You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘stew’ tag.

Suddenly the air is different around here. The sun lays its rays at a new angle now. Its warming arms take longer to wrap themselves around my shivering shoulders. My bones feel denser, my brain heavier. I feel the change in my tummy even without the weather forecast bloke warning me of an upcoming winter storm.

WINTER STORM?? Aren’t we getting a tad dramatic? It’s still Southern California we’re talking about. Mother Nature came, coughed once or twice, and spat a few drops of rain on the ground. So much for the vicious and nut-cringing cold front, Mr. Weather Man.

Nevertheless, I can see the change of season in my kitchen as well. All the golden and ruby leaves fell and went. New vegetables arrived. Crimson cuts of beef begged to be braised in red wine with a harem of root vegetables, ending their poetic orgy as a hearty and gut-warming stew on a bed of toasted pearl barley…

Three days later a bowl of hot, mildly spicy, yet with a hint of sweet innocence BIGOS turned up on our table bringing bliss and comfort just like a Swedish massage followed by a plunge into a hot tub would.

WAIT, WHAT DID YOU CALL IT?

Repeat after me: BEE-GOHS. You got it. Bigos is a Polish staple, at least in my family. There isn’t a holiday, or any family gathering without a giant pot full of this steaming hot sauerkraut stew. Every cook has his/her method and thus certain details of its preparation differ. My mother always mixes white cabbage and sauerkraut in almost equal proportions along with a myriad of spices and a whole animal. I swear, she adds half a pig and anther half of a milking cow into her stew and cooks it all together for hours, or days if possible. What we end up with at the dinner table is pure magic.

When I first moved to California, I moved into a house shared with two other girls. The place was furnished, set, and very homey. I got homesick. I was still eating only vegan foods back then, and in order to cure my nostalgia I was reinventing my mama’s dishes sans any products having lived with a face. My Vegan Bigos was born, and it rocked the worlds of many. I substituted meat with tofu and tempeh, added a bunch of wild mushrooms, and let the goodness cook for hours and hours and hours.

The version I make today is even simpler. On average I use:

- about a quart of store-bought sauerkraut, rinsed under cold water, wrenched and then chopped

- 2 small leaks, washed properly as leeks should be washed, then chopped

- 1 large onion, cut into small to medium dice

- a few garlic cloves, finely chopped

- 2-3 half inch rings of uncured pancetta, diced

- 3 small carrots, peeled and grated

- 4 oz tomato paste (But seriously, I never measure anything, so who knows…)

- handful of dried wild mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water for min. 1 hour prior

- seasoning: salt, pepper, lots of paprika, chili pepper, nutmeg, 2-3 bay leaves, dry marjoram, even thyme if lying around

- vegetable oil (I use sunflower).

I start with heating up the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, then add my pancetta and let the chunks render. When the bits get crispier, I take them out, and toss in the onions and the leeks. I let them sauté for a couple of minutes before I add garlic. Right off the bat, into the mix there goes about a tablespoon of dried marjoram and a touch of salt to help the veg sweat. Now you’re ready to add the sauerkraut, carrots, mushrooms along with the water they soaked in (Watch for any dirt and sand on the bottom of the cup though!), tomato paste and all spices but the black pepper. You’ll finish seasoning your stew with pepper (and more salt if needed) in the very end.

Bring back the pancetta bits and mix all your ingredients together. Cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and let cook for 1.5 – 2 hours. Check on the guys every so often and add a touch of water if it gets too dry. Also, you don’t want to burn the stuff. It’s too good to waste! Mark my words.

Rustic simplicity: a bowl of steamy hot, comforting Polish Stew with a slice of bread, or better a few hot potatoes. Bigos (if cooked with minimal amount or no meat) is an excellent accompaniment to pork loin or even a steak. You can dress it with fresh dill or parsley. Cilantro works just as well. Some Poles like it sweeter and add prunes and/or plum preserves. Some like it on a sour side and avoid such nonsense. You’re the artist, it’s your dish. Go ahead, cook and make potfuls of mouthwatering art poached in love and seasoned with fairy dust. Fear not the winter frost any longer!

About a week ago, maybe two, right before I got sick, I went to see the antics of THE FLYING CULINARY CIRCUS at Surfas store in Culver City, CA. Those are four young… Wait, let me rephrase it… TFCC are four very young chefs from Norway who travel around the world to cook and horse around for whomever pays. That’s in a nutshell what TFCC stands for.

From left: Trond, Tor, Agi, Mathias, and Hans-Kristian.

The presentation at Surfas was organized by their PR company, and various media personas, bloggers including, were invited. We got to taste a few samples of the chefs’ culinary creations, like their HOME SMOKED SALMON WITH HORSERADISH CREAM, POMEGRANATE & SHERRY VINAIGRETTE…

Delightful! I loved the flavor combination and the contrast of textures.

Another popular bite was SALMON “KISS” WITH TERIYAKI-LIME SAUCE AND SESAME SALAD…

Fantastic! Must have been the top dish that night.

The gentlemen also served us SCALOP CEVICHE that was made right in front of our eyes, which I wish had been done at least 15 minutes prior in order to let the acid cook the scallop. The salmon dishes certainly made up for that one missed appetizer.

Trond is sautéing bok choy with sesame seeds and chili for the Salmon KISS.

What was made long before our arrival was a very simple, very comforting, and very familiar to anyone who grew up in a cold(ish) climate LAMB & CABBAGE STEW. All attendees of the presentation not only got to taste the goods, but also received the recipes for all sampled dishes.

Since the STEW is so easy to make that your 4 year old daughter (sister? niece? neighbor? anyone?) could make it, I’ll share that with you as well (I’m copying the text from the sheet word for word):

- 2.2 lb lamb meat from legs with bones

- 4.5 lb cabbage

- 2 t black peppercorns

- 4 t whole-wheat flour

- water

- salt

1. Cut cabbage into large pieces. Layer meat, cabbage, peppercorns, salt and wheat flour in a big casserole. Bring to a boil and skim foam that rises to top.

2. Boil for 2-3 hours until the meat loosens from the bones.

That’s it. That’s the entire recipe. The flavor was really good, simple, but good. I’m sure you can easily substitute the meat for beef or buffalo. You could add carrots and leeks for an extra layer and depth of flavor. You could add heat of cayenne, or smokiness of smoked paprika. You could… make it your own. Served with potatoes, to me that’s the perfect winter meal.

The guys had one more surprise up their sleeves for us. Once the tasting was finished, and everyone present was comfortably sedated on ever flowing champaign, Tor, Trond, Mathias and Hans set the music and the stage for their famous waffle making presentation…

I recorded this video with my camera, hence forgive the sound quality. I did minimal editing in the very beginning and in the end of the clip. However, I bare no responsibility for the quality of the act itself.

Are you ready for this? I don’t think they were!

All in all, we all had fun. Clearly, none of the members of The Flying Culinary Circus takes himself too seriously. They cook and they monkey around. Come to think of it, that makes perfect sense. It doesn’t matter who you are and where in the world you live, I bet you like to eat well and laugh your back side off. TFCC will deliver just that.

Enter your email address to subscribe to OMB and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 14 other followers

Follow 1MoreBite on Twitter

BITES

Flickr Photos

More Photos

COSMO LOGIC

Twitter Feed

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Foodista Food Blog of the Day Badge

ARCHIVES

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.