I told him to sit and stay while I scurried upstairs to grab a clean towel from the linen closet.  I hurriedly ran down the steps and was surprised to find him still sitting next to the door where I left him.  Stanford usually gallops straight to the kitchen to get his treat as soon as he returns from his walks but not that day. He knew very well to stay put because he was soaking wet.

He laid on his back while I dried him off.  Corgis get insanely wet in the rain.  As they strut down the street from one puddle to the next, their bellies scoop up all the rainwater from the ground because of their short legs.  And so even with his waterproof, fleece-lined raincoat on, poor Stanford gets terribly wet even in just a drizzle.

But it wasn’t a mere drizzle.  It was a storm!  It had been raining nonstop all week.  Sure, there were breaks from time to time when the sun tried its very best to peek out of the thick, grim clouds but those only lasted for only a fleeting moment.  I know we badly need the rain but don’t we need the sun, too?  What happened to sunny California? My calamansi tree and the tomatoes and peppers Dennis planted in our tiny vegetable garden barely a week ago need the glorious sun. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the rain.  I grew up where it rains practically half the time, all the time. Monsoons are part and parcel of life. Images of basins and buckets full of rainwater that dripped from cracked ceilings flash through my mind. So do paper boats, deftly folded from old newspapers, floating dreamily along curbside streams. I love the mist. I love the rain. But cold, miserable rain for days is a totally different story.

The rain continued to pour and I knew our weekend plans would have to be ditched. I also knew I had to stop whining about the weather because there was simply nothing I could do. And things could be worse. I rolled up my sleeves and worked on a few things around the loft, which I had been putting off, then retreated to my kitchen to make stew for dinner. It was, after all, a stew kind of day. I made caldereta [kal-dih-ret-uh], beef stewed in a rich tomato sauce. I marinated the beef in vinegar for a couple of hours before I simmered it slowly in tomato sauce until it was fork-tender. I stirred in some liver pâté to thicken the stew and add another layer of flavor, then baked flaky drop biscuits right on top.

As the cold rain fell heavily outside, Stanford watched the world go by through the glass door. By the time the biscuits were done, he ran straight to the kitchen, nosed around, and followed me intently as I dished the stew and biscuits into plates for dinner. All of a sudden, the rain didn’t matter anymore.

Beef Caldereta Recipe
Recipe adapted from Gerry Gelle’s Filipino Cuisine

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
6 whole peppercorns, crushed
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1-1/2 pounds beef for stew, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped, about 1/2 cup
12 marble or fingerling potatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup liver pâté
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup green olives, optional
1 to 2 small cayenne peppers, optional
salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine vinegar, peppercorns, garlic, and beef in a container large enough to hold everything together. Marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

Remove the beef and discard the marinade. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat Add the oil, then the beef, and brown on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside.

Add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Add the beef, potatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, salt, sugar and water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the beef is tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Add the liver pâté and stir well. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper as needed. Add the red bell pepper and peas and simmer over low heat for 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile, make the drop biscuits.

Caldereta with Drop Biscuits

Drop Biscuits Recipe, makes fifteen 1-1/2-inch biscuits
Recipe from the Joy of Cooking

1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled butter or shortening
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Cut in the chilled butter using a pastry blender or two knives, until the size of small peas.

Make a well in the center. Add all the milk at once. Stir just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Scoop the dough with a tablespoon and lay it gingerly on the stew until the stew is practically covered with biscuits. Leave a half-inch space between biscuits. Bake with the dutch oven uncovered until the biscuits are lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

Alternatively, the biscuits can be baked separately in a baking sheet and served along with the stew. Drop the dough from the spoon onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

Cooking Notes

1. Caldereta is traditionally cooked with goat meat, in the northern part of the Philippines. Pitted green olives and slices chorizo are typically added as well as shredded cheddar cheese, which thickens the sauce.

2. Cut the meat and potatoes evenly to make sure they cook uniformly. I like using marble or fingerling potatoes that have roughly the same size as the beef cubes. Roast the potatoes separately in olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper and add them in the stew when it is ready to be served.

3. Caldereta is typically ladled over a heap of steamed rice but I like how the drop biscuits soak up the rich, savory sauce.

4. Like most stews and soups, caldereta is better a day or two after it is made. Bake the drop biscuits fresh right before serving the stew.

Caldereta with Drop Biscuits

  • http://whenadobometfeijoada.blogspot.com/ carolineadobo

    A great idea to put drop biscuits in the caldereta, Jun. Though I would still eat this with rice :)

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thank you, Carol. I’m with you about the rice! But the flaky biscuits soaked up the caldereta sauce so beautifully!

  • Anonymous

    You live in a loft in SF? Awesome! Actually, that was a goal of mine when I graduated… to make my way to San Francisco and live in a loft. I, uh, haven’t gotten there yet, but San Diego isn’t a bad place to be. ;) I hope there’s a photo somewhere of Stanford in his raincoat. And the stew? You had me at liver pate. Sounds perfect for a rainy day.

  • http://kitchen-confidante.com Liren

    What a cunning idea, to pair the drop biscuits with the Caldereta – it almost becomes a Filipino pot pie, doesn’t it? I bet it went beautifully together.

  • http://twitter.com/momfood Serene

    I just love the little marble potatoes! This looks and sounds great.

  • http://twitter.com/momfood Serene

    We moved from San Diego to an anti-loft (loft-like space in a basement) and I can’t recommend it enough. Come! Be one of us! ;-)

  • http://whenadobometfeijoada.blogspot.com carolineadobo

    Oh, I meant I would eat the biscuits AND with rice, too! :)

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Ha! Yes, I’d do that, too!

  • http://twitter.com/foodalogue Joan Nova

    Beautiful writing…and damn good-looking dish!

  • Alvin

    Lovely! I like the drop biscuit twist. This made me think of making pot pie out of leftover calderetta.

  • http://www.obviouslyomnivore.com Xai Losito

    homaygahd. drop biscuits on caldereta just makes so much sense! as i was reading your post, i did remember those times when the weather wasn;t so great back home, then i read the part about paper boats… i laughed so hard because you worded it so nicely, but it MY reality, those paper boats did not float dreamily on curbside streams, they tried their very best to survive the class 5 rapids that was gushing through the kanal. lol!

  • http://www.skiptomalou.net skip to malou

    HUWAW… I would like to have a scoop of your kaldareta right now. I love the addition of drop biscuits but will still eat with rice. Talk about carb loading haha. Im sure there’s enough sauce to soak up my rice if not I’ll scrape off the brown bits on the sides of the pot haha. Yum. tonight is a stew kind of night over here in SD… and if we were neighbors ill be knocking at your door begging for a bowl of kaldareta!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Oh Xai, you’re too funny! I had my share of shredded paper boats, too, just like you!

  • Tina (PinayInTexas)

    Your caldereta with drop biscuits looks so fab! I use pineapple juice for my caldereta’s marinade. I’ll try apple cider vinegar next time.

  • Jeannie

    Looks great! I would drop the biscuit on top too, saved one step of baking AND cleaning up another tray!:D

  • Vijitha

    Loved the twist with drop biscuits. Yummy clicks.

  • http://twitter.com/sippitysup sippitysup

    I have a little mutt named Mogli. he too loves the rain, mud and muck. It can be a perfectly dry day and he will find the only mud puddle in town, then go lay in it… almost everyday. Whaddaya gonna do? I think you have the right idea with a bowl of this with drop biscuits! GREG

  • Jean

    Jun, kaldereta is one of my all-time favorite filipino dishes. I’ve only made it a couple of times since it’s one of my mom’s specialties and I’d much rather eat hers. Yours looks yummy, as well. I’ve never ever seen a version with drop biscuits–very clever! It looks awesome. :-)

  • Authenticsuburbangourmet

    I love that Stanford waited by the door to get dried. This weather is insane – so looking forward to Spring and Summer. This Beef Caldereta looks incredibly tasty and with the drop biscuits – how can you go wrong. My husband would love this!

  • Lala

    Sigh. Things I never thought I’d love 10 yrs ago: caldereta and a doggie! But I am wiser and older and am absolutely over the moon with dogs I cannot yet have. So I will have to soothe my sorrows with thoughts of your stew. Awesome with the biscuits, which I’d still eat alongside the rice…of course lol!

    And btw, have I mentioned how much I look forward to your photos? Only you can make stew NOT look like…well, u get the idea…

    Thx Kuya Germs!

  • Jaimee

    Yum! :-)

  • http://torviewtoronto.blogspot.com/ torviewtoronto

    flavourful delicious meal

  • http://foodhoe.com/ Sandy Waddle

    What an interesting melange of flavors! Sounds delicious

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