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Archive for the ‘French’ Category

Halibut with Citrus Beurre Blanc sauce

Halibut with Ginger Citrus Beurre Blanc sauce

Ever walked into a higher-end restaurant and just get the feeling that your meal is going to be average? Something about the decor maybe or the clientele is turning you off?

And then had your socks literally knocked off? Yeah, I sorta had that experience a few months ago.

I was taking a much needed break from the city with my parents in Door County, Wisconsin. For those of you who do not know, Door County is the peninsula of Wisconsin. It’s a vacation get-away for people from Milwaukee and Chicago (note Chicagoans – yes, you are called FIB by Wisconsinites. I am now a FIB myself and am coming to terms with it. Google it if you must know) . Filled with cute shops, antiques and quaint little restaurants, such as Al Johnson’s with the goats grazing on the roof , it’s perhaps the Mid-West version of Martha’s Vineyard.

One of the quaint restaurants was the Inn at Kristopher’s located in Sister Bay. We walked in and the interior seemed a little old. Not terribly out of date – but maybe early 90’s. And well, Door County really isn’t the hippest place on the planet. Needles to say, I guess I wasn’t expecting much.

Boy was I in for a surprise.

My father and I both had the blackened Ahi Tuna (we are both suckers for raw tuna – still…even though the dish is seriously done way too often) which was absolutely fabulous and served with wonderful tender crisp Asian vegetables. But the real standout was what my mom ordered –Salmon with a Ginger Beurre Blanc sauce. I’m not one for salmon…ever…but the sauce was outstanding. Seriously wonderful combination of flavors that I had never had before. Words cannot describe how good this was. I HAD to replicate this at home.

So off to google and I came across this wonderful recipe for a Citrus Ginger Beurre Blanc sauce and I must say, this was pretty dang close. Of course, I’m so not in the mood to reprint the recipe – and I didn’t change a thing so head over there if you are interested.

Give it a whirl some time.  I served it with Halibut and some shaved cucumber and carrot over a bed of jasmine rice. At the restaurant, it was served over whipped potatoes. Do whatever you wish. 🙂

Enjoy!

Ms. Pantry Raid

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Sorry about the pix - it gets dark so early now and I broke my indoor lighting contraption. Just know this tastes better than it looks!

Sorry about the pix - it gets dark so early now and I broke my indoor lighting contraption. Just know this tastes better than it looks!

Thanks to our conversation in culinary school the other day, I FINALLY cracked open myMastering The Art of French Cooking book. I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve never made a Julia Child recipe before. I am happy to report that it certainly won’t be the last.

Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon has seen a resurgence in popularity recently due to the book/movie Julie and Julia. It’s a cute book and a cute, albeit totally different, movie (due partly to the fact that it was based on both the Julie/Julia book and Julia’s My Life in France. I highly recommend both (well, all three).

This is good stuff. It’s pot roast on crack.

Or I guess, pot roast you wouldn’t be embarrassed to serve to company.

But first, a few things about Julia’s writing.

Her recipes are…a little vague. Meaning – she gives you leeway as the cook to use your own judgement. Thing is…most recipes that I am used to are written assuming I am a cooking novice. Directions are spelled out in such a way that I can’t mess it up. Julia kind of assumes I’m not a dummy…even though sometimes…

Case in point:

She tells you to crank up the oven to 450 degrees when you put the beef in. I thought, huh, that seems really really high. Then she says to make sure the beef is at just a simmer – adjusting the heat accordingly. I kind of don’t like that because I don’t like opening the oven door and releasing the heat.

I mean, just TELL US what temp you want it to cook at, ‘mkay?  And ok, I just sorta forgot to turn it down… So the heat remained at 450 degrees.

At the two hour mark, I thought MAYBE I should check on it.

THANK GOD I DID because it had already formed a black crust on top. Another twenty minutes and it would have been burned to a crisp. I had saved it just in time.

And oh my goodness. Wow. Rich. The sauce had thickened perfectly and coats your tongue. The meat was meltingly tender. I cannot tell you how good this was.

What else did I learn?

Two-buck Chuck is maybe a wine that doesn’t age well? Ha! Just an FYI. We don’t drink wine at our house so whenever we get a bottle, it sits around. I’m not sure, but I think we had this wine maybe 3 years? There was some heavy duty sediment in the bottom of the bottle. I honestly don’t think this is because it was “well aged”. Anyhoo, it did no harm. Maybe it added some good flavor?

Oh – and I screwed up the pearl onions part. I searched for frozen pearl onions because I did NOT want to go through the trouble of peeling the little buggers, but I could not find them. Alas, I got frustrated, the onions weren’t cooked correctly, yadda yadda.

And my final screw up? Due to the fact that I essentially overcooked the dish, there was no straining of the sauce at the end. Which maybe turned out to be a benefit since, like I said, I was frustrated by the end of my cooking expedition (note: maybe making Beef Bourguignon, Bolognese sauce and Sourdough bread all at the same time is A LITTLE overboard… so take what I say about being frustrated with a grain of salt).

Anyhoo, because the recipe is lengthy and I want to give you the full experience of Julia’s recipe writing (read: I am l.a.z.y), here’s a link to the recipe in Julia’s own words.

Julia Child’s Beef (Boeuf) Bourguignon

Beef (Boeuf) Bourguignon recipe

Brown-braised Onions (Oignons Glaces a la Brun)

Mushrooms sauteed in butter (Champignons Sautees au Beurre)

And finally, just an FYI – what kind of cuts of meat are appropriate for this dish? This is what Julia says:

(From Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
The better the meat, the better the stew. While cheaper and coarser cuts may be used, the following are most recommended. Count on 1 pound of boneless meat, trimmed of fat, for 2 people; 3 if the rest of the menu is large.
First choice: Rump Pot Roast—Pointe de Culotte, or Aiguillette de Rumstek
Other choices: Chuck Pot Roast—Paleron, or Macreuse à Pot-au-feu
Sirloin Tip—Tranche Grasse
Top Round—Tende de Tranche
Bottom Round—Gîte à la Noix

Enjoy!

Ms. Pantry Raid

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Transports you right to France - although I've bastardized it by adding Feta and Mascarpone

Transports you right to the south of France - although I've bastardized the effect by serving it with Feta and Mascarpone

 

AKA – Food only chicks like

My husband has an aversion to olives. Most men seem to share this trait and I simply do not comprehend it. I do try to help cure him of this ailment, but to no avail. Unbeknownst to me, he also has an aversion to capers. And sundried tomatoes. And basil. After 10 years together, I JUST found this out. And sadly, these are a few of my favorite things.

As I was reading The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, I came across a delicious sounding dish that had all of the above in it. A Provencal Tomato Spread. Paired with bread slathered with mascarpone and feta cheese shot under the broiler and a nice salad, what could be better? This is my kind of eating. Too bad my husband doesn’t agree. 

What else could you do with this?

Toss with pasta. Serve over chicken. Wish fish. It’s highly versatile. I’m quite certain it will end up with pasta by week’s end – that is, if I don’t tire of loading it on top of fresh bread first.

Provencal Tomato Spread

From Kathleen Finn. Read her book for more great recipes (and a lot of fun too).

Ingrediants

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red medium bell pepper, peeled, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 ½ cups) 
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (1 cup) 
6 to 8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (Âľ cup)
12 Nicoise olives, chopped
3/4 tablespoon capers
2 cups chopped fresh basil

Steps

  • In a small sautĂ© pan, warm the oil over medium heat.
  • Add bell pepper, onions, and garlic and cook until soft.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and capers and cook gently.
  • Remove from heat. 
  • When cool, add the basil.
  • Add coarse salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy! 

Ms. Pantry Raid

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