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Cooking with 'The Cooking of Southwest France'

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#61 FoodMan

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 09:06 AM

Elie, I just called my butcher to ask him about this.  I reminded him that in this particular recipe they are simply pan seared - he thought about it for a minute and then gave me the deal:  The thing about the veal kidneys are that they are going to release a certain amount of liquid during the thawing process, more liquid than they would normally release.  In order to get a good effect when cooking them you have to make sure they're really well drained and dry.  He said that you should take the time to let them defrost fully in a colander and then wrap them in a clean dish towel and gently squeeze them and pat them completely dry before you put them in the pan to cook.  He concluded rather cheerfully that using the frozen kidneys for a recipe like this is "not insurmountable" and that you can still get a quite good result by using frozen.  Hope that answers your question.  :smile:

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I think it does. I might pick some up and give them a try in the name of experimentation--tasty experimentation :wink: .

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#62 bleudauvergne

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 07:22 AM

Last night I was drawn again to Paula's Wild Leek and Mushroom Torte, the Tourte de poireaux de vignes et champignons on page 90. Even though it's not the month of May and I can't get wild leeks or ramps, I just used regular leeks. It made a great casual supper for visitors just arriving.
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Today at lunch I served what everyone else is serving - the Autumn Squash Soup With Country Ham and Garlic Croutons, or Creme de potiron on page 67. It was a great lunch and warmed us up on this blustery autumn day.
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This soup is so easy and so delicious that it is a shame not to prepare it, right now.
We of course followed it up with the last of the Leek and Mushroom Torte which reheats well.
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#63 FoodMan

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 09:23 AM

I made the mushroom leek torte too! So let's compare notes.

I mainly did it because I had all the ingredients and it sounded like great dish. Like you Lucy, I used regular leeks but added a chpped clove of garlic to get it closer to ramps. The crust for the tart is perfect, easy to work with and bakes to a lovely shade. I will be using it for any other savory tart.

Here is the tart getting filled with leeks, mushroom and homemade creme fraiche
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Before going in the oven
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and fully baked
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Unfortunatly I almost forgot to take a picture of the sliced pie. The one picture I did take came out blurry and is not worth posting.

The dish is excellent and has a wonderful flavor. The tangy creme fracihe is definitly what makes it very special. I agree with Lucy, the tart stores very well and leftovers are excellent.

One minor issue that I had is the fact that the mushrooms are not sauteed but placed in raw. They release a lot of moisture and make the filling pretty runny. Did you have a similar issue? You might not, if you used wild mushrooms. I used the small white ones that the recipe asks for. The next time around I would rather saute the mushrooms before adding them in. Once cool though the filling sets out a little better. So an option could be letting it cool all the way to room temp. Then slicing into it?

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#64 chefzadi

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 09:40 AM

looks great Lucy and Elie.

An option for sauteeing the mushrooms is to reduce the liquid afterwards and thicken with just a little bit of roux if you don't want to throw out the flavor of the mushroom juices. I suppose you can use cornstarch, but I don't think of it as being French and the texture of cornstarch thickened sauces do not appeal to me.
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#65 Smithy

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 09:45 AM

Yesterday I cooked the Roast Chicken Stuffed with Garlic Croutons in the Style of the Corrèze. It was a big hit at dinner, and I'll definitely do it again. Still, I had some puzzlement and frustration with it. The frustration came because you're supposed to tip the bird on one side and roast for a while in the casserole (I was using my Le Creuset oval French oven), then on the other side and roast, and I couldn't get the darned thing to stay on its side. Meanwhile, every time I moved it the skin would rip. There wasn't much intact skin by the time I finished, and a fair amount remained on the pot bottom (where it later contributed to the sauce). The chicken is sliced before serving, so the lack of skin wasn't a big deal...but it would have been better with crispy skin.

The remaining skin wasn't crispy. Looking back on it, I remember that the chicken cooked more quickly than advertised; maybe my oven was hotter than I thought. When I got to the stage of leaving the lid off so the chicken could finish cooking (and presumably crisp the skin) I realized the chicken was already quite tender. I took it out for fear of overcooking and drying the bird out. Next time, for want of a thermometer that I trust, I'll do each side rotation a little more quickly.

The puzzlement, among all of us, was that the bread stuffing was in the form of slices. Why slices, instead of dicing? I reread that recipe many times, and if there's a stage where the bread slices were to have been cut more, I missed it.

I tell you, that was one tender chicken. It was a big hit with us and our dinner guests, despite the puzzlement over the bread. The flavors were excellent - rich, earthy, warming - and the chicken was very tender. We tend to like a lot of sauce, gauche gourmands that we are, so next time I may make more if possible - but really, there was plenty of sauce to go around.

Add another keeper recipe to the list. Sorry, no photos.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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#66 carswell

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 09:58 AM

Am I reading the recipe wrong, Smithy, or shouldn't the chicken be resting on the vegetable-bone mixture in the bottom of the pan? That would prevent the skin from sticking. Also, Paula doesn't say to tip the chicken to one side but to lay it on its side, which is absolutely doable if the bird is properly trussed.

Thanks for the report. The recipe sounds like another winner.

#67 Smithy

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 10:27 AM

Carswell, you're reading the recipe correctly. In my case the bottom of the pan (Le Creuset enamel) was slick enough, given the juices that were flowing, that the chicken skidded the vegetable/bone mixture out of the way. Two things that might have caused that (I'm guessing here) are: pan too big for the chicken (although my next size down would have been too small) or, as you note, my tipping the chicken instead of picking it up and laying it where it needed to go. Maybe we're identified another technique issue: I didn't have a good way to grab the bird and maneuver it (I hate using clean towels for that, but also hate poking it with a fork) - hence the tipping instead of picking it up.

I thought I had it trussed properly, but the rounded sides weren't a good balance point. Are you saying that a properly trussed chicken is more squarish, or will otherwise balance on its side? Do I need to go look at some photos?

Next time I'll try some photos to show the technique (or lack therof). I just finished the leftovers for lunch. Wonderful. :wub:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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#68 mukki

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 12:53 PM

Maybe we're identified another technique issue: I didn't have a good way to grab the bird and maneuver it (I hate using clean towels for that, but also hate poking it with a fork) - hence the tipping instead of picking it up.

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I've found that using two wooden spoons to turn a roast chicken is quite useful. This works particularly well for an unstuffed chicken since I just stick one of the spoons into the chicken's cavity.

#69 carswell

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 01:23 PM

mukki beat me to it, Smithy. For turning hot birds, I usually use a couple of wood spatulas obstensibly bought for stir-fying in the wok. And for unstuffed birds, the "handle in the cavity" technique is the way to go. For particularly recalitrant fowl, I resort to manhandling the bird while wearing an old pair of washable oven mitts saved for the purpose. If none of these are viable for you, "tip" the bird as you did but then lift up one end or side and push the vegetable-bone mixture under it; repeat at the other extremities as necessary.

Re trussing, I find removing the wing tips and then trussing the bird so the wings are held against the side and the legs pulled toward the centre produces a relatively flat sided beast. Is that how you did it?

#70 Smithy

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 01:54 PM

Hmm. I didn't remove the wingtips, but I did have them tucked under the armpits, so to speak, to keep them from cooking too much faster than the rest of the bird, and then the elbows tied to the birds' sides. The legs were trussed so the drumsticks came close together enough to keep the stuffing in. I may not have trussed the bird tightly enough. I'm sure I have a book or three at home that show me how I should have done it. :biggrin: I'll check tonight if I get a chance.

I like the wooden-handle-in-the-cavity idea, and it might work even with a bird stuffed tightly as I had it. I'll try it next time. As it was, I was trying to use a wooden spoon and a nylon spatula to turn the bird by gripping the outside, and as I noted upthread it tended to be more an affair of tipping it up than of picking it up.

Thanks, folks, for the tips.

Do be sure to try the recipe!

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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#71 Smithy

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 10:44 AM

Dear Stephanie,

Our evening Sunday night was so much fun, I thought you’d like to know the Monday night epilogue. As you’ll recall, we feasted on the Roast Chicken Stuffed with Garlic Croutons in the Style of the Corrèze from Paula Wolfert’s new cookbook, The Cooking of Southwest France, and all of us agreed it was wonderful. What you didn’t know was that I’d considered serving our group the Evening Garlic Soup in the Manner of the Corrèze, from the same cookbook. I’d decided against the soup at the last minute, partly for fear of overdosing us on garlic (some people think that’s possible) and partly because I realized that the soup stands almost as a meal in itself.

Last night I cooked the soup for our family. It isn’t a difficult recipe: take some finely chopped onion and thinly sliced garlic, sweat it, add flour and cook until it’s starting to brown, then add beef broth. As that simmers, separate the yolks and whites of two eggs. Beat the whites until frothy, and whisk in cool broth. Break up the yolks and stir in some red wine vinegar. Add the yolks and whites at separate stages near the end of the cooking, and serve. I’m omitting some seasonings, but you get the idea.

This recipe has gotten rave reviews both for its simplicity and flavor from some of the eGulleteers, so I was expecting great things from it. I was a little surprised at the vinegar in the egg yolks: what was that supposed to accomplish? I wondered to myself. The mixture was pretty pungent. Still…others have loved this soup, and I don’t know much about French cookery. Something interesting would happen. I added the eggs as instructed, finished heating the soup, and served. It looked lovely.

Russ took his first sip before I sat. “What do you think?” I inquired. He replied, “You first.” Uh-oh. That usually means he’s not keen on something but doesn’t want to say so if I really like it. I sipped. Not bad. Pretty darned tart, though. I kept sipping. We started adjusting – maybe it needed Worcesterhire sauce? Soy sauce? Cream? The flavors were pretty good, but it was a very vinegary recipe. Hmm. Is this Southwest French cookery?

I looked at the recipe again. It said “4 tsp red wine vinegar”…not “4 tbsp red wine vinegar” as I’d read the first 5 times, and had done.

Be very glad we had the chicken instead! When I serve you this soup, I'll be able to do it properly.

Cheers,
Nancy

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown


#72 ruthcooks

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 11:34 AM

I made the mushroom leek torte too! So let's compare notes.

and fully baked
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I love that crosshatch design in the crust--did you cut partially through the raw dough to make it?

Were there any holes to release steam? I don't see any. Perhaps this acted to hold in some liquid which might have evaporated.
Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

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#73 FoodMan

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 11:41 AM

LOL, thanks for the chuckle Nancy :smile:. So basically you added a 1/4 Cup vinegar instead of a 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon. Maybe you could make some more soup sans vinegar and just add it to the previous one, thereby adjusting the flavor.

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#74 Smithy

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 12:17 PM

LOL, thanks for the chuckle Nancy :smile:. So basically you added a 1/4 Cup vinegar instead of a 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon. Maybe you could make some more soup sans vinegar and just add it to the previous one, thereby adjusting the flavor.

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Too late, we polished it all off last night anyway. It was that good. :biggrin:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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#75 FoodMan

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 10:46 AM

I made the mushroom leek torte too! So let's compare notes.

and fully baked
Posted Image

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I love that crosshatch design in the crust--did you cut partially through the raw dough to make it?

Were there any holes to release steam? I don't see any. Perhaps this acted to hold in some liquid which might have evaporated.

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Sorry, I muct've somehow missed this yesterday. Yes, you kind of partially cut before it is baked.

Actually there were four small vents if I am not mistaken. So, you have a very good point, maybe they were too "small". They might've closed during baking and caused much more steam to be locked in.

In any case the tart especially the crust was a huge success withg everyone and I would love to try it with ramps if I can get ahold of some.

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#76 JPW

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 12:56 PM

As you’ll recall, we feasted on the Roast Chicken Stuffed with Garlic Croutons in the Style of the Corrèze from Paula Wolfert’s new cookbook, The Cooking of Southwest France, and all of us agreed it was wonderful.



I made this last weekend. The chicken was fine. But oh those croutons!

Next time I'm making two birds just so we can have more of that lovely stuffing. :biggrin:

Edited by JPW, 26 October 2005 - 12:57 PM.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

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#77 Abra

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 07:56 PM

My book finally came, and tonight I made the Potatoes Roasted in Sea Salt. They were perfect, in a perfectly low-key way. I was expecting them to be salty, at least a bit, and they weren't. What they were was creamy and smooth, in a mysterious way, since the skin remains tender and soft, but entirely intact. It's hard to figure out how they were cooked, if you don't know.

All that said, it's not a potato epiphany, just a good and very simple way to do potatoes. The recipe has you put a layer of kosher salt, topped by a layer of good sea salt. I used a Portuguese Flor de Sal on top, and thought it was wasted. As far as I can tell, plain kosher salt would work exactly as well, and be much cheaper. If anyone else makes these, please let us know whether you think the sea salt is actually adding flavor. I couldn't discern it, and I have a pretty good palate.

But served with some roasted Columbia River sturgeon with a little sauce of butter and verjus, and some Savoy cabbage sauteed in a bit of duck fat, it was a delicious autumn supper.

#78 FoodMan

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 02:26 PM

Abra-
No matter what any cookbook says, I never use expensive sea salt such as Fleur De Sel for anything but last minute seasoning where the flavor and sometimes texture is not lost. Using it to bake with or as an all purpose seasoning is a luxury I cannot afford and IMO it does not make much of a difference if any at all.

Last night we tried this:
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Yeap, the garlic soup from Correze. It was very simple to prepare with no advance prep required. Made a perfect weeknight supper with some homemade country bread toast slathered with duck fat and sprinkled with salt and pepper (yes, I used sea salt for the bread :smile:).

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#79 Abra

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Posted 29 October 2005 - 10:04 AM

Last night I made the Chicken with Red Onion Sauce, and the Tuscan-style baked polenta. Now that was a lovely meal!

Here's the mise: I wanted to show how it's really a lot of onions (sitting next to a beautiful Smart Chicken, for you SC afficionados), but then I got carried away with the idea of scale, and couldn't resist putting the world's largest bunch of Red Russian kale next to it all. I didn't actually cook the kale last night, but here it is anyway.

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The polenta baked up painlessly to a thick, creamy mush. I did deviate a bit from the recipe by using my favorite polenta taragna, which has buckwheat mixed in with the corn. This might be the one application where I'd prefer something other than duck fat - I found that I missed the flavors of the more usual olive oil or butter, but the texture was absolutely perfect.

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THe chicken as it came out of the final broiling step (looking not nearly as wonderful as it tastes and smells)

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and plated up with the polenta and a salad with fig balsamic vinegar.

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This is definitely one to make again - it's quite luscious. There's a lot of fat, what with the duck fat, the prosciutto, and the chicken skin, so make it when you need something really soul-warming and unctuous.

#80 bleudauvergne

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Posted 29 October 2005 - 10:17 AM

...so make it when you need something really soul-warming and unctuous.

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I guess that means lunch tomorrow... :rolleyes:

NICE looking kale, Abra.

Your salad had a beautiful touch. Simply beautiful.

#81 Wolfert

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Posted 02 November 2005 - 11:46 AM

Please correct the following typo in your copy of The Cooking of Southwest France :sad:

On page 341 the amount of potatoes is incorrect.

1/2 pounds baking (russet) potatoes, preferably Idaho

should read 1 1/2 pounds baking (russet) potatoes, preferably Idaho



:shock:
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#82 francois

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Posted 02 November 2005 - 04:26 PM

It is a nice book indded. Tried several recipes so far and they all turned out great which is of course a signof a carefully made book - not a frequent thing!!!

Can someone explain why she instructs no to whisk the sauces when adding cream For ex. p. 97 'stratification. I would have thought the emulsion would be better if whisked.

#83 carswell

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Posted 02 November 2005 - 04:47 PM

Please correct the following typo in your copy of The Cooking of Southwest France :sad:

On page 341 the amount of potatoes is incorrect.

1/2 pounds baking (russet) potatoes, preferably Idaho

should read    1 1/2 pounds baking (russet) potatoes, preferably Idaho

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Bummer! I love that recipe. Just checked the copy you sent me to test back in July of 2004 and it definitely says 1½ lbs.

Now, see? If your editor had let you include metric measurements, there'd be some redundancy and resourceful cooks would be able to figure out the correct amount. Feel free to add that to your pro-metric arguments for the next book!

#84 Abra

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 09:46 AM

Last night Chefpeon and I made a scrumptious and labor-intensive dinner of Steak with Shallots and Red Wine Sauce in the Style of Albi, Straw Potato Cake Stuffed with Braised Leeks, and Apple Caramel Calvados Crepes (the latter not from this book, but seeming to go with the dinner.)

I've got to say, we both cook for a living and wow, there was a lot of prep involved in these two dishes. Don't try this on a weeknight unless there are two of you cooking. Even so, plan on a couple of hours to get dinner on the table, at least.

I wish my pictures were better. There's probably a way to have made this food look as good as it tasted, but I didn't manage it. We can chalk that up to the wine Chefpeon and I were drinking merrily as we cooked, or just to crummy photography skills.

Here are the steaks, the mountain of julienned potatoes (hurray for my little julienne shredder!) and the dish of braised leek filling.

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The bottom layer of potatoes, covered by the leek filling prior to adding the top layer of potatoes. See how thick the potato layer is? I never managed to get it really crisp on either side (and be very glad you don't have a picture of me inverting the whole thing on the skillet lid!) and we were thinking that a thinner layer of potatoes would work better. That, and a truly nonstick skillet. I used my Cybernox, which is "stick resistant", not the same thing at all. It's a whopping big skillet, though, maybe 11", and even so the potato layer was really thick.

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The cooked potato cake, and sliced steak, sans sauce. The sauce was absolutely kick-ass, by the way.

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On the plate, looking quite dowdy, with some eG roasted cauliflower that I had to introduce Chefpeon to. The shallots cooked in wine looked like puffy rubies in real life.

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And finally, the crepes, which Chefpeon plated up in a beautiful and innovative way, instead of just filling them as I would have done.

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This was a very rich meal, even though there wasn't a scrap of duckfat in it. Now I've got to take a break from Southwest France eating for at least a few days or my husband, who washes all the dishes (and this dinner used a LOT of dishes) will move out!

#85 bleudauvergne

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 09:54 AM

Wow, that looks heavenly!

I also did the potato leek cake and it was scrumptious. I ran them thought he grater on the moulinex to save time. It might have been prettier if I had hand julienned them.

#86 bleudauvergne

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 09:56 AM

It is a nice book indded.  Tried several recipes so far and they all turned out great which is of course a signof a carefully made book - not a frequent thing!!!

Can someone explain why she instructs no to whisk the sauces when adding cream For ex. p. 97 'stratification.  I would have thought the emulsion would be better if whisked.

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That would be an excellent question to pose directly to Paula during the Spotlight conversation coming up from the 14th ot the 18th of November. :smile:

#87 snowangel

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 01:56 PM

Abra, when you ate it, did you still think the potato layer was too thick?
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#88 Abra

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 03:03 PM

Well, yes, since the potatoes were mostly all soft, and so was the leek filling, so it just all kind of melted together. The crispness thing seems to be key, and I don't know how to get such a thick layer of potato crisp. Were any of you guys in on the recipe testing of this dish? Am I just crispness-impaired?

#89 snowangel

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 03:20 PM

It does look to me like you have more than the three cups she says you should have to have. Is this the case?
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#90 Abra

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 05:47 PM

Yes, it was WAY more than 3 cups, but it was just under 2 pounds, as the recipe specifies. My rule is, when in doubt, use the given weight. I didn't measure, but it was probably about 9-10 cups. Maybe because I did such a fine julienne?





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