Tartelettes with Fondue au Gruyère and Wine Flavoring

Quiches

(Tartelettes with Swiss Cheese Cream Filling  and Wine Flavoring)

Tartelette with Fondue au Gruyère and Wine Flavoring

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

I have previously posted the recipe for tartelettes with just the fondue au Gruyère. Here is a slight variation where some of the milk from the master recipe is replaced with wine. Though I had absolutely loved the original tartelettes, I think these were even better. The blend of Gruyère with wine is heaven on Earth. These will make great appetizers for a party or get-together or just a regular meal at home.

Yield: 8 tartelettes

Ingredients:

  • Prepared tartelettes shells (see Tartelettes with Gruyère Cream Filling)
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • 1 ½ tablespoon s minced green onions
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 ½ tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1¼ cups boiling milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3½ ounces coarsely grated Gruyère cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F (232C).
  2. Cook the green onions slowly with ½ tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan for a moment.
  3. Add the wine, raise the heat and boil down rapidly until the wine is reduced to ¼ cup.
  4. Cook 2½ tablespoons of butter and flour slowly together in a 2-quart saucepan for 2 minutes without coloring. Remove from heat and beat in the boiling milk and wine mixture with a wire whip. Then add the seasonings. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute and remove from heat. The sauce should be very thick.
  5. Place the egg yolk in the center of the sauce and immediately beat it vigorously in with the wire whip. Beat for a moment to cool slightly.
  6. Beat in the cheese and finally the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. If not used immediately, cover the sauce with a piece of plastic wrap so that it touches and covers the surface.
  7. Arrange the prepared tartelette shells on a baking sheet. Fill each shell with the prepared fondue.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes or until the filling has browned on top.

Comments: The French have done it again with another piece of edible art. The cheesy, creamy deliciousness of these tartelettes cannot be described in mere words. You have to taste them to understand. There’s nothing too complex about this recipe. I do have a little tip for all my vegetarian friends out there. Gruyère is a very traditional, old-fashioned European cheese, meaning that they generally use animal rennet to make it. However, if you are living in the U.S., I can tell you that Trader Joe´s and Boar’s Head both have Gruyère that are vegetarian-friendly. No, they are not from Europe but they are still good. Though you could also use Emmental and/or Parmesan, I highly recommend Gruyère for its rich taste.

Tartelette with Fondue au Gruyère and Wine Flavoring, porción

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Ratatouille

Side Dishes, Vegan

Ratatouille

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Ahh, yes. Ratatouille. A classic of the French cuisine. What a wonderful thing these Frenchmen have invented. In this recipe, each vegetable “retains its own shape and character” so that you can taste each one but they also blend beautifully to create a wonderful mélange of flavors. We had them with meatballs (vegetarian ones in my case), which I admit is a bit unorthodox and all the French would probably kill us for it. If you want something more traditional, try it with a roast, broiled beef or lamb, pot-au-feu or chicken.

Yields 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound eggplant
  • 1 pound zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons oil, divided
  • ½ pound yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 (about 1 cup) green bell peppers, sliced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound firm, ripe red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced (directions below)
  • 3 tablespoons parsley

Directions:

  1. Peel the eggplant and cut it into lengthwise slices 3/8 inches thick, 3 inches long and 1 inch wide.
  2. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends and cut it into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices.
  3. Place the eggplant and zucchini in a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain. Dry each slice in a towel or with paper towels.
  4. In a 10- to 12-inch skillet, sauté the eggplant and then the zucchini in 4 tablespoons of hot oil one layer at a time. Sauté for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Set aside on a separate dish.
  5. In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in the oil for about 10 minutes or until tender but not browned. Season to taste.
  6. After peeling seeding and juicing the tomatoes (instructions below), slice the tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise the heat and boil for several minutes until the juice has almost entirely evaporated.
  7. Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of a 2½-quart saucepan or casserole and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of parsley over it. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top followed by half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini. Finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.
  8. Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip the casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Raise the heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored oil.

Peeling, Seeding and Juicing Tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Use firm, ripe, red tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes one or two at a time in boiling water to cover.
  2. Boil for exactly 10 seconds. Remove.
  3. Cut out the stem. Peel off the skin starting from the stem hole.
  4. Cut the peeled tomatoes in half crosswise, not through the stem. Squeeze each half gently to extract the seeds and juices from the center of the tomato.

Comments: Ratatouille can be served hot or cold though I prefer it hot. Keep in mind it’s not the quickest dish to prepare because you have to cook each vegetable separately before combining them. However, you can prepare it the day before; reheating it makes it even more flavorful. When cooking all the vegetables together, be very careful not to scorch the vegetables. I highly recommend using a fireproof casserole if you have one since they are less deep than a saucepan. I don’t have a fireproof casserole and had to make do with a saucepan. I reduced the cooking time considerably out of fear that too little juice would be left. It still turned out wonderful!

Ratatouile, porción

Râpée Morvandelle

Quiches

(Gratin of Shredded Potatoes with Ham, Eggs and Onions)

Râpée Morvandelle

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Here is a recipe for a delightful French dish. I suspect the origins are of a rustic kind but that does not lessen the fact that it is delicious and possibly even elegant. We finished the entire thing in one sitting. I don’t like ham but I admit that it adds a nice flavor boost to this dish.

Yield: 4 large portions

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup finely minced onions
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup (3 oz) finely diced cooked ham
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 2/3 cup (3 oz) grated Gruyère cheese
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • Pepper, to taste
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 10 oz potatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Cook the onions slowly in the oil and the butter for about 5 minutes until they are tender but not browned.
  3. Raise the heat slightly, stir in the ham and cook for a moment more.
  4. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with the parsley, cheese, milk and seasonings. Then blend in the ham and onions.
  5. Peel the potatoes and grate them, using the large holes of a grater or the food processor. Squeeze out their water, a handful at a time. Stir the potatoes into the egg mixture.
  6. Pour the potato and egg mixture into an 11- to 12-inch baking dish. Set it in the upper third of the preheated oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is nicely browned.

Comments: The râpée morvandelle is very similar to a large hash brown only it isn’t fried and is, in my opinion, more elegant. It is a very satisfying and filling dish that goes well with a salad. Julia Child says that it can even be baked in a pastry shell.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiches

Quiche Lorraine

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

This is the classic quiche. It has the basic egg custard poured over bits of bacon. You could also replace the bacon with diced, cooked ham sautéed slightly.

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 oz bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 8-inch partially cooked pastry shell in the pie pan or placed on a baking sheet (link)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ to 2 cups milk (or whipping cream)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Nutmeg, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Sprinkle the bottom of the pastry shell with the pieces of bacon.
  3. Beat the eggs, milk and seasonings in a mixing bowl until blended. Pour the mixture into the pastry shell.
  4. Set in the upper third of the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the quiche has puffed and browned.

Comments: This is a very simple and quick recipe. What takes up the most time is making the dough and the pastry shell but if you have that ready ahead of time you can whip this up for a quick, last minute weekday dinner. If this one’s too “eggy” for you, try the Quiche au Fromage de Gruyère.

Quiche au Fromage de Gruyère

Quiches

(Gruyere Cheese Quiche)

Quiche au Fromage de Gruyère

Since I was little, my mom has made the Argentine-style quiches called tartas. My favorite one was always the ham and cheese one. Needless to say, I love this Gruyère cheese. Gruyère will give any dish a great boost of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • 3/4 cup (3 oz) grated Gruyère cheese
  • Partially cooked pastry shell placed on a baking sheet or left in baking dish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Beat the eggs, milk and seasonings in a mixing bowl until blended.
  3. Gradually add the grated cheese and blend well.
  4. Pour the mixture into the pastry shell.
  5. Set in the upper third of the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the quiche is puffed and browned.

 

Comments: If you have the pastry shell ready ahead of time, this quiche literally only takes a few minutes to prepare. It’s very simple but easily pleases. If you would like, you may add pieces of bacon. Sprinkle them into the bottom of the pastry shell and then pour the egg and cheese mixture on top. That would be a mix between he traditional quiche Lorraine and the Gruyère quiche.

Quiche au Fromage de Gruyère, pedazo

 

Pâte Brisée

Quiches

(Pastry Dough, Pie Crust)

Quiche Dough, ready for baking

Quiche Dough, ready for baking

This crust was an incredible discovery. It is flaky, flavorful, and perfect in every way. My brother usually doesn’t particularly like homemade savory pie crusts but he loved this one. Everyone always comments on the crust when I make quiches. Here are the directions for partially cooked shells used for the quiches.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) chilled butter, diced
  • 4 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup ice water

Directions:

  1. Drop the flours, salt, and butter into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5 or 6 times to break up the butter.
  2. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately pour in the ice water, pulsing about 3 times. At this point, the dough should look like a mass of small lumps and it should just hold when you press a handful together. If it’s too dry, add a few more drops of water and pulse.
  3. Turn out the dough onto the counter and push blobs of dough with the heel of your hand in front of you. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F (204C).
  5. Cut the chilled dough in half and keep one half wrapped and in the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the other one into a circular shape about 1/8 inch thick. It should also be about 2 inches larger all around than your pie pan.
  6. Roll the dough up on your rolling pin and unroll it over a greased pie pan. Press the dough lightly into the bottom of the pan. Lift the edges of the dough and work it gently down the inside edges of the mold with your fingers, taking about 3/8 inch of the dough all around. This will make the sides of the shell sturdier. Trim off the excess dough with a knife.
  7. Push the dough 1/8 inch above the edge of the mold and press a decorative edge all around.
  8. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork.
  9. Grease the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and line the pastry with it. Press it against the sides of the pastry and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. This will keep the sides from collapsing and the bottom from puffing up.
  10. Bake in the middle level of the preheated oven for 8 to 9 minutes until it is set. Remove the aluminum foil and beans. Prick the bottom with a fork once more and return the pastry to the oven for 2 to 3 more minutes. When the shell is starting to color, remove it from the oven.
  11. Repeat with the other chilled half of the dough.
  12. They are now ready to be used for a quiche
Quiche, masa parcialmente cocida

The Prebaked Shell

 

Pommes de Terre Savoyarde

Side Dishes

(Scalloped Potatoes Savoyarde)

Coq au Vin avec des Pommes de Terre Savoyarde

Coq au Vin avec des Pommes de Terre Savoyarde

Adapted from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom by Julia Child

These potatoes are great for any meat dish: Coq au Vin, boeuf bourguignon, boeuf au poivre…you name it. They are flavorful, cheesy, crusty and soft…simply delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boiling potatoes
  • 3 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1½ cups grated Gruyère cheese
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F (218C).
  2. Peel the potatoes one at a time. Cut them into ¼-inch thick slices and drop them into cold water.
  3. Sauté the onions in some vegetable oil.
  4. After draining and drying the potato slices, layer the bottom of a baking dish with them. Top the potatoes with the onions and then the cheese.
  5. Pour the chicken stock over the potatoes to cover by three-quarters.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, basting several times until the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are nicely browned.

 

Comments: This is not a complex side dish. They do bake for a while so they are perfect if you need to finish making the main course. I made them with the Coq au Vin and it was a very satisfying meal.

Coq au Vin

Poultry
Coq au Vin avec des Pommes de Terre Savoyarde

Coq au Vin avec des Pommes de Terre Savoyarde

Adapted from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom by Julia Child

Here is another traditional French dish. My father had once tried it France and loved it, so I decided to make some for it. I won’t say mine was better than the French chef’s but we all really loved it, and my uncle, who was visiting, was super happy I had made it. Make sure you have a lot of time on your hands before attempting this recipe.

Serves about 6 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 lbs chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 bottle red wine (like zinfandel or Chianti)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • Dried parsley, to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Dried thyme, to taste
  • Beurre manié for the sauce: 3 tbsp flour blended to a paste with 2 tbsp butter

Directions:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and brown the chicken. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and transfer it to a large casserole.
  2. Remove all but a little fat from the pan, add the sliced vegetables and brown them. Add to the meat.
  3. Deglaze the pan with wine, pouring it into the casserole along with enough stock to almost the meat. Stir in the tomatoes and add the herbs. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer slowly on the stove until the meat is tender. (You can eat a piece or pierce it with a fork to test for tenderness.)
  4. Drain through a colander set over a saucepan and return the chicken to the casserole. Press the juices out of the residue into the cooking liquid. Remove the accumulated fat from the top and boil down the liquid to 3 cups.
  5. Off heat, whisk in the beurre manié. Simmer for 2 minutes as the sauce thickens lightly. Pour the sauce over the meat.
  6. To serve, bring to a simmer, basting meat and vegetables with the sauce for several minutes until thoroughly hot throughout.

 

Comments: This really is a spectacular dish and it is not too hard; it just takes a while. It is perfect for dinner on a cold winter’s night. The side dish I made to go with the coq au vin is Scalloped Potatoes Savoyarde. Other great options would be a gratin dauphinois or pommes Anna (other types of scalloped potatoes).

 

Tarte Tatin

Sweet Pies and Tarts

Tarte Tatin

Adapted from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom by Julia Child

This is the famous upside-down Apple tart. The mélange of flavors is spectacular: the crust, the baked apples, the caramel…I had once attempted the tarte tatin by following the recipe of another book but it didn’t come out to well; I lacked culinary experience and the utensils. However, this time it really came out well. We were all delighted and I would definitely make it again. It is a good dinner party dessert.

The Dough

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cups flour
  • ¼ cup cake flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 oz (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted buter, diced
  • 2 tbsp chilled vegetable shortening
  • ¼ cup ice water

Directions:

  1. Drop the flours, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse 6 times to break up the butter.
  2. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately pour in the ice water, pulsing 3 times.
  3. Remove the cover. The dough should look like a mass of smallish lumps and should just hold in a mass when you press a handful together. If it’s too dry, pulse in droplets of water.
  4. Turn the dough onto your work surface. With the heel of your hand, rapidly and roughly push egg-size blobs out in front of you. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

The Tart

Ingredients:

  • 6 Golden Delicous apples
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1½ cup sugar, divided
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • Chilled dough (recipe above)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F (218C).
  2. Slice the halves of the cored and peeled apples into 4 lengthwise wedges each. Toss the apple slices with the lemon zest, lemon juice and ½ cup of sugar. Macerate for 20 minutes, then drain.
  3. Heat the butter in a heavy ovenproof 9-inch skillet over high heat. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of sugar. Cook until the syrup bubbles and turns caramel-brown.
  4. Off the heat, arrange a layer of apple slices in a neat pattern on the caramel coating. Arrange the rest of the apples fairly neatly on top.
  5. Return over medium-high heat. Cook for about 25 minutes, covering the pan after 10 minutes. Press down on the apples every several minutes as you baste them with exuded juices. Remove from heat when the juices are thick and syrupy.
  6. Roll the chilled dough into a circle, 3/16 inch thick and 1 inch larger than the top of the skillet. Drape it over the apples, pressing the edge of the dough between the apples and the inside of the skillet. Cut 4 small steam holes on top.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until the pastry has browned and crisped.
  8. Unmold onto a serving dish so that the pastry is on the bottom.

 

Comments: For this recipe, the ovenproof skillet is essential. The first time I attempted at making a tarte tatin, a major problem I had was that I didn’t have the right skillet; that complicated things. I especially like this tart hot, but it is also good warm or even cold. I do not like eating desserts with whipped cream or ice cream, but it is suggested in the book. My parents tried it with vanilla ice cream and liked it.

 

Homemade Pizza

Pizza, Vegetarian

Pizza

 

Adapted from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom by Julia Child

The recipe for the pizza dough can also be used to make white bread, French breads and rolls. I decided to make it with whole-wheat flour but the original recipe calls for white all-purpose or bread flour plus 1 tablespoon of whole-wheat flour.

The Dough

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (a scant tablespoon) active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup tepid water
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 lb whole-wheat flour
  • 2¼ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Proof the yeast in the tepid water with the sugar for 5 minutes. After this time, it should start to bubble. Then stir in the cold water.
  2. Measure the flour and salt into a food processor with a Steel blade. With the machine running slowly, process in the yeast and water until the dough balls up on the top of the blade. You may need to add some more droplets of cold water. Let it revolve 8 times. Stop the machine and feel the dough, which should be soft and pliable. If it’s damp and wet, process in a tablespoon or so more of flour; if the dough is dry, add a Little more cold water. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Process the dough for about 15 more seconds. Remove it to a floured board or counter and let it rest for 2 minutes. Knead it vigorously by hand about 50 times by folding it over on itself and pushing it out in front of you with the heels of your hands. When you are done, it should be smooth and elastic but should hold together when stretched.
  4. Turn the dough into a 4-quart fairly straight-sided ungreased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel. Leave in a draft-free place for about an hour. The dough will rise to about 1½ times its original volume.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Push and pat it into a 14-inch rectangle and fold it into 3 like a business letter. Repeat this process one more time and return it to the ungreased bowl. Cover it and let it rise once more for another hour and a half. The dough is ready when it has almost tripled in volume.

 

Shaping the Pizzas

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough (recipe above)
  • Tomato sauce (or other sauce of your choice)
  • Grated mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings of your choice
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Dried rosemary
  • Paprika

Directions:

  1. Set the rack on the lower-middle level of the oven and preheat it to 450F (232C).
  2. Form the dough into 2 smooth balls and let rest, covered for 10 minutes.
  3. Place the balls of dough on 2 separate greased 16-inch pizza pans. Stretch and press the dough into a thin disk on the pan.
  4. Spread the tomato sauce over one of the stretched pizza doughs. Top it with mozzarella cheese. Add any other toppings you like. Finally, sprinkle the seasonings on top.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the top is bubbling, the edges have puffed and the bottom is crisped. Prepare the second pizza while the first is baking.

 

Comments: This comes out as a thin, crispy pizza. If you want a spongier crust, you can try using the entire dough recipe for 1 pizza or use a smaller pizza pan. This time, I topped the pizza with sautéed onions and sliced bell peppers. One of my favorite pizzas is what we call in Argentina fugazzeta that is topped with an overwhelming amount of onions. Another personal favorite is one I have made several times at home: goat cheese, apple slices and sautéed or caramelized onions. At one restaurant, I always order the Gorgonzola and pear pizza which is also a fabulous combination. Feel free to be adventurous!

Pizza pedazo