Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gary / Julia Project

October 17th

Lobster Murder

I did, I am guilty. I will sign my name to that confession!I murdered a live creature. Well, sort of alive. After I stuffed it in a closed plastic bag in the fridge for two hours, it wasn't exactly 'lively'.I had a completely different reaction to this process of slicing a lobster in half then Julie Powell did. It came very easy to me. The only surprise was how much liquid came squirting out of the poor creature!Threw the meat along with some shrimps into a chowder for dinner. Call the police, I thought it was delicious!

October 12th

Roti De Porc Poele

This one was EASY!! Just brown the pork shoulder, dump some veggies in there and let it sit in the over for two hours. Perfecto!The meat was so delicious, falling apart even. The veggies were mooshed into the sauce and then ladled over the top of the meat. FAN-tastic!

October 11th

Poulet Roti and Gratin Pommes de Terre et Saucissons

I be brave. I try Roast Chicken again. This time I discovered a nice and long sewing needle to use to truss the chicken. Amazing how easy it was today. The needle still needs to be a little longer to go through the breast section as I push the wings 'akimbo'. Can you believe she used that word? The illustration was a bit difficult to decipher, but I made it work. I am going to put a vote in now. Find an easier method of basting a chicken, please. Every ten minutes for two hours is a bit much. I do like the benefits of basting, though. Don't get me wrong. That chicken was so tender and juicy. The gratin was something to try because it involved potatoes, which I had. I think I should have gone with the bechamel instead of the egg and whipped cream route. It came out almost like a breakfast casserole. Especially since I put sausage and mushrooms in there as well.

October 9th
Filets de Poisson Bercy aux Champignons

I have said this before, simple and easy are NOT the same thing. Poaching some fish in white wine and clam juice sounds easy, doesn't it? But then you add the chopping and layering of veggies. After simmering the sauce, you pour it out and beat it with some pasty flour and butter. Very soon you have an amazing yummy sauce!

October 6th

First Dinner party (Krisy, Christina, Katie)Poulet Grilles a la Diable, Haricot Verts a la Creme

I finally had to break down and invite real people to come and enjoy the fruits of my labor. People were beginning to doubt that I was actually doing this. Gordon can't be the only one to benefit, right? That would almost be selfish. I am SO SO SO SO happy that I got half of the food completed yesterday. The kitchen was such a whirlwind as I made the rest of it. I know there's no way I could have completed this entire meal in one night. Oh, my gosh. That chicken came out so beautiful and terribly delicious. You should have seen us gnawing on the carcasses. Such fun!Green beans in a creamy bechemel was such a big hit. Everyone had seconds. Mainly because they didnt' taste like green beans. You should have seen my first pathetic attempt at making a crepe. The pn definitely wasn't hot enough because it came out as a goopy mess. But the other ones after that were fine. Shave some chocolate over those bad boys and your friends will love you for life. Trust me, I know.

October 5th

Ratatouille, Crepes Sucres Finees, Frangipane

I am getting ready for having pepole over tomorrow night. Had some time so I thought I'd getter started. It's a good thing too. Ratatouille took me like two and a half hours to complete. So much slicing and dicing and sauteeing and turning and basting and layering and basting some more. OY! I took Mary's advice and salted the eggplant to let it 'sweat' out some of its juces. Amazing what ended up in the bottom to drain away!Next came the crepe base and the almond cream filling for dessert tomorrow. Loved pulverizing the macaroons. Eating the leftovers is so yummy! The custard was a bit weird and thick. Maybe it'll be better tomorrow.

October 4
Boeuf Bourguingnon

Finally got around to doing Julie's inspiration. Her original recipe that made her think she could do it all. The one she cooked for her fateful visit from Jennifer Jones, who never showed up. Man, did she miss something.This was indded a labor of love. It took an hour alone to brown the meat. Two hour timeline to get it into the oven. And a five hour grand total. Yes! It took me FIVE hours to make this. In the end, it was all about the sauce. Absolute amazingly complex and delicious piece of work. Very proud of meself.

October 1
Campignons farcis, tomates farcies duxelles

Basically, these are stuffed tomatoes using the filling for stuffed mushroom caps. They were okay. I did use some yummy heirloom tomatoes and it was a nice combination against the rough savory filling.
September 28thPate Brisee (cooked), Gratin Aux Fruits de MerI know, I know. I've made the Gratin before. But this time I used scallops and shrimps instead. That cooked pastry crust was most amazing. All of that butter, mmm. I even had some leftover dough. So I rolled it out and baked it as well. It was like a delicious cookie, only better. The center was slightly dense and gooey. So good.I did make a mistake with rolling out the gratin crust though. I didn't want to roll it out too much, afraid that it would tear or what not. It cooked up and was really thick. Mistake noted.

September 21st
Pate Brisee, Pate a Choux and Gnocchi de Pommes de Terre

Today was a "Rain Day" of all things. It's been raining for a week straight and rivers are starting to flood now. Busses couldn't get through so they cancelled school. Of course, most of the teachers were already there. C'est la vie.
Needless to say I had some time on my hand. Which meant that I could attempt that elusive french pastry dough. Loved the frisage motion! I had to work fast and use the heel of my hand. Apparently the palm is too warm for all the TONS of butter up inside here. It's now a lovely big ball in the freezer to be used for some day I need it. Then for dinner I decided to try hand rolling my own gnocchi. Since Gordon loves them so much. Julia says that these things are simple to make. HA! If you call juggling four different pots at once simple, then go for it.I got to use my newest kitchen gadget, a potato ricer. This is the coolest thing EVER!She says to roll them out to 2 1/2 inches by 1 inch. These are much larger than what I am used to. simmer them in a saute pan for 20 minutes and you have some huge honking goodness. Oh yeah!
September 20th
L'Omelette Piperade
Complete and utter mess. I definitely don't have the finesse of Julia. My pan flipping skills are immature at best. However, if you throw some chorizo, queso fresco, sauteed tomatoes, onions and mushrooms at it. It tastes amazing!

September 17th
Carrotes a la Concierge
An hour (an HOUR) to make carrots? I am so glad I did. They were incredible. Simmered down, then fold in some stock and cream. Hit it with a little nutmeg and seasonings. Lastly swirl in some egg yolk and more cream. Taste of Heaven!
I served it with some juicy steaks and sliced tomatoes covered with kosher salt and purple basil from the garden.
September 16th
Gratin Aux Fruits de Mer

There was definitely not enough time left today to do what I wanted. Try reading the recipe for a french pastry crust at 5:30 P.M. when dinner is usually at 6:30. Yeah, you see my conundrum.So tonight I took some liberty with Madame Julia. I made a most delicious salmon bake with a nice bechamel sauce. To imitate the crust I heated up some potato rolls. I served this all with some wild rice and a mixed salad.
September 15thGratin DauphinoiseJust some regular ole scalloped potatoes. Just dotted heavily with butter and shredded smoked gouda cheese. Think MMMM!

September 14th
Timbales de foies de Volaille, Supremes de Volaille Archiduc, tomates a la Provencal

What do you do with leftover chicken livers? Why, make unmolded chicken liver mousse. That's what! I made my first bechamel sauce and mixed it in with pureed livers - not sure I will ever use my blender again btw. Then placed it all in ramekins to bake in a pan of boiling water for half an hour. Very savory. It was supposed to come with a bearnaise sauce, but I thought this creamy topping didn't go with the rest of the plate. And I was right!Stuffed tomatoes are a revelation. The homemade stuffing is so goopy and yummy. Add that to the softened tomatoes and you have a wonderful bite. The chicken was made with a smoked paprika sauce and it all blended so terrific together.
More chocolate cake for dessert. Whee!
September 13th

Poulet Roti a la Normande, champignons sautes au beurre, pommes de terre, Reine de Saba, glacage au chocolat

I have never trussed a chicken. Never. First of all stuffing a heart, liver and gizzard back UP the animal it came from doesn't seem very nice. Then I have to sew it shut. Umm, yeah. I would never have made a good surgeon. One ragged, sticky, barely closed hole later I attempt to wrap the entire carcass up in twine. The poor thing looked like the victim of a bad bondage bout by the end. Next I get to smear the entire thing with softened butter. Very sexy. After all that I get to spend the next two hours in the most tortorous manner imaginable. Turning and Basting and Turning and Basting and Basting and Basting. Gah! I never realized it took so much work to create a roasted chicken. I am very eager to find out how this thing is going to taste. Very eager and very hungry.
Through all this I create a Queen of Sheba chocolate cake that is supposed to have a gooey molten center. I think this is the cake that Eric smeared on his face in the movie. I can only hope it is that good!

September 12th

Potage Parmentier, Bifteck saute au beurre, artichauts au naturale, sauce mayonnaise

This was the first recipe that Julie Powell ever attempted for her Julie/Julia project. So it had to come out amazing, right? I even went out and purchased a food mill. It was actually more like mashed potato soup. The food mill helped it be a lot more thick. But it still needs more seasonings. I bought two t-bone steaks to saute in butter and pour a red wine reduction shining with melted butter over the top. This was a huge piece of meat by the way. It was easy to make, but maybe a smaller cut next time?Boiling artichokes in salted water isn't my normal routine. I usually steam them to death. They turned out okay once you got past the tougher leaves on the outside. Now I was ambitious and thought I could also handle making my own mayonnaise for dipping the leaves in. Everything was going along swimmingly as I poured the oil in slowly. Then I took the top off the processor and tasted a swipe. GROSS! It tasted something like feet that have been kept in the attic for the last six years. I added more lemon juice and salt and pepper. Tried again and it was STILL nasty. 2 cups of good olive oil and three eggs wasted.

September 6th

Hollandaise and Eggs Benedict

I woke up feeling like a challenge. After last night, I felt invincable. So I decided to tackle the dreaded hollandaise sauce. I've never actually had it before so this was going to be an adventure. I followed Julia through the steps and was amazed when the final product was great. It was a little lemony, but still good. Also, in this feat I managed to attempt poached eggs. I don't know what went wrong with that. I boiled the eggs in the water for ten seconds like she said to do it. I added the vinegar so that the yolks would sit up. But as soon as I slid them into the poaching liquid they sank to the bottom. Hmm. Anyway, I did get a nice poached egg at the end. Thought it was strange to place them on a clean towel right out of the water. But it helped make them smooth. For those of you who know me, you realize that eating runny yolks is NOT my thing. I was willing to try them for Julia though. The experience wasn't completely horrible. Eggs Benedict are interesting things just perfect for a sunday afternoon.

September 5th
Escalopes de veau a la creme, risotto, and petits pois frais a l'Anglaise
My first attempt of an actual recipe from Julia Child's MtaoFC had me making three recipes at once. Quite the task, let me tell ya. I like to cook and think I am pretty intermediate in my culinary skills. But these recipes kicked my ASS! I was rushing around the kitchen frantically trying to get pans to deglaze, peas to boil and rice to saute without browning. Yikes!But in the end, it turned out to be an incredible meal. The mushroom sauce for the veal scallops was fantastic. The fresh peas had a terrific texture and the rice was amazing.
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