Friday, October 20, 2006

October 20, 2006: Friday Feast

One of my favorite things about fall is that we get to start eating soup again! I understand that there is nothing inherently wrong with eating soup in the summer--and I even know some truly nice and normal (well, sort of) people who do so--but we just don't. For us, soup is one of the ways to hearken the onset of autumn. On tonight's menu is probably our all-around favorite: Rainy Monday Beef Stew. This was a trial and error recipe, perfected long ago on a rainy Monday in Iowa. Tonight's will be even better because I have time to make a loaf of focaccia.

Rainy Monday Beef Stew
2 slices bacon, cut up
4 T. flour
1/4 tsp. pepper
1-1 11/2 lbs. stew beef or chuck roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lg. onion, chopped (optional)
3 cloves garlic, chooped
2 c. beef broth
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
1 pinch thyme
2 carrots, sliced
2 large potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
10 mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or less to taste)
1/2 tsp. chili powder

In large pot, cook bacon until light brown. Combine flour and pepper in a bowl. Dip meat in flour mixture to coat. Brown in bacon fat (add oil if it sticks). Add onion and garlice; brown a bit. Add broth, wine, and thyme. Cover and cook slowly 1-2 hours. Add spices and vegetables. Cook another half hour to hour, or until vegetables are tender. Adjust spices to taste. You can make this is the crockpot but you need to brown the meat first and use less liquid.


1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
about 3 1/2 c. flour
2-3 tbs. dried rosemary
olive oil (for the bowl)

1) Place the water in a medium-sized bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved.
2) Add flour, one cup at a time, mixing with a fork or whatever you like. Eventually, you can mix with your hand. Add more flour as needed to combat stickiness. Knead on a floured surface for 5-8 minutes--until it's smooth. Form into a ball. Put in a bowl that's been oiled, turn over to get it all oiled, and cover with a tea towel (preferably one without dog hair on it). Let rest for and hour or so in a warm place. Preheat oven to 400.
3) Punch down and roll dough into a circle, about 10-12 inches in diameter and put on lightly oiled tray or on pizza stone. Brush surface with olive oil. Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned or however you like it. Serve with olive oil and pepper for dipping or just dip into your stew.


  1. I am making this recipe all the time now!

  2. P.S. I should add that it is very forgiving. It doesn't seem to mind that I bread the stew meat with quinoa flour or occasionally omit the odd item. More proof that anything containing wine is going to turn out okay no matter what you do to it!


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