On Sunday my blog and I had our birthdays.  The blog had its first birthday and I turned the big three-oh.  I am not sure which is more exciting!  Over the last year, I’ve really enjoyed writing these posts and this blog has followed me around on quite a few cooking adventures.  For my birthday, I got a dehydrator, so hopefully I will be back to posting camping recipes soon!

The weekend was full of great moments and the weather was spectacular!  On Saturday I kept up the running training with a 24 km trail run with Simon.  It was the longest run I’ve done to date!  Sunday was a bit more restful and we explored some nature spots in Hamilton with my family.  As always the cardinals were out in all their glory.

The weekend also involved a lot of cooking.  Saturday I had some good friends over for a birthday dinner.  We had a chicken recipe that I have come up with that I hope to share soon, but sadly I didn’t take any good photos.  We followed up with chocolate fondue with tons of fruit, cookies, pretzels and marshmallows.  I love fondue!

On Sunday my family joined us for beef bourguignon.  This is an amazing recipe that takes fairly inexpensive meat like this –

and turns it into a rich, deep and delicious dish like this –

I can’t imagine a more perfect meal for a January birthday.  The recipe comes to me from one of my favourite cookbooks – Chocolate & Zucchini. Clotilde has managed to develop the perfect beef bourguignon in my opinion.  I made no changes because it is perfect as is!

Beef Bourguignon (serves 4-6) from Chocolate & Zucchini

  • 1 medium onion minced
  • 2 medium shallots minced
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • some fresh thyme (about 2 tsp.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3.5 lbs of chopped beef
  • 1 bottle of red wine (Burgundy or Pinot Noir)
  • 6-8 slices of bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1.5 ounces of dark, bittersweet chocolate
  • serve with bread or potatoes

The day before you want to cook the stew, mix together the onions, shallots, garlic, herbs, bay leaves, salt and pepper, carrots, wine, oil and meat.  Cover it with plastic wrap and and let it sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours.  Don’t skimp on the wine!

Several hours before you want to eat (at least 3 or 4) strain the mixture and reserve the liquid.  Pick out the meat pieces.  Don’t worry if some onion or parsley clings to the meat.  Just pick it off as best you can.

In a large pot fry the bacon slices.  Once they are crunchy lift them out and reserve them (you put them in close to the end of cooking).  Keep 2 Tbsp. of bacon fat in the pot and pour the rest off.  Sauté the vegetables until they have softened.  Lift the veggies out and now working in at least two batches, brown the meat lightly on all sides.

Once everything has had some sauté time, put all the meat into the pot and stir in the flour.  Mix in the flour until you can no longer see it.  Now add the veggies and the reserved liquid.  Let the pot come to a bubble and then turn the heat down to low.  Let it simmer with the cover on for about three hours. In the last hour add the chocolate and the reserved bacon.

You can do this cooking in advance if you like and then reheat it.  If a stew has a chance to sit, it tastes even better.

The last 20 minutes before you heat, take off the lid to allow the sauce to thicken.

Enjoy it with some steamed brussels sprouts, bread and a delicious bottle of wine (preferably the same kind you used in the stew).

Bon Appétit!