Friday, November 6, 2009

Boeuf Bourguignon I

From the kitchen of Julia Child
Servings: 6
Difficulty: Difficult [I take issue with the difficult rating. Tedious, yes. Time-consuming, certainly. But not really difficult.]
Cook Time: Over 120 min

This recipe is adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961)


  • One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon (or lardons, if you're lucky enough to find them)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • 18 to 24 white onions, small
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered
  • Cooking Directions

    Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. [I don't know that I would bother to boil the lardons and then saute them in oil. Why not just saute them with no added oil to begin with?]

    Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.

    In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.

    Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

    Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.

    Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

    Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

    Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

    Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

    Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

    While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

    Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.

    Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

    Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.

    Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

    Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.

    Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.

    When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.

    Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.

    Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

    If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

    Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

    Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    Gâteau au Yaourt (Yogurt Cake)

    I made this delicious cake last week and I'm sure I will make it again repeatedly. As a bonus, it is fast and easy!

    The recipe comes from Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate & Zucchini, and she says:

    "The basic yogurt cake recipe can be tinkered with endlessly. You can add citrus juice or zest to the batter; fold in berries, chocolate chips, or nuts; substitute ground almonds or cocoa powder for part of the flour; cut the cake in two and spread raspberry jam, lemon curd, or ganache in the middle; or dress the cake with whatever frosting or glaze you like. . . but every time I go back to the original, unadulterated gâteau au yaourt, I am reminded [of] its delightful simplicity."

    I just had a piece for breakfast with some hot chocolate and it was simply divine.

    80 ml vegetable oil
    250g plain unsweetened yogurt, preferably whole milk
    200g sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 t. pure vanilla extract
    1 T. light or amber rum (optional -- I didn't have any, so I increased the vanilla)
    240g flour
    1 1/2 t. baking powder
    1 t. baking soda
    a good pinch of fine sea salt

    Preheat the oven to 180º C. Grease the sides of a 25cm round cake pan or springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla, oil, and rum, if using, and whisk again.

    In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (I confess I skipped this step!) Pour the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture, and whisk until just combined.

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the pan to loosen. If you're using a springform pan, unclasp the sides. Otherwise, flip the cake onto a plate and flip it back on the rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

    Sunday, November 1, 2009

    Tagine d'Agneau aux Poires (Lamb Tagine with Pears)

    From the Chocolate & Zucchini cookbook
    Serves 6

    1 T. olive oil
    700g boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm cubes and patted dry with paper towels
    fine sea salt
    500g yellow onions, about 3 medium
    2 garlic cloves
    a pinch of saffron threads
    1/2 t. whole cumin seeds
    1/2 t. ground cinnamon
    1/2 t. ground ginger
    1/4 t. freshly ground nutmeg
    1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
    a good pinch of ground chile powder
    100g whole blanched almonds
    15g unsalted butter
    4 ripe pears, peeled, cored and quartered (choose a variety that will hold its shape when cooked, such as Conference or William)

    Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Arrange half of the meat in a single layer over the bottom of the pot without crowding. Cook for 4 minutes on each side, until the meat starts to brown. Season with salt, set aside on a plate, and repeat with remaining meat.

    While meat is browning, peel and slice the onions. Peel and mince garlic. Once all meat is browned and set aside, combine onions, garlic, and 1 T. water in the pot. Cook over med. heat for 10 minutes, until softened, stirring regularly. Add the meat, sprinkle with spices, stir, and cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Pour in hot water halfway up the meat. Bring to a simmer, cover, and lower the heat to med. low. Cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender.

    While the meat is simmering, toast the almonds in a large dry frying pan until golden and fragrant, and set aside. In the same pan, melt the butter over med. heat until it starts to sizzle. Add the quartered pears and toss gently to coat. Lower the heat to med. low, cover, and cook 12 minutes, until the pears are cooked through and slightly translucent. Keep warm.

    Remove the lid from the pot, turn the heat up to med. high, and cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce is thick enough to cling to the meat. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Transfer the meat and sauce to a serving dish. Surround with the pears, sprinkle with toasted almonds, and serve with couscous.

    Note: If you're at all excited about Moroccan cooking, you may want to add ras el hanout, a complex mix of spices, to your spice rack. If you are able to find it, use 2 t. in this recipe, in place of the cumin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pepper.