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Beef Brisket

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Beef Brisket

My mother-in-law always made a wonderful brisket of beef.  As she got older she cooked less and less, but whenever we visited, she would always make her famous brisket.  Now Mom does not cook at all, so I make the brisket for my familyit is so tender you don’t need to use a knife, as it just falls apart.

This is the ultimate comfort meal for my husband served with roasted potatoes, shallots and carrot and fresh baked rolls.

Mom Mom’s Brisket

Serves 6

  • 3 ½  Pound brisket
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion sliced thin
  • 1 Clove garlic, cut in half
  • 2 Cups beef broth
  • 1 Cup tomato juice
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ Cup flour

To Prepare the Brisket

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.

Season the brisket on both sides with salt and pepper and then dredge in the flour.  Be sure to shake off the excess.

Place the brisket in the pan and sear for about three minutes on each side.

Reduce the heat to medium, and add the beef broth and tomato juice.

Bring the brisket up to a simmer, and then add the onions and the bay leaf.

Cover the pot, and place in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Cook for 1 hour, and then reduce the heat to 325 and cook for another 30 minutes.

Turn the brisket over and cook for another 90 minutes.  The brisket should be fork-tender.

Remove the brisket from the oven, and place the meat on a cutting board. Cover loosely with foil and let it rest.  While it rests, finish the pan sauce.

For the Pan Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon Wondra flour

Place the pan that the brisket was cooked in on the stove over medium-high heat.

When the sauce begins to bubble, whisk in half of the flour.  If the sauce is not the desired consistency, add the other half of the flour and whisk.

To Serve the Brisket

Slice the brisket and spoon the sauce over the meat.

The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing: Red Bordeaux, Burgundy, Pinot Noir

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake


photo(1) Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

It is only September, and yet I am already in full Pumpkin mode.  I have been experimenting with new ways to use pumpkin for weeks.  And then my oldest daughter asked me to make my tried and true pumpkin cheesecake.  The timing was perfect as I had just seen a chocolate pumpkin cheesecake on the cover of a magazine in the grocery store and decided I wanted to try the “swirl technique” for a different twist. Do not let the swirls intimidate you, as they are easy to doand they do not have to be perfect to be beautiful.

I have had this pumpkin cheesecake recipe for years and it never fails me.  The key to a great cheesecake is to have all the dairy ingredients at room temperaturewhich means left out of the refrigerator for 8 hours.  I like to take my eggs and butter, etc. out before I go to bed and set them on the counter.  Then I can start my baking as soon as I have had my first cup of coffee.

With or without the chocolate addition, I think you will love this cheesecake.  And if you love pumpkin as much as I do, you will be thrilled to know there are many more pumpkin recipes headed your way this fall.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

For the Crust:

  • 1 ¼  Cups chocolate wafer cookies like Nabisco’s Famous (about ¾ of the package) crushed into fine crumbs (do this in the food processor)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Filling:

  • 4 Packages cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 ¼ Cups sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ Teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla
  • 15 Ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 3 Extra large eggs (room temperature)
  • ¾ Cup heavy cream (room temperature)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

To Make the Crust:

Melt the butter in a bowl, add cookie crumbs and sugar and combine.

Press the cookie mixture firmly on the bottom of a nine-inch spring-form pan.

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until firm.

Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

In the meantime, keep the oven on at 350 degrees and make the filling:

To Prepare the Filling:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whisk the cream cheese until fluffy.

Add the sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger, clove, vanilla and eggs and whisk again.

Add in the pumpkin, flour and heavy cream and whisk until all the ingredients are combined.

Pour one cup of the batter into a measuring cup, and pour the rest of the pumpkin batter over the prepared cookie crust.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals (stirring at each interval) until it is melted.

Add the chocolate to the reserved batter and stir to combine.

Working with a tablespoon, drop the chocolate batter onto the cheesecake leaving about one and a half inches between each dollop.

With a skewer or long cocktail pick, write cursive “Ls” into the chocolate batter.  Be sure to get your skewer deep enough into the pumpkin batter, but not so deep that it scrapes the crust.  Write the “Ls” repeatedly in each dollop of chocolate batter until you get the marbled look you see above.

Place the cheesecake on the center rack of the oven and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 300 and bake for 30 to 40 minutes more.

The cheesecake is done when it has a slight jiggle in the center when gently shaken, but the perimeter about firm.

Turn the oven off, and leave the oven door slightly ajar.  Allow the cheesecake to rest in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cheesecake has completely cooled, remove the spring-form pan from the base and refrigerate the cheesecake for 24 hours.

Chicken Pot Pie

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Chicken Pot Pie

Earlier in the week we experienced some true fall weather.  The chill in the air got me excited to start cooking cool weather dishes, and I immediately thought of Chicken Pot Pie.  This is a dish full of richness and flavorand best of all you can make extra and pop them in the freezer.  The puff pastry crust makes the preparation simple.

Makes 6 individual pot pies

For the Crust

  • 3 sheets frozen puff pastry dough, thawed to package directions (1 ½ packages of puff pastry)
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water

For the Filling:

  • 4 chicken breasts with bone and skin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½   teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon sage
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, green beans)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To Prepare the Chicken

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the chicken on the cookie sheet.

Rub the olive oil onto the skin of each piece of chicken and then sprinkle on the parsley, garlic salt and black pepper.

Place the chicken in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.  The skin will become golden brown.

When the chicken is done, remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely.

Carefully, pull off the skin and remove the meat from the bone.

Dice the meat and place it in a bowl.  Discard the bone and skin.

The Elegant Occasion Note:  You can prep the chicken to this point 24 hours in advance.

To Prepare the Filling

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat.

When the butter has melted, add the celery and onion and sauté until the vegetables have softened.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir so that the flour coats them.

Pour in the chicken stock and whisk continuously until the sauce begins to thicken.

Add in the cream, thyme, poultry seasoning and sage.

Stir to combine and cook the mixture until thick and bubbly.

Add pepper, taste to check for seasoning (remember the butter that you started with is salted) and then if you need more salt add to your liking.

Add in the chicken and the mixed vegetables and stir.

Turn the heat off and let the mixture cool slightly.

Now you are ready to assemble your pot pie.

To Assemble the Pot Pies

Grease six oven proof bowls with cooking spray.

Place the chicken filling into the ramekins (fill them almost to the top leaving a small space between the filling and the edges of the bowl).

Unfold the sheets of puff pastry and working with one sheet at a time, cut the pastry sheet in half (remember to work quickly as puff pastry needs to stay chilled).

Roll each half out to approximately seven inches.

Brush the edges of the pot pie bowls with egg wash making sure to brush a little on the inside of the bowl just above the filling.

Place the dough on top of the filling and crimp the dough around the edge of the bowl so it adheres to the egg wash.

The Elegant Occasion Note:  You can prepare the pot pies to this point, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them for up to one month.  When ready to cook, simply follow the instructions below.

Brush the tops of the pot pies with egg wash and sprinkle with salt.

Place the pot pies in the refrigerator until ready to bake or bake immediately.

When ready to bake, place bowls on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 30 to 45 minutes (until bubbly and golden).

Serve immediately.

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken

We entertain at home quite a bit, and so I am always trying to make new dishes to serve our friends.  For our Labor Day party I made this Lemon Chicken and served it buffet style.  It was a hit among the adults and children.  In fact, this is a dish my children want weekly.  Veal cutlets are equally delicious prepared in this manner, as is swordfish.

PS:  A nice addition would be to add capers.

Serves 5

  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets
  • 8 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 ½ lemons, juiced
  • 1 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade, but boxed will work)
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Five or six slices of thinly sliced lemon

Place a skillet over medium heat and add one tablespoon of the butter and one tablespoon of olive oil.

Dredge the chicken cutlets in flour and place them in the pan (work in batches so you don’t crowd the pan or your chicken will not brown).

Allow the chicken to brown on one side (approximately 3-4 minutes) before turning and browning on the other side.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover loosely with foil.  Place the platter in a warm oven while you continue to cook the rest of the chicken.

Once all the chicken has been cooked, keep the cutlets in a warm oven (250 degrees) until ready to finish the dish.

Add the remaining 7 tablespoons of butter to the pan, along with the lemon juice and chicken broth and whisk to combine.

Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it thicken.  This should take about 8 minutes.

Taste the sauce for seasoning and if you prefer a stronger lemon flavor, add the juice of another half of a lemon.

Place the chicken, along with any accumulated juices, into the pan with the sauce and turn the heat to low.

Allow the chicken to absorb some of the flavors of the sauce for five minutes.

Place two pieces of chicken on a plate, spoon some of the sauce over top and garnish with fresh lemon slices and chopped parsley.

The Elegant Occasion Note:  The chicken can be made to this point up to twenty four hours in advance.  If serving the next day, wait for the chicken to cool, and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Reheat gently in a large pan before serving. Place the chicken on a platter, spoon the sauce over the top and garnish with lemons slices and fresh chopped parsley.  If you have any remaining sauce, serve it in a gravy boat alongside the platter.

Onion Olive and Anchovy Tart

Onion Olive and Anchovy Tart

A few months ago a friend and I went to a cooking class given by Chef Claude Martin.  One of the dishes he made for us was an Onion and Anchovy Tart.  The pastry was a deep, rich mahogany color. The onions, caramelized until they were extremely sweet, paired perfectly with the saltiness of the anchovies.  We had such a great time that night, that when I left, I forgot to take the recipes with me, but I knew that I was going to try making this tartand that I did.  We had several friends over for Labor Day and this was one of the hors d’oeuvres I served.  It got rave reviews!

Onion, Olive and Anchovy Tart

  • 8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
  • 3 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¾  pound calamata olives
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay one sheet of phyllo on top.

With a pastry brush, paint the entire surface of the phyllo sheet with butter.

Now put the second sheet of phyllo dough on top and repeat the process until all of the sheets have been layered and brushed with butter.

Place the baking sheet in a 375 degree oven and bake the phyllo until it is a deep golden brown.  This process will take about 15-20 minutes.

When the phyllo is done, remove it from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack so the pastry can cool.

The Elegant Occasion Note:  You can bake the phyllo several hours before assembling the tart, but be sure to keep it at room temperature.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic until the garlic has softened.

Add the anchovy paste and cook until the paste has melted.

Add the onions to the pan, and cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every so often.  The onions will cook down and caramelize, and turn a rich golden color.

Toss in the olives and red pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if you feel it needs more salt or red pepper.

Remove the onion mixture to a bowl and allow to cool.

To Plate the Tart

Just before serving, carefully place the phyllo dough on a serving platter.

Spread the cooled onion/olive mixture over the tart.

Cut into squares and serve.