Dinner tonight was actually made yesterday.
Love meals like that.
Especially after spending most of my day running around taking toddlers in and then out of strollers and shopping carts while standing in one line after another.
Yesterday I made beef stew, sweet potatoes and garlicky beans. Okay, I ate some of the beans yesterday, but they were meant for today. Today they were even.better. HUZZAH!
Oh! And I reheated frozen (homemade) latkes and made fresh bread too. Before the errand-laden afternoon I threw together the dough and walked away. When I got home I cranked the oven on, formed the dough into two balls and let them rest. When the oven was hot I threw the first dough into the oven and made lots steam to give it a crackly crust (it mostly worked). Then I let the bread cool while the 2d one baked.
The beef stew came from a magazine I just discovered: Fine Cooking. It’s pretty cool. This issue broke down the essentials for making stew and how to create whatever kind of stew you want…as long as you follow some basic steps. It’s funny – that’s how I do most of my cooking. I try to take a step back and look at how the essentials are combined to create the final dish. All lasagnas are basically the same with different tweaks. Casseroles, baked pasta dishes, roasted vegetables, salads…Once you figure out the formula you can see how just about anything is pieced together. Wait…is that the same for every field? Like Chemistry and Physics and stuff?
So the magazine dissects the essentials of stew making. I thought I’d give it a try.
C tasted it when it was first made and REALLY liked it, so I had hope that it’d be even better today.
And lo, it was. Even the 7 year old ate her entire bowl! Plus her beans and several latkes and maybe 2 slices of bread….though the toddlers seemed to be ‘sharing’ her bread. *grin*
THIS was a good meal.
Latkes (Potato Pancakes) By Bob Bader
4 Medium Potatoes, washed and cut into small chunks
1 Medium Onion, peeled and chunked
1/4 cup Flour
Pinch of Salt
Canola Oil for Frying…Lots and lots of oil
1- Heat oil in a heavy pan (I used my cast iron skillet) over a medium heat.
2- In the Food Processor or a Blender, pulse the eggs then add everything else. Blend away!
3- Pour/scoop 1/2 cup of batter into the oil and fry. If you like smaller pancakes, use less batter! You will need to flip the pancakes when you can see the edges getting dark goldeny brown, 2-3 minutes per side. You will also need to keep adding oil as these puppies suckin the oil!
4- Drain latkes on paper towels. Our family friend George used to heat the oven on 200, lay his latkes out on a baking sheet in layers separated by paper towels, and let them sit all day long. They got amazingly crispy and delicious. …I can feel my thighs expanding as I write this.
** OH! Lightly salt the latkes while they are draining on the paper towels. It will make all the difference.
We made close to *500* latkes for a Channukah party in December. It was called off at the last minute, leaving us with a gazillion bags of frozen latkes. We are in the process of re-heating them and enjoying EVERY LAST BITE! To re-heat I’d recommend defrosting them for about 30 seconds in the microwave, then laying them out in a single layer on some foil and putting them into either your toaster oven to toast or your real oven (try 350ºF for 5-7 minutes). They reheat beautifully!
Fresh Bread By Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
3 cups Lukewarm Water
1 Tablespoon Yeast
1-1 1/2 Tablespoons Salt
6 1/2 cups Flour
1- Water + Yeast + Salt in your big mixing bowl.
2- Dump in flour and mix – but DON’T knead. Let the wet dough sit for 2 hours, and up to 5 (Dough is easier to handle if chilled).
3- Dust your dough and fingers with just a little flour so you won’t stick. Yank or cut off a 1 pound hunk – about the size of a large grapefruit. Form the hunk into a ball and set it on a piece of parchment paper to rest – 40 minutes (up to 90 if you want more holes inside).
4- Oven to 450ºF with a Baking Stone on the center rack with a baking sheet on the bottom rack (at least 4″ away from the stone so it won’t crack the stone when you create steam).
5- VERY lightly dust the top of your loaf with some flour, then using a serrated knife, create slashes across the top (about 1/4″ deep).
6- Slide the dough- with parchment paper – onto your heated stone and then quickly pour 1 cup of hot water onto your baking sheet below your stone. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the loaf is a golden brown color – if using the parchment paper pull it out after about 20 minutes so the bottom crisps too.
7- Let the loaf cool for about an hour before eating. You’ll be glad you waited!
Cranberry Beans with Garlic aka Garlicky Beans by MEEEEEE!
1 lb. dried Cranberry Beans, rinsed and drained then left to soak 8+ hours
2 dried Bay Leaves
1 cup Garlic Confit – oil and cloves together
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
2 sprigs Fresh Sage
Water, just enough to cover
1- If you haven’t already, soak your beans.
2- In your big pot dump the beans, bay leaves, garlic confit, minced garlic, and fresh sage. Stir to mix then add in just a bit of water – just enough to cover the beans by about an inch.
3- Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and keep them simmering for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Start tasting the beans for doneness at about the 1 hour mark.
4- Either serve right away or let them cool and skim off the skin on top. You can serve these hot, cold, re-heated… any way you’d like!
The breakdown for this Stew recipe is as follows (details below):
1- Brown the Meat.
2- Cook the Aromatics and then add in the Flavor Accents.
3- Add the Deglazing Liquid, then the Stewing Liquid.
4- Begin stewing the Meat.
5- Add in the slower cooking Vegetables, then the quicker cooking ones.
6- Finish the Stew.
7- Either serve right away or cool and de-fat. Then reheat and serve.
Beef Stew by Molly Stevens from Fine Cooking Feb/Mar 2013
Printable Recipe HERE
Dairy-FREE, Gluten-FREE, 7 Year Old-APPROVED
Step 1 – The Meat
3 lbs. of boneless meat **I used 2 1/2 lbs. of Chuck today – NOT “stew meat”, whole meat that I cut up. I’ve been reading a lot of Stew Recipes lately and they all seem to suggest that. They say that cutting it allows you more control. I tried it – bought 2 pieces of Chuck and cut them both into cubes by myself. It turned out really well. I mean really REALLY well. Gonna do this from now on. TOTALLY.
3 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil **Today I actually used Shmaltz – which is rendered Chicken Fat. I had it on hand and thought, ‘hey? why not?’
Step 2a – The Aromatics
1 medium Yellow Onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium Celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 medium Carrot, coarsely chopped
Step 2b- The Flavor Accents – **There’s a whole long list of options. I used the following:
Garlic: 1-3 medium cloves, minced
Tomato Paste: 1 Tablespoon
Dried Bay Leaves: 1-2
Hardy Fresh Herbs (Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Marjoram or a mix): minced, 1 Tablespoon **I used Fresh Sage and Thyme.
Step 3 – The Liquids **Again, there are lots of options. I used the following:
1 cup Red Wine
2 1/2 cups No-Chicken Chicken Stock
1/2 cups Water
Step 5 – The Vegetables **These are only the veg I chose to use.
2-2 1/2 cups Potatoes, washed and cut into about 1″ pieces
2-2 1/2 cups Baby Carrots
(Enough raw veg to equal 4-6 cups)
Step 6 – The Finishes **I totally spaced on these and didn’t end up using any.
1- Brown the Meat: Rack on the bottom third of the oven and heat to 325ºF. Spread your newly cut meat out on paper towels and pat dry. Leave out for 10-20 minutes so they dry even more. In your large, heavy-bottomed pot you’ll heat your oil (or schmaltz, if using) until it’s shimmering. Add about 1/3 of your dried meat cubes into the oil – make sure they’re laid out in a single layer and there’s no crowding. We want browned meat, not steamed gray chunks. Brown all the sides well – this should take about 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a large bowl or baking sheet and let cool for a few minutes.
2- Cook the Aromatics: Pour off all but 2 Tablespoons of the fat from the pot. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pot. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula, until the veg begins to soften, 5-6 minutes.
Stir in the Flavor Accents: Stir them in and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
3- Add the Liquids: Add the deglazing liquid, stirring with the wooden spatula that seems ubiquitous across all recipes. Raise the heat, bring to a boil, cook away until it’s reduced by half (5-8 minutes).
Add the Stewing Liquids: Dump them in and bring to a boil.
4- Begin Stewing the Meat: Return the meat (& all accumulated juices) back to the pot. Crumple a 12×16″ piece of Parchment Paper, then flatten it out (crumpling makes for easier handling). Place the parchment directly on the surface of the stew, allowing the edges to come up the sides of the pot. COVER and whack into the oven.
5- Add the Vegetables: After one hour of cooking, I added in the slow cooking potatoes and carrots.
6- Finish the Stew: You are supposed to add stuff at the very end to make your stew even more amazing, but alas, I spaced these and didn’t add. Ahh well. Next time.
C said that the meat melted in his mouth, that THIS is what stew is supposed to taste like, and I think he *might* have even applauded. Don’t quote me on that one.