South Hills cooking class transports students to France
Reading Paula McLain's “The Paris Wife” makes you hunger for more.
The novel about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, inspires more reading. You find yourself diving headfirst into tattered copies of Hemingway novels you haven't paid much attention to since college. You want to know more about their friends, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. And, maybe a rewatching of “The Sun Also Rises” is in order.
The best-seller inspired another kind of hunger for Beth Shoener and MaryAnn Carosi.
They used the book and upcoming author visit as inspiration for a cooking class called “The Paris Wife” at Crate Kitchenware and Cooking School in the South Hills.
“I love Paris,” says Shoener, whose daughter lived in the City of Lights last spring, when Shoener went to visit her. “She bought ‘The Paris Wife' at Shakespeare and Co. book store. She read it and passed it on to me. I loved it.”
When Shoener, of Sewickley, learned the author was coming to Pittsburgh, she came up with the idea to plan a cooking class around the theme and make an event of it.
“Of course, half the people who came to the class didn't even know the book,” she says, laughing.
But the other half did, of course. The class sold out in advance.
For this kind of hands-on participation class, the students do the cooking under the guidance of the instructors, then socialize while enjoying the meal they created.
Shoener and Carosi, of Mt. Lebanon, spent time developing the menu, then testing the recipes.
“At my spring visit in Paris, I noticed a difference in French food from 10 years ago, with all the heavy sauces,” Shoener says. “Now, it's focused on fresh foods, vegetables and herbs.”
She and Carosi started looking through cookbooks to find appropriate dishes.
“With these classes, you have to find recipes that people can make and eat within the three-hour time frame,” Shoener says. “People want to learn new techniques, but not so complicated they can't do it.”
The two women practiced the recipes at home, perfecting techniques, getting the timing down just right and adjusting ingredients to find the perfect flavors.
“You need to test recipes and taste as you go,” Carosi says. “Some cookbooks have recipes that look beautiful, but the finished dishes are a disappointment.”
They finally got together for an evening to put the recipes to the ultimate test with the most outspoken judges — their husbands.
Their Paris-inspired, husband-approved menu offers a fine balance of flavors, textures and a showoff quality that will impress your friends at your next dinner party.
American in Paris
This twist on a Manhattan includes creme de cassis.
1 1⁄2 ounces bourbon
1⁄2 ounce crème de cassis
1⁄2 ounce dry vermouth
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Combine the bourbon, crème de cassis, vermouth and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon slice.
Makes 1 cocktail.
The ingredients are listed for 1 serving, with directions are for multiple servings.
Rustic baguette slice
1 tablespoon fromage blanc
Fresh chives, finely sliced
2-3 thin slices cucumber
1 cherry tomato, sliced
Salt and freswhly ground black pepper, to taste
To toast the baguette slices, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the baguette about 1⁄2 inch thick. Place the slices on sheet pans lined with parchment and bake until the slices are toasted, for about 5 minutes. Cool.
Spread the fromage blanc on the bread. Sprinkle with chives.
Place 2 to 3 slices of cucumber and 2 cherry tomato halves on top. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Makes 1 serving.
Rustic baguette slice
Enough paper-thin slices smoked salmon to cover bread in single layer
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Slice and toast the bread, following directions from the Vegetable Tartine. Spread butter on the toasted side of the bread. Cover the bread with the salmon in a single layer. Scatter a few capers on top. Sprinkle with pepper only. Serve with a lemon wedge.
Makes 1 serving.
Chicken Paupiettes With Pork and Sage
A paupiette (poe-PYET) is a thin, pounded piece of meat or fish that is wrapped around a vegetable or meat filling.
6 medium-size chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium-size leeks, finely chopped
1 pound ground pork
1⁄2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1⁄4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
1⁄4 cup fresh sage, shredded
6 slices bacon, cut into lardoons (strips)
8 ounces white button mushrooms, chopped
16 ounces mixed mushrooms, chopped
1⁄2 cup Cognac or Madeira
4 cups chicken stock
Dash of heavy cream
Cut the chicken breasts in half and trim them into average-size portions. Season each piece of chicken with salt and pepper. Using a large cutting board, pound each chicken breast between plastic wrap or wax paper until very thin. Set each piece aside on a half sheet of wax paper until finished. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan and gently fry the onions and leeks. Meanwhile, combine the ground pork, bread crumbs, parsley and sage in a bowl. When the onions and leeks are soft, add them to the pork mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Divide the pork mixture among the chicken bundles, rolling and securing with kitchen string.
Cook the bacon lardoons, and remove to a plate, leaving the fat behind. Use the fat to saute all of the mushrooms until tender, and remove them to a bowl.
Brown the chicken bundles, a few at a time, well on all sides, using 5 tablespoons of butter. When each batch has been browned, remove them to a plate. Remove the pan from the heat and add the Cognac to deglaze the pan.
Add the chicken bundles, bacon and mushrooms to the pan and cover with chicken stock. Cover and simmer until tender, for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the chicken bundles to a platter, reduce the sauce and finish with a tablespoon of butter and some heavy cream. Cut and remove the string before serving.
Makes 6 servings.
Potato and Celeriac Puree
1 1⁄2 pound celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 tablespooons butter, divided
3 medium-size onions, finely chopped
2 medium-size leeks finely chopped
2 pounds medium-size Yukon Gold potatoes, about 5, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (4 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Set a 4-quart saucepan of water over high heat. Add a handful of salt to the water. Add the celery root and bring to a boil. Boil until the celery root is fork tender, for about 15 minutes.
In a saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and leeks and cook until tender.
Set a second 4-quart saucepan of water over high heat. Add a handful of salt to the water. Add the chopped potatoes and bring to a boil. Boil until the potates are fork tender, for about 15 minutes. Drain the celery root and the potatoes, and return both to one saucepan. Using a food mill or ricer, process the celery root and potatoes into the other saucepan. Add the onions and leeks mixture with 3 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes 6 servings.
Shaved Vegetable Salad
You can substitute a variety of vegetables — snow peas, zucchini, etc.
4 tablespoons hazelnuts, chopped and divided
1⁄4 cup fresh orange juice
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium-size red beet, peeled
1 medium-size golden beet, peeled
1 small fennel bulb
1 medium-size carrot, peeled
2 medium-size radishes, trimmed
1⁄4 cup loosely packed flatleaf parsley
To make the vinaigrette, place 2 tablespoons of hazelnuts in a small bowl. Whisk in the orange juice, lemon juice and vegetable oil. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
Thinly slice the beets, fennel, carrot and radishes using a mandoline. Place the red beets in a separate small bowl. Place the remaining vegetables and parsley in a medium-size bowl. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the red beets. Pour the remaining vinaigrette over the vegetables in the medium-size bowl. Toss to coat the vegetables in each bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the beets and other vegetables on salad plates. Drizzle the salads with any remaining vinaigrette; garnish with the remaining hazelnuts.
Makes 4 servings.
Ile Flottante (Floating Island)
For the caramel sauce:
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup water
3⁄4 cup heavy cream
3 1⁄3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or 1 teaspoon gray sea salt, crushed
For the meringues:
8 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint vanilla ice cream, melted
To prepare the caramel sauce: In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil without stirring.
Use a wet pastry brush to wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil until the syrup is a deep-amber color, for about 5 to 6 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble.
Stir in the unsalted butter and salt. Transfer the caramel sauce to a dish and cool.
The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Reheat it before serving.
To prepare the meringues: Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed until frothy.
Turn the mixer on high speed, add the sugar and vanilla, and beat until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. (The peaks should stand up without folding over.)
With a large serving spoon, place 6 mounds of meringue on each sheet tray and bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Bake the meringues before guests arrive and assemble the desserts just before serving.
Note: When making meringues, it is essential that the mixing bowl and beaters be completely clean and grease-free. Wash the mixing bowl and beaters in white-vinegar water to remove all oil.
To assemble: Place the meringues on a pool of melted vanilla ice cream in each bowl and drizzle with caramel sauce. Sprinkle toasted almonds on top.
Makes 12 servings.
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