Saturday, 28 August 2010
Last night I was in need of a good meal. And a meal which could warm me up (considering the Winter weather we have to suffer in Cambridge in these days), together with a good glass of red wine. Have you noticed how red wine warms you up much more than white wine? What is the secret (or simply the natural reason) I wonder... And also decided to bin my latest resolution for a new meat-free life style!
So I came up with the idea of scallops and beef, which of course, to make them sound much more posh were Coquilles Saint Jaques and Boeuf Bourgignon (sounds a lot better than beef stew).
But which recipe? After rambling a few books and blogs, Julia Child came to be the answer. I know you will now think: you watched the film, admit it...and yes that is true, I do raise my arms up and confess that I did watch Julie & Julia the night before.
That woman is a real inspiration! Somehow she does not seem to have mastered the art of cooking, or maybe is she simply normal? At least she doesn't constantly self gratify herself in the Valentine's way - have you ever seen his programmes? - that whatever he cooks makes him cry out of joy and amazement, Oh my God, oh my God, yammy...everything is always so effing marvelous! Or Nigella?! who cooks, holding in one hand the phone and with the other pouring down some spaghetti in boiling water, and then licks everything with her fingers....and of course when Julia talks there are not one hundred and thirty five c*** and f*** - how considerate of her not to say carb and food...
Anyway, it's odd actually that at home we've never heard of Julia Child - maybe because we don't really care for French food, or for anything else that is not made in Italy. Big mistake. The recipes below come from her book, and they are quite simple, and seriously scrumptious! Just calculate 2 hours for the Boef so that you won't eat at 11pm!
Coquilles Saint Jacques
For 2 people
> 2 big scallops (with their nice shell); 2 small shallots; 3 tbsp butter (yes they are three! But remember, this is French food!); half garlic clove minced; half white onion; 100g Gruyere; a quarter of a glass of white wine; a handful of thyme; 2 bay leaves; salt & pepper.
> Cook the onion in a tbsp of butter for 5 minutes until tender and traslucent but not browned. Stir in the shallots and garlic and cook slowly for 1 minute more. Set aside.
> Dry the scallops with kitchen paper and cut them in quarters. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and then in flour. Remove any excess of flour.
> Saute the scallops quickly in very hot butter for 2 minutes (the other tbsp).
> Pour the wine onto the scallops. Add the herbs (thyme and bay leaf) and the cooked onion which you had set aside. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Then uncover and reduce the sauce if necessary.
> Place the 4 quarters of one scallop on its shell (and the same for the other one). Sprinkle the cheese and the rest of the butter. Grill them for 2 minutes until the cheese is slightly browned.
You can serve a chilled German Riesling with them (Australian would probably be slightly too fruity).
> As Julia says, you can prepare it even in advance (which is even better as the flavour intensifies) thus becoming a great dish for a buffet. The recipe is rather long but I cannot apologise for that but use Julia's words: carefully done, and perfectly flavoured, it is certainly one of the most delivious beef dishes concocted. by man (and I would say by woman!)
For 6 people
> 170g chunk of bacon; 1.3kg of stewing beef cut into cubes (we got Sainsbury's Basic and is perfectly adequate as it needs a bit more cooking gaining in flavour); 1 carrot; half of bottle of red wine; 150ml beef stock; 1 bay leaf; 8 big mushrooms cut in quarters; 2 tbsp flour; 1 sliced onion; 1tbsp tomato paste; 2 mashed garlic cloves.
> Cut the bacon into lardons (i.e. stick of a couple of cm); simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in some water. Drain and dry.
> Preheat the oven to C180.
>Saute the bacon in oil over moderate heat for 2 minutes until borwn lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you start saute the beef.
> Dry the beef in paper towel (apparently it will not brown it is not wet). Satue it in the hot oil and bacon fat until browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
> In the same fat, brown the carrots and mushrooms and set aside.
> Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour and toss again to coat. Cook for 4 minutes in the oven; take it out, toss it again and back in the oven for another 4 minutes.
> Stir the wine, the stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon. Bring to simmer on the stove and then cover it and put in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.
> While the stew is cooking, prepare the onions in 1 tbsp of butter (don't overcrow them in the pan or they won't cook properly). Set them aside until needed.
> At the end of the 2 hours and 1/2 pour the mushrooms in the stew.
> Serve by using a slotted spoon so that you don't serve something more resembling to soup, together with some boiling potatoes (which you will have cooked beforehand, while the meat is cooking).