Beef Vinaigrette

beef vinaigrette on aspic

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes; I look forward to summers when I can indulge in it, for it is a cold dish.  I discovered this treat during my early catering days in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past, in which she shares the lost joys of the table gathered from her extensive collection of rare old cook books.  1

Aresty updates this delightful, historical receipt for her 1970’s kitchen, to which I have added my inspired touches.  She found this profound dish in Sarah Phillips’ The Ladies Handmaid, 1758, noting that it had limited circulation, and is unknown today to most bibliographers,

Phillips, this early English author, displays her magnetic personality in her recipe book.  In it she encourages her readers that it needs very few arguments to persuade people to prefer a good dinner to a bad one.  Her energetic approach to cooking is best revealed in her remarks on fish preparation: “Rip open the belly. Gut it. Strip it and hack it with a knife.”  2

This inspired, eighteenth century beef recipe is unparalleled, for it graces the best of our tables still today, pleasing without exception during the hot months!

We can learn much about the history of cook books from this receipt, by placing the book of its origin in proper historical perspective, demonstrating how the era it was from brought fine foods to the common man.

Prior to its time, cook books were prevailingly penned only by men in Europe.  Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)-known as Dr. Johnson-was an English lexicographer, critic, author, and conversationalist; he declared mid-century that women could spin very well, but they could not write a good book of cookery.  He, however, did not stop the tidal wave of female authors that were to overtake the writing of books on cooking in England.  This phenomenon actually began as early as 1714, with the advent of Mary Kettlby’s instructions for housewives-as well as cook maids at country inns-in A Collection of Above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery.  The momentum for feminine authorship merely grew over the years.  3

Cook books and Bibles share the distinction of being the earliest books printed.  Platina, a noted humanist and Vatican librarian, published the first cook book, De Honesta Voluptate, in 1475, just twenty years after the onset of printing with the Gutenberg Bible.  Germany, France, Spain, and England published cookery books shortly thereafter (prior to this, recipe collections were only handwritten).  These printed works could best be labeled “for a prince’s household”, though none were comparable to Platina’s De Honesta Volupate in magnitude, exemplifying the revival of the art of cooking during the Renaissance.  4

A long silence followed the first printing of an English cook book, The Boke of Cookery, 1500.  Change came when this silence was broken at the end of that century: detailed directions for elaborate food preparations were now addressed to the wives supervising better-class homes, rather than to chefs for noblemen, as was the previous precedent; all these books, however, were written by males during this Elizabethan period.  5

But a still greater change came later in the eighteenth century, when English women totally invaded what had previously been a man’s realm: British cook books were now being written by women, as well as being intended for feminine readership.  Prior to this, particularities concerning culinary preparation predominantly belonged to men in Europe: recipes were recorded by male chefs, who prepared these delicacies for nobility.

Writing for the chefs of noblemen in his book Le Cuisinier Francois, 1651, the Frenchman Francois Pierre de La Varenne was the first to publish what was to become a worldwide movement away from heavy medieval cuisine, with its influx of dense spices and almond pastes.  Here he emphasized the subtle accents of mushrooms and truffles, simple sauces made with pan drippings, and the use of butter instead of oil in pastries.  6

Shortly thereafter, there was a further shift found in the culinary sphere in seventeenth century France, with the beginning hints in cook books of fine foods not being just for kings, queens, and noblemen.  Then in the eighteenth century, Manin first and then Menon (the relatively unknown Manet and Monet of French cuisine) promoted what was to become a culinary outreach to the bourgeoisie in their writings.  7

Nevertheless, it was the British female authors who played the predominant part in introducing the greater populace to fine cuisine.  Our delightful beef recipe was created at the height of this male-to-female transformation that took place in culinary England in the 1700s.

Enjoy its many dimensions of flavor, which are produced simply.

References:

  1. Esther B. Aresty, The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964).
  2. Ibid., pp. 118, 119.
  3. Ibid., pp. 109, 110.
  4. Ibid., pp. 27, 28, 32
  5. Ibid., pp. 32, 43, 44.
  6. Ibid., pp. 60, 61.
  7. Ibid., pp. 94-98.
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_cuisine
  9. https://www.ecpi.edu/blog/a-brief-history-of-french-cuisine

beef vinaigrette

Beef Vinaigrette  Yields: 10 servings.  Total prep time: 7 hr, which includes 3 1/2 hr for chilling/  active prep time: 30 min/  cooking time: 3 hr.  Note: may make a day or two ahead.

4 lb beef brisket

1/2 c dry white wine

1 bay leaf

1 small yellow onion, diced

1/4 tsp whole allspice

1/2 tsp dried tarragon (or 1 tbsp fresh)

3 sprigs of parsley

capers for garnish

Aspic

1 3/4 c hot broth from meat

1/4 c cold water

1 individual envelope of unflavored gelatin

  1. prepped meat

    Trim excess fat off brisket; place in a heavy stewing pot, with a tight lid.  Add enough water to come up 1/2” in the pot; then, stir in all other ingredients, except capers and those for aspic (see photo).

  2. Bring to a boil over med/high heat.  Reduce heat to med/low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  3. At the end of this time, turn meat over, and cook for another 1 1/2 hours; check liquid periodically, adding more water only if needed.  (See photo below of finished product.)
  4. finished brisket

    Remove brisket and place on a plate in refrigerator.  Strain remaining broth.  Measure 1 3/4 c, adding water to make full amount as needed, or if liquid is more than 1 3/4 c, boil it to reduce to given quantity.  Bring the 1 3/4 c broth to a light boil in a small pot; then, remove from heat.

  5. Meanwhile, place 1/4 c cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin on top, and stir with a spoon.  Dissolve this in hot broth, pour into an 8” x 8” pan, and refrigerate.
  6. After chilling meat for at least 3 hours, cut in slices, keeping them in order to retain the shape of the brisket; set aside.
  7. scraping fat off aspic

    Take pan of solidified aspic out of refrigerator, and scrape fat off top with a table knife (see photo).  Cut in 1″ cubes.

  8. Place aspic cubes on a platter covered with greens; arrange sliced beef brisket on top of aspic; garnish with capers (see initial photo).

Red Sauce for Pasta or Spaghetti Squash

simmering red sauce with splash shield

A beloved friend gave me a Valentine’s present of heart-shaped pasta; immediately I created this red sauce so I could enjoy my new treasure, resulting in this excellent covering for either pasta or spaghetti squash.

Follow these easy instructions for substituting the squash, if your dietary needs call for a vegetable rather than a starch with this piquant accompaniment.

Gifts promote well-being in both the giver and receiver.  My mother’s favorite language of love was that of gift giving; thus, I learned at an early age the power of contributions from the heart.  As a result I love to shower favor upon others, as well as graciously receive their inspired kindnesses.

This same act of generous sacrifice plays a lively part in my relationship with my Father in heaven, for I constantly seek to offer myself to him.  In doing so, it is important to slow down, move forward cautiously, relax, and especially, trust the process.  In this way, we proffer our lives to our Maker moment by moment.  However this process often brings tension, for resistance arises.

We see an explicit example of this opposition in our practice of eating: here polarity is experienced between a desire to quietly absorb pleasure and a friction arising out of our need to resolve storms present in our beings.

Taut emotions can result as we struggle to calm overactive minds, so we can enjoy our food; this dichotomy in our bodies can be countered with prayer.  Great grace is needed, however, if heightened feelings cause us even to miss the opening blessing over our nutriments.

When the above happens to me while eating, I immediately search my heart for honest moves of gratitude, which usually include my two favorite gifts from God: I have vibrant health, with my acquired ability to eat sanely, and an immense supply of resources, including the highest quality of food.

These two endowments were not always present with me, for I knew excessive physical and financial poverty in the past.  At one point I had a 226 pound body, that couldn’t stop eating compulsively; now it is clothed better than Solomon in size petite.

All devouring of my economic supply has likewise ended.  An apt example of this is the recent demolition of my computer, at which juncture I stood, looked out my window at the river below, and spoke the word: all things come together for good for those that love God and are called according to his purpose.  Joyful faith rose in me, I was convinced that increase was on its way.

Indeed it was!  For after waiting patiently six weeks, I now publish my blog with the fastest of computers, an I-7 laptop equipped with a new wireless keyboard, mouse, printer, and monitor setup.

In addition to the outstanding quality of these, I have a fiber optic internet connection-instead of DSL-with 90 times more power and a monthly fee that is slightly less!

This unheard of upgrade-a sign of the Father’s immense love-was further outdone by the monetary provision for this loss.  First, great deals gave me $700 worth of equipment for $280.  Next, three separate parties were moved to help me with this.  This was outdone even further, however, with this full amount being exceeded by half again as much, or $140 was left over in gift monies!

This is just one simple example of how my needs are always met today.  God, who owns the cattle on a 1000 hills, indeed showers us with blessings, if we but believe.

He loves each and every one of us!  Right now, his heart is reaching out, to set us free from all wounds that hinder his glory from manifesting in our lives.  He is only about goodness, as my testimony proves.  Let’s receive his blessings; begin by enjoying this red sauce recipe.

sweating onions

Simple Red Sauce for Pasta or Spaghetti Squash  Yields: 2 qt.  Total prep time: 1 hour/  active prep time: 30 minutes/  cooking time: 30 minutes.   (Spaghetti squash requires approximately 1 1/2 hr to bake.)

4 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is best for flavor and quality here; avocado oil will also do; olive oil is carcinogenic, when heated to high temperatures.)

1 med/lg yellow onion, chopped

1 lb ground beef

1 lb romanesco or 3/4 lb mushrooms  (I like to use romanesco for variety’s sake; it is a green variant of cauliflower, which is available in the organic section at better supermarkets; may also use a combination of both.)

3 tbsp butter, if using mushrooms

2-15-oz cans of tomato sauce  (Hunt’s and Simple Truth-at our local Fred Meyer’s-make inexpensive organic tomato sauces.)

1-15-oz can of water

2 tsp dried oregano  (Trader Joe’s carries a superb, organic dried oregano for $1.99!)

1 tbsp dried basil  (Also available inexpensively at Trader’s.)

1 tsp sugar  (I prefer organic; available at Trader’s and also in a more economical 10 lb bag at Costco.)

2 1/2 tsp salt, more to taste  (Real Salt is important for optimum health, available in nutrition section at local supermarket.)

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, more to taste

5 extra-large garlic cloves, minced  (3 cubes of Trader’s frozen garlic is better here.)

1/4 c tomato paste  (Open a 6-oz can and freeze individual 1/4 cup servings in small plastic bags, to be thawed as needed.)

Pasta or 4.5 lbs spaghetti squash  (This spaghetti squash yields 4-6 servings.)

Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

  1. If using spaghetti squash, preheat oven to 375 degrees; pierce squash with a fork multiple times; place on side on foil-covered cookie sheet, and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hour, turning halfway through, at 3/4 hour.  Cool for at least 10 minutes before handling, cut lengthwise, take out seeds, and scrape out “noodles” with a fork, when ready to serve.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat; add a small piece of onion; when it sizzles, add rest of onions and sweat (cook until translucent); see photo.
  3. Fry beef in sauté pan; salt and pepper generously before cooking; drain fat if there is a great deal of excess, when finished.  Proceed to next step, while meat is cooking.
  4. If using romanesco, clean and cut into very small pieces, add to translucent onions, and cook until somewhat soft, about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the cooked beef to onion mixture, along with tomato sauce, water, herbs, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and garlic.  Blend well.  Set aside sauté pan.
  6. Cover saucepan with a splash shield, which is available at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (see top photo); bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to med/low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Go to next step.
  7. If you are using mushrooms instead of the romanesco, clean them by brushing off dirt with a mushroom brush, cut into small chunks.  Heat butter in the sauté pan, cook mushrooms in hot butter for several minutes, until slightly limp, stirring constantly.  Add mushrooms and juices to sauce.
  8. Meanwhile if serving with pasta, boil a large pot of water, to which 2 tbsp oil and 2 tsp salt are added.
  9. When sauce has simmered for 30 minutes, blend in tomato paste; cook for several minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly.
  10. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  11. Boil pasta 10 minutes before serving, or if using spaghetti squash, split baked squash in half lengthwise, take out seeds, and scoop out noodle-like membrane with a fork.
  12. Pour hot sauce over noodles and top with Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.
  13. Note: may freeze small individual containers of leftover sauce, to be conveniently thawed for future use.  This is dynamite!

Lemon/Spinach Chicken or Ahi Tuna

Lemon spinach chicken

lemon/spinach chicken

Back to cooking with greens with another delightful dish!  This simple spinach recipe utilizes the bounty of my friend’s fall garden.  She replants her leafy vegetables mid-August for a late harvest, with which I am blessed. However one 10-12 oz bag of fresh spinach will do, if you are buying it.

This recipe is high in protein and iron. It has vitamin C as well, which increases the absorption of dietary iron according to the Mayo Clinic.  They recommend using any of the following for this purpose: broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, leafy greens, melons, oranges, peppers, strawberries, tangerines, or tomatoes.  Lemon juice and tomatoes were my inspiration here.

It is important to use coconut or avocado oil, as olive oil produces carcinogens, when heated to high temperatures.

I always use Real Salt or Himalayan salt, which have all the necessary minerals. Other salts (including white sea salt) don’t have these essential nutrients.  High quality salt, which is pink in color, and electrolytes are both necessary for good health.  You will notice a stabilization of your emotions, when these are balanced in your system.  Arbonne sells excellent electrolyte powder at a reasonable price, especially when you consider the cost of coconut or vitamin waters and Gatorade.  The caliber of Arbonne’s electrolytes far exceeds that of these drinks!

The first time I served my lemon/spinach creation was for a couple from my church.  His mother had just passed and we were celebrating her life with utter joy!  There were jocund accounts of her life’s victories, as well pictures of her holy marriage in the 1940’s.  The Spirit of God moved during our festive fellowship.

I used ahi tuna steaks that night in this recipe, instead of the chicken tenderloins. Either version is powerfully good.  Note: be extra careful not to overcook the meat or fish.

Enjoy perfect simplicity here!

Lemon Spinach Chicken   Yields: 4 servings.  (Note: may substitute ahi tuna steaks.)

3 tbsp of oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best.)

1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 medium lemons, squeezed

12-16 chicken tenderloins, thawed  (Natural ones are available at Trader’s inexpensively, or you may substitute 4-6 ounce ahi tuna steaks.)

Salt and pepper to taste  (Real Salt is best, available in the health section at local supermarkets)

2 medium/large tomatoes, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped  (For a change, I used elephant garlic which is milder; if using this, double the amount.)

10-12 ounces of fresh spinach

Steamed brown rice  (Basmati rice from Trader’s is my favorite.)

  1. Heat 1 ½ tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add small piece of onion; when it sizzles, add the remaining onion.  Carmelize onion (cook until dark brown).  Set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile roll lemons on counter, pushing down hard with your hand, to loosen the juices inside.  Squeeze lemons. Set aside.
  3. Melt remaining oil in frying pan over medium heat.  Pat thawed tenderloins or tuna, somewhat dry, by using paper towels.  (A little moisture will help the adhesion of seasonings.)  Be sure to salt and pepper raw meat/fish generously.  Cook chicken tenderloins or tuna, in hot oil, in batches if necessary.  Cut tenderloins into bite-size pieces with spatula.  Cook only until very pink inside.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!  (The inner meat of the tuna or chicken should be almost red, as it will cook more later.)  Place pieces in the bowl with onions as each is done.  Watch very carefully, as not to overcook.  Leave fond (pan drippings) in pan.
  4. Add tomatoes and garlic to hot frying pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until soft and chunky.  Deglaze the pan (scrape fond off bottom with a heat-resistant spatula or wooden spoon), while tomatoes are cooking.  Note: there is an abundance of flavor in fond.
  5. Add half the spinach to hot sauce; stir well, by distributing the tomatoes over greens.  Repeat step with rest of spinach; cook briefly, or just until leaves are slightly limp.
  6. Place meat or tuna, onions, and lemon juice in frying pan with spinach/tomatoes.  Stir well.  Cook mixture just until hot.  Do not overcook the meat/fish.
  7. Adjust seasonings.
  8. Serve with steamed brown rice.  So delicious!

Cooking with Kale Made Extra Easy

Chopping kale in food processor

chopping kale in food processor

Last week’s easy kale recipe may be simplified even further.

A dear one from my church shares my passion for excellence with food.  She recently rolled out the red carpet for a small group of us; a repast of splendor marked the celebration of what would have been the 49th anniversary of her marriage; she commemorated this occasion with her friends, as her husband went to heaven ten years now.  Her exquisite home and meal spoke volumes of exuberant love to my soul!  It foreshadowed the “marriage supper of the Lamb” for me.

This couple started the coffee movement.  Her husband trained a person who participated in creating one of the most popular, international, corporate franchises.  (Note: I will be doing a future post on this married team and the coffee development.)

My beloved fellow lover of foods has gifted me with new ailments; one such blessing was a bottle of Cherry Pomegranate Habanero Sauce from Robert Rothschild Farm; this inspired me to cook kale with a ready-made sauce.  Order this on-line or get it at Costco; any prepared sauce will work for the following recipe, of which a number are available at Trader Joe’s; thus, healthy fresh greens are made with the shortcut described below.

My other church friend, that provides the kale from her organic garden, shared her version for

Assembly of chopping attachment

assembly of chopping attachment

my receipt, which is makes this even easier.  She added a prepared spicy chicken, which she purchased from our upscale Whole Season’s Natural Foods; this eliminated the additional step of cooking the meat for this dish. The result was optimum health, heightened taste, and even greater culinary ease.

I use the food processor to chop all my leafy vegetables. (See how the assembled blade looks in the photo.)  Sometimes I have other greens on hand, such as beet tops, mustard greens, or spinach, which I mix in with my kale; this adds nutrition, when available. It only takes minutes to chop the prepared greens in this manner; I can’t encourage you enough to try these simple, healthy instructions.

 

 

Kale with Beef or Turkey and a Prepared Sauce  Yields: 4-6 servings.  Total prep time: 45 minutes.

8 1/2 teaspoons oil  (Coconut oil enhances flavor and quality here.)

1 medium yellow onion, halved at the core and cut in even 1/8 inch slices

1 lb ground turkey or beef  (Natural is best; Foster Farms natural ground turkey is inexpensive; a prepared meat from a deli is even quicker.)

Salt and pepper  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

1-1 1/2 lb fresh kale  (Organic is best.)

4 carrots, thinly sliced, at a diagonal

8-12 oz jar of prepared sauce

Avocado, sliced

  1. beginning stages of carmelization

    Heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Test for readiness by placing small piece of onion in hot oil; the temperature is right when it sizzles. Reduce heat to med/low, add onions, and carmelize (cook until dark brown): stir once every several minutes until color starts to change (see photo); then, stir every minute until dark brown (see photo below). Watch carefully, as you go to next steps.

  2. Spray carrots and kale with produce spray (a mixture of 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide is a safe, cheap, and effective cleaning solution).  Let vegetables sit three minutes; rinse three times in a sink full of water.
  3. Cook meat in 2 teaspoons of oil, in a large frying pan, over medium temperature; salt and pepper heavily before cooking; place in a bowl when done.  Set aside pan for future use.  (If using a prepared meat, omit this step.)
  4. Chop the wet kale in a food processor, by using the straight edge attachment (this is the large, round disk that fits onto the provided white “stem”-place this tall, assembled cutting disk in the food processor, where you normally put the smaller blade-see above photo).  Be sure to pick out large pieces of stem before setting aside chopped kale.  Note: you may chop this by hand, by first cutting out stems, then cutting kale into small pieces, using a sharp knife.
  5. finished carmelized onions

    Scrape cleaned carrots with knife (this preserves the vitamins just under the skin); slice carrots thinly, at a diagonal; set aside.

  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat in pan the meat was cooked in; add carrots when a small piece sizzles in hot oil; cook covered for 2-3 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  7. Place another tablespoon of oil in pan; add 1/2 the kale to carrots and distribute the oils, stirring well. (Be sure to check for big pieces of stem.) Repeat these steps with remaining kale; cook covered for 10 minutes, or until kale is limp; stir occasionally.
  8. When onion is caramelized, add meat and blend well.  Mix in  a generous amount of your favorite prepared sauce; flavor should be strong, as it will lighten, with the addition of vegetables.  Heat thoroughly.
  9. Add hot meat mixture into vegetables, when kale is cooked.
  10. Serve topped with fresh avocado slices.