Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"Paul Bocuse In Your Kitchen;" "The Culinary Cyclist;" "You Can Do Anything With Crepes" - food for the Tour de France

Date I made these recipes:  July 24, 2016 – the end of the Tour de France          

Paul Bocuse in Your Kitchen – An Introduction to Classic French Cooking by Paul Bocuse; translated, adapted, and with editors' notes by Philip and Mary Hyman
Published by:  Pantheon Books
© 1982
Purchased at Bloomington Crime Prevention Association (BCPA) Sale 2016
Recipe:  Bayaldi – p. 280 (similar to Ratatouille but layered like a casserole)

The Culinary Cyclist – A Cookbook and Companion for the Good Life by Anna Brones (vegetarian/Gluten-free)
Published by:  Taking the Lane / Elly Blue Publishing
Purchased at Kona Bay Books, Kona, Hawaii
Recipe:  Tapenade – p. 66

You Can Do Anything With Crepes – as Appetizers, Main Courses, Desserts by Virginia Pasley and Jane Green
Published by Simon and Schuster
© 1970
Purchased at Etsy
Recipe:  Cocoa Crepes – p. 34

Well folks, today the three-week-long Tour de France (bicycle competition) ended – "enfin" (French for "finally") - and as is usual and customary, we are celebrating our return to normalcy (plus the return of the remote to me) with French food.  This celebration also let's me sneak in a nod to Bastille Day (July 14th) which I missed as I was busy with other things...like maybe watching the Tour?

Even though I am not the bicyclist my husband is (well, true confession:  I don't bicycle at all), I enjoy watching the Tour as they often ride through parts of France and Spain that we have visited.  This year, the guys were all back on Mount Ventoux and I have the most hilarious memories of a car trip up that mountain with my friend and travel companion on that trip, Susan, and my French friend's grandparents who drove us around France for the day.  

Quick backstory:  In the summer of 1988, my French friend, Edith (pronounced Ay-Deet) and her French step-grandmother, Marcelle, stopped to visit me while on a cross-country trip through the United States.  My friend, Susan, who spoke fluent French, spent a lot of time with us, and at the end of their trip, they invited me and Susan to visit in the fall.  Well, bien sur (of course) right? You should know that although I minored in Spanish in college, I also learned some French and spoke it pretty well.  That said, it pays to have someone fluent along for the ride and so – Susan!   This is especially true in Provence where Edith lives as the Provencal accent takes some getting used to.

And so, the ride.  Edit charged her grandparents with keeping me and Susan occupied one day when she had to work and so that is how we ended up sightseeing on Mount Ventoux, the same mountain that the Tour riders go up and down during their three weeks on the road.  Mount Ventoux can be a little challenging in a car with a lot of switchbacks (and a lot more challenging on a bike) but still folks.  Still.  Cars make it up and down this thing without incident every years except for ours.

Now since I believe I repeat this story every Tour, I'll spare you the details (especially since we still have no idea how this happened) except to say that when grand-pere rounded a wicked corner, Susan somehow, inexplicably ended up practically on top of me with her feet stuck under the front passenger seat. (And no, she was not wearing her seatbelt thus, the problem.)  Grand-pere had to pull over he (and we) was laughing so hard.  I have often said that the entire trip to Paris and then Provence could have been dubbed "Lucy and Ethel go to France."  That should tell you something.  (PS—after that hilarious ride, we went back to the grandparents' house for a midday meal with wine.  Lots and lots of wine.  I don't know what it says about me that I went glass for glass with grand-pere, who kept filling up my glass with quite the challenging twinkle in his eye, but there it is.)

And so every year like clockwork, I evaluate my French cookbooks, pull a few off the shelf, select the recipes and get to work.  Those books not selected go back on the shelf until next year's Tour is upon us.  So let's talk about the books I used this year.

Book number one – Paul Bocuse In Your Kitchen – is the second Paul Bocuse book I've used.  I made "Soup au Pistou" (similar to Minestrone) for last year's Tour from  Bocuse's Regional French Cooking and it was delicious.  This year, I had another hankering for vegetables and so made Bayaldi, a Turkish dish that is similar to  the famous Provencal dish, Ratatouille in that it uses some of the same vegetables; this dish is layered with zucchini, eggplant, onions and tomatoes.  Although Swiss cheese can be added on top, I went with Bocuse's alternative, olive oil, as a topping.  My only issue with this dish and it is minor, is that I ended up making 3x the spice mixture called for in this recipe as his amounts did not make enough.  Well, at least not in my humble and decidedly non-French opinion.

I liked this cookbook because it offered a wide range of fun French dishes, some of which were better suited to fall or winter, but others perfect for spring and summer.  The instructions, which were translated from French, were not too bad although I had a few "moments" with these instructions just because they were kind of clunky—very similar to how I speak French! 

While the French cookbook had a great range of recipes, I was somewhat challenged to find something I liked in the tiny tome, The Culinary Cyclist.  The book focuses mainly on vegetarian and gluten-free dishes and while there is nothing wrong with that, I was just not into buying a few ingredients that I would never use again just to make a few dishes.  As an example, the recipe for "Dutch Apple Pie with Cardamom" requires sorghum flour, rice flour, almond meal and xanthan gum so I ruled that out.  Some recipes were more doable but didn't float my boat, such as "The Perfect quinoa Picnic Salad with Mustard Citrus Vinaigrette."  And for the longest time, "Gluten Free Olive Oil and Polenta Cake" was in the running until I just decided it was too boring and went instead with the Tapenade recipe two pages over.

This recipe would have been a hit with me had it not tasted so salty but Andy thought it was fine.  In terms of degree of difficulty in making it, it was a piece of cake so that was good.  And tapenade (a popular dish in the French region, Provence) paired well with the Bayaldi so that was also tres bon (good). 

As to the salt, the only salt added was just a teaspoon of sea salt, making me wonder if I should have rinsed the black olives before using them?  The instructions don't say so but as we all know, instructions can be sneaky.  Plus, my palate may also be more salt sensitive than yours or than Andy's. 

As to the last dish, Cocoa Crepes, nothing but nothing says "French" like crepes.  But like anything, these things are best when made well.  And it's not like I botched them per se but they were not the best looking things I ever made, unlike the crepes I made back in 1988 when Edith and Marcelle came to visit.  It was the summer of the drought and the poor ladies just about in my un-air-conditioned kitchen but they were determined that I should learn how to make crepes and so I learned.  At that time, I had the right size pan – 5" is ideal – so that helped.  Their crepes, of course, were perfect, but I did my part and got a few that weren't too bad looking.  And this was tres bon. (Good)

This time around though, the only skillet/ crepe pan I had was about 7 inches.  A 7" pan is just fine for making my own manicotti shells (so easy) but manicotti shells are generally bigger and thicker and so this size skillet works for me. Crepes though, are best really thin and benefit from a smaller pan (unless you have a large just-for-crepes-pan in your kitchen battery which I don't) and though I tried my best to pour just enough batter to coat the bottom, they were a little large in the middle so the first one I made didn't quite set right.  The second one I made (the one Andy ate) though, was much better.

And wouldn't you know, we just happened to have a can of Redi Whip in the fridge so we used that as a topping.  If I had chocolate syrup, I might have really gone to town.  Next time.

By the way, some of you might remember this restaurant, The Magic Pan, where you could get crepes of all shapes, sizes and fillings, from sweet to savory.  I first went to one in 1976 in New York City and thought it was an awesome idea.  And when I moved to Minneapolis and found out there was one downtown I was practically giddy.  It's the littlest things...

Please note though, that I made half the recipe and ended up with just enough batter for two large crepes.  The entire recipe is supposed to make 18-24 which I think is just a tiny exaggeration but oh well.

So this concludes my "Vive la France, Vive la Tour" post.  Bon Appétit!

Bayaldi – Serves 4-6 – from Paul Bocuse In Your Kitchen
4 medium zucchini weighing about 1 ½ pounds total
2 small eggplants, weighing about 1 ¼ pounds total
1 ½ pounds tomatoes
½ pound onions
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
½ bay leaf, crushed
Salt, pepper
Butter (for the dish)
1 ½ cup grated Swiss cheese (see author Note)
5 tablespoons butter (total) broken into pieces (or olive oil – see author Note)

Note:  If preferred, the cheese can be omitted and ½ cup of olive oil used instead of butter.  In this case, pour all of the oil over the surface of the vegetables before putting them in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Wash the vegetables and wipe them dry, then cut them into slices about ½ inch thick (if using a large eggplant rather than 2 smaller ones, cut it in half lengthwise before slicing).  Keep all the vegetables separate from each other.

Butter a large baking dish (preferably earthenware or enameled cast iron).  Cover the bottom of the dish with the onions, then make a layer of zucchini and sprinkle with a little of the garlic, thyme, and bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Next, make a layer of eggplant, and lastly, a layer of tomato, seasoning each layer as you did the zucchini. (Ann's Note:  You should probably double, if not triple, the seasoning mixture as it makes very little in the first place and you will run out.)

Dot the surface with half the butter (Ann's Note: or, as the author said, 1/3 cup of olive oil), then place in the oven for 30 minutes.  At the end of this time, sprinkle with the cheese (Ann's Note:  I omitted the cheese), dot with the remaining butter, and bake 20 to 30 minutes more or until golden brown on top.  (If the vegetables dry out during the first 30 minutes' baking, cover them with aluminum foil; remove the foil for only the last 10 minutes of the baking time.)

Serving suggestions:  Serve with roast or boiled meat.  Ann's Note:  I cooked some rice and used the vegetables as a topping.

Author's Note:  Instead of making layers as described here, you can simply make parallel lines of overlapping vegetables and bake them in individual baking dishes rather than in one large one.

Ann's Final Note:  The only butter I used was to butter the baking dish.  Once I layered all the vegetables, I poured the 1/3 cup olive oil over the surface and baked it and it was fine.  I also covered the baking dish with foil as directed.  Finally, as I said above, you'll need to triple the spice mixture or you won't have enough for all the layers (three in all).

Tapenade – Serving size not given (about 2 cups?) – from The Culinary Cyclist
1 6-ounce can of organic black olives  
½ of a roasted pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup almonds
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon rosemary or Herbes de Provence
½ teaspoon black pepper

Mix all the ingredients in food process until well blended.  Store in an airtight container in refrigerator until serving.

Ann's Note:  Although it does not say to do this, I recommend rinsing the black olives just in case they are in a salt brine.  (I must confess I didn't even look but I found the dish a tad salty.)  You might also want to start with a quarter teaspoon of sea salt, adding more as needed.

Cocoa Crepes – makes 18-24 crepes – from You Can Do Anything with Crepes
2 eggs
½ cup flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
¼ cup sugar
1 cup milk with a little cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend for about 30 seconds at half speed.  Or mix eggs and flour by hand or in a mixer adding cocoa and sugar and then milk gradually, beating all the time.  Add vanilla and the cooled, melted butter and beat once more.  Led stand covered and hour or two.

Heat a small skillet or crepe pan – about 5 inches in diameter, brush with butter and when butter bubbles up, pour about a tablespoon and a half of crepe batter into pan, swirling so batter covers the pan.  Cook for about 1 minute, check for browning and watch carefully – both the cocoa and the sugar cause crepes to burn easily.  Turn crepe over and cook for about a half minute on the other side.  Turn out on paper towels.

This recipe will make from 18-24 crepes depending on the size of the pan and amount of batter used for each crepe.  These freeze well.  Ann's Note:  I used a larger pan but given that I halved the recipe, I only got 2 large crepes out of the deal.  Turns out that was perfect for our two-person household but if you want more, make the full recipe.

No comments: