Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Queue de boeuf --Ox tail stew

This is so fun and easy to make. The bones in the tail give this a richness that reminds me of eating beef cheeks in that sweet restaurant in DC, where John and Jen and I went last year. There is nothing like abats. Joyce loved this dish. But it needs a bone plate, like fish.

Julia does not mention queue de boeuf. But it's very much like the tongue recipes or the many beef braises or stews she gives (a la mode). This is where very peasant french cuisine meets bourgeoisie french cuisine. And some nice frozen peas help, microwaved three minutes with butter, salt and pepper, covered.

for 3-4 persons
  • onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 3-4 pounds ox tail
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 3.4 parsnips
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • herbs de province
  • 1 teaspoon Kitchen Magic

  • 1/3 cup port, white wine, brandy or water
  • 3 tablespoons Wondra
  • fresh herbs for garnish
  1. Place the first group of ingredients in a slow cooker and turn on low. Cook for 8-10 hours.
  2. Strain the juices in a fat separator and allow the fat to rise to the top. Mix the wine or stock and the Wondra in a small sauce pan. Slowly add the warm stock to the Wondra mixture, stirring over medium heat until the sauce is thickened.
  3. Place 1/4 of the beef and the vegetables on each plate. Spoon the sauce over each plate. Garnish with the chopped herbs.

Les Saint Jaques (ou crevettes) en bouillebaisse

Julia gives a lovely little recipe for scallops or shrimp with Provencal flavors. II 37. I add a little Pernod for that Provence alcoholic licorice flavor (a hint of fresh tarragon in summer will do as well or better).

And I use canned "fire-roasted" diced tomatoes with garlic, which they didn't have in Julia's day. I have no more need to justify using the occasional canned product than Julia needed for canned tomato paste or stock. There. But it's almost as quick in high summer tomato season to chop up some big fresh ones, cutting away as much of the peel as is convenient.

Good bread is always good with soup. Couscous, orzo, or reheated rice, will work too, and can be prepared in the same or less time than the stew.

Serves 4 as a main, or 6 as a starter

1/4 cup olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups (combined) yellow onions, scallions, and/or leeks, all sliced very thin.
2 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons fresh herbs or 2 teaspoons herbs de Provence.
1 can (14 ounce) fire roasted tomatoes with garlic, drained, reserving the liquid
3 cups liquid (tomato liquid, clam juice, white wine, or water)
1 pound scallops and/or shrimp (deveined and, if you wish, peeled)
(optional: 1 tablespoon Pernod, Ricard, or other licorice-flavored liqueur)
(optional: Cajun seasoning or pepper flakes)
(Aioli sauce)
  1. Heat a fait-tout over high heat and add the olive oil and onions (or leeks) and garlic mashed in a press. Chop and add the herbs. Reduce the heat to medium and cook three minutes, covered.
  2. Add the drained canned diced tomatoes and the liquid. Cover and boil for three minutes.
  3. Add the shrimp and/or scallops, and the optional Pernod. Season with salt and pepper and Cajun seasoning or red pepper flakes, to taste. Boil two minutes, covered.
  4. Serve in soup bowls, garnished with fresh herbs used in the sauce and/or aioli. Can be served as a simple stew or over over rice, orzo, or couscous.

Poulet bourride

I had forgotten about Bourride, that simple Provencal stew of most anything, crowned with rouille, until I walked into French Roast just before midnight, on our last trip to New York for the New Yorker Festival. French Roast is a neighborhood restaurant/coffee shop on West 11th and 6th Avenue, by the hotel where we always stay, The Larchmont. And it stays open 24/7. We had been going so hard we hadn't had dinner, and the seafood bourride was the daily special on Fridays, and it was superb. Tons of shellfish swimming in an autumn gold sauce.

This is a really fast adaptation of Julia's recipe for chicken bourride (MAFC II 263). But much, much lighter, because I use light aioli, which has become my all purpose sauce in the summer. I use chicken breasts instead of Julia's poached chicken, but you could make this even faster by buying a roasted chicken on the way home from work.
  • 1 cup white wine and/or chicken stock
  • (optional: 1 tablespoon Pernod, Ricard, or other licorice-flavored liqueur)
  • 1 and 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs or 2 teaspoons herbs de Provence.
  • (optional: Cajun seasoning or pepper flakes)
  • 1 bunch scallions sliced very thinly, whites and some green.
  • (optional: a zuchinni cut into 1/2 inch chunks, or asparagus or thin green beans cut in 2" pieces.)
  • 1 can (14 ounce) fire roasted tomatoes with garlic, drained, reserving the liquid
  • 1/2 cup aoili sauce
  1. In a fait-tout, heat wine (and/or stock) over high heat, covered.
  2. Cut half breast lengthwise into three or four long strips--lamelles. Season with salt, pepper, herbs de province, and Cajun seasoning (optional). Place them in the pan, cover again.
  3. Stir in a diced tomato (fresh, with skin on, or canned), very thinly sliced scallions (white and some green), and adjust the heat to keep simmering. The chicken lamelles should be pinkish inside at the thickest part (poke and peek).
  4. Spoon into bowls or deep plates, spoon some aeoli onto each and and garnish with herbs.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rillettes de saumon--salmon spread

I first had this in Tours, as I started my bike trip along the Loire last summer. It was a little tourist restaurant called Roi something. On the Rue du Grand Marché just off the vieux carré.

The salmon at the best places comes from the Loire, where there has been an effort to help the Atlantic salmon spawn far up the what is the longest river in France. The river system is beautifully clear (compared to Iowa especially). I could look down from the grand gallery at Chenonceau, the chateau the spans the Cher (a Loire tributary) and snap a pic of the fish in the afternoon light below. The story is that during WWI, soldiers taken there to recover from their wounds fished from their hospital beds in the river below.

The charcutiers compete as much on the salmon rillettes as they do on their pork rillettes (pork meat and fat melted into a spread). And I had several versions of both during my five days on the bike.

This is great on a buffet, with bread or crackers, but also as a first course.

Serves 12 as a first course on crackers or bread.
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon (thin sliced Scottish style)
  • 8 ounces cooked salmon (leftover, or microwaved 3 minutes)
  • 3 ounces European-style butter (e.g., Plugra)
  • 6 ounces creme fraiche (recipe below)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill and more for garnish.
  1. Soften the butter in the microwave (about 7 seconds on high). Mince the dill.
  2. Cut the smoked salmon into thin strips lengthwise, then cut crosswise into small dice. Roughly chop the fresh salmon.
  3. With a fork or whisk, toss the salmons, softened butter, creme fraiche, lemon juice, dill, and freshly ground pepper until it is lightly combined.
  4. Put in ramekins or a bowl. Garnish with additional dill. Refrigerate for two hours if possible.

Creme fraiche: If you can't buy this in a market, you can make it overnight. In a microwave, warm a 1/2 pint carton of heavy cream slightly (110 degrees, for those who must be precise). Pour 1 tablespoon buttermilk into the carton of heavy cream. Shake and leave out about 24 hours, or until the cream has thickened (check it every eight hours or so). Then refrigerate.