I’ve always been a firm believer in pork cuts in a tomato sauce. It adds an unbelievable richness and depth of flavor that cannot be attained with simply beef. But, to make a proper “gravy”, it’s an all day process. Browning the sausage, beef, and pork. Sauteing the onions and tomato paste, reducing down the sauce for-ever. Delicious, but time consuming.
My mom always made spaghetti sauce to use up leftover ham. Apparently, her mother opted to use ham in her sauce as well. It’s delicious, easy, and a change of pace from your run-of-the-mill spaghetti sauce using ground beef. Since I’ve got a house full of boys, I opt to add ham as well as ground beef. But, feel free to make the recipe using exclusively ham. Great way to use up those Easter leftovers!
Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce
2 cups cooked ham, diced
1 lb ground sirloin 1/2 medium onion, diced 4-6 mushrooms, sliced and chopped 1/2 green pepper, diced 1 large jar marinara sauce (3 cups) 1/3 cup white wine olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the diced ham, and saute for several minutes, until starting to brown. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, brown the ground beef until nice and dark brown. Drain grease and remove ground beef, setting aside with the ham. Add more olive oil to the saucepan, and saute the pepper, onion, and mushrooms until starting to soften. Add the jar of marinara, the white wine, as well as the ham and ground beef; stir to combine.
Reduce heat to low, and simmer for an hour, stirring several times. Serve with a crisp green salad, and crusty garlic bread (recipe to follow tomorrow!).
I confess, I used to be a boxed macaroni and cheese person. As a teenager, I worked front desk at a local hotel. An older lady there made the best baked macaroni and cheese. While at the time I diddn’t have my heart set on re-creating the dish, it managed to stick with me for a decade. My mom always made homemade macaroni and cheese, but it wasn’t a cheese sauce. It was elbows, butter, and lots of cheddar cheese layered and baked. Still delicious, but there’s something about a gooey, cheesy sauce that really captured my heart.
Fast forward 10 years, I decided to try to find a recipe that I would consider “a keeper” for baked macaroni and cheese. I tried several recipes I’d found on the internet that looked good, but none really resonated with me. Then, I decided to give the recipe off the side of the elbow macaroni box a shot. Low and behold, I fell in love. I’ve changed it some over the years, but I’m glad I gave that “side of the box” recipe a shot. You never know! Feel free to top with a seasoned breadcrumb if you like, but I think that’s more of a “Yankee” thing, and just not the way I was raised. I like my macaroni and cheese soft and creamy. But, I have done it that way before…and it was delicious. Enjoy!
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups elbow macaroni
4 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
2 cups milk
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Preaheat oven to 350.
Fill a large saucepan with water, and bring to a rolling boil. Add about a tbsp of salt to the water. Add the pasta, and cook in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain pasta, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and set aside.
In the same saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, and whisk constantly for about 3 minutes…until the flour mixture is a light amber in color. Add in the mustard powder. Slowly whisk in the milk, and continue to whisk for about 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and add the shredded cheddar cheese, whisking until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta back into the saucepan with the cheese sauce and stir to coat.
Place macaroni and cheese to a medium sized baking dish. I usually use an 8X8 or a Corningware dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, until bubbling around the edges.
Allow me to introduce you to this recipe. We go way back. I first stumbled upon it when browsing The Spice House’s website (which is owned by Bill Penzey’s sister. They’re just a whole family chock full of spice tycoons, I tell ya). At the time, St. Patrick’s Day was right around the corner. I’m not a huge fan of corned beef, unless it’s in hash form. The recipe called for Guinness to be used, so I though it would be a festive alternative to the traditional corned beef and cabbage. I was right, it was a huge hit. I went out with some girlfriends that evening, and when I returned…it had all been consumed by the husband. And make no mistakes folks, it was a large roast.
Needless to say, it since became my standard pot roast recipe. So much more flavor that your standard Crock-Pot variety pot roast. Not only that, but I feel like it’s been improved upon by trying out different beers. I had heard wonderful things about coffee-braised pot roasts. So, I thought it would be very interesting to combine the two. Again, boy was I right!
We have 2 oh-so-wonderful local breweries in my area (hey – we don’t have much, but we’ve got good beer by God!). Both happen to make wonderful, rich dark stouts that use coffee in the brewing process. The first is Dogfish Head’s Chicory Stout. If you haven’t heard about DogFish, and like beer, do yourself a favor and try something out. You can find them nationwide, if you look hard enough. The second is Evolution Brewing Company’s Rise Up Stout. “Evo” started up about a year or so ago, right here on the Eastern Shore, and have been putting out wonderful craft beers. Chances are if you don’t live in the Chesapeake area, you won’t find them. But, by all means, get out there and explore the beer coolers at your local stores. Lots of great microbreweries are springing up all over the place. I’m sure you could find something near you that is equally as wonderful!
I don’t list potatoes in the recipe, but feel free to add them in with the rest of the other veggies. I usually use red potatoes that I’ve halved. However, it’s wonderful with mashed potatoes too. You want as much of the gravy as you can get, folks. Enjoy this recipe, I promise you that you won’t miss that corned beef a bit!
Pot Roast with Stout Gravy
1 3-4 pound chuck roast
2 cups beef broth
16 oz of dark-colored stout
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 2″ pieces
1 small head of cabbage, cut into wedges
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp cornstarch
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Season beef generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large dutch oven over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Place roast in pan, and sear well on both sides until nice and brown. Remove roast to plate and set aside. Add onions to the dutch oven and cook, stirring often, until the onions are starting to brown on the outsides. About 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the beef stock to the pan, then slide the beef into the stock. Cover, and cook for 1 hour.
Reduce oven temperature to 350. Remove the roast from the oven, add the stout, re-cover, and cook for an additional 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove roast again, add the vegetables and re-cover. Cook for an additional 45 minutes.
To make the gravy, remove the roast (and, it will be falling apart!) and place on a platter. Then, remove the various vegetables and arrange them on the platter as well. Cover it with aluminum foil to keep warm while you make the gravy. Using a fine mesh strainer, pour the braising liquid into a medium saucepan. Combine the cornstarch and the cold water in a small dish, then add to the gravy. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the cornstarch works it’s magic and the gravy thickens.
You can try to slice the pot roast, but I just like to use two forks to pull it apart into large chunks. Whatever floats your boat, though!
Who doesn’t remember this cake from their childhood? I remember my “Aunt Sissy” making a notorious Upside-Down Cake. She’s been gone for quite a few years now. Unfortunately I wasn’t into cooking and/or baking at that time. So, sadly I never got the recipe. However, this recipe was close, and certainly brought back memories.
The cake itself is ultra moist and dense. The lovely caramelized sugar and pineapple rings on top are loaded with flavor, and make for a beautiful presentation as well. It would be an excellent choice to make for an upcoming Holiday get together, as “that time of year” will be here before we know it. I know I can’t speak for anybody else – but I myself cannot wait! I’m counting down the days my friends. Enjoy!
3 tablespoons unsalted butter ¾ cup packed light brown sugar 19 maraschino cherries 2 large eggs 2 tablespoons buttermilk ½ teaspoon vanilla 1 cup all-purpose flour ¾ cup granulated sugar ¾ teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Have ready a 9×2-inch round cake pan. Drain pineapple and place in one layer on paper towels to absorb the excess juice.
2. Place the 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in the cake pan. Place the pan in the oven until the butter is melted. Tilt to coat all sides with butter. The extra butter will settle in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan.
3. Place one pineapple ring in the center of the pan and arrange six more around it. Place the maraschino cherries in the center of each ring and in the spaces between them.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and vanilla with a fork.
5. In a mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 6 tablespoons of buttermilk. Beat on low speed just until the flour is moistened, then increase the speed to medium, or high if using a handheld mixer, and beat for exactly 1½ minutes. The batter will be stiff. Add one-third of the egg mixture at a time, beating for exactly 20 seconds and scraping the bowl after each addition. Scrape the batter over the fruit in the pan and spread evenly.
6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and tilt the pan in all directions to detach it from the sides of the pan. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before unmolding.
7. Invert a serving platter on top of the pan. Cover your hands with oven mitts and turn the cake onto the platter. Lift off the pan. If any fruit or cherry pieces are askew, use a fork to push them back into place. If any brown sugar is left in the pan, scrape it up and spoon it over the cake. Serve warm or cool.