My friend and fellow Muslim Jessica just started a blog about her life in Saudi Arabia, which as I told her, reminds me that I need to update my blog more often. It is much easier to blog when you have a little community of people that are also blogging. Everyone sending their thoughts out into the world. Of course, my blog is decidedly less exotic. However, with all the snow and cold we've had, I can just pretend that I'm blogging from the Arctic Circle. Our temps. Thursday night were actually a little colder than Bakers Lake in Nunavut, Canada and Barrow Alaska, which are both on the Arctic Circle. Today temperatures were in the double digits and I'm not kidding, it felt balmy.
Since we've been stuck indoors, I've been trying to break my cabin fever by cleaning and organizing, reading, watching movies, and cooking. I tend to get a lot more "culinarily" adventurous in the winter because I like to cook fattening, rich recipes and those types of recipes lend themselves well to being adventurous. Even if they suck, they're probably slathered in butter, which makes everything worth eating. However, I made the mistake of watching "Julie and Julia." Judging by my inability to find a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, or any cookbook put out by the Culinary Institute of America at the library (if I don't want to wait three months) or in the bookstores, a great many other people have also made the same mistake. Since then, I have been on a hunt to find adventurous recipes that are elegant in their simplicity, yet remarkable in taste. Of course, the preeminent recipe of the film was Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy*). I haven't tried Julia Child's recipe for one reason; I like my version, no matter how unorthodox it is. It is very good and very simple. Here it is:
1 lb. cubed steak or stew meat
1 tb extra-virgin olive oil for browning
1 onion, chopped
1 can (8 oz) of cream of mushroom soup
1 small can of mushrooms, or 1 cup of sliced fresh
1/2 cup of burgundy*
2 tb unsalted butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dry the stew meat with a paper towel. As Julia says, if it's not dry, it won't brown properly. Heat oil in pan just until the oil looks like it wants to start smoking. Don't crowd the cubes of meat or they also won't brown properly. Remove beef from pan and let cool on paper towels. Using the same oil with the crispies, cook onions until translucent. Add the beef back into the pan, and then add the soup, mushrooms, burgundy, and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in an oven-safe dish and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. Serve over wide egg noodles (my choice), or mashed potatoes, as is traditional for Boeuf Bourguignon. Bon appetit!
*I should point out that Beef Burgundy uses Burgundy wine, and because the recipe cooks out the alcohol, I use real burgundy (yes I know, another dark mark on my soul!) However, Burgundy is very dry so just use a very dry grape juice and I suspect there will be very little difference in taste.