Tag Archives: Julia Child

Beef Bourguignon

If Julia Child had tried this recipe, she would have thrown her 5-hour, Level Advanced boeuf bourguignon straight out the window. I can’t tell you the number of expletives that slipped through my lips as I bit into my first piece of tender, juicy meat, or licked the remains of a sauce rich with bits of bacon, wild mushrooms, black pepper and good red wine. I literally ran my finger over the plate to get every last bit.

This miraculously chic dish came from the cast-aways of my beef tenderloin extravaganza. That’s right – the more fatty, tissuey ends of the massive beef tenderloin. I sliced them thick and prepared them as Ina Garten would use a filet of beef mignon. The result was culinary magic.

I made a few changes to the recipe – for instance, using frozen pearl onions (who has that kind of time?) and reducing the amount of bacon (I didn’t have enough on hand).

I know that I said beef tenderloin should be a once-a-year kind of thing. But whoa, friends, am I rethinking my resolution.

Updated Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3-pound) filet of beef, trimmed, or 3 pounds of beef tenderloin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning plus 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups good dry red wine, such as Burgundy or Chianti
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/2 pound frozen pearl onions
  • 8 to 10 carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 pound wild mushrooms (I used cremini), sliced 1/4-inch thick

With a sharp knife, cut the beef crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Salt and pepper the filets on both sides. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used my Dutch oven) on medium-high heat, sear the slices of beef in batches with 2 to 3 tablespoons oil until browned on the outside and very rare inside, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the fillets from the pan and set aside.

In the same pot, saute the bacon on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon and set it aside. Drain all the fat, except 2 tablespoons, from the pot (or leave it…meh). Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Deglaze the pot with the red wine and cook on high heat for 1 minute, scraping the bottom. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Strain the sauce and return it to the pot. Add the frozen onions and carrots and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and the vegetables are cooked.

With a fork, mash 2 tablespoons butter and the flour into a paste and whisk it gently into the sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes to thicken.

Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms separately in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil for about 10 minutes, until browned and tender.

Add the beef slices, the mushrooms, and the bacon to the pan with the vegetables and sauce. Cover and reheat gently for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not overcook. Season, to taste, and serve immediately with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

Le sigh. I don’t have any other good pictures, but let your minds wander…

I’ve already waxed on about how yummy this dish is. And it was kind of fun to make on a day when you have some time to devote to your kitchen creations.

Enjoy, friends!

Scallops gratineed with wine, garlic, herbs

I don’t do dinner parties very often, so sometimes it’s nice to create one for  two people, as if you were feeding a crowd. Make it complete with flowers on the table, candles, themed music, wine and entertainment.

All things French recently got under my skin. I wanted a French meal with French wine and to watch a French film. Describing this to a co-worker over drinks one night, he asked, “Are you a Francophile?” After I figured out what that meant, I said no, I am not obsessed with the French. I simply like cooking with butter.

Julia Child immediately came to mind and I picked her version of scallops Provencale – gratineed with white wine, garlic and fresh herbs. I’m usually wary of shellfish cooked with cheese, but I must say this turned out perfectly splendid.

Grant got a really nice French white wine and red wine, and tuned Pandora to something you would hear in a French cafe.

Before preparing the scallops, I finished up this bizarre yeast-cake that is supposed to be like the one Amelie makes in her movie. I’ve never made a cake with yeast, I’m assuming this is a French tradition. Anyway, you essentially fold the dough over butter and sugar a bunch of times, then top it with sliced fruit (I used apples tossed with lemon juice and orange zest), and more sugar and butter.

Then you bake it and everything caramelizes and oozes together.

I must say I didn’t fancy this cake, which is why I’m not going to bother you with the recipe.  The texture seemed wrong – I just didn’t get it. But the fruit was tasty.

Certainly, the star of the show was the scallop dish, as described below (note: Julia writes her ingredients as they appear in the cooking method, so notice the multiple times butter is listed):

Coquilles St. Jacques a la Provencale

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. minced yellow onions
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 1/2 T minced shallots
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 lb. washed scallops (we used the small guys)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 c. flour in a dish
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2/3 c. dry white wine plus 3 T water
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1/4 c. Swiss cheese, grated
  • 2 T butter cut into pieces

Cook onions slowly in butter in small saucepan for 5 min, until tender and translucent but not browned. Stir in shallots and garlic, cook 1 min. Set aside.

Dry scallops and cut into 1/4 inch slices, if you don’t have the small ones. Small ones can be whole. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in flour and shake off excess.

Saute scallops quickly in large pan, heated with 2 T butter and 1 T oil for 2 min, to brown. Work in batches, if needed.

Pour wine and water into pan with all the scallops, de-glazing with a wooden spoon. Add herbs and cooked onion mixture. Cover and let simmer for 5 min., then uncover and boil down sauce for 1 min. Check for seasoning.

Simmering away

Spoon scallops and sauce into a baking pan (or individual ramekins), sprinkle with cheese and dot with butter.

Ready for the broiler

Run under moderate broiler 3-4 min, until heated through and cheese is lightly browned.

We served the scallops hot and bubbling, with some toasted French baguette and more French wine.

I complained that my scallops were a little tough, but Grant said I was crazy. One thing I WAS crazy about was this sauce! Oh my, Julia, you know how to make a great sauce. Bread is absolutely necessary to sop up all that flavor.

We finished up supper and then settled down to watch “Amelie,” of which I finished a little over half before drifting off to sleep. A satisfactory end to Frenchie day.

Enjoy your dinner parties for two (or one), friends! xoxo

Quick, easy Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is one of those classic French dishes that I imagine would transport me to Paris, with Julia Child on my arm. We’d have a leisurely day picking out a nice plump bird, slab of smoky bacon and a hearty red wine, then spend the next 10 hours cooking it all together.

When I’m not jet-setting with my fantasies, I’m in a warm Southern kitchen with a checkered tea apron around my waist, seeing what my wooden spoon will cook up next. This streamlined Coq au Vin lacks the all-day cooking richness that the classic dish enjoys, but it still hits all the right flavor notes. Think bacon, onions and red wine all bubbling away in your skillet. The smell is wonderful and I enjoyed the festive purple color. A nice weeknight dinner – maybe I’ll tackle Julia on a Sunday.

Bon Appetit’s Quick & Easy Coq au Vin

Ingredients:

  • 4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 8 ounces large crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, halved (Note: I omitted)
  • 8 large shallots, peeled, halved through root end
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine (such as Syrah)
  • 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
  • 4 teaspoons all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 300°F. Sauté bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl.
Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Add to drippings in skillet. Sauté until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side; transfer to pie dish (reserve skillet). Place in oven to keep warm.
Add mushrooms and shallots to skillet; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; toss 10 seconds. Add wine, 1 1/4 cups broth, bacon, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Boil 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place flour in small cup. Add 1/4 cup broth, stirring until smooth.
Add flour mixture to sauce. Cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange chicken on platter; stir juices from pie dish into sauce and spoon over chicken. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley.
Enjoy, Frenchies! xoxo

Stars and stripes forever

Now I can die happy…

Me and Julia!

Speaking as someone who 10 months ago didn’t know she would be moving to the east coast and/or visiting our great nation’s capitol…I am beyond excited about living an easy five-hour drive from DC. Not only is that city full of a diversity of food and restaurants, but it is rich with history and free entertainment to the history-lover’s content. As you can see from the photo above, I did indeed visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History. This is the  museum that houses all the First Lady inaugural gowns, Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Carrie Bradshaw’s Mac and…Julia Child’s entire kitchen!

Le sigh…

Insert me here

I  had read about them building this exhibit, but forgot all about it until I was in the museum and the clouds parted and I saw it…

It looked so bright and warm, I could just imagine sitting at the table while that giant of a woman stomped around preparing fragrant delights.

When I wasn’t doing all the touristy stuff, I ate a lot. On New Years Day, I attended a DC blogger meet-up at a hotel near Dupont (Carlisle Hotel?), where we had a beautiful buffet of gourmet foods. All-you-can-eat food and cocktails for $20 each! It was a yummy way to get over the New Years Eve headaches.

Vanilla pudding with a sugar-cookie spoon

Lox with capers

Baklava

But better than the food, I had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of rad DC-area blogger femmes, many of whom I’ve been following for years. They included the likes of Flipflops in the Rain, I Hate So Much, Live It Love It, Lemmonex, SlapTheBag, Alice’s Wonderland and Marie’s Blog Cafe. Now, what isn’t awesome about a bunch of broads at an all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunch? Nada.

Later that day, Cari from Flipflops in the Rain, me, Rebecca and Maxie from I Hate So Much went to this amazing pizza place near Chinatown, called Matchbox.

Maxie got the dessert pizza, which had a mascarpone drizzle, balsamic vinegar, basil, fresh berries and shortbread.

I ordered a half white-pie, half sausage and sundried tomato. Next time, I’ll get the white anchovy and arugula pizza…so many to choose from! I just love a good woodfire pizza, and that restaurant has a great ambiance – a sure bet for DC residents.

The next day, we took it easy and ate pho for lunch at this little Asian shopping center. I realized that the secret to good pho is in the broth. This was not just chicken broth – it was deeper and richer than any stock I have ever made from scratch! So perfect on a chilly day.

My last night there, I made my perfect roast chicken with roasted vegetables, and cheesy broccoli on the side. Sometimes it’s nice to NOT eat out. 🙂

Hope everybody had a happy and healthy New Years! On to 2010, friends! xoxo

Wine-poached pear tart

No kitchen is complete without Julia!

I have a theory, after reading Martha Stewart Living for many years, that she has simplified her gourmet recipes. I call it the Rachael Ray effect – modern cooks want great-tasting meals without all the gourmet techniques. And then Julia happened. Oh, Julia. Julia, Julia. After a certain blog-turned-book-turned-movie came out, who hasn’t been attempting Julia Child’s wonderful pastries and roasts in their so-not-French kitchens? I must say that Julia was not writing for the at-home cook. Or at least not the modern cook, who wants easy, healthy and fast recipes dumbed down to a 4th grade level.

Today will be known as the day I attempted my very first Julia Child recipe. Julia’s Pear Tart, which I found at another blog. It was written long and in a confusing order. I re-worked the recipe a bit, but I must warn you that this still took me ROUGHLY FOUR HOURS. From start to finish. Perfect for the holidays, if you are looking for an excuse to spend time away from the family. Also perfect for a free Sunday morning.

Julia Child’s Pear Tart, adapted by WriteGal

Make the sugar crust:

1 1/3 c. flour

7 T sugar

1/8 tsp baking powder

5 T butter, chilled, diced

2 T shortening

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water

1/2 tsp vanilla

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder. In food processor, add butter and shortening, pulsing, until it resembles oatmeal flakes. Add egg and vanilla until dough forms a ball. Flatten into a disk and chill until firm, 1 hour to 3 days (if making ahead).

For the frangipane (I had never used this cooking method before, so I really had to trust Julia!):

1/2 c. toasted almonds, pulverized in food processor

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

3/4 c. sugar

1/3 c. flour

1 c. whole milk

3 T butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

Whisk egg and yolk in large bowl (KitchenAid) until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until  pale yellow – 3 min. Beat in flour.

Heat milk in medium pot until scalded, temper into egg mixture, then pour all into egg bowl, whisking vigorously.

Pour milk-egg mixture back in the saucepot over moderate heat. Stir slowly until mixture thickens and coagulates into a stiff paste. NOTE: You will think you are doing this wrong because you’ll scrape up big globs from the bottom of the pot. Just keep stirring until it looks like some sort of gummy paste. Mom said it was like wallpaper paste. Beat vigorously with a whisk over low heat for 2-3 min. to cook the flour. Your arm will be sore! Take it off the heat and mix in butter, vanilla, almond extract, almonds. Let cool to room temp. Cover with a buttered parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming.

It looks like peanut butter!

Now, bake the crust. Heat oven to 375.

On a floured surface, roll out chilled dough to 1/8 in. and transfer to false-bottomed tart pan (8 or 9 inches is fine). Press into corners and fold 1/2 in. over the edges. Trim excess.

Line tart with buttered foil and fill with uncooked rice, beans or pie weights. I used barley. Bake for 10-15 min. until just set and not sticky (mine took about 20 minutes, I couldn’t believe it!). Remove foil and weights, then cook another 7-8 min., or until lightly browned. Remove from oven to cool COMPLETELY.

For the pears:

2 c. red wine (I used merlot)

2 T fresh lemon juice

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3-4 rip-firm pears (Mine were totally not ripe)

1/4 c. red currant jelly or other dark preserve

In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine wine, lemon, sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel, half, stem and core the pears (melon baller is helpful). When liquid is boiling, add the pears and simmer until tender. Mine took 20 min. because they were so unripe, but yours might take 8-10 min.

The pears will become a rich ruby color and your house will smell like mulled cider. Let the pears cool in the liquid for 20 min. and then drain on a rack.

Rapidly boil the liquid down until the syrup starts to bubble like caramel, 230 degrees (I used a meat thermometer). Remove from heat and add preserves, stirring until dissolved.

Now, assemble the tart!

Paint the inside of the shell with the syrup. Fill shell with frangipane, smoothing with a spatula. Cut pears and place on top.

Lightly glaze pears with some of the remaining jelly. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

How did it taste, you ask? Very gourmet. The crust was perfectly flaky and flavorful, although some of the jelly baste dripped through and stuck to the underside. This can be remedied by simply putting buttered parchment on the bottom of the pan. The frangipane wasn’t too sweet, but had a rich nuttiness to it. The almond flavor was strong but not overpowering. In fact, the roasted almonds gave it an almost cocoa flavor, which surprised my guests to realize it had no chocolate in it. The pears tasted wonderful, just like mulled wine, and the jelly glaze was a wonderful finish. I recommend using the more tart red currant preserves because they match well with the sweetness of the other ingredients. A truly elegant dessert.

Enjoy, friends, and I hope everybody is having a happy and peaceful holiday! xoxo