Monday, January 27, 2014

Recipe: Sweetbreads in Vol-au-Vent

Over the holidays Gerard was "dreaming" of this dish. His sister Marie-Josée who has been staying with us, took on the task with glee. She found recipes on her favorite French recipe website ( and attacked the challenge with both talent and vigor. We enjoyed this fabulous dish and will talk about it at future family gatherings. For those who are looking for a culinary challenge and a way to impress your guests: try this one.

1 sweetbread
3.5 ounces lard
3.5 ounces butter
12 small quenelles de volaille (chicken dumplings)
1 cup Madeira wine
1 egg yolk
Salt and pepper
8 large vol-au-vents (pastry shells)

To make the sweetbreads
Place the sweetbreads in cold water for 12 hours. Remove the tough parts. Boil some water and place the sweetbreads in it for five minutes. Remove from the water, drain, pat dry and cut into small cubes. Preheat oven to 375° F. In another pot melt the lard and add half of the butter, on low flame. Add the sweetbreads and the dumplings and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 10 minutes. Remove the contents onto a plate. Do not wash the pot. 

To make the chicken dumplings
5 slices white bread, with crusts trimmed
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup raw chicken breast
½ cup of butter
2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons flour

To make the sauce
½ cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
¼ cup butter (softened at room temperature)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
½ cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon Madeira wine

In the same pot in which the sweetbread was cooked, add the rest of the butter, add the flour and whisk. Add the cold stock and Madeira wine.


For the dumplings
At room temperature, soak the bread in the chicken stock. Remove from stock and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Chop the chicken and mix it by hand with the butter. Add the egg yolk and the bread. Season with salt and pepper and mix together. Beat the egg whites with a mixer and incorporate them into the mixture. When smooth, form into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour. When ready, form the dumplings and sprinkle flour on them. Boil a large pot of salted water. Bring it down to a simmer and place the dumplings in the water for about 15 minutes, until they float. Remove and set aside. When cool, cut the dumplings in cubes about the same size as the sweetbreads.

For the sauce  
Sauté the sliced mushrooms in a bit of butter. Season with salt and pepper and put aside. In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the flour and stir. Add the milk, stirring, and allow to thicken for about 10 minutes on a low flame. Add the cream and then the Madeira. Incorporate the mushrooms.

For the vol-au-vent
Bake the vol-au-vent according to package directions. In the same pot used to sauté the sweetbreads and dumplings, add the rest of the butter, add the flour and whisk. Add the cold stock and the Madeira wine. Allow it to thicken and add the sweetbreads and dumplings to heat in the sauce. When hot, remove from the heat and add the egg yolk to the sauce. When the vol-au-vents are ready, fill them with the meat in their sauce and serve immediately.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Loulou's "Salmon al la Microonde"

I have learned how to make many a traditional French dish from my mother-in-law. Usually a meat braised in a wonderful sauce. Now that she has reached her later years she is eating more healthier than ever. She is here for the holidays and the other day she made salmon for herself and for me - (the others finished off the Osso Bucco I had made the day before.)   She used the microwave ("microonde" in French) and made a simply delicious dish for the two of us. She may be 90 but she is totally up-to-date in the kitchen.

Ingredients (per person)
One portion of fillet of salmon
1-2 tablespoon of olive oil
2 slices of lemon
2-3 sprigs of parsley
fresh pepper

Place the salmon pieces on a microwaveable plate. Drizzle the oil over and around the salmon
Season with salt and pepper. Place the lemon slices on top. Add the parsley. And microwave for 3-4 minutes or until desired doneness. Serve with boiled Yukon potatoes.