Showing posts with label French Cuisine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French Cuisine. Show all posts

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Peach Financiers – Because French Bankers Hate Dirty Money

There are many different techniques used for making financiers, but as usual, I’ve chosen the easiest one. I would have been happy to try those other more complicated versions, but fortunately, I enjoyed this one so much, there’s no need.

I mention in the video that these are called “financiers” because they’re rich, and look like gold bars (if you use the traditional rectangular molds). Well, apparently that’s not quite right.

Word on the “rue” is that there was a bakery next to the Paris stock exchange that made these small almond cakes so bankers could enjoy them on the way to work, without getting their fingers dirty. I assume this is accurate, since I read it in the YouTube comments.

Anyway, not only is this an easy recipe, but it works beautifully with pretty much any summer fruit. Berries are popular, as are other stone fruits. Just don’t use too much. It’s merely a garnish, and adding too much could effect the texture and cooking time. I hope you give these delicious peach financiers a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 small cakes:
3 egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond meal (or finely ground almonds)
3 tablespoons flour
3 oz unsalted butter (6 tablespoons), toasted to a golden-brown
12 small sliced of peach
- I used mini-muffin pans, so you'll have to adjust your time if you used regular muffin tins, or other molds.
- Bake for 5 minutes at 400 F., then top with fruit, and continue baking until browned, about 10-12 minutes.
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Friday, September 23, 2016

Poached Pears “Belle Helene” - Why Escoffier Really Created This Dish

They say Auguste Escoffier created this dish in honor of the opera, La Belle Helen, but we chefs know the real reason. How else are you going to use up bruised pears in such a delicious and beautiful way? Okay, so maybe that wasn’t his motivation, but as you’ll see in the video, it sure does work great.

The recipe is very straightforward, so instead we’ll go into your options for the chocolate sauce, as well as what to do with all that extra simple syrup. We have two chocolate preparations that will work for this (and have been linked). The first would be our easy hot fudge recipe; and the second, and more traditional choice, would be the classic chocolate ganache.

If you follow the link to the later, you’ll be taken to our Boston Cream Pie video, where you’ll see the technique for creating a classic ganache, but you’ll probably need to adjust the ratio of cream to chocolate. Generally it’s equal parts chocolate and cream, but if you want something more pourable, then 2 parts cream to 1 part chocolate (by weight) would work better.

As far as the extra vanilla poaching liquid goes; you’ll want to strain it, pour it into some cool looking bottles, and give it away as edible gifts. The taste is incredible. Better than the pears, if we’re being honest, and would make a fantastic holiday treat for the wannabe mixologists in your life. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 poached pears:
6 cups water
zest and juice of one lemon
4 bosc pears, cored and peeled (you can also use Anjou or Bartlett)
1 split vanilla bean, or a few teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups sugar
Simmer for about 20-25 minutes, depending on size and firmness
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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Tartiflette – French Potato, Bacon, and Illegal Cheese Casserole

There’s nothing I like more than getting a food wish for something I didn’t know existed, and thanks to a Mr. Patrick Ryan, I now know that tartiflette exists. This striking looking dish is basically a potato, onion, and bacon casserole, topped with Reblochon cheese.

If you haven’t heard of Reblochon, don’t feel bad. It’s illegal here. Since it’s made with raw milk, which apparently is dangerous, even though people have been eating it for centuries, it’s not allowed to be imported into the country. However, while you can’t get the real stuff, without smuggling at least, you can get a wonderful substitute, called “Dancing Fern,” from Sequatchie Cove Creamery.

If you’re wondering what it’s like, this is their description: “…soft and supple texture and barnyardy aroma, along with notes of cultured butter, shiitake mushroom, and walnuts.” You can find it at your finer cheese shops, or from several online sources, and while very expensive, it really was a magnificent cheese.

If you can’t swing faux-reblochon, I’ve read about some people using half gruyere and half brie. After tasting the finished product, I can see how that combo could create a somewhat similar flavor profile. Of course, since we’re talking about potatoes and bacon, just about any melting cheese should work beautifully. I really hope you give this amazing casserole a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 8 portions:
butter for greasing casserole dish
3 pounds russet potatoes, cooked with skins on, in salted water
12 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large onions, sliced thin
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
1⁄2 cup drinkable white wine
3/4 cup crème fraiche
1 pound Reblochon cheese, or something similar like Dancing Fern

- 375F. for 45 minutes, or until potatoes are very tender
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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Cassoulet – The World’s Most Complex Simple Recipe

There are so many reasons not to make cassoulet. You need lots of ingredients, some of which take effort to find. There are many steps, and even some of the steps have steps. It will also seem like you used every pot and pan in the kitchen, which will be trashed by the time you’re done.

Speaking of time, this is going to take hours to cook, but only after lots of prep. You still with me? So, why would anyone go through all that? That’s easy. Cassoulet is one of the most delicious dishes you’ll ever have. Plus, it’s great for honing your observational skills, since no two cassoulet are the same, and the times I give are only a guide.

If you use a different bean, or more/less meat, or a different size/shape pan or casserole, you may need to add liquid sooner than two hours in. Basically, just keep and eye on things, adding broth when needed, until you’re happy with the final results.

Depending on how salty your meats are, as well as how highly seasoned you stock is, you may or may not need to add more salt to the final mixture. Other than that, and notwithstanding all that stuff I said earlier in the post, this really is a simple recipe. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions (I used a 12-inch pan, about 3-inches deep):

For the beans and cooking liquid:
3 quarts seasoned chicken stock or broth (The beans should be cooked in a lightly seasoned stock or broth, so add salt to taste. I didn’t add any on camera as mine was already seasoned.)
1 pound Tarbais beans, or other white beans, soaked overnight
4 ounces ham, bacon, salt pork, or pancetta, cut in 1/4-inch dice (as I mentioned, I experimented with large pieces, but it was too much)
1 bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon black peppercorn, 6 springs thyme, 6 unpeeled garlic cloves cut in half, tied in cheesecloth)
- add reserved bones from your duck and pork if available
-- simmer for 45 minutes or until beans are almost tender
--- strain and reserve liquid

The other meat:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
12 ounces fresh pork shoulder or chop, cut into 2-inch pieces, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds (4 links) Toulouse sausages, or other garlic pork sausage
2 duck leg confit (most fancy grocery stores carry this, but you can order online, or make your own with this old recipe)
NOTE: This is traditionally a "poor man's" dish, and would not have nearly the generous supply of rich meats. So, if you want something more authentic, you can cut the meat amounts down by half at least. 

The veggies:
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon salt

The crumb topping:
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons rendered duck fat
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup cooking liquid
(warning, I don’t measure this stuff, so just add enough melted fat to moisten the crumbs until they look like damp sand)

- Bake for 2 hours at 350 F for 2 hours, or until most of the broth is absorbed.
- Add more broth, poking down a little of the crust into the beans.
- Bake for another 45 minutes, or until well-browned, and the meat is fork tender
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Spring Vegetable Tartine with White Anchovies – Food Wishes and Little Fishes

It’s not unusual for me to borrow ideas from the various restaurants I visit, but they’re normally tweaked, altered, or otherwise adapted. This time, however, I just blatantly stole this spring vegetable tartine with white anchovies, as it. Why mess with perfection?

Yes, this spring vegetable tartine, featuring the awesomeness that is the white anchovy, was lifted almost verbatim from SHED, which is my current, “favorite place to eat.” If you’re ever anywhere near Healdsburg, CA (like within 500 miles), you simply must visit this amazing store/café/charcuterie/restaurant hybrid.

Now that I’ve offset some of my guilt for stealing this recipe with such a glowing recommendation, I can move on to this intensely tasty tartine. This would be incredibly delicious with just the aioli and vegetables, but when you add the “boquerones,” this goes from great sandwich, to memorable experience.

Even if you think you hate anchovies, which you really don’t, you may still love these, since they are so completely different. They are very mild in flavor, but still extremely savory. I was going to say they're a little bit like pickled herring, but that probably won’t help. Regardless, I hope you give this spring vegetable tartine a try very soon. Enjoy! 


Ingredients for 4 generous servings:

For the aioli:
1 or 2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of cayenne

The rest:
4 large thick slices day-old French bread, toasted
16 white anchovy fillets (aka boquerones)
* 2 cups thinly peeled, sliced, or shredded fresh vegetables, moistened with a splash of lemon juice, and drizzle of olive oil.
edible flowers, optional

* Carrots, fennel root, radishes, celery root, asparagus, artichoke hearts, peppers, endive, micro greens, and any/all kinds of sprouts would work beautifully here.
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