Recipes: Beef Stew, Cheddar & Chive Biscuits, Sweet Potato Corn Bread

Hearty stew served with warm, buttered quick breads is the gastronomic equivalent of woolly mittens

Food is not about impressing people. It’s about making them feel comfortable.” — Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa cookbook


Muffin basket, sieve, and white pan, all from Oddfellows Antiques, Berkley; 248-399-6098. Soup bowl, at area Crate & Barrel stores; Photographs by Martin Vecchio // Styling by Aleene Jinn George


1/2 cup olive oil, divided*
4 tablespoons butter, divided*
1 pound baby button mushrooms, halved
1 white onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 pounds lean beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2-1/2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon thyme
3 bay leaves
Sprinkling of cinnamon
Sprinkling of allspice
6 potatoes peeled and chopped
3 carrots peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper


HEAT *1/4 cup olive oil and *2 tablespoons butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes or ’til mushrooms begin to brown. Spoon mushrooms into a large bowl. Add onion to pan and sauté 10 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Add garlic and  sauté 1 minute. Add onion-garlic mixture to bowl with mushrooms.

PLACE flour in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Dredge beef in flour, shaking off excess. Heat remaining oil and butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add half the floured beef; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add browned beef to mushroom mixture in bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining beef, sprinkling again with salt and pepper. Remove again and set aside.

ADD wine and vinegar to the Dutch oven, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add broth, thyme, bay leaves, cinnamon, and allspice, and bring to boil. Stir in beef mixture (mushrooms, onion, garlic, and beef). Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 1 hour.

STIR in potato and carrot. Simmer, uncovered, 75 minutes or until vegetables are tender and sauce is thick, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves.

— Adapted from Tyler Florence and Cooking Light



Muffin bowl, from Oddfellows Antiques, Berkley; 248-399-6098.

2/3 cup milk
1 egg
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cold and cut into squares
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/4 cup fresh chives, diced


PREHEAT the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray lightly with cooking spray.

WHISK egg and milk together in a small bowl. Set aside.

WHISK together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and cream of tartar. Cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients using two forks or a pastry blender until there are no pieces bigger than a pea. Stir in the cheese and chives.

POUR milk mixture over flour mixture and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a bit until dough comes together.

PAT into a 1-high dough round and cut with a biscuit cutter, placing biscuits on prepared baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or until the tops are golden.

SIMPLE PLEASURE: Children quickly learn that the best way to enjoy a biscuit is to break it open with your fingers while it’s still warm, add butter, and put the top and bottom back together until the butter melts. Quick breads lend themselves to improvisation. Try adding a bit of sugar or diced jalapeño for sweet or heat.


“Hot and flaky, fresh from the oven, homemade biscuits can easily be the bright spot of a winter day.” — Rob Kasper, The Baltimore Sun

Mini cast-iron skillet and square plate, at area Crate & Barrels stores; Red serving platter and butter knife, at area Sur La Table stores; Ingredients courtesy of Westborn Market;


1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup cornmeal
2 eggs
1 cup sweet-potato purée
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon molasses


PREHEAT oven to 400 and grease an 8-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, brown sugar, and cornmeal. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and then stir in the sweet-potato purée, oil, and molasses. Stir wet ingredients into the dry just ’til combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top as much as possible. Bake 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

— Adapted from


4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of cinnamon

USING an electric mixer, beat ingredients together until blended. Serve on cornbread.

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