Wai!- Hello again in Thai. I cannot believe it is the latter part of February. Does it feel like spring to you already? In parts of North Carolina it is feeling quite warm. Cooking Thai food when it feels warm doesn’t feel right. Maybe it’s because I’m thinking about Continue reading
Thinking of cooking something fabulous and French this weekend-Friday Date, Saturday Night Friends or Sunday Dinner, this one is gonna make the grade. A Richard Olney specialty from Simple French Food – Gratin of Chops and Vegetables with Brioche à tête, and olives.
When I read this recipe, there was nothing fancy in the name or the ingredients. Don’t let that fool you. The dish was like a scalloped potato dish (sans the cheese). I made a couple/slight changes to the ingredients, and you can too. I used a technique called a bombine methode -where vegetables, potatoes, and a parsley/garlic-mince layered with the chops covered in water are slowly cooked on the stove and in oven which in turn make this a gratin.
Another addition to round out the meal was the Brioche I spent two days making-A french Pastry-light yeast bread made with lots of butter and eggs. Can be served as a dinner roll which is called Brioche à tête, made in a fluted round/flared tin to look like a roll with a head on top or like a Brioche Nanterre which is made in a standard loaf pan. If you have time this weekend, try it. Otherwise, buy some rolls and olives to round out a very nice simple French meal.
So let’s get to the main dish-Gratin of Chops and Vegetables by Richard Olney from Simple French Food (with slight adaptations) See pics at end of recipe.
4 1-inch shoulder chops, outside fat removed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 pound, yellow-fleshed potatoes,(IMPORTANT-the other kinds of potatoes will cook more like a stew disintegrating the potato and not holding their shape) sliced about 1/4 inch thick
6-8 scallions (or 1 medium sweet onion), finely sliced
Persillade (handful finely chopped parsley mixed with a clove garlic pounded to a paste in a mortar)
4-5 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped
4 tender artichokes, pared halved, chokes removed, sliced and coated in olive oil. (I used artichokes from a jar)
1 teaspoon powdered mixed herbs (I used Herbs de Provence)
Water (to cover)
Brown the chops, salted in olive oil, remove to a plate and deglaze the pan with the white wine, reducing by about half. Pack half of the vegetable mixture (I layered each vegetable separately) into the bottom of a fairly shallow oven casserole, place the chops on top, sprinkle over the delazing juice, layer the rest of the vegetables, and pour over the water to cover (I covered evenly to the vegetable line). Bring to a boil and cook, covered, at a simmer for a half hour. Uncover the casserole and bake in 375 degree temperature oven for about one hour, adding a bit of boiling water after forty minutes or so if it seems to be drying out. I did not add any water- as it appeared to be enough and acted as a nice sauce on top of the chops and gratin.
What images do you come up with when you think of Sunday dinner? Family? comfort food? grandma’s chocolate cake? afternoon naps? coffee? conversation? My memories of Sunday dinner take me back to roast beef and gravy, whipped mashed potatoes, and green beans. I loved that day of the week the best. I do not recall ever having anything else for Sunday dinner. So, it comes as no surprise to me that to this day, when I make the moist roast and gravy, my oldest daughter always comes back home for that meal. After she eats and has had her fill, she heads straight to the couch for an afternoon nap. Just like I did when I was a young girl.
When I attempted to recreate the same feelings in a French way, I found this recipe “Roasted Pork with Milk” which comes from the Les Halles restaurant out of the cookbook Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook-Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking. Chef Anthony Bourdain of Les Halles, gives me his “signature” charm and off the cuff humor while teaching me how to cook all the classic French bistro fare. So I felt like this was a down home Sunday kind of dinner thing. I hope you might think so too. Bon Appétit!
3 lb boneless pork loin roast
salt and pepper
2 tbls. olive oil
1 tbls. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped,
1 leek, white part only, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbls. flour
2 cups whole milk
1 bouquet garni-(1 sprig of parsley, 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, and one bay leaf, tied together with string and used for flavoring. Tying the bundle in cheesecloth makes it easier to retrieve from the pot.
Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a dutch oven. When the oil is hot, add the butter. Brown the roast on all sides and set aside in a large plate. Add the onion, carrot, leek, and garlic and stir over high heat until soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stirring constantly, add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, then add the milk and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Add the pork and any juices that have collected on the plate. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour, making sure to periodically rotate the pork (the sugars in the milk can cause sticking and scorching). Remove the pork and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Strain the cooking liquid into a small pot and bring to a boil. Using a hand blender (or a mashed potato masher), puree the sauce (as best as you can with the masher) until foamy. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Carve the pork and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over and around and serve immediately.
Monday Night’s Soup Bowl was the Tomato Egg Drop Soup. I think it was a big hit and simply irresistible. This is a common soup in Vietnamese families, like what the chicken soup is for Americans. It is very similar to the Chinese Egg Drop soup in that it has the ribbony chiffonlike eggs and nice clear broth – add in the fresh tomatoes and ground pork to make it Vietnamese.
“Simply, artlessly, candidly, straightforwardly, unaffectedly, unpretentiously, without any elaboration, is the only way to describe the feelings I have when cooking Vietnamese food. The author of my new cookbook, Andrea Nguyen, “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors” (not “in”, but “into”) has a way of pulling you into Viet cooking and feeling like you have been doing this all your life. No boundaries, no foreign ideas, just a fresh face on some time treasured ideas and concepts.This is not to say, that I have liked any other country we have been in any less, but this one is like art. I love art and the beauty that some artists convey with photographs, oil paintings, and sculptures. Food can be artistic and wholly beautiful and Vietnamese cooking captures the senses in a way that maybe I have not experienced before.”
Also, here’s what we had with the soup- I like to call them kitchen nibbles: egg rolls, those little crunchy things you put in Asian soups, cupcakes, celery-apple slaw,and berry biscuits. You never go home hungry and if you do it’s your fault.
Tomato Egg Drop Soup (Canh Ca Chua Trung)
Serves 4-6 with 2 or 3 other dishes
1 1/2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
3/4 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt (omit if you add chicken broth)
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/3 pound ground pork, coarsely chopped to loosen
5 1/2 cups water ( I used a mixture of broth and water)
2 eggs, beaten
5 or 6 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped
In a 4 qt. saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes or until fragrant and soft. Add the tomatoes and salt, cover and cook for 4-6 minutes, or until tomatoes have collapsed into a thick mixture. Stir occasionally and, if necessary, lower the heat to prevent the tomatoes from sticking or scorching.
Uncover and add the fish sauce and pork. Wield chopsticks or use a spoon to move the pork around the pan so that it breaks up into small pieces. This will make it possible to distribute the pork evenly among the bowls when serving. Add the water, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil, using the ladle to skim and discard any scum that rises to the surface. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes, or until the flavors have developed and concentrated sufficiently to produce a rich broth. If you are not serving the soup right away, turn off the heat and cover.
Just before serving, return the soup to a simmer. Taste and add extra salt or fish sauce, if necessary. Turn off the heat. Pour the beaten egg onto the soup in a wide circle, and then stir gently to break it up into chiffonlike pieces. Ladle the soup into a serving bowl. Garnish with cilantro and generous sprinkle of pepper and serve immediately.
- Tofu Egg Drop Soup for the Soul (laurmendoza.wordpress.com)
An original recipe from Root Down restaurant in Denver, a food magazine reader wanted to make this Pork dish in her home. It looked complicated but interesting. I ruminated over it for sometime. I thought about the recipe ingredients, the look, the occasion, before I attempted to replicate it.
I found the occasion- a birthday for one of my girlfriends. I do not think we could have had a better meal. The quality of the ingredients, complexity of the meal-you know the kind-assembled and layered and visual presence made even a fussy cook happy for a night. It was the best Thai dish I had made to date.
If you want to make it, check out this link to the recipe- http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/green-curry-pork-tenderloin. Just a couple of suggestions: marinate the meat as the recipe calls for, it makes it very flavorful and if you cannot find unsweetened coconut milk, go ahead and use regular coconut milk but omit the brown sugar.
Tell me what you think!!
- Healthy eating: Thai Coconut Curry boosts health, taste buds (cumberlink.com)
- Coconut Beef Curry (tgipaleo.com)
- Braised Coconut Lemon Curry Pork, plus Mike’s Pork Loin Sandwich! (putputteats.wordpress.com)
- Green curry chicken . (kamenyui54.wordpress.com)
That’s right. BOOYA. Sounds frightfully Halloweenish. But not to be too terrified of the name, it’s really a hearty pork/chicken stew-soup. The word booya, I hear, evolves from the French word “bouillon.”
Can I just say this takes a bit of work and you might want to take this recipe and break it up over two days. Cook the pork, grill the chicken and chop the vegetables one day and throw it all together the next.
You know what I like? It’s the stuff you bring. It’s always fun and a surprise to add to the meal your kitchen nibbles. You guys complete me. Thanks for showing up. There’s a running joke-if you have been to all the Soup nights- you are the 100% group. Doing this for three other years, there are few that make it to all- but so far this year-we got ourselves a committed group of souper bowl contenders. BOOYA!
Here is the link to the soup recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/amy-thielen/booya-posole-community-stew-recipe/index.html
- Vermicelli, Meat and Tomato Soup and other Stuff-Monday Soup Bowl (aroundtheworldin365.wordpress.com)
- Monday Night Soup Bowl Underground (aroundtheworldin365.wordpress.com)
- Soup for the Soul! (findingtwentysomething.wordpress.com)