Dimanche Repas: Semaine 10
This Sunday, RS decided to cook something rather simple, but elegant — says he. And with these prerequisites, he could not have chosen a better dish. There is nothing easier to prepare than a good tin of Confit de Canard (preserved duck), which is sumptuous whether you are feeding your family or a hungry group of friends. These cans are the only tinned food that I don’t mind stocking my pantry with — because it’s the perfect solution for days when you are just out of energy, but are looking for something gourmet-ish.
The first ever time I went to Paris, we got hit with hunger pangs while on the road, walking aimlessly, and we went into a random Café and ordered a Confit de Canard. I will never forget the experience. The skin was oh so crispy, while the meat remained tender and full of taste — practically sliding off its bones. Like Foie Gras, any sauce on the sweet side — whether using apricots, figues, or even mango — is a guaranteed marriage of tastes! From that day on, I was hooked to this french specialty!
Hubby has been the expert at cooking this at home — so it was exciting that I would be taking over the same dish for a change. HB would normally serve it with a mango salsa (mixed with vinegar), marche, sautéed mushrooms, and superb Rosti Potatoes. Instant heaven, instant comfort food!
This time, I chose a Fig Sauce reduced in brandy and beef stock, Red Cabbage (sautéed in sugar and vinegar), and Pommes Sarladaise — potatoes cooked in duck fat with onions and garlic. I’ve never cooked Red Cabbage before, and was never a fan of it — and MAN!… did the house stink with the vinegar cooking! But this dish converted me since it just went ever so perfectly with all the other sidings.
All plates definitely returned to the kitchen clean! 🙂
I was so excited to eat … my picture went blurred! Woooops! 🙂
The dessert. Ouf! This was true labor for me. RS said: “Cream Puffs” — which I interpreted as anything in that family of desserts. He said “simple” — so I thought, No Sweat. I did Les Petite Gougères (Cheese Puffs) before so figured, I could graduate to an “Enorm Couronne a la Crème et au Chocolat” (Enormous Cream Puff au Chocolat). That would be a breeze. NOT!
First off, I developed a new sport: Oven-Stalking. It’s like watching and waiting for Dooms Day. Like biting your fingers hoping for your lotto number to be called. That was me. On total look-out for the freakin’ puff to happen.
Today, for the first time in my life, I learned to toss a failed dish into the bin. How can anyone salvage a cream-puff-turned-flat-pizza?! I had a very good friend from London, who came to spend the weekend with us, and even SHE was getting stressed. It’s total frustration, a Prozac-moment, when what NEEDS to happen is not actually happening! Then, it becomes a real exercise to analyze what could have gone wrong: Which instruction did I miss? Could it be the “weather” in my kitchen? Too hot? Too cold? Were my eggs too big? Did I over beat them? Is Julia Child holding back a secret?
First of all, it was amazing how, when you add eggs to your pastry (butter and flour), the whole thing sort of turns lumpy and separates into blobs!
But you should just keep on beating rapidly, vigorously, with all your might…. and soon, it will all come together again like the universe. So hold the Panic Attack. I did well here.
The culprit was this, I realized: When making the dough for the puff, Julia asked for 5 eggs (mixed just a bit), then measured to exactly 1 cup. My eggs were big, so I ended up using only 4 eggs. The crucial step: When adding the eggs, first you pour a fourth of the eggs, then the next fourth, then the next…. AND! The last fourth should be done in dribbles…. until you see your dough in its perfect consistency — just holding its own shape on your spoon. So don’t be an eager-beaver like me, and do dribble in the last fourth — and KNOW when to STOP!
Voila! THAT was my mistake. Happy-Egg-Pouring-Me tossed all the eggs inside (albeit a fourth at a time) — and ended up with a mixture which was too wet… that it went flat like a pizza. The photo above was my second attempt — this time, with the pastry holding its shape like a proud soon-to-be-puff.
The second pastry was better. Could still be improved… but definitely not pizza flat. 🙂 Yay me.
So this… turned into this by Sunday lunch:
Whew! Now who would think something supposedly simple and elegant would turn out so complicated and laborious? But yummmm it was, for sure! 🙂
I know two things that I’m adding onto my growing Wish List:
A whipped cream dispenser … and a no-freeze ice cream making machine.
Can’t wait to make my own first ice cream! 🙂
À dimanche! 🙂