I’m working from home these days, concentrating on making art. Because of the delicate interplay between domestic bliss and domestic solvency, this also means I've taken on more of the tasks around the house. It's my job now to clean it.
The thing is, cooking comes much more naturally to me. Maybe it's my Irish genes, but I have a yearning to be hospitable. I can't help it. I want to feed and entertain and take care of others. I'm working on finding the joy in scrubbing the counters. It's a slow process, all of it. The making of art, the cleaning of the house, and the exploration of one's talents. I'm starting with Steven Pressfield's shrewd book "The War of Art," and I'm learning as I go along.
The lesson for today is that it’s not only difficult to clean a kitchen while cooking dinner, it’s downright impossible. Here's the recipe for my beloved Beef Tagine.
Green-Olive Beef Tagine
- 1½ lbs braising beef
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne (or much less; to taste)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 4 shallots (or more), quartered
- 1 large potato cut into small cubes
- 2 large carrots, cut into small cubes
- 1 28oz. can peeled plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- A pinch of salt
- ½ cup pitted green olives, sliced in half (or more; to taste)
Trim the beef and cut into 1-inch pieces.
Mix together the five spices with the garlic, two tablespoons of olive oil and the tomato puree.
Turn the beef in this mixture and leave, covered, in the refrigerator overnight (or longer or shorter—it works either way, trust me).
Heat the remaining oil in the tagine base.
Fry the shallots, potatoes and carrots until they begin to color, lift out.
Fry the marinated beef until sealed on all sides.
Salt the beef as it cooks.
Return the vegetables with the chopped tomatoes any remaining marinade and the parsley.
Cover and cook over a low heat for 3-4 hours, or until the beef is tender (I’ve done this over two days, and about five hours).
Stir the olives into the dish and allow 15 minutes to heat through.
Serve with couscous.