Now We’re Cooking With Mustard!

9 11 2009

October, aka Burgundy Month, may be over, but it has left a lasting impression on my kitchen in the form of Large Quantities of Mustard.  Mustard, believe it or not, does expire, so now I’m faced with the enviable task of figuring out what to do with all of it.  Vinaigrette is easy – the more mustard you add to it, the easier it is to emulsify! – but no one wants to eat salad every night, no matter how beautiful and flavorful the dressing.

Shortly after our return from Dijon, I had a cauliflower from the CSA panier idling in the fridge.  Cauliflower in cheese sauce is a classic, but it occurred to me to swap out the cheese for a healthy dose of fresh mustard.  I whipped up a quick béchamel sauce (remember last week’s velouté?  Same thing, only with milk instead of stock), using an 8:1 ratio of milk to roux – going for saucy, not soupy.  Meanwhile, I was roasting bite-size chunks of cauliflower in the oven.  When the sauce was ready, I whisked in a few big spoonfuls of mustard, then tossed the sauce with the cauliflower and popped it back in the oven for a few minutes to get a delicious tan.

Like a cheese-less cauliflower gratin

And it was fantastic.  We ate it as a main course, but it would make a great side dish, too.

Still looking for ways to incorporate mustard into my menus, I thought I’d check the selection of exotic (well, to the people who stock the vegetables at Monoprix, anyway) greens at my local Asian market (ok, one of the many).  Mustard greens sounded like they might end up a little one-dimensional, but broccoli greens seemed right on.  (Not entirely sure what these are called in English.  In French, they’re labeled “feuilles de brocoli,” and they look a bit like broccoli rabe or rapini, but don’t taste bitter the way those do.)  Using this recipe sketch as a jumping off point  – which I have done many times, all recipes should be written this way – I softened some shallots in a pan before adding sliced broccoli greens until they wilted.  A splash of white wine vinegar and a couple of large dollops of mustard went in next, and when the greens were coated to my liking, I served them up next to loaded cheeseburgers – dark leafy greens make any meal healthy, right?

Mustardy broccoli greens

I never did much actual cooking with mustard before, but you can believe I’m going to keep at it!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Enchiladas Robuchon

24 03 2009

Really, I just wanted to write the title of this post.  The rest isn’t that interesting.

Roasted endive quarters and Jambon de Bayonne

Unless, of course, you like your vegetables wrapped in ham and covered in cheese sauce.  Then you should try this, the idea for which came from Joël Robuchon’s excellent book.

Enchiladas Robuchon, before I drowned them in Béchamel

His simple, straightforward recipe says something along the lines of: “boil endives, wrap in slices of ham, cover in Béchamel sauce and top with grated cheese.  Bake until heated through.”  And that’s pretty much exactly what I did, except that since I was already heating up the oven and getting a gratin dish dirty, I just quartered the endives and roasted them in there before wrapping them up in Jambon de Bayonne.  The result?  Enchiladas, if the French had invented them.

It even has all four food groups!  (See the bread in the back?)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Mackenstein

31 10 2008

Or, The Modern Procheesius

Just in time for Halloween, I smacked together a jumble of Ingredients That Needed To Be Used and called it Macaroni and Cheese.

Tillamook Cheddar?  Good.  Chorizo?  Good.

Which it was.  Only I didn’t have macaroni, so I used twirly pasta instead.  And I also threw in some chopped up chorizo, because hog+cheese=good things.  And some peas, because I was going to serve them on the side, but then decided I didn’t want to get another pot dirty.  But I did take the time to make Béchamel, and I used 100% Tillamook cheddar, just because I could (and because the damn refrigerator still hasn’t been fixed and I’ll be really upset if I have to throw Tillamook away).

Normally, when I make Macaroni and Cheese, I make fresh breadcrumbs, toss them with a little butter, and use that to top the gooey cheesy deliciousness.  Being Cuisinart-less, I resorted to using boxed breadcrumbs, which, in retrospect, was a mistake.

Don't call it casserole!

Still, it tasted homey, and was the perfect meal for yet another cold, rainy night.  The chorizo gave little bursts of smoky goodness, and the peas kept us from feeling like total pigs.  In fact, Nick gave me an engagement ring over a very similar meal almost exactly four years ago.

Happy Nevada Day!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





The Winter Squash Saga, Part I: Lasagna

27 10 2008

Acorn squash, orange, and sage.  These are the ingredients for the November Royal Foodie Joust chez The Leftover Queen.  Luckily for all of us residing outside the United States, it was deemed appropriate to substitute any orange-fleshed winter squash.  I thought I’d use a patidou, but they seem to have disappeared from the markets.  Ah, well.  Potiron is plentiful and cheap, not to mention tasty.

A hunk of potiron

But what to do with it?  The combination of winter squash with orange sounds good, ditto with sage.  All three together, however, pose a bit more of a challenge.  It’s not exactly an intuitive pairing.  After a good amount of brainstorming, I had come up with two good ideas, or so I thought.  I ultimately rejected the homemade pork-sausage-stuffed acorn squash, not only because of my change in squash, but because it seemed a little too obvious.  Sure, it would be delicious, but I wanted something unique.  The other idea, for a dessert, did come to fruition, but that’s tomorrow’s post.

Somehow, while wandering through the market, basking in the glory of the new fall produce, a new dish began to take shape in my head.  We had picked up some Swiss chard, and after getting some preparation tips from Chez Loulou, I was excited to try my hand at some fresh chestnuts.  (A brief aside: I learned this weekend that while chestnuts are most commonly referred to here as “marrons,” the correct word for edible chestnuts is “châtaignes.”) 

Fresh chestnuts, pre-roasting

Nick mentioned lasagna somewhere along the way, in reference to something else entirely, and all of a sudden it fell into place: Orange-roasted squash lasagna with chestnuts and Swiss chard!  A little Béchamel sauce and Gruyère to pull it all together… this is going to be fantastic!

Lasagna is hardly a quick-and-easy dish, and this was a project, for sure.  Roasting and peeling the chestnuts, trying to find the right balance between orange and squash flavor, making the sauce, grating the cheese… you get the idea.  The approach I took was a relaxed one, doing one component at a time, stretching the prep out over the course of the day.  You could go the other way, roasting the squash and chestnuts simultaneously while cooking the chard and Béchamel, but since I cook on schedule all week at work, I prefer a leisurely pace when I’m cooking at home.

the Microplane.

Besides, cooking the slow way leaves plenty of time to take copious notes, not to mention innovate along the way.  While the pumpkin was in the oven, I decided to use the orange zest to make an orange butter with which to baste the squash.  I liked it so much that I ended up using it in the dessert, too.

Mini onion piqué

Béchamel sauce makes not-uncommon appearances in my kitchen, so that was no problem.  Combined with sautéed Swiss chard, fresh sage, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, it made a scrumptious, creamy dish that could easily stand alone.

Read the rest of this entry »





Mac N Cheese: A Classic French Dish

17 03 2008

One of my first homework assignments in culinary school was to make macaroni and cheese using a cheese I had never heard of before and a pasta shape I had never used before.  Having recently returned from my first stint in France, the cheese thing posed a bit of a challenge.  I ended up bringing in Pennette Zamorano, being less well-versed in Spanish cheeses.  (The pasta was a bit of a cop-out, as I had used penne before – pennette being merely smaller penne – but Trader Joe’s wasn’t exactly overflowing with exotic pasta shapes.)  The results: good choice of cheese, overcooked pasta, sauce a little thick, broke when I reheated it.

Since then I have refined my macaroni and cheese recipe, but the principle remains the same.  The most important part of the dish is the béchamel sauce.  It must be creamy, not too heavy or starchy, and thin enough to accommodate large quantities of cheese.  In classic French cuisine, a béchamel with cheese (specifically Gruyère) incorporated into it is known as Mornay sauce.  Pour this over roasted or steamed cauliflower and you have Cauliflower Mornay.  Use pepper jack and cheddar and you’ve got yourself some upscale queso (or nacho cheese sauce, as it’s known to non-Texans).  Add it to pasta, and you have mac n cheese.  Over time I have come to the conclusion that a mixture of half sharp cheddar (preferably Tillamook) and half gouda is my preferred mac n cheese blend.  I also like a bit of smoked sausage, like kielbasa, mixed in for texture and flavor contrast as well as protein content.

I had pretty much resigned myself to going cheddar-less while in France, so you can imagine my surprise when, on a recent supermarket jaunt, I saw a wedge of red-waxed orange cheese prominently labeled “cheddar.”  Of course I had to buy it.  When preliminary taste tests determined that it was, in fact, real cheddar cheese, and not some weird French interpretation thereof, I knew I would be making mac n cheese in the near future.

So on Saturday, after a long afternoon fighting crowds at the BHV sale, I went to gather my mise en place for the mac n cheese.  Gouda is no problem to find here, nor is milk, pasta, or sausage.

Mac N Cheese Mise

I brought it all home and came to a horrible realization: I don’t have a whisk here.  Nick, ever confident in my culinary abilities, convinced me to make the béchamel using a wooden spoon.  I was also stressing out over the ratio of butter to flour to milk, and he (wisely) suggested that I stop being a baker for the evening and wing it.  So I melted some butter, added some flour, and stirred it over medium heat until it darkened ever so slightly and no longer smelled raw.  I then added milk a tiny bit at a time, stirring furiously and constantly with my spoon so as not to have any lumps in the finished sauce.  When I had incorporated enough milk to make a fairly thin sauce (it will thicken later), I threw in a bay leaf and seasoned the sauce with salt and pepper.  After about 15 minutes of simmering, stirring constantly, I had a nice béchamel about the thickness of heavy cream.  Into this I stirred the grated cheeses, tasted for seasoning, wished for a pinch of fresh nutmeg, and my Mornay was  ready.

Meanwhile, the pasta had been cooking, the sausage browning, and the camera malfunctioning.  I folded the pasta and sauce together, sliced the sausage with my brand-new Sabatier knife (yay!), and stirred that in as well. 

Mac n cheese

And got the camera back up and running.  As hearty a meal as this is, I thought we could use a nice salad alongside.  We had some green beans in the fridge, and I had just picked up some tasty cherry tomatoes, so I decided to combine them into a salade tiède.  I quickly sautéed the green beans in a little olive oil and removed the pan from the heat.  Then I halved the tomatoes and added them straight to the pan.  Another drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, a few twists of black pepper, and some freshly chopped parsley, and we were in business.

Salade tiède de tomates cerises et haricots verts

Thanks in no small part to the brightly colored salad, it made an attractive plate.  (And my mother always told me that a colorful plate was a healthy one.)

Mac n cheese dinner

Oh, yeah, and it tasted good, too.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 321 other followers

%d bloggers like this: