November 23, 2009

Adventures in French Cooking

I'd like you to meet my culinary BFF. Dude, it rocks! Not only does it rock but it also chops, slices, grates and kneads in just seconds. Gone are the days of chopping and slicing by hand for 20 minutes. This food processor is one of the best Christmas presents I ever asked for.

But it has its limits.

First I shall share the fancy nom français of our meal(Google Translator is oh so helpful):

Bifteck Sauté Bercy
Purée de Pommes de Terre à l'Ail
Tomates Grillées au Four

That's pan-broiled steak with shallot and white wine sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and whole baked tomatoes.

I started by doing something new; I rewrote the recipes in the style that we modern Americans are used to using, meaning the list of ingredients followed by orderly instructions. As I went along I left out all the parts that weren't necessary, like an entire paragraph describing how to tell when the steaks are cooked to the perfect à point(medium rare). This took about half an hour for all three recipes but it saved me so much frustration as I was cooking. And I was never caught off guard by a sudden "refer back to the master recipe but leave out this and add that." It is the beginning of my collection of Petunia's Semi-Homemade Julia Child Cookbook. Look for it in a book store near you in 2015.

I have made the pan-broiled steak before so it went smoothly but still, here is what I learned this time around: buy a good, thin cut of meat. The sauce may sound awesome but it is mild. It's not like adding salt to your food; it's more like adding parsley. You don't really taste it. And the meat needs to be thin in order to cook all the way through. Either start with a thin cut or pound that baby down. We don't like pink meat so there was a piece of steak that didn't get eaten. :(

And now is where I share the food processor's limits. While making the potatoes I thought I would use the processor with the chopping blade to "mash" the potatoes since I was missing the requisite potato ricer. Bad idea. Do you know what happens when you chop boiled potatoes at turbo speed for a couple of minutes? They become paste, like the kind of paste we all used to taste use in kindergarten. And this paste tends to work its way into all the crevices of the food processor's bowl and blade taking at least three days to clean properly. Needless to say I will be asking of a potato ricer this Christmas. Still the potatoes were good if hard to swallow. Btw, there were 2 heads of garlic in there. Not cloves, heads. The flavor is milder than you would guess but still.

Lastly I made the tomatoes. This was the easiest thing I have made so far and I loved them. Loved. Them. If you are a tomato lover you have to try this. Put a bunch of cherry or grape tomatoes in a baking dish. Sprinkle on a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake at 400* for 10 minutes. They are so hot and juicy. Just make sure your mouth is closed tightly before you bite into them. Tomato seeds stain. (Who knew?)

So I continue on my trek through France by way of MtAoFC. Stay tuned next time when I attempt Chocolate Soufflé for the Thanksgiving Buffet.


bermudaonion said...

I am a tomato lover for sure and the tomatoes sound wonderful, but I have to admit they don't sound very French.

Jeane said...

I have a new food processor I just got for my birthday. So far I have been leery of using it: I feel it would take longer to figure out how it works than to just chop the stuff myself. I'll remember not to try and mash potatoes in there!

Anonymous said...

Your post makes me so hungry! I just read a wonderful book on Christmas feasts in Paris, which was like an appetizer for this post. So to speak. ;)

Ti said...

When we remodeled our house someone actually walked off with my food processor. I was so ticked! Anyway, yes, potatoes that are over mixed turn into a gluten-nightmare.

I love these posts of yours. The only time that I get to cook (for real) is on the weekend so it would take some planning to pull such a meal off. I've been watching Julia and Jacques (sp?) on the weekends though. I so miss her.

Zibilee said...

I have had my share of food processor conundrums as well, so I feel your pain in that department. I also think the tomatoes sound divine and I might be trying them soon. I love to read these posts and think that it's really neat that you are cooking your way through this book. I have been hinting at the husband that it would be great to see a copy under the tree this year, so we'll see what happens!

Beth F said...

When I lived in the UK I often had baked tomatoes for breakfast. Yummm. I love my food processor and it is vital for some dishes, but I don't use it every day.

Have fun cooking! I'll be following along!

Margot said...

What a fun post to read. I like the way you write. I also found it helpful. I need a new food processor and I was looking for some inspiration. Thanks. I'll remember your tip about the mashed potatoes.