November in the kitchen – slow simmered beef stew

November in the kitchen – slow simmered beef stew

Slow Simmered Beef Stew

This recipe could be the answer to “what’s for dinner” when you have a busy afternoon (holiday shopping?), but want something warming and filling. There will be wonderful smells when you walk into your kitchen at the end of the day. It cooks for 5 hours completely unattended. Try it; the results are delicious and good enough for company. The original idea came from a cookbook (mine now well-used, stained, and tattered) called Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase. She was one of the co-authors of the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. She lives in Nantucket and the recipe is perfect for stormy, cold evenings.

Quick and easy beef stew

Slow Simmered Beef Stew

Slow Simmered Beef Stew (6-8 servings)

You will need:

  • 2 ½ to 4 lbs. of lean beef stew meat, cut into 1 – 1 ½ inch cubes
  • 6-8 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks the size as the meat
  • 6-8 shallots, peeled and left whole
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 ½ cups of spicy vegetable juice (use regular if you prefer it less spicy)
  • ½ cup of hearty red wine
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
  • 3 ½ tablespoons of tapioca, I used Minute Tapioca
Slow cooked beef stew

preparation for slow cooked beef stew


  1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the beef with all the vegetables. Season with the garlic and herbs. No, you don’t need to pre-brown the meat! I know, I didn’t believe it either but I’ve made this many times and it works.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the vegetable juice, wine, mustard, brown sugar, and tapioca, making sure to dissolve the sugar and tapioca. Add this mixture to the meat and vegetables, stir to blend well.
  4. Transfer the stew to a large casserole or Dutch oven. Cover tightly and cook 5 hours without opening the lid or disturbing. You can serve this directly or refrigerate overnight and reheat the next day.

Use your imagination as far as vegetables. I used carrots and shallots this time. In the past, I’ve added turnips, potatoes, parsnips, boiling onions, kohlrabi, and elephant garlic. Use this recipe as your canvas for what you find at the market or in your garden.

I served this with a simple mash of parsnips and potatoes (about half potatoes and half parsnips), flavored with a bit of butter, a couple of tablespoons of cream, and some horseradish for a punch.

If you have some, serve the pickled mustard seeds on the side. I did and it was a good counterpoint to the richness of the meat.

Easy Beef Stew

Easy Beef Stew with Potato/Parsnip and Horseradish mash

Add a salad freshly gathered from the garden, you have an easy weeknight dinner which feels much fancier than it is.

Note: I would not transfer this recipe to a slow cooker, it will have far too much liquid. Slow cooker recipes need an entirely different formula for success. Also, please check your tapioca label if you need this recipe to be gluten free, not all of them are. Minute Tapioca is gluten free.

November in the kitchen – everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad

November in the kitchen – everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad

Leftovers can be a life saver as far as dinner is concerned. It was a busy day on Monday and I hadn’t had much time to even think about what to serve for dinner. In addition, the ladies were pleading for a walk. How could I resist those faces? Dinner would have to wait.

Australian Shepards

Quinn and Casey, the Aussie ladies

Enter leftovers, clean-out-the-fridge and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad.

When I stuck my head in the cold box, I found…leftover farro, some cold chicken, a bit of cheddar cheese, last of a jar of pickled green beans, a few pomegranate seeds, and half each of an avocado and red onion.




I also found half of a butternut squash, the rest had been used in the pumpkin humus.


I decided to roast the butternut squash to give the salad a bit of temperature variation. Combined with the cheese and avocado, it would give the salad a creamy and buttery texture and flavor. The green beans would add a tart note. I had just purchased a package of Trader Joe’s Candied Pecans, there’s the sweet and crunchy note.

Trader Joe's Candied Pecans

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cube the butternut squash, toss with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and some kosher salt. Roast for 40 minutes or until brown and tender. Cool slightly.
  2. Cut the cheese into small cubes.
  3. Slice the onion and avocado.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
  5. While the butternut squash is still warm, toss everything together with some greens (I used arugula and baby kale from the garden) and add a splash of vinaigrette.

Toss gently…ta da! Fanfare!

Assembled salad.




This type of dinner is actually one of my husband’s favorites. Leftovers have always spurred my creativity. He fell in love with me over my Brie omelet (just a small picked over slice remaining from a cheese platter earlier that week). The saddest thing about these dinners are that they are rarely repeated, I never have the exact same leftovers waiting in the fridge.

Do you have a favorite clean out the fridge creation?

November in the kitchen – Pot of Chocolate

November in the kitchen – Pot of Chocolate

My friends know I don’t do dessert. I’m happy with cheese and bread, or chocolates and candied ginger, or both. However, I realize that not everyone is of the same ilk. If you are coming to my house for dinner and want to bring something, dessert it is, almost always. There are some fabulous bakers among my friends; their creations are always a hit. I never turn down dessert, as long as I don’t have to make it.

Don’t you think folks fall into two groups, those whose weakness is sweet and those who love salty things? I’m in the later category. Don’t put a bowl of chips in front of me…gone! It’s embarrassing. I like salty, crunchy foods.

However, to get back to dessert and Pot of Chocolate, everyone needs an easy quick delicious dessert in their back pocket. This one is my ‘go to’ recipe. I do love chocolate! The original source is a little book titled “Appendix to the I Hate to Cook Book”. It was published in 1966, written by Peg Bracken, who died in 2007 at the age of 89. The 60’s were the days of Julia Child; this book was for the anti-Julia Child group. Ms. Bracken wrote for reluctant cooks like herself, who knew that some activities — particularly childbearing, paying taxes and cooking — “become no less painful through repetition.” Her book, she wrote, was “for those of us who want to fold our big dishwater hands around a dry martini instead of a wet flounder.”

Of all things, my mother introduced me to the book, she of the classical French cooking school. She could sure cook, but she wasn’t a snob. She made this chocolate mousse for large parties (and never gave out the recipe). So you, my friends, are getting one of the family secrets.

The “I Hate” books are still in print and are fun to read for their irreverent backlash to spending hours in the kitchen.

Ms. Bracken calls this by the fancy name “Pot-de-Chocolat”.

Pot of Chocolate (serves 8)

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ¼ scalded light cream or half and half
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or run or your choice of liqueur
Coffee Nibs - Pot of Chocolate

Coffee Nibs – Pot of Chocolate

  1. Put the chocolate chips into the bowl of your blender; add the scalded milk, egg yolks and liqueur.
  2. Turn on the blender to high and blend until everything is smooth and creamy
  3. Pour into small teacups or serving dishes (this is very rich, you don’t need very much to satisfy a sweet tooth)
  4. Chill for at least 3 hours, it will firm up as it cools
  5. Garnish with whatever you have at hand…maybe a dollop of whipped cream, or a fresh raspberry, or a piece of candied ginger, a few toasted almonds, or a curl of chocolate. It’s also very good just plain, as-is.

Presentation wise this lends itself to any event you have planned…earthy or fancy.

Pots of Chocolate

Pots of Chocolate

Pot of Chocolate

Pot of Chocolate


Does your taste run to sweet or salty?

I’m hoping that you have all recovered from your Halloween sugar high and are ready for more. So, I’m taking this to party with Angie from the Novice Gardener for Fiesta Friday #41, and Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, and Mouthwatering Monday hosted by Rachel at Southern Fairytale. Come join us at the party.


I am very excited to be featured in this week’s Fiesta Friday. Thank you Angie.  Don’t miss the fantastic dessert created by Angie at the The Novice Gardener in honor of the movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel”.

Fiesta Friday I was featured