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stuffed mushrooms
Stuffed Mushrooms

beef in chianti
Beef Braised in Chianti 

garlic mash
Garlic Mashed Potatoes

White Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Menu Plan for the week of Oct. 11, 2013:  Saturday's Recipes

Stuffed Mushrooms
Beef Braised in Chianti
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
White Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Cooking time:  5 hours, broken up      Cooking schedule: see below for instructions

     The Beef is easy, and doesn't actually take much time - it's just spread out. You could do the beef in a slow-cooker, or slow oven (300F, 150C) for 5 or 6 or 7 hours.  Both the beef and the potatoes will be for 2 meals.  Use the rest of the tomato sauce and sauce from whole tomatoes on Tuesday. Choose the mushrooms to stuff and put the rest in the beef.

Stuffed Mushrooms                                          Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes
   Use white button or brown cremini for this.  If you want to use the larger portabella (not available here) you will probably only want to do 2 or 4, depending on size.  

8 large mushrooms, (1 1/2 " diameter, 4cm) 12 medium, 16 small...
1 tbs olive oil
2 shallots
2 cloves garlic
5 tbs shredded cheese
3 tbs Greek yogurt, crème fraiche, or sour cream
1 tbs breadcrumbs
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp oregano
1 tbs Parmesan, optional
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) tomato sauce 

Clean mushrooms, removing stems.    Finely chop the shallots and mince garlic. Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add mushroom caps and sauté until light brown, 3 - 4 minutes, turning once.  Remove and place on a baking sheet - with a lip so they don't slide off.  Add garlic, shallots to pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
In small bowl mix yogurt, shredded cheese, herbs and crumbs.  Add shallots, garlic and mix well.  Spoon mixture into mushroom caps, dividing evenly.  Sprinkle with Parmesan.  Bake in 375F (180C) oven for 10 minutes, until they are light brown.
To finish: Heat tomato sauce in a small saucepan just until warm.  When mushrooms are done remove from oven.  Spoon some tomato sauce onto two small plates. Divide the mushrooms and arrange on sauce.  Serve.  

Note:  If liquid accumulates in the caps before stuffing, stir it into the shallot mixture.

Beef Braised in Chianti 
Preparation and cooking time:    4:40 hours broken into 3 stages   Night before: 10 minutes
                                           Afternoon of:
20 minutes   Braising time: 4 hours plus 10 minutes to finish
    I love doing long-cooking, wine-infused, meat in the cool months.  It's a wonderful way to get the most out of 'cheap cuts' and, usually it's the cheap, flavorful cuts that we want.  They have the most flavor and get meltingly tender.  I always plan for leftovers.

32oz (960gr) beef roast, chuck or rump,   suitable for stewing or braising   
1 medium onion
1 carrot
1 rib celery
2 bay (laurel) leaves
1 tbs juniper berries
1 tsp black peppercorns   whole black pepper
1 bottle Chianti - a lesser version of what you want to drink, if possible
1 tbs olive oil
4oz (120gr) mushrooms
15oz (450gr) whole tomatoes 
3 tbs cornstarch dissolved in 3 tbs water or reserved marinade

The night before:  Remove any big chunks of fat from beef, cut into large pieces, about 3" (8cm).   Put the beef into a bowl just large enough to hold it.  Slice the onion, carrot and celery and add to beef.  Add the bay leaves, juniper berries and peppercorns.    Pour enough of the red wine over to completely cover the beef, cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 12 hours. (24 or 36 is okay).
The afternoon of:  4 1/2 hours before dinner take the meat out of the marinade and let drain, reserving all of the marinade.   Heat oil in the braising pot.  Add beef and brown well, about 15 minutes total.  Strain the vegetables, reserving marinade.  Add vegetables to the beef.  Open and drain the tomatoes.  Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to beef.  Clean mushrooms.  Roughly chop and add to beef.  Add 1/2 of the reserved marinade, cover, reduce heat and let simmer, gently, for 4 hours.  Check it periodically and add more reserved marinade as needed and / or wine as needed.  It should almost cover the beef.  I used all but about 1 cup. 
Finishing:  Remove beef from pan and keep warm.  Strain vegetables, reserving wine/pan juices.  Skim off any excess fat if you can (use a spoon or fat separator), then put juices in a saucepan.  Heat juices to boiling.  Slowly add cornstarch mixture to thicken.  You probably won't need all of it so stop periodically and let it cook to test consistency.  Remove bay leaves from vegetables and discard.  Add reserved vegetables to saucepan and heat through.  Arrange some of the beef on a platter.  Spoon some sauce around and serve, extra sauce on the side.  

Garlic Mashed Potatoes                                        Preparation and cooking time:   45 minutes
  I always make enough to use in another meal - patties, or shepherd's Pie, or something....

4 medium potatoes, (24oz, 720gr)  
4 cloves garlic
1 tbs butter
3 tbs milk or cream
1/2 tsp salt

Peel potatoes and cut into quarters.  Put potatoes in medium saucepan and add just enough water to cover.  Add salt and cover.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  When boiling (and pay attention or they will boil over) reduce heat and take cover partially off.  Continue cooking until done, 20 - 25 minutes.  They should be very done, easily coming apart when poked with a fork. 
When done, drain and put back on the heat 10 seconds or so to evaporate any excess moisture.  Mash with a potato masher (or fork if you don't have one)  Add enough of the garlic/milk mixture to get your desired consistency.  If, after adding all of it, the potatoes are still too stiff just add more milk. 

Garlic Milk

While potatoes are cooking mince or press the garlic.  Heat butter in a small pan over medium-low heat.  Sauté garlic until soft, being careful not to let it brown.  When tender add the milk.  Keep warm until ready to use in the potatoes.

White Balsamic Glazed Carrots                           Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
  A bit of sugar emphasizes the natural sweetness of the carrots.

2 - 3 medium carrots
1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) chicken stock
2 tsp butter
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp white Balsamic vinegar

Peel carrots and roll cut - that is cut the end off of the carrot at an angle, roll carrot 1/4 turn and cut next piece about 3/4 inch away at an angle, roll 1/4 and cut next piece, etc.  This gives you interesting looking pieces with lots of surface.  Put carrots in small skillet, add stock and cook, covered, 15 - 20 minutes or until vegetables are done.  Remove cover, turn heat to medium-high and cook off all but 1 tbs of liquid.  Add butter, vinegar and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Sauté until thick and glazed, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Serve.

Cooking Schedule: 5 hours, broken up
Assemble all food, utensils and serving dishes
Utensils: measuring cups, spoons, knives,
dish for marinating beef, pot for braising beef,
medium skillet, baking sheet, small bowl, medium
saucepan with lid, 2 small skillets, 1 lid

The night before 10 minutes
Slice onion, carrot, celery for beef
Cut beef into chunks
Put beef, carrot, onion, celery, bay, juniper, pepper
   in a bowl, pour wine over, cover, refrigerate
4 1/2 hours before dinner 20 minutes
Remove beef from marinade
Brown beef
Strain vegetables, reserving marinade
Clean, trim, chop mushrooms
Open, drain, chop tomatoes
Add mushrooms, tomatoes, vegetables to beef
Add half reserved marinade to beef, cover, simmer
**Checking beef in an hour or two not necessary
if in slow oven or slow cooker

35 minutes before dinner
Mind the beef
Peel potatoes, start to cook
Trim mushroom caps, sauté

Chop shallots, garlic for mushrooms
Remove mushroom caps to baking sheet
Add shallots, garlic to skillet, sauté
Mix yogurt, cheese, herbs, crumbs
Add shallots, garlic, mix
Stuff mushrooms, sprinkle Parmesan, bake
Heat tomato sauce for mushrooms
Peel, cut carrots, put in skillet, add stock, cover, simmer
Mince or crush garlic for potatoes, sauté
Add milk to garlic, keep warm
Remove mushrooms
Spoon tomato sauce on plates, add mushrooms
Serve starter, relax and enjoy
Drain potatoes, return to heat, remove
Uncover carrots, cook off liquid
Remove beef, keep warm
Strain vegetables, reserve, toss bay leaves
Skim fat from pan juices, return to pan, heat
Mash potatoes, add garlic, mash well, keep warm
Dissolve cornstarch, add to sauce, thicken
Add reserved vegetables to sauce, heat
Finish carrots, adding butter, vinegar, sugar
Put beef on platter, add sauce
Serve all and enjoy!

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