(Originally Posted 6/4/2014) Are these the ingredients to a traditional French dish? No . . . they are the bits leftover from the quarts of milk, pounds of butter and many cartons of eggs that go into a “simple” French recipe.
I’ve never been very interested in French cuisine. Not for any particular reason, I realize that it’s wrong of me. So I recently opened up a copy of Larousse’s Traditional French Cooking and thought I’d try my hand at an egg recipe that appeared to be glorified deviled eggs. A recipe that, as it turned out, required 3 sauces, 5 hours cooking time, a quart of cream, a pound of butter, and poaching a whole fish to get the cooking liquid.
My solution was to take the names of the component parts of the dish, then look them up in Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything to figure out a simple shortcut. The recipe I came up with is as follows – using the Larousse instruction-giving method of vague comments like “cook in a hot oven until done” and “put in the appropriate pan” or “add enough of. . . ”
Mushroom Devilish Eggs
- 8 hard boiled eggs
- Goodly pile (maybe 2 cups) of finely chopped mushrooms (I used white & crimini)
- 2 small shallots or 1 large, minced
- Thyme, salt and pepper
- Approximately 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tb butter plus sizable chunk for sauteeing
- 2 Tb flour
- 3/4 cup fish stock (or other stock, I happened to have had made mussels in a white wine broth the night before and used that broth)
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the good kind that comes in a block) plus more for sprinkling on top
Slice the eggs lengthwise and remove the yolks. In an appropriately sized pan, pour a thin layer of cream and lay the eggs on top. Cook the shallots and mushrooms in the sizable chunk of butter, seasoning with salt, pepper and thyme along the way until it’s to your taste. Add in the yolks, be sure to moosh them into the butter / juices so they end up sauce-y and not chunky (a dash of white wine may be in order if you need more liquid).
Heap the mushroom mixture on top of the eggs. You’ll have much more than a traditional deviled egg filling, so this will get messy.
Make the sauce – melt the butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat, sprinkle in flour and cook, whisking, until the flour begins to brown. Slowly stir in the broth and milk, whisking constantly (you don’t want clumps). Add a pinch of salt and pinch of pepper. Cook over low heat until it begins to thicken. Add in cheese and cook, still whisking (lots of whisking) until it’s a nice thick sauce that you then pour over the eggs. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake in a hot oven until done (375 until it’s a little brown on top)
The thing about this dish is that it tasted awesome. But looked like an awful gray mess, hence no picture. So I rallied around the idea of French cooking but not classical French cooking. Here entered the new cookbook by David Lebovitz My Paris Kitchen.
I acquired this cookbook not for the recipes but because he promised to tell good tales about modern French food and attitudes towards food via his own experiences. It’s my new favorite thing, a cookbook you read like a regular book. Turns out – I should have bought it for the recipes, too. Here is the menu I put together, with my notes. It tasted truly outstanding, especially as our first porch-based dinner party of the year.
Paris on the Porch Menu:
- Salted Olive Crisps & Champagne (technically, we had Prosecco)
- Panisse Souffles (French popovers – these call for chick pea flour. Use it. I acquired chick pea flour for an Indian dinner party and haven’t looked back)
- Fennel, Radish & Orange Salad (I omitted the crab from the original recipe, that would have been too much)
- Chicken in Mustard Sauce over Pasta (I increased the amount of wine a tad to make it more of a coq-au-vin-mustard mashup and I used red wine, follow his instructions for how to cook the different components – don’t try to cut corners. Because I was hosting a large party, I cooked up a pound of storebought Fettuccine for the pasta, but the fresh herb pasta that Lebovitz recommends would make it that much better)
- Caramel Pork Ribs & Lemon-Pistachio CousCous (I used the hazelnuts variation and because I had no preserved lemon, I sliced a regular lemon, baked it in olive oil with a little salt to knock the bitterness from the rind – I’d guesstimate 15 minutes at 425, then cut up the rind)
- Fruit Plate (not in the book, just fruit)
- Chocolate Terrine with Fresh Ginger Creme Anglaise, plus Raspberry Sorbet and Orange Blossom Water Macaroons (those last two are not in the book, as I was cooking they seemed like a good addition).