Friday, December 3, 2010

The Rescue: Warm Beef Stew and Cornbread on a Chilly Sunday

On the last few pages of The Rescue (don't worry, I won't give away the ending--read this post for a quick description of Taylor and Denise and their romantic story), Denise makes beef stew for Taylor and Kyle, Denise's four-year-old son. It's late in the fall, and the air is turning colder. Denise has to tuck her hands into the sleeves of her sweater when she goes outside to talk to Taylor and Kyle, who are having a grand old time digging in the dirt.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the air was chilly at our house. While the men in my life were outside blowing and raking leaves and hauling them to the road (and you could say they were also playing in the dirt--their shoes and their coats and their clothing were covered in grime when they finally came inside) I made our favorite beef stew and some cornbread to go with it. Now, I told you earlier that Moe and I were the only ones who liked beef stew--well, now I'm taking that back. Everyone loved it, even Joe. "I thought you didn't like beef stew," I remarked when Joe raved about how good it was. "I don't," he said. "But I like THIS beef stew." When Curly was born, a friend brought a batch of it for us to enjoy, and I will admit I wasn't too excited because I had never really liked beef stew. It was so delicious that I asked her for the recipe. And when I read about Denise preparing a pot of stew for the men in her life, I knew exactly which recipe I would use--it's the only one I've ever made as far as I know. But first, the cornbread. Which isn't mentioned in The Rescue; but at our house, cornbread is a must when we're having beef stew. Or chili, for that matter.

Golden Sweet Cornbread (courtesy of

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray or lightly grease a 9 inch round cake pan. 2.In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. 3.Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. (source)

Because of Moe's food allergies, I had to make it with Egg Replacer. The last time I made this cornbread, it was quite crumbly (the egg replacer works well as a binding agent but real eggs work better) so this time I tried substituting honey for half of the sugar. I was asked my the menfolk if I would please make it that way again. I'm happy to oblige.

Now for the main attraction:

Hearty Beef Stew

2 T all-purpose flour

1/2 t salt

1/4 t ground black pepper

1 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 T vegetable oil (I use olive oil, but that's just me)

1 small chopped onion (about 1 cup)

1 cup (2 stalks) thickly sliced celery

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 3/4 cups (one 14.5-oz can) diced tomato, undrained

1 cup (2 small) peeled, thickly sliced carrots

1 t. beef bouillon (a splash or two of Worcestershire sauce is a good substitute in a pinch)

1/2 t. ground or dried thyme (or about 1 T chopped fresh thyme)

1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

Combine flour, salt, and pepper in medium bowl. Add beef, toss well to coat. Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan or soup pot on medium-high heat. Add beef, onion, celery, and garlic.

Cook, stirring frequently for 6 to 8 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes with juice, carrots, bouillon, and thyme. Bring to a boil. (I usually end up adding a little water of beef stock as well.) Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook about 5 to 10 minutes and then add the potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until beef is tender. When cooking the beef, etc. in the oil, it will probably stick to the bottom of the pan, but after adding the licquid it all comes up and mixes with the rest of the stew. This recipe makes 5 servings; I almost always double the recipe so I'll have leftovers for the next day.
A few hunks of local Monterey Jack cheese on top complete this yummy comfort food.
We lit our Advent wreath. See the red candle? It's supposed to be pink (ahem, rose). We're pretending.
I hope I'll share one more Nicholas Sparks food project before I tell you about my A Walk To Remember New Year's Eve party I'm planning. I'm hoping to cook venison burgers ('cuz Taylor cooks venison for Denise because she's mad at him and he wants to make up--but I'm getting ahead of myself), but so far I haven't found any deer meat I won't have to pay an arm and a leg for. I'm holding out hope that I can order some from our new butcher for a reasonable price, but I might have to skip it and cook lasagna instead. Which I think I'm going to do anyway, so if you're REALLY lucky you'll get TWO meals before Christmas.

Oh, by the way, I finished Nick's latest book, Safe Haven. I think it's my new favorite. Everything you love about Nicholas Sparks, but more edgy. An edge-of-your-seat page turner with a fabulous twist. You've outdone yourself with this one, Nick, and I can't wait to read it again and fix that stuffed shrimp and bacon-wrapped Brie.

No comments:

Post a Comment