Saturday, October 8, 2011
Friday Night, Lamb Navarin, October 7, 2011
I got a new cookbook! A friend of mine gave it to me last week and I knew immediately I would be making something from it for this weeks Friday Night Menu. It's a French cookbook called French Feasts by Stephane Reynaud. When I first looked through it I thought, I like it because it's straight to the point; no over-explaining, not really a good book for a new cook though. I picked out an appetizer, a main dish and a dessert and got all the ingredients the day before. I wanted to run some errands on Friday before starting to cook so I looked at the amount of time each recipe would take and it said the tart appetizer would take 20 minutes, the main dish would take 45 minutes ( with a 1 hour and 45 minutes cooking time) and the dessert (which was the biggest lie of all) would take 30 minutes. So I hate making all new recipes for Friday night and being rushed (that's no fun). I figured as long as I am home by 1:00-2:00 that would be plenty of time, well I got home at 2:00 and started the dessert...3 hours later I was finishing it up!! So the 30 minutes estimated time they gave was a little off!! The tart was pretty accurate I guess, but the cooking time on the lamb was off by about an hour!! This cookbook reminds me to follow my own instincts, because I thought those times were off, and seasoning was all done at the end and I usually like to season as I go, next time I'll know...
Provencal Vegetable Tart
Store bought puff pastry is great stuff. Take it out of the freezer and out of it's package and let it sit on the counter for an hour. While it's defrosting make the filling.
9 oz puff pastry
6 cherry tomatoes
6 sun dried tomatoes in oil
1 zucchini, diced
1 small eggplant,diced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 big handful of fresh basil
10 black French olives
salt and pepper
Heat a skillet on the stove top over medium-high heat with a couple tablespoons of olive oil in it and add the onion, zucchini and eggplant. Saute the vegetables with a pinch of salt for 5-8 minutes so they are cooked but still left al dente.
Pick the basil leaves and dress them with olive oil, set aside. Remove the pits from the olives and have ready.
Roll out the pastry dough slightly and prick with a fork. Place onto a cookie sheet. Arrange the vegetables, basil, both tomatoes and the olives into the center of the tart, leaving about 1/2 inch boarder around the outside. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
This combination of flavors was great with the crispy puff pastry.
Tony has been suggesting lamb lately so I thought this recipe looked good and something different with the heavy cream added to it. The recipe was for 6 people and called for 2 lbs 11 oz of boned lamb shoulder. I like to have leftovers for the next day but that's it so I got a pound of lamb, which was perfect. I will give you the amounts that I used which was enough for 4 servings.
1 lb of boned lamb shoulder cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
bouquet garni (parsley stems, thyme and a bay leaf tied together with butchers twine)
16-20 baby peeled carrots
a good handful of snow peas
a good handful of frozen edamame soybeans
2 Roma tomatoes
1 scant Tbsp of flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup white wine
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted add the lamb and season with salt and pepper. Brown the lamb on all sides. Once the lamb is browned add the leek and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook and stir for about 5 minutes. De glaze with the wine, scraping up all the brown bits at the bottom of the pan and let the liquid evaporate completely. Pour enough water on the lamb to cover it by an inch and add the bouquet garni, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer (the recipe doesn't say to cover but I partially covered mine but think that if I covered it tightly it may not have taken the extra hour that I talked about above). Stir in the heavy cream and simmer for an additional 30 minutes ( mine wasnt' tender and I let it cook another hour at this point). While the stew cooks you can cook the other vegetables. In a saucepan filled with salted boiling water cook the vegetables separately starting with the carrots for 20 minutes, then remove the carrots to a bowl and add the scallions and boil for 15 minutes, then remove them and add the snow peas for 5 minutes, the edamame for a few minutes. Cut an X at the base of the tomatoes and drop them into the boiling water for 10 seconds or so then into ice water, you should be able to peel the skin right off, if it's not coming off add the tomatoes back into the boiling water for a few more seconds until you can easily remove the skins. Cut the skinless tomatoes into a dice and add to the vegetable bowl. When the lamb is tender add the cooked vegetables and heat through for about 5 minutes and check for seasoning. I served a French boule along side that I heated in the oven.
Opera (Layered Cake)
Apparently the way the French say layered cake is Opera, my new book has both French and English pronunciations. This cake has 4 different components; the biscuit layer, the ganache layer, the coffee cream layer and the topping. For the biscuit layer you will need
5 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups ground almonds
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Beat the 5 whole eggs with the sugar until the mixture is pale and thick. Incorporate the flour and ground almonds.
Beat the egg whites into peaks and gently fold them into the egg and almond mixture using a rubber spatula.
Spread the mixture over a *baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about **10 minutes. Allow to cool. *The recipe didn't say what size pan but I used a 1/2 sheet pan which is about 17X12X1 inches. **I took the cake out of the oven and after a few minutes realized it needed more time so I put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes and it was perfect.
For the ganache
9 oz bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler; then add the milk and cream, mix well.
For the coffee cream
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups butter
a few drops of coffee extract
2 egg yolks
Cook* the sugar to the "soft ball stage"; dip the tines of a fork into the sugar and dip the fork into cold water and when a soft ball forms on the end of the fork then stop the cooking process. Whisk the egg yolks until pale yellow and carefully incorporate the sugar syrup.
Allow to cool and then add the softened butter (add the butter slowly whisking after each tablespoon) and coffee extract.
* To cook sugar just add the sugar and about 1-2 tbsp of water to the sugar to get it going; heat over medium heat brushing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water so no ice crystals form. You want the sugar to dissolve before it starts to simmer.
For the topping
4.5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
slightly over 1/3 cup of heavy cream ( of half of 3/4 cup, because I made half of this recipe)
3/4 Tbsp butter
Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler with the butter and add the cream. Whisk until smooth.
Cut the biscuit into three identical rectangles.
Assemble the cakes by layers, alternating biscuit, coffee cream, biscuit, ganache, biscuit and then topping. If any of the layers seems too soft and runny just chill until the desired consistency being careful not to over-chill or the chocolate (especially) will become a solid mass. I happened to have chocolate covered espresso beans so I decorated some beans down the center while the topping was still soft.