Sunday, February 24, 2008

Goat Cheese and Scallion Eggs Cocotte

Eggs.... As promised, here is one of the recipes made during 'egg day' at the French Culinary Institute. I made it again at home a couple days ago, with a few changes. I am usually not a great fan of eggs and bacon in the morning (well, that is not exactly true, but I do like to think about different ways to use eggs) and I found this to be an easy alternative for brunch/breakfast. The cream does make this a bit of a rich starter to the day, but balanced with scallions and fresh goat cheese it is quite delicious. This could be also be enjoyed for lunch or dinner, with a simple beet and citrus vinaigrette perharps?
If anyone has an unorthodox way to enjoy their eggs I'd love for you to share!


Recipe (for 4 servings)
200 ml of heavy cream
4 eggs (at room temperature)
2 scallions (finely sliced)
A small handful of fresh goat cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 F (177 C). Butter the inside of 4 ramekins. Place a couple crumbles of goat cheese at the bottom of each ramekin, and break one egg in each, making sure to keep the yolk intact. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the cream between the ramekins ensuring that the yolk is still visible and that the cream evenly surrounds the yolk. Add the sliced scallions.

Place a sheet of parchament paper into an oven-proof pan. Arrange the ramekins in the pan and pour boiling water half way up the sides of the ramekins. This ensures a slow and gentle cooking process. Cook between 10 and 15 minutes, depending on how runny you want your eggs. The whites should be set, and the yolk can be as runny as you like. Serve with crusty bread. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Few of the Dishes Made at Culinary School (so far)..

I thought I would give you all a glimpse of the kinds of dishes I have been making at the French Culinary Institute so far. If any of these pique your interests, let me know and I'll post the recipe.


Clockwise from top left:

-Grilled steak served with pommes pailles and lemon parsley butter
-Quiche Lorraine made with caramelized onions, gruyere cheese and bacon
-Breadcrumb-coated flounder with red pepper sauce and herb mayonnaise
-Pear tart with almond cream and apricot glaze
-Puff pastry fruit tart
-Orange and cinnamon fritters

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflés

Soufflés are one of those desserts that make me fall in love with cooking, all over again, every time. Light and airy concoctions are born from simple basic ingredients... and watching the dessert fly out of its ramekin makes me smile instantly. There is just something magical about soufflés. The one featured here is a chocolate souffé. It was my favourite of all the ones we made at school (chocolate is usually a winner in my book) but the liqueur-infused soufflé was quite delicious too.

Soufflés are actually pretty easy to put together, but have to be served immediately when done because they deflate fast...very fast. I had never made them in individual ramekins before, but I think I will make them like this from now on. There is just something special about being served your very own risen goodness.

All the egg whites used for our soufflé day were made by it is fair to say that by the end of the day I felt like my right arm was missing a hand... I now definitely have a soft spot for all the pre-beater era cooks.


Recipe (for 4 individual ramekins)
15g flour
100g of bittersweet chocolate
15g butter (and extra to coat the ramekins)
2 egg yolks
4 egg whites
125 mililiters of milk
15g of sugar (and extra to coat the ramekins)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
10 ml of rum
Confectionar sugar

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Coat your ramekins by rubbing the inside with room temperature butter and then adding the granulated sugar. Tap off excess. Refrigerate until needed.
Place a bowl over a bain-marie, and melt the chocolate in it on low heat. Do not stir until the chocolate has melted. In a pan, heat the flour and butter until the mixture thickens and is homogenized (this is called a roux). Add the milk and whisk well for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be quite thick.
Remove the mixture from the heat and add it to the melted chocolate. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Then add the rum and vanilla and gently mix all the ingredients.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites (with a pinch of salt). When soft peaks form, add the sugar. Beat to stiff peaks but not overbeat to prevent the mixture from becoming dry. Fold in 1/4 of the egg mixture in the chocolate to make the batter lighter. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Try to not overbeat and to keep the mixture airy by folding it in very gently.
Spoon the mixture into the ramekins. Reduce the heat to 375 F. Bake for 10-12 minutes. After a couple minutes of cooking time check to see if any of the sides of the mixture are sticking to the ramekins. If they are, gently un-lock them with a sharp knife by separating the soufflé from the container. Do not dock your knife vertically into the ramekin though, or it will cause the soufflé to deflate.
Once baked, sprinkle with confectionar sugar. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Curried Scallops with Sliced Almonds

Last week was full of culinary adventures. An entire day was dedicated to making eggs... poached, en cocotte, french-style omelettes and so on. For those of us who have never made eggs for more than a couple people before, this was quite the experience. Picture a compost bin complete with over 100 egg shells and at least a dozen omelettes in need of improvement... as well as a pungeant egg smell making its way around the class for over six hours. I will most likely be posting some of these recipes soon, that is when I am back from my egg overdose!

For now, I will share a new recipe I put together a couple days ago. On a recent escapade to little India with Oliver, I picked up some mild curry powder. I soon put it to good use with the scallops I had bought that morning.


Recipe (for two)
6 scallops
1/2 cup of mild curry powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 cup of sliced almonds
1/4 cup of heavy cream
A handful of parsley finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper. Lay out the curry powder on a flat surface and dip the scallops in the powder making sure all sides are covered. Tap to remove the excess (there should only be a very thin layer of powder on each scallop). Heat a pan on medium heat and add the oil and garlic stirring to make sure the garlic does not brown. Once the oil is hot, add the scallops. Do not move the scallops for about 2-3 minutes to allow them to brown. Turn them and brown the other side. Remove from the pan, and set aside on a plate. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil to keep warm.

Put the cream in the pan on medium heat, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder and stir. Cook gently for about 10 minutes. Add the parsley. In a separate pan, toast the almonds, stirring often to prevent from burning.

Place the scallops in the center of your serving dish, coat with the cream reduction and top with the almonds. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Homemade Chapati and Coconut Milk Dal

I've always been confounded by food-loving vegetarians. How can you say you appreciate food when meat is such a central part of so many wonderful meals. I'm too often tempted to say 'forget about the ethics of being omnivores and just try it!' Whenever I have a well-cooked dal dish, however, I am forced to reconsider everything. Lentils are just one of those vegetables that, in my humble opinion, are more intrinsically satifying than anything with four legs. Lentils have a really big part in many cuisines, but I think that the spices and aromas of Indian cuisine really let them shine.

This is a recipe from Mangoes and Curry Leaves, easily the nicest cookbook I own (a kind christmas gift from a certain chef-to-be whom I'm sure you're familiar with). The ingredients are a little difficult: on my last trip to New York I swung by Little India and stocked up on lentils, fresh curry leaves (to be frozen) and the atta flour used in chapatis (I was, however, a little nervous to bring a stash of odd-shaped herbs and powders over the border...!). It's all pretty standard stuff if you have an Indian grocer nearby.


Recipe: Dal with Coconut Milk
1 cup of masur dal, washed (red lentils)
5 cups of water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallots
6 curry leaves
2-3 dried chilies
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of coconut milk

Put the dal in a medium pot with water, boil them, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.

Heat a wok or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and toss in the garlic and shallots and stirfry for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add curry leaves, chiles, coriander and stirfry for an additional 2 minutes. Add the salt and coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add to your cooked dal, let the flavours simmer together for a few minutes and serve.

For the Chapatis
2 cups of atta flour, sifted, plus more for rolling
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon of salt

In a mixing bowl, add the flour and water and mix together. It will form a very sticky dough. Turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. I usually have to add at least another 1/3 cup in this process. Lightly flour the bowl, and place the ball of dough in the bowl, covered. Let it rest for anywhere from 30min to 10 hours, depending on what is convenient.

Cut the dough in half, and then each half into quarters. You'll have 8 little balls about the size of a plum. While leaving the rest covered, place one of the balls onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it into disk with your palm. Roll out the ball into a round shape about 8in in diameter. Heat up a cast-iron pan over medium hot, and lightly grease it with an oiled cloth. When it is hot enough, add the rolled out dough. Let it sit for about 15-30 seconds before flipping it. Little bubbles should be developing. When it gets hot enough it should start inflating like a balloon. Alford and Duguid recommend pressing on the bread with a paper towel to really encourage it to inflate. If you can't get it to inflate, don't worry about it, it's still delicious. Keep the bread moving if you feel that it's burning. Repeat with the other 7 slices.
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