Matthew: Even though the weather has been unusually warm, I’ve been busy making lots of winter foods, especially stews. I love making stews because everything goes in one pot and once you get them simmering, you are practically done. I found this recipe for Irish beef stew and the result was very good. It uses Guinness and red wine, making it extra flavorful. I found some nice grass-fed organic beef and beef stock concentrate at the co-op to use in the stew. The end result was delicious and I could have eaten it every day for weeks. I’ll have to make some more soon!
Katie: Fresh sweet corn is something that is only available for a limited time every summer and tastes so much better than frozen or canned corn. When I saw it being sold by local farmers on the side of the road, I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity before it was too late! I had checked out the book The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook from the library and had already bookmarked a recipe for Corn Chowder with Roasted Poblanos. Since I couldn’t find poblano chiles at the store, I substituted jalapeno peppers. I also used smaller potatoes, left their skin on, and doubled the recipe to make more leftovers. This soup turned out really great! The fresh corn, red potatoes, peppers, and fresh herbs were a great combination of flavors. Shrimp would probably also make a good addition.
Corn and Red Potato Chowder (adapted from the New Mayo Clinic Cookbook)
- 2 lb small red potatoes, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks (unpeeled)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 small yellow onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 – 3 jalapeno peppers, diced
- 1 tsp. salt, divided
- fresh corn kernels from 8 ears of corn
- 4 cups of vegetable stock
- 2 cups of fat-free milk
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
Put the potatoes in a saucepan, add water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small bowl. With a potato masher, partially mash the potatoes and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, jalapeno pepper, and bell pepper and saute until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer. Stir in the roasted chilies and the partially mashed potatoes. Add the corn, vegetable stock, milk, pepper and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Simmer uncovered until the soup thickens, for about 25 minutes.
Ladle into warmed bowls and sprinkle with the cilantro and oregano. Enjoy!
Matthew: I think I first learned of tagine back in high school French class when we had a vocabulary unit on Morocco. The textbook had an illustration of an outdoor market in which there was a funny looking ceramic dish and a plate of couscous with raisins. The funny looking dish, called a tagine, helps to trap moisture inside (which is useful in the desert), by having water condense on the sloped sides. I haven’t purchased a tagine yet, so I thought I would try making this recipe from the Stay at Stove Dad blog in a slow cooker. For the recipe, I purchased some organic, grass-fed beef stew meat from the co-op. It was expensive, but really good quality beef. The tagine spices (cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, and ginger) didn’t overwhelm the dish, but instead created a subtle, exotic flavor which paired nicely with the green olives. I hope to make this again and perhaps experiment with other tagine recipes in the future.
Katie: After our raclette dinner on New Year’s Eve, I had some leftover vegetables to use up. I remembered how good the shepherd’s pie was that I made a few weeks ago, but unfortunately I didn’t have any more sweet potatoes. I didn’t let that stop me, and decided to improvise a little. I still had 3 hokaido pumpkins I had been saving. I roasted one of them, producing enough puree to make some delicious and filling Pumpkin Oatmeal in the morning, pumpkin biscuits to top the pot pie, and Pumpkin Carrot Muffins the next day. Lots of pumpkin deliciousness to enjoy! I based the recipe for the pumpkin biscuits on a couple of different recipes from Cooking Light. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it turned out really good! I would definitely make this comforting winter meal again. Even without pumpkin, regular drop biscuits would probably also work well. Here’s the recipe I used for the biscuits:
Pumpkin Drop Biscuits
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ – ¾ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 ½ Tbsp. melted butter
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- ½ – 1 Cup milk (I mixed a little at a time, until the batter was wet and thick, not runny, about ¾ cup)
- Mix dry ingredients with a whisk in a large bowl.
- Add wet ingredients until just mixed.
- Drop the batter into about 10-12 mounds on the pot pie vegetable base.
- Bake at 400 degrees F (200 C) for about 30 minutes, or until biscuits are light brown.
Katie: Now that pumpkin season is sadly coming to an end, I’ve moved on to another source of Vitamin A: sweet potatoes. We bought a bunch of sweet potatoes when we saw them on sale at the grocery store, and I’ve been looking for different ways of using them. I don’t think I’ve ever had shepherd’s pie before, but this recipe for Winter Vegetable Pot Pie sounded interesting. It’s basically a pot pie base made with roasted vegetables and topped with mashed sweet potatoes. I wasn’t quite sure how the apple juice would work with the other flavors, but it turned out really good! The base would probably also be good topped with a more typical pot pie biscuit topping. Here’s how I made it:
Sweet Potato Winter Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie (adapted from the McCormick website)
- 1 pound sweet potatoes (I used 3)
- 1 cup apple juice, divided
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 6-7 cups cubed winter vegetables (I used orange carrots, yellow carrots, parsnips, red potatoes, and celery), cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 pound brown mushrooms, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. garlic salt
- 1 tsp. ground mustard
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork and bake on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper for an hour or until they are tender when pierced with a fork and are caramelizing. Remove from oven and cool. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
- Toss chopped vegetables (excluding mushrooms and onions) with 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large bowl. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with black pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or until vegetables begin to brown.
- Peel sweet potatoes and mash with 1/4 cup apple juice, butter, and nutmeg until smooth. Set aside and keep warm.
- Heat 1 tsp. olive oil over medium heat and saute the chopped onions and sliced mushrooms in a skillet until soft. Set aside.
- Mix vegetable broth, remaining 3/4 cup apple juice, cornstarch, garlic salt, mustard, thyme and in large skillet with wire whisk until well blended. Bring to boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 2 minutes. Add roasted vegetables, onions, and mushrooms; stir gently. Pour into a glass casserole dish. Top with mashed sweet potatoes.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until sweet potato topping starts to brown.
Matthew: Lately, I’ve been watching Two Fat Ladies, a British cooking show from the 90’s, and I was inspired to make something a bit old-fashioned and fancy, similar to the dishes they make on the show. I decided on Pommes Anna from the Joy of Cooking. The recipe has you pour a substantial amount of clarified butter into a cast iron skillet over low heat on the stove. You then layer in potatoes, overlapping the edges. I decided to spice up the recipe a bit with parmesan cheese and paprika between some of the layers. Once the potatoes are all in, it’s transferred to the oven and baked. Then, you drain off the excess butter and flip it over to reveal the crispy brown underside. Mine fell apart a bit when flipping since I used small potatoes that didn’t overlap too well. I’m sure if you used large baking potatoes, it would hold together. It was very tasty and I’m sure would be nice alongside some fish or other main course dish.
Bill: We made a stop at Nueske’s last weekend as as part of a “fall color” drive. Nueske’s sells fantastic applewood smoked meat products. One of the items we bought was smoked pork chops. They were huge and we enjoyed them the first night cooked up on the grill. I decided to use the leftovers to make an egg scramble for supper. I started by cooking 2 large red potatoes diced up along with 1/2 an onion in a little canola oil. When it cooked down and browned, I added the left over smoked pork chop also diced up. Once that warmed up, we added 5 eggs and started scrambling. The end result was a great evening meal which definitely qualified as comfort food. Very tasty.