Geek Chef

I cook, I talk, I geek

Mangez comme le Français September 29, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 3:40 pm
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Since I haven’t posted enough recipes lately, I figured I’d post a fancy one for you today. Now it sounds fancy and you should sell it that way, but it’s not that hard to make.

The version I’m posting is vegetarian. But the original recipe has ground meat, feel free to add if you like.

eggplant

Aubergine au Gratin

1 large eggplant
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 can of chopped tomatoes  or one large tomato chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup white wine
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon Herbs du Provence (or a mix of Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Sage and Basil – or what you have on hand)
1 cup grated Swiss cheese

Slice eggplant into cubes or 1/4″ rounds. Heat a large skillet and cover the bottom with olive oil, add eggplant slices once the oil is hot, if you do it before it will suck up all the oil. Cook for about 10 min on each side. Do not crowd the pan too much, do a few rounds at a time if necessary. Remove eggplant and set aside.

In the same pan, add a little more oil and the mirepox (onion, carrot and celery) and cook until onions are translucent. Add crushed tomatoes, white wine, garlic and herbs. Cook for another 10 min then add cream and stir until incorporated.

Place half of the eggplant pieces into a greased baking dish, then place half of the sauce on top, add second layer of eggplant and remainder of sauce. Cover with grated cheese and bake at 350 for about a 30 min or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

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Juxtaposition Soup July 15, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 1:28 pm
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In celebration of Bastille Day, I had a few friends over for some French inspired cuisine. The hit of the meal was my Nasturtium soup.

Nasturtium is a flower that grows pretty wild, often regarded just higher than a weed.

Growing up, we had them in the yard and my mother would throw them into salads every once in a while. So I was familiar with the taste (strong, peppery) but never thought much of them until I read the biography of Alice Waters. I had to try the soup she mentions in her interview. The trick was, I couldn’t just walk into a market and buy a pound of leaves and flowers… I had to find it. Foraged food is exotic and free 🙂

Then there is the juxtaposition I mentioned. Truffles, of the mushroom persuasion. The highly coveted and very expensive little buggers that you only find in the best of markets and restaurants. When I first tasted my soup I liked it, but felt something was missing, so I drizzled a little white truffle oil on it and BAM! I wanted to bathe in it. It was simple yet rich and really yummy.

Here is the recipe, I hope you like it as much as I do.

nasturtium soup

Nasturtium Soup with Truffle Oil

2 leeks
5-6 cloves of garlic
6 cups chicken stock (make it from sratch with mirepoix if you can, belive me     it makes a huge difference! See bottom for stock recipie)
4 cups fresh nasturtium leaves and flowers
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 Tablespoons truffle oil (preferably white truffle)

In a large pot, pour in chicken stock and set heat to medium. Rinse nasturtium leaves and remove stems and seeds and add to chicken stock.  Slice leeks thinly (reserving a small handful for garnish if desired) and chop garlic, add to pot. Let cook for about a half hour. While soup is cooking, pluck the petals from the flowers, the whole thing is edible but for presentation purposes I’d recommend just the petals. Strain the soup and return the broth to the stove, set heat to high and gently stir while adding cream and pepper, add salt if you feel necessary. Do not let the soup boil, it will curdle the cream.

Pour into bowls, drizzle a little truffle oil and sprinkle the petals.

Yum!

look at all that mirpoix

look at all that mirepoix

Basic Chicken Stock

3-4lbs Chicken pieces, preferably with skin and bones – leftover chicken carcasses work too, if you happen to have one leftover.
1 large onion
2-3 carrots
3-4 stems of celery
3 cloves garlic
1 Scarborough Faire (1 tsp each: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) hehe

Place chicken in pot and fill with just enough water to cover. Clean and chop the rest of the ingredients and let cook for at least an hour, the longer the better. Strain and let cool, overnight works best, then skim the fat off the top.

I didn’t mention salt and pepper because I assume this will be added to something else, if serving as is – go ahead and season to taste. 🙂