Winter has been a bit rough on me this year with the bitter cold and ice. After a bad fall, I’ve got more time than I’d like to spend indoors to pass the long days of winter. So, I ‘ve sought retreat and entertainment in my kitchen cooking and in front of the computer watching reruns of Jacques Pepin and Julia Child cooking together in 1999.
Like the dishes they prepared, the dishes I’ve made in my cozy kitchen are a source of comfort, delicious and familiar flavors. I’ve been inspired to cook the traditional dishes I know are loved, warm and good more than ever.
This is also the time of year I relish in making one-pot meals of stews and soups. This is the type of cooking I enjoy immensely as many different ingredients go into the pot, simmer together and emerge as one amazing meal.
Old-fashioned beef/moose stew
This classic beef or moose stew made with onion, carrots, potatoes and peas in a savory, rich sauce is perfect to serve on a chilly weekend. It reheats beautifully making it a great take-along for a tasty work lunch or busy weeknight supper. Any dish I can use moose meat in is a winner, as my family and I are lucky enough to have a freezer full and it’s so much healthier for you.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 ½ pounds beef or moose stewing meat, trimmed and cut into one inch cubes
6 teaspoons vegetable oil or olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon each dried thyme and rosemary
4 cups beef broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped in medium size pieces (not diced)
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 teaspoons salt
1 cup frozen petite green peas
Combine the flour and pepper in a bowl, add the beef or moose and toss to coat well. Heat 4 teaspoons of the oil in a large pot. Add the meat a few pieces at a time; do not overcrowd. Cook, turning the pieces until meat is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch; add more oil as needed between batches.
Remove the beef from the pot and add the vinegar and wine. Cook over medium-high heat, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the meat, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer.
Cover and cook until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Sauté the onions in a little oil if desired. Add to stew. Add carrots and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes more. About 10 minutes before serving add the frozen peas.
Add broth or water if the stew is dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle among bowls and serve.
After a couple of trips to Italy I have developed a love for good Parmesan, beans, rosemary and fennel. The hard, waxy scraps of Parmesan rind infuse the entire soup with its rich, distinctive flavor. No parmesan rinds to add to the soup? Just grate a bit more parmesan into the finished soup. The farro is a great ingredient for the soup pot as it holds its shape and takes a while cooking to get tender.
White Bean and Parmesan Soup
1- pound dry cannellini beans, soaked overnight in more water than called for on the package as they absorb a lot. Drain.
Kosher salt and black pepper
8 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, hard rinds that have been cut off from the cheese itself and reserved
1 cup farro
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, cored and finely chopped, fronds roughly chopped and reserved
3 celery stalks, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3-6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (quantity depends on how much garlic you like)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
½ cup dry white wine
6 – 9 cups chicken stock or broth
Leaves from 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 large lemon
Put the soaked, drained beans in a Dutch oven, or an Insta-Pot and season them generously with salt and pepper. Add the Parmesan rinds and the farro.
Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the fennel. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the fennel is softened and the onion is lightly browned, about 5 more minutes. Add the celery and garlic, and cook, stirring, until just softened, about 1 minute. Add the fennel seeds and red pepper, and cook, stirring constantly, until combined and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rosemary and wine and let the wine bubble until the pan is almost dry, about 2 minutes.
Scrape the mixture from the skillet into the Dutch oven or pot. Initially add 6 cups of the stock, and season it: Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, if you are using low-sodium broth, or 1 teaspoon salt, if using homemade unsalted stock. (Do not add salt now if you are using fully salted broth.) Stir to combine, and cook on low until the farro is tender and the beans are creamy, about an hour. (Taste the beans to make sure they are creamy; they can vary in their cooking time depending on their age.)
Before serving, remove and discard the rosemary sprigs. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice, and add more broth if soup is too thick and taste. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve in bowls topped generously with grated Parmesan, pecorino, asiago or Romano cheese. Sprinkle reserved fennel fronds on top.