Last week or the week before, I broke down and bought a frozen pie crust.  I know, I know… I rant about them all the time and always say how quick and easy it is to make one.  I bought one.  And, it reinforced my low opinion of them.

Once upon a time, frozen pie crusts were folded in quarters, so when you thawed and unfolded them you had four pieces to put back together.  The new, improved version is now rolled.  So when you unroll it it breaks into hundreds of little pieces that have to be put back together.  So much for new, improved, even more effective.  And yes, I let the crusts thaw completely and come to full room temperature before I attempted my unrolling.  It’s one of those things that looks good on a drawing board but fails in practice.  I shan’t buy another.  What a pain in the ass.  It actually would have been quicker to make one from scratch.

I really was going to make pie crust tonight, but I had one pie crust and one sheet of puff pastry in the freezer taking up room.  And yes, I buy puff pastry – it’s going to be a really, really, really special occasion to get me to make it.  Really special occasion..  We do clean out the refrigerator and clean out the freezer on a fairly regular basis because I really see no reason to buy food just to throw it away.  I’m cheap like that.  So even when I buy things I know I shouldn’t have bought – like frozen pie crusts – I have to use them.  It’s rough being me sometimes…

So I make a great beef stew and roll out the puff pastry to fit the 8″x8″‘ pan and up the sides.  In another place and time the puff pastry probably would have gone on top, but that damned crust wouldn’t cooperate.  I pieced it back together, got it semi-formed into a semi-square and it went on top.

425° for 30 minutes.

I don’t have a recipe for stew.  It’s one of those things ya just make.

I brown off the onions and beef in bacon fat and like to add a cup of coffee to the mix along with a goodly splash of red wine – depending on how much I’m making.  The coffee is the secret ingredient that adds a rich undertone without ever tasting like coffee.  It’s something my mom always did and back in my recipe-creating days, was always an unexpected ingredient that always elicited raves.

And garlic, celery, carrots, a frozen mixed vegetable blend… maybe a tomato or tomato paste – maybe not.  Cubed potatoes – or sometimes egg noodles – and a pinch of French herbs or herbs d’Provence.  Thickened with flour and water.  Or – if I’m feeling fancy, a beurre manie – equal parts of softened butter and flour.  It’s the best.

So…  off to the kitchen.  I hear cookies in there calling my name…