Soup weather is upon us here in Wisconsin. I say that
despite the beautiful fall days we’re having right now. Soup still seems to
suit the mood, and the right flavors match the colors of the day.
Some months ago, the spice company catalog contained a recipe for Oxtail Soup. I keep trying to push our meat
boundaries - so many chefs extol the virtues of the offing in the offal and
snout-to-tail eating. Snouts don’t show up at the butcher (at least not that
I’ve seen). Oxtails, however, are a regular feature.
I will warn you, this is not a fast recipe. The slow
caramelizing of the roasting meat bones and vegetables, and then the even
slower simmer to make stock is absolutely key to the flavors here. I usually make it on a day off or over 2-3 evenings. It's low maintenance until finishing; easy to get it going and then work on other things.
There’s something incredibly beefy about the smell of oxtails roasting.
After they are good an roasty-toasty, they get combined with water and some spices and veg for a few hours of really, really, really low simmer.
The stock needs to cook until the oxtails are falling apart.
At this point, the strained stock out is spoon-worthy in its own right. Deep, beefy, rich, red-brown goodness. Perfect food as is. Made even better by adding
back the meat and a fresh round of vegetables of your choice.
I’m still not sure we’ll try the snout. But I can tell you,
the tail is definitely divine.
Mary Lou’s SoMil Oxtail
Our recipe is a blend of a version from the Penzey's catalog, and the
beef stock recipe in Julia Child’s The Way to Cook. It doesn’t include any
starches, making it low in carbohydrates and perhaps even “paleo.” I think the
recipe is pretty forgiving for the final soup, so use whatever vegetables you
like. The mix for the stock is critical and ultimately makes the flavor, so I would
recommend staying closer to the recipe. In the end, this is homestyle cooking
at its best, and what comes out of your kitchen can be, and should be, entirely your own.
The roasting part:
3-4 lbs beef oxtail pieces
2-3 carrots, cut in half longwise
2-3 stalks celery, cut in halves
1 medium onion, cut in large chunks
1 medium tomato, quartered
The simmering part:
1 medium tomato, quartered (yes, another one)
2-3 large sprigs of parsley
2-3 cloves unpeeled garlic, smashed
6-8 whole black peppercorns
4-6 whole allspice berries
Onion, carrot, celery if needed
1 teaspoon sea salt
The finishing part:
Meat from oxtails
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 medium bell pepper, finely diced
2-3 carrots, finely diced and par-steamed in the microwave**
½ to 2/3 cup sliced okra (I use frozen)
½ to 2/3 cup peas (frozen - fresh if you’ve got ‘em)
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place meat and veg in a large open
roasting pan. Sprinkle meat lightly with salt. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour,
turning the meat every 15 minutes or so to get it caramelized on all sides. Baste
the veg and meat occasionally with any fat that renders out.
Transfer the oxtails and veg to a large stockpot (I use a heavy
enameled cast iron dutch oven); leave out any veg that got too dark (or eat it
for a mid-cooking snack - yum!). You want anything that’s a dark mahogany
brown, but not black. Add tomato, parsley, garlic, peppercorns, and allspice
berries. Sprinkle salt over. Add fresh carrot and celery (1-2 each in large
chunks) and onion (half a large onion) depending on how much veg you have left
after roasting. Add water to cover by about 2 inches, bring to boil, then turn
the heat way down to maintain a slow simmer. And walk away. It will need to
simmer for about 4 hours. Check it every so often, add in a little water if
the level gets low (which it shouldn’t if your heat is low enough). Turn off
the heat and allow 30-45 minutes to cool.
Remove the oxtails to a platter; pick out the meat and set
aside***. Strain stock and discard solids. Wipe out the stockpot/dutch oven,
heat olive oil to a shimmer. Add onions and celery; sprinkle lightly with salt
and sauté lightly until becoming translucent. Add bell pepper and cook until
beginning to soften. Add stock, meat, pre-steamed carrots, okra, peas, etc.
Warm through. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
*You can reduce any fat in the stock by chilling it
overnight and lifting the hardened fat off the remaining liquid, although I think this also
reduces the richness of the flavor.
**Pre-steaming the carrots means you don’t have to cook the
whole soup as long. You really don’t want to cook the meat for long at this
point as is it already very, very tender.
***We save all the non-bone, non-meat bits for our dog and
mix a small spoonful in with her meals; too much would be too rich, but the
extra fats help keep her skin and joints in good condition. She looks pretty
good for being 12, don’t you think?!
Our regular Weekly Randomness model, Miss Nora Pooh herself.
Cheesy Refrigerator Magnet for Monday, October 27, 2014 "Scarab", scarab beetle, circa 2011
I cannot see a scarab beetle without thinking of the tomb scene from the movie The Mummy. I'm not squeamish, but I'm also not a great fan of things creeping on, let alone under, my skin. This one does NOT have little legs that pop out, and it does NOT burrow under your skin. So far as I can tell. So far. We picked up this reassuringly inert beetle in the museum gift shop (shocker!!) after the Cleopatra exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum a few years ago. It's most magical quality is magnetism. And I'm happy with that. Magnet Monday features a selection from our semi-vast and ever growing collection of cheesy refrigerator magnets. Without doubt the perfect souvenir. Only slightly less cheesy than collecting snow globes but maybe a lot easier to smuggle in your bra. If need be. Which I hope it never is. Unless it's really worth it.
Cheesy Refrigerator Magnet for Monday, October 20, 2014 "Untitled", Frank Lloyd Wright window design, circa 2011
A recent art installation in Brooklyn Bridge Park of a stained glass house with Mondrian-like walls made me think of other great stained glass works. I don't know if Piet Mondrian ever did windows, but Frank Lloyd Wright certainly did. I'm a huge fan of FLW and the Prairie Style/Arts & Crafts aesthetic in general. Our Milwaukee Art Museum put together an exhibition of his drawings, plans, models, videos, some furniture, windows, you name it a few years ago. Which of course we went to. And... you know I can't resist a well-stocked gift shop... I can't find if this particular pattern has a name, but I think it's the wheat motif. Unless I have it upside down, which is always possible, and then it would be a short version of his Tree of Life. Either way, it would make for a beautiful view. Magnet Monday features a selection from our semi-vast and ever growing collection of cheesy refrigerator magnets. Without doubt the perfect souvenir. Only slightly less cheesy than collecting snow globes but maybe a lot easier to smuggle in your bra. If need be. Which I hope it never is. Unless it's really worth it.
News that made me stop what I was doing to look it up.
On the heels of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is one of the potentially most game-changing research results for not only ALS, but every other neurodegenerative disorder. It's a humbling moment and reminder of why I work in biomedical research.
I'm in the process of re-clothing this doll, an antique china head/china hands & feet doll from the late 19th century (best age guestimate). The first thing was to decide whether she is a "child" doll or a "lady" doll.
The difference in clothing choices are pretty distinct between the two. Tough choice: the chubby cheeks on this doll are more child than lady, but her body proportions are more lady than child. The body will be hidden by clothing, but not those chubby kid-cheeks. So: child clothing it is.
You see that spool between her feet? Keeps them from knocking together and chipping.
Putting her in child clothing may be completely wrong for the doll, but since no outfit is permanent, I can always make something else if it looks awful. Stage 1: knickers. She's going to need some knee-length pantaloons. Garments of the day looked something like this:
Her current pair are way too long and poorly shaped, with elastic at the ankles. I like the lace though, and I would like to re-use it somehow.
I'm debating between reshaping, pintucking, etc. these, or starting from scratch. I picked up some aged woven cotton at the thrift store (i.e. an old shirt) for fabric, since new fabric just feels too, well, new. It even has some eyelet along the hem I could work into the garment.
I haven't been able to find a pantaloon pattern per se, so after taking measurements I drafted this:
I have a whole new appreciation for tailor's tools like french curves and chalk. It makes me wonder about tailoring my own clothes. Some day. But first: knickers. And after the knickers, the chemise. Stay tuned.
Cheesy Refrigerator Magnet for Monday, October 13, 2014 "Tournée du Chat Noir, avec Rodolphe Salis"*, advertising litho in resin relief, black cat, circa 2007
Today is my birthday (yeah me!). I was born on a Friday the 13th, which some who know me claim explains a lot. Those who know me better claim it leaves even more open for discussion. I celebrated my 40th birthday by going to Paris with my husband and my dearest friend (also turning 40). We stayed in an apartment with her husband who was in Paris for the summer teaching. Best. way. ever. to travel: live as much like the locals as you can. I was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of cheesy magnets in Paris; this one we found at the touristy open-air market along the Seine near Notre Dame. I knew Paris had cheese. Who knew it was also cheesy! *the Chat Noir was the first modern nightclub in late 19th century Paris, owned & operated by Rodolphe Salis. Magnet Monday features a selection from our semi-vast and ever growing collection of cheesy refrigerator magnets. Without doubt the perfect souvenir. Only slightly less cheesy than collecting snow globes but maybe a lot easier to smuggle in your bra. If need be. Which I hope it never is. Unless it's really worth it.
Weekend Aims What. Are you serious?? I have no time for frivolous shit! Okay, I lied. I will at least take the time to watch the gubernatorial debate this evening between Mary Burke & Scott Walker (listed alphabetically, people). I fear most folk won't bother. It would be nice if people could be informed for once instead of just opinionated. It's shameful to remain willfully ignorant. Sigh...
Reality is this is more glossary than cookbook. Pocket-sized to hide in your apron, every term for every style of cooking is listed in here; heavily influenced by European styles and in particular the French. Mr. Gancel provides his professional references as a prelude, and it's impressive.
Most "recipes" are little more than shorthand versions of what it should contain. I've not found the abbreviations list. I need an interpreter...
There are a few descriptions that give volumes and amounts, but I need to look up terms here too; how much is a gill? Timing is "wing it!" I've come to think of it as the dictionary of secret chef-speak, like a secret handshake. Maybe this is where real cookin' and less "recipe-followin' " begins. Throwback Thursdays features a recipe from an antiquey style cookbook. Hard to know what age to put on it, but you know an old-timey one when you see it. I have at least 10 oldies now, a number which, being greater than 3, implies a collection. It also means they need their own shelf in the cookbook bookcase.
Cheesy Refrigerator Magnet for Monday, October 6, 2014 "Deutschland", Beer stein, bottle opener, circa 2009
It's that Octoberfest time of year. This magnet has dual utility because it's also a bottle opener (hey!). The lid does not open though. My husband brought this back from a business trip to Germany, where the steins he encountered have lids that opened. And they held beer (hey!).
Magnet Monday features a selection from our semi-vast and ever growing collection of cheesy refrigerator magnets. Without doubt the perfect souvenir. Only slightly less cheesy than collecting snow globes but maybe a lot easier to smuggle in your bra. If need be. Which I hope it never is. Unless it's really worth it.
Approach Pretty straightforward: chicken, onion, garlic, stock. The "one tomato" and "one green bell pepper" are a bit vague; I have no way to gauge size of the average tomato 40+ years ago. The recipe note suggests "genuine Hungarian rose paprika" for best results. From what I can gather, the Sweet Paprika from Penzey's will do fine. I'm also assuming that half & half with a splash of heavy cream will do for the "light cream."
If you're observant, you will notice 1) the chicken is still frozen, and 2) I'm using orange Italian frying peppers. Use what ya got, right?
Result It came together very easily; all the work is in the prep. It's really more of a pink sauce, thickened with flour, light cream, and sour cream. I wasn't expecting a pink sauce, so I was probably confusing this with cacciatore or something. I took the meat out of the pan when I thickened the sauce although the recipe didn't say to. We served it over some leftover potatoes, but I think it would be especially good over pasta.
Verdict Keeper. Rich flavors, will probably be great leftovers. (added later: yes, yes it was excellent leftovers)
This cookbook is "a collection of nearly fifteen hundred selected recipes that appeared in the pages of The New York Times between 1950 and 1960." I tried to paraphrase that, but said almost the exact quote anyway. Found at an antique/flea market. (The photo looks funny: it's only the spine, and a floral tablecloth. The cover was otherwise plain black. Meh.) Throwback Thursdays features a recipe from an antiquey style cookbook. Hard to know what age to put on it, but you know an old-timey one when you see it. I have at least 10 oldies now, a number which, being greater than 3, implies a collection. It also means they need their own shelf in the cookbook bookcase.
I have a weakness for anything quiche-like. When the whole flavor comes in one bite, I'm totally hooked. Being apple season, and needing goodies for a party, I wanted to do something savory with apples. I don't know what made me think of combining them with sausage, but the result was a success.
These aren't really mini-quiches as they have no cream or egg. I think these invoke that richness in flavor though, and each bite comes complete with a great flaky crust.
Apple Sausage Tartlets
It matters here to use good pork sausage, lots of flavor, not too fatty (we like Jones Dairy Farm; kinda local, mighty tasty). I used Golden Delicious apples for sweetness and because they will hold their texture. Apples vary tremendously in size; I find the smaller ones have more flavor. The amount of maple syrup you want to use will depend on how sweet your apples are.
Dough (standard tartlet dough)
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup flour*
Cream together cream cheese and butter; mix in flour & salt well. Divide into portions and press into cups of mini-muffin tins. Chill while you make the filling.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1-lb pork sausage (bulk, or casings removed)
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
2-3 apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1/2 cup (or so) shredded smoked gouda cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, sprinkle with salt. Sauté lightly until softening and turning translucent. Add pork sausage; break up into small pieces while cooking. When almost all the pinkness is gone from the sausage, add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and the apples. Turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking until the apples begin to soften. Test and add another tablespoon maple syrup if you'd like.
Fill chilled crusts with apple/sausage mixture. Divide shredded gouda evenly onto each tartlet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and both the cheese and crusts are turning golden. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a serving platter. Good warm and at room temperature.
*Our household eats largely gluten-free (I can't tolerate gluten at all), but not grain-free. I use a personal blend based on the 70% grain, 30% starch ratio over on gluten-free-girl and the chef.