Monday, October 24, 2011

Mama's Polish Goulash

My mom is a pretty recent immigrant from Poland and I grew up with a lot of semi-traditional Polish foods (all are amazing and will be blogged about).  It was a cold day in Santa Barbara, and I could think of nothing better than Polish Goulash to comfort me.

Oh, and still in Berkeley, leaving once Max gets off work though.

Goulash (serves a little more than 2)

1/2 lb of cubed round, or some kind of semi tender beef cut
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbl paprika
2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 oregano
3 Tbl olive oil
2 cups sweet peppers sliced
1/2 jalapeño diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 onion julienned
1 tomato sliced
1/2 eggplant, cubed
1 15oz can beef broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the flour, paprika, black pepper, and oregano in a small bowl.  Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Dredge beef cubes in the dry mixture then sauté in the olive oil, cook until outsides are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Once the meat is finished remove from pan, but keep the juices and fat in the pan, add all the vegetables except the garlic, and sauté over medium heat for about ten minutes, if needed add more olive oil. Next add the garlic and beef to the pan, cook for about a minute then add beef broth.  Allow to simmer for a few minutes, then enjoy!  Best serve with some egg noodles.

Pumpkin, Chocolate, Pecan Explosion Bars + Love Caramel

It's starting to feel like fall, one of my favorite seasons! In addition to wearing scarves, jackets, and boots, I love using an oven to heat up a cold house.  Baking is my favorite activity in the entire world, and generally if you live with me baked goods are bound to be around, all the time. Except right now, since I'm sitting in my boyfriend's physiology class, headed back to Santa Barbara today after an awesome weekend!

Pumpkin, Caramel, Chocolate, Pecan Explosion Bars!

For the crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2  chopped pecans
6 Tbl butter, softened
1/4 chocolate chips

For the filling:
1 8oz package of cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 15oz can of Pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl, incorporate butter with a fork or pastry cutter.  Once incorporated, mix in pecans, and chocolate chips.  Press this mixture on the bottom of a buttered 8 x 8 pan.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Mix cream cheese, cream and sugar, using a mixer, if you have one, unlike me :( Once well mixed add eggs, one at a time. Beat well.  Add pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, mix well.

Allow crust to cool before pouring filling into the pan, then bake for 30-45 minutes until the middle is just about set.

Also, if desired you can save some of the crumble mixture and place it on top of the bars half-way through baking.

Continue to make caramel, see recipe below.

Once the bars are done baking allow to cool for about an hour.  Finally drizzle caramel on top and enjoy!

The Juices of Autumn, aka Love Caramel

2+5 Tbl butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

While the bars are in the oven heat 2 Tbl of butter in a saucepan with 1 cup of sugar.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar begins to expand, look foamy, and is brown and caramel-esque in color.  When this occurs, pour the sugar mixture in a different bowl and add sugar and cream quickly while whisking rapidly.  Careful! Sugar mixture is extremely hot, it splatters easily!  Continue whisking quickly for a few minutes until the caramel has a smooth consistency.  It's okay to have caramel solids on the whisk, it's snacks for later!  If fall was to be formed into a food, into would be caramel, use it for everything.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Zucchini Au Gratin

Right now I'm hanging out in a Peet's on the Berkeley campus waiting for my boyfriend to finish work and finally have the time to update some of the culinary adventures I've had in the last month.  After my last trip home (in the beginning of September) I was gifted with part of my family's zucchini harvest.  I have learned to prepare zucchini is every way that could be thought of in order to make the most of this delicious summer squash.  Today, or a month and a half ago when I actually prepared this, I felt like indulging myself in something a little more cheesy, in the good way.

Zucchini Au Gratin (Inspired by Ina, and many others)

3 medium sized zucchini, sliced
3 Tbl butter
1 Tbl olive oil
1 small onion, julienned
1/4 tsp paprika
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt
1 Tbl flour
1/2 cup milk (2% or whole)
1/2 cup sliced gruyere

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 1tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in in a large skillet over medium heat, add the zucchini and onion.  Add black pepper, salt, paprika, and nutmeg, Sauté for about ten minutes until the zucchini and onion are tender.

In a small sauce pan, melt remaining butter, add flour, stirring constantly till smooth, and begins to bubble.  Once bubbling, removing a little of the roux and stir it into the milk, now add this milk mixture back to the pan and allow to simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes

Layer zucchini and onion in the pan, pour milk sauce over the layered zucchini and top with sliced gruyere and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until cheese is brown and bubbly.