Dimanche Repas: Semaine 5
We are actually on our fifth week of our Julia adventure! The thought tickles me, since I know my interest has not waned one bit. In fact, it has gotten ferociously more intense — half of my days are spent flipping through recipes on any one of my three Julia Child books. I can feel it is beginning to be an obsession. Probably a very close second to my obsession for boots. 🙂
This week was my turn to choose the menu:
Gougeres (or Cheese Puffs), as a “choux” warm-up exercise for the ambitious future dessert of Paris Brest or Saint-Honoré, which remain on the top of my favorite sweets! Main course would be a typical french bistro dish called Coq au Vin — which is Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon. Followed by the true classic Crème Brûlée.
Rox, one of my classmates in this endeavor, was threatening us that it would be totally our fault if her house blew up in smoke — seeing that both the Coq au Vin and the Crème Brûlée required some kind of igniting-of-flames. I must say, she did get me thinking … and I too got a little nervous, certainly not wanting to be accountable for any home blazes. And so, just as I was about to ignite my Coq au Vin, I asked my nounou to stand by with a wet blanket while I poured the cognac into my Coq au Vin. At the same time, I asked my daughter to hold the camera and take pictures while the flame engulfed my innocent dish. Fortunately, we all lived to tell the tale. And so did my Coq au Vin. What a dare devil stunt! … and me loves it! 🙂
Here’s my fire:
It was only later that I read some tips on how NOT to set your house ablaze while doing a stunt like this:
1. Use a casserole with a long handle — so you can slide your pan back and forth to spread the cognac through the dish (without burning your hands!). Thanks, folks. See how tiny my casserole’s handles were?
2. Turn off your cooker’s exhaust.
3. Do not pour the cognac directly from the bottle — otherwise the whole bottle could ignite and explode! Rather, measure what you need and pour it out of a cup. Not the bottle.
4. Keep your eyelashes, eyebrows, moustache, and other hairy body parts away from the flame. Imagine bumping into a friend with only one eyebrow left because she was cooking a Coq au Vin. That would make a sorry headline, for sure!
All this excitement led to one happy successful dish, this Coq au Vin. My hubby and daughter both absolutely loved it. Hubby’s Comment from the Peanut Gallery: The sauce could be a little stronger or thicker — says he, but he said it was very good anyhow. There are a million ways to cook this dish anyway — in fact, as many ways as there are grandmothers in France, someone once said. So that was my version! Whether the strength could have been derived from using a better cognac, or from reducing the sauce further… we will only know the second time around! 🙂
I must say though that one of the best things about this dish was seeing how my mushrooms didn’t water in the pan — thereby browning them beautifully. It’s amazing how Julia teaches us NEVER to crowd things in the pan; and, to make sure that everything is towel-dried before putting it in. (I tell you, my consumption of kitchen towel rolls has doubled since I started cooking!) I loved the mushrooms, as much as I loved the browned white onions! These are the only way I could eat onions whole — sumptuous with the brown stock, sweet, and soft — almost like endives! 🙂
I actually stopped myself from laying out a plate and gobbling these two fares with some garlic rice. Think about it. The french might have pathetically frowned upon that .. but I know other folks to whom it would have made a swell meal!
And the finished product… served with snow peas and parsley potatoes…
… and my plate: my favorite part — the wings, a tiny serving of potatoes, and veggies — just to show that my mother taught me how to eat them.
And so the happy part of my story ends there, I’m afraid.
As for my two other dishes… obviously, my first attempt leaves much to be desired. And I didn’t need my husband to tell me that. 🙂
My gougeres were very tasty — but didn’t puff up as much as I imagine they should! Thank God my daughter’s friend dropped by — because there’s nothing more satisfying than feeding a hungry male teenager! He wiped out half of my thirty or so puffs… leaving our household just the right amount to sample. What I did enjoy though was using my rubber Superflex pastry bag for the very first time in my life! Handling it was so much easier than I thought!
The elusive créme brûlèe. When I read the recipe, I thought, no problem. This is not rocket-science. Seemed do-able… but I added the teaspoon of cornstarch into my yolks for the added security of not scrambling them, just as Julia promised. But I guess I was not concentrated enough — because when I poured the yolk mixture into my saucepan — I did more than a simmer. I (in whispering tone) think I actually boiled the darn thing! Alack! So the texture was far from créme-brûléeish. It had little dots of god-knows-what on it. It actually could have sold on a window display — because it looked better than it tasted! ** sigh **
But I am determined to learn this classic dish and do it right. So this week, I will again venture, with more concentration, and re-do this epic french dessert.
P.S. I must tell you too that the torch is another new-found best friend. Amazing tool. Am already imagining what other dishes I can use this baby on! 🙂
À dimanche prochaine! 🙂
(Till next Sunday!)