Ode to Julia Child and her Boeuf Bourguignon recipe

Image from Google

Today, August 15, 2012, would be Julia Child‘s 100th birthday. Julia is a bit of a hero to me. She taught Americans to cook and paved the way for all celebrity chefs. But Julia is inspirational to me for other, more personal, reasons.

Julia Child started her career as an advertising copywriter in New York City. During World War II she joined the US government’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS) where she met her future husband Paul Child (a New Jersey native). It was not until Julia was in her late 30’s that she began to pursue the creative career that would launch her to stardom. Her first, and most famous, cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was published when Julia was 49. Julia began her storied TV career in 1963 when she was already in her 50s.

Having spent many years in the business world pursuing a career in line with my education, I have now taken a different tack. Stepping back from the corporate world, for at least a while, has afforded me the wonderful opportunity to be home with my kids. This change has given me the chance to embrace and develop in myself a creativity that I only suspected existed. Gardening, cooking and food and nature photography have opened up a new world for me. While I have no plans to become a TV chef, learning about Julia and how she was able to completely change her career and forge success in a creative field at a more advanced age gives me hope and inspiration! Who knows where it may lead.

A couple of weeks ago I took on the challenge of making Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon recipe exactly as written. It was not an endeavor I was planning to blog about so I did not take photos of the process. I did, however, take a couple of shots of the finished product. It serves as proof of having managed to successfully recreate this more challenging of recipes. A badge of honor! The resulting dish was exquisite beyond compare. Truly.

The version I present to you below is only slightly adapted. It is already essentially a paleo recipe. I left out the flour to make it gluten-free and cut out a couple of steps related to cooking the flour. I also changed the quantity and type of bacon to make things easier (and because I like bacon!) Obviously the flour would have thickened the sauce but we did not particularly find this to be an issue. The resulting dish is extremely rich and flavorful. It is a great dish to make and then refrigerate to have a following day. The flavors only get better with time. Mmmm.

This recipe is adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961)

Boeuf Bourguignon (Gluten-Free)

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Wild Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce (Autoimmune Paleo Recipe)

From what I have heard, many people have chosen August as a month to follow the “Whole 30″. For those of you who have never heard of it, Whole 30 is essentially a strict version of the paleo diet similar to what I wrote about here. For one solid month there’s no wiggle room with sugar and no “cheats” with grains, legumes or dairy, among other things. It is a pretty drastic elimination diet but can do wonders for health. It is an absolute necessity if you suspect you have food intolerances. But it can also serve as a “reboot” for those of us who have already completed a 30 day (minimum) elimination diet in the past.

I already eat a fairly strict version of the paleo diet most of the time, but I do occasionally indulge in full fat (preferably pastured) dairy and some sugar in the form of things like maple syrup or honey. But in honor of folks following “Strictly Paleo” or “Whole 30″ plans this month, I wanted to post a recipe that will fit right in.

Wild Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce is easy, takes just a few minutes, will provide plenty of protein and Omega-3s and is also approved for those of you following an autoimmune paleo protocol. This means you are not eating nuts, eggs, plants in the nightshades family and certain types of peppers. (See my food matrix)

Even though I used pastured butter when I made this salmon dish recently (as shown in the photos) you can easily substitute ghee* or even olive oil. (Check out this post for an easy way to make ghee in the oven.)

Wild Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce

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Wild Rice with Pistachios and Cilantro

Wild Rice with Pistachios and Cilantro paleoLast week my son Benjamin posted his review of the book “The Hunger Games” followed by a recipe for Hunger Games Lamb Stew with Dried Plums. In the book, the dish is described as being served with wild rice. Now, ordinarily I would not advocate eating a lot of rice. Rice is a grain (some argue wild rice is a grass, but still) so it is not officially part of the Paleo Diet which encourages elimination of grains. Grains are the source of certain anti-nutrients (lectins, phytates, gluten, etc…) that can interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. They are also not as nutrient dense as meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Additionally, grains are high in calories and carbohydrates which is not necessarily what you need when trying to lose weight or maintain your weight.

That having been said, I DO eat rice now and then. The small amount of rice in my diet is usually found underneath a big slab of raw tuna at a sushi restaurant. But when I read about the wild rice dish served with the fictional Lamb Stew with Dried Plums I figured there was little harm in creating a wild rice recipe. My boys are very active and can use energy from starchy carbs. They also think it is super cool to be eating a Hunger Games dish. Even though wild rice still has some of the anti-nutrients found in other grains, it does not contain gluten like wheat, rye or barley. So if you have room in your diet for some starchy carbs now and then, especially if you or your family are very active, then you might consider having wild rice as a side dish. Continue reading

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Paleo Chipotle Chili

Paleo Chipotle Chili
Posting a recipe for Paleo Chipotle Chili today seems especially appropriate. I am traveling back to my home state of Texas for the Paleo FX Symposium 2012 in Austin. It was an early morning for me today, beginning with my 3:30 a.m. alarm, but made better by the pink sunrise highlighting the dark Manhattan skyline upon take-off. The wonders of technology help me finish this post on my flight – thanks to my handy dandy iPad2 (which is only slightly less cool now that the third version is out!)

Before waxing too poetic about sunrises and iPads I’ll get back to the subject at hand -Paleo Chili. Chili may seem sort of obviously Paleo by its nature – lots of meat, a sauce, maybe onions and peppers. But I’m specifically calling this one Paleo to emphasize there are no beans and no sugars and there are a couple of “hidden” veggies. I like to include chopped mushrooms in a lot of my ground beef dishes. It’s a great way to add volume, texture, nutrition and a little extra flavor without a lot of carbohydrates – unlike the beans often found in many chili recipes. The fire roasted green chiles do much the same job while also adding another level of dish appropriate flavor. I have even been known to incorporate finely chopped kale in chili. Well, actually I’m not really “known” for it because I am not sure anyone ever noticed that little trick.
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Roasted Beets with Blood Oranges

beets and blood orangesRoasted Beets has become one of our favorite side dishes. The first time I roasted beets myself was several years ago after purchasing Ina Garten’s cookbook “Barefoot in Paris”. Before going Paleo it was one of my favorite cookbooks. In fact, I liked it so much I stood in line for quite a while to meet Ina and have her sign my copy. See, I’m seriously a fan!

There are still a few recipes in that cookbook that fit with a paleo diet and roasted beets is one of them.

I love beets. See how gorgeous they are. red beetsI think they like having their photo taken. Continue reading

How to Make “Brown” Beef Bone Stock

finished beef bone stockWhen I told my oldest son I was roasting some bones in the oven he looked at me sternly for a few seconds before exclaiming, “Mom, you just keep getting weirder and weirder!” I suppose from the perspective of a 10 year old, the idea of roasting bones, then “painting” them with tomato paste (a bit of a macabre-looking scene to be sure) and then simmering them in a cauldron, um, I mean crock pot, sounds a bit bizarre. But in spite of appearances, there is a method to my (seeming) madness.

In the post How to Make Chicken Stock in Five Minutes I touched on some of the health benefits of eating bone stock. It’s a great “whole” food few of us incorporate into our modern diets. Health benefits are one thing, but when you experience the exquisite flavor of real “brown” beef bone stock you will understand just how worthwhile it is to make it yourself. Store bought stock will never have the same rich flavor and certainly not provide you with the full health benefits.

This recipe is based on one from Emeril Lagasse. I have tweaked the quantities, eliminated the wine and thyme, increased the cooking time and included vinegar to pull the minerals out of the bones for maximum health benefit. You could make bone stock without roasting the bones but it would not have quite the same rich flavor. The process of browning the bones makes for a sophisticated flavor that is beyond compare. This is a classic method chefs use to obtain maximum flavor from bones for use in stocks and sauces.

The recipe makes a fairly significant amount of mineral rich, delicious bone stock which means the invested time and money is well worth it. Continue reading

Rutabaga Hash Browns with Pulled Pork

Turnip Hash BrownsDo you aspire to be one of those people who plans ahead? Would you like to have your weekly meals all laid out in advance? While I know it would save me time and money to do that, the fact is I am not especially talented in this area (can you say ADD?). The following recipe for Rutabaga Hash Browns with Pulled Pork is an exception. Breakfast on the Paleo diet can be a tough transition because we are so used to eating some type of grain in the mornings. But while this recipe will not solve all weekly meal dilemmas, a few quick steps the night before and you will be minutes away from an amazing, delicious, nutritious and inexpensive breakfast the next day.

On a whim (see how I don’t plan!) I bought a waxed turnip. (I previously titled this post “Turnip Hash Browns with Pulled Pork” because I was a little mixed up about the terms. See explanatory post.) According to my crumpled receipt, which I just fished out of the bottom of my purse, I paid $1.52 for this 2.21 lb purple and white beauty. It is lower in overall calories and carbohydrates than white potatoes but high in vitamin C. Before I went to bed I peeled it and put it through the shredder on my food processor. (You could use a box grater.) It went into a big container and then my refrigerator. I ended up with about 7 cups of shredded rutabaga.

shredded turnip for hashbrowns

Next, I rubbed a 3 lb boneless pork butt (cost me $6) with some Tsardust Memories Russian Style Spice Seasoning from Penzey’s. It’s one of the spices I got on my recent trip to a Penzey’s retail store. It’s not critical that you use this exact spice. I was just experimenting and thought it might work well and it did. I also don’t remember the exact measurement but I basically covered the pork in a light layer. (Maybe 1 tablespoon?) The Tsardust Memories mix contains the following spices: salt, garlic, cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg and marjoram. I added about a 1/2 cup of chicken stock (you could use water) and cooked it on low heat overnight.

Here’s what it looked like in the morning: Continue reading

Garlic and Herb-Crusted Pork Loin

This Garlic and Herb-Crusted Pork Loin, inspired by Emeril Lagasse, goes great with my Pomegranate Raspberry Chipotle Sauce and Glaze. Christmas Eve is a perfect time to serve this dish because the red and green colors are so gorgeous and festive. I have also used the sauce to go with beef tenderloin on Christmas Day and it is absolutely delicious. The advantage of serving it with the pork loin is the whiteness of the pork makes a great backdrop to the red sauce. Continue reading

Chicken Liver Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

For years I ate boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cutting off any extra fat with the precision of a skilled surgeon. Fat was the enemy, you see, and the idea of eating organ meats was just anathema. But those days are long gone now that I have been enlightened to the health benefits of eating more than just low fat cuts of animal flesh. Organ meats, including chicken livers, are really high in nutrition. Liver is full of vitamins A and B12, Folate, Pantothenic Acid (B5), iron and selenium – all things our bodies need to function well.*

In spite of this earth-shattering information, my husband, G, has threatened to become a vegan if I try to serve him chicken livers. Now THAT’S quite a threat! But if he were to allow himself to try this recipe for Chicken Liver Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette he would find there’s no need to go to the dark side. The inspiration came from my recent perusal of a Nigella Lawson cookbook. G seemed very interested in said cookbook but I dare say it was Nigella he fancied and not the chicken livers. Nigella’s recipe calls for maple syrup and sherry vinegar but she references a time when raspberry vinegar was all the rage for similar salade tiède on restaurant menus. Since I had some raspberry balsamic vinegar on hand I decided to give it a try and it turned out delicious. Continue reading

Paleo Pecan Pie / Tart

paleo pecan pie tartTexas has a robust pecan industry and, not surprisingly, pecan pie is very popular there. Not far from my hometown is the famous Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas. They have been using Texas pecans since 1896 in their fruitcakes, pecan cakes and pecan pies that ship all over the world. When I was growing up there, pecan trees, which are native to Texas, were in my front yard. I still remember the little old man coming over and using a “pecan picker upper” to harvest some from under our trees.  A few days later he would show up at our doorstep with a homemade pecan pie just for us!  It was his way of saying thanks and the gesture was much appreciated.

Unfortunately, celiac disease or gluten intolerance means having to avoid gluten in a pecan pie even if it comes from a famous bakery, a nice neighbor or a well-meaning host at a party. If you want a standard pecan pie there are about a zillion recipes in cookbooks and online. But almost every one of them will have a wheat flour crust or, minimally, will be chock full of sugar, sugar and more sugar.  “Low carb” recipes often have tons of artificial ingredients that make me think “why bother?”  This recipe is different.  It is not only gluten-free but also takes into account my desire to stay as close to paleo as possible. So gone is the corn syrup, brown sugar and processed white sugar. The filling is sweetened only by dates, applesauce, pure maple syrup and a little molasses. Oh and there’s a bit of rum too. But that’s optional. Sort of. Continue reading