Monday, August 31, 2009

tried + TRU(e)…part II…mignardise + back of the house

Tru(e) view...
a view of
the engaging interior architecture of the private dining room at restaurant TRU...

When I last left you dear readers, our table of Foodbuzz Community food-bloggers had just finished our dessert course and were smiling happily in our individual food-comas. As we sipped our rich Intelligentsia coffee, the waiters presented three-tiered silver dishes stacked with the artistic delights of the executive pastry chef and owner, Gale Gand and pastry chef Meg Galus.

For those of you unfamiliar with the tiny sweets, mignardises are the tiny, bite-sized desserts that follow a meal at high-end restaurants. Often they include tiny cookies or chocolates, as well as other edible delights. These are also referred to on occasion as "friandise", but friandises are larger and it is also a blanket term for sweets. Mignardises are what is served with coffee after a meal like an amuse-bouche is presented before a meal or an intermezzo in between courses.

As we pondered over which delectable morsel we would sample, we received a surprise visit from one of the pastry chefs, Meg Galus. She thanked us all for coming and explained the exquisite chocolate truffles, French macarons, whimsical lollipops, and gold leaf scrolled creations that we were about to taste.

From the top shelf, I chose a delicate dark chocolate cup filled with crème anglais and garnished with a miniature sliver of candied orange peel.
From the center shelf, the vanilla/olive-oil macaron called to me…I wanted to see how it compared to the ones that were my favorites from Pierre Hermé shop in Paris.
From the bottom shelf, the dark-chocolate covered honey-berry lollipop was mine for the taking.

Each of these sweet bites, besides being “nearly” too pretty to pop in my mouth was a sweet delight. Of all of them, my favorite was the macaron. Each delicate macaron “biscuit” was filled with vanilla olive-oil ganache with tiny pieces of green olive. I loved that the ganache was less sweet and was slightly salty because of the olives. I love the pairing of savory-sweet in a dessert. For me, it tasted like a quick trip Paris to me, so much so that I had one more macaron…!

In the middle of sampling the tiny sweets, we had another surprise visit, this time from the Executive chef and owner Rick Tramonto. He looked to be rushed, but said that he had to stop in and thank us all for coming to TRU.
Alice and Jared of the blog, Eat a Duck I Must, had brought their copy of his book, “TRU, A Cookbook from the Legendary Chicago Restaurant” and he was gracious enough to sign it for them.

Just when we all thought that the evening was drawing to a close, my favorite waiter of the evening, Shane, announced that he would be leading us on a tour of the back of the house.

While we waited for all to join the group for the tour, Shane and I discussed my favorite piece of art that hangs in one of the private areas where we were dining. The painting, Jolly Good Fellow was painted in 1991 by Vik Muniz and is a perfect piece to hang in this temple of culinary perfection.
Why you ask...?
The media that Muniz used for this painting was a bit of dust, chocolate, ink and ketchup.

For me, my favorite part of dining in any restaurant is getting at least a peek into the soul of the establishment, the back of the house. I love seeing the controlled chaos in the kitchen, the precision plating and garnishing of each elegant dish, and the well-choreographed dance at the “pass” between the expediting chef and the waiters. The kitchen area at TRU was exceptional in its cleanliness, efficiency and stainless-steel elegance.

We passed the Kitchen Table, which is located inside TRU's stunning kitchen where diners were being served dessert. Guests can reserve this room that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the pastry and savory kitchens. I had preciously dined at the TRU kitchen table and I highly recommend reserving this table for any serious foodie as you can watch your food being cooked, garnished and elegantly plated before you are served the masterpiece.

We walked in the kitchen hall on a custom-made mat that announced the restaurants name (as if we could forget), passing walls decorated with James Beard and many other prestigious culinary awards and case after case of silver, crystal, jewel-toned Versace china and the famous crystal staircase for service of a selection of fine caviars. We were told that all of these items were always, always hand washed and dried. (naturally...)

As our group exited the kitchen, a tray of small cubes of chocolates dusted with cocoa was offered. Our waiter, Shane stated that this is the “exploding truffle” and must be eaten in one bite. As I bit into the truffle, it burst, filling my mouth with a delectable berry liquid that was intensified by the rich chocolate melting on my tongue.

I asked Meg Galus, the pastry chef on duty, the secret of these truffles an she said that the interior is frozen, cut into cubes and dipped in chocolate. The enrobed cubes are then placed in the chill-chest where the frozen interior filling to thaw. To me, this tiny truffle embodies the concept of TRU, always innovative, surprising and fresh, but always elegant, artistic and certainly delicious.

One of my other rather weird favorite things at TRU was the bathroom sink. The bowl was a plate of textured green glass that drained into a stainless-steel trough. It feels like a piece of abstract bathroom art.
I had seen this sink before in the Hudson Club (that is now SushiSamba), but it seems quite appropriate here at TRU where everywhere you turn is an artistic delight for the senses.

Did I enjoy this special TRU dining experience…you bet…!

Although we were not the typical guests, we were treated like royalty at every turn were every single need was anticipated. As I exited, I saw my little red car parked right in front as in a place of honor. The maître d’ handed me two perfect oval muffins in swathed cellophane and tied with a silver ribbons. H e said I know that you can’t eat these, but perhaps you family will enjoy them.

He also handed me a beautiful box of TRU truffles…”…and these are just for you”…
My family thoroughly enjoyed the berry jam filled muffins I tucked in their lunch box and I am still enjoying the beautiful truffles.

That was a perfect ending to a perfect evening at TRU, sharing fabulous food with fabulous fellow foodies.

Thank you again, Foodbuzz and Visa Signature…

Friday, August 28, 2009

camera in the kitchen...

”The grand thing about cooking is you can eat your mistakes” ~ Julia Child

Last week one of my still life images that I used to illustrate a blog post about Paul Child photographing Julia Child as she worked was made famous and will be a part of culinary history.

Paul Child photographed Julia's hands as she diced, chopped and cooked so he could to send the photos to the illustrator to use as a model in her ground-breaking cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.

My image was chosen by the Smithsonian Photography Initiative to be in their post and remain forever in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Julia Child collection.

My photograph is a very humble image that I took in my home studio, but I am indeed very, very proud. The image was also used in an article from the Smithsonian called "Camera in the Kitchen", a title that I love, as that is where my camera is most at home.

My Image on the Smithsonian Photography Initiative: A Camera in the Kitchen

I hope that I may have made Julia proud in the fact that I am as serious a cook as she was.
Not famous,but I still remain a very serious cook. I love to play with food, and with my camera in my kitchen, as Julia and Paul did so long ago.

What a Smithsonian surprise...
and such a lovely and simple gift to my culinary soul.

Merci mille fois, Julia for your constant daily inspirations.
And merci beaucoup to the Smithsonion Institute for this kind gift .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

tried + TRU(e)...Part I...Foodbuzz Community Table Dinner...

I was lucky enough to be one of the Featured Publishers of Foodbuzz chosen to attend the Chicago Community Table dining event that was held on Monday evening at TRU Restaurant.

The restaurant is tucked away in the shadows of a skyscraper canyon in the Streeterville area, close enough to the charming glitz and glamour of North Michigan Avenue. But as you enter the elegant revolving doors, you emerge in a world apart…a veritable culinary haven.

I had dined at TRU a few times prior to this event and know that TRU is known for their progressive French cuisine featuring fresh ingredients, inmaginative creativity and stunning artistic presentations. But my past culinary adventures was prior to being diagnosed with gluten-intolerance as a Celiac. This time at TRU, I was anxious to see how they would handle a Gluten-free meal in a prix fixe dining experience.

Upon entering, I was greeted by the maître d’ and an some of the original art that graces this lovely restaurant. Two of my favorite pieces are on display in the entry, the black and white photograph by Hiroshi Sugimoto of La Tour Eiffel…blurred and the brilliant blue sculpture by Yves Klein titled Venus Bleu.

I was shown to a table in the lounge area and saw I was only the second person to arrive and introduce my self to Katie who writes the blog, Salt and Chocolate. Soon more of the blogger guests assembled and we were escorted to one of the private dining areas on the second level to mingle over cocktails and canapés.
We were served a light and I was told a refreshing cocktail of Basil infused sparkling lemon water and Finlandia Vodka. The presentation was beautiful and aromatic, but I opted to inhale the delicate herbal scent as vodka is made from pure barley, which contains gluten.


The first canapé that we were offered were called cauliflower spheres. On a chilled tray there were a dozen elegantly curved spoons. In each spoon was a pale cream-colored oval alginate cauliflower sphere which was exactingly and identically garnished with four bright orange fish roe, and a perfect tiny strip of lightly sweetened orange zest.

At first bite, my mind was blown; I abandoned all thought and just relaxed and enjoyed the ride. The ovoid cauliflower sphere and some of the roe burst open at first bite and flooded my tongue with a combination of slightly sweet vegetal smoothness and delicate flavors of the sea. The next bite had a bit more of the salty ocean and citrus flavors and aromas…but…!
I am still dreaming of this amazing bite.

The other two appetizers that were on offer were a scallop and lemon fried wonton and a crusty spherical petite beef Wellington. Both of these hors d'oeuvres were beautifully presented and smelled delicious, but were, of course off-limits to me because of the gluten factor. But my table-mates reported that both these apps were delicious as they rolled their eyes in pleasure.

I want expressed my appreciation to my fellow bloggers for allowing me to photograph the portions of dining experience that I was unable to taste with my palate. There were also so wonderful at describing their taste experiences for me in such a way that I really did not feel terribly deprived.

We passed a wonderful time of meeting, chatting and exchanging stories and business cards with fellow food bloggers. I met so very much wonderfully talented, charming, kind, sweet and interesting people that share my passion for food.
I was sorry not to be able to talk more with everyone at our table, but it was a long table and the seduction to taste, photograph and experience everything was a strong one. I do so hope I have the opportunity to get to know you all soon at another Chicago foodie event.

Those I did have a chance to get to know at my end of the table were of course, Katie of Salt and Chocolate, Alice and Jared of Eat a Duck I Must, Val and Mike of Chicago Marathon Val, Jada of Better with Butter, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Rebecca of A Homemaker’s Habitat, and two culinary students, Heather of Chik n’ Pastry and
Lindsey of Lindsey’s Kitchen.

I also sat near and was able to get to know Ryan Stern, Director & Managing Editor of Foodbuzz from the San Francisco office, and Chicago Foodbuzz staff members Amy and Gina. Thank you all so very much for you hard work with Foodbuzz in coordinating this wonderful event and to VISA Signature the sponsor.

amuse bouche

After about and hour or so of meet and greet, the dinner began in earnest with the amuse bouche of sea-cured salmon with cucumber gelée . The sea salt-cured smokey tasting salmon was presented in the center of a pale green gelée that was smooth and mild and complimented the briny flavor of the salmon.

The glowing red amuse was as brilliant as a tiny jewel garnished with ebony Nigella seeds and sapphire cornflowers. When I bit into the miniature petals of the cobalt blue flowers with the salmon, the spicy, clove-like flavor gave an added dimension to the bite and definitely sharpened my appetite for what was to come.

I have to add that even though I could not enjoy the fragrant array of breads, they were definitely tiny works of art. Knowing of my gluten-intolerance, I was given a elegant bowl of crispy golden popcorn dusted with White Flake Cyprus Sea Salt and finely grated Parmesano Reggiano.

first course: peeky toe crab

The first course was another precious gem on a plate, the peeky toe crab was initially plated as a lone jewel. The molded round of pale white crab sat atop a shallow bed of rosy pequillo peppers. It was topped with a perfect round of salty, pink prosciutto, and garnished with tiny leaves of scented globe basil and then perfectly piped with exactly 12 dabs of the spicy-sweet thick pequillo pepper puree. An exercise in perfection that results in a tasty as well as a delicious dish...

As an aside, I was happy to see that pequillo peppers was incorporated into the menu. They are my favorite ingredient to use to gently add a sweet zing of heat to proteins and vegetable dishes. Pequillo means "little beak" and these peppers are grown in Northern Spain, hand picked then roasted over open fires. The peppers are then peeled by hand then packed in jars or tins. The roasting of the pepper gives it a rich, spicy-sweet flavor. I always keep a jar of these in my pantry.

A few seconds after the crab dish was set in front of us, another waiter came to our places and added a pour of cantaloupe-cava consommé that had a hint of ginger around the elegant morsel. Now the jewel was complete in its setting, it didn’t stay there for long, it was too enticing…and I was hungry.

my second course: English pea soup with extra-virgin olive oil

This was one of my two favorite courses. From the first spoon, I was in soup-lovers heaven. Homemade soups, especially vegetable soups are my go to meals over the fall and winter months. This soup was utter simplicity with a very fresh intense pea flavor and the rounded green richness of a first cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil. The seasoning I detected were salt enough to enhance the fresh pea flavor and a bit of very finely ground white pepper.
I was humbled by the intensity of the deliciousness of this soup of such simple ingredients.
It was SO very good.
Yes, it was so very, very good that if I were not in a public place, I would have licked the beautiful green, blue and gold Versace china cup clean…lol…

I hope to try to make this soup at home. I just planted my fall crop of English peas in my garden, so I when the harvest comes in October I will be experimenting whenever I can to reproduce this recipe.

Those that could eat gluten received a Crispy fried frog leg on brunoise of carrots and celery with a watercress neige which was reported to be delicious and looked quite colorful in its stunning white curvilinear china presentation dish.

third course: olive oil poached scottish salmon

This Olive-oil poached salmon was my #1 favorite course with the English pea soup as a second. And I think that the salmon may have been the favorite course for most of the Foodbuzz blogger group. Right after it was served, a distinctive hush fell over the entire length of our otherwise animated table.

From the first bite of this buttery and rich preparation of the gorgeous pink piece of salmon to the last, it melted in your mouth and was “TRU(e) ecstasy” on a plate.

The tart bite of the pickled daikon was a perfect foil for the creamy tastes of the salmon and the coconut sauce. The garnish of the daikon star-flower and tiny “balls” of Granny Smith apple added that crunchy mouth feel to the overall richness.
A perfect and elegant dish...but not simplistic by any means.

And yes, I want more.

wine pairings

Beginning with the amuse bouche, we were poured an Alma de Blanco Godello Monterrei 2008, a white wine from Spain. It is a crisp white with soft sweet peach and citrus notes and a faint floral aroma. It was a perfect pair for these light seafood courses on our menu. I have seen this wine at my local wine purveyor and it was rated by Wine Spectator with an 89 and was under $20.00 a bottle.

Right after the fourth course, we were poured a red wine, a Niepoort “Twisted” Douro 2006 from Portugal. This red paired well with the meat course, the plums in the dessert, and the chocolate in the mignardises. I found the tastes of berries and plums and a bit of chocolate and spice in the finish.

I also recently saw this wine on sale an was attracted by the cool label. I read that Dirk Niepoort He worked with a German illustrator to create a cartoon story for the label. Robert Parker rates this wine at 88 and I saw this wine available at under $30.00 a bottle.

fourth course: braised beef short ribs

The beef short ribs were fall-apart tender and unctuous with a punch of flavors from the scallion pistou and added “umami” from the miso foam emulsion. I am a big fan of braised meats and as my butcher can attest, I am a good customer wheb it comes to Veal, Beef, Lamb and Pork cuts that can cook low and slow during the long cold Chicago winters as I work at home.
I enjoyed every bite of the beef, but married to the topper piece of unagi (freshwater eel) which I usually adore, was very dry and overly sweeten by a glaze and not the rich fresh taste that I love.

fifth course: dessert ~ seedling farms plums

My gluten-free dessert was not much different from the others; I was only missing what seemed to be a purple plum tuile as a garnish.

However, my dessert was not at all short on flavors. All the ingredients were harmonious and married incredibly well for what was a summer dessert masterpiece.
The delicious Red Beauty Japanese plum slices from Seedling Farms, my favorite fruit purveyor at Chicago Green City market were sweet, fresh and flavorful.
They brought a natural tart note to the handmade milk chocolate ice cream, the fluffy sarsaparilla cream, sticky-sweet (read delicious) ginger-lime meringue.
The refreshing plum granita was a wonderful way to clean you palate between the sweet bites and a perfect end to this elegant meal.

A cup of rich, full flavored Intelligentsia coffee rounded out this meal as we chatted and waited for the artistic display of yummy mignardises yet to come...
This may be TRU(e) love...

Comming soon…tried + TRU(e)…Part II,
celebrity chefs,
my favorite waiter and
back of the house secrets.
...please stay tuned.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sundae, bloody sundae...or.dreamscicle memories...

In summer, the song sings itself. ~ William Carlos Williams

To me, a pure vanilla ice cream is the super-model of ice creams. It can wear a variety of haute couture ensembles and still have its individual beauty shine through.

The recipe for my Vanilla Bean Ice Cream comes from a combination of Alton Brown’s recipe for Serious Vanilla Ice Cream and a recipe from Chef Michel Roux. I adjusted the proportions of the fats and sugars a smidge, but still produced a less sweet, but still very smooth and creamy vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


3/4 cup Sugar ( I used Domino’s Demerara Washed Raw Cane Sugar that imparts a softer, almost caramel-y sweetness and a cream color the mixture a pale cream color)

1 cup heavy Cream

2 cups whole Milk

1 Vanilla Bean split and scraped

2 tsps pure Vanilla extract


Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp) in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture just barely to a simmer. As soon as you see tiny bubbles begin to form at the edge of the pan, remove it from the heat.

Allow to cool at room temperature, then add the Vanilla extract.

Remove the hull of the vanilla bean, pour the mixture into lidded container.

Refrigerate mixture at least two hours, but overnight is better.

Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to your Ice Cream Makers instructions.

I use a Cuisinart ICE-20 and it took about 30 minutes to have the volume of the mixture to increase in size by about 1/3 or so and get to a soft-serve consistency.

Scoop the mixture from the ice cream maker into lidded freezable containers.

Freezer until solid, about 3 hours, but overnight is best.

* * * * * * * * * * *

This morning I was shopping at my Farmer’s Market for fruit to use in my ice cream recipes, I happened upon a booth with a banner proudly proclaiming The Olive Tap. The owner and is helper were selling beautiful sparkling bottles of extra virgin Olive Oil, flavored Olive Oils and vinegars.

I sampled oils and vinegars from large stainless steel urns called Fustis before deciding on purchasing a Blood Orange infused oil. >

This one image ONLY is from the Olive Tap website....thank you.

I spoke at length with Mario, the owner of The Olive Tap in Downers Grove, IL and he explained the way that the Blood Orange Olive Oil that I choose was made.

Mediterranean Blood Oranges from Tunisia are crushed simultaneously with buttery flavored Chemlali Olives in the mill to fully fuse the flavors. It produces an oil with a rich but subtle tangy orange flavor and a delicate aroma. He said that the Blood Orange Fusion Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a more delicate citrus taste than the Lemon Fusion Oil.

I told him that I looking for oils that would compliment my homemade ice creams and sorbets and he agreed that I had made the right choice. He also said that the Blood Orange Fusion Extra Virgin Olive Oil , White Balsamic Vinegar with salt and pepper to taste makes a wonderfully light and flavorful dressing for summer greens, drizzled over fish or a marinade for chicken breasts or pork tenderloin.

This Blood Orange Fusion Extra Virgin Olive Oil and many other oils, vinegars and other products are available on-line, at The Olive Tap Stores and at booths at many of my local Farmers Markets listed below.

Downers Grove: Saturdays from 7am-12:30pm
Hinsdale: Mondays from 7am-1pm
Lemont: Tuesdays from 8am-1pm
Palos Heights: Wednesdays from 7am-1pm
Burr Ridge: Thursday from 7am-1pm
Olympia Fields: Fridays from 9am-1pm

To make my “Sunday, Bloody, Sundae” is quite simple. I put 3 small scoops in a chilled dish lined with Mandarin orange segments, drizzled about 2 ounces of Blood Orange Olive Oil over the ice cream.

The taste of this combination was rich and creamy. The buttery orange olive oil drizzles on the scoops added a richness to the ice cream, but did not overpower the subtle vanilla flavor.

This is a truly elegant adult desert would hold its own in any fine dining venue.

But, for me, it also had a wonderful playfulness about it as the combination of the orange and vanilla brought back childhood memories. Swirling mellow days of sticky-sweet summer afternoons long past, with good Humor bells ringing in the distance promising a cool piece of heaven on a stick in the guise of an orange-vanilla Dreamscicle.

Jingle, jingle…yum…

What are your favorite summer taste memories…?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

ice cream Sunday (on Tuesday)…fresh lime sorbet

”You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients.” ~ Julia Child

We have had several very warm summer days, and I love having something refreshing to cool off my palate after a meal, or just as a snack. My favorite is lime sorbet with the fine zest of the lime.

Of all the lime sorbet recipes that I have read in the past few weeks, all seem to call for a great deal of sugar. The one that my friend made last summer called for 6 cups of white sugar and the sorbet was so overly sweet that the fresh lime taste was a mere after-thought.

I experimented for the last few weeks and came up with a fresh lime sorbet recipe that used less white sugar, but was still sweet with a fresh lime taste.


½ cup Sugar

¼ cup Agave Nectar

1 ½ cups water

1 cup freshly squeeze Lime Juice

1 tbsp Lime Zest

pinch Kosher Salt

¼ cup of a sweet, fruity white wine
(I used a sweet German wine, Dr. Beckermann Rheinhessen Aulese 2008. It is a blend of several German white wines that is fragrantly fruity with an apricot-pineapple aroma.)


Make a simple sugar combining the water and sugar into a saucepan. Place on medium heat stir until the mix starts to bubble slightly. Lower the heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved into the water. (The mixture will become clear when all the sugar is dissolved.)

Add the Agave Nectar a little at a time and taste.
You can add more later, when the mixture is in the ice cream machine.
Add half of the lime zest, a pinch of salt and the wine and stir to combine.
Then add the limejuice through a fine mesh strainer to remove the citrus pulp.
Stir to combine and heat mixture through.

Pour into a covered container and cool this mixture for at least one hour in the refrigerator, but overnight is better.
Pour the chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the directions for your particular model. For my Cuisinart ICE-20, I let it mix for 25-30 minutes.

I have been experimenting with this sorbet throughout the summer balancing just enough wine so the alcohol that makes the sorbet smooth and with the proportion of the white sugar that also does not freeze and the liquid sweetener that does.

I wanted the resulting product to be fresh and full of lime flavor, tangy but not overly tart, sweet, but with some depth of flavor after it becomes totally frozen.
I found that this particular wine added the another level of fruity sweetness to the this sorbet which was very refreshing.
This sorbet makes a perfect palate-cleanser between courses all year round and of course a cool, fresh summer desert. I served mine with fresh quartered apricots from the Farmer’s Market and it disappeared in a heartbeat.
Now I am off to make another batch...!

Friday, August 14, 2009

celebrating Julia…with Boeuf Bourguignon

”How like autumn’s warmth is Julia’s face.”
~ Paul Child, August 15, 1945

Tomorrow I am celebrating Julia Child’s birthday by following my passion. To honor the day, I am going to my favorite Farmers Market (Chicago’s Green City Market) to photograph food, speak to the vendors about food and choose some fresh fruit and veggies for cooking meals and making ice cream later in the week. I can imagine that Julia would love this vibrant, busy and beautiful market set in a verdant park by the sparkling blue Lake Michigan.

Moreover, I am pretty sure that she would approve of the fact that I am follow my passion for food.

After seeing the movie Julie and Julia, last Friday, I have been re-watching my DVD’s of the Julia Child’s original black and white series from PBS, "The French Chef". On her first show of the PBS series, (some of them have been lost, I have read) Julia teaches us to make the staple of French bourgeois cuisine, Boeuf Bourguignon.

Although I have not blogged about it before, I have made this dish from Mastering the Art of French Cooking dozens of times. It has been my delicious go-to French-comfort-food, party meal and anytime supper. Today I thought that making this wonderfully tasty meal would be another perfect way to pre-celebrate all that Julia had shared with us. Boeuf Bourguignon takes 2 and ½ hours to cook, so I let it bubble away as I watered my garden and cleaned house.

Boeuf Bourguignon
Recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking


6 ounces of chunk bacon

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes

1 carrot for the stew and 6 more to sautée separately to add later

1 onion, sliced

salt and pepper to taste

3 cups full-bodied red wine, (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy. I used a mid-priced French Burgundy.)

2 to 3 cups brown beef stock (I used homemade Veal Stock from Julia’s recipe, but that is another post.)

1 Tbsp tomato paste

2 cloves mashed garlic about 2 dozen small white onions, (I used Chipolini onions)

1 ½ lbs fresh brown or white button mushrooms, stems removed and quartered

4 tablespoons butter

Make an Herb Garni tied in cheesecloth that consists of:
4 sprigs of parsley 1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon dry thyme
4 sprigs of fresh thyme


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. This is important, as it will not brown if it is damp.

Heat a bit more olive oil in the remaining fat in the 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.

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 ( I used a gluten-free flour mix) 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 in the oven, prepare the onions, carrots 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. Do the same with the carrots.

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, carrots 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, gently boil it down. 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 buttered potatoes, (or noodles or rice) and decorated with parsley. I served my simply on plates with a fresh salad greens and tomatoes warm from my garden. A glass of red wine (the same wine I used in the Boeuf Bourguignon) accompanied the meal perfectly.

À votre sautée…Bon appètit...!

On August 15, 1912, Julia Carolyn McWilliams was born in Pasadena, California as the Tournament of roses was already planning its 24th Parade.

Decades later, (in 2004), Julia McWilliams Child has had a warm yellow floribunda rose named in her honor. Aptly it has a glowing buttery color with sweet licorice perfume

The Julia Child rose

Joyeux Anniversaire, chêre Julia…!

Merci beaucoup for making the world a more delicious place.