Anniversary Weekend

This past weekend, my boyfriend Jordan and I celebrated our five year anniversary!  I can’t believe it’s been that long since we met and started dating – we are getting old 🙂  We decided to celebrate the entire weekend, haha, so Jordan took me out for a wonderful dinner Saturday night and I made him his favorite stew the next night…Beef and Butternut Squash Stew.  It’s definitely more of a winter-time recipe but this past weekend was a bit cool so it worked out perfectly.  This stew is amazing because it has an earthy sweetness from the butternut squash and sun-dried tomatoes.  I also made a rustic apple tart for our dessert since Jordan’s favorite treat is apple pie.  Tarts are so much fun to make and this one is wonderfully light and summery.  I hope you try these recipes out; hopefully they will become as special to you as they are to me.  Cheers!

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew*

Yields 4 servings


3 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp minced rosemary

1 tbsp minced thyme

2 lbs stew beef cut in 2″ cubes

1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

2 tbsp all purpose flour

1 c Marsala wine

1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2″ cubes

1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2″ cubes

1/2 c chopped sundried tomatoes

3-4 cubes unsalted beef stock


In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme.  Saute for about two minutes to sweat the onions.  Add the stew beef, flour, salt and pepper and stir well, making sure all the beef gets coated in flour.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir the meat often to ensure it browns well on all sides.  Next, deglaze the pot with a cup of marsala wine, scraping the bottom to get all the tasty brown bits up.  Let the wine cook off for a couple of minutes then add the butternut squash, potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and beef stock.  Use enough stock to just cover the meat.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and let the stew simmer away for about 50 minutes to an hour until it has thickened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with a nice piece of crusty bread.  Bon appetit!

*This stew is a variation of a Giada Di Laurentiis recipe

And what is a good dinner without an even better dessert?

Rustic Apple Tart

Serves 4-6 (or if you’re like me, just one hahaha)

Ingredients for the crust

1 c all purpose flour + a bit more for rolling out the dough

1 scant tbsp sugar

pinch salt

6 tbsp very cold unsalted butter, diced (I usually dice the butter and then put it in the freezer for just a minute or two as I prepare the other ingredients to make sure it’s very cold.)

2 tbsp ice cold water

for the filling

1.5 lb granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced no less than 1/4″ thick (we are going to cook the apples in sugar for a bit so you don’t want them too thin; they will get overly soft and then fall apart.)

1/2 c sugar + 1 tbsp, divided

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon, divided

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp melted butter

pinch salt, optional (a bit of salt takes some of the edge off the sweetness)

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

zest of one lemon

2 tbsp flour

Directions for the crust

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour, butter, sugar and salt.  Put the lid on and pulse a few times until the butter is the size of peas.  With the motor running, add the ice water in a slow stream.  Let the motor run until the dough comes together in a ball – this should happen very quickly.  Add just 1/2 tbsp more of water at the most if needed.  Carefully (watch the blade!) dump the dough out on a floured work surface and pat the dough into a disk.  You should be able to see all the bits of butter scattered throughout the dough.  Don’t be tempted to knead or overwork the dough – it won’t be flaky and tender if you do this.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator 10 or 15 minutes before you are ready to roll it out so that it can rest and soften up a bit.

for the filling

Combine the sliced apples, sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, just until the apples soften a bit.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Add the lemon zest and juice and mix.


Roll the dough into a circle about 11″ in diameter and about 1/4″ thick.  Transfer the dough to the parchment lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle the 2 tbsp of flour you reserved for the filling onto the dough, leaving a 1 1/2″ border around the edges.  Arrange the apples in a radial pattern on top of the flour. Once the apples are arranged, gently fold the edges of the dough up and over the apples, crimping as you go around the circle.  Pour any remaining liquid from the cooked apples over the filling and brush the dough edges with the melted butter.  Sprinkle the entire tart with 1 tbsp of sugar, 1 tbsp of brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.

Bake the tart for 40-50 minutes until the edges are nicely browned.  Let the tart sit for a few minutes, slice and serve with frozen vanilla yogurt.  Enjoy!

This entry was published on June 9, 2010 at 2:55 pm. It’s filed under Culinary School, Culinary Student, Soup/Stew, Tart and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Anniversary Weekend

  1. Garrett on said:

    Congrats on the five years! It’s hard to believe that not too long ago we were doing grill outs at Hueston Woods and fireworks in your parent’s backyard (and nearly setting their trees on fire).

    The apple tart looks great, but that stew… it makes me sad they haven’t figured out how to get taste and smell through a computer screen. But the talk of apples and then seeing the lemon juice made me remember something!! A fun, cooking/science related tip that works for cooking potatoes and apples and just about every plant thing:

    If you want your vegetables/fruits/plants to stay together longer and not turn to mush while cooking (an example being boiling potatoes) adding an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar will keep them from doing so. This works because the acid in the vinegar/lemon juice keeps the pectin (a component of cell walls in plants) from breaking down under the heat. This is also why some apples (like granny smiths) and pears are great for pies (due to their higher acid content they don’t break down while cooking) and others are better for salads or snacking!

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