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bleudauvergne

Cooking with 'The Cooking of Southwest France'

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As many of you are aware, Paula Wolfert's new edition of The Cooking of Southwest France, Recipes from France's Magnificent Rustic Cuisine has been recently released. For those in the France Forum who are not aware of Paula's influence in the English speaking world, Paula's original edition in 1983 of The Cooking of Southwest France was a first in many ways: Her work was the first to introduce to average American home cooks on a grand scale the concept of French regional cuisine. Not only was it an introduction, but a warm and friendly beckon for us to join her as she worked her way through the Southwest of France and its treasures that took American home cooking by storm; easing us into an anecdotal but at the same time thorough and rigorous approach to a careful selection of recipes from the Gascogne Languedoc and Guyenne.

Many of us have cooked through Paula's original book and of course many are delighted that she has taken the time to return to the region in her new edition. She has revisited, refined, and expanded on the original tome, continuing the stories she began in her original edition, with the addition of 60 new recipes, and an expansion of her regional coverage to include the Auvergne.

Susan Fahning (aka snowangel), Elie Nassar (aka foodman) and I would like to start this thread in which everyone is invited to join us in cooking our way through Paula Wolfert's new release. This thread is the place to include your notes, and share with us photos of recipes you have prepared from it. This thread will begin in the France forum and eventually be moved to the Cooking Forum.

A group of eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters members were asked to test certain recipes for this new edition, and we hope those who tested recipes will share their cooking notes for any recipe that appears in the final edition. This is a "cooking with" thread, so please concentrate on the recipes in the final edition and save general discussion of the testing process itself for the upcoming eG Spotlight Conversation with Paula Wolfert, which will take place from 14 to 18 November, 2005.

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Great idea, it will be interesting to see the differences in the sourcing (of ingredients), ideas, techniques, and feedback between those of us over here in the US and those of you over in France, and anyone else who joins in for that matter.

Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/076...X/egulletcom-20

Amazon.fr link: http://www.amazon.fr/exec/obidos/ASIN/0764...6995010-0698554


Matthew Xavier Hassett aka "M.X.Hassett"

"Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters-it is vulgarly called bittered sling and is supposed to be an exellent electioneering potion..."

- Balance and Columbian Repository. May 13, 1806

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As many of you are aware, Paula Wolfert's new edition of The Cooking of Southwest France, Recipes from France's Magnificent Rustic Cuisine has been recently released. For those in the France Forum who are not aware of Paula's influence in the English speaking world, Paula's original edition in 1983 of The Cooking of Southwest France was a first in many ways: Her work was the first to introduce to average American home cooks on a grand scale the concept of French regional cuisine. Not only was it an introduction, but a warm and friendly beckon for us to join her as she worked her way through the Southwest of France and its treasures that took American home cooking by storm; easing us into an anecdotal but at the same time thorough and rigorous approach to a careful selection of recipes from the Gascogne Languedoc and Guyenne.

Many of us have cooked through Paula's original book and of course many are delighted that she has taken the time to return to the region in her new edition.  She has revisited, refined, and expanded on the original tome, continuing the stories she began in her original edition, with the addition of 60 new recipes, and an expansion of her regional coverage to include the Auvergne.

Susan Fahning (aka snowangel), Elie Nassar (aka foodman) and I would like to start this thread in which everyone is invited to join us in cooking our way through Paula Wolfert's new release. This thread is the place to include your notes, and share with us photos of recipes you have prepared from it. This thread will begin in the France forum and eventually be moved to the Cooking Forum.

A group of eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters members were asked to test certain recipes for this new edition, and we hope those who tested recipes will share their cooking notes for any recipe that appears in the final edition. This is a "cooking with" thread, so please concentrate on the recipes in the final edition and save general discussion of the testing process itself for the upcoming eG Spotlight Conversation with Paula Wolfert, which will take place from 14 to 18 November, 2005.

Wonderful idea. I think the two editions of this book are of the best cookbooks in the last 30 years. I tend to like books that present food in its social/cultural context. I would love to be involved in cooking our way through. Woods

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This sounds like fun! I just ordered the book. I may be late in starting as my book won't be here for about a week and I won't be back until the 17th. What is the official start up date? And do you have guidelines yet? Thanks!


Paris is a mood...a longing you didn't know you had, until it was answered.

-An American in Paris

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I had so much fun participating in the testing for this book and have just made my first attempt at a recipe from my brand-spankin'-new copy! The Creme de Potiron or Autumn Squash Soup with Country Ham and Garlic Croutes is delish (I'm devouring soup and bread as I type)! Recipe on page 67 and photo on 197 (notice that gorgeous bowl in which it is served!). I used kabocha. No Bayonne ham to be found so used Prosciutto. And, best of all, I still have some duck fat in the freezer, leftover from when my friend and I tested Paula's Torchon of Foie Gras Poached in Duck Fat page 242, so the croutes have a hint of foie gras clinging to them as well!

Velvety smooth, the mild sweetness of squash, saltiness of the ham, a clip of fresh chives...don't forget that hint of nutmeg. My broth was salted (Paula lists using un-. I didn't need to add any additional salt so, should you use salted broth, take great care in your seasoning! Or be a good cook and follow the expert's instructions!

Hint: make a LOT more than just one croute per person! Personally, I don't like to use spoons with soup...just give me bread, and garlicky, duck fatty, toasted baguette is the best spoon you'll ever eat!

Going to do Roast Chicken Stuffed with Garlic Croutons in the Style of the Correze over the weekend.

Who's next?


kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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One of the first recipes I tested was the Marie-Claude's Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel (page 378). It was a recipe that was not in the original edition but as Paula is a tremendous admirer of Marie-Claude Gracia (as she indicates), she wanted to make sure that the combination of chocolate and salt was a good as she remembered it...

It was -- and the little reference to "the friend who tasted the cake [and] said all it needed was some creme anglaise, a few raspberries, and a glass of Ruby Port" was me as that is how Shawn and I ultimately dressed up the cake for a dinner party. On its own, it is more of an ultra-rich brownie with the fleur de sel bits providing a textured contrast to the rich chocolate. The garnish and wine-pairing heightened the contrast that already existed in the cake.

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I just received my book today and I can't wait to try more recipes.

David (Tapenade) and I tested something very close to Chicken Thighs With Pineau de Charentes on page 155.

Here are our notes (written by David):

"We just made the Chicken with Cepes (more or less) according to your recipe, and have the following to report:

On our gas stove, which has slightly low gas pressure, and using a 30cm teflon saute pan, it took about 8 minutes to get the skin side crispy, and another 4 minutes for the other side before going on to the next stage. I would personally choose to use a deeper cast iron pan with teflon coating, or a Creuset, next time. Even a nice heavy clay pot would do well.

As you know, we keep kosher, and so used butter-flavoured margarine instead of butter. I would want to try this next time with a mild olive oil, or half oil and margarine. There was no need to skim off the fat after cooking the chicken, as I had already taken off most of the surplus fat from the meat while cleaning the chicken pieces.

We used a mixture of real cognac (it turned out I only had about 1 Tsp left in the bottle, as I occasionally drink the stuff) and Israeli brandy, which was absolutely fine. The wine we used was an Israeli Emerald Riesling, which is semi-sweet but definitely not heavy (and we made some Kir to quaff during the cooking phase with what was left over from the cooking).

The white mushrooms were already ready in less than five minutes, so we added the dried cepes after 3-4 minutes instead. And because we weren't using cream, and the stock was still pretty liquid, I made a roux with 1 Tsp of flour and 2 Tsp of water, added 2 Tsp of the hot chicken-mushroom liquid and the water from soaking the cepes, and added that to the mushroom mixture. We added the chives-parsley mixture to the chicken pieces in the pan just before serving, rather than dusting the pieces on the plate, and served with cauliflower and green beans steamed al dente.

It's an extremely easy recipe to prepare, and delicious on the plate -- we drank a new Golan semi-sweet white (the grape types, unusually, weren't listed, but I'd guess a mixture of Emerald Riesling and Colombard), which went very well with the chicken. I, personally, found the taste a little too delicate, and would have preferred to add about 50 percent more shallots and cepes to make the taste a bit more pronounced. I think a little thyme or even sage would go well, added to the mushroom mixture. I would also serve it with a rice and wild rice mixture (preferably brown or red rice, because this dish needs a complement that has a little crunch to it), together with the haricots verts and perhaps steamed baby carrots. Michelle initially thought of asparagus, but I think it would clash with the chicken-mushroom flavours: on the other hand, it could be a very good first course.

All in all, we both loved it, especially because so little effort produced such wonderful tastes, and we look forward to making it again, and again. But I would like to try other mushroom varieties as well (such as the forest mushrooms we have here), which I think would add more intensity to the flavour."


Edited by Swisskaese (log)

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Don't feel badly, Michelle -- another recipe I tested -- or, I should say, "revisited" -- was from the original edition; Alain Dutournier's Duck Breasts with Capers and Marrow.

It was a complicated recipe where a spice paste was composed of juniper berries, black peppercorns, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, Izarra or green Chartreuse liqueur, Dijon mustard, and salt. The duck was marinated in this odd blend, cooked with little red wine vinegar, dry white wine, and served with marrow and capers.

We basically decided that the recipe was too labor-intensive and just too odd tasting for modern-day palates. My boyfriend really liked it, but the combination of flavors was (as Paula put it), "a bit too sci-fi" to be really approachable.

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For those in the France Forum who are not aware of Paula's influence in the English speaking world, Paula's original edition in 1983 of The Cooking of Southwest France was a first in many ways: Her work was the first to introduce to average American home cooks on a grand scale the concept of French regional cuisine. Not only was it an introduction, but a warm and friendly beckon for us to join her as she worked her way through the Southwest of France and its treasures that took American home cooking by storm; easing us into an anecdotal but at the same time thorough and rigorous approach to a careful selection of recipes from the Gascogne Languedoc and Guyenne.

Yes, Julia and Paula. I did not know of them in France. And coming from France when asked the question, "do you know who they are?" I was a bit confused. But when I read about the contributions to the American culinary scene and the availabilty of ingredients that I take for granted now... I know how important they are. I'm writing (riding) on their coat tails (or apron strings) in English.

As for French cuisine in French I have Lyon to answer to... :smile:


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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Don't feel badly, Michelle -- another recipe I tested -- or, I should say, "revisited" -- was from the original edition; Alain Dutournier's Duck Breasts with Capers and Marrow.

I don't feel bad. I was honored that I could test a recipe for the book.

As a writer myself, I understand that Editors and space in the book are a factor.


Edited by Swisskaese (log)

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It turns out that variation of the dish I tested is in the book. It is Chicken Thighs With Pineau de Charentes on page 155.


Edited by Swisskaese (log)

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It turns out that variation of the dish I tested is in the book. It is Chicken Thighs With Pineau de Charentes on page 155.

Don't you just LOVE Pineau???? Paula introduced me to it and I am completely addicted although I have yet to have the gumption to COOK with it! <glug-glug>

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It turns out that variation of the dish I tested is in the book. It is Chicken Thighs With Pineau de Charentes on page 155.

Don't you just LOVE Pineau???? Paula introduced me to it and I am completely addicted although I have yet to have the gumption to COOK with it! <glug-glug>

I have yet to taste Pineau! I tested the same recipe but used a mix of cognac and chablis, based on Paula's suggestion for a replacement. It tasted wonderful and flamed even better, but I don't know how it would compare to the Pineau de Charentes.

I'll look around and see if I still have my notes. Michelle's and David's are much more thorough than mine, so I may not have anything to add except the caution: this flamed really high when I lit it, and the cook should be prepared. Since then I've known to not only stand back, but also to be ready to protect the cabinets above the skillet by having a skillet lid ready to slam down over the pan if the flames get too high. Having said that, I'll say that the flaming step was great fun! My husband heard me whooping in the kitchen and wondered whether he should come investigate, but wisely decided to stay clear until I called him to dinner.

I have cooked and served the Chicken Thighs with Pineau des Charentes (with the substitution as noted above) to dinner guests. They loved it as much as I did.

This thread is a really great idea. I look forward to working my way through more recipes in good company.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"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

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Just got my copy in the mail today -- it felt like Christmas! The original edition is one of my favorite books -- of any genre -- of all time. Congrats to all the eGulleteers who participated in the making of the new edition (and of course to Paula :biggrin:) .

I spent all evening trying to figure out what recipes had been dropped, which new ones were added. I was happy to see the éclade of flaming pine needles made the cut -- I've always thought that recipe was a hoot!

I noticed that the country bread and brioche recipes are both absent -- anybody know why?

Now that I'm living in Virginia, i.e. ham heaven, I'm wondering if I can substitute the fabulous local salt-cured country hams for the Bayonne? Paula doesn't recommend it, but it seems like it would work. I thought it would be great in the autumn squash soup mentioned upthread. Any opinions?

Steven

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I've only had a salty Virginia ham once in my life, Steven, sent to us one Christmas from my grandpa in Charlottesville. Oh how we treasured every bite. I imagine it shredded into small bits, fried crispy/chewy in the duck fat and sprinkled onto that velvety soup.

And when did you say you'd be serving it ?????????!!!!!

Don't forget...make lots of extra garlic croutes!


kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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My copy is on order but will not arrive until mid November. I combined it with a DVD for hubby to take advantage of the free shipping and the DVD has a November release date. :sad: So I am hoping that this thread will be rolling for a long time so I can join in when my copy finally arrives.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Don't worry, Anna! I suspect it will take awhile to work our way through the entire book! :laugh:

I recently decided to do the Rognons de veau poeles au confit d'echaolotes, Veal Kidneys Garnished with Shallot Confit, on page 278.

The recipe calls for very fresh veal kidneys, and I was able to get one from the butcher. He at first said he didn't have any but then remembered that they were carving up a calf that day and could give me one. Since I was only cooking for two, I accepted this. I arrived and he removed the kidney from the carcass and showed it to me. The kidneys for this recipe should be left intact and whole. My butcher asked me if I wanted the kidney prepared, and I said yes, but didn't realize what he meant by that. What the butcher does to prepare them is to open them up, flatten them out, and remove the fat deposits from the inside. I caught him when he was about halfway done, so he had already cut it open. I explained what I was doing so he did his best to keep it in tact.

gallery_15176_1870_58987.jpg

I called another butcher to see if he had any, and he said he did. Comparison by sniff test of the kidneys from different sources gave me an important lesson on how to identify a very fresh veal kidney. The very fresh one smells clean and has no unpleasant odor at all. Make sure that the kidneys you use for this dish smell clean and fresh. (I chucked the other one - there was a very big difference!)

The thing that attracted me to this recipe was the simplicity.

gallery_15176_1870_95382.jpg

The confit of shallots was easy to do and I did mine in the oven in a bowl rather than on the stove top.

gallery_15176_1870_34253.jpg

Finished shallots ready for caramelization before serving:

gallery_15176_1870_62486.jpg

Normally the kidneys are not split down the side, and cooked in one piece. But we make do with what we can get!

gallery_15176_1870_43183.jpg

While the kidney is resting, the shallots are finished.

gallery_15176_1870_117898.jpg

The dish was tender and flavorful, although my presentation was a bit messed up by my not being able to thinly slice the kidneys on a diagonal for a better presentation. I could completely visualize Paula's description of the final serving process, and plan to do it right next time! My husband and I both felt the dish was excellent in flavor. I think I may have gotten away with serving them more rare than I finally did serve them. In fact next time I might caramelize the shallots in another pan while the kidneys are cooking, to make sure I don't have to let it sit too long. I felt that the kidney continued to cook in its own heat while it was resting.

gallery_15176_1870_6249.jpg

My recommendations:

Don't let the butcher touch the kidneys because you want to remove the fat that you can while keeping it in tact be able to pan fry them whole.

Save the duck fat you've used for the shallot confit because it takes on a wonderful flavor and can be used for other things.

Timing is delicate so have your guests seated at the table when you put the kidneys in the pan, you want to work fast at the end to make sure this arrives at the table warm.

Don't forget to heat the plates! We do this at our house by spraying a stack of plates with water and heating them in the microwave for 30 seconds on high, then wiping with a dishtowel.

I give this recipe a serious thumbs up! Can't wait to do it again! :laugh:

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Lucy, your meal looks beautiful as always...but, even though I have eaten chicken kidneys before and I will eat raw Foie Gras, I think I would have to blind test calves kidney! Call it an American thing, even though I grew up eating things like brain fritters, cow tongue, liver, and pigs feet, I can't fathom eating the kidney, especially medium rare. Can anybody help me get past this? This looks like a dish my husband would love!

Anna, Amazon usually ships things as they are available even with free shipping. Check on your order status, it may be in the mail already! Mine was mailed out yesterday along with Paula's bookl on Mediterranean cooking.


Paris is a mood...a longing you didn't know you had, until it was answered.

-An American in Paris

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How different is the new version? a wholesale reworking or a minor revision. The original is magnificent.

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Lucy, these look awsome, I love the color and the presentation actually. Boy I wish it is as feasible for me to buy fresh veal kidneys. My butcher said he only gets them in bulk for some local chefs sometimes, since no one buys them. Unfortunatly I have no way of using up 10 pounds of veal kidney...unless I hold a veal kidney bbq of some sort :smile:.

I tested two recipes for the book, the "Short Ribs with Cepes and Prunes" and the "Stuffed Duck Neck". Both made it into the book and I am glad to see Paula made small changes based on my notes. I am pretty sure I still have the notes on at least one of them. I will post those as soon as I can find them.

Elie


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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self-edited to save discussion for Paula's upcoming Q&A.


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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How different is the new version? a wholesale reworking or a minor revision. The original is magnificent.

This is a good question to ask Paula during her upcoming eG Conversation, calendar entry here. Let's not steer too far away from recipes and cooking on this thread. Please hold the general discussion about the book for later when Paula is available." We can allow Paula to elaborate on all the work she's done for the new edition.

Thanks,

Elie


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I cooked just over half of the recipes in the original, so I expect to participate in this as well.

The Creme de Potiron or Autumn Squash Soup with Country Ham and Garlic Croutes is delish (I'm devouring soup and bread as I type)!

Funny, the squash soup is the first one that caught my eye. I am either making it tonight or tomorrow (using Jambon de Bayonne and Acorn Squash).

Also, I am planning to make Michel Bras's Stuffed Onions for Thanksgiving this year.


"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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