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Friday, November 27, 2009


This may not look like much but it was really good. A fish cake, a shrimp and two fried oysters on a bed of peppers, mushrooms, tomato and garlic.

The tomato and peppers and mushrooms were stewed for a while and then I added some of the tomato I made a couple of months ago and let it cook. To finish it off I added chopped parsley and lemon squeeze.

The fish is sauteed in a pan and then place on top and over that is brown butter, capers and parsley. Served with a parsnip mash.

As I said. It may not look like much but.....

Peppered Rib Eye Steak

More anon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shrimp And Oyster Fry, Twice Baked Potatoes With Blue Cheese And Tossed Bitter Greens

These greens are bitter because of the radicchio. It is not everyones cup of tea but I like it. It has a great bite to it and goes well with all of the stronger dressings. I mixed it with some regular greens to cut the bitterness.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Choucroute Garnie

Choucroute garnie is another staple in brasserie and bistro cooking. It is the French version of sauerkraut from Alsace Lorraine and it is cooked with wine and juniper berries. The German version is usually, but not always, cooked in beer. You can use any sausages or smoked meats you want; I used a good frankfurter, a bockwurst, smoked bacon and smoked ham hock as well as a couple of potatoes. Recipes abound for this on the internet. This is the way I make it.
Cut a slice or two of bacon into strips and chop a little onion. Render the fat of the bacon in a pot that will hold the amount of sauerkraut you want to cook. Then add the chopped onion and cook on a medium heat. Then add the sauerkraut which has been drained and washed slightly, or not, I don’t wash it as a general rule. Let the grease of the bacon heat the sauerkraut until it is uniformly warm and the strands are separated. Then add white wine to the top but not over the top. Add a bay leaf and some juniper berries and season. Cook on a slow heat in the oven or in a slow cooker.
In a separate pan, add the bacon and other smoked meats and let them heat while rendering a little fat. Add a coarsely chopped onion to this and allow to cook on a medium heat for a few minutes. Finally, add a bay leaf and some thyme, cover the meats with water and let them simmer until cooked.
Have your sausages ready so that when the meat and kraut is cooked you can add your sausages to the pot and heat them. They are usually precooked. It is always a good idea to prick them a little with a fork so they don’t burst. Whatever you do, don’t let them boil.
When everything is ready, assemble the kraut and the meats tastefully on a plate and serve with some boiled potatoes and hot mustard.
It is a good idea to wrap the juniper berries in a little muslin and tie it with a piece of string so that they can be easily recovered after the sauerkraut is cooked. Leave a little length on the string and hang it over the edge of the pot so you can find the berries easily and retrieve them.

Fish 'n' Chips

Cod fillet with homemade tartar and coleslaw.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Turkey Breast Stuffed And Rolled In Bacon, Squished Potatoes And Sprouts

Double click on thumbnails to bring text into focus.

Although not traditional, this is the best way to cook turkey because it stays moist and the meat really picks up the flavor of the stuffing. If you want to do an oyster stuffing you can just line the oysters up on top of this savory stuffing and they won’t get broken up. The slices are also more uniform and everyone gets a bit of everything. Given that the carcass is in the roasting process the flavor of the turkey jus or gravy is much more concentrated and intense. This breast was $3.50 and there was enough for two so it also turns out a little cheaper if you don’t have a big crowd.
For the potatoes: I found these on a food blog last night and thought the idea to be very original. The result is also very tasty.
You boil two regular sized potatoes in their jackets. I used white potatoes here. Let them cool a little bit and then squish the middle down with the back of a spoon. You then add whatever you would like to add drizzle with olive oil and put them back in the oven. Then serve them with some salsa or sour cream in the middle. Great idea.
Here is the recipe for the potatoes taken from a blog called a wee bit of cooking:
Crash Hot Potatoes
(Serves 4)
16 small, round potatoes (skin left on)
Olive oil
Add the potatoes to a large pan of salted water. Bring to the boil. Simmer briskly for 15 minutes or until potatoes are almost cooked.
Remove potatoes from the pan and place on a baking tray. Using a masher or the back of a big spoon, gently squish each potato until they are half intact, half broken up.
Sprinkle with rosemary and seasoning then brush or spray generously with olive oil.
Roast in a very hot (225oC) oven for 15-20 minutes

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bargains Du Jour.

Some very good bargains at the supermarket today. There were quite a few more but they don't like to have people photographing the goods for some reason. I think the local farmers bring in these big palletes of stuff just to get rid of it cheaply.

Spaghetti With Shrimp And Bacon.

On a plate.
In a pan.

Brussell Spout, Spud, Barley And Smoked Bacon Soup

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quenelle De Brochet A La Lyonnaise

This is one of the true specialties of Lyon.

I took a liberty in naming this dish and called it by the name of a true specialty of Lyon which is pike dumplings or to use the French term: Quenelles. I can’t find pike here and I doubt that it is even eaten here so I made this with a different fish. The method of making it remains the same however.
Whereas most dishes and popular specialties are relatively easy to make, this one is extremely complicated. I will go over the gist of it.
First you have to make a ‘panade’ which is a mix of milk, butter flour. This holds everything together. You then allow that to cool in the fridge. Then you put the fish in the food processor and mince it with a little salt. When the ‘panade’ is cooled you add it to the fish to make the mix for the quenelle. You allow this to sit in the fridge overnight if possible. Then you form the quenelles ready for poaching.
You also need a white wine or a nantua sauce and some garnish like shrimp or crayfish. You will also need a little whipped cream.
You will also need some spinach or vegetable to rest the quenelles on.
When all this is ready you put the spinach on the dish, place the quenelles and the garnish on top of that. Cover the whole thing with the sauce and glaze it under the grill.
Great stuff but it takes a lot to make it.
There are many recipes on the internet but I would not advise the rank amateur to try it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fricassee Of Chicken With Mushrooms

This is another example of truly classic cuisine that needs to be mastered in order to have a good understanding of cuisine bourgeoise from France. It is at once simple and very complex. You could find this dish in France in the sixties from the corner bistro to the fanciest hotel and restaurant and every French homemaker knew how to make it for dinner. The differences of course were in technique and ingredients.
At best this dish is a sublime mix of wine, chicken, cream and at worst a chicken stewed in cream sauce with mushrooms.
You will find many recipes for this on the internet and they are all good. The basic method is to simmer chicken breasts and legs in a mix of oil and butter without coloring them. Mixing a little oil with butter prevents the butter from burning. The chicken is simmered for a good five to ten minutes and then you throw in a handful of chopped shallots and simmer them along with the chicken. You can add a bay leaf at this time. You then add some dry white wine to the mix and let that cook for a few minutes. Then you take the chicken out and reduce the wine completely. You should get a very intense flavor and bouquet from the reduction.
You then add the chicken back to the pot and add a little flour and mix that in really well. You then add a little more white wine and cover the whole thing with chicken stock. The flour will thicken and start the sauce. At this point add a little thyme and a few unpeeled garlic cloves as well as salt and pepper. Let that simmer until the chicken is cooked then remove the chicken and let the sauce continue to reduce and intensify. Then add some fresh cream and reduce to a sauce like consistency.
Stain the sauce over the chicken and correct the seasoning.
While the chicken was cooking you will have cut a few large mushrooms in half and cooked the in a little white wine and a knob of butter. Add these to your fricassee, let it sit for a good half hour and serve with rice or pasta. You can also add pearl onions to this dish and this dish can also me made with veal and , at a stretch, pork.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pork Escalope Viennoise, Oven Dried Tomatoes And Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

This is a staple in brasserie and bistro cuisine. It goes well with wine and beer and is very flavorful. It is usually made with veal but for economic reasons I made it with pork. It is difficult to find a good escalope of veal commercially.
This cut was taken off the leanest pork cut which is the loin. Your butcher should cut you a nice 6oz boneless loin chop and all you have to do is pound it out, he can do that for you too if you ask him nicely.
You then bread this thin slice of veal by passing it through flour, egg and finally fine breadcrumbs. It is always a good idea to have a bag of brown breadcrumbs in the freezer. The commercial breadcrumbs don’t work well with this.
Before cooking the escalope make sure you have the following things ready: capers, limes peeled and cut into small pieces, butter and chopped parsley. The cooking of this dish does not take a lot of time and you won’t have time for preparation while you do it. Have everything ready in advance.
Put a pan big enough to hold the escalope on the stove and add a little oil. Fry the escalope until it is golden brown then remove it from the pan and wipe the pan out with a dry cloth. In the same pan add the butter and keep it over a medium heat. When the butter starts to brown and give off a nutty odor add the capers and the limes and cook for a minute or so. Remove the pan from the stove and add some chopped parsley, swirl around in the pan and pour over the escalope.
Ready to serve and delicious food.
For the green beans: Blanche the beans and refresh them in iced water. Lay them side by side and trim any really long ones so you end up with more or less the same lengths. Slightly pound a slice of bacon and wrap it around the beans. Finish in the oven. ‘
For the tomatoes: simply cut them in half and place them on a pan or a dish or whatever you want to use. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and leave them in a warm oven for a few hours.
You can't buy good commercial breadcrumbs for this kind of thing. You have to make your own. You do this by keeping all the ends and crusts of the bread. Let them dry out and pass them through those little food processers with the blades until they are finely processed. Then put them in a ziplock bag and put the bag in the freezer and use as needed. Sometimes you will need white breadcrumbs for stuffings and the like. Do the same thing except with only the white part of one or two day old bread.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Entrecote Bordelaise A La Moelle, Braised Endive And Gratin Dauphinois.

This is one of the true classics of french cuisine and it comes of course from the Bordeaux region of France. The real Entrecote Bordelaise is not done like this at all. The original recipe calls for the steak to be grilled, not sauteed, on a bed of vine branches and then topped with a red wine and shallot recuction. I was told this by a native of Bordeaux familiar with the history of the dish.
However, now in restaurants and hotels it is sauteed and covered with a bordelaise sauce.
The most complicated part of this dish is the sauce but it is really quite easy to make. To make this sauce you really need demi glace which is a reduction of veal stock until it is thick.
The other way to make it is to follow the instructions above and when the reduction is done whisk in some whole butter. This is a good and easy substitute because the butter will thicken the sauce . You have to be careful not to boil the sauce after you put the butter in or it will separate.
The advantage of having demi glace is that you don't end up with a sauce rich with butter. You can buy demi glaze in the stores but I don't know what it tastes like.
The endives are simply cooked slowy in olive oil with the addition of white wine until they are tender.
I think there is a recipe for the gratin dauphinois on this blog.
This dish was outstanding.

Friday, November 13, 2009

How Can You Possibly Go Wrong With Ingredients Like These?

Pot Au Feu. This is the grandaddy of french cuisine in the winter. It is usually served as a plat du jour and is rarely on an everyday menu. The american equivelant is the new england boiled dinner. Every country has a version of this but somehow france beats them all as usual.
This of course if a variation on the dish as you can't find everything you need to follow the recipe in most places outside of france. But this is a very good impersonation of the dish and except for a few cuts of meat it is authentique.
Here I used some beef ribs I got from the local supermarket on sale. I also used A leg of chicken and some marrow bones. You can use all sorts of vegetables as long as they are sturdy. The main staples are carrots, cabbage, leeks, turnips and then add to that whatever takes your fancy.
To start with I blanched the meats which means you put them in some cold water, bring them to the boil and then rinse them off under cold water. This will remove the residue that rises to the surface when you bring a piece of meat to the boil. Getting rid of this gives you a better chance of ending up with a clear stock for your pot au feu.
You then wash out the pot and put the meats back in, cover them with water and put them back on the stove and bring it to the boil again. There will be a little more residue so you need to skim that off with a ladle.
Then, having peeled all your vegetables and cut them into any shape you want to you will add them to this same pot. You will also add thyme, bay leaf, whole unpeeled garlic buds and salt and pepper. Then let them simmer away util the vegetables are cooked. They will for the most part be cooked before the meats so remove them and keep them warm until the beef is ready.
When the beef is cooked correct the seasoning on the stock and ladle off any surface grease.
Put all the vegetables back into the pot with the meats, cover and let sit for a good hour in order for everything to come together.
Then serve accompanied by mustard, cornichons, horseradish and sea or kosher salt and some very crusty bread.