Did you know that former television chef Julia Child turns 100 on Wednesday? There's at least one person who did: Elin Agustsson, owner of in Melrose.
"I’ve been following Julia Child on tv since I was a young girl," wrote Agustsson in an email to Melrose Patch. "I remember learning how to de-bone a chicken watching her show! Julia taught me the basic techniques of cooking."
To celebrate the special occasion, Agustsson is preparing to make five dinner specials that each serve two people.
"We are serving (Child's) famous boeuf bourguignon with a complimentary dessert—her delicious boca negra (flourless) chocolate cupcake (with raspberry sauce and white chocolate cream)," Agustsson wrote on the Busy Bee Bakery Facebook page. "You won't want to miss out on this dinner special!"
Agustsson said that she's served the special dinner takeout meal "Many times over the years. It’s a classic."
"This is the second annual Julia Birthday Meal here at the Busy Bee Bakery," wrote Agustsson about Child, who passed away Aug. 13, 2004 at 91. "We also celebrate at home with friends and family."
In the past, Agustsson said that she's prepared countless Child dishes, including coq au vin (chicken in red wine with onions, mushrooms and bacon), chicken fricassee, fondue de poulet a la crème (chicken simmered with cream and onions), filet steaks tourbeados and steak béarnaise.
When it comes to this year's boeuf bourguignon dinner, Agustsson discussed the general preparation involved with making it.
"(It's) similar to making any stew, (but) instead you use wine and bacon to give more depth of flavor," wrote Agustsson. "Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with this dish, but Julia states in (a) cookbook (that) buttered noodles or rice can be substituted. I prefer the noodles over both."
For those interested in making the boeuf bourguignon dinner, here is the recipe and directions:
• One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon
• 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
• 1 carrot, sliced
• 1 onion, sliced
• Salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone
• 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 2 cloves mashed garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon thyme
• A crumbled bay leaf
• 18 to 24 white onions, small
• 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
• Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon
thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
• 1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered
1. Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2
inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts
water. Drain and dry.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3. Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole
over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side
dish with a slotted spoon.
4.Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in
casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and
sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.
5. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt
and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
6. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set
casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
7. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the
flour and coves the meat with a light crust).
8. Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
9. Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely
10 Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on
top of the stove.
11. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that
liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork
pierces it easily.
12. While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
13. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil
until bubbling in a skillet.
14. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their
skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.
15. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.
16. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are
perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated.
17. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.
18. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon
as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add
19. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.
20. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve
set over a saucepan.
21. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute
the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.
22. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming
off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce
thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
23. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons
stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.
24. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes,
basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.
25. Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes,
noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.
When complete and tasted, Agustsson describes the meal as "rich, and delicious!"
The dinners, which cost $24 and includes two free boca negra cupcakes, will be ready after 2 p.m., according to Agustsson.