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April 2010 Daring Bakers' Challenge: Steak and Kidney Pudding

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

For this challenge I drew inspiration from  Esther, Audax and from this video.  I went whole hog in and found suet from a butcher shop in Los Gatos, Ca.  I had to render the fat down and turn it into a lard type substance, I did not post any of those photos because I don't think people really want to see that part.  If I make this again I will just use vegetable shorting or butter.  I am glad I had a chance to cook with suet; however, it is just not healthy, or a practical ingredient for me to use again.  I also chose to do a savory pudding instead of a sweet pudding.

I made a gravy using Audax's instructions with the left over scraps of meat and kidney.  I tell you the winner was the gravy.. I could of eaten that with toast.  The pudding was good don't get me wrong, it's just not my cup of tea.  I would like to give cheers to everyone who did this challenge.  For me it was a learning experience, and I am really glad I participated in it, thank you Esther.

Pastry Ingredients:
  • 12 ounces self rising flour- wtb Andy's biscuit recipe for my left over flour!
  • 6 ounces shredded suit or substitute like Crisco, Lard, or Butter
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • ½ cup milk, 2% worked fine
  • ½ cup water

Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 lb of stewing beef, cubed
  • 2-3 lamb kidney's, chopped-make sure to toss out the white portion
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly grated black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp Oyster sauce

Oyster sauce and Chicken stock to shy to be photoed 
  • 1 1/2 quart bowl oven safe bowl, like Pyrex.
  • Large pot with a steamer and lid
  • rubber-band
  • kitchen twine
  • heavy duty foil

Gravy: (optional, sorry no photos)
  • left over steak and kidney scraps
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 cup of Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp flour
First make the pastry by blending the flour and suet together with a pastry blender.  Add the salt and pepper to the flour and suet mixture.  Slowly add the water and milk, 1 Tbsp at a time.  The dough should form a nice ball and none of it should be stuck to the bowl.  Take the dough and place it on a floured work surface.

Cut ¼ of the dough out and reserve it for the pudding lid.  Use a measuring tape and roll the dough out to fit your pudding bowl.

Coat the pudding bowl with some butter or fat before placing the dough inside.  Roll out the lid, use a measuring tape to get the size right.  Set the lid aside.

Place water in your steamer and bring water to a boil.

In a small bowl mix the ½ cup flour, ground mustard, salt and pepper together.  Take one of the piece of beef and try to wrap it around a small piece of kidney, and then coat it the flour mixture.

Me breaking down the lamb kidney, first time for me!
Place the piece in the pudding bowl.  Make one row of steak and kidney rolls and then cover them with a handful of sliced onions and chopped parsley.

Create another row of meat and cover it again with the onions and parsley.  Continue this process till you run out of meat or your pudding bowl is filled up.  I had under a pound of beef and that is why my pudding bowl is not filled all the way.  If you use a full pound you will get one more layer in.

Add the chicken stock and oyster sauce over the top of the last layer and then seal the pudding with the pastry lid.

Make sure you get a good seal on it, you don't want any of it leaking out. 

Then cover your pudding with heavy duty foil.  Secure the foil with a rubber-band and some kitchen twin.  Cut away any excess foil as it might get in the way later.

Remove the lid from the steamer and carefully place the pudding inside. 

The water should not touch the metal part of the steamer, fill it so it is just below that part.  Cover and turn heat to medium.  Steam for 3-5 hours.  I did mine for about 4.

If you want the make the gravy take a medium size sauce pot and turn it to medium heat.  Add one of the chopped shallots, beef and kidney scraps, wine, oyster sauce, and chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer, let it simmer for about a hour, or until it has reduced by half.  Strain the gravy and remove all the shallot, beef and kidney pieces.  In the same sauce pan saute the other chopped shallot and after it is soft add the 2 tablespoons of flour.  Mix together and cook for a minute and then return the strained gravy to the sauce pan.  Heat over medium heat till it thickens.

After the pudding has steamed for atleast 3 hours you can remove it.

Let it sit on your counter for about 15 minutes before attempting to flip it over.  If you made the gravy you can poke a small whole in the top of the pudding and fill it up with gravy.

Place a plate over the bowl and use pot holders to shimmieslide flip the pudding over.  The pudding should just plop out.

Cut the pudding like you would a pie and drizzle more gravy if you fancy.  Enjoy! 


Potato Leek Soup - Soupe de Poireaux et Pommes de Terre

After our wonderful trip to Napa I came home and was inspired to make Thomas Keller's Potato Leek Soup.  This soup recipe caught my eye because it required leeks, shallots, yellow onions, and chives.  I love onions, Aaron says I tend to onionize my food.  Yes I am the onionizer!! Watch out!

This soup has very simple ingredients, for me what makes this soup special is the stock.   I'm sure it tastes fine with store purchased stock, but making your own stock will take this from soup to a symphony in your mouth.  I keep my chicken stock in the freezer, I make large batches so that when I want to make soup or need to make a sauce I am good to go. 

The funny part is I used the last of my chicken stock on this recipe.  So I was out of stock Monday morning, and Monday night Aaron went in for emergency surgery.  He had an appendectomy at 6:30 pm.  He is doing much better now but we are both still out of sorts.  The surgery went well and I was able to bring him home from the hospital Tuesday afternoon.  I got him home and into bed, and of course I made more chicken stock to make him some chicken noodle soup.  Nothing says I'm taking care of you more than homemade soup.  Trust me.


  • 2 lbs Leeks, about three
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup shallots, sliced
  • 1/3 cup onion, sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly grated black pepper
  • ½ pound russet potato (about one large), peeled
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 2 Italian parsley sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp pepper corns
  • cheese cloth
  • 5 ½ cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cup heavy cream, warmed
  • ½ cup minced chives
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Make a Sachet with the cheese cloth, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and pepper corn.  Set aside.

Prepare the leeks by cutting away the dark green portion, and the bottom root part.  Slice the leek in half and clean well under running water.  Place the leeks cut side down on the cutting board and chop them into ¼ inch slices.

Melt butter in a stock pot over medium-low heat, add the leeks, shallots, onions, and season with salt and pepper.  Turn the heat to medium and sweat the vegetables, stirring every 3-5 minutes.  The vegetables will get soft, but should not brown.

In the mean time chop the potato into ¼ inch think slices.  Add the garlic to the vegetables and cook for about a minute.  Add the sachet and potatoes and cook for 4 minutes.

Add 5 ½ cups chicken stock and test for seasoning.

Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove the soup from the heat and let cook for 15 minutes.

Transfer soup to blender and puree, start on a low speed to release the remaining heat in the soup.  For a refined soup strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer.


Rinse out the stock pot and return the soup and heat up over medium heat.  Bring the soup to a simmer and add the cream, simmer for 5 minutes.  To serve the soup, remove it from the burner and stir in the chives, save some for garnish.

Ladle the soup into the serving bowls and garnish them with extra virgin olive oil and chives.  Enjoy, serves 6-8


Chile Verde

I was not going to post this recipe mostly because I plan to make it differently next time.  This was a learning experience for me, and the end result was very tasty.  So, I decided to post along with my notes and some of the corrections I plan to make next time I whip up some Chile Verde.  I was inspired by Bobby Flay's Green Chile recipe and followed it loosely. 

Learning how to make your own Chile Verde is a great recipe to have under your belt.  Mostly because it is so cheap to make and it's not bad for you.  You could make this with a lean pork tenderloin and yield beautiful results.  This is another recipe where having homemade chicken stock in the freezer comes in really handy.  It lowers the cost and ups the flavor.   

  • 4 jalapenos
  • 4 cloves of garlic, not peeled
  • 2 lbs tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved
  • 4 lbs pork shoulder, diced into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 3 red onions, chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Flour, to dredge the pork
  • 4 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock (scratch is best, good store brand will do)
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl add the chopped tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic cloves, and toss with 2 Tablespoons of the canola oil.  Transfer the tomatillos, jalapenos, and garlic cloves to a foil lined baking sheet.  Place the tomatillos flesh side down.  Add the chopped onion to the same large mixing bowl, toss with the remaining canola oil, and spread them evenly over a foil lined baking sheet. 

The reason I do not mix the onions with the tomatillos, jalapenos, and garlic is because after I roast them I only want to put the tomatillos, jalapenos, and the garlic in the blender.

I then roasted the vegetables for about 15 minutes.  I noticed the tomatillos were releasing lots of liquid and not getting browned.  I removed the onions and the tomatillos from the oven and then set the tomatillos under the broiler for a few minutes.  This yielded the result I was looking for.  Next time I make this dish I will only broil the tomatillos and blend them with the raw peppers in the blender.  Also next time I will not roast the onions, I will saute them in my pot and remove them before browning the meat. 

After you roast/broil the tomatillos, peppers, and garlic let them cool.  Once they are cool remove the skin from the garlic, and then transfer them into a blender.  Set sauce aside.

Heat a large stock pot or sauce pan over medium heat.  Dredge the pork in the flour (next time I plan not to dredge the meat in flour).  Add one layer of pork to the pot, work in batches and brown the meat.  Please note that the meat will not be fully cooked, just browned.  Remove all the meat from the pot and add 1 cup of chicken stock.  Reduce the stock down by half and scrape all the bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return the pork to the pan along with onions, cinnamon stick and Chile Verde sauce.  If the meat is not covered in sauce add stock till the meat is fully covered.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 3 hours, or until the meat is tender.  After it has simmered for about an hour and a half remove the cinnamon stick.  When you are ready to serve stir in cilantro, reserve some for garnish. 

Serve with warm flour tortillas, enjoy!

So, next time I make this I plan on using 1 1/2 pounds of tomatillos and broil them.  Blend the tomatillos with raw chilies for more heat.  Saute the onions in the stock pot before browning the meat.  Finally I will not dredge the meat in flour, just season it will kosher salt and pepper before browning it.


Surprise Birthday Trip to Napa, Ca

My birthday was such a treat this year.  It started Saturday morning, April 3rd.  I knew my boyfriend Aaron had something planned but I had no idea where we were going.  He told me to pack clothes for the night and mentioned that I would not be back home till Sunday evening.  We hopped in the car and started to head out.  We got on 680 going towards Sacramento.  I was really thrown for a loop..  I figured we would head to Monterey or Carmel.  So I sat and eagerly anticipated my arrival location.

We crossed the Benicia bridge and I was still confused and then I wondered if we were going to the Sonoma race track?  I asked and he laughed and said no we are not going to the race track.  Any way a few miles went by and then I saw the big sign for Napa.  I was like hrmm could this be happening.  Is he really taking me to Napa?  Finally he spoke, something like, did you figure it out yet?  I was like yes, I think it's, it's Napa.  He was like well all these signs did not help me keep my secret. 

The rest of a trip was still top secret.  My mind was racing with thoughts of wine, food, cheese, olives.. oh my where would we eat?  So many good places.

The first stop was at the Oakville Grocer.  Aaron thought it was best to get a little food in the belly before running off to wine tasting.  This is a wonderful little shop with lots of goodies.  We split a Black Forest Ham and Brie sandwich.  The sandwich came on wonderful hard crusted french bread with whole grain mustard.  Oh and of course I had to snatch up some of the house made kalamata olives to go with my sandwich.  With our belly's full we headed out to do some wine tasting.

We stopped at Robert Mondavi Winery.  We tasted three wines for $20.00 per person.  This is really not that good of a deal, but we decided to stay and try.  We had 2007 PNX Pinot Noir, 2006 Cab, and 2006 T Block.  We both ended up really liking the Pinot, and decided to purchase a bottle.  The wine taster did not have enough bottles to sell at his counter and directed us to the main shop to purchase the wine.  This is something I have never run into while wine tasting.  No biggie I guess, especially since he never charged us for the tasting.

The next stop was Turnbull Wine Cellars.  I have never visited this winery before, but it was across the street so we decided to hit it up.  We tasted about 4 wines and walked out with a bottle of 2007 Old Bull Merlot.

Finally, we ended up at Peju Province Winery.

This is one of my favorite winery's to visit, firstly it is a beautiful place, and secondly they make really good wine.  When we got there we waited in the main lobby shop for about five minutes then we were escorted up stairs to a tasting room above a wine barrel room.

We tasted about 5 different wines, and left with 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 Cabernet Franc, and Provence.  The first time I had Cab Franc was at Peju and I always make a point to pick some up when I am in Napa.

A big thing also about Peju, is that most all of their sales are direct to customer, you cannot pick their stuff up at any stores - so if you want the good stuff, you gotta make the trip, or hit up their website.

Well, after all the yummy tastings I needed a break, so we headed to the hotel.  We stayed at the Marriott Napa Valley Hotel & Spa.  After checking in and resting a bit in the room I sent Aaron to get some ice.  He came back with ice, and booked me a facial in the spa for the following morning.  The surprises just kept coming!      

We got ready for dinner, and heading out.  I had no idea where we were heading.  We ended up in Yountville, home of Bottega, French Laundry, Adhoc, Bouchon, and many more.  Well, we stood in front of the Bouchon Bakery and he said we are eating at Bouchon.  I looked at the bakery, and was a little concerned.  Then he said over there, I did not even see the Bouchon Bistro.  I was so happy, I love my Bouchon cookbook and eating there for my birthday was a wonderful surprise.

Before sitting down to our table we wondered next door to the famous Bouchon Bakery.  We picked up some Chocolate Bouchon's, and Caramel, and Chocolate Macaroon.

Aaron went back to the car and stored the bakery goods.  I waited for him watching all the people come in and out of the bakery with goodies in hand.  The smell of the fresh bread could of kept be busy for some time.  Before I knew it Aaron was back and we heading into Bouchon.

The food at Bouchon was out of this world.  We ordered a bottle of wine and started with French Bread, Toasted Croutons, White Bean Spread, and Butter.  I am looking forward to making that bean spread, it was so tasty with the bread.  I almost liked it more than the butter and I am a butter girl.  I did not get a picture of the bread they bring to the table, it is in the shaped to resemble a wheat stock- so beautiful.

Then we had Pâté De Campagne, a country style pate that literally made my knees shake. So many wonderful flavors, absolutely delicious.  

For the main course Aaron ordered Bouillabaisse.  They bring this bowl filled of seafood and then they pour the stock over it, the smells for the proper made stock made me feel so proud.  Knowing that I learned how to make stock from the same method they use made me so giddy.

I ordered Gigot d'Agneau: roasted leg of lame with English peas, green garlic, rhubarb confit, young turnips & lamb jus.  Mouth watering lamb, very simple and cooked perfectly. I ordered it medium rare and loved every last bloody bite of it.

For dessert they made me Chocolate Bouchon with caramelized banana, and a banana ice cream with chocolate sauce.

We fished that off and headed back to the hotel.

The next morning we had a little bite to eat before my facial.  As you can see I look a little nervous.

After receiving my first facial I was so relaxed and ready to head back to Yountville.  Another winery we always hit up is Jessup Cellar's.

I'm not sure if they have a tasting fee, most of the people are there because they have been there before and they are going to buy wine.  I like tasting there because they let you taste so many of the wines they make, 6 total I believe.  We ended up leaving with the 2006 Zinfandel, 2006 Cab, and 2008 Chardonnay.  They finished off the tasting with some Cabernet Port.  I really enjoyed this port and dreamed of all the things I could cook with it.  Next time I will have to treat myself to a little bottle.

On our way out of town we hit up Bouchon Bakery one last time for a dozen brioche rolls, and a pistachio and raspberry macaroon.  We went back to the Oakville Grocery and picked up some meats and cheese and headed home.  Our Easter dinner was just perfect.  Wonderful meats and cheeses on those tasty Bouchon Bakery brioche rolls.  Perfect end to the perfect birthday.

Thanks you my Sweet for the wonderful weekend, and my new GLOBAL 10" Chef Knife!

Daring Cooks Challenge April 2010: Brunswick Stew

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

This months Daring Cooks Challenge was super fun for me.  Mostly because I got to break in my newly acquired WagnerWare Dutch Oven.  We purchased this Dutch Oven off E-Bay and it works like a dream.  It heats evenly and retains temperature like no other pot I have.

I created my stew using a Game Hen and Chicken Carcass Vegetable base stock.  I pulled the game hen out of the stock pot after the stock had been simmering for about an hour.  I let it cook off then I skinned it and removed all the meat and set it aside to add to my stew later.  The other meat I chose for my stew was the economical choice of country style pork ribs.

Basically, I had one random game hen in my freezer along with a chicken carcass and 3-4lbs of country style pork ribs.  They spoke to me and my Brunswick Stew was born.  Also, please note I cut the recipe provided by half.  The other adjustments I made were to brown the onions first in the pot and add flour to them.  I then took them out and reserved them for later.  I used Cannellini beans instead of butterbeans, mostly because I had Cannellini beans on hand.  I try to cook with what I have to save money, and doing this usually prompts me to be more creative with my recipes.

I served my Brunswick Stew with some tasty homemade Sourdough Buns.  I was particularly pleased as this was the first time I used my Sourdough Starter without adding any yeast to help the rising process.  I was told that the added yeast would take away the Sourdough flavor of the bread, and this is pretty much true.  My starter is now a few months old, and this was really the first time the end result tasted like Sourdough bread.  When I bit into my first roll I was like OMG it tastes like Sourdough, I win!

  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 Serrano chilies, seeded, and chopped
  • The meat of one Game Hen, shredded
  • 3-4 pounds country style pork ribs
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 4-8 quarts of chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ¾ cup chopped carrots
  • 1/ ¾ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 ½ cups Cannellini beans
  • 2 cups canned peeled tomatoes, drained and mashed 
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • hot sauce to taste


Heat a large stock pot over medium heat, and saute the onions till they are almost translucent.  Add the flour to the onions mix it around and then dump the onions in a small bowl, reserve them for later.

Add the chopped bacon to the stock pot, saute it over medium heat till it starts to crispin.  Transfer the bacon to a large bowl.  Toast the chilies in the stock pot for about a minute, and then remove them and place them in the same bowl as the bacon.

Season both sides of the pork with kosher salt and pepper.  Place them in the pot and sear them for about 4 minutes a side (work in batches, try not to over crowd the pot). 

This is just a sear, this will not cook the pork all the way through.  Remove the pork from the pot and place it in bowl with bacon in it.

Add 1 cup of the chicken stock to the sauce pan.  De-glaze the pan and get all the bits up off the bottom, simmer the stock till it reduces by half.

Add the remaining stock (start with adding 5 cups) the bay leaf, celery, potatoes, pork, bacon, and chilies.  Bring the pot to a boil, and then lower the heat so it simmers.  Cover it and let it cook for about 2-3 hours till the meat is falling off the bone.

Remove the pork with a pair of tongs, and place in a colander to cool.  Remove the bay leaf and discard.  After the meat has cooled, shred it off the bones using a pair of forks.  Discard the bones.

Return the the shredded pork and game hen to the stock pot.  Add the carrots to the stock pot and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the carrots are soft.

Add the cooked onion, Cannellini beans, corn, and tomatoes.

Simmer for another 30 minutes uncovered.  Remove from the heat, add the vinegar, hot sauce, and the lemon juice.  Serve immediately with a bread.