Tag Archives: Julia Child

The News From France: Tartelettes aux Champignons

Buttery, flakey, and Deeply Delicious

These Parisian mushroom tarts are insanely delicious. Buttery, flakey puff pastry encapsulates a rich and deeply flavorful mushroom, proscuitto, port wine, and garlic mixture that has other-worldly flavor. Serve as a wonderfully warming autumn dinner or as a welcome change of routine for lunch or dinner when the holidays arrive.

 

Ingredients:

For the Mushroom Filling

1/4 ounce dried cépe mushrooms

1/4 ounce dried morel mushrooms

1/2 cup vegetable stock

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1/2 pound fresh white mushrooms

1 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour

1/4 cup heavy cream

pinch of cayenne

pinch of nutmeg

coarse kosher salt

1 or 2 thick slices of dry-cured ham such as Bayonne or Proscuitto

1/4 cup port wine

1 egg lightly whipped with 1 tablespoon of whole milk

For the Puff Pastry

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3/4 cup cold unsalted butter

Preparation:

1. Make the Puff Pastry

Start the dough

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.

melt two tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat taking care not to brown the butter.

Add the water, salt, vinegar, and melted butter into the well

Whisk the liquid briefly to mix

Using a fork gently fold the flour into the liquid

take care not to overmix, the less mixed the more flakey

You're done mixing when the dough looks like this.

When mixed knead the dough a few times with the palm of your hand

Form the dough into a ball and chill for about two hours

Add in the butter block

Lightly flour a large work surface

roll out to a rough rectangle about 1/4-inch thick

add the chilled butter to the very center third of the (rough) rectangle

Folding like a business letter fold the bottom third of the dough up over the chilled butter in the middle third

Then fold the upper third down over the dough covering the butter. Chill for 30 minutes

Do a series of three roll-outs, three-way-folds, and chills

Pull the chilled dough-and-butter "letter" out onto a lightly floured surface

roll out to a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick

fold the rolled-out dough rectangle back into a business letter starting with the bottom third...

...then folding over the upper third

Chill for thirty minutes. REPEAT THIS PROCESS OF ROLLING OUT, RE-FOLDING, AND CHILLING THREE MORE TIMES.

At the end of the fourth roll-out leave the rolled-out rectangle without re-folding and chill another 30 minutes

2. Prepare the mushroom filling

Combine the dried mushrooms with the stock and heat over medium heat to…

A simmer. Turn off the heat and let the mushrooms cool off for 30-60 minutes, this allows the flavors to infuse.

Chop the garlic and shallots

Slice the white mushrooms

Your ingredients will look like this

Cut rounds out of the rolled-out, chilled puff pastry

And line the tartelette molds you are using. Tonight I'm using a cupcake pan because I left my tartelette pans at the bakery where I am the pastry chef.

A cupcake pan will yield about 5 tartelettes, tartelette pans will yield about 4. Line the pans completely

For decoration I used a fluted-edge pastry roller to cut out leaves. Chill the lined pans, decorations, and remaining dough while you complete the next steps

Drain the liquid out of the mushrooms in the pan. Set the mushrooms aside. Reserve the liquid

Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat

Add the shallots and garlic

Sauté until golden

Add the sliced white mushrooms

Sauté until golden. Remove to a bowl and reserve.

In the same pan over medium heat melt two tablespoons of butter

Sprinkle the flour over the butter

Prepare a blonde-colored roux. For details on the production and use of roux check out http://reclaimingthegoodnameoftheepicurean.com/2011/10/10/back-to-basics-blonde-and-brown-roux/

Add the reserved mushroom/vegetable stock and stir until the roux is combined with the liquid over medium heat

Allow the sauce to chicken slightly, stirring constantly over medium heat

Pour the dried mushrooms you cooked in the stock back in along with the Sauteéd white mushrooms, garlic, and shallot

Stir until combined

Remove the thick, golden mushroom and sauce mixture to a bowl.

Coarsely chop the dried ham or proscuitto

Heat another two tablespoons of butter in the same pan you've been using, when hot add the ham and sauté until golden and crispy

Deglaze the pan by pouring in the port wine and, over medium heat scraping all the dark little flavor nuggets off the bottom of the pan

It will look like this and smell amazingly good

Keeping the heat at medium add the saucy mushroom mixture back into the pan

Stir over medium heat just until combined

Fill the lined tartelette pans just to the top. Take a pastry brush and brush the exposed top of the puff pastry lining the pans with the egg-and-milk mixture (professionals refer to this as "egg wash")

Cut circles out of the remaining puff pastry and cover the mushroom mixture, pressing the dough down over the egg-washed pastry in the pan. Affix the decorations to the top and gently brush egg wash over the tops. The egg wash gived the tartelettes their golden brown color

Bake the tartelettes in a pre-heated 400-degree oven for 20-30 minutes. If you like your pastries darker cook them until they look like mine, but just pull them out sooner for a lighter, more golden appearance. When the crust is the color you like they're done.

Enjoy with a nice, slightly spicy French red wine. Bordeaux lends itself perfectly to this dish. I would recommend Château Lalande 2001 Bordeaux, for a review of this bottle check out  http://reclaimingthegoodnameoftheepicurean.com/2011/10/05/hump-day-vices-chateau-lalande-an-exceptional-value-from-bordeaux/. Bon Appétit

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Hump Day Vices: Les Demoiselles de Falfas Bordeaux paired with with Fromi Mon Sire Camembert

Autumn is very much here and the nip in the evening air stands as the harbinger of winter coming soon. As we begin to bundle up our palates too long for something warming. I can think of no better pairing to welcome the coming season than refined, bright, and spicy Les Demoiselles Bordeaux paired with decadently buttery rich Fromi Mon Sire Camembert. Do yourself a favor and indulge a little bit!

The Wine

Tasting Notes:

Wine: Les Demoiselles

Vintage: 2009

Price: $17.99

Producer: J et V Cochran

Region & Country: Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux, France

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Place and Date Purchased: 10/31/11 Whole Foods Market – Santa Monica, CA

Place and Date Tasted: 11/1/11 The Mesch-Ruskin Home – San Marcos, CA

Appearance: Striking appearance, brilliant ruby red with decently strong legs

Please forgive the dark background!

Nose: Raisins, Cassis, Rosemary, Sage, Rose Hips, Dry Toast

Taste: Elegantly light with cranberry tart/sweet and warm cinnamon spice

Finish: Medium-long with progressively intense tannin

Overall Impression: Les Demoiselles is a resplendent example of all that is best in Côtes de Bourg. The tradition of wine production in this small part of Bordeaux dates all the way back to the Romans and in the thousands of years wine makers have been perfecting their craft here they have developed a distinct, extremely elegant, balanced, and delicious characteristic for their wine. Les Demoiselles demonstrates all of these good qualities.

Food Pairing: The spice and tannin in Les Demoiselles makes it a perfect partner to any holiday dinner…be it a prime rib roast, roast ham with mango chutney, roast turkey with cranberry sauce, or something even more daring like a roast duckling. What you’re looking for with respect to pairing is fat, spice, and complimentary herbs. A creamy camembert is the ideal cheese to highlight the wine’s taste while reciprocally complimenting the cheese’s high fat content.

Overall Rating (out of 100 points): 87

Overall Value (1-5 stars): 4 stars

The Cheese

Fromi Mon Sire Camembert

Cheese Name: Mon Sire

Date and Place Purchased: 10/31/11 Whole Foods Market – Santa Monica, CA

Type of Milk Used: Bovine

Place of Origin: France

Producer: Fromi

Cheesemonger: Gladys Hernandez

Food Pairing: Dried fruits, rosemary, toasted nuts, toasted bread

Mon Sire is perfectly suited to Leslie Stowe's Raincoast Crisps, particularly Rosemary-Cranberry-Pecan

Wine Pairing: Any full-bodied, tannic red wine

Tasting Notes: Buttery smooth, sweet, and delicious

Rating (1-10): High 10

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Dinner in Florence: Crema di Ceci con Farro e Funghi Porcini (Puréed Chickpea Soup with Farro and Porcini Mushrooms)

Deep, flavorful, tomato-rich, mushroomy goodness.

Continuing on last week’s theme of Florentine cuisine I have followed up this week with a delicious chickpea purée, farro, and porcini mushroom soup. The soup’s flavor is deep and delicious, simply elegant and timelessly balanced…just like Florence itself. Enjoy with a nice glass of chianti and a crusty, rustic Italian loaf of bread.

Ingredients:

For the Purée

1 can of cooked chickpeas

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped

1 small, fresh rosemary sprig

1 tablespoon of tomato paste or one cup of prepared tomato bruscetta (from Trader Joe’s or a similar purveyor)

salt and freshly cracked black pepper

4 cups of vegetable stock or water

1/3 cup of farro

For the Mushrooms

1 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

4 ounces of dried porcini mushrooms

1 clove of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons of dry white wine

1 cup of water

1 fresh thyme sprig

salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons of butter

Preparation:

In a large sauté heat the olive oil to just under smoking, add the onion, garlic, and whole rosemary spring and brown over medium/medium-high heat for about 6 minutes.

Add the tomato paste or bruscetta.

Stir thoroughly to comine

Add the canned chickpeas and their cooking juices

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about three minutes.

Add the water or stock and return to a simmer, simmer until the flavors have melded over medium heat...about 30 minutes.

Transfer the chickpea mixture to a blender

Purée in the blender until completely liquified and smooth.

Return the purée to a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the farro and stir in. Simmer over medium heat for about 25 minutes, stirring often.

Meanwhile prepare the mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a large pan to just under smoking over medium/medium-high heat. Add the dried mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes until slightly browned.

Deglaze the pan by adding the cup of water, taking care to scrape all the flavorful brown bits off the pan. Simmer the water away over medium heat until the water is absorbed by the mushrooms

add the white wine and continue to cook over medium heat until...

The mushrooms are softened and smell very good.

Add the mushrooms to the simmering soup and farro

At the end of 25 minutes the farro should be al dente and the mushrooms should be diffusing their flavor into the tomato/chickpea purée. Serve at once.

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Back to Basics: Sauce Hollandaise – The Mother Sauces

Finicky and tempermental, the Hollandaise is the most catastrophe-prone and unstable of all sauces. A degree too warm or too cold and you have a mealy butter/egg yolk monstrosity. A draft and the emulsion breaks. A chef, cook, or epicurean can spend tearful hours in the kitchen asking “why me” when brunch guests are expected and dozens of sauceless eggs benedicts sit drying out and getting cold while Hollandaise after Hollandaise breaks (not that I’m speaking from any personal experience or anything). For all the trouble one silky smooth taste of a good Hollandaise makes all the anxiety and effort seem nothing at all. Hollandaise is, quite simply, delicious. It is also not that difficult to prepare when you know what to do and where things can go wrong. Think about preparing Hollandaise like white water rafting, it’s treacherous and scary but when you know where the rocks are you know what to do to stay in the boat.

Ingredients for 1/2 cup of Hollandaise

1 tablespoon of white wine

1 tablespoon of water

1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar

1 1/2 sticks of butter

2 egg yolks

kosher salt

freshly cracked black pepper

one lemon cut into wedges

Preparation:

1. Clarify the butter

Place the butter in your smallest saucepan and melt very slowly over the very lowest possible heat. If the heat is too high you will color the butter (this is called brown butter) and you do not want the butter to have any color at all for this preparation.

When the butter is completely melted take a spoon and carefully skim the white sum off the top taking care not to remove too much of the lemon-yellow butter oil in the process. The pure butter oil is what we're after when we clarify butter.

When you have removed all of the white scum you will be left with lemon-yellow butter oil.

Carefully pour the lemon-yellow butter oil into a small cup or glass measuring cup, be careful that none of the denser white milk solids at the bottom of the pan come up and end up with your butter oil. Clarified butter is the pure butter oil with all of the milk solids and impurities taken out of it.

These white milk solids are what you don't want ending up in your clarified butter.

Skim the clarified butter one last time.

These white milk solids are what you will have removed. They're the crap militant vegans are always telling us is in dairy. It's nasty, nasty stuff when you think about it...so don't think about it too much...just remove and discard it. Return the clarified butter to a small, clean saucepan and keep warm but not hot over very low heat while you prepare the rest of the sauce.

2. Prepare the Sauce

Begin by combining the water, vinegar, and wine in a small saucepan. Heat over high heat and...

...reduce au sec, au sec meaning until the pan is almost dry. The liquid will reduce rapidly so keep the pan swirling in a clockwise motion and make sure not to burn the liquid.

transfer the reduced liquid to a large stainless steel bowl, allow to cool for just a moment.

whisk in the egg yolks, the mixture should be well whipped and frothy before continuing.

place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, this is a double boiler, whisk vigorously and constantly so that 1.) the yolks don't turn into scrambled eggs and 2.) you are now going to begin emulsifying the warm clarified butter into the warm yolk-and-liquid mixture, it is imperative that the two are of roughly equal warmness....the emulsification will be held together by heat, the protein in the egg yolk, and the constant motion of your whisk. Begin by just flicking a few droplets of clarified butter in at a time, whisking constantly to start the emulsion

slowly, and I mean slowly, add more and more droplets of the clarified butter to the mixture being constantly and vigorously whisked in the bowl

once half of the butter is emulsified you can go from whisking in droplets to whisking in a very slow, steady stream of the remaining butter...like whisking the oil into a vinaigrette.

You should end up with a tightly bound, silky Hollandaise. Keep the sauce warm in the double boiler, whisking constantly until you pour it over your dish. The sauce will break if it cools down or gets too hot so work quickly. You want a pretty, tightly bound Hollandaise when you set the plate in front of whoever else will be eating it...there is nothing less appealing to the eye than a broken Hollandaise on a plate.

Today I made eggs benedict with sweet potato hash, the Hollandaise was made for this dish. Bon Appétit!

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The News from France: Crab Quiche

A hefty slice of crab quiche served along Salade Verte and some fresh slices of baguette.

Ingredients:

Pastry crust for one pie shell (I will provide a recipe and technique for preparing a pie dough in the future, but in the meantime a store-bought frozen pie shell or one from your favorite recipe will work fine. I’m fortunate to have leftover pastry from a pie in the freezer)

3 tablespoons of butter

One large shallot

8 ounces of cleaned crab meat

2 tablespoons of dry vermouth or madeira

kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

3 eggs

One cup of heavy cream

3 tablespoons of tomato paste

One 4-ounce chunk of fresh Gruyère cheese, finely grated with a microplane.

Preparation:

On a lightly floured work surface work the pastry dough into a flat, round disk.

Roll out into a circle

Transfer the rolled out dough to a pie pan and pressing the edges between your thumb and index/middle fingers carefully scallop the edges of the pie pan.

Set another pie pan on top of the prepared dough and fill with pie weights. Since I do not own pie weights I use some silverware. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes. Remove when finished and cool with the weighted pie pan on top.

Meanwhile mince the shallot. Begin by splitting it lengthwise, then...

Cut a series of lengthwise slices into the shallot, like so, approximately 1/8 inch apart

cut another series of crosswise slices across the lengthwise slices so that you end up with a bunch of 1/8-inch by 1/8-inch pieces of shallot.

Repeat the process for the other half of the shallot. Your shallots will look like this when done.

over medium-high heat melt butter in a sauté pan

When butter is completely melted and the bubbles have just subsided add the minced shallot and sauté for a minute or two until the shallots are cooked but not browned

Meanwhile dreain the excess juices from your crabmeat. I bought cleaned crab claws from Whole Foods Market, they're delicious.

Add the crab meat to the butter and shallots in the pan and sauté for another minute or two

Add a heav pinch of salt and a pinch of freshly cracked black pepper

Deglaze the pan with the vermouth or madeira

Turn the heat to high and quickly boil the liquor down for a minute or two. After a minute or two remove from heat and cool slightly.

Meanwhile whisk together the eggs, cream, tomato paste, a heavy pinch of salt and a healthy grinding of fresh black pepper. When the crab in the pan has cooled slightly whisk it into the egg mixture.

Remove the pan with weights from the top of the pre-baked pan. It should look like this, cooked a little and only slightly browned.

Pour the egg and crab mixture into the pre-baked pie shell

Cover evenly with finely grated Gruyère. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

After 25 minutes mine looks like this. I prefer my baked goods a bit darker, but if you prefer a lighter appearance remove from the oven just a couple of minutes sooner.

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Hump Day Vices: Château Barreyres Cru Bourgeois and Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon

This evening I would like to take a moment to share my notes on two very distinctive, very different wines I’ve had the chance to taste this week. The first continues on the theme of value-priced wines from Bordeaux I started last week. Château Barreyres Cru Bourgeois is a fabulous wine which captures all of what is good in Bordeaux for the remarkably low price of $19.99 per bottle. The second, Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon, comes from the Napa valley and has one of the fruitiest expressions I’ve ever experienced from Cabernet Sauvignon. I highly recommend both wines and share my tasting notes below:

Château Barreyres Cru Bourgeois

When you uncork the bottle always take care to check the cork. A cork with a uniform red stain on the bottom indicates a wine which was properly stored on it's side. If the cork has no stain it means the wine was stored improperly upright, which will dry the cork out and spoil the wine.

Vintage: 2006

Price per Bottle: $19.99

Producer:Concours de Bourdeaux

Region and Country: Haut-Médoc (left bank), Bordeax, France

Grape Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Place and Date Purchased: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Place and Date Tasted: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Appearance: deep burgundy color, medium-strong legs (12.5% alcohol by volume)

Rich red color

Nose: ripe blackberries and cranberries

Taste: nutmeg spiciness and honey-grape sweetness

Finish: long and spicy

Overall Impression: this is a very nice wine and considering this is a left-bank Bordeaux priced at $20.00 per bottle this is a steal not to be passed up. I foresee this wine aging well and would love to see how it mellows after being cellared for about 5 years.

Food Pairing: pair with roasted duckling or another fatty bird

Overall Rating (out of 100): 88 points

Overall Value (1-5 stars): 5 stars

Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon

Again, When you uncork the bottle always take care to check the cork. A cork with a uniform red stain on the bottom indicates a wine which was properly stored on it's side. If the cork has no stain it means the wine was stored improperly upright, which will dry the cork out and spoil the wine

Vintage: 2008

Price per Bottle: $14.99

Producer: Nine North Wine Company

Region and Country: St. Helena, California

Grape Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon

Place and Date Purchased: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Place and Date Tasted: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Appearance: light cranberry red with strong legs, 14% alcohol by volume

Light Red Appearance

Nose: honeydew melon, night blooming Jasmine, orange zest, orange blossoms

Taste: jam-sweet, this wine tastes exactly like orange marmalade

Finish: long and progressively smoother

Overall Impression: I normally prefer wines who’s taste is an accurate reflection of the character of the grape used, however Chasing Lions is a rare exception. This is a nice, fruity, highly drinkable wine which could easily be drank on it’s own or paired with a number of foods.

Food Pairing: Creamy cheeses such as Brie, anything with orange in it, and pork.

Overall Rating (out of 100): 90

Overall Value (1-5 stars): 5 stars

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Hump Day Vices: Château Lalande, An Exceptional Value from Bordeaux

Château Lalande. Saint Julien-Becheville Bordeaux

Château Lalande is one of the most pleasantly surprising wines I’ve had the chance to taste in a long time. Coming from a region of France known for it’s exclusive, high-priced bottles many people are scared off by Bordeaux wines, and rightfully so. Well, the novice wine drinker and the well-drank wine snob can share equally in my delight for this bottle. Coming on the tail of the critically-acclaimed 2000 vintage, 2001 was a rainy year for Bordeaux lending the very light appearance and sublime quality of many of the 2001 bottles I’ve had. A decade of careful aging has tamed the spice and matured the grapy-sweetness of this wine and at $24.99 Château Lalande comes on the market as one of those very rare Bordeaux bargains. Do yourself a favor and grab a bottle…this is a value no wine lover should pass up.

Tasting Notes

Wine: Château Lalande

Vintage: 2001

Price Per Bottle: $24.99

Producer: Saint Julien-Bechevelle

Region and Country of Origin: France, Bordeaux: Left Bank, Saint Julien

Grape Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Place and Date Purchased: Whole Foods Market, 2201 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, October 4th 2011

Place and Date Purchased: Home, West Adams Los Angeles, October 5th 2011

Appearance: Cloudy, musky-looking cranberry red, strong legs (13% alcohol)

Don't let the cloudy appearance dissuade you.

Nose: Black currant, cassis, moist soil, anise jam or compote

Taste: warm spices, very round, mellow waves of fruit contrasted by alternating waves of balanced spice

Finish: Long, cinnamon-and-nutmeg-spice finish

Overall Impression: Don’t allow the appearance of the wine alarm you. This is a very, very nice wine which is easily drinkable on its own but would compliment venison or another kind of gamier meat very nicely. Coupled with a dish like Beef Wellington at Christmas this wine could prove magical. A ten year-old left-bank Bordeaux for $24.99 is practically unheard of making this wine an extremely good value when we take its quality into consideration.

Overall Rating (Out of 100): 90 points

Overall Value (1-5 Stars): 5 stars

Label details.

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