Slow Cooker Beef Bone Stock 

Did you know Julia Child’s very first show featured the classic French stew, Boeuf Bourguignon? It is one of my very favorite episodes and recipes! Watch it here. It’s so great!

Beginning in October, I am adding “Dinner in Burgundy” to my EatWith Fall/Winter offerings, and few dishes suit the season better than Boeuf Bourguignon. 

As with many classic French recipes, good stock is an essential element of Boeuf Bourguignon. Luckily, beef stock is easy to make! You end up with a far superior, healthier product when you make your own, and you will save a lot of money as well. I am going to walk you through the steps. I use a slow cooker (the best invention ever for making stock and a lot of other things!). For stock, I use my 6 qt Hamilton Beach Stay or Go cooker  because the lid clamps down tight so there’s less evaporation. You will find the entire recipe under my Recipes tab, so don’t just follow the steps! Read the recipe! Ask the meat department at your grocery store or your butcher to save marrow bones for you. They are very inexpensive. You can also use oxtail bones. I like to use a combination of the two. 

As always, feel free to ask me questions. 
Enjoy, and bon appétit!

The Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Line a heavy, rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place your marrow bones and root vegetables on the sheet. Spray or or lightly brush all with olive oil. VERY IMPORTANT! If you are canning your broth, do not use any oil! Oil can not be canned safely. Simply roast the root vegetables by themselves.
  3. Place sheet in preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Shake the sheet and roast for 20 more minutes. When you remove them, the vegetables and bones will be a deep golden brown. Your house will smell  AMAZING!
  4. Place your roasted marrow bones, root vegetables and the remaining ingredients in a 6 qt slow cooker. Fill to the top with water, cover and set on high. After one or two hours, set cooker to low and leave it alone for 24 to 36 hours. No opening the lid! Meat stocks need to cook for much longer than poultry stock. The longer you cook them, the better they will be. A note on bay leaves: there is a difference between domestic California bay leaves (typically available in the United States) and French  bay leaves. The latter is sweeter and more complex. To achieve an authentic flavor in your French recipes, use Mediterranean bay leaves. Often, they come from Turkey. That’s fine. They are still the same type of bay leaves.
  5. Take the crock out of the slow cooker, remove the lid and cool on a heat safe surface for 15 minutes.
  6. Strain the broth through a fine wire mesh sieve like this. If you don’t have one, you can line a regular colander with cheesecloth. If you want SUPER clear broth (I don’t worry about it myself), line a fine mesh sieve with cheesecloth. 
  7. Nest the bowl strained broth in ice and stir frequently until broth is room temperature (about 15 minutes).  The voice of experience, make sure the melting ice doesn’t overflow and flood your counter!
  8. Cover stock and refrigerate for six hours (or longer if it’s more convenient). The fat will solidify on the surface. Remove it with a slotted spoon and discard. While this certainly makes the stock healthier, you can skip this step if you want a richer stock. The fat will reincorporate when the stock is heated. 
  9. Your stock is done! It will keep in the fridge for three days, frozen for three months or canned for one year.  Canning is definitely preferred because it best preserves the flavor. It also saves precious freezer space, AND  you can safely store it for up to one year. In a future post, I will show you how to can stock. It’s safe and easy to can. If I can can, anyone can can!

Bon appetit!


New & Old Preserved Lemon…A Visual Comparison

On the left, a jar of preserved lemon that is just past 10 months old. On the right, a jar I put up just a few days ago. Just so you know what to expect! As I said in my Moroccan Preserved Lemon post a few days ago, they will keep for a year. By the way, notice the plastic lids on my mason jars? I find them on Amazon although I’m sure you can find them elsewhere. They are BPA free and SO HANDY!

Bon appetit!

Tess

Moroccan Preserved Lemons….Essential, irreplaceable and so easy to make

Today, I put up a batch of Preserved Lemons for use in my upcoming  EatWith offering “Dinner in Marrakech” (more on that later).

Preserved lemons are essential to Moroccan cuisine. Their exquisite flavor, aroma and silky texture cannot be substituted in a recipe with lemon juice. Trust. Luckily, they are very easy to make. They require a brining period of 30 days, but they will keep for up to one year. Once you start to use them, you will be hooked! I always have some ready to use in my larder. Tonight, they are bringing it in Yogurt Mint Sauce which I’m using as a bed for Moroccan Mini Meatballs. I’m still tweaking the Meatball recipe, but I promise I share will it once I’m satisfied with it!

Learn how to make preserved lemons here.
As always, don’t hesitate to ask me questions.
Bon appetit!
Tess

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Moroccan Pickled Carrots … Oh Yum

The flavors of Morocco where spices such as cinnamon, coriander and cardamom take center stage are rich, pungent and completely captivating. Who could fail to fall in love with Moroccan cuisine? France and Morocco have had a long and complicated relationship. French remains the primary language of Morocco. As a result (and luckily for me), excellent Moroccan cuisine is available throughout France.

I am readying my next EatWith offering – “Dinner in Marrakesh … Exploring Moroccan Cuisine.” I will write more about it in a future post, but I want to share with you my first dish. Moroccan Pickled Carrots are infused with traditional Moroccan spices plus garlic, lemon and red pepper. They are spicy hot, and they are addictive! Since they are refrigerated rather than canned, the brine is much less salty. I use Cigalou Piment de Cayenne entier. They are readily available in nearly any French grocery store, and I always bring a bottle back with me.

Moroccan Pickled Carrots are easy to prepare. Make a batch for yourself, and bring a bit of Morocco to your kitchen. Get the recipe here. I hope you’ll come eat with me soon!
Bon appétit!
Tess

Fall and French Comfort Food

In Columbus, Ohio it’s sunny, hot and definitely doesn’t feel like Fall. Still, once the calendar turns the page to September, my thoughts turn to Autumn cooking. For my EatWith offerings, that means Parisian bistro fare. I also particularly love the cuisine of Normandy in the Fall. I just added a Normandy offering featuring apples, Calvados (apple brandy), Camembert and, of course, cider. I hope you’ll check it out! You can read a Columbus CityScene article about my EatWith offering here.
Bon Appetit!
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Mint Love

Mint is one of the easiest, most pleasurable herbs to grow. It’s perfect for patio gardens as it is both ornamental and functional. It’s also a perennial in most climates. Because mint is very hardy and invasive, it should only be grown in containers. Learn more about growing mint here. Mint comes in several flavors such as apple, orange and ginger. One my favorites is chocolate mint both for its flavor and appearance. Here, chocolate mint trails beside standard mint in my mint pot.

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I love to place mint stems in small vases on windowsills and in bathrooms. Paired with lavender and rosemary sprigs, they make a lovely, aromatic display. In my kitchen, herb bouquets stand ready for culinary use.

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As a little girl, my mother showed my how easy it is to root mint. Simply place a small vase of mint sprigs in a sunny window. In a week or two, your sprigs will have roots. I was always so amazed at this. I still am! If you have little ones about, they will be fascinated with the process.

IMG_0979.JPGOnce your sprigs have a nice set of roots, simply pot them, give them some water and voila! A new mint plant. I like to repurpose pots and containers by planting mint sprigs and giving them as gifts.

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I use rooted sprigs to replenish my own mint pot. As the summer wanes and my annual pots start to look a bit bedraggled, I often perk them up with mint like this patio container.

IMG_0978.JPGAugust is not the time most of us are thinking of starting new plants, but mint can be started any time. It will thrive outdoors until the first hard frost, and can be grown inside as well. Learn more about cultivating mint indoors here. There are many uses for mint. Once you have your own mint pot, look for ways to enjoy it. Some of my favorite recipes are Yogurt Mint Sauce, Strawberry, Mint and Black Pepper Jam and The Tranquillo, an absolutely delicious cocktail. Of course, we can’t forget that Cuban classic, the Mojito. You can usually find mint plants at your grocery store. I get mine at Trader Joe’s. Pick one up and, like me, you will fall in love with mint!
Bon appetit!
Tess

State Fairs…Only In America!

There’s nothing the world over like State Fairs. These surreal, magical cities spring to life just once a year, rising pheonix-like from lonely, clapboard buildings, weedy fields and dusty tracks. The stuff of rich childhood memories, they are anticipated, revisited and relived with pleasure. While agricultural fairs have existed for thousands of years, the State Fairs Americans know and love, unique to the United States, did not emerge until after the Civil War. Prior to that time, the majority of Americans lived and/or worked on farms. Small local fairs were the norm and the focus was entirely agricultural (with a bit of horse racing thrown in). As manufacturing increased and urban areas grew, fairs began to add attractions to entice urban Americans. Freak shows, oddities, carnival rides, carnies, sky gliders, hoochie-coochie girls and so much more were added. The State Fair was born.

Yesterday, I attended the Ohio State Fair, just as I have nearly every year of my life. Oh, how my sister and I looked forward to the Ohio State Fair when we were children! Months before the big day, we would start begging for chores and saving our pennies for THE FAIR. Every State Fair has it’s own special traditions, and one of Ohio’s is the “Butter Cow” and it’s attendant butter sculptures. In 1903, the first Butter Cow and Calf, sculpted entirely of butter, made their debut. In the ensuing years, attendant Ohio-themed butter sculptures were added. This year’s were sculpted with over 2,000 lbs of pure butter! You can read more about the Butter Cow here.20140727-142721-52041090.jpg

Agriculture still plays an important role in State Fairs, particularly in major agricultural states such as Ohio. The oldest structure on the Ohio State Fairgrounds is the Poultry and Rabbit Pavillion, erected in 1903. It is the largest poultry fair in the United States.

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In it, you will see an absolutely astounding array of chickens of all colors and sizes! I never miss it.

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Near and dear to my own heart, canning and preserving holds it’s own honored place at the Fair. With the resurgence of interest in home preserving, there’s been a steady growth in entries.

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You can see photos and learn more about the fascinating history of the Ohio State Fair here. I have, on occasion, had the pleasure of taking European visitors to the Ohio State Fair and witnessing their absolute amazement (and befuddlement). Truly, there is nothing in the world like a State Fair. I was happy to be in Ohio yesterday.
Bon Appetit!
Tess

Summer’s Perfect Salad

Here in Ohio, summer is at its peak. Tomatoes grow exceptionally well in Ohio. A visit to an Ohio farmer’s market in July will reward you with lots of tomatoes to choose from, often including heirloom varieties such as the yellow tomatoes pictured above. The flavor of fresh tomatoes is one of the best arguments for eating seasonally. Because tomatoes are highly acidic, they can be canned in a water bath. So easy! Learn more about canning tomatoes here.

One of the easiest herbs to grow is basil. Basil does exceptionally well in containers, loves the sun and grows quickly throughout the summer. One large plant (like this one in my container garden) will keep you supplied with fresh basil throughout the summer. Plant an extra one or two and you’ll have basil to make pesto too! Pesto cannot be safely canned at home, but it does freeze extremely well. If you are freezing the pesto, omit the cheese as it doesn’t freeze well. You can add it after you thaw the pesto. Learn how to make pesto here.

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Plant some basil and discover for yourself the taste of your own fresh picked basil. Basil plants are often available at your grocery store.

Now for the Perfect Summer Salad! We’ve all had that most traditional of Italian salads, the Caprese. Made with just four ingredients…tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and balsamic reduction…the Caprese comes into it’s own at summer’s peak when the freshest tomatoes and basil are available. You can reduce your own balsamic vinegar. Find out how here. It will take a few hours and must be watched closely to prevent it from over reducing. I find it much easier to purchase a prepared reduction.

I particularly like Gia Russa.

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Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, putting your Caprese salad together couldn’t be easier. Just follow these steps:
-Slice your tomatoes into approximately 1/2″ slices. Spread the slices out on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let the tomatoes sweat for 30 minutes.
-While the tomatoes are sweating, pick and rinse your basil. Pinch the the leaves off the stems and set aside.
Slice a log of fresh mozzarella in 1/2″ slices.
-After 30 minutes, arrange the tomatoes on a platter and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Tuck the mozzarella slices and basil leaves in between the tomato slices. Drizzle balsamic reduction over all.

And there you have it! Summer’s Perfect Salad.
Bon appetit!
Tess