Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Recipes from Lorraine and Alsace, France (Part Two)

OK, so the bad news is, I missed last week's posting because of spring break. So I am officially about five weeks behind in actually posting all the meals that I cook. Gah.

The good news is, I already told you about Lorraine and Alsace, France in the last posting. Because remember? This was a two part entry. The whole "I cooked that meal two years ago and forgot about it" thing.

Paysage de l'Aisne, France. Photo by Franck Vervial.

So instead of telling you more things about Lorraine and Alsace, France (if you missed the info you can check out the last entry), I'm just going to dive right into what I cooked:

Coq a Riesling 
(from Interfrance)
  • 3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 shallots
  • 4  garlic cloves
  • 1 cup Riesling wine,
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 lb large mushrooms, quartered 
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or creme fraische
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Alsatian Cheese Tart
(from Epicurious)
  • 1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 6 bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Alsatian Apple Tart
(also from Interfrance

For the dough:
  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour,
  • 1/2 cup cold margarine,
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp baker's sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Pinch of salt.
For the filling:
  • 2 lbs Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup bakers sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 pinches cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
To make the chicken, first season the pieces with salt and pepper. Now melt 4 tbsp of the butter in a heavy skillet over a medium flame and saute the chicken until golden on all sides.

Pour off most of the fat and add the shallots and garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the brandy and set it on fire. Shake the pan gently until the flames die down. Try real, real, hard not to burn your kitchen down.*

Now add the mushrooms, wine and chicken stock. Let the liquid start to boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pan. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 175 degrees (165 is a safe temperature, but I think the texture of dark meat is really unpleasant if you only cook it to 165).

OK now take the chicken out of the pan with a slotted spoon and place it on a serving platter. Turn up the heat and let the cooking liquid boil. When it has reduced down to about a half cup, add the cream and stir until the sauce thickens a little. You can also add a tablespoon of melted butter mixed with some flour if it doesn't thicken up enough. Serve the chicken over egg noodles and top with the sauce.

* Please note that I almost burned my kitchen down. The flames were really big and I was trying to take pictures of them with one hand and shake the damned pot with the other. Even though this is a pretty standard French cooking technique, I do not condone or recommend actually lighting your food on fire unless you really know what you're doing, because if you burn your kitchen down you will blame me. You have been warned.

OK now for the cheese tart:

First heat your oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry sheet until it is about 12 inches square. Place on a baking sheet (I also crimped the edges of the dough so the cheese mixture would stay put).

Put the cottage cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper into a blender and pulse until smooth.

Now cook the bacon over a medium flame until it begins to brown. Don't let it get crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.

Spread the cheese mixture over the pastry like you would with a marinara sauce if you were making a pizza. Leave about 1 inch around all four edges.

Now scatter the onions over the tart, sprinkle the bacon on top, then add the Parmesan cheese.

Put the tart in the oven and bake until golden (20 to 25 minutes). Cut up into pieces and serve.

And finally, the apple tart.

First blend all the pastry ingredients except the water with your fingers until the mixture looks like fine bread crumbs.

Gradually add the water until the mixture starts to turn into a crumbly dough. Don't overdo it, but eventually you should have a smooth ball. Dust it with a little bit of flour and wrap it in plastic wrap, then place it in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 and butter a 10 inch tart pan. Lightly flour a surface and the roll the dough out until it's a large circle. Line the pan with the dough and prick it all over with a fork. Return to the fridge for another 10 minutes.

Now cut each apple quarter into four slices and place neatly over the pastry, overlapping the slices as you go. Your tart should look something like this:

Bake for 15 minutes. While the tart is baking, make the filling:

Whisk the eggs together with the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Add the cream. When the tart has finished baking for 15 minutes, pour the filling over the top of it and return to the oven.

Bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes. When the apples are tender, the tart is done.

So I'm sure you'd like to know if I preferred this to the frog's legs, and since I do enjoy trying new foods but I'm not a snob about it, I will not pretend that I liked the frog's legs any better than the chicken. I mean, they were the legs of a slimy creature who lives stagnant water, right? I did like the flavor of them, but when you eat frog's legs there's always that voice in the back of your head that goes, "ew."

Anyway I liked the chicken, and yes I would probably choose it over frog's legs in the future. It had a sweet flavor from the Riesling and like many French dishes, was pretty mild in flavor, but quite rich. The cheese tart was yummy--I guess it was basically just a French pizza--but my kids missed the red sauce. And cottage cheese isn't really their thing, even though it was cleverly disguised.

The apple tart was yummy and looked very pretty when it was done. Again, not really different than a lot of other apple desserts I've had, but still yummy.

OK onwards.

Next week: Lithuania


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