Cookbook 1: The Food of France: a journey for food lovers

The food of France: a journey for food lovers, recipes by Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell

Today’s recipes were:

  • Boef Bourguignon;
  • Gratin Dauphinois; and
  • Chocolate Mousse

The beef bourguingnon is the longest and most time consuming of all these recipes, so if you are going to tackle it, time it out appropriately.  I also have other comments about this recipe, so please note them at the end.

Boeuf Bourguignon


  • 1.5 kg beef blade of chuck steak
  • 750 mL (3 cups) red wine (preferably Burgundy)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • bouquet garni
  • 70 g (2.5 oz) butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 200g (7 oz) bacon, cut into short strips
  • 300g (10.5 oz) French shallots, peeled but left whole
  • 200g (7 oz) small button mushrooms


  1. Cut the meat into 4cm (1.5 in) cubes and trim away any excess fat.  Put the meat, wine, garlic, and bouquet garni in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours, and preferably overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160C (315F).  Drain the meat reserving the marinade and bouquet garni.  Dry the meat on paper towels.  Heat 30g (1 oz) of the butter in a large casserole dish.  Add the onion, carrot and bouquet garni and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, remove from the heat.
  3. Heat 20g (0.75 oz) of the butter in a large frying pan over high heat.  Fry the meat in batches for about 5 minutes or until well browned.  Add to the casserole dish.
  4. Pour the reserved marinade into the frying pan and boil, stirring for 30 seconds to deglaze the pan.  Remove from the heat.  Return the casserole to high heat and sprinkle the meat and vegetables with the flour.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the meat is well coated with the flour.  Pour in the marinade and stir well.  Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours.
  5. Heat the remaining butter in a clean frying pan and cook the bacon and shallots, stirring, for 8 – 10 minutes or until the shallots are softened but not browned.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 – 3 minutes or until browned.  Drain on paper towels.  Add the shallots, bacon and mushrooms to the casserole.
  6. Cover the casserole and return to the oven for 30 minutes, or until the meat is soft and tender.  Discard the bouquet garni.  Serve

Notes from this recipe:

This recipe expects that you have a casserole dish that you can transfer from a stove top to the oven.  If you don’t (like me), then cook the first part of the recipe before it goes into the oven, in a large saucepan on the stove.  I didn’t have any issues from this.

I didn’t have any burgundy (we’re not wine drinkers here) in this house, and so used Pinot Noir, it worked perfectly.  Don’t stress about the wine provided it’s red.

If your bouquet garni breaks apart and populates the dish (like mine did), then just tell those who are enjoying it to fish out the larger stems and leaves.

We used pre-cut casserole meat from the supermarket, it saved time and was cut quite lean.  We did pay a bit extra for this privilege however.

Gratin Dauphinois

Gratin Dauphnois


  • 1 kg (2lb 4oz) floury potatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 65g (1/2 cup) grated Gruyère cheese
  • ground nutmeg
  • 315 mL (1.25 cups) thick (double/heavy) cream
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 170C (325F).  Thinly slice the potatoes with a mandolin or sharp knife.  Butter a 23 cm x 16 cm (9 x 6.5 in) ovenproof dish and layer the potatoes, sprinkling the garlic, grated cheese, nutmeg and seasoning between the layers, leaving some cheese for the top.  Pour the cream and milk over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  2. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until the potatos are completely cooked and the liquid absorbed.  If the top browns too much, cover loosely with foil.  Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes from this recipe:

I choose Nicola (standard white potatoes) for this recipe and they worked.  King Edward potatoes also would work. You’re looking for potatoes that are good for mashing.

Even though the recipe called for 170C, I had my oven at 160C for the casserole, and it baked perfectly.

Depending on the size of your garlic cloves (mine were MASSIVE), be very generous with the garlic between the layers.  Don’t put any garlic on top.

Chocolate Mousse


  • 300g (10.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
  • 30g (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons of Cognac
  • 4 egg whites
  • 5 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
  • 500mL (2 cups) whipping cream


  1. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl isn’t touching the water.  Leave the chocolate until it looks soft and then stir until melted.  Add the butter and stir until melted.  Remove the bowl from the saucepan and cool for a few minutes.  Add the eggs and Cognac and stir.
  2. Using an electric mixer or balloon whisk, beat the eggs whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form, adding the sugar gradually.  Whisk one-third of the egg while into the chocolate mixture to loosen it and then fold in the remainder with a large metal spoon or spatula.
  3. Whip the cream and fold into the mousse.  Pour into glasses or a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Notes from this recipe:

I mixed dark and milk chocolate together and it was delightful

I didn’t want to use my house-mate’s Cognac without asking him so I used Cointreau instead.  It was delicious. If you like a mint flavour, you probably could use Creme de Menthe.

This recipe makes more than you think it will.