Monday, May 10, 2010

Wildly Beautiful

Did you know France has a Grand Canyon?
Gorges de Verdon is a river canyon that is considered to be Europe’s most beautiful. The turquoise color of the water and dramatic ravine that cuts through walls of limestone makes this a don’t miss for hikers, rock climbers, kayakers and photographer’s. The river flows into the Sainte Croix du Verdon Lake. The canyon is close to the French Riviera, making it very popular with tourists.

Have you heard about the Golden Isles (also known as the Hyeres Islands)? These three islands off the coast of Southern France are named for the sunlight reflecting off their golden-brown mica shale. They consist of Porquerolles, wildly beautiful with long sandy beaches and rocky cliffs; Port-Cros, a thickly forested National Park; and Levant, surrounded by steep, rocky cliffs and popular with “naturalists.” (You might want to avoid this one if taking a family vacation. The only place nudity is not permitted is on a few public beaches.)

Here's a final French recipe for meat lovers.

Boeuf (beef) Bourguignon
2 large onions, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced in rounds
2 tablespoons cooking oil
6 ounces lean bacon cut into small pieces
2 pounds of stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
1 bottle of red wine (less a glass or two if you wish)
bouquet garni or 2 tablespoons mixed dried herbs
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon tomato concentrate
salt and pepper
Optional Ingredients for Beurre Manié
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons flour

In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, cook the onions and carrots in the oil on medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the bacon and continue cooking and stirring for 10 minutes.
Add the meat and cook until browned on all sides. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Add the herbs, the garlic and the red wine. Cover, turn down the heat, and let simmer for at least two hours.

Meanwhile cook the mushrooms in the butter until soft and add to the stew after about two hours along with the tomato concentrate. Simmer until meat is very tender. Sometimes I cook it for the last hour without the lid to get a more concentrated sauce. If you are thickening your stew before serving, mix the butter and flour together in a small bowl until well blended. Blend in a tablespoon of the cooking liquid, and then stir this mixture back into the stew. Continue cooking for several minutes.
Makes 6 generous servings.

1 comment:

  1. I've been to southern France, but to neither of those places. Now I feel like I've missed out! I guess I'll just have to go back some day. :)