Daube de Boeuf

Once again, I am going to write about a recipe I read in “Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Bard. I read the book last year and since I came upon this recipe I have wanted to try it. Now that I have a Dutch oven it was time. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be but there is a lot to the recipe. I’ll begin with the ingredients.

Braised Beef with Red Wine, Garlic, and Thyme

4 pounds rump or chuck roast, cut into 6 pieces.
1 marrow bone
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
6 large shallots, whole
6 large cloves of garlic, whole
1 carrot, chopped
Zest of 1/2 navel orange, peeled in two long strips
One 16 ounce can of whole tomatoes
1 cup of full-bodied red wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 bouquet garni (6 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf, 8 sprigs of thyme, tied with a string)
4 carrots, halved
12 cremini or button mushrooms (I will admit I didn’t include this in my recipe as Angie hates mushrooms and I am not really a fan myself)

I like to prepare ahead of time, get all the ingredients in one spot, that way I am not overwhelmed trying to get everything ready while trying to brown the meat, etc. Chop one carrot, halve the other 4. Remove paper from around shallots and chop off root ends. Cut the beef into 6 pieces. Peel the zest of 1/2 navel orange (2 long strips).

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In Dutch oven, brown meat and marrow bone on all sides, add generous amounts of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. This will take on average 15-20 minutes. Once browned, remove from Dutch oven and set aside.

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Add olive oil, garlic, chopped carrot, shallots and orange zest, cook until softened (it was about 15 minutes for me).

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Return meat and bone to pot and add tomatoes (with the juice). I recommend crushing the tomatoes between your fingers before you add them. Add wine and broth. Add the bouquet and simmer.

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Cover and put in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the meat and cook for another 1 1/2 hours. Add the carrots and mushrooms (if you choose to add them) and cook for another 40 minute, until the vegetables are cooked through and the meat is fork tender. Once I put the carrots in Angie and I both tried a bite of the meat and it was incredible. Once it is done discard the bouquet garni and serve the beef surrounded by vegetables. I made garlic mashed potatoes to go with it along with some freshly baked bread.

This was seriously amazing. The meat just fell apart around my fork. No need for a knife (I would honestly be offended if somebody asked for a knife!) My brother, Bill, is an incredible cook. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything bad that he has made and even Angie said tonight my beef stew was better than his! That’s a great compliment! I had a lot of fun making this recipe. I think Angie was a little scared (the list of ingredients was a bit daunting I think) but it really was very easy and the end result made up for any (little) stressing I did about it!

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Easiest Bread Ever

Do you want the recipe for the easiest bread ever? Are you sure you can handle it? If you screw this bread up you didn’t follow my directions specifically. A friend sent me a link to a recipe blog. I have tried to make bread before and failed miserably. It has been years since I even attempted to make it because why embarrass myself anymore? After viewing this recipe and also seeing my friend make beautiful bread I decided to give a whirl.

I have to admit, I’m pretty impressed with myself. Here is what you need.

3 Cups unbleached flour

1 3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon of yeast

1 1/2 cups of water

I also use a little olive oil. I don’t measure it, I just pour a little into the dough.

Any sort of pot with a lid. I have a enamel cast iron Dutch Oven and it works beautifully. Per the website (which I will link at the end of the post) you can use clay pots, pizza stone with a lid over it, insert from crock pot. Basically anything with a lid! This is mine

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Directions

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, salt and yeast.

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Whisk together

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Add water and olive oil and mix

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It looks a little scary, right? Don’t worry, it is supposed to look like that. Loosely cover with plastic and leave to sit out for at least 12 hours. I let mine sit out for about 14 hours or so. In that 12-18 hours you leave it out it will rise. And look like this!

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Here is the fun part. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Once heated place the pot (empty) into the oven with the lid on and ‘bake’ for 30 minutes. While that is baking take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a highly floured area. Roll it into a round ball. Don’t play with it too much. I still haven’t quite mastered how to get that ball perfect but I’m learning. Let it sit out (plastic covering) while the pot heats in the oven.

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Once the 30 minute timer goes off take out of oven and very, very carefully place bread into the pot. Thanks to my friend she gave me a great idea to actually roll the dough onto parchment paper and then all you have to do is lift up the parchment paper and put it into the pan. Per the original recipe you don’t need parchment, you don’t need to grease the pan or anything. But I chose to do the paper because it would be easier and I wouldn’t burn myself (which I tend to do any time I am in the kitchen). The choice is entirely yours!

Once the bread is in the pot, put the lid back on and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and you will cry from joy. I didn’t get a picture of it while it was still baking but lets just say it was beautiful. Golden and it rose beautifully. My girlfriend was behind me keeping the cat away from the oven and all I heard was “That looks amazing!” After you ooh and ah for a minute keep the lid off and continue baking for 15 minutes. Once the timer goes off, take out of oven and carefully take the bread out and let it cool on a rack. Once it is done, this is what it will look like:

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Isn’t that the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen? And it tastes wonderful! We waited almost 2 hours to slice into it and it was worth the wait! Last night we took it to Angie’s parents house where they were having a party and everyone really enjoyed it. One of her aunts even said it looked professionally made. After yesterday and how wonderful it turned out we decided we won’t be buying bread anymore, I’ll just bake it!

The best part about this recipe is mix it up! Add stuff to your bread. My friend added rosemary and garlic. Per the original blog you can add raisins, cranberries, lemon zest, cheese, herbs, anything you want! Play around with it.

Link to the original recipe:

Bread

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Trip with Brit

2012 Review

I’m a bit late to the party but I decided to do a recap of some of my favorite albums and/or artists of 2012.  I know a lot of bloggers do this as well but I don’t care. It’ll be fun. Some of these albums may have come out in 2011, 2010, I don’t know. I am just going by the first time I heard the music.

Birdy
Her album actually came out in November of 2011. I first heard her cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” sometime in the spring of 2012 and I was blown away. I quickly downloaded her entire album and listened to it on a loop. For 16 years old she has quite a voice on her that just rips right through your heart if you’re in the right mood. Her self-titled album is made up of covers aside from one song. My favorite cover is easily “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” first brought to us by The Postal Service. She has yet to come to St Louis or anywhere near but I hope that she will gain some momentum here in the States and do a full tour. I also can’t wait for her to release an album of all original songs. I hope she has a long career ahead of her.
Best Tracks
People Help the People
Comforting Sounds
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

Ellie Goulding

Ellie was my saving grace in 2012 thanks to her first album “Lights” and then her new album “Halcyon”. Her song “Lights” became a huge hit in the US. I had previously heard some of her music a couple of years ago but I don’t know what place I was at in my head to think that I wasn’t into her. I gave it another go sometime last year and within days bought her album. I impatiently waited for her new album and I was not disappointed in the least. The first time I heard “Hanging On” it gave me chills and the rest of her album measured up. Its hard for me to tell you what my favorite track is from the album other than “Hanging On” so all I can say is listen to it and enjoy it. Her voice sure is something else. I try as hard as I can to get my voice that high but it just doesn’t happen. It doesn’t stop me from trying in my car though! Sadly, as of right now, I don’t have the money to go to her show this month in St Louis but I know that Ellie has a very long career ahead of her so this won’t be the last time she tours. But hey, Ellie, if you or your people read this, feel like sending some tickets my way for my fiance and I?

Best Tracks
Figure 8
Explosions
Hanging On

Emeli Sande

I had no idea who Emeli was until I was in Belgium and there were advertisements for her CD and I would hear her music drifting out of shops on the square. Angie and I went into Fnac (a sort of Barnes and Noble store for Europe) and on a whim I bought her CD. It finally left my CD player in my car last night after a few weeks of listening. I first heard “Read All About It Pt III” and it is easily the best song on her album although the rest of it is pretty amazing as well. She has quite a voice and a lot of songs that make you want to get up and dance. She did a cover of “Imagine” which I really love.

Best Tracks
Heaven
Wonder
Read All About It Pt III

The Hunger Games Soundtrack

Yes, I am a fan of the books and the movie but I am really a fan of the soundtrack. In one word-Amazing. The soundtrack includes Kid Cudi, The Civil Wars, Arcade Fire, and Birdy so really, how can it not be incredible? I’m not even a Taylor Swift fan by any means but the 2 songs that she wrote for the album are great. If you’ve read the books and you’ve watched the movie you would know that this soundtrack is absolutely perfect for it. “Kingdom Come” by The Civil Wars is absolutely incredible. “Run, run, run away, buy yourself another day…” Taylor Swift’s song “Eyes Open” clearly comes from somebody who has read the books and understands what Katniss (the lead character) is going through while about to fight to the death on TV. “The Ruler and the Killer” by Kid Cudi honestly gives me chills especially if I listen to it while thinking about the books or the movie. I have to say most of the time the Twilight soundtracks are pretty amazing but The Hunger Games tops them in terms of finding the most PERFECT songs for the movie.

Best Tracks
Abraham’s Daughter (Arcade Fire)
Eyes Open (Taylor Swift)
Kingdom Come (The Civil Wars)

Belgium, A Love Story

We boarded the train to Brussels. It was a very uneventful trip, all we really wanted to do was sleep. After we hit Brussels we walk around the station, lost like 2 normal tourists trying to find the train to Bruges. We finally figure out thanks to the help from somebody who works at the station. As it turns out the last train to Bruges was late so there was a massive amount of people waiting. We finally make it on, we are clueless about our luggage so we are trying to cram it under our seats. We finally gave up and sat down, exhausted, legs all twisted weird trying to accommodate our luggage. I felt bad for our seat-mate! We make it to Bruges and its sleeting outside and we can’t find my brother who was meeting us at the station. We finally realize the little restaurant he told us to meet him at had 2 locations in the station. Finally! We take the bus into the center and check in at the hotel and leave our bags in the room. We stayed at Martin’s Brugge and I HIGHLY recommend it. Its right off the city center, its quiet, its clean, nicely decorated and not too expensive. We had some issues with the wi-fi but other than that absolutely no complaints.

Already Angie is in love with Bruges. I can see it in her eyes. We’ve been in Bruges for 1 hour and she is in love and I am totally okay with that. My brother takes us to an Irish pub called Boru which was amazing! We both had the Irish steak with frites and a salad and it was delicious. It has a great atmosphere, very dark, very Irish. It was a nice relaxing late lunch for us that we desperately needed. In the middle of lunch my brother left to get his daughter from school and Angie and I went back to the center and found Bill (my brother) and his daughter. We hung out, waited for my sister-in-law and then went with them to dinner. Since we had just ate we didn’t eat but I love the bar we went to. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of it but it serves amazing spaghetti. After dinner we headed back to the hotel to sleep. By then we were absolutely exhausted. We slept for a good 12 hours.

The 8th we met up with my brother, sister-in-law and niece and went to his best friends house. I am good friends with his best friend, his wife and I finally was able to meet their little boy. We had a good time over at their house. John made us pancakes which were delicious. We hung out, talked and laughed. We all tried to convince Angie to move but she wouldn’t budge. But maybe if we win the lottery we can buy a summer home there. Right, Angie? Forgot to add we also went to lunch with my sister-in-law and her grandma and that was a fun time. And again, I forgot the name of the restaurant but it was Italian and it was amazing. I’m bad about restaurant names I am realizing.

On the 9th we went to my brothers house, enjoyed some home-made potato soup and visited with the family. We helped put up the Christmas tree and just hung around. It was nice seeing my brother.

On the 10th I honestly don’t remember what we did. I think we walked around a lot and took a lot of pictures. That was basically the gist of our entire Belgium experience. People like Rick Steves and other travel guides say all you need is 2-3 days in Bruges but I don’t believe that. I think that you can spend a week at least in Bruges and still not see it all!

The 11th more walking around and taking pictures.. We met up with Bill and his family and my niece was having a bad day so we ended up going to…wait for…wait…wait…McDonald’s! I know, I know. It was…well it was McDonald’s. Nothing special there!

The 12th we did a ton of shopping. I purchased a lot of souvenirs for people, went to the Christmas market and ate there and people watched for awhile. We relaxed back at the hotel and then went to a romantic dinner at my favorite pizza place in Bruges-Carlitos (address is Hoogstraat 21). We both had a cheese pizza. When you order you get a massive pizza all to yourself. That’s a normal meal there! I’ve been to eat there every trip to Bruges and it never disappoints. I recommend it to everyone.

The morning of the 13th went to Carpe Diem which is a great tea room (address is Wijngaardstraat 8). I highly recommend this place. They have amazing waffles, crepes. All different sorts of toppings for said waffles and crepes. Prices aren’t too bad either. We relaxed there for a good hour and took our time with our meal. Angie had a pancake with bananas, ice cream, cream and chocolate sauce. I had a waffle with powdered sugar, a coffee and orange juice. My mouth may or not be watering thinking about this… After that we went to La Rose a little shop I’ve bought glass rings from. They had no glass rings but I bought a whole ring set (5 rings) for about 30 Euros. The address is Groeninge 1. While pricy everything is hand-made and I really enjoy browsing. The people running the shop are very helpful. After that went to Church of Our Lady which is beautiful! Definitely stop by there if you make it to Bruges. From there went to the Historium (in the main market square) which is like a fusion/interactive museum with videos, smells, scenery, special effects. I really enjoyed it. From there we went to the Salvador Dali exhibit which I have been to but that’s always an enjoyment. I always wonder what it was like to be in Dali’s head! That evening we went to my brothers house for some Flemish stew which was amazing and I want the recipe to make here in the States!

When we made it back to the hotel we were pretty tired, it was cold and it was raining a bit. We settled in and we were both relaxing in bed, on our computers and watching TV. Angie leaned over and handed me a package all wrapped up like they do in Bruges. I was super excited about a gift! I opened it up and it was a beautiful antique silver ring. Then I heard “Will you marry me?” and almost fell off the bed and I am pretty sure I giggled uncontrollably for awhile. Of course I said yes! I’M ENGAGED! ENGAGED!!!The ring!

The 14th, still glowing, we checked out of the hotel and my brother picked us up and we went to his house. I told him I was engaged in the car and he didn’t believe me then yelled at me for not doing it in a proper way! (I’m not a fan of having so much attention on me). He told me to tell his wife at dinner and make it into a big thing so she’ll scream and get all excited. We hung out there, took naps, did laundry. I told Lavinia at dinner and she didn’t believe me (I’m not real good at making big announcements I’ve noticed). We dropped off my niece at her grandma’s to stay over and we went out on the town. We couldn’t find a parking spot and realized there was a marathon going on in Bruges with thousands of people running through the streets. First we headed to Charlie Rockets (Hooghstraat 19) and had some drinks, played some pool, and listened to a band play. It was packed, it was hard to even move but we had a good time. From there we went to Vino Vino (Grauwwerkersstraat 15) which is such a fun place. We ordered some tapas and some drinks and hung out. They had great jazz music playing and it was a lively crowd. I recommend that place to everyone. Its always a good time.

The 15th we did some last minute shopping then packed and got ready to depart the next day for home. I was very sad and not looking forward to a big day of travel but it had to be done. We left on the 16th. The flight was fine, albeit boring (aren’t they all?). It was a very uneventful day and we made it home by 6:30 or so on Sunday.

I had such a great time in Belgium and Paris. It was exactly what I needed after the death of my step-father. I miss our time there but looking at pictures will have to suffice for awhile. No more trips for awhile. I am starting school soon and we want to buy a house and now we have a wedding to plan! I hope you readers have enjoyed my trip report. For awhile it will have to be local updates. But the older I get the more I realize St Louis (and surrounding areas) has a lot to offer and I am looking forward to exploring more of the area while I dream about another European adventure!