Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Happy St. Patty’s Day: Guinness Stew Recipe with cabbage & traditional white soda bread ( gluten OR gluten free)

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! You may consider trying out this delicious classic Guinness Beer beef stew. Don’t worry, the alcohol is evaporated and the Guinness stout flavor is mild and faint, but oh what a unique taste it is! Try it with some traditional Irish soda bread (recipe and instructions below) or Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread as a great meal for the last of the cold winter days!

There are a variety of Guinness Stouts. The bottled “Guinness Extra Stout” is the long time import into America, so we like using that. However, the newer canned, draught versions approximate the smoother, draught Guinness Stout you can drink in many an Irish pub in Dublin, just down the road from the Guinness brewery.

Stepford Cooking Tip: Use a leave-in oven thermometer for all your cooking needs. Your oven’s temperature knob is NOT your actual oven temperature!

Beef and Guinness Stew ( from Irish Central).

We recommend adding cabbage to give it the multi-dimensional taste that cabbage so often introduces in stews.

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt, divided
5 cups chopped onion (about 3 onions)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1 (11.2-ounce) bottle Guinness Draught
1 tablespoon raisins
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices carrot (about 8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices parsnip (about 8 ounces)
1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled turnip (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Optional: 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded


1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons butter to pan.
2. Place flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt; dredge beef in flour.
3. Add half of beef to pan; cook 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon.
4. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, and beef.
5. Add onion to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
6. Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.
7. Stir in broth and beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return meat to pan.
8. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, raisins, caraway seeds, and pepper; bring to a boil.
9. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
10. Uncover and bring to a boil. Cook 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrot, parsnip, and turnip.
10. Optional: Add cabbage
11. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
12. Uncover and bring to a boil; cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with parsley.

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White Soda Bread
( Soda Bread recipe from Epicurious )

3 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon baking-soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (about) buttermilk


Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly flour baking sheet. Mix flour, caraway seeds, if using, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Mix in enough buttermilk to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball. Turn out onto lightly flour surfaced and knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute. Shape dough into 6-inch-diameter by 2-inch-high round. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cut 1-inch-deep X across top of bread, extending almost to edges. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.

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Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread ( from Carol Fenster’s excellent book: 100 Best Gluten Free Recipes

1/3 cup Potato Starch
1/3 cup Tapioca Flour
1 Tb Honey or Sugar
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Unflavored Gelatin
1 Egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Buttermilk
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
2 tsp Whole Caraway Seeds
1 cup Brown Rice Flour

Grease two 5 x 3-inch nonstick pans or a 9 x 5-inch nonstick pan. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix well with electric mixer on low speed.

Spoon into prepared pan(s), smooth tops with wet spatula and bake small pans for 45-50 minutes, large pan for 50-55 minutes or until top is deeply browned and loaf sounds hard when tapped. Cool completely on wire rack before slicing with serrated or electric knife.

Makes 1 loaf (12 servings).

How to Grill The Perfect Steak on Memorial Day

Monday, May 27th, 2013

First off: Happy Memorial Day everyone!

There is a dizzying pile of youtube videos on how to to cook or grill the perfect steak. It’s frustrating to see one omission after another as we go from video clip to video clip.

Grilling a steak – or cooking one in an oven or pan – is not rocket science.

In fact, it’s the simplest “luxury” dish next to a lobster to prepare.

However, the Stepford Wives Organization never misses an opportunity to scour new resources to update, improve and collect tidbits of information on making the perfect steak for our husbands.

We like Chris Schlesinger’s How To Cook Meat.

If you need a quick quide, try this one page guide from famed New York butcher Lobel: Lobel’s Guide to Cooking the Perfect Steak

You can also try this video clip from Weber Grill author Jamie Purviance.

Here are our Stepford Wives Organization pointers to remember:

  • 1. Carefully select a good cut of meat at the butcher / supermarket: This means nice “marbling” (veins of fat throughout the meat that will melt while cooking, giving it juiciness and taste).
  • 2. Let the meat get to room temperature. If it was in the fridge, let it sit in the counter for 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • 3. Trim the large pieces of fat off. Smaller pieces on the edges can be cut after cooking.
  • 4. When searing – whether on grill or pan – TURN OVER only once! Never more than once.
  • 5. You can test the meat for done-ness by touch or thermometer, but Chris Schlesinger says it best. Use the cut-and-peek technique. Cut into a piece and look at the inside. It should be 1 level less than what you want the final product to be. In other words, if you want it to be medium when served, it should look like medium rare when you cut-and-peek. We say this because while it sits and rest after the cooking, the meat continues to cook.
  • 6. After you remove it from the oven / grill / pan, either put a tight lid/cover on the pan OR place it on a plate and wrap aluminum foil around the the meat and let rest for fifteen minutes. The steak will continue cooking. You can refresh that cocktail for your hubby, take a shower, refresh your makeup in those fifteen minutes.
  • 7. Serve steak to your husband with a big doting smile. Don’t eat any of it. Meat is a Stepford Organization no no! It’s fattening!
  • Recipe: Traditional Chicken Marsala

    Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

    Ready to make some authentic Chicken Marsala? Try this great recipe from Laura Vitale. Remember, ALWAYS use imported Italian Marsala Wine. Do not use domestic Marsala like Paul Masson. Chef Franz Koffler (sp?) makes a good point in his about using Imported Italian Marsala Wine and not using Domestic American Marsala. It seems the three grapes used in making tradtional Marsala is not even grown in America.

    All Purpose Flour, for dredging
    1 cup Marsala Wine
    1 cup Chicken Broth
    2 Cloves Garlic, minced
    2 Small Shallots, thinly sliced
    3-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
    8 oz Cremini Mushrooms, halved
    2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter Dredged in Flour
    3 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, chopped
    Salt and Pepper (to taste)

    Laura’s excellent recipes can be found here:

    Remember Julia Child & Jacques Pepin’s #1 rule: always taste throughout cooking, and taste again, before you season.

    Bob Appetit!

    Hottest day drink recipe: The Irish Ice Coffee Latte

    Thursday, July 21st, 2011

    The heat wave is hitting the east coast, and the next two days is forecast to reach 100. Stay in, stay cool, and try this nifty alcoholic beverage to chill you down!

    What you will need:
    2 regular sizes ice cube trays
    1 blender
    4 chilled glasses

    Servings: 4

    6 cups of your favorite coffee (unsweetened, with milk or cream)
    3/4 cups of chilled Bailey’s Irish Cream
    3/4 cup of chilled Kahlua coffee liqueur
    1/2 cup of chilled unflavored vodka
    Reddi Whip whipped light cream
    Brown sugar

    Prepare 6 cups of coffee unsweetened with milk or unsweetened cream.
    Let it cool down and then pour into two ice cube trays and freeze.
    Remove frozen trays and empty cubes into blender (work in batches if you blender is too small)
    Pour Irish cream, Kahlua, and vodka into blender

    Pour into chilled glasses
    Top with whipped cream and a dash of brown sugar


    Ask Irene: What is Your Favorite TV Show?

    Thursday, May 26th, 2011

    Question: What is Your Favorite TV show?

    -Jill, Durham N.C.

    Answer: My husband likes to watch those survival shows. He was (past tense) enthusiastic about Man Vs. Wild until word broke that Bear Grylls & Co. set up many of the scenarios, including renting a horse to guest star as a wild creature in the wilderness, which Mr. Grylls then tried to rein in. Not to mention to hotel stays while purports to "suffers" in front of the camera inside a tent. Then there is the dangerous volcanic lava…with a tourist parking lot nearby. Oh those cunning Brits! Swindling us with their war stories and vacuum cleaners while hiding behind an accent! I know my husband still loves to watch Les Stroud in Survival Man and the beautifully-shot Beyond Survival. He also loves Dual Survival with those two chummy guys. I watched all these with Charles, that’s why I know them by heart! We both thought Discovery Channel’s Man, Woman, Wild was silly, although I admit I misjudged Mykel Hawke in the trailers. He, (the Man) turned out to be quite sweet, protective, and nurturing to his wife Ruth England (take his last name for heaven’s sakes!) If you ever need proof that we are better suited to be back in our homes, catch reruns of Man, Woman, Wild. We also watched Ed Wardle in NatGeo’s Alone In the Wild.

    Oh you are asking about me? I adore Travel Channel’s Man Vs. Food. Adam Richman is hilarious and absolutely lovable. You get to see so much of America, its people, and all the great local cooking. Just last night, in the appetizer to Man Vs. Food Nation, Richman narrates that his show not only features the great local people of American cities and towns, it gives exposure to local joints who use local ingredients, produce from local farms and suppliers, and caters to local people. In my opinion, this is a beautiful and authentic portrait of main streets across USA. I always find myself looking at the surrounding and watching the people around Adam as he goes to battle against some monster sandwich. And do I need to say anything about culinary excess? That’s what America is all about!

    I also think Andrew Zimmern of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods is adorable. I call him and Adam my two Jewish boys, because they are like kids. You just want to squeeze their cheeks and give them PBJ’s….admittedly one the size of a dump truck, and the other with cockroaches as sides. Plus their shows are children-friendly.

    Now, that other guy on Travel Channel, he doesn’t impress me all that much. Seems a bit smug, and trying too hard to be one of those New York intellectuals. I saw him meet up with Andrew on one episode, and he was so reluctant and unenthusiastic – frowning as if he had to dumb down to suffer in the company of unhip people – that it confirmed my suspicions and turned me off once and for all. After all, some of the greatest intellectuals in our culture have always shunned their moniker. The same goes with being hip, you don’t have to act cool, you just are. And while we’re at it, guess who of the three are not dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers?

    Other shows I watch? On my own, I like reruns of Jacques Pepin and Sara Moulton’s cooking shows, as well as vintage Julia Child. (they all knew each other), and Lidia’s Italy. All the pre-Food-Network personality-over-actual-instruction shows. I have tried watching Good Eats, but find I need Charles nearby to explain the ever-shrinking Alton Brown science mumbo jumbo to me. I also catch the Martha Stewart Show when I can. Other than that, whatever he’s watching for the night, is what I’m watching!

    Thanks for the question Jill!

    Obesity, Genetically Modified Foods and the Working Mom

    Saturday, February 5th, 2011

    The latest Journal of Child Development reports that childhood obesity and a child’s Body Mass Index rose if his or her mother was a working mother.  Over the years there have been endless studies correlating dismal numbers of unhealthy, unhappy, underperforming, academically failing children to the absence of parenting in the home. Needless to say, knee-jerk reactions and immediate attacks from single working moms are mounted, once again, against us Stay-At-Home moms.  The truth is, you’ll have a greater influence on your child if you are around them throughout the day, as oppose to dropping them off at the day care center.  In my generation, before day cares were all the rage, these kids were merely "latch key kids."  (definition: A latchkey kid or latchkey child is a child who returns from school to an empty home because his or her parent or parents are away at work.)

    It’s difficult to find inspiration and encouragement to be a stay-at-home mother, especially in the present economy when everyone needs to pitch in.  Mainstream media is oftentimes hostile to the concept of biblical womanhood – a life that puts husband, family, and home first.  For us, the needs of our family is the realization of the self.  Compare this to the popular notion of self-realization as one having to go out into the world to beat a man at his own game, in a man’s world. We believe that looking after our husband’s happiness and comfort, raising our children properly, and maintaining a home is realizing what John Knox calls "woman in her greatest perfection."

    That said, mothers who cook at home are up against hidden dangers in fresh produce that didn’t exist 30 years ago. Hormone grafting, fish DNA grafting (for larger sized fruits and vegetables), artifical preservatives, waxed fruits, pesticides, anti-fungal fertilizers, anti-dusting agents, etc. The list goes on. These are components introduced to extend shelf-life, create more pest-resistance crops, and more attractive looking produce. 

    Don’t fall for it.

    If you can’t afford organic, the next best thing is to buy locally from your farmer’s market. Even though there’s no guarantee that the farmer doesn’t use genetically manufactured pesticides (you can always befriend him and ask), it’s still many unknown factors taken out of the equation. The First Lady Michelle Obama has recently gotten Walmart to commit to offering healthier foods in their stores, but what they define as “healthy” is less sodium, lower sugar content, and less or no trans fats. There is still a hidden danger in many store-bought foods. That hidden danger is called GMO. What is GMO (Genetically Manufactured Organism)? It’s ready-to-eat, packaged, processed foods. Essentially if it comes packed in a package and you can eat it immediately, it’s a GMO. Frozen dinners, pre-cooked foods, corn-based processed foods are all GMO’s

    To look at a list of NON-GMO foods, click on the banner below to go to an organization that lists Non-GMO foods. Don’t forget to download the list for free, and please donate to the institute of responsible technology, if you are able.

    Happy cooking and homemaking!

    Take Care of Your Family: Eat Sensibly (August 20, 2010)

    Friday, August 20th, 2010

    With the current outbreak of salmonella in eggs (which by the way, is eradicated with proper cooking….so unless you are making tiramisu, chocolate mousse or Caesar salad dressing, you have nothing to worry about), I am reminded of a topic I frequently revisit. Healthy eating and healthy cooking. There’s a difference between alarmist, hypochondriac approach to food vs sensible cooking.

    I’ve been preaching healthy cooking for years. I even get on my mom’s case for the traditional way she cooks.

    What is healthy cooking? Well, first and foremost, stay away from the cans. If you’ve never “canned” foods yourself, you may not understand the science of preservation. To put it in simple terms, just pop open a bottle of wine. A decent bottle of wine – refrigerated- will go bad in a day or two A box or jug wine, can make it past a week and still retain it’s original flavor. What is the secret ingredient? Preservatives. And they are not always natural ones either. Has anyone even notice that modern apples can go for days without turning brown? How do you think they got THAT way? So if you can’t cook with homegrown vegetables (a staple among us gals), at least use frozen veggies.

    Secondly, healthy cooking means using substitutes. You may not get the full pleasure of a properly cooked French omelette with egg whites or egg subsitutes, or a greasy hamburger with a soy vegan burger, but as human beings, we all learn to adjust. Some fads have come and gone, admittedly – like margarine. But try olive oil spray when you want to use butter or canola. Yogurt instead of mayonnaise, mushrooms instead of beef. (The exception is when the man of the house asks for beef. We shut up and get ourselves to the kitchen!)

    So opt for that free range chicken, and hormone-free eggs. Trey Stevia instead of sugar, or use sugar-in-the-raw if you must. And if you ever have a craving for fast food, we recommend Devin Alexander’s Fast Food Fix: 75+ Amazing Recipe Makeovers of Your Fast Food Restaurant Favorites. In the book, she approximates your dishes from your favorite American fast food joints, using healthy low-calorie substitutes. We at the organization give it a hearty five stars!

    Recommend: Summer Wine and Cheese (update: August 9, 2010)

    Monday, August 9th, 2010

    Recently while visiting friends in the Anapolis (MD) area, a few of us girls had a chance to drop in on the Great Grapes Wine Festival. These wine festivals feature a delightful array of mostly domestic wines, some from vineyards outside the U.S. (Australia, Chile, Argentina), some food (cheese, crabcakes, pizza, standard fairground foods), and cooking instructions (usually sponsored by a utensil company selling a product).

    It was so hot that day, to be honest, it was a little difficult to judge the wines. But we did manage to agree on a small number of items. For the summer, we absolutely adored Cygnus Chardonnay 2007 , a dry white with a grassy citrus taste, a long finish, and a hint of soy. Cygnus is a vineyard in Manchester MD, and their wines are made from a careful blend of traditional techniques and modern science. All the grapes are grown locally, so support this local U.S. homegrown product!

    Cygnus wines are available only in MD stores, but you can always ask your local wine store if they can order it for you.

    Kerrygold Cheddar with Irish Whisky

    We also liked Kerrygold’s Aged Cheddar with Irish Whiskey, and think it’s a delightful combination with the Cygnus Chardonnay.

    Junk Food as Culinary Toppin

    Monday, June 28th, 2010

    For years, cookbooks have advised innovative ways to use junk food. After all, even bad things in small doses are acceptable. You wouldn”t want to sit down with a bowl, save a bag of crisps, for nourishment. Heavens no! But to take a handful of pita chips, potato chips, or even tortillas, crumble it all up, and throw it over a salad topping, underneath a ham and cheese sandwich, or into a burrito or veggie wrap is a perfect garnish for texture.

    EXTRA KITCHEN TIP: Go for Lo-Salt or Salt-Free chips if you want to use the crumbs at the end of the bag. We find the regular chips too salty once you get to the bottom of the bag. With Lo-Salt or Salt Free chips, the mix in the crumbs is just right.