Category Archives: French

Beef Daube Provençal

Fall is here and I for one could not be happier! As much as I love the sunshine, I had missed the cool, crisp mornings and stormy evenings. And of course I missed pots of soup and comforting meals hot from the oven. So goodbye summer salads and hello fallish flavors and comfort food.

I suppose this is nothing more than a glorified beef stew, but it’s a top notch version of beef stew. And who doesn’t love beef stew anyway? The wine and slow cooking give this dish a rich, full flavor that really can’t be beat. And serving it over noodles? Pure genius. They soak up the extra juices, elevating this “stew” to fork food. It doesn’t take much time to throw together, but plan ahead for this one since it cooks 2-3 hours in the oven. It’s well worth the wait. And hey, if you get bored, there’s always the rest of that bottle of wine to keep you busy.

Beef Daube Provençal

Beef Daube Provençal

Beef Daube Provençal
(from Cooking Light)

2 tsp. olive oil
12 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (2 pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
1 cup red wine
2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Dash of ground cloves
1 (14.5) can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
3 cups cooked medium egg noodles

Preheat oven to 300°. Heat a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan (you may need to do this in batches so you don’t overcrowd the meat); sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add reserved garlic, beef, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrots, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf), and bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles.

Note: To make in a slow cooker, prepare through Step 2. Place beef mixture in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or until beef is tender.

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I Can Make A Soufflé!!

Few things intimidate me in the kitchen (other than chefs who yell, but I think they are mostly on TV).  One of those things is soufflés.  They look difficult.  They look fussy.  What if they don’t poof up right, or if they fall down?  What if it tastes bad because I did it wrong?  But then I realized, who cares?  I can always order pizza if they don’t turn out, right?  Besides, attempting a soufflé gave me a reason to buy something new I’ve been wanting for my kitchen, mostly just because they are so darn cute.

Ramekins! Aren't they adorable? Yes, I'm a food geek.

So…new ramekins in hand, I decided to start with a simple cheese soufflé.  If it turns out I’ll move on to chocolate.  Don’t want to waste good chocolate on a botched first attempt, after all.  I made my soufflés, and in the process, I made a realization:  I am an idiot!  Soufflés are not difficult, and they aren’t fussy.  I was silly to be scared of this poofy little thing.  They were actually pretty quick to make, turned out perfect the first time, and they were delicious!  I can’t wait to make more!

Cheese Soufflé! I did it!

Cheese Soufflé
(adapted from Cooking Light)

2 tsp. unsalted butter, softened
8 tsp. grated Parmesan
2 1/2 tbsp. flour
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. 2% milk
2 tbsp. dry white wine
1/4 tsp. salt
2 oz. shredded swiss cheese (I used smoked swiss)
1/2 cup finely chopped chives
2 large egg yolks
4 large egg whites

Coat each of 4 (1 cup) soufflé dishes evenly with 1/2 tsp. butter.  Sprinkle each dish with 2 tsp. parmesan cheese, tilting to coat sides and bottom.  I didn’t have one cup dishes; mine were 6 ounce dishes, but they worked just fine.  Combine flour, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat.  Gradually add milk and white wine, stirring with a whisk until smooth.  Cook for 4 minutes or until mixture is thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add salt, chives, and cheese.  Stir until cheese melts and mixture is smooth.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl, and let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in egg yolks.  Place egg whites in another large bowl.  Beat with a mixer on high speed until medium peaks form (do not overbeat).  Gently stir one-quarter of egg whites into cheese mixture.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.  Spoon into prepared dishes.

Ready to go in the oven. In retrospect, I could have used 5 or 6 dishes instead of just 4 since mine were a little smaller than the recipe called for. But these still worked great.

Place dishes on a baking sheet, and place in 400˚ oven.  Immediately reduce oven temperature to 375˚.  Bake for 17 minutes or until puffy and golden.  Serve immediately.

Fresh out of the oven! Aren't they beautiful?

What’s the most intimidating thing you’ve tackled in the kitchen?

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French Onion Tart

I’m a cookbook junkie.  I have around 40 cookbooks on my kitchen shelf, and I subscribe to a cooking magazine as well.  I am the proud owner of more recipes than I could possibly ever make.  And yet, I still want more.  I’m always on the lookout for new cookbooks, especially those that are a little out of the ordinary.  On a recent trip to the library, I came across this cool little gem, “They Draw and Cook,” a collection of recipes illustrated by artists from around the world. Being an artist who likes to cook, my little heart went pitter pat and I snatched it up.

The illustrations are wonderful, ranging from simple, whimsical, hilarious, to downright beautiful.  The recipes trended toward the very basic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  After all, they only had a 2-page spread to illustrate and explain the recipe.  And a basic recipe from Sweden or Russia is still new to me. I enjoyed seeing favorite recipes from different parts of the world.  And some of them just made me laugh.  For instance, one that I can identify with: “Starving Artist Goo-lash – for when you just can’t eat another ramen noodle.”  By the way, there is also a companion website: theydrawandcook.com.

Starving Artist Goo-lash.

Starving Artist Goo-lash. Been there!

Or this unfamiliar, yet somehow intriguing concoction – “Palt”.  It has potatoes in it, could it be bad?  I must find someone Swedish to ask about this.

Palt? I'm a little unsure, but part of me really wants to try it!

And this one just sounds yummy, plus I LOVE the illustrative style.

Pan-Fried Fish with Lemon Caper Sauce. Need to make!

I chose to make a French dish called Pissaladiere.  It’s basically a French onion tart.  Who can resist puff pastry? Mine turned out gorgeous, just like the picture in the book.  I thought it tasted good too.  The onions are cooked slowly, very much how you would make them for French Onion soup, bringing out their natural sweetness. If I make this again, I would do a few things differently.  I’m sure a French person would be mad at me for messing with their old fashioned comfort food, but I would probably add some additional toppings – tomatoes would be yummy, and maybe zucchini?  And I would cut the amount of anchovies at least in half, and chop them up so you didn’t get so much in one bite.  They made a beautiful design, but they are very salty, so leaving them whole made for a very concentrated salty bite here and there.  I think with anchovies, at least for me, a little goes a long way.  Another name for this recipe could be “Date Repellent.”  Luckily, I wasn’t dining with anyone I wanted to breathe on later.

French Onion Tart - "Pissaladiere"

“Pissaladiere” – French Onion Tart
(from They Draw & Cook, by Nate Padavick & Salli Swindell) 

Puff Pastry, thawed
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 onions
1-2 cans anchovies, drained
Olives – the recipe calls for Nicoise olives, I used Kalamata – I think any kind would work fine

Place the puff pastry sheets on a cookie sheet – I used both sheets of puff pastry to fill up the whole tray.  Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pan.  Add onions.  Cook over very low heat until golden and soft (this takes 45 -60 minutes).  Cool. Spread over pastry.  Arrange anchovies in a criss cross pattern like the picture.  Put an olive in the middle of each shape.  Bake 15-20 minutes at 350˚.  Cool 10 minutes.  Cut into squares and eat.

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