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Jan 31, 2013 11:45 PM

February 2013 COTM "Bistro Cooking at Home" Meat; Vegetables; Desserts

Please post your reports here for

Meat -- Braised, Roasted, Seared, and Grilled 209 - 252
Vegetables on the Side 253 - 276
Desserts 277 - 315

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  1. Black Pepper and Cinnamon Spiced Biscotti p. 312

    I must like biscotti, every time I make a new recipe I think it's the best yet. This one too is extra good -- besides pepper and cinnamon, it uses ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
    No butter in these, but eggs and dark brown sugar make them rich tasting. Recommended!

    1 Reply
    1. re: blue room

      Those look and sound wonderful blue room. Thanks for posting, I didn't even look at the dessert section.

    2. Maple Crème Brûlée (page 302)

      Crème Brûlée is my grandson’s favorite dessert so I was definitely making this for an all-Hammersley dinner party he was coming to. I was a bit concerned about the addition of maple because he’s such a purist, but he declared it excellent. I used grade B maple syrup as recommended because that’s what I prefer anyway and what I keep in stock. This is a traditional recipe except that he uses a whole egg in addition to the egg yolks. After quite a hearty meal, my guests were practically licking the ramekins.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JoanN

        Maple creme brulee - p 302


        Compared to other creme brulee recipes I've tried, this one was very straightforward -- scorch your cream with a scraped vanilla bean, then mix an egg and four yolks with maple syrup in a separate bowl and whisk the hot cream into it very slowly. Strain and pour into ramekins which are then baked in a bain-marie for 50-55 minutes. Easy!

        My ramekins are small, so I was able to get 6 servings out of this and probably didn't need to bake for the full 50 minutes, however, the custard set very nicely and was absolutely delicious. The maple flavour is great; it's not overpowering but it's definitely there in every bite. A very inspired take on the concept of creme brulee.

      2. Beef Braised in Red Wine with Mushrooms and Smoky Bacon à la Bourguignonne (page 218)

        The main course for my all-Hammersley dinner party (see reviews of Mixed Greens with Fried Walnut-Coated Goat Cheese and Maple Crème Brûlée) and a huge success. I marinated the cubes of chuck overnight in red wine, chopped onion and carrots, a halved head of garlic, bay leaves, fresh thyme, and peppercorns. The marinade is dumped, the meat is browned in fat rendered from bacon and set aside, pearl onions and carrots are browned in the fond and oil that remains in the pot, flour is stirred in to coat the vegetables, then three cups of wine, three cups of stock, and some tomato paste are added and the stew is cooked stovetop for about three hours.

        I cooked the stew a day before the dinner party so I could defat it easily, but I was surprised how little fat there was. Before serving, you brown a pound of quartered cremini mushrooms and stir them into the stew. I served this with buttered Dutch egg noodles (gave thought to the recommended spätzle, and would love to try his recipe sometime, but decided to clean the apartment instead) and a baguette for wiping the plate clean--which even the carb averse at the table did.

        Don’t know if it’s because I used frozen rather than fresh (just plain lazy) pearl onions, but they essentially dissolved into the stew. You could taste them, but not see them. I’d probably go to the trouble of peeling fresh ones next time just so it would look more the way I expect a boeuf Bourguignonne to look. I loved the separate cooking and addition of the mushrooms at the end; they didn’t meld into the stew as did the onions. This was an excellent Bourguignonne. The meat couldn’t have been more tender or flavorful. He says it serves six, but it has four pounds of meat in it. As part of a three course meal it would have served 8 with room to spare.

        18 Replies
        1. re: JoanN

          mr bc flagged this recipe as soon as he opened the book Joan so I'm delighted to hear it was so good. I bet it would be amazing w spätzle (but then, what isn't?!!) I haven't made a Bourguignonne in ages so I really must make this in Feb. Thanks!!

          1. re: JoanN

            I notice that you mention both this beef dish and the goat cheese salad gave inaccurate amounts in the recipes. (Though better to have too much than too little!) And it reminded me --
            I wrote this when we were doing Union Square Cafe:
            "Maybe the restaurant recipes were just a little too thoughtlessly cut down to home-size for the book."
            Same problem here, I wonder?
            The meal you made and described is mouth-watering, though!

            1. re: blue room

              "Maybe the restaurant recipes were just a little too thoughtlessly cut down to home-size for the book."

              I thought exactly the same thing, especially when I saw the amount of coating for the cheese and the amount of dressing for the salad. I'm sure those are both things that are made in huge quantity at the restaurant. He does give thanks to two recipe testers in the acknowledgements, but it could well be that recipes such as these were considered too simple or basic to require testing for the book. It will be interesting to see if this problem continues to pop up with other recipes.

            2. re: JoanN

              Adding to the list, thanks joan. Here's a link to the recipe for those cooking from online sources:

              1. re: Westminstress

                Thanks Westminstress, these links will be very helpful for those of us who chose not to, or couldn't, get the book.

              2. re: JoanN

                Just curious, what did you use for beef stock?

                1. re: Westminstress

                  I had some veal demi-glace in the freezer and thinned it. But if that or homemade stock wasn't readily available, I wouldn't hesitate to use a low-sodium boxed beef or veal stock when I make it again.

                2. re: JoanN

                  What a fabulous winter meal Joan. Lucky guests!

                  1. re: JoanN

                    I despise dealing with pearl onions. Maybe you could add the frozen ones in a little later in the process?

                    1. re: roxlet

                      The recipe only calls for 24 pearl onions. Not my favorite chore, but that number I can handle. And I do think I'd prefer them browned in the bacon fat. Guess I could brown them separately, but that would be almost as much of a pain as peeling them in the first place.

                    2. re: JoanN

                      Beef braised in red wine with mushrooms and smoky bacon a la Bourgignonne - p 218

                      JoanN, I think you and I were on the same wavelength because I cooked this to be followed by the maple creme brulee (I didn't make a salad, though!)

                      We loved this dish; it's a very nice rendition of a classic bistro stew. The tender, falling-apart beef, salty lardons, browned mushrooms, the pearl onions (I had to buy them in a big bag so I put in way more than 24), all in a meaty and incredibly flavourful broth.

                      I didn't get a chance to marinate my beef the night before, so I did that first thing in the morning using leftover wine from the previous evening's dinner party. The meat marinated for a total of about 6 hrs which seemed to be enough time for it to soak up some of the wine and develop a nice rich purple-ish colour. I only had 2 cups of wine, but then I only used 3 lbs of meat (the recipe says 3 to 4 lbs) so I made sure to toss the mixture a couple of times while it marinated and it worked out just fine. I was happy to not be pouring an entire bottle of wine down the sink after the marinating process was complete. (I've made Julia Child's version of this recipe and don't recall using separate wine for marinating and cooking. For that reason alone I probably won't make this particular recipe again.) For the actual cooking, the book is frustratingly vague about what kind of wine to use in this dish. My local liquor store only has super-expensive wines from Burgundy so I opted for a Merlot from the Bordeaux region, and I thought it was a good fit - the wine flavour was there but not too dominant.

                      I agree with others who have said this recipe is a little generous in its portion sizes. The whole thing just barely fit into my 5qt enameled cast iron casserole pot. It says that it makes enough to serve 6, but honestly, I had enough food there to feed a small army, especially with the spaetzle to bulk it up. No complaints about the huge amount of leftovers, though!

                      1. re: JoanN

                        Beef Braised in Red Wine with Mushrooms and Smoky Bacon à la Bourguignonne (p. 218)

                        I had made this recipe once before and remembered that we liked this version even better than the Julia Child recipe I'd used previously. So, voila--I decided this would be the perfect dish to cook for our 25th anniversary (we live at Mardi Gras Central, with no realistic hope of getting to a nice restaurant when Fat Tuesday falls on anniv. date), especially since, for my husband, beef is bliss.

                        I went to the trouble of peeling those annoying pearl onions since my experience is that the frozen ones will disintegrate during prolonged cooking. (I did the whole bag, probably 50 especially pearl-esque, but it was worth it.) I discovered I had no frozen beef stock so DH was dispatched to the only supermarket he could get to and brought home a carton of (Kitchen Basics) unsalted stock; he also brought 1/2 lb of white mushrooms rather than 1 lb. cremini so I used those and supplemented with some roasted chanterelles I had in the freezer. I used an inexpensive French red table wine recommended by the SM wine guy for the marinade and then for the stew. Unlike JoanN, I cooked mine in a 275F oven for just under three hours and then, uncovered, another 20 minutes or so.

                        We thought this was pretty spectacular. I served this with mashed potatoes (yukon golds, butter, a little cream) as DH specifically requested that to accompany. Sliced brussels sprouts also on the side; I never got around to making the planned salad as we were too busy enjoying a lovely bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. (We started with chicken liver crostini from previous COTM US Second Helpings; for dessert, apple tartlets from this book, report to follow downthread.)

                        Agree completely that this would serve more than six--but oh so glad to have the leftovers, which I think will be delicious with egg noodles or polenta.

                        This is, to me, a special occasion dish--lots of work trimming/cutting the chuck and peeling the onions, two bottles of wine in the recipe, etc.--but I'll definitely make it again.

                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                            ncw that looks and sounds spectacular! I know mr bc would love this as well. like mr ncw, he always loves a beef dish.

                            I couldn't help but notice that red pan to the right of your Le that enamel ware? It looks like a great size. I just purchased a Falcon ware bake set and I've been eyeing other enamel pieces.

                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              I have to laugh at how bad my photography is; that particular photo is even worse than I thought when I see it here. What you're seeing is just a ceramic bowl, a tallish, narrowish bowl I was using to hold the meat after browning it.

                              I love its color, though. Someone gave it to me several years ago. I have no idea its provenance, and it has no markings/signatures.

                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                I love its colour too ncw and I love that it's white on the inside, always nice to be able to see what's in the bowl. I used to have a set of mixing bowls that were all black. Sleek and stylish but not at all practical. Someone else is enjoying them now! Thanks for getting back to me and FWIW, I thought your photos were great!

                          2. re: JoanN

                            Beef Braised in Red Wine with Mushrooms and Smoky Bacon a la Bourguignonne, p. 218.

                            Made this delicious version of classic French comfort food the other night. What a great dish for a snowy night here on Cape Cod! The previous reviewers have done a very helpful job of describing and photographing it. I agree that Hammersley's recipe is very much worth making. The chief difference between his and Julia Child's version (my previous go-to recipe) is the the marinating and addition of the garnish of sauteed mushrooms and finely chopped garlic just before serving. Both are great ideas that I will repeat. I had intended to use fresh pearl onions but my store did not have them on the day, so I did use frozen and for some reason had no problem with them melting away. (Birdseye brand, if that makes any difference!)

                            Marinated the beef overnight, then braised the dish till the meat was tender, removed same and reduced the sauce till I liked the consistency. I used 4 pounds of Angus beef chuck (the pieces turned mahogany-colored in the red-wine marinade), and there wasn't a whole lot of fat to degrease. Lots of tasty leftovers.

                            Oh yes, I didn't t have homemade beef stock so I used Cooks Illus. taste-test recommendation: canned College Inn Beef stock. I'm sure homemade would have been the best, but the canned stock was still acceptable, IMHO. Obviously, the addition of smoky bacon, onions, carrots, tomato paste and mushrooms boosted the flavor of the canned broth a lot.

                            Was tempted to try making spatzle, which sounded great with this dish, but time constraints dictated using the Ottolenghi combo of rice and toasted orzo, which the whole family likes a lot.

                            1. re: JoanN

                              "I cooked the stew a day before the dinner party so I could defat it easily, but I was surprised how little fat there was."

                              I bet it was one of those dishes which tasted better the next day, too.

                            2. Spaetzle - p 243

                              I had never eaten or really heard of these dumplings before I got this book, and I decided to make them to accompany the boeuf bourgignon. Eggs, cream, fresh chopped parsley and other seasonings are mixed with flour to make a sticky dough which is then boiled briefly in tiny bite-sized chunks. Once the dumplings float, they are removed from the water, tossed briefly in olive oil and then just before serving they are browned in butter.

                              The recipe wasn't clear on how the dough is supposed to look or on how you're supposed to make the dough into dumplings and what size and shape they should be. Hamersley suggests pushing the mixture through a colander, but mine has such tiny holes that this wouldn't work at all. I opted to put the whole lump of dough on a cutting board, and hold the board over my pan of boiling water while I scraped pea-sized chunks of it into the pan. This took a surprisingly long time.

                              The results were yummy and went nicely with the stew, but in future I'd probably just make egg noodles.

                              For others considering making this, especially those who haven't made spaetzle before like me, there are a few videos on youtube that make it a lot easier to see what consistency you should aim for with your dough as well as the size/shape you want. Most of the video-makers have a nifty gadget that takes a lot of the work out of it; I don't think that I am likely to get one, but the dedicated spaetzle-maker would probably find it invaluable.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: geekmom

                                I saw that instruction about scraping bits of dough off a cutting board with the tip of a knife and I'll tell ya, I'd never, ever have made spätzle if I had had to do that. Before I inherited my grandmother's spätzle maker, I used to scrape the dough through the holes in a colander and it worked quite well. I wonder if his dough isn't as loose as some? He does mention that it should be pourable. Was yours? Will be sure, now that I've read your review, to check his proportions of liquid/flour before proceeding with his recipe.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  JoanN, the dough seemed like if it were just a tad less sticky then it would have been a little more pourable. It was quite reluctant to fall off the knife into the boiling water. Hamersley tells you you'll need anywhere between 1.5 - 2 cups of flour and to keep adding the flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough seems "too wet" but I had no clear frame of reference. Perhaps if I'd added just a little more flour it would have been a bit easier.

                              2. Beef Short Ribs braised in dark beer with bacon and red onions. p. 214

                                I've made this several times before, it's my favorite short rib recipe. I follow it pretty true to the recipe. This time I decided to rub down the ribs in a dried porcini and salt mixture. I let it sit on the ribs for a while, a couple of hours. They had a nice crust after I browned them, though I didn't notice any detectable difference in the braised meat or liquid. Made it with the garlic mashed potatoes and a butter lettuce salad with a roasted garlic vinaigrette. One of these days I will find the time to reduce the braising liquid properly, and have it come out as a nice thick glossy sauce, but it's so very tasty.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                  Glad to see someone made this. I was planning on doing this a week from Saturday as a sort of belated Valentine's dish.

                                  Stupid question though, where do you find short ribs? Do you buy from a butcher or does a normal grocery store carry them? I never thought to really look for them before since I've never made them.

                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                    My local supermarket carries them, but they're nowhere near as meaty as the ones I buy from the butcher. My butcher charges a good deal more for them, but I think think it's worth it. If you have the chance, take a look at both sources and see how they compare. It's entirely possible that your local store carries a better quality short rib than mine.

                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                      Yes, most grocery stores carry them. Make sure you don't get flanken style which are cut crosswise into much smaller ribs with less meat. You want the ones that are at least 2 inches long or so. They look like large rectangles of meat with a bone on one side. I can usually find them on sale at about 5.99/lb.