Saturday, November 27, 2010

An American Thanksgiving

So, Eating Like The World has been to five continents so far, but this entry is staying right here in Northern Michigan.  Thanksgiving (and Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I guess) is as thoroughly American as the Fourth of July, and we had a pretty decent one this year.

Most years we go to my in-laws, and we "have to" get there at a certain time, which devolves into Angel yelling that we're late, and the kids dithering about instead of putting on coats and shoes, and a sullen car ride.  The visit is a marathon of different family complaining about all the little dramas and injustices of their life while the kids get increasingly stir crazy and malignant.  The food is generally mediocre.  After the visit, the venomous debrief of all the things that ticked off one or the other of us is epic.

Not this year, though.  We stayed home.  We had Thanksgiving for our family, and it was awesome.  We planned the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner -- turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy for the core.  (the Holy Four, as I call'em)  Angel wanted hash brown casserole, Evie wanted green bean casserole.  Gable wanted steak fries.

Pieee-eees

Angel started early, and baked three pies on Tuesday: Pumpkin, Caramel-Apple and Cranberry-Blueberry.  She attempted home-made pie crust instead of using refrigerated, and was properly proud of the results.  Wednesday night we mashed together the hashbrown casserole and put it in the fridge so all we'd have to do on T-Day was put it in the oven.

Home-made Honey Rolls

Thanksgiving day, Angel started with making home-made yeast rolls, which sat on the stove rising for most of the afternoon.  When in the pan, Angel brushed them with home-made honey-butter, and popped them in the oven.  Out came the most beautiful looking rolls I've seen in a long time.

The Turkey (tm)

When dinner time came, we assembled our plates of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, beans, casserole, cottage cheese, steak fries, rolls, and accompanied with a local red table wine.  We then went around the table and each of us related the things that we are thankful for.  And we ate.  And ate.  And ate until our stomachs felt like they were going to stage a revolt...which I suppose is the focus of Thanksgiving, at least for a lot of people.

After dinner, Angel's mom stopped by for a piece of pie and a bit of relaxation before heading over to the chaos that is the in-laws' holiday dinner.  At the end of the day, we realized just how relaxing the day had been.  And we were thankful for that, too.

Ellie vs. Turkey Leg

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Israel II

And now...the long-overdue conclusion to Israel Week.

Cliff Notes version:  We ate stew, then we ate chicken.

Right.  So, there seems to be a lot of tradition involved in Israli and Jewish cooking.  As we rolled into the weekend, there were Sabbaths and things to think about.  For one thing, Angel made Challah bread -- traditionally two loaves are made, one to give to the Rabbi, and one to eat with dinner on the weekend.  The twins helped.

Ellie Excited About Challah

Lucy Kneading Challah Bread

As we don't have a Rabbi, we ended up eating both loaves of bread, and they were darn good.  Challah is a mildly sweet bread, braided on top, and (I swear) just made to soak up yummy butter.

Kosher Cholent Stew, with Challah Bread and Red Wine

For Saturday's dinner, we had Kosher Cholent, a stew of beef, beans, barley and potatoes.  It roasts in a 200-degree oven for over ten hours -- I swear the longest time I've ever seen anything roasted -- and when it came out, the beef was so tender, I could cut it with my spoon.  Absolutely delicious.  We had the Challah with it, and a nice red table wine.

Roast Chicken, Rice, Challah Bread

Sunday's dinner was chicken roasted with oranges inside the cavity, with an interesting cinnamon/raisin rice.  There wasn't any chicken left after dinner, especially since petite-looking Evie turns into a ravenous jackal when roast chicken hits the table.  The instructions said to pull the oranges from the chicken after roasting, quarter them and serve them.  Which we did.  Mmm...warm oranges, all ferment-y tasting and stuff.  Tried it.  Didn't like it.

And as if the meals weren't enough, we made home-made hummus and baba ghanoush for snacks.  The hummus was very easy, and with the home-made pita bread from falafel night, it was stupendously tasty.  From what Angel says, the $5 tubs of hummus in the grocery deli sections are outrageously expensive, given the price of a can of chick peas, garlic, oil and tahini.

The baba ghanoush, on the other hand, I can't say much about.  It's basically hummus from eggplants, not chick peas.  We roasted a pair of eggplants, peeled them, seeded them, pureed them...did you know that eggplant innards look disgusting?  They do.  I realize that I've only ever had eggplant cut into slices, breaded and fried.  I love it that way.  but after roasting and peeling them open, the seeds look just like fish roe, when you clean a fresh-caught fish.  We made the stuff....but we never took the first bite of it.

Looking back at our Israeli week, we're left with several impressions.  The first is that there seemed to be a definite focus on making very filling meatless dishes -- the falafel, the soup with matzo, everything during the week left us (or at least me) feeling stuffed to the gills.  Second, the dishes were relatively simple and there was a lot of roasting -- Angel reported that we really didn't have to buy any special ingredients, and that a lot of the recipes were basically "throw ingredients in a pot and roast them for a while," and hence easy to cook

And while we're pausing to celebrate Thanksgiving -- we didn't have to make Indonesian Scuttle-Bugs or something for Turkey Day -- we resume in a week or two in our new country...Italy.



Recipes:

Challah


1 loaf
  • Water -- 1/2 cup
  • Margarine -- 1/4 cup, or 4 tablespoons
  • Sugar -- 3 tablespoons
  • Salt -- 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Active dry yeast -- 1 (1/4-ounce) package
  • Lukewarm (110°F) water -- 1/4 cup
  • All-purpose or bread flour -- 3 to 3 1/2 cups
  • Eggs, beaten -- 2
  • Egg yolks -- 2

Method

  1. Add the water, margarine, sugar and salt to a saucepan and heat, stirring until the margarine is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  2. Mix the 1/4 cup warm water and yeast together in a small bowl and set aside for 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast.
  3. Add 3 cups of the flour to large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture, warm sugar-margarine-water mixture and the beaten eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients and bring the dough together.
  4. Remove the dough to a floured work surface and knead, adding extra flour as needed until the dough is no longer sticking to your hands and is silky and elastic. Remove the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm corner until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and punch it down with your fists to deflate it. Cut the dough into 3 equal-sized portions. Roll each portion out into a log about 15 inches long that is tapered at each end.
  6. Lay the three logs next to each other, and starting in the middle, braid them together. Pinch the ends together to make them stick and tuck the ends under. Place the loaf on a baking sheet and cover it lightly with a clean towel. Set aside to rise for another 30 to 45 minutes
  7. Beat the egg yolks with a tablespoon of water. Brush the top of the challah all over with the egg yolk wash.
  8. Place the challah in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the challah and brush it again with more egg yolk wash to get any of the newly exposed places on the loaf. Return the loaf to the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the challah is golden brown on top and has a hollow sound when you tap on it. Remove and cool before serving.
~ From the Whats4Eats website.

Cholent

Ingredients

  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 pounds chuck roast, cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup dry kidney beans
  • 1 cup dried pinto beans
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 5 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thirds
  • boiling water to cover
  • 2 (1 ounce) packages dry onion and mushroom soup mix
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large oven safe pot or roasting pan, saute onions in oil over medium heat.
  2. Add meat, and brown well on all sides.
  3. Mix in beans; stir continuously until the beans start to shrivel. Stir in the barley. Add potatoes, and add just enough boiling water to cover the meat and potatoes. Mix in dry soup mix and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes on stove top.
  4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C).
  5. Cover pot tightly, and place in preheated oven. Allow to cook overnight for at least 10 to 15 hours. Check periodically to make sure you have enough liquid to cover; add small amounts of water if needed. Do not stir; stirring will break up the chunks of potatoes. 
~From the allrecipes.com website 
Rice Dish (un-named)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basmati rice, soaked in water for 20 minutes and drained
  • 1 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and drained
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds, slivered 
Combine olive oil, rice, boiling water, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and salt to taste over high heat.  Cook, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed.  Stir in raisins, lower the heat to the lowest level possible, and cover tightly.  Cook for 10 minutes, turn off heat, and let stand for 10 minutes.
Place a small skillet over medium heat.  Add almonds.  Toast for 5 - 10 minutes or until they are just golden and they release their aroma.  Stir almonds into rice, and keep covered until serving.

~From the inmamaskitchen.com website.

Israeli chicken stuffed with oranges (off memooleh betapoozim)

  • 1, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds, chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 onions, peeled
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Rinse chicken inside and out under cold running water. Pat dry.
  3. Place chicken in a roasting pan. Cut lemon in half and rub one half over surface of chicken.
  4. In a small bowl, mix salt and spices together and sprinkle over chicken.
  5. Squeeze juices from lemon half and from one of the oranges into roasting pan and add water. Place remaining orange, whole and unpeeled, in chicken cavity. Cut onions in half and add to the pan.
  6. Cook chicken for 15 minutes, then baste with the pan juices and lower heat to 350 degrees F. Cook for 1 hour, basting after 30 minutes. (*)
  7. Remove orange from cavity of chicken. Cut orange and onions into wedges and serve with chicken.
(*) When checking chicken for doneness, it's a good idea to cut it open gently to make sure the meat is white, not pink, all the way through.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 1 1/4 hours
Serves 4 to 6
~From the ethnicrecipes.us website

Roasted-Garlic Hummus

  • 3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • One 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons sesame tahini
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, minced
  • Assorted crudites, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place garlic cloves on a small piece of foil, and lightly drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Seal foil to form a pouch, and roast garlic in oven until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oven, and allow garlic to cool slightly; peel and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the chickpeas, and process until finely chopped.
  2. Add lemon juice, sesame tahini, water, salt, cayenne pepper, and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and process until the texture is light and fluffy but not entirely smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in chives, and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with assorted crudites, if desired.
~ From the Martha Stewart website...I hope she doesn't sue us! ;^)

Baba Ghanoush

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Place eggplant on baking sheet, and make holes in the skin with a fork. Roast it for 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally, or until soft. Remove from oven, and place into a large bowl of cold water. Remove from water, and peel skin off.
  3. Place eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seeds, and garlic in an electric blender, and puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer eggplant mixture to a medium size mixing bowl, and slowly mix in olive oil. Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving. 
~From the allrecipes.com website 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Falafels Rock!

This week, ELTW traveled to Israel.  Research showed that they enjoy a combination of Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern recipes, which would make sense given their location near the Middle East and the Mediterranean.  This week also showcases some of the food of my father's family heritage -- firmly Long Island Jewish...if that's a race or species or...hmm, I can hear flame-mail coming my way.  Anyway, I was introduced to matso and bagels and lox at a very young age.  Gefilte fish, too.  Eeyuck.

So we opened on Monday with what several (okay, at least one) website has called the national dish of Israel:  Falafel.  I thought I knew what these were, but it turns out I was completely ignorant.  I'd thought that they were kind of like a gyro -- meat, veggies and sauce in a pita.  Turns out...nope.  They're essentially, well, hummus hush-puppies, deep-fried and served in a pita shell with tomato, cucumber and Tahini sauce.  There's more to it than that, but basically, there you go.

Evie Rolling Falafel

Boxed Falafel Mix. Ecch.

So, Angel made falafel from scratch, and she also got a boxed mix and made that, too.  And as if that weren't enough, she made her own pita bread from scratch.  To go with the falafel, she made a wicked fruit salad called "charoses."  By fruit salad, I mean apples and nuts soaked in red wine.

Well, dinnertime comes around and we load the table with all the stuff.  I cut one of Angel's homemade pita in half and it formed a perfect pocket...but not thick and flatbread-y like storebought pita.  This was more like a shell, thin and chewy and fairly resistant to liquid.  I layered in some tomato and cucumber slices, three falafel balls (scratch, not boxed) and drizzled the tahini sauce over it.

Falafel Fixin's

Oh.  My.  God.  Falafel rock, they one-hundred-percent rock.  Savory, with crispy cucumber and tart tomato, and a sort-of-musty sauce, on that chewy pita?  Holy Potatoes, they're freaking good!  My second one, I tried the boxed-mix falafel, and they were as ashes in my mouth compared to my wife's home-made ones.  I suppose if I'd tried them first I'd have liked them -- there was nothing really wrong with them, they were just way more herb-y and less savory than home-made.


Charoses and Falafel

And the Charoses was (were?) all right.  We used a really sweet red wine to complement the apples.  The kids loved it, actually.  We had to resist the urge to let them eat all they wanted and hope they went to bed really early -- we were good parents and restricted the amount of wine-soaked apples they could have.

After Monday, we had a couple of busy days where we skipped on Israel.  Thursday was the next night in Israel, and the menu was what my dad calls Jewish Penicillin -- chicken soup with matzo balls.  Big shock to me:  Jewish chicken soup has no actual chicken in it.  When I found this out, I was despondent.  I like meat, and I like nice, chunky chicken soup.  Angel informed me that this soup was supposed to be a clear, tea-like broth.  Only.  Everything else is prepared in separate pots to avoid thickening or clouding the broth.  Carrots, noodles, both made in their own pot and combined with the matzo in the bowl, and the broth is poured over it all.

So, Angel made this all from scratch.  She boiled chicken all day to make the stock.  She made the matzo from scratch, not a mix, and enlisted the help of Evelyn, our oldest girl, to help mix and form the balls.  We had an excess of the stock, so we froze a couple-three baggies of it for later, and then we sat down to our meat-less chicken soup dinner.

And after two bites, I apologized for being grumpy about my misguided desire for chicken chunks.  This soup was flavorful and wonderful, and the matzo were not only excellent, but very filling.  A half-hour after dinner, while I did the dishes, I realized just how much they expand and become little lead balls in the belly -- happy lead balls, but lead balls nonetheless.  Still, it was a darn tasty soup.  The kids all liked at least some part of it, if not all things for all kids.  And better yet, I combined a bowl of soup and let it sit overnight in the fridge, and ate it for lunch today, and the flavors had combined nicely.

This weekend, I think we sacrifice a goat.  (What?  Israel doesn't do that?  You sure?)  Stay tuned, anyway.

Jewish Chicken Soup w/Matzo


Recipes:

Felafel

Note: This recipe involves hot oil. Adult supervision is required. Many grocery stores now sell prepared felafel in the deli section.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, well-drained
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅔ cup fine breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • Oil for deep frying, enough to fill the pot about 3 inches
  • Pita bread

Procedure

  1. Mash the chickpeas in a large bowl.
  2. Cut the garlic into tiny pieces. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs to the chickpeas. Mix the ingredients together.
  3. Add the eggs and oil to the mixture and mix thoroughly.
  4. Heat oil in the pot until little bubbles rise to the surface.
  5. Shape the mixture into 16 balls, each about 1-inch across.
  6. With the mixing spoon, gently place a few of the balls in the oil—do not drop them in because the hot oil may splash.
  7. Fry a few at a time until they are golden brown—about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the felafel with the slotted spoon. Drain them on a plate covered with paper towels.
  9. To serve, cut pita bread in half to make pockets.
  10. Put two or three felafel balls into each pocket and drizzle with tahini sauce (see recipe).
Serves 6 to 8.

Tahini Sauce

Some grocery stores stock tahini sauce, already prepared, or packaged tahini mix.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup tahini (sesame seed paste; can be purchased in stores that sell Middle Eastern foods)
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅓ cup water

Procedure

  1. Mix tahini, lemon juice, and garlic powder in bowl until you have a smooth sauce.
  2. Add the water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until sauce is thin enough to pour.
  3. Pour tahini sauce over pita sandwiches; can also be used as a dip for raw vegetables. 
~ from the Food By Country website

Pita Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of yeast, or quick rising yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water

Preparation:

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.

Combine flour and salt in large bowl.

Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression.

Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.

Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. When the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.

Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated.

Allow to sit in a warm place for about 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 deg F. and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to also preheat your baking sheet.

Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.

Bake each circle for 4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 minutes.

Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking.

Take spatula and gently push down puff. Immediately place in storage bags.
~ from About.com

    Charoses

    What You Need:

    2 red apples
    1 cup of sweet red wine or grape juice
    1 cup chopped walnuts (you can buy them already shelled and
    chopped into pieces)
    paring knife for peeling apples
    wooden bowl
    metal chopping blade
    measuring cup
    large spoon for stirring

    What You Do:
    1. Carefully peel the apples (ask an adult to help you) and cut them
    length-wise in half and then in half again. Discard the peels and
    cores.

    2. Put the peeled and cored apples into a wooden bowl. Ask an adult
    to show you how to use the chopping blade to chop the apples into
    pieces the size of your thumbnail.

    3. Add the chopped nuts to the bowl with the chopped apples.
    Measure one cup of red wine or grape juice and pour it into the
    apple and nut mixture.

    4. Stir the mixture until it becomes the color of the wine or juice.
    Now the charoses is ready to eat—or you can sprinkle it with
    cinnamon before serving.
     
    JEWISH CHICKEN SOUP
    • 1 1/2 kilo chicken parts: bones, wings, thighs, feet, gizzards, hearts, skin in any ratio
    • 2 large carrots, washed, unpeeled, broken into coarse pieces
    • 1 large onion, peeled, cut into quarters
    • 2 celery stalks, cut into quarters
    • 1 medium parsnip, washed, unpeeled, cut into three pieces (or parsley root)
    • 6-8 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, whole
    • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, whole or 2 tsp dry thyme
    • 1 Tbsp salt
    • 1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorn
    • matzo balls (recipe below)
    Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and add water to cover (3 to 4 liters). Bring water to boil over medium heat but watch the pot so water never comes to rolling boil (to avoid clouding the soup). When water is just about to boil, turn heat to lowest setting so only a few lazy bubbles break the surface. Cover pot and let simmer for 4 hours. (Longer simmering will not hurt soup.)
    Remove pot from heat, fish out most of the chicken parts and vegetables and discard. Strain the liquid through a fine strainer and defat soup if necessary (see defatting suggestions above). Adjust salt to your taste.
    Makes about 3 to 4 liters of chicken stock.
    For soup body, take about 1/4 cup dry vermicelli (broken into matchstick lengths), 1/4 cup peas (fresh or frozen) and 1/4 cup thin carrot slices per serving. Cook vermicelli in salted water, blanch peas and carrots in boiling salted water until cooked but still crunchy. For garnish, coarsely chop fresh Italian parsley. Add these with matzo balls into individual soup bowls.
    MATZO BALLS
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
    • 3 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
    • 1/2 t ground black pepper
    • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
    • 3/4 cup matzo meal
    • 2 Tbsp soft butter, oil or chicken fat
    Scramble eggs, blend in salt, ginger, parsley, pepper and garlic. Slowly mix matzo meal and butter (or oil or fat) into egg mixture until it forms a dough. This will be a stiff dough, to lighten it add water slowly until it is workable (about 1/4 water).
    Shape dough into neat, round 14 to 18 walnut-sized balls, lower them into simmering stock (using chicken bouillon), cover pot and sgently for 10 minutes. Drain stock.

    ~ From the Jewishmag.com website.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Boring Names & Delicious Snacks

    Things settled down for the second half of England week.  No more toads, faggots or bangers...things grew normal names for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    Beef'n Cheese Pie

    Friday was Beefsteak Pie with Cheese Crust.  Essentially, stew meat with gravy, onions and carrots, baked in a casserole and covered with a cheese and bread crust.  It was good -- really good.  The kids even all liked it, which is like finding a critically-acclaimed Schwartzenegger movie.  We had no leftovers.  Well, none that weren't welded to the casserole dish or the pizza pan that was thankfully under it.  After soaking for 24 hours in soapy water, I was able to release the charred remains into the wild.

    Saturday was not only "Beef Braised With Beer and Cheddar Cheese Dumplings" -- but it was also "Nick Cooks Dinner" night.  Mwoo-ha-ha-haaa.  Honestly, the dinner was very similar to Friday's dish.  Beef baked in a casserole dish with onions and gravy, and dumplings this time.

    Beef'n Beer Casserole with Dumplings

    However, this meal didn't receive the same rave reviews as Friday's.  The recipe called for a fair amount of brown sugar and some cinnamon, and that sweetness carried all the way through the dish.  It meshed with the brown ale all right, but not really with the beef, resulting in a sort of off flavor that turned off pretty everyone but me.  The dumplings were pretty darn good, though, and marked our first encounter with shredded suet as a dry ingredient.

    Sunday, though, redeemed itself.  For Halloween Sunday, we had Beef Wellington before taking the kids out to trick or treat.  For the uninitiated, Beef Wellington is a whole tenderloin -- or as much of one as you can afford (!) -- browned and wrapped in pastry with mushrooms and pate, and baked until golden-brown and delicious.  The logistics involved in wrapping a 2lb piece of meat that wants to fall apart with a thin, rippable pastry are difficult, requiring the hands of two adults, but the end product is worth it.

    Beef Wellington

    Nevermind for now that pate is pretty much unobtainable in northern Michigan, and that we had to mail-order it.  Never mind that we spent $20 for just the meat.  This dish is good!!  The meat was fork-ably tender, and so savory-delicious with the pate and 'shrooms, and then add flaky pastry just because you can.  My head almost exploded when I managed to get a bite with all the flavors combined.

    Beef Wellington, Rice, Green Beans

    There were no leftovers.  If we'd made twice as much...there would have been no leftovers.  It's almost blasphemous that we ate this while watching Monsturd on the tv. (it was Halloween, after all!)

    And, it was actually after the week was over, but I was looking for hidden Halloween candy in the cupboard, and I found a little bag of Smiths Bacon Flavoured Fries.

    Bacon Fries? Bacon Fries!!

    "Bacon fries?  What's this?" I asked.
    "Those are yours," Angel said.  "We ordered them, remember?"
    "Squeak!"  I said.  I did remember when Angel was placing an order for some of the more, um, British ingredients, she'd asked about Bacon Fries and I'd said "sure, whatever."

    Oh, man, I don't know why they can't make these in the States, because it was like eating bacon in a bag.  The pieces were colored and striped like bacon, and flavored perfectly like bacon, and crunchy like well-cooked bacon.  I shared them with the kids...but truth be told, I didn't wanna.  They were delicious.

    Bacon Fries = Yum!



    Recipes:

    Beefsteak Pie With Cheese Crust

    Besides being eaten on its own with bread, Cheshire cheese is often used in the north of England for cooking pastry or scones.
    Ingredients
    Serves: 4

    ---- filling ----
    1 Kilogram Lean stewing steak (2lb), trimmed & cut into small cubes
    2 Tablespoon Seasoned flour
    2 Tablespoon Dripping or oil
    2 Medium Onions, finely chopped
    4 Medium Carrots, finely sliced
    Pinch Mixed herbs
    Pieces Grated nutmeg
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 Whole Cloves
    600 ml Beef stock (1 pint)
    ---- pastry ----
    150 Gram Plain flour, sifted (5 oz)
    Pinch Salt
    65 Gram Butter (2 1/2 oz)
    75 Gram Cheshire or Lancashire cheese (3 oz)
    Method
    Preheat oven to 190 °C / 375 °F / Gas 5.

    Roll the meat in the seasoned flour. Reserve 2 teaspoons of the excess flour.

    Heat the fat or oil and just soften the onions and carrots in it but do not let them colour. Remove them and put them in a flameproof dish. In the same fat quickly brown the meat all over and add it to the vegetables.

    Add the herbs and spices to the pan juices, together with the reserved seasoned flour. Mix well to absorb the fat, then add the stock and mix well until it boils and becomes smooth.

    Pour the thickened stock over the meat and vegetables, bring back to the boil then cover and put into the oven for 1-1 1/2 hours.

    Meanwhile, make the crust by putting the flour and salt into a bowl, then rubbing in the butter until it is like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the cheese and mix well.

    When the eat is cooked, allow to cool slightly, then sprinkle the pastry mix evenly over the meat and bake for about 30 minutes or until it is golden and cooked.
     
    Beef Braised with Beer and Cheddar Cheese Dumplings
     
    A delicious and economical meal using good West Country ingredients.

    Dumplings are known as 'doughboys' in the West Country.
    Ingredients
    Serves: 4

    25 Gram Beef dripping, or oil (1 oz)
    2 Medium Onions, sliced
    675 Gram Stewing beef, cubed (1 1/2 lb)
    1 rounded tbsp Plain flour
    1 Teaspoon Brown sugar
    Pinch Cinnamon
    300 ml Brown ale ( 1/2 pint)
    Salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    ---- Dumplings ----
    100 Gram Self raising flour (4 oz)
    50 Gram Shredded suet (2 oz)
    25 Gram Cheddar cheese (1 oz)
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2-3 Tablespoon Water
    Method
    Preheat oven to 180 °C / 350 °F / Gas 4.

    Heat the fat or oil and soften the onions, then take them out and put them into a casserole dish. Quickly brown the beef on all sides, then add the flour and let it cook for 1 minute, stirring from time to time. Add the sugar and cinnamon and gradually pour in the brown ale. Stir well then add salt and pepper to taste. Put the meat and gravy into the casserole dish. Cover and cook for half an hour, then reduce the oven temperature to 170 °C / 325 °F / Gas 3 and continue cooking for a further hour.

    For the dumplings, mix together all the dry ingredients. Add the water gradually, adding a little more if needed to make a fairly slack dough. Flour your hands and break the dough into 8 small pieces, then roll into little balls with the palms of your hands. Chill until required.

    After 1 1/2 hours' cooking time, test the meat with a fork. If necessary, cook for a further 30 minutes. If the casserole seems dry, add a little water, or more beer. About 20 minutes before the meat is ready, place the dumplings on top of the casserole, leave off the lid and cook until they are risen, about 20-30 minutes. Alternatively, poach the dumplings, about 4 at a time, in a saucepan of boiling salted water, for about 15 minutes. Drain well.
     
    Beef Wellington
     
    The Duke of Wellington was a highly prominent statesman and soldier of the nineteenth century. This dish, however, bears his name not because he was a great gourmet but because the finished joint was thought to resemble one of the brown shiny military boots which were called after him.
    Ingredients
    Serves: 8

    1.4 Kilogram Fillet of beef (3 lb)
    1 Tablespoon Vegetable oil
    40 Gram Butter (1 1/2 oz)
    225 Gram Button mushrooms, sliced (8 oz)
    150 Gram Smooth liver paté (6 oz)
    325 Gram Puff pastry (13 oz)
    1 Egg, beaten, to glaze
    Method
    Pre-heat oven to 220 °C / 425 °F / Gas 7.

    Trim and tie up the fillet at intervals with fine string so it retains its shape. Heat the oil and 15g ( 1/2 oz) of the butter in a large frying pan, add the meat and fry briskly on all sides. Press down with a wooden spoon while frying to seal well. Roast for 20 minutes, then set the beef aside to cool and remove the string.

    Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms in the remaining butter until soft; leave until cold, then blend with the paté. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a large rectangle about 33 x 28 cm (13 x 11 inches) and 0.5 cm ( 1/4 inch) thick. Spread the paté mixture down the centre of the pastry. Place the meat on top in the centre. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg.

    Fold the pastry edges over lengthways and turn the parcel over so that the join is underneath. Fold the ends under the meat on the baking sheet. Decorate with leaves cut from the pastry trimmings. Brush with the remaining egg and bake for 50-60 minutes depending how well done you like your beef, covering with foil after 25 minutes. Allow the Beef Wellington to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
     
    ~ Recipes from the Great British Kitchen website, here, here and here.