Sunday, February 04, 2007

The staples.

Before I begin with this post, let me apologize. I know this picture is lack luster. Let me explain (it won't take more than a second). I've been exercising daily after work, I run seven miles on an incline and then I do weights and close to 200 sit ups a day. Usually after this routine (and eating mostly fruits, veggies and whole grains all morning) I'm seriously hungry. This recipe took quite a while to cook, it'd been an exceptionally hard day at work, and whenever that's the case I seem to exercise harder. So the combination of having to sit around smelling this exceptionally aromatic dinner simmering on the stove top and my body's recent serious physical exertion I was S-T-A-R-V-I-N-G by the time these jewels were done baking. Therefore I had no patience for photographs. But I was hoping to post this great recipe. So here goes.
For the first 18 years of my life I had the amazing pleasure to have what I believe to be the greatest woman to ever live on this earth, as my grandmother. She was the most kind, loving, gracious, and caring individual. Everyone who knew her was simply amazed by her. She was extremely patient (unlike myself), warm, and sincere, she was a friend to everyone. I have inherited (although not her patience) many things from her, my flair for cooking, my adoration for baking, and very importantly, my hostess-ness. I really don't know what word to use there, I do realize hostess-ness is not a word. Let me try to explain, when my grandmother was younger she would throw small luncheons in the backyard for all the other ladies, whenever someone would drop by or come over for a visit she always had something on hand to feed them and there was always a pot of coffe perolating on the stove, she was always the one friends of friends would come to to request a kransekake (norwegian wedding cake) or other delights for parties or weddings. This is what I'm talking about. She was a true hostess. From parties, to large events, to unexpected visits she was always prepared and always friendly. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother as a child/teenager/young woman. I began baking at an age too young for my memory to recall. I was always around it. I like to think of my grandmother as a baker, yes she did cook, but she was always baking on the weekends. Bread, cookies, cakes, pastries, you name it. When she did cook a meal, it was either something traditionally norwegian or meat and potatoes. The staples. This recipe is a little more radical perhaps than anything my grandmother would've attempted. She was happy to try anything, but when she cooked for herself she stuck to her staples for the most part (except for the occasional nachos).
I love this recipe. I got it over at Exclusively Food. I tweaked it a bit, but the filling is the same. Thomas loves it, ever since the the first time I made it back in December he begs me for it on a routine basis. Last week I gave in. We don't eat a lot of red meat so it's a real treat for him. If you head over to Exclusively Food you can get the original recipe. It's Beef and Red Wine Pie (I believe that's the title), their recipe has an accompanying potato pastry crust, I simply top it with mashed potatoes and cheese, like a shepards pie. I suggest checking out the original as well. It's a great simple recipe, with uncomplicated ingredients and comes out tasting like a complex home cooked meal. Fabulous. Here it is:

Beef and Red Wine Pie:

Beef Filling:
1-2 lbs beef, diced (nice cut, I usually have the butcher help, since we don't eat red meat)
1-2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf
Salt & Pepper

1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.
2. Brown about one third of the beef at a time so as not to overcrowd the pan. Set browned meat aside. (I've done this part a day ahead of time to cut back on time).
3. Add onion to the saucepan and saute until softened.
4. Add garlic and flour and cook for a minute, stirring and scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the saucepan.
5. Add remaining ingredients and return beef (and any juices) to pan.
6. Cover saucepan and reduce heat. Simmer for about 1 ½ hours until beef is tender, stirring occasionally. If the filling mixture is too liquid toward the end of the cooking time, uncover the saucepan to reduce the sauce.
7. Remove bay leaf and transfer filling to a ramekins. You can transfer to pie dish as well, but I just make individual pies based on the number of people here for dinner.

Mashed Potato Topping

As opposed to telling you how to make mashed potatoes, go ahead and use your favorite recipe.


Top your filled ramekins with mashed potatoes and a sprinkle of your favorite cheese (completely optional). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or so untill cheese is bubbly and browning, and potatoes are getting a bit crispy around the edges. Serve with your favorite green, like peas or brocolini.

I adore this recipe. And I suggest you try it. It's easy enough for people who don't like a lot of fuss in the kitchen, but has that great home cooked, slow cooked, whole food quality about it. I just love it. Enjoy!