Monday, November 3, 2008

Comfort Me

I come from a line of good cooks. My mother is an excellent cook, as was her mother. I have so many memories from childhood of hanging out in the kitchen with my mom as she whipped together fantastic meals from scratch. I would brag about her abilities to my friends and everyone loved to come over to our house for dinner. She was and still is known as being a "gourmet" cook in her circle of friends, and is always excited to try new recipes (and we are equally excited to taste them). She was known in our small town as cooking somewhat exotic foods like curry, and stir-fried vegetables (yes, the town was VERY small). I also had the good fortune of living with my mother-in-law to be when my husband and I were engaged. She is a fantastic cook as well, and introduced me to even more favorites from their family traditions.

So between these two women, whom I consider to be very strong influences in both my love for cooking, and the style in which I do cook, I compiled quite a repertoire of recipes that I would now consider comfort foods. Many recipes are not "traditional mac-and-cheesy" kinds of comfort foods, but they remind me of "home" and the mothers that I love and admire very much, and that is comfort enough for me. These take me back to my roots and make me smile at fond memories of dinner banter and good times with family and friends.

The weather has finally turned here, and it feels like autumn, especially since we have turned back the clocks and night comes sooner. It was the perfect day to make stew. It is a rare occasion that we even have beef, as it is very difficult to find grass fed, local meat, and when I can, it is very expensive. But tonight we splurged in celebration of the cooler weather. This recipe is one I grew up with and is made special by the addition of mild curry powder, just a touch, so that even those who say they don't like curry will probably not even notice it is there. But the curry lends a warmth and depth of flavor that is perfect on a cold night. Serve this tender, flavorful stew over rice, or with crusty bread. We also had an arugula salad with red onion slices and cave aged blue cheese.

Beef Stew Oriental

1 flank steak (1 large or 2 small)
1/3 C flour
salt and pepper
4 C beef stock
1 onion sliced into rings
1 t dried thyme leaves
1 t mild curry powder

Preheat oven to 375°.

Slice flank steak thinly across the grain and place in plastic bag with flour, salt and pepper. Shake to coat meat. Warm a couple of tablespoons of oil in large dutch oven and brown meat, in two batches if necessary. Add thyme, curry, onion and stock and bring to a boil. Cover and bake for 1 hour.

No comments: