Boeuf Bourguignon in the slowcooker

Since I bought my crockpot a while back it has provided me with some nice stews and a lot of pulled pork.

But would it work with the ultimate stew – the famous Julia Child Boeuf Bourguignon?

It did! I mean, it doesn’t cook itself like many other stews, but once you’ve done all the prepping, you can definitely leave the rest to the slow cooker.

I did all the chopping and frying in the morning, turned on the crockpot and went to a friend’s house for the afternoon. When I got back in the early evening, I fried some mushrooms and added them to the pot and got the potatoes roasting. Other than that supper was labour free.

Boeuf bourguignon in the slow cooker, serves 4

60 g streaky bacon

olive oil

450 g stewing steak, cut into cubes

1 small carrot, sliced

1/2 onion, sliced

salt & black pepper

10 g plain flour

230 ml red wine (Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Burgundy, Chianti)

130 ml beef stock

2 tsp tomato paste

1 clove garlic, pressed

1/4-1/2 tsp thyme

1 bay leaf

150 g button mushrooms

Cut the bacon into lardons. Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in water. Drain and dry. Preheat oven to 230C.

In a frying pan, sauté the bacon in oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Leave frying pan aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the beef; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at the time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely brown on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced carrot and onion. Place the bacon, meat, carrots and onions in the slow cooker pot and toss with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Place casserole uncovered in the middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole and turn the oven off.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Turn the slow cooker on low heat and leave it for 5 hours.

Before serving, fry the mushrooms. Place a frying pan over a high heat with some butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam hasbegun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms (washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large). Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During this the mushrooms will first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from the heat.

If the sauce is too thick, remove the meat and add some stock. Check the seasoning. Put the meat back. Add the mushrooms and heat up. If the sauce is not thick enough, remove the meat and reduce the juices. Check seasoning, put the mat back, add the mushrooms and warm up to serve. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.


Julia Child’s mock hollandaise

We had this lovely plate of food for supper on Monday. The fish is called Mahi Mahi and although it originates from around Hawaii, our fillets came from fishes around the Spanish coast. Not that sustainable I know, but we were curious what it would taste like. It had a lot of flavour although the sparse seasoning with only lemon pepper and butter. The texture was quite firm so it held together well while cooking.  We had steamed new potatoes, fried leeks and steamed radishes alongside it. And of course the lovely sauce. The reason why I am writing about this in the first place.

In Mastering the Art of French Cooking it is called mock hollandaise. It tastes a bit like hollandaise and it contains both butter and egg yolk, but the main ingredients is actually stock. Which makes it a slightly healthier version than the real deal, and perfect for weekday indulgence. It is also easier to make as it doesn’t threaten to split like a proper hollandaise.

I will definitely be cooking this again. Thanks, Julia!

Mock hollandaise, serves 4

30 g butter

30 g flour

350 ml boiling stock (water + concentrated stock/stock cube works fine)

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp cream

salt & white pepper

1-2 tbsp lemon juice

60-120 g softened butter

Melt the butter (30 g)in a saucepan, add the flour. Combine and then add ALL of the stock at once. Whisk properly. Remove from heat.

Mix the egg yolk with cream in a bowl. Add the stock mixture drop by drop while whisking. When half or so is incorporated, add the rest in a thin stream while whisking. Pour the sauce back into the pan, heat up and let it boil for 5 seconds. Remove from heat. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Just before serving add your chosen amount of butter while whisking to incorporate (away from heat). Serve straight away.

Spring luncheon

On Sunday Christopher’s mother came over for lunch. It was lovely and sunny outside and it is such a shame we don’t have a patio or a balcony, but with windows open it felt quite summery inside.

We had a lovely Sunday and managed to show Eileen all the photos from Syria (without sending her to sleep), enjoyed a nice bottle of Chablis and had a spring-themed three course lunch.

We had Julia Child’s stuffed mushrooms as a starter, followed by trout, dilly baby new potatoes and the best sauce for fish ever. For dessert we had a new tweaked version of the pannacotta with raspberry syrup. I made the syrup from 150 g fresh raspberries, 75 ml sugar and 2 star anise, and that made all the difference – adding more star anise.

Julia Child’s stuffed mushrooms, (Champignons Farcis) serves 4

The recipe calls for 12 smaller mushrooms, but I used 4 of the large flat mushrooms, and the quantities work fine.

4 large flat mushrooms (or 12 smaller)

30 ml melted butter

3 tbsp finely chopped onion

butter and oil for frying

3 tbsp chopped spring onions

the stalks from the mushrooms, finely chopped

3 tbsp breadcrumbs

30 ml grated Swiss cheese (I used Emmenthaler)

30 ml grated Parmesan (I used Cheddar instead)

1/2 tsp dried tarragon

4 tbsp chopped parsley

salt & white pepper

2-3 tbsp cream

20 ml grated Swiss cheese

30 ml melted butter

Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and put aside. Wash the mushrooms and dry them. Grease a roasting tina, brush the mushrooms with melted butter and place them in it, hollow-side up.

Fry the onion in butter and oil for a few minutes until soft but not browned. Add spring onions and the mushroom stalks and fry for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add grated cheese, parsley, tarragon, breadcrumbs and season. Pour in the cream spoon by spoon to make the mixture come together but without making it too creamy. Fill the four mushroom caps with the mixture and flatten with a spoon. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and pour over drops of melted butter. Bake i preheated oven, 190C for 15 minutes. I served the mushrooms with rocket and crema di balsamico.