I was dissatisfied with the Kenyan lamb stew recipe I tried last weekend from the same book, so this Colombian beef stew was in the nature of giving it a last chance. However, it worked pretty well, and served six just like the recipe said.
Colombian beef stew
1.5 kg stewing beef
50g dried apricots
50g raisins or sultanas
50g dried prunes
50g dried apples of pears
3 tablespoons oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, sliced
bunch of coriander (original recipe says a teaspoon of ground coriander but might as well use the real thing)
300 ml dry red wine
salt and pepper
1) Soak the fruit for an hour in water; drain it and keep the liquid
2) Saute the onions and garlic in a heavy pan for 2-3 mins. Then add the beef and carrots and cook for a few more minutes, turning the meat often. Then add the salt, pepper and coriander.
3) Now pour in the wine and the liquid from the dried fruit, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and let simmer for at least two hours.
4) Put in the fruit, cutting into smaller pieces if you like. Simmer again for another 30 minutes. Add more wine if the sauce is too thick, and serve.
It worked well - the heavy beef flavour deepened by the sweet fruit. We had it with potatoes, broccoli and the following surprisingly good recipe from the Good Housekeeping book, using up some odds and ends that had accumulated:
Braised celery with walnuts
a large head of celery
1 onion, chopped
150ml chicken stock
1) Chop the celery into 2.5 cm lengths.
2) Melt the butter, cook the onion and celery in it for 5-10 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the stock, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes ntil the liquid is absorbed.
3) Stir in the walnuts and heat through. Turn into a warmed serving dish and sprinkle with parsley to serve.
I was doubtful about the mixed texture of crunchy walnut and floppy cooked celery, but there is not enough nut to really create a problem. This didn't go far among six, and I would use greater quantities if cooking for more then four next time.
ხის სოკო: Khis soko, Georgian wild mushrooms
We had this the previous evening, as a side dish, and I was really pleased with it: for the first time, a Georgian dish that I cooked looked just like it did when I have had it in Georgia - I've had near misses, especially with khinkali, but this was perfect.
500g flavourful mushrooms - the Georgian ხის სოკო means "wild mushrooms".
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped chives (though I used a shallot)
1) Chop the mushrooms very fine.
2) beat the eggs and combine with the herbs, salt and pepper.
3) melt the butter and cook the mushrooms quickly over a high heat. Do not let them give off liquid.
4) Add the egg mixture and stir until the eggs are just cooked through.
5) serve immediately.