Recipes from 2009
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Bûche de Noël (December 2009)

  • 4 eggs, separated + 1 extra egg
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • sweet chestnut spread or jam
  • chocolate icing
  • confectioners sugar


- Butter a large jellyroll pan (12" x 18"), cover it with waxed paper and butter again, then sprinkle lightly with flour so the cake won’t stick.
- Cream the 4 egg yolks and the sugar. When they’re thoroughly mixed, add the vanilla, then the fifth egg and mix again. Then sift the flour and blend it in bit by bit.
- Beat the egg whites until they’re somewhat stiff. Fold them into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the pan and spread it smooth. It should be about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F for 10 minutes, checking that it doesn’t get too brown.
- Immediately after removing from the oven, flip the cake upside down onto a cold, flat surface, such as the kitchen counter (obviously cleaned) or a large cutting board. Cover with a towel and let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes so the steam makes the paper come off more easily.
- Remove the paper. Ice the cake with the chestnut spread, jam or frosting and immediately roll it up lengthwise. Make sure the fold side is on the bottom and cut off the ends to make them even.

Decoration:  (You can get most of these supplies at a specialty shop or in the baking section of your supermarket.)
- Take one of the cut-off ends and position it on top of the cake to imitate a "tree knot".
- Using a spatula-type knife, ice the cake roughly, then trace lines with a fork to make it look like tree bark.
- Cut out some green almond paste in the shape of holly leaves and group them in threes on the icing.
- To look like berries, place some red sugar balls where the leaves come together.
- Dust lightly with confectioner’s sugar so it looks like snow.

This cake is a regular genoise batter. Chestnut spread (crème de marrons) is traditionally used for the inside frosting but you can choose whatever you want, including the same frosting both inside and on top of the cake. And nothing goes better with it than some festive champagne or other sparkling drink, whether alcoholic or not.

Happy holidays!

Blanquette de veau (November 2009)

  • 3 lbs of veal, a mix of bottom round, shoulder and stew meat gives the best results (ask your butcher to cut it into pieces about 2" square)
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 large carrots
  • bay leaf
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh parsley
  • 2 T flour
  • 7 T (100 g) butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1-2 T lemon juice
  • salt & pepper

- Place the veal in a heavy stewpot and cover it with cold water. Stick an onion with the cloves and add it to the veal. Slice the carrots crosswise and add to the veal, along with a bouquet garni (bay leaf, 2 sprigs of thyme and parsley each, tied together). Salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring to a boil. If there’s a lot of foam on the surface of the water, skim it off. Then lower the heat and let simmer for about 2 hours (½ hr in a pressure cooker). Test whether the veal is done by sticking it with a knife; it should feel tender.
- Remove the veal and keep warm in a deep serving bowl. Strain the sauce, keep the carrots, but throw away the bouquet garni and onion.
- Separately, prepare a roux blanc by mixing the flour and butter over low heat using a wooden spoon. Simmer it, stirring constantly for about two minutes. Make sure there are no lumps. Then dilute by gradually adding some of the cooking broth until the sauce coats the spoon but isn’t thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove the sauce from the heat, add in the egg yolk and lemon juice and stir well. Then spoon the sauce over the veal.
- Sprinkle with fresh minced parsley just before serving.

Serves 6.

Although a blanquette is usually served with boiled potatoes, you could substitute white rice. You can also serve the carrots as a side dish.

Accompany with a light red wine, such as a sancerre rouge or a saumur champigny.

Some people add 2 T of crème fraîche to the sauce at the same time as the egg and lemon. Some add cooked mushrooms and caramelized pearl onions. It depends on how traditional and purist you want to get.

Congolais (October 2009)

  • 11 oz (300 g) desiccated coconut
  • 7 oz (200 g) sugar
  • 3/4 c (20 cl) milk, warm
  • 4 eggs

- Mix together the coconut and the sugar.
- Stir in the warm milk.
- Then whisk in the eggs, one by one.
- Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, grease a cookie sheet, or line it with parchment paper. Shape the cookies into little cones about 2" wide and space them 1" apart.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 8-10 minutes at 475°F (250°C), just until the tops take on a golden color. As this is a very hot oven, the cookies should be crispy on the outside but soft on the inside.
- Use a spatula or a knife to lift the congolais off the cookie sheet. Let cool.

Excellent with a fresh mint tea.

Frisée aux lardons (September 2009)

  • 4 eggs (or 1 per person)
  • 6 strips of thick-cut bacon
  • 1 head of curly endive (frisée)
  • Vinaigrette dressing

- Bring a large (wide) pot of water to a boil. Add about 1 T of red wine vinegar to help hold the egg white together.
- Grill some thick bacon in the oven until crisp (10-15 min at 400°F), or put it in the microwave, side by side and not overlapping, for 3-6 min (between several layers of paper towel). Set aside.
- Separate the leaves of the curly endive. Wash them and spin them dry. Put them in a large bowl and set aside.
- Turn down the heat under the pot a bit. Crack the egg on a flat surface to make sure no eggshell gets into the water. (Using cold eggs will also help the white stay together.) Slip the egg into the water from as low as possible. Use a slotted spoon to fold the eggwhite around the yolk; this also prevents the egg from sticking to the bottom of the pot. You can easily do two eggs at once; four gets more problematic.
- To test if the egg is done, lift it out of the water with the slotted spoon and press the yolk gently with your finger. It should be soft yet bouncy.
- When it’s done, drop it into cold water to firm the eggwhite and wash off any vinegar. Trim the white, if necessary.
- Make a vinaigrette: 1 T red wine vinegar, ½ t French-style mustard, pinch of salt, a few turns of freshly-ground pepper. Mix well. Then gradually add in 3 T of good olive oil, stirring constantly until the dressing emulsifies a bit. Pour it over the salad and toss.
- Serve the salad on individual lukewarm plates. Break the bacon into pieces over the top of the salad and then lay a poached egg on top.

Serves 4. Accompany with chilled Beaujolais wine.

Tomates crevettes (August 2009)

  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 12 oz (350 g) salad shrimp, peeled
  • 4 T mayonnaise
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 4 sprigs of flat parsley
  • salt & pepper

- Cut off the parsley stalks and mince the parsley leaves.
- Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and set aside as lids.
- Scoop out the inside of the tomatoes. Turn them upside down in a dish to drain but keep the juice.
- In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, mayonnaise, parsley and 1 T of the tomato juice. Add the shrimp and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Fill the tomatoes with the shrimp mix and set the cap on top. Serve chilled.

Serves 4 as an appetizer, or 2 as a main course (with French fries, which in fact are Belgian) and can be accompanied by a chilled crisp white wine, or to stay in the mood, a beer.

Clafoutis (July 2009)

  • ½ c flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1½ t vanilla
  • 1½ c milk
  • fruit of choice (see above)
  • powdered sugar (optional)

- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the inside of a round deep 9" porcelain dish or a pie dish about 1½" deep. Dust the buttered surfaces with flour so the clafoutis won’t stick, then turn the dish upside down to remove any excess.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Add the granulated sugar, milk and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the salt to the sifted flour and blend in.
- Pour a 1/4" layer of batter in the dish and slip it into the oven for a minute or two until a film of batter has set in the bottom of the dish.
- Remove from the heat and arrange the fruit in the bottom of the dish. Pour the rest of the batter over the fruit almost to the top of the dish.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the clafoutis is browned on the top and a knife comes
out clean.
- Let cool a bit, then sprinkle some powdered sugar over the top just before serving.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Pan bagnat (June 2009)

  • 1 baguette
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 c black olives, chopped or halved
  • 12 oz tuna in olive oil, drained & broken up (or anchovies, if you’re of that persuasion)
  • 2 small vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced thin
  • green onions, halved lengthwise (or thinly sliced mild red onion)
  • green bell pepper, sliced thin cross-wise
  • fresh basil
  • arugula or broad-leafed lettuce (no iceberg!)

- Cut the baguette lengthwise in half and, using your fingers, scoop out some of the interior on both halves.
- Prepare the vinaigrette in a small bowl, whisking together the vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. When it’s no longer separated, whisk in the olive oil until it emulsifies. Set aside.
- Fill the baguette as follows. First a thin layer of arugula or a leaf or two of lettuce in the bottom of the hollowed-out baguette.. Then the olives. Layer the tuna/anchovies over the olives, then add even layers of the tomatoes, bell pepper and any other ingredients (see below). Drizzle the vinaigrette over the top, then add the onions. Top with the other half-baguette, press down and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, weighting it down with a cutting board or a plate topped with a can or two, or something equally heavy.
- The next day, take the sandwich out of the refrigerator in the morning and cut it into sixths. If you’re going on a picnic, you can wrap each section individually. The sandwiches taste best when they’ve been left at room temperature for a couple of hours. (You can also make this on the morning of the day and leave it out of the refrigerator.)

Serves 6

Accompany with a chilled rosé, such as a Tavel or a Pelure d’oignon.

N.B. Usually a pan bagnat is made with small round crisp loaves, but these don’t really exist in North America, so a baguette will do nicely.

Other ingredients that are "tolerated": artichoke hearts, radishes, hard-boiled eggs - all sliced, obviously. The official recipe also calls for févettes (small fava beans), so if you have any cooked lima beans left over from another meal, this would be the time to use them up.

Soupe au crabe et aux asperges (May 2009)

  • 3½ T (50 g) butter
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 2 dozen asparagus stalks (keep tips for other use)
  • 3 T (40 g) flour
  • 3 c (70 cl) water from cooking asparagus
  • 3 c (70 cl) milk                            
  • 3½ oz (almost ½ c / 10 cl) crème fraîche       
  • 1 t salt
  • freshly-ground pepper
  • 12 oz (220 g) canned crabmeat
  • cilantro

- Melt the butter.  Mince the shallots and sweat them in the butter.
- Boil the asparagus stalks for 3-4 minutes.  Take them out of the water, but set the water aside.
- Stir the flour into the shallots, lower the heat and cook for 1 minute.
- Pour 70 cl of the asparagus cooking water over the shallots and mix well.  Add the milk and salt, stir well and bring to a boil.  Then lower the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Mix the asparagus and the liquids in a blender, then strain.
- Serve in individual bowls.  Add the crème fraîche.  After making sure there are no pieces of cartilage in the crabmeat, add some in the middle of each soup bowl and garnish with coriander and some freshly-ground pepper.

Serves 4-6.
Goes well with a dry white wine.

Gigot à l'aïl (April 2009)

  • 2½ lb leg of lamb
  • 6 heads of garlic
  • 2-3 T of olive oil
  • fresh rosemary, cut up
  • salt
  • pepper

- Preheat the oven to 460° F (240°C/thermostat 8)
- Peel and cut 5 cloves of garlic into slivers and slip them into small, deep incisions made in the lamb, distributed evenly and going with the grain of the meat. Put the rest of the cloves, unpeeled but detached, in an ovenproof dish big enough to hold the lamb.
- Rub the lamb with olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary. Season generously with salt and pepper. Set the lamb on top of the unpeeled cloves of garlic.
- Cook for 15 minutes, then baste with the juices and cook for an additional 15 minutes. (Rule of thumb: 15 min per pound)
- Let the lamb sit for 10 minutes before carving.
- Serve the garlic separately.
- Deglaze the pan with 2-3 T of water to make some gravy.

For 4 people.

Serve with flageolet beans to be traditional, or with fresh green beans or parsley potatoes.

Wine: a tannic red bordeaux

One variation is to make a puree of garlic. Peel the cloves of 10 heads of garlic and put them in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil, then let boil for 1 minute. Drain, cool with cold water. Puree them, adding 3/4c (20 cl) of beef stock. Salt and pepper to taste.

Another variation is to slice 2 lbs of peeled potatoes into thin slices and nestle them around the lamb. Add the cloves of garlic and then pop the roast in the oven.

Brandade de morue (March 2009)

  • about 10½ oz (300 g) salt cod
  • 2 medium-sized (350 g) baking potatoes
  • ½ c (120 ml) of olive oil
  • 1 ¼ c (300 ml) skimmed milk
  • freshly-ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of coarse salt

- Soak the cod in cold water for 24 hours, changing the water at least three times. (You can leave it in the refrigerator overnight in the final water.)
- Start boiling the potatoes in their skin. You don’t need any salt in the water. Cook about 20 minutes.
- Drain and rinse the cod. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cod and the bay leaf. Turn down the heat and poach gently for about 7 minutes.
- While the cod is poaching, remove the greenish sprout from the garlic cloves and cut into large slices. Put them in a mortar with the coarse salt and crush to a pulp.
- Pat the cod dry, remove any bones and skin, and put it in a bowl. Break it into small pieces and add the garlic and 1 t of lemon juice. Slowly alternate adding in warm milk and warm olive oil until you achieve a smashed potato consistency.
- Peel the potatoes and mash them with a masher or ricer. Add to the cod and mix.
- Put 1 T of olive oil in a pot and warm it. (To limit dirty dishes, you can use the pot you boiled the potatoes in, if it’s big enough.) Using a wooden spoon, mix in the mashed potatoes and the cod, adding enough milk to make it fairly smooth. Keep stirring over low heat.
- Add the pinch of nutmeg, and pepper to taste. (You may need salt, depending on how salty the cod was.)
- Put the mixture into an ovenproof dish. Add a few pats of butter on top and place it under the broiler until it’s brown (about 4 minutes).
- Accompany by a salad with vinaigrette dressing: curly endive is best, but romaine or mâche (corn salad or lamb’s lettuce) are also good.

Serves 4.

A dry white wine goes best with this dish, such as a Cassis (also from Provence), or a Pouilly-Fumé or Riesling.

Crème brûlée (February 2009)

  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 c (250 gr) sugar
  • 1 qt (1 litre) cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp of raw sugar (turbinado, or French "cassonade")

- Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the pulp and put it in the cream. Heat slowly until it just starts to boil. Remove from the heat.
- In a bowl, cream together the egg yolks and the sugar until they turn a lighter color. Gently stir in a little of the cream (otherwise you’ll have scrambled eggs). Then slowly pour in the rest, stirring constantly but making it froth as little as possible. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and try not to create bubbles.
- Preheat the oven to 225°F (100°C).
- Slowly pour the cream into ramekins. Place paper toweling in the bottom of an ovenproof pan. Set the ramekins on top and fill the pan with water halfway up the ramekins, taking care not to get any water in the cream. Cook for 1 hr and 15 min. The cream should be just barely set (still "trembling" in the center).
- Let cool to room temperature. (If you make them ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap before putting them in the refrigerator and be sure to take them out at least an hour before serving, uncover and remove any moisture with a paper towel.)

- When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle 1 tsp of raw sugar evenly over each crème. Brown the tops by one of three methods:
- either under the broiler of the oven, setting them in a pan with a bit of cold water;
- or with a kitchen torch;
- or with a branding iron.

Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6.

Don’t throw out the open vanilla bean. Put it in a jar, cover with sugar and close tightly. That way you’ll have vanilla-flavored sugar for other recipes.

January 2009 - No recipe - Happy New Year!

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