Well hello there. It’s snowing! And it started during the Toy Show. I am still resisting Christmas music and putting up my (rubbish) tree, but I have caved and am currently watching Mary Poppins and researching my topic presentation. And by researching my topic presentation, I really mean that I am writing this post. Well, what have you. Oh Mary Poppins, wonderful stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I stood in my room clicking my fingers trying to make everything fly back into place. I didn’t have a nice enough painting to jump into though…
Well back to it. Recently a delightful amount of lovely people took part in our Winter Warmers cookalong. Cully and Sully have kindly agreed to judge it, so the competition was tough. As you now know, we have the cookalongs the first Friday of every month, and I encourage you all to join in every time. It can be a culinary challenge or as simple as you like. I try to keep the themes broad so you can cook whatever you like. The idea is that you pop up some pictures as you are cooking and then pop up a blog post or facebook note with the recipe if you wish! There’s usually a hashtag on twitter. This one was #winterwarmers, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and a delightful upside down apple cake served with freshly whipped cream. Nothing says winter warmers to me like a steaming hot rich and lovely beef casserole, and Julia Child’s is a king (or queen) of rich beef casseroles. I do generally add the extra carrot or two though, as I find it balances the richness with just a lovely amount of sweetness. My photos are currently missing because my phone has decided to freak out with me and I’m waiting on it to get fixed. Will upload asap.
Without further ado:
Boeuf bourguignon (from Julia Child with one or two adjustments)
- 2.5lb stewing beef (I actually got some really nice quality meat from my local butcher. Went all out)
- A 6 oz chunk of bacon
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
- 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- A crumbled bay leaf
- 18 to 24 white onions, small (If you have trouble finding silverskin you can use shallots)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
- Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
- 1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered
- Ok here goes. Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.
- Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.
- Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole 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. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Don’t overcrowd it, it will not cook. Add it to the lardons.
- In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.
- Return the beef and bacon to the casserole 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 casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust). Remove casserole and turn oven down to 170 degrees.
- Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind.
- Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. Check it every so often to ensure it doesn’t burn like mine. 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 one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.
- Add 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, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.
- Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons 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. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.
Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, buttered noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley. I served it with baby potatoes, quarteres baked in the oven with the casserole with just a smidgeon of thyme, sea salt and butter. They were delightful. Bake them until tender, takes about 15 minutes in my oven. Lovely stuff!
Ok. That is the joyous dish that is Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon. Now dessert times. Inspired by the deliciousness of Fiona’s apple cake at Stagrennan farm, I decided this would be lovely after the big rich meal. I had some bramley apples left over since then and used them as the base/top-when-cooked. I rang my Mum at home who went rooting through the recipe box in the corner, which holds all things lovely and asked her for a recipe and she found this lurking at the back. I have no idea where it comes from or who to credit with it but its really nice! Plus its a pretty bang on old irish mammy cake recipe, cream up some butter and sugar, add milk and flour bit by bit and voila, cake! I made one or two adjustments and it turned out loverly altogether.
You will need
- One bramley apple, cored, peeled and sliced thinly
- 4 oz demerara sugar
- 2 oz unsalted butter
- 8 oz cream flour and one teaspoon of baking powder
- 4oz unsalted butter
- 4 oz caster sugar
- A large free range egg.
- 150 mls of full fat milk (trust me)
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- Okily dokily. Preheat oven to.. eh.. 180. (50 if you have my good for nothing rubbish oven) Grease and line an 8 or 10 inch cake tin (I have used both, I prefer the 8 inch, more cake to apple)
- First up, cut the butter into sugar so that you mix it evenly as if making pastry.
- Press this into the bottom of your cake tin. Arrange the apple slices on top.
- Make your cake mixture- Cream the butter and sugar.
- Mix the egg with the milk and vanilla. Mix the baking powder and flour.
- Add the milk mixture and flour/baking powder mix bit by bit and mix until combined.
- Spread over the apples and pop into the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Again, my oven is catastrophic so I can’t actually tell you exactly how long, but when it looks golden and a skewer comes out without wet batter on it you are golden my friend.
- Leave to cool in tin for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate and let cool. I serve this just warmed with a dollop of fresh whipped cream! Enjoy. You will, trust me.