Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Valentine's Day Warm Me Up

You know what the best part about being in the kitchen is, well other then eating, it's being able to experiment and come up with your own recipes.  How many people have a favorite recipe, or two or ten, that's been handed down to you from someone in your family or a friend.  I know I do and I know that I want to be able to hand some of my own down to my kids. 

One of my favorite things to do when I'm not cooking, is sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by recipe books and my iPad and find five or six different recipes of the same thing and then pick and choose what I want to use to make it my own.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't but either way I've created something that I can call my own.  That's what I'm doing today and the funny thing is, I even ended up changing some things on the fly.

There's nothing like a warm bowl of stew to warm the soul, and since it's Valentine's Day too, which of course warms the heart, I figured trying out the Beef Barley Stew recipe I spent a couple hours coming up with would be a great thing to make for dinner tonight. 

I found my "inspiration" for this recipe from my Williams-Sonoma, Cooking at Home cookbook, which you can find here and the following list of blogs and a website, which of course you should check out because they've got some fantastic stuff!!

Beef Barley Stew
(This is the original I wrote out, there ended up being some changes as I went)
5 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil/Unsalted Butter (I like to use a mix of both)
1-1 1/2 lbs Roast, Cubed (I used a Rump Roast I had in the freezer)2-3 Beef Marrow Bones or Soup Bones
4-5 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2-3 Celery Stalks, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
14 oz can Diced Tomatoes, roasted if possible
1/2 c. Pearl Barley, more if you want, up to 2/3c.
2 cloves Garlic, minced
48 ozs Beef Broth or Water, more if needed
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
1 Tsp Kosher/Coarse Salt, plus 1/2 tsp to coat beef
Fresh Ground Pepper to taste, plus about 1/2 tsp to coat beef
1/2 c. Unbleached All Purpose Flour, to coat beef
So, the first thing I did was get all my ingredients together, this is where some changes on the fly happened.  First, I didn't have any marrow or soup bones, which sucked because I know they add a really nice flavour to stews.  I also didn't have "normal" carrots, but I did have baby carrots, so I went with those.  Of course I only had a 28 oz can of Diced Tomatoes, so I split it up and I'll use the other half for something else.  Last but not least, I only had one carton of Beef Broth, but I had a partial carton leftover from last night of Vegetable Broth that I didn't want to go to waste, so instead of 48 ozs of Beef Broth/Water, I used about 52 ozs of Beef/Vegetable Broth and added about another 1/4 c. Pearl Barley.

I removed any of the excess fat from the roast, which I set aside to use to make my own beef stock later, and then cubed it up.

Then I added the 1/2c. flour, salt and pepper and stirred it up to coat the beef before I browned it.
I heated up 3 tbsp of the EVOO/Butter in a large skillet over medium heat on the stove and added the beef. That was cooked for about 5-8 minutes to brown it on all sides and then transfered to my big 6 qt slow cooker.

Then, because I hate dishes, I added the remaining EVOO/Butter to the skillet and dumped in the chopped up carrots, celery, onion, garlic and thyme and cooked it for about 5 minutes. 

When the 5 minutes were up, I added the tomoatos and cooked them for another 5 minutes, scraping up any of the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. From there it was into the slow cooker with the meat.
Finally, I stirred in the rest of the ingredients...the Pearl Barley, Beef/Vegetable Broth mix and the 2 Bay Leaves.
Because I wanted it done in time for Aaron to take to work, I cooked it on high for 5 hours, stirring occasionally, but you could also cook it on low for 8-10 hours if that's what you wanted.

Of course while waiting there's always a ton of dishes to do...I'm lucky enough to have a little helper...all it takes is for her to hear the dishwasher open and she's running for the kitchen to help.  I hope this continues on into her teen years, I know chances are it won't:)

Here's what was waiting for me after the 5 hours:)

I decided to whip up some Garlic & Cheddar Biscuits, aka Red Lobster Biscuits, to go with this.  I didn't have enough Bisquick which was actually a blessing in disguise because awhile ago I found a Homemade Baking Mix recipe I wanted to try and I'm so glad I did.  I can honestly say, I don't think I'll be buying any more Bisquick, these were some of the best biscuits I've ever made.  Keep checking back for these recipes, I will get to posting them someday:)

Another dinner's in the books and I got a thumbs up all around, I had to work on Connor a bit, he saw vegetables and was sure it was going to be horrible but in the end, he cleaned his bowl:)
On a side note...I went to visit my dad and stepmom tonight and my grandma has recently moved to a retirement home, so she's been downsizing.  Rita, my stepmom, brought home a couple cookbooks for me from my grandma.  She knows I have a thing for the old Five Roses cookbooks, I don't know what it is about them, I think it's because I always went through her Five Roses when I was a kid looking at recipes and wanting to cook out of it.  Anyways, I opened it up and wouldn't you know it, the copyright in it was from 1913...I now have a ONE HUNDRED YEAR OLD freaking cool is that!!


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