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Pop-Up Dinner 10/29-10/30 Braised Duck Leg with Spaetzle

Quinoa Soup
Dice the following vegetables: 1 large onion, 5-6 carrots, 3 stalks celery, sauté in olive oil until starts to brown. Add 3 qt water or veg stock to vegetables. Cut ½ green cabbage into pot, 1 small
rutabaga, half of a butternut squash and 2 cloves garlic. Add 1 ½ T salt, pepper, and 1 c rinsed quinoa. Add 2 small diced potatoes and more water if necessary. Check seasoning and doneness of vegetables. Finish with chopped fresh cilantro.

Braised Duck with Red Wine & Cranberry Sauce Serves 6
6 Duck legs
1 carrot, diced
1 celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 head garlic, cut in half
1 qt veal stock or demi glaze
1 t tomato paste
1 bottle red wine
1 c port
1/2 c cranberry
Salt, pepper
4 juniper berries, ground
1 clove, ground
10 black peppercorns, ground
1 branch rosemary
1 branch thyme
1 branch sage
-marinate duck legs with vegetables, spices, herbs and red wine overnight. The next day, separate the meat from the vegetables and also the vegetables from the wine.
Season duck legs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large, shallow pan and sear over high heat to brown on all sides. Don’t put too many pieces in at once or they will steam instead of brown. Meanwhile, boil the marinade wine in a saucepan on the side, when blood coagulates, strain and set aside. Remove legs, put 2 T plain oil and sweat the vegetables until browned. Add tomato paste and sauté one minute, add back the duck,
deglaze with port, add demi glaze and the marinade wine. Bring to boil, cover, and cook slowly between 1 ½ – 2 hrs. When cooked, separate the duck legs from the jus and strain the liquid.

Return to saucepan and reduce, skimming off the fat. Taste for
seasoning, and then add duck and heat together.

Chocolate Mousse

1 3/4 c heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

2 eggs

4 yolks

10 oz/300 g dark chocolate

1/2 c sugar

3 T water

Place eggs, yolks and sugar in mixing bowl with a wire whip and beat fluffy. place sugar and water in very clean sauce pan and add a pinch of salt, cook over high heat to 248F and drizzle onto whipping eggs. Let beat cold. Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a large mixing bowl over simmering water. When egg mixture is cool and fluffy, stop mixer. Add cream to chocolate, working quickly to mix in evenly. Add sabayon/egg mixture and gently fold in to keep maximum of air. If desired, add a splash of liqueur.

Chocolate Lava Cake

Greg Nesbit Photography

There are so many versions of this cake, and many places that claim to have invented it. This variation happens to be my personal favorite: the proportions are just right. I have to admit, I’m not a chocoholic. I’m a pastry chef who happens to prefer vanilla, or lemon, or fruit. It’s controversial. But I’ll eat chocolate, of course. It just has to be really good. And these cakes happen to be a snap to make, too (as long as you have some chocolate ganache on hand; or nutella, or peanut butter, or chunks of your favorite chocolate or a chocolate truffle, a spoon of jam…you can put whatever you like in the middle, really).

Lava Cake
Oven 375F Approx 6-8 mins., put 1 t ganache in middle
Makes 10
Butter 4 oz ramekins and line with sugar

Melt together:
150 g butter
195 g bittersweet chocolate

4 eggs
4 yolks

105 g. cake flour (or gluten free flour blend, I use Bob’s Red Mill 1-for1)
135 g powdered sugar
Pinch salt

Add eggs and yolks to butter and chocolate mixture. Sift dry ingredients and fold in by hand. Scoop half of the mixture into prepared molds, place a teaspoon of ganache (or see above for other ideas), then scoop the rest of the mixture on top to cover the ganache and bake until middle looks a little shiny still, just barely baked. Turn out when cool enough and reheat 10-20 seconds in the microwave to serve.

Chocolate Ganache

Bring 1 cup cream to a boil. Pour over 1 1/2 c chopped dark chocolate. When chocolate is melted, whisk smooth, then add pinch of salt & 1-2 T of your favorite alcohol (rum, brandy, kahlua, Bailey’s) (optional). Ganache keeps in the fridge 2-3 weeks, or in the freezer.

Cod Brandade

For all the tips and tricks to make the most delicious Cod Brandade, check out this video from our Facebook Live cooking series.

Posted by Chez Nous Bistro on Wednesday, April 22, 2020

I always describe this dish to customers as “French Macaroni and Cheese” which makes no sense at all. Brandade has no macaroni – or pasta of any shape – and no cheese in it. But to me this great, classic Provençal dish has everything that Macaroni & Cheese gives me: creamy, warm, starchy comfort. Franck demonstrates this recipe on Facebook live and it really is easy to make, and has endless variations: you can add olives, sundried tomatoes, pesto, melted leeks or zucchini, a different kind of fish (salmon would be great). The traditional Brandade is made with Salt Cod (Brandade de Morue). To avoid the strong taste that salt cod can sometimes have, we make it with fresh fish, which we salt for about 1/2 hr to draw out some of the moisture, and then rinse. You can serve this as an appetizer, with crostini to spread it on, or let it cool and shape it into little balls, bread it and fry it to make delicious fritters.

Fresh Cod Brandade

1 lb fresh cod

2 -3 T salt

1 lb russet potatoes

Approx 3 c Milk, whole clove garlic, branch each thyme, rosemary

-Salt fish for 30 mins, then rinse and pat dry

-Boil potatoes in unsalted water until soft

-Bring milk, garlic & herbs to boil.  Cook fish in milk.

-Drain, finish mashed potatoes with milk from the stove

-Fold in fish, season afterwards.

-Bake in 350 F oven with filling, if desired

Home-made Potato Gnocchi

Posted by Chez Nous Bistro on Thursday, April 16, 2020

From our Facebook Live video series: these are the lightest, most delicate Potato Gnocchi. We learned this technique from reading Paula Wolfert’s recipes. She recommends keeping the potatoes as dry as possible at all times, to keep the gnocchi from getting weighed down by liquid. So this recipe is really just a technique, and a guideline. Have fun playing with it and doing your own variations!

Potato Gnocchi

makes approx. 40 1 inch square gnocchi

Bake 1 lb. potatoes fully (prick with a fork multiple times to allow steam to escape during the cooking

1 cup all-purpose flour

salt and pepper to taste

(add chopped herbs to taste, chopped olives or sundried tomatoes)

Peel the potatoes while they’re still warm, and put through a ricer or food mill to get a fluffy mash. Add salt, pepper and flour and knead together to a soft dough. Roll a piece of dough out into a long rope, about 1 inch wide, and cut with a sharp knife into 1 inch long pieces. Boil a large pot of salted water. Place the gnocchi in the water and wait until they float to the top. Take out of the water with a slotted spoon and place on a tray to cool. They can be frozen at this point (freeze on the tray, then remove to a container or zip lock bag). When you want to serve, heat olive oil in sauté pan and cook the gnocchi until crisp and browned.

Financiers, French Almond Cakes

Posted by Chez Nous Bistro on Wednesday, April 15, 2020

From our recent Facebook Live video series! Here’s how to make these delicious, melt-in-your-mouth cakes. Easily works with all-purpose flour or a gluten-free flour blend (we use Bob’s Red Mill 1-for-1). Feel free to substitute for another nut; we love them with ground pecans, pistachios, or walnuts, too! A great way to use up extra egg whites, and this large batch can be halved, or the extra batter can be frozen and baked when you’re in the mood.

Financiers

450 g powdered sugar

375 g egg whites (large egg whites weigh 25-30 g each)

150 g almond powder/flour

150 g flour (see note above)

5 g salt

288 g beurre noisette/browned butter

First, you must make the browned butter so it has time to cool. This recipe comes together best when the ingredients are all around room temperature. Place about 340 g butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil. Keep an eye on the butter while it boils, then starts to brown. You need to use extra butter at this point because so much water will evaporate from the butter before it’s done; you will need to weigh 288 g for the recipe. If you have a bit left over, it’s delicious to use when you sauté fish or vegetables. Take the butter off of the heat when it’s golden and smells nutty (it can burn easily if you let it go too far, it will smell bitter and look black and is unusable at that point). Pass the liquid butter through a seive to strain out the butter solids that are browned on the bottom of the pan. Let cool then weigh what you need to proceed with the recipe.

Next, whisk together in a large mixing bowl the powdered sugar & egg whites. Add the flours & salt and whisk well. Then gradually add in the butter. The batter should rest in the fridge a few hours or overnight before baking.

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease your individual cake molds/mini muffin pans well. Fill molds 3/4 of the way, bake until golden brown and immediately take out of the molds when baked. Can soak the cakes in rum (or other alcohol) syrup: 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 c water, pinch salt – bring to boil. Off heat, add alcohol to taste.

Ramp Season is Here: Pickles & Pesto

Recently we did a video on how to cook with ramps that you can find in the woods this time of year. Franck made Pickles & Pesto with ramp bases and leaves:

Ramp Pickles

Enough of the bases/stems/white part of ramp to fill a pint jar, well cleaned 4-6 times

1/2 c honey

1 c distilled vinegar

1 t peppercorns

1 t mustard seeds

1/2 t chili flakes

1/2 t fennel seeds

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 t salt

Bring honey to a boil until it froths up. Meanwhile, pack the ramp stems into a hot, sterilized pint jar. Add spices to honey and simmer 30 seconds. Add vinegar and remove from heat. Pour over stems and close the jar. Let rest in the fridge for 2-3 days before eating.

Ramp Coulis or Pesto

2 c green ramp leaves, well-washed and drained

1 t chopped garlic

2 t olive oil

salt, pepper

1/4 c additional olive oil

optional: 1/4 c parmesan cheese, 1/4 c pinenuts or almonds

Heat a large saute pan extremely hot. Quickly add 2 t olive oil, then the garlic. Simmer 10 seconds, then add ramps. Quickly wilt the ramps in the pan, don’t cook too much. Should take 30-60 seconds. Immediately transfer to a blender and liquify with additional olive oil. If you’d like to make a pesto, add the cheese and nuts. Season to taste with salt & pepper. If you’d like to keep it very green, transfer immediately to a bowl which is placed over a bowl of ice to cool quickly. Store in fridge 3-4 days or freezer 1 month.

Posted by Chez Nous Bistro on Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Reflections on Lobster & a Cook’s Life

I don’t think that employment in a 2-Michelin starred restaurant’s kitchen is really the dream that people might imagine it to be.  It’s certainly far away from anything I could have imagined before I worked my way through Le Gavroche in London in 1999.  It’s not just that it’s hot, or that it’s stressful, or that the hours are long, or the pay is low.  It’s that while you’re there, none of this matters.  It’s like a black-out situation where you start working and the only thing that is important is correctly doing your job; in my case, making desserts.  It’s incredibly strange.  Sometimes I’d have to tell myself as I attacked another crazy day, “It’s just dessert.”  It’s not like my work was critical to anyone’s life, well-being, survival.  But for some inexplicable reason, it was critical to mine.

So one Saturday afternoon in December, we were working.  Normally off on Saturday & Sunday, a skeleton team was required to come in an extra day that week to cater a dinner for the Queen’s jeweler.  Maybe you know that the Queen of England has her own personal jeweler.  This man hosted his Christmas party for 80 close friends and family for decades at Le Gavroche, complete with party favors at each place setting which were rumored to be extraordinary and expensive. 

The atmosphere in the kitchen was different that afternoon, lighter somehow. With just one menu to prepare there wasn’t the usual chaos.  My pears were already poached with star anise, cinnamon, cloves and mustard seeds; my Poire William sabayon cream was setting in the fridge.  I just had to make 80 pepper tuiles, paper-thin, spicy cookies that would balance in the cloud-like cream, and to sliver my pears and reduce their poaching liquid into a syrup to glaze them on the plates.  The usually grim, Scottish head chef even passed around a major surprise at one point: money! The restaurant wouldn’t be compensating us for the extra day’s work, but the munificent jeweler bestowed each worker with a crisp, new note: 100 pounds for each section leader & 50 pounds for each helper.  I was pleased by the warm feeling that bill aroused in my hand.  I felt appreciated & emboldened.

Silvano was the long-time manager of Le Gavroche’s dining room.  He was infamous in London dining circles.  A sharp, cool Italian, he barely glanced at the cooks unless there was an error.  Then you could expect to look up at a face frozen in fury – no words were even necessary but of course there would be some choice ones.  He was famous for his cruelty as much as his charm.  He was necessarily required to know the regular guests intimately – to anticipate their needs and preferences.  He could recognize an anonymous Michelin critic as they stepped out of their taxi onto the pavement in front of the restaurant.  He was the face of the dining room – pure control & elegance.

In my time at Le Gavroche I had never spoken to Silvano.  As far as I knew he had never acknowledged me either, a good thing for all concerned.  On the Saturday afternoon of the Queen’s jeweler’s party he stood casually at the pass – the counter where the chef sends the finished plates out into the dining room – and loudly spoke to no one in particular about the management meal for that night. Before every lunch & dinner service we prepared a separate meal to send out to the management.  For this special day, a yearly ritual and apparently a tradition, the management was to eat the lobster that was going to be the main course for the party.  “But Michel won’t be here for the management meal” Silvano bemoaned theatrically.  “His daughter is playing a match and he’s not arriving until 6.  Who is going to eat his lobster??”

“I will!” the joking response flew out of my mouth across the white-tiled kitchen before I could stop myself.  A silent pair of hands and feet who had skittered through the kitchen 5 long days & nights each week for nearly a year, I had barely spoken to anyone if it wasn’t necessary the entire time. This was completely against my normally hyper-social nature, but it was necessary to get through the job. Now here I was joking around as I dared to look up into Silvano’s ice blue gaze directly.  He smiled. And he replied, “Alright, good” and walked away. I turned back to my marble table and my pears, blissfully alone in that normally-crowded space for a change.

My boyfriend, Franck, the sous-chef and the reason I was working in this crazy place to begin with, startled me a bit later when he popped his head around the wall into my pastry corner and said “Your lobster is served.” “What are you talking about?” I replied, incredulous.  “Your lobster, you told Silvano you would eat the management meal with him today. It’s ready, go eat.” I felt panic tighten my stomach. I had no idea where I was even supposed to go.  Where did the management eat the meals we put on the pass for them twice a day? I looked blankly at Franck. “Where do I go?” “In the dining room, of course.” Obviously.

I had never seen the dining room of the restaurant.  In one year I had never had any reason to look through the door at its lush, burgundy velvet curtains, its famous artwork on its silk-lined walls and the heavily draped tables. Each table sported a unique sculpture, whimsical animals made of antique cutlery, and was set with gold-trimmed French porcelain. Each Limoges plate was ironically decorated with a small, painted figure of the urchin boy, the rebel, the Gavroche, from Hugo’s “Les Miserables.” I stood unsteadily at the threshold in wrinkled, stained chef’s whites and I took it in: rich, luxurious, intimidating. I didn’t want to walk further. I wanted to be back in the kitchen. That site of anxiety, exhaustion, and humiliation was truly the place where I felt comfortable. I didn’t want to sit with this scary man and share a meal. But there was a table set for two in the corner on a cozy banquet, a bottle of Evian water, two crystal glasses, and two plates each bedecked with a steaming, glistening, butter-laden lobster. I slid onto the velvet cushions, inhaling the perfume of garlic and herbs mingling with butter & lobster. This might not be so bad. I looked up at Silvano and smiled. Who gets to do this? What other cook has actually come through the kitchen door into this legendary dining room, sat and eaten a proper meal here? It was surreal. Silvano chatted with me. He might have even been nice but I really didn’t register anything he said. As I tasted my first forkful of that ethereal lobster I honestly was lost in my own private heaven. It was the most luscious and delicious bite of my life. It was beyond anything fabulous you have ever tasted yourself. It was the taste of survival, of success. The crushing feelings of never-ending work and never-attainable perfection that had weighed on me, the constant tension and frantic sense of inadequacy that haunted me, all slipped away as I lost myself in my lobster.

Just as my plate was sadly emptying, Chef Michel arrived and flopped down on the banquet next to me. If he was surprised to see me there he didn’t show it. He looked pleased to see me, completely out of place; my face no doubt awash with pleasure and satisfaction.  We chatted too.  All awkwardness had melted away on this strange day. After working so diligently for a year, I wasn’t seeking their approval. I knew that I had done what was expected of me, and had more than done what I had ever expected of myself. I realized that in order to work at this level of intensity I had nearly checked out of normal society for a year, rarely calling anyone, too exhausted to socialize on the weekends. I stumbled into the kitchen before sunrise and left after midnight. Insults and cruel jokes and orders were constantly hurled around me. I slept-walked home to a hot bath and into bed and an alarm woke me 5 hours later to get up and do it again. I had completely lost touch with myself, my desires or pleasures. I was completely detached from any sense of the pleasure that my own work was giving to the people just on the other side of that kitchen door.

I returned to my station, smiling as I remembered what it felt like to be really happy for the first time in months.  The transformative power of food. Nothing became easier after that; in fact the holiday season is the most crushing moment of the year at that restaurant.  But I’ve never been the same, really, and if anyone wants to know, Roasted Lobster with Garlic Butter is my favorite dish.

Roasted Lobster with Garlic Butter

The Garlic-Herb Butter recipe makes a lot. You can easily halve the recipe, but I would recommend making the whole batch and freezing some in smaller containers. This butter is so good, the balance of garlic, parsley and shallots is perfect. You can use it on other fish or shellfish, either as you roast it or as a finishing touch, and it’s also great with vegetables, particularly mushrooms. It’s an easy way to make some roasted cauliflower or pan-fried mushrooms absolutely fantastic! We recommend using a scale to get the amounts just right every time.

Garlic-Herb Butter

1pound soft butter

30 g (1oz) shallots

20 g (5-6 cloves) garlic

50 g chopped (flat or curly) parsley (Wash parsley thoroughly and squeeze it in a dishtowel to take out the moisture. Remove all leaves from stems and chop them finely before adding to the food processor with the other ingredients to incorporate the parsley evenly and not make your butter super green in the machine)

Splash Pernod

Salt & pepper – to taste (you must taste before removing from the processor)

Place shallots and garlic in food processor and pulse to chop, then add parsley and mix everything thoroughly together.  Add butter and seasonings and pulse to combine. You can chop everything by hand and mix in a large bowl, too. You don’t need a food processor.

For the Lobster:

Bring a large pot of water to the boil with a generous amount of kosher salt (Franck says the water has to taste “like the sea” in order to have enough salt). Place 1 1/4 lb. lobsters (1 lobster per person) whole into the water, cover and wait until the water comes back to the boil. Now you must time carefully 6 minutes to blanch the lobsters. This is just the right amount of time for the lobsters to cook enough to remove all of the meat, and then to roast in the oven with the garlic butter and not be overcooked at the end. Have a large bowl of ice handy and after 6 minutes, use a tongs to remove the lobsters directly into the bowl of ice. The ice will stop the cooking and cool them down so you can handle them. Preheat oven to 375F. Now for the fun part: Each lobster must be cut open vertically down the middle, using a big, sharp knife & starting at the head to get your knife right in the middle. All of the meat should be removed from large leg & claws, the tail. Line the body of the lobster with 3-4 teaspoons of garlic butter all along it (we find that a teaspoon is best to get the butter into the shell). Place all of the meat of that half of the lobster back into its shell: the tail and all of its claw meat. This is what makes this dish so decadent: not only is the lobster cooked in the most delicious garlic butter, but you don’t have to do any messy work when you’re eating it, everything has already been done. Top the meat in the lobster shell with 3-4 more teaspoons of garlic butter all along it (you can always melt more and offer it on the side if you feel that the lobster meat could be drenched further!). Place the lobsters in the hot oven to roast, about 10 mins. You know that they are done when the butter is sizzling. Serve with plenty of bread.

Welcome to Chez Nous! A Video by Dave Sondrini

Check out this behind the scenes look at Chez Nous! A special thanks to the Filmmaker/Producer Dave Sondrini. To see more of Dave’s work, check out his website davesondrini.com

Creamy Fish Pie: Manger! Boire! Outtakes

All winter long we get to try new recipes and ideas out on our Manger! Boire! Eat! Drink! customers every Thursday night.  It’s fun for them:  food, wine, recipes, and a cooking demonstration for $35. and it’s usually pretty delicious.  But it’s really fun for us, too.  We have done so many themes over the years, tried Indian, Korean, Moroccan recipes…classic dishes, retro dishes, techniques — how to make gnocchi, for example, or risotto, or puff pastry.  The sky’s the limit and it gives us a chance to experiment and revel in what is so beautiful about our profession:  you never stop learning.  This past week’s theme was British comfort food, and the guests were able to dig into a menu which included a Scotch egg, a Creamy Fish Pie, and a Lemon Posset for dessert.  We were so happy with the way everything turned out: it was a really fun menu to execute (and eat!).  We often wish that we could share these dishes more widely; everyone who comes to Manger! Boire! leaves with a sheet of paper with the recipes on it.  Here is the recipe, for those that couldn’t join us last night, for a great winter dish, a classic English Fish Pie, topped with Creamy Mashed Potatoes.

Fish Pie

Serves 4-6

2 lbs fish of choice: cod, hake, salmon

For the sauce:

3 T butter

3 T flour

3 c milk

Salt, pepper

1 medium onion, finely chopped

½ c white wine

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 c peas

1/2 c chopped carrot, blanched

1/2 c chopped leek, blanched

Melt butter in sauce pan, add flour and cook on low heat 5 mins.  Pour in the milk little by little, stirring, add seasoning and simmer 10 mins.  To finish the sauce, melt another 2 T butter and add onions.  Cook 5 mins over medium heat, then add the wine & lemon juice and reduce by 2/3.  Add the creamy sauce.  Add fish to the hot sauce.  Finish with the prepared vegetables and chopped scallions, if desired.  Pour into baking dish, topped with mashed potato and back for 15 mins at 375F until golden.

For the mashed potato:

1 ½ lb potato, peeled and diced

2 T salt

5 T butter

½ c warm milk

Nutmeg, salt, pepper

2 egg yolks

Cream Cheese Mousse “Cheesecake”

And voila!  Here it is, the most-requested recipe of the summer, our unbaked, creamy cheesecake.  This recipe is so versatile; we enjoyed making it with vanilla bean this summer, serving it with fresh berries, sour cherry compote, and lemon curd sauce.  It would be fabulous, however, with a gingersnap crust and pumpkin pie spices folded into it; or with chocolate cookie crumbs and chocolate ganache swirled through the filling before chilling to set.  Consider this recipe a base, and have fun transforming it into a new special dessert

Cream Cheese Mousse Cheesecake

 

1 9” springform pan

2 c cookie crumbs (can use plain or chocolate graham crackers, butter cookies, ginger snaps)

6 T melted butter

-Preheat oven to 325F.  In a mixing bowl, stir together crumbs and butter, then press into the pan and place in the oven for 10 minutes to toast the crust.  Remove from oven and let cool thoroughly before adding the mousse.

 

Mousse:

2 t gelatin powder

3 T cold water

2 ½ c heavy cream

1 ½ lbs soft cream cheese

½ c sugar

1 T vanilla

(optional: zest of 1 lemon or orange)

-Place the gelatin powder in a small cup or bowl with the cold water and set aside to “bloom” the gelatin (thoroughly hydrate it so it dissolves nicely).

Softly whip the cream (not stiff peaks, just lightly holding) and set aside.

Cream the cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla (and zest, if using) until soft and fluffy.  You can use a mixer with a flat beater, or a spatula and your own big muscles!  Fold in a bit of the whipped cream to loosen the mix, then the rest of the cream, using a spatula.  Melt the gelatin and water mixture, in a microwave is easiest for about 10 seconds until clear and fluid, or you can place the dish directly down into a pan of simmering water and stir the gelatin to melt.  Switch to a wire whisk to quickly and thoroughly whisk the gelatin into the cream mixture.  This recipe is a good work-out:  you need to whisk very hard and fast to avoid the gelatin clumping up and hardening, and to make sure that it is evenly distributed.

Spread the mixture into the pan with the crust and smooth the top (or swirl! Express yourself!).  Pop into the fridge to chill thoroughly, at least 4 hours or overnight.  Serve with seasonal fruit, lemon curd, drizzle with chocolate ganache…possibilities are endless!

Posted by Chez Nous Bistro on Thursday, May 7, 2020