I'm the proud owner of two editions of the Joy of Cooking--a 1997 edition, which my parents gave me for Christmas in 1998, the year before Mr. Fraser and I got married, and the 1951 one, which I inherited from my mom. Last week I drew the 1997 version. I haven't cooked from it much in the last 14 years, partly because it's just so dauntingly encyclopedic.
But at the front of the book are a couple pages of menu suggestions, and I decided to choose one--beef stew, roasted garlic spread on baguette slices, and apple-spice cake.
- 2 lb. boneless stewing beef, such as chuck, short-rib meat, or bottom round, cut into 2-inch cubes
Season the meat with:
- 1/2 to 1 t. dried herbs (thyme, marjoram, savory, oregano, and/or basil)--I used all but the savory
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. black pepper
Dredge the meat with:
- 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
Shake off any excess flour. Heat in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat:
- 2 T olive or vegetable oil, bacon fat, beef drippings, or other fat--I used canola oil
Add the meat in batches and brown on all sides, being careful not to crowd the pan or scorch the meat. Remove with a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 2 T of fat from pan (add more if needed). Add:
- 1/2 c. chopped onions
- 1/4 c. chopped carrots
- 1/4 c. chopped celery
- 1/4 c. chopped leeks (optional)
- 2 T chopped garlic (optional)
(I used the garlic, but not the leeks.)
Cover and cook, stirring often, over medium heat until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add:
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 to 1 t. of the same herbs used to season the meat
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. ground black pepper
Add enough to cover the meat at least halfway:
- 2 or 3 c. beef or chicken stock, dry red or white wine, or beer--I used 3 c. of red wine
Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer over low heat until the meat is fork-tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add:
- 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 to 4 boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks.
Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, 35-40 min. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off any fat from the surface. Taste and adjust the seasonings. If you wish, thicken the sauce by stirring together and whisking into the stew:
- 1 to 1/2 T kneaded butter--I did not add
Simmer, stirring, until thickened. Garnish with:
- Chopped fresh parsley
It looked like this:
As you can see, I forgot the parsley garnish. It was a long Sunday afternoon of cooking, and by then I was pretty tired.
Unfortunately, the turnip completely spoiled it for me. It had a sort of bitter, metallic taste that ruined the dish, at least for my taste buds. Mr. Fraser found it edible, if unexciting. I'd probably like it OK if I substituted extra potatoes and carrots for the turnips, but for that much chopping and cooking I expect more than "like it OK." The roasted garlic smeared on bread was good, though--how could it not be? I'm not including the recipes for those two, because I just roasted the former the way I always do, and bought a baguette from my friendly local grocer.
Apple Spice Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour one 8x8 inch pan or line the bottom with wax or parchment paper.
Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl, pinching out any lumps in the brown sugar:
- 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 c. packed dark or light brown sugar
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1 t. ground cinnamon
- 1 t. ground cloves
- 1/2 t. freshly grated or ground nutmeg
- 1/2 t. salt
Add and stir together until smooth:
- 1 c. buttermilk
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 2 T. rum or brandy (optional)--I used rum
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1 c. chopped apples
- 1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans--I used pecans
Scrape batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean, 40-45 min. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 min. Slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan. Invert the cake and peel off the paper liner, if using. Let cool right side up on the rack. Serve warm plain or with vanilla ice cream. Or let cool completely and frost with white, butterscotch, or penuche icing.
I served it with vanilla ice cream, and it was a sophisticated, subtly spicy dessert which also served for breakfast the next two mornings.