Sunday’s Dinner Francais: Leek & Turnip Gratin, Beef Bourguignon & French Apple Tart

A gorgeous table

This weekend has been cold and snowy, the kind of weather that makes me feel like hibernating and cooking! This is good, as Margo and I had also planned a collaborative Sunday dinner to introduce her beau to the Brit, but although they will be joining us for dinner, she called to say that their daytime plans had been changed to taking her mom to Kaiser. Understandable.

We started out Friday on an excursion to a local meat market who shall remain nameless, as aside from the humorous factor- when Margo asked the young man if they had any goose, he replied “Grey Goose?”- was a big disappointment. For months I have heard Margo rave about this market, but rather than head all the way out to Highlands Ranch, we visited their second store in Aurora, which was closer to my house.  If we do decide to try it again, we will drive the extra 15 minutes. The staff knew nothing of their products and the shop smelled of frozen fish defrosting.

That said, we did purchase 2 pounds of their stew beef, which looked nice and was marked all natural, hormone free. I asked if it was grass fed and one kid said yes and the other said no, so who knows?

I actually began the dinner last night before we went out. I made the marinade and put the beef in it, covered it and refrigerated it over night. In actuality, the meat marinated for 16 hours.

I surfed online and looked at about a dozen recipes for Beef Bouruignon. Naturally, I had to consult Julia (, who introduced this great dish to the States. I also consulted Simply Recipes ( and Oprah- who knew she cooked?- and finally All Recipes

Here is my version:


1 ½ bottles Red Wine (I used 1 bottle of Cabernet and  ½ a bottle of Carmenere)

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

2 onions, thinly sliced

2 sprigs Thyme

11 Bay Leaf, crumbled

2 Tblsp Parsley, with stems

¼ tsp ea: ground allspice, nutmeg and cloves

Marinade in refrigerator overnight (from 5p-10a )

Main Ingredients:

2 lbs good, lean stew meat, in large cubes

½ lb Centercut Applewood  Smoked Bacon, cut into a small dice

2 carrots, thinly sliced

2 parsnips, thinly sliced

10-12  Pearl Onions, peeled

About 12-14 mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas, because I love them and they were in the house, but if it wasn;t so cold out, I might have ran and grabbed some Chanterelles. You can also use Button Mushrooms or even Shitakes.) Separate caps from stems and chop stems.

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 can Tomato Paste

1 can Beef Broth

1/2 cup Courvoisier


Heat a large non-metallic Dutch Oven (such as a Le Creuset) and add chopped bacon. Pour in enough water to cover up to ¼ inch and cook, stirring often and scraping bottom of pot, until crispy. About 15 minutes. Remove onto paper towel and set aside.

Pour about ½ of the fat out of the oven and add drained beef cubes in batches. Brown on all sides and set aside. About 10 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, remove onions from marinade and add to the Dutch Oven. Add carrots, parsnips and chopped mushroom stems. Cook until soft and fragrant, stirring often and scraping bottom of pan. About 10-15 minutes.

Add garlic and cook another minute or two, then pour in the Courvoisier and ignite.  Allow flames to die out, stirring from the bottom to dislodge any remaining browned bits.

Return bacon and beef to the Dutch Oven, add mushroom caps and pearl onions and pour marinade in.  Stir in the can of tomato paste and the beef broth. Mix well. Bring to a simmer then cover with tight fitting lid.

My oven has a Slow Cook feature,  so I placed it in the oven with the Slow Cook setting on low around 1p to cook for an additional 5 hours. If using a traditional oven, I would preheat it to 200 and keep it in the oven for 3-5 hours.

Once removed from the oven, 5 hours later, I made a roux out of 3 Tbsp Butter and 2 of flour, since at this point, calories and health factors have long been set aside! I stirred the roux into the Dutch Oven, right before serving.

I have to say that I rarely make dishes that involve so many steps in preparation.  None of them were difficult though and I can’t be certain if it was the quality of the beef, the duration of the marinade, the length of time in the Slow Cook oven or a combination of all three, but the end result was incredibly tender and absolutely divine.

My vegetable dish came courtesy of French Women Don’t Get Fat: Basically I cleaned and chopped two Leeks and 3 Turnips, then steamed them for 15 minutes.

The vegetables were then put in a buttered Gratin Dish and topped with 2 eggs beaten with  1 Tbsp Dijon, 4 Tbsp Half and Half and 1/8 cup finely chopped Lemon Almonds. I then sprinkled an additional 1/8 cup of chopped Almonds and 4 Tbsp Grated Parmesan.

The dish was baked at 400 for 15 minutes.

The only changes I made in this dish were to use Organic Half and Half, in lieu of Sour Cream and Chopped Lemon Almonds, rather than Walnuts, due to the contents of my refrigerator and pantry. I will make this again, as it was quite good and everyone had second helpings, but next time I would use bread crumbs in lieu of chopped nuts.

Desert was courtesy of a blog called Green Apples. I have never visited this woman Nichol’s blog before, but I love the fact that she gives the recipe along with notes “I never do this” and “I don’t bother with that”. My kinda girl.  Here is the link to her recipe:

I am not a baker and I found this quick and easy to make, as well as delicious. That said, the 1 1/2 sticks of butter, along with the sugar definitely make it a once in a great while treat.

Essentially you just cut the stick and a half of butter into small pieces and put 2 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt and 1 Tbsp Sugar into the bowl of a Food Processor with a knife blade and pulse to combine. Then with the Processor running you add 1/2 cup Ice Water slowly through the Feed Tube.  After it is finished you simply make it into a ball, wrap in Saran Wrap and put it in the refridgerator for at least an hour.

Upon removing it from the refrigerator you roll it out with a rolling pin until it is about 1/8 inch thick. I rolled mine into a circle, fitted it into a 12 in Spring-form  and rolled the ends until they formed a circular piece of trim, if you will, about half way down the side of the Spring-Form pan.

I then peeled and cored 3 Granny Smith Apples, sliced them thinnly (about 1/4 in) and I placed them in a circular fan like fashion. This and the Spring-form pan, are a deviation from Nichol’s recipe, but it also made the clean up a lot easier.

I did follow her recipe by putting pats of butter all over my tart, but I deviated slightly on the sugar.  Nichol used 1/2 cup white sugar; I sprinkled a few Tbsp’s of Brown Sugar over the top, then dusted the apples with Cinnamon, topped that with 1/4 cup White Sugar and then drizzled Maple Syrup (probably just 1 Tbsp) over that.

I threw this in the pre-heated 400 oven, as soon as I removed the Leek and Parsnip Gratin, as it needed to cook for an hour.

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