Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A French Meal in New Jersey

Last Saturday my son Emmett and I drove to the wilds of New Jersey to prepare dinner with our friends, Ujwala, Pascal and their son Nevenn.
We all had a specific task, Pascal would prepare the Duck breast, Uju the Coulis de Poireaux and the Fig Chutney, I was in charge of the Galettes de Pommes, Garlic butter and Chocolate Cakes.
Holly and her husband Lou arrived with a case of wine, I kid you not! They were the immediate heroes.
I had a stack of potatoes to slice and when I realized I had left my mandolin at home, Holly rose to the occasion and drove home to pick up her mandoline. Yes, Holly saved the day (for me), others would think the case of wine did the trick.
Natasha, Uju's sister and my neighbor and her husband Chris drove down with their children and we proceeded to have a terrific time. Natasha appointed herself as the chief of the clean up crew and we were in business.
The evening went off without a hitch, except for the oven fire, of course. But no one is really claiming responsibility for that. The house didn't burn down, the food was wonderful, the company superb.

Le Menu

Toast de Foie Gras au Chutney de Figues
Courton with Foie Gras and Fig Chutney

Escargots de Bourgogne

Snails in Garlic Butter

Salade de Gesiers de Canard
Sauteed Duck Gizzards on a Bed of Butter Lettuce

Magret avec Coulis de Poireaux
Duck Breast with leek Sauce

Galette de Pommes de Terre aux Champignons Sauvages
Potato Galette with Wild Mushrooms

Chocolate Molten Cakes with White Chocolate Centers

Mousse au Chocolat
The escargot started out like this.....

but ended like this. We made the traditional garlic butter but decided to tuck them into pastry shells. We then moved onto the Foie Gras. Brought from Paris, Lou and Holly had purchased it at Chez Papa, one of our favorite restaurants.Pascal had the heck of a time opening the jar.
Once opened, Ujwala placed slices ontop of her Fig Chutney and toast's.
On my last French Food, Wine and Culture Holiday, I had purchased a bottle of Troussant Doux from Saint Pourçain, owned by the Laurent Family. This sweet late harvest wine was a perfect match for our appetizer.
The duck breasts roasted under the grill while the Galette de Pommes de Terre aux Champignons Sauvages finished cooking in the oven.
The Coulis de Poireaux simmered on the stove waiting to become a bed for the duck.
The Galette before being turned out onto the plate. Basically a Pommes Anna with a layer of wild mushrooms in the center. How could you go wrong?
Turned out onto a plate the Galette was delicious.
Lou kept pulling out bottles from his case of wine. We enjoyed this Medoc with the Magret avec Coulis de Poireaux . Due to the amount of wine consumed I didn't get a picture of the Salade de Gesiers de Canard. Basically duck's gizzard's saute in their own duck fat. They were delicious atop a simple salad of greens and vinaigrette. For some unknown reason my son thought they were cock's combs.
Our planned dessert was Chocolate Molten Cakes with White Chocolate Centers,
however Emmett loves Uju's Mousse au Chocolate! No visit is complete without a bowl. She whipped some up especially for him. He usually brings a bowl with him for the ride home. This time his sister beat him to it and finished the mousse before he had a chance to get to it.Nevenn and Emmett decided to have mousse for breakfast. Goofy as they are, they made it look so good.Croutons de Foie Gras au Chutney de Figues

32 croutons, cut from a baguette and lightly toasted
1 small bloc of foie gras
1/2 cup fig chutney or fig jam

Place a spoonful of fig chutney on the crouton, top with a slice of foie gras.

Fig Chutney

2 shallots minced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
10 ounces fresh figs, peeled and quartered
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch cinnamon
Freshly ground white peppercorns

In a medium size saucepan combine all the ingredients and cook 30 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. Once thickened, remove from the pot into a glass bowl and allow to cool.

Magret avec Coulis de Poireaux

My friend Uju is an amazing cook, this is her recipe for Leek Sauce.

Chop leeks fine, rinse well and just leave in a colander to drain.
Warm butter+oil, add leeks saute till transparent and water evaporates. Add enough white wine to simmer leeks, add salt, pepper and when the wine has semi evaporated, add a couple of tbsps of creme fraiche. Voila!

Potato Galette with Wild Mushrooms

adapted from Anne Willan's La France Gastronomique

6 ounces wild mushrooms cleaned and cut into large pieces
1/3 cup goose fat or olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic minced
Handful chopped parsley
1 pound russet potatoes, cleaned and peeled.

Large oven safe saute pan

Heat 2 tablespoons goose fat in the saute pan and add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Saute quickly, tossing the mushrooms occasionally until the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender. Stir in the garlic, shallots and parsley. Cook another minute and taste for seasoning.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice the potatoes thinly. It's easier on a mandoline. If you don't have one, use a very sharp knife. You want them very thin, about 1/8 inch.
Heat 2 tablespoons fat in a saute pan for 1 minute. Arrange 1/2 the potato slices in the pan in an overlapping circle. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the potatoes with the mushrooms and cover the mushrooms with the remaining potatoes.
Spoon the remaining fat over the potatoes. Cover with foil and place a weight on top. We used another saute pan.
Cook on top of the stove until the galette browns, about 5-8 minutes. Turn it by placing a plate on top and turning it onto the plate. Slide it back into the pan, return the foil and weight and brown the bottom, about 5 more minutes. Place in the oven and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove the foil and weight, turn out onto a cutting board and slice into wedges to be served promptly.

Makes 4 servings

Mousse au Chocolat

8 ounces semi-sweet good quality chocolate
6 large eggs
Pinch of sea salt

Melt chocolate in the micro wave, stirring every 20 seconds. When it's 75% melted remove it from the oven and stir until smooth. Set aside.
Separate the yolks from the whites. Beat the yolks until blended.
Add the salt to whites and beat them until stiff peaks form.
Gradually pour the melted chocolate into the yolks beating vigorously.
Using a whisk gently stir in 1 / 3 of the stiff egg whites to lighten the mixture.
Using a spatula, fold in the rest of the whites, until no trace of white remains. Be careful not to break them down. The airiness of the whites makes the mousse light.
Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours.
serve with freshly whipped cream.

Makes 6 servings

All text and photos are property of The Gypsy Chef.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

An Award, Gulp.

I originally started my blog to support my Interactive Dinner Party business. Basically I appear at the hostess's house with recipe booklets for each guest, food and assorted kitchen flotsam. I divide all the guests into teams and each prepares a different course. While they drink wine and cook I watch over everyone like a mother hen. I demo knife skills, roll out pastry, or just tell stories about cooking adventures. At the end we all sit down, eat, drink more wine and talk until the wee hours. 

Inevitably someone would decide to recreate a dish from the menu, having misplaced the recipe they would ask me for a copy. After e-mailing countless  recipes a friend suggested I put them all on a website. What started out as Pamela Dockery Food ended up as The Gypsy Chef and I am happier than I've ever been sharing cooking ideas, disasters, and adventures. 

Blogging has introduced me to many new skills. Writing, photography and cooking are all now interactive activities in my life. I drive my kids and friends crazy snapping pics of them eating, talking and cooking. I record our lives so that we are able to revisit events. My daughter's A 17 Layer Cake Fit for a Princess  is still my favorite blog. And the pic of her behind the cake can still make me tear up.

I have others I haven't even published yet, as I am sure you do also. But rest assured they will appear all in good time. 

I have favorite blogs I follow, looking though a window into the author's lives. I have visited some of the most beautiful places, eaten the most delicious food and met so many interesting people and all on your blogs. My life has been enriched by my experiences of the past year and a half.
That said, one of my favorite blogs nominated me for the Honest Scrap Award. Thank you Kate at Serendipity!

 There are rules to receiving this award;
  1. Post the award on your blog. Present this award to seven others whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you.
  2. Tell those seven people they’ve been awarded HONEST SCRAP, inform them of these guidelines, and ask that they link back to you.
  3. Share “Ten Honest Things” about yourself.
First of all I will award this Honest Scrap Badge to these fabulous blogs:

Estelle in New York City

The Healthy Plate

Once in a Blue Moon
La Table de Nana

Now for 10 things about myself;
1. I am always busy. I take on more than I can possibly do, then I scurry around until I complete it.
2. I love being a flight attendant, because I enjoy being on the go and have unabated wander lust. So no matter how bad the job becomes, I will continue to fly. Period the end.

3. I adore a french pedicure, but am too lazy to do it myself. So I indulge at the nail salon    every chance I get.
4. I study French rabidly than I get side tracked and have to begin again. This is a repeated behavior for me.
5. I have a MacBook, It's one of the best investments I ever made. 
6. I am back in school finishing my BA.
7. I attended the Culinary Institute of America when there were only 4-6 women in every class of 60 men.

8. Every Christmas I make a gingerbread house with my kids. We've made castles, thatched roof cottages, half timbered houses and a haunted house. 
9. I'm an avid knitter.

10. Last but not least, I have about over 200 cookbooks. I guess you could say I've never met a cookbook I didn't need!
I am the luckiest woman in the world.

So tag, your it!

All text and pictures are sole property of The Gypsy Chef