Tag Archives: winter

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

Advertisements

Recipe: Cheesy Stuffed Acorn Squash

20 Dec

I know I talk about this all the time and you probably want me to shut up, but I’m a recent west coast transplant.
In California, we get produce all year round. It’s awesome. The local variety changes, so in the winter we get lots of root veggies and greens, but the produce is there so eating local is easy. In Massachusetts it’s a little harder! I recently moved next to a Whole Foods, and they make it really easy for you to see where all of their produce comes from, ie, they label it with country/state of origin, and if it is local they tell you the city or farm/co-op if applicable. I love it. So the point is, nearly all of the veggies, even the winter ones, are from California.
And yes I’M from California but I think eating local is so important,  so for the last few weeks I’ve been eating squash and turnips, the only veggies I could find that are from Massachusetts. Adventure! Danger!
Surprisingly, turnips are really good! I bought a variety that claims to be a variant grown only in Massachusetts, and they were super-cheap and super-delicious. Who knew?
But the subject of this blog is squash. Specifically, acorn squash.
I don’t normally cook with winter squash (summer squash is totally different. I LURVE summer squash). It’s a curious vegetable, hard skinned and tender fleshed, I associate it either with soup or with overly sweet baked dishes. In fact, most of the recipes I found when looking for acorn squash inspiration involved sugar or maple syrup. I understand that this is a popular way of cooking squash, but I don’t usually like sweet-savory main dishes. I don’t eat turkey with cranberry sauce either. It’s weird.
So the recipe I decided to use has you baking the squash, and then stuffing it with cheesy orzo. Um, YUM. It’s like mac and cheese for grown ups! With veggies! SCORE.

Chessy Orzo Stuffed Acorn Squash (recipe from epicurious.com)

I halved this recipe because there is only one of me.

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded

1/2 C orzo pasta

1/2 C milk

1/4 C veggie broth (I used chicken. Just used whatever you have).

1/4 C parmesean cheese

(The original recipe calls for a combo of 1/4C sharp cheddar and 1TB parm, but I didn’t have cheddar. Feel free to make it any way you wish).

Cracked black pepper.

Preheat your oven to 400˚. Then ready your squash for the baking by cutting it in half (please don’t cut off your fingers.) and scooping out all of the seeds.

Now you are going to bake these guys by placing them cut sides down in a baking dish. Add about 1/3C of water to the baking dish and cover it with foil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Take the squash out of the oven, discard the water, and turn right side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Keep the oven on.

Now you’re going to make the orzo! Bring a small pot (like 3 C of water) to boil and add the orzo. Let boil for 5 minutes and drain. Add the milk and broth to the orzo and bring back to a boil. You want the liquid to thicken up and the orzo to become tender, which should take 5 ish minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, whichever you’ve decided to use, and the cracked pepper. Add salt to taste. Stir until everything is melty and combined.

Now you’re going to stuff the squash, muahaha! Divide the cheesy orzo into the squash halves and sprinkle with some more parmesean.

Bake at 400˚ (you should have just left the oven alone) for 12 minutes. Remove.

Serve!

Very satisfying.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Winter Chicken Pot Pie

6 Mar

Oh no! I nearly forgot all about my weekly DinnerLove recipe post. Lucky for you I have remembered just in time!
I call this “winter” chicken pot pie because I use a wintery vegetable mix of leek, carrot and potato instead of your basic pot pie veggies like corn and peas. This is yet another recipe of mine in which cream sauce plays a vital role. I’m telling you, all you need is a basic cream sauce recipe and you can make nearly anything.

1 pre-made pie crust (say what you will. I use pre-made crust because it is EASY.)
1/2 LB skinless, boneless chicken, light or dark, depending on your taste
2 small or 1 medium leek, cleaned, split and chopped
1 C chopped carrot, around 2 large carrots
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 large clove garlic, or enough for 2-3 tsp, chopped
2 tsp salt
ground pepper
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 TB butter
1 TB flour
1 C milk

Pre-heat the oven to 350˚.
Melt the butter in a pot on the stove. Add the garlic and leek, saute 5 min. Add the potatoes, carrot, and about 1/4 C of water. Lower heat to medium, cover, and cook for 10 min.
While you wait for the veggies to cook, dice the chicken. Add the chicken, rosemary, and thyme. Cook for 5 min. Add the flour, stir to coat, and add the milk. Let the sauce thicken at medium heat for about 5-10 min, until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Add the salt and the ground pepper. Pour the mixture into a pie plate (or a medium-sized casserole dish) and cover with the pie crust. Flute the edges and cut several vents into the top of the crust. Put into a 350˚ oven for 40 min.
The crust should be golden brown and slightly crispy. Make sure you let the pot pie sit for at least 10 min before you cut into it because it is going to be very hot. If you can’t wait (I never can!) just be very careful. Getting your mouth (or hands) burned is no fun at all. Other than that, enjoy!

If you have any questions about this recipe, feel free to contact me!

Recipe: One Pot Roasted Chicken & Potatoes

27 Feb

This is an awesome one pot meal idea. My boyfriend always yells at me for using multiple pots when I cook (in my kitchen, I cook and he cleans!) so I created this specifically to use only one pot. The chicken is first seared in the pan and then finished in the oven with a liquid. I use beer–but you can use broth if you don’t want to use alcohol.
A quick note about chicken–I used boned and skinned legs and thighs for this recipe. You can use any chicken cut that you like, but be aware that the cooking and searing times will be lessened if you use a skinless and/or boneless cut. In addition, white meat cooks much faster than dark meat. So, for example, if you were to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you would want to cut the searing and cooking times in half. I would sear the breasts for 1-2 minutes, remove to a plate, cook the veggies as directed for 30 min in the oven, and then add the chicken breasts when you add the flour and cook another 30 min.

Ingredients:
– 2 legs and 2 thighs, with skin and bones
-Small yellow potatoes, cubed, enough for about 1-1.5 C
-2 medium to large carrots, cut into sticks
-1 TB olive oil
-2 tsp rosemary
-1 tsp thyme
-1 TB crushed garlic
-1/2 C of beer, an ale, I used Newcastle
-1 tsp salt
-pepper to taste
-1 TB flour

Directions:

Heat oven to 350˚.

You will need a pan that can be used both in the oven and on the stovetop.

Put the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic in a dutch oven on the stove. Turn heat to medium and saute the garlic. Add the chicken pieces skin side down and sear for 5-10 minutes. We want te skin to get nice and crispy!
While the chicken is browning, cube the potatoes and the carrots. Add to the chicken, along with the rosemary, thyme and beer. Turn off the heat. Cover the dutch oven and put in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, take out and uncover. Add the flour and stir (as much as is possible, we just want to evenly distribute the flour). Put back in the oven uncovered for another 30 minutes. Take out of the oven, check seasonings, plate, and enjoy!

Recipe: Potato and Kale Gratin

20 Feb

What is kale, you ask?
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that, once upon a time, you would have hated but your mother would have made you eat anyway. Now that you’re grown, kale is a leafy green vegetable that is sort of strange (what does one make with kale?) but you keep getting it in your produce box because it is in season. So you have to find SOMETHING to do with it because you are not going to let it go to waste (that wouldn’t be very responsible of you) and besides, kale is very good for you. It is leafy, and green. That is almost the definition of “good for you”.
If you are anything like me, you take veggies that you are unsure of and turn them into gratin. There is no vegetable that a little butter and cheese will not cure.

Ingredients:
2 large potatoes, thinly sliced.
1 bunch kale, stems and inner ribs removed and leaves chopped.
1 medium to small onion, thinly sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic
Parmesan cheese

Sauce:
1 TB butter
1 TB flour
1 C milk
Pinch of saffron
Salt and pepper

A quick note about kale–you have to make sure that you wash the leaves very well. Buggies love to hide in kale leaves. For example, I just had a photo shoot in my bed with my kale bunch so I could get the Still Life with Steffany and Kale shot, above, and now there are bugs in my bed. Boyface is going to be upset. Moving on.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375˚

Chop all of the vegetables and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the garlic and onion and saute around 5 min, until the onion is starting to become soft. Add some ground black pepper. Add the kale and the saffron, and cook until the kale has reduced to about half of its original size. While you are waiting for the kale to cook, line the bottom of an 8×8 in pan with the potato slices, reserving enough potatoes for a second layer.
Return to the kale, add the flour, stir, then add the milk and simmer the entire mixture until thick. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle a layer of parmesan cheese over the potatoes, add the greens, then sprinkle another layer of parmesan. Add the final layer of potatoes on top of the greens, then add more parmesan on top of the potatoes. Cover, and put in the oven. If you don’t have a lid for the dish you are using, you can use a cookie sheet or some foil.
Bake for 30 minutes covered. After 30 minutes, uncover, and cook for a final 15 minutes. You want the cheese on top to be browned, and the potatoes to be tender.
Remove from oven and let cool before slicing.

Yum!