Sometimes, I need to cook. That’s how I felt yesterday as I minced shallots, cut rosy raw beef into neat cubes, plucked fragrant rosemary from my sturdy winter plant, and blanched thin stalks of asparagus.
I wanted to fix a meal that would capture the waning days of cold weather but also welcome the first day of spring. An aromatic beef stew would work, I thought, with chilled asparagus topped with a mustardy vinaigrette and gossamer shreds of egg.
There was a catch. I also wanted to go to yoga in the afternoon. No problem. I dragged out my trusty slow cooker to get the main meal started in the morning and prepped the vegetable for later.
It all came together easily, and the house still smells wonderful. Here are the recipes I used. Do you have favorite weekend recipes? I’d love to post them, too. Please e-mail your recipes to me.
Provençal Beef Stew (Slow Cooker)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
2 yellow onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 (14 ½ ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper
1 ½ cups green olives, pitted
Combine the flour and salt in a resealable plastic bag. Add the meat to the bag, several pieces at a time, and shake to coat completely.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. In batches if necessary, add the meat and cook, turning, for 7 to 10 minutes, until browned on all sides. Using tongs, transfer the meat to the slow cooker and add the thyme and rosemary.
Place the onions in the plastic bag and shake in the remaining flour to coat completely. Set the sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the onions. Saute, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add the wine to the pan and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and whisk in the mustard and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens somewhat. Pour the sauce over the meat in the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low for 5 to 8 hours, until the meat is very tender. Stir in the olives 20 minutes before the end of cooking. Remove and discard the thyme and rosemary.
Ladle into soup bowls and serve immediately.
Recipe from The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley
Asparagus with Red-Wine Vinaigrette
1 ½ pounds medium asparagus
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced shallot
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg, hard-boiled
Steam asparagus on a steamer rack set over boiling water, covered, until just tender, 3-5 minutes (depending on thickness), then transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels.
Whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.
Halve egg and force each half through a coarse sieve into a bowl. (A potato ricer works really well, too.) Toss asparagus with 1 tablespoon vinaigrette and divide among four plates. Spoon remaining dressing over asparagus and top with the egg. Serves 4.
Recipe adapted from Gourmet
Phto by me