Monday, September 28, 2009

Baetje Farms Bloomsdale
Local farm cheeses are everywhere. I picked this goat's cheese up at Soulard's Farmer's Market last week. Baetje farms is located in Bloomsdale Mo. and the shape of the cheese is reminiscent of the hilly terrain of Bloomsdale. In actuality the cheese is inspired by Valencay, a French cheese that was originally made in a pyramid form until Napoleon, after a series of loses in Egypt stopped at the castle Valencay where the cheese was produced and lopped off the tops of the pyramids. Ever since then the cheese is made with a flattened top-in France and Missouri. The cheese is rolled in ash and salt before being aged. It is an American Cheese Association prize winner-I think it was second place, but I don't remember exactly. It is a lovely winner at that, with a creamy-buttery texture. Very mellow, slightly smokey and salty cheese.

Roti de Porc, poele (Casserole Roasted Pork)

Another Julia Child recipe. Since the "Julie /Julia" movie came out, Julia's book and recipes are on alot of people's minds lately, mine too it seems. Her recipes are so carefully written and explained, and the results from this one are so succulent and rich. This recipe uses the French technique of poele, which is simply a braised roast and translates as that all-American favorite from the 50's-casserole.
I marinated the roast over night in sherry wine with some chopped shallot, chopped garlic, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, black pepper and salt. Remove the roast from the marinade and dry before proceeding with the recipe.
Julia lists several vegetables that could be included. I used turnips, carrots, onion, and pears. Potatoes would also be good, of course, as would cabbage, parsnip, apple, sweet potato, or squash.
3 pound boneless pork roast
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, sliced
4 turnips, peeled and quartered
4 pears, cored and quartered
4 carrots, peeled and cut into larger chunks
1 flame proof casserole
1 1/2 cup wine, stock, or a mixture of both
Fresh herbs-I used bay, rosemary, and sage
Brown the pork in the butter
Add the vegetables and brown slightly
Add the wine and stock and herbs-Julia ties her up in an herb bouquet
Cover and bake in a 325 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Baste the roast every 1/2 hour.
Julia suggests you remove the roast when the temperature reaches 180 degrees. I removed the roast from the oven when the temperature hit 155 degrees, let it sit to rest for another ten minutes before carving and it was perfectly done.

Pear and Parsnip Puree
Here is a great little side dish for the changing season. My friend Richard Perry used to make this for his Eat Plan dinners-Hi Rich, if you're reading this. It is a really nice accompaniment to roast pork or chicken for the Fall.
2 pounds of parsnips, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
4 medium pears
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons melted butter
Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
1/4 cup cream
Blanch the parsnips for about 5 minutes
Peel, quarter and core the pears
Place the blanched parsnips in a baking dish
Add the pears, melted butter, honey, salt, pepper, and nutmeg
Toss the ingredients so that they are well mixed
Roasted the parsnip-pear mixture in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes
Puree the mixture, adding the cream
Taste for seasoning and melt some additional butter accross the top-optional

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Martha's Apple Blackberry Cake
Martha, like much in modern life these days-I'm thinking politics and recent presidents-is a polarising figure. In other words, you're either a fan or a hater, there is no middle ground. So I'm declaring my support for Martha. In my opinion, her magazine is more interesting and beautiful than Gourmet these days. I guess that means I have to start hating Gourmet-at least this month. This cake is from "Living" 's September issue. It is a very simple and appealing thing to throw together.
Granulated sugar for the pan
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces unsalted butter melted for the cake,plus enought to grease the pan, plus 2 tablespoons more to dot the top of the cake just before it goes into the oven
3/4 cup brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons to dot the top of the cake just before it goes into the oven
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
4 apples, peeled and sliced-Martha recommends McIntosh-I used Gala
1 pint black berries
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional whipped cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9" springform pan and dust with granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, milk, and eggs. Whisk the liquid mixture into the dry mixture.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Arrange the apple slices over the batter. Sprinkle with the blackberries, and gently press the fruit into the batter. Distribute the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, cinnamon and remaining two tablespoons of butter over the top of the fruit. Bake until the top is golden brown, the apples are tender, and a cake tester comes clean from the center. Let cool before unmolding.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Apricot Tart with Ginger Ice Cream

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 pound apricots, halved
Juice and zest of one lemon

In a 10 inch iron skillet melt the butter, add the sugar and heat until bubbly.
Stir in the lemon juice andf zest

Place the apricots, cut side down into the caramel.

Cover the top with pastry-pie dough or puff patry works

Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Let the tart cool for 10 minutes, Place a platter on top of the skillet and invert it so that the tart unmolds.

Serve with Ginger Ice Cream
This recipe comes from Charlie Trotter and was part of the PBS series "America's Best Chefs Cook with Jeremiah Tower"-I never saw the series, but I do have the companion book. It is a really special ice cream and works well with peach tarts are well as the apricot.

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger

4 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar
Add the ginger to the cream in a small sauce pan and heat to just below the boiling point. Remove it from the heat and let the cream and ginger steep for 1/2 hour, strain the ginger out and discard it. Whisk the sugar into the eggs and whip until the eggs are light and fluffy. Reheat the cream and temper the eggs-do not let the mixture boil, only cook it until it coats the back of a spoon. Strain once more and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Freeze in you ice cream freezer.

Chicken with Garlic Pearls and Pineau de Charentes

I used Paula Wolfert's recipe for Chicken with Garlic Pearls and Sauternes-substituting the Pineau de Charentes for the Sauternes (see my previous post on Pineau de Charentes). Her extremely well written recipe is from her book "The Cooking of Southwest France". I used 4 leg quarters (I don't personally care for eating chicken breast) rather than the whole bird called for in the recipe. You'll need to make creme fraich ahead of time (mix 1 cup heavy cream with 2 Tablespoons of buttermilk-let the mixture sit at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours-cover and refrigerate for up to one week). It is an involved recipe, but not difficult and the results are spectacular. I think I might use this technique for this year's Thanksgiving turkey. I also added some wild mushrooms sauteed in butter and deglazed with sherry.

For the chicken:
1 chicken or 4 leg quarters
Quarter the chicken, salt and pepper the pieces, and marinate the pieces in the creme fraiche for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Roast the chicken in a preheated 375 degree oven, basting with additional creme fraiche for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Run the chicken under the broiler for extra crispy skin.

For the garlic pearls:
2 head of fresh garlic, separate the cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons of butter
1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar

Plunge the garlic cloves into boiling water and boil for 3 minutes.

Cool the garlic and peel, leaving the cloves whole.

Melt the butter in a saute pan over very low heat, add the garlic and sugar. place the saute pan in a 350 degree oven and roast until the garlic is soft and golden-not brown. Shake the pan but do not stir or the garlic may break up. Can be prepared ahead of time.

For the sauce:
2 Tablespoons of rendered poultry fat or oil
1 3/4 cup sliced onions
1 2/3 cup sliced carrots
1 leek, split and cleaned, sliced
2 pounds of veal bones
1 pounds chicken bones
1 bottle Pineau de Charentes- Sauternes or sweet white wine can be substituted
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
Herb bouquet of parsley, thyme, bay, and celery leaf-all tied together
1/3 cup heavy cream
Fresh lemon juice, optional
Brown the bones and vegetables in the rendered fat over low heat-a long slow caramelization process that should take up to 15 minutes.

Drain off the fat, and begin adding the wine. Add the wine one cup at a time, letting the wine evaporate until it becomes syrupy before adding the next cup of wine.

Add the stock and the herb bouquet, cook covered for 1 hour.

Strain the mixture into a sauce pan, skim off any fat. Bring the mixture to the boil and reduce for 10 minutes, continually skimming any foamy debris. I also added some additional onion slices to be left in the finished sauce-Paula uses additional carrot slices. The sauce can be prepared ahead of time up to this point.

Add the cream and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon-taste for seasoning and add fresh lemon juice if the sauce is too sweet.

Add the garlic pearls.

Ladle the sauce over the roasted chicken, and top with the sauteed mushrooms-the mushrooms are optional.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pineau de Charentes
The bottle says dessert wine, but it is usually served as an aperitif-chilled-served straight up. It is a a fortified wine made of grape juice and cognac fermented together, produced in the Charente region of France. It is usually made with Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc, or Semillon. It is slightly sweet with a definite flavor of cognac. I have read online where it is really out of fashion in France, so only try this at the risk of being labeled frumpy by the French. Since I am hopelessly out of fashion in almost all areas, I don't really care. It can be difficult to locate, but I find it a refreshing cocktail, and worth seraching out.