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.

Pi Day Hand Pies – Butternut Squash, Sage, and Parmesan

Along with Star Wars Day (May the 4th), Pi day (3.14) is one of the more popular geeky “holidays.” My chemistry teacher in high school preferred Mole Day (10-23) while others are devout observers of Free Comic Book Day (the first Saturday in May), and although my anniversary falls on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, my personal favorites may be Tolkien Reading Day (March 25th – the day the Ring was destroyed) and Hobbit Day (September 22 – Bilbo and Frodo’s shared birthday.) The big perk of Pi Day is, of course, getting to lean into the obvious pun and eat a lot of pie. Perhaps a round pie is more appropriate – you can calculate the circumference of your pie using pi! But this year on Pi Day I happened to make hand pies.

These hand pies are filled with a rich and flavorful mixture. The sweet butternut squash and red onions, earthy sage, nutty Parmesan, and toasty pine nuts all blend together and complement each other. I had this recipe bookmarked for years before I was finally was a confident enough cook to make them, but they are actually quite simple to make! Once I had finally made them, I was sure to make them again, soon. These will be a new favorite at home for me.

Continue reading “Pi Day Hand Pies – Butternut Squash, Sage, and Parmesan”

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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Roasted Winter Vegetables for Winter Panzanella

This may be embarrassing to say, but I get excited about squash season. I am not really a fan of pumpkin-spice-lattes or anything like that, but I do love wearing sweaters and getting in season with my produce. This panzanella recipe is perfect for winter – sweet Butternut squash are balanced by slightly bitter Brussels sprouts *just* starting to caramelize and savory Parmesan croutons are all tied together perfectly with quick pickled red-onions in a light vinaigrette. How great is that?

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Smoky Southwest Black Bean Soup

I first discovered the world of food blogs when I was in college. When my diet consisted mostly of ramen and peanut butter, I found reading about other people’s experiences with food fascinating. I lived vicariously through descriptions of dishes with all sorts of ingredients I couldn’t afford to buy (because anything other than the staples was too much.) Even now, reading food blogs allows me to attach an emotion to a recipe – that’s something more than a simple list of instructions can do.

This soup is the first recipe I made from a food blog for one simple reason: I could afford it. I was geekily excited to try something new. It didn’t look pretty, but it was delicious. Even now, years later, I love making this soup along with cumin roasted cauliflower for a delicious dinner that takes almost no effort at all.

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Marie cooks Skyrim: “Apple Cabbage Stew”

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I used to have a bit of a problem with Skyrim. I spent *a lot* of time playing during my grad school years; for a little while my addiction was so bad I literally ran a mile home between classes to play just a few minutes before running back. One of the things I liked about the game was making food. Cooking roasted rabbit or grilled leeks in game to scarf down in the middle of a dragon fight always made me crave hearty winter food. Even now, whenever Joe makes beef stew or split pea soup I will have a fleeting desire to play Skyrim again. I don’t play as much anymore (thank goodness) but I never quite shook the silly desire to make every single in-game food in real life.

One of the most memorable dishes in Skyrim is Apple Cabbage Stew. Which sounds, frankly, gross. I was able to find several dishes for broth soups with apple and cabbage, but these didn’t really seem appealing to me. In addition I don’t like calling a thin soup “stew,” since I think of stew as having a thicker texture. However, braised cabbage with apple is a traditional German recipe. This seemed to me the best place to start when trying to find an apple cabbage recipe that would actually taste good.  I saved a handful of different versions of braised or fried cabbage and apples that looked tasty and told myself I would make them some day.

On a recent rainy day, I found myself with an abundance of cabbage left over from makingIndian Spiced Cabbage and Onion Patties and decided to go ahead and try one of the recipes I had saved. This one is based on a Southern fried cabbage recipe and I found it surprisingly delicious. It has a sweet-and-sour taste and good texture and would pair well with sausage or pork roast, although I completely devoured my bowl full on its own, without any accompaniment. Continue reading “Marie cooks Skyrim: “Apple Cabbage Stew””

Easy Indian At Home: Cabbage and Onion Patties with Green Chutney

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I have been wanting to buy Madhur Jaffrey’s “Vegetarian India” for a long time. Although I do not keep to a vegetarian diet, and although I do love chicken tikka masala, butter chicken, goat vindaloo, lamb biryani and more, some of my favorite dishes every time I go out for Indian food are the dals, chana masala and other vegetarian dishes. I finally  ordered Jaffrey’s cookbook a couple weeks ago and immediately bookmarked nearly every page. The first two recipes I made last weekend were simple and delicious, but made me feel accomplished nonetheless. Continue reading “Easy Indian At Home: Cabbage and Onion Patties with Green Chutney”

Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti

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Several years ago, I decided I was going to make a lasagna for my friend’s mom (which I like to do for births, funerals, Christmas gifts, get-well presents, and more). She eats very little meat, however, so I decided to make a vegetarian lasagna instead. And she keeps gluten-free, but the only gluten-free noodles I could find in the store were ziti. And when I tried to layer the ingredients they all just kind of smooshed together. It did not turn out like I expected, but my sister and I brought it over to her house, we all shared it while playing Eucher together, and we all had second helpings…

Now, shelter-in-place and limiting shopping trips to once every 2 weeks has made it hard to eat as many fresh vegetables as I would like, so I found myself thinking once again about that vegetable baked ziti and I decided to see if I could recreate it. I tried my hand at it this afternoon, and this evening Joe and I sat on our porch with a glass of red wine to accompany it and we both had second helpings. Continue reading “Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti”

First Attempt At Pasty Making

At some point in the last couple months, I made the sudden and somewhat random decision that I wanted to learn to make hand-pies. I love the idea of a hand-pie filled with all sorts of different tasty fillings. It seemed like the best place to start was with a traditional Yooper pasty. A Yooper is someone who lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Pasties have traditionally been a miner’s food and the recipes traveled from Cornwall with people who came to work in the copper mines in Northern Michigan; now pasties are considered an essential meal for anyone visiting the U.P.
Joe and I made these together – my first attempt was a bit sloppy-looking, but they turned out absolutely delicious and I am looking forward to making them again.

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Chicken and Leek Pie on St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day was always important in my family when I was growing up. My father’s grandmother was from County Cork before she came to America, and my dad takes a lot of enjoyment from his Irish heritage. For a number of years I practiced Irish stepdancing, so March meant that my mom drove me around to numerous St. Patrick’s Day parties at Irish-American Clubs, pubs, museums, and churches where we were part of the St. Paddy’s Day show. My dad would play the Chieftains (well, we did that year-round) and mom made corned beef and cabbage. Corned beef and cabbage is an Irish-American dish that originated with Irish immigrants in New England and I, for one, love it! This year, however I wanted to try something different. I wanted to try something that might be more familiar to someone in Ireland. After a little searching around for a recipe, I landed on chicken and leek pie.

The preparation for this recipe was different than anything I had ever done, before, but I found that it smelled and tasted wonderful. I liked it even better cold the next day!

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