From Lisa: Boeuf Bourguignon a La Julia Child (and Leana)

Posted by Lisa Cesnick Sunday, March 7, 2010

I was very excited to embark on my first long distance cooking experience with my dear friend, Leana.  This was her idea.  Leana and I have reconnected on Facebook, having graduated together 25, yes, twenty-five years ago from Davenport West High School in the Quad Cities.  Through facebook, I learned that like myself, Leana is a foodie at heart.  When she asked if I wanted to cook "together" I was completely on board.

Our chosen fare for our first gourmet play, Boeuf Bourguignon al la Julia!  I had never made it or even tasted it  but knew I'd love it.

After a rough 2009, this was a great way to start a new year and a new chapter in friendship, food, and fun.  I started by first purchasing Mastering the Art of French Cooking from Borders in Frederick, MD.  I was fortunate enough to have to be in Frederick the Friday before our dueling Julia's experience.  I took that opportunity to pop into a couple of markets that I thought would have a wider selection of meats and veggies to choose from.  I was not disappointed.  Along with a hearty armful of Peet's coffee, I was able to purchase the lovely small pearl onions I would need for our recipe.  I figured everything else I could get at home.

Big mistake!  I could not find slab bacon anywhere near Frostburg!  I ended up using a thick cut bacon instead of a slab.  It would have to do!

I assembled all the ingredients beautifully on the kitchen counter and measured everything in to small bowls and ramekins.  I typically cook by the seat of my pants, but I wasn't in a hurry, you can't be to make this dish, and I wanted to savor the experience.

Leana and I spoke via telephone during the initial cooking of this dish.  It was really great to hear her so familiar Midwest accent and hear what she's been up to for the past 25 years.  We live extremely different lives!  I'm a Mom and wife and homeschool my child while trying to scratch out a semblance of a professional life.  Leana is a hip single professional living in a real city! But, one common bond we share is a love of cooking.  We may live entirely different lives, but we are amateur foodies, through and through!

Besides learning about Leana, I learned something about myself while making this wonderful dish;  I can't follow a recipe...even when it's Julia, I find something to change!  To Julia's wonderful dish, I added a couple of extra bay leaves, a couple of extra cloves of garlic and 1 tsp thyme leaves.  Other than those small additions, I DID follow the recipe.  However, I couldn't figure out what to do with the carrots and onion!  I ended up adding the carrot and onion back into the pan for a quick sautee before sending the whole thing to the oven.

 I even had my detail oriented husband read the recipe to see where the sliced onion and carrot played in. He couldn't find it either.  C'est LaVie!

In the end, it took me 7 hours to complete the recipe.  It was worth every minute and my family enjoyed it immensely!  Can't wait to cook with Leana again!


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