It’s Sunday morning and the dishes are piled high in the kitchen. The empty beer bottles have been rinsed and are draining before being placed in the recycling. My house has a wonderful hint of the smell that filled the rooms all day yesterday and I still have a huge smile on my face from a night well spent with friends. Once again, food has brought people together for an impromptu dinner party at my home and I am ever so blessed.
Friday afternoon I sat down with David Lebovitz‘s My Paris Kitchen to read the recipes for the Cook the Book Fridays cooking club. It was perhaps a rookie mistake to think that I could just begin cooking and have the Carbonade Flamande ready for dinner that same evening…nope there was no possible way that was going to happen unless we ate the stew somewhere around midnight. So I made the executive decision to delay baking the Spiced Bread and cooking the entire recipe until Saturday. Sigh. This is only the second ‘Cook the Book Fridays’ assignment I have taken part in and I’m already breaking the rules.
The Spiced bread recipe seemed straight forward enough and I was pleased that it was more like a quick bread than a yeasted bread. I began the boiled honey and sugar portion while hubby was making our breakfast omelettes and it was suitably cooled by the time I was able to get back into the kitchen. The smell of the spices in the baking bread (whole anise, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, ground nutmeg, and cloves) had us reminiscing about the Christmas gingerbread we had enjoyed only a few short months ago.
Upon reading the recipe introduction, in which David states that there seems to be a resurgence in pain d’epices popularity due to it’s accompaniment with foie gras, a personal food memory was triggered. I remembered that we did have some tiny pain d’epices toasts with foie gras on our trip to Paris!
I don’t really know how or why anyone would have a loaf of this bread just sitting around ‘mellowing’ for days, because it is virtually impossible to ignore it sitting there on the counter. I’m quite sure we will be having the rest of it toasted and with additional honey for breakfast this morning.
When I read the quantities of meat required for the stew I knew that there was no way the three meat eaters in this house would be able to finish it in one sitting, or even several sittings. I was in a bit of a quandry about inviting others over to share the meal with us as the flavours were a bit ‘out there’ and maybe not suited to North American palates. In the end it was a needless worry because our guests enjoyed heaping bowls of stew on top of a pile of creamy mashed potatoes. There was enough for five adults, then later when my teenage son invited 5 friends over, there was enough for them too! We enjoyed the dinner with some more of the Alley Kat Amber Ale that I had used in the recipe, then we enjoyed some more after dinner was over…
I placed the bread in the stew mustard side down but was able to flip them over when I realized my mistake!
Though I had my reservations about placing the spiced bread in the stew, the final flavour was actually quite pleasant. I really don’t have a decent photo of the final stew because it was quite…non-photogenic! I do think that I would make this recipe again, perhaps the next time I have my entire family visiting because the recipe makes a huge portion of stew.
that bread looks good for baking at altitude! maybe just reduce the baking soda a smidge to get rid of the slight dimple on top. not so rookie, sometimes planning ahead is the hardest part of a recipe!
Impromptu dinner parties are the best! I agree that the bread smelled like Christmas. Tasted like it too.
Looks good to me! Our best friends live next door to us, and it’s so much fun to get together casually and serve something simple, drink, and walk home! Although actually we usually drive the 1/4 mile because of skunks and other wildlife that I don’t really trust!!!
Your bread and stew under that bread looked great; and how many people got fed? Wow! I reduced my portions for both the bread and stew for two pax!
9 or 10…with mashed potatoes of course! I bet the stew would freeze quite nicely if you wanted to make the full recipe. I would still make the full bread recipe…it’s wonderful for breakfast!
Haha, yes beef stew is not very pretty, is it? Loved your story here. I wonder if anyone _didn’t_ have reservations about adding in that bread? Sometimes I wonder how these things come about. I imagine it was some kitchen clean-up/dishwasher-type in a Belgian tavern hundreds of years ago that used his bread slathered with mustard to sop up the stew leavings. A cook finally tried it and decided to make it that way all the time. Or, same kind of thing but the bread was stale and they needed to use it for something, so why not thicken a stew? Glad you all enjoyed it!
I’ve heard about thickening stew with bread before, I think I was a bit more worried about the spices! I am always wondering about who was the first to eat whatever ingredient/dish…and how they came about! You and I are of the same mind!
I only made half the recipe for the two of us and still had leftovers. It was really good, and I loved the bread.
I know I will be repeating both these recipes again.
YES! The recipe made a lot…good thing it’s delicious. I had the bread toasted with butter for breakfast and it was YUM!
The stew looks really good and your bread turned out perfectly! Your comments about how many people this fed made me happy I decided against making it this week. I’ll wait until I go over to my parents’ place and make it for them. They’ll have meals’ worth of leftovers!
The bread sank a bit in the middle. I would probably have to adjust the recipe a bit for high altitude cooking 🙂 But it’s tasty. I’m sure your parents would LOVE to have this stew as leftovers!
Ah, high-altitude baking! I’m near sea level, so I don’t have to worry about that. I’m looking forward to making the stew some time!
No, this wasn’t the prettiest dish but it certainly was delicious.
I often get myself into timing conundrums – thank goodness for “Plan B” 🙂
Always, always have a plan B!!