Boeuf Bourguignon – Beef Burgundy

boeuf bourguignon beef burgandy stew
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Now that it is officially fall, and the weather has turned “cold” in California, it’s time to have stew. Last week I made Coq Au Vin, and I still had some wine left, so I thought I should continue with my French comfort food and make this lovely Beef Burgundy, Boeuf Bourguignon.

Similarly to Coq Au Vin, Boeuf Bourguingnon is also one of those dishes that does well with tough meat, wine and long cooking time. The wine and long cooking time break down the meat so it is nice and tender. It also allows all the flavors to meld together nicely. Be prepared for this to simmer about two hours.

It is important with both dishes to get a decent red wine, not a sweet one! A nice Burgundy, Shiraz or Cabernet would do perfectly. You don’t need much, so there should be a nice glass or two for the cook, too.

Boeuf Bourguignon – Beef Burgundy YouTube Video


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Juniper Pickled Beets and BBQ Meatloaf for Cruise Night 2013

Recipes in this PostPickeled Beets with Juniper Berries

Every year, Glendale, California closes off its main street, the Brand Boulevard of Cars. Beautifully kept antique cars park up and down the street, some with their hoods up, so everyone can enjoy them. Spane and I have been going to Cruise Night since before he was born – I say that because I even went when I was pregnant with him. As usual I like to cook something special for Cruise Night dinner, mainly because even though there are hamburgers and hot dogs available, I would rather have my own fresh food, and save money for a treat for Spane.

I love beets, I mean I really, really love beets. So does Spane. We like them plain, pickled, cold, hot, red beets, orange beets, any beets! Beets are very good for you, and studies have shown it can prevent liver, heart and muscle diseases. This is not the same thing as a Sugar Beet, which although is in the same family, almost all sugar beets are genetically modified, and used to make sugar.

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Homemade Charcoal Chimney Starter, Burgers Topped with Cheddar and Coleslaw

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Raleigh Burger - Coleslaw Cheddar on a Kaiser Roll

Raleigh Burger – Coleslaw Cheddar on a Kaiser Roll

There used to be a wonderful coffee-shop in Santa Monica called Nick’s. One day, I went in there and ordered something called a Nick Burger. It had coleslaw and swiss cheese on it. It was so juicy you had to eat it over the plate. It became my favorite burger, and tonight, I decided to recreate it, with a little zip.

I’ve been becoming very brave of late with my Weber. First I started out with Match Light coals because they were pre-soaked, and easy to get started. Then, I graduated to using charcoal fluid and regular coals. Then today, I realized I had run out of fluid, and the corner store was closed. I knew that there are specially made charcoal chimney starters, and I thought I could make one from scratch. It wasn’t difficult at all making a homemade charcoal chimney starter. No more relying on charcoal fluid for me!

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Three Pepper Spicy Meatloaf with Cowboy Salad

Recipes in this PostThree Pepper Meatloaf with Cowboy Salad

A lot of people don’t like meatloaf. I don’t blame them, I hated meatloaf as a child because it was bland and the only thing that was even a tiny bit tasty was the dried ketchup on the top. That all changed when I went to dinner with a friend who raved about the meatloaf and Cowboy salad. I tried it, and I was a convert.

What made this meatloaf different was that it was spicy, and it had little pieces of vegetable inside. I loved it. The restaurant is long gone, but the meatloaf is here to stay.

Of course, the best thing about meatloaf is the sandwiches the next day. Some people heat up the meatloaf, some people, like me, do not. For me, there’s nothing better than a thick slice of cold meatloaf on a slice of crusty sourdough bread, slathered with mayonnaise.

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New School Hamburger Gravy

When I was in grammar school at Cheremoya Avenue Elementary School in Hollywood, California, about once every two weeks we had Hamburger Gravy and Mashed Potatoes.  I really loved that dish, it was my favorite.  All the other stuff was pretty bland, and actually kind of nasty, especially the paper thin cheeseburgers.  For years and years, I have been trying to replicate the special taste of that gravy, and have been pretty much successful.

Years ago, when I first met Chef John Farion, he treated some friends and I to dinner at another chef’s restaurant on Melrose .  I ordered the filet mignon with blue cheese sauce.  It was truly fantastic, and I have been pairing blue cheese with beef ever since.  I guess I’m not the only one, even Carl’s Jr. now has a steakhouse burger featuring blue cheese.

I get my blue cheese at the Armenian stores, for several reasons, 1) because the cheese is of a superior quality, 2) because it is much less expensive than the major chain supermarkets, and better quality.  I just bought a half a pound brick a few days ago, and it was sitting in the cheese drawer waiting to be the star of some dish.

I had an epiphany!  Why not make hamburger gravy and add blue cheese at the end?  I tried it, and it was, well, fantastic!  This was much, much better than the gravy I had had when I was a child.  Now, just because Spane gave it a big thumbs up, I can’t guarantee that every child will like it as much as we did.

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Comfort Food – Shepard’s Pie and Cranberry Brown Betty

Shepard's Pie

Shepard's Pie

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I have been craving comfort food for quite a while.  It’s that time of the year, when you listen to Carl Off’s O’Fortuna, put your feet in warm fuzzy slippers, and want to eat food that will make you feel nice and warm inside.

Macaroni and Cheese is a classic comfort food, and so is Shepard’s Pie.  It combines potatoes,beef, veggies and gravy all in one dish.  Apple Brown Betty is also a classic comfort food, but cranberries are in season, so Cranberry Brown Betty is a delicious alternative.

There is another interesting story here.  My mother, Ruth Louise Burchart Boswell, was born in 1913.  When she went to school, there was something called Home Ec. If you were a girl, they taught you basic cooking skills, how to iron, clean the house, etc.  My mother told me that the final was to make Shepard’s Pie.  She did her best, but she didn’t like it, and the teacher didn’t like it either.  I suspect that she must have used mutton.  I don’t like mutton, either, although I do like spring loin lamb chops.  So, until I went to Ye Old Kings Head in Santa Monica, I never had it because my mother had said it was her most hated food.  When my dinner companion ordered it, it looked good so I tasted it and fell in love.

However, still leery of making it myself, I did not think of making it until tonight.   So, I started looking around the Internet for a good recipe for Shepard’s Pie.  Nothing I saw came close to what Ye Old Kings Head served, and they all called for strange things like mushroom soup or ketchup.  What the heck, I thought, I know what’s supposed to be in it, I’ll throw it together myself.

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