Thursday, February 18, 2010

Women's Heart Attacks, Valdemar, Pancake Day, Julie & Julia,

They, as in the health pundits, are always telling us that women's heart attack symptoms are different from a man's. Fine, but just what are the symptoms, say I? I have just found a list which details the main things. Bear in mind that heart disease is considered the number one killer of women these days and women need to be a) informed of this fact and b) to know what to do to try and prevent one. The latter includes exercise and healthy eating. However, should anything happen, the list of symptoms is as follows, and bear in mind that women often get no chest pain whatsoever:
Symptoms Prior to a Heart Attack Unusual fatigue - 70%
Sleep disturbance - 48% Shortness of breath - 42% Indigestion - 39% Anxiety - 35%
Major symptoms during the heart attack include: Shortness of breath - 58%
Weakness - 55% Unusual fatigue - 43%
Cold sweat - 39%
Dizziness - 39%
I am currently reading an ebook called Changing the World which is a series of short stories written by different authors about the Heralds of Valdemar, or other stories set in the same world. One story is called Nothing Better To Do by Tanya Huft. I laughed myself silly, Matt was getting a bit teed off with me I was laughing so much but he wouldn't have appreciated the story - it is fantasy after all. But if you have ever read and enjoyed any Valdemar stories, and if you can get hold of this one, I am sure you will enjoy it too. Its about a young Herald, his Companion and a baby they are rescuing. A really good laugh.
I forgot to mention, yesterday, that it being Shrove Tuesday, and Pancake Day in England, I suddenly bethought me of pancakes by which time it was too late to make any. I cheated and used bought ones. Let me also explain that to me the word pancakes actually conjures up what north Americans call crèpes. In England we call them pancakes we also have an event called a Pancake Race which meant people had to race with a frying pan tossing the pancake as they ran. I used to be able to toss pancakes, once upon a time, but I doubt if I could now; I am too scared to try. Anyway, we had ready made crèpes with melted butter and sugar with some of the chocolate ganache I made the other day. Delicious. Matt said he thought the crèpes themselves were a bit tasteless, well maybe they weren't as good as home made!! Maybe I should whip up a batch and freeze them, they do freeze very well.
Last night I finally got to see Julie and Julia - I rented it from iTunes. What a wonderful story and what a great movie. How sad that the two women didn't meet and that Julia apparently didn't think much of what Julie was doing. Meryl Streep was absolutely brilliant as Julia Child, in fact I forgot it was Meryl which to me is the sign of a great piece of acting. Friends had told us we should see this movie because of our interest in cooking and I am so glad I now have done so. Now I am thinking I should do something similar, but I am not as young as Julie and wouldn't have the energy I'm afraid. I have one book of Julia Child's, In Julia's Kitchen With Master Chefs, which is introduced and annotated by her, but I do not have her original Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Of course when we first came to Canada Julia Child meant absolutely nothing to us, and I always remember my mother visiting us from England and watching TV one day whilst we were at work and being absolutely staggered to see Julia drop some dish on the floor and carry on - my mother thought she was nuts. Later, we understood what Julia was all about. My mother, by the way, was a brilliant cook, I think she had probably worked her way through Mrs. Beeton's cookery book which used to be the cooking bible in the UK once upon a time.
Here is an adaptation of Julia's Beouf Bourguignon which is featured so prominently in the film. I have made Boeuf Bourguignon several times although not using this particular recipe. There are many steps but it really isn't as complicated as it sounds and the results are well worth the effort.
Boeuf Bourguignon à La Julia Child
This is the classic, adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." A wonderful dish, raising the simple stew to an art form and quite simple to make--even though the instructions look long. Use Simple Beef Stock, the recipe for which is posted on this site. Use a wine which you would drink--not cooking wine. And the better the cut of beef, the better the stew. As the beef is combined with braised onions and sauteed mushrooms, all that is needed to complete your main course is a bowl of potatoes or noodles and lots of good bread for the sauce. by Chef Kate 5 hours | 1 hour prep SERVES 6 For the Stew 6 ounces bacon, solid chunk 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes 1 carrot, peeled and sliced 1 onion, peeled and sliced 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground 2 tablespoons flour 3 cups red wine (a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti) 2-3 cups beef stock (Simple Beef stock is posted on the site, unsalted and defatted) 1 tablespoon tomato paste 2 garlic cloves, mashed (you may choose to add more) 1 sprig thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dred thyme) 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh For the braised onions 18-24 white pearl onions, peeled 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup beef stock salt & fresh ground pepper 1 bay leaf 1 sprig thyme 2 sprigs parsley For the Sautéed Mushrooms 1 lb mushroom, quartered 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 tablespoon olive oil
1. First prepare the bacon: cut off the rind and reserve. Cut the bacon into lardons about 1/4" think and 1 1/2" long. Simmer the rind and the lardons for ten minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry the lardons and rind and reserve.
Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large (9" - 10" wide, 3" deep) fireproof casserole and warm over moderate heat. Saute the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
Dry off the pieces of beef and saute them, a few at a time in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.
Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.
In the same oil/fat, saute the onion and the carrot until softened.
Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion. Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour. Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for four minutes. Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes. Now, lower the heat to 325°F and remove the casserole from the oven. Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs and the bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove. Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside till needed. For the onion, if using frozen, make sure they are defrosted and drained. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onions to the skillet. Saute over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the onions about so they brown as evenly as possible, without breaking apart. Pour in the stock, season to taste, add the herbs, and cover. Simmer over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Remove the herbs and set the onions aside. For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet. As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat. To Finish the Stew:. When the meat is tender, remover the casserole from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it (discarding the bits of carrot and onion and herbs which remain in the sieve). Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface. You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Taste for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. If you are serving immediately, place the covered casserole over medium low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter surrounded by noodles, potatoes or rice and garnished with fresh parsley. If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator. 20 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
Have a great day


  1. Oh, I missed that Meryl Streep but it will come round on TV quite soon I suppose. I did a Boeuf Bourguignon in December when I had guests. It's a dish with which one can hardly ever go wrong. With guests though one can!

  2. I have often cooked it, but Julia's seems a little different to me. If you get a chance to see the movie, it is fascinating - I loved it.