When I sat down to write today I realized that this is our 100th post! Wow, has the time flown. And while this blog is still a work in progress, it has come rather far from it’s humble beginnings! I am rather proud of what we have accomplished so far, but it still has a long way to go in my opinion. But, ever slowly, it will evolve and become everything we desire it to be in good time. Meanwhile, I do hope that you will stick around and share some of our favorite eats, drinks and antics with us. Because there will be many!
As you may or may not know, this has not been the most healthful year for me. The year started off with the cancer scare, then the kidney issues and a few surgeries, then endless colds and most recently, pneumonia, which was by far the sickest I have ever been. It wiped me out for nearly four weeks. I am better now, but still tire very easily, which, with a four year old running around, doesn’t make for very good days overall. There has been far too much time spent unproductively lying in bed.
The one good thing about lying in bed though is all the wonderful comfort foods I have enjoyed this past month. Homemade chicken soup; not only does it nourish the body, but it soothes the soul as well. Don’t forget the matzoh balls the size of baseballs! Dense, slightly salty and oh so filling. There has been chicken and dumplings, made the way my aunt makes them, rolling out the dumplings and filled with large pieces of chicken and carrots. It’s truly heaven in a bowl. My favorite meatloaf, chock full of veggies and mashed potatoes with homemade gravy. It’s been really a month of comfort and good eats.
While Ari made several of the items, I have been feeling up to cooking this week and tonight the comfort food of choice is Beef Stew. A sort of cross between Beef Bourguignon and a traditional stew, it’s perfectly filling and only gets better with a day or two in the fridge. Serve with a big piece of crusty bread and a glass of hearty red. Start a fire in the fireplace and curl up with a blanket and a tray on your lap. It’ll be a great evening.
1 1/2 pounds chuck beef or stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch
1 cup all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. thyme
3 tbs. olive oil
1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine, Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
(or a mix of open bottles)
3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups or chicken or beef stock or 1 cup stock and 1 cup
3 bay leaves
2 tbs. tomato paste
2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch circles
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch
1 pound small potatoes, quartered
1 large branch fresh rosemary
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas
Combine the flour, salt, pepper, cloves, paprika and thyme
in a small bowl. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and
then shake off the excess. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven and
brown the beef over medium high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown
evenly. Remove the meat to a plate and
add the red wine to the pot scraping up the brown bits. Add the garlic and Worcestershire
sauce and cook for 2 minutes before returning the meat and it’s juices to the
Add the stock, bay leaves and the tomato paste dissolving it
amongst the liquid. Let cook for one hour over medium heat, simmering but being
sure not to boil the liquid as it will reduce too quickly.
After an hour, add the onions, carrots, potatoes and
rosemary to the Dutch oven. Simmer over medium heat for another hour and a half
or until the meat is fork tender and the potatoes can be pierced easily.
Right before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to
taste, and serve hot with crusty bread.
As with any recipe, it’s up to you and your tastes to add
whatever ingredients you like. If you happen
to have fresh mushrooms, green beans or a bag of pearl onions, you can add them
right at the end. Just keep in mind that root vegetables, yams and such should
go in with the carrots and potatoes to assure their cooking through. Fragile
veggies can go in right at the end. Experiment and have fun!