Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Baking (or not)

Last year I did the cookie of the day, this year for some reason I am having trouble starting baking.  I looked at a friends blog this afternoon and they have been baking away making me feel so far behind.

The eldest daughter arrives home from Guatemala late Wednesday night and I am hoping that having her here will help get my baking stuff in gear.  For  Pete's sake I haven't even made the dern rum balls yet and they don't even need to be baked!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

We attempt Julia Childs Civet de Mouton!

Picture from

A couple of years ago Michael asked Santa to bring him a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Childs.  I believe it was the year that the movie "Julie and Julia" came out.  He had been particularly good that year so he got a copy of the cookbook.  He looked through it and always talks about how he is going to start working his way through it...

So fast forward to a few weeks ago...nothing has been made using the cookbook until I am home by myself and bored like there is no tomorrow so I tried to make mayonnaise using Julia's recipe.  Worked okay but the olive oil was too strong for this delicate recipe...must try it again with a different oil.

Fast forward again to this past Friday which was grocery shopping day.  "What do you want to eat these next two weeks?"  asked I, "how about some beef stew" came his reply.  "Regular beef stew or something different" I ask, "how about that Beef Bourguignon in the cookbook" came the reply.

So while we were grocery shopping, list in hand, we came across some lamb stew meat, not what we had planned but Julia knew!  So sitting on our stove after 5 hours and too many pots is a dish called Civet de Mouton which is basically Bouef Bourguignon made with lamb.


  • One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • 18 to 24 white onions, small
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered

  • Cooking Directions

    Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

    Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.

    In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.

    Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

    Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
    Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

    Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

    Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

    Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

    Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

    While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

    Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.

    Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

    Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.
    Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

    Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.

    Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.

    When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.

    Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.

    Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

    If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

    Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

    Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley

    If you own the cookbook, please read the directions on how to cook the mushrooms, it makes a world of difference and if doing this recipe with lamb it is exactly the same but you only need to cook it in the oven for 2 hours. 

    Michael is out with a client and I keep tasting the end result...we are going to have it with rice tonight (if I am still hungry)!


    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Pan Seared Talapia with Lime

    One thing you may not know about me is that I am addicted to looking up recipes on Google.  It all started off innocently enough with the cookbooks, than came the cooking magazines, then Epicurious and finally Google.

    What brought this to mind other than the fact that Michael always asks me where the recipe came from is this...

    I can't find the recipes a second time...

    I am working on Michael's laptop which we do not have hooked up to the printer and my old dinosaur PC takes forever so instead of printing the recipes up and putting them in one of the many binders we have I scribble them on to pieces of paper.  Some of them big enough to save but most of them are not.  So tonight I wanted to re-make a fish recipe I had found on Friday while Michael was gone, it is so good I wanted to make it again.  To do this I had to type the search words in exactly the same as I did the first time (or I could have looked at my search history which just occurred to me).  After searching for what felt like an eternity (probably only about 15 minutes)  the longed for recipe was found.  I will see if we can get pictures of it later.  It is healthy, quick and most importantly delicious!

    Pan Seared Talapia with Lime

    4 pcs Talapia
    1 Tbl olive oil divided
    4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
    1/4c water
    3 Tbl lime juice (I use bottled)
    1 1/2 tsp Cumin (or a spice mix with cumin in it, I use Tandoori seasoning)
    3/4 tsp salt divided
    3 Tbl flour
    1/4 tsp red pepper
    Cooking spray

    Heat the oven to 400 f

    In a sauce pan place 2 tsp olive oil, heat over medium heat.  Saute the garlic for 2 minutes (if it starts to brown turn it down).  Add the water, lime juice, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/4 tsp salt.  Mix well (I used a whisk for this one).   Remove from heat and set to the side.

    Combine the remaining cumin, salt, add the flour and red pepper then mix well.  Spray the fish with the cooking spray (I eliminated this step) than dredge the fish in the flour mixture.

    Heat the remaining oil in an oven safe fry pan over medium high heat, cook the talapia fillets for two minutes on each side or until brown.  Remove from the heat pour the sauce over the fish and bake in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the fish begins to flake.

    I still have not decided what to serve with this tonight...perhaps back to Google I shall go!

    Saturday, December 8, 2012

    Thoughts of Christmas

    Phew, let me sit down for a few minutes...Life has been too busy lately and I would like it to please slow down just a tad (okay more than just a tad) but that will probably need to wait until January!  Thanks for hanging in with me during my unplanned hiatus though and if you are new, welcome!

    So many thoughts are going through my mind right now of things that need to be done!  The tree bought, the house decorated, cookies baked (and eaten), gifts purchased. 

    Michael and I actually have a very simple Christmas here at our house but the important parts of the holiday to both of us are spending time with those we love and the true meaning of the day!  Not the one-up-man-ship of how much money we can spend, not how many lights can we put on the house nor any of the other wastes that so often are part of this season.  This is supposed to be a celebration of love...where did we lose that part?