Monday, 17 October 2011

Following Julia's Footsteps

After a roasting hot summer and a warm sunny autumn, today has been hard to cope with. It has been the sort of day, when from the start you just want to stay in bed with your jammies on, enjoying a steaming cup of tea. That is not how today came to a start. Being very brisk this morning, I got up, went to my lecture, but to my (and some other's) dissapointment it was cancelled. I did not have my library card with me either. I went back home and did nothing, until it was time for work. Very productive.

On a day like these there are only a few things that will cheer you up. Beef stew is one of them. I am not speaking about any old beef stew. I am speaking about Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon - probably the most famous beef stew in the world. My Mum used to make this at the Island in our woodburning stove. Back then I did not know how famous the dish actually was. I remember it being fully flavoured with beef, bacon, red wine, shallots and mushrooms served with steamed rice. Exactly like Julia's recipe. Exactly how I make it nowadays. I just tend to serve it with mashed potatoes - made with the Boyfriend's strict instructions. Never knew how specific Scottish can be with mashed potatoes.

Realising that this is the first Julia Child recipe I am cooking for the blog is quite a shock. I have to reveal to you one of the reasons for starting this blog - Julie & Julia. The film must be every foodie's secret fantasy - in some way. Julie Powell did what most food bloggers aspire to.

Without further introduction...

Original scanned recipe can be found here.

100 g diced pancetta
1 tbsp olive oil
400 g lean diced beef
6 shallots
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp plain flour
300 ml Beaujolais, Burgundy or Côte du Rhône
300 ml beef stock
1 tbsp tomato puree
150 g button mushrooms
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried Herbes de Provence
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Fry the pancetta until browned. Transfer to a casserole. Add olive oil to the pan and brown the beef in the pan. Season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to the casserole. Fry the shallots, button mushrooms and garlic in the pan. Transfer to the casserole. Stir the flour into the remaining fat in the pan. If the pan is really dry, add some beef stock. Pour the wine, stock and tomato puree into the frying pan and bring to the boil. Stir until smooth. Transfer to the casserole. Add the bay leaf and dried herbs. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours or until the beef is very tender. Season to taste. Serve with mashed potatoes or steamed rice.

One of my dear friends, who happens to be a pescetarian, is coming to Scotland for a visit. You can guess that this will result to some very yummy seafood and veggie dishes. The Boyfriend has not been a big fan of vegetarian foods in the past, so it is finally time to change his mind. Quite excited that butternut squash and pumpkin is in season, so you will see some of them. Thinking about something including goat's cheese and beetroot - a flavour souvenir from New York from last February. I think it is time for me to get to know kale a bit better. Something including kale and feta cheese in filo pastry springs into mind. Also, there will most certainly be a veggie version of the very famous and very unhealthy full Scottish breakfast.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

C'est La Vie...

Too much booze and not enough food lately has resulted in not enough blog posts. Having settled back in Aberdeen, it is time to get cooking a storm and invite a new neighbour, but an old friend for a French Bistro style dinner party. I have been running around all day trying to find mussels and scallops from Aberdeen. The funny thing is Aberdeen is right on the coast of North Sea. You would think that seafood would be plentiful in the markets and shops, but no. I remember watching a document on fishing in the North Sea and Atlantic and how it correlates with the variety of seafood offered in supermarkets. For example, langoustines are more than plentiful in the oceans, but they never end up in supermarkets, since the Great British population won't buy it.
Nevertheless my French Bistro style evening at the Bistro d'Orme Banque was a success. For starters I served Scallops wrapped in Prosciutto with Balsamic Glaze. The main was the classic Salmon en Papillote, served with a Puy Lentil Cassoulet, Buttered Baby Potatoes and a Bistro Salad. For dessert I served the classic crowd pleaser Crème brûlée with a hint of Cardamon.


3 scallops per person
same amount of slices of prosciutto

Pull away and discard the viscera and frilled membrane. Gently rinse the scallops in cold running water. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each scallop. Fry for 5 minutes each side in a pan with a drop of olive oil. Serve with salad and balsamic glaze.


1 skinless salmon fillet per person
vine ripened tomatoes
1 garlic clove
flat leaf parsley, chopped
a splash of white wine
2 tbsp double cream
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the salmon fillet and tomatoes on a big piece of greaseproof paper. Add the the whole garlic clove, parsley, white wine, double cream and salt and black pepper to taste. Fold up the paper to make a parcel. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.


100 ml full fat milk
300 ml double cream
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp ground cardamon
5 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
demerara sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat the oven to 95°C. Heat up milk and cream in a saucepan. Season with vanilla sugar and ground cardamon. Whip the sugar and egg yolk into a firm mixture. Carefully combine the egg and sugar mixture into the milk and cream. Pour the mixture into small ramekins. Cook in the oven for 45-60 minutes or until the crème brûlées are fully cooked - just set but a bit wobbly in the middle. Cool in the fridge over night. Sprinkle demerar sugar on top of the créme brûlées and caramelise with a chef's torch blow. Alternatively caramelise in the oven under the grill.