- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2005

For those who dine out frequently, cooking at home can be a challenge. You’re so accustomed to the razzle-dazzle of a restaurant kitchen that your amateur efforts seem paltry by comparison.

A salad with only one type of tomatoes? How could you serve that when you’ve been dining on trios of heirlooms? Or you may find that a plain stew, a dish that has satisfied generations, isn’t special enough.

Don’t worry about competing with chefs. If that’s stopping you from preparing a meal, perhaps it’s time to change your priorities. You’ll find sharing a kitchen as a twosome is just as pleasurable as having the latest and trendiest ingredients at a hot restaurant.

Schedule an evening when you won’t be too tired or preoccupied to make a delicious veal stew with mushrooms and leeks. This dish is every bit as satisfying as what you’d eat when dining out, but the preparation is easy enough for home cooks.

Veal isn’t always available in supermarkets, so plan ahead. You can ask your butcher to order veal breast or shoulder roast and cut the meat into bite-size chunks. Buy a good bottle of white wine, both for cooking and for drinking.

And if you’ve forgotten how to converse unless you’re in a noise-filled room, turn on some music and relax.

Veal stew with mushrooms and leek

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 leek, white part only, chopped

1 cup chopped mushrooms

3/4 pound veal stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup dry white wine

cup chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed thyme

1 cup baby spinach leaves

1/4 cup whipping cream

Cooked noodles

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet. Add leek and mushrooms. Saute over high heat 3 to 4 minutes. Dust veal with flour and salt and pepper to taste, reserving leftover flour. Remove leek and mushrooms from skillet; reserve.

Add remaining tablespoon oil to pan, if pan looks dry, and heat. Add veal and brown on all sides. Remove. Pour off any excess oil.

Add white wine to skillet, bring to a boil, and scrape up any browned bits. Stir in leftover flour to form a paste. Add chicken broth; stir until slightly thickened. Stir in thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Return leek, mushrooms and veal to skillet. Add spinach. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in cream and serve immediately over noodles.

Makes 2 servings.

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