Recipes from Cook of the Week Bill Sowers

Beef Goulash

1¼ pounds of red potatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks

2 teaspoons of olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal

½ pound of extra-lean ground beef

6 ounce can of no-salt tomato paste

½ cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon paprika

½ teaspoon caraway seeds

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

2½ cups frozen peas, thawed

2 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream

Place potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water for about 12 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large Dutch oven, sauté onions and garlic in oil until softened. Add carrots stirring frequently, until tender. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, ¾ cup of water, wine, paprika, caraway seeds, salt and pepper, mix to blend well, then mix it into the Dutch oven. Bring to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add in potatoes and peas, cook another 3 minutes or so, until they are heated through. Stir in sour cream and serve.

Serves four.

Fool-Proof Pie Crust (Single layer)

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut in ¼-inch slices

4 tablespoons of chilled vegetable shortening

2 tablespoons vodka, chilled

2 tablespoons ice water

Process flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until combined. Scatter butter and shortening on top and process until incorporated and there are no remaining flour bits. Scrape down bowl and evenly distribute dough around the blade. Add remaining flour and pulse to mix until dough has broken into pieces and is evenly distributed in the bowl. (4 to 6 pulses) Transfer dough to a bowl and add vodka and water. Using a spatula stir and press dough until it sticks together. Form a 4-inch disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a least one hour. Take out and let sit for 10 minutes before rolling out the dough.

Split Pea Soup

2½ pound bone-in picnic ham

4 bay leaves

1 pound rinsed split peas

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Pinch of sugar

3 small new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ½-inch cubes

Ground black pepper (to taste)

Minced red onion (to taste)

Balsamic vinegar (to taste)

Place the ham, bay leaves and three quarts of water into a large stock pot, or Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until ham is tender and pulls away from the bone (about 2½ hours.) Remove ham and bone from the pot, let cool, and then shred the ham, set aside. Discard rind, fat and bone. Add peas and thyme to the ham stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until peas are tender, but not dissolved, about 45 minutes. While soup is simmering, put oil in a large skillet and heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and sauté, stirring frequently, until liquid evaporates, about 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add butter, garlic and sugar. Cook the vegetables, stirring frequently, until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the ham, potatoes and vegetables to the pot, simmering until the potatoes are tender and peas have dissolved. Garnish with red onion, black pepper and balsamic vinegar to taste.

Nearly No - Knead Bread

3 cups (15 ounces) all purpose or bread flour

¼ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

1½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) water at room temp

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) mild flavored lager

1 tablespoon white vinegar

Whisk flour, yeast and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours. Lay 12- to 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch long, ½-inch deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake

For the bottom layer

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (use a quality product, like Ghirardelli)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in 6 pieces

¾ teaspoons instant espresso powder

4 large eggs separated

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Pinch of cream of tartar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

Middle layer

5 tablespoons of hot water

2 tablespoons of Dutch-processed cocoa powder

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

1½ heavy cream, chilled

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

Top layer

¾ teaspoon unflavored gelatin

1 tablespoon water

1 cup (6 ounces) white chocolate chips

1½ cups heavy cream, chilled

Shaved chocolate - optional decoration

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9½ inch spring form pan. In a bowl, over a saucepan of water, heat chocolate, butter and espresso. Let cool for 5 minutes. Mix in egg yolks and vanilla, set aside. In a chilled bowl, whisk egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until foamy (about 1 minute.) Add half the sugar, whisk until combined, then add remaining sugar. Whisk at high speed until peaks form. (Scrape bowl halfway through mixing.) Gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining. Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 13-18 minutes - until edges are firm. Place on wire rack to cool. Next, in a small bowl combine hot water and cocoa for the middle layer. Set aside. Melt chocolate with the same method you used in the bottom layer, let cool. Whip the cream, sugar and salt until foamy, then whisk on high until stiff peaks form. Whisk cocoa mixture into melted chocolate until smooth, then fold whipped cream into that mixture, a third at a time. Spoon mixture over bottom layer, smoothing batter with a spatula and gently tapping the pan on the counter. Clean sides of pan and put in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

For the top layer, sprinkle gelatin over water and let sit for 5 minutes. Put chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup of cream to a simmer, remove from heat and add gelatin mixture and stir until gelatin is fully dissolved. Pour cream mixture over chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk mixture gently until smooth. Let cool, stirring occasionally. In the stand mixer, whip cream until foamy, then increase speed and whip into peaks. Fold 1/3 of the cream into white chocolate mixture, the fold the rest in, until no peaks remain. Spoon top layer over cake, smooth with spatula and return to refrigerator until set, about 2½ hours. Release from spring form pan, use a clean sharp knife to smooth edges and garnish with chocolate shavings.

Bill Sowers

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