Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cool Nights Mean Warm Dinners

This must be family favorites week for us. It was sooo hot for so long this summer, that now we're taking advantage of the cool weather with hot meals. Tonight, we enjoyed French cuisine in the form of Beef Burgundy and French Bread (homemade, of course). Not being consumers of alcoholic beverages, I substitute white grape juice or apple juice for the wine. I like the white grape juice best, so that's what I use most of the time. You can also use it in fondue to replace the wine, it works great! Here are the recipes:

Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)--aka "Mushroom Meat" at our house!

¼ lb. salt pork                           2 lb. lean beef cut into 2” cubes
1 ½ t. salt                                  coarse ground pepper
2 T. flour                                   1 ½ c. apple cider or white grape juice
1 clove garlic, crushed               1 lb. pearl onions, peeled
1 lb. mushrooms                        1 Tablespoon parsley                                  
3-4 large carrots                       1 bay leaf
½ t. thyme

Place all the ingredients in a large slow cooker. Cook on high for about 6 hours or low for about 8. Skim off fat and remove bay leaf. Sprinkle with additional parsley, if desired.

I use frozen pearl onions when I'm short of preparation time. I also substitute bacon for the salt pork.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Serve with French bread and a green salad.

French Bread--aka "Symphony of Crackle" (from Ratatouille)

6 cups flour                                   1 Tablespoon cornmeal
1 Tablespoon yeast                        1 egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons salt                       1 Tablespoon water
2 cups warm water

   If you prefer to use a bread machine, follow the manufacturers directions to prepare the dough. 
   In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir in 2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using dough hooks in a stand mixer. Stir in as much of remaining flour as possible.
   On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make stiff dough. Knead for about 8-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. 
   Punch down dough and divide in half. Roll each half into a large rectangle; roll up from long edge. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
   Lightly grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat egg white and water and brush on. Cover with a cloth and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
   Preheat oven to 375 degree F. With a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes across the tops of the loaves. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until bread is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped.
   Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

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