(My Mom’s) Beef Bourgouignon

 

 

The lack of a Sunday/Monday planning post this week is no accident: this is a fly-by-the-seat-of-our pants kind of week.  Chez nous, there is no real nightly dinner plan, as I had no real grocery list when my mom (YAY for moms who visit!) and I hit Trader Joe’s this weekend.  We had one thing, and one thing only, on our minds:  making this mind-blowingly delicious beef bourguignon.  (My mom nixed my idea for (another) veggie tart, declaring that the Husband “needs” more protein.  Didn’t you see our quinoa dinner, Mom!?)

Of course, this stew comes straight from my mom’s head; no need for recipes there.  I’ve laid out a rough guide below – but feel free to tweak for your eating pleasure.

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My Mom’s Beef Bourgouignon

  • olive oil
  • a couple of tablespoons of butter
  • 3 pounds beef (cut into stew-sized chunks)
  • S&P
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cartons mushrooms
  • pearl onions
  • flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3-4 cups (or even a whole bottle) red wine
  • a bit of water, as needed
  • parsley, for serving
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil and butter over high heat.  Saute the beef until browned.  On a separate plate, sprinkle flour, salt and pepper; transfer beef on to the plate and add flour, S&P in layers.
  2. In the Dutch oven, saute the celery, carrots and onion over medium heat, until translucent.  Add the garlic, cook for a minute or two, and then add mushrooms and tomato paste and cook through, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the beef back to the pot and pour in white wine.  Reduce the wine by half and then add pearl onions, red wine, bay leaf, and thyme.  Bring to a boil before reducing the heat; cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
  4. Adjust the seasonings as you see fit, top with fresh parsley, and serve with fresh crusty bread (and CHEESE, of course).

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The Verdict:

It was a sad day when my mom (and sister) left – but they did leave behind a trail of delicious food in our refrigerator! Word to the wise: this is even better after a few days, when the flavors have had a chance to come together (and the meat has had a chance to break down and become more tender.)

 

Slow Cooked Chicken Pho

I’ve been knocked flat by a cold.  I do mean I have literally been knocked flat – getting out of bed requires a monumental amount of effort.

I need some chicken soup, but I need to be able to make it without having to stand up for too long, because that gives me the coughs.  Obviously, my slow cooker is going to save the day; recipe inspired by Eating Well.  Because what could be better for your breathing than lots (and lots) of Asian spice?

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Slow Cooked Chicken Pho

  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, skim removed
  • 8 cups chicken broth (the best stuff you have)
  • about 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • about 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 8 whole star anise
  • dash ground cloves
  • dash crushed reds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 inches fresh peeled ginger, grated
  • 1/2 package udon noodles
  • 5-6 bunches baby bok choy, washed, bottoms removed, and roughly chopped
  • fresh herbs: basil, cilantro
  • toppings: scallions, thinly sliced yellow or white onions, sriracha, fresh lime, hoisin sauce, jalapeno
  1. In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear in the pan, 3-4 minutes on each side, to maximize chicken flavor.
  2. In your slow cooker, combine ingredients starting with the broth and going through ginger.  Give it a quick mix and then add the chicken, meat side down.  Cook on low for about 7 hours.  Take out the chicken from the slow cooker, and remove it from the bone.  (Optional step: strain the broth for the star anise, so you don’t accidentally bite down on them later.)  When slightly cooled, shred, and add back to the cooker for another 20-30 minutes.
  3. With about 20 minutes to go, boil water for your udon noodles and cook according to directions.
  4. With about 5-10 minutes to go, add the bok choy to the slow cooker and give it a stir.
  5. Place noodles in a bowl and ladle the chicken soup over the top.  Serve with your desired toppings – big handful of herbs, sriracha, lime juice, anything that sets your mouth on fire.

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The Verdict:

The crunch and spice of the basil, cilantro and scallions at the end are a must.  This was the first thing I’ve actually tasted in a while, so you know it tasted good.  Anything with this much heat is bound to clear up the sinuses, at least for a little while!  That being said, the Husband really dug this, too…though he thought it might be better with a little less star anise.  Would love feedback from anyone who gives it a go!

Roasted Vegetable Soup

A week after roasting about 5 pounds of root vegetables, we’re finally finishing them off, much to the Husband’s delight.  I snuck roasted veggies in salads, on tarts, into a bowl of macaroni and cheese, and finally, into this soup.

Husband is so delighted, in fact, that he volunteered to go to the grocery store tonight after work.  If I understood anything about how odds are calculated, I would put a numeric figure here; since I don’t, I will just say that odds are very high we will not be eating vegetarian tonight.

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Roasted Vegetable Soup

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 cups roasted vegetables (our mix included parsnips, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, onion, fennel)
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh sage (about 4 leaves) and fresh thyme (leaves from about 6-8 stems)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2-3 cups veggie or chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • optional toppings: green onions, sage, sour cream, pistachios, etc.
  1. In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for a minute or two.  Add vegetables and season with salt and pepper.  Add the fresh herbs and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the white wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Cook off the alcohol (2-3 minutes) and add the stock.  Turn down the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for about 10 minutes.  (Note: this is an ideal time to get cornbread going! Recipe here.)
  3. Working in small batches in a blender/food processor OR with your awesome immersion blender, blend the stock, veggies and herbs together.  Add stock, as needed, for desired consistency. Season, if needed.
  4. Remove from heat and add the cream, mixing thoroughly.  Serve immediately with desired toppings…and with cornbread, of course!

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The Verdict:

While I debated the merit of posting a recipe that sounds a little too familiar (I did say that there were about 1001 variations on our favorite butternut squash soup), ultimately, I decided this was dinner chez nous last night, so I might as well.  (The real risk is probably in trying to make the Husband eat more roasted veggies.)  In the meantime, this is delicious, filling and makes tons of leftovers – using 100% ingredients that were already in my fridge.  Score for frost living.

Slow Cooked Split Pea Soup

I wore my pajamas inside out to bed last night.  The Husband just gave me a strange look.

But.

It worked.

Today we have our first glorious snow day of the season.  For where we live, it’s real snow, too – enough to make a snow ball, enough to cover our car, and enough to shut down the city.  The Hubs and I are just sitting on our computers, working, drinking tea, and contemplating when we’ll go for a walk through this wonderland.  Life is good, and it requires soup.

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Slow Cooked Split Pea Soup

  • olive oil
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine, plus a little more
  • 2 cups green split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken stock & 1 cup water
  • 1 smocked ham hock
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt & pepper
  1. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and then cook the carrots, onion, and celery with a little bit of salt and pepper, about 5 minutes.  Add about a tablespoon or two of white wine to dislodge any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Transfer the veggies to a slow cooker and add the split peas, stock, 1 cup wine, 1 cup water, ham hock and thyme sprigs.  Cover and cook on low about 9 hours.
  3. Remove the ham hock – and if you like, pull of the meat.  Discard skin, bone, and cartilage.  Remove the thyme sprigs.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with a little bit of crumbled bacon/prosciutto/chorizo, if you’re going the decadent route.

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The Verdict:

“This looks like baby food,” says the Husband skeptically.  “But it tastes a whole lot better.”

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I officially became old about three or four Christmases ago, when I received an immersion blender.  When you open a carefully wrapped present and you’re excited to see Cuisinart peeking out at you, you know it’s all downhill from there.

On the positive side, if you own an immersion blender, you can make lots of delicious soups.  Which in my opinion, almost outweighs the fact that I now wear sneakers when I walk to work, knee braces when I run, and ear plugs when I go to the gym (that music is so LOUD!).

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

  • olive oil
  • 1-2 pounds diced & cubed butternut squash
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • fresh sage (about 8-10 leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • about 3-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy or sour cream
  • optional toppings: scallions, sour cream, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  On a large baking pan, toss the squash with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for about 35-40 minutes.  Midway through the roasting, take the squash out and give them another quick toss before sticking them back in the oven.
  2. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat and add the apple, onion and sage.  Cook these down gently, about 10 minutes.  Add a dash of apple cider vinegar and cook off before removing the mixture from the heat.
  3. When the squash is done roasting, add to the Dutch oven, pour the broth over the mixture and bring to a boil.  After it boils, reduce heat, cover and simmer 5-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, and blend using an immersion blender (or in a food processor or regular blender; just be careful to do it in batches).  Add the cream or sour cream and mix thoroughly.  Serve with your choice of topping – I love this with a little addition of sour cream.

Note: You can certainly make this healthier (and/or vegan) by swapping the butter for olive oil and using milk instead of cream or even coconut/almond/soy milk.  I’ll stick with the butter and cream, myself.

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The Verdict:

This soup has been a staple in our house for a while now and was inspired by my very first cookbook, which my mom bought for me before I ever owned a pot, much less an immersion blender, and way before I even thought to judge the people walking to work in sneakers, because they were just so OLD.  We’ve come full circle here.  Also, the Husband pronounced this particular version (there are so many!) the best he’s had.  That’s saying something – we’ve eaten this soup A LOT, so I’m bringing it to the party.