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.

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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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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From the Pantry: Joe’s Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

This was the first meal that Joe ever made for me. Well, actually he made it for my roommate, Lindsey, and I wasn’t supposed to be there… See, nine years ago, I kept asking my roommate when she was going to have her smart, charismatic, good-looking friend from college over to our apartment again. One night, Joe invited Lindsey to his place for dinner to talk to her about how much he liked her roommate (me) and Lindsey decided it would be a good idea to cut out the middle man and bring me along. She was right – it was a good idea.

Joe and I regularly eat this soup in the cooler months. It is incredibly filling (while still being low-calorie) and absolutely delicious. Often, split pea soup is made with ham, which is very salty. We don’t use ham (which keeps it very inexpensive, as well!) but we do add a lot of salt. This soup turn-the-bowl-sideways thick and goes very well with a large slice of crusty sourdough bread. Continue reading “From the Pantry: Joe’s Vegetarian Split Pea Soup”

Catching Up On My Third Lord of the Rings Marathon

This winter, I’ve been trying to combat the winter blues by getting out of the house as much as possible. Bar trivia, a bowling league, weekly game night with friends, and a regular date night with Joe have kept me very busy. One thing that kept me home, however, was hosting my third all-day marathon of the Lord of the Rings extended edition films for my friends. The tradition started as an excuse for me to make and eat the food I dreamed of while watching the movies, and every year I do a little bit more than the year before. This year, I expanded the viewing so that I had the movie playing in two separate rooms of the house simultaneously and, in addition to the traditional six Hobbit meals, I decided to make a second entrée for dinner. I thought I must be a little crazy to attempt such a thing, but with so many people in the house the pot roast didn’t quite stretch far enough and besides, some people might want a vegetarian main.

“And laugh they did, and eat, and drink, often and heartily,  being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day (when they could get them).” – From Concerning Hobbits, The Lord of the Rings p11

When he was still a boy, Frodo earned a reputation with Farmer Maggot as a rascal and a mushroom-thief. In honor of his fondness for fungi, I decided to go with a wild mushroom shepherd’s pie that I adapted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perlman. I’ve never made a recipe by her that I didn’t like, but what really sold the recipe for me was that it included directions to make it ahead and reheat it – an absolute necessity when planning such a large event. It was delicious and reheated well as leftovers with a teensy bit of Aleppo pepper sprinkled on the top. I even had one person – an enthusiastic carnivore – tell me he liked it better than the pot roast!

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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”

Slow Cooked Chicken and Tomatillos

This recipe comes from a flyer stuck inside a CSA box that one of my neighbors gave to my mom years and years ago. It’s one that I frequently use when having guests over for dinner because it’s unique, easy, and – most importantly – absolutely delicious.

The flyer credits the cookbook “Mexican Every Day” by Rick Bayless as the source. Let me just say, this is NOT American-style Mexican food covered with taco seasoning and lots of cheese (not that I don’t love lots of cheese!) It has a tangy flavor balanced by earthy potatoes; the chicken is always, always juicy and falls apart under your fork in just the way you want it to do.

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