It seems like lately, the weather has taken the “no summer after Labour Day” rule quite seriously! It’s been pleasantly cool these last few weeks and feels like fall is making an appearance. I am so ready for cooler weather. Already my body has been yearning for soups and stews and warming comfort food of the cooler months. I seem to have begun my love-hate relationship with salad already.
Today was a cold, rainy day here in Denver. My body absolutely rebels against cold and wet days. Every bone and joint in my body tries to run off in different directions, trying to hide from the cold and leaves me achy and sore all over. I’ve been lying around all day with my heating pad on various parts of my body watching “Real Housewives of New Jersey” marathon on Bravo. Pretty sad.
I got up briefly to throw together a soup and to go and pick up Laith from school. Then it was right back to bed and some more real, bad television.
I have been cooking but it hasn’t been any kind of awe inspiring cooking lately. I don’t know if it’s just me but I seem to have no time for anything. From the minute the children go to school and to the time I have to pick up Laith, it seems the time just flies. I haven’t done anything I had planned to do; there have been no museums or botanic gardens. Trying to find an hour or two to work on a blog or even come up with a great recipe have proved quite difficult (as you can see from my lack of posts this month!)
I have so many great ideas to cook that day but they don’t seem to materialise. The inspiration dwindles and we end up having something that I can throw together quickly at the last minute. Such is the case from a few days ago. A friend of mine requested a shepherd’s pie recipe a few weeks back and I have been intending to make it since then. Every week I buy the meat to produce this said pie and every week it gets turned into something else. It’s not that making shepherd’s pie is hard but I want to spend some time getting it perfect and note measurements and such. If I can’t devote the time to it then I am not going to make it. So, Sarah, I am sorry about the delay! I haven’t forgotten and I promise it will be made very soon.
The other day the meat intended for the shepherd’s pie got transformed into a hearty, beef stew that hit the spot. Usually, if I am intending to make a beef stew, I use my slow cooker and cook it on low all day. By the end of the eight or ten hours, the meat is falling apart tender and the gravy is a thick sauce filled with great flavour. Add a few vegetables near the end of the cooking and you have a one pot meal.
If I am making the beef stew at short notice, I use my pressure cooker and it delivers a fantastic quick, beef stew that tastes like you cooked it for hours but takes less than an hour. The secret is to make sure to take time and sauté some finely chopped onions and celery. When the meat is added and then pressure cooked, the onions and celery just dissolve into the sauce and create a base of slow cooked texture and flavour. I usually toss in a couple of tomatoes too and that also adds to the rich flavour, taste and colour of the final dish.
If I have thought ahead, I serve this with fresh crusty bread I bought at the market. If it’s a last minute meal, then we have it spooned over some rice or noodles. Hope you try my quick method and see what you think. Everyone has a beef stew recipe, what do you do different?
2lbs/1kg beef stew meat
1 large onion, diced finely
4 celery stalks, diced finely
2-4 medium tomatoes, diced small
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme or dried thyme
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup/59ml oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour dissolved in 1 cup water (to thicken)
8 cups water or broth (enough to cover meat but you will probably need more as you add vegetables)
carrots,potatoes, mushrooms, peas, corn – add as much or as little of a vegetable you like. I usually add more mushrooms and potatoes because I am not a big fan of cooked carrots. So, add according to taste and substitute as you like.
Heat oil in a large pressure cooker and add the onions, celery and thyme. Allow to caramelise lightly and add the garlic and the cubed meat.
Brown the meat. add the soy sauce and then add the tomatoes, cook for a few minutes and then add the water or broth. You want the broth or water to completely cover the meat by at least and inch or two so add more water if needed.
Put on the pressure cooker lid and bring up to pressure. Follow the directions to pressure cook your meat till tender. Mine takes 25 minutes.
Once the meat is done, open the cooker carefully and check the meat and water level. If more water is needed then add enough to cook vegetables. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook until tender (you can pressure cook for 2 minutes or just cook covered till the vegetables are tender)
Add the mushrooms, peas and corn near the end.
Check for the seasoning. Check for consistency. I like to have a saucy stew so I check my liquid. Then thicken the liquid by adding the flour dissolved in water. Once the vegetables are cooked, meat is tender and the sauce is thickened, the stew is done. Enjoy with bread, rice or pasta. Makes 8 servings.
Hope you all have a great weekend! Thanks you for reading and for your comments. It’s always nice to hear from everyone.