9 Sep 2015

From Chef Rick …

I felt the best way for me to convey the food prepared and served for everyone in France was to type out with notes. I don’t feel that simply providing ingredients and amounts is very personal. I learned a lot from this trip and the recipes weren’t ideal in some cases. For many of you your kitchen and environment is different so if you attempt to cook these then don’t expect success on the first batch. Practice practice practice.

Please please please feel free to contact me should any questions or problems arise. I may not get back right away but I will respond with an answer, my best guess or some research. This also goes for any general cooking questions. I really enjoy helping people cook and learn about food.

Also, due to the sheer volume of food I was making I had to improvise and just wing it. About half the desserts I made were made up on the spot. Hell, I had to get rid of those eggs…

‘ve received a few questions about the fruit medley and how I was able to keep things crisp, retention of color and not bleed to other fruits. Well, first I would cut everything the prior night (usually until 2 in the morning) and place in bowls with plastic wrap in the fridge. Second, cut the fruits that bleed last so your cutting board isn’t stained and keep them separate from the main bowl and mix in just prior to service. i.e. Strawberries, cherries, etc. Third, I chose fruit that wouldn’t discolor for the majority of fruit and stuff that will oxidize, like apples, you keep in acidulated water. This can be done a few ways and lemon juice (or any citrus) is usually the most convenient. Ascorbic acid may be purchased in powder form which won’t impart the lemony flavor. I prefer this when holding such things as artichoke hearts for other dishes which discolor very quick. Bananas, kiwis and other easy prepared fruit. cut just prior to service.

Remember the whipped cream I prepared that was similar to chocolate mousse? Never made that before until that moment. So here you go.

Chocolate whipped cream

Heavy cream hand whipped in frozen bowl with frozen whisk. Adding coco powder early in the mixing process will speed up the aeration and make it less work. Same can be done with powdered sugar. Whisk almost to firm peak, taste and add sugar to taste. Here’s where you start to have fun with whipped cream because you can choose to add such things as vanilla and other extracts, fruit syrups, brown sugar powder (food processor) or even go the savory route and make lobster whipped cream for garlic mashed potatoes. Haven’t tried this yet but it sounds damn fine to me.

Ok, to the recipes…the yields are bigger because I needed a starting point for 30 ppl, FYI. I abbreviate and ALL butter is UNSALTED. Not some, not “in this case”, not anytime, never, no how, no way. Never have I cooked with “I can’t believe it’s not butter”, well I can.

Moules a la Normandie – yields 8

8 oz hvy cream. – Bring to simmer and reduce by half.
1 apple and 1 onion cut to same size dice (small). – in separate pot big enough to steam mussels sweat the apple and onion until translucent, no caramelizing, in butter.
6 oz hard cider and 1/2 # mussels. – add this to the apples and onions and cover. Cook for about 45 seconds and add a shot of calvados or brandy and the reduced cream. You can add fresh minced parsley for color if you’d like. Season with a pinch of s & p and enjoy. Have some baguettes around to mop up that sauce you guys loved so much. Pair it with the remaining hard cider, brandy with a cube or a nice buttery sur lie Chablis white wine.

I like having ground white pepper for this and prefer it with most cream dishes. Has a different flavor than black so compare the two and you’ll find yourself using less white pepper to achieve the level of peppery flavor. Some people don’t like the flavor white pepper has but I believe they just used it on something they shouldn’t have.

Sole Normandie – yld 16

1# mushrooms of choice (keeping 2-3 per person for later) chopped, 3-4 shallots minced. – sauté in butter until tender, deglaze with some white wine and reduce in half.
(Now at this point your going to add what’s called a velouté. It’s going to be a fish stock which is reduced and normally thickened with a roux but I reduced and thickened with a corn starch slurry. Keep some stock for poaching the fish later.)

1/2 oz fresh thyme stems added with 1 qt velouté. Simmer the above.
4 eggs, 8 oz hvy crm. – beat together and temper into the sauce above. Taste and season with s&p to your preferred taste (abbrv :TT – to taste)
Strain sauce through fine mesh or semi fine or don’t strain at all. Just take the thyme stems out. Keep sauce warm for service.
Sauté the remaining shrooms in butter until golden brown.
Shallow poach 4# sole with retained fish stock. This can be done either in casserole dish in the oven or stovetop. Either way uncovered but with a buttered cut-to-size piece of parchment paper to prevent sticking. Sole cooks quick but rarely will you dry it out with this method. Serve with a lemon wedge and sautéed shrooms and sauce. Also pairs well with the Chablis.

Endives au lait d’amandes douces – yld 16

8 endives – in 350 oven,trim a little from pointed end, take off any brown leaves and place endives tightly arranged in oiled oven dish, cover with water, 4 t sugar and 2 oz lemon juice and some salt and place something to weight them down and bake for 30-40 min until tender, poke with pairing knife. Raise temp to 400 for 5 min. Drain and pat dry.

10 oz slivered almonds, 40 oz hvy crm – bring to a simmer for 6-8 min. Place in blender and purée. CAUTION- hot liquid in a sealed blender will blow the top off! Start slowly with a small gap to release steam pressure and increase speed. Strain through fine mess and press with spoon to get all liquid. Taste and season TT.
Heat butter in pan and sauté endives to golden brown. 6-8 min. Arrange in gratin dish and cover with almond cream. Bake at 400 for 15 min or until cream has thickened. Serve.

Quiche Lorraine – yld 2 x 10″ pies

4 pieces of bacon, diced and cooked. (I usually retain the grease and strain it for cooking) about the same amount of Swiss or cheese of choice. I made the crust from scratch and almost any recipe out there will work just fine. For gluten free, if you recall my comment, if one throws enough butter at anything gluten free it’ll taste fine. I’ve found that following the common procedure of pre-baking pie shells is a horrible idea for gf crusts of any kind. They get so dry that baking everything at once seems to work just fine. To make the custard filling combine 6 eggs and (feel free to add any separated eggs keeping in mind that if you add more egg the filling may rise more as it cooks so you might add more cream or milk to counteract) 1qt milk and 8 floz (fluid ounces) cream. Season with s&p and nutmeg. Now here’s a good part to interject my opinion on seasoning something you won’t taste like raw eggs. You can always add salt. You can never take it away unless you increase everything else. Don’t care what those tricks are out there. None have ever worked for me other than increasing the volume. So season with salt for raw foods to what you feel will be correct. Sorry, but this takes practice and repetition. Pour over the bacon and cheese. Bake at 350 until set, the internal temp should be 160 per safety standards. Takes about an hour for this recipe

For those who have never made quiche you can throw pretty much anything you want into this except the kitchen sink. You’ll want to keep the sink in case of complete cooking disaster. I like cheese so I usually toss some on top before cooking which sinks a little bit and when it becomes golden and yummy looking it’s about finished.

1 1/2 c ap or gf flour
1/4 t salt
3/4 stick (6 T) chilled butter cut into 1/2″ pieces. More for gf.
2 T + 3/4 t chilled veg shortening cut into 1/2″ pieces. You don’t have to use this but it sure helps. You may add some extra butter if you don’t.
4 T cold water maybe some more for the gf crust.

Whisk dry ingredients together in bowl and then incorporate butter and shortening by hand until crumbly like corn meal…ish. Cold butter is important. Add the water until everything clumps together like play dough. It’s basically the same thing. Flatten out on a piece of plastic wrap or parchment. Cover with another piece or wrap completely and chill for at least an hour. Remove and roll out to pie dish size plus extra so it can come up the edges. Work quickly because soft warm dough is such a pain to work with. Also dusting your countertop with extra flower helps. If using parchment paper then just roll it out between the sheets…hehee, roll it out between the sheets. Chill crust again. Here’s where that whole prebaking issue comes with gf. I recall I baked for a moment to make it set but it was for only about 5 min at 400. If you are prebaking floured then you’ll want to line crust in the pan with foil and fill with raw, uncooked beans to weigh it down. Bake for about 14 min until sides are set, remove beans and foil, pierce bottom with fork and bake for additional 15-18 min.

Salad – ylds who cares…I’m not going to explain to you how to make a salad. There are plenty out there to choose from. However I got comments on my vinaigrette and the rules go like this.

French vinny (broken vinny and must be shaken prior to using)
3 parts oil/fats
1 part solids i.e.-garlic, oregano, basil, s&p, shallots, ginger, you get the point.
Emulsified vinny (particles of solids are suspended in the oil and should not break)
9 parts oil
3 parts acid (vinegar of some sort, I used balsamic all the time but also favor red wine and if you’re looking for some fun champagne vinegar is a good one for fruitier salads)
1 part solids. Dijon, garlic, shallots, s&p, etc.

Toss everything but a majority of oil, hang onto that into a blender or food processor, then as the ingredients are mixing pour the remaining oil in but don’t just dump it. Slowly ribbon in the oil allowing the solids to suspend within the oil. You might hear your blender change noise to a lower hum which is normal and a good indication the emulsification is working.

Here’s a quick recipe.
4-6 garlic cloves unpeeled roasted in the oven or toaster oven or pan roasted.
4 floz balsamic
1/2 floz Dijon
12 floz evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
Taste after blended. Add salt and pepper. Taste again, add more if needed.

You may enjoy the vinny right away however I’m a fan of cold sauce development which means I like it better after cooling for about 2 hours. For quick chilling I’ve heard of placing into a glass container then wrapping the jar or whatever with a wet paper towel or hand cloth. Rumor has it that it will chill the contents in less than an hour, like 15 minutes. Or maybe it’s the freezer, dunno.

Tarte chocolate pear yld 1 pie

I know everyone loved this and I felt it came out a horrible sloppy mess. So I will provide my best insight on how to make this just slightly better now that I have hind sight.

Pie crust, not going over this again. See the quiche notes. This one just used a lot more sugar than salt.
1 can (4-5 ripe) pears in light syrup. Drained and sliced into 1/8″ slices.
Melt 12 oz sweetened dark chocolate however you want to, microwave, Bain Marie, sun melted,
2 eggs, 3/4 hvy cream beaten in a bowl. I usually add a touch of vanilla extract for extra flavors.

Scrape the chocolate into the pie crust. Here’s where I believe i could have improved this, toss the chocolate filled crust into the freezer for a moment and let it set up. Remove and arrange the pears nicely in some sort of overlapping pattern. Pour the cream over the pears. Bake for 25 min at 400 until it starts to brown. Remove and sprinkle sugar over the top and back into the over for caramelization if you want. You can nix this last part. Just watch carefully in the oven if you do. It’ll burn quick. Total disaster.

Hope you’ve enjoyed a little taste of my humor and insight regarding the first 2 days of food. More emails to come because as you can see this is lengthy and descriptive. I will keep working on these as time permits. Next up are the cassoulet and beef bourguinon with some other stuff thrown in there.

Bye for now.

Rick Gallup

Eat well, drink well, be wel