A colorful, healthful salad pairs with Burgundy Beef to greet the winter solstice. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

 

I plan to make this oven beef stew on the winter solstice, but really it’s a wonderfully simplified version of beef bourguignon that can be made any time. Served over mashed potatoes or egg noodles, this filling dish, made with whatever cut of beef you prefer and cooked in the oven to perfection, is extra delicious made a day ahead then reheated.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

To enjoy with the Burgundy Beef, try a combination of dense roasted and caramelized vegetables piled onto crisp greens and laced with a citrus dressing. Feel free to use whatever vegetables, herbs and spices suit your taste, but I advise that you keep it simple. This particular ultra-healthy combination really doesn’t need any other embellishments, not even salt and pepper.

The puff pastries can bake while you enjoy dinner. Our family is particularly fond of the chocolate variety that tastes every bit as good as a chocolate-filled croissant in a French bakery. It’s interesting to note that I’ve rediscovered mincemeat by using it to fill these little lovelies. I add a scraping of orange zest to the filling and a tiny little bit of butter.

I’m sure you and your family will come up with many favorite fillings and I think it would be fun to surprise one another with all your imaginative ideas to put into these little bundles. Perhaps a contest is in order to see who can make the cleverest of pastries ever. I’d love to hear what you come up with.

Oven Burgundy Beef

4 thick slices bacon, diced

2 pounds round steak or stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper to taste

2 shallots, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1½ cups red wine

1/2 cup beef broth

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

2 bay leaves

3 large carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch slices

1 (2-inch) strip orange zest

1/2 pound small boiling onions

8 ounces small mushrooms, halved

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp, about five minutes. Set bacon aside and leave 2 tablespoons drippings in the Dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium. Dredge beef in 2 tablespoons flour and season with salt and pepper. Place in Dutch oven with shallots and garlic. Sauté until meat is browned and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in any remaining flour. Add wine, broth, herbs, orange zest, carrots, onions and reserved bacon and stir. Cover and bake for 1½ hours. Add mushrooms and continue to bake until beef is tender, about 20 minutes longer. Remove bay leaf and orange zest before serving. Yield: 4-6 servings

Roasted Vegetable Salad

2 cups carrots, diced

4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

4 cups zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1-inch slices

1 cup red onion, diced

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons honey

6 cups greens

1/2 cup tightly-packed cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. Place carrots, butternut squash, zucchini and red onion on baking pan and add seasonings and honey. Stir until vegetables are coated. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender and browned. Place the greens and cilantro in a large salad bowl. Top with roasted vegetables and drizzle with vinaigrette. Yield: 4 servings

Vinaigrette

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 teaspoon. orange zest

1 clove garlic, finely minced

2 teaspoons honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Whisk ingredients to combine in a small bowl.

Assorted Pastries

1 package frozen puff pastry sheets

2 tablespoons cream or 1 beaten egg

Powdered sugar

Fillings

Mincemeat

Cherry pie filling

Chocolate chips and/or Lindt truffles (1-2 truffles per pastry)

Goat cheese combined with fruit preserves

Sautéed apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon and combined with , shredded aged cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Thaw, then roll out puff pastry on a floured surface. Cut each sheet into four squares. Place 2 or so tablespoons of filling in each square then bring up all corners with edges meeting. Twist together corners and seal edges well by pressing dough together with wet fingers. Brush with cream or beaten egg. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden. As the pastries bake, they will puff up and “bloom.” Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Yield: 8 servings

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