile

1 Sm Red Pepper – stemmed and seeded

2lb Well Marbled Boneless Beef Chuck, fat trimmed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

2 Tablespoons Canola Oil

8 Cloves Garlic, minced

4 Teaspoons Chili Powder

1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander

1 Can Plum Tomatoes & Juices, finely chopped in a food processor

1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano

2 Cups Beef Stock or Water

Prepare the chilies and pepper.  If you prefer a mild chili, remove the seeds and ribs from the chilies as they carry most of the heat, and then chop the chilies finely. (Since I usually double or triple the recipe I leave the seeds in one serrano pepper which produces a relatively hot finished product)  Dice the red bell pepper. 

**The picture above is for a triple batch of the chili so your ingredients will not look like as much.  It freezes very well so I like to make as much as possible then freeze it in serving sized portions.  One thing to note if you’re freezing it is that it does get spicier as it sits so go a bit lighter on the pepper seeds.**

Brown the beef.  Sprinkle the meat cubes evenly with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper.  Place a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the canola oil.  When the surface of the oil appears to shimmer, add the beef cubes in batches and brown them on all sides, about 5 minutes for each batch.  It is very important to not crowd the pan or the meat will steam instead of brown which will make it tough.  As each batch is browned, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a small Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot.

**I vary the recipe a bit by doing all steps in one pot to save time and dishes. Rather than using a frying pan and a Dutch oven, I just do each step in my large Dutch oven and remove the browned meat to a plate until it is needed again.**

I know that this looks like a LOT of meat because I tripled the recipe…but don’t worry it’s at least 5-6 dinners plus leftovers :)

Cook the vegetables.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the frying pan over medium heat.  When the surface shimmers, add the chiles, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened and are beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and coriander and cook for about 1 minute to develop the flavor of the spices.  Add the tomatoes, oregano, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, stirring well to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom.

Add the vegetable mixture to the Dutch oven with the beef.  Place the Dutch oven over medium heat, add the stock, and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally.  As soon as you see large bubbles begin to form, reduce the heat until only small bubbles occasionally break the surface.  Cover the pot and cook until the meat is very tender and the liquid is thickened, about 2 1/2 hours.  If the chili seems too soupy, uncover it for the last 30 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid. (In my past experiences, if you are doubling/tripling the recipe you will have to simmer it for at least 3 hours.)  One way to determine that the chili is ready is that it should have reduced quite a bit and when you taste it, the meat will be VERY tender, but still have a little texture.  The chili should be boldly spiced, but if you find the flavors dull stir in more salt and pepper to taste.

My favorite way to serve this chili is with a dollop of sour cream (to combat the heat), chopped fresh cilantro, and warm tortilla chips!

Potato-Leek Soup Recipe
Recipes

Last week Justin’s parents were in Hawaii visiting his brother who is stationed there so we volunteered to stay at their house and watch the dog.  I decided to make a light dinner for the day that they would be arriving back home.  Since it’s winter and leeks are plentiful it was an easy decision to include potato-leek soup (one of my favorites!) on the menu.  I love this recipe from Williams-Sonoma Mastering: Soups & Stews.  This is a great cookbook to learn technique from and it also has some delicious recipes.  Below is the recipe, although I’ve condensed it a bit.

 Potato-Leek Soup

Ingredients:

5-6 Large Leeks

1lb Russet Potatoes (do not substitute another variety, it will not have the same starch content)

1 Large Yellow Onion

3 Tablespoons Butter

4-5 Cups Chicken Stock (I substituted chicken broth)

1 Teaspoon Salt

1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

Prpare the leeks, onion, and potatoes.  Clean the leeks.  Cut each leek lengthwise then place cut side down on cutting board and working in batches cut into 1/8 inch slices.  You should have about 6 cups cut leeks.  Next, prepare the onions by cutting in half lengthwise and peeling.  Slice each half into thin half-moons.  Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4 dice.  I made a double batch of the soup so your ingredients will not look like as much. 

Place a wide saucepan over medium-low heat and add the butter.  When the butter has melted and the foam has subsided, add the leeks and onion.  Using a wooden spoon stir to coat them with the butter.  Cover and cook until the leeks and onion are very tender (about 15 minutes).  Check occasionally to make sure that the vegetables are not browning.  You don’t want them to color.

Next, you want to add the 4 cups of stock, the potatoes, and salt.  Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  As soon as you see large bubbles begin to form, reduce to a simmer.  Cook at the gentle simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes).  Uncover the pot and remove from the heat.  Let the soup cool to lukewarm before pureeing.  Working in batches to insure an even consistency, ladle the soup mixture into a blender or food processor.  Process until smooth.  Return to pan over medium-low heat.  The puree should have the consistency of heavy cream.  To achieve this whisk in as much of the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock needed to achieve a spoon-coating consistency.  Reheat gently, stirring frequently, until visibly steaming.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of  the 3rd and 4th steps as I managed to burn the tip of my pointer finger on my left hand and spent the next hour with one hand in a bowl of ice. 

Here’s the final soup!  There are a few different ways to garnish it including fresh ground black pepper, a drizzle of creme fraiche, or cut pieces of fresh chives.  This soup is also delicious served cold as vichyssoise!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp Recipe
Miscellaneous, Recipes

I thought that since the holidays are coming up I would share the recipe for prosciutto-wrapped shrimp which we served at my brother Andrew’s recent engagement celebration.  The recipe was SO easy to make and quite delicious.  I would only make one edit to our preparations which would be to tear the pieces of prosciutto in half lengthwise before wrapping the shrimp as there may have been too much prosciutto on each shrimp.

prosciutto shrimp

I originally found the recipe in the December 2008 issue of Glamour Magazine:

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp w/ Balsamic Vinegar

      24 Large Shrimp (fresh or defrosted), shelled w/tails on

     24 Thin slices prosciutto

            Black Pepper

     1 1/2 Cups Balsamic Vinegar

     2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

     1 Jar of store-bought pesto (optional)

        Lemon wedges for garnish

Lay shrimp on a sheet pan and season with pepper.  Wrap each shrimp with prosciutto; cover and refrigerate.  Pour vinegar into a saucepan on low heat; stir while vinegar reduces by 2/3 or until it coats the back of a spoon (approx. 6 minutes).  Set aside and refrigerate.  Both steps may be done up to a day ahead.  Saute shrimp in a non-stick pan on medium heat with oil for about 1 minute on each side or until opaque in color.  Lay shrimp on serving tray and drizzle with balsamic reduction and if desired pesto.  Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

Enjoy!