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I’ve had a whirlwind of travel and household guests the last two months, and the blog suffered as a result. But I’m back with renewed energy and ready to continue cooking my way around the world!

One culinary treat I discovered when I moved up to Northern Nevada is Basque food. I did not know a lot about the Basque, who primarily live in Spain and southwestern France, until I got up here and found out there’s a good number of Nevadans who claim Basque ancestry. With that comes no shortage of Basque restaurants, which I associate with several courses of hearty food and complimentary red table wine. (There’s also Picon Punch, which is our state drink, but I *gasp* don’t really care too much for it…) Ask anyone in Northern Nevada what their favorite Basque restaurant is, and you can get any number of answers. Suffice to say, I enjoy something about each of the restaurants I’ve tried up here.

Some of the ingredients for making Basque chicken and chorizo
Some of the ingredients for making Basque chicken and chorizo
There were any number of dishes I could have chosen to make for my Basque feast. Lamb is generally a popular choice because typically many Basque were shepherds. However, I have a particular fondness for Basque chorizo and determined that this dish was the way to go.

Prepping everything to cook up.
Prepping everything to cook up.
I’m not sure how difficult Basque chorizo is to get elsewhere, but up here in Northern Nevada, it’s pretty much at every store. The spices are slightly different than Mexican chorizo, and it usually isn’t as spicy.

Cooking up chicken and chorizo.
Cooking up chicken and chorizo.
I did make one substitution in this recipe. I didn’t have any dry sherry, so I opted for red wine instead. I researched a few versions of this recipe before settling on the one I used, and most of them used red wine, anyway (or even a combination of red and white). Cooking with wine means I have an excuse to enjoy a glass with dinner, which is always a major plus.

Voila!
Voila!
I wasn’t able to pull off the multi-course feast of the Basque restaurants in town, but I did enjoy a warming, hearty platter of chicken and chorizo. Try this out, and I am sure your tastebuds will thank you.

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On Veteran’s Day, I took the opportunity of an extra day off to tackle a recipe I have tried a few times since tasting it for the first time last year: beef bourguignon. This is a truly divine dish from France, which was brought into American kitchens by the cooking icon Julia Child.

The great words of Julia
The great words of Julia, Louisette, and Simone

Two days later, after my sister, my boyfriend and I had enjoyed this fabulous French dish, Paris¬†was attacked in heartless, brutal fashion. When news of the attacks broke, I was glued to the New York Times reading anything I could. It is a fitting tribute that France is the country I “visited” this week.

My sister makes fun of me for loving the multicolored carrots, but I do.
My sister makes fun of me for loving the multicolored carrots, but I do.

If you don’t have Mastering the Art of French Cooking, you are missing out on a truly informational book. It is full of instructions on how to *really* cook, and not just French cooking. Also, the book includes instructions that are not found on any version of this recipe online. For example, it explains that you have to boil the bacon prior to sauteeing it because French bacon is not as smokey as American bacon. (And, if you did not, the entire dish would only taste of bacon).

Mmmmm, bacon
Mmmmm, bacon

I have attempted this dish a few times, and this was by far my best attempt. I made sure I followed every instruction, and it paid off. I served this with French-style green beans (blanched for 8-10 minutes, then sauteed in butter).

I like cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food!
I like cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food!

Beef bourguignon takes quite a bit of time to prepare — roughly 4 hours total — so make sure you set aside some time for this (and don’t fall asleep like Julie in “Julie & Julia”). But it is well worth the effort. It is wonderful for entertaining, and also only gets better after a day in the fridge (for lunch the next day).

The final product
The final product

Don’t be afraid to try this recipe. Yeah, it has a lot of steps, but you will be happy you did it! Bon appetite!

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