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The Lazy Blogger: Belgian Beef Stew with Mashed Potatoes

27 Feb

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I haven’t exactly been posting much in my dusty corner of the internets. I’d like to say that it is because I am just so super busy I barely have the time to cook for myself, forget teaching the rest of cyberspace.

But that would be a lie. A dirty, dirty lie.

The truth is, I’m lazy. I’m lazy and I’m really picky about the pictures I take, which usually means that by the time I’m cooking anything it is dark outside and my pictures are crap and I don’t want to post them. So, in recognition of this extreme condition, I’ve decided to start a new series of posts, hereby dubbed “The Lazy Blogger”, until I can come up with a better name. If I ever do.

Posts  titled with the “The Lazy Blogger” will be ones with incomplete pictures, often of only the finished product. Hopefully this will shame me into writing more, and eventually doing this right.

So to kick it off we’ve got a lovely recipe for Belgian beef stew. I made this one night for some friends on Geek Movie Night. Yeah, it’s a thing. We were headed off to see The Green Hornet and I was feeling fancy so I offered to cook. I found this recipe in a giant tome known as “The Complete Meat Cookbook”. I had been given this by a friend as a thank you gift for hosting her bridal shower years ago. I was hesitant about trying this because the authors describe it as having a sort of “sweet and sour” taste (and who wants their stew to taste like Chinese food?) but it turned out to be amazing. Also, I love dark beer so this turned out to be a win-win. Beer in my food and beer in my mouth. Yum.

Like most things I make, I think this is crazy-easy. Yes, there are directions you should probably follow, but you’re essentially just throwing a bunch of ingredients into a pot and letting them simmer for a few hours. Nothing easier than that my friend.

Belgian Beef Stew (from The Complete Meat Cookbook)

2 TB olive oil

3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2-3 in chunks and trimmed of fat (I used beef shoulder london broil and it was amazing. Just make sure you pick something cheap with lots of fat and cartilage).

Salt and pepper

2 lbs onions, halved and thinly sliced

7 carrots, 5 cut into a small dice and 2 cut into large chunks (the dice is added first for flavor, then you add the chunks later in the cooking process).

1/4 lb prosciutto or smoked ham, diced

2 tb chopped garlic

1.5 lbs mushrooms, sliced

1 12 oz bottle of dark beer. I used Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale. Pick something that is dark but not too hoppy.

2 C beef stock

1 tsp dried thyme

3 bay leaves

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Heat the oil over high heat. It helps if you have a dutch oven, but just use the biggest pot you have. You will use the same pot for the whole recipe so you need something pig enough to hold the meat, veggies, and the liquid. Season the meat with salt and pepper and sear it on all sides in the pan, in batches if necessary. You don’t want to crowd the meat or it won’t brown. Remove the meat and set aside.

Put the onions in the pot, cover, and lower the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the diced carrots (reserve the chunks!), prosciutto, and garlic. Cook and stir for 5-6 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook for  1-2 minutes more.

Put the meat back into the pot and add the beer, stock to cover (you might need a tiny bit more or less), thyme, bay leaves, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook at a low simmer for 1.5 hours, or until the meat is fork tender (meaning you can cut it apart with just a fork).

Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside again. Add the carrot chunks and boil until the carrots are tender and the liquid has a syrupy consistency. You don’t want to boil all of the liquid down, though, so you should watch the pot. Lower the heat if necessary, or add more stock. You still want the liquid to be able to cover most of the ingredients, if that makes sense. Discard the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.

So, to go with my delicious stew, I made mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are super-easy. I don’t use a recipe I basically just mash them. I will attempt to describe my method below.

Mashed Potatoes

1-2 lbs potatoes

Milk or cream

Butter

Salt and pepper

Garlic if you want

Cheese if you want

Grab your potatoes. I like to use the little yellow ones, but you can use whatever you want really. I use about a pound of potatoes for 3 people, so just go with that and choose how many you think you need. If you want to, peel them. I only do this when I want the mashed potatoes to be very smooth, or when I am using regular russet potatoes. I don’t think the russet potato skins are very good. For the stew I peeled the potatoes. Then, after you’ve decided if you’re going to peel or not, cut the potatoes into chunks. You should get at least 6-8 potato chunks per potato. Put all of the potato chunks into a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil until you can put a fork through one of the potato chunks without getting any resistance. This usually takes at least 20-30 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and put back into the pot. Add some milk, butter, and salt and pepper, and mash. I have a potato mashed (one of the hand-held ones) and an immersion blender. Usually I use the potato masher to achieve a chunkier consistency, but I wanted these to be very smooth so I used the immersion blender. You don’t need either of these things. If you have done your job right and the potatoes are cooked through you should be able to mash them with a fork. Anyway, so mash them about until you have hit a consistency you like. Add butter and/or milk if needed. Taste and add salt and pepper, maybe some garlic powder, and/or some cheese. I put all of these things in my stew mashed potatoes.

Then, to serve the stew, put a serving of mashed potatoes in a bowl or plate, make a hollow in the center, and scoop some stew into the hollow. Yummmmm.

 

This was so amazing, you don’t even know. The meat was like meat butter it was so tender. So go forth and make yourself some stew! If you’re in New England you need it, seeing as it won’t stop effing snowing here.

❤ Stef

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Recipe: Chicken Pho

3 Apr

I am a Pho lover. LOVER. I eat mine with hoisin, basil and lots of lime. I typically get the rare beef stuff when I get it out (because I like my meat to be nearly raw) but I make chicken pho when I’m at home.
This isn’t my recipe, sadly. It is the first one I found when I looked up “Chicken Pho Recipe” on google a few months ago. You can find the original on Food and Wine’s website.
I want to mention a few things about this recipe before I get into all the messy stuff. First, you have to be prepared to spend at least 3 hours on this recipe if you follow the instructions and make the broth from scratch. You don’t have to do it that way, in fact I usually don’t. If you decide that you are lazy, you can use regular chicken broth and simmer it with chopped boneless, skinless chicken, the roasted veggies, salt, and sugar for like 30 – 45 minutes.
Second, if you decide to go all out and make the chicken broth, you will need either a whole chicken or a whole chicken already cut into pieces. If you don’t have very good knife skills, don’t have sharp knives, or are altogether unfamiliar with chopping up whole chickens, I suggest you buy the chicken already in pieces or have your butcher chop it up for you. Eventually I’ll write a blog about knife skills, but until then, I’d prefer if no one loses a finger. Capiche?
Good.
Ingredients:
2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered
3 1/2 inch thick slices of ginger, smashed
4 qt water
One 3.5 lb chicken
1 TB salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 C fish sauce (do not be afraid of fish sauce!)
1 lb dried rice noodles
Garnish (all of this stuff is optional):
mung bean sprouts
basil leaves
lime
jalapeno
chili-garlic sauce
hoisin sauce
First quarter the onion and smash the ginger, and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.
While the veggies are roasting, quarter the chicken (if you need to). First remove the chicken insides from the cavity. The chicken insides include the liver, heart, and neck, among other things. There they are, in the bowl in the back!
Now cut the entire chicken in half lengthwise. Yeeeah, raw chicken insides, woo!
Now cut each of these chicken halves in half again. I find it easier to flip them skin side up for this part.
There should be a picture of this, but I forgot and by the time I remembered the chicken was already boiling away. Oops.
Remember to always wash your hands when you handle poultry!
Now we are going to make a chicken insides bundle using cheesecloth and the chicken innards. This will be awesome for the chicken broth. First cut a length of cheesecloth.
Put all of the innards into the middle of the cloth. If you have any frozen innards from previous chickens, use those too. Yes, I save chicken giblets. You should, too.
Wrap the cheesecloth around the innards to make a bundle. I use thread to stitch it up very loosely, but kitchen twine or anything like that would work just as well.
Take the roasted veggies from the oven. Mmmm, don’t they look amazing?
Put all of the veggies, the chicken pieces, the innard and cheesecloth bundle, the salt, the sugar, and the water in a big soup pot and put it on the stove over medium high heat for 30 minutes. The idea is to cook the chicken.
Remove the chicken from the pot and separate the meat from the skin and the bones.
Put the skin and the bones back into the pot, and the meat in the refrigerator. Simmer the broth for 2 hours. Strain the broth using a colander and a very big bowl. This bowl was not big enough. I burned my finger. Use a very, very big bowl. And your common sense.
Return the strained broth to the soup pot and set to boil for a further 20 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce. Bubbly bubbly.
While you wait, soak the rice noodles in warm water for 15 minutes. This time may be different, depending on the noodles that you bought, so make sure you read the instructions on the box.
After the noodles are done soaking, drain the water, and add new salted water to the noodles. Bring the noodles to a boil, and then allow them to boil for about 3 minutes. Drain them.

Shred the chicken into the broth and simmer until heated.
Serve by putting a big bunch of noodles into a bowl, and then pouring the broth and the chicken over the noodles. Serve the soup with your choice of condiments listed above.
Yum! The best thing about making this recipe is that you have pho for days. Just make sure not to mix the noodles with the broth when you store it, otherwise the noodles will get all soggy.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Chicken, Pea Shoot and Fennel Soup

13 Mar


I invented this in a moment of brilliance. To be honest, I’m not really sure what I was thinking. I had a bunch of veggies from my produce box, and I knew I wanted to use the pea shoots. They were getting wilty.
So, I threw a bunch of ingredients together and as I was chopping onion and meditating on the flavor of the pea shoot, I thought to myself, “Hm. I should put some fennel in this!” So I did. And it was good.

Serves 2.
Ingredients:
1/2 LB of chicken breast, boneless/skinless, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, smashed and diced
1 large bunch of pea shoots, enough for 2 cups, leaves and outer stems ONLY**
1 TB fennel leaves
1/4 C dry sherry (you can leave this out if you prefer)
5 C chicken broth
1 TB olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

**Note about pea shoots:
Pea shoots consist of three parts–the stalks, the leaves, and the outer shoot. The outer shoots are the bits with the leaves attached. The only parts you want to eat are the leaves and the outer shoots. The stalk is way too tough. Believe me, I tried to eat it! Strip the stalk of the shoots and leaves, then roughly chop them.

Directions:
Chop all of the vegetables and the chicken. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the diced onions and garlic and heat until the onion is translucent. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock and the fennel and bring to a boil. When the stock is boiling, add the pea shoots. Let boil for about 3 minutes, then add the sherry and turn off the heat. Check seasonings, and add salt and pepper.

Recipe: Avoglemeno Greek Wedding Soup-Originally Posted 1.16.09

29 Jan

My first soup recipe!

I originally got this recipe from Rachel Ray-her Greek Wedding Soup. I changed it just a little, added chopped kale and I made it avoglemeno. Avoglemeno is a traditional Greek sauce made of eggs and lemon that is added to soup. Avoglemeno soup is usually made with chicken and rice (that’s how my Dad used to make it for me when I was little, anyway) but the sauce itself can be added to any soup that you like.

Ingredients:
5 cups of chicken stock (or beef, whatever you have on hand)
1/2 lb of ground beef
3/4 C orzo pasta
1 C chopped Kale (or other leafy green veggie, like spinach, chard, or collards)
2 eggs
1 lemon
1/2 C of breadcrumbs
1 tsp Parsley, dried
1 tsp Oregano, dried
2 tsp garlic
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Drizzle some olive oil (about 1 TB) into a pot large enough to hold 5 cups plus of liquid. Remove the inner stem (unless you’re using spinach) from the leafy green of your choice and chop into small pieces. Saute the greens for about 5 minutes, and add the orzo. Saute for another few minutes, until the pasta starts looking like it is toasted (5 minutes max!). Add the stock and turn the heat to high. While you wait for the liquid to boil, make the meatballs.

Meatballs:
Mix together the ground beef, breadcrumbs, 1 egg, garlic, parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper. Once the stock is boiling, turn the heat to medium so that the liquid stays as a simmer. Form the meat mixture into balls with your hands and drop them one by one into the simmering liquid. Then, start on the avoglemeno.

Avoglemeno:
Crack the remaining egg into a medium to large sized bowl, and scramble. Add the juice of 1 lemon and scramble again. Next is the tricky part. If you have ever made egg drop soup, you will know that if you add egg to a hot liquid the egg will curdle. That is NOT what we want. So the trick is to mix the lemon and egg sauce with one hand while you carefully add little bits of hot stock, about a 1/4 cup at a time. I usually use a big soup spoon, or a small ladle. Continue to add the hot stock a little bit at a time until you have added at least a cup of stock (I prefer to add 2 cups just to be sure) to the egg mixture. Then, turn off the heat to the soup. While the heat is off, stir the soup with one hand and add the avoglemeno and hot stock mix with the other. Once the two have combined, turn the heat up again to about medium and let the soup come to a boil, stirring the entire time.

Turn the heat off and check the seasonings, adding more pepper, salt, lemon, what have you. Ladle into bowls and enjoy!