Help Me

So, this weekend, I might try Julia Child’s

Beef Bourguignon

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I think it will be the most complicated thing I’ve attempted, so think good thoughts.


Mr. Bloggie, its not hard at all, its easy.

The most important thing that people who are not comfortable with cooking need to know, there are only two of them,

1. If the recipe calls for you to brown the meat, you have to get the pan hot, before you add the oil or the meat. Pat the meat dry with paper towels before you season it and dust it with flour, it should be quite dry. Add the oil to a hot pan, and do not crowd the meat in the pan while browning, you may have to do it in shifts. Don’t cover the bottom of the pan more than 60% with meat, it should be so hot, before you put the meat in, that the meat does not stick, it should immediately sizzle.

At some point you are probably going to have to make a mirepoix, the mix of diced onions, carrots, and celery, this is done gently, its like half-steaming, half-frying.

Then the browned meat goes back in the pot with the mirepoix, and the wine and stock, and then you simmer very gently, for hours.

It cannot go wrong.

@Promnight: Mirepoix I’ve done – dozens of times. Here I think the key is judging cooking time, which I’ve usually been good at doing, but we’ll see. If I wind up ordering Indian food tomorrow night, you’ll know the whole thing went tits up.

You cannot do it wrong on cooking time, dude, if you are doing it in a large pot on top of the stove, it will be great anywhere from like 2 hours, on, the worst that can happen is you cook it too much and the meat falls apart, but if you are watching, it won’t. Most important, though is that you keep it at a slow simmer, no boiling.

I wish I could invite you all to my house and show you how to make this dish perfectly in a pressure cooker in 1 hour, its magical.

By the way, TJ, the snow is coming down, fast and thick, so far there is no wind, and its just heavy heavy snow, started about 8, right now, I estimate it at 2 inches an hour, its supposed to go on till after noon tomorrow, if this keeps up, we are gonna get at least 2 feet. Its so so silent, quiet.

@Promnight: Rumor has it Nojo might do a special Stinque Jam of photos, so please take snow photos. Not that I’d want to be in it or shovel it, but I loved the concept of snow when I never had to leave the house. I blame it on reading too many Little House on the Prarie

@SanFranLefty: The rumor’s true!

I’m about to set it up right now for Saturday morning. But first I need to look into a new photo doohickey to replace the old photo doohickey.

(Update: New photo doohickey sucks; old photo doohickey forever!)

I spend my evenings in my “man cave,” a garage-shed in my backyard, with electricity, no heat, but I have a space heater. Its a 15 foot walk from the back door, I shoveled the snow, when I first came out here, thats a half hour ago, all traces of my shoveling are covered with an inch and a half already.

Fortunately, we have a good supply of nice fresh yellowfin tuna, sushi rice, and soy and wasabi, and nori, we are good. I also has tons of brown and yellow miso, dashiki, tofu, pork loin, dried seaweed, and udon noodles.

Not to mention good old chili and spaghetti sauce, and if the power goes out, I have two camp stoves and a bunch of naptha. We definitely won’t have to eat gramma until Wednesday at the earliest.

As one who used to cook like a maniac I despised that movie. How can you make Boeuf Bourguignon with a fucking Bordeaux? Twice? Plus, if your husband eats like a pig why would you cook for him?

As a cook, Child is a charming meh. The real deal is Elizabeth David and her French Provincial Cooking. But the master is Richard Olney and his wondrous Simple French Food.

To make a beef stew I would have stewed shallots, carrots, celery, herbs, etc in good olive oil till they are golden and melting. I would then have pulled all trace of them from the oil and heated it a la Prom. By all means sear the meat but let’s not make a fetish of it. Once seared, pack it in a braising pot, reuniting it with veg and bouquet of herbs. Now anoint all with good Burgundy wine. NEVER!!! add beef stock. The wine should bathe and caress the meat. Bring to a melting simmer either on top of the stove or in the oven and then hold it there till the meat is cooked.

Meanwhile, peel and core carrots, cook in butter with pearl onions. I would not add mushrooms to this dish. The juice makes the sauce murky. Set aside when done.

Now. To make the Bourgignon. Lift all the meat from the dish and keep warm. Strain the juices into a pot and set to boil. Draw to one side so the boil happens only at one point. The liquid will throw off a lot of impurities which can be skimmed with a table spoon. Reduce by half. When liquid is reduced and cleaned assemble meat in serving dish with fresh cooked vegetables (discard those that were used to braise meat). Before pouring the sauce, stir in about an eighth of a pound of best French unsalted butter cut in dice. Don’t let it melt or cook, just let it dissolve while whisking and pour over dish. Serve with noodles and Burgundy.

I always made the dish with the wine I served with it to drink. With any luck the whole table will be suffused with a rich perfumed essence of grape and meat. Nothing about this is difficult. Richard Olney is a god.

@Promnight: I have good supply of Miracle Noodles. Say the word and I’ll airdrop them on your ass.

@blogenfreude: Bloggie, you have to learn to make Thai curries, using the stuff they have in Asian markets. They sell these cat food cans of thai curries in all asian markets. You get one of them, one can of coconut milk, and your choice of veggies and/or meat, beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, eggplant, onions, anything you want.

The procedure is stupid easy, put a tablespoon of oil in a wok, heat it, dump in the thai curry, the whole catfood can, stir it around, then add your meats and veggies, then throw in the coconut milk, stir, simmer for a bit, it will be just like at a thai restaurant. If you want to wake it up, make it like the curry at the best thai restaurant you ever went to, just dice a bunch of garlic, maybe a half, or a whole, fresh thai red chili, or jalapeno, lemmongrass, and cilantro. Throw the garlic and chili in the oil right before the curry paste, throw the lemongrass in with the meat and veggies, and throw the cilantro in right before you serve, and throw in a quarter-cup of fish sauce, and squeeze a half a lime over it.

This is seriously as easy as hamburger helper, and the result will be the best thai curry you ever had, seriously, its such a secret recipe. These are my favorite recipes, huge bang for the effort, it will blow people away.

I have studied both french and asian cooking deeply. The thing about asian cooking, as opposed to french, is that where the french tend to start out creating a flavor from different combinations of scratch ingredients, often requiring many hours of preparation, asian cooking creates its flavors from careful combinations of pre-prepared condiments and sauces.

Thats why Thai curry is so easy, if you have a quality curry paste, and as I say, its sold canned in these catfood cans, each one perfectly proportioned to make dinner for 4 to 6. If all you do is take a can of curry paste, mix it with a can of coconut milk, and then simmer some veggies and/or meat in it, it will be fantastic. If you can get your hands on some fresh ingredients, basil or cilantro, garlic, hot chilis, and lemongrass, and just add this stuff, and fish sauce, thats essential, the golden baby brand is my favorite, and it makes it better than you have had at thai restaurants.

Those little catfood cans of thai chili paste, they come in like two dozen different varieties, too, each very different, red curry, green curry, panang, musselman, yellow curry, more that I don’t remember the names of. Some are preferred for beef, some for seafood, some for pork or chicken, but it says which right on the can.

Seriously, the show I want to have on food network, is “the best bang for the buck,” the show about how to produce the most impressive result for the least effort and required technical proficiency. How to impress your date.

The thing about asian cooking, as opposed to french, is that where the french tend to start out creating a flavor from different combinations of scratch ingredients, often requiring many hours of preparation, asian cooking creates its flavors from careful combinations of pre-prepared condiments and sauces.

That’s one of the most intelligent things I’ve ever read. I might have to start singing. I will definitely print your post re catfood cans.

@Benedick: Benedick, I want to teach the world to cook. Thats what I want to do.

@Promnight: I know that. And I remember how delicious your food is.

@Benedick: I like your recipe, it shows love and respect for its ingredients, and careful treatment of them so they give their best without being stressed. I want to cook with you, sir.

@Promnight: Have you read Mme de Sevigne? With her astounding tale of the great chef Vionnet who killed himself because the fish didn’t arrive? You’d really appreciate it. He was the chef before Escoffier.

@Promnight: I stopped when I went veg. It’s pitiful. I loved to cook. I looooooooooovved it. I once won a contest in Chicago for a desert I made.

Your food was so light and savory. I so enjoyed it.

@Benedick: You know that I truly think it an art, thats me, you get in my food, and as I have said, so mawkish this is, but its true, giving food to people, its an act of love, devoting deep care and skill and concentration, into the act of creating food that you want to give to people, to delight them, and bring them above the mere physical act of taking in nutrition, and teaching them that the simplest dinner can be an act of loving appreciation of simple beauty, and the act of preparing it, an act of creation, invention, and love, and shared appreciation of beauty, thats really how I look at what I do.

Many people watch the sun go down and never see the sunset, they watch the rain fall, and see nothing but a golf day lost, and they miss the everyday beauty and joy of life. And they snarf down their swill, and miss another opportunity to see and enjoy some of the beauty and joy of life.

@Benedick: Instead of going veg, wouldn’t a really meager meat portion be morally acceptable, instead of the usual american 8 to 10 ounces of meat, just one ounce per portion, or less, just enough for flavor? Because, to be honest, as an example. I would lose nothing of the enjoyment, to eat a good coq au vin, or beef bourgoignion, but only the vegetables and sauce, if these two dishes, for example, are made right, and you just add maybe some big chunks of mushrooms, I would be more than happy just to eat the veggies out of these dishes. Is it really necessary to draw that line, that even if your portion has no meat, the dish must be created without meat? It would be such a pleasant solution to the problem, when you have carnivores and vegetarians at the same table, if they could take from the same pot, simply choosing the ingredients?

@Promnight: Darling, no.

The point is that we treat animals with such hideous cruelty that – if there were a just god – we would all be condemned to perdition. I spent five or six years trying to live with no animal products at all. It’s pretty difficult.

Forgive me, I hold you in such esteem, truly, but look at the animal farms… the pork industry… pigs are at least as intelligent as dogs and suffer thusly… the chicken holocaust… Loving cows nurturing their calves. The calves locked in… I can’t.

We are the Romans of the arena.

@Benedick: Yes, but if instead, animal products were produced and eaten with a better reverence for them, and humane treatment, and natural levels of meat consumption, which, if you go back in human history, were always, everywhere, so much lower than in our society. You are right, our current system of meat animal raising and slaughter is immoral, and I will respect you for refraining from any part of it. But I do believe that the eating of small and reasonable amounts of animal flesh, from animals raised and killed humanely, is not per se immoral.

I have the least qualms, and the greatest pleasure, in eating flesh I have caught myself from the wild, living on the water, in the summer, I do catch a lot of the food I eat, mostly crabs and clams. Maryland blue claw crabs, I can catch so readily right in my backyard that become a nuisance, and I stop putting the trap down by July. Blueclaw crabs require the greatest effort, time consuming, messy effort, to extract the meat from them, that after a while you will turn them down even if they are free. But maybe thats actually the way it should be, meat is a treat, but one so rare and difficult to attain, that its a rare treat.

I never followed up on the clams. I may be a neanderthal here, but clams are vegetables, not animals, thats what I think, and thats it, for me.

@Promnight: There is no killed humanely. They suffer. And we make excuses.

@Benedick: You came to a place I envisioned as the place where you get refreshing bright foods, to eat under the hot sun, and part of the enjoyment is the contrast between our usual heavy, hot, oppressive weather, and a cold, tart, lively, and light meal to have out in the sun, so that the meal, instead of being something that makes one heavier and torpid, instead refreshes and enlivens. And yes, foods that would go with the only time that good cold lager beer is truly at its best and rises to be one of life’s most supreme pleasures, and isn’t that true, on the beach, on a perfect beach day, to accompany your conch ceviche, a good, cold pilsner, a real german pilsner, ice cold, only one or two, or they will ruin the ice cold clarity of the evening martini. Thats the moment that food was meant for, Benedick.

In the winter, now, I am even better, I could array before you a display of stews and all variations of winter comfort foods from every cuisine, I am better at winter belly-sticking food than I am at that summer stuff.

@Benedick: Everything that lives, dies and suffers. Meat eating, on the level, let us say, of RML, who bowhunts for dear, and catches fish from the streams by his wits, I cannot believe that is immoral.

@Promnight: 2 in an hour? Fuuuuk.

So where the fuck were you guys when I was grillin elk last weekend?

@redmanlaw: You know, esse, that we are twin sons of different brothers, only waiting to raise a glass around a campfire, far from the nearest road. Thats the only place I am happy. But I want to bring my telescope, we can trip out on the stars, OK?

@redmanlaw: I think I said all this before, but I have to tell you why I have a boat. I make these ironic comments about how I have a yacht, I don’t have a yacht, I have a creaky old hulk. Its nearly 30 years old. The nearest sociological equivalent to this thing is the dude who has a camping trailer, not even a big one. My boat is pretty, in pictures, but its a beat up old piece of shit, to be honest. Most people I know drive cars that cost more than my “yacht.”

But here is the thing, there is only one reason I bought a boat big enough to sleep out on, with a kitchen, and a bathroom.

I was a hiker, all my vacations, I went hiking, I was not hard core, but sleeping out beyond parking lot, thats all that mattered.

But I met this wonderful woman, this beautiful woman, perfect in every way for me, but one thing. She would not sleep in a tent, she needed, at minimum, a flush toilet, a shower, and power for her blow drier.

And a boat was the compromise. No matter what amenities a boat has, walk up on the deck, you are out in nature, more vulnerable, even, than anywhere ashore. I got to watch the sunsets and the stars, she had a toilet, shower, and kitchen, we are happy.

I’m so sorry to have missed this foody thread. Because though I have been too busy at work and life to even lurk much here, I have been conducting kitchen experiments.

It all started when I bought the French Laundry, Alinea, and El Bulli “cookbooks”. Of course they are only cookbooks in the sense that intricate Japanese kinbaku is like telling someone to use those pink fluffy handcuffs when you want to get a bit kinky.

Whatever, I got suddenly obsessed with trying some of this at home. So I bought a small scale, some sodium alginate and calcium chloride, and proceeded last weekend to try the spherical thing. It was EPIC FAIL.

I also made some mantecato, which had a great texture but was very bland, and that has nothing to do with molecular gastronomy. The problem was, the lemon air I made, following the video instructions from elBulli, were not sufficient to save my foam.

The transparent ravioli of tomato and olive worked fairly well.

Suffice to say, I’ve ordered more precise equipment, and an ISI whipper, and I’m disappointed they didn’t arrive in time for the weekend. So I will have to satisfy my needs with a relatively mundane parsnip puree with brussels sprouts (and drizzle of truffle oil, overdone I know, but when is the flavor of truffle ever too much?).

The best thing this last week was, I learned how to “boil” an egg. 150F or so gets it just right.

@Pedonator: I have been conducting kitchen experiments.

When the vermicelli starts wiggling, flee.

@Promnight: Every time I see a tent-trailer camper thing I wax nostalgic. Dude, you have a boat, that’s more than most of us. And I’d bet your boat, as long as it’s seaworthy, will be infinitely more useful than a BMW 5-Series automobile when cannibal anarchy comes.

@nojo: Trust me…nothing I do poses any threat to society…trust me….

OK. I flaked out last night on account of needing to sleep but I just have to testify that Prom is a fierce cook and both he and his family are totes fab. If I wish for RML to adopt me so I might learn wisdom (srsly dude. I’m talking frequent flyer miles. just say the word) I would like please to be able to spend my school holidays chez Prom.

@Pedonator: Darling, I don’t know what any of this means.

@Promnight: I have no problem with people hunting, dressing, cooking and eating meat (see above note re adoption) it’s the factory farms. I was walking home to 14th st from the animal hospital on East 63rd st (?) after a most loved dog died there when it struck me that it was ridiculous to be mourning him and then go home and eat pork chops. So I didn’t. And have never since.

And yes, I am that wonderful.

@Benedick: No calories or carbohydrates but strangely satisfying. You can find them here.

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