Saturday, November 16, 2013

Recipe: Cranberry-Apple Crisp

Based on a recipe from the October 2006 Cook's Country. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoMakes 8 servings.

  • The original recipe was for 13x9-inch baking dish which made too much crisp for two people. I halved the recipe (thus all the eighths) for an 8x8-inch baking dish which worked out well for two people.



3/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/8 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 pound fresh, or frozen, cranberries
5/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
1 1/4 pounds tart apples like Granny Smith (3-4 apples)
1 1/4 pounds sweet apples like Golden Delicious or Braeburn (3-4 apples)
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 1/2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca 


  1. Cut the butter into ½-inch pieces and chill in the refrigerator.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugars, cinnamon, and butter about 12 times so it has the consistency of coarse crumbs.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and pinch it together to form peanut-sized clumps. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  4. Heat oven to 400° with a rack in the middle position.
  5. Peel and core the apples and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.
  6. In a Dutch oven, bring the fresh (or frozen) cranberries, 3/8 cup sugar, and water to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  7. Cook about 10 minutes until the cranberries are softened and the mixture thickens to the consistency of jam.
  8. Scrape cranberry mixture into a small bowl.
  9. Add the apples, 1/4 cup sugar, and dried cranberries to the Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook for about 5 minutes until the apples begin to release their juices.
  10. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and stir the cranberry mixture and tapioca into the apple mixture.
  11. Pour the mixture into an 8x8-inch baking dish, smoothing the surface with a spatula.
  12. Scatter the refrigerated topping evenly over the filling and bake (on a baking sheet to catch drips) for about 30 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.
  13. Cool on a wire rack for and serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Pulse flour, sugars, cinnamon, and butter in food processor.
Add oats and use fingers to create peanut-sized clumps. Set topping aside.
Cook cranberries with sugar and water.
Cook apples with sugar and dried cranberries.
Combine the apple and cranberry mixtures and pour into baking dish.
Add the topping, bake, cool, and serve.

Recipe: Catalan-style Beef Stew with Mushrooms

Based on a recipe from the January 2012 Cook's Illustrated. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoMakes 8 to 10 servings.

  • Sofrito is a slow-cooked mixture of onions, tomatoes, spices, and herbs which forms the flavor base for the stew. 
  • Picada is a mixture of toasted bread, toasted almonds, garlic, and parsley which thickens and flavors the stew.
  • The original recipe called for boneless short ribs. Since these can be expensive and hard to find I suggest substituting boneless chuck. 
  • Serve the stew over boiled, mashed, or baked potatoes.



Sofrito and stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions 
½ teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
1½ cups dry white wine
1½ cups water
1 large sprig thyme
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2½ pounds boneless beef short ribs or beef chuck
¼ cup whole blanched almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 slice white bread
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
½ pound oyster or button mushrooms
1 teaspoon sherry or red wine vinegar


  1. Sofrito and stew:  Peel and chop the onions fine.
  2. In a Dutch oven over medium-low heat, heat the oil until shimmering
  3. Add onions, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt and cook with frequent stirring for 30 to 40 minutes until the onions are deeply caramelized.
  4. While the onions cook, cut the tomatoes in half through the poles and grate the pulp on a box grater, discarding the skins.
  5. Trim the beef, removing hardened fat and any silver skin, and cut it into 2-inch cubes.
  6. With rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 300°.
  7. Add tomatoes, smoked paprika, and bay leaf to the Dutch oven and cook with frequent stirring for 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture is darkened and thick.
  8. Add wine, water, thyme, and cinnamon to the sofrito, scraping up browned bits from the bottom and sides of the Dutch oven.
  9. Season the beef with 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper and add to the Dutch oven.
  10. Bring to a simmer over high heat.
  11. Transfer the Dutch oven to the oven, uncovered, and cook for 1 hour.
  12. Stir the stew to redistribute the beef and continue to cook until the beef is tender, 1½ to 2 hours more.
  13. Picada:  While the stew is in the oven remove the skins from the almonds, if necessary, by blanching them. 
  14. Peel the garlic cloves.
  15. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil and the almonds over medium heat for 3 to 6 minutes, stirring often, until golden brown.
  16. Transfer the almonds to the bowl of a food processor.
  17. Remove the crust from the bread, tear it into 1-inch pieces, and add it to the skillet over medium heat and cook 2 to 4 minutes, stirring as needed, until toasted.
  18. Add toasted bread and peeled garlic to the food processor and process for about 20 seconds until the mixture is finely ground.
  19. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, stir in the parsley, and set aside.
  20. Clean the mushrooms and remove woody stems, separating the oyster mushrooms from their common stem.
  21. Return the empty skillet to medium heat and heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering.
  22. Add the mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt and cook with frequent stirring for 5 to 7 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
  23. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.
  24. Remove the bay leaf and thyme from the stew.
  25. Stir in the picada, mushrooms, and vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Cook finely chopped onion with salt and sugar until well caramelized.
Grate the pulp of two tomatoes and add to the onions with a bay leaf and smoked paprika.
Cook until dark and thick.
Cut beef into 2-inch cubes and season with salt and pepper.
Add water, wine, cinnamon, and the beef to the sofrito and cook, uncovered, in a 300° oven.
If necessary, blanch almonds to remove their skins.
Toast the blanched almonds in a skillet.
Toast a slice of bread, torn into pieces, in the skillet.

Process the almonds and bread with garlic and add parsley.
Cook mushrooms until tender.
Add the picada and mushrooms to the stew and serve.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Recipe: Atlanta Brisket

Based on a recipe from the October 2012 Cook's Country. Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoMakes about 12 servings.


1 3½-pound beef brisket, flat cut
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound onions
2 cups cola
1½ cups ketchup
4 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme 
salt and black pepper


  1. Trim the brisket, leaving about ¼-inch of fat.
  2. Poke the brisket all over with a fork,  rub all sides with 1 tablespoon salt, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.
  3. Pat the brisket dry and season with black pepper.
  4. Peel the onions, cut them in half through the poles, then cut into ½-inch slices.
  5. Heat a large skillet with the oil over medium-high heat until just smoking.
  6. Add the seasoned brisket, fat-side down, and weigh it down with a heavy dutch oven or cast iron skillet. You may need to cut the brisket so it will fit in the pan.
  7. Cook until well browned, about 4 minutes, then repeat on the other side, another 4 minutes.
  8. Transfer the browned brisket to a plate and add the onions to the skillet with a pinch of salt. If the pan is dry add a few teaspoons of vegetable oil.
  9. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally and scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan, until the onions are soft and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
  10. Heat the oven to 325° with a rack in the lower middle position .
  11. While the onions cook, whisk together the cola, ketchup, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, 1 teaspoon table salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl.
  12. Spread the cooked onions in a 13x9-inch baking dish.
  13. Place the brisket on top of the onions, fat side up. Add any juices from the meat to the sauce.
  14. Pour the sauce over the brisket, place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the brisket, and cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.
  15. Roast the meat and sauce until a fork slips easily into and out of the beef, 3½ to 4 hours.
  16. Transfer the brisket to a cooling rack and rest for 30 minutes, still in the liquid and covered with foil.
  17. Transfer the brisket to a carving board and use a large spoon to skim fat from the sauce.
  18. Slice the brisket across the grain into ¼-inch slices, return the meat to the baking dish, and serve with sauce.
Trim the brisket, poke it full of holes with a fork, cover with salt, and refrigerate.
Slice onions.
Pat the brisket dry and season with black pepper.
Brown both sides of the brisket, weighing it down so it browns evenly.
Remove the meat to a plate then brown the onions.
While the onions cook whisk together the sauce ingredients.
Layer the onions in a baking dish then put the brisket on top.
Pour the sauce over the beef and onions and cover with a sheet of parchment so the acid in the sauce doesn't react with the foil.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast at 325° until fork tender.
Rest in the sauce, remove meat, skim off fat, slice the brisket and return it to the sauce, and serve.