Archive for the ‘French’ Category

Bean Bourguignon

Posted: May 7, 2016 in French, Funghi, Main course

Ever since I started running a few years back, I started trying to eat a little healthier (just a little, I’m not ready to give up all the stuff I love). One of the ways to do that is to try to get a traditional recipe, and find some alternative ingredient to make it healthier, while not compromising too much with flavor. One of the recipes that I found – at the Runner’s World magazine – was a variation of the classic Beef Bourguignon, but removing the beef and adding beans and dialing up in the mushrooms. It turned out to be really good – it’s certainly not a meat dish, but it’s very fulfilling by itself or served with rice. Another plus is that it’s almost a vegetarian dish (I added some pancetta for taste, but if I were to serve it to a vegetarian, I could skip it). Finally, it’s one of those “one-pot recipes” that doesn’t require a lot of cleaning afterwards.


The dish that I cooked was really close to the recipe from the magazine, with some changes due to ingredients that I didn’t have. Instead of prosciutto I used some cubed pancetta, and I didn’t have thyme or bay leaves, so I skipped those. I’ve cooked this dish other times adding or removing some ingredients, but the main ingredients remain the same.


  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 12oz crimini (baby portabella) mushrooms, quartered or sliced
  • 4oz. pancetta, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cans (15oz each) of white beans (I used cannellini and great northern, since I had one of each at home; others can be used as well), drained
  • 2 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • salt & pepper

Heat 2 tbsp. of the oil in a large pan, then add the mushrooms. Cook them until they start browning and render some liquid, then move them to a bowl and reserve.

In the same pan, add the pancetta and cook it until the fat is almost all rendered and it starts to crisp. Add the onion and the garlic, then cook until right before the onion starts browning. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Add the wine and the stock and mix well. Finally, add the beans and bring it to a boil, then cover reduce the heat to low.

20160505_023634597_iOS 20160505_024841284_iOS 20160505_025401816_iOS

After 10 minutes, add the reserved mushroom with its liquid back to the pot, cook for another 5 minutes, and it’s ready.

Serve it in a bowl as a hearty soup, or with rice. If you have some fresh parsley, sprinkling some on top gives it a nice fresh touch. I didn’t have it this time and it was missed 🙂


Steak au poivre

Posted: January 26, 2012 in Beef, Food, French

Unlike many people in my family, my relationship with pepper didn’t start early. Quite often my parents and my brother would praise an even mildly spicy dish, and I’d be complaining that it was too hot. My father even grew some chilies at our house, but I never got too close to them. When I moved to the US over 10 years ago, I thought most foods were quite spicy, even a cheese pizza from Domino’s or Pizza Hut would have me reaching for water… Maybe my taste buds couldn’t take anything other than the lowest foods on the Scoville scale, I simply didn’t like piquant foods.


So when I decided to prepare a Steak au poivre, that was definitely a proof that tastes change. Maybe because of not having another option in many restaurants I went out with friends, I started getting more and more used to spicy foods, up to the point where nowadays I even ask for a few stars in most Thai restaurants. I’m still not up to a “wings of fire” challenge, but I may get there sometime. Meanwhile, I decided to go into the famous French dish when shopping at Costco the filet mignon looked at me and almost begged me to take it home – I had never tried one, but I remember that it looked good when my parents would order one in a restaurant.

The recipe is quite simple, and not overly spicy (the cracked peppercorns ended up being a great compliment to the steak, without overpowering it). I decided to go with one recipe from Alton Brown from Food Network which seemed quite easy. A few modifications I did was that I used whipping cream instead of heavy cream (that’s what I had in the fridge) and followed one of the commenters suggestion to finish the steak on the oven. The sauce ended up a little thinner than the ones I’ve seen in picture over the web (likely because of the difference in the cream), but it turned out really good.

Ingredients (for 4 people):

  • 4 filet mignon steaks, about 1” thick, fat trimmed
  • 2 tbsp. whole peppercorns (I used a mixture of red / green / black I had in my pantry)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • salt

Crack the peppercorns with a mallet (I used a cheesecloth to prevent it from going everywhere in the kitchen), and spread them in a plate. Season the steaks with salt, then press them into the pepper, until the surface is coated.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F (175C). On an oven-proof skillet large enough for all steaks, heat the oil and the butter until it starts smoking. Sear the steaks (1-2 minutes each side), then transfer the pan to the oven for about 10 minutes (for medium; adjust the time for other levels of doneness). Remove the pan from the oven, remove the steaks from it and set them aside (wrapped in a tinfoil tent to keep warm).

Carefully add the cognac to the pan (it may catch fire right away). If it still isn’t on fire, light it up with a long match, then stir the pan scraping the bottom until the flames die. Add the cream, bring it to medium heat whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Adjust the salt, then bring the steaks back to the pan, coating them with the sauce.


Serve immediately with rice and potatoes. Enjoy!

Source: I imagined that this was a “traditional” recipe with well-defined ingredients / steps, but as I searched every single recipe had something different, so I can’t pinpoint any specific. So the source is something inside


History: According to Wikipedia, the traditional “Lobster Thermidor” was created in the end of the 19th century by a Parisian restaurant in honor of the eponymous play (which, unlike the recipe, didn’t get much success). I remember my father making this (with shrimp, if I recall correctly) recipe when I was a kid and I loved it. And a few weeks back when I found at my local Costco a bag of langoustine tails, and decided to use the famous recipe of its larger cousin.

Variation from the original: As I mentioned, I can’t tell exactly which one is the “real” original. Some recipes asked for shallots, other onions (I used onions); some asked for cognac, other for wine (I went with cognac); some went with egg yolks, some without (I didn’t use them); most asked for raw lobster (I had a bag of cooked langoustines), and so on.

Ingredients from specialty stores: I don’t remember finding langoustine before, so I think this is a specialty ingredient, but I found it at Costco (not really a specialty store) – and lobster (or even shrimp) could be used for this recipe.


  • Langoustines
    • 2 lb. cooked langoustine tails, thawed
    • 3 tbsp. butter
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1/2 cup cognac
    • salt & pepper
  • Sauce:
    • 1 medium onion, finely diced
    • 5 tbsp. butter
    • 5 tbsp. flour
    • 1 tsp. ground mustard
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • salt & pepper
    • gruyere cheese for gratin, about 1/2 cup grated

In one large saucepan, add the butter and when it melts, add the onion and cook until it’s soft, with some salt and pepper. Add the flour and the mustard, mixing well. This can be done ahead of time.

In another pan, heat the butter and the olive oil, and add the langoustines seasoned with salt and pepper, cooking for just 3-5 minutes (they’re already cooked). As the langoustines start losing liquid, remove it with a ladle and move to the other pan. When it’s almost dry, add the cognac on fire and flambé until the fire is extinguished (if there is still too much liquid in the pan it won’t be long). Place the langoustines in an oven-proof, deep dish.

Back to the sauce pan, add the milk and the cream, mixing well. When it’s well combined, add the sauce on top of the langoustines, and grate gruyere cheese on top to cover. Bake in a 350ºF (175ºC) oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown (or use a broiler which can make it faster).

DSC_0407 - Copy