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Boeuf Bourguignon

February 28, 2015 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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This winter has been brutal for us Northeasterners. I think this month was the third coldest February on record, I believe? The combination of sub-zero temperatures, blustering winds, and piles and piles of snow has been hard both on the mind and the body, so I’m honestly happy to be kissing February goodbye.

Warm food has been an absolute necessity the past few weeks. And this Boeuf Bourguignon…well, it’ll pretty much comfort you through any amount of wintry precipitation.

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As a self-confessed (and sometimes obnoxious) francophile, I adore a good boeuf bourguignon, otherwise known as a delicious beef stew made with bacon, tons of carrots and pearled onions, and red wine. After seeing Julie and Julia when I was in sixth grade, I pretty much forced my dad to make the infamous dish for me, and I make a habit to order it at least once every time I visit Paris.

This was the first time I actually made the dish myself, and I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the results, even though any good French chef would probably guillotine me if he discovered I used neither flour nor butter in my rendition.

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The tricks to making a really outstanding boeuf bourguignon are to use good-quality ingredients and let all of the ingredients braise for A LONG TIME. Most recipes will suggest cooking the dish for an hour and a half or so; I’d say at least two and a half hours are needed to get the beef tender and meld all of the wonderful flavors together.

Don’t fret, though! This extra time needed only means you’ll have a few more hours to laze about and breathe in the wonderful smells. And I promise that waiting will make it taste even more delicious.

I don’t want you to get intimidated by the French name–I want you to be confident and cook this dish, because it’s really not that difficult! You won’t break a sweat and your family, friends, and cats will be impressed that you can make something so chouette.

First, you chop up your bacon into not-too-big cubes…

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…crisp it up, then brown your stew meat…

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…saute the veggies for a while, then add back the bacon and beef along with broth, tomato paste, and wine…

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…and stick it where the sun don’t shine (AKA the oven) for a couple of hours before adding…*drumroll please*…

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…THE MUSHROOMS!!!!!!!!!!!! (Can you tell I like mushrooms a lot?!)

OK, there’s enough fungus among us. Onto the actual recipe.

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Boeuf Bourguignon

I am such a Francophile sometimes, especially when it comes to French food. This is a classic dish from the Burgundy region of France, and while it sounds complicated, it’s not as hard as you might think! I made a few adaptions to lighten the dish up a bit, and I promise you won’t miss any of the butter or flour. 

In the words of Julia Child, the inspiration for this recipe,”BON APPÉTIT!”

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients

Prep Time 30 min
Cooking Time 2 hr 30 min
Total Time 3 hr
Yield 8 servings

8 ounces of slab bacon, roughly diced (I used beef bacon, but pork is fine too)

2 1/2 – 3 lb beef stew meat, cubed into 1-inch pieces

1 lb carrots, washed well and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices

2 large onions, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of cognac

3 cups of good red wine

3 cups of low-sodium beef broth

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 teaspoons of fresh thyme

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 lb mushrooms, roughly sliced

1 lb frozen pearl onions

2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder + 4 tablespoons of water

Salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Heat a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot on the stovetop over medium heat, then add the diced bacon. Cook until most of the fat has been rendered and the bacon has been browned, about 10 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.

Toss the stew meat with 1 teaspoon of salt and add half of the pieces to the remaining bacon fat in the Dutch oven. Cook until the beef has been browned, about 5-6 minutes, rotating the pieces once or twice to ensure even browning. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, then repeat the same process with the remaining pieces.

Pour off all but about 1-2 tablespoons of the accumulated fat and add the carrots and onions. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and saute until slightly softened and golden-brown, about 15 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a minute more.

Slowly pour in the cognac and red wine. Increase the heat slightly and bring to a boil. Let cook for 3-4 minutes to burn off some of the alcohol, then stir in the beef broth, tomato paste, thyme, bacon, and stew meat pieces. Bring to a boil once more, then cover the pot with a lid and place in the preheated oven.

Cook for 2 1/2 hours, stirring every half an hour or so. You’re ready to move onto the next step when the beef and carrots are tender.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mushrooms, sprinkle with a little salt, and cook until starting to brown and becoming soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

When the beef and vegetables are ready, add the mushrooms along with the frozen pearl onions. Cook on the stovetop over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the arrowroot powder with 2 tablespoons of cool water. Pour the mixture into the stew, reduce the heat to low, and stir well. If needed, whisk together the remaining tablespoon of arrowroot powder with 2 more tablespoons of cool water and add to the stew to thicken further.

Let cook over low heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve hot with smashed potatoes, your favorite grain, or over a bed of roasted vegetables.


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What is your favorite comfort food when the weather gets super cold? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Boeuf Bourguignon

February 15, 2015 Print this page

I am such a Francophile sometimes, especially when it comes to French food. This is a classic dish from the Burgundy region of France, and while it sounds complicated, it’s not as hard as you might think! I made a few adaptions to lighten the dish up a bit, and I promise you won’t miss any of the butter or flour. 

In the words of Julia Child, the inspiration for this recipe,”BON APPÉTIT!”

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients

Prep Time 30 min
Cooking Time 2 hr 30 min
Total Time 3 hr
Yield 8 servings

8 ounces of slab bacon, roughly diced (I used beef bacon, but pork is fine too)

2 1/2 – 3 lb beef stew meat, cubed into 1-inch pieces

1 lb carrots, washed well and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices

2 large onions, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of cognac

3 cups of good red wine

3 cups of low-sodium beef broth

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 teaspoons of fresh thyme

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 lb mushrooms, roughly sliced

1 lb frozen pearl onions

2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder + 4 tablespoons of water

Salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Heat a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot on the stovetop over medium heat, then add the diced bacon. Cook until most of the fat has been rendered and the bacon has been browned, about 10 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.

Toss the stew meat with 1 teaspoon of salt and add half of the pieces to the remaining bacon fat in the Dutch oven. Cook until the beef has been browned, about 5-6 minutes, rotating the pieces once or twice to ensure even browning. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, then repeat the same process with the remaining pieces.

Pour off all but about 1-2 tablespoons of the accumulated fat and add the carrots and onions. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and saute until slightly softened and golden-brown, about 15 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a minute more.

Slowly pour in the cognac and red wine. Increase the heat slightly and bring to a boil. Let cook for 3-4 minutes to burn off some of the alcohol, then stir in the beef broth, tomato paste, thyme, bacon, and stew meat pieces. Bring to a boil once more, then cover the pot with a lid and place in the preheated oven.

Cook for 2 1/2 hours, stirring every half an hour or so. You’re ready to move onto the next step when the beef and carrots are tender.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mushrooms, sprinkle with a little salt, and cook until starting to brown and becoming soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

When the beef and vegetables are ready, add the mushrooms along with the frozen pearl onions. Cook on the stovetop over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the arrowroot powder with 2 tablespoons of cool water. Pour the mixture into the stew, reduce the heat to low, and stir well. If needed, whisk together the remaining tablespoon of arrowroot powder with 2 more tablespoons of cool water and add to the stew to thicken further.

Let cook over low heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve hot with smashed potatoes, your favorite grain, or over a bed of roasted vegetables.


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Bolognese Sauce

November 5, 2013 Print this page

One of my fall and winter dinner staples. Serve over spaghetti squash or a roasted vegetable puree.

Ingredients

Prep Time 10 min
Cooking Time 1 hr 15 min
Total Time 1 hr 25 min
Yield 6-8 servings

2 tablespoons of ghee, butter, or coconut oil

2 chopped onions

3 chopped carrots

3 chopped celery stalks

A pinch of salt

4 cloves of minced garlic

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

1 tablespoon of dried basil

1/4 lb sliced and diced speck (can be substituted with prosciutto or bacon)

1 lb ground pork

1 lb ground veal (can be substituted with beef)

3/4 cup of red wine

3/4 cup of coconut milk

12 ounces of tomato paste

3 bay leaves

 

Directions

In a large pot or dutch oven, melt the ghee, butter, or coconut oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, add the onions, carrots, and celery stalks. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then saute until translucent and beginning to soften, about 7 to 8 minutes. It the veggies start browning, turn the heat down and add a little more salt so they’ll release some more water.

To the softened veggies, add the minced garlic, dried oregano, and dried basil, and saute for one or two minutes longer. Then, add in the sliced and diced speck.

After the speck has been hanging out with the veggies for a few minutes, crumble in the ground pork and ground veal. Saute until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, then add in the red wine, coconut milk,  tomato paste, and bay leaves.

Stir to combine, bring to a boil, and turn the heat down to low. Let cook with the lid on until thickened, about an hour. After the hour mark, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook until you’re ready to serve over spaghetti squash or roasted root vegetable puree.


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Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

November 5, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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I was a pasta maniac.

Italian restaurant? I’d be ordering penne with red sauce. Chinese restaurant? Chicken lo mein for this girl. Thai restaurant? I’d shovel through at least three-quarters of a bowl of pad thai. French restaurant? I’d hope that boeuf bourguignon would be served over some form of noodle. At home, I’d eat Kraft macaroni and cheese for lunch, and for dinner, I’d request Melissa D’Arabian’s garlic pasta with Parmesan and broccoli. In short, my life basically revolved around pasta.

But now…pasta’s just for special occasions. Sure, it tastes fabulous (and no one will deny that), but it isn’t the healthiest thing in the world for you, even if you buy the gluten-free stuff. (Which is just as bad for you, in my opinion.) While many proudly claim that eating zucchini noodles is “just like pasta,” let’s get real, folks: pasta is pasta, and there is nothing exactly like it. Spiralized vegetables, although they are delicious and a ton of fun to make, will not completely satisfy your pasta craving, and that’s OK! We should appreciate foods for what they are, not what they aren’t. Instead of saying, “Aw, this tomato sauce is good, but it really needs some pasta,” say, “Yum, this tomato sauce is so good, and I’m getting in an extra serving of veggies with these tasty zucchini noodles, too!” It sounds like nothing, but your attitude can really make a difference in how something tastes. I swear.

Personally, my favorite veggie “pasta” is spaghetti squash. It’s a pain in the butt to open up the massive gourd, but once you roast it, it becomes sweet, slightly crunchy noodles that perfectly compliment heartier tomato sauces. Zucchini noodles are also good, but I feel they pair better with a lighter pesto than a sauce as dense as this bolognese. You should be able to find spaghetti squashes at your local supermarket or farmer’s market–they’re in season now–but if you can’t, I’d recommend serving this over parsnip or celery root puree. It sounds a little weird, but I promise it’s delicious!

My recipe for bolognese is adapted from this one, the first recipe my nutritionist friend Alison Held showed me to introduce me to the paleo lifestyle. Since then, it’s become a staple in my house, and I’ve tweaked the recipe to meet  my family’s personal tastes. It’s SUPER easy to make, yields a bunch of leftovers, and tastes like heaven on a fork (or spoon). I usually eat this for breakfast the few days after I make this so I won’t waste any.

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In a large pot or Dutch Oven, melt 2 tablespoons of ghee, butter, or coconut oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, add 2 chopped onions, 3 chopped carrots, and 3 chopped celery stalks, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then saute until translucent and beginning to soften, about 7 to 8 minutes. It the veggies start browning, turn the heat down and add a little more salt so they’ll release some more water.

To the softened veggies, add 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, and 1 tablespoon of dried basil, and saute for one or two minutes longer. Then, add in 1/4 lb of sliced and cubed speck (basically smoked proscuitto), proscuitto, or bacon.

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I’ve made bolognese with all three of the options above, and speck is by far my favorite. It’s smoky but not overpowering: I’ve found that proscuitto is good but doesn’t have as much flavor, and bacon makes the sauce a bit too greasy and salty. I get speck at my local butcher, but if you can’t find it, definitely use proscuitto over bacon.

After the speck has been hanging out with the veggies for a few minutes, crumble in 1 lb of ground pork and 1 lb of ground veal. You can also substitute regular old beef for the veal, but I prefer the veal’s lighter flavor in contrast with the pork’s porkiness. Saute until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, then add in 3/4 cup of red wine, 3/4 cup of coconut milk (light or full-fat: your preference), 12 ounces (or about 2 cans) of tomato paste, and 3 bay leaves.

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Stir to combine, bring to a boil, and turn the heat down to low. Let cook with the lid on until thickened, about an hour. After the hour mark, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook until you’re ready to serve.

Want to make some spaghetti squash “noodles” to go along with your delicious sauce? You’re in luck, ’cause I’ll show you!

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Using the biggest knife you can get your hands on, slice your spaghetti squash in half. These are tough little (or not so little) suckers, so proceed with strength and caution. Enlist the help of your father if this proves too arduous.

Sprinkle both halves of the spaghetti squash with a generous amount of salt and pepper, then place face-down on a cookie sheet with about a teaspoon of water. Bake until the squash’s skin is beginning to brown and the flesh is tender, but not mushy, about 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip the squash halves over, and let cool before scraping the squash with a fork to reveal the noodle-y magic inside.

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Put some squash in a bowl, top with a generous scoop of sauce, and garnish with some chopped fresh basil. Yummy!

What’s your favorite pasta dish? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Crispy Sweetbreads

November 5, 2013 Print this page

These are not a sugary, carby dessert–they’re just tasty, crunchy offal goodness. Don’t be scared, give them a try!

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr 30 min
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 2 hr
Yield 4 servings as a main course, 6 as an appetizer

1 lb of sweetbreads

1/2 tablespoon of salt, plus more to sprinkle on while cooking

1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

3/4 cup of arrowroot powder

1/4 cup of duck fat (can be substituted with coconut oil)

1/2 cup of white wine

The juice of 1/2 a lemon

Directions

Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Once it’s vigorously bubbling, turn the heat down slightly and stir in the salt and red wine vinegar. Gently drop the sweetbreads in and cook for 10 minutes.

Drain the sweetbreads and run under cold water until cool to the touch, about 7 minutes. If you see any loose pieces of membrane, peel them off—it’s not a big deal if you don’t get every piece.

Dry the sweetbreads off with a paper towel, then transfer to a clean plate. Place another plate on top of the sweetbreads, and weigh it down with a bunch of cans. (I used five 14.5 ounce cans of coconut milk.) Transfer to the fridge for 1 to 3 hours.

When you’re ready to cook, cut the sweetbreads into 1/2-inch slices. Toss in the arrowroot flour, making sure to shake off any excess coating.

Heat the duck fat over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Once hot, add half the sweetbreads and fry until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Every couple of minutes, sprinkle with a little bit of salt.

Flip over and fry until golden brown on the other side, about 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer the sweetbreads to a paper towel-lined plate, and add the rest to the pan, adding more fat if necessary. Follow the same steps for the second batch.

When all of the sweetbreads have been cooked, pour in the wine to the hot pan. Let bubble for 3 to 4 minutes, then squeeze in the lemon juice.

Drizzle a little sauce and a drop of lemon juice atop each sweetbread to serve.


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