Friday, October 30, 2009
By now I'm sure that my obsession with duck fat is pretty clear. But imagine this: a piece of duck leg, cured with salt, rubbed with garlic and then poached in its own fat for anywhere between 2 and 10 hours. Naturally it's always served with my favorite potatoes, which are roasted with garlic in the fat the leg has been poaching in.
Normally I'm not the kind of person who particularly digs fat. I generally tend to pick it off and leave it somewhere on the side of my plate. But there is something about duck fat that is just so delicious, and it seems to be so characteristic of French cuisine. Now I know that that smell I have been smelling on the streets of Paris when I walk by a bistro, that's duck fat. Just throw some in a pan at home along with a clove of garlic and voila, you too can smell Paris at home.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I'm nesting, or trying to win my never ending battle with tomato sauce.
For some reason, basic tomato pasta sauce is the one thing that I never manage to get right. But recently, during a discussion with my cousin on the major do's and dont's of pasta sauce, I was inspired to give it another try.
So here I am, after researching the topic for a good two hours, attempting to make a good, clean, simple but deep tomato sauce for pasta.
Step 1: Slowly brown a carrot, a shallot (bought in the French countryside on one of the many roadtrips) and 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley for 15-20 min, covered.
Step 2: Add 2 cloves of minced violet garlic (purchased from the same farmer in the country) Add tomato pulp or full tomatoes (canned), a splash of balsamic vinegar (apparently the acidity helps bring out the flavors), the rind of a piece of parmesan, a lot of red wine. Cover and simmer for at least one hour, adding chicken stock when it gets too thick.
Hopefully this one will finally be a good one!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
It was conceived at Chez Paul, a new bistro that I hope to frequent regularly from now on. If it weren't for the heavy price tag that is.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
So I've been lazing away in Greece on summer vacation, hence the lack of posts. I've been too boozed up on ouzo and sun to even think about sitting in front of my computer.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Crème Brulee S&M: Pleasure and Punishment
The other day I was having dinner at the Brasserie Tambour, on the Rue de Montmartre. After a garlic themed dinner highlighted by snails and entrecote in garlic sauce with garlic potatoes, I decided to move on to something a little less...garlicky.
The dessert menu offered the usual selection of desserts: moelleux au chocolat, profiteroles, several cheeses for those lacking a sweet tooth, and crème brulee. The couple sitting next to me had both ordered the crème brulee, and it looked rather lavish indeed (not to mention rather huge); so I asked them if they thought it was particularly noteworthy. 'Superbe,' they both replied. 'Incroyable.' (Pardon all the French spelling mistakes) So I decided to trust their superior French palettes and give it a go. Although I love this dessert, it is not something I generally tend to order. I always seem to get swayed by the chocolaty moelleux or the puff pastry profiteroles (You can taste my undying love for puff pastry in the 'baguettes and chouquettes' post)
The best part of eating this dessert is cracking the top layer of burnt sugar. Using the back of your spoon, you tap the sugary crust until it cracks, finally letting your spoon reach the creamy goodness underneath. As I was finishing this mammoth crème brulee, I observed that not only was it incredibly pleasurable, but it was also quite painful, since my stomach had decided to expand quite rapidly and painfully while I was finishing it. (Enough to need to unbutton) 'It's culinary S&M,' my friend remarked.. 'Pleasure and pain.' And yet so worth it.
A side note, on Snails
As I mentioned, at this particular dinner I had snails. Although I am not yet at the point where I can eat an entire plate of 8 to 16 snails by myself, my good friends did oblige my taste buds by letting me pinch a few. This is the second day in a row that they've let me take a significant bite out of their portion of snails, and for that, I am grateful. However this second day in a row that I ate snails is also the second time that I've ever tried them, the first time being the night before.
Something about the smell of snails now seems to have become permanently associated with Parisian bistros and brasseries. Only since I first tried this garlicky, garden-tasting delicacy, did I realize that this was the amazing smell that I almost always found myself wondering where it could be found on the menu. And just to break some myths: no, they are not rubbery (unless they are overcooked, which is quite unlikely to happen in Paris). They are not slimy or gooey or gross. They are little bits of garlicky, herby, buttery goodness, and honestly, they taste like a garden. In the same way that people eat sea urchins because the taste is reminiscent of the sea, the same can be said for snails tasting like a grassy spring garden.
I highly urge you to try them, and then take a large chunk of baguette and dip it in all that garlicky, snaily butter left at the bottom of your plate. 'Superbe'.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Hmmmm...here's what came out of my last trip to the market. Any creative thoughts people?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Heres a quick thought:
Monday, March 9, 2009
This week, I’d like to warn all vegetarians to stop reading now and turn the page while I tell you about something that we should all have the privilege, and the budget, to eat at least once a month. Decadence is the word when it comes to foie gras. French for “fat liver,” making this delicacy requires animal cruelty at its finest. And as we all know, nothing is ever too barbaric for the French. For those unfamiliar with the process, and I’m willing to bet money on the fact that the average American has never heard of it, it involves force feeding a duck or goose until its liver is on the brink of bursting. The liver is then removed, and ready for devouring. The rich, velvety texture of foie gras comes from the fat that accumulates around the liver during the force feeding process. And to ensure the liver is extra fatty, the birds are fed corn boiled in, yup, you guessed it, fat.
Surprisingly, I think it’s the Hungarians that go all out when they cook foie gras. Not only do they fry their foie gras, but they fry it in goose fat. It’s fat fried in fat, topped with, surprise, a goose fat dressing. A miraculous, artery-raping concoction which deserves a round of applause. They may have just topped the French when it comes to gorging on animal fat. Bravo.
The only problem I have with this delightful dish is the duck version of it. It’s too strong, too chunky, and definitely too grainy. The flavor is almost a bit pungent, reminding you that the liver’s function is indeed to filter toxins, some of which may have ended up in your nostrils. But the goose foie gras, or as the French call it, foie gras d’ oia, is a melt-in-your-mouth, culinary orgasm. I do not exaggerate when I say this; spread it on toast and your life is complete. And if you’re feeling particularly decadent, or rather particularly French, you should eat it for breakfast, accompanied by a glass of champagne. C’est la vie, you only live once.
If the only thing stopping you from buying some this instant is the concern over your waistline, I can assure you, this food falls under the French Paradox category; in other words, not only will it not make you fat, but it will make you live longer too.
In the time it has taken me to write this article, I have gorged myself on one loaf of baguette, and half a jar of foie gras. (Bon Apetit.)
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Alas, many things have changed in a very short time.