In the last six months, I’ve made a deliberate effort to include more beans, lentils and tofu in our diet, replacing the meat we used to extensively depend on for protein. Of course, while we will never give up meat entirely (hello, bacon!), I’ve started to think about it as an option instead of a necessity.
The following two recipes, however, were delicious ways to incorporate meat (and seafood) into our week’s meals.
Beef stew always seemed to be one of those quintessential “rite of passage” dishes that all cooks have in their back pocket (like roasting a chicken, something else I have yet to do). I’m not sure what’s stopped me in the past (it’s not difficult – brown the meat, toss in the vegetables, wine/stock, and throw it in the oven), but I finally attempted it recently, basing it loosely on Rose Murray’s recipe that appears in A Taste of Canada.
I didn’t make the orange-walnut gremolata, but then again, I didn’t think it would have added anything to the stew. The stewing beef (some of the last of our cow share) was just perfectly tender after three hours in the oven, and Mack really liked the inclusion of mushrooms (the stews that we both grew up with did not contain mushrooms).
Next up: a slow cooker beef stew!
Shrimp and Cilantro Shu Mai
When I saw Mark Bittman’s recipe for shrimp and cilantro shu mai, I was immediately taken. Homemade dim sum? Yes, please!
It was pretty easy – half of the shrimp was pureed in a food processor with sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, cilantro and scallions, then combined with the rest of the shrimp, cilantro (both roughly chopped) and scallions. The mixture is then placed inside wonton wrappers, and steamed.
We couldn’t get the pleats quite right, so we decided to just make little stars instead, which worked just fine. We served the shu mai with some blanched bok choy and rice, for a rounded weekday dinner.
They were lovely – the sesame oil was the fragrant standout, though the fresh presence of the cilantro was hard to ignore as well (much to Mack’s dismay). The texture provided by a mix of the puree and chopped shrimp was also quite pleasant. We liked the shu mai so much we decided to bring them as appetizers to Jane and Yi-Li’s post-Christmas Christmas dinner potluck.
If you want a taste of dim sum without leaving the comforts of your own home, give these a try!