Recipes from 2010
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Kugelhof (December 2010)

  • 17½ oz (500 g) flour (about 4½ cups)
  • 2 tsp (10 g) salt
  • ½ c ( 3½ oz / 100 g) sugar
  • 7 oz (200 g) butter, which is about 14 T
  • 2 eggs
  • 7/8 c (2 dl) milk
  • 3/4 oz (25 g) baker’s yeast (which is a little over 3 packets)
  • 4½ oz (130 g) Malaga raisins (dark raisins)
  • 2 oz (50 g) almonds, for garnish

- The day before you make the kugelhof, soak the raisins in some kirsch (cherry brandy) and let them macerate overnight. (If you don’t have kirsch, you can use rum or another brandy, but kirsch is the traditional brandy of Alsace.)
- When you’re ready to get down to baking, first dilute the yeast in a bowl with half of the milk, warmed. Stir well. Add into it enough of the flour (7/8 c, or 100 g) to make a somewhat consistent batter. Place that batter in a moderately warm spot, such as on top of a radiator or in a warm oven and leave it until it has doubled in volume.
- Place the following in a bowl, in this order: the rest of the flour, the salt, sugar, eggs and the rest of the warm milk. Mix well and knead for about 10 minutes, lifting the dough and then dropping it against the bottom of the bowl in order to incorporate as much air as possible.
- Add the softened butter. Knead the dough until it no longer sticks to your hands.
- Work in the yeast batter. Knead it for a few more minutes and form it into a ball in the middle of the bowl. Cover it with a clean towel and leave it in a warm place for 1 or 2 hours until the dough rises. It might take more time, depending on the heat.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it until it returns to its initial size. Then mix in the macerated raisins.
- Butter well the bottom and sides of the kugelhof mold. Position the almonds in the bottom of the mold. (That will make the decoration on top, once the kugelhof is unmolded). Put it in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Place the dough evenly in the mold. Leave it to rise again for about 3/4 hr.
- Bake the kugelhof in a preheated oven at 400°F for 45 minutes.
- Unmold directly onto the serving plate and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

I apologize for the strange measurements. It’s somewhat easy (although tedious) to convert grams into ounces, but less handy to convert into cups, tablespoons or anything else in the quaint, non-metric system we use in cooking. I’ve done my best to stay true to the proportions while not getting too much into fractions. It’s easier in cooking than in baking.

This recipe takes time, but only a bit of active time and then a lot of waiting for things to rise. You can use that waiting time to do what you want: a good book, a bit of TV, or even a short walk. The result is worth it. And delicious with either tea, coffee, or the obvious champagne.

So happy kugelhof and Merry Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza.

Boeuf carottes (November 2010)

  • 1 slice of thick-cut bacon
  • 3 lbs of pot roast (or chuck roast)
  • 3 medium onions
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • a bunch of parsley
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 T butter
  • olive oil
  • 1 beef bouillon cube or 2 c beef bouillon
  • salt & pepper

- Melt the butter and add the oil. Brown the bacon on both sides and then remove. (You can cook it more and use it in an omelet or fried potatoes.)
- Brown the meat on one side. When you flip it over, add the onions, turning them once or twice to color on a different side.
- When the meat and onions are colored, add the white wine. The alcohol will evaporate, leaving only the flavor. Then add the pepper, thyme, parsley and bay leaves.
- After about 5 minutes, pour in the bouillon and then add enough water to cover the meat. (Or if you’re using a bouillon cube, cover with water.) Return to a boil, then lower the heat and leave to simmer.
- Cut the carrots crosswise into slices about an inch thick. Add to the meat after an hour of cooking. (In my photo, I left them long, which is another possibility.)
- Cooking time will be about 2-3 hours, depending on the cut of meat. Test with a fork or knife to see when it is tender. Remove the meat, onions and carrots.
- Taste the gravy for seasoning and adjust as needed. You can thicken it with a roux or with some cornstarch diluted in warm water if you want a thicker sauce.

Serves 6

Accompaniment: Usually served with egg noodles.

Wine: Although it cooks with white wine, a full-bodied red will highlight the beef.

Soupe de courge (October 2010)

  • 2 lbs of peeled pumpkin (or squash)
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • butter
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

- Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes. Cut the pumpkin flesh up into cubes, after removing all the stringy part around the seeds (and obviously the rind!).
- Sauté the minced onion in some butter.
- Add the potato and pumpkin and cover with cold water. Add salt. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Take out the vegetables and run them through the mixer until smooth. Stir in the nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot, with some crème fraîche and croutons.

Makes enough for 4 hearty servings.

Tarte Tatin (September 2010)

  • 1 1/3 stick (150 g) good salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c (125 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 lbs firm cooking apples (such as Golden Delicious)
  • sweet pie crust

- Spread a stick of the butter thickly over the bottom of a 9" (24 cm) deep pie dish. (You can use a spring-form pan, if you have one.) Then sprinkle 1/3 c of the sugar evenly over the butter.
- Peel, core and cut the apples into quarters. Arrange them, rounded side down, so they cover the dish. Then cut any remaining apples into slices and fill in any empty spaces. Melt the remaining 1/3 stick of butter (without allowing it to brown). Pour it over the apples and sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top.
- Put the dish in the oven on low until caramelization reaches the color you want. Then heat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and let the pie cook for about 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, roll out a round short pastry (pâte brisée) so that it’s still thick but slightly larger than the pie dish. Take the pie out of the oven, place the pastry over the top and tuck it into the dish. Put the pie back in the oven for about 15 min. or until the crust is golden.
- Let it stand a few minutes. Then put a serving plate over the top and flip it over quickly. Serve hot. You can add a dollop of crème frâche or whipped cream on the top at the last minute.
Serves 8.

Pissaladière (August 2010)

  • 2 lbs onions
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2 sprigs thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 sprig rosemary (or ½ tsp dried)
  • 1 clove
  • ripe olives, pitted
  • anchovy fillets

- Cut the onions in quarters and then slice them thin.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan and add in the onions, along with the thyme, rosemary, clove, and freshly-ground pepper. (No salt; the anchovies will be salty enough!) Before the onions start to brown, add 1 cup of warm water and lower the heat as far as you can. Simmer the onions for about half an hour, stirring often with a wooden spoon. When the water has been totally absorbed and the oil starts to sizzle, the onions should be perfectly done. They should be confits and not colored or fried.
- Take the onions off the burner and remove the sprigs of thyme and rosemary along with the clove.
- Spread the onions evenly over the dough almost up to the edge. They should be about twice as thick as the dough. Pinch the edge of the dough up a bit. Decorate the top with the anchovy fillets and the ripe olives. (I like a criss-cross pattern with a half a ripe olive in the middle of each square.) Cook in a preheated oven at 400°F until the dough is just starting to get blonde on the edges and the top of the onions are starting to color (about 10 to 15 minutes).
- Grind a little pepper over the top and serve immediately with a crisp green salad and a glass of chilled rosé wine. Serves 4-6.

Note: Something called "pissalat" used to be mixed in with the onions while they were cooking. It was a kind of anchovy/sardine paste. You can add some anchovy paste to the onions if you want, but I find that can get too salty. Besides, it’s prettier to decorate the pissaladière with anchovy fillets anyway.

Riste d’aubergine (July 2010)

  • 3 pounds of eggplant
  • 1 pound of crushed, peeled tomatoes
  • cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • olive oil
  • salt & freshly ground pepper

- Heat some olive oil in a cast iron or heavy pot.
- Cut off both ends of the eggplants. (Suggestion: The smaller the eggplant, the less seeds there will be.) Cut the eggplant into thin strips, then into cubes. Put the eggplant into the olive oil. Add salt & pepper. Stir well.
- When the eggplant starts to take on a bit of color, remove the garlic’s germ (the center part that is often a bit green; it’s hard to digest) and press it. Add it to the eggplant, mix and cook 2 minutes.
- Drain the peeled and crushed tomatoes, and mix them in. (You can use canned, or else fresh if you prefer The Real Deal and it’s tomato season.) Also add the thyme and bay leaf.
- Cover with hot water, put the lid on the pot and cook for 2 hrs.
- Remove the lid for third hour to dry out any juice.

Serve hot with rice and air-cured ham (prosciutto, Bayonne) or as an accompaniment for broiled meats or fish, or over pasta. Riste can also be good spread on toast as bruschetta. But always with a full-bodied red wine.

Preparation : 20 min
Cooking: 2-3 hrs

Charlotte aux fraises (June 2010)

  • 2 pounds of strawberries
  • 6 sheets or 1½ envelopes (12 g) unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 c (60 g) of sugar
  • 25 fl oz (75 cl) of heavy cream
  • about 24 ladyfingers (the good crisp kind, not the mooshy ones)

- In France, gelatin is sold in sheets, and each sheet equals 2 grams. In America, gelatin is usually sold in powdered form and an envelope contains 8 grams. So if you have sheets, soak them in cold water for 10 minutes until they are soft.
- Rinse the strawberries. Then remove the stems and leave them to dry on some paper toweling.
- Set aside the prettiest strawberries for the final decoration. Put all the others in the blender and mix until they’re pureed. Strain the strawberry puree.
- Warm one-quarter of the strawberry puree with the sugar. Squeeze out the excess water from the sheet gelatine and add into the warm puree, or dissolve the powdered gelatine directly in the warm puree. Finally mix in the rest of the puree.
- Blend in the cream and mix thoroughly.
- Line the bottom of a 2 quart cylindrical mold (4" high and 7" in diameter) with waxed paper. Then stand the ladyfingers around the edge of the mold. Pour the strawberry puree in the center. If the ladyfingers extend beyond the top of the puree, trim them off. Finally position a layer of ladyfingers on the top radiating out from the center, and put the charlotte in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
- When you’re ready to serve, set the mold in some hot water for a minute or two, then turn the charlotte out of the mold onto a plate and decorate with the strawberries you set aside.

Serves 6-8.

Excellent with champagne.

Escalope de veau normande (May 2010)

  • 4 veal scallops
  • 5 oz (150 g) of large fresh mushrooms
  • 7 oz (20 cl) of crème fraîche
  • 3½ oz (10 cl) of calvados or cider
  • butter
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper

- Clean the mushrooms and slice them thickly.
- Sauté the veal scallops in butter until they are golden brown on one side. Flip them over and sauté them for a minute. Salt and pepper, then remove them from the pan and cover them to keep them warm.
- In the same pan, sauté the mushrooms, adding more butter if needed. When they have
sweated, add in the crème fraîche and mix well, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. When the sauce has colored nicely, add a glass of calvados (apple brandy) or apple cider and reduce until the sauce thickens to a creamy texture. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Replace the veal scallops in the sauce and warm them for 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Accompany with rice and a side salad.

This dish can also be made with veal chops, leaving them to cook a bit longer, or also with turkey and even chicken breasts..

Poires Belle Hélène (April 2010)

  • 4 ripe pears, Williams or Bartlett
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 oz sugar
  • 10 oz of a good 70% dark chocolate
  • 2 T heavy cream

- Peel the pears, leaving the stem. Squeeze the juice of half the lemon over the pears to keep them from discoloring.
- Stand the pears upright in a saucepan. Sprinkle the sugar over the top, then pour over them enough water to cover the pears to 3/4 their height. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat and simmer them until they’re soft and look a bit translucent (about 15 min). Take the saucepan off the burner and let the pears cool in the syrup. When they’re cool, place them in the refrigerator, keeping 3-4 T of the cooked syrup.

(You can do all this ahead of time.)

- Then when you’re ready for dessert, take the pears out of the refrigerator. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt it in a double boiler, stirring constantly. When it’s perfectly melted, add in the cream and the cooked syrup, still stirring constantly. (If you want to spice things up, add 1-2 T of pear brandy at this point.) When the sauce is smooth and glossy, take it off the heat.
- Stand one pear in each parfait dish. Drizzle some chocolate over the top of the pear, but don’t cover it entirely. Serve immediately, putting the remaining chocolate in a creamer.

You can also serve this nestled in vanilla ice cream. With perhaps a sprinkle of slivered toasted almonds on top.

Truite aux amandes (March 2010)

  • 1 trout per person
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 c flour
  • 6 T butter (more if needed)
  • ½ c slivered blanched almonds
  • (1 lemon, in wedges)
  • freshly ground pepper

- If the trout doesn’t come gutted, do that. Wash and pat dry.
- Heat the butter in a skillet. Dip the trout into the milk, then into the flour. Sauté over fairly high heat until golden on both sides. Season with salt and pepper, place on a heated dish and keep warm.
- Sauté the almonds in the butter remaining in the skillet until they are golden. Add more butter if needed. Pour the butter and almonds over the trout.

Optional: Serve with lemon wedges.

Accompany with boiled potatoes and a crisp chilled white wine, such as a Cassis or Muscadet.

Crème caramel (February 2010)

  • 3 whole eggs + 3 egg yolks
  • 2½ c milk
  • ½ c granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, or 1 t vanilla extract

For the caramel: I like a lot of caramel, so I use 2/3 c of granulated sugar for 3 T of water. Set the porcelain ramekins in a pan of hot water while the caramel is cooking; otherwise thermal shock when pouring the hot caramel into them could break the porcelain to bits. Boil the sugar and water in a saucepan over moderately low heat, swirling frequently until the syrup starts to caramelize. Keep a very close eye on the color because it can turn in a flash from golden to brown to burnt. Immediately and CAREFULLY pour the caramel into the ramekins. Tilt them in all directions to make sure the caramel is evenly distributed. Remove the ramekins from the pan of hot water and leave to cool.

For the custard:

- Preheat the oven to 325°C.
- Warm the milk in a saucepan over moderate heat. Slice the vanilla bean open lengthwise and scrape the insides out with a knife. Add to the milk, along with the bean. Stir to keep a skin from forming. When the milk is just about to simmer, take it off the heat.
- Beat the sugar into the eggs and egg yolks until light.
- Remove the bean and slowly pour the milk into the sugar/egg mixture, stirring constantly. (Stir in the vanilla extract at this point if you didn’t use a vanilla bean.) Don’t whisk too much so you don’t get air bubbles inside your crème caramel and foam on the top.
- After making sure the caramel has set, pour the custard into the ramekins. Set them in a roasting pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the side of the ramekin. Put in the lower 1/3 of the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
- Let cool, then chill.

Serves 4-6.

Hachis parmentier (January 2010)

  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 T bacon drippings
  • 1 t flour
  • 1/3 c dry white wine
  • 1 3/4 c beef bouillon
  • 3 c leftover cooked beef, ground
  • 2 T tomato purée
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 egg yolk salt & freshly ground pepper

- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Mince the onions and cook them in the bacon drippings. When they are translucent and soft, sprinkle them with the flour. Mix well.
- Add the wine, 1 ½ c of the bouillon, the beef and tomato purée. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time.
- While that cooks, peel, boil and mash the potatoes. (They’ll cook faster if you cut them into pieces.) Add 1 T of the butter and the rest of the bouillon. Salt and pepper to taste. Beat until all the lumps are gone.
- Salt and pepper the meat mixture. Spread evenly in an ovenproof dish. Then spread the mashed potatoes on top so that the meat is totally covered. Pop in the oven.
- After 10 minutes, take it out and brush the potatoes with the remaining 1 T of melted butter. Then beat the egg yolk with 1 T of water and brush it on top - to give extra color.
- Put it back in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the top is brown.

Serves 4-5.

Accompany with a simple green salad and a hearty red wine.

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