Last night's dinner had to be special and whenever I think of "special" I think of Carbonnade. Carbonnade a la Flamande also known as Carbonnade Flamande " is a traditional Belgian sweet-sour beef and onion stew made with beer, and seasoned with thyme and bay." Right from the get go it's been one of the big guy's absolute favorites. The only issue is whenever I make it we're faced with a conundrum over whether it's best with mashed potatoes or biscuits. Last night biscuits won out - buttermilk to be exact, although I'm still pouting because I should have made both.
This braise is very easy to put together; it just takes a little time - but after the work is done it goes into the oven to cook low and slow for hours. It smells awesome and tastes even better. Download Carbonnade Flamade Cubed meat, in my case chuck, is well browned and joined in a Dutch oven by crisp bacon, golden brown onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, brown sugar, dijon mustard and beer - a nice amber beer to be exact, then cooked in a slow oven (275) for 3 hours. Flavors are rounded out with the addition of some tart red wine vinegar just before serving which takes this right over the top in the yummy profile. It is addictive, absolutely addictive. We had it along with some roasted root vegetables - parsnip, turnip, rutabaga and carrots coated with a little olive oil and cooked in a cast iron skillet in a hot 400 oven for 30 minutes. They were amazing "withs" beside the fabulous braise. Course the buttermilk biscuits weren't any slouch either.
Dessert was a simple Lemon Pudding Cake, made with our home grown Meyer lemons. It's the kind of pudding that magically separates into a light sponge cake on top and creamy lemony sauce on the bottom. Whipped up just before we sat down to dinner, it was out of the oven right on time as we were finishing our wine. Another favorite, it's an amazingly light finish to a hearty dinner. Download Lemon Pudding Cake
Yesterday it was all about memories. My friend Maddie is here visiting from Montreal and we go back a long way, although we haven't seen each other for about 10 years. We first met when I was working for a professional hockey team and she was in what was then the NHL head office in Montreal. Well, she's still in Montreal working for the NHL but the main office has moved to New York and I've been out of hockey for fifteen years. Times and circumstances may change, but a good friendship lasts forever - that's what I found out yesterday. It's as if there's been absolutely no time or distance between us. Incredible really!