Sunday, January 10, 2010

Beef Bourguignon for Mom and Aunt Reida

December began with a much-anticipated visit from my mom and my lovely Aunt Reida. As my friend (and fellow dinner guest) Katie proclaimed, nothing beats dinner with some sassy Southern ladies.

Ina Garten's version of Beef Bouguignon is (like most of her recipes), a simplified and amplified version of a classic, Ms. Julia Child's. Let's face the facts here, people--the Barefoot Contessa never fails.

The evening got off to a bit of a rocky start--I'm pretty sure we got the wrong cut of meat (below), and before I knew it, the kitchen was full of hungry people watching my every move and blocking the appliances. Add on top of that a cadre of paparazzi (my husband and mother), and I was fearing the worst.

Eventually the crowd dispersed, and Aunt Reida stuck around to keep me company. Thus she (thankfully) was the only one to bear witness when I nearly set the house on fire lighting the cognac in my Beef Bourguignon. It was impressive. I'm sure I wouldn't have been nearly as impressed if I did ignite the ceiling, but because I didn't, Reida and I share a fond memory of me with a butane lighter following the Barefoot's instructions to "STAND BACK," and then letting 'er rip with a 3 foot flame blazing from the top of the pot. I think our hearts skipped a beat, but it really was fun with fire. The photographers had since left the kitchen, so no photographic evidence exists (they did come running in when we started screaming, though.) Here's the final result.

And then I forgot my tomatoes in the oven. After the success of Julia Child's Tomatoes a la Provencale at my Julie & Julia dinner party, I thought they'd be no brainer home run for this shindig. When I finally remembered to take them out of the oven, they looked sad--saggy, runny, deflated like someone stuck a pin in them and drained out the joie de vivre that my dinner party tomatoes had. Here they are pre-oven (much prettier than the final product).

Luckily I also made the Barefoot Contessa's Garlic Mashed Potatoes, which was the hit of this meal (hello, 1 head of garlic. Garlic, like cheese, is something I can't live without. Seriously, I would put it my survival pack if ever I was banished to a remote desert island.

Here's the final meal on a plate.
Although the food turned out alright, the highlight of the meal was definitely the company. We had too much fun sitting around drinking wine and reminiscing. Here's to the next visit!

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