Monday, March 29, 2010

Just a fast....

Just  quick update because time gets away from me soo quickly anymore. I am still cooking through Mastering The Art of French cooking. I just haven't had time to talk about them.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to tell you about my jaunt through a certain department in the grocery store for something I've never bought in my life.

Yeah...that'll be interesting.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tranches De Jambon En Piperade

How's that for a meal? Bet you're thinking I can't spell trenches, and we ate in one. But no, that wouldn't be right not even close as a matter of fact. That is Ham Slices baked with Tomatoes, Onions and Peppers. And it's darn stinkin' good!

Oh and get this, you know how the French cook with butter. And if a little butter is good, a lot of butter is better? This dish has NO butter in it. No butter. None. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. It does have copious amounts of olive oil though. But that's a "healthy" fat so I hardly think it counts. 

I made this dish because I had a lot of ham leftover from the gratineed and I did not want to do the plain ol' American ham, mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans thing. So I dug out...okay it was out....and dug through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, you know THE cookbook. I burrowed my way through until I found a recipe that called for ham and one I had most of the ingredients for. This one, I was only missing two small ingredients. I was missing the tomatoes and the peppers.

Okay so they were main ingredients. But at least I had the ham.  I know, that was pathetic even for me, but ....

My biggest trouble with this book seems to be timing. Getting everything ready and in the pan when it needs to be in there. I try and follow the heat directions (moderately high, low etc) but it seems things are always cooking faster then I think they will or should. This dish was no exception.

I made a double batch, the recipe said it serves 6. My dear man can eat for 6 and since there are 4 of us, I knew I needed to make extra. The ham of the first batch got a little more done, before I was able to add the vegetables. The second batch was better. I think I need to just prep each step before I start cooking at all.

Can I just say how easy this recipe was? If you can read, you can cook this. Very easy, very simple step-by-step directions...just what this kitchen klutz needs.

I made a side dish of green beans and it was all good. The best part? I've learned to do the clean up while it's finishing up so when I sat down at the table this is what my kitchen looked like:

Score one for the Irish Girl cooking French.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rapee Morv Andelle

I had to buy a knuckle grater. I did. When I threw out my last one years ago, I swore I would not buy another, in fact I wouldn't allow it in the house. No more knuckle graters for this girl.

I bought one and you know what? I'm happy about it. I like it. It works well for grating potatoes. I have a Pampered Chef grater that I love to use for cheese, but it never grates potatoes well. Because of liquid content of the potato. But the knuckle grater is a snap.

I'm sure you're just dying to know what I recipe I made that would bring about talk of knuckle graters. Well it was a recipe to destroy your kitchen. No joke! Mine looked like this
And I wasn't even half done yet.

As I was browsing the cookbook, I saw "Gratineed Dishes". I had no idea what it was or how to pronounce it. But now I know the answer to both! Dictionary. com told me how to pronounce it, and I mean it TOLD me how. Click on the little speaker and you can hear the word.  Basically a gratineed dish is a dish of grated potatoes, eggs and other good eats. Mix it all together and you have very Good eats.

The dish I made was a gratin of Shredded Potatoes with Ham and Eggs and Onions. And tasty! Oh my!!
Eggs, parsley garlic, salt and pepper, ready for cheese and milk to be added.
Ham and onions sauteing happily in the pan. See now, at one time I would have said, "cooking" but now I know better. They are sauteing. 
I should add here, the house smelled heavenly. I should also add this recipe was easy peasy! Very simple to follow and the ingredients were items most people keep on hand in the kitchen. Even a kitchen klutz like me had most of them. I would definitely say this recipe is one most anyone in America would be willing to cook. 
 As you can see, we about cleaned it up.
Score one more for the Irish girl, living in an average American house cooking French.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I will cook...

I read an interesting article last night. You can find the whole thing here, as I'll only be quoting snippets. I was searching for, okay I was looking to see on what page my blog would show up if one searched for Julia Child. I'm weird like that. On page 2 of my google search, I was struck by this link, "Why you'll never cook from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of..." I was intrigued to say the least. Intrigued because as we all know I've cooked and blogged about 3 recipes from Mastering the Art of French cooking.

I was shocked to find this article written by a chef...with 26 years experience. Ms. Schrambling writes "The inconvenient truth is that although the country's best-loved "French chef" produced an unparalleled recipe collection in Mastering the Art, it has always been daunting." Daunting?  The word daunting means: "to overcome with fear, to intimidate" or "to lessen the courage of one; dishearten". I felt none of those. I was not daunted by the cookbook. If anything I was invigorated. In the 10 days I've owned the book, there has not been a day in which I have not touched it. Every day I've touched it, I've opened it, I've poured over it. All in helpless anticipation of the next meal I will make from it's pages. Daunting? I think not.

She goes on to say, "Thanks to my consort, I have owned the two-volume set of Mastering the Art since 1984, the year after I graduated from restaurant school, but even I have never cooked from it." Because she has own a two-volume set and has not cooked from it, means no one in America will cook from this book? That seems to be an awfully small worldview. I don't like peas, and so I guess no one in America likes peas either. I'll have to tell Dear man that, I'm sure he'll find it shocking.

"Julia's recipes were written for a rigorous cook with endless patience for serious detail." That is so untrue it's almost laughable. I do not have an endless supply of patience and details...who needs them? But cook from this book? I can do that.  Since I can tend to be rather mindless in the kitchen, I love the details. I love how the recipes are written out in a simple step-by-step format. I don't fear leaving anything out because it is simple.

Ms. Schrambling has this to say about Beouf Bourguignon, "[it] has had restaurant chefs and amateurs alike breaking out their "9- or 10-inch fireproof casseroles" in the hottest month of the year. The ingredients and instructions for its recipe span three pages, and that is before you hit the fine print: The beef stock, braised pearl onions, and sautéed mushrooms all require separate procedures. Step 1 involves making lardons and simmering them for 10 minutes in a precise amount of water; seven steps later, the fat is finally skimmed off the sauce, which is either boiled down to thicken or adjusted with liquid if it's too thick. And this is considered an entry-level recipe. Everything in the tome looks complicated, which of course guarantees the results will work but also makes cooking feel like brain surgery." (emphasis mine)

Por favor? I don't get it. "Everything looks complicated"? What book is she looking at? Now, granted I've not read every single recipe but the ones I have read do not look complicated at all. And I consider myself the greatest dimwit in the kitchen! I have been known to almost burn the house down cooking bacon. I've literally burned water in the microwave. If anyone should be thinking Mastering the Art of French Cooking looks complicated, it should be me, not some trained chef.

Ms. Schrambling has indeed, in my mind, thrown down the gauntlet of challenge. I gladly pick it up. I will blog my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking if for no other reason than to prove Ms. Schrambling wrong.

There is something you should know, I am a no one. I have no ties to Julia Child, Hollywood, the movie industry, any form of media. Other than my husband being a radio announcer/program director for a podunk radio station stuck in the middle of nowhere America. I am just a middle-aged stay-at-home Momma who home schools her children. There is nothing in this for me, except the knowledge I will gain through this book.

My promise to you, my readers, is to blog my thoughts on the recipes I've used. I promise to tell you the good ones as well as the bad ones. I do not promise to make every single recipe in the book, for obvious reasons, but I promise to broaden my palate and try new things. I just might like them.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bifteck Hache A La Lyonnaise

I will admit I was a bit shocked to find hamburgers in a French cookbook. I was amazed to think, "Julia Child cooked hamburgers?!"

But these are no ordinary run-of-the-mill-slap-on-the-grill burgers. These were ....almost indescribable. But I'll try.

I was a little surprised when the recipe (and this one I followed to a T.)  called for cooking onion slowly in butter. Why not just add raw onion? I still don't know and maybe sometime I'll experiment and use raw onion. But now that I think about it, why mess with a good thing?

If cooking onion first surprised me a little, adding butter to the meat mixture surprised me greatly. I do buy lean hamburger, but there is still fat in there. Why add more fat? But I obeyed this recipe. I added butter to the meat mixture, and then I cooked them in more butter.

All this cooking things in butter and putting butter in every thing has made me determined to not only eat French food, but to eat like a French person.  You know why you never see overweight people from France? They eat smaller portions than those of us living large in America.  Julia Child talks about serving size a little.

She says, "Most of the recipes in this book are calculated to serve six people with reasonably good appetites in an American-style menu of three courses.  The amounts called for are generally twice what would be considered sufficient for a typical French menu comprising hors d'oeuvre, soup, main course, salad, cheese and dessert. ...If a recipe states that the ingredients listed will serve 4 to 6 people, this means the dish should be sufficient for 4 people if the rest of your menu is small, and for 6 if it is large."

I've never cooked multiple courses in my life. It seems so decadent to me. And isn't it funny, here in America we tend to start with salad and then have the main course, while in France they have the main course and then salad.

Anyway I slightly digress. The hamburgers. Words can't begin to describe the taste sensation. The only words I can think of to utter about these delectable round patties of meatly goodness are To. Die. For.  But because that is all I can think of to utter, I'll post a picture of them. And if you ask nicely, I'll get you the recipe, because I'm a kind-hearted soul. (who happens to smell chocolate very strongly right now.)

There are my delicious patties cooking away. They look white because you roll them in flour before adding them to the pan. I thought it would give them a weird texture but it didn't.

When the hamburgers are finished you cook down some beef stock to drizzle on the top of your hamburger. Very tasty.

That picture does not do it justice. Trust me.

Heavenly! Now don't you want to go cook real food?