I have a few wonderful things to tell you about today, which I think we all deserve, since it is Valentine's Day.
Tonight I started making a beef stew tonight with no one in mind to feed. All my roommates had plans and I hadn't thought ahead of time, but I went with it. It turned out magical, and even more so when a few friends showed up. (Apparently, by calling to say I had a beef stew going I caused a previous dinner engagement to be broken. But it's okay, they said - they were going to have Pasta Roni, anyway.)
It all started last week when I was craving stewy meats, Mexican style - chile verde or colorado with tender, pulled pork. But we didn't have any tomatillos or pork. What we did have, however, was beef and the leftovers from a bottle of Newcastle that Albert had brought over last night for Maria's 21st. (Don't be disappointed, Albie, because you rejected the dinner invite for chicken and waffles. So yeah. ) After searing the flour-dusted beef cubes, I used the Newcastle to scrape up the drippings. The result? Deliciousness. I cooked the beef slowly on low heat with tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalepeno, a bit of cumin, oregano and bay leaf. The wonderful secret was a the smallest sliver of butter (inspired by a tomato sauce recipe I've been wanting to make).
My mom called in the middle of it all and gave me the brilliant suggestion of serving it over angel hair - brilliant because this would be more incentive to make Ms. Steph I-love-noodles-more-than-I-do-rice Lai come over. And because for weeks I'd been wondering what to do with all the stacks of capellini we have. (Somehow I find suitable purposes for all other shapes of pasta: fettuccine for pesto, shells for saucy stuff, spaghetti for garlic and olive oil [I'll have the share the Silver Palate recipe sometime] - but never anything for angel hair.) Anyway, Mom was right. It was delicious.
And now for the almost nothing-to-do-with-food comment of the day. The man at the flower shop by my house gave me a rose this morning on my way to work - isn't he sweet? And then on my way back from work a little baguette caught my eye and so I bought that. The two were just so perfect together, and I was very content. Anyway, it reminded me of the time last week I went two days in a row to Trader Joe's just to pick up three things: baguette, brie, and 71% cacao chocolate. (Yes, I share.) 12 items or fewer line? Why don't they just open up a lane for three? Let me just say: I could be wooed with bread and cheese and dark chocolate. (Flowers would help, too.) I'm just saying.
What three things could you be wooed with?
Newcastle beef stew over angel hair
1 1/2 pounds stew beef cubes
flour, salt, pepper for dusting
1/4 to 1/2 cup Newcastle or other similar brown ale
good-quality olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, with juices
half jalepeno, sliced thinly, lengthwise
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf, cracked
1 pat butter (I used less than a tablespoon, but you can't go wrong with more)
1 pound angel hair
cilantro and lime (optional)
Rinse beef and and dust with a mixture of flour, salt and pepper. Heat stainless steel pan (preferably not nonstick) on medium heat. Add olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan and increase heat to medium-high. Add beef and allow to brown. (You may have to do this in two batches, adding additional oil if needed.) Turn and sear other side. Add seared meat to another pot in which you'll cook the stew. (This recipe would do well in a crock pot.) To that pot also add the vegetables, spices/herbs, and butter. Allow this to heat up while you scrape up the drippings. While the pan is on some heat, pour the beer in, scrape up the bits, and add it to the stew. When the stew is at about a boil, turn down heat and allow to simmer for as long as you can wait - forty-five minutes to an hour and a half would be great, but I don't think even we waited that long.
Ten minutes prior to serving, drop angel hair into boiling, salted water with a few drops of olive oil to keep from sticking. When cooked, drain and serve with beef stew on top.
Also, I didn't try it this time, but I'm sure it would be great with cilantro and a squeeze of lime. I wasn't sure if it would be good to put the cilantro into cook - it probably would be good, too. And we didn't have much more than a sip of the brewski left, but I'm sure dinner would go well served with whatever beer you use in the stew.
Lastly, I found a recipe for chile verde I'd like to try sometime. There are also nice pictures, so it's worth checking out.