Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Steak with Red Wine Sauce and Braised Carrots with Fennel #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  Don and Leslie’s excellent winter of excellent French cooking continues!

We’ve been watching Julia Child’s 1985 “The Way to Cook” videos, which are super fun and inspiring—she inspires such confidence, by breaking down each step and being so darned practical. (We started them a few years ago, but this time, we're determined to get all the way through!) Don, an expert at the grill, wanted to try her method of pan-frying a steak, making a sauce with its own juices. The videos illustrate various cooking techniques; in this, it's using wine to deglaze the pan, loosening and mixing with what she calls "the good bits" stuck to the pan. (The alcohol cooks off; you can get a similar, though less successful, result with broth.)   

I thought the dish would pair well with a carrot and fennel recipe I spotted in Voraciously, the Washington Post food column, which I’ve found to be a good source of reliable recipes, interesting without being too weird and easily made at home—a great find for the past year. 

The carrots and fennel aren’t advertised as particularly French, but fennel is a common ingredient in French cooking—as, I’ve discovered, is the strip of orange peel. Do pay attention to the size of your pan and the liquid; I cut the recipe in half and discovered I needed more than half the liquid—you don’t want a dry pan!

It’s not necessary to make both dishes together, of course, but they do pair well. And they go wonderfully in this little platter my sister-in-law found for us for Christmas! (The spoon might obscure the words: Slaw and Order!)

Butter-Braised Carrots and Fennel with Orange Zest

adapted from the Washington Post  

2 tablespoons butter

1 large shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)

1 teaspoon coriander seed, coarsely crushed (if all you have is ground coriander, go ahead; I won’t tell)

2 small bulbs or 1 medium bulb fennel, plus a few fennel fronds for garnish

2 strips of orange peel, each about 3/4 by 2 inches

1 pound carrots, trimmed and cut into 1/2-by-2-inch sticks

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine

1/2 cup water

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and coriander seed; cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is translucent.

Trim the fennel bulb; reserve a handful of the fennel fronds and coarsely chop them. Cut the fennel bulb into 1/2-inch-thick wedges.

Stir the orange peel and fennel into the shallots until evenly coated; cook until the fennel just begins to soften, about 5 minutes. (This gives the fennel a head start on the quicker-cooking carrots.) Add the carrots, and season with the salt and a good pinch of pepper.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the wine; return to heat and add the water. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; cook for about 25-40 minutes, stirring once or twice. Watch carefully to avoid a dry pan and add more liquid if your vegetables aren’t tender yet. (The length of time will depend on the size of your carrots and whether you’re making a full or half recipe.) 

Uncover; increase the heat to medium and let the liquid reduce for about 5 minutes or until it nicely coats the vegetables. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Discard the orange peel, if you like. Serve hot or warm, garnished with the fennel fronds. 

Makes about 6 servings. 

Steak with Red Wine Sauce

adapted from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook

Note: Sainted though she is, Julia’s terminology doesn’t always match what we see in grocery stores. We used filets or tenderloins, sliced in half because they were quite thick, but we think sirloin or tri-tip would work well. 

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

4–4 to 6 ounce steaks, about ½ inch thick

salt and freshly ground pepper


1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups red wine

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

Pat the steaks dry. Heat butter and oil over medium-high. Saute the steaks, about 1 minute on each side; remove to a warm plate. Season with salt and pepper and cover.

Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and cook about ½ minute. Slowly add red wine, using your spoon or spatula to loosen the good bits on the bottom of the pan, and cook, at a low boil or simmer, until thickened and syrupy. Add the butter and parsley and stir together; pour over steaks and serve. 

Serves 4. 

From the cover of THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES, Spice Shop Mystery #5, out now in paperback, e-book and audio (Seventh St. Books and Tantor Audio) : 

Pepper Reece never expected to find solace in bay leaves. 

But when her life fell apart at forty and she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, her days took a tasty turn. Now she’s savoring the prospect of a flavorful fall and a busy holiday cooking season, until danger bubbles to the surface ... 

Between managing her shop, worrying about her staff, and navigating a delicious new relationship, Pepper’s firing on all burners. But when her childhood friend Maddie is shot and gravely wounded, the incident is quickly tied to an unsolved murder that left another close friend a widow. 

Convinced that the secret to both crimes lies in the history of a once-beloved building, Pepper uses her local-girl contacts and her talent for asking questions to unearth startling links between the past and present—links that suggest her childhood friend may not have been the Golden Girl she appeared to be. Pepper is forced to face her own regrets and unsavory emotions, if she wants to save Maddie’s life—and her own. 

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Watch for her first standalone suspense novel, Bitterroot Lake (written as Alicia Beckman) in April 2021 from Crooked Lane Books.

A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. thank you for sharing these wonderful looking recipes.

  2. What fantastic and beautiful recipes! I can hardly concentrate on my work now! I must try this technique. Hugs MJ

    1. And as Lynn says, great when the weather isn't grill-worthy!

  3. Gotta love Julia! I'm still watching some of her shows on our local PBS mostly on Saturday afternoons, and sometimes on CreateTV. Your recipes sound yummy Leslie! I still occasionally pan fry steaks when it's too cold/inclement weather outside for dh to grill. To me it's all about the seasonings, that so many people forget! Nice veggie pairing, too!

    1. Have you seen the new series where a pair of contemporary chefs watch a Julia video and comment on it? They -- like most of us -- are all a bit in love with her!

    2. Lesie, no I haven't seen that one yet. Is it "Dishing with Julia" on Prime? We have a new TV, so not all our streaming channels are working properly, like they were with Roku.

    3. That's it, although we saw it on PBS Create, which we get through our antenna, though we can also stream PBS with Passport. (How did TV get so complicated?! Good luck with your new one!)

  4. I think Julia would have encouraged some common sense in cooking. The store doesn't have exactly what she mentioned? Adapt.
    Well done.

    1. So right -- she brought common sense, and the common touch, to food people loved to eat but feared trying to make.