If you like food and you haven't heard of Julie Powell and her Julie & Julia project, you've been under a rock for the past three months. Her story has been everywhere. The brief synopsis: Disillusioned blogger sets out to cook every recipe (all 524 of 'em) in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking
) in one year and blog about it. The blog prompted a book (Julie & Julia
), which prompted a movie (Julie & Julia
), released this summer.
During the height of the hoopla, I borrowed my friend Christine's copy of MtAoFC
and immediately fell in love. It's not just a book of recipes, but a textbook for learning basic French techniques. I bought my very own copy last weekend, and I knew what I wanted to cook first: beef bourguignon (beef stew in red wine, with bacon, onions and mushrooms).
I love cooking with wine because I love the flavor it imparts in savory dishes. I also like drinking the wine I'm cooking with. I thought last week's cold spell the perfect setting for a hearty dish like a beef stew, which, conveniently, wouldn't take that many dishes, so cleanup would be easy. Sunday night, I gathered up the ingredients I'd need to channel Julia Child and make a proper French dinner.
The dish starts by cutting bacon into lardons and then boiling these to get rid of the smokiness. While the bacon was simmering, I prepped the carrots and onions and dried off the beef. Without drying the beef, it would be hard to get a nice brown sear. When the bacon was done, I drained it and then fried it in the bottom of my heavy casserole dish. I then removed the bacon and browned the beef chunks in the bacon fat in small batches.
This took FOREVER. This was also when I realized that it didn't feel like fall was on the way. Somehow it was muggy and hot on this, the day I needed to slave over a hot stove, and I was sweating like a whore in church. I could feel the potential zits rubbing their pimple-hands under my skin, just waiting to emerge triumphantly.
Part of my concept of what being a foodie entails is being able to cook well. I think I'm a decent home cook. I cook mostly from scratch, and I love being in the kitchen, but dishes that take a long time or have a complicated ingredient list intimidate me, mostly because I have the attention span of a gnat. As part of the Novice Foodie, I'll be tackling both notorious and difficult (for me) recipes as both a learning experience and an exercise in humility.