Tag Archives: stew

Curried Stew: Fast, Delicious and Vegetarian if you wish!


The first time I had this dish was at my brother-in-law’s house.  Well, farm.  We were up visiting for a week and I have to say that we ate incredibly well while we were there!

The meat, the eggs and even some of the vegetables were from about 100 feet from the house in varying directions.  Cows, chickens, pigs and an awesome garden!
We were sent home with 4 *huge* zucchini (zucchinis?) but that’s a story for another post. 🙂

The point being that all the food was beyond delicious, including this dish.  It was yummy both freshly made and the day after, so a good choice for meal planning and/or freezing for future meals.  A family member made it initially and when I asked for the recipe, she wrote it down for me…short, sweet and open to creative additions and substitutions.

Delicious AND easy?  My favourite kind of meal!

Curried Stew close up

 

Click here for the recipe or scroll to the bottom of the post.

 

This blog post will be short as the steps are straightforward and easy.  The hardest part was all the chopping of the veggies.

To start, brown the onions and the chicken.  I used chicken thighs but you could substitute tofu, some other vegetarian protein, or forego it all together if you wish.
I also browned them in a pot to save on dishes rather than using a frying pan.  In the end, the pot in the picture below wasn’t big enough so I moved up to my larger soup pot.

Browning the onions and chicken

Browning the onions and chicken

Onion and chicken in a pot. (Not sure what’s up with the colour of that photo)  I also added pepper and salt…but at this point you could add any spices that you think would go well with curry.

Now, remember what I said about having fresh veggies on the farm?  Yeah, now that I’m back in the city without a garden, cans are my friend.

tomatoes peas and coconut milk

Diced tomatoes, peas and coconut milk

Well, not completely.  I did use fresh vegetables too, including one of those zucchinis I brought home with me!  For the vegetables, I would say to look in your fridge and use up what you have.  I added celery, cauliflower and zucchini but you could also add potatoes, carrots, etc.  Depends how much chopping you want to do!

celery and cauliflower

 

And then….it all goes in the pot (except the zucchini) and left to simmer.

simmering stew

I took the above photo after adding the zucchini.  I originally held it back and let the stew simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Then I added the zucchini and let it go for another 10 minutes or so.  Otherwise, the zucchini turns to mush and I prefer a bit of texture….just on *this* side of crunchy.

The time you leave it to simmer is flexible as well.  We like our vegetables to retain their shape so we didn’t let it simmer too long.

The other option is to parboil the vegetables separately and then add them but I wanted it to be easy so I threw everything in together.

I kept checking the cauliflower by piercing it with a fork as it was the part that would take the longest to soften.

When it felt right, we ate!

 

Curried Chicken Stew

Curried Stew close up

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can peas (or frozen)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup of curry paste
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • celery, I used 3 sticks, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped into half moons
  • any other vegetables you wish to add
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • rice, if desired
  1. Brown the onion in a pan with the olive oil on medium heat.
  2. Halfway through, add the chicken thighs, salt, pepper and garlic to taste.
  3. Add tomatoes, peas, coconut milk, curry paste and vegetables.
  4. Bring to a simmer and leave on low to continue simmering for approximately 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  5. Add zucchini near the end and allow to simmer for the final 10 minutes or so.
  6. Serve on rice (or in a bowl on its own) and enjoy!
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Homemade Beef Stew (Not to mention…the transformative power of a cleaver!)


Right off the top I have to say that my mother makes the best stew EVER! This likely doesn’t come as a surprise though, that’s typical of mothers. They make the best version of all your favourite meals and you can never quite get your recipe exactly the same…even when you use the exact same ingredients!

You stir it differently. Add ingredients in a different order or at a different time. Own non-stick fry pans that are *nothing* like your mother’s cast iron pans.

And regardless of all this…there’s a dash of affection and a pinch of motherly love that you just can’t recreate…unless you love yourself like a mother does her child which just sounds odd.

So we request such meals, like stew, when we go for a visit.  Even if said visit is in the middle of summer and it’s 30 degrees (86 F), bring on the boiling hot stew!

This doesn’t mean we don’t try to make our mother’s recipes…we do. But in the end, we come up with our creations…a new take on an old favourite.  And thus, we come to this post…one of my many attempts to recreate my mother’s delicious cooking!

Not to mention, this post involves a cleaver!! (Admit it, that’s why you’re reading this post, isn’t it?)

It changed me for all time…that lovely, shiny, sharp cleaver…but I’ll get to that part of the story later….

Okay, OKAY…how about a picture for now?
I can’t just jump ahead to the cleaver part because it’s halfway through the recipe!!! But I suppose I can share a picture….

There!  Happy?  More to come further in the post…but for now…

I shall start with a shot of my wee little kitchen prepping for some BIG flavours!

Ready to begin!

I bought two packs of stewing beef which you can see on the left…approx 2 lbs worth.  In the black bowl is a couple tablespoons of flour.

Before dealing with any vegetables, I prepped my beef.  It came already cut into chunks but I wanted to make them smaller…more bite-sized.  Sadly, underneath what appears to be some lovely red beef, I found whole pieces of gristly tendon that I didn’t think I could use. (Or perhaps I could?? There wasn’t enough to make a broth, but there was enough to piss me off when I looked at the size of the mound of unused bits…What do YOU do with big white chunks of gristle?)

Hmmm…I thought I was buying stewing beef…NOT stewing tendon.

Disappointing lack of beef!

In a way, the disappointing state of the meat was my own fault. The meat counter in my neighbourhood is closed on Mondays and I ALWAYS seem to get my cooking inspiration on a Monday. So, I walked down the street to the grocery store which is generally quite cheap and crowded. The meat was on sale, who knows where it came from…..

I got what I paid for.

Lesson learned.

Once I got over my tendon disappointment, I got on with my stew prep. I removed the annoying bits, cut the beef into smaller pieces and coated it lightly with flour.

Then I browned them in a fry pan with a bit of oil, salt, pepper and a dash of soy sauce.

While the beef browned, I prepped my slow cooker with a mix of water and…ahem…a packet of stew spice mix.

Yep…I cheated!

Yeah yeah, I know! After all that talk about trying to recreate my mother’s stew…what do I do? Take a shortcut…a spicy shortcut!
What can I say? I’m a rebel!

Slow cooker prepped with a mix of water and stew spices

Added the browned beef and then left it in the slow cooker on high for an hour.

While the beef stewed in my crock pot for an hour…I started to chop up my vegetables.

This is where the cleaver comes in…for those of you who have been patiently waiting 😉

CLEAVER MEET RUTABAGA

Have you ever tried to cut up a rutabaga? (If you have no idea what a rutabaga is…think turnip-from-hell).
I would say it’s one of the most difficult vegetables to deal with…all covered in wax…rock hard at times…using a regular knife on a rutabaga is like trying to do hand sewing with a bone sliver.  It works but it’s difficult, annoying, can take forever…and why would you when you have more fun and efficient options? 😉

I wasn’t looking forward to chopping this sucker up until I remembered that B had a cleaver in our kitchen drawer.  Had he been around, I would probably have asked him to hack it up for me but instead I got to experience the pleasure that comes from swinging a cleaver at a defenceless, well almost defenceless (stupid rock hard rutabaga), vegetable.

DIE, RUTABAGA!!!

The cleaver was much sharper than I expected and the first swing cracked the rutabaga in half.

So.Much.Fun!

It took a few more whacks but in mere minutes, I decimated that rock-hard vegetable into manageable chunks!
Also in mere minutes, I found myself utterly transformed…

from a dorky, rutabaga-fearing, newbie cook into a MAD, CLEAVER-WIELDING KITCHEN QUEEN BEFORE WHOM ALL VEGETABLES TREMBLE!!!!!

“So shiny!” says the newly initiated cleaver fan, standing over her most recent victim. Muahahahahaha!

The other vegetables…carrots, celery and potatoes…didn’t require cleaver-oomph…but I really wanted to!

Chopped celery and some rutabaga remains!

I washed the carrots but didn’t bother peeling them. Chopped all the veg into fairly large pieces.

Roughly chopped up an onion and used tiny new potatoes that I simply cut in half.

Once I’d added all the vegetables to the pot, I decided to add 1/3 a can of dark ale.  No real reason except “why not?” 😉

At this point, settle into a good movie  or two as your stew is going to need a few hours to cook.  One initial hour to start the beef, then after adding the vegetables, I let it cook for another couple of hours.  It was getting late at that point so I turned off the slow cooker, let the dish cool a bit and then put it in the fridge overnight.  The next day, when I arrived home after work around 4pm, I put it back on high and left it for about four hours, as I was out for the evening.

The broth was still a little bland for me so, before heading out, I added the following: some garlic powder, a few bay leaves, as well as a splash of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Not to mention, salt and pepper, which I added a few times…all to taste.

Upon my return home, the apartment smelled amazing!!! This is what greeted me in the slow cooker!

The vegetables were soft and tender, the meat fell apart in my mouth and the shortcut-broth was amazing!  It wasn’t my mother’s stew, that’s for sure, but it had a goodness all its own 🙂

Mom, be warned, I’ll still be asking for stew next time I visit!

I’ll also be making this recipe again too.  It’s a wonderful meal for those cold winter nights.
And if you forgo the rutabaga, it’s an incredibly easy and straightforward recipe.  If you keep the rutabaga, for god’s sake use a cleaver!

And keep in mind, if you’re working with a slow cooker as I did, make it early and give it 6+ hrs to cook

 

 

 

 

Homemade Beef Stew

 

  • 2 lb stewing beef
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 10 cups chopped, cubed vegetables (carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, celery, onion)
  • Garlic powder
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire
  • Bay leaves
  • Pepper and salt
  • Dark ale
  • Stew spice mix

 

  1. Lightly coat your beef bits in flour.
  2. Brown the beef in a fry pan with a bit of vegetable oil, a dash of soy sauce, salt and pepper.
  3. In your slow cooker, mix your spices (I cheated and used a Stew Spice Mix) with the water.  Add the browned beef and leave on high for an hour.
  4. Chop up all your vegetables…I used celery, onion, potato, carrot, and rutabaga (Pull out your cleaver for the rutabaga!!) Add all the vegetables to the slow cooker.
  5. Add 1/3 to 1/2 a can of dark ale, as well as bay leaves, garlic powder, soy and Worcestershire sauces. Salt and pepper to taste. Leave on high for 4-5 hrs or until the vegetables are tender.
  6. Serve!

 


Curried Lentil Stew w/Stinkbug Garnish!


A few weeks back, I discovered a cookbook at Value Village in Waterdown, Ontario…Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons.

 It has dozens upon dozens of recipes, the majority of which call for ingredients that I recognize, which is important to me.  I don’t mind having to do research and find ingredients that originate from a different culture if I’m attempting a specific dish, but I like having recipes on hand that are simple ingredients…stuff I have in my cupboard or that I can easily buy at a nearby grocery store.  The more pretentious the cookbook, the less likely I am to buy it.

This book is quite accessible and I’ve been having fun while trying out some of the recipes!

“But … a stinkbug???” you’re probably asking. “What’s THAT all about??”

Keep reading…I’ll get there *wink*

 Or if you want to see the recipe, you’ll find it at the bottom of this post.

The first recipe I decided to try was the Curried Lentil Stew.  That morning, I headed to the Hamilton Farmer’s Market and bought the vegetables I would need.  I decided to get all the prep out of the way so I began by cutting up my onions, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and garlic.

It was as I began to saute my onions in melted butter that things became interesting….

I looked over to my right and on my cupboard, I saw this trundling along my cutting board:

Stinkbug!!

 He seemed kind of dopey…slow moving…

Usually I’m pretty good with finding insects in my apartment. 
I’m not one for killing them…I usually capture flying ones in a glass, crawly ones on a piece of paper and release them outside.

But in this case, my food was all over the counter and I was in the midst of cooking my onions which required my attention, so this little visitor wasn’t welcome.  He was near my food!  And that creeped me out!!  Not to mention…at the time, I didn’t actually know what kind of bug he was and hey, the unknown is a little scary!

What the heck is THAT?
 

A little grossed out.

 

*Really* grossed out! I mean, com'on...he was near my food!!!

 

Trying to keep my wits about me....to call my bf for help 😉

 

Have regained my courage..."There's the door! Don't let it hit your pointy lil abdomen on the way out!"

 
 Luckily, my boyfriend was just down the hall and he saved the day by ushering our visitor onto a little piece of paper and finding him a seat outside on my balcony instead of in my kitchen! 
 
Initially, he had offered to smush the lil guy and I immediately said “No, just put him outside!”  I’m very glad we did because upon a little bit of research…I found this quote on Wikipedia:
 
 
Bleh!
 
So, our six-legged friend dealt with…I took a deep breath, scanned my kitchen for other creepy visitors and, seeing none, continued with my stew!
 

 Actually, I have to admit that the creeped out feeling sort of remained for a bit…so, to distract myself, I made shadow puppets in my onions!

See the bunny?

*blink blink* Yeah, I’m that kind of geek. 

 
 
So…..moving on….onions completed, I added the various spices to the mix. After another quick saute, I filled the pot with my chopped carrots and potatoes, the required amount of water and….the wrong lentils!
Ooops…those lentils were supposed to be brown.  Somehow the stinkbug is to blame for this! 

Yep, I grabbed the wrong bag and began adding the red lentils before I clued it that I had meant to use brown.  Ah well, I hadn’t added the full amount at that point so I switched and ended up having a bit of both. 

 
Beyond that, the rest of the recipe was easy-peasy.  Let it simmer…add the tomatoes, sherry, salt and pepper….simmer some more until all is as tender as you would like it to be.Regarding the sherry, I added the amount called for in the recipe but in hindsight, I would probably start with half of that next time and add the rest depending on taste.  I found the sherry flattened the flavour somewhat and I had to go about adding some more spices as well as a vegetable bouillon cube to liven it up again.  The cube actually did wonders and I would consider adding that to the list of ingredients.
 
Overall, bug crisis averted and lentil mistake corrected, the stew was great!
It was quite yummy…good flavour…a nice warm, hearty dish to eat on a cold day.
 


CURRIED LENTIL STEW

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 large carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 2 med potatoes, peeled, 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 pinches ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 dried thyme
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup dried brown lentils
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1/2 tsp salt…to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Saute onion until it begins to brown, about 7-8 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, curry, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and thyme.  Continue to saute for another 2-3 mins while stirring.
  3. Add the carrot and potato, water and lentils.  Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, sherry, salt and pepper.  Continue simmering for another 5-10 minutes, or until potatoes and lentils are tender.

Source: Vegetarian Plant by Didi Emmons, Harvard Common Press, 1997


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