wednesday reprise

On Sunday I made stew. Three hours of beef in red wine and rich stock simmering slow and low in the oven, the house exploding with the aroma. What could be better than that? For me it’s the possibility of leftovers. No matter how much I love to cook, there are days when I arrive home from work (where I’ve cooked all day) and I just want to sit down to a meal that almost presents itself on the plate—without the expense of take-out. And that’s the beauty of leftovers (despite the sadly mundane sound of the word itself). You give a little one day and the bounty comes bounding back the next. And if you’re especially lucky, there may be some for the freezer.

So Sunday’s beef stew has become Wednesday’s lifesaver and all around mood enhancer. I no longer use a recipe, but if I had to recommend one that hits all the marks it would be this one. There’s an ace up the sleeve in this recipe that I now wield in whatever stew I make. And it’s this: combine minced garlic, the zest of a lemon and some finely chopped rosemary. Sprinkle this mixture on the stew just before serving. And as JO says:

“Just the smallest amount will make a world of difference – as soon as it hits the hot stew it will release an amazing fragrance.”

It’s a stunning combination. Use it and weep happy tears. I’m a huge fan of single, large pot meals in the deepest, darkest part of winter. This is the time when the season tests us to the core, demanding all of our grit in an effort to rise above the grey that veils most days. I think those of us living in northern climes need some extra nourishing of body and soul and the warm, earthiness of stew provides just that.

I tossed together a salad of arugula, baby spinach, shaved fennel, grated beets, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts and we were digging in. Greens, at this point in winter, are completely seductive. They taunt you the instant you set eyes on a heaping bowl. And with the first mouthful, they remind you of what you’ve been sorely missing. I love the crispness of fennel together with the softer leaf of baby spinach and the peppery pinch of arugula. Actually, I’ll bow humbly to anything green and edible right about now …

beef-stew

arugula-fennel-salad

photos by: bliss {in images}

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