For me, early fall is a time to make the most of both the outdoors and the indoors. So dine alfresco with friends and family amid the bright and brilliant hues of the changing leaves while a cool breeze brings a whisper of nostalgia. Then, retreat to your cozy indoors. Get lost in conversation with loved ones, or curl up with a good read.
3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
Place the beef in a bowl with the red wine (I use a good one since it’s an important flavor), whole garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 300˚F. Brown the bacon in a large (12-inch) sauté pan for 5 to 7 minutes, over medium-low heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. In the sauté pan, brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in the Dutch oven with the bacon and continue to brown the remaining beef, placing it all in the Dutch oven.
Lower the heat to medium-low, add the onions to the sauté pan, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven with the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade (discard the rest) to the sauté pan and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the beef stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring it to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven for 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250˚F or 275˚F.
When the stew is done and the meat is tender, whisk 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 cup of the sauce together and pour it back into the stew. Simmer for 3 minutes, until thickened. Stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot. Be certain to toast some crusty sourdough bread along with your beautiful autumn stew!
Divide the batter among the prepared tins (I use a level 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth. Stir in the maple flavoring and vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.