Mastering the Art of Julia Child category

Master Class, #26 | 12:40 pm | 4 May 2005

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Poulet Sauté aux Herbs de Provence, pp. 257-8
Chicken Sautéd with Herbs and Garlic, Egg Yolk and Butter Sauce
Cut up a fryer, sauté it gently in a stick of butter with herbs. Make a hollandaise base with egg yolks, some lemon, and the herby butter from the chicken, serve over egg noodles. Simple and lush. No photo; I’m too lame to have changed the camera batteries.

Master Class, #25 | 11:20 am | 6 March 2005

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Carbonnades à la Flamande, pp. 317-18
Beef and Onions Braised in Beer
Simple, hearty, and the best easy beef stew ever. Sautéed chunks of chuck, onions, a bit of garlic, some miscellanous herbs, and then stewed in a Pilsner. I served this over egg noodles, and will remember this for a cold, wintry night. I will also remember to find a fattier cut than I used.

Poulet Sauté à la Creème
Poulet Sauté à la Crème, p. 256
Chicken Sautéed with a Cream Sauce
A variant on the master recipe, making the sauce cream-based rather than stock-based. Quick and delicious. Yum! This brought on an odd sensory déjà vu, taking me back to the kitchen of my childhood friend Sarah’s mother’s kitchen — though as far as I can recall, we never actually ate there (her parents and mine were great friends).

bon appetit! | 3:55 pm | 28 February 2005

Yay! Finally, The French Chef is coming to DVD. It’s only eighteen episodes, but that’s a nice start.

Master Class #24 | 11:26 am | 25 February 2005

bifteck hache

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Bifteck Haché à la Lynonnaise, pp. 301-02
Ground Beef with Onions and Herbs

Bitokes à la Russe, p. 302
Hamburgers with Cream Sauce

Is there anything that French cuisine can’t do? Oh, my god, these were seriously the best hamburgers I have ever had in my life! I liked the Bifteck Haché à la Lynonnaise with a red wine reduction better than the Bitokes à la Russe (pictured), but they were both just amazing. I need to work on the frites, though — those in the photo were a last-minute Ore-Ida donation from Jay.

Master Class #23 | 3:19 pm | 13 February 2005

We’ve been out of town for the past three weekends in a row. It’s been so nice to hang out at t home, and finally have a chance to get my cook on. Making up for lost time, this weekend was la marche du cassoulet.

(Lots more photos of the process here.)
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Cassoulet de Porc et de Mouton, pp. 339-405
Beans Baked with Pork Loin, Shoulder of Mutton or Lamb, and Sausage

JC gives a very useful warning:

The composition of a cassoulet is, in the typical French fashion, the subject of infinite dispute, so much so that if you have read or heard about cassoulet and never tasted it, you come to expect a kind of rare ambrosia rather than the nourishing country fare it actually is.

Cassoulet is the French for “feeds an army.” It takes a while, too. Friday night, I got the beans started, and roasted a pork loin (p. 380). Saturday morning, I roasted a duck (p. 274) , then ducked out (d’oh) to my new find, hole-in-the-wall Yasmin’s Halal Meat Market for a shoulder of mutton. That I browned, then stewed. Then came the home-made sausages… JC also warns that while this can be done in a day, it’s better if you can do a few days of “leisurely, on-and-off cooking.” Good idea! My brother made this a few weeks ago, in a ten-hour marathon — and he had bought the Polish sausage.

I’m finding it very difficult to find a lot of the more unusual (these days) cuts of meat. I lucked out finding Yasmin’s, but had a hard time with the salt pork, the duck (!) and never found pork skin or pork fat. Without the pork fat, I made the sausage with the lightest bacon I could find, and I wouldn’t do that again. If you can’t find plain fat, just buy a good sausage. Also, because American pork is so ridiculously lean now, the pork roast was way too dry in the final product, even though I had only roasted it to F160°.

All told, though, this was a wonderful, hearty stew that I’ll make again (with the changes noted above). It would be a great thing to make in mid-October and stash for the winter. Serve with a baguette, salad, and a nice wine — and a fireplace and a snowstorm if you can arrange it.

UPDATE: I had another bowl for dinner, and Oh Sweet Julia! It is a rare ambrosia! Wow. Also: prepare yourself for lots of fun, loud and bangy farting.

Master Class, #22 | 7:27 pm | 12 February 2005

I know I’m missing something, it’s been too long and I’ve lost track. Cleaning house, because I have something big for you tomorrow. Very, very big… So! Anyway…

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Choux de Bruxelles à la Crème, p. 453
Brussels Sprouts Chopped and Simmered in Cream
If people knew how to cook Brussels sprouts properly, they’d be a lot more popular. This was wonderful, and easy.

Master Class, #21 | 10:18 pm | 24 January 2005

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Rôti de Porc Poêlé, pp. 380-81
Casserole-Roasted Pork
A nice way to cook a pork roast, especially if you forgot/didn’t have time to deal with brining it or anything. Moist! I don’t remember what I served with this, probably Cook’s Illustrated‘s skillet green beans.

Master Class, #20 | 8:40 pm |

Coquilles St Jacques

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Coquilles St. Jacques à la Parisienne, pp. 216-17
Scallops and Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce
New Year’s Feast!
Really rich, really delicious, and it makes a ton — which means you can freeze it. This is a nice coincidence, since we have a bag full of butterflied tenderloins wrapped in bacon, and a bag full of stuffed-baked potatoes: The day after Christmas, the Winneconne Piggly Wiggly had tenderloin for $4.25 per pound; we got two — one I left whole, and the other I sliced up. Meanwhile, we had gotten a whole big bag of potatoes for free from another store, and since we really don’t go through potatoes fast enough — they always go green and mushy on me — I made a huge batch of stuffed-bakes and threw those in the freezer. New Year’s Eve, the only thing we had to deal with was the scallops. Oh, and the Cava. Lots and lots of Cava.

Master Class #19 | 11:12 am | 23 December 2004

Not one big meal! Three separate dinners.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Soufflé de Saumon, pp. 166-67
This didn’t stay as dramatically high as the cheese souffé, because the one pan we have was a little too large for the recipe. It sure was tasty, though!

Bifteck Sauté Bercy, pp. 294-95
Pan-broiled Steak, with Shallot and White Wine Sauce
Rematch, advantage, me! The last time we made this it was sort of nasty, but we used vermouth that had gotten a very poor ranking from Cooks Illustrated. This time, I used a quite drinkable white wine, and damn! so good! This is a very simple trick: sauté the steak, set it aside, sauté shallots in the pan for a minute, deglaze with white wine (or good vermouth) and reduce, then whisk in some additional butter and parsley. Oooh la fucking la!

Suprêmes de Volaille à Brun, p. 270
Chicken Breasts Sautéed in Butter
Another dish that couldn’t be simpler and couldn’t be more perfect. Sauté chicken in clarified butter, set aside, add some more clarified butter; when it’s hot, throw in three tablespoons of parsley; remove from heat and whisk in some lemon juice. That’s it. Wow!

Chou-fleur, Beurre Noir, p. 457 & p. 98
Cauliflower with Brown Butter Sauce
Simple and delicious sauce with browned butter, parsley, and lemon. We served this with the Bifteck Sauté Bercy, and it was wonderful.

I’m really coming to see that while in French cuisine there are some showy and complex dishes that require advanced technique, for the most part, it is simply taking ordinary ingredients and — without much fuss — making spectacular-tasting food.

Master Class #18 | 8:06 am | 14 December 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
souffle au fromage


Soufflé au Fromage, pp. 163-64
Russ, being the Master of All Things Eggy, took this one on. Scary as they seem, Soufflé wasn’t so bad. If you can make an angel food cake, you can do this.

(Russ’ favorite cake is angel food, which means that I cry every year on his birthday as I carry out a sad, low, really pathetic cake. This year, he was in charge of his own damned cake, and it was gorgeous, on his first time out.)

Cheese soufflé is basically a bechamèl sauce folded into stiff-peaked egg whites, and baked. Russ highly recommends you see the Alton Brown episode, “The Eggs Files: 5” for a look at the science, which gives you a much better understanding of why your soufflé works… or doesn’t. Given the intensity of the soufflé preparation, we served vegetables we had worked with before.

Champignons Sauteé à la Bordelaise, p. 513
Mushrooms Sauteéd with Shallots, Garlic and Herbs

Asperges au Naturel, p. 436
Sauce Bernaise, p. 79
Steamed Asparagus with Bernaise

Master Class #18 | 10:53 am | 8 December 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Quiche aux Épinards, p 153.
Spinach Quiche
Best of the quiches so far! Quiches are FAST to make and damned good — all they need as an accompaniment is a salad. These will be useful to remember on busy weeknights.

Master Class #17 | 11:20 am | 6 December 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Catching up on some miscellaneous dishes of the past week:

Filet de Poisson à la Bretonne, p. 211
Fish Filets Poached in White Wine and a Julienne of Vegetables
A variation on Filets de Poisson Bercy aux Champignons, this gained much from the addition of the leeks, celery and carrots. HOT BUTTERY DAMN, this was great! I poached the fish in 3/4c. white wine and 1/4c. clam juice. Remember to serve this with rice (I didn’t) to soak up the saucy goodness.

Quiche aux Fruits de Mer, pp 149-50.
Shrimp, Crab or Lobster Quiche
Russ handled this one, and we used canned clams. I think this might be better with a less assertive fish and a teensy dash of cayenne. The crust was awesome, and we have three more in the fridge, so I’m looking forward to more savory, eggy pie this week.

Bifteck Sauté Bercy, pp 295-95.
Steak with Shallot and White Wine Sauce
I’m going to try this again — it came out kind of bad. The culprit? Probably the brand of vermouth we had on hand — Stock. After dinner, I leafed through all my Cooks Illustrateds; I knew I had seen a taste test of vermouth, and they pretty much condemned every brand but Gallo and Noilly Pratt… calling Stock metallic, acidic and weird. Stay tuned for a rematch.

Master Class, Menu #16 | 11:35 am | 23 November 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin, p. 263-65
Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon
Delicious purple chicken. This is sort of akin to boeuf Bourgignon; browned, then braised in wine. Coq au vin, however, is cooked for a much shorter time, and has a much more winey flavor as a result. GOD THIS WAS GREAT. Russ said it’s number two, behind the Rôti à la Normande — and it’s certainly something that will work into a six-week rotation. I served it on egg noodles.

Master Class, Menu #15 | 10:50 am | 22 November 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
This wasn’t actually all served at once: the vegetable and dessert were served with a repeat of Poulet Rôti à la Normande. Whatever.

Bifteck Sauté Béarnaise, p. 295
Pan-Broiled Steak with Béarnaise Sauce
Hotchacha hotchacha! Easy and delicious, plus, bonus! Leftover sauce to make Eggs Benendict on Sunday morning.

Céleri-rave Braisé, pp. 492-3
Braised Celeriac
When I was done with the braising, I mashed them into some potatoes (as suggested). This turned out to be interesting — not quite great, though — perhaps more celeriac in the mix next time, or simply pureéd on their own.

Bavarois au Chocolat, p. 599
Chocolate Bavarian Cream
This is an oxymoron of a dish: light, airy, lush, rich. This turned out much better than the earlier orange Bavarian, which somehow had a slight graininess to it. Bavarians really should be poured into individual serving dishes before setting, as a slab of loose chocolate foam makes for unattractive plating, no matter how good it is.

Master Class, Menu #14 | 1:50 pm | 10 November 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
Cotes de Porc Charcutiere
Côtes de Porc Charcutière, p. 388
Pork Chops Braised in Fresh Tomato Sauce
Another variation on a theme: brown chops, set aside, make sauce, braise. While this wasn’t bad, it was far from thrilling. Northern European meat, southern European sauce… Meh. The tomatoes overwhelmed the more delicate pork. It would be much better off served with fish or pasta. What separated this from being Côotes de Porc Robert was merely the addition of cornichons and capers, so I think I’ll skip Robert.

Gratin Savoyard, p. 524
Scalloped Potatoes with Meat Stock and Cheese
I have never been a big fan of scalloped potatoes, so I have to say that these were the best scalloped potatoes I’ve ever tasted. Nevertheless, there were some issues. JC says these will take 20-30 minutes to cook, but even after 60 minutes, the potatoes were not exactly melting to the fork. They had a much better flavor as a result of the chicken stock, but the creaminess imparted by milk was definitely missed. There are plenty of other gratin variations, so hopefully we’ll nail down perfection eventually.

Carottes Glacées, p. 479
Glazed Carrots

Master Class, Menu #13 | 10:57 am | 5 November 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
Suprêmes de Volaille à l’Écossaise, pp. 269
Chicken Breasts with Diced Aromatic Vegetables and Cream
No photo, because it pretty much looks like all the other suprêmes, only with carrots and celery. This, like the others, was very nice. I am sort of tempted to make a deluxe version, combining all three recipes in one whomping sauce, with carrots, celery, onion, mushroom and paprika. CRAZY. Served with rice, a vegetable, and some wine. Next French menu will pull out more stops, I promise, but this one was thrown together while extremely tired (but no! not hungover!) from the previous evening’s Halloween shenanigans.

cold (warm) comfort | 2:56 pm | 3 November 2004

Clam chowder from Julia ChildDamn, yo, but I have to say that the clam chowder I made for supper last night kicked some serious ass. I (OMG, I know! You’re surprised!) used Julia Child’s recipe (from Julia Child and Company), with canned clams and homemade croutons, and it’s seriously the best clam chowder I’ve ever had.

Master Class, Menu #12 | 11:09 am | 27 October 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
Thon a la Provencale


Sorry about the shitty photograph and unforgivable plating.

Thon à la Provençale, pp. 219-20
Tuna Steaks with Wine, Tomatoes and Herbs
Finally something a little colorful. This was fairly straightforward: brown the tuna steaks, then make a sauce from tomatoes, onions, herbs and wine; braise fish forfuckingever in oven. Beautiful, think, ruby red tuna steaks, cooked the hell out of. And you know? It was great.

Carrottes à la Forestière, pp 478-479
Brasied Carrots with Artichoke Hearts and Mushrooms
Interesting (and when I say “interesting,” I mean “annoying”), in that all three vegetables are cooked separately then tossed together with a fillip of bouillon. JC hints a useful trick: “If you are using frozen artichoke hearts…” I am now on the hunt for these, as frozen hearts would save much time, hassle, and (hopefully) expense; artichokes require no small amount of preparation.

The Wine
Stump Jump Riesling / Sauvignon Blanc /Marsenne, $8.50
Not French but not bad!

The Reviews
For tuna that had the hell cooked out of it, this was awesome. I generally sear tuna with sesame, then serve it rare with a ginger-soy sauce; this was quite a departure. Russ liked it better than any tuna he’s ever had, and that’s saying something, considering his sushi tooth. The vegetables were really, really good — worth the hassle of the artichokes, though I will be looking for frozen artichoke hearts for next time.

Master Class, Menu #11 | 11:22 am | 26 October 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
cotes de porc sauce nenette


Côtes de Porc Sauce Nénette, p. 387
Pork Chops with Mustard, Cream and Tomato Sauce.
Simple sautéed chop finished in the oven, with a sauce of dry mustard, tomato paste and cream. When I tried the sauce by itself, it seemed really weird tasting — to the point that I was ready to dump it, but Russell didn’t think it was so odd. With the pork chop, though, it totally worked somehow.

Pommes de Terre Sautées, pp. 526-27
Potatoes sautéed in Butter

Carottes Glacées, p. 479
Glazed Carrots

The Wine
Some Aussie stuff. We really ought to stock up on French wine, this is getting silly.

The Reviews
Very quick recipe, and really tasty — suprising, considering how odd the sauce tasted before it was paired with the pork. This was also surprisingly good despite me totally fucking up and not reading the directions fully: I cooked the chops fully on the stove, instead of just browning them and braising them in the oven. It’s a damned good thing I picked the simplest vegetables possible, because I’ve no idea where my head was. Also worth noting: OH MY GOD, WE CHANGED THE TABLECLOTH, FINALLY.

Master Class, Menu #10 | 10:43 am |

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
fricassee de poulet a l'ancienne


Fricassée de Poulet à L’ancienne, pp. 258-61
Old-fashioned Chicken Fricassee with Wine-flavored Cream Sauce, Onions and Mushrooms.
JC instructs one to strain the sauce before serving, but I didn’t. It was nice having the extra mushrooms and onions in the sauce for texture.

Frozen peas, p.466.

The Wine
Something white. Don’t remember. This was last week — I need to get caught up so I don’t lose the details. Then again, it wasn’t French wine so it doesn’t count anyway.

The Reviews
A+! Really satisfying and hearty. Naturally, even better the second day.

Master Class, Menu #9 | 9:19 am | 19 October 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
supremes de volaille aux champignons
Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons, pp. 269-70
Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream
Another variation on a theme, these were similar to the Suprêmes de Volaille Archiduc, and very lovely. One of the many wonderful things about this cookbook is the master formula + variations, as opposed to the more common discrete recipe format. By the time I’m done with the book (or even done with a section) I’ll have become so familiar with the master recipe that something delicious can be whipped up from what’s on hand, and fairly quickly.

Nothing else here was done in any particular fashion; just steamed asparagus and not-in-the-crazy-way rice. Even the wine wasn’t French, ’cause Yellowtail was even cheaper than usual.

Master Class, Menu #8 | 12:25 pm | 27 September 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1
game hen


Coquelets sur Canapés, pp. 246-49
Roast Squab Chickens with Chicken Liver Canapés & Mushrooms
This is a roast game hen sitting on a piece of bread that’s been fried then slathered with a mixture of shallots, livers and fois gras. Whole Foods didn’t have fois gras, they had “goose mousse,” so I used that instead. (At $100 for a breadloaf-pan full, I think I will make “goose mousse” for holiday presents, as it didn’t really taste any different than my ownYe Olde Family Liverpaste Recipe.)

Carottes aux Fines Herbes
Braised Carrots with Herbs
I am quickly discovering two truths:

  1. Carrots don’t suck if you cook the shit out of them.

And add copious amounts of butter.

The Wine
Château La Rose Metairie, Haut Médoc 2002
Château de Paraza, Cuvée Spéciale 2002
$8.99 each, Barrique’s Wine Cave

The Reviews
This was totally worth the pain-in-the-ass-ness of eating a game hen. Would be even nicer to just use a normal-sized game bird, like a pheasant or something. We rode our bikes the FOURTEEN MILES round-trip to Whole Foods; so no, I’m not concerned about the sauce-sucking fried liver toast. Or the buttered carrots…

Master Class #7 | 11:52 am |

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1


Boeuf Bourguignon, pp. 315-16
This was excellent, but not in a way that was more excellent than the other Boeuf Bourguignons I’ve made. I’ll go back to those other recipes in the future, because this was much fussier than it needed to be (skinning and sauteéing twenty-four pearl onions? Sauteéing the mushrooms separately? Don’t bother.

Frozen Peas p. 466
I threw in some mushrooms. They were good.

The Wine
I don’t remember! Yellowtail?

The Reviews
Great, but you may as well use a slightly less futzy approach.

Master Class, Menu #6 | 8:34 am | 21 September 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Quiche au Roquefort, p. 148
Neither the co-op nor the JSM actually had Roquefort (shocked! I’m shocked!) so I used Gorgonzola. Himself made the crust, and I watched like a good grasshopper. MOTHER OF GOD THIS WAS GOOD. Wow! Super easy peasy, and the filling would be easily adapted into a really nummy hors d’oeuvres, perhaps in a puff paste dumpling or something.

Concombres Persillés, p. 449
Baked Cucumbers with Parsley
This sounded really wierd, and really good, but I didn’t find out because I totally fucked this up. The recipe serves six and calls for six cucumbers, and I figured, “hey… there isn’t room in my backpack for six cucumbers, and there’s only two of us; I’ll just use two cucumbers.” That might have worked, had I BOTHERED TO REDUCE THE REST OF THE INGREDIENTS. Duh. Will be attempting this again next week.

The Wine
Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais 2002
Jenifer Street Market, $7.99
I got this because it was the only French wine at the JSM that was under ten dollars. (Actually, it was the only French wine at the JSM that was under thirty-five dollars!) It was nice and went well with the cheese. Much better than I was expecting, considering the thin and reedy quality of last year’s Neuveau Bojeaulais.

The Reviews
“This is so good, I wish I were high so I could taste it even that much more intensely.” — Anonymous Guest (Paul!!)

Master Class, Menu #5 | 11:52 am | 9 September 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Poulet au Porto, pp. 245-6
Roast Chicken steeped with Port Wine, Cream, and Mushrooms
This is interesting for its two-step chicken — roast as usual, then you carve it and let it hang out with the mushroom sauce for a few minutes to get its bearings. The fun part, the step in between the chicken roasting and the chicken stewing, IS THAT YOU SET THE CHICKEN ON FIRE. I know, I know, flambé is too simple to talk about, but I’ve never done it, so it was really fun TO SET THE CHICKEN ON FIRE. I am an easily amused kitchen chicken arsonist.

Pomme de Terres Sautées, pp. 526-7
Potatoes Sautéed in Butter
JC says:

If you were living in France [and depending on the outcome of 2 Nov. that may be even more tempting. –ed.] you would buy smooth oval potatoes 2 to 2½ inches long, with yellowish flesh, pommes de terre de Hollande. You would peel them neatly, and sauté them whole. Elsewhere, choose small boiling potatoes or new potatoes. Peel them, and cut them into elongated olive shapes all the same size, 2 to 2½ inches long and 1 to 1¼ inches at their widest diameter. Cut them smoothly, so they will roll around easily and color evenly when they are sautéed.

Wow, INSANITY POTATOES. Except, that last week I finally, finally, finally discovered the Wonder of Whole Foods — where they had a perfect little bag of “delightfully tiny potatoes.” (Yes, it said that on the bag.) Once they’re peeled (or carved into shape, if you’re crazy), saute them in clarified butter, then serve them with real butter and parsley. Easy.

Bavarois À L’Orange, pp. 596-8
Orange Bavarian Cream
Simple, yummy, complicated to make. Zest two oranges with sugar, add gelatin to orange juice, whip seven yolks to the ribbon, add orangey sugar; beat boiling milk into yolks then heat, add orange juice gelatin; fold in five whipped whites. It’s really kind of interesting how it comes together and I’d like to see a more chemical analysis of how this works. Anyway, we had this on Friday, not Sunday, which is when we had the chicken and potatoes. On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

The Wine
Gentil Hugel 2001
$don’t remember, Star Liquor. Good good good. Don’t remember any details, as that was five days ago.

The Reviews
Very nice! A warming, wintery dish, and you get to SET THE CHICKEN ON FIRE. The potatoes were tasty and I’ll make them again, but I would make this chicken with rice next time; all the better to soak up cream sauce. Was even better on day two.

It might be nice to have a charlotte mold for desserts, but who wants to pay for one? Not me. What I did pay for, though, was a Microplane. This splurge was prompted by the big, ouchy drag that was the very dangerous and tedious cleaning of the box grater, after zesting two big oranges.

Master Class Menu #4 | 10:42 am | 31 August 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Quiche Aux Oignons, pp. 150-1
Onion Quiche
I jumped ahead a bit because I couldn’t face the bacon involved in Quiche Lorraine, the first one in the book. Russ showed me how to make one awesome and fast Pâte Brisée (pie crust) in the Cuisinart, and I cooked almost a whole bag of onions for an hour. Whip up two eggs, two-thirds of a cup of cream, salt, pepper, and some nutmeg; add the onions and swiss cheese; dump in crust, bake. Oniony! It was suprisingly sweet and the crust was perfect.

Choux de Bruxelles Étuvés au Beurre
Brussels Sprouts Braised in Butter
Blanch then braise, in butter.

The Wine
Chateau de Campuget 2003
$13.99, Star Liquor.This was quite a splurge as we’re usually all about the $6-7 bottle (or at least under $10!). It was nice with the sweet and savory onion, dry and medium-bodied with–and I know this sounds wierd–kind of a meatiness to it, like roast chicken. Will definitely buy this again.

The Reviews
Good! A nice luncheon dish or for a cold winter night with a hearty soup. Also nice for leftovers; I just finished the last piece and I’m sad about that. The crust was excellent.

Master class: Menu #3 | 11:07 am | 30 August 2004

Oops, this was last Thursday’s meal. Bad, lazy correspondent.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Suprêmes de Volaille Archiduc, pp. 268-9
Chicken Breasts with Paprika, Onions and Cream
I need some sort of braising dish — “a flameproof casserole dish” isn’t something we’re currently equipped with. On the other hand, what’s wrong with my kitchen workhorse, the cast-iron skillet? Nothing, so that’s what I’ll stick with, and maybe use the sheckels saved for a copper egg-whipping bowl.

Anyway: these are chicken breasts braised in butter with (blanched) onions and paprika. JC says six minutes in the oven should cook the chicken but I do that three times (18 minutes) before I figure they’re done enough. While the breasts are resting (I will never hear a song from The Supremes on the radio and not think, “hee! French titties”…), a sauce is made with the pan juices, vermouth, stock and cream. Wow!

I should have paid attention, though, and boned the breasts. (That sounded really, really dirty; especially given that in reality I would have just bought the pre-boned breasts [again, dirty sounding.])

Champignons Sautés à la Bordelaise, pp. 513-4
Mushrooms Sautéed with Shallots, Garlic, and Herbs
Sauté the mushrooms… then add shallots, a little garlic, herbs and bread crumbs. BREAD CRUMBS. Bread crumbs that turn a simple dish of sautéed mushrooms, which are ordinarily very nice, into something lush and crazily rich. It was like eating the filling from stuffed mushrooms, only without the extra work of stuffing mushroom caps.

Harticots Verts á la Maître d’Hôtel, p. 444
Buttered Green Beans with Lemon Juice and Parsley
What’s to say about it? Blanch the beans, then toss in butter until they’re done; add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Very nice.

Rice Riz
I didn’t cook this the MtAoFC way, which is to boil the rice for ten minutes, then drain it, tie it up in a cheese cloth, then steam for twenty minutes. This method, I think, came about before the invention of the Rice Cooker, and is absolutely insane. Our rice cooker, however, is long dead, so I just used the conventional pot method. Whatever.

The Wine
I forgot to write it down before the recycling went out but it was a very nice French white burgundy I got at Whole Foods. The label was cream colored with simple green type, if that’s any help. It tasted very nice, and was a nice switch from the oaky, smooth (repeat ad nauseum) chardonnays we’ve been downing this summer.

The Reviews
Very very very nice! The chicken was perfectly cooked and velvety. The sauce was incredible, as I thought it might be (I made the rice specifically for the purpose of soaking up sauce). Next time I will remember to get the boneless breasts, as it was a bit of a distraction to deal with the chicken bones. The mushrooms were amazing and the beans were better than most green beans I’ve had.

Master Class, Menu #2 | 9:41 am | 19 August 2004

Rest assured, from here on out you won’t have to hear about this every day. Last night I spent four hours in the kitchen, not including dishes. (Dessert itself was an hour.) Given the time, expense, and OH MY GOD THE BUTTER, I’M FAT ENOUGH ALREADY, I’ll be limiting Master Class to one (maybe two) nights each week. The other nights, I think, will be spent nibbling carrot sticks. I am truly in awe of the obsession behind The Julie/Julia Project, and what must go into writing such an amazing book as Mastering. Anyway — ahead to the menu!

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Filets de Poisson Bercy aux Champignons, pp. 208-210
Fish Filets Poached in White Wine with Mushrooms
(This is basically the master recipe, Filets de Poisson Pochés au Vin Blanc, with mushrooms added and the poaching liquid thickened with beurre manié (flour and butter) and then turned into a sauce with, what else, cream.

Our neighborhood sports just a decent market and an annoyingly crunchy co-op (I’m still smouldering over the four-dollar red pepper), and lacks a serious fishmonger, so I used orange ruffie instead of the recommended sole or flounder. Given that I couldn’t find the right fish, I didn’t even bother asking for two pounds of fish heads, bones and trimmings for the stock and grabbed a bottle of (eurgh) clam juice to mix with white wine. The fish and sauce were pretty simple to make. I didn’t have swiss cheese to melt on the top so I used parmesan to no noticeable damage. When the recipe called to dot the top with another two tablespoons of butter for the broiler to the five that were already in the dish, I rebelled — also to no noticeable damage.

Artichauts au Naturel. pp. 424-5.
Whole Boiled Artichokes
The only time I’ve ever eaten a whole artichoke was while we were teenagers, because my mother thought it would be a good idea for us to know how to eat an artichoke in polite company, should that ever befall us. This time, I’ve eaten one so that I would know how to cook one if necessary. WOW they are not cheap! At three dollars apiece, and given the fact that neither I nor himself are all that fond of artichokes, I think I may skip ahead to (yum) asparagus. They were not bad, though, as they were much helped by the Sauce Hollandaise (p. 80), which came out just beautifully.

Green Salad with Sauce Vinagrette p. 94
Did you know the average American household has eight bottles of salad dressing? Suckers. This vinagrette is pretty much how I’ve always made salad dressing, which must be Received Wisdom from my mother, a French chef.

Crème Anglaise Pralinée, pp. 588-90
Light Custard Sauce with Almond Caramel
This is crème brûlée with a different top — you toast almonds, make a light caramel; mix those and let cool, then pulverize into yummy, crunchy dust. I think I beat the egg yolks too long into the ribbon stage, as the dessert turned out not so creamy and much more so granular (which is why I was super-happy about the Sauce Hollandaise). Tasted pretty nice, though.

The Reviews
Perhaps it paled in comparison to last night’s awesomeness, perhaps it was the artichoke, but I wasn’t blown away. To be fair, the fish was marvelous; I had neglected to add lemon to the sauce but that was easily remedied. Had I gotten that in a restaurant, I’d have been very happy. Maybe it was a wierd dish to be serving on an August night, with the hearty, creamy sauce. The fish would be a great thing to serve if you’re having vegetarians over for dinner.

Master Class: Menu 1 | 8:20 am | 18 August 2004

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Poulet Rôti à la Normande, pp. 243-4
Roast Chicken Basted with Cream; Herb and Giblet Stuffing.
You read that right — basted with cream. It’s basted with regular butter and oil every ten minutes, save the last twenty minutes when you’ve removed the butter and begin basting it every five minutes with cream. It is absolutely beautiful! The skin becomes a crisp, deep oaky color. Meanwhile, the chicken’s been stuffed with a scant dressing you’ve made with the heart, giblets and liver — never again will those jewels be thrown to the cat! — with shallots, bread crumbs, cream cheese, and yeah, more butter. If you have more than three or four people to feed, or a larger bird, increase on your dressing. It’s rich and goes a long way; maybe a tablespoon per person is all that’s needed. This was woonnnnnnderful.

Petits Pois Frais à l’Anglaise, pp.462-3
Buttered Peas I
I used frozen peas, and they were delicious. Also I had a tiny amount of chopped shallot left (one teaspoon?) and I threw that in with the butter. Who knew that peas were something to look forward to? I didn’t.

Champignons Sautés au Beurre p. 513
Sautéed Mushrooms
Which is pretty much exactly how I make them anyway. I figured I’d not cheat this time, though, and didn’t use pre-sliced mushrooms. Crimini were a whopping dime more expensive than the buttons, so I splurged. Yum.

The Reviews:
“That’s obnoxious. You’ve ruined all other chickens for me.” – Paul S.
“Throw out all your other chicken recipes.” – Himself.

The Julie/Julia/Miriam Project | 2:29 pm | 17 August 2004

The Julie/Julia Project has beaten me to the punch, but it’s time to start working through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It won’t be in one fell swoop: come fall, I’ll also be working my way through Mimi Sheraton’s The German Cookbook.

I’d really, really better get an exercise routine going for once. And maybe move the French-English dictionary to the kitchen…

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