Monday, February 8, 2010

Bon a Petit

Everyone who's watched the movie Julie and Julia raise your hand. Well, I finally got to see it today. God blessed us Memphis folk with a surprise winter wonderland today. Since us southerners tremble with fear of driving in snow, the office was closed. Thus, a perfect day for girlie movie watching.

I love to cook and remember watching Julia Child on television as a young child. Even though I had never heard of most recipes she cooked, I enjoyed watching the process and listened in amazement to her distinct voice. So, I really wanted to see this movie.

Thirty minutes into it, I loved it. An hour into it, it was officially on my favorite movies list. I could relate to both Julia and Julie. Julia loved to cook, was an American fascinated with Europe, felt fortunate to have a great husband, and set her mind to proving others wrong when it came to her success. As for Julie, she was hitting her 30 year milestone in life, had a great relationship with her husband, and enjoyed cooking as an outlet to relieve stress.

Now, I just turned 30, love to cook, joke around about owning a bakery or catering business one day, deeply in love with my husband, and all alone on a snowy day. Mix all this together and bake for about another hour of the movie and what do you have? Christie inspired to cook her way through something and see if she enjoys it enough to convince her husband she could do this for a living one day.

After brainstorming with one of my most realistic and dearest friends I've made since college via Blackberry messenger, it came together. Here's the abbreviated version: Can't cook through Julia's book because that is not original enough (I'm already copying Julie, so I needed my own hook); I must be passionate about it or this will be another fad; Recipes must be a challenge or I'll be bored and Brad must be able to eat them; Hmmm, we had the opportunity to eat at Commander's Palace in New Orleans with wonderful friends and both agree it is the crème de la crème of all restaurants; There is a cookbook from 1984 that has more than 175 recipes served at the restaurant at some point. Done. Cook book ordered and will arrive Wednesday.

In honor of Julia Child and appreciation for the inspiration I received from Julie Powell, I kicked off my adventure with cooking Julia's famous Boeuf Bourguignon. It was a delight to cook and eat, even if all by my lonesome tonight. To sum it up, the French know how to make a fancy pot roast. It was actually a mix between a labor of love pot roast and gourmet beef stew. Julia's recipe and pictures from the process are below.

As for what I expect to get out of this, I have some ideas but don't think I will know until I get well into this journey.

FYI - I don't think all posts will be this long, so if you're bored don't give up on me. You just needed an overview to enjoy the upcoming pickings.

Bon a Petit!! (Imagine Julia Child saying it.)

Boeuf Bourguignon Ingredients

Simmering Bacon. Whoever heard of such?

The recipe says to slice onion and carrot. 
Normally, I would slice in circles but did it like Julie's looked in the movie.

Browning cubes of stew meat on all sides. 

Stew beef and bacon browned.

Browned beef, wine, beef stock, onions, carrots, 
and herbs combined and simmering.

Brown-Braised Onions cooking while casserole simmered in oven.

Voila! Boeuf Bourguignon and Old French style potatoes 
served on pieces received as gifts from friends throughout the years.

What a great dinner for a snowy night.

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

By Judy Walker,

August 20, 2009, 4:55AM
Julia Child's famous Boeuf Bourguignon is depicted twice in the movie "Julie and Julia," once when her editor, Judith Jones, makes it to sample the recipes in the manuscript, and once, less successfully, when Julie Powell falls asleep while preparing it for Judith Jones to come to dinner. It is also the first dish that Child demonstrated on television.
From "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1" (Knopf, 1961)
As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon. Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man, and can well be the main course for a buffet dinner. Fortunately you can prepare it completely ahead, even a day in advance, and it only gains in flavor when reheated.
Vegetable and Wine Suggestions
Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with this dish. Buttered noodles or steamed rice may be substituted. If you also wish a green vegetable, buttered peas would be your best choice. Serve with the beef a fairly full-bodied, young red wine, such as Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux-St. Emilion, or Burgundy.
Serves 6
Kitchen Supplies:

9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish, 3 inches deep
Slotted spoon
Boeuf Bourguignon:
6 ounces bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine, such as a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Crumbled bay leaf
Blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock (recipe follows)
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sauteed in butter
Parsley sprigs
Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Saute the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you saute the beef.
Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Saute it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sauteing fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, 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 of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.
For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.
For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
Brown-Braised Onions
9-10-inch enameled skillet
18-24 peeled white onions about 1-inch in diameter
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup of brown stock or red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Medium herb bouqet: 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth
When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and saute over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins; you cannot expect to brown uniformly.
Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes, until the onions are perfectly tender, but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet.

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Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio
Brad and me in Florence, Italy