Posts Tagged 'French'



Gratin Dauphinois Madame Cartet (Madame Cartet’s Potato Gratin)

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The first time I bought crême fraîche (at Trader Joe’s) I was asked by the cashier what I used it for. I had to admit that I had never used it before but that I was hoping to use it for some kind of gratin.

I had tried several different gratin recipes from a simple scalloped potatoes to Julia Child’s Gratin Dauphinois among others. And, most of the time, they ended up good but either the potatoes fell apart because of being parboiled or they didn’t get cooked all the way or were sitting in a sea of cream. It was just hard to be satisfied with them.

Because crême fraîche is initially a solid, it’s easier to get it to cover all the potatoes without it settling to the bottom of the dish. It also means you don’t need to parboil the potatoes so they don’t fall apart when you put them in the dish.

I appreciate this dish because it’s simple. I can throw it together in 10 minutes and put it in the oven and not worry about it until dinner is done. And cheese is always good.

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Gratin Dauphinois Madame Cartet (Madame Cartet’s Potato Gratin)
Adapted from Bistro Cooking

1 garlic clove, cut in half
2 lbs. baking potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 cup crême fraîche
salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Rub the inside of a 6-cup gratin dish with the cut side of the garlic clove. Rub until the gratin dish is well lubricated with the garlic
  3. Layer half the potatoes in the bottom of the gratin dish. Spread half the crême fraîche over top. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the potatoes and season with salt.
  4. Repeat the previous step with the remaining potatoes, crême fraîche, cheese, and salt.
  5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  6. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.

Boeuf Bourguignon

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It’s finally getting cold in our area (cold is a relative concept here but bear with me). I had to light the pilot light in our heater last weekend (no surprise that it was Angela who was cold). With the weather turning, there was an opportunity to make all those dishes that it was too hot to make during the summer.

Specifically, I’m referring to braised dishes. There’s something magical about taking a cheap (relatively) piece of meat and turning it into a great meal. It seems closer to real cooking.

And when it comes to things like braises, I think the rustic style classics are the best. Things like Coq au Vin (which was my original choice for this meal but we decided on beef instead). Or, in this case, Boeuf Bourguignon. And, while it was codified by Escoffier, I still think it’s rustic at heart. And that appeals to me. Particularly on a cold day.

However, I’d not recommend doing what I did: starting cooking at 4:30 PM thinking that it would only take two hours to braise. The recipe specifies from 3 to 4 hours but, luckily, mine was fork tender after two and a half hours so we were able to eat right around 8:00 PM (the prep work and browning takes time). Good things are worth waiting for.

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Bouef Bourguignon
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

3 oz. bacon, cut into lardons
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 lbs. lean stewing beef (such as chuck pot roast or top round), cut into 2-inch cubes
salt and pepper
1 small sliced carrot
1 small sliced onion
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 to 3 cups beef stock
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
a bouquet garni consisting of 1 clove of garlic, 1/2 bay leaf, and 4 sprigs of thyme
9 to 12 brown braised white onions
1/2 lbs. sautéed mushrooms

  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
  2. Blanch the bacon in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and dry.
  3. In a large dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the vegetable oil is hot, cook the bacon in it until the bacon is browned. Remove the bacon from the dutch oven and reserve the bacon.
  4. Dry the beef in paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the beef in the dutch oven on all sides, in batches if necessary. Remove the beef and place it with the bacon.
  5. Brown the sliced carrots and onions in the dutch oven. Pour out the fat.
  6. Return the beef and bacon to the dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the flour and stir. Put the dutch oven in the oven for 4 minutes. Stir the contents and return to the oven for 4 more minutes. Remove from the oven and change the temperature to 325ºF.
  7. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add enough beef stock until the beef is barely covered. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Add the bouquet garni and bring to a simmer on the stove top. Cover the dutch oven and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 2 to 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender.
  8. While the beef is cooking prepare the onions and mushrooms. They will be reheated in the boeuf bourguignon before serving.
  9. When the meat has finished cooking, remove the dutch oven from the oven. Taste the sauce for seasoning. Simmer the sauce over medium-high heat if it’s not thick enough. If it’s too thick, add more beef stock. Add the mushrooms and onions and simmer for several minutes, until the contents are equally warm.
  10. Serve with boiled potatoes or egg noodles.

Serves 3 to 4.

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Brown-braised Onions

9 to 12 pearl onions
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup beef stock
salt and pepper
a bouquet garni consisting of 2 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 2 sprigs of thyme

  1. Peel the onions and cut off the root and stem ends. On the root end, cut an x into the base.
  2. In a sauce pan, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and brown for 10 minutes, shaking the pan or stirring regularly.
  3. Add the beef stock and bouquet garni and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes.


Sautéed Mushrooms

1/2 lbs. button mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil

  1. Scrub the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Cut off the bottom of the stem and cut the mushrooms into halves if small or quarters if large.
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the butter stops foaming, add the mushrooms and cook until browned, about 6 minutes.

Escalopes de Veau à l’Estragon (Veal Scallops with Brown Tarragon Sauce)

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I like veal a lot. The only problem is finding it. In our area, the only types I can find are veal scallops, veal chops, and ground chops. And, once in a great while, veal blade steak. And, sadly, while we have ethnic grocery stores in our area, none are the type to carry veal (they’re all Asian or Hispanic).

So, in most cases, I stick with veal scallops which aren’t quite as expensive as the veal chops. To Americans, the classic preparation of veal must be in veal parmesan (which has been mostly subsumed by the chicken variety). While it’s good (and I’ve made it and will probably make it again), I think the veal flavor gets overwhelmed by the tomato sauce and cheese.

When I pull out of the freezer, I usually look for something a bit out of the ordinary. While veal isn’t a special occasion dish for us, it is a bit more special than a normal dinner. French preparations seem a bit better at emphasizing the flavor of the veal without overwhelming it.

The major reason for choosing this recipe was that I had fresh tarragon that I wanted to use. The dish is fairly fast and the main time constraint was boiling water for pasta twice because I didn’t discover that the egg noodles had bugs in them until after the pasta was in the water (I switched to farfalle in fresh water afterwards; I didn’t need extra protein that night). The sauce nicely accents the veal without overpowering it. It also has the consistency of a cream sauce without having any actual cream in it.

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Escalopes de Veau à l’Estragon (Veal Scallops with Brown Tarragon Sauce)
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One

4 veal scallops (veal scallopini)
salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp minced shallots
2 tbsp vermouth
2 tsp fresh tarragon, minced
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 tsp corn starch mixed with 1 tsp water
1 tbsp softened butter

  1. Season the veal with salt and pepper on both sides. Dry with paper towels.
  2. In a large skillet, melt 1 tbsp butter with the oil over medium-high heat. When the butter stops foaming, add the veal scallops and brown on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the veal to a plate.
  3. Add the shallots to the skillet and cook for one minute.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the vermouth, scrapping up any browned bits.
  5. Add the chicken stock, corn starch, and 1 tsp tarragon. Boil for 2 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.
  6. Return the veal to the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes or until the veal is cooked through.
  7. Check the sauce for seasoning. Off heat, add the softened butter and remaining 1 tsp tarragon.
  8. Serve with buttered egg noodles (or at least that’s what we had).

Serves 2.

Madeleines

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I have no idea where my love of madeleines developed from. At some point in the past year, I knew that I liked them but I don’t know when I had had them. I do know that the ones usually available in the US are expensive (seriously, Trader Joe’s sells them for about $1 per cookie) and not particularly good.

This summer, I had decided that at some point in the indefinite future I was going to get madeleine pans. Whenever we’d go into a store that would sell esoteric kitchen supplies, I’d look for them and determine that I really didn’t want to buy a single use pan (Alton Brown would be upset with me now) for $12 (realizing that I’d probably need at least two to make them effectively).

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When my in-laws came to visit, we tend to end up at shopping locations more frequently. As I was still on my quest, I continued to look for them and mentioned to my in-laws. About a week after they had left, a package arrived in the mail for Angela and I and, lo and behold, there were two non-stick madeleine pans inside. Apparently, my mother-in-law had decided that she needed to go out and buy them for me right away. Her decision was my gain.

This isn’t the first time I’ve made madeleines but the first time I’ve used this recipe. This recipes seems to produce a better texture but the other recipe (from Susan Herrmann Loomis) seemed to make one with better flavor. I think I may combine the two at a later date. Either way, madeleines are always good.

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Madeleines
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
grated zest of 2 lemons
4 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tsp vanilla extract
12 tbsp melted butter, cooled

  1. Place madeleine pans in the refrigerator.
  2. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. In a mixer’s bowl, mix together the sugar and lemon zest with your finger.
  4. Add the eggs and, using the whisk attachment, mix at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  5. Fold in the flour followed by the melted butter.
  6. Remove the madeleine pans from the refrigerator and grease them. Place batter into pans, about 1 tbsp per madeleine.
  7. Refrigerate the pans and any remaining batter for at least 1 hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  9. Bake the madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes. There’s no need to refrigerate any remaining batter before cooking.

Makes 24 madeleines.

Blanquette de Veau à L’Ancienne (White veal stew)

Look at how off-white my white sauce is

The name of this dish really stretches the limits of my French ability (which isn’t saying much as I don’t speak French). I did try an online dictionary to translate blanquette which apparently is translated as blanquette in English (I know English is a strange language but I never really though blanquette was part of it; Firefox’s spellcheck hasn’t heard of it). Anyway, it’s basically a white stew.

The genesis of this dish (well, for me making it) stems from my love of veal. As a note to farmers, please confine cute baby cows to tiny cages in order that they may be slaughtered and I may feast on their succulent flesh. I have no qualms about the condition of the animals as long as they’re still tasty. Which is not entirely true but makes for good copy.

So, several months ago (at this point, “several months ago” can be construed as a bad sign) I was grocery shopping and happened to notice that there was veal blade steak for sale (not a cut of veal that the grocery store regularly sells; speaking of which, why is there such poor selection of veal and lamb at the average grocery store? I’ve never seen a veal roast of any type anywhere). Not only was it for sale, it was also no sale. So I grabbed the promised deliciousness, after all there was something I could make with it. Once it arrived home, it was put into refrigerator. And it waited. And waited. Until I realized that it was liable to go bad if I left it in there any longer. So, up to the freezer it went. And it waited. And waited. And waited. Realize that several months have passed at this point and it looks like it’s accumulating a significant amount of freezer burn (good thing I didn’t take any pictures of that or I’d be the laughing stock of the food blog world for weeks; or maybe not, there’s at least one advantage to not being popular). And of course I’ve realized by this point that I have no idea what to do with it. It’s shoulder meat which isn’t particularly tender but it’s sold as a steak which would imply that you should pan fry it and cook it quickly but the shoulder part says it should be braised. What to do? As you may assume, I decided to just let it relax in the freezer for awhile (it was kept comfortable by various chicken pieces, some pork chops, several pieces of pork butt, and some veal scallopini).

The potatoes turned out much more photogenic than I ever imagined

About a week ago, I decided that it was time to use up all that meat that have been lounging in the freezer for who knew how long (which resulted in the General Tso’s Chicken and the Chicken Pot Pie; I actually have some freezer room available now). On Friday I decided it was time to play my trump card and actually cook (and hopefully eat; it wouldn’t be the first time a meal I’ve made has been inedible) the veal.

Now, I’ve heard reference to blanquette de veau several times. I know it’s mentioned by Anthony Bourdain in at least one of his books (uh, the one full of short stories) and I know there’s a recipe for it in Les Halles Cookbook (oddly, Amazon is charging more for the paperback version than the hardback version). Of course, being a French classic dish means that it’s almost never served in a restaurant anymore (I think the only places that serve classic French are cruise ships and it’s a bit too exotic, or possibly expensive, for a cruise ship). I had no real clue as to what it was or what it tasted like but I figured it couldn’t be that bad. And when had Julia Child led me wrong?

From what I’ve read (it sounds like I’ve extensively researched this dish; I have not; I’ve just heard reference to it), it’s supposed to be in a white sauce. And it’s supposed to be pretty much completely white. Go look at the pictures I posted and determine if the sauce is white. Sure, it’s not brown by any means but it’s also not the whitest sauce ever (you should’ve seen it before the addition of the cream). And really, I’m okay with that. It all results from the fact that I make much more of a brown chicken stock than a white one. This is the first time I’ve had a recipe that really wanted a white stock and even then, I can’t imagine making it. You mean you want me to generate less flavor by not browning the meat and then you want me to make some Rube Goldberg-esque contraption involving a raft of egg whites? Just so the stock isn’t dark? I’m sure that will fly in a classical French brigade kitchen but I’ve got better things to do with my time than that. There’s, uh, Scrubs reruns to watch. That’s the ticket. So I just used the brown chicken stock I had in my freezer (I really don’t think the taste would’ve changed much).

Isn't is sad that such beautiful vegetables get thrown away?

So what’s my opinion of the dish? It’s, uh, different. I’m not used to eating boiled meats and the texture was different (it reminded me of corned beef which is usually boiled). The flavor of the sauce was quite good. The veal probably could of used being salted before being cooked; it seemed like it was missing some salt (there’s no instruction to salt the meat before cooking; is there a reason you wouldn’t want to do that with a dish like this?). Also, the original recipe includes an addition of parsley at the end. The green of the parsley just looked odd and the taste didn’t really mesh with the rest of the dish. I would vote for omitting it. If you want an adventure, go ahead and try it. It’s not as hard or complicated as it looks and you might just like it.

Blanquette de Veau à L’Ancienne
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking


1 lbs. veal stew meat cut into 1″x1″ pieces (I used veal shoulder blade steak)
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
1/2 an onion studded with 1 clove
1 half of a large carrot, peeled and cut into several pieces
a bouquet garni consisting of 1 stalk of celery, 4 parsley stems (with leaves removed), 1/2 bay leaf, and 2 thyme sprigs
salt
9 small white onions
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp butter
9 mushrooms
3 tbsp heavy cream
1 egg yolk

  1. In a dutch oven, place the veal and cover with water by 2 inches (you may want to season the veal with salt before this step). Simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the water and veal through a strainer. Rinse off the veal and clean out the dutch oven.
  2. Return the veal to the dutch oven and add the chicken stock to cover the veal by 1/2 inch. Bring the veal to a simmer. Skim any remaining scum from the surface. Once the scum has subsided, add the onion, carrot, and bouquet garni. Season the sauce lightly with salt. Cover with the lid slightly ajar and cook the veal at a simmer for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  3. While the veal is cooking, cook the onions: Peel the onions and cut a cross in the root end. Place the onions, a 1/4 cup of the stock from the cooking veal, 1/2 tbsp of butter, and a pinch of salt in a sauce pan. Cover and lightly simmer for 50 minutes.
  4. When the veal is finished cooking, pour the contents through a strainer into a bowl. Return the veal to the dutch oven and discard the vegetables. In a sauce pan, over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter and then whisk in 1 tbsp of flour. Cook for 1 minute. Off heat, whisk in the stock from the veal and any remaining liquid from the onions once they have finished. Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the mushrooms with a few drops of lemon juice. Add the mushrooms to the sauce mixture and simmer for another 10 minutes. Check the seasoning of the sauce.
  6. Pour the sauce into the dutch oven with the veal. Add 1 tbsp of cream. Place the dutch oven over medium heat.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk with 2 tbsp of cream. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot sauce from the dutch oven then add the mixture back into the dutch oven.
  8. Simmer the mixture for a few minutes to warm the contents.

Serves 2.

Cheese Soufflé

Cheese Souffle

Last night, I was all prepared to make Chicken Cordon Bleu. Because it takes a bit of time, I started by grating the cheese. I then went to get the chicken out of the fridge and realized that it had gone bad. Into the trash that went. So the million dollar question at that point was what to do with about a cup of grated Swiss cheese (well, really Jarlsberg but close enough).

To complicate matters, the Von’s near to our apartment had a grand reopening sale (as far as I can tell all that changed is they put a wood floor under the produce section and now carry a larger amount of alcohol) and had 18 eggs foisted on us for free by the checkout clerk (he actually had them send someone to go back and get us our free eggs). Unfortunately, we didn’t win the Ipod Shuffle like the gentleman ahead of us (when told he had won it, his response was “what is that?”). This meant that we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 eggs in the refrigerator. This partially spurred the Cinnamon Pound Cake the day before.

Our initial thoughts drifted towards some sort of scrambled eggs and I started looking through some cookbooks for ideas. In my America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (it was cheap at Costco and isn’t a bad cookbook, despite the name) and I saw a recipe for cheese soufflé.

While I’ve had (and made) dessert soufflés, I’ve never actually had a savory soufflé. I’ve never seen one on a restaurant menu (including when I was in France several years ago). They seem delightfully old fashioned (to me at least).

While I’m sure America’s Test Kitchen has a good recipe for a cheese soufflé (why do I consistently want to capitalize soufflé?), when it comes to classic French recipes (and particularly when making them for the first time), I stick with Julia Child and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One.

The soufflé was quite tasty and significantly more filling than the lightness suggested by a soufflé would imply. Mine, however, did not rise nearly as much as was promised in the recipe. Either my soufflé mold (yes, I have one; it was on clearance at T.J. Maxx and was a good price, despite it being Emeril branded; you can only tell if you look at the bottom) is larger than 6 cups (I didn’t measure it but it looks like it might be) or it could be the fact that when I finished the soufflé batter, the oven had preheated all the way so it had to sit out longer. I would also probably add some cream of tartar to the egg whites to help stabilize them (it was recommended in the introduction to soufflés if you aren’t beating them in a copper bowl but I forgot about it). The soufflé almost completely collapsed once we started serving it (you’re guess is as good as mine as to how to do it; Julia Child’s instructions were a bit lacking on serving).

Beaten Egg Whites

Cheese Soufflé
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One

3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 cup boiling milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a pinch of nutmeg
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Butter a 6 cup soufflé mold (or something similar in shape and size) and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of cheese.
  3. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for two minutes.
  4. Remove the sauce pan from heat and whisk in the boiling milk. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and grated nutmeg.
  5. Over medium-high heat, cook the mixture until thickened (about a minute).
  6. Off heat, whisk the egg yolks into the mixture.
  7. Beat the egg whites until stiff with a pinch of salt. A pinch of cream of tartar will probably allow your soufflé to rise and stay risen better than mine.
  8. Add 1/4 of the egg whites into the sauce pan mixture and mix well. Add all but 1 tbsp of the cheese into the mixture and mix well.
  9. Fold in the remaining egg whites into the mixture.
  10. Carefully pour the soufflé mixture into the prepared soufflé mold. Level the top and sprinkle with cheese.
  11. Put the soufflé in the oven and immediately drop the temperature to 375°F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is well browned and a skewer inserted into the center comes out cleanly.

Serves 2.


Flickr Photos