Thursday, March 18, 2010

French Feast

I am so exited today! We got the FRONT page of Pet Style news!!! yeah, dog clothes, that is where it is at!!!
No I didn't cook yesterday. It was leftover night. Which means it cost me NOTHING. I was helping a friend with her business she is starting up and so leftover night worked out perfectly. Technically we cooked.... I mean we mixed ingredients so whatever you want to call that. I am excited for her launch. Stay tuned, I am sure I will write all about it on here.

Tonight we have company coming over. My dear friend Maria and her family are coming over for dinner. Her husband has been asking for french food. Poor Maria is recovering from surgery and can't move at all, so I am THRILLED to cook for them. The only glitch is that she doesn't like dogs. Hmmmm... maybe I will throw the dogs up in my room  with some steak. haha!

What am I making?  French Onion soup, because Maria said she loved it, Coq au Vin because it is probably the most famous of all French chicken dishes, and certainly one of the most delicious, with its rich red wine sauce, its tender onions and mushrooms, and its browned pieces of chicken with their wonderful flavor and bacon... I am getting hungry. I was interested to find out that it is considered a French comfort food. Pasta is always the comfort food for me which is perfect because it is one of the few dishes that is served with pasta. I am going back to the Queen of  French Cuisine.. well the queen who brought it to America anyway.

French Onion Soup
•2 tablespoons butter
•1/4 cup olive oil
•3 lb onions, halved and sliced thin
•2 cloves garlic, minced very fine
•1 teaspoon granulated sugar
•2 cups dry white wine
•6 cups beef stock or chicken stock (the beef will make a darker, more robust soup)
•salt and freshly ground black pepper
•6 ovenproof soup bowls
•12 toasted slices of French baguettes, 1/2 inch thick
•2 cups Swiss cheese, grated
•3 teaspoons Parmesan cheese, grated

In a large saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and oil together.
Add the onions, cook covered on low for 15 minutes. This will seem like way too many onions, but they cook down to 1/3.
Remove lid add  salt and sugar. Saute until slightly colored, stirring occasionally (don't stir too much - you want them to brown), for 30 minutes.
3.Add the white wine, raise temperature to medium high, and bring to a boil.
4.Lower temperature back down to medium and cook for 5 minutes.
5.Add the stock, raise temperature to medium high and bring to a simmer.
6.Lower temperature to low and simmer *uncovered* for 1 1/2 hours (90 minutes).
7.At this point you can freeze the soup for reheating later (after thawing).
8.To serve at this point, continue with steps: first, preheat your broiler.
9.Ladle the soup into the ovenproof soup bowls (6 of them).
10.Place two slices of toasted baguette onto the top of each soup bowl.
11.Sprinkle each serving with 1/3 cup of Swiss cheese, then 1/2 teaspoon of Parmesan cheese.
12.Place soup bowls onto a baking sheet and place in oven under preheated broiler.
13.Broil until the cheese melts (watch them carefully - depending on your broiler and how far the rack is from the heat, it can take anywhere to 45 to 90 seconds or so).
14.Serve immediately.

Julia Child's Coq au Vin

2 1/2 to 3 pounds cut-up frying chicken, skin on and thoroughly dried (I used my $0.66 per pound chicken and cut it up)*
4 ounces lean thick-cut bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup cognac
2 cups red wine (Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Beaujolais or Chianti)**
2 cup homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken stock or broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
Brown-Braised Potatoes
Brown-Braised Onions (see recipe below)
Mushrooms (see recipe below)
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Parsley sprigs
Dry chicken thoroughly in a towel. Season chicken with salt and pepper; set aside.

Remove any rind off the bacon and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles 1/4-inch across and 1-inch long). In a saucepan, simmer the bacon sticks in 2 quarts of water for 10 minutes; remove from heat, drain, rinse in cold water, and pat dry.
In a large heavy frying pan, casserole dish, or electric skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil until moderately hot. Add the bacon and saute slowly until they are lightly browned. Remove bacon to a side dish. Place chicken pieces into the hot oil (not crowding pan), and brown on all sides. Return bacon to the pan, cover pan, and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning chicken once.
After browning the chicken, uncover pan, pour in the cognac. Flambé by igniting with a lighted match. Let flame a minute, swirling pan by its handle to burn off alcohol; extinguish with pan cover.
Pour the red wine into the pan and add just enough chicken broth to completely cover the chicken pieces. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover pan, and simmer slowly for about 30 minutes or until the chicken meat is tender when pierced with a fork or an instant-read meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the Brown-Braised Onions and the Mushrooms.

When the chicken is done cooking, remove from the pan to a platter, leaving the cooking liquid in the pan. Increase heat to high and boil the cooking liquid rapidly until approximately 2 cups of liquid remains.

While the liquid is boiling, in a small bowl, blend the 3 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons softened butter into a smooth paste; beat the flour/butter mixture into the approximately 2 cups hot cooking liquid with a whisk. Simmer and stir for a minute or two until the sauce has thickened (the result will be a sauce thick enough to lightly coat a spoon - just thick enough to coat the chicken and vegetables lightly). If sauce is too thin, boil down rapidly to concentrate; if sauce is too thick, thin out with additional spoonfuls of chicken stock. Taste the final sauce, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.
Before serving, reheat the onions and mushrooms (if necessary).

To serve immediately: Shortly before serving, bring the sauce and the cooked chicken to a simmer, cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until chicken is hot through. NOTE: Do not overcook chicken at this point.

To serve: Either serve from the casserole dish or arrange the chicken on a large platter. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Arrange the Brown-Braised Onions on one side of the chicken and the Mushrooms on the other side. Decorate with sprigs of parsley. Accompany with parsley potatoes, rice, or noodles; buttered green peas or a green salad; hot French bread; and the same red wine you used for cooking the chicken. NOTE: This dish is traditionally served with wide egg noodles or potatoes.

So that takes care of the veggies, the protein and the starch.

Brown-Braised Onions and Potatoes:
6 potatoes
6  white onions, peeled
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
While chicken is cooking, drop onions into boiling water, bring water back to the boil, and let boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and drain. Cool onions in ice water. Shave off the two ends (root and stem ends) of each onion, peel carefully, and pierce a deep cross in the root end with a small knife (to keep onions whole during cooking).

In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, add parboiled onions, and toss for several minutes until lightly browned (this will be a patchy brown). Add water to halfway up onions and add 1/4 to1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover pan and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes or until onions are tender when pierce with a knife.
NOTE: Onions may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large. I always slice in half. It is easier to brown.
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Prepare mushrooms. Dry them!!! In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat butter and olive oil; when bubbling hot, toss in mushrooms and DON'T crowd them and saute over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat.
NOTE: Mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.

Creme Brulee of course. I have already posted the recipe before I think. You start with Creme anglaise, but use half the amount of sugar and whipping cream instead of milk.
1//4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp corn starch
1 3/4 boiling cream
Start boiling the cream in the microwave. Takes like 5 minutes
beat yolks and sugar unil it forms a ribbon about 3 minutes... then beat in corn starch
While beating yolk mixture, very gradually add the boiling cream. You have to do this slowly so you don't warm up the egg yolks too fast. A small steady stream of cream works.
Next you pour the mixture into a large heavy steel bottomed pan. cook at a very low temperature stirring constantly. This takes a long time. Be patient. If the egg yolks get near 160 they will curdle. I use a thermometer. Stir and scrap bottom and all sides. This can take 15 -20 minutes Be patient! Once it is thick and no longer foamy add 1 TB vanilla extract, stir in, Then pour in prepared (pam spray) custard cups. Put in fridge to set. Takes like 4 hours.

i make praline to put on top. Toasted almonds with sugar. Plus some straawberries.

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