Mastering the Art of Julia Child category

leftover cheese | 8:55 am | 10 November 2012

What to do with all the leftover cheese? French onion soup!
French onion soup

Taste testing: Swiss cheese for soufflé | 8:51 am | 9 November 2012

We’ve been making a lot of soufflé lately, as we gear up to lead a workshop. My usual practice as cheese-monger-ee has been pretty sloppy: scrawl “Swiss cheese” on the grocery list, then find myself shuffling from foot to foot in the dairy section, trying to remember if we’d ever come up with a preference….eventually grabbing the cheapest of whatever looked decent. Really, everything there looks decent—I’m too lazy to drive to the Giant Chain Grocers (and besides, they give me ADD-hives) so I shop at the locals, which have really nice cheese.

To put an end to this nonsense, here are the three non-baby, non-mega-dairy Swiss cheeses available at the Willy St. Coöp last week: Emmenthaler (source unknown), Edelweiss Grass-fed Emmenthaler, and Cave-aged Guryère (source unknown).
photo of the four cheeses

We tasted the cheeses uncooked, first, then in four soufflés—the fourth was a mix of half Guryère and half Grassy Emmenthaler. Guryère, solo, wins by a mile. Here’s our notes:

regular old Swiss cheese
creamy; would be good for melty uses
boring and Panera-like
Grass-fed Emmenthaler
like the other one but with a nice top bite
tasty—with terroir, and funky
has a sharp note that the regular Emmenthaler was missing
Cave-aged Guryère
salty, brown, nutty, toothy, & dry
back wall of funkiness

four individual cheese souffles

Le Bon Marche de Cassoulet, day 1 | 7:53 pm | 9 January 2010

Markets visited (no rabbit; boo!); beans done, pork loin roasted, duck confited, saucisse seasoned, and veal stock on hour five.

TWEET: Cassoulet 2010: It … | 6:41 pm |

Cassoulet 2010: It begins.

Master Class #48 | 7:48 am | 30 June 2008

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
Fricadelles de Veau a la Creme
Fricadelles de Veau à la Crème , p. 373
Veal Patties with Cream and Herb Sauce
Gratin Dauphinois, p. 523
Scalloped Potatoes with Milk, Cheese, and a Pinch of Garlic

For being a pretty straightforward meat/milked-bread/egg/etc. recipe, the veal patties came out nicely light. I was a little uncertain how the tarragon/wine/cream sauce would pair up with them; I needn’t have worried. Served on lettuce from the CSA (she recommends a bed of sauteéd spinach, but somehow I didn’t read the sauteéd part) with the base scalloped potatoes recipe, this was a really nice summer supper–rich but neither overwhemling nor too warming.

One note about the potatoes; it’s been my experience that low-and-slow works better in my oven so they were in for an hour at 350° instead of 20-30 minutes at 425°.

Master Class #47 | 6:34 am | 10 September 2007

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
Oeufs en Croustades a la Bernaise | Poached Eggs and Mushrooms, Bernaise SauceOeufs en Croustades à la Bérnaise, p. 120
Poached Eggs and Mushrooms, Bérnaise Sauce

Gratin de Quenelles de PoissonGratin de Quenelles de Poisson, p. 185 – 188
Fish Quenelles
Quenelles Gratinéd in White Wine Sauce
Fish Mousse

Oh, dear, the backlog. I made this all at the end of July…
The poached eggs are delicious and easy. The Quenelles, need a little more practice. The great thing, though, is that the base can be made into all kinds of different things. The little fish dumplings were very good on their own, but somehow a little overwhelming. Maybe more fishy than our palate is accustomed to? When the quenelles stopped working in my pot, losing their shape, the better recipe was found by, as recommended, pureéing what’s left. I spooned that into little dished, added some cheese on top, threw them under the broiler–et voila!–a delicious mousse.

Master Class #46 | 9:37 am | 8 May 2007

piperade: open-faced omelette garnished with onions, peppers, tomatoes and hamMastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
Pipérade, pp. 137-8
Open-faced omlette garnished with onions, peppers, tomatoes and ham

I thought this seemed too simple to be really great — it’s just onions, peppers, tomatoes and a little garlic sautéed with eggs and ham — but served with a crisp white wine and a baguette, it was a gorgeous little supper.

Master Class #45 | 12:48 pm | 28 November 2006

turkey casserole from Julia ChildJulia Child and Company
Turkey Casserole, pp. 217
turkey gratineéd in white wine sauce with mushrooms and onions

The word “casserole” has been severely devalued — say it, and the first thing I think of is either that narsty canned green-beans-and-soup thing that gets dragged out to holiday tables, or tuna hot dish; to me, it pretty much means bland, over-salted, icky gunk, probably with a layer of broken potato chips on the top. Call this recipe a casserole, call it shit-on-a-shingle; if you’re serving this, just don’t call me late for dinner!

Mr. Dynagirl usually gets a Thanksgiving turkey from work. Seeing as how we usually aren’t hosting the holidays yet, our moms pick out their own turkeys, and if I were to get a turkey to roast I’d go find an heirloom breed (or at least a Diestel), the poor thing languishes in the downstairs freezer for lack of a better idea of what to do with it. I finally figured I’d better do something with it, if only because I was going to be needing the freezer space for the cassoulet.

I’m not sure if this is originally a French thing, or if she just worked this up in the familiar idiom. When the turkey finally thawed, I cut it up into pieces (reserving the breast to the freezer for smoking later) and simmered it with the usual stock accoutrements. Mushrooms and onions are worked up on their own. (I think! I’ll look it up and edit this later.) Once the meat is cooked, the remaining stock is cooked down with wine and cream, and the casserole is topped with grated Swiss cheese. Even without the breast meat, this twelve-pound turkey yielded two pie plates and three bread pans of the most delicious, most luscious, most fucking awesome “casserole” you’ve ever had.

It would be devilish fun to make this for that kind of potluck event where everyone trots out their same nasty hotdishes; they’d get to this one, and they’d be p0wn3d! But I’m not competitive like that. No siree, Bob… hrm.

Cassoulet 2006: l’assemblage | 9:34 am | 27 October 2006

Cassoulet avec confit de canard et Saucisse de ToulouseMastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
Cassoulet de Porc et de Mouton, pp. 339-405

This year, instead of roasting a duck and making sausages, I used duck legs confit and Saucisse deToulouse. (Hooray, Amazon!) I also split it up into several pans — all the better to have more crust, and not be trying to manage a giant, 30-pound (? whatever, really heavy), overflowing roasting pan. It filled three eight-cup soufflé pans and a very large roaster. I had a little trouble with the very full oven and it’s really craptastic uneven heating, so next year I’ll probably do the baking in two rounds.

This was as great as ever, and I’d probably have to say the best so far. There’s about $140 of groceries in this, which is always startling up front, but that’s also about 28 servings of OMG TEH DELICIOUS in my freezer.

Master Class #44 | 9:35 am | 25 July 2006

Foie de Veau Sauté / Sauteed Calf's LiverMastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Foie de Veau Sauté, p. 405
Sautéed Calf’s Liver

Sauce Creème à la Moutarde, p. 406
Cream and Mustard Sauce

Although I’ve whole-heartedly embraced poultry liver… this was quite a bit scarier, as liver was one of threetwo items that my parents would let slide from their “this is not a restaurant” rule: only when Mom served lobster (HA! so they could eat it all) or liver would she cook something else for us.*

Well. Liver’s definitely an accquired taste.

I bought the organ from my favorite people at the Saturday Farmers’ Market. It was funny; as soon as I mentioned to anyone over fifty that I was going to make liver, they immediately told me how to make the standard liver and onions we all grew up avoiding. I think I know why we all hated it — the cheaper beef liver is stronger in flavor than calf’s, and most everyone recommended five minutes per side, far longer than it needs.

I sort of tentatively gummed the first bite or two… but… it was actually kind of good. Mr Dynagirl also approved (possibly more heartily than I). The sauce worked really nicely; the deep bass of the liver needed the high note of the mustard. Simple sautéed potatoes mellowed things out, spreading the intense flavor around.

Things I learned for next time: get calf’s liver, not beef; if beef is the only option, try soaking it in milk for an hour; a little goes a loooong way.

* she came from a family of ridiculously picky eaters (omg, no onions**?!) and, understandably, wasn’t about to see a repeat of that.

** True story: about five years ago my mom took her father down to Milwaukee so he could buy shoes. We met for lunch (at Coquette, swoon) and I actually saw the man ORDER FRENCH ONION SOUP — and then proceed to pull out all of the onions, bitching the whole time.

airplane food (movie)? | 9:06 pm | 10 July 2006

Nora Ephron is slated to write and direct Julie Powell’s “Julie & Julia.” Yick. A fantabulous cookbook, a great blog, an OK book; and now a film, directed by someone, who, if whom their career were a food, it would be Lean Cuisine.

Instead, I think I’ll enjoy this 1973 ad for Betty Crocker Frosting in a Can, starring Joan Van Ark, via Scrubbles.

Master Class #43 | 8:32 am | 18 April 2006

Veal Prince OrloffMastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Veau Prince Orloff, pp. 355-357
Veal Gratinéed with Onions and Mushrooms

Épinards au Jambon, p. 470
Spinach with Ham

Between the classic Mary Tyler Moore dinner party episode, and what’s written about it on the intarweb, Veal Prince Orloff seems to be a very misunderstood dish. Let’s debunk!

  1. “Mary, do you know what happens if you overcook a Veal Prince Orloff? He dies!”
    Not hardly! This is a chafing-dish champion if there ever was one. First of all, I was outside enjoying a well-deserved glass* of YT on the deck when the oven timer dinged, and by the time I got back into the kitchen to rescue the Prince, he was at a shocking ten degrees past done. Still quite lovely and pink inside, though; and since this is something that once assembled is reheated in the oven and has enough fat to make a goose blush, it can hold for quite a while in a warm oven.
  2. “Mr. Grant, you took half!
    Mary’s dinner party was for six, they ended up with seven people when Rhoda showed up with a date. Lou Grant took “half,” which meant three slices, since she had just enough for the six original guests. That must have been one hell of a small roast. The five-pounder I started with wasn’t even half finished by seven people, each of whom had at least one slice of veal. A closer look at my photos shows that there were twenty slices to that five pounds, or four slices per pound. A veal roast that would give you a mere six slices would weigh one and a half pounds; in other words, really tiny. I know meat was super expensive in the 70s, and money was tight, but come on!
  3. “…takes an entire day to assemble… …incredibly labor intensive… …took two days to make… …six pages of instructions…”
    These people are exaggerating wimps who don’t belong in the kitchen, lying –lying about Julia!–to make themselves into pitiable martyrs, and I hate them for it. Granted, this wasn’t shoving a Lean Cuisine into the microwave, but it certainly wasn’t cassoulet, either.

veal prince orloff, getting started
Let’s talk about what it is: a tad ridiculous, and totally delicious.
Start by roasting the veal in the standard way — brown all the sides, throw in some bacon, onions, carrots and an herb bouquet; put in oven, baste it now and then. [Ah, me! So difficult…] While that’s in the oven, par-boil a little rice, then throw that together with a sliced onion and more butter; put in oven. Squeeze the water out of minced mushrooms, sauté with butter and then some minced shallots; correct seasoning and set aside [do you need to sit down now? feeling faint?]. Pureé now cooked rice and onions with a little cream, mix with mushrooms; set aside. Roast is done; set aside. Remove vegetables from roasting pan, add milk until you have three cups of liquid, beat into a buerre manie (butter and flour); set aside. Slice now-cooled roast into an oven-proof dish. Lay a slice, add a little salt and pepper, smear some of your mushroom mixture on it, lay down another slice; repeat until done.
veal prince orloff, stuffedBring that sauce to a simmer, add some Swiss cheese and maybe some cream, pour on reconstituted roast. [This was the point I started giggling insanely…] Grate some more cheese on top and a little melted butter, pop back in oven about forty-five minutes before you want to eat. TA FUCKING DA.
veal prince orloff, velouteI started at two-thirty on Saturday afternoon, and by five, everything was done save the final assembly — including the dishes. That’s two-and-a-half hours, INCLUDING THE DISHES.
veal prince orloff, on the tableSunday morning, I sliced the roast, stuffed it, and bathed it in cheese sauce — and was in the shower thirty minutes after I started. So: that’s three hours of hands-on time, total. Not too shabby, given how obnoxious it seems, and given the drama of the results. Certainly not two days, and nowhere near the high end of the KitchInsanity Scale™.

The Prince is quite rich, and so I served him with simple asparagus and a family holiday favorite, endive salad**. It was a big hit and the Augey Bordeaux white (2004, $7.99 @ Woodman’s) complimented it nicely. I served the spinach with ham the next evening with the leftovers, and it was very good and came together quite quickly. Be forewarned that you will need one bag of fresh spinach per person, as it quickly cooks down into nothing.

Equipment note: JC indicates that you will need a fireproof dish in which to assemble the veal. I took this as meaning something that could withstand direct flame –as there are numerous dishes that must go from stovetop to oven to broiler in the same pan– and used my LeCreuset enameled iron baker. This never went on the stove, and if there is a next time, I will just use Pyrex.

*having also cleaned the house and run several errands before even starting
**which didn’t have endive in it this year, on account of the grocery stores sucking

Rosa Floribunda Julia Child | 12:42 pm | 17 April 2006

rose julia childI love roses*, and how could I not plant this lovely bush with petals that –hunh! imagine that– are the color of butter? She should be arriving May the fifth, which is a good incentive for me to get the bed on the south side of the house finished (started, too).

*hardy, no-maintenance, wild and lush and smelly and bordering on invasive roses; not the huge fucking pain in the ass, must be painstakingly cultivated and pruned and covered and sprayed and coddled roses that barely bloom, and when they do they have no fragrance roses, so preferred by other people I know, who though they may be blood relations are not spoken to or about.

Master Class #42 | 9:30 am |

Foies de Volaille en AspicMastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Foies de Volaille en Aspic, p. 548
Chicken Livers in Aspic

Since a frequent theme here is that one may as well be hung for a wolf as a sheep, if I am going to make aspic (uuuurgh), I’m going to do it the hard way. That was my goal, at least; finding two calves’ hooves is a lot harder than it used to be. I called several shops and pretty much struck out — the closest I got was Stoddard’s, who could get a sixty-pound box, if I took it all. (If I had two friends who were interested in splitting it with me… anyone?) The double bummer of not finding the feet is that I used commercial stock; no time now to bother, and the good stuff I had made was hiding in the freezer to be used for liver-dumpling soup at an upcoming German dinner party.

I did, however, learn a nice trick. From page 111, the Clarification du Bouillon! Often jealous of the perfectly clear chicken broth that comes with the matzo from Benji’s or Ella’s or Kroll’s, I’d never realized it comes from an extra clarifying step that’s a little futzy but well worth the trouble. Egg whites are beaten into some hot stock that is then whisked into the rest of the hot stock, stirred until the simmer, then simmered slowly for twenty minutes. When you’re done, the egg whites will have picked up all the particulate matter in the stock. Gently strain it through five layers of cheesecloth, and Voilà! Gorgeously transparent.

The rest of this was really simple – Sauté the livers in butter, add some shallots, seasoning and liquor, and let chill in the cooking juices. Since I wasn’t doing this the hard way, I added some gelatin envelopes to the stock, and poured about an eighth of an inch of it into the bottom of some small copper molds. When those had set and the livers had chilled, I just plonked down the livers in the mold (with no directions otherwise, I included a bit of the shallot), covered them with the rest of the aspic, shoved them back in the refrigerator–and then hid in a corner, rocking.

We put off eating dinner until we were ravenous. Remembering that everything goes better with fried bread, I whipped up some canapés quick-like, and turned out two molds. We held hands and closed our eyes… and it was OK. Really, what’s to hate about this? Chicken livers, yum; shallots sautéed in butter and madiera, yum; beef broth, yum; –it’s just the gelatin part that gets it a little weird. The canapés helped, as did the lettuce underneath. This was really a bit much to eat a whole one. It was rich enough that we didn’t eat anything else, which led to waking up really hungry. This isn’t something I’d put into regular rotation, but it might be something to pull out when you need an unusual but tasty hors d’oeuvres. I plopped one out onto the cheese tray for Easter Equinox Dinner, and it was made short work of. One down, lots more scary aspics to go!

Master Class #41 | 8:27 am | 5 April 2006

Oeufs a la BourguignonneMastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Oeufs à la Bourguignonne, pp. 121
Eggs Poached in Red Wine

Poach in eggs in 2 cups of wine and 2 cups of beef stock; add some herbs and garlic and shallots, reduce poaching liquid by half and beat in a buerre manié,* serve over canapés. Whaddya get? PURPLE EGGS. Oh–but the best tasting purple eggs you’ve ever had. This looks so weird, but it was absolutely lush, and *mwah!* suprême! Very subltle, and very… sensual. I dunno if the wine poach actually adds any flavor to the egg, or it’s a matter of a) why have two pots on the boil when you can have one? and b) startling the guests.

If you have small kids, it would be fun to serve this for Easter breakfast, and tell them that special purple eggs come from Easter eggs.

I only poached four of the eight eggs in the recipe, so I have a bunch of sauce left. I’ll definitely be eating this again this week!

*two tablespoons flour mixed into one-and-a-half tablespoons softened butter

Master Class #40 | 8:17 am | 7 March 2006

gigot a la moutardeMastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Gigot à la Moutarde, pp. 335
Herb-Mustard Coated Roast Lamb
Crêpes de Pomme de Terre, pp. 521-22
Grated Potato Pancakes
Choux de Bruxelles Étuveés à la Crème, pp. 452
Creamed Brussells Sprouts

This lamb is super-simple, given it’s lush complexity of flavor. Whisk up some Dijon mustard, soy sauce, garlic and olive oil, slather it on the leg and shove it in the oven. That’s it. Well, ok, while the roast is resting you throw a cup of stock into the roasting pan, deglaze and boil it down a bit, and maybe throw in some butter to finish the sauce. TA-DA. It was wonderful, and the easiness made up for the potato pancakes. Those were a little more complex, with grated potatoes that have been squeezed dry, mixed with cheese and cream (and maybe cream cheese?) and sauteéd mushrooms and, er… some spices. I made them last week, so details are a little hazy. Sauté them up one-by-one in gobs and gobs of oil and butter. These were totally worth it, though, as this absolutely transforms the idea of a potato pancake — and wonderful to use as a bed for an egg dish, or like I did here, with slabs of delicious lamb.

Once again, I have to feel sorry for the Brussells sprout: the most misunderstood vegetable of the plant world. People really have to stop overcooking the poor things–you’d taste like a stale fart, too, if you’d been that mistreated! These were lightly blanched, then braised ten minutes in a little two tablespoons of butter, at which point a cup of boiling cream was added to the braise and cooked for an additional ten minutes. I was really sad that I hadn’t bought more sprouts, and we only got four each.

Master Class #39 | 8:23 am | 27 February 2006

Pate de Canard en Croute / Boned stuffed duck in a crustMastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Pâté de Canard en Crôute, pp. 571-76
Boned Stuffed Duck in a Pastry Crust
Farce pour Pâtés, Terrines, et Galantines, pp 565-66
Pork and Veal Stuffing

[This dates from December; I served it at my parents’ New Year’s Eve party and just got the photos finally.]

I’ve been itching to make this ever since stumbling upon the illustrations when thumbing through the book:
illustration from cookbookillustration from cookbook
That just looks so wierd and crazy that it can’t be resisted, right? To start out, you very carefully flay a duck, doing your level best to get the skin off in one piece. This is not as hard as it sounds, but you have to be careful–always blade towards the bone, and watch where you’re poking. I had a little additional sewing work to do when I was done, but I’m sure that next time I can get it cleanly. Take the duck meat off the carcass you’ve liberated from the skin, then mince it coarsely, seasoning with salt and pepper and a pinch of allspice. If you’re adding truffles–and why not?!–they go in now. Let the meat rest with the skin in a bit of brandy and port.

While that’s hanging out in the fridge, make the pork and veal stuffing from tenderloin, fat, brandy, and some salt and pepper. There’s some onions, eggs, and brandy in there, too. Lay out the duck skin (sewing up any knife mishaps) and layer in the middle the duck stuffing, then truffles, then the pork and veal stuffing. Sew up the skin, then truss it into a vague football shape… …and you’ve got Frankenduck:
duck: stuffed and sewn up

If you can’t find a meat needle at your local market (HAHAHAHA), I found that a yarn needle did the trick. I half-plied the twine, so it wouldn’t be too harsh on the more delicate duck skin. Brown the duck football on all sides in peanut oil.
duck: stuffed and sewn up, then browned

At this point, after my duck cooled, I let it rest in the fridge for a day or two to let the flavors meld and mellow, then froze it until the day of the party. Roll out your basic pastry dough, with enough to sort of bowl around the pâté and make a lid. You’re going to want to pinch the lid together with the base, but softly — that lid will need to come off, so you can de-string before serving. Create a little hole in the center top, stick a meat thermometer in it, and bake this gently for about an hour. I brushed it with an egg a few times during baking.

After it’s fully cooled –refrigerate it for a bit, so that it sets up, which will make it easier to deal with– gently break it open along the bottom edge of the seam. Remove the duck and remove all of its strings, et voilà!
duck: opened and detrussed
I really recommend using the truffles, not that they made a huuuuge difference, but seriously–you may as well be hung for a wolf as a sheep. It’s certainly worth it, and I really didn’t want to be wondering, “wow, that was awesome, but… what if I had sprung for the truffle? If you’re going to be spending that much time and effort on a dish, rock it like a bastard!! Oh, and the response? Universally spectacular. If (when) I make one again, though, I’ll salt it a bit more – remember, you’re serving this cold, so it’s going to take more seasoning than you’d expect. Goes well with a French white wine, or champagne. Larger photos of this crazy thing here.
duck sliced for service

Master Class #38 | 9:44 am | 24 February 2006

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Sauté de Veau Marengo, pp. 360-63
Brown Veal Stew with Tomatoes and Mushrooms

The last of our veal stews. Similar to the others in basic structure, this has a more Provençal taste, relying on tomatoes instead of dairy to fill out the sauce. Sear the meat, brown the onions, deglaze with vermouth. Stir in tomatoes, herbs and garlic, and let it simmer in the oven for some time, then add the mushrooms. The stew was very nice with crunchy bread and egg noodles. While all the veal stews were very, very nice, I don’t know that they’re something that I’d really make much again: if I’ve got a taste for a stew, it’s far more likely to end up being from the all-star team–boeuf bourguignon or coq au vin. Still! Tasty.

Master Class #37 | 10:42 am | 21 February 2006

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Gigot de PréSaleé Rôti, pp. 332-333
Roast Leg of Lamb
Sauce Spéciale à l’Ail pour Gigot, pp. 334
Garlic Sauce for Roast Lamb

This is the first of many roast legs of lamb, and from here out we’re going to be hitting up Yasmin’s Halal for the meat; Jenifer Street Market evidently doesn’t have enough demand, and calls these little shank ends “leg of lamb” — and at $7.99/lb., that’s a LOT of bone. (Not to say that I don’t love JSM!)

The roast lamb here starts with the standard braise: sear the meat, then roast in the oven with roughly cut carrots and minced onions. While that’s roasting, simmer a head of garlic in some milk with some herbs; save that for deglazing, then pureé that later with the carrots and onions and juices from the roaster.* Hooooo, that lamb is so nice, and the sauce is perfect over cauliflower. I’m a little freaked out by how much lamb is coming up (eight? ten more?), but it looks like it’s going to be a delicious ride.

*I’m writing this from memory two days later and I may have missed something, I’ll fact-check later!

Master Class #36 | 6:08 pm | 12 February 2006

oeufs a la Fondue de Fromage
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Oeufs à la Fondue de Fromage, pp. 118-19
Poached Eggs on Canapés with Cheese Fondue Sauce

Julia describes all of this and the other variations of ouefs sur canapés / ouefs en croustades as “a practically limitless series of little hot first courses or luncheon dishes.” They’d shine in such a fashion, but served with a nice tossed salad, they’re also an easy and charming supper after a long Saturday of cleaning and errands. We used her six-minute egg, which is recommended as alternative to poaching — after a long Saturday of cleaning and errands, shortcuts may be embraced when they present themselves! Even with the slightly putzy canapés, this is a really simple dish to whip up with pantry staples. Sauté some shallots, add a little garlic; throw in stock and wine and reduce… add a little cream, a little cornstarch, and a little Swiss cheese and correct the seasonings. Canapés + eggs + sauce + broiler, eh, with a little more cheese and butter. Ta-da, a sumptuous little dinner. We used a “rustic,” grainy French sandwich loaf for the canapés, which worked out really well – the nuttier texture was welcome against the velvet of the egg and sauce, and the slight sweetness worked well. This is so rich, though, that two eggs per person is almost a challenge – be sure to balance this with a salad and/or some fruit. I’m quite looking forward to the rest of this chapter!

belated birthday weekend blogging | 7:37 am | 7 February 2006

Two weekends ago there was much fun and laziness and food at Casa Dynagirl. Saturday we bummed around with my folks, and I couldn’t resist these plaid Danksos. We met up later for dinner at Magnus. I really need to start making lamb chops. Dinner, needless to say, was fantastic.

Sunday was lazy and very pleasant; I got up early, made the beginnings of dinner, and sat down to knit and knit and knit during our Doctor Who marathon.

beautiful poppyseed cake with buttercream frosting
While I was busy knitting, Mr Dynagirl was busy in the kitchen making this absofuckinglutely fantabulous poppyseed cake with a custard lining and buttercream frosting.

clam chowder waiting to be served
Julia Child & Company
Fish Chowder, pp. ??
Before the cake made its debút, friends joined us for supper: one of my favorite soups, Julia’s fish chowder. It’s a snap to make if you use her suggestion of clam juice, and the only sinful thing is the croutons – though it’s heavenly and velvet. I’ve only made it once before but I think it’s going to be in a more regular winter rotation from here out.

Master Class #35 | 9:18 pm | 16 January 2006

Blanquette de Veau a l'Ancienne
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Blanquette de Veau À l’Ancienne, p. 362
Veal Stew with Onions and Mushrooms

This was really good, but not great. (Jeepers! So spoiled!) The veal is simmered in a stock which is then made into a velouté enriched with egg yolk and cream. Between the simmered pearl onions, the velouté and the egg, it sounded a lot futzier in the book than it was in reality.

Master Class #34 | 5:14 pm | 13 January 2006

salad nicoise
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Salad Niçoise, p. 542

Oops, forgot the tomato.
Also, I cheated a little, by using the “French” potato salad from the store.

I have to confess that I was a little terrified of this salad, given it’s kinda odd choice of ingredients: tuna, anchovies, eggs, potato salad, capers, oil-cured olives, green beans, and tomatoes. All things I love in and of themselves, but together? they didn’t seem as appealing. On the other hand, I was somewhat reassured by the fact that it was one of JC’s favorites – she included it in several books, and mentioned it a number of times when asked to describe a perfect lunch. And you know what? She was right. IT’S FUCKING FANTASTIC. Even with cheaty potato salad and without the tomato, I’m ready to have salad niçoise any damned day of the week.

UPDATE: OK, I made this with the real stuff, and a tomato… SO GOOD!

Pomme de Terre a’ L’Huile, p. 541
Potato Salad
New potatoes, cooked and peeled and tossed with vinagrette, then with shallots and parlsey, and maybe some mayonnaise. “Pert-near the best potato salad I ever done tasted.” —LeHuzband. Pert-near? HA. Totally the best potato salad.

Master Class #33 | 8:31 pm | 6 December 2005

terrine de porc, veau et jambon
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Tournedos Henri IV, pp. 298-99.
Filet Steaks with Artichoke Hearts and Bérnaise Sauce

OK, filet mignon is not the most flavorful cut of beef on a cow — but the French seem to go to really crazy lengths to dress it up, or at least Julia does. This is a canapé (white bread round fried in butter) topped with filet topped with an artichoke heart topped with bernaise. Wow! When you put it like that, it does sound…. over the top? But oh mamma mamma! So tasty.

I need to get better at artichokes; there’s nuances of where exactly to cut the damned things that gets a little lost on the tv shows that I’ve seen handle them. Once you manage to get the heart out, these are simmered in water with lemon for about twenty minutes, then braised in butter for another thirty-five. I served all this with the potatoes she recommends, but I’ve already done them so I won’t talk about ’em, other to say that they were yummy.

Master Class #32 | 1:50 pm | 3 December 2005

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Côtes du Veau aux Herbes, pp. 369-71.
Veal Chops Braised with Herbs
Warming wintry goodness — which is good, considering we have a freezer full of veal because I inadvertently conflated this recipe’s ingredient list with another one,* and sent Mr Dynagirl out to get ten veal chops. This is pretty simple to throw together: brown the chops, sauté some shallots, add wine and herbs; braise. Finish the sauce with cream and a wee bit of butter. (Admittedly, it’s a little scary when one starts calling two tablespoons of butter “a wee bit.”)

Risotto/Pilaf/Pilau, pp. 532-34.
Braised Rice
Simple, easy, and very, very good. A nice mild favor in itself, and excellent soaking up a sauce.

Sautéed Veal Scallops with Brown Tarragon Sauce

Master Class #31 | 12:35 pm |

terrine de porc, veau et jambon
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Terrine de Porc, Veau, et Jambon, pp. 566-68.
Pork and Veal Pâté with Ham

Remember the tease at the end of this post?

I pulled this lovely thing out of the freezer for Thanksgiving I, where it was a big hit, and made short work of. It’s basically strips of veal marinated in cognac (or, really, brandy–because it’s pretty much the same thing and a hell of a lot cheaper) and shallots, layered with a ground pork and veal stuffing (Farce our Pâtés Terrines, et Galantines, pp. 565-66), and ham in a pork-fat- (or bacon-) lined pan, then cooked in a bain Marie. Oh, oh, oh!

Master Class #30 | 1:55 pm | 25 November 2005

fricasse a la indienne
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Fricassé de Poulet à l’Indienne, pp. 353-4.
Chicken Fricasée with Curry Cream Sauce, Onions and Mushrooms
A variation on Fondue de Poulet à la Crème, this is pretty much exactly the same thing, with the addition of two tablespoons of curry powder. The plain version is great, this is equally so. The curry isn’t overwhelming at all. I think from here out, I’m going to make any fricassées not with a whole fryer, but just dark meat instead. It’s more flavorful, never dries out, and the lucky diner has fewer bones to content with.

Master Class #29 | 6:49 am | 19 October 2005

roast veal
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Veau Poêlé / Veau Poêlé à la Matignon, pp. 353-4.
Casserole-roasted Veal with Diced Vegetables
It’s not as easy as it used to be to find veal. Personally, I think I’ve only had it once or twice in the last decade, with the exception of the ground veal that goes into bolognese. You know what? That’s a total shame, as it’s damned tasty. Time and Saturday chores were pressing, so we crapped out and went to the “butcher” at Copp’s, but next time, I’ll go to Whole Foods, for sure – better chance of somewhat ethically raised veal, and definitely better meat with a decent variety of cuts.
Anyhoo – to the food! This was wonderful! A basic dice of vegetables (carrot, celery, onion) sautéed; then add the meat, some liquid; cover and turn it down. When I got to the point where you’re supposed to take out the dice to make the sauce, I thought it was a shame to lose all that flavor, and mushed them up – which, as it turned out, was the only difference between plain veau poêlé and veau poêlé à la Matignon.

Haricots Verts à la Crème, pp. 444.
These I was going to make with the veal, but it was turning out so rich that I saved them for the next night. Basically, you blanch the beans, then toss with salt, pepper, butter and cream, and let it simmer down, and toss with parseley. For regular beans, I still prefer the Cook’s Illustrated ones with garlic and breadcrumbs and parmesan, but these were very nice, and very elegant.

This (frightfully plated) veal was served with Julia’s wild rice, but egg noodles would work better. That’s 1905 Salad from Columbia Restaurant behind it.

Master Class #28 | 10:34 am | 15 August 2005

Fondue de Poulet a la Creme
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Sorry the pictures kinda suck; I’ll clean them up a bit tonight.

Fondue de Poulet à la Crème, pp. 262-3.
Chicken Simmered with Cream and Onions
It’s been too hot of a summer for a such a hearty cuisine, so I’ve mostly been sticking to a lot of basics or Vietnamese. With the first Packer victory of the (pre-) season accomplished and a cool weekend, I couldn’t resist the pull of the French any longer. This is pretty much as it says it is: lightly cook a cut-up fryer, lightly cook the onions, add a few spices, throw in vermouth and THREE-AND-A-HALF CUPS of cream, and leave it alone for a while. Reduce the sauce, add lemon, season, et voilà. It’s hard to call any French food boring, and I want to because this just seems so… white… but, my god, is there anything $dairy + $alcohol + lemon can’t do? Yum! Served atop wild rice and with sautéed mushrooms.

Wild Rice, p 535.
What the heck is this doing in here? It’s so American that there isn’t even a French name for it in the book. I wonder if this was a much-discussed addition, bowing to the American convention of “wild rice” = “fancy-ass meal.” Regardless, this was nice; sauté some vegetables in lots of butter, parboil the rice, drain the rice, and add to the vegetables with beef stock; boil and simmer. Boiling wild rice — which I know you know is not at all rice, but a grain, and is what “Menomonee” means — what a funky smell, like you’re boiling a shoe in white wine, only it’s not at all unpleasant. No matter what anyone says about it, always cook at least fifteen minutes longer. Cook the shit out of it! Tough wild rice is not good wild rice. If you’re not serving mushrooms on the side, go ahead and add mushrooms to this recipe, and maybe some cream.

A preview of Tasty Treats to Come:
Terrine de Porc, Veau, et Jambon
Do you know what’s in here?

Master Class #27 | 8:16 am | 10 May 2005

Special Mother’s Day Feast Edition!
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Tournedos Rossini, pp. 310-11 (?)
Filet of Beef with Artichoke, Goose Liver, and Truffles

The last few years, we’ve been meeting Russ’ mom and my folks somewhere in the Fox Valley for the beast known as “Mother’s Day Buffet”: a nice hotel opens its banquet area to the max, and hordes — hordes! of people dressed in their Sunday best treat mom to a long, but ultimately mediocre and overpriced, buffet. Dining with two thousand others is hardly intimate, especially what with the screaming, running rugrats and when every few minutes someone tries to sell you an six-dollar, dead rose for dear mum. “Enough!,” we cried, and figured out a budget taking into account

  • a tank of gas
  • dinner for five adults
  • drinks for five adults
  • two gifts (really, just more to dust)

and decided that Spectacularity was actually cheaper. Foie gras? Truffles? Artichokes? Morels? BRING IT ON!

We spent most of the day Saturday cleaning the house, then I headed out in search of Insanity Ingredients. They didn’t have actual foie gras at Whole Foods, and it was too late in the day to go hunting, so I settled (again) for their “Goose Mousse,” a lovely paté with Cognac.* I wish I had gotten to the Farmer’s Marketmorels at $20/pound suddenly looked reasonable. Everyone got four.

Saturday night, I prepared the artichoke hearts by cooking them in a blanc: water, flour, salt, and lemon. I need to work with artichokes more, to get the hang of just where to cut them. These turned out slightly less than perfect looking, but tasted awesome, and even Russ — who doesn’t like artichokes — thought they were great. (Remember: the French can do anything!) I made the sauce for the pasta side, cleaned the watercress and endive, made the mushroom essence for the steak sauce, and prepared a whole bunch of other things for the mise en place. Oh, and cooked dinner, too.
Sunday morning, I finished the rest of the prep work, cleaned up, and because moms always have opposite timing,** was setting the table when the doorbell rang. Because of all the foundation was laid, cooking and final assembly was pretty painless. Oh, and did I mention that Russ made one of Cake Man Raven’s Red Velvet cakes in all this fuss? (Sadly, we forgot to get a photo.)

Tournedos Rossini

Julia says that this recipe “takes the filet steak about as far as it can go,” and boy-howdy, she’s right! Along side, you’ll see white and green asparagus with sauce buerre blanc,*** morels dusted in flour and sauteéd, and angel hair pasta with julienned leek, carrot and celery in a cream and stock sauce. (I had been considering a thing with fresh peas and puff paste, and then decided that down that path lay madness.)

Needless to say, this was a hit out of the park. We succeeded in giving them something they would never make themselves, nor would they be likely to order in a restaurant. And with all the insane ingredients? We still didn’t spend as much money as we would have, and there’s two truffles left!

Endive, Watercress, and Cucumber Salad, from
Julia Child & Company: Endive, Watercress and Cucumber Salad
The Wine
Victor Castillion Vin du Pays de Gard
I picked this up a few weeks ago at the Wine Cave’s Wall of 100, and have gone back for more. Very reasonably priced, and it will make you wonder if the money saved with sack Yellowtail was worth it. So many nuances of flavor, and so well balanced. Yum!

* Remind me that I need to start making patés and terrines; they’re so expensive but reasonable and easy to make…
** Early when you want them to be late or just on time, and late when you need them to be early
*** This is so simple to keep a pound in the freezer, and it’s perfect for any vegetable when you’re in a hurry

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