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July 4, 2005

Almond Amaretto Mousse

(This is a very special dessert from Jonathan's in New Orleans-no longer in business)

1 cup sugar
1 stick sweet butter
4 egg yolks
½ c half-n-half
2 Tbsp. amaretto
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. real almond extract
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
4 egg whites, room temperature
2-3 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted

In a heavy saucepan combine sugar, butter and egg yolks. Stirring constantly bring to a boil and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Remove the mixture from heat and strain into a bowl. To quickly chill, place bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice. Stir until it is cool.

When cool, add amaretto, vanilla and almond extracts, and lemon juice. Mix well.

Whip the heavy cream into stiff peaks and fold into the cooled mixture, reserving a little for topping.

In another bowl whip egg whites into stiff peaks. Fold the cream mixture into 1/3 of the egg whites, then fold this back into the remaining egg whites . . . carefully so as not to beat the whites back down.

Fill dessert glasses with mousse and chill for at least several hours. (I like to use wine glasses-they are graceful and show off the dessert.) Before serving, top each portion with a spoonful of whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted almonds.

Serve with Pepperidge Farms pirouettes if desired.

Posted by respeto at 11:57 AM

Sauerbraten, best on the planet

Ala Judy Storrick, (from Germany/Minnesota)
Serves 7-10

3-4 lb Beef Chuck or Rump
Salt & Pepper
1 Onion, Sliced
3 Bay Leaves
1 Tsp. black peppercorns
Cider Vinegar and Water, 50% each (If you like it less sour, reduce the vinegar)
½ Cup Sugar, divided
¼ Cup Dark Raisins
4 to 6 Good Ginger Snaps
1 Cup Thick Sour Cream (use additional ginger snaps and/or sour cream if necessary to obtain desired thickness of the sauce.)

Rub meat with salt and pepper. Place in deep earthen dish with onion, bay leaves and peppercorns. Heat enough of the vinegar/water mixture to cover. Add ¼ cup sugar to liquid and pour, hot, over the meat. Cover and keep in cool place for 3-4 days, turning and mixing at least once daily. (I have found that a large zip lock bag works well, too, and it's easier to handle. Include a little air when sealing so that the marinade sloshes about more freely. But don't boil the water/vinegar or you'll melt the bag!)

Remove meat from liquid and brown in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Add back a cup of the liquid, cover and cook in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours or until very tender, adding more liquid during cooking as necessary to keep it moist.

Remove the meat, slice for serving and keep hot.

Strain the liquid, skim off the fat, melt the remaining sugar (1/4 cup) in skillet and add back the strained liquid gradually. Then add the Raisins and Ginger Snaps. Cook until thickened and smooth. Add Sour cream and, when hot, pour over the meat.

Posted by respeto at 10:45 AM

Correcting sauces

No matter who does it--even Julia Child--occasionally a sauce will thin during cooking. Instead of correcting it with more flour, add a little arrow root to a little water and stir it in. Arrow root thickens without any cooking, thus you can get exactly the consistency you want. (If you do a lot of cooking with sauces, you should know that buying arrow root from Penzey's is much less expensive. You can buy a couple of cups in a foil pack for about the same price as what you get in that funny little bottle of McCormick's at the grocery.)

If correcting an egg yolk based sauce you can often--but not always--do so by vigorously whisking in another yolk. Usually when you have this problem it is because you held it too long after completion. It is usually best to do egg yolk sauces just as you plan to use them.

Posted by respeto at 10:43 AM

Sauce tips

Generally, when making savory sauces and gravies one uses flour. Add the butter or oil to the skillet or pan, then the flour (usually 1 T. per cup of liquid), and whisk vigorously to break it all up. Cook for 5-10 minutes and then add the liquid--a little at a time at first, to be sure the liquid is incorporated rather than lumpy. If the water is added all at once it is nearly impossible to beat out the lumps since they move around the whisk, rather than thru it. To quickly thicken such a sauce you might want to use Wondra (micro-pulverized flour) because it incorporates easily and cooks quickly.
For "shiny" sauces, for desserts and the like, use corn starch. Again use about 1 T. per cup of sauce. It isn't usually cooked, as with flour, but added to the sauce and stirred till it thickens. Dilute it with 1-2 T. of tap water and be sure it is suspended before adding. Cook a minute or so and you will see it thicken.

For Wok cooking, pull the foodstuff up on the sides and let the liquid pool in the open bottom. Sprinkle in a little arrowroot and whisk it in quickly. It requires no cooking, so you can see the result immediately. Usually about ½ T per cup, but since the result is immediate, you can see what you are doing. If adding to a sauce, or to a stew to correct it-- thicken it--suspend the arrowroot in a little water, since you won't be able to whisk it as easily.
In any case, once you "get the hang of it" you'll know about how much to add.

Posted by respeto at 10:39 AM

Soufflé tips

Contrary to common belief, soufflés are not as difficult as they seem. Most soufflés fail at the stage of incorporation of the egg-whites into the final product, or because the whites are not beaten stiff enough--or beaten to the point that they begin to lose their ability to add loft to the soufflé. My very first soufflé was beautiful, because I paid attention. Yours can be, too.
• When making the base be sure that it is "loose enough" to incorporate easily. If it is like paste, or putty, add a little water . . . not soupy, but not thick and heavy, either.
• When incorporating the whites, first add about 1/3 of them to the base and turn gently. Use either a spoonula (big rubber spatula shaped like a spoon), or a balloon whisk (large whisk with wide spaces between the wires.) Then add this lighter base back into the egg-whites. Do not overmix. Incorporate it just enough so that there are no lumps of base. Continued mixing just "beats down" the whites. (When you beat the whites to stiff peaks you create myriad air bubbles within. As they bake they expand, hence giving loft to the soufflé. If you beat them longer they begin to lose their air, and get watery.)
• The very best way to beat egg whites is in a copper bowl with a steel whisk. Far better result than using cream of tartar. (Periodically "clean" the copper with salt, lemon juice and a paper towel. (Your bowl doesn't want to be smooth and shiny, it wants to be a little rough--not scoured and striated, but not smooth, either.)
• When preparing a soufflé you can do it a little ahead. "Potted" soufflés will hold for 30 min. or so, and can stand on a counter for that long when waiting to be put in an oven. If doing a dessert soufflé, I usually do it ahead of time and put it in the oven when the time will match my estimation of the time of completion of the meal.. If not sure about the time, wait to beat the egg whites, but the base can be made long ahead of time--even a day or so if refrigerated. And the egg-whites will hold a day or more if refrigerated (but, of course, not beaten.)

Posted by respeto at 10:38 AM

Orange brandy

You can make your own "Grand Marnier," and it is better than the cheapest of the G.M.'s. Not as good, perhaps as the G.M. Centenaire (made with 100 year old brandy,) but a whole lot better than the "not so cheap anymore" regular G.M. Start with 3 cups of good brandy or cognac, which you can purchase for considerably less than a bad bottle of G.M. Carefully peel 6-7 washed oranges (being careful not to get much--or any of the pith: the white under-peel). Add it to the brandy and let it steep for 3-4 weeks, then strain out the peels. Quite good. Thank Jacques Pepin for this tip.

Posted by respeto at 10:36 AM