This Christmas, being that it is our third year as parents and by now have learned how limited time is on Christmas Day; we opted for a one-pot decadent menu… Beef Bourguignon! Simply downloaded the recipe and went to work. Unlike me, I followed it word per word this time and it turned out wonderful!


6 ounces bacon
1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp. thyme
Crumbled bay leaf
Blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
Parsley sprigs

Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.


… Joyeux Noël to all of you!

Christmas morning plans around here will be very casual, as we will be glued to the scene that will be unfolding in the family room. It is our son’s first Christmas! The spread on the kitchen counter will consist of a hashbrown casserole that I still have to think up, and a full size version of the Pomegranate Orange Bundt Cake that I did last week, in miniature, during my baking extravaganza. I am sure I will also manage to bake scones, and this will all be washed out with mimosas.

Orange Pomegranate Cake

Orange Pomegranate Cake

Orange Pomegranate Bundt Cake

1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 teas baking soda
3/4 teas baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 stick of butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
2 eggs
1 teas almond extract
2 TB sour cream
pomegranate seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour miniature bundt cake pan.
2. Mix together the flour, salt baking soda and baking powder.
3. Mix the butter and sugar until creamy, add the orange juice till well combined.
4. Add eggs, mixing one at a time. Then add the almond extract and sour cream.
5. Incorporate dry ingredients into the butter mixture.
6. Pour two tablespoons of batter in each mold, add about 10 pomegranate seeds on top of the batter, top with 1 1/2 to 2 additional tablespoons of batter.
6. Bake for 15 minutes.

I have received several emails inquiring about our Christmas Eve Menu. Is there such a thing as a specific menu? Kidding! At our house is a day of munching leading up to an actual meal. Actually, this is going to be a quick and easy post, as two of the dinner recipes are coming from Epicurious. I have been so busy that the 24th has snuck up and I didn’t really get a chance to think up a new dishes. With that, here are some tried and tested recipes.

Christmas Eve Menu

  • Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes – roast the garlic and set aside. In a skillet, cook onions in butter until softened. Place the onion mixture in a medium pot, add equal amounts of cream and milk. Add this mixture to your mashed potatoes and fold in the roasted garlic.
  • Beef Brisket with Merlot and Prunes
  • Creamed Corn Casserole – you can simplify this recipe by using French’s Onions and Hormel’s Real Bacon instead of making your own onion rings and cooking the bacon at home. One of my clients raved over this one at Thanksgiving!

and dessert… how can I forget dessert… also from my friends at Epi

  • Cranberry Eggnog Tart – because I am not a huge fan of bourbon, I plan on substituting with Bacardi Anejo. After all, this girl has got to support the economy of the homeland!