Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beef Vegetable Soup

I'm not one to like vegetable soups.  Soggy veggies just don't do it for me.  I tolerate Chili soup because it's mostly beans and I like my Baked Potato Soup because it's mostly potatoes and dairy with bacon.  But chunky wet vegetables.... no way.

My Farmer does like vegetable soups and I want him to have the best food possible, which meant I needed to find a recipe for "Homemade" Vegetable Soup.  Cook's Illustrated to the rescue again!

Please.... this is their recipe.  I'll put my variation here but don't steal this.  Give credit where it's due, please.

(Kay's variation:  I use leftover cooked beef whenever possible.  Usually roast or short ribs.  I start with sauteing the onions and mushrooms.  Put into a bowl.  Add the garlic and tomato paste to the pot and let it coat the bottom -- Don't Burn It!!  Add in the beef pieces and let heat for a few moments [you may have to reduce the heat or take the pot off the burner, you don't want the fond to burn!]  When the beef is  warmed, deglaze the pan with the red wine.  Add the beef broth and chicken broth.  Return to burner or turn the heat back up.  I then finely minced the mushroom/onion mixture in my Mini Chopper because there is NO WAY my Farmer is eating mushrooms [if he knows they are in there!]  I do this in 2 batches.  Add minced mixture to the soup.  Add the carrots and bay leaf and continue according to the directions....EXCEPT!.... I do not bother with the gelatin mess.  And I add 2 cups of 1/2" diced potatoes the last 15 mins of cooking [or until they are tender.]  Basic Beefy-Veggie goodness without all the weird cooked tomato/greenbean/pea mess.  Happy Cooking!)

Beef Vegetable Soup

Serves 6.   Published September 1, 2007.  


For beef and vegetable soup recipe in just an hour, we turned to quick-cooking sirloin tip steak and doctored store-bought broth with mushrooms, tomato paste, soy sauce, and red wine. One final touch perfected our quick beef and vegetable soup...(more)
Choose whole sirloin tip steaks over ones that have been cut into small pieces for stir-fries. If sirloin tip steaks are unavailable, substitute blade or flank steak, removing any hard gristle or excess fat. Button mushrooms can be used in place of the cremini mushrooms, with some trade-off in flavor. Our preferred brand of beef broth is Pacific. If you like, add 1 cup of frozen peas, frozen corn, or frozen cut green beans during the last 5 minutes of cooking. For a heartier soup, add 10 ounces of red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups), during the last 15 minutes of cooking.


  • 1pound sirloin tip steaks , trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (see note above)
  • 2tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1pound cremini mushrooms , stems trimmed, caps wiped clean and quartered
  • 1large onion , chopped medium (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/2cup red wine
  • 4cups beef broth (see note above)
  • 1 3/4cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4medium carrots , peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 2medium ribs celery , cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1bay leaf
  • 1tablespoon unflavored gelatin (powdered)
  • 1/2cup cold water
  • 2tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves


  1. 1. Combine beef and soy sauce in medium bowl; set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. 2. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add mushrooms and onion; cook, stirring frequently, until onion pieces are brown and dark bits form on pan bottom, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer vegetables to bowl.
  3. 3. Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and meat starts to brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add red wine, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, and cook until syrupy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. 4. Add beef broth, chicken broth, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and browned mushrooms and onion; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until vegetables and meat are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. While soup is simmering, sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand.
  5. 5. When soup is finished, turn off heat. Remove bay leaf. Add gelatin mixture and stir until completely dissolved. Stir in parsley; adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and serve.


A Tale of Two Meats
We tested nearly a dozen cuts of beef before settling on sirloin tip steaks as the best choice for our quick soup. Texture was a deciding factor.

Too Dense: Tender cuts such as strip steak and rib eye become tough, livery, and chalky when simmered in soup.

Loose and Tender: Cuts with a loose structure, such as sirloin tip steaks, give the impression that the meat has cooked for hours.


Building Meaty Flavor Quickly
These four glutamate-rich ingredients boosted meaty flavors in our quick soup.
Red Wine: Red wine helps loosen flavorful browned bits from the pan bottom.
Tomato Paste: Thick tomato paste caramelizes in the pot to create more flavor.
Mushrooms: Sautéed cremini mushrooms begin to build flavor.
Soy Sauce: Strips of beef are marinated in soy sauce before being browned.


The Flavor Base Begins

Before the beef is added to the pot, create a flavor base by browning chopped onions and cremini mushrooms. Stir frequently until the onions are really brown and dark bits form on the pan bottom. Don't shortcut this process or you will rob your soup of flavor.
America's Test Kitchen
America’s Test Kitchen is a 2,500-square-foot kitchen located just outside of Boston. It is the home of Cook’s Country and Cook’s Illustrated magazines and is the workday destination for more than three dozen test cooks, editors, and cookware specialists. Our mission is to test recipes until we understand how and why they work and arrive at the best version. We also test kitchen equipment and supermarket ingredients in search of brands that offer the best value and performance. You can watch us work by tuning in to America’s Test Kitchen ( on public television.

Almost No-Knead Bread

 (PLEASE, please, please, do not steal this recipe. It is Cook's Illustrated's. And the photos are Mine. Give credit where credit is due!!)

Almost No-Knead Bread
(with my photos inserted)

Makes 1 large round loaf. Published January 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.
An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid yields best results, but the recipe also works in a regular cast- iron Dutch oven or heavy stockpot. (See the related information in "Making Your Dutch Oven Safe for High-Heat Baking" for information on converting Dutch oven handles to work safely in a hot oven.) Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild non-alcoholic lager also works). The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.
3cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2teaspoons table salt
3/4cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/4cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)
1tablespoon white vinegar


1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

(I wrote on the plastic wrap because I'm a bit "duh" sometimes and can't be relied on to remember things like times I start bread dough fermentations.)

2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

(no slashes in the top of mine because it was too wet of a dough even after fermenting and rising.)


Bread Sling
Transferring dough to a preheated Dutch oven to bake can be tricky. To avoid burnt fingers and help the dough hold its shape, we came up with a novel solution: Let the dough rise in a skillet (its shallow depth makes it better than a bowl) that's been lined with greased parchment paper, then use the paper's edges to pick up the dough and lower it into the Dutch oven. The bread remains on the parchment paper as it bakes.


Almost No-Knead Bread
1. MIX: Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a spatula.
2. REST: Leave the dough to rest for eight to 18 hours.
3. KNEAD: Knead the dough 10 to 15 times and shape it into a ball.
4. LET RISE: Allow the dough to rise for two hours in a parchment paper-lined skillet.
5. BAKE: Place the dough in a preheated Dutch oven and bake it until it's deep brown.

Many Flavored Zucchini Cake

Many Flavored Zucchini Cake
1 box cake mix (any flavor- chocolate, spice, lemon, etc)
2 cups grated zucchini
4 eggs
1 sm pkg instant pudding to compliment the cake mix
3/4 cup oil
1 tsp extract to compliment the cake mix & pudding (I used burnt sugar and rum with the spice)
1/2 c pecans
Mix together all ingredients, 3 mins by hand and 1 min. by stand mixer. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350°. Use time noted on cake mix box for the pan you choose (bundt, cupcakes, 9x13). Frost with cream cheese frosting if desired.
NOTE: I have made this as a chocolate cake, lemon cake and now a spice cake. You can make 12 cupcakes and a 8x8 pan from one recipe. Moist and versatile. My kind of recipe. :o)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shrimp Angel Hair Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

If you click on the photo caption, it will take you to the original recipe (printable) on  Below is my variation.  It's changed enough to be my own now, I think.  ;o)

Shrimp Angel Hair Pasta 
with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

1/4 lb angel hair pasta (approximately- I used part of a package)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion, wedged
2-4 Tb EVOO
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (about 15-18), halved
2 sprigs fresh basil
12 uncooked, not shelled frozen shrimp, thawed & peeled
Parmesan cheese for topping

Begin water heating for pasta.
In small food processor (I used my Handichopper), combine the garlic and onion.  Process until finely chopped.  Heat EVOO in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion mixture and cook until almost golden.  Meanwhile, process cherry tomatoes (Handichopper will take 2 batches) and basil until coarsely chopped.  Add to skillet with shrimp.  Cook over med-low until shrimp is cooked.  
While sauce is cooking, cook pasta.  When done, drain well.  When shrimp is cooked, add pasta to skillet with sauce and toss gently to coat.  Serve with Parmesan cheese topping.
Serves 2-4.