An Ode to Winter Cooking

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We do two types of cooking at our house. 

In the summer, mon mari is in charge (sort of).  I do all the prep work, marinades, side dishes, etc.  and he does the actual cooking on one of the barbecues (gas, charcoal, smoker).  We rarely cook inside from about the first of April until well into October, other than boiling the pasta or heating the stock for couscous.  Meat, vegetables, potatoes are all cooked on the grill.  I make Smoked Pasta and Grilled Spinach Salad.  In the summer we eat from the garden.

In the winter we do slow-cooked stews and braises, big kettles of soup and homemade bread.  Comfort food but with a Continental twist.  Food that cooks all day and perfumes the house.  We don't eat salads – they're Summer Cooking.Beefstewing  In winter we eat from the freezer and the market

There are some transitional foods: I can't resist Risotto with Asparagus when those lovely green shoots make there appearance in spring and I like to make Salmon Lasagne with our home-smoked salmon in the fall as kind of a farewell to summer.

It's March.  Mon mari refurbished and painted his main gas grill this week.  Summer Cooking is on the horizon.  One advantage of having two such distinct cuisines is how much we look forward to the change.  It's a cause for celebration on the weekend we decide to make the switch.  In anticipation I am trying to have one last fling with my favorite winter dishes.  After all, I won't taste them again until October….or November.

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew   this is enough for 2 meals or 4 persons

1 1/2 lbs beef (450gr beef) suitable for stewing or braising
3 tbs flourBeefstew
1 tbs paprika
6 shallots
4 medium carrots
4 medium potatoes
2 stalks celery
1 medium or 2 small rutabagas
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves (laurel)
1 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbs cornstarch (maizena) dissolved in 3 tbs beef stock

Cut beef into 1 1/2" cubes (3.75cm).  Put flour and paprika into a plastic food bag and mix well.  Add beef, close bag and toss well to coat thoroughly.  Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add beef and brown quickly.  Mince garlic, add to beef and sauté 1 minute.  Add herbs, soy sauce, tomato paste, broth and red wine.  Bring to a boil, cover and cook while you cut the vegetables.  Note: It can be prepared up to this point and allowed to simmer for an hour or two before finishing.  Peel or scrape carrots, cut into 2 inch (5 cm) lengths, then quarter the long way.  Add carrots to beef.  Peel rutabaga and cut into sticks 1" (2.5cm) long by 1/3" (.8cm) thick, add to beef.  Peel shallots, leave whole and add to beef.  Cut the celery into 2" lengths (5cm).  Add to beef.  Cover, reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes.  Quarter the potatoes the long way then cut in half or thirds depending on size.  Add potatoes to the stew.  Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Pierce vegetables with a fork or sharp knife to see if they are done; if not simmer another 5 – 10 minutes.  Dissolve cornstarch in beef stock.  Uncover, increase heat and remove bay leaves.  Add cornstarch and stir until sauce is thickened.  Serve directly from pot or ladle into serving bowl.

Let's hear it for Winter Cooking!  More red wine, anyone?

4 thoughts on “An Ode to Winter Cooking”

  1. This would be wonderful with some colder weather but it’s well over 70 today so I’m off to the garden instead of the kitchen!

  2. Last fling. That’s a sweet way to put it, rather than looking out the window at the rain and saying, “oy, winter food again.”
    And I do have some beef and tomato sauce to use! Mm. (Tummy rumble.)
    And it’s not raining and I had asparagus yesterday!

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