Showing posts with label provincial French cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label provincial French cooking. Show all posts

25 January 2014

Boeuf Bourguignon

For about a ten-year period, winter in Wisconsin held off until the end of January, and was usually gone by the end of March. Several years, we had 70-degree days in mid-March. There was usually a spring blizzard or two, but the snow never stayed around long.

It seems 2013 was an exception. Spring didn't make an appearance until early April, and winter checked in just after Thanksgiving. We began eating heartier fare earlier in the season. Of course, I've gained a few pounds. But being retired gives me more time to exercise and prepare my own meals. No more grabbing lunch on the go.

Early retirement has also allowed us to experiment more in the kitchen (and shop around for bargains). We began 2014 with Boeuf Bourguignon, a particular favorite of my husband.

On our first visit to Paris nearly a decade ago, we ordered Beef Bourguinon at an over-priced bistro near Notre Dame Cathedral. It was delicious and, we thought, well worth the cost.

It's not a quick dish to prepare, thanks to the pearl onions, but it is easy. We took our inspiration from this cookbook.

Beef Bourguignon

  • 2 pounds round of beef, cubed
  • 2-2 slice bacon
  • 4 good-sized carrots, sliced
  • 3 dozen pearl onions, peeled 
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic (about two small cloves)
  • generous handful fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Cognac
  • 1 bottle good red wine (we used Merlot)

For the seal:

  • 1 cup flour and enough water to make a paste

Pre-heat oven to 200 225 degrees.

Line a small stockpot or cocotte (make sure it has a cover) with bacon grease and carrots, onions, mushrooms, thyme and garlic. Add the meat, and continue to layer until all ingredients have been used. Don't forget to salt and pepper each layer to your individual taste (for me, that's easy on the salt). Top with bacon strips.

Pour in the cognac and wine. Make a paste of flour and water and seal the pot lid to keep steam from escaping. Place the stockpot or cocotte in the oven and cook for six hours. Do not remove the lid during cooking.

When the lid is removed, a wonderful, savory aroma is released. Serve with egg noodles and a green salad. A chewy baguette is a nice addition for those who are not watching carbohydrate intake.

This was such a hit, it's on the menu for tomorrow.

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12 October 2006

From the Heart of France: Gouere aux Pommes

One of the first cookbooks I bought on my own was Elizabeth David’s "French Country Cooking." I pictured David as a motherly sort, a bit plump perhaps, with an academic interest in the hearty French provincial dishes I yearned to master.

How wrong I was! David was a free spirit, a young woman of means who, after a short stint as an actress, ran off with a married lover. Her marriage to another man was one of convenience. (Like MFK Fisher, she was far ahead of her time in many ways). A cerebral hemmorrhage destroyed her sense of taste at middle age — what a tragedy!

Along with Julia Child, David and Fisher are a triumverate of “French” cooks whose books are now joined by Patricia Wells, Susan Herrmann Loomis and Georgeanne Brennan on my kitchen bookshelf.

Last night, I pulled Elizabeth from the shelf, thumbed through the now-yellowed pages and adapted this easy dessert, which she described as "a country sweet from the Berry district of France."

Gouère aux Pommes

  • one pound apples, sliced and chopped
  • two tablespoons brandy
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • squeeze of lemon

  • 1 ½ cups of plus two tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch salt
  • two eggs
  • one teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cup milk

Wash, peel and chop apples. Place in bowl and cover with brandy, lemon, cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

In separate bowl, blend flour, sugar and salt. Add eggs, milk and vanilla to create a batter.

Blend the apples with the batter and pour into a square pan. Bake at 350 until top is brown and center of cake is firm, about 45 minutes.

• I used Pink Lady apples, and made cinnamon applesauce from the scraps that were left over, in a nod to my frugal French heritage.

• As always, I used fructose instead of sugar. Any sugar substitute, as long as it can be used in baking, will do. Next time I will use brown sugar for the apples, but not the batter.

• Even with the addition of cinnamon, the dessert is a bit bland for contemporary tastes, which is why I served it with a vanilla sauce made from American Spoon Foods' Vanilla Curd.

Cinnamon, lemon and brandy sauces would work as well. Perhaps a dollop of cream?

If you are lucky enough to watch the BBC, you can see "A Life in Recipes," a program about David, on Oct. 30. More recipes are included in the BBC link.

Finally, I was curious what the word "gouère" meant as it was one I had not seen before. Since I could not find a translation, even in my Harrap's dictionary, a hefty tome I've been dragging around since French 204, I can only guess it is a regional word. I found a reference to apple gouère in a magazine story about the Berry.