Happy, Happy Birthday Julia!!! It is her 100th birthday today!!! This is what we have been celebrating for 15 weeks now. What a fabulous adventure this has been for us. I have breathlessly awaited each recipe with anticipation!! Then researched, watched my Julia DVDs, chopped and sauteed, baked and cooked Julia’s wonderful recipes for all these weeks. An experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. An ode to a fabulous lady who thought outside the box and brought this side of the world out of frozen dinners and canned products. Back to where we should always be and that is cooking with fresh locally grown produce.
I would also like to thank Alfred A. Knopf Publishing for all their support and sharing of my photos. Not always the best as I am still learning. Also I would like to thank Colbern Uhl and YC Media for giving me this chance to share in something so fabulous. I am very grateful to have been chosen to participate.
Today’s recipe is one that I have done so many times, either Julia’s recipe or Ina Garten’s. It is a grand beef stew fit for a king or just our little family on a Tuesday night!! I watched Julia as I have tried to always do prior to making the recipe. She did a much simplified version than what the written recipe is. No bacon, no carrots or sliced onion. I improvised between these two recipes and made a fabulous Bourguignon. Thank you Julia from the bottom of my heart!!!
21/2-3 cups red wine, such as a Burgundy, Cotes du Rhone or Beaujolais
2-3 cups beef stock
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, smashed
½ tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
1 lb. pearl onions
1 lb. fresh mushroom caps, quartered
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
2 Tbsp. flour
Parsley for garnish
Saute the bacon in a large saute pan in the 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium low heat until it is lightly browned. Don't let it get crisp. Remove to a paper toweled lined dish.
Dry the beef with paper towels. Bring the pan up to medium high and just before the oil is smoking add the beef in small batches and brown in the hot oil. Brown it on all sides. Remove to a casserole dish. Preheat oven to 325F.
In the same pan brown the carrots and onions. Add them to the casserole dish along with the beef. Toss the meat and vegetables with the salt, pepper and flour. Mix the tomato paste with half cup of the wine so that it will easily mix in. Pour that onto the meat mixture followed by the rest of the wine, garlic and herbs. Top off the casserole now with beef broth and add in enough just to cover the beef. Add the bacon. Place in the oven and let simmer slowly for 2½-3 hours.
While the stew is cooking prepare the mushrooms and onions. Take the onions and cut a small x into the bottom of each onion. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and place onions in for 20-30 seconds. Remove and rinse in cold water to cool. Cut the small root end off and carefully peel the onions. Set aside.
For the mushrooms add the 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 Tbsp. butter to a large fry pan and heat on high. When the butter foam starts to subside add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4-5 min. During this time the mushrooms will first absorb the fat and after a few minutes it will reappear. Cook until lightly browned and then remove from heat.
When the meat is done, take it from the oven and skim off the fat and pour the contents through a sieve over a saucepan. You should have about 2½ cups of liquid, if you have more boil it down rapidly, if you have less add some beef broth. Bring the sauce up to a simmer. Mix the flour and butter together to form a paste. Remove the pan from the heat and add the paste whisking to incorporate. Return the pan to the heat and add the pearl onions. Cook for 15-20 or alternatively have the onions cooked in water for the same time. Stir occasionally until the sauce is thick. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Add the mushrooms to the meat mixture in a clean casserole if desired. Pour the onions and sauce over. Serve in individual bowls garnished with chopped parsley.
Another week has gone by and we are in week 14 of our celebration. August 15 Julia’s 100th birthday!!! One more week to go and scallops are on the plate today. I am a huge lover of seafood but scallops have to be one of my least favourites. For me it has always been the texture. It goes back to my days of not really liking fish. It is all in the preparation of the scallops that makes it or breaks it and I have had some really bad scallops that were rubbery. Julia comes to save the day again. I would have these scallops again in a second. Rich and flavourful with no issues of texture. They were sliced thinly and cooked rapidly which I have never seen before. Ken and Amber both love scallops so they just gobbled them down with barely a word spoken. They loved them!! And so did I, amazing!!! I am not sure about the taboo of no cheese with seafood or where that came from but now we have had two weeks of seafood and cheese together. Last week being the lobster cheese souffle. So I am throwing that out the window. Anyway grab some little shells from your local kitchen store and whip up these lovelies for your family or friends soon. They are a great make ahead also, which I love. They just need to be run under the broiler at the last minute before serving. Love ya, Julia!!!
1/3 cup minced yellow onion 1 Tbsp. butter 1 1/2 Tbsp. minced shallot 1 clove garlic minced 1 lb. washed scallops salt and pepper 1 cup flour 2 Tbsp. butter 1 Tbsp. olive oil 2/3 cup white wine 1/2 bay leaf 1/8 tsp. thyme 1/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese 1 Tbsp. butter 6 buttered scallop shells
Cook the onion in a large saute pan in the butter very slowly for 5 min. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for another 1-2 min. Do not brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Dry the scallops and cut them into 1/4″ slices. Heat the butter and olive oil on high in the saute pan until very hot but not burning. Just before adding the scallops toss them into the flour and season with salt and pepper. Shaking off excess flour. Saute the scallops very quickly in the butter until lightly browned, about 2 min.
Pour the wine, herbs and onion mixture into the pan and cover and cook for 5 min. Then uncover and boil down the sauce if necessary to thicken. Adjust seasoning and remove bay leaf.
Spoon the scallops into the prepared shells and top with the cheese. Divide the Tbsp. of butter amongst the shells, dotting on top. You may refrigerate them at this time until ready to serve.
Just before serving run them under a moderately hot broiler for 3-4 min. to lightly brown the cheese.
We are in week 13 now, only two more weeks to go and I am definitely going to have a void in my life when this is all over. I have so enjoyed doing our assignments. This week is the infamous souffle. Julia says, “the souffle is undoubtedly the egg at it’s most magnificent, the egg in it’s puffing power.” It surely is, what a magnificent thing to behold. You have only a few minutes to observe the souffle in it’s heights as when it starts to cool it starts to deflate. So this is something that needs to go from oven to table immediately. Julia uses a technique, that I watched on her DVD, using two spoons plunged into the middle and then you pull the souffle apart and serve.
You can add many things to a souffle like spinach, broccoli, seafood and salmon. We decided on lobster as the souffle seemed to be worthy of this seafood. It was out of this world fantastic!!!! We were all in epicurean heaven!!! This was a very memorable experience. Light and creamy and melting in your mouth. Come with us to explore this magical recipe, you will not be disappointed!!
2 Tbsp. finely grated Parmesan or other hard cheese 2 1/2 Tbsp. butter 3 Tbsp. flour 1 cup hot milk 1/2 tsp. paprika fresh grating of nutmeg 1/2 tsp. salt 3 grinds of white pepper 4 egg yolks 5 egg whites Pinch of cream of tartar 1/2 grated Gruyere cheese Lobster tail 1/2 cup white wine
Butter a 7 1/2″ -8″ round souffle dish. Roll the grated Parmesan around the sides and bottom of dish. Have ready an aluminum collar that is 3″ above the dish and a straight pin to secure. Preheat the oven to 400F and set the rack to the lower third level. Pour white wine into a small saucepan and bring to boiling. Place lobster tail in and poach for approximately 8 min. Let cool and remove meat and chop finely.
Melt the butter in a medium sized sauce pan and add the flour. Cook stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Do not brown. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Pour in all the hot milk at once and whisk vigorously to blend. Return the saucepan to the heat and with a wooden spoon stir and let boil slowly for 3 min. The sauce will turn very thick. Remove from heat and whisk in the paprika, nutmeg, salt and pepper. One by one whisk in the egg yolks. Add cooked lobster.
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites to stiff shiny peaks. Scoop a quarter of the egg whites and stir into the egg yolk mixture. Turn the rest of the egg whites on top and gently fold in with a wooden spoon alternately adding sprinkles of the grated Gruyere cheese. Spoon mixture into the prepared dish and place the aluminum collar on and secure with the pin. Place in the oven. Reduce heat to 375F bake for 30-35 minute or until the souffle has puffed 2-3 inches and the top is nicely browned. You can slide a cake tester into the outer edge to make sure it is done.
Remove from the oven and carefully remove the collar. Bring to the table immediately and plunge two spoons into the center and pull the souffle apart. Serve onto individual plates. Lovely with a salad.
Here is our final installment this week for the third vegetable we were assigned. Ken is the official tomato stuffer in this house hold. He makes them many ways and we have loved them all over the years. I really liked this recipe of Julia’s. It was very easy and so very delicious. We have a little guest visiting us right now, Zack. A great friend for Amber, just like having a little brother. Anyway he looked at the tomato and said that he doesn’t like tomatoes. I told him to just try a bite and that was all it took the entire tomato was devoured, he loved it!!! I do make my own bread crumbs whenever I can and have them ready in the freezer. I use stale bread or bread crusts and whirl them in the food processor and then store them in a bag in the freezer. I just ran out of Herbes de Provence. We use this a lot when we are smoking poultry and it we just finished it on our last two smoked birds. It is not easy to find so I will have to locate some again when we are in a specialty store. I improvised by making my own blend using marjoram, thyme, crushed fennel seeds, powdered savory and basil. I added equal portions of all to add up to 1 tsp. It was perfect!!
3 Large firm ripe tomatoes Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Stuffing
1 cup bread crumbs, homemade preferably 2 Tbsp. minced shallots 1 tsp. dried Herbes de Provence 3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley 3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Set a rack in the upper level and preheat oven to 400F. Core the tomatoes and cut them in half crosswise. Over a bowl or the sink if you don’t wish to save the juice, gently squeeze each half to remove the seeds and juice. With your fingers clean the cavities of any clinging seeds. Arrange them in a shallow baking dish cut side up. If they don’t stand flat cut a small amount off the bottom of the tomato to that they will sit flat. Season with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Stir together the bread crumbs, shallots, Herbes de Provence, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Add 2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil to moisten the crumbs and toss to coat evenly. Spoon the stuffing on the tomatoes making sure that it goes down inside the tomatoes by pushing it into the cavities and then mound on top. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil. If making ahead you can cover and refrigerate at this point or bake for 20 min. until the tops are nicely browned and the tomatoes are hot but still keep their shape. Serve them hot in the baking dish or move them carefully to a platter.
Here we are with our second installment of this week’s assignment from JC100. I have cooked with celery root quite a few times, mainly making a salad that my mom used to make which is delicious and I will share with you one day. It is a ugly vegetable that I bet not many have tackled because of it’s appearance and not quite knowing what to do with it. Julia writes, “Underneath the brown, wrinkled exterior of celery root there is white flesh with a bright celery flavor and crisp texture that, when finely shredded, makes a delicious slaw like salad.” Julia also goes on to say that you will need a good shredding device, like a mandolin, food processor with a grater attachment of a sharp box grater. Celery root is quite easy to work with and makes a pleasant salad that you may not have ever tried before. Julia suggests to make your own homemade mayonnaise for this recipe but when using only 2 Tbsp. I was honestly not going to go there. She did have two recipes, one with cooked egg and one using the food processor. I will try them at another time. My added extra touch was the tomato rose that she had suggested to go with the salad as a optional garnish.
1 1/4 lb. celery root 1/2 lemon for rubbing and for juice 1/2 tsp. salt 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard 3 Tbsp. sour cream 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise, preferably homemade 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Optional garnishes Boston lettuce leaves (I had red leaf lettuce on hand) Chopped fresh parsley Tomato rose (instructions to follow) With a sharp knife slice off the ends of the celery root and then most of the brown peel. Trim the bits of brown remaining and slice the root in half. Remove the spongy area in the middle by cutting it out. Rub the pieces with the half lemon to prevent it from browning. Cut again in half for easier grating. I used a food processor with a grater attachment. Shred the root now in the machine. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 1 tsp. salt and juice squeezed from half the lemon. Let marinate for 30 min. but no longer than one hour.
For the dressing mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard and pepper. You may want to loosen it up with a little more lemon juice. Fold the dressing into the celery root. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one to two hours.
To make the tomato flower it may be helpful to watch one of many you tube instructional videos on how to make a flower but it is pretty easy. Take a small clean tomato and starting at the bottom make a large slice, now continue carefully working around the tomato turning it as you go, just like peeling an apple. Keep close to the skin not making it very thick until you come up to the stem. Slice it from the tomato and now curl the peel starting at the small core end and eventually ending with the large end and fold that onto itself. Turn the rose over and you are done.
Place the lettuce leaves on a plate and mound the salad up in the middle garnishing with the tomato rose and the chopped parsley.