Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dinner Party.... and Boeuf Bourguignon

I think one thing that I have really missed since we moved here is good friends. Friends that you can invite over to dinner, they already know what your cooking is like, you can give them anything, you sit around chatting, kids are playing and the evening just flies by, because you are having so much fun.

Last Saturday we had some work friends of Seyfi's over for dinner. It was our first real dinner party since we have been here, and let me tell you, I was a bit nervous. I had only met these people a few times, and they had never eaten anything that I had prepared. Also, it was my first time cooking for a large group of people in my minimal kitchen, and I had decided that I wasn't going to do an old standby...

Usually when I have people over, I do a lasagna, or a roasted chicken, or roast beef, something easy, that is always well received. But on Saturday, I shook things up a bit, and made a few changes to my standard menu.

To start, when everyone came in, a served homemade hummus with multi-coloured bell peppers. When I was growing up, we always has a veggies and dip tray when people came over. I have fond memories of my sister and I planting ourselves in front of the tray, and eating most of the veggies. I love this combination of hummus and peppers, it's just a nice twist on veggies and dip.

When it was time to eat dinner, I had made up little salads with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, olives and balsamic vinaigrette (that I had made) and had them sitting on the table for everyone to help themselves to. I made Pioneer Woman's tomato soup, which I may start calling my soup soon, because I make it so much! It went over so well I couldn't even believe it!

For the main course, we had Boeuf Bourguignon. Now, why did I choose to make this? There are actually a few reasons, 1. We are near France, this is a french recipe and I can get great wine here. 2. When my parents were here a few weeks ago, we made this dish, and it was so wonderfully delicious that we all ate two helpings, so I knew it would be great. 3. It sounds so fancy, looks delicious, and besides it have a bunch of steps, it is actually really easy to make.

Here is my recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon (Serves 8)

Olive oil
four slices of pastirma (a Turkish cured beef)

Saute the pastirma in a the olive oil until it is almost crispy and the oil has change colour (it'll be darker). Take it out of the oil and put it on a plate.

1 kilo cubed beef- dried and seasoned with salt and pepper

In the pastirma oil, in small batches, sear off all sides of the beef and remove to the pastirma plate.

5 or 6 carrots, cut into big chunks on the diagonal
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Put into the empty meat pot and cook over a medium heat for about ten minutes.
Add the seared beef and pastirma.

1/2 a bottle of red wine (I used a bordeaux, but a Burgundy would probably be better)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1 Tbsp thyme

Add all of these to the pot, and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, put it in the oven at 180C and let it cook for an hour.

12-15 fresh pearl onions, with skins removed

Add these to the pot

Let it cook in the oven for about twenty more minutes. Take it out of the oven and put it back on the stove at a medium heat.

250grs mushrooms, quartered
2 Tbsp butter

In a saute pan, brown the mushrooms in the butter. Add to the pot that has just come out of the oven, let it simmer for about ten minutes.

3 Tbsp butter, soft
3 Tbsp flour (I use the Schar gluten free flour C)

Mix these together in a separate bowl and add to the meat. Stir it in well and let it continue to simmer for about twenty minutes until thickened.

I serve my Boeuf Bourguignon with creamy mashed potatoes.

I gave out super big portions (which I don't recommend doing), but in this case it wasn't a problem as everyone ate their entire plate of food! Even the man who hadn't eaten cooked carrots in thirty years ate all of his carrots! Apparently when you cook food in red wine it makes everything taste yummy!

For dessert we had apple crisp, with apples and walnuts from our trees, served with vanilla ice cream and Turkish tea. I really wanted to use some of the fruit and nuts from our garden, and the crisp was the perfect way to do that.

The dinner party was a success, everyone left late with a smile and a full tummy. I think we all need to change things up from time to time. I'm really happy that I tried a new dish, I think it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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