Sunday, September 4, 2011

English Sausage Dinner

Guy got inspired to make sausage rolls after a big platter of them appeared at the pub in the plotline of one of his TV shows from the seventies about life in the English countryside.

They turned out great! We used frozen puff pastry from the supermarket so it was easy to prepare. To go with it, I made brussels sprouts in garlic butter (I was trying to think of something English) and Dee's Corn & Tomato Salad from The Joy of Cooking.

For dessert, we had Spotted Dick boiled in a can! It's a moist steamed cake, sort of like a coffee cake.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"'Hey, you're from Yonkers? Do you know Stu Burns?"

"It does if you leave it on the stove long enough."

That's a joke from the "What's a Henway?" era of my childhood.

Anyway, last night I made the best stew ever and I wanted to share it. It's modified from a recipe I found online. I added more bay leaves, switched out some of the potatoes for sweet potatoes, added a shallot and peas, and roasted the vegetables instead of frying them. And I replaced the butter with olive oil. The basic ingredients are:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 and 1/4 pounds stew beef (cut in small pieces)
6 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
8 bay leaves
2 large sweet potatoes
1 regular potato
Olive oil (for brushing the vegetables)
1 large onion
1 shallot
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots
1 cup frozen peas

The first thing I did was heat the oven to 450 and peel and slice all the vegetables--except the garlic and peas. (I took the peas out of the freezer to let them thaw.) I loaded up 2 tin baking trays with the vegetables and (very) lightly coated them with olive oil.

I tried out my food processor's slicing feature for the first time. It worked really well but sliced very thin, so I only did about half the carrots, a sweet potato and part of the onion this way. The rest I sliced more thickly.

On the first tray, I put 6 bay leaves and a light sprinkling of kosher salt on top. The other one I left plain (except for the olive oil). After a while, the bay leaves started smoking, so I took them off eventually...but they made the kitchen smell really good.

While those roasted, Guy cooked the stew beef. He heated the vegetable oil in a cast iron pan on medium-high heat before adding the meat, then cooked until brown, about 5 minutes.

I then transferred the meat to our large Le Crueset pot and pushed it to the sides so that I could saute the garlic in the middle of the pot for about one minute. I added the beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and 2 bay leaves, and stirred. The original recipe said "bring to a boil" but I've noticed that it takes a really long time for anything to boil in the Le Crueset so I just waited until it seemed hot and then reduced the heat to medium-low, covered it and simmered for an hour, stirring occasionally.

At some point, I turned off the oven and let the vegetables sit in the oven until it was time to add them to the stew. After the beef had cooked for an hour, I added the roasted vegetables and peas and simmered the stew uncovered for 40 minutes until it thickened.