31 January 2011

Gruyère Soufflé & Crab Salad

What astonishes me so far about French cooking is the diversity of dishes you can make with just a few simple, regular old ingredients. Start with just eggs, milk, butter and sugar or flour -- and you've got crêpes, flan, velouté, îles flottant, or tonight's dish: a soufflé! In class we used Cantal cheese, but tonight I used Gruyère. The recipe also calls for white pepper, but I used black.

Here is the recipe, Michellified from class.

Gruyère Soufflé

3 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp butter
150 mL milk
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites (whipped to form soft peaks)
1/3 cup Gruyère, grated
salt, pepper & nutmeg to taste

Make a roux with flour and butter. (The paste consistency should be like runny peanut butter.)

Incorporate half of milk into roux. Let it cook a little and become smooth; add the rest, in steps if necessary (to prevent curdling and ensure smoothness).

Remove from heat and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Stir in the cheese to melt, then cover (with plastic wrap touching the top of the sauce) and let cool.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter the ramekins. And while waiting for the béchamel to cool, make a salad or something, because you'll need a vinaigrettey, vegetabley side to offset the mellow cheesiness of the soufflé.

Aaaand also while waiting for it to cool, you can whip the egg whites.

Ok, now it's cool(ish): Stir in egg yolk.

Stir in about a quarter to a third of the egg whites. Then gently fold in the rest of them -- don't overmix! You don't want to lose the air bubbles, that will make the soufflé rise. (It's ok if there are some white streaks in the mixture.)

Fill ramekins two thirds full and level tops.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until soufflés brown on top. (For the record, it was more like 17 minutes in my oven.)

Safeway deli dinner

Lazy dinner last night c/o the Safeway deli: seafood salad, bocconcini salad and macaroni and cheese.

Bandidas + Salad, Wine & Peanut

Saturday morning: A return to Bandidas! This time, Mrs Cohen's Breakfast Soup, featuring poached eggs, avocado, feta cheese and cilantro. YUM

Saturday night involved crackers and dip, several bottles of red wine, a giant Greek crab salad and Peanut as our main source of entertainment.

It might be hard to spot him in this one, but here he is hanging out in his Korg camouflage.

29 January 2011

Leftover Chili with Floating Islands

Yesterday at lunch we tested the rumour that you can walk into the North Shore Studios and eat at their café. This turned out to be true, and resulted in me eating chili leftovers for dinner. This was not enough, so I also ate a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich.

And then I made some Floating Islands. Here we see the meringues poaching in some milk, water and vanilla essence.

The meringues are set aside and then the poaching liquid is combined with some egg yolks which have been whisked with sugar to a pale yellow. The crème Anglaise is then heated on the stovetop just enough to coat the back of the spoon and not so much as to make scrambled eggs. You are supposed to cool the crème Anglaise completely before serving but in my haste I wound up eating it lukewarm. I don't recommend this.

French Bistro Classics #2

Here are some things that got made in my second cooking class.

Bouillabaisse feat. salmon, snapper and mussels. With rouille: roasted red peppers, garlic, potato, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and olive oil, all mashed up in a mortar and pestle. Some of it stirred into the bouillabaisse; some spread on crostinis.

Rack of Lamb Provencale with Feta Vinaigrette and Roasted Garlic Flan on Ratatouille.

Crêpes Suzette with Orange Butter. <3

27 January 2011

Trout Paupiette with salmon mousse and spinach velouté

Hey guys. I made the trout paupiette recipe from my French cooking class last night.

I don't own a food processor, so the salmon mousse and spinach velouté were made with my hand-held blender.

Trout: salted and peppered, shaped in a circle and wrapped in a strip of oiled notebook paper.

Salmon mousse: salmon, cream, lemon juice, red pepper brunoise. Stuff it in the centre of the trout, and dry poach in water and white wine (vermouth).

Spinach velouté: butter + flour roux, chopped shallot, reserved poaching liquid, spinach and cream. (Also tarragon, which I bought and then forgot to add.)

26 January 2011

Some Food. Midnight Cranberry-Almond Granola

Dinner was supposed to be me recreating some dishes from French class; instead I find myself getting a cold again?! so I took it easy. There is so much food in the fridge right now, I just ate a bunch of random things:

• a bowl of blueberry salad
• salmon jerky
• a yellow pepper (pictured above) with roasted red pepper dip
• whole wheat French bread with some Les Amis du Fromage cheeses
• Toblerone

But then around midnight I decided to make a new batch of granola. The recipe comes from here. It is so much easier to make than the Jamie Oliver Granola! Except with not as many delicious things. But it contains wheat germ which I've never used before... and the base for sweetening and sticking it together is apple juice concentrate, maple syrup, brown sugar and oil.

Cranberry-Almond Granola

2/3 cup frozen unsweetened apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup almond oil, or canola oil
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
5 cups rolled oats
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped (4 1/2 oz)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (2 oz)
1 cup dried cranberries, divided

Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven; preheat to 325°F. Coat 2 large baking sheets with sides with cooking spray.

Whisk apple juice concentrate, maple syrup, oil and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in cinnamon and salt.

Mix oats, wheat germ, almonds and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Stir in the juice mixture; toss to coat. Spread the granola evenly on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake the granola for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Reverse sheets top to bottom and back to front. Continue baking until lightly browned and aromatic, stirring often to check, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks; stir 1/2 cup dried cranberries into the granola on each sheet. Let cool completely.

I like this but it's a little on the cinammony side for me, even though I cut the cinnamon in half from the original recipe. I think next time I'll try a mix of this and the JO recipe, without the cinammon, adding more fruits and coconut and substituting honey for maple syrup. It also probably makes a big difference to use almond oil -- I just used canola.

25 January 2011

Blueberry Salad; Homebrew; Gary Tofu

At work I envisioned myself coming home and eating a frozen pizza before band practice, and then was determined not to do so. So instead I made this blueberry salad again. It's my first recipe invention! I like it.
• mixed greens (spring mix & baby spinach this time)
• blueberries
• chopped peppers
• salted sunflower seeds
• feta cheese
• candied walnuts (walnut pieces toasted in a skillet with melted brown sugar)

At practice: some House of Thor homebrew.

After practice: salad didn't see me through to the end of the night. Fortunately Jay was there to make a batch of Seared Gary Tofu.

Eating Out: Part 3 of 3

Lupo! I'm so glad I only took one photo because it means I don't have a million photos to post. What an exhausting weekend for my belly. I've gone ahead and copied and pasted from their menu the things that I ate, because I am currently tired and lazy. But I have to say, I had some good things to eat this weekend, but these were by far the best.

raviolo ⏐ spinach + ricotta + free run egg + hazelnut butter

rúcula salad ⏐ orange + balsamic vinaigrette

lobster risotto ⏐ fresh artichokes + tarragon (pictured above)

Also some drinks: a Negroni, an Italian 75 (like a Peanut Please Pack Your Claws And Go but also with gin) and a dessert wine: Moscato d'Asti.

Eating Out: Part 2 of 3

Saturday: a day to eat. We rolled into Bandidas Taqueria at about 2:55 pm, just in time to make the brunch cut off. Lynley's visit somehow transformed us into vacation-mode this weekend, so we imbibed accordingly with orange margueritas.

I ate corn bread muffin tops, topped with guacamole, cheese and fried eggs, served with tomato and tomatillo sauce and a salad of purple cabbage and cilantro. They use these muffin tops for their eggs bennies too. They're so good!

Bandidas came recommended by Sonya, and lo and behold, who did we run into but Swannya.

After a couple hours' rest, we were ready for a second round of feeding at Au Petit Chavignol.

My dinner: Chanterelle Mushroom Mac n Cheese -- cave aged gruyère and an almond-thyme-brioche topping. And Roasted Beet Salad -- gorgonzola, hazelnuts, mint, and balsamic reduction.

Our guest of honour flanked by Gary and his raclette contraption.

Dessert: Torres and Espresso Crème Brûlée. The dish is really shallow so you get more crackly brûléed topping! The way it should be.

21 January 2011

Eating Out: Part 1 of 3

I basically spent the entire weekend eating out. This began right after work on Friday, dining alone at Steamworks before band practice. I had a glass of their Oatmeal Stout...

And some expensive butter chicken with incredibly fresh snap peas and grape tomatoes.

Much much later: midnight drinks at the Bayside Lounge, followed by a surprisingly flavourful falafel wrap at Mediterranean Grill. Most delicious falafel ever! Or was it just the alcohol?

French Bistro Classics #1

I am back at cooking school! Taking a four-week course in French Bistro Classics at NWCAV. We are learning about the different regional cuisines of France, and which countries influenced those cuisines -- it's not all butter and cream. Tonight it was, though. So much delicious butter and cream. The menu came from the Rhône-Alpes region, starting with a Cantal cheese soufflé, followed by Trout Paupiette with salmon mousse and spinach velouté, and for dessert: Floating Islands.

Soufflé! I had to show it right out of the oven to show how it had risen. Because they fall so fast...

So simple and light and tasty. This was just very... nice.

I filleted my first fish, and I didn't not enjoy it. I thought I would feel bad sawing off an animal's head, but nope. It's just like a job you have to do, and you do it, and then in the end you have delicious food.

"Paupiette" means it's served rolled, and stuffed with a filling.

The trout is poached, filled with a salmon mousse, and served with a spinach velouté and pearl vegetables.

Because I only ate one fillet I got to take the other home with me, which is in the freezer now, awaiting paupietting next week.

Finally, Floating Islands. Poached meringues floating in crème Anglaise. Yes.

Yes yes yes.

20 January 2011

Nourriture Libre! (ie. Free Food.)

For the low cost of watching Lise sit on stage for several hours surrounded by people discussing l'art à Vancouver en Français, we got to drink red wine and eat beaucoup de cheese and stuffed mushrooms at the CBC.

18 January 2011

Leftovers; Ferrero Rochers

Oops I forgot to take a photo of dinner. But I just ate more leftover quinoa stew anyway so I'm sure you didn't need to see another picture of that. Instead here is a photo of some remnants of the Ferrero Rochers I later ate.


So much leftover quinoa stew.

16 January 2011

Quinoa, Carrot & Lentil Stew

I made my first ever quinoa tonight -- in the form of Quinoa, Carrot & Lentil Stew -- a recipe from Quinoa 365. The recipe is a favourite of my coworker Jan. Some green for red subtitutions were made: I used green lentils and green peppers. It was a really easy soup to make, and it will be nice to have it in the fridge for the rest of what looks like a busy week.
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