Sunday, March 4, 2012

Messy cupboards and why I love garlic

Ok, I'm feeling a bit random today.  Probably cause it's Sunday, so whatever OCD to-do list has been sitting in my head all week, patiently holding it together, is finally spilling out as a mess of house chores, random food alchemy, and disjointed musings.  Cool...

 Sitting here with a nice delicious cup of milk tea.  Here's how I make the stuff (and you should too!):

  1. Boil 1 cup of water in a small saucepan and add tea of your choice (loose or in a bag, who cares?)
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer tea for 5 minutes. 
  3. Add 1 cup of milk and heat on low for about 3 minutes, until the tea is steaming hot.
  4. Strain into a big ol' mug and sweeten to taste with honey (or sugar.  if you want to be that way. [behold my judging face])

Moving right along... remember how, just a few sentences ago, I mentioned OCD?  Speaking of, this is my kitchen cupboard, full of spices, beans, grains, pasta, tea, etc. - very, VERY messy by my standards, and driving me semi-batty... 

Moving on again! ...I was prepping the ingredients for some Moroccan spoon beef this morning, and I stopped to muse on the many wonders of garlic: O, Allicin.  Who is smellier than thee?  Who gets my nose running and my throat burning like you can?  In your raw form, you hurt so good, especially when your oils get into all the micro-cuts on my fingertips, into the dry-skin crevices between my fingers, but ours is a twisted relationship, and I love the short-term suffering for the long-term payoff, the flavors and the smells that waft through my house as the hours creep by and the slow-cooker rocks on.  *Sigh*

Told you I was feeling random.

Last bit before I dissolve into a total Sunday stupor: what the hell is Spoon Beef??  Well friends, spoon [insert meat variety here] is any piece of protein that's cooked so gently and for so long that when you remove it from the cooking vessel, you could do so with a spoon.  Now you know.  Here's how I'm making mine:

Moroccan Spoon Beef
Serves 8
3 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1-1/2 to 2 inch thick pieces
flour for dredging
1 tablespoon oil
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup Ras el Hanout**
1-1/2 to 2 cups dry red wine

Set a heavy skillet over high heat while you dredge the meat in the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper.  Add the oil to the pan and sear the meat, about 4 minutes a side, one piece at a time.  Place the seared meat in the bottom of your slow cooker.

Sprinkle the meat with half the spices, then pile the vegetables on top and add the remaining spices.  Pour in the wine and set the slow cooker on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10.  Remove the meat to a platter and cook the remaining liquid uncovered on high until it reaches desired consistency.  Serve the meat topped with the thickened sauce and the vegetables.

**Ras el Hanout (Moroccan spice blend)
Makes about 1 cup
1/4 cup cumin seeds, toasted and ground
3/4 teaspoon saffron, crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup paprika

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