Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekends, Julie & Julia, and Beef Bourguignon

I cannot express to you my love for weekends. I wish everyday could be Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday. I suppose it would not seem so special in this case, but at any rate, I do really appreciate weekends. 

Anyway, I started reading Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell this past Thursday evening. I watched the movie not too long ago with my Grandparents while I was home for Christmas. My Grandma actually bought the book for me. I don't often have time to sit down and read, but for a book where cooking and Julia Child are the main topic, I will make time. I have always loved Julia Child. We go way back to my childhood when her shows, along with the Frugal Gourmet aired frequently on PBS. I believe it was this along with mom and Grandma's help, that ingrained in me a love for cooking. I have been a cook at heart for quite sometime now, even if it was mud pies and rotted vegetables from my grandparents garden. I even had a few cooking shows like Julia's as well. My set included a a good size sand pile, a large vegetable garden, old pots and pans, and as for my oven, well, stacked wooden palates of course. My only audience consisted of the many maples trees that surround my grandparent's land. Being that I never enjoyed speaking to small or large crowds, the trees in my opinion were the best audience because they did not Judge or notice if made a mistake. To others, my cuisine may have looked like piles of mud, but to me, they were gourmet dishes that I had carefully selected ingredients for from the garden and sand pile. I then slaved for hours over my wood palate stove to make what if had been edible, would have melted in your mouth from the love and creativity I put in it. As I grew a little older, I started to write my own recipes. A few I recall were garden pea and leaf lettuce soup, which poor grandma had to slurp down many times convincing me that it was practically the best thing she had ever tasted, marshmallows coated in peanut butter and rolled in rainbow sprinkles, and lemon slices dipped in sugar. Yep, those were my recipes, lol. Thank God for mothers and grandmothers and bless their hearts for going along with their children's imaginations, even if it does mean choking down raw pea and leaf lettuce in canned chicken broth. 

This post will come together at some point, I just don't really know when...I guess now would be a good time. I said before, that I started reading Julie & Julia on Thursday evening. The next day I made a pit stop at the local Big M to find whole beef tenderloin on sale for $4.99 lb. Unbelieveable! I thought for sure that it must have been a mistake, but nope it wasn't. In addition, the butcher will trim and cut the meat any way you wish. I purchased a whole tenderloin for $22.46. I know, crazy. The butcher sliced it in 1 inch steaks and also left a good size roast. This roast would soon become beef bourguignon, Julia Child's beef bourguignon. Coincidence? Yes. Well, this weekend, as a result of inspiration from reading Julie & Julia, beef tenderloin at an incredibly low price, my love for cooking, and precious time during the precious weekend, I made Julia Child's beef bourguignon . It was delish, very time consuming, but so worth it. I have always wanted to try this recipe, but who has money to buy beef tenderloin (you don't have to use tenderloin, but for the time spent cooking this, you might as well use high quality beef)? From this day on, beef bourguignon will hold a spot in my recipe box. All in all, from mud pies, to lettuce soup, to beef bourguignon, not one more important than the other, my love for food and cooking has continued to grow. I know I have said this before many times, but cooking is my therapy. Some need prozac, deep breathing, or stress balls, but I need to cook.  Thanks Julia Child, Julie Powell, Grandma and Grandpa, Mom, and Maple Trees for allowing creativity,  imagination, and persistence to flow. 

Sauteed Mushroom before going into the stew

My makeshift dutch oven in which I wrapped foil tightly around the dish for braising

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon served over toasted French Bread

Recipe Here

There are a lot of steps in this recipe. I few of which I did not do. For example, I think I was supposed to take out the carrots and sliced onions, but I did not. I also forgot to buy pearl onions, another reason to keep the other onions in. Oh yeah and in the beginning it says to simmer the bacon before sauteeing. I did not do this. I just chopped the bacon and sautéed it immediately. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Glazed Lemon Bread

I posted a few images and recipes not too long ago. There was however, one recipe I did not post. This was this Glazed Lemon Bread, which was delicious by the way. It was incredibly moist and lemony. I had a couple of people request the recipe, so here it is! Oh, and sorry it took so long!!

Glazed Lemon Bread
from Bon Appetit, Fast Easy Fresh
Makes 1 loaf

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup whole milk

*for extra tartness in the bread add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the batter and increase the lemon peel to 1 tablespoon (I did it this way b/c I love lemons)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup of sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in lemon peel and lemon juice (lemon juice is optional) . Beat in dry ingredients alternately with with milk in 3 additions each. Transfer batter to the prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice in a heavy small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. 

Transfer pan to a rack. Pierce top of brad all over with wooden skewer. Gradually spoon lemon glaze over hot bread, adding more as glaze is absorbed. Cool Lemon bread completely in the pan on a rack.

To store, remove bread from pan and wrap loosely in foil and keep at room temperature.

Blueberry Sauce
(all measurements are just estimates of what I did)

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4-1/2 cup water
1/4-1/3 cup sugar (adjust to your taste)

Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low-medium heat. Blueberries will start to burst. Stir occasionally until it looks like a sauce. You can serve it warm, room temp., or cold over sliced lemon bread. 


Friday, February 19, 2010

Sundance Catalog Lovelies!

So this is another one of those "If only I could afford posts." The Sundance Website may have some of the most gorgeous home decor out there.  Here are a few of my favorites!! Enjoy!

Life of the Party Trays
Provence Tablerunner
Lorraine Tablerunner
1934 Dining Chair

Cornwell clock
Archer Tall boy
Wethersby Consol
Rapid Transit Signage
Vintage Joni Mitchell Potrait
License Plate USA
Four Winds Throw
Bungalow Check Throw
Gearworks Table
Bethany Iron Bed
Suchitra Quilt
Wright's Peak Storage
Vintage Lockers
Wrights Peak storage
Draper's Cabinetry 
Wrights Peak Wire Wall Storage with hooks
Beautiful, ehh?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Winter blues

Ok, so I know once again, it has been a while. I have been in a blogging funk, or maybe just a funk in general. I think its about that time of year where the winter blues start to take affect. It seems that simple tasks are more tiring and take more effort. In the winter it is so easy to separate yourself from the rest of the world and hibernate. I was at a local coffee shop today just staring out the window imagining summer and walking out into a green, warm, and alive world. But instead, it is cold, quiet, and gray. I know I am being a complete pessimist right now. And this soon shall pass, but until then, I must continue to do the things that make me happy or remind me off the warm months that will soon follow. One of the most therapeutic remedies for me is cooking. When I cook, I feel like I can breathe. I have pondered why this is so therapeutic for me. I think its the whole process. It  involves all your senses of sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. The sight of many colors, the sound of a simmering pot,tossing vegetables into a pan, smelling the aroma of spices blending together, and finally tasting the finished product, and the sound of pleased taste buds from the ones you are sharing with. For some of you, this may sound like a nightmare because I know many people who do not find cooking therapeutic in the least. I want to share with you a few recipes and images of a meal that I made last week when I almost allowed winter to win. In that case I would have probably sat in bed all day sulking and watching the Foodnetwork and HGTV. The menu was Roasted poblano peppers stuffed with chicken, bacon, cream cheese, etc., blackbeans, spanish rice and glazed lemon bread with blueberry sauce. I did not follow any recipes for the first three so I will just tell you what I used and "about" how much.  If the recipes are unclear, please feel free to comment me with a question. If you would like the Glazed lemon bread with blueberry sauce recipe just let me know and I will post it. I hope you try these, especially the black beans because they are so simple and delish!!!

Roasted Stuffed Poblano Peppers

4 Poblano Peppers
1 purchased rotisserie chicken (already cooked or you can roast your own)
6 ounces of neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
1/2 C diced red onion
1/2 C red bell pepper
3-4 slices of chopped crisp cooked bacon
Fresh chopped cilantro to taste
1 1/2 C shredded Monterey jack cheese
olive oil

*The next time I make this, I will add about 1/4 C to 1/2 C of sour cream to the mixture, but it is optional.

Turn oven on broil. Place peppers on a baking pan that is broiler safe. Place the peppers in the oven and let the skins blister and turn black. You will need to rotate them to let all sides get black. When they are finished put foil over the pan and let the peppers steam. This will make removing the skins easier. 

While the peppers are roasting, chop onions, red bell peppers and sauté in oil with salt and pepper until they are soft. Chop Chicken, cooked bacon, and cilantro. Combine cooked onions, bell peppers, diced chicken, bacon, cilantro, 1/2 C Monterey jack cheese, and cream cheese (and sour cream if you wish). Taste and add salt and pepper if you wish. 

By now the peppers should be ready to skin. Be careful when removing the skin as to not tear the peppers. Once peeled, make a slit from top to bottom and carefully remove the stem and seeds. Divide the chicken mixture among the peppers and top with cheese. Place back in the broiler and let the cheese brown on top.

Doctored Up Black beans (These are a "must try")

1 Can Goya black beans with liquid
3/4 C water
1/2 C  red onion
1/2 C red or green bell pepper
1/2 C tomato salsa
2 chicken boullion cubes
1/4 C fresh chopped cilantro
2-3 Tbs White wine vinegar

Saute onions and peppers until soft. Place all ingredients in a pot and let simmer for 10 to 15 mins. 

Spanish Rice
*any of these amounts can be adjusted according to your taste

About 4 to 6 servings of cooked white rice
One small can tomato sauce
1 Can green chilis
1/2 C red onion
1 Tb. bacon fat (left over from bacon for stuffed peppers)
1 Tb. olive oil
fresh cilantro to taste
salt to taste

Heat bacon fat and olive oil in a pan and add diced red onion. Once the onions are soft, add the tomato sauce and chilis. Add salt to taste and remove from heat.Combine sauce and rice and add fresh cilantro.