Thursday, February 19, 2009

Improvisational Cooking

The Husband and I were discussing jazz over dinner last night. In particular, Miles Davis and the 50 year anniversary of his groundbreaking album Kind of Blue. One of the things it is best know for is it's amazing improvisation from all of the artists who contributed to the album.

This conversation made me think about certain dishes I make where I don't have a recipe and the final product never turns out the same but with improvisation, I always enjoy the cooking process and the end result. Spaghetti sauce is one of those dishes for me as is macaroni and cheese. I start with a basic premise and then forage the cupboards and fridge and come up with something usually wonderful, though not always!

Another improvisational dish for me is stew. I never know which vegetables will end up in it or which herbs or spices, but what I always know is that there will be a hearty, meaty pot of stew to enjoy for our supper.

Beef Stew
2 lbs. stew meat (I cut up my own using chuck roast)
4 medium russet potatoes, diced into cubes
4 medium carrots, sliced
2 celery stacks, sliced
1 parsnip, sliced
1/2 bag of frozen pearl onions
1/2 bag of frozen peas
1/2 bag of frozen corn
1 small can of diced tomatoes with juices
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leave
1 Tbsp. Worcesteshire sauce
1/2 cup red wine
32 oz. beef broth

Coat beef cubes in a seasoned flour (salt, pepper) and saute until beef is browned on all sides. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn down to a gentle simmer and let cook for 2 hours or until vegetables are soft and beef is tender. Adjust seasonings to taste. Makes a generous pot of stew to serve 6-8.

No comments: