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Blue Heron

Your recommendations to home cooks

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I liked your response to the question about souffles, that is not to be intimidated by them.  I am curious (and am hoping), are there other impressive dishes or techniques that you would say are easier to do than one would think for the home cook to try?  Can you recommend a couple more?  

I am fairly intimidated by much of French cuisine, especially things involving flambee (I love coq au vin but am afraid to light the brandy) or trying to make something en croute, for instance.  Are these techniques difficult?

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Cooking  dishes en croute is easy and usually improves a dish as whatever is inside the pastry stays moist with its protection. However you cannot prod the interior to find out how far it's cooked in the way you can with a piece of meat or fish. So timing is important. Also you are best to seal whatever piece of fish or meat you are using in a pan and let it cool  before wrapping the pastry around if you want a roast feel rather than a stewed one to the dish.

Flambe is pure theatre and imparts little extra to actual taste. If you fancy this final flourish to you dish my advice is to warm the booze in a ladle separatel, light it and then pour it, already flaming, onto the food in front of your guests. You have more control that way and will probably waste less precious brandy or whatever

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