Monthly Archives: January 2016

Beef Stew… The Lost Recipe

When thinking of a title for this post – beef stew… the lost recipe seemed to fit the bill! You’ll find out why later on.

In the 70’s I was a latchkey kid. I rode my bike home from school, let myself in the house, and started my routine while my parents were at work. Every day included watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island and I Dream of Jeannie, while enjoying a treat from the ice cream truck. In Florida the ice cream man came around every day of the year! After that, I would talk to my friends on the phone while cooking the dinner. I’m sure you noticed doing homework was never mentioned!

I think one of the reasons I like to cook so much is because when I was a kid, I was the one my mom left in charge to prepare dinner. Sometimes that meant heating up what she already prepared, putting together bits and pieces, or cooking the whole meal. I didn’t really mind and kind of enjoyed experimenting a little in the kitchen. She always made it easy for me and sometimes I even had time to whip up some Rice Krispy treats!

Beef stew was one of those meals. So why did I call it a lost recipe? In all my mom’s recipe cards, newspaper clippings, or cookbooks, beef stew never made an appearance. I remember the ingredients, but not the ratios. I also remember it was one of my favorite meals. After looking at a variety of recipes, and with my sister’s help, I found a couple that had the basics of a stew, but not her ingredients. Tonight I recreated it and it tasted just like my mom’s! I think she would be very impressed and happy I added a little bit of wine to it. It was a very welcome treat to enjoy one of my childhood favorites on the coldest night of the year… 2 degrees in Ohio! What a warm and comforting meal. Now all I need is a fudge pop, a rerun of Gilligan’s Island, and I’m all set!

Total Time: 3 hr 20 min… Prep Time: 50 min… Cooking Time: 2 hr 30 min… Level: Easy

2 pounds lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
4 to 5 tablespoons flour
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
One cup sweet red wine (I used a concord grape wine)
1 – 14.5 ounce can whole or diced tomatoes
1 cup water, beef broth, or vegetable broth
2 ½ cups Yukon gold potatoes cut into 1” pieces
2 ½ cups pearl onions (I used a bag of frozen from Trader Joe’s)
4 large thick carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces to yield 2 cups
3 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 – 12 or 16 ounce packages of baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned well and sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas (fresh are difficult to find so frozen are fine)
3 to 4 garlic cloves finely minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sprinkle 3 or more tablespoons of the flour evenly over the meat and toss to coat each piece.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef in a single layer without crowding the pan (work in 2 batches if necessary) and cook, turning, until browned on all sides. Remove the beef from the pan and reserve.

Add the red wine to deglaze the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil then add the minced garlic. Return the beef to the pot and add the potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, sliced mushrooms, tomatoes and water or broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a very low simmer, cover and cook until the beef is very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Add the peas and continue cooking until the stew is thickened and the peas are cooked, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season it with salt and pepper to taste. I used 1 teaspoon of pepper, and a pinch of salt. If the sauce seems a little thick, add a splash of wine, water or broth. You may also need to do that when reheating if there is anything leftover. Enjoy! Yield: 4 to 6 servings

In 2016 – Look to the Cookie!

Let’s make 2016 the year we all look to the cookie!

I wonder what it is about certain catch phrases that live on for years. You know the ones I mean.  Everything from where’s the beef, to suit up, to how YOU doin’. For my family these catchy sayings usually come from the television show Seinfeld. 17 years since the series final episode, we still find ourselves quoting the show almost weekly – serenity now! Maybe because we are New Yorker’s at heart or just because they are so darn funny – probably both! With that being said, this year I propose we look to the cookie and all our problems will be solved (thanks again Jerry)! In this case, not the black and white, but the fortune cookie. After reading though several fortune cookies, I realized they encourage mindfulness. They steer us towards enlightenment, positivity, humor, and make us stop and think.

When it comes to believing in fortune cookies, my sister is the real deal! One of the things I love most about her is how serious she takes them. She will try to figure out if there is a hidden meaning for her in the message, or why she got the one she did. When we go around the table and read ours aloud, she makes adorable faces as if to agree or disagree with what it said, sometimes disappointed when it doesn’t have a good message, and she always saves them. If you walked into her house right now, I can promise you will find a fortune somewhere! We all love when she gets excited and says “OMG that’s so true.” I think she’s on to something.

Can you think about the last fortune you opened? Do you remember what it said? Mine said “All your hard work will soon pay off.” I kept it, believed it, and will continue to work hard. For 2016, what do you want your fortune to say? Will you try to find the hidden meaning? Will you agree with it, or disagree? Will you save it? Look to the cookie…

Something wonderful is about to happen to you.
Laugh long, loud, and often
You create your own stage and your audience is waiting
Common sense is not so common
Marriage lets you annoy one special person the rest of your life
Don’t pursue happiness, create it.
You don’t need strength to let go of something. What you really need is understanding.
Never compare yourself to the best others can do, but to the best you can do.
Don’t panic!
If you don’t like the fortune, don’t eat the cookie!

So 2016… as we charge into this new year we come filled with new hopes, lighter eating, more exercising, and kindness towards others. Take these messages and make them happen. Something wonderful is about to happen to you! Laugh long, loud and often. Happy New Year to my wonderful readers.

Finally, a special shout out to my sister… Inside your fortune cookie today it will read “Someone loves you and wishes you the happiest of birthdays”

Look to the cookie!