Monday, September 24, 2012

Boeuf Bourguignon A La Julia Child

This past weekend was a bit cool for the first weekend of Fall.  Some places in Illinois had frost warnings and the temperature on Saturday was in the mid-50s.  This has caused our trees outside to go from green with a hint of yellow to outright reds.  Hopefully we won't lose the leaves before getting to enjoy their colors.

The cooler weather was tempting me to have something warm and soothing. Real comfort food but what to have? Soup or stew?  The housemate Michelle agreed that stew sounded delicious.  At that point, I knew it had to be Boeuf Bourguignon!  I had been to my favorite foodie store, Whole Foods the weekend before and picked up a couple of bottles of wine that were on sale and a good wine at a price like 2/$20 is a great deal.  Pantago Pinot Noir and Malbec were the featured wines out of Argentina.  Their 2010 Malbec is Wine Enthusiast Best Buy!

The Pinot Noir was, however, fated to be part of a wonderful, warm and delicious dish with a glass or two for the chef.

I went to an old standby, if it was french food then Julia had a recipe for it.  I found her recipe posted on multiple sites with very high ratings so I had to go with it.

The recipe Boeuf Bourguignon A La Julia Child was found on, recipes for the home cook.  A quick run over what pantry items I had and I was off to the store to soon be home with tasty items.  I followed the recipe almost exactly with a few exceptions.  Most noteably the bacon lardons.  I did use a thick cut sliced bacon instead of going through the process of boiling, cutting and frying the solid chunk of bacon.  I didn't see any negative aspects to using this shortcut and from the start of the cooking process, the house smelled like heaven.  Starting with bacon, then sauteeing the beef in bacon fat and then adding the wine and herbs to simmer for hours.

In my shopping trip, I was unable to get the pearl onions in fresh form, having to use frozen instead.  I do highly recommend Julia's tip to thaw and drain the frozen onions.  I don't think I've ever had them when they have been browned and then added to a dish and a very welcome addition.  The button mushrooms quartered and then sauteed in a little olive oil made interesting "squeaky" noises while tossing them around in the pan.  A fun little fact to see if you find when you try the recipe yourself!

While I did drain the sauce out of the dutch oven to thicken it a little more, I did not pick out the sliced onions and carrots.  We like them and I think that while not "traditional" I will actually add a little more next time.

Here is a plate of the final results. I have one of the dish in the dutch oven as well but I will upload when I find the camera cord or the regretfully misplaced camera SD card.

Hope you enjoy and please do try the recipe.  It has a lot of steps but is very a worthwhile adventure and the perfect thing for a cool evening's dinner.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tasty and fast food

So, this Labor Day, it was just me and the dear husband.  Eldest daughter moved away to college to pursue her PhD.  Housemates off to a family picnic.

I'm not sure the last time we had a dinner for two like this.  So we did it up a bit but easy and fresh and fun.

Dinner started with a new invention of mine, grilled pesto butter crostini and that was a great start!  Yesterday, we had wandered through one of our favorite stores, Angelo Caputo's Fresh Markets and found this great italian bread that you can bake at home from frozen in it's own bag.  Caldo, il Filone di Grano duro veropane.  They were also sampling the Academia Barilla products on the other side of the store.  While their pesto is fantastic, my immediate thought was to put two great things together to make something extra special.

I mixed the pesto in with some Plugrá butter to form a nice spread.  I sliced the bread thin and then cut each slice in half.  I spread generously with the pesto butter and then sprinkled fresh ground parmesean cheese on top.

I placed the pieces on the hot grill for a brief 3-4 minutes.  This was enough to melt the butter into the bread, toast up the bottom with nice grill lines.  The result was hot, tasty and just awesome appetizers.

Side dish was a caprese salad with basil from our herbs, fresh capellini  mozzeralla and tomatoes from my parents farm.  A sprinkle of sea salt and a splash of red wine vinegar. (I'm sorry I hadn't splurged on the Academia Barilla Aged Balsamic Condiment, it would have been the perfect touch.)

The dear husband grilled steaks and it was a tasty, fast and romantic dinner for two.