Category Archives: French

Beef Stew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes [Boeuf À La Catalane]: Test Kitchen Tuesday

Yesterday was the birthday of the late, great, culinary icon Julia Child, so it seemed only fitting to include a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Test Kitchen Tuesday.  It has been a delight to glean from her style and expertise in this two-volume set—I wholeheartedly relate to her affinity for butter and cream. In honor of her birthday, HuffPost Food compiled clips from The French Chef, Julia Child & Company and Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home—you’ll want to check it out and reminisce.

Beef Stew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes [Boeuf À La Catalane] is described in the book as a hearty dish from the Spanish-Mediterranean corner of France.  I have included some of the detail of the instructions, simply to honor Julia’s style and original voice, but have adjusted for American bacon, canned tomatoes (unless you have a garden or a nearby farmers market), and the fact that a Dutch oven will work just fine in lieu of a casserole.  Mine is in the oven right now and the aroma is divine!

I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.  ♥ If you do focus on altering it to economize, choose healthier ingredients or techniques, make it gluten-free/allergy sensitive, embellish for entertaining, or incorporate into batch/once-a-month cooking, please mention that too.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially proud of your creation, send a photo to savoringtoday@comcast.net, or include a link to your site with your comment.

Beef Stew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes (Boeuf A La Catalane)

Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol I, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck — Copyright: 2001 by Alfred A. Knopf
Serves 6
1/4       pound  chunk of bacon
2         tablespoons  olive oil
3         pounds  lean stewing beef — cut into squares 2 1/2″ across and 1″ thick
1 1/2    cups  onions — sliced
1         cup  raw white rice — unwashed
1         cup  dry white wine or dry vermouth
2         cups  beef stock or canned beef bouillon
salt to taste
1/4       teaspoon  pepper
2         cloves  garlic — mashed
1/2        teaspoon  thyme
Pinch   saffron
1          bay leaf — crumbled
1          pound  tomatoes — peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped —
(about 1 1/2 cups pulp)
1          cup  Swiss cheese or Parmesan cheese — grated

Preheat oven to 325°

“Remove rind and cut bacon into lardons (1 1/2-inch strips, 3/8 of an inch thick.) Simmer in 1 quart of water for 10 minutes. Drain, dry, and brown lightly in oil in the skillet. Remove with a slotted spoon to the casserole.”–Julia

Since bacon in America is smoked, you may not want to lose that flavor by simmering it in water first, but you certainly can. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat and lightly brown the bacon. Remove from the pot and transfer to a platter, set aside.

Dry the meat so it will brown well. Lightly salt and pepper the meat.  Brown the meat on all sides in the rendered bacon fat. Once browned, place it on the platter with the bacon, and set aside.

Lower heat to medium-low, and brown the onions. Remove and transfer to the platter with the meat, and set aside.  Add additional oil to the Dutch oven if too dry and cook the rice over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes until it turns milky in color. Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside until later.

Add the wine and stir over medium heat to dissolve any fond in the pan. Return the meat and onions to the pan and add stock or bouillon almost to the height of the meat.  Stir in the pepper, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, cover tightly, and set in lower position of preheated oven for 1 hour.

Remove casserole from oven. Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cover, and return to the oven for an additional hour of simmering. When the meat is almost fork tender, remove pot from oven. Raise oven heat to 375°.

Skim off any excess fat. Stir in the rice. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, cover, and set back in the oven for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked. Do not stir the rice. At the end of the time it should be tender and have absorbed almost all the liquid.  Just before serving, fold the cheese into the beef and rice.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday

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Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Béarnaise Sauce

Tender lamb chops cooked over a fire accented with a béarnaise sauce turns a Saturday evening into a special occasion every time.  Bits of rosemary and garlic cling to the loin chops, roasting along with the meat creating a fragrant, succulent lamb dinner.  It is so easy to prepare you’ll wonder why you waited for the weekend to make it. Cradle the chops in a classic sauce like béarnaise and you have a perfect herbaceous accent for lamb.

Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Béarnaise Sauce

Serves: 6
12     whole  lamb loin chops
12     cloves  garlic — chopped
dried rosemary
sea salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Arrange lamb chops on a rimmed baking sheet. Generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Rub garlic and rosemary over chops until covered. Transfer to a container or Ziploc bag and refrigerate at least 6 hours.

Light a charcoal grill and spread coals on only one side of the grill to allow for a cool zone on the other side. Place lamb directly over hot coals to sear each side 1-2 minutes, then rotate to the cool zone as needed. Grill lamb until medium-rare, about 10 minutes total, depending on size. The chops should have an internal temperature in the thickest part of the meat of 120° for medium-rare, 130° for medium.

Once done, remove chops from grill, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Serve with Béarnaise Sauce.

Béarnaise Sauce

Yields approximately 1 cup
1/4      cup  tarragon leaves
2        small  shallots — minced very fine
1        tablespoons  champagne vinegar or tarragon vinegar
1/4      cup  dry white wine
3        egg yolks
8        tablespoons  butter — melted
pinch  white pepper
salt to taste

In a small saucepan, combine half the tarragon, shallots, vinegar, and wine over medium heat. Simmer until reduced by about half. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a food processor, blend pepper, yolks, and the tarragon reduction. With the processor running, slowly add the butter in a steady stream until all 8 tablespoons have been added. Remove from the processor and whisk-in remaining tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Sauce can be made in advance and kept warm set in a hot water bath until ready to serve.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesdays
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop


Omelets: Perfection is in the Eye of the Beholder (or Taster)

Scanning cookbooks or browsing the web, you find scores of differing opinions about how to cook the perfect omelet—everything from medium heat to high heat, slowly, quickly, non-stick pan, or specialized omelet pan. Regardless the technique you choose, practice will be your greatest teacher.  For a little fun, I included an instructional video by Julia Child because her straightforward style makes me smile (especially the way she chucks the specialized omelet pan under the table).

Though non-stick pans are often recommended for omelets, I use cast iron since we stopped using non-stick years ago.  Plain eggs have never been my favorite, so I fold savory ingredients inside the eggs and add fresh on top.  Of course, the beauty of omelets is their versatility, substitutions are as simple as choosing what you like. This recipe is one of our favorites—fluffy eggs folded over spinach, mushrooms, cheese, onion, and garlic, with a garnish of fresh avocado, tomato, basil, and feta. Practice, be creative with ingredients and enjoy omelets for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Spinach-Mushroom Omelet with Avocado, Tomato, Basil, & Feta

Serves: 2
3      whole  eggs
1       pinch  sea salt
1       pinch  black pepper — freshly ground
1       tablespoon  milk
2      tablespoons  butter
1       whole  green onion — green and white part
1       clove  garlic — minced
5       large  mushroom — sliced thick
2       handfuls  fresh spinach
1/3   cup  cheese — any favorite that will melt
Garnish:
1/2    whole  avocado — sliced
1        whole  Roma tomato — seeded and chopped
3        large  basil leaves — chiffonade
2        tablespoons  feta cheese

In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened.  Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms release their juices. Add two large handfuls of spinach and stir while cooking until spinach is just wilted. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate until ready to fill the omelet.

Add a tablespoon of butter to skillet over medium heat and swirl so that melted butter covers the pan. Whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper together until a little foamy.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan and lightly scramble it with the back of a fork or rubber spatula for 30-40 seconds. When eggs begin to set, stop stirring. Spread the omelet into an even layer and allow cooking for another 30 seconds. Gently test the edges of the eggs with a spatula and work to get them to release from the pan.

Once the eggs are nearly set, but not firm, remove pan from heat. Add the cheese and spinach-mushroom mixture to one side. Gently slide a spatula under the opposite side and fold over the filling. Cover with a lid and allow to set for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese.

Transfer to a plate and garnish with slices of avocado, fresh tomatoes, basil, and feta.

Notes: Eggs cook quickly, it is important to have all ingredients prepped before beginning cooking the eggs.

Cut vegetables work best in omelets when lightly cooked before filling the omelet so the vegetables can release some of their moisture. Otherwise, the omelet can become soggy. 

To preserve a cut avocado, leave the peel and the pit in tact on the part saved. Place the unused portion in a resealable bag with a squeeze of lime or lemon juice to keep the avocado from turning brown. Use within 1-2 days for best results.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesdays
SS & GF Lightly Indulgent Tuesday
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
Fresh Bites Friday
Girlichef for EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potlock
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania

Whole Wheat French Bread [Soaked Method]

Since our soaked grain adventure began a few months ago, the one bread I have missed more than any is French bread.  Unable to find any recipe on-line that used authentic cooking methods for this type of bread which included soaking the grain, I decided to try to convert a basic recipe found on Famous French Desserts.

Understanding that whole wheat creates a softer texture than white flour, I did not expect the loaf to have the same crunch to the exterior nor the same airy interior of French bread made with white flour.  However, as much as we want to eat food that is good for us, it has to taste good too. This recipe accomplished both goals, so I was very pleased with the results. I used half hard white winter wheat and half Kamut flour for this recipe, although I did note that you can use King Arthur White Whole Wheat if you do not have a grain mill.

Baking the bread with a pan of water to replicate the steam ovens used in French baking helped to create a crust that had pull and was pleasantly chewy.  The interior was soft with a mild wheat flavor that yielded to the bright green tang of the extra-virgin olive oil we used for dipping.  Garlic bread, bruschetta, rosemary bread for warm brie, all come from a basic French loaf and I look forward to these delights once again—a healthier version that not only tastes good, but is good for us.

Whole Wheat French Bread
(Soaked Method) Yields 2 loaves

4 cups freshly milled flour -or-
King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. kefir or whey
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. dough conditioner
1 tbsp. wheat gluten
1 tbsp. active yeast
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
2 cups warm water

1. In a bowl, mix together 4 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 3/4 cups water, olive oil, and kefir until flour is moistened.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot (above 70°), or in the oven with the oven light on.  Allow to soak for 12-24 hours.
2. In another bowl, combine yeast, 1/4 cup warm water (100-110°), and honey. Allow yeast to proof for 5 minutes until bubbly.
3. In a mixer, add soaked flour, yeast, dough conditioner, gluten, and salt. Mix on low speed until well incorporated. Add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and knead with the mixer for 8-10 minutes. This dough is quite soft so using a mixer works better than hand kneading.
4. Dough will be slightly sticky; don’t be tempted to add more flour.
5. Lightly oil a bowl. Place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the oven with the oven light on. Let rise for 1 hour until double in size. Remove from oven.
6. Place a shallow pan of hot water in the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat oven to 450°.
7. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and gently knead again. Divide dough into two parts. Roll each half between your hands and the counter to stretch the dough into a long loaf shape.  Place on a baking sheet or in a baguette pan (see photo). Slice the tops of the loaves diagonally about 1/4″ deep with a razor blade or sharp knife.  Let rise for at least 20 minutes.
8. Bake baguettes for 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan of water, turn oven off and allow bread to remain in the oven for 3-5 more minutes of baking. Watch closely to prevent baguettes from becoming too brown.

Optional: Use 1 egg white and 1 tbsp cold water to brush on loaves after removing the pan of water and before returning to oven for 5 minutes.  This will give the crust a shiny finish as shown below.

Shaped for smaller French rolls and fishished with an egg wash.

For more info on the nutritional benefits of soaked grains, click here.

This recipe also shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet
Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

Tomato & Basil Bruschetta

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta was on everyone’s mind after seeing the movie Julie & Julia.  I can still recall the scene when Julie’s husband bites into the bruschetta—instantly, we wanted fried bread layered with juicy tomatoes, basil, and Parmesan cheese.  This follows much of Julia Child’s recipe, with a couple of minor changes of my own—the addition of Gouda cheese and more garlic.
Bon Appétit!

**For a healthier version, this recipe can be made with Whole Wheat French Bread [Soaked Method] as shown in the pictures below. Cut the bread slightly thinner, it is more dense than regular white French bread.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

Serves 4
1        loaf French bread, sliced 1″ thick
3/4  pound grape tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2   cup fresh basil, chopped
2       cloves garlic, minced
3       tablespoons butter, softened
1/3   cup extra virgin olive oil (1/4 to 1/3 cup)
1/2   cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved or grated

Mix tomatoes and basil, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Mix garlic with butter.

Heat olive oil in frying pan and fry bread until golden brown on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Lightly spread some of the garlic butter on one side of the bread. Leftover garlic butter can be refrigerated for later use.

Using a slotted spoon, drain the tomato-basil mixture of excess liquid and top each slice of bread. Salt and pepper, to taste. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Serve bruschetta as an appetizer or as a light lunch with a garden side salad.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesday