Friday, April 29, 2011

Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak and Les Frites

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Once a butcher shop, a bar and who knows what other establishment, Bistrot Paul Bert is the perfect example of an archetype French bistro. Tiled and mirrored walls, funky mosaic tiled floors, cozy tables with red leather chairs, a gleaming wooden bar, a superb wine list and best of all, a meat lovers haven! If you have a love of rare beef, consider this pepper steak adorned with a Cognac cream sauce a small slice of heaven especially when accompanied by crisp tender les  frites. I prefer my beef similar to Pittsburgh black and blue-seared well on the outside and rare on the inside, or as written on the menu chalkboard at Bistro Paul Bert- "Ici les viandes sont servies bleues-(we serve meat blue (just warm in the center)". When I cook steaks for my guests who don't appreciate meat cooked rare, I sear the beef for 3 or 4 minutes each side in a heated and oiled cast-iron pan then finish it off in a preheated 350°F oven to the desired doneness.

Beef fillets are expensive, so feel free to substitute a cheaper alternative such as a rib-eye or a t-bone, my favorite as the bone adds so much flavor the the beef. Success with the les frites is dependent upon the correct choice of potato. Russet potatoes, or Idaho russet, if grown in the state of Idaho have more starch and  are therefore the best for frying. The cut potatoes should never sit in water, according to Bertrand Auboyneau, owner of Bistrot Paul Bert, and should be dried thoroughly before going through the two-step frying method. First, the cut potatoes are fried in oil at a low temperature, about 300-325°F so they are cooked through, but not browned. Drain them well and let them cool, then just before serving, fry them again in 375°F oil until browned and crisp. Serve in a bowl with paper, add salt and serve immediately.

For more Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak posts, check out the French Fridays with Dorie cooking group. This talented group is cooking their way through Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table available at most bookstores and online.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies

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Although I like lemon in my tea, I prefer to use the zest of an whole navel orange for these cornmeal shortbread cookies. Not quite as delicate as the traditional shortbread, the yellow cornmeal adds some rustic crunch and a slightly darker color. It is imperative that the dough be placed in a plastic bag, then rolled out to keep from sticking to the rolling pin. A not less than 2 hour stint in the refrigerator allows the butter to firm up and coalesce with the flour so it can easily be cut into squares for baking.

Thanks to Valerie of unegaminedanslacuisine for choosing this delightful cookie perfect to serve with a cup of tea.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Mustard Batons-French Fridays with Dorie

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Super easy! I even went shopping today and still made and photographed this incredible hors d'oeurve, perfect to serve when friends drop in for cocktails. Purchased frozen puff pastry dough, a good Dijon mustard and an egg glaze are all the ingredients you need to make the batons. Once prepared,  the unbaked batons can be frozen up to 2 months, just glaze them before baking. The fillings are endless-try spreading them with a black olive tapenade topped with grated lemon zest and/or grated Parmesan   as Dorie suggests or for a variation, slivers of roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, translucently thin slices of onion and toasted sliced almonds.

The French Fridays with Dorie cookbook group asks that we not include the recipes when we post, but honestly, you don't need one. There are usually two sheets of frozen puff pastry in a box, roll each thawed sheets into a 12x16 rectangle, spread half with a very strong Dijon mustard, cut into strips, place on a parchment lined baking pan and then brush the egg wash over the batons. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Tourtely Apple Tart-Tuesdays

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Tourte is the French term for covered tart says Dorie Greenspan regarding her creation of this almond nut crust tart filled with a dense apple, raisin, almond and browned butter filling, then covered with a top crust  and baked until golden brown. Pears can be substituted for the apples with a splash of pear eau-de-vie to add a more intense pear flavor.

Although, the tourtely apple tart recipe called for a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, I  used a 14x5-inch fluted pan with equal success. Thanks to Jeannette of a  thewhimsicalcupcake for choosing the tourtely apple tart from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking From My Home to Yours".  For other variations of the tart, check out the TWD site.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

New Belgium Brewing Duo-1554 Braised Chile Short Ribs and Fat Tire Beer Semolina Yeast Bread

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Always excited about a challenge, especially when it comes to trying a different beer to use in a recipe, I was thrilled to be given a stipend from Foodbuzz and New Belgium Brewing to do just that. It was a mind-boggling task at first! Beer can be used in many dishes-breads, as a marinade for meats and even in desserts-the list seemed endless. After buying and tasting 3 different flavors of New Belgium beer,  Fat Tire, Ranger IPA and 1554, I made my decision. I would make a bread with the Fat Tire as its fresh, toasty flavor reminded me of a good toasting bread raised with beer, some yeast and the addition of  semolina flour, traditionally used to make pasta, but makes delicious bread, too. The 1554 is a black ale with chocolate overtones and would work perfectly with a braised beef and dried chile dish. With the Ranger IPA for a future post, I envision a velvety beer caramel sauce to grace a scoop of homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

Let's begin with the ingredients for the 1554 Braised Chile Short Ribs. I prefer the short ribs with a straight bone and at least 2 inches of meat on top. Beware of short ribs with a fat vein running through the muscle layers. Your butcher should be able to find you the best cut of short rib for your needs. 

1554 Braised Chile Short Ribs

8 beef short ribs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 ancho chiles, toasted, deseeded, and sliced into strips
2 guajillo chiles, toasted, deseeded, and sliced into strip
1 chipotle chile, optional (prepare as above)
1 12-ounce bottle New Belgium 1554 beer
3 cloves, garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon masa harina

Pat the short ribs with paper towels to dry and season liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium high heat, heat the oil and in batches brown the ribs well on all sides. Remove to plate when browned. Add chilies and garlic and saute one minute. Pour in the beer and stir, scraping up the browned bits. Add the short ribs and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Cover, lower heat and braise ribs for about 4 -6 hours, or until meat has separated from the bone and is very tender. Remove meat to a plate, then remove bones and shred roughly. Strain the sauce and discard garlic and chilies. At this point, you may refrigerate sauce and meat separately. When cold, remove congealed fat layer from sauce.  Add the defatted sauce back to pot, bring to a boil and whisk in masa harina. Add shredded short rib meat. Serve on warmed corn tortillas-top with shredded cheese of choice, cilantro and sliced cherry tomatoes. Serves 4. Beverage of choice-New Belgium 1554. Recipe adapted from Chile Pepper Magazine.

Although I love the very rustic quick bread that has only beer and baking powder as a leavening, I wanted my beer bread to have a finer texture that comes from using yeast and then goes through several rises to achieve that tender crumb. After tasting the Fat Tire beer, I knew it would make a flavorful loaf of bread. My bread machine is my workhorse, it never fails me; however, I rarely use the baking cycle and prefer to shape my dough after it is processed.

Fat Tire Beer Semolina Yeast Bread

2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
3-1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup semolina, polenta or cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, or unsalted butter
12 oz bottle Fat Tire beer
1 large egg

Process the ingredients according to manufacturer's instructions for a basic bread setting or if you want to shape the bread yourself, follow instructions for the dough cycle.  Makes 1 large loaf. For tips and techniques on using a bread machine, is helpful.

Disclosure-As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers Program, I received a stipend for New Belgium Brewing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp-Tuesdays with Dorie

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Having several irons in the fire, so to speak; I almost didn't make this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie pick, but our local strawberries are plentiful and I was sure I could find rhubarb in some form. Maybe not fresh, as I don't remember anyone growing rhubarb here in Georgia, but frozen, definitely. Fresh Market, a very nice grocery store based in Greensboro, North Carolina, never disappoints me. Frozen rhubarb is so much easier to deal with than fresh, no trimming involved. The crisp came together quickly, but had to stay in the oven a bit longer due to the frozen rhubarb. 

In Dorie's sidebar, she suggests you eat this crisp the same day it is made or leave covered at room temperature for those who love a dessert for breakfast. In my house, we have eaten many desserts for breakfast, but this week I'm alone until Thursday, so will refrigerate my crisp until very cold, then freeze it until the weekend. Will let you know how it turns out after I thaw and reheat it. I did steal a little bit from the corner-delicious--a balance of the tart with the sweet.

Thanks to Sarah of teapotsandcakestands for her pick this Tuesdays with Dorie.

PS-I did sneak a taste of the crisp and it was absolutely divine!

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Coffee Ice Cream Tarts-Tuesdays with Dorie

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If I were having company come in, I would definitely make a full-sized coffee ice cream tart, but as it stands, it's just me and the hubby and although, I know the tart will freeze well, I just can't think of taking this tart out of the freezer three or fours times to gradually thaw and refreeze.  I made the coffee ice cream yesterday and all the while wondering how I would handle the dough and the assembly. 
The lightbulb in my head finally illuminated this morning! With the almond nut tart dough, I cut out small flat tarts, basically cookies; and after baking spread them with the finely chopped bittersweet chocolate. The coffee ice cream was another issue. The closest grocery store to me was flat out of coffee ice cream-can you believe it? Not willing to chase down the ice cream, I knew I had all the ingredients at home, plus I had made a delicious coffee ice cream a few years ago that came from David Lebovitz' book "The Perfect Scoop". 

Thanks to Jessica of domesticdeepthought for choosing the coffee ice cream tart for this Tuesdays with Dorie edition. Check out her blog for some lovely photos of this decadent and tantalizing dessert. You can also find the recipe there which comes from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking From My Home to Yours", a must have in your collection of top-rated cookbooks. 

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Friday, April 01, 2011

Quinoa Fruit and Nut Salad-French Fridays with Dorie

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Update!! Thanks to Yuri from Chefpandita for enlightening me on the fact that quinoa is a "seed", not a "grain"! I'll research my subject more carefully from now on.
I love many grain high fiber and super healthy dishes,but have not ever cooked quinoa, despite having been told by many friends who eat well and are very health conscious that quinoa is a very nutritious and low fat seed. I kept saying I would try it one day and even bought a package of quinoa which got relegated to the back of my pantry somehow. When I saw that Quinoa with Fruit and Nuts was the selected dish for this French Fridays with Dorie, I dug it out determined to make the dish. I only needed salad greens and fresh herbs from the grocery story and I was set. Some still supple apricots, golden and dark raisins awaited their turn before also being shoved in the back of the pantry. The quinoa seeds should be well-rinsed before cooking, drained well after cooking and brought to room temperature. Dried mixed fruits and nuts, plus freshly chopped herbs are stirred into the quinoa, then the salad is dressed with a lemon ginger vinaigrette. It's important to let the salad sit for about an hour so the flavors meld and believe me, there is a difference after an hour!  To serve, place mixed greens on a chilled salad plate, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper; then pile the quinoa atop the salad greens with a dollop of plain yogurt to finish. Fabulous! The recipe is in Dorie Greenspan's book, "Around My French Table", a perfect collection of everyday delicious food. Check out FFwD for more information on the book and cooking group. 

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