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Posts Tagged ‘french cooking’

Amy B was here this weekend for a very short minute, and that was a great reason to cook and celebrate. On Sunday as a part of our way to convince Roi to come and help us with an ongoing bathroom renovation, and since Amy was in town, I cooked an elaborate brunch featuring these little cheesy puffs, called gougères, savory cheesy pastry puffs. oh my, they are so delicious.
Being the gruyere lover that I am its sorta hard to be objective about any food that has this fantastic swiss work of art in it, but pairing these little yummies with some poached eggs was simply delightful, and it didn’t require too much work either (it is rare for me to go for recipes that do…).
It doesn’t require using a mixer, nor it won’t break your hand mixing it.


makes 8-10 servings


1/3 cup (3 oz/90 g) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup (5 oz/155 g) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs 3 + 1 for brushing
1 1/2 cups (6 oz/185 g) shredded Gruyere cheese

pre-heat oven to 425°F (220° C), line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
in a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the butter, salt, white pepper, cayenne, and 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water and bring to a boil. cook, stirring, until the butter melts, 3-4 minutes. Add the flour and, using a wooden spoon, mix vigorously until a thick paste forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 3 minutes.
remove from heat. break 1 egg into the pan, using the wooden spoon, beat it into the batter until combined. repeat with additional 2 eggs. whisk in 1 cup (4 oz/125 g) of the cheese.

dip a teaspoon into a glass of cold water, then scoop up a generous teaspoonful of the batter and push it onto the prepares baking sheet with a fingertip. repeat with the remaining batter, spacing them 2 inches (5 cm) apart and dipping the spoon each time to prevent sticking. brush the tops off with an egg and sprinkle with the remaining of the cheese.

bake for 10 minutes, reduce oven temp to 350°F (180° C) and bake until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. remove from the oven, pierce each one with a wooden skewer, and then return to the oven. turn off oven and leave the gougères in the oven for 10 minutes. serve at room temperature

Bon Appetit!

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A few days ago as we were eating some cherry pie, Tacuma asked: “when are you gonna make some cherry pie?”
when cherries are in season, I said, thinking it won’t be before summer, two days later while walking through Chinatown I saw a women selling cherries, and though I usually prefer using produce in its peak season I couldn’t resist and bought 2lbs of tart cherries.

Looking for a good cherry pie recipe I learned about Clafoutis. Clafoutis is a custard that is made from cream, flour, eggs, spices and cherries. Being the custard lover that I am and with Nitzan alongside me salivating over the pictures in the book, we decided to go for it. since I had already thawed some crust dough I had saved from my last pie, I decided to add it to the mix. Could have done just fine without it, and most likely will next time, but it was still delicious.
You start with pitting the cherries, a task that is a bit tedious, but in my opinion has to be done.
According to this french cook book, traditionally you leave the pits in, that’s fine as long as you make sure you warn your guests before they start eating.
Since we ate many of them in the process of cleaning we ended up with one pound of  pitted cherries. Just enough. place the cherries in a baking dish, including any juice that is left after cleaning them.
pre-heat oven to 375°F (180°C)
In a bowl whisk together 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until well mixed and slightly stiff. add 3.5 oz (100 gr) of almond meal, 2 tablespoons of AP flour, 2 cups of cream or half and half, cinnamon and vanilla extract to taste and mix well.
Pour mixture over the cherries,  and into the oven it goes…


After about 40-45 minutes poke the center and check if the custard is set, continue cooking until nicely golden on top, if the center is still a little soft don’t worry, it will set as it cools down.

Dust with some powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy !

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Another pound of Chestnuts miraculously found its way into my kitchen, it seems like that is all I want to eat this days, chestnuts and soups. There is something so comforting about roasting chestnuts in the winter, and the fact that they are so cheap right only makes it easier for me to buy them.
I saw this recipe last week, when browsing through the smitten kitchen, and been dreaming of these cookies since.

I always favored food that requires some sort of getting your hands dirty, some peeling action, breaking and cracking, and chestnuts are exactly that. In the last few weeks, while slowly realizing I’m obsessed with chestnuts, I noticed how easy it is to over roast them, at least two batches were dried out because I left them in the oven too long (thankfully they are only $3 a lb these days), but 20-25 minutes, on 450°F is all it takes, you can also shake them once or twice while roasting, to get an even spread of the heat.
A shallow X cut on top helps you to later crack and peel the skin off as it will start rolling back during the roast.

Start with a pound of chestnuts and cut an X on top of each one, with a sharp knife or a bread knife, try not to cut too deep into the “meat” but deep enough that the skin will peel back while roasting. Start with a pound, even though you will need less for the recipe, sometimes the chestnuts end up having rotten middles.
After roasting, let them cool and then peel them, chop coarsely and measure one cup, place in a food processor and pulse until very fine, add 2 sticks of soft butter and pulse to combine, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon salt, a few fresh shavings of nutmeg and 2 cups all-purpose flour. pulse until even dough is formed.
If you don’t have a food processor chop the chestnuts as fine as you can, whip the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl, add vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, chestnuts and flour and beat to form dough.

Divide the dough and wrap each half in plastic, cool in the fridge for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F . Working with each half of the chilled dough at a time start rolling out balls, about two teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet, they won’t spread so you don’t have to leave more than 1/2 inch between the cookies.
Bake for about 14 minutes, until just lightly golden in color on top. The cookies will very easily go from buttery and creamy to dry, so be careful not to overbake them. I always like testing out 2 or 3 first, every oven is different and many times I find that I need to adjust the baking time or temperature from the original recipe.

Let the baked cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then roll them in 1 cup of powdered sugar mixed with a few pinches of cinnamon, and allow to cool completely.
Be aware! These cookies are a buttery creamy goodness and they are addictive (I had 5 while writing this, 3 more when taking pictures and 2 just because).

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Another recipe from the new french cook book I got last week, mushrooms baked in paper. yum.

  • preheat the oven to 375°F ( 190°C)
  • cut  a baking paper to a rectangular 18-by-11-inch ( 45-by-28-cm).  fold the paper in half crosswise, open the paper and coat with butter, place in a baking sheet.
  • cut 1 lb of mixed mushrooms into bite size and place in a bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, 1 tablespoon of butter cut into pieces, 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and toss well. spread the mushrooms on half the paper and fold the second half over the mushrooms, fold the edges over twice, working your way to the edges, ending with a twist on both ends.
  • place the package on the baking sheet and bake until the package is puffed and the mushrooms are cooked through 15-20 minutes, carefully open the package and serve at once.

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For my birthday last week, I got a sweet cook book from my close friends  R and N: “Essentials of French Cooking” that is divided by the regions of France, and has an incredible selection of recipes, with classics like Coq au Vin,  Beef Bourguignon and Tart Tatin, as well as less known dishes like Blue Cheese and Walnut soufflé and Sausage and Choucroute (sauerkraut). Everything in this book looks amazing and everything calls for a lot of butter!! Today I finally decided to stop drooling over the pictures and cook a recipe from it. Looking at the selection of available produce in my kitchen, I decided to use the potatoes, I bought a hand-full of blue potatoes about a week ago and a fresh load of Yukons yesterday, and it was time to make something out of them.
Pommes Anna- Anna’s potatoes, is a potato gratin named after Anna Deslions by the Cafe des Anglais in Paris, it is tasty and easy and looks beautiful.
Bon Apetit!

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 oz/ 75 g)unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 lb (750g) potatoes
  • salt and fresh black pepper

Directions:

  1. preheat the oven to 375° F (19o° C). Coat a 9″ (23-cm) pie pan with 1 tablespoon of butter
  2. peel the potatoes, rinse and dry. Using the thin slicing blade on a mandolin or a sharp knife cut the potatoes into slices 1/8 ” (3mm) thick.
  3. in a sauce pan melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until in foams and set aside.
  4. arrange some of the potatoes in a single layer in the prepared pan, overlapping them just slightly. lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the melted butter. Repeat the layering process with the rest of the potatoes.
  5. bake in the oven until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the top is crisp and golden, 45-60 minutes, transfer to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes.
  6. run a knife around the edge of the pan, then place a plate over the top and invert the pan and plate together to unmold.

Since I didn’t use 1 1/2 lb of potatoes they didn’t go all the way to the top of the pan, which made it very hard to invert and unmold, I did, however, use a cake pan that opens with a spring, and simply opened it up and transfer the whole thing to a serving dish.

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When it comes to grocery shopping I do 99.9% of it at the Park Slope Food Co-op, I say 99.9% because every once in a while I’ll get lazy and buy some pasta or chicken at the neighborhood’s Italian market. The co-op’s selection of fresh produce is so great that often I buy things without having a plan as for what to do with them. That was the case with the Jerusalem Artichokes I pulled out of my fridge today, I bought them last Saturday simply because they looked so fresh and beautiful and because I love Jerusalem artichokes (or Sun chokes as some call them). I looked at the artichokes and then around my kitchen, I spotted some Chestnuts and tried to figure out how to pair the two, a short online search yielded a few recipes but non involved Chestnuts, and then I found it, thank you Martha Stewart.

It is delicious!!

Here is the recipe, slightly modified from Martha’s recipe:

Ingredients

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch-thick and reserved in cold water until ready to use
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chili flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch-thick
  • 5 ounces shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 5 ounces peeled chestnuts, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine Jerusalem artichokes and milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 3/4 cups of the milk.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk creme fraiche, reserved milk, lemon juice, 1/4 cup Gruyere, thyme, salt, chili and pepper. Add artichokes, potatoes, chestnuts, shallots; gently mix to combine. Transfer to a 6-cup shallow baking dish, and cover tightly with parchment-lined aluminum foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until artichokes are tender, about 1 hour. Remove foil, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.



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