Stew-pendous Go-To Dinner Party Menu

ON THE MENU:

Endive, Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad
Maria’s Irish Stew
Spiced Apple Cake

Maria's Irish Stew Image 1

This week’s Stew-pendous Go To Dinner Party Menu proves that the food doesn’t have to be super fancy to work for an elegant dinner party.  As Julia Child suggests: “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”  I couldn’t agree more and this wonderful stew recipe;  passed along to me by my mother-in-law Maria, certainly fits the bill. 

BLUEPRINT: You can make the stew the day before or get it going first thing the morning of. The spiced apple cake can be made the day before too and either refrigerated and brought back to room temperature an hour or so before serving or heated in the microwave right before. The endive lettuce and be prepped and kept in a Ziploc in the fridge just – leaving you to place the components into a salad bowl, toss with Kitchen Moxie vinaigrette and plate. Don’t forget to heat the bowls for the stew and make sure to set out a bread plate when you set the table,  as it would be a crime not to give your guests something to dip into that rich delicious gravy.

Grocery List:

  • Fruit: 2 – 4 apples
  • Produce: 4 large endive lettuce, 1 large onion, 1 lb baby carrots, 1 bag yukon gold potatoes (you’ll need about half a bag)
  • Fresh Herbs: n/a
  • Meat & Fish: 2 1/2 – 3 lb boneless leg of lamb (or cubed lamb)
  • Dairy: 2 eggs, 5 oz margarine, 1 cup good quality blue cheese, 2 sticks margarine , 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • Frozen: n/a
  • Staples: n/a
  • Baking: 2 oz confectioners’ sugar, 8 oz superfine sugar, 8 oz self-raising flour, 1/4 cup plain flour
  • Spices: salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Other: 2 beef stock cubes, 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, 1 baguette, Coleman’s English Mustard (optional)

 

Endive, Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad

What you need: paring knife, chef’s knife, cutting board, large mixing bowl, small bowl or ramekin, measuring spoons/cups

Serves: 6

Take any bruised outer leaves of the endive lettuces. Chop about 1/4 inch off the bottom.  Carefully peel four of the remaining leaves from each endive – yielding 16 leaves. Take the remaining endive and chop. Toss chopped endive, chopped walnuts and blue cheese in the Kitchen Moxie Vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.

Tip: I like to put a few scoops of salad into a small single serving bowl or ramekin and then turn it upside down on the plate to create a dome of the salad.

To Serve: Divide salad evenly on six salad plates and add three whole leaves to each plate.

Maria’s Irish Stew

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, peeler, large covered casserole dish, chef’s knife, cutting board, Pyrex measuring jug, Ziploc bag

Serves: 6 – 8

  • 2 1/2 – 3lb boneless butterflied lamb (or cubed lamb)
  • 1 lb  baby carrots
  • 2 1/2 lbs potatoes (peeled and quartered)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 lamb or beef stock cubes
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Coleman’s English mustard (optional)

Tip: I like to get the boneless butterflied lamb and cube it myself – it’s cheaper by the pound and you get a lot of meat out of the one piece.

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a large Ziploc bag. Seal it and shake it to combine. Cube the lamb into bite size pieces, removing the fat as you go. Place the cubed meat into the bag and seal (pushing the air out as you do). Shake the bag to coat the lamb cubes with the flour mixture. Peel and slice the onion. Arrange 1/4 of the onion slices in the bottom of the casserole dish. Place 1/4 of the carrots on top and then 1/4 of the potatoes. Add 1/4 of the lamb by using tongs to remove it and place it in the casserole dish. Continue to create layers, adding a dash of salt and pepper after completing each one. Place the two stock cubes in a large Pyrex jug and add 4 cups of boiling water. Dissolve the cubes and pour stock into the casserole dish, making sure the liquid is just covering the stew. Cover the casserole and place in the oven for at least 3 hours. The longer the better, just make sure to check every 1/2 hour or so making sure there is still enough cooking liquid in the dish. If it looks like it’s drying out, add more stock or water.

Tip: This is a great make-ahead dish. It tastes even better the next day!

To Serve: Place the stew in a warmed wide-open white bowl and spoon a teaspoon of Coleman’s English Mustard into the center. Serve it with a baguette (for dipping)!

Spiced Apple Cake

This recipe comes from my sister-in-law Nina  and is one of her go-to dinner party desserts. The recipe is a slight adaptation from Carol Bowen’s version included in one of Sainsbury’s Cookery books and is perfect fall dinner party dessert! 

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, food processor (slicing disc & blade), deep 8’’ round cake tin, parchment paper, non-stick cooking spray

Serves: 8 – 10

  • 1 lb apples (depending on size approximately 2 – 4)
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz self-raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cinnamon
  • 5 oz margarine
  • 8 oz superfine sugar
  • 2 oz chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbs butter (for greasing the pan)
  • confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Grease the cake tin with unsalted butter. Line with parchment. Spray the parchment with non-stick baking spray. Peel and core the apples. Using the slicing disc attachment for your food processor – slice the apples and set aside. Rinse and dry the food processor bowl. Put back in place with the metal chopping blade. Place the flour, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the margarine, sugar and egg sand process for  about fifteen seconds, until well combined. Add in the chopped walnuts and process for and additional few seconds to combine.

Tip: This “batter” looks more like dough as it’s thick and sticky. Do the best you can with spreading it evenly in the cake tin and don’t worry about how even it is when you pour the remainder over the top of the apples. It will even out during the baking process.

Spoon half of the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and spread evenly. Cover with the apple slices and then top with the remaining caked batter. Bake for 1  1/4 – 1 1/2 hours, until well risen, golden in color and a toothpick pierced through the center of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool.

To Serve: Place cooled cake on a serving dish or cake stand. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. You can microwave back to warm if you prefer and serve it alongside a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. If you go that route, dust with confectioner’s sugar after you warm it up.

 

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