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Slow Braised Beef Brisket with Rosemary and Red wine

Slowly braised succulent brisket is always a crowd pleaser not only for the holidays, but for any cool night. It’s a great alternative to a turkey and it makes amazing sandwiches the following day.   

The brisket is such an overlooked cut but once you have success with coaxing out its rich flavour and softening its connective tissue into  tender morsels, you'll be hooked.  Let's not even mention Montreal smoked meat or bbq southern style brisket right now because we'll have plenty of time during the rest of the year to talk about how to smoke or bbq the brisket.  For now, I know  you'll enjoy the simplicity of this recipe and urge you to add your own flavours , if you're feeling fearless.  

Two very critical things that will make you the master of your brisket are first  to purchase a double brisket that carries more fat on it ( remember fat means more tender)  and ensuring the low enough cooking  temperature for the braise. Just to be clear, braising means to gently cook in a little liquid .  For  best results the liquid around the meat should not cover it and should be just below a simmer the whole time.  Once you raise the temperature and the liquid boils rapidly, the meat will toughen and even when you continue to cook it for hours on end, it won't yield the same moist , succulent meat.                     

Beef Brisket Recipe
  • 4 lb piece beef brisket  (1.8 kg)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil (45 ml)
  • 2 strips bacon, chopped, lightly browned – fat drained
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 6 shallots, peeled and cut in half
  • 750 ml bottle dry red wine (3 cups)
  • 500 ml  beef stock

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit 

Lay brisket in a large shallow roasting pan or baking dish, preferably with a lid. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle with rosemary on both sides. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with browned bacon, garlic, cloves, bay leaf and orange zest. Arrange shallots around roast and pour in red wine, orange juice and beef stock, just enough to almost cover brisket. The beef should not be fully immersed but only ¾ of the way up the pan, depending on the size pan you use, this may vary.

Wrap foil around pan, making sure not to touch the top of beef. Braise covered at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 3 ½ hours or until beef is tender. Remove cover and continue to cook for about 30 minutes to allow liquid to slightly evaporate, about 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Remove brisket and slice across the grain and serve with sauce poured over top.        

Serves 8

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Stained Glass Sugar Cookies

This basic cookie dough is really  the most versatile and easy to make.  You can make plain sugar cookies, jam filled , stained glass , pictured here or any shape and size of cut out cookie possible.  Because this dough doesn't expand too much when baking you can even make these gorgeous intricate snow flake cookies.  

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (750 ml)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (5 ml)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (2 ml)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (175 ml)
  • 1 cup sugar (250 ml)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract (10 ml)
  • ½ cup coarse sugar, optional  (125 ml)
  • 1/2 cup jam or lemon curd, for filling (125 ml)
  • ½ cup icing sugar, for dusting baked cookies, optional (125 ml)

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Beat in the dry ingredients just until dough holds together. Form the dough into two flat rectangles. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

This dough can be made into any basic rolled out cookie for decorating. 

This dough can be made into any basic rolled out cookie for decorating

On a lightly floured surface, roll one rectangle of dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 2 to 3-inch cookie cutters, cut out as many cookies as you can. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, at least 1-inch apart.

Roll the second rectangle of dough, again to ¼-inch thickness and use the same cookie cutters to cut out the tops of the cookies. Then, cut out a window in each of these cookies with a smaller cutter or tip of knife. Place on separate parchment lined baking sheets, at least 1-inch apart. Re-roll the dough left over from cutting out the windows for additional cookies, ensuring that you have an equal amount of cookie tops and bottoms. Sprinkle top cookies with coarse sugar, if desired.

Bake cookie tops and bottoms until firm and until they just turn golden around edges, about 8 to 12 minutes.  

Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes (this will help them crisp up and make them less fragile when transferring the cooling rack). Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies onto a rack to cool completely.

Spread jam or lemon curd in centre of bottom cookies and sandwich with top (window) cookies. Dust with icing sugar, if desired.

Makes 40 sandwich cookies.

 

 

Now For The Most Fun Part: Decorating

I like to make not only different shapes of cookies but also cookies of all sizes. They are more interesting that way and sometimes you just want to eat a tiny cookie or three of them. For the stained glass style of cookie that you see pictured here, I like to use a snowflake shape or a crimped circle. Make sure you roll the dough only 1/8 of an inch thick for these cookies - otherwise, they’ll be too thick by the time you fill them with jam and put another one on top.

Did You Catch The Other Posts In My Christmas Cookie Series?

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Christine's Ginger Cookies

As promised in my last post, here is the first of my two go-to Christmas cookie recipes - my ginger cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (125 ml) soft
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (80 ml)
  • 1/3 cup molasses (80 ml)
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda (6 ml)
  • 1 Tbsp. water (15 ml)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (375 ml)
  • 1 Tsp. ground ginger (5 ml)
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon (2 ml)
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice (1 ml)
  • pinch salt

Sift together the spices with the salt and the flour.  Set aside.

Beat butter with brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl frequently. Meanwhile in a small bowl combine the molasses, baking soda and the water and stir until blended. Add the molasses mixture to the butter and beat on medium speed until smooth.  

Add the flour mixture and beat again until smooth. Remove batter, knead several times by hand until smooth and dust with flour if dough is super soft. Press into a flat rectangle and wrap cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 40 minutes.  

Roll dough on floured surface to about 1/8” thickness.  Cut out desired shapes with cookies cutters. Using a metal spatula, lift shapes carefully 1” apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 - 12 minutes or until golden and firm.  Cool on wire rack.  This dough is soft and can take a bit more flour when cutting out to make dough that can easily be lifted onto baking sheet.   

Did you catch the other posts in my Christmas cookie series?

 

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Cookie Baking 201 - Tips on Making and Baking those Cookies

Now that we've had the chance to talk about the ingredients and the tools and equipment you'll need to bake some wonderful Christmas cookies, it's time to start making some cookie dough!

Preparing your cookie dough

When baking Christmas cookies, it's great to include these two types of cookie dough: the basic sugar cookie dough recipe and the ginger cookie dough recipe. Both these recipes are for rolling out and cutting into shapes - you can try bells, trees, people, stars... whatever you can imagine!  

If you want to make a huge variety of cookies – more than 3 types of dough, I recommend allocating one day just for making the dough and chilling it in the fridge or freezer until you have the chance to gather all the goodies you’ll need to decorate. That way your kitchen won’t be a total disaster and you can keep somewhat organized.  

I tend to get overly excited when baking cookies and want to have them done already and think that most of you might feel the same way, but trust me when I ask you to add that extra day to the process by making the dough first and then baking and decorating the cookies on a separate day.  

Rolling out your cookie dough

I also like to divide the dough in half so that I’m working with a small piece - it’s easier to manage and won’t warm up too quickly, which will help you avoid having your cookie dough stick to the counters when you’re rolling it out. 

 

This dough can be made into any basic rolled out cookie for decorating. Here I fill them with jam to make one of my annual Christmas cookie favourites.  

 

 

Now for the most fun part: decorating

I like to make not only different shapes of cookies but also cookies of all sizes. They are more interesting that way and sometimes you just want to eat a tiny cookie or three of them. For the stained glass style of cookie that you see pictured here, I like to use a snowflake shape or a crimped circle. Make sure you roll the dough only 1/8 of an inch thick for these cookies - otherwise, they’ll be too thick by the time you fill them with jam and put another one on top.

If you’d like to try an easier decorating option, you can sprinkle some coarse sugar, lavender or vanilla sugars or sugar blended with lemon zest over a few different raw cookie dough shapes before baking them.  You can also replace ¼ cup of the flour from half this recipe with a ¼ cup of your favourite ground nuts and add a bit of cinnamon to make a simple linzer cookie.

If you want to get a head start on your baking, you’ll be glad to know that cookies can also be frozen in a tightly sealed plastic container until you are ready to deliver them or share them with family.

Next week:

My sugar cookie dough and ginger cookie dough recipes and more advanced decorating: creating little gingerbread houses and making gingerbread place cards for the dinner table and chocolate peppermint cookies.  

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