Red grape clusters dangling from cafes, wine shops, and awnings across France, a sure sign that it's Beaujolais Nouveau time again. The ubiquitous Georges Deboeuf label and Cafe de la Comedie at the Louvre/Place Colette.
Thursday, November 19, the third Thursday of November, is the official release date of this festive, fruity red wine that celebrates the end of the harvest and gives a preview of this year’s vintage.
According to French law, Beaujolais Nouveau, made from 100 percent Gamay grapes, is released at one minute past midnight on every third Thursday of November. This decades-old tradition is celebrated worldwide with creative “Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé!” events, heralding the wine’s arrival.
This year is truly a reason to celebrate. Georges Duboeuf, who single-handedly created this phenomenon, has proclaimed this year’s harvest as “the best of the last 50 years.”
Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! The New Beaujolais has arrived! In a rare display of marketing acumen, a practice normally scorned and reviled throughout French vineyards, the Beaujolais producers created not only an event but a tradition that has now permeated even the smallest wine shops around the world. What began as a local celebration of the yearly release is now a global phenomenon, with French decree that the release of Beaujolais Nouveau is to be no earlier than midnight on the third Thursday of November.
So tomorrow at 12:01 a.m. November 19, 2009, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau will begin their journey to all corners of the world via Fedex, La Poste, Vespas, wheelbarrows, rickshaws, camels, and any other mode of transportation imaginable. With over 120 million bottles produced, over half will be consumed almost immediately. And with the increasingly elaborate methods of wine production, it’s remarkable that barely a month earlier the wine was still encased in grapes. A quick harvest, swift fermentation and even faster bottling, badda-bing-badda-boom!, it is ready to ship on the third Thursday of every November! The Gamay grapes are pressed within a few days of picking, thus eliminating the astringent tannins normally attributed to red wines, so Beaujolais is much lighter, fruity and tres easy to drink. To me it tastes like Kool-Aid but then again my wine knowledge would fit in a thimble...so enjoy! Cheers!
You say tomahto, I say tomayto, roasted heirloom tomato soup that is! Yes, more tomato stories! Sorry, please indulge me here... I am going heirloom tomato crazy these days. The tomatoes are so gorgeous right now, I can't pass a tomato without wanting to squeeze it. They are my siren calling from the depths of the ocean, taunting me to make with them everything imaginable from savory to sweet and back again. The past few weeks I've been living on one of the many tomato tart attempts in my fridge from my last culinary adventure and last night I just had to make that soup again. If nothing else then to see those gorgeous colors and color combinations and designs only found from the tap of Mother Nature's wand.
A friend from the hi-tech trenches who I hadn't seen in years came over for dinner so out came the tomatoes. I went with three tried and true recipes and two new ones from a fellow cook on the Cannes Film Festival trip a few years back. Brian is the cutest guy on the planet, not to mention a total rock star chef, and a week or so ago he sent me a salmon recipe that looked so good, I had to make it as soon as possible. So with Connee coming over, I knew she’d be game to be my culinary guinea pig for a night. We hadn't seen each other in six years and a lot of life had happened in those six years so a time to celebrate the fact that we keep on keepin' on in spite of life's speed bumps (that more often feel like 2x4s) and rekindling a friendship after many years. Starting with bubbles was a given. Cheers!
Domaine Carneros by Taittinger 2005 Brut Sparkling Wine
Spanish Marcona Almonds
Torta de Aceite Olive Oil Crisp Bread, sugared with almonds
Domaine Charles Audoin 2008 Marsannay Rosé
Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup
Apricot Chili Smoked Salmon
Brie Stuffed with Dried Cherries, Blueberries, Apricots
Mixed Greens with Lemon-Orange Vinaigrette
Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup
For 8 people (this gives 2 large ladles per person)
5 pounds heirloom tomatoes, all different colors
20 sprigs thyme, leave removed, stems discarded
1 handful basil leaves
1/2 head garlic, individual cloves, peeled
1/4 cup *good* olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1. Cut the heirlooms into wedges, put into a roasting pan with high sides. Tomatoes shouldn't come up higher than 2/3 up the side of the pan because lots of juice will come out and you don't want all that goodness spilling over the sides.
2. Add thyme leaves, basil, garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, pepper. Stir to combine.
3. Roast in 400F oven for 60 minutes
4. Blend with an immersion blender, or ladle in batches into a blender.
5. Taste for seasoning. Add salt & pepper if needed.
6. Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil, thyme sprig
Note: Other garnishes: rustic croutons, dried tomato slice...
Basil is optional. The first time I made it, I didn't use basil and it was delicious.
This can be made ahead and reheated gently to serve.
Brian's Apricot Chili Smoked Salmon & Herbed Quinoa
1 cedar plank
1-1/2 to 2 lb filet salmon (get a piece from the thick side)
2-3 tbsp apricot preserves (I use Bonne Maman)
1/2-1" fresh ginger root, grated (use an amount that fits your taste. fresh ginger is very strong.)
a few shakes of red chili flakes
... and because I can’t leave a good thing well enough alone ...
1 tiny pinch of cayenne (this made it a bit too strong for me but if you like hot, go for it)
Now this recipe is meant for a grill but not having one, I thought "if you can cook it on a grill, you should be able to cook it in an oven" so away I blindly went…
1. Soak cedar plank for at least an hour submerged in water
2. Preheat oven to 350F
3. Mix apricot preserves, ginger, chili flakes
4. Place cedar plank in oven for 3 minutes
5. Take out the plank, place salmon on plank and slather with apricot mix
6. Cook for 15 minutes
7. Place plank on a serving platter and serve.
Note: the apricot mixture can be made ahead and chilled until ready to use.
Quinoa is another one I've never made, had it numerous times in restaurants but never made it. But I have on occasion been able to follow directions so off I went sending prayers to the quinoa gods that it didn't turn into a pile of glue.
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed twice
1 tbsp butter
1 can vegetable broth
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
10 sprigs of thyme leaves
1 small handful of parley leaves, finely chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
1. toast quinoa in butter
2. add vegetable broth and bring to a boil
3. lower to a simmer and cook until done
4. stir in shallot, garlic, and herbs
5. add lemon juice
6. add salt & pepper to taste
Plate a large serving spoon of quinoa on a plate, then top with a piece of the salmon and serve. Bon appetit!
Note: The quinoa can be made ahead but wait until you serve it to add the herbs as they should be fresh and just chopped to maximize freshness and look. Also the garlic gets much stronger the next day and can take over the dish.
Stuffed Brie with Mixed Greens
I first saw this dish at a small local bistro in Paris, La Beurre Noisette. There were no tourists, only local Parisians and the stray American expat (moi). The wedge of brie was so beautiful and it was plated with a small mixed green salad. Five years later, I can still picture it and remember how beautiful I thought I was.
1 small 8 oz wheel of brie (this is much easier to do with a round of brie as opposed to a wedge).
1/2 cup dried fruits (cherries, cranberries, blueberries, apricots. If using apricots, cut in half or quarters depending on size)
hot water and a little wine or liquour
Note: try to keep the container in tact that the brie came in. often they come in a thin wooden packaging. Keep this as it makes it much easier to work with.
1. place brie in freezer just until firm, about 15 minutes
2. placed dried fruits in a bowl and fill to just cover fruit with 1/2 hot water and 1/2 wine (or rum or other liquour), let soak for 15 minutes
3. take brie out of freezer, unwrap, keep container and cut brie in half across the equator
4. place the bottom half back in the container
5. drain the fruit, squeezing out excess water and spread across the brie to cover completely
6. plate top half of brie back over the fruit and press down gently
7. place in fridge to firm.
When you serve the first coarse, take the brie out of the fridge and set aside, letting it come to room temp.
When you clear the dinner plates, place the brie (in the container, on an oven proof plate) in a very low oven, 150F, for 5 minutes to make it a bit oozy.
Cut into 4 wedges and serve with a small mixed green salad tossed in a light vinaigrette
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 orange
pinch of sea salt
generous pinch fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
1. in a deep bowl, place all ingredients, except olive oil, and combine with a whish
2. slowly whisk in olive oil
3. place a tablespoon of dressing in the bottom of a clean bowl and add greens.
4. toss to coat adding dressing a little at a time until it's dressed to your liking but keep it light so you can enjoy the cheese, not overpower it.
Vanilla-Banana Grand Marnier Flambée Serves 4
1 pint haagen dazs vanilla frozen yogurt
2 bananas, cut into 1/4" slices
1-2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
splash Grand Marnier
Optional: raspberries, chocolate shavings
1. melt butter in deep pan with sloped edges on medium high heat
2. add bananas and toss immediately
3. add brown sugar and toss immediately
4. let it begin to caramelize, 2-3 minutes
5. add splash of Grand Marnier and flambée. Flambéing is optional of course, if you aren't comfortable with flames shooting from your pan :) You can opt for the less flammable approach and let the alcohol cook off swirling the pan until it does.
6. Optional: when done caramelizing the bananas, take off the heat and stir in some raspberries and chocolate. It will melt right away so have the fro-yo already in the glass ready to go and serve immediately.
7. Scoop 2 small or one large scoop of fro-yo into a martini glass (or other dish) and spoon the bananas flambée over the top.
And there you have it! :) A delicious meal, easy to prepare, much that can be done ahead of time so you can spend time relaxing with your guests and not stressed out in the kitchen.
So gather your friends, share your life, your stories (cuz everyone has one!), your selves with those around you allowing good food and wine to draw you around a table and celebrate, if nothing else, that we all just keep on keepin' on.
Cheers and a resounding Julia Child rendition of Bon Appetit!
A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who clicked, watched, rated, commented - I appreciate it so much but I didn't get selected for the show. I'm pretty bummed but it was really fun to do and I got back in touch with a bunch of friends from college and many people I hadn't talked to in a long time so all good. I think I'm going to be doing a lot more GF grilling so check back for more recipes. Thanks again!!! Bon appetit, Laura
Hey Everyone - My apologies for once again taking the lazy route this year but haven't been able to get my act together. Quelle surprise! So yes, I am committing that heinous act of re-gifting. Now before you judge me and hurl culinary insults my way, my friend's sister gave her used potholders one Christmas, I kid you not!, so re-gifting a few recipes can be all that bad... Here are some Thanksgiving ideas from the past few years. Don't miss the spice bread and foie gras stuffed chapon recipe and please don't torque the turkey like I did 2 years ago... Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetit! Laura
[November 2007] Putting together a menu is always the hardest part for me - I struggle, agonize, bemoan my fate - so if you don't want to suffer the same, here are some ideas from the Ghosts of Thanksgiving Past...
And this year, I'm in San Francisco cooking with my Paris flatmates. Here's the menu below... Whether it actually ends up being this will be wholely determined by how much champagne we consume while cooking and if certain people went out the night before and decided to clean the oven at 4am...but I digress... We decided on a capon since I torqued the turkey last year. Cross your fingers and toes and wings and thighs for me! thanksgiving 2008 chez john et pierre ---- rose champagne smoked salmon on brioche with lemon creme fraiche toasts with arugula, proscuitto, chevre ---- burgundy pinot noir chapon stuffed with foie gras, sauteed trumpet mushrooms, cognac cornbread stuffing with dried cranberries, apricots roasted asparagus sliced fennel, beets, oranges with a raspberry vinaigrette ---- sauterne (or maybe back to champagne?) pears poached in red wine on creme anglaise drizzled with chocolate
I could have saved $40,000 and 6 months, endless cuts and burns, bad hair days, bruised egos, fashion disasters, gas that could peel the paint off the side of a barn, and having cats follow me home because I smelled like a mackerel!
As y'all know, I attended the full time 6-month culinary program at the FCI a few years ago (and yes I experienced all of the above... in abundance!) so when I saw this book come out, I had to buy it. Like James Peterson's Sauces, this book too could ballast a boat - all 500 pages! - but it is also a veritable treasure chest, a culinary Fort Knox if you will, of all things cooking. If Techniques is the only cookbook you ever purchase, you'd be set.
Techniques is almost verbatim our first quarter (6 week) curriculum. Really! Word for word, gram for gram, ingredient for ingredient. I even pulled out my notebook and compared the Sauces section. Exactly the same. Our first quarter was spent learning these 250 techniques. (Before I went to cooking school I burned water! I still do, just less often...) We then spent the next 3 quarters refining and practicing and expanding on all these techniques. So if you don't want to sacrifice 6 months and $40,000 and the above mentioned humiliations to attend cooking school, then buy this book and cook every recipe over and over and you will become an excellent cook. If you master all the skills and techniques in the book, you can walk into any kitchen (even in France!) and hold your own as this is the foundation of classic cooking and the language of the kitchen.
Hints and tips from the Deans and Chef Instructors pepper the book in every technique with tidbits such as "...cook beans at a constant low temperature and cool them in their cooking liquid. ~ Dean Alain Sailhac" or "Do not cover a chicken after roasting or it will steam and make the meat taste reheated." ~Dean Jacques Pepin". It's like getting a personal cooking lesson from some of the world's the greatest chefs. A few that I'm not sure made it into the book that will I will never for include, "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean ~Chef Henri Viain" and "What you put in the pot, you get out of the pot. ~Chef Pascal Beric" and God love them both for their dedication to their students.
Techniques teaches the 250 classic foundation techniques including stocks, sauces, soups, salads, eggs, potatoes, poultry, beef, veal, lamb, pork, fish, shellfish, marinades, stuffings, organ meats (my least favorite day in cooking school!), pastry dough, creams & custards, crepes, brioche, frozen desserts, meringues, mousses, and soufflés (my favorite day in cooking school! :) As I browsed through the book, 6 months of my life flashed before my eyes, intermittently cringing while remembering slicing off the tip of my thumb on the mandoline or burning my wrist on the convection oven and laughing out loud picturing the over-whipped genoise, splattered pommes anna, and over salted poulet roti grandmere dubbed "inedible" by the chefs.
Many if not all of the recipes in my humble little blog, such as the ones here and here, are based on the foundation I learned in cooking school. Techniques also explains in great detail terms in a kitchen, names of equipment and pots and pans (and the difference between stainless steel and aluminum, cast iron, non-stick and the benefits and pit falls of each), food safety, knifes and knife skills, and professional kitchen management.
If you want to become an great home chef or are considering or about to attend cooking school, I implore you to devour (pun intended) this book. If you learn all the techniques, or at least become familiar with them, then you will be leaps and bounds ahead of the game. Bon courage et bon appetit!
Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe ~ Paris, December 2007
Copied from an email I sent my flatmates in Paris a few days after arriving back in San Francisco....
"...I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever fly through Washington DC/Dulles again. Ever, ever, ever! Did I say ever? NEVER!
To start, we were late leaving CDG because of a SUSPICIOUS BLUE BAG left in the terminal. Good thing I got there early because it took me almost and hour and a half to get to the gate. The airport was mobbed with people of all shapes and sizes and colors in various forms of ornate ethnic clothes, some bright, some subdued, all in need of washing. The line to check in at the gate was about 5 people deep and a veritable mosh pit. Why is it that the check in desk at Lufthansa is always calm, serene, and orderly while chaos reigns at United? Anyways, after answering various and inane questions about the whereabouts of my luggage and the content within, I made it to the check-in counter and was helped by an absolutely delightful, kind woman. WHEW! I had upgraded the night before, as you know, to Washington but was wait listed from Washington to SFO however she said, "It looked very good".
Giddily anticipating my complimentary business class cocktail, I then proceeded to the longest passport control line I'd ever seen. It snaked along the wall nearly the entire circumference of the airport. While waiting in line for nearly an HOUR, we kept hearing announcements asking the owner of a SUSPICIOUS BLUE BAG left in the terminal to come get it. I kept hearing it as I marched through passport control and as I was headed to the gate I heard a BOOM! They BLEW UP THE BAG! They didn't remove it, inspect it, x-ray it nor seal it. No. They BLEW IT UP! In the terminal! I ran for the Red Carpet Club, slammed back a glass of champagne and headed for the gate...
Click below to continue reading this explosive travel tale -->
Hi Everyone! Grab your apron (or cocktail as the case may be!) and let's get cooking! Putting together a menu is always the hardest part for me - I struggle and agonize and moan and questions my existence - so if you don't want to suffer the same fate, here are some ideas from the Ghosts of Thanksgiving Past...
And this year, I'm back in San Francisco cooking with my Paris flatmates, my absolutely favorite thing to do in the whole world. Here's the menu below... Whether it actually ends up being this will be wholely determined by home much champagne we consume while cooking and if certain people went out the night before and decided to clean the over at 4am...but I digress... We decided on a capon since I torqued the turkey last year. Cross your fingers and toes and wings and thighs for me!
thanksgiving 2008 chez john et pierre ---- rose champagne smoked salmon on brioche with lemon creme fraiche toasts with arugula, proscuitto, chevre ---- burgundy pinot noir chapon stuffed with foie gras, sauteed trumpet mushrooms, cognac cornbread stuffing with dried cranberries, apricots roasted asparagus sliced fennel, beets, oranges with a raspberry vinaigrette ---- sauterne (or maybe back to champagne?) pears poached in red wine on creme anglaise drizzled with chocolate