Friday, January 30, 2015

French Recipes on Feast Everyday

Creme Brulee at the Musee D'Orsay

January is coming to end so I decided collect all of the French recipes which have been posted in the past.

Some are from as far back as 2009 when I first started Feast Everyday. Click on the title to go to the post.

Quiche Lorraine
Potage Crecy (Carrot Soup) by Colleen
Coq au Vin (Chicken in Red Wine) a la Jacques Pepin
Duck in 30 minutes a la Dorie Greenspan
Zucchini and Tomato Gratin from Jacques Pepin by Colleen
Jacques Pepin's Lamb by Tom
Making Vinaigrette with the Dregs of the Mustard Jar
Lemon Rocket (Arugula) Salad by Colleen
French-style Pork Chops with Calvados and Apples by Tom
Roasted Salmon with French Lentils a la Dorie Greenspan
Lamb with White Beans
French Onion Soup
Spiked Pate by Tom
How to make dreamy cheese omelettes
Galette des Rois (Kings Cake) by Mary
Le Souffle
Mastering the Art of French Eating from Ted
"Le Chef" movie
Palmiers (Elephant Ears) a la Ina Garten
Buche de Noel from Charlotte
Lemon Madeleines
French Macarons
French Cinnamon from Mary
Eclairs by Chris
Easy Chocolate Mousse by Colleen

Thank you to everyone who contributed this month and in the past.

J'ai bien mange.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lamb with White Beans: a classic French combination

Lamb Shank with White Beans

It has been very cold here, so a hearty dish like this hits the spot.  It is mini-version of the classic French combination of lamb with white beans.  I used lamb shanks instead of the traditional leg or shoulder.

There are many versions of the dish "out there" but I chose to use Julia Child's from Mastering the Art of French Cooking and adapted it for 2.

Takes 3 - 4 hours to make the dish, so give yourself plenty of time.  And remember to soak the beans overnight.

The ingredients are simple but delicious:  rosemary, garlic, bay leaf, onions and carrots plus a little tomato paste, white wine, and beef stock.

Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans
(adapted from Mastering the art of French Cooking)

Serves 2 generously

2 lamb shanks
2 to 3 T. rendered pork fat or cooking oil
1 carrot, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2 to 3 cups of beef stock
2 parsley sprigs or 1/2 t. dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 t. rosemary, fresh, chopped
1-2 unpeeled cloves garlic
1.5 T. tomato paste
1 1/4 cups cooked white Great Northern beans or 2 15.5-ounce cans

For the beans:  You have two options:  1) soak over night and drain, pick out the bad ones, then drop them into boiling water with 2 t. salt, and simmer for an hour or until tender  or 2) used canned beans, which have been drained and rinsed.  We prefer the first option, but have made this dish both ways.

For the lamb:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large ovenproof casserole, on medium high heat, render the pork fat down.  Then brown the lamb shanks well on all sides.
Remove to a side platter, including the pork.

Brown vegetables for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove them with a slotted spoon.
Pour off the excess browning fat.
Add the wine and boil it down rapidly,
scraping up coagulated browning juices, until reduced by half.
Season the lamb and place it, its fattiest side up, in the casserole.
Surround it with the browned vegetables.
Pour enough stock to come two thirds of the way up the meat.
Stir in the herbs, garlic, and optional tomato paste.
Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
Lay aluminum foil over the top of the casserole, then the casserole cover.
Place in oven and regulate so that the liquid is maintained at a slow simmer.
Turn and baste meat every half hour.
After 2 hours, Remove the lamb from the casserole when it is to within half an hour of being done.
Strain and degrease the cooking stock, and correct its seasoning, i.e., add salt and pepper if needed.
Return meat and stock to the casserole and surround with the beans.
Bring the casserole again to the simmer on top of the stove.
Cover, and return to the oven until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes.
Spoon a bed of white beans into each plate and spoon sauce over the entire dish.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Petite Palmiers (Elephant Ears)

Petite Palmiers (Elephant Ears) - 
crisp, airy, caramelized confections - 
so easy!

We made these last night for our grandkids but discovered this morning that they got sick overnight, so we had to cancel our visit.  Boohoo.  I hope they freeze well.

I found the recipe in Ina Garten's "Barefoot in Paris" cookbook.  Hers are smaller than pastry shop ones.
They fit in the palm of my hand and are about 3 inches wide.

We were pleasantly surprised to see how easy they are to make. The sugar makes a mess but they were fun to make.

You can just hear Ina saying "How easy is that?" when you are making them.

Start to finish we were done in half hour, once the dough was defrosted and the oven heated.
These are an Americanized version which rely on Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry for the dough.  True palmiers have many more layers, and come in many sizes.  Some are huge!

Petite Palmiers (Elephant Ears)
(from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris cookbook)

Makes 40 to 45  3-inch pastries 

2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sheets Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, defrosted

Defrost the puff pastry in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

I'd suggest you line your cookie sheets with parchment paper now.  You will need 2 large cookie sheets.
Combine the sugar and kosher salt.  Pour 1 cup of the sugar-salt mixture on a flat surface such as a wooden board or marble slab.

Unfold the first sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar and pour 1/2 cup sugar mixture on top, spreading it evenly on the puff pastry.  This is not about sprinkling, it's about an even covering of sugar.

With a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough until it's a 13 in square and the sugar is pressed into the puff pastry on top and bottom.
Fold the sides of the square toward the center so they go halfway to the middle.
Fold them again so the two folds meet exactly in the middle of the dough.

Then, --- my version of what she says to do -- is to fold all of the folds you have made so far on top of each other so that you have a log.  This is what you will slice to make the palmiers.  If you look at the ends, at this stage, you will see the two spirals which meet in the middle.

Slice the dough into 3/8 inch slices and place the slices, cut side up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  We sprinkled a little extra sugar on the tops of the palmiers after we put them on the cookie sheets.

Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry.

There will be quite a bit of sugar left on the board.
Bake for 6 minutes (we went 8) or until caramelized and brown on the bottom,
then turn with a spatula (we found a metal one works better than a plastic one)
and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, until caramelized on the other side.

Transfer to a baking rack and cool.
Cool completely, and store in airtight plastic bags.

We will definitely make these again.  They were delicious this morning with a cup of coffee.

I think this is as close as we are going to get to real pâtisserie palmiers.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) from Charlotte

Bûche de Noël by Charlotte 

Today I asked Charlotte if I could post her plat de résistance from Christmas, as part of our French theme.

Charlotte says:
"I don't know exactly why they (the French) make it but is a traditional dessert for Christmas.  I made a bûche de Noël because I made one with my friends for my French class in school to give to teachers, and I wanted to make a better one for my family for Christmas.  I have always thought they were cool but my mom said they were too much work, but when I showed her what I made with my friends she agreed we could make one for our Christmas!"   --- Charlotte

Colleen (her mom) said:

"So Charlotte had to make a bûche de noël as an extra credit project for her French class.  She seemed to think it was not that hard so she made another one with my help.  We used a more challenging recipe.  We started to go off road fairly quickly.  Fingers crossed it tastes good - we sunk a lot of chocolate, cream and eggs into the project.  It was fun regardless.  We used a recipe from the The Joy of Baking, and made a ganache from Williams-Sonoma Holiday Baking.  And made decorations out of almond paste.  And added some coffee powder to the filling to get to a mocha moment.  The cake did start to crack when we tried to roll it up.  I would probably try a different recipe next time to see if we could find a cake that is easier to work with.  But cracks are easily covered with ganache and filling."  

Afterwards, she says " Ours was very chocolaty. Choco cake mocha filling and dark chocolate ganache. With marzipan decorations. Very good. We got recipe from Joy of Baking with ganache from Williams-Sonoma Holiday Baking. We added one packet instant decaf coffee from Starbucks to recipe for filling. And we did double recipe of ganache. It bakes quickly and you can make in about three hours. With all the prep and decor.  "  --- Colleen

Ted says:  " I can personally testify that this dessert was beautifully executed and amazingly good.   -- Uncle Ted
Links for the recipes and Colleen's notes:  Buche de Noel by The Joy of  Baking, click here but add one packet of Starbucks instant coffee powder to the filling to make it mocha and a packet of Whip it stabilizer to the filling.  Did not refrigerate for an hour.  And powdered sugar.  Dark chocolate ganache, click here.  But add 1 T. corn syrup to make the ganache glossy.  And double it. 

Thanks, Charlotte! 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Mastering the Art of French Eating" from Ted

Ann Mah's book

I received a surprise package from Amazon two days ago --- and inside was a gift from my older brother, Ted, as his contribution to this month's Feast Everyday theme of French cuisine: 

Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah, 
2013, a Viking book

She is a journalist and food writer --- and says she is a lifelong foodie and Francophile.  She is married to a U.S. diplomat and they found themselves fortunate enough to be stationed in Paris but he was called away to Iraq for a year and she was left alone in Paris.  

That's when she decided to travel around France and learn more about French food.  The book covers 10 dishes from 10 different parts of the country.  Examples:
  • Paris/Steak Frites
  • Alsace/ Choucroute
  • Burgundy/Boeuf Bourguignon
  • Brittany/Crepes
Looks like a great read.  

Thanks, Ted!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Le Soufflé in Paris

Soufflé at Le Soufflé in Paris

One of my more memorable meals recently was a lunch last June at Le Soufflé in Paris,  It was a beautiful sunny, not too hot day, and we stopped here while we were sightseeing.

Tom was spending the day with my sister-in-law and nieces (at Disneyland Paris) so I walked the Champs Elysée with two history buffs, my brother and his college-age son.

Le Soufflé
36 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001, Paris

My nephew, William, scoped out this restaurant for us for lunch.  He had recently spent time traveling with his college program, so he was very willing to take the lead.

White table cloth, excellent service, although touristy

There are three courses at lunch:  A savory souffle, a salad and a sweet souffle.

Soufflés are iconic French cuisine, especially a dessert soufflé.  A flavored sauce base is incorporated in to stiffly beaten egg whites (7 times their volume) and then it is baked and served hot.

At the table, the top is "cracked" and additional sauce is added.  Here is a video (in French) showing how they are made at Le Soufflé.

I don't think William had ever tried a soufflé before, so it was fun to share the experience with him.  Even if he didn't really like the texture of soufflés.

It was memorable because we all enjoyed trying something new, his restaurant choice was spontaneous and we got to spend time relaxing and talking over a long lunch together.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon by Tom

Boeuf Bourguignon
(Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions, and Mushrooms)

Continuing on with our French food adventure, Barbara asked me to make Beef, or Boeuf, Bourguignon.  How hard can that be, I thought.  Just throw a piece of beef into a stew pot with a bottle of wine and bake for several hours.  She added one caveat.  It must be done as Julia Child does it.  No skipping of steps and no additions.  Follow the recipe to the letter.  Not my normal approach to cooking.

We had just watched "Season 10 Top Chef Boston" with Jacques Pepin and saw how the professional chefs struggled with the techniques of Julia Child.  So I knew I had my work cut out for me.

However it turns out that if you follow her instructions from her cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", you really can prepare a very good beef bourguignon.  It just requires patience and following her technique.

So, here goes.  Boeuf Bourguignon a la Julia Child as mastered by me.


Boeuf Bourguignon
Beef Stew with Red Wine, Bacon, Onions and Mushrooms
(Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck)

Serves 6

3 pounds lean stewing meat...I used a top round steak...cut into 2" cubes with most visible fat and silver skin removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 wine
2-3 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf crumbled
6 ounces bacon plus rind from salt pork

18-24 small peeled white onions...these will be prepared separately and added later
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup beef stock
Herb bouquet: 1 tablespoon dry parsley, 1/2 bay leaf crumbled, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme all tied in a cheesecloth
Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms...these will be prepared separately and added later
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the bacon into 1"-2" pieces.  The rind as well.
Into a saucepan put 1 1/2 quarts of water.  Add the bacon and the rind, and simmer for 10 minutes.  This renders some of the fat from the bacon.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  The oven rack should be in the lower third of the oven.

Remove the bacon and rind from the simmering water.  Put the rind aside as you will put that in later.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in the casserole dish that you will be using for cooking the meal.  Sauté the bacon for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove the bacon from the casserole with a slotted spoon to a side dish.
Reheat the fat until it is almost smoking.  Dry the beef with a paper towel, and sauté it until it is nicely browned on all sides.  It is important to dry the beef before sautéing because it will not brown if it is damp.  It will steam instead.
Once sautéed, remove the beef to the plate with the bacon.
Slice the carrot and onion.  Note my "Happy Face" spoon.
Sauté the vegetables in the casserole.  Once they are golden, remove from the heat and drain as much of the sautéing fat as possible.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with salt and pepper.  Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to lightly coat the meat.  I did this in two steps to insure all of the meat had a coating.
Now place the casserole uncovered in your 450 degree oven for 4 minutes.  After 4 minutes, pull it out and stir it up.  Place back in the oven for another 4 minutes.  This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.  Once the time is up, remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to 325 degrees.
Stir in the wine and enough beef stock so that meat is barely covered.  Add the tomato paste, garlic, crumbled bay leaf, thyme, salt, and bacon rind.  Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.  Then cover the casserole and set it in the lower third of the oven.  Regulate the oven heat up a little or down a little to insure that the liquid simmers for the next 3-4 hours.  The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is simmering in the oven, it is time to prepare the small onions and mushrooms.  We'll do the mushrooms first.

In a large skillet over high heat, melt the butter and oil.  As soon as you see the foam from the butter start to subside, add the quartered mushrooms.  Toss and shake the pan as you sauté the mushrooms.  To get a golden brown on the mushrooms will take 7-10 minutes depending on the size of the mushrooms you are using.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Once the mushrooms are golden brown, remove from the skillet and put on a plate.  Set these aside as these will be added to the casserole near the end of the cooking.
Now it is time to sauté the onions.  In a smaller skillet, heat the butter and the oil.  When it starts to bubble, add the onions.  Reduce the heat to medium and sauté the onions for about 10 minutes, rolling them around in the pan so that they will brown as evenly as possible.  Julia says that you cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

Once you have browned the onions, add the 1/2 cup of beef stock and herb bouquet.  Bring to a simmer, cover the pan, and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes.  The liquid should be pretty much fully evaporated and the onions will be soft and tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from the pan and put on the plate with the mushrooms.  These will be added later in the cooking cycle.

Note: our cheesecloth "disappeared", so I had to improvise.  I used a small strainer, placed the herbs in that, and placed it in the center of the skillet.  It worked very well.  My only adaptation of Julia's technique.  I think she would have approved.
Near the end of the 3-4 hour cooking cycle, find a medium sauce pan and place a large strainer on top of it.
When the meat is tender, remove the casserole from the oven.  You will see that some of the liquid has evaporated even though covered throughout the cooking cycle.
Dump the contents into the strainer over the sauce pan.  Rinse and clean the casserole while the meat is draining.
From the strainer transfer the beef and bacon back into the cleaned casserole dish.  Don't worry if you get a few stray pieces of carrot or onion.  Add the previously prepared mushrooms and small onions into the casserole with the beef and bacon.
From the sauce pan, skim off any fat that has accumulated on the surface.  Heat the mixture a little to bring a little bit more fat to the surface.  Skim it off as best you can.  You should have about 2 1/2 cups of liquid.  Dip a spoon in.  It should be coated lightly.  If too little, boil it down a bit.  If too thick, add some beef stock.  Taste carefully for seasoning.  Salt and pepper accordingly.
Add the liquid back into the casserole and stir the mixture up.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Serve.
I complemented the beef bourguignon with small yellow potatoes and French style green beans.

Using Julia Child's technique was a labor of love.  But what it produced was well worth the effort.

Bon appetit!