Sunday has become my day to cook for the family, a day when I can plan, shop for and cook a dinner without the time pressures that accompany most every other day of the week. I'll often start thinking about dinner while drinking my morning coffee, sometimes browsing the Internet, other times flipping through cookbooks. Most of my browsing results in inspiration, rather than exact recipes to mirror.
A couple of weeks ago, I picked up my copy of P. Allen Smith's Seasonal Recipes from the Garden and immediately focused on two recipes -- Slow-Cooker Lamb Stew and Carrot Ginger Soup.
I've not eaten much lamb before; I've certainly never cooked it. But the inclusion of Guinness and chocolate motivated me to use the recipe as the inspiration for a beef stew instead.
Crockpot Beef Stew
Below is the ingredients list for my version of the stew, which makes six servings (~430 calories, 26g fat, 28g protein). The major changes were substituting beef for lamb and decreasing the quantity of potatoes
- 2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-2 inch cubes
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 12-ounce bottle of Guinness Draught beer
- 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 ounce unsweetened baker's chocolate, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 pound baby red potatoes, quartered
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat leaf parsley
- Brown 1/2 of the beef in a large skillet with 1 Tbsp.canola oil. Transfer to crock pot.
- Repeat with the remaining beef.
- Add remaining oil to skillet with onion and cook until lightly browned, about five minutes.
- Add the broth, beer, brown sugar, thyme, chocolate, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, using a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits. Transfer the mixture to the crock pot.
- Add the carrots, parsnips, and potatoes to the crock pot, cover and cook on low until the meat is tender, 6-8 hours.
- Remove and discard the bay leaves, stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
Skinny Carrot Ginger Soup
My take on the Carrot Ginger Soup is a lower calorie version of the P. Allen Smith version.
The ingredient list is as follows (makes four 100 calorie servings). The major changes from the original recipe are half the butter and 1% milk in place of half-and-half.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup 1% milk
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic and ginger and sauté until the onions are soft, 10-12 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Simmer until the carrots are tender, 8-10 minutes more.
- Slowly puree the mixture with stick blender until smooth.
- Return to a boil. Add milk.
- Serve immediately, finished with cracked black pepper.
Both of the dishes were delicious and enjoyed by my family (although my ten-year-old son was lukewarm on the soup). The stew meat was done to perfection, melting on the tongue, while the root veggies retained a needed firmness. The bitter of the beer and chocolate gave the stew a refreshing, but not overpowering, counterpoint to the sweetness of the carrots and parsnips.
Overall, both recipes definitely will become a part of our family Sunday dinner repertoire.
Buttermilk Pecan Pie and look forward to finding future culinary inspiration in its pages.
I received my complimentary copy of Seasonal Recipes at a book signing event at the Independent Garden Center trade show in August 2012.