Bearnaise Sauce

My cousin Tam gave me these directions. I believe they come from the Joy of Cooking. This is wonderfully easy and of course delicious, since it is nearly all butter.

1 stick of butter, melted. Keep hot

But in a blender:
3 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar, or in my case 2 T sherry vinegar and about 1/2 teaspoon or more of dried tarragon
pinch of cayenne, optional


With the blender on, add the butter in a very slow stream.

If the sauce is not thick enough for your liking, put it back in the pot and heat over low heat, whisking until thick. Be careful not to break the sauce or cook the yolks. Tam says that if you break the sauce add an additional yolk to bring it back together.

For hollandaise sauce, use 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice instead of the vinegar.


Mint Sauce

From Great British Cooking by Jane Garmey.

In our house, lamb is not complete without mint sauce. This recipe makes about 3/4 cup. If made with vinegar it will keep at least a month in the fridge.

1 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. boiling water
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. white wine vinegar (or white wine)

Place the mint in a pitcher and pour the boiling water over it. Let stand 20 minutes to infuse the water. Add the sugar and vinegar or wine and stir well. Serve.

Steak & Mushroom Pie

This recipe is from the Frugal Gourmet Cooks American cookbook by Jeff Smith. It makes Mike happy enough, it resembles the British Steak & Kidney pie as much as it can without the kidneys.

3 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 pounds chuck steak, well trimmed and cubed (I confess to using whatever kind of beef I have, even tenderloin. Venison works but cook it much less)
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried sage
salt & pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. flour, cooked with butter into a roux or mixed with water into a slurry
10-16 oz. mushrooms, sliced and sauteed in butter till browned
1 pie crust

Heat a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and lightly brown. Turn up the heat and brown the beef cubes.

Add enough broth to barely cover the meat and simmer, covered, until tender, about 30 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, except the roux and mushrooms, and simmer another 15 minutes.

Thicken with flour mixture. I feel this has enough fat without the roux, but you run the risk of lumps.

Stir in the mushrooms.

Pour into a deep pie plate/quiche dish or individual ramekins. Top with pie crust.

Bake at 425F for 45 minutes until crust is browned.

Venison Chops with Dried Fruit

Usually I use venison like beef. But I was given these chops by my daughter’s beau. The butcher we use never cuts us chops like this, think lamb chops. So I hunted up a recipe, because let’s face it, these were special.

This is adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for venison chops on

The end result was indeed special. I bet if I had Emeril’s ingredients it would have tipped the scales.

1/4 cup mixed dried cranberries & cherries
1/2 cup dry red wine (I used the end of a bottle of Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2011, I love this wine)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 venison chops, maybe 2 oz. apiece
2 Tbsp. finely minced onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. dry onion soup mix
1/2 cup water

Soak the cranberries and cherries in the wine for 10 minutes.

In a large heavy skillet (cast iron), heat the oil over high heat. Be careful not to let the oil smoke. Add the chops and sear, 2-3 minutes per side. The chops should easily be pulled from the pan when they are properly browned.

Remove to a plate. Add the onions & garlic and cook for a minute. Drain the wine from the fruit and carefully add it to the pan, stir. Add the fruit, soup mix, water and chops. Stir & flip the chops, cook for 2 minutes, just to heat through. The chops should be rare.

Serve over soft polenta made with muenster cheese stirred in at the end.

Beef Chili

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, March 2003.

I also use this recipe for a vegetarian chili in which I substitute additional beans and diced vegies (such as zucchini, mushrooms, and/or carrots) for the beef.

This recipe is best made ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld.

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 bell pepper (red or green), finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced/pressed
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried oregano
cayenne pepper to taste (1/4 tsp. is too much for my eldest daughter)
1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
1 can / 2 cups cooked kidney beans (16 ounces) (pick your favorite bean, I also like, white beans, black beans and pinto beans here)
1 28-oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes

Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and beginning to brown. Add the spices and cook a few minutes until darkened and aromatic.

Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the meat. Stir and break up the pieces until no longer pink. The meat should just begin to brown.

Add the beans, tomatoes and salt; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered for about an hour. Stir occasionally. Remove the cover and simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally until the chili is dark and slightly thickened. If the chili begins to stick, add a little water.

Serve with lime wedges and condiments.

Here is what may family likes with chili and tacos:

Shredded lettuce
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour Cream
Sour cream blended with a chipotle pepper
Diced avocado
sliced scallions/diced red onion
Finely chopped cilantro leaves (ok, I’m the one who likes this)
Sliced pickled jalenpenos
Hot sauce to spice it up for those who want it hotter

Asian Salisbury Steak

Adapted from Eating Well magazine. These strange but somehow appealing “steaks” are served over watercress and topped with a simple sauce made of rice wine and hoisin sauce.

Mix the following:
1 pound ground beef or venison
1 cup finely diced sweet red pepper
1 cup finely chopped scallions
~1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs, more if needed
3 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

Form 5 patties. Brush or spray with oil and broil or grill, flipping once. About 4 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over high heat, warm
2 tsp. canola oil

Add 2 – 4 bunches of watercress and cook stirring until just wilted. Remove from pan.

Return pan to heat and add
1/2 cup rice wine
1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce

Stir until smooth and cook until thickened.

Top the watercress with the steaks and drizzle with sauce. Serve immediately.

It would seem sensible to serve this with rice or soba noodles but my husband likes it with mashed potatoes.

Sloppy Joe

I have found that this recipe works well as vegetarian dish too. For the beef I have substituted TVP; a mixture of finely chopped vegetables like zucchini, carrots and mushrooms; beans; or some combination of these.  You will need about 3 cups of vegetables to start.

1 pound ground beef (or some other protein source)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. quick cooking oats
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (use soy sauce for vegetarians)
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Dash hot pepper sauce
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp. dried mustard

Brown beef, onion and celery, drain excess fat. Stir in remaining ingredients and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer about 30 minutes until thickened.

Serve on toasted buns.

Mom’s Pepper Steak

Marinate for 20 minutes:
Beef, sliced into thin strips about 1 1/2 pounds
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. corn starch
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Seasoning Sauce:
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. corn starch
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. ketchup

Vegetables, cut into strips:
1 green pepper
2 onions
peas (about 1 cup)

Stir fry beef, set aside.

Stir fry vegetables, add meat and seasoning sauce and cook until thickened and heated.

Taco Salad

Ok, so we ate a lot of tacos this week.  Actually, I made this to bring to a party at a friends.  The salad is very simple but it’s the unusual dressing that anyone with a sweet tooth will love.

1 head of lettuce
1 lb. ground meat (or turkey or vegie version)
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 large onion, diced
2-4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 package taco seasoning (or use the taco spice mix)
1 bag tortilla chips

Dressing #1

8 oz. thousand island dressing
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp. taco seasoning mix


Dressing #2 (I have personally never used this one)
sour cream

Brown the meat; prepare meat as on taco seasoning.

Layer meat on bottom of rectangular, deep pan (13″ x 3″ x 5″); top with onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese.

Add dressing when ready to serve. Toss and serve with chips.

Taco Spice Mix

This mix is adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.  I use this basic mix for beef, turkey and vegetable tacos.

1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne
salt & pepper
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 tspn brown sugar
2 tsp. cider vinegar

Saute the onion, garlic & meat or vegies/beans. Add the spices and cook until they darken, about a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, broth, brown sugar & vinegar. Simmer until desired thickness.