Sweet and Sour Brisket

This is a favorite from the Joy of Cooking! The house smells so good while the brisket cooks that you are practically drooling by the time it comes out of the oven. The recipe suggests serving them with potato pancakes. Mashed potatoes are also good as is pasta. Guaranteed for a few meals! Great shredded and turned into BBQ beef or chopped into tacos or burritos or into a soup!!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat dry:

3 1/2# trimmed first cut or thin cut beef    brisket

Spread with 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic and black pepper to taste

Heat in a large roasting pan or ovenproof casserole

2 T. vegetable oil

Brown the brisket on both sides. While it is searing add

2 large onions, sliced .

Remove brisket when browned and reduce heat to medium and cook onions until very brown-at least 20 + minutes.  Add to deglaze pan:

1/2-1 cup wine

1/2 cup beef stock or broth, may need more if using a crock pot as it tends to evaporate

Cook for one minute scraping up the browned bits. Stir in

1 cup chili sauce (you can use ketchup in a pinch)

1/4 c. dijon mustard (My neighbor, Hannah told me about this addition and it makes the sauce like velvet!)

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 bay leaf

Return the meat to the pan and spoon sauce over it. Cover tightly and roast 2-3 hours, until the brisket is fork tender. Let brisket cool in sauce. You can serve right away or the next day-this is one of those recipes where it is better the next day!  You can remove the brisket from the sauce and the bay leaf, slice the meat and return it to the sauce. Reheat in a 350 oven for 25-30 minutes. Serves at least 6-8 people.


My nephew and niece came over on Sunday and we made all sorts of infused vodkas, tequilas and rum. It was so much fun and we look forward to straining them and turning them into groovy cocktails!

Vodka with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves

Vodka with gingerroot

Vodka with serrano peppers

Vodka with coconut

Vodka with Meyer Lemons

Tequila with jalapeno pepper

Tequila with gingerroot

Rum with coconut

This was an experiment but we made everything in half pint, pint and quart jars and I have them in a cool dark closet. I think I will check them tomorrow after 3 days and probably strain the herb/veg out and store in the freezer or cool place.

Caldillo-beef stew

This recipe comes from my friend Laurie Smith and the El Paso Junior Leaque cookbook. It is a simple stew served with flour tortillas and is delicious! I make a half recipe and the two of us get at least 4-5 meals out of it. I am sure it would freeze nicely.

3# cubed beef

1 1/2 cups diced onion

bacon fat for sauteeing

3 cups tomatoes

1 1/2 cups green chile strips

1 quart beef stock

2 t. each salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder

2 # cubed potatoes

Saute the beef and onion in bacon fat. Add remaining ingredients except the potatoes and cook over low heat until tender-at least 2 hours and maybe longer depending on the size of the beef. Add the potatoes for the last 30  minutes. Serve with warm flour (white or wheat) tortillas.

I heat my tortillas in a cast iron skillet over low heat with a cover on, turning often. You don’t need any oil or water and they come out beautifully. If cooking for a group, you can wrap the tortillas in foil and cook them in a 325 oven for 10-15 minutes.

Indian Menu

My nephews and niece are coming for dinner tonight. I am trying the Simple Lamb Curry that was in the NY Times this weekend by David Tanis (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/22/dining/an-indian-curry-close-to-home.html?ref=dining).

Vaday (red lentil wafers with chiles) with fresh cilantro and coconut chutneys

Simple Lamb Curry with Carrot Raita

Basmati Rice

Spinach with Indian spices


Assorted chutneys and pickles-Mango chutney, Garlic chutney, Lime pickle, Mango pickle (all store bought and delicious!)

Cilantro Chutney recipe

1 large bunch of cilantro, picked from the stems and roots (you can use some of the upper stems

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup chopped onions

2 T. grated fresh ginger root

1 t. sugar

1 t. salt

1/4 t. black pepper

optional 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coconut

Combine lemon juice and water and 1/2 cup of the coriander in a blender. Blend on high until pureed. Turn off machine and add rest of cilantro 1/2 cup at a time until all is pureed. Add remaining ingredients and puree. Taste and season if desired. Serve immediately or cover tightly and refrigerate. Will keep for one week, if it lasts that long! Good on anything!

Birthday Angel Food Cake

This has been our traditional family birthday cake for as long as I can remember. We used to make the angel food cake and I still would if my Whole Foods didn’t sell them. I now just buy the cake, split it in the middle and frost it. I have gotten a little fancy adding the berries. I have also heard of people making this same frosting and adding chopped up heath bar bits! Sometimes I omit the cocoa and add citrus zest and garnish the cake with the fruit. This is the easiest dessert that I often make for my cake lover husband.

Angel Food Cake Frosting

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup sugar (I sometimes use organic powdered sugar as it adds more stabilization to the frosting)

2-4 T. Drostes cocoa (or any other dutch processed cocoa) *I prefer 2T. cocoa so it’s not too strong!

1 t. vanilla

Beat all ingredients together until stiff, or a good consistency to frost.

Keep refrigerated.

Tartine’s decadent brownies

Tartine is a bakery in San Francisco that I have not visited but have only read about. I have their first cookbook that I bought for their gougeres (cheese puff) recipe (well worth it). The cookbook is chock full of other great recipes! This is an uber rich fudgy brownie. I cook these an extra 5-10 minutes. They cut much easier without the nuts.

9″x13″ glass baking pan

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1# bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely

3/4 cup plus 2 T flour

5 large eggs

2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed

1/2 t. salt

1 t.  vanilla extract

optional 1-2 cups nuts, walnuts or pecan halves or coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the baking dish.

In a bowl over simmering water, melt the chocolate and the butter together. Remove when melted and set aside.

Sift flour into a mixing bowl. In a medium bowl beat eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla on high until it thickens to the ribbon stage-about 5 minutes. Fold in chocolate mixture with a spatula. Add the flour and fold it in quickly but do not deflate the air that has been incorporated into the eggs.

Pour the batter into prepared pan. If you are using nuts, sprinkle them on top. Bake about 25 minutes. Top should look slightly cracked and feel soft to the touch. Cool completely.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I love Valentine’s day and although we don’t go out for dinner as it can be kind of crazy in the restaurants, I always make a special meal. Celebrations of the heart are important! My husband does not like chocolate so I made a pan of super rich fudgy brownies yesterday to share with friends (recipe to follow). This is a simple menu that will be delicious!!


Bacon wrapped Beef Tenderloin

Red wine mushroom sauce

Sriracha aioli (Sriracha is an asian hot sauce that is delicious!)

Roasted sweet potato

Roasted Cauliflower

Bibb salad with pear and blue cheese

Tangerine marmalade cake

Recipe  Red Wine Sauce for tenderloin or beef of any kind!

This is a simple basic recipe that anyone can make without having exotic ingredients!

2 T. olive oil

4-6 oz. (or less) mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 shallot or 2 green onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely minced

3 T. flour

1 1/2 cups dry red wine like Cab or Pinot

1 can (about 10.5 oz) condensed beef broth (or any beef broth)

1/4 t. dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Heat up oil in a saucepan and saute mushrooms, shallots, garlic until tender. Stir in flour until well blended. Add the red wine and broth. Simmer until reduced by about 1/4 to 1/3. Add thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with sliced beef.

Savory Cornbread muffins

If you don’t know about Martha Rose Shulman who writes for the NY Times in the Health section, specifically Fitness, you will be happy to find her. She is the most prolific recipe writer I have ever read. I read her column weekly and it is always full of great recipes. I had been craving corn muffins and decided in the dark of the early morning to make these and they are just what I wanted!

1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferable organic stone-ground

1 cup whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)

3/4 t. salt

2 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1 T. finely chopped fresh sage or 1 t. rubbed sage (I omitted as I don’t like sage)

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup canola oil

1 T. honey

1 cup corn kernals

2 T. minced jalapenos, or serrano chiles

1/2 cup grated cheddar or jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil or butter 12 muffin tins.


Place cornmeal in a bowl and sift in the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the sage. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the buttermilk, oil and honey. Whisk or stir the cornmeal mixture into the liquid mixture. Do not beat. A few lumps are fine, make sure there is no flour on the bottom of the bowl. Fold in the corn, minced jalapeno and cheese. Spoon into muffin cups, filling just below the top. Bake 20 -25 minutes until lightly browned.

Artichoke Tart with polenta crust

 This recipe comes from Maria Speck’s Recipe from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. It is not   for everyone but I really liked it!


1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 1/4 cups water

1/2 t. sea salt

1 1/4 cups polenta

1 large egg, room temperature

1/4 t. black pepper, freshly ground

Bring the broth and water to a boil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Add the salt. Slowly add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly and continue whisking for 30 seconds. Decrease the heat to low and cover. Cook for ten minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit, covered for ten minutes. Stir in the cheese, egg and pepper.

Grease a 10″ tart or cake pan with olive oil. Have a glass of cold water ready. Spoon polenta into the pan and press it out, pushing up the sides. Set aside for 15 minutes then form an even rim about 3/4″ thick with moist fingers, pressing firmly. Don’t worry if the crust looks rustic.

Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.

Artichoke filling

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

2 t. chopped flat leaf parsley

1 t. minced fresh rosemary

1/4 t EACH salt and black pepper

12 oz. artichoke hearts, canned or frozen

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Whisk the yogurt, eggs, scallions, parsley, rosemary,s&p together until well combined. Cut the artichoke hearts into quarters and distribute evenly over the polenta crust. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top of the artichokes and pour the yogurt filling over evenly. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake the tart until the top turns golden brown and the filling is set, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes, although 40 minutes is better. Can be prepared one day ahead.