Friday, April 30, 2010

Beef Bourguignon, Hummingbird Cake and Family

How exciting it is to have family come in from out of town to visit, even if it is during the week.  It was MY pleasure to cook the family meal so right away I skimmed through my trusty blog to see what delicacyI could whip up without too much effort since it was a workday.  I really wanted to make the Beef Bourguignon but remembered how muchwork it took and I just couldn't possibly do it on a work day as well as enjoy my company at the same time.  So I had a quirky thought of doing it in the crock-pot.....yes, I said, the crockpot.  Knowing how upset I would make the French, Ina even Julia I still thought it would be a great idea!  I started on the night before, prepared it all and placed it in the crockpot and set it in the refrigerator.  The next morning I took it out of the refrigerator. let is stand while I got ready for work and then turned it on just before I left and let it cook all day. . . . . . I really think the French, Ina and Julia would be very impressed.  The meat and all it's flavors melted in my mouth along with a bunch of kudos from around the table :)  Elise offered to make the dessert and I suggested a family favorite from last summer that she ended up making several times because everyone just LOVED it - it's called the Hummingbird Cake and once again, it was a hit.  The perfect ending to a perfect meal with family.  Our visitors came all the waydown from upstate NY whom have always been the kids' favorite aunt and uncle.  What a treat it is to spend time with special people whom you hold dear to your hearts even though you don't get to see them as much as you would like to.  I was also thrilled that our newest family member, Amy Grace got to meet them too :)   The recipes are as follows:

by Ina Garten

•1 tablespoon good olive oil
•8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
•2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
•Kosher salt
•Freshly ground black pepper
•1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
•2 yellow onions, sliced
•2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
•1/2 cup Cognac (we omitted this since we didn't have it)
•1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
•1 can (2 cups) beef broth
•1 tablespoon tomato paste
•1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
•4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
•3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
•1 pound frozen whole onions
•1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
Do all of the steps above only after you add the tomato paste and thyme, stir until well blended and put crockpot in refrigerator to set over night.  Next morning take the crockpot out and let it stand for about a 1/2 hour to take away the chill and then turn it on low for all day cooking or high for an early noon meal.  An hour before it's ready, finish the rest of the recipe except put the crockpot on high and let is simmer.
We served our with mashed potatoes and dinner rolls.

by Southern Living
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped bananas
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.
Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.

Yield: 3 cups
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.

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