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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Beef Bourguignon | Trip Down Memory Lane

Beef Bourguignon

This is a post I wrote four years ago, in January, just after we were married, and just before we moved to Mass and got pregnant with Emma.  There are not many photos or posts that I look back on from four years ago and love.  Usually I am too critical of my developing (sub-par?) photography skills and undeveloped styling skills.  Not this post.  1) The recipe is goooooood.  2) It brings me right back to that moment in our lives, in our first house.

I don't wish for a second that I was back at that pre-family stage of our life, but I do miss being settled in our home - a home that we worked so hard on, were so proud of and comfortable in.  There is something about your first home that will never be like another.  We did all of our house projects ourselves - each project was just a weekend, a couple hundred dollars and a trip to Home Depot away.  While I feel so fortunate that we're now in a place that we can actually have a professional do the work for us, sometimes I miss those DIY transformations we were able to do ourselves in a weekend.  We will definitely have some little projects to do ourselves, but for the most part all of the big stuff we be done for us.  Maybe our contractor will let me help with the tiling : )

If you want to join me in my little trip down memory lane, see photos the from our first house, here.

From January 2011:

Beef Bourguignon sounds complicated and intimidating.  Or at least I thought it did.  Until I made it, and discovered it was just beef stew with herbs and red wine.  What makes it even better is that it is done all in one pot, and it makes the house smell amazing.

French Beef Stew 
(Beef Bourguignon)

2-3 pound Chuck Roast
3 tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons of sea salt
2 teaspoons of pepper
4 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of red wine
5 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of rosemary (dried or fresh)
1 bunch of fresh thyme
4 bay leaves
1 cup of carrots, 1-inch dice
1 cup of potatoes, 1-inch dice
1 cup of mushrooms, 1-inch dice
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
1 loaf of crusty french bread (baguette)
1 clove of garlic (raw)

Coat the Chuck Roast with olive oil, salt & pepper.  Heat a large dutch oven on the stove top for 2 minutes, then sear the roast for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Add stock, wine, garlic, and herbs.  Cover and put it in the oven for 4 hours at 225 degrees.

After 4 hours of cooking, add the carrots, potatoes and mushrooms.  Cook for for 30-45 minutes longer.  Remove from the oven.  Place the pot on the stove, and remove the roast from the stock and wine sauce, placing it on a platter.  Cover and let it cool for 10 minutes.   Leave the sauce (with herbs and vegetables) in the pot on the stove.

Meanwhile, thicken the sauce (that remained in the pot) by microwaving 2 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons of flour to the butter, stirring it until smooth.  Whisk it into the sauce until smooth.  Cook on medium heat until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken.  You may add another batch of the thickening mixture, if you desire.

Remove the fat and bones from the Chuck Roast.  Shred the beef into large pieces back into the sauce.

To serve, slice the baguette, then toast it a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Rub the piece of raw garlic onto each piece.  Place one piece into the bottom of each soup bowl and ladle in the beef stew.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Coeur a la Creme | Recipe & Photos

Oh, you guys are in for a treat.  The result was so creamy and light, but full - almost like a very moist and creamy cheesecake... but much softer and much more luscious.  It was so simple to make - Emma helped me with the entire thing.  We whipped the cream cheese and powdered sugar, then added the room temp cream cheese and vanilla bean paste... then she scooped it into the cheesecloth lined mold - doing all of the spreading herself.  

So many times there is a lot she can help with, but I have to do some of the intricate work (much to her resistance), but this she did all by herself.  It was nice that it was completely error-proof, there was no way to mess it up.  The mold does all of the work for you - as long as she got (most of) the filling in the mold, it was perfect.

While Valentine's Day is a romantic holiday, when you have kiddos it becomes a family affair, too - and she is going to love presenting this special dessert to Dad after our Valentine's Day dinner.  Of course, as it is still three weeks away, we'll need to make another one ; )

The Coeur a la Creme Molds ($14.50) are officially in stock in my store, ready to ship.  So for those of you that ordered earlier this week, yours are on the way.  If you order now (I think only 20 or so are left?) they can be sent out today.

I followed the Barefoot Contessa's recipe (link below, her photo to the left), which was very very simple.  The only thing I substituted was using my Vanilla Bean Paste ($12) instead of using seeds scraped from a Vanilla Bean.  I used 2 teaspoons of the paste, but next time I think I'll double it for a bigger vanilla impact.

The raspberry sauce was a cinch to make, too.  You simple cook raspberries and sugar with a little bit of water for 4 minutes, then processes in food processor with raspberry jam.  I only had 1/2 cup of strawberry jam (instead of 1 cup of raspberry), and it still worked great.  I also did not add the Grand Marnier, because we were sampling on a Tuesady morning ; )

Here is the link to The Barefoot Contessa's Coeur a la Creme recipe.

Here is the mixture all wrapped up after sitting in the fridge over night.

I put the platter on top, then flipped it over.

Then just pulled the mold off.

And took off the cheesecloth to reveal the nice little pattern.

I did the raspberry sauce without Emma's help... boiling fruit and sugar + toddlers does not mix well.  She would've had her fingers in it... I know I could hardly help myself!

Then we poured the sauce all the way around and scattered raspberries.

I love the way the sauce spread into the scalloped edges of the platter.

For a dinner party, I would just scoop big spoonfuls on everyone's plate and serve extra raspberry sauce on the side in a little pitcher for them to pour over.

You'll be so impressed by how simple and delicious this raspberry sauce is.

Sampling time!  It was sooo creamy and rich - almost just like slightly sweetened thick whipped cream.  If you were serving it for a party, you could serve it with little cookies or graham crackers.  I can't wait to try a savory version with herbs and drizzled with honey, served with crackers.  I also think a lemony version would be fun for spring and summer.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lighting Update | My New Obsession, Thanks to Your Suggestions!

This is going to be quick, as I'm running to the house to meet the electrician in a little bit.   Last week I asked for your help choosing light fixtures for the new house/addition.  The one thing I was sure about was my large lantern over the dining, then two smaller versions over the island.  You can read the other details about choices, here.

I received an email from Tessa (Nine and Sixteen, you all know) and she said, I think you should consider something more dramatic over the dining table - something that says, this is its own area.  I thought about it - ok, maybe I would look around and see what I can find.  Maybe an hour or two later, I receive a comment on the post from Caroline (thanks, Caroline!) that contained a couple of links, including this stunning TT Linear Branched 10-Light Chandelier.  Done.  In LOVE.

It is really similar to the scones I selected for our bathroom - which reconfirmed the choice.

My only hesitation is that it is a little more delicate than I had be looking at, but I love everything about it.  I think it will add an elegant feel to that corner of our big room and make it feel special... and I can already see the garland dripping off it at Christmas.

Meanwhile at the house, Mike held our large lantern up in our room and it will be the perfect size to go above our bed.

By holding it where the island will be we decided to go with two of the smaller size there - so glad we had this one to check it out before we had them made... by hand.

Another hardware choice I've "decided" (I say that in quotes because I haven't actually ordered, so you never know if I might change my mind...) is doing porcelain door knobs on our interior doors with oil rubbed bronze.  It is a little different than I had originally thought I would do, but I felt that everything was becoming a little too fancy, and these knobs say country house to me.  I really want our house to feel charming and cozy, unpretentious and comfy.   I feel like these knobs will make it feel like a little bit of a farmy cottage, which I love.   So, painted cream doors, this knob hardware, oil rubbed hinges and brass lighting.   I think it will be a great eclectic, but comfortable mix.

 The debate for Emma's room, Guest rooms and Laundry is still up for debate.  I do like this lantern, though...

Another reader (thanks, Cristina!) shared a resource for these Sandwich Lanterns (also made on Cape Cod) that are made of solid copper.  They are much less expensive than the ones I originally picked, and I love the copper on the back porch.  So, these will be going the length of the porch.

I think I'll also have a couple of these flanking my mudroom french doors, too.

Thank you so much for your help - these picks have made all the difference in my choices!  What an awesome community this is : )  Thank you!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Coeur a la Creme | Cream Cheese, Vanilla Bean & Raspberry Heart-Shaped Dessert

Coeur a la Creme

There are only a couple of things from the Barefoot Contessa that I have yet to try.  When I came downstairs last week ago, Mike's Mom, Joy, had left The Barefoot in Paris cookbook open to the Coeur a la Creme recipe with a note - "You should make for Valentine's Day!"  It is a classic French Dessert that is heart-shaped made with sweetened cream cheese, vanilla beans and whipping cream served with a raspberry sauce.  Yes, I should!
With a little research I found out where to buy them and thought it would make a great addition to my Valentine's Day products.  Not only does Ina have a recipe for the sweet, dessert Coeur a la Creme, but she also has a savory appetizer recipe, as well.  
I love the idea of giving this Heart Shaped Mold as a gift, too, with some of the ingredients to make dessert... Vanilla Bean Paste ($12) and box of fresh raspberries.  Not only for Valentine's Day, this classic French recipe can be made anytime of the year, for any special occasion. 
They are set to arrive here on Thursday, so they will be ready to ship out on Friday.  I am offering pre-ordering for them right now ($14.50), and they will ship out for you on Friday along with the other Valentine's goodies you purchase.

I will share my step-by-step photos with the recipe later this week... doing it this morning, but it sits over night in the fridge!  Have any of you made it before?  I might have to go ahead and make a savory version while I'm at it today, too...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Milk Chocolate Glaze on Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes | Giant Heart Sprinkles & Giant Heart Valentine's

Last night after a long day of packing up boxes for Valentine's Day orders, I asked Mike to pick up Chinese takeout for dinner - I was exhausted.  Fast forward two hours, an order of Hunan Chicken and two Crab Rangoon later, all of a sudden I had a burst of energy that translated itself into the Barefoot Contessa's Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

Instead of using chocolate ganache as icing, I made a Milk Chocolate Glaze - my absolute favorite, also known as Sheet Cake Icing.  It is so simple to make: microwave butter and milk, then add cocoa powder another zap in the microwave, then stir in powdered sugar.  We had some warm from the oven with warm glaze poured over last night, but I saved some to finish today to share with you (in pretty daylight pictures instead of dark night photos). 

To add a little Valentine's Day love, I put an oversized heart-shaped sprinkle on top just as the icing was setting - my newest addition to the store

Mike is a minimalist when it comes to frosting (he's always scraping fluffy frosting off... and giving it to me), but this type of cake (moist, dense, but light at the same time) and topped with a Milk Chocolate Glaze is right up his alley.  I'll definitely be repeating for Valentine's Day - they are the perfect "Manly Cupcake."

Milk Chocolate Glaze

Get my Printable Recipes, here.

1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup of milk
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 cups powdered sugar (desired consistency)

In a microwave safe measuring cup, heat butter and milk in the microwave until butter is melted.  Add cocoa and heat for 30 more seconds, stir vigorously when it comes out to break up any lumps of cocoa.  Stir in powdered sugar, starting with 1 cup at a time, then add more if you'd like it to be thicker. 

Here's photos from last night - the cupcake itself is made with a can of hershey's syrup.  You have to try the recipe, it is such an unbelievable cake.   I wish I would have filled the paper cups a little more, as the batter doesn't rise much at all but this little puff.

Last night's batch of glaze.

Again, would have loved to have the cupcakes filled more, then the glaze would've run ever-so-slightly over the sides... oh my.

Back to photos from this morning - a sweet little heart transforms them to a decadent Valentine's Day dessert.

Heart Sprinkles, $10

These over-sized heart sprinkles come packaged in a large glass jar just like my collection of Sanding Sugars.  I can't wait to show you photos of my baking pantry updated with all of these fun sprinkle jars.

The last day to place orders for Valentine's Day goodies is next Thursday, Feb 6th.

Here is the pin strip for the recipe :

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Meringues on Warm Vanilla Bean Custard with Raspberries | Valentine's Day Dessert

The obvious choice for Valentine's Day is chocolate.  Creamy, smooth and fluffy meringues served on warm Vanilla Bean Custard will be a welcome surprise to your sweetheart.

Meringues on Warm Vanilla Bean Custard

with Raspberries

2 egg yolks
1 cup of light cream
1/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of Vanilla Bean Paste

2 egg whites
1/2 cup of sugar
1 pinch of cream of tarter

1 pint of Berries for serving

To make vanilla cream, whisk together egg yolks, cream, 1/4 cup of sugar, Vanilla Bean Paste.  Cook over low heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly until it thickens slightly.  Remove from heat and set aside.  

To make meringues, in the top bowl of a double boiler (glass bowl sitting on a sauce pan with simmering water), whisk together egg whites, sugar and cream of tarter.  Cook mixture in the double boiler over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes, or until sugar has dissolved.  If you rub the mixture between your fingers, you should be able to tell if the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the mixture to your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk on high for 7-10 minutes.  The mixture will cool and froth into a thick meringue as it whips. 

Dollop a scoop of the mixture onto each dessert plate shaping them into hearts.  You may use a pastry bag to make the heart shapes more perfect.  Toast the meringues with a mini torch, or place them on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.  Pour vanilla cream (still warm, or heated in the microwave) around clouds and top with berries.

I carry the Vanilla Bean Paste in my store, $12... it will last for ever and make all of your baked goodies really special.

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