Monday, October 30, 2006

Pain au Lait

Pain au Lait.....Milk Bread! In between raking leaves I decided to get a bread dough going. Pain au Lait is an 'enriched dough', made nice and tender with milk and eggs.......a poor cousin to a Brioche Dough.

You get culinary inspiration from different places, the fall colors made me think about upcoming holidays. I decided to embellish this enriched dough by adding some raisins and pumpkin pie spice and a little more cinnamon! Are you getting the feeling?

You can just tell that this dough is going to be good! A little on the sticky side, the fresh yeast aroma just brings a smile to your face! The 'Pointage' or 1st rise is for an hour, then shaping and a proof for about 45 minutes, then off to the oven!

Look at the pile of leaves I left a certain 'someone' to finish!! I know there is a boy in college that wishes he were here to help!!

My decor is a little on the lame side (pardon the pun, bakers!)......but, all in all a great Bread is being enjoyed each morning as toast!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I'm in love...shhhhhhh!

I'm in love again!
With a new know how it is.......finding an excuse to drag it out one more time. I wonder how long the love-affair will last till it retires on the shelf, only to gather dust, all but forgotten.

Anyway, my new Pressure Cooker is getting lots of use. Paris has moved into fall weather, the pile of leaves in my back garden are telling me that! The temperature however, is still mild and I have not had a chance to break in the fireplace yet this season.
Comfort food is on the menu and nothing says comfort to me like a big bowl of Beef Stew. OR Girl Scout Stew as my dad called it when we were kids. Stew has ALL the food groups that I liked.......beef, carrots, potatoes and gravy.......yes, gravy was a food group in my family!

In just 20 minutes, my German born pressure cooker had cooked a really tough cut of beef and turned it into a tender, succulent piece of beef.

I gave the beef the squeeze test. This sophisticated culinary technique was taught to me by Chef Serge while I attended cooking school in Chantilly! He would bend down on one knee, ceremoniously open the oven door, grab a hunk of meat out of the bubbling liquid and squeeze it. He did this with a smile on his face, even though you knew he was probably burning his fingers. If he nodded and smiled this meant that I achieved the proper 'cuisson', if he shook his head, this meant I had to cook it a bit longer.

Next on the menu was some Buttermilk Biscuits.......the recipe I used produced a tender biscuit but not a flaky one.

Really, the biscuits turned out good and a lovely dinner was wolfed down.

My love affair continues....I've got some dried flageolet and smoked sausages that need to be cooked! Beans and a pressure cooker are a good marriage! Every marriage needs a good bean!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Not your Mom's Pressure Cooker

A friend told me about Les 6 Jours des BHV.....and who doesn't like a sale?? I headed off to the kitchen department....surprised?? Guess what I found......a Pressure Cooker. The price was right, and being a consciences shopper, I came home and did some internet research.
To my delight, this pressure cooker was a top choice of Cooks Illustrated. It was mentioned in the Williams Sonoma online catalogue as their only stove top model. I realized though that WMF had come out with a newer model, but I didn't find too much difference not to warrant the savings.

I do remember horror stories from my Grandma, classic stories about explosions and food dripping from the ceiling. I also remember the horrible noise and the little thing-ie dancing around letting the steam out. Needless to say I read the instructions with respect!!!!!!! I did a test drive with some water, just to see how the darn thing worked. This suggestion came from a great little web-site called Miss Vickie.

Next came some real food, Pinto Beans that made it past the TSA inspectors at DFW, you know, when they x-ray your luggage. They seem to always open my bags, but they do leave a polite 'calling card'.

I thought these beans might be a great way to start to experiment with my new toy. Nothing fancy, and nothing romantic about beans!!! After about 25 minutes I had a tender and creamy bean. black eyed peas have a new way to be cooked on New Years Day this year. The next experiment will be some braised artichokes, I had some in a restaurant a few years ago and they were perfectly cooked. I've tried to duplicate but they were always on the tough side. I found a recipe I'm going to give a spin! Someone told me the best chicken stock is made from a pressure cooker. We'll see!!

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Fall Repast

Looking outside today really brings that fall feel! Just yesterday and not a day sooner, the Ferme de Gally started displaying their pumpkins. I'm really in the mood to decorate the garden with some lovely Mums and Gordes and a pumpkin!

Last week, before my classes, 'the old man' and I took off to the Ferme in search of Butternut Squash.....didn't find any, but we did find some awesome Sweet Corn! We picked my favorite zucchini flowers with a tiny little zuc, no bigger than your thumb.......and we picked some Feves. The end of the season, for sure!
These gorgeous flowers got stuffed with some ricotta, spinach and some other cheeses 'nuked' in the microwave till tender. Try it......they were wonderful. You won't believe that I only paid a whopping 2 euro for those flowers! A steal.

After being in the fields picking, we came home famished for lunch. I happened to have some crepe batter in the fridge, leftover from my class with Cheryl and her ladies from the U.S.
Perfect for a little lunch on the patio before Fall really sets in and then we are inside with a roaring fire!
I do love Autumn!