Food Flight

An aviator's culinary adventures

Crepes Again January 25, 2010

Filed under: breakfast,Dessert — flyingbubble @ 1:01 am
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My dad flew into town this weekend so he could take one of our cars back to California.  It was great to see him but sad because it will be a while before we get together again.  He landed after 11pm on Friday night, so Red, mom and I stayed up to go get him (Red was definitely grumpy being up past his bedtime).  Fully expecting to sleep in on Saturday morning, Red woke me up around 8 and coaxed me into to walking and feeding him.  Around 9 we decided to go wake up the parents with slobbery kisses (well only Red did the kissing).  My sleepy dad rolls over and inquires about what we might be having for breakfast.  Naturally, my mother volunteers me to cook and starts listing meals that I know how to make!  (Apparently I’m the designated cook in the family now… didn’t see that coming when I started this blog).  My dad said that crepes sounded good, clearly unaware of the requirement for the batter to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Aiming to please, I agreed to cook and went to work on the batter figuring that the refrigeration was a guideline and not a rule.  My second hurdle that morning was a lack of butter… and when cooking from Julia Child’s book, that qualifies as a disaster.

I found a partial stick in my mom’s butter serving dish so I just threw that in the batter and hoped it would be close enough to the 5 Tbs I needed.  After blending the batter and putting in the fridge, it occurred to me that my mom wanted to “fill” the crepes with butter and sugar.  The only butter we had left was laced with tarragon from a steak cook out we’d had over the holidays.  With my tail between my legs, I walked back to my parents room and announced that breakfast would be delayed because I needed to run to the store for butter.  My mom went with so I could just run in and out quickly.  While at the store, I also grabbed a couple oranges, green onions and mushrooms.  I started making the crepes (the batter probably chilled for about 45 minutes) and the process was far from smooth sailing.  I couldn’t seem to get the temperature right, or keep the pan at the same temperature.  I only adjusted the temperature knob once in the beginning but the crepes alternated between cooking super fast and super slow.  Some of them were a deep dark brown color that could possibly be construed as black, and some barely had any brown but some faint tan spots on both sides.  I’m attributing the cooking difficulties to the mystery amount of butter in the batter and the lack of time for the ingredients to “settle” in the fridge.  There’s just no way it could have been my fault!! (haha).  My mom made orange sugar for the filling by rubbing the sugar in orange peels (Julia’s recommendation) and zesting the two large oranges into the sugar.  Despite the struggles the result was delicious and most wouldn’t notice that there had been any problems in the kitchen.

Once I finished filling the crepes I tossed the sliced mushrooms into the pan and after sufficiently sauteing them, I added chopped green onions and then egg whites (with one whole egg added).  Seasoned with salt and Pepper and scrambled the eggs.  Over all it was a delicious breakfast!  Green onions and mushrooms are one of my favorite veggie combos to scramble with eggs or add to an omelette. Enjoy the pictures.

And, the funny picture of the day: I screwed up one of the crepes pretty badly and it resembled scrambled eggs.  I photographed the anomaly and dubbed it “scrambled crepe”! (My mom added butter and sugar and ate it anyway).

 

Julia Child Crepes Round 2 January 20, 2010

Filed under: Dinner — flyingbubble @ 1:17 am
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I invited my friend Jessica over for dinner tonight and decided to try my hand at savory crepes this time.  I told her we could have some Orange Bavarian Cream for dessert so it just made sense to make a Julia Child recipe for dinner too.  The descriptions for crepe fillings were quite elaborate and after struggling to decide on the flavors, I opted for the simple, classic ham and cheese combo.  There is a basic bechamel cheese sauce recipe that allows for other ingredients to be added so I picked up some ham and swiss cheese.  The crepe batter was much like the last time (Christmas with Julia) so I just had to throw the ingredients in a blender, mix em up and set in the fridge to settle for a few hours (or in this case overnight).  I also went to the store and bought a cast iron pan to cook with because Julia’s book shows 3 types of acceptable crepe pans that are all “iron” pans.  I’m still not convinced I have the right equipment but this time was certainly easier than cooked with the nonstick skillet.  When Jessica arrived, I had everything ready to go and we just had to start making crepes and whip up the cheesy filling.  Eager to help, Jessica took on the bechamel sauce on the burner next to me as I unsuccessfully stumbled through 3 test crepes (Julia is crazy to think you only need one test!!).  I don’t have much to say about the sauce making process since I was quite engaged in my crepe flipping practice (for me, jerking the pan vigorously does not loosen the crepe…).  Although Jessica thought the beginning butter-flour mixture looked delicious and that adding the whipping cream a tablespoon at a time was tediously unnecessary.  As I cooked the crepes, we had a plate of “test crepe” scraps and a plate of successful full circle fillable crepes.  Jessica went to work filling the crepes once the sauce was done and over all we completed the recipe without destroying the kitchen, breaking the garbage disposal or flinging food on the dog!  The resulting meal was a bit rich for my taste (grew up on low fat healthy food) but definitely really good, next time I’ll put more meat and maybe some vegetables in the sauce.  My mom came in once the cooking was done and took the crepe scraps to make her childhood favorite “roll up pancakes”.  She butters one side, sprinkles it with sugar and rolls it up.  I think this would have been tastier with the “sweet crepes” batter recipe instead of the savory one I used.  A subtle difference but definitely noticeable.  If you’re interested in trying this recipe its a great blank canvas for whatever flavors you prefer!  This was actually on the Worst Cooks in America Food Network show where they challenged the Worst Cook contestants to create their own flavor combinations for the crepe with bechamel filling. Here’s the recipe:

PATE  A  CREPES (crepe batter)

1 cup cold water

1 cup cold milk

4 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups flour

4 Tb melted butter

Put the liquids, eggs and salt into the blender jar.  Add the flour, then the butter.  Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute.  If bits of flour adhere to sides of jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend for 2 to 3 seconds more.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

The batter should be a very light cream, just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon.  If, after making your first crepe, it seems too heavy, beat in a bit of water, a spoonful at a time.  Your cooked crepe should be about 1/16 inch thick.

Excerpt about how to cook crepes: “Remove from heat and, holding handle of pan in your right hand, pour with your left hand a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan.  Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film.  (Pour any batter that does not adhere back into your bowl; judge the amount for your next crepe accordingly).  This whole operation takes but 2 to 3 seconds.  Return the pan to heat for 60-80 seconds.  Then jerk and toss pan sharply back and forth and up and down to loosen the crepe.  Lift its edges with a spatula and if the under side is a nice light brown, the crepe is ready for turning.”

SAUCE MORNAY (Bechamel with cheese), 3 cups

5 Tb flour

4 Tb butter

2 3/4 cup boiling milk

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Big pinch of nutmeg

1/4 cup whipping cream

1 cup coarsely grated Swiss cheese

*Substitute 1/2 cup of the cheese with 1/2 cup cubed ham

Cook the flour and butter slowly together in the sauce pan for 2 minutes without coloring.  Off heat, beat in the boiling milk and seasonings.  Boil, stirring, for 1 minute.  Reduce to the simmer and stir in the cream by tablespoons.  Sauce should be thick enough to coat the spoon fairly heavily.  Remove from heat and correct seasoning.  Stir in all but two tablespoons of the cheese.  (Add cubed ham or whatever other ingredients you desire).  Film top of sauce with milk to prevent a skin from forming.

Place a big spoonful of filling on the lower third of each crepe and roll the crepes into cylinders.

 

Julia Child’s Orange Bavarian Cream January 18, 2010

Filed under: Dessert — flyingbubble @ 7:34 pm
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While I’m certainly not embarking on a mission to “Master the Art of French Cooking” I plan to try all the recipes that sound good to me.  I’m not as drawn to the traditional flavors or French cuisine as Spanish/Mexican, Asian, and Indian flavors.  Of course, I have yet to find a dessert that I don’t like :).  My next installment from the dessert section of my Julia child book is the Bavarian Cream.  The authors (Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck) highly recommended the Orange flavored cream, so I chose the orange despite the strong temptation to try the chocolate version.  I went out to purchased the ingredients as soon as I decided to try the recipe but those shopping bags sat untouched on my counter for the next 3 days.  I was clearly just a little apprehensive about starting this elaborate recipe.  Yesterday, I finally decided to set aside a block of my day to master the art of Bavarian creams.  I followed every step of the recipe and used the correct amounts of all the ingredients.  Halfway through the process I realized that a sous chef could have made my life much easier.  I think most new “student” cooks can relate to the scene of pots bubbling on the stove, mixing bowl spinning in the stand mixer, ingredients, bowls, spoons, other utensils strewn about the kitchen like a bomb exploded.

That’s a completely unexaggerated description of my mom’s kitchen while I was working!  I was vigorously beating the orange custard in a pot on the stove and I turned around to check on the egg whites which should have been whisking into a beautiful meringue.  Instead of perfect soft peaks, I turned around to see egg white clouds flying from the bowl in all directions all over the kitchen!! Yikes, apparently the bowl I chose for the eggs white wasn’t large enough and I’m not sure how much egg I lost but the final product is short a few splatters of egg white fluff.  My dog Red was eager to help out of course and thoroughly licked the floor clean of egg whites.  Which is why it is important to have a dog around when you cook.  The other disastrous part of this recipe was folding the egg whites into the orange custard.  This was supposed to be done over ice so that the hot custard would cool and partially set as the egg whites were added.  I had one pot that I thought might be larger than the mixing bowl the custard was in, so I filled that pot with ice and placed the mixing bowl on top (it wouldn’t drop into the pot all the way).  I realized that the mixture wasn’t cooling off very quickly if at all so I decided to add water to the ice so it would reach and cool the mixing bowl.  Of course, not fulling thinking it through I placed the mixing bowl back in the pot and practically flooded the kitchen as all the excess water poured over the edges!  Fortunately, my mom was in the bedroom painting where she was sheltered from the chaotic scene in her kitchen.  Ultimately I got all the steps completed and poured the custard mix into the mold (a beautiful star shape from IKEA), and placed the orange molded goop in the refrigerator.

Then I turned around and was almost surprised at the messy kitchen despite having been the creator.  I immediately went to work on scrubing pots and dishes and loading the dish washer.  About half way through this effort, I discovered that the garbage disposal wasn’t draining and the excess water was filling up the other sink.  I guess I pushed a few too many orange peels down the drain and there is a clog in the pipes.  My dad explained over the phone how to undo the trap and check for a clog.  My mom and I spent most of the evening yesterday trying things to unclog the pipes and we poured half a bottle of liquid plumber down the sink to soak overnight.  It’s now almost dinnertime the next day and as I type this, my mom has a garden hose shoved up the pipe which leads into the wall.  We’re trying to flush out the clog so I’ve been running in and out of the house turning the water on for her.  What I’ve learned from this experience is that Bavarian Creams are difficult to cook!  Be patient with yourself and do your best to read the recipe and head and be fully prepared for all the steps you’ll have to take.  That should reduce the frantic rushing around which caused such a huge mess in my kitchen.  I think the cream is supposed to have an even color and texture, so please ignore the white spots and clear orange top coat to my Bavarian Cream :).  Enjoy the pictures and if you decide to try it, God speed.

Bavarois A L’Orange

INGREDIENTS:

2 large, fine, bright-skinned oranges

2 large sugar lumps

1.5 Tb (1.5 packages) gelatin

7 egg yolks

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp cornstarch

1 1/2 cups boiling milk

5 egg whites

1 Tb granulated sugar

1/2 cup chilled whipping cream

2 Tb orange liqueur

DIRECTIONS:

Wash and dry the oranges.  One at a time, rub the sugar lumps over them until all sides of each lump are impregnated with orange oil.  Mash the sugar lumps in the mixing bowl.  Grate the orange part of the skins into the bowl.

Squeeze the juice of the oranges into the cup , to make 1/2 to 3/4 cup of strained juice.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the orange juice and set aside to soften.

Following the procedure for creme anglaise, add the egg yolks to the orange sugar in the mixing bowl. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until mixture is pale yellow and forms the ribbon.  Beat in the cornstarch.

Beat the milk in a thin stream of droplets into the egg yolk mixture.  Pour into saucepan and set over moderate heat.  Stir wooden spoon until mixture thickens enough to coat the spoon lightly (170 degrees).  Do not overheat or egg yolks will scramble.  Remove from heat and immediately add the orange juice and gelatin mixture, beating for a moment or two until gelatin has dissolved completely.  Rinse out the mixing bowl and pour in the custard.

Beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the hot custard.  Set over the ice.  Fold delicately with spatula frequently while mixture is cooling, to keep it from separating.  When cold and almost but not quite set, proceed with recipe.

Beat cream over the preceding bowl of ice until cream has doubled in volume and beater leaves faint traces on the surface.  Fold the whipped cream and orange liqueur into the custard.

Rinse mold in cold water and shake out excess.  Turn the Bavarian cream into the mold.  Cover with the waxed paper.  Chill for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Remove waxed paper.  Dip mold in very hot water for 1 second ( a second or 2 longer for a porcelain mold) run knife around the edge of the cream, and reverse on a chilled serving platter. (May be unmolded and refrigerated several hours before serving.) Serve surrounded with sugared orange segments.

 

Daube de Boeuf December 30, 2009

Filed under: Dinner — flyingbubble @ 11:07 pm
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After skimming the pages of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, hopefully searching for a recipe that sounded somewhat appetizing.  (Most of her recipes involve ingredients that I don’t currently care to eat.)  This recipe (aka Estouffade de Boeuf or Terrine de Boeuf) is a casserole of beef with wine and vegetables.  “Daube” is a covered casserole, unfortunately I missed the line of the recipe with the direction to “cover closely”.  This was also one of the few recipes I found with absolutely no butter!  The fat comes from the bacon that gets layered into the casserole.  My mom doesn’t own a 5-6 quart casserole dish (actually I don’t either), and the biggest size she could find was 1.5 quart.  We borrowed a 3 quart dish from a neighbor and decided to cut the recipe in half.  I’m not sure if that caused any problems with the preparation or cooking, maybe next time I’ll get a bigger dish and cook the full amount.  The stew was very good and my dad requested the recipe after announcing it “a keeper”.  If you have an entire day to waste cooking, you should definitely try this out.  Actually I just spent some time in the morning, picking up groceries and tossing together the marinade, and then roughly 4 hours later I did some more preparations in creating the casserole and then it just went into the oven for 3 hours.  I had my mom checking on it while Jeremiah and I took the dog (Red) out for a long walk.  Here’s the recipe (full size):

Ingredients:

3 lbs lean stewing beef cut into 2.5 in squares

1.5 cups dry white wine, dry white vermouth or red wine

1/4 cup brandy, eau de vie, or gin

2 Tb olive oil

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp thyme or sage

1 crumbled bay leaf

2 cloves mashed garlic

2 cups thinly sliced onions

2 cups thinly sliced carrots

1/2 lb lean bacon cut into 1″ slices, .25″ thick and 2″ long

1.5 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1.5 lbs ripe red tomatoes peeled, seeded, juiced and chopped

1 cup sifted flour on a plate

1 to 2 cups beef stock or bouillon

Directions:

Place the beef in the bowl and mix with the wine, optional spirits, olive oil, seasonings, herbs, and vegetables.  Cover and marinate at least 3 hours (6 if refridgerated), stirring up frequently.

Simmer the bacon for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water.  Drain and dry.  Prepare the mushrooms and tomatoes. (For tomatoes: drop tomatoes one at a time into boiling water to cover, boil for exactly 10 seconds.  Remove.  Cut out the stem.  Peel off the skin starting from the stem hole.  Cut tomatoes in half crosswise, not through the stem.  Squeeze each half to extract the seeds and juices from the center of the tomato. Chop into small chunks.)  Remove the beef from the marinade and drain in a sieve.  Preheat oven 325 degrees.  Line the bottom of the casserole with 3 or 4 strips of bacon.  Strew a handful of the marinade vegetables, mushrooms and tomatoes over them.  Piece by piece, roll the beef in the flour and shake off excess.  Place closely together in a layer over the vegetables.  Cover with a few strips of bacon, and continue with layers of vegetables, beef, and bacon.  End with layer of vegetables and 2 or 3 strips of bacon.

Pour in the wine from the marinade and enough stock or bouillon almost to cover the contents of the casserole.  Bring to simmer on top of the stove, cover closely, and set in lower third of preheated oven.  Regulate heat so liquid simmers slowly for 2.5-3 hours.  Then meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

Tip casserole and skim out fat.  Correct seasoning.  (*) May be prepared ahead and reheated, and its good either hot or cold.

Beef Marinading

Me: blanching a tomato

Layered casserole ready for the oven

DONE! (with a crispy top layer because I forgot to cover it)

 

Christmas Breakfast from Julia Child December 25, 2009

Filed under: breakfast,Dessert — flyingbubble @ 7:06 pm
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My roommate Desiree gave me Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking so I decided that I needed to try one of her recipes for a Christmas meal.  Many of the recipes didn’t sound too appealing (aspics…) but its hard to go wrong with a dessert type recipe.  I had never cooked crepes before but I love them and have always wanted to try.  So I flipped to the dessert chapter and found a recipe for crepes with almond cream.  The great thing about this recipe was that the almond filling can be made up to a week in advance and the crepe batter gets mixed up the night before so all I had to do this morning was cook and fill the crepes.  The almond cream was probably the hardest part because I had to whip up liquid into a custardy texture without scorching the milk or getting the mixture stuck to the bottom of the pan.  My arm was pretty darn tired when I finished.  The crepe batter just gets blended up so that was definitely my favorite part.  As I cooked the crepes this morning I realized that the pan and cooking surface place a large part in your ability to make crepes.  I had trouble getting the pan to the right temperature (kept swinging between too hot and not enough heat).  I used a nonstick pan instead of cast iron.  The recipe calls for cooked crepes and almond cream so I had to use the recipes for those to get to step one for the final process.  I’ll include all the recipes in this post so you can make this recipe at home.

Crepes Fourrees, Frangipane (Crepes with Almond Cream)

12 cooked crepes 6 inches in diameter

1.5 cups frangipane (almond custard)

2 ounces or squares of semi sweet baking chocolate

2 Tb melted butter

1 Tb granulated sugar

Directions: Use any of the three recipes for crepes (I used dessert crepe recipe and that’s what I’ll include here).  Spread 2 Tb of frangipane on the less-good side of each crepe.  Fold the crepes into wedge shapes, or roll them, to enclose the filling, and arrange in the baking dish.  Grate the chocolate over the crepes, sprinkle on the melted butter, then the sugar.  About 20 minutes before serving, set in a preheated 350-degree oven until the chocolate had melted.  Serve hot or warm.

Crepes Fines Sucrees (light batter)

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup cold water

3 egg yolks

1 Tb granulated sugar

3 Tb orange liqueur, rum, or brandy

1 cup flour (scooped and leveled)

5 Tb melted butter

Directions: Place the ingredients in the blender jar in the order in which they are listed.  Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute.  If bits of flour adhere to sides of jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend 3 seconds more.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight

Frangipane (Almond custard filling)

1 egg

1 egg yolk

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup flour

1 cup boiling milk

3 Tb butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

1/2 cup pulverized macaroons or pulverized almonds

Directions:  Beat the egg and egg yolk in he mixing bowl, gradually adding the sugar, until mixture is pale yellow and forms the ribbon.  Beat in the flour.  Then beat in the boiling milk in a thin stream of droplets.  Pour into saucepan and set over moderate heat.  Stir slowly with the whip, reaching all over the bottom of the pan.  When mixture begins to coagulate into lumps, beat it vigorously until it smooths and thickens into a stiff paste.  Then over moderately low heat, beat it with a wooden spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to cook the flour thoroughly.  Be careful the custard does not scorch on the bottom of the pan.  Off heat, beat in the butter, then the flavorings and macaroons or almonds.  If not used immediately, clean custard off sides of pan and dot top with softened butter to prevent a skin from forming on the surface.  Frangipane will keep for a week under refrigeration, or may be frozen.