Classical Sabayon

4 egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp/65 g granulated sugar
1/3 cup/75 ml sweet fortified wine such as Marsala, Madeira, or port

Pour water to a depth of 1 to 2 in into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Rest a medium stainless-steel bowl in the pan over (not touching) the water. Put the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl and, using a whisk, begin beating together the yolks and sugar. After about 1 minute, add the wine and continue beating. As the bowl heats up, the yolks will begin to thicken. Beat vigorously, scraping around the bowl with a heat-resistant rubber spatula from time to time so that bits of yolk don’t get stuck and overcook. Beat until thick and frothy but not quite fluffy, about 8 to 10 minutes. It is ready when it forms a thick ribbon as it trails off the end of the whisk. Remove the bowl from the heat and beat for another 30 seconds or so to stabilize the sauce and let the bowl cool down. If possible, serve right away.

French School Lunches

In Absolutely Predictable in France Department:

The mayor of Lyon, France, a city where I’ve spent some time feeding on the city’s meaty and copious cuisine, announced that school lunches for 29,000 elementary-school students would no longer include meat. Well, the reaction was guaranteed:

Not so, thundered Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister. He tweeted that dropping meat was an “unacceptable insult to French farmers and butchers” that betrays “an elitist and moralist” attitude. Julien Denormandie, the agriculture minister, called the mayor’s embrace of the meatless lunch “shameful from a social point of view” and “aberrational from a nutritional point of view.”

I’m not that upset, as the kids will get plenty of meat elsewhere. But the fracas is funny.

#FrenchFood #SchoolLunch

French Cheese Organization

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Fresh cheeses – Like fromage frais, cheese curds that can be either chunky or smooth.  Cheeses that are just a few days old.

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Soft, bloomy rind cheeses – Like Camembert, Brie, Coulommiers, and Neufchâtel. These cheeses are somewhat elastic, ranging from firm when they are unripened, to tender when they are fully ripened. These cheeses take on an aroma of ammonia when they are overripe.

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Soft, washed-rind cheese – Like Livarot, Maroilles, Pont l’Évêque, and Époisses, these cheeses are washed with anything from naturally colored brine to beer, wine, or even tea. The longer these cheeses are aged, the more intense their aroma.

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Pressed cheeses – Uncooked and cooked, St. Nectaire, Cantal, Salers, Laguiole, and Morbier are among the uncooked pressed cheeses.

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Blue or “parsleyed” cheeses – These cheeses can be made with cow, sheep, or goat milk. Penicillium is injected into them.

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Cooked, pressed cheeses – These are mountain cheeses that can age for up to many years. The milk is heated, then curdled and pressed into a mold. Once out of the mold they are salted, sometimes by being floated in a salt brine, then carefully aged. Comté, Beaufort, Gruyère, Abondance, and Emmenthal are all members of this family of cheese.

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Goat cheese – These are small cheeses, because goats give up to just two liters of milk per day. They range from very soft and wet to elastic and creamy to extremely hard. They offer a wide panoply of flavors, and those that have aged to a firm hardness can be used in place of Parmigiano Reggiano.

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Fromage fondu – These aren’t really cheeses, but a cheese product made from melted cheese and other ingredients, including whey, powdered milk, and other substances. These are low-priced dairy products, and often used industrially. They count, however, as a family of cheese.

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French Madeleines

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus 4 tablespoons for pans
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
⅔ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

Equipment 

  • 2 12 shell madeleines pans
  • Stand mixer

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 12-shell pans with melted 4 tablespoons butter and brush in each mold (cooking spray will work as well, although I prefer butter).

Whisk together flour and baking powder.  Melt butter and place in a bowl to cool to room temperature.

Add eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat with a hand or stand mixer on medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, around 3 to 5 minutes.  Add vanilla and zest and continue beating for another minute or so. Fold in the flour mixture until just blended, then drizzle the cooled butter over the batter and incorporate completely.

Using a teaspoon, fill shell molds with batter until almost full. Carefully press batter to distribute it evenly.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until madeleines puff up and are golden brown. Remove pans from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 2 to 3 minutes, then invert and tap madeleines onto the rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Allow to cool completely if planning to store and/or freeze. Serving madeleines warm from the oven is preferable for a special treat

Truffle Horseradish Potato Purée

2 Pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes

Kosher Salt

8 Ounces Unsalted Butter (See Instructions)

¾ Cup of Heavy Cream, warmed

1-3 Tablespoon Ground Horseradish to taste

¼ Teaspoon Black Truffle Oil

Place unpeeled potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold salted water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are thoroughly cooked.  Drain the potatoes and allow them to rest a minute or so to dry out.  Peel.  Put potatoes in a ricer and rice into a saucepan.  With each batch of potatoes add a chunk of refrigerated butter.  Cold butter emulsifies better than room temperature and keeps your potatoes from getting overly oily.  Joel Robuchon’s ultimate potato puree has a 2:1 potato to butter ratio.  Use between 8 – 16 ounces of butter if desired.

Stir in Horseradish.  Place saucepan over low heat and whip potatoes with a spoon for 1 – 2 minutes until smooth.  Potatoes can be held at this point until ready to serve.

Before serving place potato puree over low heat. Warm potatoes stirring constantly. Stir in warm cream a third at a time stirring constantly so as not to burn potatoes. Stir in ¼ teaspoon Black Truffle oil or to taste. Stir potatoes rapidly until creamy and soft. If potatoes are too heavy or thick, stir in a tablespoon at a time of warm water to reach desire consistency. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Chilled Peach Soup (Soupe de Pêche Glacée)

Chilled Peach Soup (Soupe de Pêche Glacée)

5-6 Ripe Peaches
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Apple Juice
1 Lime, Zest and Juice
Mint Sprigs

Cut a small “X” through the bottom of each peach. Then blanch for 20 seconds in a pot of boiling water. Transfer peaches to a bowl of ice water. When cooled drain well and then peel them.

Add peaches, water, apple juice, and lime zest and juice to a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste. If not sweet enough add ¼ cup on honey. Salt and pepper may be added depending upon taste. Chill for a minimum of two hours. Serve cold in bowls with mint sprigs as a garnish.

Chilled Potato Leek Soup With A Seared Scallop (Vichyssoise)

Potato Leek soup was made famous in the United States as Vichyssoise at the New York Ritz-Carlton.  It is a simple soup that can be served either hot or chilled.  You can use it as a base soup, adding pureed arugula or other greens to it.  You may also add caviar to make it a little more complex and elegant as I did as pictured.

 Soup

3 large leeks

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

½ Cup sliced shallots

½ Cup sliced onion

Salt

Pepper

1 Large russet potato

1 Tablespoon minced Garlic

Sachet

5-6 Cups chicken stock

¾ Cup warmed heavy cream

½ Cup minced chives

Extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground pepper

Scallop

1 Scallop per serving

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Caviar (optional)

Special Equipment

Immersion Blender

Cheesecloth

Preparing the soup:

Using only the pale green and white parts of the leeks cut them in half lengthwise and carefully wash them to remove and dirt that remains in them.  This is a vital step as leeks infamously hold onto dirt giving your soup a gritty texture.  Reserve outer leaves for sachet.  Cut leeks into approximately ¼ inch slices.  The size is not vital as you will be pureeing the soup later.

Melt the butter in a large pan over medium low heat.  Add the leeks, shallots and onions seasoning liberally with salt and pepper.  Increase the heat to medium and sweat the vegetables.  Stir often as this will take approximately 5 minutes.  Do not brown the vegetables, simply wilt them.

Peel and cut the potato lengthwise then cut into slices.  This should yield about 1 ¼ – 1 ½ cups.

Add garlic to the sautéing vegetables, cook for a minute or two.  Add potatoes.  Make sachet: Take 2 or 3 dark leaves of leek, approximately 6-8 thyme sprigs, 2 sprigs of Italian parsley, 2 bay leaves and ½ teaspoon of black peppercorns and wrap the ingredients in 7-8 inch piece of cheesecloth.  Tie into a bundle with kitchen twine.  Add to vegetables.

Add chicken stock.  Simmer for ½ an hour or until the potatoes are tender.  At this point you may want to allow the soup to cool for 15-30 minutes before pureeing.  Puree soup with immersion blender being careful not to burn yourself.  You may strain your soup through a fine mesh strainer at this point for a more refined and consistent soup to make sure you have gotten rid of any chunks of potato or leeks that remain.  There should be no chunks.

Return the soup to the heat and bring to a simmer.  Add the cream and continue to simmer for at least 5 minutes.  If you are serving the soup hot add the chives, reserving some for a garnish.  If serving chilled reserve the chives for just before service.  Pour the soup into a container and place in an ice bath to cool before refrigerating.  The soup is best if served within 2-3 days.

Preparing the scallop:

At this point you have a lot of options for the scallop.  You could simply make a crudo and serve the scallop raw, butter poach the scallop or sear the scallop.  I chose to sear the scallop to give the soup the flavor and texture I was looking for.

Pull off the white foot from the scallop as this part gets very chewy when cooked.  Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel.  This part is very important if you wish to form the seared crust.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat until very hot.  You may either apply a little olive oil to the scallops on both sides or to the skillet.

Liberally salt and pepper the scallop on both sides.  Add the scallops to the skillet, leaving an inch or so between scallops.  Do not overcrowd.  Cook for approximately 90 seconds.  Flips scallops, easiest way is to use tongs.  Sear scallops on other side for an additional 90 seconds.  Reserve scallops for serving.

Completing and serving:

Add the chives to the soup, reserving a Tablespoon or so per bowl.  Ladle soup into bowl and add 1 scallop per bowl.  At this point if you are using caviar, spoon a teaspoon on top of each scallop.  Of course the better the caviar, the better the soup.  Garnish soup with remaining chives, top each bowl with a little black pepper and serve immediately.

Gougères

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • Large pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a saucepan, combine water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir it in until a smooth dough forms; stir over low heat until it dries out.

Scrape the dough into a bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes. Beat the eggs into the dough, one at a time. It is important to be sure that each egg is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next.  Add the cheese and a pinch each of pepper and nutmeg.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheets, a few inches apart. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

Gougères freeze well.

Basic Crêpes Batter

1¾ to 2¼ cups whole milk
4 large eggs
½ tsp kosher salt
1½ cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp unsalted butter, plus additional butter for the pan

Add 1¾ cups of the milk, the eggs, and salt into a blender.  Blend for a few seconds to blend everything together. Remove the lid and add the flour. Cover and blend until very smooth. Remove the lid, pour in the melted butter, cover, and blend until combined.

Transfer the batter to a large glass measuring cup with a spout.  Allow the batter to rest for at least 5 minutes and up to 24 hours. If resting for more than an hour, store in the fridge.  When you’re ready to make the crêpes it should be as thick as heavy cream but not as thick as pancake batter. If it feels too thick, whisk in up to ½ cup of the remaining milk.

Heat an 8-in crêpe pan or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until it’s hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle upon contact. Using a paper towel, spread about ½ tsp butter around the interior of the pan. The butter should sizzle upon contact but not instantly turn brown. You don’t want the pan to be so hot that the butter burns.

Pour about ¼ cup of the batter into the center of the pan, and at the same time lift the pan from the heat, tilting and turning it in all directions so the batter spreads evenly across the bottom of the pan.

Cook the crêpe until the edges begin to dry and lift from the sides of the pan, and the bottom is nicely browned, usually around 1 minute. When the first side is ready, use a knife, spatula, or your fingers to lift the crêpe and quickly flip it over. Smooth out any folded edges or pleats and then cook until the center is firm and the second side is browned, too, which will occur quickly in as little as 20 seconds more.

Slide the crêpe from the pan onto a large plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, adjusting the heat and wiping the pan with more butter as you cook.