Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Coffee Pecan Shortbreads

This is a recipe that I adapted from one I found on for brown sugar shortbread. I've taken enough liberties that I don't feel bad about posting my version here. The original is simply butter, brown sugar, and flour. You can find it at:

I'm not sure where the idea to add ground coffee and pecans to the dough came from , but it really raises this to another level. The pecans add texture more than anything, and lend richness to the final cookie. The coffee is subtle but definitely recognizeable; the aroma when these cook is amazing. They smell of baking butter cookies and brewing coffee.

This is a fairly heavy, dense cookie. Would be great served with a steaming cup of strong coffee, or a dish of simple vanilla or coffee ice cream.


1 cup butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup pecans, ground very finely
1 Tablespoon ground high quality coffee (ground into a powder in coffee grinder if possible)
2 1/4 cup flour

With mixer, blend butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in salt, pecans, and coffee. Stir in flour. Turn out onto counter and knead gently until dough comes together and is smooth. Roll into rectangle that is about 1/4" thick or so. Can go thinner if you like, just watch your cooking time. Cut into 2x3" rectangles. Prick each with a fork. Bake at 300 for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beer Braised Beef Roast

This is my go-to winter comfort food. I came up with the recipe last year and it really does blow all of my other pot roast attempts out of the water. The meat is tender and flavorful, but the reason I love this dish so much is because of the sauce it makes while it cooks. It thickens beautifully for gravy,but my absolutely favorite thing to do is make drop dumplings into the cooking liquid right before serving. For those of you who are not big beer fans, please try this anyway... the finished dish really tastes nothing like beer. The dark roasted malt of the porter (or stout) just adds a deep, earthy, savory note that I haven't been able to replicate any other way. The alcohol cooks out during the long braising process, so no need to worry about serving this to the kiddos.

2-3 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
5 cloves of garlic
Fresh ground black pepper
1 lean beef roast, about 3 lbs
2 cups chicken stock
1 bottle of **dark beer (porter or stout)

In a large oven-safe roasting pan (I use my porcelain-coated cast iron dutch oven, and it's perfect for this), heat olive oil over medium high heat. Liberally pepper the roast, and brown well on all sides in the oil. Remove from pan. Add onions to oil, and stir/cook the onions until they, too, pick up some nice dark color. Add garlic and stir to brown slightly. Add roast back to pan. Pour chicken stock and beer over roast, cover tightly, and place in 350 degree oven. Cook for about 3 hours, or until roast is fork tender. If you can, try to turn and baste the roast every half hour or so. If not, it's really not a big deal.

Like I said, I typically like to make dumplings with this dish. If you don't use the sauce for dumplings, then strain it and serve alongside the roast. Last time I served it with oven-roasted cauliflower. Another option would be to thicken the sauce to make gravy and serve with mashed potatoes.

**Beer note: It's really REALLY important to use a dark beer for this recipe. A lighter beer just won't contribute much in this dish.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Long Time No Blog

It has been a whirlwind of head colds and strep throat in our household, so I've not had much time nor energy to blog lately. Oh yeah, and there was that thing called "the holidays" that happened in there, too. I got to celebrate Christmas Day alone and in bed with a 101 degree fever. Fun!

Today's post really isn't recipe, so much as it is just a few pics. This is some homemade bread I made last weekend. I discovered the book "Artisan Bread in Just 5 Minutes a Day" ( ) last winter and it has really improved my breadmaking. It is a no-knead technique that allows you to make up a big batch of dough and store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks at a time. It makes great-tasting bread with the thick, crackling crust I've come to love in artisan bread. This is a link to a video of the technique:

So anyway, enjoy the pics and I'll try to get a bonafide recipe up soon. This particular loaf was their basic white crusty loaf; I served it with wine, roasted garlic, and a wheel of baked brie.