Jeanne Ambrose and Lindsey Ambrose are a mother-daughter seasoned food-writing team who, between 'em, have done a lot of eating around.
     Jeanne creates, edits, and writes food, nutrition, and health features. Lindsey is a small-space gardener extraordinaire with a penchant for cooking fresh and local. She goes for full-flavored, somewhat-spicy cuisine with a flair for ethnic-fusion feasts. Read More >>


Extremely Easy Old-Fashioned Stew

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” ― Laurie Colwin

old fashioned beef stew

STEW: Before

I’m all about the ease of finding recipes online, but you can’t beat good old-fashioned recipes from dog-eared cards written by hand or those found in favorite old cookbooks.

I’ve been nose-to-the grindstone busy with projects at work and at home for the past three months. This weekend was my first catch-up time slot in what seemed like forever.

First on the agenda. Spring cleaning. Yeah. I know. It’s fall. My timing is somewhat off.

Next up: Invite friends over for dinner. I have missed being social. Chitchat around the office water cooler doesn’t count. I like to entertain. Sometimes I love to fuss. But I’d rather keep things casual and entertain more often than fuss and be so exhausted I don’t want to think about inviting anyone over again for several months.

Hence tonight’s meal. Friends. Conversation. Laughs. Old fashioned stew. (Apple pie for dessert.) I dug up the stew recipe from Laurie Colwin’s book: Home Cooking. It’s in the oven now.

Toss chunks of chuck roast (2 1/2 pounds or so) in flour-pepper-paprika. Brown in olive oil. Add layers of thick carrot slices (I used 5 big carrots), a couple of chopped potatoes (1-inch pieces), wedges of onion (I used 3 gigantic onions) and minced garlic (I put in 6 cloves because I’m a garlic lover). Add 2 cups (or a bottle) of red wine, a small can of tomato puree and a few tablespoons of tomato paste. Toss in a spring of rosemary and thyme and a bay leaf. Oh. Salt and more pepper, too. Bring it to bubbling on the stovetop, then put the lid on and stick it in the oven for 3 hours. Uncover for the last 15-20 minutes.

Laurie’s recipe suggests serving it over noodles. I like to serve mine over mashed sweet potatoes. Or nothing. It’s that good.

Want the more-detailed recipe? Go find Laurie Colwin’s book. Or come on over for dinner.

 

Change-Your-Fortune Cookies

fortune cookies

Kinda proud of these nice-and-spicy cookies. Look good. Taste fantastic. But homemade always does, doesn’t it? Just in time for Chinese New Year. Write your own fortune for the future. Then take action to make it come true. Or just make the cookies and eat them.  (Yes, you may have seen this recipe, from our cookbook Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen on Leite’s Culinaria.)

Change-Your-Fortune Cookies

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for baking sheets
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash ground cloves
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped bittersweet, dark, or semisweet chocolate
  • Chopped peanuts, sprinkles, minced candied ginger, or other little sweet or spicy things

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. If using parchment, lightly coat the paper with nonstick cooking spray or butter. Have a couple of muffin tins at the ready.
2. Write fortunes on long strips of sturdy paper. (The paper can be fancy or plain, it matters little. Best stick with strips that are 3 1/2 to 4 inches long and no more than 1/2 inch or so wide.)
3. Stir together the butter, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves.
4. Beat egg whites and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low, add about half of the flour, and beat just until combined. Switch to a spatula and fold in the butter mixture. Add the remaining flour and beat  until combined.
5. Drop 1 tablespoon of the batter onto baking sheet and use the back of a spoon to spread the batter evenly and very thinly into a 3 1/2-inch circle. Repeat to make 3 or 4 cookies on each baking sheet.
6. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the fortune cookies begin to brown around the edges. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 30 seconds. Then, working quickly, transfer the cookies from the baking sheet and place them on a clean dish towel. Place a fortune just above the center of each cookie and fold the cookie in half, pinching the top of the curved portion to seal. Gently bend the ends of the fortune cookie together to form a fortune cookie shape. (Fold the cookie over a chopstick to help form the bend in the center.) Place each cookie in the muffin tin, to help it retain its shape while it cools. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Hurry!)
7. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl or measuring cup. Dip half of each fortune cookie in the melted chocolate. If desired, sprinkle with chopped peanuts or candied sprinkles.

  • Music Beats
    the Blues

    What kind of music makes you happy? Any kind, say Penn State researchers. Study subjects felt better after listening to whatever music they liked best—from Jason Mraz to Bruno Mars to Yo Yo Ma to Mozart.

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Buy Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen on Amazon

Heart Break Recovery Kitchen
Everyone has good reasons to throw a pity party and the Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen shows you how to wallow with flair and flavor. Authors Jeanne and Lindsey Ambrose share enough comfort food and chocolate recipes in this cookbook to coax happy sighs from just about any misery-burdened soul.

In addition to 85 recipes including Deep Blue Funk Cocktail, Huevos Divorciados, Total Satisfaction Salad, Change Your Fortune Cookies, and Walnut-Studded Dark Chocolate Brownies, the book includes tips for bouncing back from the blues. There also are essays by writers around the country who share their stories of how they found happiness after heartbreak.

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