Category Archives: Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Croutes – hard-toasted French bread

Perfect garnishing for onion soup

12 to 16 slices of French bread cut 3/4 to 1 inch thick
Place the bread in one layer in a roasting pan and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for about half an hour, until it is thoroughly dried out and lightly browned.
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Olive oil or beef drippings
A cut clove of garlic

Halfway through the baking, each side may be basted with a teaspoon of olive oil or beef drippings; and after baking, each piece may be rubbed with cut garlic.

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Filed under Bread, Garnishings, Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Aigo Bouido [Garlic Soup]

You would think this would be a obnoxious soup, but the garlic becomes almost undefinable and just an exquisite aroma.

For 6 to 8 people

1 separated head or about 16 cloves whole, UNpeeled garlic
Drop garlic cloves in boiling water and boil 30 seconds. Drain, run cold water over them, and peel.
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2 quarts water
2 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
2 cloves
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 bay leaf
4 parsley sprigs
3 Tb olive oil
a 3-quart saucepan

Place the garlic and the rest of the ingredients in the saucepan and boil slowly for 30 minutes. Correct seasoning.
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A wire whip
3 egg yolks
A soup tureen
3 to 4 Tb olive oil

Beat the egg yolks in the soup tureen for a minute until they are thick and sticky. Drop by drop, beat in the olive oil as for making mayonnaise.
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A strainer
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread
1 cup of grated Swiss or Parmesan Cheese

Just before serving, beat a ladleful of hot soup into the egg mixture by droplets. Gradually strain in the rest, beating, and pressing the juice out of the garlic. Serve immediately, accompanied by the bread and cheese.

[Recipe source: Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking]

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Sauce Bechamel / Sauce Veloute

Served this sauce enriched with beurre (butter) over a thick salmon baked in herbs, olive oil and a hint of lemon.

A heavy-bottomed, 6-cup enameled, stainless steel, lined copper, porcelin, or pyrex saucepan
2 Tb butter
3 Tb flour
Wooden spatula or spoon

In the sauce pan melt butter over low heat. Blend in the flour, and cook slowly, stirring, until the butter and flour froth together for 2 minutes without coloring. This is now a white roux
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2 C milk and 1/4 tsp salt heated to the boil in a small saucepan
A wire whip

Remove roux from heat. As soon as roux has stopped bubbling, pour in all the hot liquid at once. Immediately beat vigorously with wire whip to blend liquid and roux, gathering in all bits of roux from the inside edges of the pan.
Set saucepan over moderately high heat and stir with the wire whip until the sauce comes to the boil. Noil for 1 minute, stirring.
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Salt and white pepper
Remove from heat, and beat in salt and pepper to taste. Sauce os now ready for final flavorings or additions.

BUTTER ENRICHMENT
1-8 Tb Butter – Just before serving the sauce, and after all the final flavorings have been added, remove it from heat. Stir in the butter, a half-tablespoon at a time, beating until each piece of butter has been absorbed into the sauce before adding the next. Spoon the sauce over the hot food, or pour the sauce into a warmed bowl, and serve immediately.

[Recipe Source: Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking]

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Soupe a L’Oingnon

Today I was convinced that following a [French] recipe to the “T” is of utmost importance. I did not shortcut on time for simmering or cooking, nor did I shortcut color on browning. The result: a deep, rich flavor characterizing a perfect brew!

The Key to Developing an Excellent Onion Soup: Long, slow cooking in butter and oil, then a long, slow simmering in stock.

Count on 2.5-3 hours.

1 1/2 lbs. or about 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions
3 Tb butter
1 Tb oil
A heavy-bottomed, 4 -quart covered sauce pan

Cook the onions slowly with the butter and oil in the covered saucepan for 15 minutes.
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1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar (helps the onions to brown)

Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even deep, golden brown.
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3 Tb flour Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes
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2 quarts boiling brown stock
1/2 C dry white wine or dry vermouth
salt and pepper to taste

Off heat, blend in the boiling liquid. Add the wine, and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Correct seasoning.
(*) [At this point you may] Set aside uncovered until ready to serve. Then reheat to a simmer.
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3 Tb cognac
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread
1-2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese

Just before serving, stir in the cognac. Pour into a soup tureen or soup cups over the rounds of bread and pass the cheese separately.

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Dry White Wine

When a recipe calls for dry white wine, what do you normally use?

I have been cooking with cooking wines for years and occasionally with the real deal, but until faced with French cooking, I never bothered to question the difference. Welp, apparently my trusty cooking wines are quite frowned upon in the world of chefs, ha!

I stumbled upon this site chowhound.chow.com and found suggestions and recommendations from fellow cooking lovers.

Dry White Wine Suggestions:
Chablis
Chardonnay
Dry Vermouth, Noilly Pratt
Sauvignon Blanc
Viognier
Chenin Blanc
Dry Champagne
Pinot Grigio

Too Sweet to use:
Cooking wines
Reisling
Sauternes

New to using REAL wine while cooking, I welcome comments from your personal experiences! Have you had better success with a particular white wine?

I am still suffering from a broken tailbone, so now I just need to call on a willing friend to bring me a bottle for my next recipe attempt tonight.

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Filed under Comments from Faith, Ingredients, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Wines and Spirits for cooking

Hard Peaks

I attempted the Reine De Saba (Chocolate and Almond Cake) and my favorite part was pulverizing the almonds. Tip…use a tablespoon of sugar per cup of almonds so that they wont become oily and unusable when pulverizing. The part that was most gratifying was soft peaks and hard peaks on those egg whites. It felt much like a milestone for a novice.

I had to use a 9″ round cake pan though the recipe called for an 8″ round. My failure…I forgot to consider the heat dispersion and thereby reduce the time, so I cooked the cake all the way through (It was supposed to remain slightly undone in the center to create a creamy texture).

My save…I perfected the Glacage au Chocolate (chocolate icing) and it wrapped the cake with aesthetic decadence. Save.

This was not the most amazing chocolate cake, but it was extremely good. Maybe I’ll get it right next time with the creamy quality.

[Recipe source: Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking]

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Filed under Comments from Faith, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Sweets

Potage Parmentier – Leek or Onion and Potato Soup

I prepared this ahead of time and added butter and minced herbs just before serving.

The aroma! The simplicity!

You can use a pressure cooker (15lbs for 5 minutes, release, simmer uncovered for 15 minutes), but I made mine on the stove using a 4-quart sauce pan.

A 3- to 4-quart saucepan or pressure cooker
3 to 4 cups or 1 lb. peeled potatoes, sliced or diced
3 cups or 1 lb. thinly sliced leeks including the tender green; or yellow onions
2 quarts of water
1 Tb salt   

Simmer the vegetables, water and salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes until the vegetables are tender

Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork, or pass the soup through a food mill.  Correct seasoning.
(*) At this point you may set aside uncovered until just before serving, the reheat to the simmer.

4 to 6 TB whipping cream or 2 to 3 Tb softened butter
2 to 3 Tb minced parsley or chives   
(I added a dash of cayenne)
Off heat and just before serving, stir in the cream or butter by spoonfuls.  Pour into a tureen or soup cups and decorate with the herbs
[Julia Childs]

If you’ve tried this, would love to hear your thoughts or personal variations!

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