Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dinner Party Series: No-Peek Stew

It’s Autumn in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live. I wish I could pretend we’ve been jumping into huge piles of raked leaves, but it’s been abnormally cold and has been raining buckets since early OctoberThis might be depressing, but No-Peek Stew rates high on the comfort-foods scale. 

Youll never find a simpler stew! No browning of the meat! No thickening with flour as you battle the lumps! Youll use this recipe all your life, as I have. My friend Michele Vernon-Martin gave it to me when we were in our 20s. I’m now in my early 70s, (Computer failure! Whoops!) and Ive been making this stew, ever since!

Served with fresh buns and a salad, this is a simple but satisfying dinner when you feel like kicking back and entertaining. It seems to me that Pumpkin Crème Caramel is the ideal accompaniment for this easy dinner

Check the Index under Desserts for several other equally good Crème Caramel recipes.

I hope you enjoy the table settings I occasionally feature under the Dinner Party Series heading, because I’ve included an Autumn tablescape that may spark some ideas! 

No-Peek Stew:

2 lb. (1 kg) stewing beef
2 level tbsp. (30 mL) dried onion soup mix
One 10-oz. (284 mL) can undiluted condensed mushroom soup
One 10-oz. (284 mL) can mushrooms, drained
1/2 c. (125 mL) dry red or white wine
1/4 c. (60 mL) instant tapioca
2 tbsp. (30 mL) fresh rosemary or thyme
1 large potato, peeled and chopped into eighths, or equivalent in small potatoes
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into 1/2-in. (1.3 cm) coins, or equivalent in small carrots
1 stalk celery and leaves, chopped into 1/2-in. (1.3 cm) pieces
1/4 c. (60 mL) frozen peas
1 tbsp. (15 mL) gravy darkener
2 tbsp. (30 mL) fresh parsley or 1 tbsp. (15 mL) dried
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 300 deg. F. To an ungreased 2-quart (2 L) casserole, add beef, soup mix, condensed mushroom soup, mushrooms, and wine. Combine well, cover, and bake 1 hr. Stir in tapioca, fresh rosemary or thyme, and all vegetables except peas. Combine well, cover, and bake 2 more hr. Add frozen peas, gravy darkener, and parsley when stew comes out of the oven, stirring well. Season to taste. Serves 4.

The stew started with 2 lb. (1 kg) quality beef.

Three hours later, it looked like this - 
tender and delicious!

So here’s the table! I used a washable cloth runner to pick up the Autumn colors I was seeking. I also used gold-colored, plastic charger plates under yellow plates I’ve had for years. To create a more interesting table, each guest had a different-colored napkin. 

To introduce some fun and variety to my table ... 

I used a different Fall-toned color ... 

for the napkin at each place setting.

Check your cloth napkins each year ...  

... for any that need replacing.

At our next Autumn dinner party, I went a little fancier, using a tablecloth with a protective pad underneath. Red, hand-crafted beaded napkin holders added glitz and pizazz to this table, as did the totally impractical but beautiful hold napkin covers I whisked away as our guests uncovered and opened their cloth napkins. 

These same yellow plates have served me well over many years: I found them at a bargain price at Walmart.

Fancy-schmantzy is fun, once in awhile!

A crafter made me these beautiful beaded rings @ $5 apiece.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness ...
Ode to Autumn, John Keats, 1819

I treasure this Fitz & Floyd serving plate, and use it  
every Fall. I bought it on sale for $49 - a true bargain! 

Note: This recipe is a variation of the No-Fuss Beef Stew I printed in May, 2011. Youll find it under Main Dish: Beef.