It’s somewhat surprising the additives added to many seasoning packages in the grocery stores today. I understand that some of the additives help to keep them from clumping, or perhaps extend their shelf life. But they’re not helping to extend our lives. Continue reading
Want to impress the heck out of someone? Vol-au-vents are easy to make puff pastry shells that are light as a feather (vol-au-vent is French for flight of air) and impressive as all get out. Did I mention how easy they are to make? Continue reading
I have made this Boeuf Bourguignon recipe on a number of occasions over the years and it is sublime. It’s easy and much faster than the original French recipe. However, it is still dark, rich, and wine based with a slow cook style. Slow cooking is very important, a simmer for three to four hours is key. Continue reading
Early on I made a chicken stock for you, as winter had arrived and well, lets face it, there is nothing like homemade soup- for which you need a good stock. So today we’ll make beef stock and oh I see beef stew in my future. Actually, French Onion Soup sounds really wonderful with melted cheese… and a glass of wine, too. Doesn’t it sound perfect?
There are many occasions where a recipe calls for either chicken or beef stock and what is called stock in our grocery store is so watered down it no longer resembles a stock with the appropriate adjectives such as rich, deep flavor, mouth watering, and soul satisfying. Your stock is the essence of the dish; if it’s not the very best the dish will not be your best creation. You can make a good stock and freeze it and for the occasion when you just need a few tablespoons it’s a great idea to freeze them in ice cube trays then pop out what you need. Great for soups, stews and sauces.
In classic French cuisine stocks are so important that they are known as the “fond du cuisine”
or the foundation of cooking. Stocks are not intimidating by any mean but rather easy and economical and taste wonderful. Save all your bones, freeze them and they will be there when you have time to cook them up and make your stock. Here we go.
In a large stock pot add all your bones, vegetables, spices and water. Bring it to a boil then lower heat to medium and continue simmering for 2-3 hours. Check it often and adjust the temp if necessary. I usually aim for 3 hours as it has time to render the marrow and make it richer. Remove bones and vegetables to a strainer and drain broth thru strainer right into a bowl, pressing any liquid out of vegetables with the back of a large spoon. Discard any solids and drain remaining stock if any in the same strainer catching any spices or pieces. Again, press liquid out with the back of a large spoon, and discard the solids. If you can drain everything all at once, great! I tend to do batches- it’s just easier and I don’t have a large enough strainer. Remember you want a smooth, silky broth.
Refrigerate stock so fat rises to the top, you can now skim off and discard the fat. Freeze in ice cube trays or freezer bags. Now you’re ready for the next time you prepare a soup, stew or sauce. You’ll taste the difference and never purchase at the grocery store again. I promise.
- 4 pounds meaty beef neck bones or beef soup bones
- 12 cups water
- 1 large onion
- 2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into pieces
- 2 large celery stalks with leaves cut into pieces
- 1 large leek, cleaned and cut into pieces
- 1 heaping Tablespoon parsley
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Tablespoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
- Add all ingredients to a large stock pot.
- Bring to boil.
- Lower heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.
- Remove bones and vegetables.
- Strain liquid into a container.
- Refrigerate until fat solidifies at top.
- Remove fat.
This dish incorporates so many of my favorite things… potatoes, cheese, breakfast, almost any type of pie…and, it’s fancy enough to impress.
As much as I love pastry, a few months ago I envisioned doing something with a crust of thinly sliced potatoes instead of a traditional pie crust. I was thinking that a cheesecake shaped quiche would be beautiful, so I got one of our trusty spring-form pans, sliced a few spuds, and got to Continue reading
I really should have baked a baguette for this one. Chicken Dijonnaise, or Poulet à la Moutarde, begs to have its tangy, creamy sauce soaked into a fresh hunk of warm bread.
It could be argued that Jean Naigeon is the father of this dish, as well as a few others. In 1856 in Dijon, Burgundy, Naigeon substituted the acidic juice of unripe grapes (verjuice) for vinegar in the traditional mustard recipe. Now white wine is used to make Dijon mustard instead of verjuice and Naigeon is barely a footnote in gastronomic history. That doesn’t seem fair… Continue reading