Sunday, March 8, 2009

I know I’m partial to Italian recipes, but today, I am going French! So, put on some Edith Piaf recordings and join me in the kitchen. It’s BISTRO Time!

Maybe you are under the impression French cooking is expensive, but never fear, this is French country cooking and it need not be costly.
My first recipe is for Boeuf Bourguignon, or as we say here in Kansas, Beef Burgundy. Marinated then slow cooked to ensure tenderness and flavor, this famous French dish is divine!

It is much better to cook this in a large cast iron casserole so that all the flavor from the browning stage is not lost. I know the recipe looks long and scary, but it truly isn’t! This dish should be started the day before!
Boeuf Bourguignon
2 ½ pounds Chuck Steak, cut into 4”pieces
Large carrot roughly chopped
Large onion chopped
Two fresh bay leaves
Two cloves garlic crushed in their skins
Two cloves
One bottle Somerset Ridge Ruby Red Wine
Ten black peppercorns
1Tablespoon Madeira
Beurre manie (1 teaspoon flour and 1 teaspoon
butter mashed together)
1 Tablespoon butter
Chopped parsley
Olive oil

Put the pieces of beef in a large glass bowl and add the next seven ingredients making sure that the beef is covered. Cover the bowl and allow to marinate for 24 hours. When ready to start cooking, take the meat out of the marinade and dry it thoroughly on kitchen paper. In a casserole heat a tablespoon each of oil and butter until the butter stops foaming and then add the meat pieces four at a time. Brown them over a high heat on all sides – they should look really crusty almost like a steak – and then take them out of the pan and add the next four, until you have a pile of fragrant beef.
Add the drained vegetables from the marinade to the casserole and brown those too and then pour in the wine marinade. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer and pile the meat back in. The meat should be entirely covered by liquid. If not add a little beef stock or more red wine if you have a bottle handy, bring back to a simmer and place in a 300 degree oven for three hours. It is worth checking the meat every hour and if the level of liquid has dropped and the meat looks a little exposed, turn it over gently in the liquid. Even if the meat looks burned, don’t be alarmed and don’t add more liquid – you need the gentle reduction of the sauce and the darkening of the meat for flavor – if the pan looks totally dry, your oven thermostat has broken!
Towards the end of the cooking time, gently poke the meat with a fork – it is done when it starts to break apart when you do this. Take the casserole from the oven and carefully lift out the meat into a warm dish and set to one side.
Strain the sauce into a clean pan and place it over a low heat. Allow it to come to a gentle boil. Add the Madeira and reduce until it tastes as strong as you like – the sauce should become almost syrupy. Whisk in the butter and flour mix and keep whisking until blended.Add the meat back to the sauce to heat through and serve a couple of large chunks per person with the sauce poured over, scattered with chopped parsley.
With this great saucy dish, I think you need polenta but garlic mashed potatoes are commonly served in Bistros, so that is next. I know most cooks don’t need a recipe for mashed potatoes, but I want to do the whole deal.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
1 medium head garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Drizzle garlic with olive oil, then wrap in aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and chop. Stir in butter, milk, salt and pepper.
Remove the garlic from the oven, and cut in half. Squeeze the softened cloves into the potatoes. Blend potatoes with an electric mixer until desired consistency is achieved.
serves 8

Caramelized Onion, Green Bean, and Cherry Tomato Tian
This slightly sweet vegetable dish takes its name from the French term (pronounced tee-AHN) for mixed vegetables prepared gratin-style. With spring approaching you may want to skip the hot dish and substitute a cool refreshing salad.
5 cups (1-inch) cut green beans (about 1 pound)
Cooking spray
3 cups thinly sliced onion
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400°.
Cook beans in boiling water 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water; set aside.
Heat a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 4 ingredients (onion through pepper); saute 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar, basil, and oregano; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Arrange beans in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with onion mixture. Arrange tomatoes on top of onion mixture, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400° for 35 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned. Serves 6

And for dessert…….

Chocolate Mousse au Grand Marnier
1 (4-ounce) package sweet baking chocolate
4 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
Combine 8 ounces of chocolate and Grand Marnier in a heavy saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until chocolate melts. Remove from heat, and cool to lukewarm.
Beat whipping cream until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Gently fold about 1/2 cup of whipped cream into chocolate; fold in remaining whipped cream. Spoon into individual serving dishes. Chill until ready to serve. Must be kept cold.
Serves 6

“Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”
Voltaire French Philosopher
all photos from

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