Thursday, August 12, 2010

France - Week 1

Ok so after this week I am making a conscientious effort to get my posts in sooner; so you can see everything up to the minute (so to speak). This week we made cuisine traditional to the country of France...I know we have done a lot of French cuisine. Then again they are considered the fore-fathers of the modern kitchen/cuisine.

The menu consisted of: Soupe de Legumes aux Petits Coquillages (Vegetable Soup with Shellfish); Le Blanc de Poisson Belle Mouginoise (Fillet of Fish Bell Mouginoise); Filet de Porc Farci Lyonnaise (Stuffed Pork Tenderloin); Ratatouille; Salade de Poire (Pear Salad); and Mousse au Chocolat (Chocolate Mousse). Peggy made the vegetable shellfish soup and chocolate mousse, Kelsey (sp) made the pear salad and ratatouille, Maria made the white fish (fillet of fish), and I made the stuffed pork tenderloin.

The vegetable shellfish soup was really good; it included clams, mussels and scallops (which were added in at the last minute; just before serving so they do not get tough). The clams and mussels are steamed open in some clam juice and placed aside. You then sweat some vegetables, add some diced tomato, place the mussels back in bring to a boil with the clam juice, and then add the clams and scallops at the end. Viola, a great cup of shellfish soup; of course remember to taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. The fish was prepared by Maria and it was perfect...

Maria began by thinly slicing tomatoes, cucumbers and white mushrooms; she then arranged them nicely on top of the lightly seasoned fish fillets (any skinless, boneless, firm white fish will do in this recipe). You can see the pattern in the picture shown here. You then add the layered fish onto a buttered pan; large enough to hold the fillets. Almost forgot...make sure to also spread some minced shallots to the buttered pan; then place the fish on top of the shallots. Add some vermouth and white wine to the pan (approximately 4 1/2 oz) in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F; the cooking should not take more than 4 -6 minutes or until cooked (do not overcook). Remove the fish from the cooking liquid and set aside to keep moist and warm. Add some fish stock (fume) and a little heavy cream to the cooking liquid, reduce the liquids to sauce consistency (coating the back of the spoon). After it is reduced you whisk in butter and chives vigorously; until shiny and creamy. Correct the seasoning in the sauce and then pour over the top of the finished fish layed out on a serving platter.

The stuffed pork tenderloin is made by the same method I have spoken about a few times now in this blog. Start by butterflying a pork tenderloin; pound it out with a meat clever; lightly season with salt, pepper and olive oil; then stuff with a prepared stuffing. In this case the stuffing consisted of sauteed onions and garlic, raw ground pork, salt, pepper, chopped herbs (oregano, chervil, sage, and parsley), breadcrumbs and one egg. Of course roll up the stuffed tenderloin tightly and secure closed by trussing it in twine. Pan sear the roll ups in a small amount of oil; place aside and drain off the fat. Deglaze the pan with red wine; add in a bay leaf or two, some herbs (sage, oregano, parsley stems, chervil); place back in the pork and fill halfway up the meat with brown stock and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and braise in the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 - 45 minutes. When finished take out the pork and keep warm in a covered plate...reduce the sauce and take out the leaves, stems, etc. Add a little dissolved arrowroot (or cornstarch) and finish off with a little melted butter. Slice the pork on the bias, thinly, and serve on a plate topped with the reduced sauce. This meal goes great with Ratatouille; which Kelsey made and it turned out great! Kelsey's ratatouille was also served by itself in a small bowl; accompanied with toasted french bread brushed with olive oil.

The chocolate mousse is made using the same recipe I have outlined before in past posts (use the search bar above to find recipe). The difference in this mousse was the presentation; I got creative and split an orange. I then carved out the fruit from the skin from half; and used a melon-baller to scoop out the rest of the fibers stuck to the rind. The other half of the orange I segmented and julienned some of the skin. Peggy piped the finished mousse into the empty half of orange and I topped it with julienned orange zest. We then surrounded the finished product with the segmented orange slices. Again a night of great food and awesome photos...

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