Friday, January 21, 2011

Vegetable Stew with Rosemary and Garlic

I often make a beef stew with rosemary and garlic, but for this month's Spice Rack Challenge centered on rosemary, I decided to change it up a bit and make a vegetarian/vegan version.

Many cooks know that rosemary and garlic pair well together on simple roasted potatoes, but the rosemary really shines in this stew.  The extended cooking time allows it to infuse the entire dish with its fragrant presence.

Vegetable Stew with Rosemary and Garlic
1 ½ to 2 pounds root vegetables, cut into approximately equal size pieces; I used a mix of carrots and fingerling potatoes (purple, redskin, and gold-skinned)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small to medium onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup wine or vegetable broth
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 heaping tablespoon dried rosemary
1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place root vegetables in a 4-quart slow cooker. In a small pan, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil until the onions are translucent and just starting to gain color. Add garlic and onion on top of the root vegetables, then deglaze the pan with the wine or broth and add that too. Add the mushrooms, rosemary, and diced tomatoes. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste just before presenting with a salad and crusty bread. Serves about four.

Nerd’s notes:
I happened to use a white wine, but a red works as well or better in my experience.  This stew also does well with a shorter cooking time on high, or even in a covered Dutch oven on the stovetop for an hour or more on medium to medium-low heat.  

Green beans can be a tasty addition or substitution for some of the vegetables.  If using fresh green beans, cleaned and snapped to one-inch lengths, add to the stew pot after the root vegetables.  Frozen green beans also work well, but can turn to mush if cooked all day.  I therefore recommend adding them in the last hour or two of cooking.

If you insist on a meat-eaters’ version, just add ½ pound of beef stew meat cubes that have been browned between adding the garlic and onion to the stew pot and deglazing the pan.  In this case you might reduce the root vegetables by a similar amount or omit the mushrooms.  Otherwise you may find it doesn’t quite fit in your 4-quart crock.  Or, use a bigger crock and consider adding an extra can of diced tomatoes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Beginning

It's time for a new venture, a new blog for sharing recipes and thoughts on food and cooking.

Q: So what makes you qualified to have a cooking blog?
A: I cook? That's enough, isn't it? I'm not half bad, or so I have been told.

Q: You've been cooking for a while now and you're just meeting your kitchen?
A: I have been cooking for a long time. I've even blogged about food before, but just like you can't go home again and you can't step into the same river twice, I meet my kitchen anew nearly every day.

Q: So why should anyone read your blog?
A: I plan to post at least twice per month. My posts will showcase recipes that I discover and use, cookbooks I am exploring, and foods my family and I enjoy. I will consider the challenges of having a picky eater in the family, and my interest in vegetarian and non-dairy cooking. Sometimes my other interests such as board games or exercise may get mentioned. If you have an idea for a post, feel free to let me know. Thanks for reading!