Monday, March 30, 2015

Beef Stew Over Mashed Potatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut smaller if necessary
salt and pepper
1 (small or medium) onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 box beef broth (32 oz)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or Steak Sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 celery stalks, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1/2-1 cup frozen green peas
1-3 tablespoon cornstarch (dissolved in water), optional
1 tablespoon dried parsley
mashed potatoes (from approximately 5 pounds of raw potatoes, see tips at bottom of post)  

If you are using prepackaged stew meat I would suggest cutting the pieces once or twice to make them more bite sized, since they usually come quite large. Salt and pepper stew the meat. Heat oil and butter in large pot over medium heat. Brown just the outside of the stew meat (do not cook) and remove from pot. Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and celery.

Bring to boil and reduce to low simmer. Add back stew meat. Cover and simmer for 1.5-2 hours. Add carrots and peas and simmer covered for the last 30 minutes. Add 1-3 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in cold water to bring stew to desired thickness, if desired, or add more beef broth to thin, if desired. Salt and pepper to taste and stir in parsley. Serve over mashed potatoes.  

How I Make My Mashed Potatoes

5 pounds potatoes
1 stick butter
sour cream (optional)
salt and pepper

Bring large pot of salted water to full rolling boil. You want the potatoes to have lots of room and water to boil in. While waiting for the water to boil, peel the potatoes. Then cut small potatoes into 4 pieces, medium potatoes into 6 pieces, and large potatoes into 8 pieces. Transfer to colander and rinse with cold water to remove any dirt.

Boil potatoes, in a rolling boil, for approximately 10-20 minutes. Start checking them at 10 minutes and every 2-5 minutes after to prevent overcooking. Potatoes are done when very easily pierced with a fork but not mushy or completely falling apart. Drain water off potatoes.

Return potatoes to dry pot and return to burner on low heat. Add butter (I usually use about 1 stick of butter for 5 pounds of potatoes) and continue stirring to melt butter and to evaporate excess water from the potatoes. You want the moisture to come from the butter and milk, not from the water. When potatoes start falling apart and getting a little dry and powdery you can turn off the heat and start adding milk and continue stirring and mashing. Continue adding small amounts of milk (and or sour cream) while stirring and mashing until desired consistency is reached. Salt and pepper to taste.

Use a hand masher for 80-90% of the mashing. Then transfer potatoes to a large plastic bowl and use a hand mixer (on medium to high) and whip them for about 30 second to fluff them up and remove any big lumps. Overmixing with the electric mixer will result in a glue like texture. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Crustless Quiche with Veggies and Bacon

Great for brunch or dinner. Serve with a side of hash browns and fruit. Recipe is very versatile and vegetables used can be varied. Quiche pictured has steamed zucchini instead of spinach. Serves 4-6 people. 

2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 cup broccoli cut into tiny florets and steamed for 3 minutes
1 cup spinach broken into bite size pieces
1 cup monterey jack cheese shredded
3 slices thick cut bacon cooked and crumbled
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Generously grease bottom and sides of 9 inch glass pie pan with butter. Add bread crumbs to pan and tilt until completely coated. Layer with broccoli, spinach, cheese, and bacon. Whisk eggs, milk and seasonings together and pour evenly over the layers. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and egg is set when toothpick is inserted. Serves 2-4 people.

Adapted from 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Homemade Pizza (Including Regular AirBake Pan and Baking Steel Directions)

Homemade Pizza (Including Regular AirBake Pan and Baking Steel Directions)
Inspired by America's Test Kitchen, Your Homebased Mom, and Pioneer Woman pizza dough recipes.

This recipe requires some advanced planning but it is well worth it! It needs to be made at least one day in advance. Makes two medium sized pizzas. The unique thing about this recipe is that you add water to the flour instead of flour to water, which reduces the risk of adding too much flour. Also, you use cold water and let the dough rise in the fridge. The slow rise results in a more flavorful crust and the process is more repeatable and less prone to variables in your environment such as humidity and room temperature. 

Dough Recipe

3 cups white flour (minus 3 Tablespoons) (*sub one cup whole white wheat)
3 tablespoons wheat gluten
1 teaspoon active dry yeast (or ½ teaspoon rapid rise)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil (or canola oil)
1 1/3 cup ice cold water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons melted butter
garlic salt (optional)

Pizza Sauce and Toppings

8 oz tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
½ tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons oregano
⅛-¼ teaspoon garlic salt

8 ounces mozzarella, or Italian blend shredded cheese (good quality)
dried Parmesan cheese


Combine flour, gluten, yeast, and sugar in stand mixer. Mix with a whisk or wooden spoon. With dough hook attachment going (I set my kitchen aid at speed #2) add oil then slowly start adding water. Add water very slowly until the dough is just combined and a tiny bit of flour remains (you probably won't need the entire amount listed). You must watch carefully so that you don't add to much water, making the dough gooey. Cover and let dough rest for 10 minutes. Add salt and knead with dough hook for 5 minutes (I use speed #2 on my Kitchen Aid). Shape dough into ball and transfer to lightly greased large bowl. when you are done with the 5-minute need the dough should be Tacky but shouldn't stick to your hands when you're transferring it to the Bowl if it sticks to your hands then you added too much wate. rIf the dough is sticking to your hands at this point then you added too much water and I would consider remaking it. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and let rise in fridge for 24-72 hours.

*Whole Wheat Variation: You can also substitute one cup of all-purpose flour with 1 cup of whole white wheat flour this will turn out almost just as well especially when cooked on the pizza steel but it's important that you add gluten specially when you are using some wheat flour

Approximately 1.5 hours before you are wanting to bake the pizza, remove dough from fridge, divide in half, shape into two round balls, cover, and let set on counter to reach room temperature (at least 1 hour). You should need very little flour. If the dough is sticking to your hands or the counter then you added too much water when you initially made it.  

Roll out each half into circle (work from the center out). I like to roll out my dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. If the dough is not very elastic let it rest for 10 more minutes. Stretch dough to to desired thickness, tossing if necessary. For this recipe I roll each half into a 9-12 inch circle. 9 inches gives me a thicker crust and 12 a thin crust.

Brush edges of crust with melted butter (about 1 teaspoon per pizza) and sprinkle with garlic salt. Top with sauce, cheese (I like the shredded mozzarella from Sam's Club, it is very good quality), or the finely shredded Italian blend from Aldi. and toppings. I use 4oz of cheese per pizza. 
P.S. Some of my favorite topping combinations include:

pepperoni and zuchinni
pepperoni and fresh pineapple
pepperoni, fresh pineapple, and jalapeno
kale, zucchini, and tomatoes
barbecue sauce (instead of tomato pizza sauce), bacon, chicken, and kale

If you are using a traditional air bake pizza pan:
Transfer dough to pizza pan. I use this non stick air bake pan and I love it. Poke holes with fork all over crust. Don't be shy about this, you want a lot of "pokes" to prevent big air pockets from forming. Bake for 4 minutes and remove from oven. Relieve any remaining air pockets with fork or toothpick and push them down with your finger.

Bake at 475 at 3/4 height in oven for approximately 8 minutes or until cheese in center of pizza is just beginning to brown. Sprinkle with dried parmesan cheese and serve.

If you are using a baking steel:
When you first get out your dough from the fridge preheat your steel at 500 degrees for at least 45 minutes. (This temperature works best in my oven but you may need to play around with temperatures in your oven, 450-550). 

Prepare pizza on a wooden pizza paddle with cornmeal on the bottom to ease the transfer and prevent the dough from sticking. Be sure to poke many holes in the dough before adding the sauce and toppings. This will prevent any large bubbles from forming. You can use a long fork or a dough docker. Quickly transfer to steel and bake for approximately 5 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is just beginning to brown in the middle of the pizza. You will need a large metal pizza “shovel/spatula” to remove the pizza from the oven. 

Link to my pizza making tools:

Wooden Pizza Peel (for building pizza and transferring to steel in oven)

Metal Aluminum Pizza Peel (for removing pizza from oven on baking steel)

Nerd Chef Baking Steel

Dough Docker