Vanilla Bavarian

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Today’s recipe comes from this big ol’ cookbook, I  Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot. It’s an English translation of what is basically the encyclopedia of French cooking. I both like and dislike this book. I like how much it includes and the different variations of recipes, what I dislike is how short the recipes are.

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Some of these recipes are rather technical, it being French cooking and all, and I find myself wishing for more instruction. I often jump into a recipe not entirely certain it will turn out or if I’m doing it right. Today’s recipe is no exception. However, my attempt was successful, and I have tried to fill in the gaps where I wish the original recipe had.

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Today’s recipe is Vanilla Bavarian (Creme Bavaroise A La Vinille), contrary to what the name says, this is not a recipe for Bavarian creme. This is essentially a creme anglaise (the custard used in creme brulee) that has been thickened. Trust me, you’re going to love it.  A decadent dessert, worth the effort, and perfect with fresh berries.

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Vanilla Bavarian

From I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets of unflavored Knox gelatin
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 c whole milk
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 c heavy cream

Directions:

First separate your eggs. Put the egg yolks in a bowl that can be used in a double boiler. What to do with all of those egg whites? I freeze mine individually in cupcake tins so that I can use them for other recipes in the future.

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Next get the gelatin set up; empty the three packets into a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of hot water. Give it a quick stir with a fork to combine and then set aside. Wash the fork immediately (trust me).

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Now it’s time to start making the creme anglaise. In a medium-sized pot whisk together the milk, sugar, and seeds from the vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer. While the milk heats up, whisk the mixture every once in a while to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Now, when I say bring to a simmer, I mean a simmer, not a boil, you do not want to get your milk too hot or it will curddle your egg yolk during the next step. You have been warned.

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Once the milk is simmering, pour it into a tall measuring cup with a spout. Start pouring the milk SLOWLY into the bowl with the egg yolks while whisking the mixture constantly. Continue whisking until the milk and egg yolks are combined and slightly frothy.

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Put the mixture on top of a double boiler over simmering water. Keep that heat low-medium (this will depend on your stove, if you have gas keep it on low, I have gas so I had my temperature set at a medium heat).

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The idea is you want to gradually thicken your creme angliase and do NOT let it boil. Stir the mixture constantly. The creme anglaise is finished when it coats the back of a spoon. Be patient with this one, it can take several minutes depending on your stove.

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Pour the creme anglaise through a fine meshed sieve into a mixing bowl. Add the gelatin to the mixture while it is still hot. If your gelatin is a solid disk like mine was, this is ok, the hot mixture will dissolve it.

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Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. While it is cooling whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

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Once the creme anglaise is cool, gently fold the whipped creme into the mixture. Do this slowly, working in batches of 1/3 of the whipped creme at a time.

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Once the mixture is completely combined pour it into a mold. Put into the refrigerator and chill for 3 hours. You could use small individual molds, or one large one like a round cake pan or a bunt pan. You could also put into fancy glasses.

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After 3 hours remove from the mold and serve with fresh berries.

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Vanilla Bavarian

From I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets of unflavored Knox gelatin
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 c whole milk
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 c heavy cream

Directions:

First separate your eggs. Put the egg yolks in a bowl that can be used in a double boiler. Next get the gelatin set up; empty the three packets into a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of hot water. Give it a quick stir with a fork to combine and then set aside. Wash the fork immediately (trust me).

In a medium-sized pot whisk together the milk, sugar, and seeds from the vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer. While the milk heats up, whisk the mixture every once in a while to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Once the milk is simmering, pour it into a tall measuring cup with a spout. Start pouring the milk SLOWLY into the bowl with the egg yolks while whisking the mixture constantly. Continue whisking until the milk and egg yolks are combined and slightly frothy.

Put the mixture on top of a double boiler over simmering water. Keep that heat low-medium (this will depend on your stove, if you have gas keep it on low, I have gas so I had my temperature set at a medium heat). This will gradually thicken the creme anglaise and do NOT let it boil. Stir the mixture constantly. The creme anglaise is finished when it coats the back of a spoon.

Pour the creme anglaise through a fine meshed sieve into a mixing bowl. Add the gelatin to the mixture while it is still hot.

Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. While it is cooling whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

Once the creme anglaise is cool, gently fold the whipped cream into the mixture. Do this slowly, working in batches of 1/3 of the whipped cream at a time.

Once the mixture is completely combined pour it into a mold. Put into the refrigerator and chill for 3 hours. You could use small individual molds, or one large one like a round cake pan or a bundt pan. You could also put into fancy glasses.

After 3 hours remove from the mold and serve with fresh berries.

French Onion Soup

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This winter I’ve resolved to make soup once a week in efforts to make meals that are both lighter and able to warm the belly. So far, I’m off to a good start; first I tried this roasted root vegetable soup from the Eat Run Live Blog, and this week I tried a fabulous mushroom barely soup from Real Simple Magazine. Both were excellent, but I have to say my favorite so far has been the French Onion Soup.

I found this Tyler Florence recipe a few years ago, and I loved it so much the first time I made it, I made it again a week later. What I love about this recipe is the depth of flavor. It’s not just broth and onions here, there are layers of flavors. And of course there are cheesy croutons. Gotta love cheesy croutons!

Before we get started with the recipe let’s talk about chopping up onions. Another reason why I like this recipe is because I am a huge kitchen nerd and it gives me an opportunity to practice my onion chopping skills. So here is my crash course in cutting onions like a pro.

For this recipe you will need 4 medium/large yellow onions. You will also need a good, sharp knife. This is important, because without a good sharp knife this technique does not work.

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Start off by cutting the top of the onion off.

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Next, slice the onion in half length-wise.

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Now place the onion flat on the cutting board, the trick is to make slices in 2 directions without cutting all the way through the root. First, cut slices going through the onion vertically, without slicing through the root.

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Now make slices through the onion horizontally, also not cutting through the root.

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Now the onion is ready to be cut up; slice through the onion all the way to the root and small pieces of onion will fall off in tiny bits. Cutting the onions into these thin bits create a great texture, and their size will also aid in the caramalizing process.

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Now that the onions are chopped it’s time to get our soup started. Here’s what you will need;

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs (or 1 tsp of dried thyme)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 1/2 pound grated Gruyere (or cheese of your choice)

First we’ll need to carmalize those onion bits to get the most flavor out of them. In a large pot melt the butter over medium heat.

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Once the butter is melted add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper. I know it looks like a lot, but the onion bits will shrink down to about 1/10 of their size by the time we are finished with them.

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Cook the onions over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes. At this point the onions will have released a lot of liquid. Increase the heat very slightly and cook until the liquid mostly evaporates and the onions are caramelized on the bottom and sides of the pan.

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Next add the wine to the pot and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is mostly cooked off (about 20-25 minutes).

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Remove the bay leaves (and thyme sprigs if using fresh thyme). Reduce the heat to low and sprinkle the flour over the onions and give them a stir. Allow the flour to cook for 10 minutes.

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Now add the beef broth to the purple onion mixture. Gently scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any yummy brown bits into the soup. Increase the heat to bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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While the soup is simmering in its final minutes of cooking, it’s time to prepare the croutons. This is really the best part of French Onion Soup, let’s be honest. To make the croutons take slices of baguette and arrange on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the slices of bread the grated cheese of your choice and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and slightly golden brown.

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Place the croutons on top of the yummy soup and enjoy!

*Recipe slightly adapted from Tyler Florence’s recipe for French Onion Soup*

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French Onion Soup

Recipe slightly adapted from Tyler Florence’s recipe for French Onion Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs (or 1 tsp of dried thyme)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 1/2 pound grated Gruyere

Directions:

In a large pot melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Cook the onions over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes. At this point the onions will have released a lot of liquid. Increase the heat very slightly and cook until the liquid mostly evaporates and the onions are caramelized on the bottom and sides of the pan.

Next add the wine to the pot and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is mostly cooked off (about 20-25 minutes).

Remove the bay leaves (and thyme sprigs if using fresh thyme). Reduce the heat to low and sprinkle the flour over the onions and give them a stir. Allow the flour to cook for 10 minutes.

Now, add the beef broth to the onion mixture. Gently scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any yummy brown bits into the soup. Increase the heat to bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the croutons take slices of baguette and arrange on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the slices of bread the grated cheese of your choice and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and slightly golden brown.

Serve the soup with 3-4 croutons on top.