Saturday, April 21, 2018
Features and More

Traditional French stew — simplified

This is my untraditional weeknight version of the traditional French stew known as pot au feu, a dish that dates back to medieval times. I decided it was time for an update.

Called "the perpetual stew" by the English, the dish was "an ever-changing broth enriched daily with whatever was available," according to Reay Tannhill in Food in History. "The cauldron was rarely emptied out."

French chef Raymond Blanc described it with a little more love in a recent interview with the London Observer: "Pot au feu, the quintessence of French family cuisine, is the most celebrated dish in France. It honors the tables of the rich and poor alike."

The problem for a home cook in the 21st century is that it took — and takes — a long time to make a traditional pot au feu. Alexandre Dumas, in his 1873 Dictionary of Cuisine, stipulated that you had to simmer the beef for seven hours in the bouillon you'd simmered for seven hours the day before.

You can knock out my variation in about 40 minutes.

You start with root vegetables, chicken stock and flank steak garnished with wasabi. Happily, this is the season for root vegetables, so I enlisted three that play very nicely together: carrots, parsnips and turnips. What's great is that the root vegetables perfume the broth in a mere 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, you don't braise the steak, as you would in pot au feu. Instead, you saute it in a skillet and cook it to medium-rare. Then you thinly slice it and top it with the hot broth and some wasabi "cream." This cream is wasabi combined with yogurt. If you don't have a can of dried wasabi powder on hand, Dijon mustard or bottled horseradish will certainly do. Beef loves any and all of these spicy members of the brassicaceae family.

Please note that powdered wasabi is not true wasabi. It is horseradish, powdered and dyed. But actual fresh wasabi, a very perishable rhizome, is hard to find and very expensive. And powdered wasabi does pack its own unique heat and flavor, so don't feel bad about using it.

Its distinguished lineage notwithstanding, I think of pot au feu as a cross between a clear soup and a thin stew, a French version of Jewish chicken soup, only made with beef. It's wonderfully homey and restorative, exactly the sort of dish I'd like to be served on a cold blustery day or when I was feeling a bit under the weather. Try it and see for yourself.

Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting Food Network shows. She currently stars in "Sara's Weeknight Meals" on PBS and has written three cookbooks, including "Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners."

Comments
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18
In Bhutan, gross national happiness more important than GDP

In Bhutan, gross national happiness more important than GDP

Associated PressLAYA, BhutanPrayer flags whip in the wind, flying across steep valleys and roads. Buddhist temples, stupa shrines and majestic fortresses called zhongs dot the landscape. Giant water-powered prayer wheels spin from tumbling falls. Far...
Published: 04/20/18
The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Florida Orchestra puts another exclamation point on its 50th season with Verdi’s Requiem, this weekend’s concert series, a major presentation of an iconic work. Composed by Giuseppe Verdi, Requiem debuted in 1874 but took on a new layer of signif...
Updated: 11 hours ago
On its 20th anniversary, Disney's Animal Kingdom credits conservation with longevity

On its 20th anniversary, Disney's Animal Kingdom credits conservation with longevity

ORLANDO — When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened 20 years ago, it was light on thrills and heavy on conservation. On April 22, 1998, Earth Day, the Orlando park had a single thrill ride, Countdown to Extinction, and a handful of shows like ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
On 4/20, a Tampa distillery is releasing hemp-infused Touch Vodka

On 4/20, a Tampa distillery is releasing hemp-infused Touch Vodka

TAMPA — Appropriately enough, a local distillery is releasing a hemp vodka on Friday, 4/20.After more than a year of planning and research, Fat Dog Spirits — the parent company of Touch Vodka — is releasing its new Nirvana vodka.Served in 750-millile...
Published: 04/19/18
Graze all day at Armature Works

Graze all day at Armature Works

TAMPA HEIGHTS— Graze 1910 upholds the comfortable and relaxing, yet elegant setting of Armature Works with its "comfort food" offerings and dedication to serving breakfast all day."It’s the way I eat. I graze all day," said owner Raymond "Ray" Menend...
Published: 04/19/18
Tampa Bay disciples of 'Wild Wild Country' guru remember Oregon commune

Tampa Bay disciples of 'Wild Wild Country' guru remember Oregon commune

SPRING HILL Joe Lemieux sat on the cream sofa near several relics from another era in his life, out of place in this retiree’s pastel-tinged living room and brought into the morning light specifically for this occasion. There was a beaded nec...
Published: 04/19/18
Persall: Upon retirement, a look back at a star-quality career

Persall: Upon retirement, a look back at a star-quality career

Do you see what I did there? The comma and extra "E" in my byline? One last pun, just for fun. It’s the end, fin in French, and something unfortunately ruder in Swedish. Time to retire, nearly 25 years to the day after starting work as the T...
Published: 04/19/18
Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

ST. PETERSBURG — In the coming season, Freefall Theatre is rolling out a world premiere, a different take on Christmas, a sharp comedy and a recent work by Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage. The theme for the 2018-2019 season, "A Brighter Tomorrow," color...
Published: 04/19/18
Bar review: London Heights British Pub in Tampa

Bar review: London Heights British Pub in Tampa

As a person who has no intention of ever going into the bar business, I spend a good amount of time thinking about what makes bar concepts work. I think about themes, branding, menus, location and myriad other factors that ultimately play into a bar’...
Published: 04/19/18