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Posts Tagged ‘savoy cabbage’

Winters are cold in the northern hemisphere, with Canada often being one of the colder countries to live in.  Although I don’t relish snow and cold, I do love hearty winter fare.

When I was a child, I recall that during cold Canadian winters my mother would make cabbage rolls.  Softened cabbage leaves stuffed into little parcels with rice, onions and bacon, placed snugly together in a casserole dish then baked in tomato sauce in the oven.  She always used whole canned tomatoes and seasoned the top with lots of cracked black pepper.  I loved to eat them hot for supper and then cold the next day for breakfast or lunch.

Although I always considered it a Polish dish, the “cabbage roll” is a common concoction in many European and Asian cultures.  Cabbage is a hearty vegetable, grows in many conditions, is full of vitamins, and stands up well to stuffing and roasting.  In France, the use of cabbage is prevalent in the central regions, one of which is Auvergne.

Auvergne is farming country and the regional cuisine is fortifying and rustic.  Products from the region such as Puy Lentils and cheeses from St. Nectaire are world renowned.  I discovered a stall in the Dupleix Food Market near my apartment in Paris from the region, and I was drawn to the crowds clamoring to buy Cantal and St. Nectaire cheese as well as their dry cured sausages and lentils.  If you have the opportunity to sample Cantal, one of my new favorite cheeses, it is one worth taking.

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There are some combinations of food that are unexpected yet work amazingly well together and others that fall a bit flat.  Today’s dish is the latter.  I am unclear how the recipe represents Pays Basque so I won’t advise you that it does.

The lesson today was that of creating a boudin, a cabbage form stuffed with escallops of salmon and brunoised vegetables and bacon, which are “hot poached” in plastic.  There are two techniques for poaching, a hot and a cold method.

With the hot method a large pot of water is brought to a boil, the item to be poached is placed in the water and then all is removed from the heat and a lid is placed on the pot.  Most fish or chicken will poach through in 10 minutes.

With the cold method the item to be poached is placed in the water and the liquid is brought to a simmer.  The item is left on the heat for 7 to 8 minutes once it comes to a boil.

Have you also considered poaching fish in a fish fumet or chicken in a chicken stock for additional flavor?  What about poaching in milk?  This is generally the technique called “a blanc” for artichokes.  But this could be used for fish, ½ milk and ½ water with a little seasoning.  The liquid can then be used to create a parsley or butter sauce.

I digress – back to the boudin.  To create the boudin the large exterior leaves of a savoy cabbage are cooked until pliable, around 4 minutes, chilled, seasoned with salt & pepper and then rolled out with a rolling pin beneath two pieces are parchment.

The cabbage is lined with escallops of salmon filet covered with a stuffing “farce” of brunoised bacon, carrots, onion, celery, white mushrooms and chiffonade savoy cabbage.  Another escallop of salmon to cover the farce then the large cabbage leaf is gently rolled around the mixture and all is sealed in a sausage like form in plastic wrap.

The small bundles are poached using the hot method for 10 minutes, and then the dish is plated with the farce, poached boudin and the red wine sauce.  The sauce is a reduction of shallots, red wine and veal stock.  It is tannic for the most part and seems out of place with the boudin.  I can only imagine the bacon was the only reason it was ever paired with the dish.

I asked Chef Patrick about wine pairings and he said we were only there to talk about cooking.  Perhaps the dish is so odd he could think of none?  🙂

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It was a bit of luck that brought me to the english bookstore in Amsterdam on Saturday afternoon.  The weather was unsettled so I refused to ride my bike into the city and risk getting soaked while doing our errands therefore I insisted on taking the tram. We had a number of places to go and had plotted out a route that would allow us not to backtrack up and down the tram lines.  It was great in theory, until I realized I forgot the city map. Fortunately our route would take us by a favourite haunt, the ABC Bookstore.


I zipped into the store to pick up another trusty city map for a mere 2 euro and scanned the magazine shelf.  I was on my way to the cash register when I spotted it – Menus for Chez Panisse.   I was drawn to the title and the cover so I picked up the book and began to leaf through.  It was love at first sight.  I tried to put the book down and convince myself I didn’t need it.  In fact, I didn’t need it but I wanted it so I bought it – or rather C bought it for me.

Chez Panisse opened in 1971 by Alice Waters in Berkeley California is legendary.  Alice Waters has changed the face of food through her unique restaurant, advocacy for local products/ producers and her Edible Garden program.   She has surrounded herself with many creative people over the course of the 40 year journey including David Lebowitz, who use to work at the restaurant and recently attended the Chez Panisse 40th Anniversary Party in August 2011.  Today however, I want to share with you the work of an artist, creative contributor and sometimes cook at Chez Panisse, Patricia Curtan.

The book published this year, 2011, is simply a compilation of menus dating from as far back as 1972 through to 2009.  It follows the development of the restaurant, friendships, birthdays, romances and momentous occasions through the recording of the event’s menu.  It is endearing to see the wit and charm in these individually letter pressed menus embellished with the beautifully simple drawings of seasonal fruits, florals and vegetables.   How wonderful to be the recipient of such a menu on your arrival to Chez Panisse and know that the care taken to present the menu on paper will be followed by courses of delicious food prepared with much love and care.

On this Canadian Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful there are people who can slow down and enjoy both art and food.  In this spirit I share my menu – sorry I have no talent for drawing so I refer you to page 82 with its gorgeous variegated leaves in fall colours.

Menu for “C”

Foie Gras on Buttered Toasts with Sauterne Jelly

Pairing: Champagne

Magret du Canard with Truffled Celeriac Puree and Carmelized Savoy Cabbage 

Pairing: Vieux Telegraph Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Pumpkin Pie with freshly whipped cream 

Pairing:  Great conversation with friends

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