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bilrus

Five courses from the French Laundry Cookbook

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I think the fresh peas I know I can get should be pretty good, but I may have a look through the book tonight to see about other options. 

The "fresh" peas (which I take to mean something like the bags of shelled peas hucksters try to sell me) are likely to be days old. Better to go with frozen which were picked a few hours before they began their cryogenic journey to the present moment.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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? Neither store has had yellow beets, so this may end up being a monochromatic salad, but it shouldn't lose much in the translation.

If you're willing to stray a little far afield, the goofily-named My Organic Market (MOM) on Mt. Vernon in Arlandria (nearly right across trhe street from RT's) had golden beets within the past few days. If you haven't decided entirely to go with monochrome, give MOM a call and see if the beets are still in stock.

Either way, good luck!


A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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Possible wines:

A dry Prosecco, which comes from a region north of Venice (Valdobbiadene and Conegliano). You can get still or fizzy, but because this is the start of the menu fizzy will work well. It's a bit on the neutral side so it should not interferre with the truffle and parmesan.

Soup: Puree of English Pea Soup with White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps, page 37

White Burgundy. If you go with a New World chardonnay make sure it isn't oaked as that would interferre with the dish.

Appetizer: Dungeness Crab Salad with Cucumber Jelly, Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette, and Frisee Lettuce, page 92

Chinon, Bourgueil... i.e. Cabernet Franc. This dish leans more towards autumn than spring; the autumn leaf aromatic of cabernet franc should be a natural fit here. If you get one with some bottle age you might also get cedar, cigar, earth, musk, mushroom, or pencil shaving notes with it. These too should fit well with the dish.

Entree: Roulade of Pekin Duck Breast with Creamed Sweet White Corn and Morel Mushroom Sauce, page 172-173

Young cheese you might want to try a Sauvignon Blanc. If it's older (ripe) continue with the cabernet franc.

Cheese: Ashed Chevreaux with Slow Roasted Yellow and Red Beets and Red Beet Vinaigrette, page 239

A sweet Chenin Blanc or a dry Sauvignon Blanc.

Dessert: Lemon Sabayon - Pine Nut Tart with Honeyed Mascarpone Cream, page 294-295

Where's the Salmon Tartare with Sweet Red Onion Cremè Fraîche? page 6-7

You can't do a French Laundry dinner with out that! :shock:

:biggrin:


Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Duck bones can be had at your local asian market in the manner of duck feet. I wouldn't brown them in oil as keller suggests, instead browning in an oven, and deglazing that.

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Just got back from lunch and Balducci's (a regional gourmet food store) did have English Peas in the pod - so looks like I can stick with my planned menu.

Thanks for the beet, wine and duck bone suggestions.

I never think about Asian markets unless I'm looking for something specifically Asian, but I do know that many on here tout some of the larger ones around the area for excellent, inexpensive produce, too.

If I can avoid one chore I don't want to do Saturday morning I may add a stop at that Organic Market for Golden Beets after my stop at the farmer's market to look for morels.

I've got a nice white Burgandy sitting on my wine rack at home. I've been waiting for the right occasion to drink it, so this may be the time.

As for the salmon tartare - my wife didn't like the salmon at French Laundry (she doesn't really like the texture of raw fish) although she did like the tomato version that came with the veg menu at Per Se.

But I don't need to be a hero. Let's stick with five courses this time around and maybe I'll go for the full chef's tasting menu with amuses, mignardises and a cookie plate to take home (or eat on the sofa) next time.


Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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Interesting article/thread here about the difference between the home and restaurant cook.

This line from the article stood out to me in particular:

My main point was this: Like almost everything else in life, cooking has a cost-benefit component. When I cooked with Daniel Boulud, he took apart a lamb and cooked it four different ways. He used exotic ingredients galore, ones that would take you days to find, but that he pulled (or had pulled) from the pantry or walk-in. He had several assistants, hours of preparation, the best equipment money can buy and 35 years of experience in the world's best professional kitchens. His dishes took him all morning and filled a platter the size of a table.

Bill Russell

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bill,

i am following this with rapt attention.

best of luck.

edited to mention re: peas - if the english peas are very large, i suggest mixing them with frozen. i know it sounds heretical, but only the small petite peas are sweet - and they are certain what TK uses. i generally mix fresh and frozen peas together in pea soup - both for cost and to round out the flavor if my fresh peas are large.


Edited by reesek (log)

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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Good news on the peas. I'd drink a floral white -- viogner (Virginia's Horton is quite swell), roussanne, something Rhone-ish with it. It would make a decent apertif, too, so you don't end up going through five bottles of wine trying to match every course. Also, my guess is that Calvert Woodley has the best half-bottle selection going if you want to match everything without spending a fortune or drinking like the Busboy family.

Do you have a silpat, btw? For the parmesan crisps?


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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The peas are small - like little BBs and tasted very sweet in the store. We'll see if I need to supplement for volume.

I have a viogner at home that we bought specifically because we liked it at Per Se. I'm going to try to come up with two bottles that will bridge the courses.

Despite being a terrible baker, I do have a silpat - I have a weakness kitchen gadgets.


Bill Russell

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I'm very impressed by the challenge you have set yourself and thoroughly enjoying the ringside seat!! I'm getting the urge to dust down some of my fancier, less creased-up books! :rolleyes:

I have to agree with Jinnmyo with regard to the peas. My husband & I grow (or try to grow) all our own vegetables on our our allotment; the only thing we don't bother with is peas. They're lovely if you happen to be able to pick them, shell them & throw then in the pot all within 5 minutes (from one's own lovely cottage garden!), but if left for too long they lose all flavour and tenderness. I once embarrassed myself by purchasing "fresh" peas to accompany a particularly luxurious fish pie..... never again.

Garden peas are, I think, the frozen food industry's one triumph.

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Bravo Bill. I'll be following this thread with great interest. I have given up complicated cooking for the time being but look forward to going in that direction again one day.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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RE: Peas

Over the years, every food professional I have heard speak about peas indicated the flash frozen variety are superior to the fresh. My experience, albeit somewhat limited in the area, confirms that concept.


Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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flash frozen are certainly reliably sweeter.

but nothing beats fresh peas from the garden. mine especially. plus they're a snap to grow, and you can thin out the young by eating the vines. nature rules.


from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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OK - here's my idea for the peas.

I don't have the book in front of me, but I can't imagine that since I'll have all the ingredients in place it would be that much much harder to (I can't believe I'm saying this) make two versions - one with the fresh peas and one with some good quality frozen baby peas. I'll do a tasting (or better yet, have my wife do a blind tasting) and see if one is clearly better than the other.

Pictures will be provided.

I wonder how Keller (and other chefs) deal with this issue. I've seen the garden at French Laundry (albeit at night) and it doesn't look big enough to provide a sufficient quantity of peas (or other vegetables), at least on a regular basis, to make large quantities of a particular dish. And most restaurants don't even have the luxury of their own garden for herbs and the like.

I assume they must getting fresh, just picked peas or other perishable vegetables delivered on a daily basis? Even then, is that fast enough?


Bill Russell

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I'm so pleased to be a virtual guest at your dinner table.

This is the kind of cooking that scares me. So I think you are very brave.. to do this in the first place.. and with all of us EGulleters looking over your shoulder! (enter applauding smilie)


Edited by Chufi (log)

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the point of pea soup is the peas. home cooks should make them when peas are growing and in season. i can't imagine frozen peas are comparable to fresh peas. also, it's a pleasure to shell peas, popping them out of the pod--this is part of the soup. happily it's spring and you can find fresh peas.

but i heard jean-georges uses frozen at his four-star place in ny, so what do i know.

in the end, the only hard and fast rule is that it should taste good as you can make it.

good luck!


Edited by Michael Ruhlman (log)

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the point of pea soup is the peas. home cooks should make them when peas are growing and in season.  i can't imagine frozen peas are comparable to fresh peas.  also, it's a pleasure to shell peas, popping them out of the pod--this is part of the soup. happily it's spring and you can find fresh peas.

but i heard jean-georges uses frozen at his four-star place in ny, so what do i know.

in the end, the only hard and fast rule is that it should taste good as you can make it.

good luck!

Thanks for the input - direct from the source. As I continue on this I'm becoming more orthodox in my following the letter of the recipes as best I can.


Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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Russ Parson's column in today's LA Times is about "the other green pea" Sugar Snaps. You might want to try them in place of english shell peas.


"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Just a quick question about the beet powder and juice. I like your idea about processing the fresh beets and then straining and reducing to a syrup, but then I'm in trouble. I don't and never will own a microwave, so what is an alternative way to dry the residue beet pieces? A 200-degree oven for several hours?

I would have thought one of those food dryer things like the models Ronco used to hawk to make jerky (pre-Showtime infomercials).

I have one of these things and use it to dry carrots and limes for powders, and other stuff for decoration. You get some pretty weird looks when serving a transparent slice of dried tomato.

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Just a quick question about the beet powder and juice. I like your idea about processing the fresh beets and then straining and reducing to a syrup, but then I'm in trouble. I don't and never will own a microwave, so what is an alternative way to dry the residue beet pieces? A 200-degree oven for several hours?

I would have thought one of those food dryer things like the models Ronco used to hawk to make jerky (pre-Showtime infomercials).

I have one of these things and use it to dry carrots and limes for powders, and other stuff for decoration. You get some pretty weird looks when serving a transparent slice of dried tomato.

That's one gadget I don't have.


Bill Russell

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Tonight I knocked off a few more of the tasks I could do in advance, including re-tackling my new nemesis, the beet powder.

Easiest thing I've done yet - Cucumber juice for the jelly to accompany the crab salad. Puree / cheesecloth / strain. If you plan on cooking from this book a lot, make sure you've got cheesecloth and lots of it. I've gone through one package already.

gallery_7851_477_81148.jpg

I do have one question on the cucumber jelly - the recipe calls for 1 1/4 sheets of gelatin, but I have only found packets. Any ideas on how this would translate?

I also prepared the tart crust, which I plan on freezing. This was, as suggested, a pretty easy step. I'm not much of a baker - in fact I had to buy the tart pan in preparation for making this dish. But the recipe in the book makes enough for three tarts, so I will probably make this again, assuming it turns out OK.

gallery_7851_477_123601.jpg

Finally, I made more puree of the beets and put it in a 250 degree oven for about a half hour, per Rich's suggestion above.

gallery_7851_477_97311.jpg

This worked pretty well in drying the beets out, but I probably could have put them in for a little longer, since when I put the dried pulp in my coffee grinder, there was enough moisture that it didn't entirely pulverize like I had hoped, but I let it sit for the rest of the evening and ran it through the coffee grinder again and ended up with a pretty good powder.

gallery_7851_477_117739.jpg

Not quite the paprika-like texture I'd hoped for, but it will work for giving the plate color.

gallery_7851_477_120630.jpg

(BTW - the finger is for size reference, not indicative of my photography skills).

As you can see - just tonight I used my stand mixer, food processor (twice) and a coffee grinder. Very tool intensive. Thankfully I'm not ready to move onto the El Bulli cookbook anytime soon.

It is interesting that I am, after only two days of this, obsessed with something as minute as this powder, or the peas above. Keller must be really good or is a tortured soul. I'm guessing the first, but this sort of perfection probably requires a little of both.

Got to go check on the tart crust now.


Bill Russell

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Russ Parson's column in today's LA Times is about "the other green pea" Sugar Snaps.  You might want to try them in place of english shell peas.

they actually make a surprisingly good soup, same method as the flc, add a little mint if it's growing in your yard.

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What a great thread. If my kitchen weren't the size of a postage stamp, I'd join in. I miss kitchen gadgets.

So, what time should we show up for dinner????? :biggrin:

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OK - here's my idea for the peas.

I don't have the book in front of me, but I can't imagine that since I'll have all the ingredients in place it would be that much much harder to (I can't believe I'm saying this) make two versions - one with the fresh peas and one with some good quality frozen baby peas.  I'll do a tasting (or better yet, have my wife do a blind tasting) and see if one is clearly better than the other. 

Pictures will be provided.

I wonder how Keller (and other chefs) deal with this issue.  I've seen the garden at French Laundry (albeit at night) and it doesn't look big enough to provide a sufficient quantity of peas (or other vegetables), at least on a regular basis, to make large quantities of a particular dish.  And most restaurants don't even have the luxury of their own garden for herbs and the like. 

I assume they must getting fresh, just picked peas or other perishable vegetables delivered on a daily basis?  Even then, is that fast enough?

Never, ever frozen vegetables in a FDR. Daily delivery is fast enough.

At home if you find that frozen is better than the fresh available to you, use them.


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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If the repairman hasn't already been, Bill, pop your microwave's hood and check the fuse. More often than not, that's all it is...$2 or less at your local Radio Shack, and you're good to go.


“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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