Monthly Archives: December 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: My Go-to Beef Daube AND Speculoos

I skipped last week. But I didn’t work this week, so I made the last two December recipes for French Fridays with Dorie: My Go-to Beef Daube and Speculoos.

I’ll be honest here. As hard as I try, I’m just not a big fan of stewed beef. Recently, my sister made a beef stew that was surprisingly good (to me). I know her stew was good because she is an excellent cook, but I was surprised I liked it because it’s not a dish I usually enjoy. So when I found the Beef Daube recipe on the list for December, I was inspired to try it.

The Raw Ingredients for Beef Daube

The beef daube was appropriately hearty fare for winter. I’m not sure what cut of meat actually I used. I had two bags of “meat for stew” from our CSA. As I’ve mentioned, we try not to use supermarket meat at home. Every other month, we get 10 pounds of assorted meats (beef, pork, chicken, and, in season, lamb) from Chestnut Farm every other month and plan meals around that. The total weight of the two bags was only two pounds, so I added extra vegetables to fill in the volume. I doubled the carrots and parsnips and threw in two turnips.

I couldn’t find the recommended Central Coast Syrah (or any California Syrah) so opted for a Central Coast blend of grapes that I enjoy drinking. The bottle I picked included Cabernet Savignon, Barbera, and Petite Sirah, which is a completely different grape than Syrah but one of my all-time favorites to drink. Also, when removing the head of garlic from the pot at the end, I’ll admit that, being a fan of roasted garlic, I squeezed the tender cloves in, just discarding the papery wrapping. Yum! I served the daube with mashed potatoes, using the potato ricer for the second time (first time was for the potato topping when we made Hachis Parmentier).

My verdict? Low effort for an impressive result. If you are around for it to bake for several hours, the preparation was relatively quick. The meat was tender. The flavors were nice, and the extra root vegetables added an incredibly deep sweetness to the winy broth. However, I think that beef stew of any kind, French, my sister’s, or otherwise, is just never going to be my favorite meal.


The Speculoos were another story entirely. I would categorize myself as more of a cooker than a baker. I do bake and enjoy it, but tend towards simple, unelaborated choices. I was a little nervous to make these because others had written about difficulties rolling the dough and moving the cutout cookies to the pan so I procrastinated on these. In the end, these are definitely my favorite thing we’ve made so far!

In a recent review I read of some other cookbook, the writer mentioned that speculoos are the same as the cookie called “Biscoff” that they serve on Delta Airlines. I’ve always loved those cookies. The Speculoos were very similar, though the homemade ones were, of course, better.

Based on the experiences of other FFwDers, I made sure to remember to add the egg missing from the printed page. I also divide the dough into three so I would work with less at once. I chilled the dough overnight, just to be sure it was stiff enough. All these precautions worked in my favor. With the dough well-chilled, I had no issue moving the cookies from the counter to the cookie sheet. I found running an offset spatula under the dough after I cut out the cookies in place loosened them from the bottom piece of waxed paper without destroying the shape. Then I just moved them, still using that offset spatula.

The only error in judgment I made, and it wasn’t major, was using too big of a cookie cutter. On the first sheet I used a snowman shape which was probably twice as big as I really wanted. But I adjusted on the second and third sheets of dough, and the one I made with the scraps. That last one, I chilled overnight again and baked separately.

I actually loved pre-rolling the dough. I might try that with other rolled cookie recipes. That step brought rolled cookies into the same category of simplicity where I put icebox and bar cookies.

I LOVE these cookies. I had done some holiday baking to share with friends. It’s too bad I didn’t make this recipe until after I’d bundled up the packages. On the other hand, I’ve been slowly but steadily eating a few each day, savoring every crispy, sugary bite. They will definitely be part of my future repertoire, for the holidays or other times.

It’s hard to believe that 2010 will be over tonight. Times flies so quickly. It seems to pass even faster, the older I get. Here’s wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year in 2011. I hope that yours will be filled with new adventures and delights. I have a milestone birthday and wedding anniversary to celebrate later in 2011. Who knows what other unexpected pleasures the year will bring? I can’t wait to find out.

Happy New Year!

P.S. As always, you can check out what other bloggers are doing with Dorie’s recipes at French Fridays with Dorie. Maybe you’ll be inspired to join the fun!


Let It Snow!

Posole with Pulled Pork and Hominy

Well, the Blizzard of 2010 is over. Supposedly, it was the 10th biggest storm in Boston’s history. Honestly, it didn’t seem that bad. Granted, it was happened on a weekend when we had nowhere we had to be. It snowed a lot and got extremely windy. But, on the whole, I’m not sure it seemed like “Top 10”. We got around 15 inches here in Lexington. That was more than the 7 inches my sister got outside of Philadelphia, and less than the nearly 2 feet my sister-in-law got in Northern New Jersey. The end result was a cozy day spent inside.

2 feet in New Jersey

15 Inches in Lexington

7 inches in Philadelphia

One of Howard’s activities of the day (besides several rounds of shoveling and snowblowing the driveway) was to organize our extra freezer space. We have a full-sized freezer unit in the basement. To quote Howard, “it is way too full”. He contends that, as long as we didn’t lose power, we could probably live off its contents for at least a year. He might be exaggerating, but not by much. Post-organizing, he told me there was almost a full shelf of homemade tomatillo sauce, some of it dating back to 2005.

As a result of his good-natured teasing, it seemed appropriate to make a dinner from the stockpile in my frozen larder, featuring, naturally, some tomatillo sauce.

I made an old favorite, Quick Posole, using a frozen packet of pulled pork from a summertime smoking along with a quart of homemade chicken stock (also frozen). I like this recipe because it’s a sort of mix-and-match deal, depending on what’s at hand. The original recipe used chicken, freshly poached. Black beans or another variety can easily be substituted for the hominy. I’ve also made it with a red cooked salsa instead of the green tomatillo sort.

Pumpkin Seed Flour

I think one of my favorite things about it is that it is thickened with ground toasted pumpkin seeds. I toast the pumpkin seeds in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, then let them cool off. I use a coffee grinder (which I’ve never used for coffee, just spices and other non-coffee items) to transform the seeds into a nut flour. I’m not sure whether the flavor is noticable, but I think it’s a cool ingredient to add.

Here’s how you do it:

Quick Posole
Serves 4

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups tomatillo sauce or cooked red salsa
4 cups chicken broth
½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted and ground
2 (15-16 oz) cans hominy, drained and rinsed
1½ cups shredded chicken or pulled pork
Chopped cilantro

Note: If you start with uncooked chicken (1 breast or 2 thighs should yield the 1½ cups needed), poach the chicken for about 20 minutes in the chicken broth you will use for the posole. Cool the chicken and shred.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the sauce. Be careful, it will spatter. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until thickened. Add pumpkin seeds and 1 cup of chicken broth. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Add chicken or pork, hominy, and the remaining 3 cups of broth. Simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro.