|COOKBOOKS WITH PANACHE
Country Cooking of France
By Anne Willan
Renowned for her cooking school in
France and her many best-selling cookbooks, Anne Willan combines
years of hands-on experience with extensive research to create
a brand new classic in her book Country
Cooking of France (Chronicle Books,
2007, $50). More than 250 recipes range from the time-honored
La Truffade, with its crispy potatoes and melted cheese,
to the Languedoc specialty Cassoulet de Toulouse, a bean
casserole of duck confit, sausage, and lamb. Sprinkled with
intriguing historical tidbits and filled with more than 270
enchanting photos of food markets, villages, harbors, fields,
and country kitchens, this cookbook is an irresistible celebration
of French culinary culture.
Tomatoes Stuffed with Goat Cheese
4 large tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds/675 grams total)
Salt and pepper
4 slices white bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small soft goat cheeses (about 8 ounces/225 grams total)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Salad leaves for serving (optional)
3-inch/7.5 centimeter cookie cutter; small baking dish
Tomatoes Stuffed with Goat Cheese.
I was given this recipe by a producer of goat cheese, a savvy marketeer who hands out recipe leaflets with every cheese he sells. Ironically named Monsieur Cochon (Mr. Pig), he is an idealist, raising his herd of 150 goats on herbage from his own farm, with the help of his wife, Véronique. “We are producers from start to finish, from raising the goats to making the cheese to meeting our customers, that's what I enjoy,” says Jean-Marie Cochon. For these stuffed tomatoes, blue cheese or soft cream cheese can be substituted for the goat cheese.
Heat the oven to 400F/ 200C/ Gas 6. Core the tomatoes, cut shallow lids from the flower (rounded) ends and discard them. Using a sharp spoon or mellon baller, scoop out about half of the seeds from the tomatoes, taking care not to poke a hole in the bottom. Sprinkle the insides with salt and pepper. Toast the bread and stamp out the largest possible rounds from the center of each with a cookie cutter. Brush the rounds generously with olive oil and set them in the baking dish.
For the filling, crumble the goat cheeses into a bowl, or coarsely crush them with a fork. Mix the garlic, parsley, chives, thyme, pepper and a little salt in a small bowl and sprinkle half in the tomatoes. Add the crumbled cheese, mounding it so it is not packed down. Sprinkle with the remaining garlic and herbs and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. Place the tomatoes on the bread croûtes. Bake until the cheese is very hot and the tomato skins start to split, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve them hot on individual plates, garnished with a few salad leaves if you like.
Veal Chops with Mustard
4 veal chops (about 2 pounds/900 grams total)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6-ounce/170-gram piece of lean bacon, cut in lardons
16 to 18 baby onions (about 8 ounces/225 grams total), peeled
1 tablespoon/7 grams/1/4 ounce flour
3/4 cup/175 milliliters/6 fluid ounces white wine, preferably Chardonnay
3/4 cup/175 milliliters/6 fluid ounces veal broth, more if needed
1 bouquet garni
1/4 cup/60 milliliters/2 fluid ounces crème fraîche or heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Large sauté pan or frying pan
Veal Chops with Mustard.
The savvy mustard-makers of Dijon have done such a good marketing job that today the town is synonymous with the classic aromatic French mustard flavored with wine and herbs. In this recipe you can take your pick of smooth or grainy mustard, with or without herbal or fruity flavorings. Veal chops, particularly with this creamy sauce, suggest to me a similarly luxurious vegetable, fresh asparagus perhaps, or fine green beans.
Sprinkle the chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in the sauté pan, add the bacon lardons and fry them over medium heat until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove them and set aside. Add the onions and brown them over medium heat, shaking the pan often so they color evenly, 7 to 10 minutes. Set them aside also. Lastly add the chops and brown them, allowing 2 to 3 minutes. Turn them and brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes more. Take them out, whisk in the flour and cook until bubbling. Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the veal broth and bring this sauce to a boil. Stir in the lardons, replace the chops, pushing them down into the sauce, and add the bouquet garni.
Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Add the onions and continue simmering until they are soft and the chops are tender when poked with a two-pronged fork, 10 to 15 minutes more. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chops. Turn them from time to time and add more broth if the sauce gets thick.
When the chops are tender, transfer them to 4 warm plates. Discard the bouquet garni, stir the crème fraîche into the sauce and bring just to a simmer. Stir in the mustard and parsley and take the pan from the heat. The fresh, piquant taste of mustard turns bitter when overcooked, so it should not be boiled; always add it towards the end of cooking. Taste, adjust seasoning of the sauce and spoon it over the chops. Serve at once.
|Photos by France Ruffenach, from Country
Cooking of France by
Anne Willan, Chronicle Books,