Boeuf Bourguignon!

Boeuf Bourguignon. It’s the classic french dish. Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions, and Mushrooms. Julia Child made this famous and since I received her cookbook for Christmas this year, how could I not try it myself?

Julia says “Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man…”

I’d have to say, I agree with her.

At first, I was intimidated by all the steps involved in creating this dish. I mean, simmering, sautéing, browning, baking, braising, more simmering, basting, draining, and reducing! Not to mention the crazy amount of pans you use, plus the time. Start to finish, it took me about five hours to make. FIVE HOURS! I can understand why you would make this for a special occasion. It’s not a typical weekday meal. All that aside, it has the most incredible depth of flavor of anything I’ve ever made before. Simply fantastic! I would make it again in a heartbeat. A five-hour long heartbeat, but still, you get the point. 🙂

You want to see some pictures now, don’t you? I don’t blame you!

It starts with bacon… How can you go wrong with a dish that starts with bacon?

Slice the bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer the bacon in water for 10 minutes, drain and dry. Saute the bacon in oil to brown it slightly.
Remove and drain.

Brown lean stew meat in the bacon fat.

Don’t crowd the pan – take your time so you get a rich brown crust on each piece!


When that’s finished, you brown some veggies in the bacony-beefy fat.


Put the beef and bacon in an oven proof casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour and bake in a 450 degree oven for four minutes. Remove from the oven. Stir. Return to the oven for another four minutes to create a nice crust on the meat. Remove from the oven, reduce the heat to 325.

Stir in red wine and enough beef stock to cover the meat. Add some lovely garlic, herbs, the sautéed veggies and a bacon rind. Bring it to a simmer on the stove-top. Cover and set back in the oven, regulating the heat so the liquid continues to simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Don’t think you’re off the hook for the next 2 1/2 hours! There will be no checking your Facebook page, catching up on the latest novel or painting your toe nails. You still have work to do!

While the meat is cooking, you need to create “Oignons Glaces A Brun” or brown-braised onions.

Use peeled boiler onions and sauté them in butter and oil over moderate heat for about 10 minutes so they get nice and brown.

Pour brown beef stock and red wine over the onions, again adding lovely herbs in a herb bouquet tied in cheesecloth. Simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are tender and the liquid has evaporated. These onions taste amazing! You can do these as a side dish. They are incredible! Plus the syrupy goodness at the bottom of the saucepan… you may want to save that to add to the sauce at the end. It tastes so good!

Still no Facebook! You have “Champignons Sautes Au Beurre” to make! Yep, time to sauté the mushrooms.

Of course, more butter and oil is required!


Now you have about 10 minutes to go tell your friends how amazing your kitchen smells! That’s what I did! 🙂

When the meat is tender, you’re going to pour everything through a sieve set over a saucepan. Wipe out the dish and return the beef and bacon to it. Put the cooked whole onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Simmer the sauce for a few minutes, skimming off the fat as it rises. At this point, if you saved that delicious syrup from the onions, stir it in. You’re going to simmer the sauce until you have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Try not to slurp it all down, dinner still isn’t ready.
Adjust seasonings and then pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

Cover and simmer for an additional few minutes, basting the meat and veggies several times. I served this with steamed white rice, but Julia recommends serving it with boiled potatoes. So add that to your list of things to do while the meat is cooking and you are simmering onions and sautéing mushrooms. 🙂

This is what it looked like on the table!

I would highly recommend you try this dish. Invest the time. Learn and experience the different techniques and layers of flavors that go into making it. It’s a phenomenal experience!

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French Toast Muffins!

There are certain recipes you see, you simply know you have to make for yourself! That’s what happened with these muffins! It had been a crazy week at work and I wanted to make something special on my day off. I saw these muffins on Facebook and knew they would be perfect! They were winners of an ingredient contest featuring Cinnamon held at “Better Recipes.” It’s no wonder they won! They are fabulous. You can find the original recipe here: Better Recipes. I was a good girl and waited all week (even while other friends were happily taste testing their versions!) I did tweak the recipe though… I added more spices and included apple in the topping. Here is the delicious result! I hope you enjoy them too!

FRENCH TOAST MUFFINS

For the French Toast Topping:

1/4 cup Milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
8 slices Cinnamon Swirl Bread (I used Cinnabon), crusts removed and cut into 1/2″ cubes
**** ADDITIONAL OPTIONS BELOW

For the Muffins:

2 cups AP Flour
3/4 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 salt
2 eggs
1 cup Sour Cream
1 tsp Maple Extract
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 stick Unsalted Butter – melted

The Grand Finale

1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
4 TBLS Unsalted Butter – melted

Directions:
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease (or line with paper cups) a standard 12 cup muffin tin. Mix the topping. Whisk together the milk, egg, nutmeg and cinnamon. Pour over the cubed Cinnamon Bread. Mix well to coat all the pieces. Allow the topping to sit while you make the muffins.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined. In a different bowl, whisk the eggs for about a minute. Add sour cream, extracts and melted butter, whisking until well combined. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and blend until just moistened. Do not over mix! Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. (They will be fairly large muffins) Spoon the French Toast Topping evenly over the batter, pressing down slightly.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. When the muffins are done, invert them on a wire rack immediately and allow to cool for just five minutes. While the muffins are cooling, mix the last 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon together. When the muffins are still warm, brush the tops with the last of the melted butter and sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar Mix. Serve warm!

**** These muffins are wonderful on their own, but to take them up a notch, peel, core and dice a medium apple into small pieces. Saute the apples with 2 TBLS butter, 2 tsp sugar and 1 TBLS Log Cabin pancake syrup until the apples are soft. Gently fold the apple mixture into the French Toast Topping Mix before you put it on the muffins. You can substitute raisins or blueberries or strawberries or bananas – whatever type of fruits you normally enjoy on French Toast into the topping as well. Get creative and ENJOY your breakfast!

Coming Soon! A Blog a Week!

It’s been nearly two weeks since the New Year began. It doesn’t seem like anything “new” happened other than the calendar turned a page. Work has been crazy busy so I didn’t do much celebrating. I have given some thought to what I’d like to do with my blog though! First, I’ll be posting a new recipe every week for a year starting at the end of the month. These recipes will be ones are new to my kitchen. i.e. I’ve never made them before! The majority of the recipes will be taken from these four cookbooks:
Julia Child’s “Mastering The Art of French Cooking”

I marked some of the recipes I want to try! Anyone else do that?

Tyler Florence’s “Real Kitchen”

Accidentally autographed! Story about that later! 🙂

“Guy Fieri Food! Cookin’ It,Livin’ It, Lovin’ It!”

And finally, “The Williams Sonoma Cookbook”

Also tagged! I am FULL of ideas!

Why these cookbooks? Well, they offer a bit of everything. They all have appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes and desserts. I don’t want to get bored! Each has a variety of techniques that will help me grow as a home chef. There is still so much I want to learn! Plus, I love the idea that at the end of the year, I’ll have 52 new dishes to shake up our regular weekly repertoire! Actually, it’s just an excuse to FINALLY crack open these books and get cooking! Shhhhh! Don’t tell! 🙂 Occasionally, I’ll be sharing recipes from other folks too. There are some exceptionally talented people out there!! I’m looking forward to passing along their favorite recipes and their expertise!

There will be other changes through the course of the year. There will be formatting changes to the style of my blog, maybe even my own design? You will see guest posts from fellow bloggers! I’ll be sharing my cooking classes with you. There will be more of our regular family favorites and more Food Memory posts too.

But first things first! What do you say my foodie friends? Will you join me for a year of new recipes? I hope so!

Much Love and Happy Belated New Year!

Sara~

Italian Sub Soup!

Hands down, this is our FAVORITE soup of all time! It comes complete with homemade croutons and plenty of meaty/garlic goodness.

Looks good, right? Oh, trust me! It is! This photo is “pre-croutons” so it gets even better! This recipe is an adaptation of Rachel Ray’s Italian Sub Stoup with Garlic Toast Floaters. We’ve changed a few things and omitted a few things to fit our family. That’s the great thing about cooking! You can take a basic recipe and make it completely your own!

So how do you make my version of this incredible pot of soupy delicious-ness? Start by chopping everything in advance! It’s a huge time saver. You’ll need to chop sausage, pepperoni, ham, onions, bell peppers and garlic.

After all that chopping is done, heat a bit of olive oil at the bottom of a large stock pot.

When the oil is hot, crumble Italian Sausage and cook until brown. Add pepperoni and chunks of ham. Continue to brown for a few more minutes. Can I tell you a secret? I know it’s terrible, but I don’t drain the fat after I brown the meat. There usually isn’t that much and it’s a great flavor enhancer!

Add the onions and bell peppers and continue to cook for a few minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.

After a few minutes, add the garlic!

Now we’re ready for tomatoes! Use the liquid from the tomatoes to scrape up those lovely brown bits on the bottom of the pan. These are great flavor bites too! Season the tomato mix with plenty of salt, pepper, basil, oregano! Add the broth and bring the pot to a simmer. Once everything is bubbly, add half a box of Gemelli pasta. You can also use penne rigatoni, elbow or orecchiette. The pasta takes about 15 minutes to cook in the broth. It will be fairly thick.

While the pasta is cooking in the soup, chop up sourdough bread for the croutons.

In a separate pan, add oil, garlic and crushed red chile peppers.

Then when everything is brown and toasty, you put them on top of the soup!

Delicious!

Here you go!

Italian Sub Soup

2 TBLS olive oil
One pkg (about 5 links) Italian Sausage, with casings removed. You can use either Sweet or Hot sausage. (I usually buy one pkg Hot and one pkg Sweet, then I use a combination of the two and freeze the others to use for soup next time!)
1 1/4 lb piece of pepperoni, cut into small dice
1 ham steak, 1/2 to 3/4 lb, diced (Left over ham works well too – you’ll need about 1 1/2 cups)
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, quartered and then diced to match the ham cubes.
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 boxes chicken broth (32 oz each)
1/2 of a 16 oz box of Gemelli pasta, uncooked. (Save the other half for next time you make soup!)
1 tsp of each: dried basil, dried oregano and dried thyme.
Salt and Pepper to taste

Croutons

1/4 cup of Olive Oil
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
5 cups crusty bread, cubed (Our favorite is Sourdough, but French or Italian Bread works well too!)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat a large soup pot to medium high. Drizzle the olive oil around the bottom of the pan and toss in the sausage. Brown and crumble the sausage. When it’s brown, add pepperoni and ham. Cook for a few minutes, then add your veggies. Cook until the veggies just start to get soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for about a minute longer. Add the tomatoes and use the juices to scrape up the browned meaty bits on the bottom of the pot. Season the tomato/veggie/meat mix with seasonings and salt and pepper. Stir well, then add chicken broth. Bring the soup to a boil. Stir in the pasta and cook for 10 minutes.

While the pasta cooks in the soup, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook for one minute. Regulate the heat carefully so the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the bread cubes, toss to coat and continue stirring and toasting them for about five minutes. Season the croutons with grated parmesan.

Ladle soup into big bowls and top with seasoned croutons! This recipe makes a lot, so serve it with friends and a great bottle of wine!

The soup tastes even better the next day, but the pasta will swell, so you might need to add additional broth to thin it out a little.

Enjoy!

Easy Chile Rellenos Casserole


This is an old recipe from my Mom. When I started to write it down for you, I realized there are a few “pieces” missing.  (Perfect recipe for an Imperfect Kitchen, right? 🙂 )   This recipe has been passed down from who knows where! Both my Mom and Grandmother made this, but I have no idea where they got it. It’s missing the size of the dish to put it in, the measurements for the seasoning and how to grate the cheese. On the upside, it’s totally meatless. It’s simple to make and very tasty. Keeping things simple right now is perfect for us!  Total time including prep and cooking is about 2.5 hours, so plan ahead. It will easily serve 6 -8 people!

Let’s get started! Gather your ingredients and your favorite 9×13 casserole dish! (Ohh see! A dish size!) Layer whole green chiles on the bottom of your casserole dish. Cover with grated/shredded cheddar cheese. The pictures are of grated cheese, but the recipe calls for shredded. I had the grated cheese on hand, but I recommend shredded because it melts so much nicer!

Layer the rest of the chiles on top of the cheddar cheese.

Cover with grated/shredded Jack Cheese!

Now here is the important part – separate the eggs and whip those whites into stiff peaks. Do not overlook this step. Stiff peaks are important to the final product. When you’ve beaten your eggs into their proper form, you’ll add yolks, flour and a bit of seasoning. Pour this delicious mixture over the chiles and cheese.

That’s hardly an exciting picture, but you get the idea of how it should look!
Cover this with foil and bake for about an hour. After an hour, remove the foil and cover the top of the casserole with tomato/salsa mix. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the top is bubbly. Allow the casserole to sit for about 15 minutes before cutting.

We’ve also done this with just tomato sauce and no salsa. That’s what we did tonight, so the picture is just of tomato sauce. If you use salsa the topping will be nice and chunky! It’s delicious either way so choose the one your family likes best!

Sara’s Simple Chile Rellenos Casserole

Ingredients:

1 – 27 oz can Whole Green Chiles

1 lb Cheddar Cheese, shredded.

1 lb Jack Cheese, shredded

1 – 12 oz can Tomato Sauce

1 medium jar of mild Thick Salsa (like Pace)  You can use a spicier salsa if you prefer.

4 eggs, separated.

3 TBLS flour

1 12 oz can evaporated milk

1 tsp pepper

dash of nutmeg and salt

Preheat oven to 325.

Remove chiles from the can.  Open them so they lay flat.  Rinse gently under running water to remove seeds and membranes.  (You can leave the seeds in if you want your casserole to have a little more spice!)  Pat them dry and layer 1/2 the chiles on the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 13 pan.  Cover with Cheddar cheese.  Layer the rest of the chiles on top and cover with Jack cheese.

Separate the eggs into two small bowls.  Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Add the evaporated milk, flour and seasonings to the bowl with the egg yolks.  Beat mixture until ingredients are well blended.  Gently fold in the egg whites to the yolk mixture and pour evenly over the chiles and cheese.

Cover casserole with tin foil and bake for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, mix the tomato sauce with the salsa to form a nice sauce.

After an hour, remove the casserole from the oven.  Remove the tin foil and cover the cheese with tomato/salsa blend.  Return the casserole to the oven and bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to set for at least 15 minutes.

Cut into squares, serve with rice and beans or your favorite chips and salsa.    Enjoy!

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