Sunday, September 15

Nest by Tamara's Weekday Supper: French Beef Bourguignon made a lil' easy for busy foodies

Nest by Tamara 
muses about a traditional French, Beef Bourguignon, 
but made simpler for an easy, yet hearty Weekday Supper 
plus, 3 easy tips to save you time...
Several ago I first yearned to become a blogger when reading the Julie & Julia story as the author unabashedly prepared each and every one of Julia Child's recipes from her famous French cookbook series.  Through her project of cooking through this intense cookbook, Julie Powell wrote about her experiences on a blog (before we knew what blogging was) while discovering much about herself, learned to cook, yet gained weight to boot.  The project was time consuming, and at times it took over here life as she documented the labors of creating these elaborate recipes.  I met Julie Powell at my daughter's school where she signed copies of the book during our book fair.  Soon after in 2008 I started penning my own blog here on Nest by Tamara where I muse about daily living while bringing creativity, good quality design and artistry into your home and entertaining. 
What is Beef Bourguignon?
Beef bourguignon US /ˌbf ˌbʊərɡɨnˈjɔːn/ or bœuf bourguignon (UK /ˌbɜrf ˈbʊərɡɨnjɔːn/;[1] French pronunciation: ​[bœf buʁ.ɡi.ɲɔ̃]), also called beef Burgundy, and boeuf à la Bourguignonne,[2] is a well-known, traditional French recipe. The dish originates from the Burgundy region (in French, Bourgogne) which is in the east of present-day France.  It is a stew prepared with beef braised in red wine, traditionally red Burgundy, and beef broth, generally flavoured with garlic, onionsand a bouquet garni, with pearl onions and mushrooms added towards the end of cooking.
my BB dish (the original 5 hour version) I made last year for 
our French Country Culinary Dinner Club 
in New York City!

The experience of cooking changed the author, and we changed right along with her.  Well, then there was a movie and a career was born as well.  It was inspiring to read and I came away just as enthusiastic about cooking as I had always been, but struck with the notion that we can't have it all in life, especially all at the same time.  I have been a huge fan of Julia Child and her series of cookbooks long before it was chic this time around.  She was not a professional cook until she moved to France and took cooking classes, well, you have probably seen the movie so you know the story.  In any case, Julia Child introduced French cooking to the American kitchen.  
In my humble opinion, there still remains a little bit of a disconnect. We all know how difficult it is to become master chefs, wonderfully committed parents, devoted wives or husbands, juggle successful careers and keep gorgeous homes, staying well-read and while looking smashing to boot.  Something has to give folks! However, the French are adept at living in the moment, savoring the beauty of day to day life and living life to the fullest.   The few times I traveled to France, I returned home completely in awe of the culture, the food, the lifestyle, and the very simple yet elegant way in which they live.  We Americans  are inclined to wait for those special occasions to bring out the "good" wine and silver, and as a result, we don't value our daily lives.  Our meals can become too fast, uninspired and not a celebration of life.  We are "doers" and busy juggling lots, and as a result, when we get to the kitchen after an exhausting day we are simply too tired to add "cooking like Julia Child" to our resume.  Since the days of Julia Child showing housewives how to cook, we have evolved as a nation in the food department.  Many Americans now know about the food-to-table movement, and use sophisticated terminology and ingredients, (We watch the Food Network, damn it), and we love to cook and eat healthy while utilizing fresh ingredients.   Today, we want delicious, fresh fare, we even want to prepare it but we may not want to spend hours in the kitchen.  

So, my weekday "foodie" column is for the lazy foodie, 
er, the busy, not-really-lazy-but-wants-to-save-time "foodie 
who longs to prepare delicious food and set a creative, pretty table".  
There are times I run to the supermarket to pick up a roasted chicken or order take out (I do live in NYC) and call it a day, but weekday supper cooking can be fun, a little quicker than the longer version, but still quite delicious and inspiring.  First of all, buying some of the ingredients with those painstaking steps already completed certainly helps when you have hungry people waiting for dinner.  If I can impart a couple of timesaving tips--

             tip #1:  to save time, buy ingredients with some of the preparation already completed.  Example--I usually buy peeled whole garlic.  It is a bit more money than the regular garlic cloves, but King Kullen sells it relatively inexpensive in a large container that lasts a few weeks.  There are lots of opportunities to use it throughout the week.  I buy baby carrots (no peeling), Fresh Direct sells pre-baked freshly baked bread to pop in the oven.  Today, I'm taking Julia's 5 hour dish -- is SO worth it when you have the time -- paring it down and making it in two hours. 

Here are all the ingredients you need to make the quicker Beef Bourguignon, which takes the 5 hour version down to a total of two hours.  Walk in the door at 5 - dinner is on the table after homework at 715.  The entire reason Julia's BB is so incredible is it cooks slowly while the meat is braised, tenderized over time with wine, lardon, onions and the like.  Today's version is less time consuming and although those steps with the lardon make for an incredible (more than incredible, maybe the best dish you will ever have) taste, you can simply cook up a couple strips of bacon for flavor (not quite as amazing, but very good).

First,  buy these ingredients exactly:
note--precut mushrooms, carton broth, pre peeled garlic and onions, baby carrots pre-peeled, tube tomato paste--these items can save you a full hour of preparation.
1 package peeled baby carrots (no peeling or chopping)
1 onion
1 packet peeled baby onions (hugely time saving)
4 smashed garlic (already peeled)
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef broth (buy in the carton)
2 lbs. bite sized beef (top round--ask the butcher or grocer to cut it up for you)
frozen peas
1 package tiny baby mushroom (tiny ones no chopping)
1 squeeze of tube of tomato paste
1 bay leaf
salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence, one bay leaf
2 slices of bacon cut into small strips with a scissor.
sprinkle of flour
Use only one frying pan and one casserole dish (minimize your clean up). 
Tip #2: invest in a large cast iron frying pan -- the old-fashioned black ones -- and never wash it.  Really-- just wipe it out so it has myriad of flavors all the time and rub the inside with a little olive oil.  Very French.  
 brown the meat on all sides, and saute the carrots and onions in the same pan to lock in flavors and keep minimum mess in the kitchen
saute the onions then let them cook in the wine and beef broth 
Walk in the door with these ingredients in hand and get started:
Saute bacon for two minutes -- set aside.  In same pan, brown meat on both sides -- put aside with bacon.  In same pan, saute brown large onion chopped and carrots.  Mix all these together sprinkle with flour, then put in a casserole dish uncovered for five minutes at 470 degrees. 
After five minutes, reduce heat to 375 add half of liquid (wine and broth combined but save half on the side).  Note:  Only cover the meat slightly with liquid for braising -- should not be swimming in broth.  Add the herbs, garlic and tomato paste.  Toss and cook covered for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  While cooking -- saute onions in that same cast iron pan until they are browned on all sides, then add the remaining broth to the onions and simmer for 30 minutes.  Put aside in a bowl.  In the same pan saute mushrooms in butter and olive oil combination until brown -- combine the mushrooms and onions together and set aside.  Thaw the peas on the counter.  When the hour and 45 minutes is up, take the beef out of the oven and add the peas, mushrooms and onions together and put back in the oven for ten minutes.  While in the oven, boil water and cook the egg noodles till firm.  In each bowl put a small dollop of egg noodles and ladle the beef on top.  
Serve with crusty bread, red wine and a simple green salad.   

set an inviting table--a little creativity goes a long way.  Not an over-the-top-to-impress table but something you feel inspires and creates a cozy gathering.  Tonight I snipped some greens and flowers off the back patio in my potted garden and added them to a mason jar, then put it on a silver tray with some apples and a bottle of wine.  Simple!  You can use fresh greenery, plants, a bowl of lemons, artichokes, pumpkins or apples--
French style!
tip #3:  Set a pretty table, even if it's a simple evening at home.  Bring out the cloth napkins, the nice plates, place mats.  Remember, sometimes the prettiest tables are simple.  Make the effort to sit and enjoy each meal and experience.

Feeling ambitious and want to make the authentic, 5 hour rendition, 
check out Food.Com Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

we opted to sit at the kitchen island rather than the dining room, 
but we enjoyed a delicious dinner just the same. 
Happy Nesting XO Tamara