I know that I have been AWOL since before Thanksgiving, but I have a really good excuse. I've been sick since the day after Thanksgiving. Nothing life threatening. Just a very bad cold. But when you're old like me, a cold can really take its toll on your body.
I'm finally on the road to recovery and cooking.
We've had lots of rain since October and November, so I've been craving comfort foods like soups, chowders and stews, all of which have been on the menu at least twice a week.
Rather than serve the stews with just crusty bread on the side, I decided to use this spaetzle maker that had not seen the outside of my kitchen cabinet since it arrived in the mail a year ago and try the simple spaetzle recipe posted on Elly Says Opa! It is so easy, fast and delicious. It's actually faster than boiling dried noodles....and a whole lot tastier.
After removing the spaetzle from the boiling water, I strained it and put it in a frying pan with a little butter and chopped parsley. This batch browned a little, but it was still delicious and perfect with the stew.
The marsala wine adds just the right touch of sweetness to accent the flavor of the sweet potatoes.
Beef and Sweet Potato Stew
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
3 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely minced
1 cup Marsala wine
4 cups beef broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
To season and coat the meat:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika
Put all the beef seasoning/coating ingredients in a bowl and mix together with a whisk, then transfer to a large zip-lock type bag. Add the beef chunks to the bag, close the bag securely and shake until all the beef chunks are evenly coated. Remove the beef chunks from the bag to a plate or bowl, shaking off excess flour. Set aside. Discard flour mixture.
In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, rosemary and thyme and gently saute until the onions are tender and translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute, being careful not to brown or burn the garlic.
Turn up the heat to medium high and add the coated beef chunks to the pot. Cook until the beef is browned on all sides, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the Marsala wine and beef broth to the pot, making sure to stir up all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring the stew to a full boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer the stew for one hour.
After an hour, add the sweet potato chunks to the pot, cover and simmer on low heat for another hour.
Keep stew warm while making the spaetzle.
Adapted from Elly Says Opa!
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (I always use freshly grated whole nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter butter
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 teaspoons of the salt. Reduce to a gentle boil/simmer.
Using a whisk, mix the flour, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Add the eggs/milk mixture to the flour mixture. Mix until smooth.
Secure the spaetzle maker over the simmering water and position the basket portion in the middle of the spaetzle maker. Add the dough to the basket and gently move the basket back and forth over the grater base. The dough will be thin enough to be forced through the grater base with the back and forth action and drop into the simmering water. Continue until all the dough is used. Cook just a few minutes until the spaetzle are done and rise to the surface. Lift the spaetzle out with a mesh strainer or slotted spoon.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the spaetzle. Stir to coat the spaetzle and cook about 2 minutes or until they start to get a little color. Stir in the chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.