Wednesday, 17 March 2010

a winter vegetable-salsify

A friend of mine sent me a link to Zester daily, which has some interesting cooking ideas. I added the link to the blog: look it up! One of the winter vegetables mentioned is the salsify, which, honestly, I discovered in France. My impression (correct me if I'm wrong!) is that this is not a well known vegetable in the US. Since I happen to have a recipe, thought I'd share it!
TIPS: Like all roots, choose the firm ones. Peel like a carrot. To make a decent gratin for 4, buy at least 1 kilo or 2 lbs of the vegetable.

Gratin de salsify
2lbs or 1 kilo salsify

Bechamel (see post)
flour or corn starch
Parmesan or other grated cheese.
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to medium.
Clean and peel the salsify. 
Slice into rounds.
Parboil until cooked but firm.
Meanwhile make a thick bechamel, with nutmeg.
Butter a baking dish.
Put the cooked salsify into the dish, cover with bechamel, sprinkle cheese, salt & pepper to taste.
Bake in oven until golden, about 30 mins.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Raspberry Meringue cake

Birthday cakes here in Europe are not the colorful frosting slathered affairs typical of the US. In keeping with family tradition, each birthdaygirl or boy can assk for the cake s/he wants. So this year, hubby asked for the raspberry meringue cake. In the end he got a strawberry meringue cake, as even frozen raspberries were not to be found in our part of the world. Which leads me to say that this is a cake you can make anytime of year, as long as you have access to frozen fruit when fresh fruit is not available. In the end I bought 1 kilo of overpriced early fresh strawberries....
TIPS: Beat egg shite in a high bordered bowl. Before whipping the cream, place a metal bowl & beaters in the freezer or fridge for at least an hour. Remember, when folding ingredients into a mix (especially egg whites!) always sprinkle on while scooping the mix from the bottom: the result is much fluffier! Also, the berries destined to decorate the cake can be mixed with a few tablespoons of sweet wine or liquer, sugar & lemon, or orange water.

The recipe as given is for 9 or 10 inch pans.

Raspberry Meringue Cake

1 1/4 c sugar
1 1/4 c ground almonds
5 egg whits (6 for a 10 inch pan)
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

8 fl oz whipping cream

Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F (medium)
Grease & flour pan or line with wax paper (my preferred method)

Beat egg whites until stiff.
Gradually add sugar.
Add vinegar.
Add vanilla.
Fold in almonds.
Divide mix into the pans:
Bake around 30 minutes, until lightly golden & spongy. DO NOT OVER BAKE!
Let cool. Remove from pan.

About 20 minutes before serving, beat the cream until thick, add about 4 tablespoons sugar.
Slice fresh berries or place thawed frozen one on the bottom cake layer.
Spread cream evenly over the berries, leaving about a 1/2 inch or centimeter from the border (to avoid oozing while cutting the cake).
Place 2nd cake layer over the filling.
Decorate with remaining fruit.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Serve immediately.

Duck à l'orange

This dish was requested as the pièce de resistance for hubby's birthday. The tradition in our family is that the birthday person decides the menu (except for me, I want to be taken out for dinner on my birthday!) & most of the time the person in question comes up with elaborate, time consuming & expensive menus. So duck à l'orange was a reasonable request, since excellent duck is easy to find at the local atélier butcher.
TIP: Before cooking the duck, dry it inside & out with paper towels. By removing excess liquid, the duck will crisp better.
Never throw away the fat drippings from the duck. They keep very well in fridge or freezer and are wonderful in dishes from roast potatoes to scrambled eggs.

The recipe that follows is for about a 10lb or 4.5k duck: if making a smaller one, reduce the cooking times.

Canard à l'orange
1 duck
6 oranges
1 medium onion
1 carrot (optional)
4 tbsp sugar or honey
2 tbsp white vinegar
any orange flavored liquer (Cointreau, Grand Margnier...)

Place duck in hot oven as is (do not add anything to it). Let cook about 1 1/2 hours, draining the fat & putting it aside.
While the duck is crisping, prepare the sauce.
Grate the zest of 2 of the oranges, set it aside in a bowl with the orange liquer.
Remove the zest in peels from the other oranges. With a sharp knife, carefully remove the colored skin of the orange, without taking the thicker white (which is bitter).
Scald all the oranges in boiling water about 4 minutes, set aside to cool.
Slice the peels thinly, just cover them with boiling water until liquid evaporates.
Slice the onion (and carrot) thinly, add to the peels, cover with sugar or honey & vinegar. Let carmelize over medium heat.
Peel the oranges, slice two thinly and add to the zest & liquer mixture. Set aside for decoration.
Chop the remaining oranges and add to the carmalizing sauce. Cook it down.
Splash the orange liquer on the crisping duck. Cook another 10 minutes or so until liquid is absorbed.
When the duck is crisped, cover with the carmalized mixture (this should be done about 3 times during the cooking process) until the duck is cooked (about another 1 1/2 hours).
Just before serving, pour the zest & liquer mixture on the duck, decorate with the sliced orange and put back in the oven another 10 minutes or until excess liquid is absorbed.
Serve with roast potatoes or a gratin.