Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baked Endives with Ham Au Gratin

·          8 slices of ham
·          8 beautiful endives
·         1 cup grated cheese (gruyere or cheddar)
·         ¼ cup of butter
·         ½ cup of milk
·         ½ cup flour
·         Nutmeg
·         Salt and pepper

Trim the endives: remove wilted leaves, and curly tips (which concentrate the bitterness) and the center of the foot by digging a cone inside, wash them quickly under water.
Cook them in a pot containing 3 liters of boiling salted water for 30 min or 9 minutes in a pressure cooker
Allow to cool.

Make the Bechamel:
in a saucepan, heat the butter, when foam, add the flour mix with a small whip sauce, when the dough is smooth, remove from heat, let cool a few minutes and pour slowly the hot milk in net, mix, and so on, until all the milk, put back on low heat, stirring to thicken.
Add a pinch of nutmeg, half the grated cheese, salt and pepper, mix thoroughly, cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F
Drain the endives by squeezing them between your hands. Squeeze again in a paper towel, until all of the juices are gone.  Wrap them each in a slice of ham and place them in the buttered baking dish, pour the white sauce, sprinkle the remaining grated cheese and bake 20 minutes, to warm and brown the top.
Serve hot in the baking dish.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Vitello Tonnato

In France, it has been the Boyer family tradition to serve this Italian dish at Christmas lunch. Before becoming a “Boyer” I lived in Italy, where I found it on many Italian buffets as a summer dish. I always loved it. My 88 year old mother-in-law, Loulou, taught me how to make it this past Christmas so that I could carry on the tradition. I thought I would share it with you.

Recipe for 12

·       A 7- 8lb piece of veal taken from the Top Round of the leg (the part that is usually used for veal cutlets or even thinner slices called Veal Scallopini) (see photo)

·       1 cup of white vinegar (5 or 6 percent alcohol)  
·       5 branches of fresh thyme
·       1 bay leaf
·       1 onion with a clove
·       3 tablespoons of kosher salt
·       15 gains of pepper (10 white and 5 black)
·       3 cloves of garlic (peeled)
·       4 shallots (peeled)

For the sauce:
·       2 small jars of capers
·       1 large jar of cornichons
·       3 large cans of solid white tuna packed in oil
·       2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
·       1 bottle of peanut oil
·       cloves
·       2 egg yolks for mayonnaise

12 shredded raw carrots

The Day Before
Trim fat off of veal and cover with water in a large pot. Add white vinegar, onion (with clove), shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and lower flame. Simmer for two hours. Take off of the flame and leave the meat in the pot to cool overnight.
The Day of 
Morning: Remove meat from the liquid and discard court-bouillon and contents. Pat the veal dry and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Before Serving
With an electric knife cut very thin slices and place them side by side on the serving platter(s).
The Sauce
Make two small bowls of mayonnaise. (Every time I have tried to do this in one large bowl, it comes out too heavy. My mother-in-law agrees. We do not know why, but I strongly suggest keeping them separate and then mixing them together.) In a bowl place one teaspoon of
Dijon mustard. Add the yolk of one egg. Add salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle some peanut oil whisking strenuously until it thickens and becomes the consistency of mayonnaise. Continue drizzling and whisking until you have incorporated half of the peanut oil. Make a second bowl of mayonnaise the same way and then mix them together. . Discard the juice from the jar of cornichons and in a food processor crush all of the cornichons. Reserve them. Discard juice from the capers and crush them in the processor. Remove and set aside. Drain the three cans of tuna and mash with a fork. Mix with the cornichons, capers and the mayonnaise. (Taste and add a bit of vinegar, salt and/or pepper to taste). Spread over all of the slices of veal. Garnish the dish with shredded carrots and serve. 

French Onion Soup

You can make onion soup with store bought chicken and/or beef stock – but the best is made with homemade beef stock so I am including the recipe for that. You can refrigerate it for up to three days, or freeze it for up to six months. As with all liquids, if you freeze it, leave a bit of space in the container to allow for expansion when it turns to ice. The rich flavor of the base is not just due to the broth, but also to the caramelized onions. Caramelization is the procedure in which the onions are cooked slowly until the melting sugars approach burning temperature, becoming brown. 

Exact quantities are of little importance and timing is rough, but here is what you need to do. Roast the beef bones and any beef scraps for 30-60 minutes at a high heat to brown them. This enhances the flavor and draws out the fat. Once the bones are brown and you have removed the excess fat, put them in a stockpot with vegetables (equal parts of chopped carrots, celery, onions) and seasonings (parsley, thyme, bay leaves, salt and black pepper). Scrape all the burnt on bits out of the roasting pan and add them to the stockpot. Add cold water to well cover the meat and vegetables. Once you have all the ingredients in the stockpot, bring the beef broth to a boil and then simmer it for several hours, skimming off any foam that floats on top. Keep tasting the beef broth. When it tastes good - it is done. Discard the vegetable scraps and bones. Strain the broth through a cheesecloth lined colander and let it cool down.

Recipe for 6

3 onions or 6 medium sized yellow onions - peeled
1/2 cup of butter
1 oz flour
6 cups of beef bouillon (or if store-bought use 3 beef and 3 chicken)
12-18 thin rounds cut from a baguette
12 tablespoons of grated gruyere (or Swiss cheese)

Cut each onion in half, removing the tough part of the root. It is important to cut into equal paper
thin slices. If parts of slices are too thick they will take longer to color while the thinner parts will
burn. In a deep heavy-bottomed pot heat butter allowing to melt but not brown. Add the onion slices
stirring with a wooden spoon. When the onions are golden just beginning to turn brown, reduce the
flame to low and add the flour and continue to stir, until flour turns blond. Add the liquid, raise the heat and stir until it starts to boil rapidly. Reduce heat and simmer 8-10 minutes.

Just before serving, if you have enough ovenproof soup bowls ladle the soup into the individual bowls.
Place two baguette rounds to float on the surface of each bowl and cover each round with grated cheese
And a bit of pepper. Place on a cookie sheet under the broiler until the cheese melts and turns golden brown.
Serve piping hot. (If you do not have individual ovenproof soup bowls, use a wide short sided pot which you will serve from at the table).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tournedos Rossini

(Fillet Mignon with Foie Gras and Truffles)

Luxurious yes, but New Year’s Eve comes but once a year. And what a way for a small group of people to celebrate! Quick and easy to prepare, but as impressive as it gets.
Tournedos are exactly 2¼ inches in diameter and exactly one inch thick and weigh 3½ to 4 oz each.
Ask your butcher to prepare them or buy a filet from the end or tail of a small filet (or the slices will be too) and do it your self by following these instructions:
Remove the band of meat that runs along the fillet (reserve for some other use.) Slide a sharp knife blade under the fine nerve membrane covering the meat and remove layer by layer. Trim the bottom of the fillet.  Divide into one inch slices. Tie butcher’s thread around the one inch sides to keep them in compacted rounds. 
(This recipe is one of the ones I have followed from the book described below: La Bonne Cuisine de Madam Saint Ange).

6 tournedos each one inch thick.
2 tablespoons of oil (not olive)
4 tablespoons of butter
6 croutons (slices of stale bread, just slightly bigger than the steaks – cut with a cookie cutter or a glass).
6 slices of fresh foie gras dredged in flour
1 can of truffles cut into slices you want between 1 and 4 slices per person) and the juice reserved for the sauce
7 tablespoons of Madeira
3 tablespoons of white wine
½ of veal stock
1 tablespoon of meat glaze dissolves in a tablespoon of boiling water
1 teaspoon of arrowroot

Sauté the tournedos by heating the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter until a light smoke comes off of it. Lightly season each tournedo with salt and pepper and place in the hot pan. Maintain a strong heat to brown the meat. Turn after 4 minutes and allow to brown on the second side for an additional four minutes. A total of eight minutes for rare, 9 for medium and 10 for well done. Immediately take them out of the sauté pan and keep them between two plates while you quickly prepare the rest. In another sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons of butter and brown the foie gras. Fry the croutons in butter and then arrange them on the serving platter. Brush with meat glaze – which forms a barrier that prevents the toast from becoming soggy. Remove the string from the tournedos and place on the croutons. Keep warm (in a very low oven (150F). Drain the grease from the pan in which you cooked the tournedos. Pour in the Madeira to dissolve the juice that is caramelized. Allow to reduce and add the veal stock and any juice from the truffles. Boil rapidly. Thicken with arrowroot mixed with a tablespoon of the a\sauce. Off the heat add the remaining butter. Take the platter from the oven. Place foie gras on each tournedo, top with truffles and a spoon full of sauce. Serve on hot plates with extra sauce on the side.

Wine Suggestions

Présidial, Bordeaux 2009 – 100% Merlot, blackberry with some mineral and floral character. Medium-bodied, with fine tannins and a clean, fresh finish. $18.99 @ Pine Plains Fine Wines – discount on quantity
Chateau Lilian Ladouys St. Estephe – Very, very pure with plum, currant and light spices. Full-bodied, with racy, refined tannins and a long, caressing finish. $14.99 @ Arlington Wine & Liquor
Bourgogne Pinot Noir Laforet 2009, Joseph Drouhin – « the hue has usually a brilliant ruby-garnet color. The nose offers effusive aromas of crushed berries. On the palate, the wine is full of charm and very pleasant to drink : fresh and fruity - $14.99@ Arlington Wine & Liquor.
Henri Gouges Nuits St. Georges Porrets  – The red fruit flavors show an almost jammy character, but this rich, lush wine boasts more density and structure.  Exceptionally priced for the holidays at $49.99 instead of $69.99 @ Arlington Wine & Liquor