Sunday, April 25, 2010

Friday Night, Boeuf Bourguignonne

The idea came from Anthony Bourdain's show on techniques, the same show that inspired the homemade pasta dish last Thursday night. Throughout the whole show he made this beef dish, while it cut to different chefs doing their "technique dish". I'm sure I made this before but I probably didn't do it exactly the same way. I am sure I used more vegetables and I didn't use all wine as the braising liquid like he showed, more like a American beef stew. It was hard to tell exactly what he did...Did he keep adding wine as it evaporates...Did he add something else...Did he cover the roasting pan, it didn't look like it...So I did it his way and my way.


I looked through some magazines to find an appetizer idea that I haven't made and I found something. Muhammara, which is a Syrian roasted pepper and walnut spread that is a great alternative to hummus. You just throw all the ingredients into a food processor until a coarse puree forms. The recipe calls for walnuts (I used almonds), I don't know how it happened but I was out of walnuts, I always have a big bag from BJ's in the freezer. It's 12 oz of roasted red peppers, 1 cup of almonds or walnuts, 1/3 cup of Panko bread crumbs, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp of lemon juice, 1 tsp of cumin and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper. I served it with store bought pita chips. Really good and easy to do and not bad for the waist line.

Boeuf Bourguignonne

I would normally use my LeCruset heavy bottomed cast iron enamel covered pot for something like this and just brown the meat in two batches. Instead though, Anthony Bourdain used a heavy bottomed roasting pan spread over two burners on the stove top, it saves time to do it with the roasting pan. The reason is because when you brown the beef chunks, you really need to space them out a bit, otherwise you will end up with a tan color on the beef and it will turn watery and start to steam, and that is not what you want. So I browned some 2 inch pieces of chuck beef on all sides in a little bit of olive oil, which takes about 10 minutes or so. Remove the meat pieces to a plate and pour off the extra fat. Place the pan back on the heat and add an onion that's medium diced. Cook the onion over medium heat, scraping the brown bits and making sure the onions don't burn for about 10 minutes. Add Burgundy wine (about 2-3 cups, he didn't really say but that's what I did) and continue scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add big 1 inch chunks of carrots and the meat back in and just let it cook for 3 hours. Now that's when I was worried about evaporation, he never said he covered it but I took a big sheet of parchment paper and wet it, squeeze out the excess water and put it right on the stew, tucking it along the inside of the pan and every 30 minutes I removed the parchment and stirred it and replaced the parchment. It was still evaporating a little so I had made some beef stock a week earlier, it was sitting in the freezer, so I heated it to defrost it and reduced it down a bit. After it was reduced I added the stock to the stew when it needed it. I don't know if Anthony Bourdain did that, but I would suggest you do that. If you add more wine later on it won't taste very good, and you want a nice meaty sauce in your Boeuf Bourguignonne, it won't be good if it's dried out. That's it, after cooking for 3 hours the meat is very tender and the sauce is rich and tasty. Plate it in a shallow bowl and garnish with fresh parsley.

Homemade Basket of Flavored Breads and Butters

After going to the Mill's Tavern last week and getting a basket of flavored breads, it inspired me to do it myself. I have been making bread lately from Jim Lahey's book, the no-kneed method. At the restaurant they served a fennel and raisin bread, a sourdough and an Italian bread. I had a thought one day that the spice fennugreek (which has a maple syrup flavor) would pair well with bacon. So I thought I would do two breads; the fennel and raisin; the fennugreek and bacon. I cooked the ingredients ahead and after the second rise of the dough when I was shaping them into the final bread shape, I incorporated the ingredients to make the two flavors. The butters were just a really good European style butter which has a higher percentage of fat, and in turn it tastes really good. The other butter was something I never had and I kind of knew it might not go with Boeuf Bourguignonne but I made it anyway was, apple butter. It's apples and cider, sugar and spices and you cook it down until it gets really thick, which takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours. It was really good, I think it would be perfect with pork.

Mixed Berry Tart with Coffee

I have made lots of tarts... apple, peach, chocolate... I don't believe I have ever made a berry tart with pastry cream. I can't believe it myself! If I did it was a long time ago. So I got John Barricelli's new book, he is a guy that Martha Stewart has made famous. He's on her shows once in a while and he's like the 3rd generation of bakers in his family. He's got a bakery in Connecticut called The Sono Baking Company. He's got some good looking pictures of this berry tart in his book, I had to make it. I wanted to make the smaller tartlet shapes but I couldn't find the mini pans you need in the couple days I had, so I just used a bigger 12 inch tart pan. It's really easy to do and impressive looking. The one thing I would change is the crust, I made his which is very different than I usually do, his is a much more wet dough. So you make the dough and "blind bake" it, and let it cool. You make a pastry cream, which is simple and delicious. Use whatever berries you want, I used black berries and raspberries. To assemble just spread the pastry cream onto the cooled off tart crust, heat a couple Tbsp of apricot jam and coat the berries in the jam then spoon the berries over the top of the tart. Sprinkle some sliced almonds on the edges. Serve it with a rich cup of coffee.

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