"If You're Afraid of Butter, Use Cream" --Julie and Julia

I'd been feeling a little uninspired lately. I blame this on the depression that comes with the end of summer and the return to normal humdrum life as the weather cools and September rolls around.

However, if there's one movie to watch to get you out of a food rut, that would be Julie and Julia. This movie is the new darling of the food world; I saw the Food Network promoting a related event and contest a few days ago. It has also sparked interest in French cuisine; Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" shot to #1 on Amazon's bestseller list soon after the movie's release. It has also created some rather terribly pun-y critics' reviews, which mention the film "leaving audiences hungry for more" or Nora Ephron concocting "the perfect recipe" for a great movie.

Cliched reviews or not, I knew I had to see it as soon as I heard about it... I mean, it is about cooking and blogging. Or, as it turns out, much more than that. Ephron tactfully translates the passion that many foodies have for cooking and eating onto the big screen. And just as seeing a Broadway show makes me want to dance, seeing all the incredible looking food blown up on a giant movie screen made me want to cook.

And cook I did. I'm not really a fan of French food. Maybe it's just my limited experience with it, but it all seems too fussy and too buttery. But the movie made me want to cook something rich and wine-y. This speedy dish has flavours reminiscent of Julia Child's famed Boeuf Bourguignon. It was also inspired by my favourite scene from the movie, which I will only here describe as "the onion scene."

This was rather satisfying to make; the onion slicing and wine deglazing made me feel "just like Julia." Now, I'm just waiting for that book contract.


Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Wild Mushroom Ragout

1 large russett potato
2 cloves roasted garlic, minced (see Note)
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter

2 cups assorted wild mushrooms (I used portobello and shiitake)
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons butter, cold

Peel the potato and cut into large 1 inch chunks. Drop into salted boiling water and cook until tender (about 10 minutes). In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter until hot. Mash the potato with the roasted garlic and add milk mixture until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper.

In a medium saute pan, slowly caramelize the onion in olive oil until browned and sticky (about 20-30 minutes). Stir in the brown sugar until melted and remove from the pan. Wipe out the pan and in another good splash of oil, brown the mushrooms. As Julia said, don't crowd the pan or the mushrooms won't brown. Once the mushrooms have given up about half their liquid, add the garlic and thyme. About a minute later, return the onions to the pan. Deglaze with red wine and reduce until little wine remains. Stir in the butter to finish the sauce.

Serve the mushroom ragout over the mashed potatoes. Bon appetit.

Note: To roast garlic, slice the top off of a head of garlic. Drizzle olive oil over the exposed cloves. Wrap in foil and roast in a 400F oven for abour 30 minutes, or until browned and meltingly soft.

Recipe and image property of beets and bites

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