Night at the Oscars: Julie & Julia and Boeuf Bourguignon

This week, Bistro 185 takes a slight turn in its tribute to the Academy Awards to honor (and remember) a film near and dear to our hearts, which has secured a 2009 Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for Meryl Streep. Yes, we’re revisiting our Julia Project Monday through Wednesday by once again offering one of the most popular specials from that project, Boeuf Bourguignon with Pearl Onions and Lardons.

This is Boeuf Bourguignon Julia’s way…a little different from our usual nightly specials recipe Boeuf Bourguignon. So stop by and re-enjoy the same dish you loved last summer, or try it for the first time. Bon Appétit!

UPDATE: HELD OVER!! Yes, our Boeuf Bourguignon is too good to limit to three days only, so we’re keeping it on as our “Night at the Oscars” special for the rest of this week. If you haven’t enjoyed it yet, what are you waiting for?

Chocolate mousse, no antlers

JuliaProject925What a dessert this Mousseline au Chocolat is! Smooth as silk and topped with a slivered strawberry, it’s a light, sweet, fluffy cloud of a chocolate dream, to float you away at the end of a beautiful dinner into the cool of an early fall evening. What’s more, you can choose one of two reprise Julia entrees to start your meal with: the Shrimp Étouffée or a Chile-Glazed St. Louis-Style Ribs dinner accompanied by sweet potato fries. This is a no-lose proposition for your Friday!

Behind the Dish: Mousseline au Chocolat

Tonight is a night many Julia Project followers have probably been anticipating: chocolate mousse night! Julia’s classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 recipe includes eggs, sugar, orange liqueur, semisweet baking chocolate, strong coffee, unsalted butter, and a pinch of salt.

Our version is pretty straightforward in terms of following the recipe: whipping the egg yolks, folding in the chocolate, butter and coffee, then folding in a meringue made from the egg whites and sugar. To make ours more creamy, though, we may enhance it with a touch of pâté à bombe: an egg yolk-based foam mixed with sugar syrup. Also, we’ll be leaving out the orange liqueur from our version, in deference to those who prefer their chocolate as straight “chocolaty-chocolate” as it gets.

If that sounds irresistible, we highly suggest you make a reservation and try one of our regular menu items or specials — maybe with an appetizer — for dinner, then cap it all off with this delicious treat. You know that once you see a picture of it and hear how it tastes, you’re going to wish you had — so why not eliminate future regret now?

Marvelous moussaka!

JuliaProject923Enjoy! The moussaka includes layers and layers of rich flavor — just as intended. The tomato sauce has the depth and savoriness that comes only from simmering a good long time, and the essence of the spicing, especially the cinnamon, really comes through. The lamb, mushrooms, eggplant and potato slices are cooked to perfection, and the béchamel sauce has formed a delicious, light custard on top. Combined with the fresh astringent spice of the organic vegetables and feta cheese in the Greek side salad, this is a taste of the Mediterranean that hits just the right spot.

We’d like to give a special shout-out tonight to photographer Stuart Spivack, who has recently started tweeting regularly about the Bistro on his Twitter robot
clevespecials (which lists specials featured by Cleveland-area restaurants) and featuring this blog amongst the “Blogs of Note” listed on his Web site. He must have dropped by for our Julia special Monday night, because a luscious-looking photo of our Chile-Glazed Country Ribs with Black Beans and Rice just showed up on his Flickr page. Nice work, Stu!

Behind the Dish: Lamb Moussaka

Tonight’s Julia Project dish, Lamb Moussaka, is familiar to most modern diners. If you know anything about Greek cuisine, you’ve probably heard of moussaka, and you may well have enjoyed it as part of your family’s cooking or at a Greek or other restaurant. The dish, which usually is made in the form of a kind of “lasagna” that layers slices of eggplant with ground lamb in a tomato sauce, originated in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, which makes it rather interesting that a recipe for it was included in Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1.

Julia’s instructions for how to structure and serve the completed dish are quite a bit different from how it’s normally done today; they’re much more classically French. Her original recipe uses a charlotte mold, which she instructs the cook to line with the skins of the cooked eggplant portion of the dish and then fill with a combination of the eggplant, mushrooms, lamb and sauce, resulting in a “shiny, dark purple cylinder surrounded with a deep red tomato sauce.” Wow! Her completed entree, brought to the table whole at a dinner party, must have looked rather like a purple Bundt cake. For our purposes, however, we used the more conventional rectangular pan and “layered” method of preparation commonly seen today. We’re also providing it with our own version of a “French twist.” And we’re proud to add that the vegetables are all organic, from Jim Darr’s Old Plank Farm in Windsor, Ohio — pesticide and herbicide free.

We’ve been prepping our moussaka since yesterday, because it is quite a bit labor-intensive. One of the steps requires slicing up the eggplant, sprinkling the slices with salt and letting them sit out for a half hour to “sweat out” the excess water (eggplant holds a lot of water) before cooking it. This process makes the eggplant more permeable to the olive oil in which it bakes before it’s layered, but it also requires a lot of room to lay out all the slices when you’re making as much moussaka as we are! With the limited space available to us in the Bistro kitchens, we had to do it in stages.

The recipe also calls for minced mushrooms, shallots or onions, the ground lamb (already cooked before being placed in the dish — which is probably why Julia describes it as a way to use “leftovers”), salt and pepper, thyme, garlic and rosemary, tomato paste, eggs, and a brown sauce. Rather than the brown sauce, however, we’re topping our moussaka layers with a classic béchamel, or white sauce, made with milk, flour and butter. Also, our bottom layer is sliced fried Yukon Gold potatoes — another item not in Julia’s original recipe. And, we added oregano and cinnamon, two other spices Julia’s version omits, but that are very much components of a classic moussaka.

The ingredients are layered and baked up to make a hearty, heartwarming dish, which we will top with an arrabiata pepper sauce. It will be accompanied by a classic Greek side salad featuring cucumbers, kalamata olives, our rooftop tomatoes and basil, red onion, orange and red peppers, and feta cheese, dressed in a Greek vinaigrette.

Sounds like a great fall dish? We thought so!

Julia Project Dishes for Week 7

Thanks for your patience! Here’s a list of the Julia Project dishes for Week 7, the last week in which we will be offering brand-new dishes. The final week of the Project will consist of our “greatest hits”: reprises of the most popular dishes from the first seven weeks.

Monday, Sept. 21 — Chile Glazed Country Ribs with Black Beans and Rice (In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, p. 260)

Tuesday, Sept. 22 — Smoked Salmon Napoleon (In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, p. 63)

Wednesday, Sept. 23 — Lamb Moussaka (Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1, p. 349)

Thursday, Sept. 24 — Shrimp Étouffée (Cooking with Master Chefs, p. 21)

Friday, Sept. 25 — Mousseline au Chocolat (Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1, p. 604)

Saturday, Sept. 26 — Yellowtail Snapper with Mango, Rum, Ginger and Macadamia Nuts (In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, p. 238)

We hope you can make it to the Bistro to enjoy these dishes with us! Make your reservations during open hours at 216.481.9635.

This lobster is a feast!

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We certainly hope you took the opportunity to enjoy the Lobster Thermidor tonight, because it was a labor of love and the kind of dish you just don’t see restaurants serve every day (and for good reason!). If you did, you enjoyed a shellful of rich, creamy, buttery lobster goodness, topped with a little bit of puff pastry to make it extra-special, and accompanied by a long-grain and wild rice mixture and asparagus to keep it company. We also added a bit of the bright red-orange lobster coral with the lemon garnish for extra zest. Definitely an uncommon feast for all the senses, especially the tastebuds!

Tonight: Lobster Thermidor!

Those of you who read the book or saw the movie Julie & Julia will probably remember Julie Powell’s story about having to bring herself to, um, dispatch live lobsters in order to make Julia Child’s Lobster Thermidor. Well, we’re here with good news: You can spare yourself the role of lobster executioner and still enjoy the unique pleasure that is Lobster Thermidor, because we’re preparing it tonight!

The basics: Dry white wine, onion, carrot, celery, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns and tarragon simmer to a boil. Then the lobsters go for their final swim. While they’re cooking until they turn red, we’ll stew mushrooms with butter, lemon juice and salt. The cooked lobsters come out of the kettle, the mushroom juices (sans mushrooms) go in with the lobster juices, and the resulting liquid is boiled down and strained before being simmered again. Butter and flour are cooked together slowly in a separate saucepan (but not browned), then removed from heat and the lobster-mushroom liquid beaten into that. The mixture is boiled and cream (regular and whipping) is drizzled in. A little lobster dissection then takes place so that some of the tastier innards can be strained and blended into dry mustard, egg yolks and cayenne pepper. The lobster-mushroom mixture then gets beaten into that mixture, and the combined sauce is boiled and then thinned out a bit (but has become quite thick by this point). The lobster meat is shelled, cubed and sautéed in a butter-and-cognac reduction. The mushrooms, lobsters and part of the sauce are then combined and used to re-stuff the lobster shells, the whole thing is covered with the remaining sauce, we sprinkle on grated cheese and butter, and bake.

The result: a dish fit for a Child. And you can enjoy it tonight, without any of the work. We hope you’ll do just that.

The tuna’s in tune

JuliaProject917If you order the Julia dish tonight, be prepared for a combination of perfectly matched Mediterranean flavors to come your way. The tuna is nicely seared and just a bit rare on the inside, sitting on a bed of Israeli couscous just swimming in buttery, lemony flavor. The grape tomatoes we added to the couscous complement the tomato flavor of the ratatouille sauce, full of tender vegetable chunks. Throughout it all are the flavors of the kalamata olives (pitted this time), capers, garlic, onion, rooftop thyme and oregano. A spicy, citrusy treat for your palate!

More “behind the dish”…

Details on the Bistro’s take on tonight’s tuna: This is going to be a dish with a real Mediterranean accent. The olives will be kalamatas, and capers will be added to the recipe’s thyme, oregano and lemons to flavor it up even more. Accompaniments will be ratatouille and Israeli couscous.