Snow in April = Stew and Soup

As I watched flurries outside the window this weekend (grr) and viewed my parents posts from warm beaches (grr) I decided that the only positive thing I could do was to warm us all up from the inside. As I prepared my menu for the week on Saturday, I decided on a stew for Sunday and a soup for Monday; both could easily be made on Sunday. As an added bonus I had meat in my freezer which I could use for the effort.

A soccer game for my eldest on Sunday provided the motivation for an early start to the day. As soon as I got back I started making broth for Monday’s Chicken and Mushroom Soup. This is one of the first recipes I learned from my MIL and although I continue to play with it, the core recipe remains and it is a household favorite. It calls for chicken broth, which you can buy, but I prefer to make my own. Whenever I have leftovers from a roasted chicken that I’m not going to use, it goes into the freezer. When I checked on Sunday, I had parts from about 4 chickens and they all went into my largest stock pot. I then filled the pan with water until the chicken was just covered, brought it to a boil, and then covered and simmered for 2 hours. I scooped out the chicken and stripped off all of the good meat onto a plate.

I then strained the broth into containers for freezing, I ended up with ~27 cups! 6 containers of 4 cups each into the fridge and I set the remaining ~3 cups aside for the soup.

I’ll return to the soup later, but my next focus was Sunday dinner, Beer, Beef, and Onions. The easiest way to start is by getting out all of the ingredients. 

 Although after taking the picture I realized the beer I grabbed was an IPA (too bitter) so I swapped it for a fairly basic home brew. 

 There are a lot of onions in this recipe, which are sweet and caramelized by the time you serve them. They cook 30 minutes before anything else even goes in the pot. 

 The recipe calls for a chuck roast (which works very well in the recipe), but among my freezer findings were the trimmings of beef tenderloin (Remember waste not, want not… Rather than buy filet for special occasions, I normally opt for the whole tenderloin which is usually half the price or less. I cut the steaks and then freeze the ends and other chunks.) I had about 3 lbs. of these trimmings which I cut into large chunks, dried well with paper towels, and then seasoned well with salt and pepper. 

 Rather than add the flour all at once it works best to sprinkle on a little bit, stir it in, and then repeat until all of the pieces are coated. 

   
By this time the onions were happy and I stirred in the garlic (6 for us, we love garlic). 

 The next step is to brown the meat, (don’t try to crowd the pan, it cooks better in batches) and then move the browned cubes on top of the onions. 

    
 The other ingredients go in EXCEPT the beer and brown sugar and you stir to combine. 

   
Then the beer, just enough to cover the meat and then put it in the oven for 2 hours, stirring in the brown sugar halfway through. 

   
On to dessert and a new set of ingredients for a Rhubarb Almond Cake. 

 I was intrigued because it’s made in a tart pan, as I expected from that simple fact, it doesn’t rise much and remains a dense, moist delicious cake. 

   
Cream the soft butter, vanilla bean, and sugar in one bowl. And process the almonds, flour, salt, and baking powder. 

   
(P.S. – When a recipe says reserve the pod for another use – my favorite is vanilla sugar. It’s perfect for making vanilla ice cream. or even coffee.) 

 After adding the eggs, and then the dry ingredients you have a very thick batter and the rhubarb is folded in. 

   
Once it’s in the pan, the topping is strips of rhubarb and sugar and then I popped it in the oven with the stew. 

 I also started boiling some redskins for mashed potatoes. 

   
Back to the soup…it calls for 1 lb. of mixed mushrooms. You should use what you like and know that anywhere between 1-1½ lbs. will work. I used to make it with just white mushrooms now it depends on what looks good and what I’m in the mood to eat. For this meal, it had dried morels (reconstituted), baby bellas, white, and shiitake, in total closer to the 1½ lbs.  

  I reserve the “broth” from the reconstituted dried mushrooms after filtering out the silt. 

 The caps are cooked first in butter and lemon juice. 

 After setting those aside, the stems go in with the onion until they are soft. I also tend to start adding pepper here so that the flavor is throughout the soup. 

    
   

  After stirring in the flour the broth (chicken and mushroom) is added slowly to form a thick broth. 

    
   
 Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and blend it with an immersion blender until it’s smooth. Since I wasn’t serving until Monday, I let it cool at this point and then stirred in the mushroom caps, cream, and chicken. When I was ready to serve it on Monday I brought it to a boil and then reduced the temp to keep it warm. 

  

I then started to sear diced red onions and added in the green beans when they were crispy, seasoning well with salt and pepper. 

   
And I mashed the potatoes with about a ½ stick of butter, the remaining Greek yogurt from the cake, a bit of heavy cream, and salt and pepper.  

  

  Beer Beef And Onions

Beef and Lamb, Entrées, Tested and Approved!
Prep 2 hours ∙ Cook 3 hours ∙ Makes Makes 6 To 8 Servings ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Shannon Stacey

INGREDIENTS

  • 2½ pounds onions, sliced
  • ½ cup canola oil, divided
  • 2-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 pounds beef chuck roast, boneless, cut in 1½” cubes
  • 1½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp steak sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves, dried
  • 18-24 ounces beer, bottled, not dark
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

Cook onions in 2T. oil in a a 6-8 quart oven-proof pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently until lightly browned (~30 minutes). Add garlic, stir and cook 5 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.

Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Pat beef dry then toss with flour. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown beef in batches then add to onions as done (add additional oil to skillet if necessary.

Add all remaining ingredients except beer and sugar and stir to mix. Add beer until it just covers beef and onions. Bring to a simmer then braise in the oven for 2 hours. After 1 hour add brown sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.  

Rhubarb-Almond Cake

Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts

Prep 40 minutes ∙ Cook 2 hours ∙ Makes Yield 8 servings ∙ Source Epicurious.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for pan
  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks, trimmed
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Special equipment:
  • One 11×8″ tart pan or one 9″-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter tart pan and sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess. Slice rhubarb in half lengthwise (quarter if very large). Set 8 of the prettiest pieces aside for the top of the cake; chop remaining rhubarb into 1/2″ pieces. Pulse flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (texture should be sandy).

Place 1 cup butter and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to blend first egg before adding second. Beat until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients, followed by yogurt. Beat, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, just to combine (batter will be thick). Fold in chopped rhubarb and scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth batter and arrange reserved rhubarb over top; sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar.

Place tart pan on a large rimmed baking sheet (to catch any rogue juices) and bake, rotating once, until cake is golden brown and rhubarb on top is soft and beginning to brown, 70–80 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool before removing from pan.

Do ahead: Cake can be baked 3 days ahead. Keep tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Cream of Mushroom and Chicken Soup

Entrées, Poultry, Soups Stews etc., Tested and Approved!

Cook 35 to 40 minutes ∙ Difficulty Medium

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 pounds chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 onion, small, sliced thinly (or 1 leek)
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound mushrooms , white is delicious, add morels or others for a twist
  • 1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS

Trim tough stems of mushrooms; remove stems and set aside. Slice mushroom caps thinly.

In a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat, in hot butter, cook sliced mushrooms and lemon juice until mushrooms are just tender, stirring. Reduce heat to medium-low; with a slotted spoon, remove mushrooms to a bowl.

In the same pan, cook onion and stems until onion is tender. Stir in flour until blended; cook 1 minute stirring the mixture constantly. Gradually stir in broth and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened.

With an immersion blender, blend until smooth and then stir in salt, pepper, cream, shredded chicken, and mushroom slices; reheat until soup is boiling. 

  
NOTES

This recipe is best if you have leftovers on a roasted chicken. Boil it for broth and strip the chicken.

If not, use 2 whole breasts, just cover with water to cook the chicken and reserve the broth. If using this method add enough water (and bouillon) to the broth at the end to make 3½ cups.

If an immersion blender is not available, a traditional blender can be used, but it is necessary to do it in 2 batches.

 

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