Winter is the season where Cold dominates. It belongs to the Water element and the Kidneys. Salty is the associated flavor. During this time of year the majority of the body’s Qi travels inward to the deeper layers in order to protect the Vital Organs from Cold. Qi can become stagnant due to Cold slowing down circulation. Foods consumed throughout the Winter should be warming, acrid & aromatic, sweet, and salty. Warming foods protect against Cold Damage, acrid & aromatic spices help to move Qi to protect against Stagnation, sweet flavors nourish and strengthen Qi, salty flavor supports the Kidneys and helps dissolve Stagnation.
If you have a tolerance for alcohol a small-moderate amount can be consumed regularly to promote Qi circulation, regulate blood flow, stimulate the mind, and warm the body.
Beef & (Sweet) Potato Stew
2 Medium to Large Parsnips - peeled and cubed
3 stalks of Celery - chopped
2lbs Beef Stew Meat (we used Chuck Roast)
1/2 lb Shiitake Mushrooms
3 Potatoes (each a different variety)
1 cup Red Wine
1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
Oil for frying
The night before prepare the stew meat by cutting into bite-size pieces. Generously and evenly apply salt to all sides of the beef. Wrap up the beef and allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator.
Peel parsnips and chop both parsnips and celery into small cubes. Add 1-2 tsp of salt to the vegetables and gently massage to evenly incorporate the salt throughout.
Heat a stock pot on the stove top over medium heat. Add 2-3TBSP oil to the pot, allow a few minutes for it to heat up. Brown beef on all sides, do this in shifts so there is room enough for the beef to brown. Remove beef to a plate to rest as you finish browning. Once you are done with this step set the beef aside.
Wash and chop the Shiitake mushrooms. Brown mushrooms in the same oil you browned the beef in. Once the mushrooms are browned deglaze the pot with 1 cup of red wine. Reduce the wine to half. Add 1 1/2 cups Chicken stock and reduce the heat to medium-low bringing the pot to a low simmer. Return beef to pot and add 1/2-1 TBSP black pepper.
With mild unscented soap thoroughly wash the skins of the potatoes. For deeper complexity of flavor and texture select 3 different varieties of potatoes. Cut into large pieces. Layer the stew by gently pouring the parsnips and celery over the meat, then place the potato pieces over the parsnip mixture. Do not stir.
Gently simmer for 45min. Once the potatoes are soft carefully stir all ingredients together (2-3 stirs is generally all it takes). Check the tenderness of the meat to determine how much longer to cook. Simmer for another 15-30min. Remove from heat and serve with your choice of condiments.
WARMING WINTER CONDIMENTS
1 cup of white sugar
2 cups water
1 bag of peeled whole cooked chestnuts
4 pieces star anise
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamon pods
1 vanilla bean split and scraped 1/2 inch ginger - sliced thinly
In a heavy sauce pot make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water until the sugar has fully dissolved.
Add all the spices and simmer on low until sugar water has reduced by about half.
Set aside and let rest to infuse the spices for about 40 minutes to an hour.
Strain out spices and add chestnuts to the pot.
Simmer over low heat until the the chestnuts become slightly clear, about 30 - 45 minutes. Make sure to not allow the sugar syrup to crystalize.
Remove the chestnuts from the syrup and set aside to dry.
You can save the remaining syrup to make a delicious syrup for fancy coffee drinks!
These are also delicious as a nice little vegan and gluten-free desert with some cashew or coconut cream.
Vegan Horseradish “Creme”
1 cup Hemp seeds
1/4 cup Pumpkin seeds - lightly toasted
1 inch fresh horseradish grated or 1 heaping tablespoon of prepared horseradish
1 clove of garlic (or more if you like)
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1 Tablespoon aged Chinese vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
Salt to taste
Water to desired consistency
Blend all in a high-powered blender like a Vitamix until smooth and creamy. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
Spiced Chili Oil with Garlic and Salted Black Beans
2 cups peanut oil (or other high smoke point oil like avocado)
1 cup Sichuan chili flakes
4 cloves garlic - peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup salted black beans (found at Asian markets)
5 whole star anise
2 whole cinnamon sticks
3 whole bay leaves (I used fresh but dried is fine) 6 cardamom pods - slightly crushed
1 Tablespoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt (more if you are unable to find salted black beans)
**Please use extra caution when making this recipe**
hot oil can be dangerous
if you do not have a candy thermometer then set your stove to low and let the spices steep in the warm oil
never leave your stove unattended
do not allow children in the kitchen while making this recipe
In a small sauce pot (preferably with a little spout) heat the oil to 225 degrees (use a candy thermometer).
Add spices gently so not to splash the oil.
Simmer about 25 - 30 minutes. Watching to make sure the oil doesn't smoke and the spices do not burn.
When the spices become dark brown (not burnt) and the oil is nicely aromatic, turn the heat off, let cool about 5 minutes.
Pour the oil over the chili flakes, garlic, and black beans using a fine mesh strainer. Let cool and pour into a sealable jar.
Keep it in the fridge up to 6 months (but you will use it up long before that!)