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A traditional beef stew with French origins, cooked slowly with loads of veggies for a memorable family dinner.bouilli

pot au feu bouilli

As a kid, I used to visit my grandparents once or twice a year. They were living in a small and remote village far away from my home called Lac-des-Aigles (Eagles lake) in Quebec, Canada. We would always arrive in the late afternoon and the Cast Iron pot would already be doing its magic on the stove in the kitchen upon our arrival, giving the house this comfy and welcoming aroma. In the pot was a succulent meat stew called Pot au feu, although it’s called Bouilli in Quebec. This recipe is a flashback to those nice visits at my grandparents place. My grandma would make this recipe starting from when the root veggies would be fully grown in the garden by the end of August throughout the winter. As one knows, Quebec, where I’m from, have inherited a lot from our cousins from France, amongst other things the language and the gastronomy. However everything took a slightly different direction, and it’s also the case with Pot au Feu.

 

The French vs. The French Canadian version

Pot au Feu (bouilli)

A popular peasant dish in both France and Quebec, this dish is considered by many the uncontestable comfort food. However the French version often contains leeks while the Canadian version uses green or yellow beans and potatoes. Another difference is the type of meat, in Canada, we usually add a piece of salted pork belly (Lard salé) which is a common in Canadian stews although in France they solely use beef pieces like extra bone marrows.

 

The technique

The recipe is terribly simple to do, all you need is some patience and keeping an eye on the amount of liquid in the pot. It’s basically a slow and long cooking stew with lots of veggies like rutabagas (turnips), carrots, potatoes, green or yellow beans, onions, cabbage and also 2 pieces of meat like a second quality piece of chuck roast and a piece of salted pork belly.

Pot au Feu (bouilli)

To prevent the stew from boiling, we cover the pot with the lid and leave always a tiny opening to let the extra heat escape, this way you’ll get a perfect simmer and make the meat tender and steam the veggies to perfection without making the broth blurry in the end. Pot au feu is a “kind of” stew although without as much liquid… containing about half the liquid of a normal stew. The goal is to always check for the meat to be covered by water although the veggies are going to stay on top of the liquid. The secret here is to simmer very gently and for long without moving the stew around. This way you’ll collect all the residual water from the “steamed” veggies and all that succulent juice from the pieces of meat in the bottom broth. The end result is a tender and dreamy merge of all the ingredients with just a touch of the tasty broth to cover the bottom of the plates.

Personal note

Pot au feu in the makingFinally, last week, my mom showed me her mom’s recipe for the first time, strangely I didn’t even tried it once before…  I guess I wanted to keep the memory of the perfect stew of my grandma intact. The only personal touch of mine in this version of pot au feu is the garlic clove, since I’ve been living abroad in Spain… I have the habit of adding garlic to everything. In my family, we like to serve this dish with a nice fresh buttered white bread slice to accompany it and some extra pickles. We also make bundles with the beans to make them easier to pick up in the end, plus it also gives an extra aesthetic side to the dish.

So let’s start and make good use of that iron cast pot!

 


Pot au Feu (Bouilli)

Makes 6-8 portions | Difficulty: easy| Preparation: 3.5 to 4 hours

Ingredientsbouilli quebecois ingredients
  • 1 kilo of Beef chuck roast (braising steak)
  • 300g of salted pork belly (pancetta)
  • 10 carrots peeled
  • 400g of green beans or yellow beans
  • 2 rutabaga or turnip
  • 3 white onions
  • 1/2 white cabbage 
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 garlic clove *optional
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 3 cloves (stick them in the onions to find them easily in the end to remove them)
  • salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Start by searing the 2 pieces of meat with a bit of clarified butter or olive oil in a big Iron Cast pot, high heat until brown on each side
  2. Once done add the bouquet garni and cover the piece of meat (2cm over) with water
  3. Let simmer for two and a half hours, covered with the lid (leaving a small opening to let the heat escape and prevent the stew from boiling), making sure there is always water in the pot
  4. Cut all the cabbage and rutabaga (or turnip) into big thick pieces, leave the carrots, potatoes and onions (with cloves stuck in them) whole
  5. Add all the veggies, except the green beans, on top of the meat and make sure there is always enough water to cover the pieces of meat, salt and pepper, cover and simmer for another 30 minutes
  6. Make little bundles with the green beans and attach them with the help of a string, add them on top of the stew, cover, simmer 30 minutes more minutes
  7. Check and adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper)
  8. After 3.5 hours of slow cooking the stew is finally ready, the meat gets tender and break easily to serve, take out the cloves from the onions and serve with a bit of the bottom broth.

 

Enjoy!

Pot au Feu (bouilli)

This is two soups in one for an extra tasty onion soup. Don’t we all love a good onion soup? Imagine combining an onion cream with a french onion soup! The result is just exponentially delicious!This is two soups in one for an extra tasty onion soup. Don’t we all love a good onion soup? Imagine combining an onion cream with a french onion soup! The result is just exponentially delicious!

Double onion soup

This soup is a merged of the classical French onion soup and an onion veloute (cream). It’s broth is made the onion cream way, which is basically a blended onion soup, then to keep the onion bites from the French version, I’ve added an extra 2 onions. It’s got a bite to it, although less onion pieces as the traditional French onion soup. Double the flavors but not the work, it’s important to clarify: it’s just an extra step (blend the soup) then the normal onion soup, so no extra work.

How the idea took form

I was feeling like an onion soup to warm me up on a cold winter day, and since I already had a traditional French onion soup on my blog, I’ve decided to make a variation of it. I’ve started by making an onion veloute and the result was alright… but I was missing the onion bite to it… So i’ve added 2 more onions to add a bite to the soup plus I’ve topped it with the always delicious gratin touch. The result is an unctuous onion cream with a bite to it served the french onion way; cheese!

Double onion soup

There is also a Catalan twist to it for extra flavor, a “picada” in the end of cooking for an fresh extra seasonning. A picada is a light mix of aromatics and/or nuts with olive oil to finish up a meal with a fresh touch and when nuts are used, it thickens the sauces. It’s usually done in the mortar and added to dishes in the last minutes of cooking for a great final touch. It’s an optional extra step, done in no time, that makes a big difference in my opinion, especially for sauces and soups.

If you dislike the smell of onions in the house, simmer in a small pot of water with a cinnamon stick of lemon wedges to it, for a little while, it’s going to clean up that air. Also… a great idea to make with the leftovers from this soup is my onion soup pasta in a mug check it out here!

Let’s make this extra tasty soup!

 


Double Onion Soup

Makes about 6 portions | Cooking time: 1h15

Ingredients
  • Double onion soup8 yellow onions finely sliced (6 for the cream, and 2 as extra bite for the soup)
  • 2 litres of chicken broth
  • 200ml of red wine
  • 30ml brandy
  • 30g of salted butter
  • 3 tbsp of flour or cornstarch
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 laurel leaves
  • thyme to taste
  • salt and pepper
Topping
  • dry or toasted baguette/bread
  • aged gouda or gruyere
  • extra parsley minced
Picada *optional
  • parsley finely chopped (20 leave)
  • 1 garlic clove 
  • salt
Directions
  1. Add the the butter, the sliced onions and some salt to a big pot, at low heat and let the onion get slowly translucent (it takes about 30 minutes)
  2. Once the onions are soft, translucent, take the equivalent of 2 onions out and reserve
  3. Add the flour and let it cook for one more minute
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the onions and let simmer at low heat another 15 minutes
  5. Take out the laurel leaves
  6. Blend with an immersion blender the soup until smooth
  7. Add the extra reserved onion and adjust the seasonning and let simmer another 15 minutes
  8. During that time, in a mortar or bowl, mash up the ingredient of the picada into a paste
  9. Add the picada in the final minute of cooking
  10. Add the soup to oven proof bowls, topped with the (dry) bread and cheese to taste and grill in the oven (max temperature) for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden
  11. Sprinkle with extra chopped parsley

 

*if you have a left over try this onion noodles soup gratin!

Enjoy!

Double onion soup

 

Goat cheese and tomato omelette

Omelette is the French way of doing eggs, just like the Spanish have their tortilla de patata, the Italian their frittata, the Japanese their square omelette, etc. The way French makes omelette is quite a fast and precise way to make eggs, the technique can be a bit “a pain in the a..” at first, but once you nail it, you’ll never lose the skill. Some people add a little milk or water to the egg mixture before frying it in the pan, I, usually, do my omelette without any of those, simply a pinch of salt and pepper. Also, this dish version is with olive oil instead of butter, simply because I believe it’s healthier, and especially with the Mediterranean herb crusted goat cheese that I’ve used for the topping it fits perfectly. Butter is usually used… it’s a French recipe after all.omeletpin

Goat cheese and tomato omeletteThe omelette can be served plain, of course, but most of the time, you’ll add a filling. In this case, I’ve used a herb crusted goat cheese with tomato, but it could be mushrooms, ham, cheddar, spinach,etc. Also, I’ve added the filling on the outside of the omelette, which looks better in this case, but most omelettes you’ll see the filling inside. Again… it’s up to you and depends what is the filling. With a cheddar or mushroom filling, I would hide those inside, to melt the cheese and mushrooms aren’t exactly pretty… The ultimate omelette is smooth and yellow (not brown) and still creamy on the inside.

 

The technique

The technique to achieve a smooth omelette is to bring your small (I suggest a good quality aluminium cast with non-stick layer) non-stick pan to med-high heat and make sure the pan is really warm before adding the egg mixture. Turning gently into circles the pan in a circular manner (or simply shake gently the pan non stop) and with the wood spatula mix in the opposite direction in circular manner too, taking the sides of the omelette stuck to the side off. You keep doing this for a minute or until the omelette have a “cottage cheese texture”, then stop shaking/mixing and let set the bottom until cooked, no more than a 15 seconds, then take off the fire, fold it into a 1/2 moon, or simply fold it twice on itself, if the interior looks still too runny, let the residual heat do the rest of the coccion. *As shown in the pictures above and also in the directions.

 

Golden rules

A top omelette is never brown on the outside, this means it burned, and strangely, most online recipe of omelette are overcooked. On the inside it should still be slightly creamy. The whole conception of the omelette is quite fast, I would say, about 3 minutes. It makes a great breakfast, lunch, brunch dish. The filling, in this case, is an herb crusted goat cheese and tomato, can go either inside the omelette or out.  I’ve learn this “art” of making omelette from my culinary school teacher, which was specialized in eggs, he did a special course in France on the subject. I didn’t know they had such precise speciality classes, but apparently “eggs” are part of a full world to discover.

So here is the technique to the perfect omelette!

 


Omelette

Makes: 1 portion | Preparation: 5 minutes | Difficulty: medium

Ingredients
  • 2-3 eggs
  • salt, pepper
  • filling or topping of tomato and goat cheese here but really it’s anything you want.
Directions
  1. In a non-stick pan, bring it to med-high heat, until quite hot
  2. Add a touch of olive oil or butter
  3. In a bowl mix well, (but not too much) your eggs, *optional; add extra 1 tbsp of milk or water (milk make the omelette slight creamier and water puffier)
  4. Add salt and pepper (white pepper preferably)
  5. Add the egg mixture to the pan and right away turn gently into circle the pan in a circular manner (or simply shake gently the pan non stop) also with a wood spatula mix constantly, gently and fast in the opposite direction in circular manner too, taking the sides of the omelette stuck to the side off and back into the wet mixture until the egg look like “cottage cheese” (check the picture on the right)
  6. Make sure the eggs are covering the bottom of the pan, no holes, and let cook the omelette for a 10 seconds more without touching it, to set the bottom
  7. Take the omelette off the fire and fold gently, in the form you prefer, if you do a filled omelette, add the filling now, if not, simply fold into 2 or 3 with the help of your fingers and spatula
  8. You can wait a few seconds, if the inside seems too runny before letting it slide right into the plate, this way the residual heat will finish the coccion
  9. Serve with the filling of your choice or as it is.

 

Bon Appétit!

Goat cheese and tomato omelette

Boeuf bourguignon is French people favorite beef stew made out of red wine, mushrooms, carrots, onions and aromatics with a twist! Served with pasta instead of potatoes. Because why not? right?

Boeuf bourguignon on pasta
Beef Bourguignon on pasta

Boeuf bourguignon on spaghetti is a “mashup” dish, the usual ‘boeuf bourguignon’ or beef bourguignon is great with potatoes, but if you want to try something new, try this on pasta! It’s better then Bolognese my friend! I like potatoes… but my husband not so much… so he always ask me to make his boeuf bourguignon on pasta. I have to agree with him on this; with pasta it’s gives the dish a whole new dimension.Boeuf bourguignon on pasta

But either ways, the base of the recipe stays the same; braised beef cubes in a dutch oven cooked slowly in a red wine sauce. So you decide which between pasta or potatoes makes you salivate more. Also I’ve had my little Spanish touch by making a “picada” (last minutes seasoning) with parsley, garlic and olive oil just to give it a last fresh kick.

Boeuf bourguignon on pasta The beef cubes, I’ve bought, were pre-cut quite small, about 2-3cm large which isn’t ideal (in pictures), try to get bigger cubes of 5 cm, then when you’ll go in for a bite you’ll see the tender beef cubes fall apart and that experience brings so much more appeal to the dish. Also another important part is to season and sear good your beef pieces at first, make sure the pot you use is hot enough at the beginning, don’t put too many pieces at the time and resist the urge of moving the cubes too early while searing.

So let’s make that delicious beef stew the French cannot get enough of!


Boeuf bourguignon

Makes 4 portions

Ingredients

  • 400g of beef cubes of 5cm ideally
  • 100g of fresh bacon bits
  • 500ml (2 cups) of red wine
  • 2 big carrots into slices
  • 1 onion sliced or (or 6-7 pearl onions)
  • 1 garlic clove finely sliced
  • Bouquet garni (thyme, laurel, pepper, clove)
  • 3 tbsp of flour
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 250g of button mushrooms cut into quarter
  • salt, pepper
The picada *optional (goes at the end of coccion)
  • a few flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 a garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt

Directions

  1. In a large dutch oven, bring to high heat.
  2. Salt and pepper the meat
  3. When hot, add the olive oil and the beef, sear each side of the beef cubes until light brown (not too many at the time)
  4. When the cubes are done, add the bacon for a min
  5. Then cover lightly with flour over the meat and a touch more of olive oil
  6. Let cook the flour for a minute
  7. Add the red wine and mix well making sure the bottom is well scratched with a wooden spoon
  8. Add the onion, carrots, garlic, bouquet garni and bring to a boil
  9. Cover and turn the heat to low (or in the oven at 170°C (340f))
  10. Let simmer slowly for about 2 hours
  11. Add the mushrooms 30 minutes before the end of cooking
  12. Add salt, pepper
  13. Make the optional “picada” with all it’s ingredients in a mortar, add to the beef bourguignon 2 minutes before the end of cooking

Serve on the pasta of your choice!

Enjoy!

Boeuf bourguignon on pasta

MorbifletteMorbiflette is a tartiflette (potato covered with cream, fresh bacon bits, onions and reblochon cheese) with Morbier cheese! If you are, like me, a cheese lover… This is the dish for you! Morbier is such a unique cheese, there isn’t a comparable cheese, it’s a strong flavored one, so if you aren’t used to those… stay with the reblochon tartiflette. Morbiflette is so simple, and simply addictive… one bite is just never enough. If you are not scared of putting on the weight and feel like a sin meal… try this one! Here it’s a 20 cm clay pot, and it was a full meal but usually, in France, they eat morbiflette or tartiflette as an appetizer (10cm pot) next to a green salad.

MorbifletteThe protagonist here is the Morbier, a semi-soft cow cheese with a layer of vegetable rye in the middle. Two decades ago, the cheese was created by the cheesemakers from a calm land in the east of France, Franche-Comté region, where they would make those big wheels of “Comté cheese” and with the leftovers of the day; they would fill up half a mold, then add ash on it, to prevent the bugs from touch it over night. The next morning they would fill the mold up with the new fresh cured milk of the morning and then cure it for 45 days. The cheesemakers would keep those cheeses for themselves, since it wasn’t for the common people and even less for the aristocrats. But I believe, they’ve reached perfection without even know it. Today the roles got reversed…Morbier is seen as a “top cheese” by many.

For the ones that knows and love “Raclette”, try it out with Morbier, it’s a delight! Just make sure to open those windows… it’s a delicious although “stinking” cheese… Also in this dish, I’ve omitted the fresh bacon bits from the original recipe… I just thought… it was too much sinning for one day. But if you are not on that eternal diet, like me, go for it and add fresh bacon bits to it.

Let’s get in Cheese heaven!


Morbiflette

Makes 4 appetizers portions or 2 big main meals

MorbifletteIngredients
  • 4 nice long slices of Morbier cheese (3mm thick)
  • 10 small potatoes or 5 big ones (yellow meat kind)
  • 2 onions finely slices
  • 2 tbsp of white wine
  • 30ml cream
  • nutmeg, salt, pepper
  • *optional 30g of fresh bacon bits
Directions

Bring oven to 210°C (350F)

  1. Boil the potatoes in salty water until tender (I keep the skin, but you can just take it off)
  2. In a pan, add the onion, wine, salt and pepper, reduce the onion, medium high heat, until soft
  3. *optional: at this point, if you want the fresh bacon bits, make them, high heat, in the pan
  4. Cut thick slices of the cooked potatoes, add the onion, cream, *fresh bacon bits, nutmeg, salt, pepper and the famous slices of Morbier on top
  5. Grill in the oven at 210°C (350F) for about 10 minutes or until light brown
  6. Serve

Serve as an appetizer or as a main meal with extra caperberries or pickled onions and a great wine. Enjoy!

Morbiflette

Sole Papillote

Fish en papillote is such a flavourful and healthy way to eat fish. It’s mainly used to cook those really lean, flaky fishes because it keeps all the humidity that the lean fish would lose by other ways of coccion, like pan frying, simple oven, etc. It’s simply an aromatic vapor that cooks you fish, and when the time come to open those little puffy bags, all that aromatic vapor hits your nose, no better way to start a nice light diner.

Sole PapilloteFor this dish, I’ve used a beautiful small soles. This fish really gain from the papillote humidity, simply add some aromatics of your choice; here, I’ve used a bed of bell pepper slices, then topped with tomatoes, olives, thyme and garlic with a touch of olive oil and white wine. You can also make those papillote with aluminium foil, it’s easier to close up hermetically, but be careful… if you use any acidic ingredients, it reacts badly with the aluminium. I prefer the “parchemin” baking paper, to make papillote, then you see them expanding and the fact that each person at the table open carefully there own bag and get that cloud of aromas… it’s simply precious!

To cook the papillote, the main idea here is to keep you bag hermetically closed up. There is millions of way to fold a papillote, I, personally, just twist twice each corners and sides, than I staple it a few times. Yes a stapler in the kitchen… strange… Also another important element to papillote is to add a little 1 tbsp of liquid of your choice in it before closing up. This way you’ll make sure enough vapor will form inside to cook.

Let’s make that aroma cloud going!


Sole en Papillote

Makes 2 portions

InsSole Papillotetruments
  • Stapler
  • 2 large baking paper rectangle
Ingredients
  • 2 small soles, cleaned
  • Sole Papillote1/2 bell pepper sliced
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine (water or fish stock) 
  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 5 kalamata olives
  • 8 thyme branch
  • 1 garlic finely sliced
  • salt, pepper
Directions

Bring oven to 210°C (410F)

  1. Clean up the fish, salt and pepper it
  2. Cut a large rectangle of baking paper
  3. Add the sliced bell pepper in the middle of each papillote
  4. Add the fish on top of the pepper
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients on top of the fish
  6. Close up the paper by folding each side twice and staple it, then to the same with the corners until hermetically closed up
  7. Cook the papillote in the oven at 210°C (410F) for 10-15 minutes depending of the thickness of your fish (mine were 1 cm thick and small so 10 minutes was enough)
  8. Serve as soon as it comes out of the oven

Serve with a side of white bean quinoa salad, rice or whatever you like with fish. Enjoy those little bags of flavour!

Sole Papillote

cheese&thyme souffléCheese and Thyme Soufflé is a pure airy, fluffy bite into a cloud of cheese and a touch of thyme. You can use your favorite cheese, I wanted to try it with roquefort at first but then I finally went for the queen of cheeses: Gruyere! Everyone that knows me… knows I have a thing for cheese… borderline an illness. Anyways, let’s get back to the soufflé.

cheese&thyme souffléSoufflés are quite easy to make… although it can infuriate some… like me yesterday. I had the perfect soufflés… coming out of the oven… then, just the few seconds to bring them to the shooting table, they’ve reduced a lot. Although still great texture inside, the soufflés needs to be eaten right away… Like the French say: “you don’t wait for people to sit at the table for a soufflé, you make them wait for it”. Because it need to be eaten right away! It’s mainly an esthetic matter, because the inner texture stays warm and airy.

A few trick to nail that soufflé! When it’s time to add the soufflée to the oven, a metal plaque with a bit of water in it should be preheated too. The soufflés love humidity, and this will keep them moist and puffy. Also, if you like the usual flat cheese&thyme soufflétop soufflé (vs the broken round top) then you should grill your soufflés for the first 2-3 minutes under the oven grill (max temp) then adjust to 180°C (350F). This will set the top flat.

At last but not the least, another trick would be to incorporate the whites, slowly, without breaking them in 2 different shots until the mix is homogeneous. This way it’s gonna keep all its air and if you like extra airy, just add an egg white to the mix. A pinch of sugar mid time you bring up the whites will help to keep the soufflé fluffy.

Ok let’s do those delicious airy cheezy bites!


Cheese and Thyme Soufflé

Makes 4 portions appetizers or 2 main meals (4 x 8 cm diameter ramekins)

Ingredients
  • cheese&thyme soufflé250ml milk
  • 70g gruyere (or cheese of your choice)
  • 30g flour
  • 30g butter
  • 4 separated eggs (1 extra white to make it extra airy)
  • nutmeg, salt, pepper
  • 1 tbsp of thyme
  • *pinch of sugar *optional
Directions

Bring oven to the max grill (2-3 first minutes) then 180°C (350F) with a metal rack containing a little water at the bottom

  1. cheese&thyme souffléButter the ramekins, then flour them and let them cool in the fridge
  2. Grate the cheese, separate the eggs
  3. Start by doing a bechamel, add the butter to a small sauce pan, medium heat, melt
  4. Add the flour, mix it up, and wait a minute or twocheese&thyme soufflé until it smells nutty
  5. Add the cold milk, bring to high heat and whisk
  6. Add the nutmeg, salt, pepper and bring the bechamel to become thicker
  7. Take off the fire
  8. Add the grated gruyere cheese and thyme, mix
  9. Let coolcheese&thyme soufflé
  10. During that time whisk the egg whites, in a big bowl, until a soft peak forms like in the picture on the right (add a small pinch of sugar mid-way to make it hold better)
  11. Add the yolks to the cooled bechamel, mix
  12. Transfer the bechamel (now a Mornay sauce) to a big bowl
  13. cheese&thyme soufflé (10).jpgAdd the egg whites in 2 shots, turning gently the whites in the Mornay sauce until homogeneous
  14. Add the mix to the buttered ramekins, leave a finger high at the top, because they will puff too high if too filled.
  15. Add the ramekins to the metal rack and grill them for 2-3 minutes at first, then lower the oven to 180°C (350F) for small ramekins 10 minutes cheese&thyme souffléis enough if you make a big ramekin a bit longer or until the top is light brown
  16. Serve as soon as it comes out from the oven

 

 


Serve as a main meal or appetizer, a side of salad and a great white wine. Enjoy!

cheese&thyme soufflé

A drunken onion soup, filled with flavors, thyme, wine and a final touch of brandy to warm us up on a cold winter day. Finishing it up under the grill to melt that tasty gruyere cheese on the crunchy piece of bread slowly getting soak with the soup. 

onion soup

To warm up our hearts before the heat comes, why not eat a tasty, french onion soup. Those are quite popular from where I’m from; Quebec… As one know, that place has an eternal winter and this soup helps them to keep warm. I find it always a bit tricky to eat those heavy soups as an appetizer, with the extra cheese on top… It’ s supposed to be a appetizer but I consider it more of a main meal. The french use quite a lot of butter in it, this version is lighter in butter. Also, in culinary school in Spain they made it slightly different, they add thyme and brandy, loved it. So my version here is a of mix from each places I encountered that delicious soup.

onion soup
That moment before getting in… is as nice as cracking into a creme brulée

This soup dates from the Roman time, it comes from a long way back, the french version is quite famous but there is other versions throughout Europe and even Asia… with miso, etc. In my mind that soup must be extra dark, a nice dark brown and it needs to contain a lot of onions… clearly… but the most important part is the stock. In most “stock” meal, I believe the stock to be the key factor to a successful meal, so make your own stock and make it tasty! Also you can freeze some stock in ice cubes tray and keep those small amount of broth for future recipes. It’s always useful.

The difference between stock and broth… I usually use the word broth, but then again, on those chefs tv’s show they always use the word “stock” and finally Googled it: A broth is mainly made of meat parts, while the stock is mainly bone parts (meaning more tasty collagen). So… as my dad would say: “I’ll go to bed less stupid tonight” (french expression)

So here is my beef stock recipe for this soup, I made it with a flair of vietnamese “pho” style. Part one of the meal; the stock.


 

Beef Stock

beef stockIngredients
  • 1 kg (2 pounds) of beef bones
  • 1 cheap cut like hooves, knuckles
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 30ml brandy *optional
  • 4 anise stars
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • laurel
  • small piece of fresh ginger with the skin (2-3cm)
Directions
  1. Add the meat in cold water, bring to boil, drain and rinse in cold water again. *optional to clean the impurities of the broth first…
  2. In your iron cast pot, add some olive oil, med-high heat, and brown the beef pieces
  3. Add the spices, vegetables
  4. Add the brandy, and scratch the bottom of the pan
  5. Add water until topping the meat by 5cm (2inch)
  6. Bring to simmer, leave on low fire for 4 hours
  7. Pass through a sieve and voilà!

 

Onion soup

Makes 4 portions

Ingredientsonion soup
  • 1-1/2 litre of beef stock
  • 250ml red wine
  • 5 big, sliced, spanish onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp flour or in my case I used 2 tbsp unsugared chocolate to thicken the soup)
  • few thick slices of old bread *optional
  • 50g grated cheese (gruyère) *optional
  • 30ml brandy
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • laurel leaf
  • a good amount of pepper, salt
Directions
  1. In a big pot, add olive oil and the sliced onions and salt, cook at low heat for about 45 minutes (yes that long), until the onion become translucent
  2. Mid-way through the onions cooking time (step 1), add finely chopped garlic
  3. When the onions are ready, add the flour (if you choose that alternative) mix (1 minute)
  4. Add the stock, wine, spices and let simmer another 30 minutes
  5. Heat up the grill from your oven
  6. When the soup is ready, add the butter, brandy and chocolate (if you choose that alternative) to thicken the soup
  7. Transfer the soup into onion soup bowl, add the bread on top plus the gruyere cheese, a touch of black pepper
  8. Grill until the cheese is melted
  9. Serve on a wood piece or resistant cover

 

Serve on a cold day to warm you up. Enjoy!

White asparagus crepe

It’s season again, for those premature spring veggies! Those are one of a kind, I knew they existed but never had the opportunity to try them out, “well done” until I’ve met my in-laws. I’ve encountered my first white asparagus at my husband’s mom place, I remembered eating them once before but they were though and not tender at all. The mom although… she nailed it, I was baptised all over again, a new beginning for me, those delicate white asparagus were suddenly on my top 10 favorite veggies list. She made them simply with cooked ham, and little butter and it was fantastic! In Germany they have what they call the “Spargelzeit”, a period from april to early june I think… They have all those stands selling those white jewels on the streets, a bit like apple time back in North America.

White asparagus crepeAlso, I got the first seat while doing a bike tour through northern Italy a few years ago, in april. I got the chance to see them getting “picked-up” from the little mountains of soil where the tip of their head would just freshly come out. The guys on the field would rapidly pick them up from the soil with some technical skills I couldn’t describe with words here. A bit like going threw the soil with a sword…

Yesterday, I saw in the Spanish market, those white asparagus, grown in Spain- lucky me- and couldn’t resist… Also, I had to finish my leftovers of buckwheat crepe, so I did a little experiment with the white asparagus, I add them to a crepe with baby spinach and a bechamel sauce instead of a hollandaise sauce because it’s healthier and easier to do. The white asparagus have a pretty delicate flavour which can get overrunned by bolder ingredients so I didn’t add spices.

So let’s do that white asparagus crepe!


White asparagus crepe

Makes 4 portions

Ingredients

You’ll need a non stick crepe pan for this

Crepe
  • 300g buckwheat flour
  • 500ml of water
  • 1 egg
  • salt
Filling
  • 20 thick and fresh white asparagus
  • few slices of cooked ham
  • few baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
Bechamel

you will need an extra, small saucepan for this

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup  (500ml) cold milk
  • nutmeg
  • salt, pepper
Directions
Crepe preparation
  1. Mix the salt into the flour
  2. Add the egg in the center
  3. Add water in the center slowly in a well and whisk from the center to the sides (to keep it smooth)
  4. Once all mixed, pass through a sieve to eliminate the unwanted lumps
  5. Let set in the fridge for 1-2 hours
White asparagus
  1. Rinse the asparagus, then peel them from the top to the bottom, 2 to 3 times (because the outside fiber is pretty thin) than cut the end tip
  2. Add water to a large pan, just large enough and deep enough to add all of them in. Bring to simmer.
  3. Add a butter, salt and sugar
  4. Add the asparagus
  5. Cook about 15 minutes, until tender, simmering
  6. Reserve
The Bechamel
  1. Add the butter to a saucepan to melt at medium-high heat
  2. Add flour when melted, cook about 1 minute until it smells nutty
  3. Add the cold milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper and whisk it until it thickens, add milk if too thick.
  4. Reserve
The grand final
  1. Bring your nonstick pan to high and add a little fat of your choice with a paper, really little
  2. Mix your base again, add a little base to the pan in order to test your crepes, not too much (because the first one is always just a test)
  3. When adding the mix, make sure it barely cover the surface, and it’s not too thick (you’ll see the holes forming right away if good consistency, always can add water if too thick).
  4. Add the baby spinach and white asparagus mix to the crepe with as much of bechamel you want, while it cooks
  5. Cook the crepe until light brown, fold it up, transfer to a plate

Enjoy with a nice Riesling or why not a Weiss beer!

 

 

Crepe forestiere

This is also a crepe Bretonne, just like my earlier post. I just changed the filling for some nice girola mushrooms, spinach, thyme and a bit of béchamel to make a creamy and soft inside, into a crispy “crêpe Bretonne”.

Crepe forestiereFirst of all, buckwheat is technically no wheat product…  Let me explain; it’s actually the seeds of a flower that makes the flour, nothing to do with the grass. It’s also a gluten free flour, so for those of you who are sensible to gluten, it’ s a great alternative. This flour has so many health benefits… although I can not cover the whole list here but check it out.

I used those small “Girola” mushroom they call in Spain, I suggest you use your favorite ones, or even simple button mushrooms will do. I’m never satisfied with the texture of my mushroom made in the pan, and since this is a quite “busy” recipe already, I simply do my mushrooms in the oven, I forget them there for a good 20 minutes, they end up perfect, evenly cooked and such a nicer texture. I mix them up with onions, garlic, thyme, mushroom salt a little olive oil before adding them to the oven and it’s just fantastic. So let’s make crêpes!


Crêpe forestière (Forest thin pancake)

Makes about 6 crepes… because the first one is “never ever” good… it would be 7

Ingredients

You’ll need a non stick crepe pan for this

Crepe
  • 300g buckwheat flour
  • 550ml of water
  • 1 egg
  • salt
Filling
  • your favorite mushrooms (they shrink a lot in the cooking so calculate that)
  • 1/2 onion finely cut
  • few baby spinach leaves
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • mushroom, truffle salt *optional
  • pepper
  • thyme
The bechamel

you will need an extra, small saucepan for this

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cup  (500ml) cold milk
  • nutmeg
  • salt, pepper
  • grated gruyere, old cheddar *optional
Directions
Crepe preparation
  1. Mix the salt into the flour
  2. Add the egg in the center
  3. Add water in the center slowly in a well and whisk from the center to the sides (to keep it smooth)
  4. Once all mixed, pass through a sieve to eliminate the unwanted lumps
  5. Let set in the fridge for 1-2 hours
The mushrooms

Bring oven to 180°C (350F)

  1. Wash your mushrooms good, without soaking them
  2. Cut finely the onion, add to the bowl of mushrooms
  3. Add thyme, garlic, salt and the olive oil
  4. Cover a cooking tray with baking sheet, spread out the mushroom mix on it
  5. Let cook about 15-20 minutes, depending of the size of your mushrooms

*make the béchamel while the mushrooms are cooking

The Bechamel
  1. Add the butter to a saucepan to melt at medium-high heat
  2. Add flour when melted, cook about 1 minute until it smells nutty
  3. Add the cold milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper and whisk it until it thickens, add milk if too thick.
  4. When sauce is done, add the grated cheese of your choice in it *optional
  5. Mix it up with the mushrooms mix
The crepes
  1. Bring your nonstick pan to high and add a little fat of your choice with a paper, really little
  2. Mix your base again, add a little base to the pan in order to test your crepes, not too much (because the first one is always just a test)
  3. When adding the mix, make sure it barely cover the surface, and it’s not too thick (you’ll see the holes forming right away if good consistency, always can add water if too thick).
  4. Add the baby spinach and the mushroom mix to the crepe while it cooks
  5. Cook the crepe until light brown, fold it up, transfer to a plate
  6. *optional- If you are not on a diet, brush a little melted salty butter on top.

 

Enjoy with a nice apple cider or a light white wine!