November 25, 2009

Herb Soup

Soup time! Altough, I am not so much a soup fan, lately I cook them often. This time I would like to share a herb soup based on sunchoke. I tend to buy an overload of herbs so there is always a lot left that need to be used before it gets yellow. It is a light and smooth soup with a delightful colour. As far as the herbs are concerned use anything you like, but be careful with herbs that have a strong flavour, for example do not add an overload of thyme. I prepared a mixture of fresh parsley, chervil, basil, sage, a bit of tarragon, rosemary and a touch of thyme.

300 g sunchokes
1 shallot
1 tablespoon butter
450 ml vegetable stock
2 handful herbs of your choice

salt, pepper

Peel and cut sunchokes and among the diced shallot stew in a bit of butter for 5-7 minutes. Add vegetable stock and cook for 15 minutes. Puree the mixture among the herbs, but do not cook it any longer! Season with salt and pepper.

November 17, 2009

Porcini Soup

It is getting cold outside! I mean really cold. Is there anything better than a nice bowl of hot soup waiting for you at home after a rainy afternoon walk in the forest? Probably not, unless a cup of hot chocolate...or a chocolate soufflé that I served for my guests at the weekend.

50 g dried porcini
650 ml chicken stock
250 g potato
2 shallots

1 tablespoon butter
2 thyme spirgs

150 ml cream
salt, pepper

Soak porcini in chicken stock and let it stand for an hour. Dice shallots, potato and stew in butter for about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock with the soaked porcini, thyme spirgs and cook it for 20
minutes. Purée it together with the cream and season with salt and pepper.

November 14, 2009

Sushi - Daring Cooks

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge. I am absolutely not a vegeterian, but because I am against overfishing and (the tuna used for sushi is a big a part of the problem) I decided to go for vegetables.

November 11, 2009

Banana Jam

Overripe bananas. It happens again and again and again! Usually, I buy bananas every week. These were in my fruit basket for almost 3 weeks now! I completly forgot about them, and if they wouldn't have been green when I brought them home, probably they must have ended up in the compost. So it was pretty urgent to prepare something out of them. Last time I had overripe bananas I baked banana bread, another time banana-chocolate beignets, but I also liked the idea of making ice cream. Well, at the end I decided to go for a banana jam. First I was sceptical, but the result is amazing! I haven't expected such a flavour carnival and such a great texture!

450-500 g bananas
350 g cane sugar

150 ml water
2 lime
1 piece of ginger, grated
20 ml white rum

Peel and slice bananas. Bring water together with the sugar, lime juice and grated ginger to boil. Add bananas and cook on medium heat for 20-30 minutes. When ready stir in rum and fill in jars
and let them cool covered by a blanket over night.

November 10, 2009

Sort of an update...

Well, I haven't been posting for almost 5 days, although I think I haven't ever cooked so much like I did these days. Almost every day I stood in the kitchen from morning till evening and I kept on cooking, baking and doing the dishes. If not, then I spent my time reading cookbooks. However, I am going to post a dish that I totally forgot about and I do not even remember when I made it: horseradish crusted entrecôte with potato gratin and Bordelaise sauce. By the way my freezer project is stuck. To be honest it is full again!

4 beef entrecôte

1 shallot
10 g butter
1 egg
20 g horseradish, freshly grated
20 g cream
1 teaspoon mustard
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
salt, pepper
butter oil for frying

For the crust peel and dice shallot and stew in butter, then let it cool. Mix egg yolk, horseradish, cream, mustard, breadcrumbs and shallot, season with salt and pepper. Let is stand for 10 minutes. Beat egg white and stir in to the horseradish paste. Leave it in the fridge until you need it. Melt butter oil, season the entrecôtes with salt and pepper and fry for 2 or 5 minutes from both sides (depending on the way you want them). Heat the oven to the highest possible grilling temperature and grill the crusted entrecôtes until golden brown.

November 5, 2009

Poppy - Weekend Herb Blogging #208

Happy Birthday Weekend Herb Blogging! The weekly blog event created by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen and meanwhile managed by Haalo, of Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once celebrates its 4th year! Unbelievable! At this point I also would like to say thank you for the opportunity of hosting! I was wondering what entry should I send, and as it is a birthday, I decided for a dessert: a blue poppy seed ice cream with lemon-white poppy chocolate cakes and a lemony caramel syrup.

Poppy seed is used in many different foods either whole or ground. Opium poppy is a very old plant and its botanical name means "sleep bringer". Poppy seeds are less than a millimeter in length,and minute: it takes 3,300 poppy seeds to make up a gram, and a pound contains between 1 and 2 million seeds.

The white poppy seeds form part of the Indian spices. They are added for thickness, texture and also give added flavour to the recipe. Commonly used in the preparation of Kurma, ground poppy seed, along with coconut and other spices, are combined as the masala to be added at the end of the cooking step.

In the countries belonging to the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, poppy seed pastries like traditional bejgli rolls. Poppy seeds can also be used like sesame seeds to make a bar of candy. The bars are made from boiled seeds mixed with sugar or with honey. This is especially common in the Balkans, Greece.

The seeds can be pressed to form poppyseed oil, which can be used in
cooking, moisturizing skin, varnishes and soaps, or as a carrier for oil-based paints. In the 19th century poppy seed oil found use in products such as paints, soaps, and illumination, and was sometimes added to olive and almond oils. Its most important use these days is as a salad or dipping oil. In Indian traditional medicine (Ayurveda), soaked poppy seeds are ground into a fine paste with milk and applied on the skin as a moisturizer. (source:wikipedia)

100 g poppy seed, ground
zest of 2 lemons
350 ml full fat milk

150 ml heavy cream
130 g sugar

4 egg yolks

Heat milk, heavy cream, 3/4 of the sugar, ground poppy seed and lemon zest until it starts cooking. Whisk egg yolks with the rest of the sugar and slowly add hot milk mix to the eggs while whisking. Take it back to the cooking plate and cook until it thickens (it should be 85°C). Let the mixture cool and leave the rest of the work for the ice cream maker.

Choron sauce

While I was browsing for more information about the Choron sauce, that is actually a Béarnaise flavoured with tomato purée, I found some interesting facts about its creator Alexandre Étienne Choron who was the chef of the celebrated restaurant Voisin on the rue Saint Honoré. He is also remembered for his dishes served during the Siege of Paris by the Prussians in which began on September 19, 1870. During the siege, Parisians were reduced to eating cats, dogs, and rats. The bourgeois were not content to eat on such low animals, and demand at the de luxe restaurants remained high. As food reserves dwindled, these restaurants, including Voisin, improvised. Choron eyed the animals kept at the local zoo, and served exotic animal dishes at Voisin. For the midnight Christmas meal of 1870, Choron proposed a menu principally composed of the best parts of the animals kept in the Jardin d'acclimatation – stuffed head of donkey, elephant consommé, roasted camel, kangaroo stew, bear shanks roasted in pepper sauce, wolf in deer sauce, cat with rat, and antelope in truffle sauce – has become legendary. (source:wikipedia) Glaring huh?!

2 shallots
6-7 spirgs tarragon

10 sprigs chervil
150 ml dry white wine
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato purée
150 g butter
3 egg yolks
juice of 1 lemon
salt, pepper

Melt butter and remove the whey. Chop shallots and together with the wine, vinegar, chopped tarragon and chervil bring to boil and reduce to 2 tablespoons, sieve and set aside. In a pot bring water to boil and in another bowl add egg yolks, the reduction and 1 pinch of salt. Over steam beat egg yolks until it gets thick and foamy. Add butter in thin spurt and keep on whisking. Stir in tomato purée. Season with lemon juice, salt, pepper and fresh chopped tarragon.

November 4, 2009

My first consommé - An explosion of flavour!

There is a book. It is not just a book, but it is the 3 Star Chef by Gordon Ramsay. I have recieved it some days ago! It is gorgeous. Period. Of course my first thought was: I must cook everything! Or at least try to...! Yes, I am going to cook through this book, except those recipes that call for tuna, swordfish or snails.

As I was lucky enough to get some gorgeous St. Pierre tomatoes last weekend, probably the last ones this season, and as I always buy a lot more tomatoes than planned, it was the perfect opportunity to cook the first dish of the 3 Star Chef: chilled tomato consommé with asparagus, peas, tomato concassé and basil.

course I left out the asparagus as it is not in season. The consommé? Well, I have never tasted anything like that before, though I already prepared a white tomato foam earlier, so I had an idea how clear tomato liquid tastes. This consommé was a huge firework that explodes in your mouth. It is made using ordinary ingredients such as basil, garlic, carrot, celery, onion, tarragon, thyme and so on. It is also not tricky in the preparation. Stew veggies, add tomatoes, season and cook with tomato juice. Strain, let it cool, and cook it with the clarifying mix that uses egg whites like in on a meat based consommé. The result? A fantastic tomato consommé.

November 3, 2009

Goat Cheese Ice Cream

Figs and goat cheese? Classic partners. Most of the time I combine figs with Port wine. What a surprise?! The basic idea was to prepare a goat milk ice cream, but then I went for goat cheese. Next time, I might use goat milk instead cow, although that may give a too intense flavour, but as I adore goat products, I am going to give it a go. No risk, no fun. I served the goat cheese in Port wine poached figs, those ended up at the bottom of the glass, among a Port wine reduction.

80 g fresh goat cheese
zest of 1 lemon
350 ml full fat milk

150 ml heavy cream
100 g sugar

25 g lavender sugar
4 egg yolks

Heat milk, heavy cream until it starts cooking. Whisk egg yolks with sugar and slowly add hot milk mix to the eggs while whisking. Take it back to the cooking plate and cook until it thickens (it should be 85°C). Let the mixture cool and stir in strained goat cheese. Let the ice cream maker do the rest of the work.

November 2, 2009

Porcini Vinaigrette

Mâche season has just begun end of October and it lasts until the end of March. So it is actually a typical winter vegetable rich in Vitamin C. Today for lunch I was craving for something light, therefore I decided to prepare this salad. I served the mâche with porcini vinaigrette, fried oyster mushroom and quil eggs.

3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
4 tablespoons porcini oil
1 shallot
1 bunch of parsley
1 pinch of sugar

salt, pepper

Chop shallot and parsley. Whisk all ingredients together and serve with salad.

November 1, 2009

Chocolate Meringue

The last time I was in a restaurant, I ordered a dessert with meringue. I wish I wouldn't...! It was dry like the desert and I almost chocked on the first bite. I remember how I loved my mom's cute meringue drops as a child. Now those were really good! Anyway, yesterday afternoon I baked some chocolate meringue myself, using a recipe by Pierre Hermé. As I had exactly enough egg yolks left, I decided to serve them crumbled over a vanilla mousse. Fluffly and light least as long as you do not count the calories!

For the chocolate meringue:
100 g powder sugar
15 g cocoa powder
4 egg whites
100 g sugar
For the vanilla mousse:
4 egg yolks
50 g sugar
250 ml milk
250 ml cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla pod
3 gelatine sheets

For the meringue preheat oven to 120°C. Sift powder sugar and cocoa powder together. Beat egg whites stiff and add half of the sugar while beating. Fold in the rest of the sugar, after whisk in the powder sugar-cocoa mixture. Pipe meringue on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes with a partly open oven (use a wooden spoon to keep it open). Reduce temperature to 100°C and bake it for 1 more hour. Shut the oven down and let the meringue dry for 2 more hours by a half opened oven. For the mousse warm milk, sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla pod and bring it boil. Whisk it to the egg yolks and let it thicken while whisking over steam. Whisk in gelatine sheets (that you soaked in water before) and let it cool. Stir in beaten cream and leave it in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving.
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