Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not your doctor

The second dinner in France was on the last night before leaving, so I had to use what was in the fridge.  Kind of the vacationer's version of Iron Chef.  The biggest challenge was the 1 kilo of butter that was left.  That, and the pineapple.  So, the menu was as follows:

Cheese souffle
Rosemary potatoes
World's Least Healthy stir fry
Pineapple upside down cake

I prefaced the meal with making sure people knew "I am not your doctor, I am your cook."  It was a pretty heavy, decadent meal.  But hey, if you want healthy, ask your doctor.  And don't buy butter in kilo sizes.

There was also an attempt at a hollandaise sauce to go with the potatoes, but it turned out badly so we didn't eat it.  The rosemary potatoes were simply sliced potatoes, butter, salt, and fresh rosemary ripped from the bush outside.  Which I regret not ripping up and taking with us.  The potatoes were great.  My greatest accomplishment was the souffle from scratch, with no beaters, stand mixer, or any other machine to help.  It didn't puff the way I wanted it to, but I also had to bake it in a too-large metal bowl as opposed to a souffle dish.  Taste was pretty good though.  World's Least Healthy stir fry had good veggies, but I wasn't a fan of how the meats turned out.  But then again, I'm not a big sausage or bacon fan to begin with.  The cake had the typical problem of not being cooked all the way through, but since it was huge and there were only 8 of us, we all got plenty of cooked portions.

Cheese Souffle

  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese

Preheat to 400F.Butter large soufflé dish (I don't recommend metal pans, it reduced the puff). Add Parmesan cheese and tilt dish, coating bottom and sides. Warm milk in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming.  Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 3 minutes (do not allow mixture to brown). Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 1 minute. Pour in warm milk, whisking until smooth. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in paprika, salt, and nutmeg. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking to blend after each addition. Scrape soufflé base into large bowl. Cool to lukewarm. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
Beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry (a stand mixer or electric hand mixer make this much easier, although it can be done with a whisk, it just takes longer). Fold 1/4 of whites into room temperature soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions while gradually sprinkling in Gruyère cheese. Transfer batter to prepared dish.  Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375F. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes (do not open oven door during first 20 minutes). Serve immediately.

World's Least Healthy stir fry

2 packages Bacon
1 package sausage
1 large onion, sliced
2 large bell peppers, sliced
3 tablespoons butter

Boil sausages until cooked through.  Cook bacon in skill until crispy and fat is rendered.  Remove bacon slices and place on paper towel.  Add sausage to the pan, turning to crisp outside.  Add onions and butter to pan, stirring occasionally until almost tender.  Add bell pepper to pan, stirring occasionally until almost tender.  Add bacon back to pan, tossing to ensure mixture is warmed all the way through.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

For topping:
  • 1 small pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced in 1/4in rounds
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For batter:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (pineapple might be better)

Preheat oven to 350°F. 
Make topping:
Melt butter in skillet or pan being used for baking the cake. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in overlapping pieces slightly.
Make batter:
Sift together flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (or by hand if you don't have an electric mixer, just make sure it gets light), then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended. (Batter may appear slightly curdled.)
Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in skillet 5 minutes. Invert a plate over skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to bottom of skillet.

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