Marie Cooks Skyrim: Venison Stew

When my brother in law tagged a deer last fall, he and my sister promised me some to cook with. I was a little anxious because I had never cooked with venison before. I wanted to do something different – I didn’t want to make any old beef recipe and simply substitute venison, I wanted to choose something that would compliment the venison. Rob gave me a small tip roast, and after comparing a lot of different recipes online, I eventually settled on this one from Jamie Oliver. As I was cooking it, the aroma of juniper and rosemary mingled in my kitchen – I don’t know that I would have ever suspected them of going together, but they do fantastically. My only error was that because I only had a small amount of meat, I reduced the rest most of the recipe by a quarter… but forgot to reduce the spices I put in, and as a result it was overpowering. Still, the meat was tender and delicious and I would love to try to make venison stew again in the future.

Venison Stew
Serves 6

4 tablespoons plain flour
800g (1.5-2lbs) quality stewing venison, cut into 2cm (or 1 inch) chunks
olive oil
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed in a pestle and mortar
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
6 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley (separate the stalks and the leaves)
2 beef stock cubes
600g (1-1.5lbs) small new potatoes, scrubbed clean, larger ones halved
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

  1. Dust a chopping board with 2 tablespoons of flour and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and toss your chunks of meat through this mixture until well coated. Heat a large pan on a high heat, add a few glugs of olive oil and fry your meat for 3 minutes to brown it. Add your chopped onions, carrots, celery, crushed juniper berries, rosemary and the butter. Add a few tablespoons of water, give everything a good stir, then put the lid on the pan and let everything steam for 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Take the lid off so your meat and vegetables start to fry, and stir every so often for 5-10 minutes. Chop your parsley stalks finely, and once the onions start to caramelize, add them to the pan with your remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and your crumbled stock cubes. Stir, and pour in enough water to cover the mixture by a couple of inches. Put the parsley leaves aside for later.
  3. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium low so that the stew is just simmering. Add your potatoes and slow cook with the lid slightly askew for at least 2 hours or until the meat falls apart easily. You can add a splash of water if you think it looks too dry.
  4. Put your chopped garlic in the middle of a chopping board. Add most of your parsley leaves with a teaspoon of sea salt and half a teaspoon of black pepper. Chop everything together so you get a rough paste. Add this to the stew and stir through. Chop the last of the parsley leaves and sprinkle over before serving.

Flavor-packed Louisiana Creole Food – Jambalaya

Because Mardi Gras is such a big celebration is New Orleans, it’s not uncommon to see Cajun and Creole food prepared around Fat Tuesday, even if you don’t live in Louisiana. We may be past Fat Tuesday, but I’ve been thinking about making Jambalaya for the last couple weeks and finally had a chance to do so.

Jambalaya is a meat and rice dish traditional in the Creole and Cajun cultures of Louisiana. While they have a lot of similarities – both are spiced and rely on the “Holy Trinity” of onion, celery, and bell pepper – there are differences between Creole and Cajun food. The Creoles were descendants of French and Spanish colonists who had mixed French, African American and Native American ancestry. Creole food is considered “city food” and contains ingredients such as tomatoes, butter, and herbs. The Cajuns were French Canadians expelled from Nova Scotia who eventually settled in the bayous and intermarried with everyone there. Cajun food is considered “country food” and uses no tomatoes, oil instead of butter, and lots of peppers.

Jambalaya is one of my dad’s favorite foods to make, and I also love making it! Because my jambalaya is a mash-up of a number of different recipes, I don’t think I’ve ever made it the same way twice, but I have definitely overheard my husband bragging about how good my jambalaya is. This Creole-style “red” Jambalaya is the version I made most recently.* Every time I make this, I am flabbergasted at how flavorful it is – every mouthful is amazing. Maybe someday I’ll try a Cajun “brown” Jambalaya, but for now I love this version enough to keep making it again.

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Marie Cooks Skyrim: Cabbage Potato Soup

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When it comes to choosing what food to eat, I think it is very important to listen to what your body is telling you. Not the part that says eat pizza for every meal – the part that says “I want mushrooms right now,” or “roasted broccoli sounds really good.” Usually, our bodies are very good at telling us what we need, if we know how to listen. Last weekend, I was craving cabbage. This is NOT usually a craving I have, but I must have been particularly deficient in vitamin C (or something) because cabbage just sounded like something I really wanted to be part of dinner. Well, perfect time for me to do some google-research of several dozen different cabbage soup recipes. This one caught my eye looking particularly delicious and I was pretty tickled to find that it had all of the ingredients from Skyrim’s cabbage, potato, and leek soup. Joe and I had this for dinner with some garlic bread and I absolutely cleaned my bowl of every last drop.

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Lord of the Rings Marathon Part 2 – Potato Soup and Mushroom Pot Roast

After breakfast and elevensies, which were both sweet, it is time to turn to the savory for luncheon, afternoon tea, and dinner. Time management has never been my strong suit, but in order to make cooking 6 courses for 16 people work, it is absolutely key! So for lunch, I chose a soup I could start the night before and stick in the refrigerator, then heat up add the final touches in a short time in between The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. I thought of Sam making stewed rabbit in Ithilien when he wishes for po-tay-toes; “The Gaffer’s delight and rare good ballast for an empty belly,” as he educates Sméagol. Continue reading “Lord of the Rings Marathon Part 2 – Potato Soup and Mushroom Pot Roast”

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

When I was young, I disliked Thanksgiving. I had to go to a family get together that was loud and cramped and overwhelming; I always thought turkey was too dry (unless it was too slimy) and there wasn’t even the chance of presents to help endure it as there was at Christmas! The older I’ve gotten, the more I appreciate Thanksgiving – I now live far enough away that I look forward to seeing my family again, and I’m less of a picky eater so the promise of a feast is more appealing. That doesn’t mean, however, that I want to eat reheated Thanksgiving dinner for the next week straight, so coming up with more ways to eat Turkey is essential.

Rice is cooking

I adore this soup; it is rich, very flavorful (even without adding salt once you get to the table,) and the nuttiness of the the wild rice is balanced by the comparative brightness of the carrots and celery. I originally found the recipe at Taste of Home. Just like Turkey a la King, it is a perfect follow up to last week’s stuffing and mashed potatoes. Continue reading “Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup”

Crunchy Chopped Salad with Feta, Lime, and Mint

It has been over a year since I have posted anything here! Joe and I  have been very busy lately with buying and moving into a new house, and neither one of us has had much time for anything else – including cooking. Tonight, however, I managed to make something other than frozen pizza and my taste buds (and love handles) are thanking me.

This is another brilliant recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I find myself craving it whenever I want something crunchy and green. I love the way the spicy lime dressing coats the feta and the way it elevates the vegetables. The mint and the sunflower seeds add complexity and balance the whole thing and… I really don’t know what I’m talking about, I just know that it’s good and worth making repeatedly every summer. I gave the recipe to my mom, who likes filling it out with barley and lettuce which turns it into a very different, but still very delicious dish!

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