I decided that I wanted to give us a challenge for the March cookbook club so I chose to work with Thomas Keller’s French Laundry for this month. I gave people a heads up that this wasn’t going to be easy but that it was going to be delicious, boy was I right on both counts.

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CBC started at 3:30 and I wanted to give people a bit of encouragement so I welcomed everyone as Keller does at the restaurant with the salmon cornets.

I borrowed the cornet molds from my new friend Megan (thanks Megan) and set to work at about 1:30. These were really quite tasty but the cornet in and of itself was a lot of work (note the theme of the day). You basically had to stand in front of the oven for an hour while they cooked, burning your fingers every 5 minutes or so as you flipped and rolled the hot dough around the cornet mold. Let me tell you, I was sweating when I finished the 11, count-em 11 cornets I had made at the end of that hour.DSC_0060

Luckily, filled with the crème fraiche and minced and rinsed red onion  “french onion dip” (that’s what it tasted like) and the lovely, lemon and chive salmon tartare, followed by a bubbly sip of cava, they melted in your mouth. To the ladies of CBC!!! Cheers

We set to work with a vengance after that. Maria’s blini were first and she had her work cut out for her, boil those potatoes for a good 45 minutes, peel them while they were hot, OUCH…

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then she had to quickly press this through the tamis that Julie provided. There was nothing “quick” about it and playing with a hot potato, sounds like a game doesn’t it? We ended up getting out my food mill, grinding up that damned potato in there while Maria pushed it through the tamis. Check out our system:
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Ok so this blogpost could go on forever but I think I’m going to do a show and tell of the basic beautiful recipes and leave the details of each of them to the other girls.

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So, Maria’s blini were very different. Usually blini are made with flour. This was kind of like a mashed potato pancake. She had apparently spent her entire Friday night making a “tomato coulis” which was 3lbs of tomatoes reduced to about 1/4 cup. They were beautiful, tasty and well presented with the shaved tuna roe sprinkled on top.
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Next up, Julie’s beautiful “Caesar Salads” which she prepared ahead of time and plated at my house. The composed salad had the dressing on the bottom under a baguette crouton, topped with a light, creamy parmesan custard, a parmesan crisp, some shredded romaine tossed with the anchovy salad dressing and topped with parmesan shavings. On the side you can see the balsamic reduction that was a beautiful contrast to the lightness of the custard. MMMMmmmmmm.
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It’s a bit un-traditional but it was ready so we decided to do Elizabeth’s cheese course which was called Corsu Vecchiu with Spiced Carrot Salad and Golden Raisin Puree. She substituted Manchego for the Corsu Vecchiu as she coudn’t find the former, but Keller states that it is a semi-hard sheeps cheese from Spain so we felt this fit the bill. It was utterly delicious, crunchy spicy carrot, sweet puree and the tartness of the cheese all went together very well, though we did find the dried pulverized carrot to be not more than a bit of decoration and probably not worth the effort.
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Renee’s pasta course Sweet Potato Agnolotti with Sage Cream, Brown Butter, and Prosciutto ended up being sweet potato ravioli as we paused too long in the rolling/drying phase of the program and were unable to make the agnolotti. These melted in your mouth, bacony, proscuittoy, sweet delights. She took the rest of the batter home to make on Monday night 😦 Ah well…..

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I chose to make the Black Sea Bass with Sweet Parsnips, Arrowleaf Spinach, and Saffron-Vanilla Sauce. I had to start by making mussels in a white wine broth, not using the mussels but using 1 cup of the broth for my sauce. I did that at about 1pm right before I mixed the cornets up, let me tell you, those mussels were quite tasty on monday night for dinner.
The parsnips needed to boil in cream and be pressed through that tamis again (we ended up using the Maria method again for that). Boy that sweet parsnipy cream was tasty, I ended up adding it to a corn chowder later in the week. Always leftover extra parts with Keller.
Once the saffron vanilla cream mussel reduction was done, the parsnips were piped onto the plate, the orange spinach was fried, squeezed and balled on top of that, it was time to make the fish.
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Note, I am not the worlds best fish fryer. I ended up using rockfish for most of it because the black sea bass was tiny, and I did end up undercooking some of the larger pieces of fish (sorry peeps) but all in all, it was a beautiful, time consuming, deliciously creamy dish.

And here it is:
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Last but definitely not least was Alayne’s tasty Lemon Saboyan Tart with Pine Nut crust and Honeyed Mascarpone Cream. The tart was beautifully browned, tart yet sweet. It was reminiscent of the one I make from Dannenberg’s “Paris: Boulangerie Patisserie” with a much richer crust.
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We didn’t finish up until about 10pm on Sunday night so you can see that it was an intense, wonderful evening spent. Thanks to everyone for pitching in with the dishes as we would not have had enough cooking or serving dishes for everything. We used every single dish towel I possess. Looking forward to Friday night at Maria’s house…..

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