Friday, April 23, 2010

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Vichyssoise (Cold Leek and Potato Soup)

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I have never had vichyssoise, even though I threw the name around a lot as a kid. I loved the way the name rolled off the tongue. It sounded so foreign, so high-society. But it also seemed much too fancy for my family to eat. Little did I know that it's just leeks and potatoes, and not really all that complicated.  Definitely follow Julia's advice on the salting - the soup needs a little extra to hold up when it's cold.

Vichyssoise (Cold Leek and Potato Soup)
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck

3 cups peeled, sliced potatoes
3 cups sliced white of leek
1½ quarts white stock, chicken stock, or canned chicken broth
Salt to taste
½ to 1 cup whipping cream
White pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons minced chives

Either simmer the vegetables, stock or broth, and salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes until the vegetables are tender; or cook under 15 pounds pressure for 5 minutes, release pressure, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Puree the soup either in the electric blender, or through a food mill and then through a fine sieve.

Stir in the cream. Season to taste, oversalting very slightly as salt loses its savor in a cold dish. Chill.

Serve in chilled soup cups and decorate with minced chives.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Potage Crème d’Oseille (Cream of Sorrel Soup)

I finally located some sorrel to use in this soup! You would not believe how difficult it is to find sorrel in the modern supermarket. It makes me wonder if it was much more plentiful in Julia's day. As it is, I only managed to find it in the small herb clamshells for $3 an ounce. If I made the whole recipe, needing 3 cups of sorrel, I probably would have spent my entire paycheck.

The soup is very similar to the cream of spinach and cream of watercress soups that I made previously. It's a chicken broth base with added cream, egg yolk, and butter. The sorrel has a pleasant leafy herb smell, with a little spicy note. The finished soup has a slightly sour flavor from the leaves. It's definitely something different.

Potage Crème d’Oseille (Cream of Sorrel Soup)
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck

⅓ cup minced green onions, or yellow onions
3 tablespoons butter
3 to 4 packed cups of fresh sorrel, washed and dried in a towel, cut into chiffonade
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
5½ cups boiling white stock or canned chicken broth
2 egg yolks
½ cup whipping cream
1 to 2 tablespoons softened butter

Cook the onions slowly in the butter in a covered saucepan for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender and translucent but not browned.  Stir in the sorrel and salt, cover, and cook slowly for about 5 minutes or until the leaves are tender and wilted. Sprinkle in the flour and stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes.  Off heat, beat in the boiling stock. Simmer for 5 minutes.  Correct seasoning.

Blend the yolks and cream in a mixing bowl. Beat a cupful of hot soup into them by driblets. Gradually beat in the rest of the soup in a thin stream. Return soup to saucepan and stir over moderate heat for a minute or two to poach the egg yolks, but do not bring the soup to a simmer. Off heat, stir in the enrichment butter a tablespoon at a time.

Makes 6 servings

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Emeril Lagasse: Deep Dish Banana Pudding

For Easter I wanted something rich and creamy, but still a little Spring-y. Because here in Texas, it's Spring already. And in my mind, banana pudding is fresh, but still rich and creamy. And the richest, creamiest pudding I have found belongs to Emeril Legasse. It's a deep dish pudding with plenty of whipped cream and chocolate sauce on top. YUM! Plus I got to use my new trifle dish.

Deep Dish Banana Pudding
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1 (12-ounce) package vanilla wafers
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon banana extract
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
4 teaspoons dark rum
3 ripe bananas, sliced crosswise

Line the bottom and sides of a 9x9-inch square baking dish with the vanilla wafers. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan , combine the sugar and flour.  Add the milk, whisk, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking constantly, until thick, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs.  Gradually whisk about ¾ cup of the hot milk into the egg. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan with the hot milk and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, whisking constantly, until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the butter, vanilla, and banana extract.  Whisk until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Transfer to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature.

In a bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks begin to form.  Add the powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks start to form.  Add the rum and whip to incorporate.  Set aside.

Pour half of the pudding over the vanilla wafers, top with the bananas.  Add the remaining pudding, smoothing it over the sliced bananas.  Top with the whipped cream, and smooth with the back of a spoon.  Cover tightly and chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Makes 10 servings