It was recently my birthday…I have hit my last year of my 20s and to be honest it does not bother me at all. I have never been the sort of person who plans her life around her age I have always just gone with the flow and taken the opportunity that life has given me– and I have found that has suited me very well indeed.
However, I would be lying if I did not admit that I had a few episodes of anxiety running up to my birthday and a few niggling brain gremlins that I couldn’t keep quite in my more vulnerable moments. “What, your almost 30 and you don’t have a career?”, “This is the time to be making a name for yourself and start really making money!”, “What exactly do you contribute to society?”, “What are you doing with your life?”, “where is that bikini body you keep talking about?”….and the list continues!
But I woke up on my birthday and realised that I have never been happier! I have an amazing boyfriend who I am incredibly in love with, I live in a country which really interests me, my family are happy and healthy and I have fantastic friends dotted around the world who care for me and whom I can count on – really what more could you ask for?
However, what did make me even happier on my birthday, were my present from ‘C’! These are presents from a man who knows what excites his girlfriend:
Yes, a Le Creuset and a Kitchen Aid in matching colours!! Isn’t he amazing?
Apparently when he was buying the Le Creuset for me, his brother had commented: “your buying Alex a pot for her birthday?”
Oh, my dear friends – this is more than just a pot, this is a way of life! Once you have cooked with a La Creuset, every other cook-ware pales in comparison. Food cooks better, it tastes better, it makes my stove look better and more importantly it makes me feel like a more competent cook :)
But be forewarned, the Le Creuset is a seductive little temptress. Once you have one in your life, you will soon want another, and another until your cupboard is filled to the brim with her shiny coloured enamel.
We initiated the Le Creuset over the weekend, when I had a small dinner party to celebrate my birthday. And what could be a more fitting tribute to this queen of pots than to make a boeuf bourguignon?
And what was the outcome? Almost perfect! The reason why it didn’t hit perfection was entirely my own fault as I had bought the wrong cut of meat for this stew. I actually bought a beautiful lean cut which just got too tough with the long cooking time (I should have known better – but so be it!). But yet, I am convinced the Le Creuset cast her magic and made it the best possible stew she could with what was given to her!
And the dinner was a massive success and everybody loved the Boeuf – or at least they told me they did, but judging by how little there was left over I hardly think they were lying :)
I really like this recipe that I got from one of my mum’s old cook books from the early 70’s. If I am not mistaken it was written by a Swedish Chef called Carl Buttler – however, I can not seem to find any further information about him on the internet, which is a pity. What I like about his recipe compared to The Joy of Cooking for example is that it is pretty straight forward as everything is prepared there and then, and there is no need to marinade over night etc etc. Although I did make this stew the day before, as with most stews they tend to taste better after a day or two in the fridge as all the ingredients settle down and merge together.
Ingredients, 5-6 people
- 1 kg stewing beef, cut into 2cm pieces.
- 100gr smocked bacon, cut into lardons
- 1 carrot – diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 bottle of red wine (to be truly authentic use a bottle of Bourguignon!)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 200g champignon mushroom
- 12 shallots (I couldn’t find any, so just added extra onions cut thickly)
- 1 tbsp flour
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
Brown the meat in batches in an ovenproof casserole dish in oil (or in my case my new Dutch Oven). Make sure that each batch is really browned, if the meat sticks to the pan, leave it until it releases. Put the meat aside.
Fry the bacon until the fat has melted. Then add the onions and carrots and fry them until the onions are soft, but has no colour.
Put the meat back into the dish, sprinkle flour over the meat and mix well so that the flour is evenly distributed.
Add 1 tbsp tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Pour in the red wine and the garlic.
Let everything come to a gentle boil, then put the lid on and turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 2 hours.
While it is simmering, peel the shallots and fry them in butter until soft, do the same with the mushrooms.
30 mins before the stew is ready throw in the onions and mushrooms and let them finish cooking with the other ingredients.
Serve with mashed potatoes – so you can soak up all that delicious gravy!
PS. Hopefully ‘C’ and I will spend many more birthdays together in the future as he has now started an addiction which he needs to feed! ;)