Julia Child. The woman who brought cooking to television; who reassured home cooks that making mistakes was okay. The woman behind boeuf bourguignon.
A few years ago my friend Dana and I went to the movies and saw Julie & Julia. We were smitten, head-over-heels even, for Meryl Streep’s character, and promptly began talking to each other in our best “Julia Child” voices. (This may still happen on occasion…) After the movie, we walked over to Barnes & Noble and each picked up a copy of Julia’s infamous cookbook: Mastering the Art of French Cooking. (Yes, we are the type of people this movie targets — the women who run out and buy the highly re-publicized object of affection within an hour of seeing the film. Way to go, marketing department.)
Somewhere between reminiscing over our times in Paris and the smell of buttery croissants, we decided to make Julia’s presence in our lives more prominent. Thus began our intimate monthly Julia Child Dinner Club. It only happened a handful of times (apparently grad students have a limited schedule or something), but a few of our closest friends would get together once a month and prepare several dishes from MtAoFC.
As we prepared our first dinner, Dana and I were shocked when we realized just how much butter and cream were thrown into these recipes. It’s almost as if Julia was actively trying to scare people away. But alas, we stuck it out. We delightfully tossed in a bit of butter here, a large splash of cream there, and copious amounts of salt, resulting in one hell of a meal. (With the amount of calories these recipes pack, you only want to do this once a month. Trust me.)
My time in grad school has obviously come to an end (R.I.P. Julia Child Dinner Club), but there’s a part of me that still wants to keep Julia’s legacy alive. I cannot imagine making some of her recipes in the heat of summer, but now that we’re dropping down into the 30′s during the day, I have no excuse.
There is no other recipe in MtAoFC that screams Julia Child quite as much as her famed boeuf bourguignon. After months of hiding on my bookcase, it was time to dust the ol’ lady off and bring her back to life.
Continue reading Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon
You might recall from my post a week ago that John and I were taking a day to ourselves. A day to spend outdoors surrounded by food (go figure), to eat seasonal snacks (go figure), and then to gorge on a “special occasion” meal for dinner.
We did what any smart New Yorkers would do as they leave the city and drive into Jersey: we stopped for gas. For those “in the know,” it’s no surprise that gas in Jersey is usually a full $0.40 – $0.50 cheaper than here in NY. I pulled off to one of the first stations I could find, handed the attendant my debit card, and asked him to fill her up on regular. (Jersey is full-service only.)
Nothing out of the ordinary happened during those next few minutes, but as the pump halted to a stop, I peered over at the display and casually mentioned to John how thirsty my car was (something I say often when I realize my adorable mini SUV is actually a gas guzzler). After a moment of calculating the final cost versus the amount of fuel my car just took, John looked confused. Apparently the attendant decided to pump mid grade instead of regular.
I know what you’re thinking. “No big deal. How much more could it have cost you?”
Well, it cost us an additional $4. Nothing to cry over, but what’s infuriating is how this situation was dealt with.
First, I call over the attendant who, mind you, has been talking on his cell phone throughout this entire interaction. I tell him in a less-than-friendly tone that he pumped the wrong gas in my vehicle. He stares at me with a look on his face that makes me think he doesn’t understand English.
I tell him again.
This time he arches his shoulders and raises his hands (still on his cell phone) as if to say, “Do I care?”
John is now becoming increasingly angry. I’m staring at him in disbelief of how little this guy cares about fixing the problem he caused. John tries to talk to him (and even asks him to get off his cell phone), but he’s having none of it.
And with that, John went inside to speak to a manager.
End of story. Problem resolved. Right? Wrong.
Mr. Hot Shot Manager responds to the situation by saying, “No problem. Let me call someone to come and pump the gas out of your car, and then we’ll replace it with regular.”
I’m sorry, what? You want us to sit in your tiny gas station for a minimum of 45 minutes (though probably much longer) so you can pump gas OUT of my car? Not happening. Not now, or ever.
To prevent a long story from getting too long, I will conclude by saying yes, we did win the battle. We were reimbursed for the attendant’s mistake, but this seriously put a damper on our morning. I couldn’t believe how rude and dismissive these men were to us.
Moral of the story? There isn’t one. Mostly I wanted to share my frustration with an audience that would listen and see if my feelings of frustration were warranted.
This is where you tell me I’m not crazy.
Now for some good news! I made a fantastic meal of short ribs and bleu cheese mashed potatoes that anyone (anyone who likes meat, that is) would love. It made me completely forget about how angry I was earlier. That’s a good sign, right?
Continue reading Short Ribs with Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes
It’s not often that I prepare a meal centered around steak. I’ll order it out from time-to-time, but generally if there’s red meat appearing in my recipes, it’s ground beef or a less expensive cut like flank, hanger, or skirt steak.
On Saturday, however, I was feeling adventurous. I wanted to branch out from my usual make-a-really-delicious-homemade-pasta-dish and try something new. As I approached the butcher, I was eyeing three different cuts of meat: ribeye, sirloin, and strip.
Ribeye = cut from ribs (without the bone); known for marbling and, thus, very tender
Sirloin = cut from the hip; less tender than NY strip, but full-flavored
NY Strip = cut from the strip loin; tender
You really can’t go wrong with any of these. I know from experience that I enjoy them all, but in the end I went with the NY Strip. Why? It was $1 less expensive per pound than the others. (Pretty good logic, right?)
Great! So now I’ve got a steak… but what do I serve with it?
I knew I wanted to get mushrooms – preferably porcinis – but these are apparently non-existant at any of our local markets. Instead I picked up some shiitakes and enoki mushrooms, neither of which I’d ever cooked with before. (Did I mention I was feeling brave?)
I grabbed a box of polenta and a few brussels sprouts, and my vision for dinner was finally complete.
Here’s the final product:
Continue reading Steak and Polenta with Shiitakes, Enokis, and Brussels Sprouts
The other night I was in a bad mood. A bunch of little things were bothering me, and I was set on being grumpy for the rest of the evening. Then I remembered I had a phone date with my childhood best friend. We only talk maybe once or twice a year these days, but I attribute so much of my happiness in middle and high school to our friendship.
I almost didn’t call.
Some people have the ability to make you laugh and smile even if the last time you spoke was six months ago. Some people don’t care how different you’ve become, or that you no longer have much in common. A shared history is enough.
I realize how rare people like this actually are.
This friend of mine is a hardcore vegetarian and even sometimes a vegan. Ever since I met her 15+ years ago, she’s been eating this way. That’s fine. No big deal. Doesn’t affect me. Except that it did when I was growing up. We used to enjoy cooking together, and I remember one time I let her convince me to make a teriyaki tofu stir fry.
Only it wasn’t just us. We were also cooking for my parents and brother. This… was a disaster. Maybe she didn’t think it was a disaster (hell, she may have even enjoyed it), but the taste in my mouth and the look on my father’s face after taking his first bite screamed train wreck. We probably politely finished the small portions on our plates and then ordered a pizza after she left. (The truth stings, doesn’t it?) Continue reading My Favorite Meatloaf
The inspiration for this dish came from a childhood favorite of mine: Steak ‘n Shake. My parents took my brother and I to Steak n’ Shake more times than I can count, and I always ordered the same thing: a frisco melt. For those who don’t speak the lingo, that’s code for two griddled patties served on a bun with American cheese, Swiss cheese, and “frisco” sauce, whatever that means. The burgers at Steak n’ Shake are small, but there’s really nothing quite like them. Continue reading Chili Mac
Sometimes I flip through cookbooks, see something I like, and then keep moving because the recipe looks too gourmet for my skills. Herbed spaetzle — sounds fancy, right? Then I think to myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Maybe the dish won’t be perfect, maybe I’ll make a lot of mistakes… or maybe I’ll cook something completely delicious that I didn’t know I could make.
Let’s hope for the latter.
I was going to make the spaetzle with a duck ragu, but our local butcher was fresh out of duck (the nerve of him, right?). Instead, I opted for bone-in beef short ribs.
How do you think it came out?
Continue reading Herbed Spaetzle with Short Rib Ragu