Vichyssoise Soup

Soupe Vichyssoise

Serves 2

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The origin of Vichyssoise is a subject of debate among the culinary elite, including beloved American chef, writer and television personality, Julia Child and Louis Diat, a world renowned French chef and culinary writer who cooked for nobility, prime ministers and ambassadors. But in keeping with our love of folklore and all things traditionally French, we’re going to go with the tale of King Louis XV of France. As the story goes, Louis was afraid of being poisoned and in response had so many servants taste-test the potato leek soup that by the time the soup finally reached him, it had turned cold. However surprisingly, the king rather enjoyed and ultimately preferred the coolness of Vichyssoise over the intended warmth in serving. This basic soup recipe not only invites varying serving temperatures, but also varying versions of ingredients that can include other vegetables or a dash or two of crème frâiche! 


INGREDIENTS

 1 1/2 quarts water

1 tsp salt

4 medium gold potatoes

3 tsp butter

1 medium sized leek

1/2 medium sweet onion

1 tbsp butter

1 garlic clove with skin

1/2 glass white wine (optional)

5 sprigs fresh chive

3 branches fresh parsley

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PREPARATION

•• Using a large sauce pan with a cover and over a medium high heat, bring 1 1/2 quarts of water and 1 tsp of salt to a brisk boil.  •• Reduce the heat to low to maintain a hot water temperature. •• Peel and dice 4 potatoes into very small-size cubes. •• Rinse and set aside in a bowl of cold water to prevent the potatoes from turning dark. •• Throughly cleanse the leek and remove all residual sand and dirt from between the leaves. •• Finely cut the leek into pieces of approximately 1/8”, including a desired portion of the green leaves as well. •• In a large bowl, rinse the leeks one more time and strain. •• Using a large sauté pan, melt 3 tsp butter over a medium low heat. •• Add the leeks and allow to sweat for approximately 5-6 minutes or until all of the liquid has evaporated. •• The leeks should appear soft and sweet to the taste, indicating readiness. •• Set the leeks aside in a separate bowl. ••

•• Peel and dice a half sweet onion into small cubes. •• Using the same sauté pan, combine the onions with 1 tbsp of butter and a crunched garlic clove with the skin intact. For approximately 7 minutes, allow the onions to sweat until soft and golden. •• Remove the skin of the garlic which will have naturally separated and discard. •• Add the potatoes and mouillér with a few tbsps of cold water or a 1/2 glass of white wine. •• Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the potatoes become soft. •• Add the leeks and cover with 1 1/2 quarts of the reserved hot water. •• Create a broth by cooking over a very low heat for another 10 minutes. •• Strain the broth into a large mixing bowl or use a ladle to separate the vegetables from the broth and place aside. •• Using a hand-held mixer, blend the potato and leek mixture into a creamy and smooth purée. •• Evenly mix the purée into the bowl of broth to create Vichyssoise, then transfer into the sauté pan and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. •• Optional is the addition of a little more butter or crème fraîche for added creaminess.  •• Either at room temperature or refrigerated, chill the soup to the desired temperature. •• Pour the Vichyssoise into a serving bowl and garnish with finely cut fresh chive. •• Serve with a homemade crusty French bread and butter! ••

•• Voilà! ••

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Classic Cheese Soufflé

Soufflé au Fromage Classique

Serves 2

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The origins of the soufflé date back to the early eighteenth century with credit and acknowledgement to French master cook Vincent de la Chapelle. However, the development and popularization of the soufflé in the nineteenth century is attributed to French chef Marie-Antoine Carême. Served as an entrée or as a dessert, soufflés are typically prepared from two basic components: a Sauce Béchamel as the flavorful base, and the “puff” of the egg whites. Soufflés can be baked in individual ramekins or in a larger single soufflé dish. Ingredients commonly used to flavor are fresh herbs, cheese and vegetables. For dessert soufflés you can introduce the sweetness of jams, fruits, berries, chocolate, bananas and lemons. Soufflés can also be accompanied by a sauce, such as Suprême, Béarnaise or a Tomato Coulis.

Contrary to the myth that a bump or loud noise will cause the soufflé to fall, the inevitable collapse is indeed expected, once the soufflé begins to cool.


•• Sauce Béchamel ••

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter

1/2 tsp salt

pepper and nutmeg to taste (optional)

1/2  cup of organic unbleached or Spelt flour

1 cup of whole milk or half and half

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PREPARATION

•• Using a sauce pan over a low heat, slowly melt the butter until you see the formation of small bubbles. •• Add salt, pepper and nutmeg (optional) to taste. •• Gradually introduce the flour by mixing slowly with a whisk to create a paste.  •• This is called a “roux”, that should not be overcooked or allowed to become brown. •• Remove the roux from the heat and add 1 cup of whole milk or half and half, blending until smooth and without the formation of any lumps. •• Place the sauce pan back over a low heat, mixing the roux slowly and until it becomes firm. •• If you observe that the roux is quickly becoming too firm, remove the pan from the heat, but continue to mix. •• If the roux is becoming too thick, add sparing amounts of milk for desired lightness. •• Your Sauce Béchamel is now ready and should present as a creamy smooth sauce, without any lumps and with the consistency of fluffy mashed potatoes. •• Turn off the heat and set aside your saucepan on the cooktop. ••


 •• The Puff of the Egg Whites ••

INGREDIENTS

4 eggs

1 pat of butter

1 cup of grated Swiss cheese

juice of freshly squeezed lemon


PREPARATION

•• Preheat the oven to 430 degrees. •• Thoroughly butter each individual soufflé dish, including the bottoms and the sides. •• Then lightly flour each dish. •• Separate the eggs, whites from the yolks and place into separate bowls. ••

•• Over the cooktop and without any heat under your saucepan, add 4 egg yolks into the Sauce Béchamel, using a small teaspoon, one at a time. •• Then mix throughly. •• Note that the saucepan should be cooled. If it is still too warm, you will have scrambled eggs! •• Bring the mixture up to a very smooth texture and observe a bright mustardy yellow color. •• Again, without any heat, mix in 1 cup of grated Swiss cheese, all at once and stir until completely smoothed. •• Set your saucepan aside. ••

•• Using a large whisk which allows for the passage of lots of air, vigorously whip the egg whites until you observe a thickened and frothy consistency (remember to keep your elbows locked to avoid tendonitis!). •• As you keep whipping, you will soon begin to see the egg whites change from frothy to fluffy and then harden. •• Feel free to add a few drops of fresh lemon to accelerate the hardening process further. •• In with hardening, the egg whites have transformed into a whipped creme that is sturdy enough for your whisk to stand straight up in the creme, without assistance. •• Using no heat and the measurement of 1/3, add the first 1/3 of the whipped creme to the bright yellow Sauce Béchamel and mix it throughly. •• Repeat with the second and third introduction as to avoid creating a watery consistency. Be aware not to over-mix as this too can result in watering down the mixture. •• Fill two individual soufflé dishes a little more than halfway, allowing space for the soufflés to rise. •• Place the dishes in the pre-heated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. •• This is now a great time to prepare a quick and simple fennel and orange salad to accompany your soufflés. ••

•• After approximately 15 minutes into the bake time, you should begin to notice an aroma that fills your kitchen, akin to the heavenly scent of a brioche baking in your oven. •• Although you may be tempted, take care not to open the oven door to observe the rising, as you will lose the heat needed to maintain a consistent temperature for the puff.  Also, do not reduce the temperature in the oven, as this will also cause the soufflé to prematurely fall. •• To check for readiness, use an oven light or flashlight to peer through the glass door of the oven. •• If you observe the height and puff of lighter coloration with a darkened top, your soufflé is ready. •• Insert a sharp knife to further ensure the soufflé has been throughly cooked to the center. If the knife comes back out clean, your soufflé is ready to be served, right away. •• Within 5-10 minutes from the removal the oven, you will see the inevitable collapse of these sumptuous soufflés.••

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 The cake-like appearance with chocolate frosting atop, indicates the readiness of your soufflé. Prêt à mange!


 

Boule & Bruschetta

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French Bread and Italian Bruschetta

Serves 2


Just like the neighboring countries of France and Italy, toasted homemade French boule bread heaped with a topping of fresh bruschetta, go perfectly together. Served as a cold appetizer or hors d’oeuvre, this recipe calls for a combination of fragrant fresh herbs that will tantalize the senses!


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INGREDIENTS

3 plum or roma tomatoes

10 sprigs of fresh chive

3 large leaves of fresh basil

5-6 sprigs of fresh cilantro

3 sprigs of fresh parsley

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 fresh lemon

1 tsp white or balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

half a loaf of homemade French boule bread

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PREPARATION

•• Throughly wash the tomatoes and finely dice using a 7-inch chef’s knife. •• Prepare the fresh herbs by cleansing, destemming and finely chopping each. •• In a serving bowl combine the tomatoes (without the juice that was created by dicing), along with the freshly chopped herbs. •• Mix in 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of white or balsamic vinegar and the juice of 1/2 of a freshly squeezed lemon. •• Salt and pepper to taste. •• Slice and toast the boule bread in desired portion sizes. •• Top each toasted slice with a generous tablespoon or two of the bruschetta and voila! ••


Penne with Goat Cheese and Mushrooms

Penne au Fromage de Chèvre et aux Champignons

Serves 4

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The Skinny on Spelt

For those who are gluten sensitive, could there be such a thing as “good gluten”? Apparently yes, and it’s found in the ancient species of wheat known as “spelt”. After overindulging every morning on croissants and baguette still warm from the oven of our favorite corner Boulanger in France, we soon began to experience symptoms of a sensitivity. At the top of our list of possible culprits, we suspected our digestive dilemma was most likely brought about by our self-inflicted gluten overload. As with determining any food allergy or sensitivity, we began by restriction and re-introduction of all gluten-containing products. In understanding the triggers, we learned that gluten in and of itself is not a villain. In fact, spelt is a type of wheat that contains gluten, but hasn’t changed since ancient times…therefore no hybridization or genetic modification, and no added or modified gluten content to make gluten-containing products more appealing. Spelt remains a fragile wheat that breaks down in the cooking and baking process, thus making it easier to digest. However, spelt is not safe for those who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.


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INGREDIENTS

5-7 oz spelt penne according to your appetite

1 cup frozen peas

1 cooked beetroot

1 tbsp olive oil

5 oz fresh button mushrooms

2 cloves of unpeeled garlic, unseparated

salt and pepper to taste

3 1/2 oz fresh goat cheese

2 pints almond cream

mixed salad greens

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PREPARATION

•• Fill a pasta pot with cold water and a dash of salt. •• Bring to a boil and add the frozen peas, cooking for 1-2 minutes. •• Using a slotted spoon, remove the peas from the boiling water and then add the penne, cooking the pasta al dente, according to directions. •• Rinse the penne in cold water, drain and set aside in the colander. •• Prepare the cooked beetroot by removing the outer skin with a peeler or with a small sharp knife, under running cold water. •• Since the beetroot has been cooked, the skin will fall away with ease. •• Clean, dry and arrange a bedding of mixed salad greens on a serving dish. •• Prepare the mushrooms, by snapping the stems off, using your fingers. •• Clean and pat dry using a clean kitchen cloth. •• Thinly slice the mushrooms and set aside. •• In a non stick frying pan, add one tbsp of olive oil over a medium-high heat. •• Once the olive oil begins to smoke, add the mushrooms and two garlic cloves, unpeeled and unseparated. •• Sauté the mushrooms over a medium high heat, stirring frequently. •• When the mushrooms take on a golden appearance, remove from the heat and discard the garlic cloves. •• Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside. •• In a saucepan over a low heat, crumble the goat cheese and gradually add 2 pints of almond cream, stirring lightly until you achieve a smooth and creamy consistency. •• Add the penne and moisturize over a low heat for a minute or two, gently folding in the peas. •• Place the penne over a bedding of mixed salad greens. •• Add the sautéed mushrooms then grate the beetroot over the top, to your preference. •• Enjoy this delicious dish with a glass of chilled Côtes de Provence Rosé and observe the beautiful color transformation as the creme sauce mixes with the shades of red from the beetroot. ••

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•• Super ••


 

Creamy Guacamole

Guacamole Crémeux

Serves 2

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Where Mexican and French cuisine meet…try this healthy and delicious guacamole recipe that’s always popular at home and across the globe (provided you can get your hands on the freshest ingredients)!  Soooooo good!!


INGREDIENTS

2 ripe Hass avocados

1/2 lime or lemon – freshly squeezed

1 tbsp olive oil

3 tsp water

5 branches of cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

3 large carrots 

2 celery branches

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PREPARATION

•• Begin by peeling the carrots and removing the leaves from the branches of celery. •• Throughly wash the carrots and celery, taking extra care to remove any sand from the bottom portions of the celery branches. •• Using a bâtonnets culinary cutting technique, cut the carrots and celery into small short sticks of approximately 4 inches in length. •• Gently roll each avocado between your hands or on a clean kitchen surface to soften the pulp. •• Using a mini Cuisinart food processor, blend the cilantro first. •• Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. •• Fold each section of the avocado in half and squeeze the pulp over the cilantro. •• Add salt, pepper, olive oil, water and freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice. •• Blend until you observe a nice creamy texture. •• Serve with carrots, celery and corn chips of course! •• 

•• Voilà••