The Itch to Cook
Last Sunday, I did not get to cook the Potage Parmentier that Rx chose (through AC’s empowerment). And, since I have been having a rather relaxed week — I decided to catch up yesterday. Plus, my french classes were going to be held at my place today — so again, I had another excuse to be in the kitchen baking! C’est parfait!
Off I went to tackle the Potage Parmentier (Potato and Leek Soup) which didn’t take much really. 3 cups of potatoes, 3 cups of leeks, a tablespoon of salt, 2 quarts of water, and a measly 6-8 tablespoons of whipped cream. A suspiciously short list of ingredients.
Simmering the veggies for 50 minutes was no big deal for me because it got me all excited about once again trying out my good ol french reliable equipment: le moulin à legumes! A Vegetable Mill, in English. Julia labels it as one of the two most “wonderful inventions” (she probably never owned an ipod before!) — the other, being the Garlic Press.
This witty contraption purées soups, sauces, vegetables, fruits, raw fish and even mousse mixtures. And for this particular soup, it was perfect for straining out all the fiber in the leeks vis a vis a regular food processor (or blender). Well, yes, there’s a little bit of manual labour involved … but nothing that could break your bones.
It comes with three removable disks so you can choose how fine you want your purée to be. And you just turn that handle at the top, with intermittent pressure downwards, to allow the vegetables to churn. Cool, yeah?
And that’s the end of my Potato and Leek Story. Because THAT was just about all the excitement I derived from this recipe.
Following Julia’s recipe to the letter, I found the resulting soup trés trés trés watery. The soup was much too light for my taste for sure. And if I were to do this again — I would use 5 cups of chicken stock instead of a whopping 2 quarts of water, and a whole lotta whipping cream (half a cup to one cup, minimum). It also lacked some flavor to it — despite my adding piment d’espilette — to help waken the flavors!
Maybe it’s my Asian tongue, and maybe this is how the French like their Potage Parmentier. Whatever it is, you can be sure, that the next time I see this item on a brasserie’s menu — I am definitely going to sample it! Just for my own peace of mind. 🙂
Off I went to the next agenda of the day (or should I say night — as I was in the kitchen again until 12.30 midnight): a Tarte au Citron et aux Amandes (Lemon and Almond Tart).
This was quite fun to make, albeit a little tedious. It called for caramelizing sugar until thread stage, then sugar-coating the julienned lemon peel. Neat. Another opportunity to try out one of my other gadgets in the drawer that’s been waiting to be used: my kitchen thermometer!
It was not until I used this thermometer that I realized how totally necessary it is to have one … especially when you are making caramel! The first time I ever attempted caramel, it was a failure — because it was all a guessing game! Had I, this second time around, not had my thermometer, I would have again removed the pan from the fire way too early. But no. This time, I waited until that red baby crawled up to 110 degrees C — and then only did I remove the pan from the heat. Brainless. Everyone’s gotta have one of those things. Just like an American Express card. 🙂
The tart was delicious — but quite a lot of ingredients were wasted. I used 2 cups of sugar to make the caramel — and hardly used a fourth of it to glaze the pie and sugar-coat the lemon peel.
A little shout-out though to those who plan to bake this: The custard filling was perfect and delicious — but do go easy on the glaze — otherwise, the pie could turn out overly sweet. And we all know we don’t need that extra confectionery, right?
So my little french class of 2, plus ma professeure, got their sugar fix. But I’m staying indoors lest my neighbors start complaining about all the raging electric mixers and banging oven doors at way past midnight!
No cooking tonight. For sure. 🙂