beef bourguignon: revamped

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Happy 2018! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Mine was full of family and way, way, way too much delicious food. As a result, I’m doing that typical thing where, now that the holidays are over and a new year has commenced, I want to re-commit to health and fitness. However, I decided that before I really started committing, I needed to make something warm and hearty to start the new year off right — especially in the frigid cold we’re currently experiencing in New York! If you are trying to stick to a new year’s resolution, I’m going to apologize in advance for being a bad influence and encouraging you to indulge in this warm, classic beef stew this weekend.

I’ve actually posted this recipe once before in 2012 and funny enough, I also made it on New Year’s Day! My passion for cooking was still relatively new six years ago and I was nervous to cook this “ambitious” recipe by Julia Child (it really is an all-day event). The reason I decided to post this recipe again is not only to remind you that it is truly delicious, but also to update the pictures.

This year for Christmas, my wonderful husband bought me a Neewer lighting kit so that I can try to improve my photos. I know I haven’t been blogging often, but I have still been attempting to take pictures of my food over the last few months and I always end up complaining to Mike about the terrible light in our apartment. Our kitchen only has one half-window so in order to get natural light I bring the food into our living room or dining room. But, right now the sun sets at 4 PM, so I am basically never cooking in the daylight anyway! This usually results in photos with an ugly yellow-y tinge to them (refer to my last post).

Now, I am equipped to try and obtain higher quality images and really tempt you with the recipes I post! I still have a lot to learn about photography in general and the DSLR camera that Mike bought me last year. But with all this awesome equipment, I’m doing more research to try and understand how to capture and edit more true-to-life and stylized photos of the food that I cook!

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Anyway, I wrote way more than I like to so I’ll get down to the recipe:

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients:

  • 1 6-oz. piece chunk bacon*
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 lbs. lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes (I used beef chuck)
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf
  • 18-24 small white onions
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, half a bay leaf, 2 thyme sprigs tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, quartered
*I used regular sliced bacon because that is what I had on hand. I blanched the bacon, but did not have any rind for flavoring.

Method:

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

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a Dutch oven over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if damp. Add beef to Dutch oven, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Set aside with the lardons.

In the same fat, brown the sliced carrot and sliced onion. Pour out the excess fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the Dutch oven 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 Dutch oven uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

Remove Dutch oven and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

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

Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind (if you used the chunk bacon). Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

Cover Dutch oven and set in lower third of oven. Allow liquid to simmer very slowly for 2 1/2-3 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 1 1/2 tablespoons oil until bubbling in a skillet.

Add small white 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 begin to brown lightly, remove from heat.

Back to the Dutch oven:

When the meat is tender, use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef, lardons, carrots and onions to a separate dish. Pour the remaining contents of the Dutch oven into a sieve set over a saucepan.

Wash out the Dutch oven and return the beef, lardons, and vegetables 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. Then pour sauce over meat and vegetables and enjoy!

How I eat it:  This time: over egg noodles; Last time: with a crusty whole wheat bread

Again, I promise you all the work is well worth it 🙂 And according to Mike, the leftovers are even better!

Also, here’s a before and after my recently-learned color correction (and some cropping), using a color card and Photoshop, so you can see how much the kit has helped me so far!

Before:

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After:

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turkey chili

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Don’t look at my previous post! Okay, I know that actually made you look at my previous post. And I know, it’s from August 2015… and it’s February 2017 (insert that monkey emoji that’s covering it’s eyes to convey feelings of shame).  Although I haven’t stopped cooking, my busy past year and a half has prevented me from blogging.

If you remember in this post, I shared that Mike and I got engaged in January of 2015. Well, planning our wedding while in school, getting married, and moving in with Mike has been an absolute whirlwind! But, a truly great whirlwind. We were so lucky to share our wedding day with family and friends out in beautiful Montauk. And now, we are all settled in to our first place together.

I feel so grateful to have everything we need to cook yummy meals in our apartment. Thank you to everyone who helped set us up so perfectly.  It’s been just about six months in our place and we’ve been able to sit down to a home-cooked dinner together each night as we wind down from our busy days. And we’ve been able to host our family and friends for holidays or just for fun!

Since we’ve moved in, Mike has been encouraging me to blog again.  However, I was complaining that I could no longer hijack my dad’s Nikon to take food pictures.  Well my wonderful husband solved that problem with a Nikon D3300 under our Christmas tree this year.  I definitely still have a lot to learn about photography and now that I have my own DSLR camera, I am looking forward to trying to improve my photos. And hopefully as I continue to blog without year(s)-long interruptions, you can track my progress!

Anyway, let’s get down to the recipe: turkey chili. Last week, the Northeast got hit pretty hard with snow and chili seemed like the perfect thing to enhance the coziness of a snow day. There is a great recipe by Geoffrey Zakarian for beef chili – it has beer and tons of meat and spice.  But, I like this recipe for a lighter, healthier version that makes me feel less guilty about piling on the toppings. I’ve taken my favorite aspects of several turkey chili recipes and have coined this one as my own. Enjoy!

Also, check out this awesome flat saute by Earlywood.  My mom got it for me for my birthday and this was my first time using it. I loved it! Super great for stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot.

Turkey Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4-tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I sometimes omit these because I prefer no beans, but Mike likes beans)
  • 1/2-cup chopped scallions
  • red hot sauce to taste
  • green hot sauce to taste

My favorite toppings:

  • shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • chopped avocado
  • chopped tomatoes
  • pickled jalapenos
  • scallions
  • sour cream
  • red & green hot sauces

Method:

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Once hot, add onions and garlic and sauté until tender (~5 minutes). Add turkey, breaking up with a fork and cook until browned (~8 minutes).  Add bell pepper, jalapeño, chili powder, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Cook until peppers are tender and spice is incorporated (~5 more minutes).  Then, add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, kidney beans (if using), and scallions.

Cook on low heat for at least one hour with the cover on but ajar, stirring occasionally. I like to let it simmer for a good 4 hours if I have the time to let the flavors blend. Add red and green hot sauces to taste.

How I eat it: with every topping listed above and some good cornbread on the side

Note: This is a great recipe to take half the batch and freeze it for a quick and easy meal that tastes even better the second time around!

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chocolate “birthday” pie

the best thing you'll ever eat

There is a strong possibility that this is the tastiest and most delectable recipe I have ever, or will ever, post on my blog.  I know, it’s a bold statement.  Since I can remember, my mom has made my brother and I “birthday pie”.  After the first year she made it for us, we never wanted a birthday cake again, we just wanted pie. We are chocolate people in this family and this is truly as chocolatey and fudgy as it gets.  Made with semisweet chocolate, crushed almonds, sugar and butter, the filling is a perfect match to the flaky pie crust and sweet, but tangy raspberry sauce. (Are you drooling yet?)

Both my brother’s and my own birthday fall in the winter, so now to us, winter = pie time.  Once I realized my passion for cooking and baking, I started to take over the tradition. I admit, there were a few years that the pie baking really got out of hand — as soon as one pie was finished in about all of 2 days, I would bake another, and another. And maybe even another… It was bad.  Therefore, I warn you: once you try this recipe all self-control goes out the window.

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Chocolate “Birthday” Pie

Ingredients

For the crust & filling:

  • 2 pre-made pie crusts (I opt for deep dish)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg, separated

For the raspberry sauce:

  • 1 12-oz. bag frozen raspberries, without syrup, thawed
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Method

For the crust & filling:

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Thaw both pie crusts.  Poke holes with a fork in one of them and bake for 3 minutes.  Press other crust out of pan and lay flat on a cutting board.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of the butter, stirring constantly until smooth.  In a medium bowl, beat remaining 6 tablespoons of butter with sugar until light and fluffy.  Add almonds, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, and chocolate, and blend well.  Spread mixture evenly over bottom of crust that was baked.

To make lattice top, cut the crust that was previously laid flat into strips.  Arrange strips in a lattice design over the chocolate mixture.  Trim edges and seal.  In a small bowl, beat egg white until foamy and gently brush over lattice top.

Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 F.  Bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes.  Cover edges of pie crust with foil after about 15 to 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning.

For the raspberry sauce:

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, blend raspberries at highest speed until smooth.  In a small saucepan, combine raspberry puree, sugar, and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil over medium-low heat.  Boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Serve the pie with the raspberry sauce. Store both the pie and the sauce in the refrigerator.

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As you can see, I was about to eat a slice before taking a picture of the finished product. It’s that irresistible!

Recipe courtesy of my mom who cut it out of a newspaper years ago

(Those newspaper recipes can be real keepers!)

How I eat it: with raspberry sauce on the bottom and a whole buncha whipped cream on top!

an ambitious start to the new year

First of all: Happy New Year! I have managed to totally neglect blogging in the last months of 2011, but now it is 2012 and one of my new year’s resolutions to try and blog at least twice a month! Despite not actually writing blog posts for the last few months, I have taken a ton of pictures when I did find the time to cook or bake.  So, there are some future posts lined up!

I am going to start off the year with an ambitious recipe: Julia Child’s Beef Bourguigon. Over the holiday break I got caught up watching “Julie & Julia” on TV and the hearty beef dish looked so appetizing I decided to use one of my last days off from work to attempt it. The ingredients are simple and fresh, but the recipe is extremely time-consuming.  However, if you are in the mood to cook and have a day to do it, the result is well worth the effort!

I was also really in the mood to make something that requires a lot of slicing and chopping because two of my favorite holiday gifts were a Wusthof Chef’s knife from Mike and a Hammer-Stahl Santoku knife from my dad! Also, the beautiful white porcelain baking dish seen above is only one of the awesome gifts from Mike’s parents — a lot of new, fun kitchen goodies for me to play with!

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients

  • 1 6-oz. piece chunk bacon*
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 lbs. lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes (I used beef chuck)
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups red wine, such as Beaujolais or Burgundy
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf
  • 18-24 small white onions
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, half a bay leaf, 2 thyme sprigs tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, quartered
*I used regular sliced bacon because that is what I had on hand. I blanched the bacon, but did not have any rind for flavoring.

Method

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

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a Dutch oven over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Add beef to Dutch oven, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Set aside with the lardons.

In the same fat, brown the sliced carrot and sliced onion. Pour out the excess fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the Dutch oven 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 Dutch oven uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

Remove Dutch oven and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

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

Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind (if you used the chunk bacon). Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

Cover Dutch oven and set in lower third of oven. Allow liquid to simmer very slowly for 2 1/2-3 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 1 1/2 tablespoons oil until bubbling in a skillet.

Add small white 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, use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef, lardons, carrots and onions to a separate dish. Pour the remaining contents of the Dutch oven into a sieve set over a saucepan.

Wash out the Dutch oven and return the beef, lardons, and vegetables 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.

To serve immediately:  Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

To serve later: Allow the contents of the Dutch oven to come to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, allow Dutch oven to sit at room temperature for a half hour.  Skim fat off of the top of the sauce.  Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, basting meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

Recipe adapted from: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking

How I eat it: With a hot, crusty whole wheat bread