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Posts tagged ‘french food’

Cassoulet is 15% Off All Week!

cassoulet in bowl

“Cassoulet, like life itself, is not so simple as it seems.”  - Paula Wolfert

But our cassoulet recipe kit makes it a whole lot simpler. It includes all the ingredients you need to make a cassoulet to serve 12 (with leftovers) and a clay bowl (cassole) for baking it.

 Duck leg confit, duck and pork sausages, ventreche, duck fat, demi-glace and the all-important Tarbais beans are the simple ingredients of this legendary dish. The magic happens when all the flavors mingle together into a thick stew that is ideal for cold winter days. Just get a few bottles of Madiran or Malbec wine and invite some friends over for dinner.

Learn more about the preparation and history of cassoulet here.  And the reason we insist on using Tarbais beans here.

Click through to shop the 15% off sale now, because the deal ends Sunday, January 12, 2014.

HPC_CassouletSale

Celebrate Bastille Day

Feasts, fêtes and fireworks are the traditional ways to celebrate Bastille Day in France. But before the partying, a brief explanation is in order. Variously called la Fête Nationale or 14 juillet, the holiday is commemorated on July 14, the day that the people of Paris stormed the Bastille prison in 1789 and effectively began the violent overthrow of the monarchy to make way for a republic. So, much like Independence Day in the United States, Bastille Day is a national holiday that marks the beginning of a modern nation.Bastille Day Flag Liberte Charcuterie

Traditionally the revelry begins the night before, with elaborate parties and balls. If you are in Paris on the morning of Bastille Day, you will see the world’s largest and oldest military procession make its way from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Élysées to the Place de la Concorde. With the President of France at the head of the parade and jets flying overhead it is a marvelous spectacle.

Afterward, the President hosts a garden party, but don’t expect a personal invitation. Most Parisians, and their countryside counterparts, settle in for an afternoon of outdoor parties, with lots of eating and drinking. As they took to the streets during the revolution, so they take to the streets on Bastille Day, only now it is to share good times.

The day ends in a spectacular fireworks display, with the Eiffel Tower serving as a backdrop, though the colorful explosions are quite common across the country in smaller towns and cities as well. 

Article All About Bastille Day in FrancePetit Dejeuner

Wherever you are celebrating, start your Bastille Day right with a French-style breakfast. Thin and delicate crêpes make the perfect choice; you can stuff them with mushrooms and bacon if you are the savory sort, or if you have a sweet tooth, choose fruits or chocolate and top with whipped cream. Did you know the ham and cheese sandwich was first made in France? A hot croque monsieur makes a lovely breakfast or brunch. Delicious truffle butter takes toast from blah to bourgeios (don’t worry, they were from the class called the Third Estate, and were actually part of the revolution).

Let them eat…pâté

By afternoon, après the parade in Paris, or wherever you are in the world, a simple picnic with a French accent is the perfect way to mark the occasion. This is the time for a fresh baguette, bottle of wine, a wheel of cheese and some charcuterie. If you are feeling extravagant, and don’t have a ball to attend, make a quiche the night before, chill it and pack it up for the picnic basket. While there is no traditional food associated with Bastille Day, many choose to eat peasant food in a nod to the proletariat nature of the uprising.

BastilleDay_Pate

Our pheasant terrine herbette, mousse truffee and pate de campagne.

Street parties often feature outdoor grills, and mounds of lamb merguez sausage, which is the national equivalent of the hot dog in the United States. The French have made the spicy merguez sausage which originated in North Africa their own. It is grilled, tucked into a baguette, slathered with Dijon mustard and often topped with a helping of french fries. This sandwich is considered by many to be de rigueur at any Bastille Day party.

A French classic: lamb merguez sausage dressed with mustard

A French classic: lamb merguez sausage dressed with mustard

Happy Bastille Day! Bonne fête! Joyeux Quatorze Juillet! 

A Saucy Series, Part III: Sauce Chasseur

Welcome to guest blogger Deana Sidney of Lost Past Remembered, a blog dedicated to discovering, replicating and adapting historic recipes. In this saucy series she demystifies one of the cornerstones of classic French cuisine: the mother sauces.

Sauce Chasseur

When the Kennedys came into the White House the quality of the food served there went from 0 to 60.  Instead of cooks and caterers Jacqueline Kennedy hired French Chef René Verdon. As you might imagine, he played an important role in bringing French cuisine to America.

jfk & chef rene verdon

JFK and Chef Rene Verdon.

One of the most famous dinners of the administration was held in 1961. Instead of serving a state dinner at the White House, an elegant tent was erected at Mount Vernon and the meal was an enormous success.

There was avocado and crabmeat mimosa, a wonderful rice dish and raspberries with crème Chantilly.  The main course was Poulet Chasseur.

Sauce Chasseur JFK 3 mt vernon dinner

A view of Mount Vernon from the beautiful tent.

As part of my sauce series, Sauce Chasseur is made with French tomato sauce, one of the mother sauces of the 19th century that differs from Italian sauce in that it has flour and stock in the mix and is slow cooked with a ham knuckle or trotter.  This addition gives the Sauce Tomate a velvety texture that is perfect for the elegant dish.  I decided to use guinea hen instead of chicken for a deeper flavor.  If you’ve never tried it, guinea hen is a great bird… sort of a cross between chicken and pheasant.  I think when you try it you’ll see why everyone wanted a seat at the Kennedy table.  The food and the company were superb.

Escoffier Sauce Chasseur

6 medium mushrooms
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 t minced shallots
1 c white wine
2 oz brandy
½ c tomato sauce*
1 c demi-glace
1 T meat glaze (Boil 1/2 c stock till reduced to a thick glaze – pay attention to it – it goes from glaze to burn quickly at the end; a non-stick pan is perfect for doing this.)

Peel and mince the mushrooms, heat ½ oz butter and olive oil.  Fry mushrooms till slightly browned.  Add t of minced shallots and remove half the butter.  Pour 1 c white wine and 1 glass of brandy; reduce by half and finish with tomato sauce, 1 c demi-glace and 1 T meat glaze boil 5 minutes or until it is thickened slightly. Strain and reserve. You will have 1 cup of sauce.

*Tomato sauce

1 large can tomato puree (I used Muir Glen fire-roasted crushed tomatoes)
1 strip bacon, chopped
small piece ham knuckle or trotter with bone or piece of ham with bone – about the size of a child’s fist
3 T carrot, chopped small
3 T onion, chopped small
bouquet garni
small clove of garlic
1 T butter (the bacon will give up about 1 T of fat, add more butter to make 2 T fat)
2 T flour
1  t salt
1 t sugar
pinch pepper
1 c stock

Cook bacon in butter, sprinkle with flour, add tomatoes and veg and ham and stock.  Boil and cook over low heat for 2 – 3 hours, stirring frequently (it will scorch a little). Take out bouquet and ham and strain, pressing on the solids. Whisk till smooth.

sauce chasseur 3

Escoffier’s Guinea Hen Chasseur 

The guinea hen will serve 2 – 4, a chicken will serve 4 – 6

guinea hen or a 3-1/2 lb chicken cut into serving pieces (breasts without bone, legs, thighs and wings –reserve back and breast bone for stock) or 4 breast or 8 thigh pieces
salt and pepper
1 T butter
1T olive oil
¼ c white wine
1 T cognac
1 c chasseur sauce
8 sliced mushrooms ( I used shitakes and chanterelles)
chopped parsley (tarragon and chervil are nice too but optional)

Salt and pepper the meat and brown it well in equal quantities of butter and oil. Cook at medium heat until cooked through.  Cook the breast meat less than the rest of the meat. Place on a dish and cover.  Sauté the mushrooms in the remaining fat.

Pour out the fat. Swirl the saucepan with white wine and cognac and reduce.  Put the chicken back in the pan and toss with mushrooms, pour chasseur sauce over the meat and sprinkle with herbs.

Couronne de Riz Clamart

Based on recipe from Kennedy’s social secretary Letitia Baldrige, 6 servings

2 tsp butter
1/2 cup each finely chopped red and green pepper
 (I used 1 poblano pepper)
3 cups cooked long grain white (or brown) rice
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
 (I think 1/2 c is better)
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 plum tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped (I used about 8 un-peeled cherry tomatoes since they have flavor at this time of year)
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1 cup baby peas

In skillet, melt half the butter over medium-high heat. Add peppers, cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Reserve.

In bowl, gently stir together rice, eggs, Parmesan cheese, chicken stock and parsley.

Stir in peppers, tomato, salt and pepper.

Spoon rice mixture into generously buttered 1 quart round tube mold or Bundt pan, packing down gently with spoon (I used a copper mold and put ramkins in the center since I wanted a taller shape!)

Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let stand for 2 minutes.

Invert over serving platter over top of mold and turn out rice mixture.

Toss peas with remaining butter, spoon into center of rice ring.

A Saucy Series, Part I: Espagnole

Welcome to guest blogger Deana Sidney of Lost Past Remembered, a blog dedicated to discovering, replicating and adapting historic recipes. In this saucy series she demystifies one of the cornerstones of classic French cuisine: the mother sauces.

Holy Mother of Sauces
Lots of people are a bit afraid of French sauces because they think they are too complicated and not worth the effort.  I think they are so wrong. Take a little time on a weekend to make the great base, Sauce Espagnole, and then you are good to go for so many sauces that are made from it; Bourguignonne, Champignon, Bigarade and a million others come from Espagnole, and can be used on all varieties of meat, fowl and game. I make a batch of Espagnole and freeze it in 1 cup bags so I can make a “fancy” dinner in no time, even on a weeknight. I have even come up with a shortcut to Espagnole that is a winner. If you want a more classic, long version of Espagnole Sauce with some history of “Mother Sauces,” visit my blog.

Sauce Chevreuil is a brown sauce made with Espagnole; adding port and currant jelly makes it perfect on venison, beef or even duck (try it on duck breast). It really is finger-licking good with a silky texture that will make you fall in love with it.

If you make the sauces in advance, you can do a dinner like this in no time at all…don’t forget the Stilton Mashed Potatoes, they are so good!

Deana Sidney Venison with Chevreuil Sauce

Deana Sidney’s Venison with Chevreuil Sauce and Stilton Mashed Potatoes

Quick Version of Espagnole Sauce

4 T butter
4 T flour
3 T diced carrot
3 T diced onion
3 T bacon
2 c stock
1 t thyme
piece of bay leaf
2 T white wine
1/4 c demi-glace
2 T tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Melt your butter and add the flour on a low to medium flame.  Stir regularly until the mixture turns a medium brown… kind of a medium caramel color.   Don’t let it get too dark.  This takes 5-10 minutes.

Add the vegetables, ham and bacon to the roux and stir.  Slowly add the stock, wine and demi-glace.  Cook over a low flame for 45 minutes and add the tomato sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes and strain, pressing on the solids.  Add salt and pepper to taste

To make a brown roux, melt your butter and add the flour on a low to medium flame.  Stir regularly until the mixture turns a medium brown… kind of a medium caramel color.  Remove from the stove and use.  Don’t let it get too dark.  This takes 5-10 minutes.

Chevreuil Sauce (an amalgam of many recipes)

1 T butter
2 T chopped shallot
2 T ham
any venison trimmings you may have (optional)
2 chopped mushrooms
bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, bay and sage tied up)
¼ c wine vinegar
1 c Espagnole
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 mashed anchovy
1 c   demi-glace or stock
3 oz port
1 T red currant jelly
pinch of cayenne

Sauté the shallot, ham, venison trimmings and mushrooms in the butter till softened.  Toss in the bouquet garni and add the vinegar.  Reduce till syrupy and add the Espagnole, stock, Worcestershire, and anchovy.  Cook for ½ an hour at low heat or till thickened. Strain, pressing on the solids and add the red currant jelly, port and cayenne.

Boneless Venison Steak for 2

2 venison steaks or tenderloin  (4 – 6 oz each serving)
salt and pepper
2 T butter
3-4 chanterelle and/or shitake mushrooms, sliced

Heat oven 400º

Heat a cast iron skillet till hot. Salt and pepper the steak. Put in the butter to melt and add the mushrooms and steak.  Sear on one side and then the other, stirring the mushrooms as you do.

Flip and put in a 400º oven for 5 minutes for rare.

Remove from oven and put the meat on a plate and tent for 5 minutes.  Take the mushrooms and add the Chevreuil Sauce to warm.  Pour over the meat and serve.

Note: if you use beef filet, the technique is the same

Stilton Mashed potatoes for 2

6 blue potatoes peeled or unpeeled
2 T butter
½ c milk
¼ cup crumbled stilton or to taste
pinch of mace
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until tender and drain.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mash.

About the Goose

If your goose is well cooked, it has a succulent, tender dark meat that is rich tasting but free of fat.  A fine roasted goose can be a feast for king and peasant alike, suggested the French writer Honoré de Balzac.

White Embdem Goose

White Embdem Goose

Although plentiful and relatively inexpensive for the common man throughout history, these long-necked, web-footed birds are a rich source of legend and folktales. Egyptian mythology tells that a goose laid the primal egg from which the sun god, Ra, sprang. Brahma, the Hindu personification of divine reality and spiritual purity, rides a great gander. Until the Romans conquered the Gauls, who taught them how to feed and cook their geese, the Romans considered the birds sacred.

Charlemagne was so fond of eating goose he mandated that his lands be kept supplied with them. Queen Elizabeth I was another fan. One tradition says that when she was told about the destruction of the Spanish Armada, it was September 29, the Feast of Saint Michael, or Michaelmas, and she was dining on roast goose with sage and onion stuffing. She decreed that thereafter goose was to be served on this day in celebration.

Roasted Goose

Roasted Goose

Yet, for all these colorful tales, goose seems to elicit scowls or shrugs of frustration from home cooks. “It’s fine to let someone else fuss,” is the popular sentiment about geese. The perception of a fatty bird with a large frame and poor ratio of meat to bone is accurate, particularly when speaking about domestic geese. Incidentally, goose refers to a male or female. A gander is a male; a gosling is a young goose under 4 months of age.

Geese are actually pretty clever. The birds are also notoriously territorial. On farms, if geese are not fed by the same person every day they stage a hunger strike. If someone unknown tried to enter their domain, they are likely to attack. This characteristic has been appreciated through the ages. Romans kept geese at their villas as pets to protect their children and properties, and NASA has a flock to guard its launch pads.

2648528

White Embden Goose, the same type we carry at D’Artagnan

Breeds of Geese
The bird raised for the table in America is the white Embden goose from Germany. It is pure white with an orange bill and orange legs and feet. The average dressed weight is 10 to 12 pounds. In France, there are Toulouse geese that are roasted and a subspecies, the Masseube, a gray goose with a big thoracic capacity where the liver expands for foie gras. Masseube geese can be very heavy. But once the liver is taken, they are quite fatty, and good to eat only when made into confit. Domesticated Chinese geese are smaller, brown-and-white birds.

Wild geese, of which the principal varieties are the Canada goose, snow goose, blue goose, and brant (black), are extremely lean and generally smaller than their domesticated cousins. However, in the 13th century, Marco Polo reported that the wild geese he saw in Fuchow weighed up to 24 pounds. The reports were accurate: they are still the largest wild geese.

Famous Toulouse goose of France

Famous Toulouse goose of France

Geese spend their lives flying and grazing on foods in their environment. If their principal diet is fish, beware; the bird may be very pungent. However, if they eat mostly grains, they are divine. The best wild geese to roast or grill are young birds, weighing about 5 pounds. They should be barded to protect the flesh from drying out.

Geese lay their eggs in the spring. Therefore, by Christmas a young goose is at its optimum weight. And that’s when most people think of having a goose.

Buying and Preparing Goose
When buying, look for a young bird, one that is about 6 to 8 months, and between 8 and 12 pounds. In estimating serving size, you should allow 1 ½ to 2 pounds of goose (raw weight) per person. Fresh geese are not available during February and March because the older birds are stringy and tough. If you have a mature bird, more than 12 pounds, you should braise, stew, or confit it in pieces, as you would a duck.

Rawgoose

Our Goose

To prepare a goose cut off the excess fat from the neck and from the inside cavities. The fat may be rendered like duck fat and made into cracklings, or used to cook potatoes, croutons, or omelets. Prick the skin of the back, breast and legs well to let to fat escape as the bird cooks. There will be a lot of fat –up to a quart—so it needs to be removed at least every 30 minutes during cooking. A bulb baster or large spoon will work. Take care; that fat is very hot!

As with most poultry, the problem with geese is that if they are cooked whole, the breast gets done first and can dry out while the legs are finishing. Either remove the breast and keep it warm, or tent it with aluminum foil. Either way, continue to baste the legs often to keep them moist.

The goose is cooked when the meat measures 165 degrees to 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer and the breast juices run pale pink (not rose-colored, like a duck’s) when pricked. As a rule of thumb, calculate between 13 and 15 minutes per pound unstuffed, and 18 to 22 minutes per pound stuffed. When the goose is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 to 25 minutes before carving.

To reheat a goose, cover the bird with aluminum foil and put it back in a moderate oven (350 degrees F) until heated through. Alternately, reheat in a sauce to keep moist.


RECIPE SUGGESTIONS:

Gala Goose

Goose with Roasted Apples

Michaelmas Goose

Roast Goose Breast & Braised Legs with Cassis Sauce

 

Take a listen!

Sunday, Ariane was a guest on Jason Colucci’s Heritage Radio Show, The Morning After. Check out her clip below and if you’d like to hear the rest, this and every other episode is available as a free podcast on iTunes.

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