Last week I treated myself to a double feature movie day. I was off work, Mr. Butterpants was at work so I headed to see two movies he’d rather eat his own face off than see. I saw Julie and Julia and The Time Traveler’s Wife. I really liked TTTW. The book is a lovely tear-jerker and the movie is a pretty faithful adaptation. And Rachel McAdams can do no wrong in my opinion. Julie and Julia was interesting. For me, reading the book before was helpful- it helped flesh out a lot of things that were left out of the film for dramatic flow. Meryl Streep, as everyone has said, is brilliant. Her Julia is lovely and vital and adorable. Paul and Julia’s marriage is so beautifully realized. I usually enjoy Amy Adams, but she didn’t do it for me in this. Julie Powell is dry, sardonic, and caustic. Amy Adams’ whole aura just exudes Enchanted to me. I would have loved to see Mary Lynn Rajskub (who played Julie’s BFF) in the role of Julie. She just oozes lovable bitch. That’s a compliment, even if it doesn’t seem like it.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It was fun, it reminded me that we are never without options or the ability to choose a different path. When I left the theatre, all I wanted to do was cook. Or to eat. I didn’t really have much in the house so instead I cracked an expensive bottle of wine that I was saving for a special occasion (being reminded that life can be anything we want it to be counts, right?).
I wanted to learn more about Julia’s recipes, but they’re not the most vegetarian friendly. I won’t be going on any lobster killing sprees anytime soon. While I was searching I found Deb at Smitten Kitchen (one of my favorite food blogs!) had created a mushroom bourguignon. I wanted to try my hand at this version of a recipe which seems to define so many cooking memories for people- not me, of course. The most common question in my home was, “Where are we eating dinner?” Not so much, “What’s cooking?”
I loosely followed her recipe, but didn’t stick to it perfectly which might explain why my version ended up a little lumpy and lacking flavor. I would definitely try it again since SK’s never let me down before. I can only blame myself for this one. I’ll share it with you in hopes that you have a better experience.
Be excellent to each other,
from Deb at Smitten Kitchen
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices (save the stems for another use) (you can use cremini instead, as well)
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
Egg noodles, for serving
Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.
Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.
Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce the wine by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature and simmer for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more.
Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.
To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles.