France has always held a soft spot in my heart. From the Pink Granite Coast around Plumanac'h where I spent many childhood holidays, to the sun, sea and cosmopolitan air of Nice on the French Riviera, it really does offer everything you could want, especially when it comes to food and drink.
Simple mussels in a garlicky white wine sauce in La Rochelle, a divine cassoulet in Toulouse... oh and I cant't forget the amazing tartiflette in Les Arc on a skiing trip. These are just a few of the French foodie memories that I've locked away for prosperity. But the best...well, that was an amazing clafouti aux cerises (Cherry Clafoutis) eaten with my then boyfriend (now husband) in Canal St Martin, Paris - an area just north of the famous Le Marais district. It was silky, creamy, almondy and utterly sublime. Such a simple dessert but made to perfection.
Given all of these fond memories of France, when Expedia asked me to develop a French themed Valentines Day menu, I didn't quite know where to start! After a little thought I knew it had to be something that my husband would REALLY enjoy. That immediately ruled out mussels..or any seafood for that matter, as well as the cherry clafoutis that I 'thought' he had enjoyed with me in Paris. He told me much later that he's not a fan of fruit in puddings but ate it for me - bless him. Whilst we're on the subject of eating things you don't like, he also forgot to tell me he doesn't like sweetcorn until 3 years and many tuna and sweetcorn pasta bakes into marriage - but that's a story for another day!
In recent years with the kids coming along, romance has been a bit lacking in these parts, so I really wanted to make an effort for him this year..... and I knew that meant one thing, a hearty, meaty casserole of some sort. It didn't take long to decide on the classic French dish Beef Bourguignon, which Julia Child once declared 'certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man', followed by a lovely silky smooth Creme Brulee for dessert. That's heaven on a plate for him.
This particular Boeuf Bourguignon is actually made in the slow cooker - which is a great timesaver for a busy Mum like me. All I had to do was bung everything in at breakfast time and by the time we'd put the kids to bed, it was ready to serve with a lovely bottle of red to drink alongside.
As it happens we're off to the 'City Of Love' next week...with three kids...and a trip to Euro Disney on the cards. But if by some miracle we do get chance, I'd love to retrace our steps to that cafe in Canal St Martin so I could just have one more spoonful of that divine cherry clafoutis....don't worry, I'll order my husband something of the non fruity variety!
SLOW COOKER BOEUF BOURGUIGNON
A rich Beef Bourguignon recipe made in the slow cooker.
- 1.2kg Stewing Steak
- 200g Smoked Bacon Lardons
- 1 TBSP Olive Oil
- 3 Carrots, peeled and chopped
- 12 Shallots, peeled
- 300g Chestnut Mushrooms, quartered
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 TBSP Fresh Thyme Leaves
- 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
- 300ml Red Wine
- 300ml Beef Stock
- 1 TBSP Tomato Paste
Step 1: In a large frying pan heat some oil and fry the bacon until cooked. Place in the basin of the slow cooker.Step 2: Heat some more oil and then fry the beef in batches until browned then place in the slow cooker.Step 3: Place the carrots, shallots and mushrooms, bay leaves and thyme into the slow cooker on top of the beef.Step 4: In a jug mix together the red wine, stock and tomato paste then pour over the beef and veg in the slow cooker.Step 5: Cook on low for 6 hours. If you need to thicken the sauce, mix some cornflour with a little water and whisk it in, leave the lid off and switch to high for 10 minutes. Serve with mash and green beans.
Each month Expedia are inviting you to try your hand at various cuisines from theirmost popular package holiday destinations in their World On A Plate challenge. If you would like more information on how to enter please see their blog #expediaworldonaplate.