22 April 2011

Block Parties & Frankenrecipes

Dear Lissy,
We had an impromptu block party this afternoon!  Sometimes those drop-ins double or triple up on you.  I didn't do as well as I would have liked in the beverage department.  I haven't stocked up on lemonade yet this season, and I didn't brew an afternoon pot of coffee because the first friend to drop by was Mormon. You kids were hot and tired and filthy after a couple of hours and could have used something more than iced water.  Uncle Rich was disappointed not to get his Friday cuppa, too.  On the bright side, I was able to begin to share the gospel with my Mormon friend for the first time.  Living water is far more important than lemonade and cookies!

After having company all afternoon, I needed a quick dinner.  We had roast beef earlier in the week, so I opted for Beef Cobbler.  Warm, hearty, and filling, this is Matt's favorite dinner and makes the house smell awesome, too!

This dish is a Frankenstein recipe.  My mom made a beef stew topped with biscuits as part of her regular repetoire, and I've always loved French Onion Soup.  The Cook's Illustrated French Onion Soup recipe is my hands down favorite, and this recipe starts with a modification of their onion-y perfection.  I stole the biscuit topping from Vermont Chicken and Biscuits, another family favorite.
Beef Cobbler
6-8 servings
5-6 medium yellow onions, halved from root to stem, and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. oil
up to 2 cups water
1 pound (give or take) left over roast beef cut into 1/2" chunks
1 Tbsp Worcestershire
salt & pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups shredded four cheese
1 recipe drop biscuits
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) shortening 
1 large egg
2/3 cup (5 3/4 ounces) milk
In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in shortening until mixture resembles oatmeal.  Combine milk and egg in a glass measuring cup, and pour into flour mixture.  Mix until all ingredients have been thoroughly moistened and pull together into a soft ball.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Preheat chef or sauteuse pan on medium high.  Add oil and heat to shimmering.  Saute onions until they release all of their water and color a deep golden brown. There should be a nice crust on the bottom of the pan. Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown.  Add 3/4 cup water or broth, scraping up all the browned bits,  and allow liquid to boil off until mixture has the consistency of stew. Remove from heat and stir in beef chunks and Worcestershire. Taste broth.  Add salt and pepper as needed.  If using ovenproof chef's pan, top with shredded cheese and drop biscuit dough evenly over top by tablespoons.  If skillet isn't ovenproof, transfer to 9 x 9 baking dish before topping with cheese and biscuits.  Bake at 450 in the top third of the oven until biscuits are golden brown, 10-12 minutes.  Serve hot.
We like this best with fresh fruit, but a regular green salad is fine with it, too.

I felt like I stumbled in the hospitality department today, and it frustrated me after I had just written you a letter on keeping your home open and ready.  Satan would very much like me to focus on the fact that I didn't have juice (or coffee!) and forget to pray that the gospel words I spoke will burn away the lies that have seeded in this friend's mind and be replaced with life-giving truth.   My manager at the college used to remind me almost daily:  "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!"  That's great advice, even for hospitality.  Today's "main thing" was sharing the gospel and encouraging a brother in the Lord.  Everyone relaxed, enjoyed each other's company, and our conversation was of eternal value.  It doesn't get much better than that!

A hug and a reel around the kitchen,


  1. Amen to your "Living water is far more important than lemonade and cookies!". God has placed so many Mormon friends/aquaintances/co-workers in my life that sometimes I feel like I am "out numbered" by them, but the great advice your manager gave you is so true - Just remember to do the "main" thing, AKA "seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. It is a long journey to win souls for Christ' sake but one so worth all the efforts.

  2. looks like another winner of a recipe. I love the cobbler topping, yum :)

    And I like the "main thing is the main thing" saying too :) Good reminder about what truly should be the focus of our hospitality. A seed was planted (or watered), and that is far more important than serving lemonade. Will be praying for your Mormon friend's salvation.