We all have those spots online that we have to check everyday, one of my must stop points is amazon.com, you really can find anything there. From books and dvd's to fancy French salt you can find it there. I'm a big fan! It even picks things out for me to buy, that is so sweet, just like my own personal shopper. I have discovered a few new and coming soon cookbooks that are must haves!
When it comes to the organic slow food movement there is only one person, Alice Waters. She is one of the three people that did more for cooking and food in American than anybody else... the others are Julia Child and James Beard. But you all knew that already, right...? Her new book is a must have and is filled with easy, flavorful and amazing recipes. Also check out her website and see Alice and other famous chefs make some simple green foods.
Another new cookbook is one of those books that is even more than just a cookbook. You will want to sit down and enjoy each and every page of this book, just take it all in. John Besh is a New Orleans chef that loves his city and the food of the region. Shrimp Creole, White Chocolate and Meyer Lemon Semifreddo with Vanilla-Poached Berries, Louisiana Blackfish with Sweet Corn and Caviar, Grilled Watermelon, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Salad and what could be more New Orleans than a Crawfish Boil.
Williams-Sonoma always puts out fantastic books and coming in July is "Cooking from the Farmers Market"
And so new to the list it doesn't even have a cover picture yet is Ina Gardens, the Barefoot Contessa's newest book "How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips" I love Ina and is pretty much the only one that is still watchable on the Food Network, she is always so lovely and everything she makes is simple but amazing. Can't wait for this one to arrive to my doorstep!
Another month down and a brand new one on the horizon. You know what they say, April showers, bring May flowers. Well in the Northwest it doesn't mean a whole lot and I never liked that saying since my birthday is in April, and for the record it ALWAYS rains on my birthday. But with another month means a new NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) the way to give some of us a swift kick to start blogging again.
Every moment of the day that I am not working or cooking is now devoted to getting ready for the 2010 Tour de French Cuisine that is now only 2 months away (insert scream) but I am going to do my best. After all who needs to sleep?
And luckily I have my blogging buddies from back in January, tut-tut from Inside the Shell, and Betty from La France Profonde to enjoy the journey... so here we go again.... (maybe we should have picked a shorter month?)
It is said that if you do something every day for 21 days it becomes a habit. After surviving the month of December (well barely) and neglecting my little blog I decided I needed to take some serious action. A fellow blogger, Pacific Northwesters and (my favorite part) resident of France Betty posted on her blog that she was taking part in the NaBloPoMo where you blog every day of a selected month so it was the perfect push I needed.
I made it through the month and posted every day and it even got me to finish (well almost) the Tour de French Cuisine 2009 and since it was growing to the size of 18 pages and close to 10,000 words it was the perfect chance to finish it and get it posted it piece by piece.
Like my buddy Betty said it is even better done with some friends so that you we can cheer each other along. Betty and her fantastic blog La France Profonde and Tut-Tut from Inside the Shell were my partners in our little endeavor.... and Tut-Tut has even suggested we do it for February as well..... well after all it is a short month.... I just may do it....
If you want to take part in February you can sign up here, and let me know if you do. I just might do it again this month.
January 28th would have been the French author Colette's 137th birthday. The beloved French novelist was born in Saint-Sauveur en Puisaye, Yonne in the Burgundy region of France in 1873. She began writing under a pen name of her first husband "Willy".But one of her most famous and well loved books maybe her "Claudine" series of books. (I know, it was a easy love for me) Starting with Claudine a l'ecole in 1900, then Claudine a Paris in 1901, Claudine en menage in 1902 and Claudine s'en va in 1903. At the time these books were somewhat shocking in France, but today they stand up to the ages.
She later went on to write Gigi which was also made into a movie staring the fantastic Leslie Caron
Colette died in 1954 and was given a full state funeral in Paris and was burried at the Pere Lachaise Cemeteryin Paris along side some of the most famous people in French history and Jim Morrison...
Just about one of the best stores for all things cooking is Williams-Sonoma. A store started by Chuck Williams after visiting Paris in the early 1950's and seeing all the fantastic cookware they had, he decided that here in the United States we needed something like that as well. In 1956 he opened a small store in Sonoma California and as they say, the rest is history. Recently the CBS Sunday Morning show had a profile on Chuck Williams, now 92 years old and still going to work every day. He still oversees cookbooks and even products and will hopefully have many many years to keep on doing that.
Williams Sonoma has always had a reputation of high quality linens, gadgets and anything else you would ever need for the kitchen. If you need a truffle slicer or an angel food cake knife, there is only one place to go... enjoy the video below of this American treasure Chuck Williams and Williams Sonoma.
Now that you have your Le Creuset cookware or you just have it on your list to pick some up, you may need some inspiration to cook in it. At first I thought I would give you a list of good things, then I realized that just about everything I made during the 2008 and 2009 Tour de French Cuisinecould be made in one piece or another.
You can of course make just about anything from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking but there are also a few cookbooks from Le Creuset. Each book has recipes for specific pieces of cookware so you are covered. But my very favorite thing and something I crave all the time just may be Boeuf Bourguignon. This is the recipe I made during the 2009 Tour de French Cuisine and adapted it be a little bit faster. Just seeing the picture I will need to make this again
Boeuf Bourguignon jeuner acheminet (fast forward)
Adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961)
Time: About 3 hours (normally 5 to 6 hours)
One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon or 6 or 7 strips of bacon
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
18 to 24 small white onions
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms.
1. Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3. Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
4. Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.
5. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust). Remove casserole and turn oven down to 375 degrees.
6. Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind and small onions. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 2 hours. Turn up the heat to 415 degrees and continue to cook until the meat is tender and a fork pierces it easily about 45 minutes to an hour more.
7. While the beef is cooking, prepare the mushrooms. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add mushrooms and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.
9. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.
When it comes to cookware there is nothing better than Le Creuset. The French cookware that was started in 1925 by two Belgian industrialists names Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq. Desaegher was a casting expert and Aubecq was an specialist in enameling. The created the first round French Oven or Cocotte as their signature piece and is still to this day their most popular piece. Le Creuset is still made in the same factory in the same town in Northern France, Fresnoy le Grand in the Picardie region just 120 miles outside of France.
In the 1930's the first color Flame (orange) came out and has been followed by many colors over the years. My favorite is the Cherry (red) and I have more pieces then one person should have. The best thing about Le Creuset is that if it is treated properly it will last forever and in France is passed down generations. There are a lot of cast iron enameled cookware out there, but make no mistake, there is only one Le Creuset and none of the other ones compare to the quality and longevity of Le Creuset, not even Martha's.
The Le Creuset label has a wide range of products from the flagship enamel lined French oven to grill pans and stoneware to cooking utensils. My newest pieces from Christmas is a Saucier pan and a Pate Terrine and I can't wait to use them. But now I have my eye on the French Onion soup bowls and maybe some petite berry casseroles to add to the collection.
Oh and by the way it is pronounced Luh CRU-say....
When you have a long hair cat there is a bit of maintenance that comes with them. Lots and lots of brushing so the big ugly mats don't take root and become massive mats overnight. Well she is pretty good when we brush close to her head but she is not a big fan of us trying to get the rest of her. So every 9 or 10 months when it gets pretty bad she goes in for a little haircut. She comes out half the size as when she went in and is cute as a button.....
I can't keep my hands off of her, in fact I must go find her now.....
these are magic words to me, how I love thee glitter..... this is the time of the year that I start to cover just about everything in the little pieces of love. In October its pumpkins, skulls and skeletons, chandeliers and even cakes are not immune to the treatment. And soon it will be turkeys and more pumpkins and lets not even start on Christmas.... When I go into just about any store I look at things through glitter glasses and think "how would that look covered in glitter" I have been able to find some pretty great treasures this way and a recent trip to Joann's scored a little jackpot.
Just down from the holiday section was a bunch of plain wood decorative pieces meant to be painted. When I saw these little wood chandeliers and they were on sale for $2.99 I knew I had to have a few. A fresh coat of orange glitter and they now fit in perfectly with the 2008 Martha halloween chandeliers. Now I have about 5 more to cover, I am thinking some for Christmas will be perfect.... I better go back and get some more
In case you need more glitter ideas make sure to check out Martha Stewart.com and if you hurry you can get some glitter on sale this week at Michael's crafts.
In other exciting Glitter news I was very happy to be selected for one of Martha's Craft House Parties and can't wait to get the box of goodies to share with my friends on November 7th.