Monday, February 22, 2010

Lunch at Le Perroquet Circa 1977
Jovan Treboyevic, a particularly brilliant Chicago Restaurateur passed away on January 13th-he was 89. He also owned Jovan's and a private dining club Les Nomades. I never met him, but I did have lunch at Le Perroquet in 1977. It was one of those unforgettable meals that food obsessed people always carry with them. The restaurant was located on Walton Street in the heart of Chicago's Gold Coast. It was pretty intimidating for me, but I was with two other people who knew their way around French restaurants and how to order.
You had to ride a beautiful old elevator of polished brass and scarlet velvet upholstery to the third floor where the restaurant was located. It was a hushed sanctuary of crisp white linens, gleaming and heavy silverware, and dining banquets upholstered in the same brilliant scarlet velvet as the elevator. There were also some tastefull and understated parrot motifs to reinforce the name.
I will never forget the cauliflour mousse that was my first course that day. It was revelatory to me to use a humble vegetable like cauliflour to make such an elegant and unusual (for me) dish. I have been thinking about this dish since reading Jovan's obituary. This is not his recipe, it is my own concoction-and not as silky smooth as his, and definitely not his carrot sauce-I'm pretty sure he would have considered that quite inappropriate. His mousse was sauced in a pristine white veloute.
Cauliflour Mousse with Carrot-Ginger Emulsion
1 head of cauliflour
1 shallot, minced
1 cup plus 1/4 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
Salt, white pepper, and nutmeg to taste
Blanch the cauliflour in salted water until tender-about 20 minutes.
Drain the cauliflour and return to the pan with 1/4 cup cream and continue to cook the cauliflour in the cream until it is totally soft and the cream is absorbed.
Cool slightly and puree the cauliflour.
Make a custard with the remaning cream and eggs, season and fold the cauliflour and custard together.
Ladel the cauliflour mixture into greased ramekins of timbales and bake in a Bain Marie in a 325 degree oven for about 30 to 45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool slightly, run a thin knife around the ramekin's edge and invert to unmold the mousse onto a serving plate. Makes 4 to 6 servings depending on the size of your molds.
Spoon some of the Carrot-Ginger Emulsion around the mousse.
Carrot-Ginger Emulsion
2 cups of carrot juice
2 Tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup cream
3/4 pound butter, softened slightly
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
Combine the carrot juice, the ginger, and grated carrot in a small sauce pan and simmer for ten minutes. Puree the mixture and return it to the sauce pan. Add the cream and reduce the mixture to about 1 cup. Slowly whisk in the butter 2 tablespoons at a time. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

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