Thursday, September 29, 2011

Steak and Baked Potato, and a Chicken Update

When all else fails in the menu planning front, steak and baked potato comes to the rescue.  I can't remember how long it's been since I've been to a proper steak house.  My best memory of a steak dinner out was in Taipei at the Ruth's Chris Steak House.  This was many moons ago, but I was traveling for work and my co-worker was craving something that tasted like home.  So, off we went to Ruth's Chris.  I order a petit filet, rare, with extra butter.  It came on a sizzling plate, with butter melted on top and around, cooked to perfection, and pretty much the best piece of meat I had ever eaten.  How did that happen in Taipei?  Maybe it was the circumstances around that meal; the total expectation that the steak would be just okay, the many days of eating Chinese food, the jet lag, but that was some fabulous steak.    
Now, my favorite baked potato memory is also from Asia on a work trip.  We used to go to the steakhouse in the Regent Hotel in Kowloon side HK.  The service was excellent and the waiter would stand by your side, first fluffing your potato and then dishing out all the fixin's you wanted, coming back for seconds at your desire.  This was probably not a new concept for a steakhouse, but again, after a week in Hong Kong back then, it was a welcome treat.  I see a little pattern here.

For tonight's steak, our master griller Chris, grills each steak to order.  I soften pads of salted butter and heat our plates in the oven.  
Russet potatoes are baked at 400 for about an hour, or until softened.  I pierce the potato on each side with a fork and just place the directly on the grate in the oven.  No foil.  Chris scoops out his potato and eats the skin.  I fluff mine and eat the center.  
Our only fixin' tonight is our favorite cheese sauce made of equal parts Cheese Whiz and sour cream, an Emerton special.  I've blogged on Cheese Whiz before, and believe me, this sauce will not disappoint.  You may not want to like it, but you will.  I sprinkle some finely sliced scallions on top.
I saute some baby crimini mushrooms in butter and a splash of worcestershire sauce as a side.
And finally, a salad of cherry tomatoes, beets, arugula and shaved parmesan in a simple champagne vinegar vinaigrette rounds out the meal.  

Chicken update... we are anxiously awaiting our first egg, which may still be weeks away.  But as our days get shorter and the nights get colder, I'm a bit concerned the cold will further delay egg production.  New additions to the coop are some festive lights really meant to extend some light for them when it starts to get dark by 4:30pm.  I've also added an interior ceramic heating element and a webcam.  With all the cords running through there, I hope I am not going to cause the whole thing to go up in flames.  I may need to call an inspector out.  Here's the link to the webcam feed:
I'm not sure if it's working properly or if you need a password, so you will have to check it out and get back to me.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Steamed Ground Pork and Remembering My Grandma

A while back, a friend sent me this link to Charles Phan making his go-to meal.  I watched it, and that dish brought me back to my grandma's home cooking.  For a short period of time, right after college, I lived with my mom's parents while living in Taiwan, and my Wai Po created some fabulously tasty meals using simple ingredients and simple tools.  Her kitchen was small, definitely a one butt kitchen.  No fancy cookware, and just a tiny refrigerator.  Shopping was done each morning, buying from street vendors from the neighborhood.  There was a corner shop, a 7-11, but definitely no super market nearby.  Though really not all that long ago, the scenery has changed enormously.  My Wai Po worked magic on whatever she bought.  It was not fancy, but it was delicious.

Phan's dish is right up my alley.  The salted fish appeals to me because I love anchovies.  My family does not.  So, here's my version.

1/2 Pound pork shoulder, finely chopped with a cleaver or use ground pork
4 Dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until soft, stems removed and finely chopped
3 Tbsp liquid reserved from the shiitake mushrooms
1 Shallot finely chopped
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp corn starch
1/8 tsp salt 
freshly ground pepper
Combine all of the above ingredients and mix well.  Place into a heat-proof dish.  
2 egg yolks
1" piece of ginger, julienned
grape seed oil
Make a little well in the middle and drop the egg yolks in the middle.  Sprinkle the ginger all around.  Drizzle the top with a little bit of the grape seed oil.
To steam the pork use either a bamboo steamer with a large wok, or just a large wok with an inverted dish or metal stand set inside.  Fill the wok with several cups of water, and bring to a gentle boil.
Steam the pork for 10-20 minutes, or until cooked through.  Timing depends on how thick the ground pork is.  If you are using a deeper bowl with less surface area, it will take longer to cook.  A flatter bowl with more surface area, less time to cook.
Serve with rice and some wok fried greens.  I made a white rice with fresh green peas and tomato.  I cooked the rice, then stirred in the peas and put some chopped tomato on top.  For the greens, I wok fried some choy sum.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwich and Creamy Tomato Soup

Our tomatoes have continued to ripen beautifully with the warm days we've had here.  And today, the rains have come.  Chris asked for grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches and Stella suggested fresh tomato soup to go with.  One of Chris' favorite, pubescent, post-party memories is making a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich in his parents' kitchen using fresh tomatoes from their garden.  He would take his sandwich and sit out on the beach and eat it while looking out into the dark waters of Lake Huron.  Yes, even then, he was enjoying his Emerton moments.  
For the sandwich, I used a loaf of Wild Wheat Bakery Pain au Levain, sliced thickly.  The cheese was Beechers Flagship and the tomatoes from our garden.  And then after a little conversation with our neighbor, who suggested adding bacon, there was no going back.  Bacon it was.  I grilled our sandwiches on our griddle with a little butter and covered them with lids from various pots to help the cheese melt. 
For the soup:
3 1/4 Pounds fresh tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 of a small sweet onion, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely minced
1 1/2 Cups chicken stock
1/2 Cup sliced crimini mushrooms
1/4 Cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 Cup chopped or torn fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Make a small cut on the bottom of each tomato and blanche them in boiling water for a minute or so.  This will make the skin easy to peel off.  Remove skin and seeds from tomatoes and roughly chop.  Since I am going to puree the soup, I was not worried about getting every seed out.  In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and saute onions until softened, then add garlic and toss until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes and let simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then uncovered for another 5 minutes.  Puree the tomatoes with the chicken stock in a blender until smooth.  To make it easier, use a cool/cold stock so that it cools the tomatoes down.  There will be less steam, and less tendency for the blender to overflow.  I made a large pot of chicken stock yesterday to kick off my fall.  I froze the stock in several jars and left enough for tonight.  Return the puree to the pan and simmer for another 5 minutes.  
Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil until softened.  Add to the soup.  You can make the soup to this point, ahead of time, and rewarm before proceeding.  Add cream and return to simmer.  Finish with basil and salt and pepper to taste.  Excellent!
As we finished our sandwiches, Chris asked, "what do you think about the bacon?"
"Not needed" I responded, and we all agreed.  Mark the day down.  There IS a first time for everything!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Epic September Day Shrimp Tacos

As much as I personally complained about the majority of our summer weather, being a true Seattleite, I have forgotten all about it for the lovely weather we have had as of late.  The back doors are open, a bonfire is sure to be in our near future, and s'mores and guitar playing will complete our evening.  But first, a good summertime meal of grilled shrimp tacos.
For the marinade:
1/4 Cup orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp pineapple rum (don't ask how that got into my house, but I had it, so I used it)
1 Tbsp honey
Small handful of fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 Sweet onion, finely diced
2 Garlic cloves, finely minced

Heat a small fry pan until very hot.  Add 1 tbsp olive oil and quick fry the onion until browned.  Turn off fire and add garlic and toss to combine until garlic is fragrant.  Combine with remainder of marinade in a blender and liquify.  
1 lb white shrimp, peeled, deveined
Skewer shrimp, pour marinade on top, cover, refrigerate for an hour or so.
Chris grilled the shrimp on the gas Weber until just cooked through.
And with it, a little corn, peach and tomatillo salsa:
Corn cut from 1 cobb
1 Peach, peeled, finely diced
2 Tomatillo, finely diced
2 Small Tomatoes, finely diced
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
3 Tbsp finely minced red onion
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Mix everything together in a large bowl and let sit, chilled in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.  
Serve tacos with flour or corn tortillas.  We had both.  A great meal for a beautiful night.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stella's Roasted Leg of Lamb Dinner

Lamb continues to be an on and off dish at our house with the the girls.  I remember being very afraid of lamb growing up.  My dad loved a good Chinese style stewed lamb which would create such a strong gamey odor throughout, I hid from it.  Come to think of it, there were many foods I hid from as a child.  I was quite the picky eater.  Now, there's not much I don't like.  There are foods I choose not to eat, because, well, there is so much I do eat.  And so, I completely believe in the concept of choice and not force.  But, Chris and I love lamb, so it does make its way into our meals on a regular basis.  And since that is the case, I keep trying something different to see if any particular preparation will be well received.  
Stella, our bigger opposer of lamb, wanted to help make our dinner tonight, and wanted to prepare it like a previous post for rack of lamb persillade.  So, we did an outside-in version with a little twist.

2 lb boneless leg of lamb, butterflied open to create a thinner, flat long piece
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced shallots
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
Lay lamb out flat, fat side down and salt and pepper the inside.  Mix together the remaining ingredients and spread on top of lamb.  Roll lamb up and use kitchen string and tie to secure.  You can do this a little ahead of time and cover and refrigerate until ready to use, but take lamb out and let come to room temp before roasting.  We let it sit out for about an hour.
Heat oven to 450.  Salt and pepper the outside of the lamb and place it in a roasting pan and roast for 10 minutes.  If you have a "roast" setting on your oven, like mine, just set your oven to 400f.  My oven goes to a high heat to sear the outside and then just warms itself to the temperature you set.  If not, remove lamb from the 450 oven and turn down to 400 and wait until it comes down to temp.  Then return the lamb to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes.
Stella and I talked about what to brush the lamb with and decided on a mixture of equal parts red wine vinegar and honey.  Stella mixed a total of 1/4 cup to baste the lamb.  Return the lamb to the oven for another 20-25 minutes, brushing the lamb one more time in between and at the end.  Let rest before slicing.  I took the pan juices and separated the fat and poured a bit of the juices over the lamb.
Stella made mushroom orzo and french green beans as sides.  It was delish!  And perhaps even better than the meal was the joy and contentment in Stella's face from making a meal for her family. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Little Jam Session

As I was finishing up my little jam making session, Stella asked a very keen question: "Are you making this jam because you planned to or is it because you wanted to use these jars?"  The honest answer is, the jars.  A favorite place we visit these days is the Portage Bay Grange, where we bought our chickens.  It is a great source for your urban farm animals; chickens, ducks, rabbits and such, and it has a homey country store feel.  On my last visit, they were carrying these beautiful Weck canning jars.  I bought a bunch to use as votives and then today at the store, beautiful raspberries were on sale.  A canning it will be.  No ground-breaking recipe here.  Frankly, I followed the recipe that came inside the Sure-Jell pectin box for cooked jam. 
5 Cups crushed raspberries (equalling about 7-6oz packages of raspberries)
7 Cups sugar
1 Box Sure-Jell pectin
As I was mashing the raspberries with my potato masher, Chris walked in and chuckled.  "What?" I asked.   Apparently, real canners use fruit they have picked with their hands, not out of a plastic clam box.  Next year, I will have to plant raspberry bushes I guess.
After a little finger dip, Stella concluded it was lucky for her that I decided to use some of the jars for jam.  "I can't wait for my Monday peanut butter and jelly sandwich!"  
I am thinking about what else I can put into my new favorite jar.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Just a Little Steak

Once in a while, or okay, often in my case, one gets a little hunkerin' for a big ole steak.  Found a couple of good contenders, thought about a rub / marinade for them, and came up with this.

2 - 16oz Boneless Ribeye Steaks
5 Fresh sage leaves
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 Cloves garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
Put all ingredients (but steak) in a food processor and process until herbs and garlic are well ground.  Place steaks in a dish and coat with the sauce.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours.  Before grilling, salt and pepper both sides of the steak.  Grill to your desired temperature, mine is knock the horns off rare.  Let rest before slicing.
I served mine with roasted cauliflower and fresh from the garden roasted carrots.  Good stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Risotto with Prosciutto and Shrimp

With no plan for dinner today, I went with another fridge and freeze search.  Maggie suggested something with shrimp, and so here we are.

2 Cups Carnaroli Rice
1/2 Cup dry white wine
Chicken stock, heated to simmer
2-3 Shallots, finely minced
3 Tbsp butter
1 Cup edamame peas
2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1/4 Cup mascarpone
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
16 Large Shrimp

Melt butter in a large rimmed pan.  Saute shallots until soft, add in rice and stir until it begins to sizzle a bit.  Pour in wine and stir to combine and let simmer until evaporated.  Begin to add in the chicken stock, a bit at a time, enough to cover the rice.  Stir to incorporate and then let simmer until stock is almost fully evaporated.  Repeat this until rice is almost fully cooked.  Add in edamame and then the prosciutto and stir to combine.  When heated through, add the mascarpone to finish. 

Meanwhile, in a medium fry pan, heat a little olive oil.  Add garlic, shrimp, and a pinch of salt and pepper and fry until shrimp is pink and just cooked through.  Serve risotto with shrimp on top and freshly grated parmgiano reggiano.  Rich and delicious!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chicken with Tomatoes and Cream

Some of the best results come from just using what you already have on hand.  This was just such a dish.  A happy day is clearing out the fridge using up things that are close to their expire date.   The tomatoes are coming in full blast with the last solid spell of hot days, so I'm trying to incorporate as many tomatoes into my recipes while they are so good.  The rest of the ingredients have been waiting for a good use.

1 Whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 oz Pancetta, chopped
1/2 Small onion, diced
2 Garlic cloves, finely minced 
3 Cups chopped fresh tomatoes, seeds removed
1 Cup Chanterelle mushrooms
1/4 Cup cream
20 or so Fresh Basil leaves

Heat oven to 400.  Salt and pepper chicken.  In a large fry pan, sear chicken in just a tablespoon of oil, skin side down first.  Brown both sides of chicken and place in a shallow baking pan.  Finish cooking the chicken in the oven, another 20 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, depending on how fatty your pancetta, either drain all of the oil from the pan, or leave enough to fry the pancetta.  Brown pancetta and then add onions and garlic and saute until softened.  Add in tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Let boil lightly for about 10 minutes, then add in chanterelles and saute until softened.  Add in cream and let boil for a few minutes.  Finish with the fresh basil.  We loved the sauce, again, fresh ingredients, and cream does not hurt!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tomato and Eggs

Well, this is barely worth a blog entry because it is so easy, but it is so tasty not to share.  One of my mom's favorite uses for a fresh tomato is this quick scrambled egg dish.  I sent her home earlier this week with a few fresh tomatoes and she reminded me again how wonderful a simple scrambled egg and tomato is.  Why do we go through the pains of growing our own tomatoes?  Because we know how flavorful and sweet they are when you pick them once they are ripened, rather than when they are still green just so you can get them to the super market in good shape.  So tonight, when thinking about what to serve with my tea smoked duck and rice, I remembered what my mom told me, and picked a couple ripe tomatoes and quick fried them with some eggs.

2 small ripened tomatoes
5 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Cut tomatoes into small bite sized pieces.  Beat eggs with salt and just a small splash of water.  The water will steam in the eggs making them fluffier.  Add tomatoes and stir to combine.  Heat a little oil in a well seasoned or non stick pan.  When oil is hot, pour in egg mixture and cook until eggs are just solid.  The perfect heat for the pan is when the eggs bubble up the sides, and just harden on the bottom.  A little browning perhaps, but definitely not sitting stagnant in the pan.  If the heat is just right it will only take a minute or so to cook the eggs.  Do not overcook.  It's better to take them off the heat even when they still have a slight run to them as they will continue to cook a bit.  Nothing worse than an overcooked egg.  Serve with freshly ground pepper.  So good!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Another Stab at the Chilled Noodle

On a sweltering hot summer day in Taiwan, a bowl of chilled noodles was a go-to meal.  When I was living there, I would often go to this shop across the street from my work.  It was basically a garage that sold steamed xiao long bao and cold noodles.  There were stacks and stacks of bamboo steamers for the dumplings and piles of prepared cold noodles in clear plastic containers, sauce on the side.  I would pick up a few xiao long bao, which were given to you in a plastic baggie, for breakfast, and a package of noodles for lunch.  I don't know when they opened, my guess was pretty early, but they were closed by about 10:00am.  A perfect little one stop shop.

There are a few dishes by which I judge certain types of Chinese restaurants and one them is their chilled noodle dish.  I've had a few spectacular ones over the years, one of the most recently memorable was back in Taiwan out of a tiny little shop where we sat on rickety folding metal chairs at a small metal card table.  We asked the locals for their favorite spot, and this was where we were sent.  You chose your sauce combo and for about $2.50, it was a little bit of noodle heaven.  

I am constantly trying to sort that sauce out.  How did they do it?  I have tried many variations, and here's another on this hot day in September.

For the sauce:
1/2 Cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame paste
1 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp garlic scented grapeseed oil (I fried some minced garlic in the oil, then strained oil)
2 tsp Worcestershire 
1/2 tsp Peppercorn chili oil

For each bowl:
Finely julienned cucumbers
Finely minced garlic
Finely sliced scallions
Chopped cliantro
Finely chopped peanuts

Boil noodles, I used Inaka Udon.  Run under cold water to cool.  For each bowl, place noodles on bottom, top with a spoonful or so of sauce, some cucumbers, a pinch of minced garlic, scallions, cilantro and chopped peanuts.  Do to your taste, but I tend to fall a bit on the more the better side of things, but for the garlic.  A little goes a long way.
Add more chili oil to your liking... I do!  Really good, but not sure it measures up to what I had in Taiwan.  Still.. a summer time hot weather must!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tomato Harvest Spaghetti With Sausage and Basil

So, it was a long wait for ripe tomatoes this year.  I am usually able to harvest my first ripe tomatoes by the Fourth of July as I tend to push my luck and get the tomatoes in the ground as early as the start of April.  But this year, the weather did not cooperate and we did not have ripe tomatoes until the very end of August.  With the batch of tomatoes I harvested in the last few days, I decided to make a simple pasta sauce.  My kids are not big fans of raw tomatoes, so this was a good opportunity to get some fresh home grown tomatoes in them.  
4 Cups finely chopped fresh tomatoes (cut tomatoes in half, squeeze seeds out, before chopping)
1/2 Sweet onion, finely diced
2 Cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/2 lb Mild Italian sausage
A few tablespoons of fresh basil leaves
Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large flat rimmed pan.  Add onions and saute until softened.  Add in garlic until just fragrant and then toss in tomatoes.  Stir until tomatoes come to a simmer, turn heat down to medium low and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes or so, until sauce is quite thickened.  In the meantime, brown sausage over medium high heat.  When sauce is thickened, added the sausage to it and cook for another few minutes to incorporate.  

I made a small batch of fresh spaghetti this afternoon.  I cooked the pasta for about 1 minute in boiling water with some salt and oil.  Drain and add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss to combine.  Finish with the fresh basil leaves.  Serve with freshly grated parmigiano.

The consensus was... it was divine!  Simple, fresh ingredients, at their best.  Maggie, having such a good palette already, zeroed in on the fresh tomatoes.  Stella proclaimed she will cook with me every night to learn all of my recipes.  Now, that's a compliment!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Quinoa with Arugula, Pickled Fennel, Duck Confit and Lemon Zest

I've been on a little quinoa kick lately.  Last week, I made quinoa with cherry tomatoes, arugula, and feta cheese.  I think I like it so much because it's so easy and it always tastes fresh.  It's one of those dig around in your fridge/cupboard dishes and throw in whatever sounds good.  I like to make a good sized portion to keep in the fridge for a couple of days and have it for lunch, a snack, or a side for another meal.  

1 Cup Organic Quinoa
2 Cups chicken stock
1 cup packed baby arugula
1/4 cup shredded prepared duck confit
1/8 cup pickled sliced fennel
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
freshly ground pepper to taste

Rinse quinoa in cold water, drain.  Bring chicken stock to a boil, add quinoa, cover and simmer until liquid is dry and quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes.  Place quinoa in a bowl in the refrigerator and cool.  Once quinoa is cooled, add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Refrigerate, let come to room temp slightly when ready to serve.

On a side note, a little chick update...
The chickens are growing nicely.  They are on a good routine now.  In the mornings, I go out and clean up their coop a bit; put in fresh water, rake the dirt, and give them a morning treat.  They are waiting by the door when I go out there.  I let them out and as soon as I put their treat inside the coop, they come wandering back.  We are still a month and a half or so from eggs, but we can't wait!  There's something magical about it when it's happening in your own back yard.  Since school started, Stella has been sitting outside with them after school, while doing her homework.  It is pretty darn sweet.

Peach Crumble

I was at Metropolitan Market yesterday, and it was Peach-o-Rama time.  Give me a good slogan and I'm in.  I couldn't resist those perfectly formed, beautifully fragrant, yellow peaches.  And so, though I am not often a baker, I was definitely tempted by the fruit.

3 lbs Peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
2.5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2/3 Cup light brown sugar

3/4 Cups Gluten Free Flour
2/3 Cups Udi's Gluten Free Granola
1/4 Cup sugar in the raw, turbinado sugar, plus additional for finishing
9 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Butter an 8" x 8" baking pan.  Mix together lemon juice and corn starch until smooth.  Add in brown sugar and peaches and stir to combine.  Pour into baking pan.  Mix together flour, sugar and butter, using your fingers to combine until it forms into little pea like balls.  Add in the granola and mix well.  Sprinkle on top of peaches.  Finish with a light sprinkling of the turbinado sugar.  Bake in a 350 oven for about 45 minutes until top is browned and filling is bubbling.  Serve with vanilla bean ice cream of course!

Beef Bourguignon

Another braised dish in weather not quite suited for braising, but I'm making a little meal delivery today and thought something of a restorative would be right.  A good beef stew is, to me, a settle in, feel good meal, and so why not.

5 lbs top sirloin cut into 1.5 to 2" pieces
8 oz thick sliced applewood bacon, cut into 1/4" pieces
2 Tbsp grade seed oil
7 Carrots, sliced into small bite sized pieces (about 1.75 lbs)
3 Small Sweet onions, roughly chopped
3 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Bottle good French red wine, I used a Cotes du Rhone
3 Cups (about) beef stock
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves

1 Pkg frozen white pearl onions (14 oz), thawed
1 lb small crimini mushrooms

I started the night before, by cutting up the top sirloin, and laying it out in a single layer on small baking sheets, and placing them in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight.  A little natural drying process.  Alternatively, you could cut the sirloin and dry it with paper towels.  I also decided to brown the sirloin in the oven over high heat instead of doing it in the pot, due to the large quantity of beef I had, and I like to experiment.  My oven has a great setting called "Roast" whereby it sears the outside of your roast/meat before going to whatever temperature you set to the oven to roast.  For this particular recipe, you can also just set your oven to 500 and put the sirloin in until well browned, turning it over once to get all sides.  Or go the traditional route of searing it in the pot.  If you go this route, do it after browning the bacon.

In a large heavy dutch oven, brown bacon with the oil over medium heat until crispy.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, set aside.  Turn heat up to medium high.  Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes until softened a bit, then add carrots and continue to saute for another 10-15 minutes until vegetables are starting to brown. 
Meanwhile, if you browned the beef in the oven, strain the juices with a fine mesh sieve to remove the impurities.  Add beef to the pot and deglaze with the bottle of wine.  Then add in the strained juices along with approx 3 cups of beef stock, less depending on how much juices you had.  You want just enough liquid to cover the beef.  Then add in the tomato paste, thyme and bay leaves and the bacon and bring to a simmer.  Cover and let simmer for about 1.5 hours, or until beef is very tender.  Uncover, bring to a steady boil to reduce the sauce for about 10 minutes.

Add in the pearl onions.  Saute the mushrooms in a couple tablespoons of butter and then add to the pot.  Let everything simmer for another 10-15 minutes before serving.