Streamlined Beef Burgundy with Vegetables

In St. Paul, there’s a high below 1 degree Fahrenheit today.  It was -14 degrees when I got up and pressed the button for coffee this morning.  I stayed home, cried throughout the inauguration, and did what any self-respecting, frozen food blogger would do.  I made beef burgundy…or boeuf bourguignon…  If you can spell it, you can make it.   

The inauguration poet, Richard Blanco’s poem, “One Today” was one of the highlights for me.  The other was James Taylor singing “America the Beautiful,” of course.  The speech was so, so fine.

ANYWAY….After all the stir! about Julie and Julia for all that time….and all the hype about boeuf bourguignon, I think we may have come down to earth.  I no longer hear neighbors rolling the name of the dish around their hungry tongues and the Meryl Streep or Amy Adams talk is long past the appetizing roles of Julia and Julie.  For the record, I’d love a whole movie about Julia starring Meryl Streep. Sadly director Nora Ephron last year crossed the river and is now surely writing all kinds of wonderful things God doesn’t require her to any longer sell.

Beef burgundy, after all, is just beef cooked in burgundy–which is simply–and not so simply– a lovely French wine made in the Burgundy area of France from Pinot Noir grapes.  (We make incredible burgundy here in the states–visit Oregon and taste their perfect  Pinot Noirs.  See below for a brief note about that.)  I won’t tell if you cook the beef in some other red wine that you just happen to have or in beef stock if that’s your preference. Of course, then it wouldn’t be beef burgundy.  It would be beef cooked in red wine or beef stew.

And the feeling that it’s not beef burgundy if it’s not made according to Julia’s recipe is just not right.  HELLO!  Is beef stew not beef stew if we don’t make it exactly like our mother did or the same as some cookbook recipe? There are, I’d guess, many French cooks who cook up beef and Burgundy with a few other additions.  (Though the French are sticklers for form. See below for a French blogger’s take/photos on the dish.) The typical beef burgundy recipe is, like many French dishes, short on vegetables, and long on directions. While mine still takes 3 hours in the oven, I’ve made a few short-cuts, and added a few more vegetables for health and balance. It’s worth doing a day (or night) ahead and just heating up if you’d like to serve it for company.  You then can focus on dessert, the table, work, or giving the house a lick and a promise.

I love that we make most dishes with what’s available or what we need to cook or eat.  (I buy several big chuck roasts when they’re on sale at Whole Foods. Then I’m ready for really cold-day meals. My big freezer is, however, in the garage; I have to brave the below zero temps to bring in the meat!)  We are not bound to anything written down on earth or on the internet or on Grandma Sadie’s well-worn and stained recipe cards.  Use your heart and use your God-given imagination.  Turn on the stove, dream, and cook.  And while you’re at it, enjoy feeding someone; they’ll enjoy eating this, I promise.

(As I set the table tonight, I glanced through the weekend edition of WSJ, which — funny/odd–had an article on cooking beef burgundy in a pressure cooker!  Worth pursuing.)

streamlined beef burgundy  with vegetables
-serves 6-8                                                          can be made a day ahead and reheated

  • In a 6-8-quart Dutch oven or oven-safe pot, heat 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter over medium flame.  Add 2 cups thawed frozen pearl onions and 8 ounces of cut-in-half button mushrooms.  Sprinkle with a generous pinch each of black pepper and dried thyme.  Let brown, then stir, and let cook a bit more until tender.  Remove from pot, cool, and refrigerate until later.  To the pot, add 3 chopped pieces of bacon and let cook until  nearly done.  Remove from pot, cool, and refrigerate until later along with the onions and mushrooms.  Leave  bacon fat in pan.  In 3 batches, brown very well 3 pounds of beef chuck roast, cut into 1-2 inch pieces, dried with towels, floured, salted and peppered. (If the pan becomes too dry, add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil. All the brown in the bottom of the pan will come up later.) When last batch is nearly browned, add 2 finely chopped yellow onions, 2 finely chopped stalks of celery, and 3 chopped cloves of garlic.  Let cook a couple of minutes, stirring, and pour in 1/4 cup brandy (or red wine) and bring to a boil.  Stir to bring up bits at bottom if the onions didn’t do the job.  Let cook 2-3 minutes, stirring.  Add the beef you browned earlier back into the pot and stir.   
  • To pot, add 3 peeled carrots cut into 12 inch pieces,  2 each peeled and sliced parsnips and turnips (small), and 1 cored and sliced fennel bulb.  Stir in 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 2 Turkish bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon tomato paste.  Tie up a half-bunch of parsley and lay it on top.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Taste and, if necessary (and I think it is), sprinkle vegetables with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, and, if desired (I desire), a pinch of crushed red pepper.  Pour a 750ml bottle of Burgundy (Pinot Noir) or red Rhone wine and 2 cups beef or chicken stock over all.  Cover and place in oven.
  • Cook until beef is tender, 2 1/2 – 3 hours. When beef is nearly done, add the reserved pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon, return to oven until quite hot–perhaps 15 minutes.  (If you briefly  heat the onion mixture before adding it to the stew, you’ll save time.)
  • Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  If too thin, thicken stove top with the addition of a tablespoon or two of flour whisked into 1/4 cup water or wine.  Stir in and bring to a boil, cooking until thickened up a bit.  **  If stew is too thick, add  1-2 cups of chicken or beef stock (not wine) or water and let heat again stovetop.  Taste and re-season if necessary.  I like the stew to be loose enough for dunking bread (as I note) or for mashing up a root vegetable in.  In other words, you need the gravy.
  •  Serve hot garnished with a little chopped fresh parsley or, if not needed until tomorrow, cool totally, cover, and refrigerate overnight.   Next day, re-heat over low flame slowly, covered, stirring often for a half hour or so.  It should come to a boil at least briefly before serving.
  • I like it best with big chunks of baguette for dunking, though the usual suspects are new potatoes or, according to my French teacher, egg noodles.
  • Typically a little green salad with vinaigrette is served here in the states with the beef.  I also like it with some quickly steamed green beans and a drizzle of  mustard-vinaigrette as a salad.  It’s nice to have something with a bit of crunch for contrast.  Serve with  Pinot Noir ^^ or French Burgundy.

**You can also use equal amounts of butter and flour, mashed together (buerre manie)–perhaps a tablespoon or two each.


I had no French brandy or cognac; I do keep Asbach Uralt in the house.
I used an inexpensive A-Z Pinot (2008) for cooking.
I freeze tomato paste in small bags and just take out what I need.

THE WINE–skip this if you’ve got the wine figured…

Quality Burgundy (French) is pretty pricey, though there are some at lower price points worth drinking.  Check at the wine shop if you’re set on a European wine.

^^There are many great Oregon Pinots--Sineann, Ken Wright, Cristom, Bethel Heights, WillaKenzie, Soter,  Privé, Domaine Serene, and more… Read about Oregon Pinots here, though F&W gives a different list of favorite wineries.  These are, mostly, special occasion wines ($40 and up), but a couple of vineyards are producing  lower-priced or entry level Oregon Pinots (Ken Wright –$30–and Tony Soter–$20– that I know of).

Beef Burgundy is worth a special occasion wine like an Oregon Pinot Noir.  It’s a fine meal you don’t make too often.   But….if you really can’t splurge for the night…  A much lower-priced Pinot that’s not a shame to drink might be A-Z or even Angeline.   Inexpensive (or cheap) Pinot Noirs aren’t worth drinking.  (I’d rather drink coke and be sober is the tag line.)  You might want to buy a French Rhone red wine instead, which is a blend often dominated by the Syrah grape,  inexpensive, a decent value, and consistently tasty.  Ask someone at the wine shop which Rhone they like.  Buy three bottles if you can; one to cook with, one to drink, and one for leftovers.  You could try different producers and see which you like best.


Even quicker Beef Burgundy made with sirloin steak stovetop. 

A French food blogger’s boeuf-bourguignon with lots of photographs.

Want to watch Julia’s first French Chef show on how to make Boeuf Bourguignon?  It’s very entertaining and there’s tons to learn! See her taste the stew out of the cooking spoon… Note her washing machine and dryer in the kitchen and hear her say SEWTAY.

Sing a new song,

Julia Child’s 100th Birthday — Salmon Fillet en Papillote with Shallots and Tomatoes: Fast Food!

Not spending the summer in St. Paul, I don’t have any of my Julia books on the shelf….And it’s Julia’s 100th birthday!  I shipped all of the ones I needed to work on the soup cookbook and I brought my own personal cookbook, but the whole library cannot come to Colorado.  Julia’s books sit in Minnesota: 

One bookcase of cookbooks

So to celebrate Julia’s 100th birthday (along with everyone else in the world), I had to come up with something on the web.  Salmon en Papillote with Shallots and Tomatoes seemed perfect.   Since I had salmon the freezer.   And I was alone.  Fish is perfect for one.

One.  Singular sensation:

First place the salmon filet on the parchment paper on a schmear of butter

While grilled salmon is the standard summer prep in the U.S., I’m here to tell you that you just might enjoy wrapping that little piece of fish up in parchment paper and throwing it in the oven.  Almost feels like a little craft project going on.  The oven is not on long enough to heat up the kitchen. The resulting fillet is tender, toothsome, done perfectly, and seasoned elegantly.  And if you don’t pour a loving glass of Pinot Noir or even a Syrah to go along with, I’ll be unhappy.  I will haunt you.  See below for the recipe that’s faster than calling for pizza.  Quicker than driving through the drive-through.  By the time you set the table and sauté some spinach, dinner is D-O-N-E.  If you’re still set on grilling, you could probably use the same recipe for the grill, switching foil for the paper and going the Girl Scout route.

Thanks, Julia.   I know you’re enjoying the kitchen that never gets hot, where feet never hurt, European and American measurements are the same,  knives are forever sharp, tupperware bottoms and tops always match, and watched pots do boil.  God speed.

Season with salt and pepper.  Top with shallots, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.

An aside…My favorite Julia Child recipe is French Bread.  Really.   A story for another day.

Wrap up and pin or staple as I did.  Bake at 425 degrees F about 8 minutes.   Et voila!

The fish recipe I used is from this book, but I found it here:

Jacques’ method for wrapping the fish in paper includes leaving a hole, inserting a straw, and blowing up the paper “balloon” before baking.  I went with Julia and even changed that.  As long as you get the paper packet sealed well, you’ll be fine.

Julia’s Salmon Fillet en Papillote with Shallots and Tomato
serves 1

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, soft (Cut this down to 1tsp)
1 skinless salmon fillet, 6 to 8 ounces
Salt and freshly ground white pepper  (I used black pepper)
1 tablespoon very finely minced shallots (or scallions) (Used minced red onion.)
1/2 cup diced fresh tomato garnish
Whole leaves of flat-leaf parsley, about a dozen  (I added a couple of thyme sprigs.)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Smear the butter in the very center of a piece of parchment paper cut to 15″x20″
3. Season each side of the salmon with a big pinch of salt and several grinds
of pepper, and lay the salmon, its most attractive side up, on the buttered
area of the paper.
4. Mix the minced shallots and tomato together and spread on top of the
salmon fillet. Scatter the parsley leaves over and around the fish.
5. Lift the shorter (15-inch) sides of the parchment so the edges meet right
above the salmon, like a tent. Fold over several times, then fold the sides
together. Crimp the folds tightly with your fingers, or use several pins at
the end to seal the package completely.  (I stapled the paper.)
6. Set the package on the cookie sheet and bake 8 minutes for a fillet less
than an inch thick, or 10 minutes for a thick fillet 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick.
7. To serve, carefully transfer the package to a dinner plate, remove the pins
if you have used them, and simply unfold or cut the parchment open. If
you’d rather remove the package before eating, cut or tear the paper
alongside the fillet, and slide the fish right onto the plate.
Just cut open.
The meal.
 Since this sounded wonderfully suited to a bed of sautéed spinach, I took care of that
while the salmon cooked in the oven.  One pound of fresh spinach will cook down to one cup of cooked spinach.  I think I cooked about 3 ounces of fresh spinach for me.  I stirred in some hunks of garlic at the end, but started with a little crushed red pepper in the olive oil.  Do as you like.  This, along with a small piece of buttered whole wheat bread, rounded out the meal.  Along with the wine, of course.
Ready for its close-up.  Done, but oh-so-tender.  Just perfect.  Just Julia.
  Cook’s Note:   Whole Foods in Colorado Springs sells their gorgeous wild salmon frozen in individual pieces for four bucks and change.  I guess they’d rather freeze it than throw it away.  This salmon is luscious.  I throw it in a covered soup pot on the front porch for 30 minutes or so (summertime) and it’s unthawed.   I have also cooked it stone-cold-frozen on a very hot grill indeed.
more julia for fun
Sing a new song; buy some parchment paper,

50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #50 – Julie Powell – Poached Eggs

Poached Eggs:  They’re not just for breakfast anymore.   Alyce’s  Poached Egg Chef’s Salad

If you saw the movie “Julie and Julia,” you’ll know Julie Powell didn’t like eggs.  While working her way through Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume I in one year, Julie one day had to wake up and smell the eggs.  Yuck.  Something she never cooked.  But eggs were on the list and eggs are what she finally did fix.  And liked.  Who knew?

To begin with, Julie was a young married woman in NYC with a job that was stressful.   She needed more.  She loved to cook.  What else to do but to cook all of Julia Child’s recipes from The Art of French Cooking in a year and blog about it?  The original blog (2002-3?) is still online if you’d like to peruse it; blogs have changed immeasurably since then.  I actually did read it once upon a time…  If you’d like to read quite a bit of it all at once, you can still order the book, Julie & Julia .  As you more than likely are aware, the book became a very popular movie of the same name (2009) that taught everyone I know about  food bloggers.  I no longer ever have to explain what I do with my free (insert eye roll) time; people just say, “Oh, like Julie in Julie and Julia.”  I just nod my head, “Yes.”  What more can I say? She did change our world.  No doubt at all.  I don’t know how many food bloggers there were in 2005 versus 2012, but a current figure  (wrong/right?)  is over 11,000 in the United States alone.  Smile.

As far as poached eggs go, I’m a fan.  I often blog them:

Egg Salad #2

Alyce’s Asparagus-Mushroom Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Poached Egg #3
Poached Eggs on Grilled Cheese Tomatoes–one of my favorite breakfasts
After the cut.

Don’t know how to poach eggs or are scared?  Ah, gwahhn.  Heat up some water and let those eggs slip naked into the hot tub.   There are ways to make them more perfect, but here’s the easy lesson I posted in my Dinner Place blog, which is all about cooking for one person: 

Alyce’s Method for Poaching Eggs:

1. In a deeper small skillet or saucepan, heat 3″ water to boiling.  Turn down the heat to simmer and add a small splash of white vinegar (1 tsp) if you have any.  You don’t want a big boil here, the whites will fly all through the water.

2.  Crack one egg into a ramekin or tea cup and tip the egg slowly and gently into the water, holding the cup in place for a couple of seconds as the egg begins to set.  Repeat with second egg a certain distance away so that the whites, if possible, aren’t touching.  Either let simmer for 3 minutes or so (occasionally spooning hot water over yolk if you like)  or, alternately, turn heat off and cover tightly for 3-5 minutes, depending on how set you like your eggs.  3 for runny yolks, 5 for firm.  Approximately.

Not perfect, but perfectly edible.  Just add salsa.
I like my eggs “eye ball” set (haven’t drawn hot water over tops) and quite runny — often for salad dressing or part of anyway.   Most people want the yolk completely masked–above.

3.  Remove each egg from its bath using a slotted spoon or spatula and tap the spatula gently on a towel or paper towel to remove excess water before sliding the egg onto the plate.

4.  Season well with salt and pepper.   Eat immediately.

A couple of tips:  Room temperature eggs crack more easily than cold eggs; you have less chance of shell fragments.  Also:  crack  your eggs on a flat surface, not on the edge of the pan.  You can also buy egg poachers (metal cups with long handles on legs) or silicone poachers for the microwave.  I’ve never tried either gizmo, so let me know if you like them.

Here’s my equipment:

And, of course, tasty eggs–all sizes!

We can raise chickens right in the city here in St. Paul.  These are from Cathy Velasquez-Eberhart and her ladies.

Here’s my copy–a first edition even.

Julia’s Method

 Notice that Julia Child was always “Julia Child” until the movie came out.  Now she’s just Julia.  Kind of like Just Joan. (“Jewel of the Nile” l985–Kathleen Turner)  Well, maybe not!

Just for grins, I’m going to look up Julia’s instructions. Hold on.  Whoa.  This is all coming back to me.  If you’ve the book (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I), it’s on pages 116-117.  Yes, it’s two pages of instructions that you’re welcome to.  I make my instructions short and simple; you’ll learn technique and improve your eggs over time IF you’re a beginning cook or even an accomplished cook who hasn’t made poached eggs.  Not that my technique is better (cough cough), but while I’m wordy, I’m not quite as wordy as Julia—usually. 

One biggy is that even Julia admits you might want to make a 6 minute (boiled) egg instead of poached.  (Not likely for me.)  She also wants you to use fresh eggs, which are worth hunting for.  Check out your Farmer’s Market if you can’t find eggs any other way.  You can then set up a schedule to buy eggs from that person throughout the year.  I trade things for my eggs–things like baked cookies, granola, homemade ice cream sauces, etc.  You could try trading a service even.  Often, however, the eggs are no more expensive than quality eggs from the store.

One thing Julia writes is that if you need to keep the eggs for any length of time, place the cooked eggs in ice water.  You can store them in the frig like that.  Later, to heat them, slide them into salted hot water for 30 seconds. This is perfect if you’d like to have some friends for Sunday brunch.  You fix your poached eggs on Saturday, and do the hollandaise and English muffins (oven) on Sunday.
Or what if you’d like to do a few eggs for yourself for weekday breakfasts?  Do them Sunday afternoon and eat them Monday-Tuesday.

A Couple of Thoughts About Eggs 

We eat a lot of eggs and while they have a bad rap for cholesterol, so far we have no problems as we ease on toward 59.  I encourage young or new cooks to make eggs.  They are easy, fast, accessible, and inexpensive protein.   They store well.  They travel beautifully (if boiled.)  You can do all kinds of things with them!  In two minutes flat, you have an omelet and you can put nearly anything in the frig or pantry into it.  In twenty, you’ve cooked a dozen, boiling, and you  have lunches for work done.  Go eggs.

Want more about Julie Powell?

Watch a great video of Jacques Pepin and Julia Child poaching eggs together.  Julia uses the metal egg poacher with the long handle!  HA HA!!
Read Amanda Hesser’s 2003 NYT article about Julie Powell’s “web log or ‘blog'”
NYT 2009 updated article on Powell
Julie’s 2010 blog
Wiki biography
Time Magazine, 2010–Julie becomes a butcher.


With this post,  I give a low bow and fine thanks to our great group of bloggers writing about Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Game-Changers in Food as we come to the tail end of our project.  A few folks will write another post summing up the whole 50 or writing about someone spectacular who didn’t make the list (Marion Cunningham for me), but mostly this is our last hurrah.    I joined the group late, but have enjoyed all of my experience and am thankful for all of the learning, camaraderie, and fun…  Please take time to visit the other fine bloggers and see what they made for “Julie” week — or any other week, for that matter.


Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo, Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen, Annie – Most Lovely Things, Jeanette – Healthy Living
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table
Kathy – Bakeaway with Me, Martha – Simple Nourished Living, Jill – Saucy Cooks
Sara – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

Several of us plan to begin another blogging venture (though I’m about to put the blog on vacation and join up a little later) featuring the 38 healthiest foods featured in 

Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients by The Editors of Whole Living Magazine (Dec 28, 2010)

I hope you’ll join us!

Sing a new song and poach a new egg,