Pickling is a state of mind. Ask anyone who pickles. There is something rather atavistic about preparing food to be stored away for the coming winter. Not to mention a wonderful feeling of accomplishment as you tuck away jars of food you have prepared yourself. Once you’ve made your first batch of pickles it is often the beginning of a wonderful, adictive relationship with all kinds of pickles and relishes.
It’s really not complicated. You prepare your vegetables. Wash and sterilize your jars. Fill the jars. Process the jars, That’s it. If you haven’t a canning pot and rick simply follow the instructions in the recipe.
This recipe for oh so addictive pickled green dilly beans is quite simple. You cut your beans to fit into the wide-mouth canning jars. Mix up your vinegar, water and salt. Put a little red pepper flakes, some mustard seeds and lots of dill seed into each jar. Tuck in the beans. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over. Seal the jars and process them in boiling water for 15 minutes and you’re done. You can cut the recipe in half if you just have a few beans picked up at the farmer’s market, or double the recipe if you’ve plundered your garden.
This really is comfort food at it’s very best. It’s easy to make. One generally has all the ingredients in the kitchen. You combine the simple flavours of a great tomato sauce with irresistible bacon. You can use … Continue reading →
The secret to good cookie making is to always cream your butter and sugar really well. At least five or preferably ten minutes. Then beat in the eggs thoroughly one at a time. Stir in the flour briefly – just until it is combined with the flour. In this recipe it is ESSENTIAL to refrigerator the dough for at least one hour.
These cookies are very rich. Roll the dough into small one inch balls and bake on a parchment lined sheet. Then if you really want to gild the lily, and make your bridge partner happy, melt some chocolate with heavy cream. Let the chocolate cool and sandwich the cookies with the ganache. Such indulgence!
The recipe makes 50 to 60 cookies. I set up an assembly line. I prefer to bake my cookies one sheet at a time. I have one batch of cookies in the oven. One batch cooling. And a third batch waiting to be baked. To balance the sweetness of the cookies I listen to Tom Waits growl his way through his newest album BAD AS ME.
In my large repertoire of soups there are several that I return to time and again. Heading the list is this sublime, exotic tasting soup. It is not complicated to prepare but has such outstanding addictive flavours and textures it is a wonderful dish to serve to family and friends. The title tells it all. Red curry paste and turmeric combine to give it exceptional flavour. The red lentils cook away to thicken the soup to an almost stew-like consistency. You can prepare it several hours ahead by refrigerating the soup after you have simmered the vegetables in the chicken stock. Then about half an hour before serving reheating the soup and adding the chicken and sweet potatoes. We know dishes like this taste even better for the resting time.
RED LENTIL SOUP WITH CHICKEN, TURMERIC AND RED CURRY
There is nothing more divine than a perfectly executed pâté. It is heaven on a plate. You can make a lunch out of it. Serve it before dinner. I have even been known to spread this buttery rich … Continue reading →
This is a very different recipe for CHICKEN POT PIE. All the ingredients are roasted before being assembled into the pie. The results are a deep, rich chicken vegetable filling that takes chicken pot pie to new … Continue reading →
This traditional dough recipe for French tart is not difficult to make. You must use a stand-mixer. A hand-held mixer is not heavy enough to mix the dough. The buttery dough makes a delicate,crisp cookie-like crust. The recipe makes enough for two tart crusts – use one now and freeze the other for a delicious tart in your future.
Pierre Hermes is the inspiration for this stunning, sublime lemon cream (think curd) filling. Pierre Hermes is a French pastry chef famous for his unusually flavoured macaroons. The addition of a little orange zest calms the sharpness of the lemons. It has all the ingredients of the traditional lemon curd but it is lighter and silky smooth. The secret is the way the butter is added. It is not difficult to make.
To simplify the recipe make the pastry and bake the tart the day before you plan to serve it. The next day make the filling and finish your very French tart … worthy of the finest patisserie.
Pierre Hermes is the inspiration for this stunning, sublime lemon cream tart.. It has a delicate sweet buttery crisp cookie-like crust with a rich, smooth, puckery lemon filling topped with whipped cream.
10 oz. (2 l/1 cups) all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
3½ oz. (3/4 cup plus 2 tbs.) confectioners' sugar
6 oz. (12 tbs.) cold (not frozen) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
2 large eggs, l separated and egg white set aside
½ cup (4 oz.) sugar
Finely grated zest from 2 lemons
Finely grated zest from l orange
⅓ generous cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs whisked to combine
5 oz. unsalted butter room temperature cut into 5 pieces
1 cup( 8 oz) whipping cream
1 tbs. confectioners' sugar
½ tsp vanilla
Whisk whole egg and egg yolk in small bowl just until combined and set aside
In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment combine the flour, sugar, and salt
Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter begins to break up, about one minute
Increase the speed to just below medium and continue beating until the mixture looks sandy with butter pieces the size of tiny pebbles, about two minutes more.
Turn the mixer off and add the whipped whole egg and egg yolk (reserve the remaining white for baking the crust).
Mix on low speed until incorporated.
Increase the speed to medium and mix just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about thirty seconds. DO NOT OVER MIX
Divide the dough in half, press each half into a disk about four inches across, and wrap in plastic .
Refrigerate one disk for at lease three hours and up to 25 hours.
(Freeze the other disk for up to a month; thaw in the refrigerator before using.
SHAPE AND BAKE THE CRUST:
Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.
Rub an 8½ or 9½ inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with butter
Working quickly, roll the dough disk into a ⅛-inch-thick round.
Transfer the dough to the tart pan and gently coax it into the pan. Do not stretch or pull the dough to fit.
Allow the excess dough to hang over the sides and trim it about ½ inch all around. Fold the dough into the tart leaving a small amount above the edge.
Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut off the excess dough. This will give you crust a professional looking edge.
Patch any tears or cracks with the scraps.
Using a little of the left over pastry rolled into a small ball gently ease the dough a little above the tart pan to allow for shrinkage when baking.
Prick the base of the tart all over with a fork.
Refrigerate the crust for at least 20 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400F.
Line the crust with a generous amount of parchment paper and fill it TO THE VERY TOP with beans, or pie weights.
Put the pie crust on a baking sheet and put it into the oven. IMMEDIATELY turn the oven down to 375F.
Bake until the edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes.
Carefully remove the weights and paper.
Return the crust to the oven and bake until the center of the crust looks dry and is just beginning to colour, about 5 minutes.
Whisk the reserved egg white and brush the inside of the crust with some of the egg white (you won't need it all ) and return the crust to the oven until the egg white has dried, about 2 minutes. Brushing the crust with egg white and baking it briefly creates a barrier that keeps the crust from becoming soggy when filled.
Cool completely on a rack.
You can prepare the crust up to 24 hours before filling.
MAKING THE LEMON FILLING:
In a medium sized bowl, using a wooden spoon, combine the lemon and orange zest with the sugar.
Whisk in the two eggs.
Whisk in the lemon juice.
Set the bowl over a saucepan that has about 2 inches of water.
Using a thermometer whisk the mixture over medium heat until it reaches 180F.
This will take about ten minutes. Keep track of the time and increase the temperature of the water if after ten minutes it hasn't reached 180 F.
Remove from heat and whisk for a few minutes more to allow the mixture to cool slightly,
Pour the mixture into a blender and add the butter into the mixture one piece at a time, making sure each piece of butter is assimilated before adding the next piece.
Pour the mixture into the prebaked tart and refrigerate for 1- 2 hours
Whip the cream and when it starts to thicken add the sugar and vanilla. Continue whisking until stiff peaks form.
Using pastry bag with a decorative nozzle fill with the whipping cream and decorate the tart.
You can also simply spread the tart with the cream .
Clafouti of any kind makes a simple and wonderful desert, or an absolutely indulgent breakfast. It’s the kind of dish I keep in my apron pocket for those times when I want to whip up a dessert on short notice. It’s made by pouring a very rich eggy batter similar to pancakes over fresh fruit and baked. This brilliant French dessert from the Limousin region is easy to make and left-overs are equally wonderful as a midnight snack or a breakfast treat.
In this recipe rhubarb replaces the traditional cherries with wonderful results – almost better than the original. The rhubarb is roasted before adding it to the baking dish. Before serving sift a little powdered sugar and cinnamon over the clafouti.
A brilliant French dessert made by pouring an eggy batter over roasted rhubarb and then baked
For the rhubarb:
2 generous cups (8-9 ounces, about 3 long stalks) rhubarb diced into two inch pieces.
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp cinnamon.
For the clafouti:
¾ cup (200 ml) whole milk
¾ cup (200 ml) double/heavy cream
⅓ cup (50 g) sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup (2½ oz) all-purpose flour
a sprinkle of salt
butter for baking dish
powdered sugar and cinnamon for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Combine the rhubarb with the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside for 5-10 minutes to dissolve the sugars and begin extracting the rhubarb juices.
Spread the rhubarb in the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch baking dish and roast uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and the juices are bubbling.
Allow to co cool until the rhubarb is just warm to the touch.
Using a blender combine the milk,cream, sugar, vanilla, salt and flour, and blend. You can also whisk all the ingredients in a large bowl but be sure to mix well.
Set the batter side.
Lightly butter a 12-inch (30-cm) diameter baking dish.
Pour a ¼ inch layer of the blended mixture over the bottom. Set remaining batter aside.
Place dish into the oven for about 7-10 minutes, until a film of batter sets in the pan but the mixture is not baked through.
Remove from oven (but don't turn the oven off yet).
Spread the rhubarb over the set batter in the pan.
Pour the remaining batter over the roasted rhubarb and bake for 45-60 minutes (still at 350 F), until the clafouti is puffed and brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. It's fine if the middle still jiggles slightly. The edges will collapse once the clafouti starts to cool.
The longer it cools, the more set the clafouti becomes. For a loose pudding-like dessert, serve while still warm from the oven. For a firm custard, allow to cool to room temperature or serve chilled.
Before serving sprinkle with a mixture of powdered sugar and cinnamon.
CASSOULET is a hearty combination of beans baked with meats. The list of ingredients is long but it is not hard to cook. You need to start preparations at least two to three days in advance of serving and you will need a large casserole dish to cook it in. Cook the beans three days before your dinner, cook the meat stew two days before dinner, day three, the day you are serving cassoulet brown the duck and sausages, then put it all together.
There are as many versions of cassoulet as there are regions in France. My recipe takes full advantage of our garden raised dried French heirloom Tarbais white beans and our own milk fed pork. But substituting dried white beans and having an understanding butcher you can easily create your version of this classic dish.
The sausages should have as high a pork content as possible. Duck confit is sold canned (and frozen) in large supermarkets and some delicatessens. Using it is optional. You can also make an all-pork cassoulet using boneless country-style ribs cut into 2 inch cubes.
Day one in the three day process. Prepare the beans.
Day two – brown the meat and add the tomatoes and stock.
Day three – brown the fresh pork sausage and put the cassoulet together about three hours before dinner.
It is pure alchemy. How could such simple ingredients – eggs, milk, cream, sugar – bring grown men to their knees. This recipe for crème brûlée was always on the menu at our restaurant, Roxy’s Bistro. We made it five days a week for seven years. Repetition makes perfect, and I perfected this new recipe so it is right every time. This recipe is perfect for six generous servings, but if you are having a large dinner party it doubles beautifully and serves twelve.
This dessert made with a rich creme anglaise (custard sauce) and topped with burnt sugar, can be made up to two days ahead of time.
1½ cups whipping cream
½ cup cream milk (coffee/cream)
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
⅓ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Brown sugar for topping.
If you have time to do this ahead spread two cups of brown sugar on a large dinner plate. Leave to dry on the kitchen counter for a few days. Eliminating moisture from the brown sugar makes your burnt sugar topping crisper.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Set out six one-cup size ramekins and a pan large enough to hold them.
Heat the whipping cream and cream milk in a large saucepan, over medium heat, until very hot but NOT BOILING.
While the milk mixture is heating whisk eggs until thick in your stand mixture.
Add sugar gradually beating constantly until mixture is very thick and pale in color.
Add hot cream/milk mixture to the eggs VERY SLOWLY beating constantly and at low speed. Start by just dribbling the hot milk down the side of your bowl so you warm your eggs but don't cook them.. Don't whisk your egg mixture at a high speed because it becomes too foamy.
Pour the mixture back into the pan used to heat the milk/cream mixture and over low to medium heat, whisk constantly until your custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Be sure to push your whisk into the corners of your pan while whisking. If you are using a candy thermometer take it to just 165F. then remove it from the heat and continue whisking it for a minute or two to cool.
Whisk in your vanilla or other such flavourings as rum, kirsch, cognac, orange liqueur, or espresso.
Pour your custard into the ramekins and set them in the pan.
Put the pan in the center of your oven and pour in boiling water to reach about half way up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake uncovered in a 350F oven for 35 minutes. The edges should be firm and the center slightly wobbly.
Cool then chill in the refrigerator for several hours until set. You can make this up to two days ahead of time stored in the refrigerator tightly covered with plastic wrap.
A couple of hours before you wish to serve your creme brulee preheat your broiler.
Generously sprinkle each of the custards with the brown sugar making sure there are no lumps and all the custard is covered.
Set your rack so your custards are a good two inches below your broiler. If they are too close only the top layer of sugar will caramelize. You can then return the ramekins to the refrigerator until serving time, or serve them immediately. I prefer to serve them right away so the custard is slightly warm and burnt sugar crust has is beautifully brittle.
Set pan in oven and pour in boiling water about half way up the ramekins.