Well, last week was a week of goodbyes. Goodbye to our beloved mini convertible, goodbye to the dear Christmas tree and goodbye to those prized holiday lie-ins. So to cheer us up, I decided to cook ‘Jools’ favourite beef stew’, and hoped it would quickly become our favourite too!
Aside from all the goodbyes, it has also been a week of firsts…
The potato and asparagus tart was a first, not only in that I’d never made it before, but also the fact that we ate the leftovers… twice!
Meat-wise, having only ever bought already diced chicken breasts or mini-chicken breast fillets, it was with some trepidation I approached Waitrose’s meat counter for the first time in my life, sans mother, to purchase ingredients for my stew.
I doubt the experience will be such a thrill in future once the newness wears off. But as a first timer it was as exciting as it was daunting! The first challenge was that the beef skirt was not labelled as such. I had no idea what beef skirt looks like, nor what cut of meat I could replace it with if there was no skirt to be had. I almost turned away. Either to seek out something easier, or to Google, beef skirt!
Before I could make my escape, the butcher finished serving another customer and addressed me, “Can I help at all Madam?”
For someone who regularly gets ID’d buying fags or booze, I could tell that my new meat-counter-frequenter look, definitely put years on me! I am now a Madam, I am a grown up, and so I say “800g of beef skirt, cut into 2 inch pieces please young man”. OK, I didn’t really say young man, but I projected alright. I seemed to be talking his language and he gladly obliged.
I returned home with my beef skirt in hand; ready to begin my next first.
Vegetable peelings were to grace my kitchen table for the first time since we moved in. Aside from half-heartedly helping my mum out once a year over Christmas, peeling vegetables just hasn’t been part of le répertoire gastronomique de moi. And I actually found it rather therapeutic, a novelty which quickly lost its shine once I sliced the top of my middle finger.
Another first, which I hope never loses its shine, was the opportunity to cook with wine, employing the one for me, one for the pot method.
And the result of all these firsts was pretty darn scrumptious. Our first, and Jool’s favourite, beef winter stew!
I also used the left over butternut squash to make soup. My sister has warned me it was a bugger to peel and deseed, but I found a great tip online, for doing so easily. Just pierce a few holes in the squash, put it in the microwave for 3 minutes, before chopping off the top and bottom and commencing operation peel!
The soup was warming and wonderful, despite being mixed up in a smoothie-maker due to my constant lack of correct apparatus!