My sister Barb came downtown to visit today - we'd planned a day around cooking a fantastic dinner so she arrived late morning so we could decide what to make and shop for the ingredients at the nearby St. Lawrence Market.
Over pastries and coffee we pored over cookbooks looking for something challenging that neither of us had tried before. We decided on the classic French dish Boeuf Bourguignon - a delicious stew of beef, bacon, pearl onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, and of course lots of red wine and Cognac to make it even more decadent. For a side we thought mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and crispy leeks would do nicely. And a couple of bottles of Bordeaux wine, naturally.
After a full day of grocery shopping and hanging around the city we started on dinner, which we knew was going to take a good three hours (two hours of which was simply letting the beef braise in the oven). If you ever decide to make Boeuf Bourguignon, be aware of the time commitment and that between all the chopping and stages of cooking it's helpful to have two people involved in the process. Barb and I had never cooked a meal together before but we did quite well in my admittedly small kitchen. As I fried the bacon, she washed and sliced mushrooms, then she took over sauteing the beef chunks as I measured out beef stock and flour. We decided not to flambe the Cognac - visions of my condo going up in flames - but we added it anyway knowing that most of the alcohol would cook off anyway.
Three hours after we started, after having already polished off a bottle of wine, dinner was served, and I have to say, it was excellent. The boeuf bourguignon was hearty, stick-to-the-ribs good, and the creamy mashed potatoes with leeks were divine. I'd never made mashed potatoes with leeks before but the combination is fantastic.
We finished it all off with a sinfully rich chocolate raspberry cake from one of the Market bakeries.
Now that is what I call a perfect meal.
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