Recipes from 2006
[Back to Past Recipes] [2007] [2008] [2009] [2010] [2011] [2012]

Mousse au chocolat (December 2006)
(Reran December 2013, 2014)

    There are as many recipes for mousse au chocolat as there are cooks.  Light and fluffy with milk chocolate, heavy and creamy with dark chocolate... With or without liqueur.  And everyone likes their own best.  This is Monsieur Bertheau’s version which is easy and fast to make.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

  • 200 g (7 oz) of baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 30 g (1/4 stick or 2 T) of butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 c of liqueur such as cognac or Grand Marnier (optional)
  • 50 g (1 3/4 oz or 1/5 c) sugar

    Select a 2-quart stainless steel bowl and a saucepan large enough so that the bowl fits snugly on top.  Pour boiling water into the saucepan and set the bowl on top of it.  Keep the water at a simmer.
    Add the chocolate and butter to the bowl.  Continue stirring until well blended, then remove the bowl from the saucepan.
    Add the sugar to the egg yolks and mix with a wooden spoon until they are frothy.
    Mix the egg and sugar (and optional liqueur) into the chocolate, and stir until thoroughly blended.
    Place the bowl briefly in the refrigerator until the mixture is slightly cooler than lukewarm.  If it becomes too chilled, it will harden, so don’t let it get too cold.
    Beat the egg whites until they are stiff.
    Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture until it’s all the same chocolate-ness in color.  Do not beat or stir them or the egg whites will “fall”.
    Spoon the mousse into 4 ramekins.  You can decorate it with a sprinkling of chocolate shavings, almond slices, cinnamon, mint sprig, or anything else your imagination whispers in your ear.
    Chill briefly until ready to serve.

P.S.  This is a good recipe for lactose intolerant people, as there is neither milk nor cream, only butter, which could, I suppose, be replaced by a non-dairy substitute. But that would be a shame.

Velouté de potiron (November 2006)

     Peel a pumpkin and roughly dice the “meat”, minus any seeds or “strings”.  Simmer it, stirring frequently, for 20 to 25 minutes until it mashes easily.  Be sure at this point that it’s totally smooth and lump-free.  You’ll need to cook enough to obtain 1 cup of mashed pumpkin.  If you have any left over, well, how about a pumpkin pie?
    OR ... for the short-cut version, just use a 16-oz can of unseasoned pumpkin.
    In a deep saucepan, sweat 2 tsp of finely-chopped onion in 2 tsp of butter until it’s soft but not colored (about 2 min).
    Mix in the pumpkin and let it simmer for 5 or 10 minutes.
    Add 2 ½ cups of hot chicken stock to the pumpkin mixture and stir well.
    Blend 1 tsp of salt and 1/8 tsp each of ground ginger and ground mace into 1 T of flour, then stir it into the soup.
    In a separate recipient, combine 1 cup of milk or light cream with 1 large beaten egg, mix well and then add it to the rest.
    Cook the soup over low heat, stirring frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until hot.  DO NOT LET IT BOIL OR YOU’LL GET SCRAMBLED EGG IN YOUR SOUP!
    Serve immediately, garnished with chopped chives and croutons.  Add freshly ground pepper to taste.

Makes 4 servings.
P.S.  Some people prefer using double boilers for any soup with milk or cream in it.

FOR CONNOISSEURS:  Chef Henri-Paul Pellaprat recommends the ground ginger and mace, while Jacques Pépin uses 1/4 tsp of curry powder instead.  Christian Etienne in Provence uses none of the above, just a dash of olive oil (of course!) and a light grating of nutmeg.  Take your pick, according to your own personal spice preferences.
For an even more delicate flavor, replace the onion with the whites of 2 leeks, diced.
Or for total decadence, add some chopped truffles at the last minute.

Girolles Provençales (October 2006)
(Reran October 2013)

  You have to clean the girolles, as their folds and wrinkles tend to hide soil and perhaps the odd little beast. After you cut off the very tip of the stem, anything that seems hard, put them in water with a bit of vinegar (save your balsamic). Then scoop them up and plunge them in a second basin of water and vinegar. That should clean them well. NEVER leave them to soak; they're like little sponges and they'll fill up with water.
   Then simply place them on a linen towel or some paper toweling and pat them dry.
   Some people will say this is heresy and you NEVER get them wet. If you know where they come from and they look fairly clean, you can just remove any remaining dirt off with a small brush. The French have “mushroom brushes” but I've been known to use a nail brush.
   Next heat some good olive oil and make them “sweat” a bit under low heat until they've become a bit soft and given off their puddle of water. If there’s no puddle of water, move on to the next step. (Sometimes there is none, but any water from the rinsing will be eliminated this way.)

Pour off this “mushroom water” and, using the same pan, heat up a mixture of half olive oil half butter. (No, put that margarine back in the fridge!) Add the mushrooms and sauté them for about 5 minutes. Too much and they'll be dry and hard.
   Then add some chopped shallots and at the very last second a bit of finely chopped garlic.
   Pour into a pretty serving bowl and sprinkle with some chopped flat parsley to add some color and another layer of flavor.

You can also make this with a mixture of mushrooms. Pleurottes and pieds de mouton will take a little longer to cook as they’re thicker, so start with them and then add in the girolles. Cèpes are better all by themselves.

Pesto (September 2006)
(Reran September 2013)

  • 1/2 c pine nuts
  • 4 (or 6) cloves garlic
  • 1/2 pound grated parmesan
  • 1/4 pound grated romano
  • 3-4 c fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 - 2 c cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper

Using a blender or a food processor, grind up 1/2 cup of pine nuts.
     Peel 4 cloves of garlic, cut them into quarters and add them to the pine nuts. (Make sure the garlic isn't sprouting. If it is, its taste will be weak and bitter, which may seem a contradiction. Don't use it. Or if you have to because the store is closed or it's too late to run out and buy some more, remove the green sprout from the center and add two more cloves.) Mix the garlic into the pine nuts.
     Add 1/2 pound of grated parmesan cheese and 1/4 pound of grated romano cheese. (Some people prefer the 3-cheese blend that is available in most supermarkets, but I find the asiago tends to blunt the flavor of the basil.)
     Wash 3 to 4 cups of fresh basil, leaves only. From the garden is best, because freshness is very important. Just shake any excess water off; you don't need to dry it -- a few drops of water will get lost in the mixture.
     With the blender/food processor running, slowly pour in 1 1/2 cups of cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil. The better the olive oil, the better the pesto.
     If you find the pesto is still too thick, add up to 1/2 cup more olive oil little by little. You want the pesto to be smooth but not too loose. After all, it should cling to the pasta, not run off and puddle on your plate.
     Add freshly ground pepper to taste. (The equivalent of about 1/2 tsp is a safe amount; more might overpower the basil taste.)
     I don't add salt to my pesto because I feel the parmesan is salty enough, and many people nowadays are on salt-restricted diets. Besides, as I always say, it's easier to add it at the end than try to take it out. So taste it and if you find it's lacking in saltiness, then add some and give the pesto another spin or twelve.
     Serve immediately over hot pasta, while the freshness of the basil is at its best.
     And try to convince your guests not to add any more parmesan on top; there's enough in the pesto itself and that would destroy the balance.

Important: You can keep pesto in the refrigerator overnight, or two days maximum. BUT... I've never found a good way to reheat pesto. Microwaving it will turn it into one cheesy wad of chewing gum. Trust me; I've done it... and thrown it out. Heating it, even lightly, on the stove or in the oven tends to make the olive oil separate from the rest. So if you made too much (if such a thing as too much pesto is possible!), I suggest taking it out of the refrigerator well in advance and letting it warm to room temperature. The steaming hot pasta will warm it to perfection.
     You can also freeze pesto, but if you do, remember to let it return to room temperature in its own good time.

[Back to Past Recipes] [2007] [2008] [2009] [2010] [2011] [2012]