Thursday, March 31, 2005

Filet de mulet et sauce piquante au yaourt

What do you do when you have one container left of the best yogurt in the world, left over from the Salon d'Agriculture? Make a delightful yogurt sauce out of it to pour on top of the fish fillet you bought at the really sweet fishmonger down the block. After all the meat I've been having, fish sure seemed like the perfect idea. It even gave me an excuse to use both the good olive oil my mom bought us in January and the delightfully spicy mustard I bought at Place Monge when we were living down in the fifth.

I've been reading about cooking fish in a court-bouillon, so I wanted to try it out. But my only big pot is in the fridge with the left-over veal shanks. So I decided I'd have to settle with baking it in the oven. Then, just before I put it in, I had a startling revelation--why not just add water to the fish in the pan and do something like poach it? Well, that's what I did and it turned out very nice smothered in my sauce.

To make the sauce, I gently reworked a sauce for smoked salmon croquettes from The Gefilte Variations, my mom's cookbook. (Sorry for the shameless plug.) I was thinking of making a fish like breme (I believe it's bream in English though I'm not sure) or perch, but the fishmonger didn't have any. So he convinced me to go home with a red mullet fillet. With this meal, I also finally managed to make a dinner for just me, without left-overs and with very little clean-up. So, here goes. Just figure one fillet per person and as much sauce as you want. I have a little extra sauce, so if The Boy were home he could have had fish and sauce too, but there's not enough that it's worth saving (if that's any sort of guide).

Filet de mulet et sauce piquante au yaourt

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 sprig Bay Leaf
1 sprig Dill
1 fillet Red Mullet
Salt and Pepper
about 4 cups Water

Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Put one tablespoon of good Olive Oil in a glass pan, along with a sprig of Bay Leaf and a Sprig of Dill. Rub Salt and Pepper on the Fillet. Place it on top of the Bay Leaf sprig and drizzle another tablespoon of Olive Oil on top. Then add about 4 cups of Water, until the Fillet is completely covered. Put the Fish in the oven for about 12 minutes.

While it's cooking, make the Sauce:

1 tablespoon Mustard, preferably quite spicy
4 teaspoons Citrus Juice (I used an orange/grapefruit/clementine blend)
1-2 teaspoons Capers, drained
3 sprigs Dill, torn into small pieces
2 Garlic Cloves, sliced
3-5 tablespoons Plain Yogurt

In a small bowl, stir all ingredients together until completely combined.

When the Fish is ready (it will no longer be pink), take it out of the oven, move it to a plate and spoon as much Sauce as you want on top. For an easy vegetable, dip raw carrots or celery in the left-over sauce. That's it! Easy, no?

Update: I made a new variation!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Jarret de veau braise avec du thym

Today I spent the day in bed, feeling all mopey and sleepy. Missing the Boy and possibly fighting some kind of French flu (or just the side effects of not sleeping very well or very much lately). What I really wanted, was some good chicken noodle soup, but the last time I went down to the Jewish quarter for matzoh ball soup (there was no chicken noodle), it was overpriced and disappointing. I didn't want to make it at home because I don't like dealing with picking apart raw chicken carcasses. Also, I figured I needed the extra kick of red meat. After doing some thinking, I decided on pasta with a heavy sauce and lamb shanks. We have a fair amount of port left from before the Boy left and I'm sure it's too old to be any good for drinking so I decided to make that.

However, when I got to my wonderful butcher, I found that he had no Jarret d'agneau! So I got Jarret de veau, Veal Shank. Unfortunatley, it was a lot more expensive than I expected, so I didn't have the heart to turn it into a sauce. Instead I made plain braised veal shanks, with carrots and celery (including celery leaves), the rest of my thyme and a bay leaf. And so my port lives to see another day.

Jarret de veau

(Adapted from

Makes a hearty meal for three meat-eaters, or a normal meal for six.

All-purpose Flour
6 Veal Shanks, bone-in (about 1.5 kg in all)
Salt and Pepper
Dried Oregano to taste
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
1 Carrot, peeled and chopped
2 Celery Stalks and their leafy tops, the stalks chopped
6 sprigs of Thyme
1 Sprig of Bay Leaf
1/2 L Chicken Bouillon

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Rub Salt, Pepper and Dried Oregano on both sides of each
Shank. Heat 1/4 cup Olive Oil in an oven-proof pot big enough to hold all six chops over medium-high heat. Pour Flour into a shallow bowl or onto a cutting board. Dip each side of each piece of veal into the flour. Shake off the excess and place the shank into the pot. Turn the heat down to medium and brown the veal, about 3 minutes each side. The veal should be in one layer in the pot, so you will probably have to brown it in batches. When each piece is done, transfer it to a plate.
Add the rest of the Olive Oil to the pot. Add the Onion, Carrot, Celery stalks and leaves, Thyme, Bay Leaf, Salt, Pepper and Oregano. Cook for 12 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan every so often to prevent nasty stains you'll have to scratch out. Add more Salt, Pepper or Oregano if you desire. Add the veal on top and cover everything with chicken stock. Put the pot into the oven (preferably covered to keep it from drying out) for 1 hour, 10 minutes. Place 1-2 Shanks on each plate and cover in sauce and veggies. Serve immediately.

This was yummy and, because I'm a meat-eater, I neglected to make a side. But I'll have a nice dinner for three days and will keep you updated on re-heating, etc. Who doesn't love left-overs?

Update: I made a new variation!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Filet de boeuf au Livarot

The boy went to China (among other places) and left me without his digital camera and with three wheels of cheese we brought back with us from Normandy. Grr. They all supposedly expire this weekend, so I decided I needed to find a way to use them up.

The Livarot was too strong (especially the rind) to eat straight, so I did a quick internet search and came up with a recipe of something like steak with Roquefort sauce, but with Livarot cheese instead. I played with the recipe and came up with my own, which was surpisingly yummy, even after the couple-day-old sauce was reheated for another dinner. If I made it again, I would add some more onions (or at least sharper ones). And feel free to add generous amounts of pepper.

Filet de boeuf au Livarot

(Adapted from 911 Chef Eric)

Makes enough sauce for six dishes (I poured it over my accompanying veggies as well).

Filets de boeuf (One per person)
Butter or olive oil
1/4 wheel Livarot, cut in chunks
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, chopped finely + 2 cloves per steak
1/4 cup Unsweetened Apple Juice
1/4 cup Water
20 cl Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper
1 stalk Parsley/steak, chopped finely
A dash of Piment d'Espelette or Red Pepper Flakes, to taste

Melt enough butter in a pan to sear the steaks in it. Or, generously coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Mash two cloves of garlic per steak, then rub the garlic, salt and pepper over each side of each steak. Sear the steaks in a pan over high for 1 minute on each side (this leaves them red and bloody inside; cook for longer if you prefer). Remove the steaks from the pan, place them on a plate and place the plate in the oven to keep it warm. (Don't turn the oven on or else the steaks will continue cooking.)

Turn the heat down to low and gently cook the onion and the rest of the garlic, for about 6 minutes. Turn the heat back up to high and deglaze the pan with the water and apple juice, then reduce by half. Turn the heat back down to low and add the cream and cheese. Move everything around with a spatula, making sure the cheese is spread all over the pan and scraping up any remaining bits of steak or garlic that will add a nice layer to the sauce. Add piment d'Espelette to taste, as well as any salt or pepper you find necessary.

Pour the sauce over the steaks and toss the chopped parsley on top. I ate this with plain boiled turnips that I covered in sauce as well.

Update: I made a new variation!