I am a good cook – maybe a very good cook. I enjoy it and love having people over to cook for. Alongside my favorite cookbooks, I have a worn out, 3-ring black binder with recipes collected from magazines, newspapers and from people who’s meals I have enjoyed and are willing to share the formula of their creation. Having said that, I cannot remember if I have ever followed a recipe where I did not alter it to accommodate the likes or dislike of an ingredient or one that was unattainable or to use up something that was in the fridge too long. Even the “great one”, the heroine of comfort food, Julia Child, has fallen to my editing of her recipes.
As the minus-below zero temperatures fell this weekend, it was the perfect time to make the staple dish of my winter season, Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon. There was, however some tweaking for either economic reasons (3 cups of good wine – really?) or inaccessibility (bacon rind – not even sure what that is) .
Here’s my suggested revisions. The recipe calls for 3 cups of very good red wine and 2 – 3 cups beef stock.
- a) My frugal personality cannot pour more than a half bottle of good wine into a sauce when I could be pouring it down my throat. Three cups of red wine adds a sharp taste to the sauce that can be unpleasant. Two cups is plenty and I have used one of those 1 1/2 liter wines that cost $9.99 with success.
- b) While it is an effort, make the beef stock yourself. I find the store bought version either salty or tasteless. The results are worth it.
One more tip, forget about the small white onions. The effort to peel and cook them result in them being pushed aside on everyone’s plate. But if you must, buy a bag of frozen ones.
There are cookbooks meant to cook and others meant to teach. Julia’s cookbook is meant to teach. As stated in her forward, “Our primary purpose in this book is to teach you how to cook, so that you will understand the fundamental techniques and gradually be able to divorce yourself from a dependence on recipes”. Conclusion, buy the cookbook and make quality meals to be enjoyed with your taste in mind and then get a divorce.