Spring Dreams of Arles

Posted by on Jan 17, 2013 in Foodie Advice | 10 comments

bowlsOn this cold snowy January day, I’m dreaming of the south of France in all of its colorful glory. A favorite town of mine is Arles, with its charming markets, the ancient Roman amphitheater used for bull-fighting, fragrant lavendar and sage packets, cerulean and gold tablecloths, the deep blue sky Van Gogh loved to paint. SIGH. What I would give to be there. But since I can’t and chances are neither can you, I leave you with a favorite winter provençale dish–Julia Child’s succulent beef stew.



2 Tab olive oil
1 1/2 cups dry vermouth
1/4 cup brandy or 1/4 cup gin
2 ts salt
1/4 ts pepper
1/2 ts thyme or 1/2 ts sage
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups thinly sliced carrots
2 cups thinly sliced onions
arles3 lbs chuck steaks, cut in 2 ½ x 2 ½ x 1 inch squares
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups firm ripe tomatoes, peeled,seeded,and chopped
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
beef bouillon, if necessary
2 cloves garlic
3 Tab capers
3 Tab Dijon mustard
3 Tab olive oil
1/2 cup minced fresh basil or 1/2 cup
fresh parsley


  • Mix olive oil through onions and marinate steak in refrigerator at least 6 hours, basting and turning meat several times.
  • Scrape marinade off meat and reserve.
  • Season meat lightly with salt and pepper; roll in flour and set aside on waxed paper.
  • In a bowl toss marinade with tomatoes and mushrooms.
  • Place 1/3 of mixed vegetables in bottom of 6 quart flame-proof casserole. Alternate layers of meat and vegetables, ending with vegetables. Pour in any left-over marinade.
  • soapsCover, set over moderate heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  • If vegetables have not rendered enough liquid to almost cover meat, add a little bouillon.
  • Cover and simmer 1½-2 hours until meat is tender when pierced.
  • Tip casserole, trim out fat and taste for seasoning. If liquid has not reduced and thickened, drain out into a saucepan and thicken with 1 Tbs cornstarch mixed with bouillon, boil 2 minutes, then pour into casserole.
  • Chop or purée garlic and mash with capers.
  • Beat in mustard.
  • Gradually beat in olive oil to make a thick sauce. Stir in basil or parsley just before serving.


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Beth F

    Oh the sights, the smells, the colors …. you have me dreaming. I’ll pretend our sunny skies are warm and the snow is fields of lavender. Lovely warming stew for January.

  2. Esme

    I am always dreaming of France, mine is about chocolate in Brittany.

  3. Diane (bookchickdi)

    Arles sounds wonderful and thanks for sharing Julia’s recipe; it would be perfect for a winter’s day.

  4. Rikki

    Lovely post. The pictures are great. Ah, look at the soap. The South of France is wonderful!

  5. Carole

    Fantastic dishes. Next time I’m in Europe I’m going to buy dishes! Have a good week.

  6. Joy Weese Moll

    Thanks for sharing your vision — that will keep me warm as the cold front blows in tonight. That sounds like a wonderful stew for winter!

  7. Heather

    more pictures please. perfect foil to the blustery winter day I am having here.

  8. Cecelia

    It’s going to be perfect stew weather here on Tuesday – too cold to leave the house, in other words! I may go get the ingredients for this…

    Thanks for sharing – your image of France sounds lovely!

  9. Tina

    I love your blog – LOVE it! I was hoping to subscribe via email but I don’t think I signed up correctly. Anyway, I am Francophile and your post has me drooling. Beautiful!

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