Friday, December 31, 2010

Beef and Barley Stew

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Was That?

We actually used leftovers of the prime rib from Christmas Eve dinner, and it was awesome.


1 tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds oxtails (or prime rib left overs, with bone)
2 cups chopped leeks, white and green parts (about 2 leeks)
2 cups diced carrots (about 4 carrots)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup diced celery (2 stalks)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
10 cups beef broth (or mixture of beef and chicken broth)
1 cup pearled barley (cleaned for any mini rocks or stones)


Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the oxtails, 1 tsp. of salt, and 1/2 tsp. of pepper, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until browned all over. Remove the oxtails with a slotted spoon and set aside. (Alternatively use the prime rib left overs to brown for a few minutes, then remove from the pot.)

Add the leeks, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the fat in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. De-stem the thyme leaves from the sprigs and add the thyme leaves to the pot along with the bay leaves. Return the meat to the pot and add the broth, 1 tsp. of salt, and 1 tsp. of pepper. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for one hour. Remove the bay leaves and skim off any fat that has risen to the surface.

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a separate pot and add the barley. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, drain, then set aside.

When the soup is ready, add the barley and cook the soup for another 15 or 20 minutes, until the barley is tender. Depending on the saltiness of the stock, the soup might need another teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Serve hot, with buttered bread or biscuits.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rum Balls

So, these are pretty easy. It's nice to put them in some parchment-lined tin or tupperware, as they keep really well for a few weeks. In fact, I'm even giving them as gifts. Take that, bad economy!


2 cups Nilla Wafers
1 cup ground walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces or chips
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup rum
3 tbsp. light corn syrup


Zazz up the Nilla Wafers in a food processor so they are finely ground. Transfer to a bowl. Then zazz up the walnut pieces in the same food processor, and add to the bowl the Nilla Wafer crumbs are in.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate. Remove from heat, and stir in the sugar, rum, and corn syrup. Fold in the ground walnuts and Nilla Wafer crumbs. Make sure everything is fully incorporated, then leave out on the counter till fully cooled. Alternatively, you can put the saucepan in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

When you're ready to roll the mixture into balls, pour some white sugar into a small bowl. Take a teaspoon and spoon some mixture into your hand, then roll it into a ball about 1-inch wide in diameter, then coat it in the sugar. Place inside a parchment-paper lined tupperware or tin. Repeat till the entire mixture is magically transformed into awesome rum balls. And that's it! No baking required.

Keep in an airtight container. Can be saved up to a few weeks, at least.