Sunday, February 18, 2007

Joyful Cooking

For me the joy of cooking does not come from the book so named, but rather from making up a new recipe. Yesterday after such a stressful week, that seemed just the sort of therapy I needed.

The way I go about this is by starting with a set of ingredients I like and adding others that would seem to go well. So yesterday's dish was to center on a piece of beef tenderloin. That meant a trip to Costco since they have the best beef at prices about half of what I would pay at Whole Foods. As much as I hate the crowds and the lines and the no frills at Costco, I went and I shopped. Of course there was then another stop at Whole Foods to get the organic shitake mushrooms and a few other ingredients.

Here's the beef stir-fry that resulted. Bear in mind this is for 2 people who don't eat a lot.

Olive oil
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1" of ginger root, minced
6 small (2") peppers (red, yellow, orange) cut into rings
1/2 cup of chopped broccoli (uncooked)
1/3 pound of shitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 large piece of beef tenderloin (a 2" fillet) cut into bite-size pieces
4 small hydroponic tomatoes quartered
1 teaspoon concentrated tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine
½ cup rich beef broth
Basil leaves
Red pepper flakes
Penne pasta

-- Put the salted water on to boil for the pasta while you chop everything else.
-- Sprinkle the beef with flour and set aside.
-- As you start to cook the stir-fry, put the pasta in to boil for 11 minutes.
-- Saute the shallots, garlic, ginger, peppers, and broccoli in a 10-inch skillet in a small amount of olive oil.
-- Push the sauteed vegetables to the outside of the pan, add a small amount of olive oil, and saute the mushrooms in the center of the pan.
-- Push the mushrooms to the outside of the pan, add a small amount of olive oil, and saute the beef.
-- While the beef is still red, deglaze the pan with the red wine.
-- Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, and the beef broth.
-- When it looks ready, add the basil, salt, and red pepper. The sauce should be slightly thickened.
-- Serve the stir-fry over the drained pasta.

The above quantities are only guesses. Just use your own judgment!

Serve with a glass of really good red wine on a candle-lit table. A nice fruit salad for dessert is all you need for a yummy meal.


Blogger Nicholai the Orthodox said...

Very creative and inspiring. Alas I am new to cooking, and am enslaved to Joy of Cooking at least until I get the feel of how to play around with ingredients the way you do.

It's an art. I am still at the crayola stage, but one day will be creating ad libitum, like you.

Thanks for a relaxing, fun read.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Sounds great and pretty easy. When you're only using a small amount of tomato paste, do you just freeze the rest of the can, or just plan on using the rest soon?

8:30 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Nicolai -- Happy cooking! Let yourself try new things.

MOI -- I buy tomato paste in a tube (that looks sort of like a toothpaste tube). You just squeeze out what you need and then put the cap back on. But make sure to refrigerate it once it is opened. Keeps for months this way.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Sounds lovely! I'll have to keep that in mind for meat-eating friends. Of course, I was pretty happy with my dinner of pizza with friends. (I'm a very low maintenance kind of girl.)

1:55 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

What a great thing! As usual, you guys in the States get way more stuff than we do...I've never seen it here. I just used the whole can so it made more but it was better than forgetting about it in the fridge and having green fur grow on it!

8:02 AM  

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