Blanquette de Veau (French veal stew with white sauce)

>> Sunday, May 28, 2017

We first had this classic French veal stew at Froggy’s CafĂ© – you know, that French place we rhapsodize about. We consulted with Julia Child on the recipe and experimented a little on our own to come up with the recipe here.

While this is technically a basic stew, it's upscale enough for a fancy dinner party. The lovely creamy sauce and tender, buttery veal are a treat for special friends. 

We’ve noticed that some classic French recipes can be rather one-note. For example, the original recipe called for cooking the veal with a carrot, celery stalk and onion, but then discarding everything. The result is the stew contains just meat, mushrooms, and the very flavorful gravy. We switched it up a bit so that we keep all the vegetables in the stew. You might want to play around with this too – but perhaps experiment on something cheaper than veal!


For the Bouquet Garni (Herb bundle)
3” cheesecloth square
Kitchen Twine
1 tbsp parsley leaves
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme
6 black peppercorns

For the Stew
2 lbs. boneless veal shoulder, cut into 1″ chunks
2 stalks of celery cut into 1″ pieces
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup pearl onions
1.5 cups baby carrots cut in half
10 oz. of mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, white, crimini, and oyster, sliced
¼ cup sherry
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 12 tbsp. flour
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and white pepper to taste
Cooked white rice, for serving
Parsley leaves, to garnish


Wrap the herbs in the cheese cloth and tie with the twine. In a large pot, place the veal, onions, carrot, celery, broth and enough water to partially cover the food. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat, and simmer one hour. Skim off the scum as it forms. Be careful not to overcook the veal as it will turn to mush!

Add the mushrooms and sherry and cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove the meat and vegetables to a platter and keep warm; return the broth to the pot.

 In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and stir in one cup of the veal broth, stirring until smooth. Slowly stir the white sauce into the large pot, add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer gently until it is thickened. Stir in the cream. Return the meat and vegetables to the pot and heat through. Sprinkle with parsley after plating.

Serve over white rice, noodles, or alone with crusty bread.

Serves 4.


Bulerias Tapas Restaurant, Chicago

>> Monday, May 15, 2017

We've been to Bulerias twice, once for a birthday celebration and once for Mother's Day lunch. I really want to love this place - it has so much going for it - but I'm not in love.

First, it's hard to tell online whether the dancing shows are ticketed/paid or free. Luckily for us, the first time we reserved the downstairs area and got to see the show, which is really spectacular. Unluckily, we were so close to the stage that the dancer's fringed costume swept through my food a couple of times. Blech.

On our recent visit, our group of seven made reservations ahead of time and then confirmed it in a later phone call, but they didn't have our reservation. They sat us anyway, though, so it's all good.I would note though that the tables are small and close together; if our server hadn't been on top of our used plates, we would have had trouble!

The food is wonderful. My favorites are the bacon-wrapped dates, mild grilled octopus, and flank steak on crostini with blue cheese. Oh, and the potatoes alli olio! Good sized portions, well-prepared, and all the tapas came quickly after we ordered. They have a nice wine list and good sangria. One of our guests is on a restrictive no-cholesterol diet, and while he wasn't able to share some of the tapas us fat-lovin' people ate, he found some satisfying items to order.

We spent a long time at lunch and it would have been much more enjoyable if we could hear each other talk. We really wanted to catch up with each other but it was difficult. We were in an alcove and the music was extremely loud; even the waiter had trouble hearing us and made some ordering mistakes because of it. We asked him to turn down the noise but he said he couldn't do anything about it. That seemed strange, since he said he could turn the TV to any game we wanted...but couldn't adjust the volume of the music.

There are many tapas places in Chicago so once they have the food nailed down, it's the extra touches of service and atmosphere that determine where people will dine. Bulerias has some problems that could easily be fixed.  I hope they get on it!

Bulerias Tapas Bar is at 3656 N Ashland Ave. Chicago, IL 60613 

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