The wind is fierce, and it's rainy and cold. Seems like a perfect day to make stew! So tonight I'm making Winter-Vegetable Beef Stew from Recipes from the Root Cellar, and Peasant Loaf from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Tonight I'll be meeting with my book club, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear Paul's opinion. Judging from the smells coming from the kitchen I think he's going to enjoy tonight's meal.
Paul and I love the big crusty loaves of artisan bread, but hate the high cost. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day seemed promising, so I ordered the book. I've mostly made the Boule (French for ball, it's a round white bread), and European Peasant Bread (a round whole grain country style loaf) but there are lots of recipes for other types of bread as well as pizzas, and pastries. The recipes are easily halved or doubled, and it's wonderful to be able to grab a bit of dough and in 35 minutes have a nice crusty, warm, and tasty piece of bread. I think this is the perfect bread to dunk in a thick soup or stew.
I don't use the pizza peel or the baking stone. I just can't seem to get the bread dough from the peel to the stone, so I would have to pick up the dough and quickly toss it on the stone. It's easier just to use my Air Bake pizza pan. I dust the pan with a little cornmeal, mold the dough, set it on the pan, and 40 minutes later it's in the oven to bake!
For the meat in the stew I used chuck, a preference I'm sure I picked up from my dad. He loved chuck steak -- thought it was the tastiest meat on the cow.
Now I know when cooking with wine you're supposed to use the wine you prefer to drink, but I like to use those mini bottles of wine. Bella Sera is the brand I prefer, and for the stew I used their Merlot.
Halfway through cooking the onions I stirred in the herbs and garlic I like to saute herbs and garlic for a few minutes before I add liquids to the dish. I think it helps bring out the oils in the herbs, and sweetens the garlic flavor.
Winter-Vegetable Beef Stew
Recipes from the Root Cellar
Yield: Serves 6
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds stew beef (chuck or round), cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups beef broth
2 cups diced tomatoes with juice, or one 15 oz can
1 cup red wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds thin-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound rutabagas or turnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
Combine the flour, 1 tsp of the thyme, and the oregano in a shallow bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the beef and toss to coat.
Heat 3 tbsp of the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Lift the beef pieces out of the flour, shaking off the excess, and add a single layer of meat to the pan. Do not crowd the pan. Cook, turning as needed, until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the meat as it browns and set aside. Continue browning the remaining meat.
Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil and the onion to the pan and saute until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, wine, and garlic, and the remaining 2 tsp of thyme. Stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Return the meat to the pan. Partially cover the pan and simmer until the meat is tender, about 2 hours.
Add the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and rutabagas to the pan and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 1 hour.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Peasant Loaf Bread
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Yield: 4 One Pound Loaves
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tbsp Kosher salt
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for the pizza peel.
Mixing and storing the door: Mix the yeast and salt with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14 cup capacity food process (with dough attachment), or a heavy duty stand mixer (with dough hook). If you're not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 14 days.
On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece. Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peal for 40 minutes.
Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450, with a baking stone (if using) placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.
Sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross, "scallop", or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife. Leave the flour in place for baking; tap some of it off before slicing.
Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top crust is deeply browned and very firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.
Allow to cool before slicing or eating.
Wednesday and Thursday Paul and I will be eating out. My next blog will be for Fast Fresh Friday: Crisp-Tender Broccoflower with Lemon-Dijon Pan Sauce and Toasted Parmigiano Bread Crumbs over Angel Hair Pasta. Whew! That was a long title!