Beef Stew with Herb Dumplings

Every semester I have that sudden moment of clarity where I realize I don’t actually like going out.  It’s almost one of those things that I hype myself into thinking that I like.  I tell myself mantras like, it’s fun!  You deserve this!  Think of all the fun you’ll miss if you stay in!  Go get the fun!!!

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All of this works me into this sort of entitled-FOMO-frenzy where I truly believe that: (a) Going out is a sort of reward, and (b) Squandering this reward will only lead to heartbreak and a subsequent case of why-am-I-not-in-this-story-blues.  You know what actually happens?  I end up with a twenty-five dollar cab fare home and a searing headache and slight nausea the next day.  To be honest, I think the first part hurts me more.  I miss the city where getting home from any bar cost you ten dollars tops.  Plus, you’re not surrounded by nineteen year olds all night.  I hate being surrounded by nineteen year olds.

My solution to the going-out-dilemma is simple.  I’m getting new friends.

Just kidding.  There’s no way I can do that in half a semester.  My plan is to host more dinner parties because they’re awesome. Seriously, I don’t know why I always don’t just throw dinner parties.  They’re fun.  They’re low-key.  You can still have wine and not worry about wandering hands and expensive cab rides.  In fact, being on a college campus, the single fact that you can have wine is exciting.  I have never ordered wine at a campus bar and never will.

This recipe is the type that I’d make for a dinner party.  In fact, I did make this for one that I hosted for two of my friends.  It’s great for a larger party and pairs wonderfully with wine.  Also – bonus points – it’s from my Harry Potter Cookbook.

I should warn you all that this recipe is a bit labor-intensive at the start, but really once it gets cooking it requires little attention.  It cooks for around three hours which creates the most succulent and tender beef.  The vegetables cook down beautifully and the little herbed dumplings are a delightful addition.

Beef Stew with Herb Dumplings

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Ingredients

For the herb dumplings:

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp each of salt, pepper, ground sage, ground thyme, dried marjoram

1 tsp baking powder

2 tablespoon fresh parsley

1/2 stick butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

2 tbsp milk

1 egg

For the stew:

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 1/2 pound chuck steak, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp flour

1 14 oz can of chicken broth

3 carrots, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

4 red-skin potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch cubes

salt/pepper

Directions

For the dumplings:

Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda and herbs.  Add the pieces of butter and rub with your fingers until it forms a corase meal.  Whisk the milk and egg together in a separate bowl.  Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the egg-milk mixture.  Combine with a rubber spatula.  Press plastic down on the dough and put in the refrigerator.

For the stew:

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a wide pot.  Add the meat and brown on all sides.  Remove the beef and add the remaining two tablespoons of oil.  Add the onion and cook until it’s softened.  Add the flour and stir until it is fully incorporated into the onions.  Pour in the chicken broth and stir.  Add the meat with its accumulated juices and salt/pepper and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce to a simmer and let it cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Add the carrots, celery and potatoes to the pot.  Simmer for one more hour, stirring occasionally.

Remove the dumpling dough from the refrigerator and form into 1-inch balls.  Drop into the simmering stew and let cook for another thirty minutes, until the dumplings have puffed up.

Serve over egg noodles or with some crusty bread.

Source:  The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

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Utilizing Leftovers: Spicy Taco Salad

I started law school about two weeks ago, and I am continually surprised by just how much it is like high school.  The class is broken down into four sections, so you pretty much have all your classes with the same 50 people.  You then see those same 50 people in the hallways.  You eat lunch with them.  You wax and wane about your professors.  Complain about the work.  If that isn’t high school enough, you have lockers.  And you actually use them.

I forgot how great lockers are.  You can bring a bunch of really unnecessary things to school and then just stuff them in your locker.  My only qualm is that I got one of the half lockers.  My roommate (among others) has a full locker and I am super jealous.  She can fit so many more pictures of Orlando Bloom on her locker door.

The biggest high-school-thing about law school, though, are the hours.  Since I did speech and theater in high school, I pretty much was there from 9-5, if not later, every day.  College was a crazy-laissez-faire time of starting class at ten and ending by three — maybe with the occasional meeting on a weeknight.  Law school is pretty much an 8-5 beast, meaning when I get home all I want to do is curl on the couch with Veronica Mars.  This has made me really work the versatility of leftovers.

Last week I had a bunch of leftover taco meat from Taco Tuesday, and I used that and the leftover fixings to make some taco salads.  Not the most innovative use of the meat, but they were delicious.  With some guacamole mixed in, balsamic black bean salsa, and crushed chips it was the perfect quick-and-easy dinner.

Spicy Taco Salad

Ingredients:                                                                                                  Taco Meat Ingredients:

1/2 cup taco meat (recipe below)                                                            1 lb ground beef

1/3 cup balsamic black bean salsa                                                         1/2 cup onion, diced

1 tbsp guacamole                                                                                         1 tbsp chili powder

1/2 cup shredded lettuce                                                                            2 tsp cumin, coriander

2 tbsp cheese                                                                                                  3 cloves garlic, minced

handful of chips, crushed                                                                           salt/pepper

 

Directions:

For the meat, saute 1/2 cup diced onion in oil until softened.  Add the meat and break apart, browning the meat.  Add the garlic and spices, and cook until meat is completely browned.  Drain before serving.

Combine all ingredients.  Eat.  Repeat.