Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ballard Market Mushrooms and Gnocchi

Stella and I made it out to the Ballard market this past foggy sunday. The fog was so thick I couldn't see the water from 99. Almost eerie.

The market was lively. Sheela and I wandered around browsing, tasting cheese, wondering why mushrooms would be called "fried chicken" (because they look greasy). Sheela bought some "desirae" potatoes from the potato man. "If you like yukons, you'll love these." I bought huckleberry mushrooms (smaller, a bit yellow) and shallots. Sheela bought "valentina" gruyere from Estrella creamery (named after the cow with the heart on her face). I bought a handful of brussel sprouts.

Then we bought tamales and sat outside the coffee shop watching the kids dance to the trombone player. While we were eating, Sheela spotted the pasta place, an Italian flag hanging outside. They spoke broken english with a thick Italian accent and had a poster with something about Sicily. I bought gnocchi.

I love gnocchi. My roomate in college used to make them on cold November evenings, mixing them with a tomato- mascarpone sauce. They taste of comfort.

Cobe was home staring at complicated financial tables when I got back, the fog still enveloping our front deck. I started chopping and soon we had dinner, very rustic Italian, like what you might find in the countryside.

Make this when you have good mushrooms. And can get your hands on some real gnocchi (or make them yourself).

Gnocchi en brodo con rucola e funghi
(Gnocchi in broth with arugula and mushrooms)
(adapted from Epicurious)

2 T. olive oil
2T. butter
2 large shallots, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms (wild or cremini), chopped
1.5 cups chicken/turkey broth (homemade or swanson's organic)
1 cup dry white wine
1 T. fresh chopped sage
2 handfuls arugula (can sub baby spinach)
1/2 # gnocchi (enough for 2 people)
fresh ground pepper
parmigiano reggiano for the top
truffle oil

Heat pan over medium-high heat, add butter and olive oil. Heat 1 minute till golden, then add shallots. Saute until translucent, add mushrooms. Increase heat to high, saute 10 minutes until beginning to brown (will need to cook off liquid from mushrooms). Add broth, wine and sage, simmer for 8 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile cook the gnocchi (only take about 1-2 minutes, just until they rise to the top). Add gnocchi to the pan, heat through. Add handfuls of arugula and heat through til wilted. Serve with grated reggiano and a few drops of truffle oil.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Home together meatballs trump home alone meatballs

Last week when Cobe was away I made meatballs. I was very proud of myself and was all set to write a post about home alone meatballs and how when I'm home alone, I take care of myself, I make meatballs.

Not like Cobe who buys avocados and eats dinner standing up.

But you know, they weren't that great. They had all this potential, made with ground pork and adorned with pine nuts and currants. They just came out a bit heavy.

Then this week rolled around and I flipped open my Mexican Everyday cookbook to find "Chipotle Meatballs."

Time for meatball trial #2.

I dashed home at 6:15 for a 6:30 dinner and was throwing bacon in the food processor when Cobe walked in the door. I had these on the table in one hour. No joke.

And they are perfect, soft and yet meaty, subtly flavored with mint, and swimming in a beefy smokey chipotle sauce. They go well with mashed sweet potatoes and watercress salad, or at least that's what I served them with and they tasted mighty fine.

Rick Bayless, you are my main man.


Chipotle Meatballs
(adapted from Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday)

for the meatballs:
3 slices bacon, diced
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup bread crumbs (use that old stale bread, toast it if it's not completely stale, then throw it in the blender)
1 1/4 # ground pork
1/2 cup chopped mint
1 teaspoon salt

for the sauce:
28 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo with 2 T. sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups beef broth.

Preheat oven to 450. Combine bacon and 1 garlic clove in food processor, pulse a few times till finely chopped. Add eggs, bread crumbs and 1 teaspoon salt, pulse another few times, then add pork and mint. Pulse a few more times til well combined but not all pastey.

Wet your hands and form the meat into little balls. Place in a greased 9x12 inch baking pan and bake 15 minutes, turning once. Will be lightly browned.

While those are baking, clean out food processor, and put tomatoes, chipotles and sauce, oregano, 2 cloves garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and process till smooth.

When meatballs are ready, blot up excess fat (or pour off if a lot). Then pour sauce over meatballs. Cook another 15-20 minutes. Then add beef broth (heated up before adding so it doesn't cool everything down) and swirl around.

Mashed sweet potatoes

4 sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
1/2-1 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into reasonable pieces (~2 inches each). Cook in boiling salted water until soft, ~10-15 minutes (should be able to mash easily with a fork). Drain. Place in big bowl. Add butter and mash. Heat up milk in microwave, then add a little bit at a time until right consistency. Taste. Add more butter if needs a little creaminess. Add honey if needs a little sweetness (usually it does). Add salt and pepper to taste.

p.s. you can mash these with one of those stick blenders and it comes out yummy but don't ever ever put them in the food processor or you get paste.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

He say ceviche

The longer we're together, the more Cobe drifts toward foodie-ness.

We spent this past blisteringly-hot Saturday wandering in and out of the pool, Pacifico in hand. The idea of cooking seemed unbearable. At about 4 Cobe started flipping through cookbooks.

"How about ceviche?"

I handed him "Mexican Everyday" and in an hour he was hard at work, chopping cilantro and jalapenos. I meanwhile, worked on my tan. It was a nice change.

The ceviche turned out perfectly, enough heat from the serranos and jalapenos, a bit of bite from the lime, and the brightness of the cilantro. It could have used a bit of onion but Cobe is so anti-raw onion he usually leaves them out. The avocados were a good texture contrast too, creamy and fresh.

Make sure you have enough time for it to marinate as the longer it sits the more "cooked" it will taste. We found it needed at least 2 hours. The recipe said to wrap it in lettuce leaves, but we were unimpressed. French bread toasted to a crisp was much better.

(adapted from Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday)

1 cup lime juice (fresh squeezed)
2 garlic cloves
1 cup cilantro
3 serranos
1 red pepper, cut into medium dice
1 small tomato, cut into medium dice
1 # sashimi grade boneless skinless fish, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 avocado cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 loaf french bread cut into thin slices and toasted at 300 degrees until browned and crispy through

Put lime juice, garlic, cilantro, chiles and 1 tsp salt into food processor, blend till smooth. Pour over fish in a bowl. Let "cook" in fridge 1-4 hours, depending on your taste. When done, pour off half marinade. Add avocado, tomato and red pepper. Scoop up with crispy toasts.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chocolate Sorbet

I picked up an ice cream maker at a garage sale last week. A strange purchase for someone recently discovered to be lactose intolerant, but I wanted it.

You know. The way I wanted that easy-bake oven when I was little (which I never got, by the way).

And there's always sorbet.

I broke it in with some watermelon sorbet, but the texture was wrong, too icey. I even added a bit of alcohol (Pernod) which I'd read could help the texture, but no dice.

So for my second attempt I thought I'd go with something more sure. I made smittenkitchen's chocolate sorbet (which is really from "A Perfect Scoop").

With such lineage, how could I go wrong? And I happened to have on hand exactly the perfect amount of superamazing Droste cocoa and Guittard chocolate chips.

It was fate.

I must say I was unprepared for how good this would turn out. It has no dairy. It's just cocoa, sugar, vanilla, chocolate and water. But when hot it tastes like the best hot chocolate you've ever had, like chocolate puro in latin america. When cold it is frozen mousse. Or gelato. I licked the pan clean while pouring it in the ice cream maker.

Make it. You won't be sorry.

Recipe here

Friday, July 25, 2008

Zucchini Carpaccio

I never used to like zucchini. Not surprising, given that my only experience of zucchini as a child was those overcooked seedy rounds. Marcella Hazan turned me onto the beauty of zucchini. You cut it lengthwise, cook it till just done, and pair it with parmesan, or mix it in with risotto.

It was a revelation. Zucchini has a beautiful flavor, almost floral.

But I still find it a challenge.

I grilled some the other day, and it just wasn't right, too vegetal. It tasted like green.

So last night I was searching for new zucchini options (we are deep into zucchini season, and the market was flooded) when I happened upon zucchini carpaccio.

This is so beautiful, so simple. You have to try it. In reality, the flavors are mostly is a showcase for beautiful olive oil, good grey salt, some basil and the best parmesan. But it still speaks a zucchini language, underneath. It whispers zucchini, as only a true italian can.

Zucchini Carpaccio
(adapted from Gourmet 2003)

1 zucchini, very fresh
glug of olive oil, about 2 T.
1/2 lemon
sprinkle of grey salt or fleur de sel
sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper
parmigiano reggiano
fresh basil or mint
pine nuts (if desired)

Only make this if you have beautiful zucchini. And by all means use really good extra virgin olive oil (so good that you'd eat it alone on toast). My favorite is Frantoia (which you can get at Big John's PFI) The best cheese too....reggiano is my favorite, but anything hard and sharp would work. Grana padano would be good too. It has to be fresh basil (or mint, something light). And definitely fresh lemon juice.

Cut the zucchini on a mandoline at a slight angle as thin as you can. Mandolines are a life-saver---invest in one. There are cheap japanese ones that will run you $30.

Lay the slices out on a plate. Sprinkle with the olive oil, trying to coat each piece. Now sprinkle with grey salt. Then squeeze the half lemon over the top, again trying to coat all. Sprinkle on fresh ground black pepper. Chiffonade the basil.

Like this:

Stack up the leaves.

Roll them up like a cigar.

Cut them thinly.

Sprinkle the basil on top of it all.

Zest some of the lemon (or use a rasp) and sprinkle on top. This adds a different flavor than the juice, more floral.

Lastly, cut shreds of the cheese with a vegetable peeler (makes them nice and thick) and scatter over the top.

Let sit maybe 10 minutes, then eat.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's only canning

I'm going through those phobias one by one, like smitten kitchen talked about on her blog. Last week jam, this week canning.

I decided to make more jam, because I brought the cherry plum jam to a party and it all got eaten. This time I went for peach, as I had some softish peaches and apricots rolling around in my fridge. I added a little amaretto and some sugar and cooked them down.

It melded beautifully, the amaretto and peach. It added an adult edge to the jam without dampening the soft peachy flavor.

Here are the key things I've learned about canning:

1. Use clean (or new) jars
2. Use new lids each time
3. Add whatever you're canning after you've boiled it to minimize bacteria
4. Place jars on something to keep them slightly above the bottom of the pan
5. Fill with water 1/2- 2/3 up the side of the jar
6. Simmer for 10 minutes with lid on

I did all this (used a strainer to keep it off the bottom) and it worked great, that bubble pop top went down like magic. And now I am the proud owner of one can of jam.

(Likely if you were going to can more than one jar you might need some fancy apparatus)

Peach, apricot and amaretto jam
Makes 1-2 small jars

3 big peaches, very ripe
2-3 apricots
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
splash amaretto

Peel peaches, leave peel on apricots. Cut and put in pan. I left the pits in there and pulled them out later. Put in sugar, salt, and amaretto, cook x 15 minutes on low heat until sugar dissolves. Turn heat up to medium, simmer until thickened. Pull out pits. Taste and adjust sugar/amaretto/salt. Pour into jars while still hot. Can as described above (or eat right away, or freeze).

So easy to play with this. Use whatever fruit you have leftover, add whatever flavorings sound good to you (liqueurs, spices, lemon/lime zest). Cook til done!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just a little jam

Jam is one of those things that intimidates me. Or that used to, until last week.

Don't get me wrong, I grew up in a jam making family. My grandmother had jars and jars of jam in her basement, all carefully sealed with a layer of wax. My mother only made strawberry freezer jam, but we always had a container of that in our freezer.

But for me jam was always a BIG DEAL. You had to go and buy the pectin and canning jars, pick a flat of strawberries, and then spend your whole Saturday over the stove with a bag of sugar.

This is just not true at all. Jam is a way to use up leftover fruit. Throw in those plums that got all mushy, those cherries that weren't quite sweet enough, cook down the whole shebang with a bit of sugar and you have jam. It's that easy.

No need for pectin either. Fruit has its own pectin. If you cook it long enough, the jam will just gel, like cranberry sauce does.

Canning is nice, of course. But you could also just freeze whatever you're not going to eat right away. Or you could make it in small batches, whatever you happen to have.

So liberating! Oh and from what I hear, you don't need any fancy gizmo to can either, just the mason jars and some steam. That's for next time.

Cherry Plum Cinnamon Jam
(adapted from Bon Appetit)

NOTE: this makes a very small amount, like 1 cup. If you want more increase the fruit, but you likely don't have to increase the sugar too much. I like the idea of just making enough jam for me.

4 plums
1 # cherries
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup-1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh lemon

Cut plums into quarters, throw into pan (including pit). I threw in the cherries whole and pitted them after I'd cooked it down. You could pit them before you put them in, but I hear rumors that the cherry pits add a lot of flavor (almond like). Messy before or messy after--your choice.
Then put in vanilla bean and cinnamon stick (if using) and sugar. I made this with a cup of sugar which was too much really, but I haven't tried it with less so I couldn't swear to that. Add salt.

Cook over low heat for 15 minutes until the fruit releases its juices and sugar dissolves. Then turn up to medium and cook about 30 minutes until it thickens. Wash hands well and dig out all the pits (I told you, messy after). The plum pits are easy to find as the plums just dissolve, the cherry pits are harder. If too sweet, add some lemon for contrast.

Enjoy! Freeze the leftovers or try your hand at canning.

Friday, May 30, 2008

To a Tea

Cobe left for China yesterday and as he was leaving he was talking about buying more tea.

I am already excited.

I love tea. I even gave up coffee for several years and just drank tea.

Not currently. Coffee is like crack in Seattle, it's so good.


The last time Cobe went to China he brought the most amazing teas. They are worlds above our teas. Pure leaves most of them, and not the dry and crackly kind, but soft and pliant. They make tea with no bitterness, just a haunting aroma and a soft smokiness.

My favorite is the jasmine. It comes in these little balls, "jasmine pearls" that slowly uncurl to become leaves at the bottom of your cup. You don't need to strain them, it never gets bitter. And it never gets that gritty sensation of regular tea.

There also are a multitude of larger balls that open into flowers. The best ones are all gone. We watched them in awe on the day of his return as they slowly opened and then sent forth a several inch long yellow tendril like some alien life form. It felt odd to drink it.

Hopefully he will bring back more.

We did still have some chyrsanthemums, which are delicate and impressive.

But I want more alien teas. Keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Red wine reborn

I love to drink wine. But sometimes Jacobe is not so enthusiastic. Despite my best efforts, we still end up with 4 or 5 half drunk bottles of wine cluttering our countertop. I've tried everything---the vacuvin, pouring them into half bottles, keeping them in the fridge. Nothing seems to keep them longer than a few days.

And then I discovered vin cotto.

Vin cotto literally means "cooked wine" in Italian. It's traditionally made with grape juice rather than wine, cooked down to make a sweet syrup. When you use wine you have to add a little sweetner, but the results are equally spectacular. It makes this rich flavorful syrup that tastes like a very mild balsamic. It's great as an instant sauce for meats, or as the heart of a soft and silky salad dressing.

Tastes like magic.

Vin Cotto

Several half empty bottles of red wine.
Honey to taste

Pour wine in a pan over high heat. Bring to boil, then turn down heat to medium low. Reduce 75%. Add honey to taste. That's it! Will last about a month.

You can play with this too, adding flavorings while cooking it down (cloves, orange zest, black pepper, raisins). I added raisins to mine, a nice flavor. Of course then you have strain it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The sum of its parts

My favorite recipes are those that feel like magic.

A few onions, roasted peppers and beef broth go into the pot. You simmer for a while and then...poof! Rich beautiful flavor.

This recipe is like that. And believe me Rick Bayless has gone way up in my book.

But sadly this is a meal I ate alone.

I had big plans when I decided to make this. I've been a lazy cook lately, so last tuesday I decided I would cook after our 6:30 puppy class. I bought all the stuff, pork loin, poblanos, tomatoes. The class schedule said 1.5-2 hours.

"They just say that to scare you," Cobe said. "I'm sure it'll be like 45 minutes."

Two and a half hours later we were finally walking back to our car glassy-eyed. Cobe was like a hungry animal, his sentences short. At that point there is no cooking, just Subway.

But I had that pork loin. And I can't bear to waste food.

I decided to cook it up, even if it was like 10 pm. And lo and behold it was magic. The spiciness of the roasted peppers with the sweetness of the onions and tomatoes and the rich meatiness of the pork loin. It washed over you with each bite.

Did I mention it took like 45 minutes? And that is not just what I wrote on the schedule.

Pork Tenderloin ala Mexicana
(adapted from Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday)

2 poblano chiles
2 jalapeno chiles
1.25 lbs pork tenderloin
2 T olive oil
vidalia sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can whole tomatoes, drained
3/4 c beef broth
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Turn on broiler, place rack as close as possible, and roast poblanos and jalapenos. Turn every few minutes. They should be black on the outside (like completely). Put in paper bag to steam and forget about them for a bit.

Wash and dry tenderloin. Salt generously. Heat oil in pan over medium heat, brown pork on all sides. Remove from pan. Add onions and saute until brown and wilted (4-5 minutes). In the meantime, pull skin off chiles (should come off easily) and remove seeds. Cut into 1/4" strips. Add chile and garlic to onions and stir x 30 seconds. Then add tomatoes, crush with spoon. Add broth. Bring to boil and cook until slightly thickened (5 minutes). Add whole pork loin back with chopped cilantro. Turn heat down to medium, cover and cook until pork is just cooked. I usually go for 140 degrees which is just a tad rosy because I can't stand tough pork, but you maybe should cut it and see what you like.

When cooked, take out of pan and slice into 1/4-1/2" slices. Sprinkle with more cilantro. Serve with rice or tortillas.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

The mystery of orange cheddar

Sheela had another question (she is a scientist after all, she has a lot of questions). She wanted to know why cheddar cheese is orange.

Cheddar is a mysterious thing. Made with a "cheddaring" process where the whey is stacked in blocks (a process that originated in Cheddar, England), in its natural state it's creamy white. But a lot of the stuff in the grocery store is dyed bright orange.

So why dye? I'll lay out the facts:

1. Cheddar made in England is always white and is never dyed.
2. BUT... other cheeses in England are dyed orange. Double gloucester, red leicester. They've been dying them for centuries. They used to dye them with carrot juice or saffron, now they use a natural dye called annatto. There's even a french cheese that's dyed orange (mimolette).

Maybe cheddar was originally dyed because american producers confused cheddar and double gloucester, and thought dying it would make it appear more english.

Or maybe they just thought it looked better. It is odd though. We don't dye jack or mozzarella and they're white as can be.

In any case, it must sell because there's a hell of a lot of it. The good news is that the dye won't hurt you, annatto comes from the achiote tree in South America.

Even in Velveeta! (look on the label---annatto)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Two buck chuck

Ah, two buck chuck. Everyone who is anyone has tried it. But the question, posed by Sheela's boyfriend Robbie, is "why is it so damn cheap?"

Robbie had heard the rumor that an unhappy divorce had forced poor Charlie Shaw to turn over all his profits to his wife, so he dropped the price to spite her.

A little scoping on the internet revealed other rumors, that after 911 airplanes couldn't use corkscrews and thus dumped a ton of wine onto the market, or that United was the source of the wine, trying to boost their sales with some wine bucks.

The reality? It's owned by Bronco, a big company. They buy cheap grapes in central california and package it in Napa and so get to write Napa on the label. How they make it taste good is a bigger mystery. Probably filtering, blending, and wood chips.

For the record, it did used to be owned by Charles Shaw, and he was divorced. But he has no piece in it anymore. Bronco is owned by Franzia.


So the real answer? Box wine baby.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ham and peas, if you please

The weather has been frustrating in Seattle of late. One minute the sun is out, the birds are singing and I think, "finally! Summer." Then 2 hours later the clouds appear and the temperature drops 20 degrees.

It's like a tease.

I've stopped hoping for summer. Instead I've retreated to comfort food. The other night I was rummaging around in the fridge and remembered the coppa I had bought at da Pino and all of a sudden knew the perfect meal: pasta with ham, onions, cream and peas.

My roomate in college (Martina) was italian and used to make this when we had leftover ham. All pasta is comfort food in my world, but this was the ultimate. Creamy and rich with pork flavor from the ham, but with the punch of peas to accent it. Luckily it's also easy and fast (like 20 minutes, no lie).

Just one note....don't be tempted to use cheap ham. Most of the flavor in this dish comes from the ham. Make this when you have leftover ham from easter, not when you're trying to use up that stuff from the deli. You could, of course, always use prosciutto. ;)

Pasta with Ham, Cream and Peas
(adapted from Epicuruios 2002)
makes 2 hungry-man-size servings

4 ounces ham, cut into slivers (~1inch x 1/4 inch)
1/2 bag frozen peas
1 sweet onion, fine dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bag pasta (something meaty, like penne or orecchiette)
1/2 cup half and half
2 Tbls butter
1 tsp olive oil
parmigiano reggiano

Place pot of water on stove, add good amount of salt (like a tablespoon). When boiling, add in pasta. Cook until al dente (depends on your pasta).

In the meantime, melt butter in a medium size saute pan over medium high heat and add olive oil. When hot, add in chopped onion. Saute until translucent and soft. Then add garlic, saute ~30 seconds more. Add frozen peas and 2 tbs of water. Cook a few minutes. Add ham. Cook a few minutes. Add half and half and cook ~5 minutes until it all comes together. Season with salt and pepper. Mix with pasta and top with grated reggiano.

Friday, May 2, 2008

From France with Love

Sorry to have been away so long. I was in France with my dad. Have you been to France? You should go. It’s beautiful. They love food.

The first meal we ate, I knew things were different. We were in a little restaurant in a small town, but the salad I ordered came with perfectly poached eggs, a handmade vinaigrette and thick pieces of beautiful ham. All through France we had the same experience…the bar was higher. There was no watery meat, no wonder bread, no gas station hot dogs. People wouldn’t stand for poor quality food.

But the longer we were there, the more I felt something different, something even more profound. The food was largely the same from town to town, restaurant to restaurant. Perhaps one would have slightly better bread, slightly more involved appetizers. But in general they were serving French food to French people. There was so much less variety than you would find in the US, even in a small town.

And really, to be frank, I wasn’t as wowed by the food as I expected to be. There was some wonderful duck, some delicious cheeses, a wide variety of cured meats. The wine was phenomenal. But the meat was sometimes tough, the sauces the standard fare. It was rarely exciting. To be fair, we were in small towns, places not usually known for encouraging creativity.

Luckily we had decided when we planned this trip that we wanted to cook. This was a father-daughter trip to explore the wines of burgundy, and to really explore wine you need to drink it with food, and to do that you need to cook. So we rented a villa in a small town in southern burgundy. It was remote and rustic, even more beautiful than we expected. And the kitchen was perfectly appointed.

Each day we would get up late, eat long slow lunches in cafes, taste wine in the afternoon, and then come home and cook dinner.

It gave us an excuse to wander the farmers’ markets and gape at the roosters. We bought white asparagus and fresh eggs “plein aire.” We went to the supermarche in Nolay, a pathetic little store that still managed to have reasonable vegetables, a large meat counter, and a whole section of foie gras.

And we cooked.

The first night I tried to make oeufs en meurette (eggs poached in red wine), but failed miserably. I made the sauce, poached the eggs in it and boiled it down, but sadly my poaching technique was not stellar and I ended up with strands of egg. After some straining and adding more wine it was edible, but barely. I didn't take a picture. I'll let you imagine it.

The next night I gave in and made something easy, an onion omelette. But this was no ordinary omelette. The eggs from the farmers' market were wonderful, with dark yellow yolks. And the onions had this sweetness that I have never found in the US. With some comte cheese and an impressive bottle of premier cru chassagne-monrachet, it was a wonderful meal. I also cooked up some of the white asparagus, not realizing that the outer skin is so tough you need to peel them completely. The flavor was wonderful, but we could have chewed them forever.

Next I tackled boeuf bourguignonne. We found a boucherie to buy the meat, but were perplexed by the cuts. There was no “chuck” or “rump.” When we asked for meat to use in boeuf bourguinonne, the bucher pointed to first his leg then his shoulder, holding up the appropriate cuts. Leg is like rump? I went with the leg. The stew turned out wonderfully, but even after 3 hours the meat was still somewhat tough. Perhaps I should have used shoulder. Or maybe I am spoiled by lazy corn-fed cows. I did discover that in france they have prepackaged pre-cut lardons.

My father’s favorite meal (or perhaps he was just placating me) was a salad
made of leftovers that we dubbed “salade beaunoise.” Endive, hardboiled egg, lardons fried crispy, browned garlic, morbier and my standard vinaigrette. I’ll give you that recipe, since it so perfectly reflected our week in burgundy: good meat, good cheese and above all good wine. I recommend drinking some Meursault with it, if you can find a bottle. Or at least a nice Chablis.

Salade Beaunoise

2 endive
100 g pre-cut smoked lardons OR 3-4 slices thick cut bacon cut into thin one inch strips
3 cloves fresh garlic (not dried) if you can find it, can substute dried, sliced thinly
2 eggs
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
good French mustard (I recommend Maille a la ancienne)
morbier cheese (or other good cheese, a little sharpness is nice, blue would be fabulous)

First hard boil the eggs. My favorite method is to put the eggs in cold water so that there is 1 inch of water above them (the depth is important as it changes how long it takes to boil the water). Then bring the water to boil. Immediately take off the heat, let sit in the hot water for 9-10 minutes (10 for very firm, 9 for a little softer). Then place in a cold water bath.

Saute bacon pieces in a medium hot pan with a small amount of oil until brown (5 minutes or so). Remove from pan and place on paper towels. Saute garlic in same pan.

Wash and dry the endive, cut into 2 inch pieces.

Make a dressing using the olive oil and vinegar. I usually guesstimate this, 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 oil (to make a total of ~1/2 cup). Then mix in 1/2 tsp mustard, 1/2 tsp honey, salt and pepper. Whisk or mix with a fork until mixed. The honey should keep it from separating. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Mix endive with dressing in a big bowl so you can get it all in. Divide endive into bowls. Top with garlic, bacon and hard boiled eggs (cut in half). Ladle on extra dressing onto the eggs. Top with pieces of morbier.