THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK
PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF
Copyright © 1961, 1983, 2001 by Alfred A. Knopf
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Distributed by Random House, Inc., New York.
Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Child, Julia. Mastering the art of French cooking.
Rev. ed. of: Mastering the art of French cooking / Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, Julia Child.
Vol. 2 by Julia Child and Simone Beck.
1. Cookery, French. I. Bertholle, Louisette. II. Beck, Simone. III. Beck, Simone. Mastering the art of French cooking. IV. Title.
TX719.C454 1983 641.5944 83–48113
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 16, 1961
REPRINTED FROM NEW PLATES, OCTOBER 1971
THIRTY-FOURTH PRINTING (REVISED), SEPTEMBER 1983
FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY HARDCOVER EDITION, OCTOBER 16, 2001
TWENTY-SECOND PRINTING, JANUARY 2011
FIRST FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY PAPERBACK EDITION, OCTOBER 2004
THIRTEENTH PRINTING, JANUARY 2011
La Belle France
WHOSE PEASANTS, FISHERMEN, HOUSEWIVES,
AND PRINCES — NOT TO MENTION HER CHEFS —
THROUGH GENERATIONS OF INVENTIVE AND
LOVING CONCENTRATION HAVE CREATED ONE
OF THE WORLD’S GREAT ARTS
THE ANNIVERSARY EDITION
by Julia Child
WHAT WAS AMERICAN food like forty years ago when this book first appeared? It’s hard for me to remember since the “now” is so much with me. I grew up in Southern California, in a comfortable family, with a New England background since my mother was from Massachusetts. We ate in the typically middle-class WASP American way of the teens and twenties—a big prime-rib roast of beef for the traditional family Sunday lunch of twelve to fourteen people. If not beef we might have a fine, big, well-aged leg of lamb—always cooked medium gray, never pinky-red rare, and always served with mint sauce as well as gravy. Or there would be a fat roasted chicken with creamed onions and mashed potatoes. Always an enthusiastic carnivore, I particularly remember the beef, not only rib roasts but also magnificent big well-marbled porterhouse steaks. They were full of real beefy flavor in those days, and they were juicy. Of course, that was the happy era when emphasis was on the quality of the beef, not the fat content. Our family cooking was essentially simple and straightforward, and since it was California we always had plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
As to specifics, I remember aspics. Jellied madrilene was a favorite fancy soup of the period, a beef consommé flavored with fresh tomato and topped with a splash of whipped cream—that was before sour cream came upon us. Melba toast was a standard accompaniment to the soup at ladies’ luncheons—and there were many of them then because running a household rather than having a career gave many women the leisure time. These carefully orchestrated meals often featured a large molded ring of tomato aspic, its center filled with chicken, crab, or lobster salad.
I cannot forget one ladies’ lunch back in the 1950s. Our hostess proudly led us to our seats around a nicely appointed table where we each sat down to a pretty china plate upon which stood an upright, somewhat phallic-shaped molded aspic holding in suspension diced green grapes, diced marshmallows, and diced bananas. Surrounded lavishly but neatly with squirts of whipped cream, this lovingly constructed edifice rested on several leaves of iceberg lettuce far too small to hide anything under. After the main course, and grandly brought in to the acclaim of the guests, was a very large and high coconut cake, almost certainly made from a cake mix and, again, constructed with utmost care. That was a quite typical, dressy example of the period, created earnestly and with the most generous intentions.
When Paul and I married in the mid 1940s I had very little kitchen experience, but since his mother was a fine cook and he had lived in France, I went into it seriously with Gourmet magazine and Joy of Cooking as my guides. It took hours to get dinner on the table, but he was encouraging. A year or so after our marriage he was offered a position at the American embassy in Paris.
It was a dream fulfilled. I had always yearned to know France, and Paul, having lived there for several years as a penniless young man, dreamed of returning. He had a gift for languages and spoke beautiful French. As for me, although I had taken French all during my school years, it was taught in that useless old-fashioned way where you rarely heard the spoken language but you knew the declensions of all the verbs. Thus, I could neither speak French nor understand it. We were fortunate indeed to rent the top floor of a fine old Louis XVI-style private house, and as soon as we settled ourselves I enrolled in the Berlitz school of languages for two hours every day. Then, when I had a foot on the language, I enrolled in the Cordon Bleu cooking school. With Paul’s help plus the Berlitz, and especially being at the Cordon Bleu where at that time all the lessons were in French, conversation was slowly beginning to come.
Nobody I knew, either American or French, seemed at all interested in la cuisine française. My American colleagues had little femmes de ménage who did the housekeeping, shopping, and cooking, and I was considered more than a little odd because I did all the cooking and marketing—such fun!—as well as the serving when we had company. Then one day a friend in the embassy introduced me to Simone Beck Fischbacher—a tall, blond, vivacious Frenchwoman, known as Simca. She was passionate about cooking, had grown up in a household of fine food, and had taken many lessons with the Cordon Bleu school’s master chef, Henri Pellaprat. We took to each other at once, and she introduced me to Le Cercle des Gourmettes, a French ladies’ gastronomical club that met every other Tuesday to cook and eat lunch in the kitchens of the electric company.
The members of Les Gourmettes were mostly in their sixties and seventies and came just for the luncheon. Simca’s friend and colleague Louisette Bertholle was also a member, and the three of us made a point of arriving at 9:00 a.m. so that we could work with the chef. We helped in the preparation of wonderfully elaborate dishes such as stuffed pheasants, poached oysters served in classic wine sauces, and beautifully molded desserts. What a marvelous opportunity it was for me, a foreigner, to be accepted in a totally French atmosphere and to be witness to and participant in the preparation of the most stylish type of la cuisine bourgeoise. My several Paris years with them gave me an invaluable experience and background.
During this period some American friends of mine asked Louisette, Simca, and me to give them cooking lessons. They wanted a real introduction, from cuisine ménagère, such as how to boil a potato, on up to pâtés en croûte. They didn’t speak the language and preferred us to a school. Simca, always the enthusiast, agreed, and L’Ecole des 3 Gourmandes—School of the 3 Happy Eaters—was born in 1950. We not only conducted the classes ourselves, but we also enlisted the professional help of my favorite Cordon Bleu teacher, Chef Max Bugnard.
Chef Bugnard had begun as a young apprentice in his family’s restaurant kitchen, then did classic “stages” in Paris, on several luxurious transatlantic steamers of the period, as well as at the Ritz in London, where he worked briefly under the great Escoffier. Before World War II Chef Bugnard had had his own restaurant in Bruxelles, Le Petit Vatel, but was forced to flee before the occupying Germans. When I became one of his pupils, he had retired from restaurant life and was teaching.
We raided the Cordon Bleu again in soliciting the services of its excellent pastry chef and teacher Claude Thilmont. As a younger man Chef Thilmont had been the pâtissier at the Café de Paris, during which period he also worked with the author herself in the writing of her seminal book for the French home cook, Le Livre de Cuisine de Mme. E. Saint-Ange.
You may well wonder how we were able to acquire such real treasures in our modest classes. I think that in their later years many chefs of the old school welcomed teaching. They were adored by their pupils, their work hours were civilized, and the pay was undoubtedly superior to what they could make in restaurant kitchens. We three teachers were thus being subsidized by our own pupils—not a bad idea!
For several years before we met one another, Simca and Louisette had been involved in writing a book on French cooking for Americans. They needed an American collaborator, and I was delighted to join. Because we had to write up all the recipes for our school, the basis for our book slowly took shape. We gave especially full directions for all the dishes we cooked in class, and we also wanted to discuss in detail hows and whys and basic techniques. In general our aim was to take out the mystique and to make French cooking make sense. As the work progressed Paul and I were transferred from Paris to Marseilles, and then to Germany. Our last post was in Norway, where he finally left the diplomatic service. We then settled in our big, old, gray-clapboard three-story house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During this separation, voluminous recipes and discussions flew back and forth.
When at last our book was published the Kennedys were in the White House and whatever they did was news, including how they lived and even what they ate. They had a talented French chef in residence, René Verdon, and one read frequently about their spectacular dinners. In 1961 Americans were beginning to go to Europe almost by droves, taking but a few hours for the voyage by plane rather than almost a week by boat. People were interested in more adventurous foods, and serving those meals at home was becoming a matter of pride.
Simca came from Paris to help launch the book—her first visit to America. Although she spoke English, she did so in a delightfully French way, and was in every aspect very French indeed. In fact Paul and I always called her “La Super Française.” The cooking classes that she had been conducting for Americans in Paris during the years before the book came out meant that she had friends and former students in various cities here. It was she who suggested we go out and drum up some sales. Book tours were something of a novelty then even for well-known authors, and certainly unusual for writers of cookbooks. I don’t know how we had the chutzpah, but off we went, Simca and Paul and I. We had announced to our friends that we were coming and asked them to provide us with opportunities.
Our first stop was in Chicago, where Simca and I both had friends, and we did interviews and cooking demonstrations in private houses and for the Chicago Tribune. Then we went on to Detroit, and when in San Francisco we were asked to do a demonstration at one of the big department stores. The wife of the owner, in a fit of exuberance, had purchased dozens of madeleine pans—the kind you use for those shell-shaped little French cakes made famous by Marcel Proust in Remembrance of Things Past. But nobody there was familiar with them. Simca, of course, knew all about madeleines, so we made them by the score during our demonstrations, the audiences gobbled them, and the store sold so many pans it had to order more.
The demonstration in my hometown of Pasadena, California, was in the theater of a private club where there were no cooking facilities. However, we had managed to procure a portable stove and cooktop, buckets for water, and a six-foot demonstration table, and were able to produce a quite complicated menu. We started out with Roquefort quiche, an exotic dish at that time, which you’ll find here. Then we demonstrated a handsome fish mousse baked in a ring mold, an example of which is on this page, and we finished with Simca’s signature Queen of Sheba chocolate almond cake, and my all-time favorite. Looking back on the menu, I am amazed that we managed such sophisticated food in such minimal conditions.
The morning went off very well, but then we were to repeat the performance for the afternoon demonstration. While Simca and I had to stay onstage signing cookbooks and receiving the audience, my Paul, who always volunteered to do anything that was needed, was left alone to clean up—a sticky, fishy, chocolatey mess. And where did he wash the dishes? He took over the tiny closet-size ladies’ room with its little sink and soap dispenser, and he cleaned up every plate, utensil, and platter. I often marvel at this valiant and uncomplaining contribution to our cause by a former diplomat and cultural attaché.
Our tour ended in New York, with a dinner at the restaurant of Dione Lucas, the country’s most revered and well-known teacher of French cooking. When Simca had arrived in New York before our tour, Judith Jones, our young editor at Knopf, asked us whom we would especially like to meet. I had always wanted to know James Beard, and Simca wanted to see Dione Lucas, since they had mutual friends in Normandy. A date was made in Dione’s restaurant, where we sat up at her counter and talked while she made us her famous omelets for lunch. She and Simca had immediately started an animated conversation about Normandy, and finally Dione said to Simca, “I want to give you a dinner party!” What unheard-of generosity! We fixed a date in December, when we were to have finished our tour.
We had numerous telephone calls with Dione during our trip, and one endless conversation between Simca and our future hostess involved a pay telephone at Disneyland, and multiple quarters supplied by Paul. The menu was finally agreed upon. Dione was to prepare the first course, her renowned filets of sole in a splendid classical white wine sauce, and the dessert. We were to furnish the main course, Epaule d’Agneau Viroflay—the boned shoulder of lamb but with a spinach and mushroom stuffing. We were to provide the wines—fortunately, Simca had a cousin in the business. We were also to supply the guest list.
The three of us professional neophytes, however, had no friends in the New York food establishment, although we knew some of the names. So we turned to nice James Beard, who entered into the project with his usual enthusiasm. Under his guidance we invited all the “who’s-a-whoms” we could think of, and surprisingly almost all of them accepted—some thirty or so people.
On the day of the dinner, while Simca and I were closeted with our lamb in my niece’s tiny fourth-floor walk-up apartment way off on New York’s east side, Paul took over the front of the house. He found a printer to produce the menus in record time. He made out the place cards, arranged the seating, and even opened the wine just before the guests arrived. Kind James Beard got there early and introduced us and our Knopf friends, Judith Jones and Bill Koshland, to all the guests as they arrived. It was a wonderful dinner, everyone had a good time, and no one left until after midnight.
That was our beginning. We had received a marvelously favorable review from Craig Claiborne, the influential food editor of the New York Times, and we even appeared on NBC-TV’s morning Today show. A few months later, while Public Television was still “Educational Television,” our local Boston station decided to enlarge its programming from almost exclusively academic “talking heads” to a more diverse menu. They inaugurated an art program and a science program, and I was asked about trying out a cooking session. I had already done a book review with them, which involved, besides talk, the then highly unusual methods of making a tossed French omelet and the beating of egg whites in a big copper bowl. We agreed to try out three pilot programs, which appeared in the summer of 1962.
The station put us in the charge of Russell Morash, then a young producer of science programs, now the well-known master of This Old House, The Victory Garden, and other successful series. They also gave me Ruth Lockwood as associate producer—she had been with the Eleanor Roosevelt series. Ruthie and I worked closely together, with Paul in attendance, to block out three half-hour shows. They were on coq au vin, that famous chicken stew in red wine, see this page, a non-collapsible cheese soufflé, titled as an unmolded soufflé, and French omelets, fully described and illustrated, see this page.
The first was shown on a Monday in July, at 8:00 p.m. The evening was so hot and humid, and we had no air-conditioning, that we set the television out in the garden, turned on a large fan, and watched while dining with friends. Our other two shows in succeeding weeks gathered an appreciable audience even for that time of year. Although Dione Lucas had hosted the first full television cooking series, she had been off the air for several seasons, and we had the only one at that time. The station asked us if we would do thirteen more—a year’s fifty-two weeks, by the way, are divided into four thirteen-week sessions. We agreed, and The French Chef was launched, following the general ideas in this book.
Why The French Chef, since I am neither the one nor the other? The first reason was that I always hoped we would have some real French chefs on the shows. We never managed that until later on. The second and more important reason: The title was short, it described the shows as real French cooking, and, of equal significance, it fit on a single line in the TV guides. It seemed that a goodly number of people wanted to know about la cuisine française, and it was an almost immediate success. At first we were on only in the Boston area, then Pittsburgh took us up, then San Francisco, finally New York—and I felt we were made! WGBH-Boston asked us to do thirteen more, we continued on, and the television shows certainly helped the book. We even made the cover of Time magazine at one point.
This fortieth anniversary edition is essentially the same book that first came out in 1961, which was reedited in 1983 to bring it up to date, especially because the food processor had appeared in American kitchens. Before the arrival of that incomparable machine, we did have the electric blender and heavy duty mixer, but the food processor revolutionized many otherwise almost hopelessly onerous tasks such as the making of fish mousses and quenelles. It simplified such often tricky procedures as pie doughs, and made fast work of routine dog work like mushroom dicing, cheese grating, bread crumbing, and onion slicing.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking is just what the title says. It is how to produce really wonderful food—food that tastes good, looks good, and is a delight to eat. That doesn’t mean it has to be fancy cooking, although it can be as elaborate as you wish. It simply means careful cooking, la cuisine soignée, by people who know what they are doing. According to me, if you are thoroughly skilled in French techniques, because the repertoire is so vast, you have the background for almost any type of cuisine. In other words, and at the risk of creating mayhem in some circles, I think you are better as an Italian, Mexican, or even Chinese cook when you have a solid French foundation.
There is certainly nothing particularly difficult about the basics. It is a question of getting started, and of learning how to pick the best and freshest ingredients, and of knowing, reading, seeing, or being shown how to hold the knife, chop the onion, peel the asparagus, make the butter and flour roux, and above all of taking it seriously. If you are not used to slicing potatoes by hand or peeling, seeding, and juicing tomatoes you will be slow and a little clumsy at first. However, once you decide you are really going to do it right, you will find that with surprisingly little practice you are mastering the techniques.
The recipes here are thoroughly detailed since this is a teaching book. How about eight pages on making a simple omelet? You’ve got all the directions and if you can read, you can cook. You are learning by doing, and if the dish is to turn out as it should, no essential direction can be left out. How far, for instance, should the chicken be from the heat element when you are broiling it? Five to six inches. Or how fast should the oil be beaten in when you are making the garlic-and-mustard coating for a roast leg of lamb? Drop by drop. Every detail takes up space, making some actually quite simple recipes look long.
Certainly one of the important requirements for learning how to cook is that you also learn how to eat. If you don’t know how an especially fine dish is supposed to taste, how can you produce it? Just like becoming an expert in wine—you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford—you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simple or luxurious. Then you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.
In the 1950s, when this book was conceived, and on into the 1980s, we in this country pretty well ate as we liked with little or no attention paid to lashings of the best butter and the heaviest cream. You will note this indulgence here, especially in sauces, where you reduce them with cream or where you swirl in fresh butter a generous tablespoon at a time to render them smooth, shining, and luscious. I have not changed any of these original proportions or directions, because this is the way the dishes were conceived. However, do use your own judgment as to how much or how little of the enrichments you care to use, since the amounts will not interfere with the basic recipe. In my case, for instance, I have been known to substitute a modest teaspoon for the generous tablespoon.
Finally, I do think the way to a full and healthy life is to adopt the sensible system of “small helpings, no seconds, no snacking, and a little bit of everything.” Above all—have a good time!
What a happy task you have set for yourself! The pleasures of the table are infinite. Toujours bon appétit!
THE STORY OF “MASTERING” AT KNOPF
by Judith Jones
IN JUNE OF 1960 a hefty manuscript—a treatise on French cooking by an American woman, Julia Child, and two French ladies, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle—landed on my desk. I had been an editor at Knopf for about three years, working primarily on translations of French books. But it was no secret that I had a passion for French cooking, so I was the logical person to read it.
The manuscript had been sent down from Cambridge by Avis de Voto, who worked as a scout for the Knopfs. She was the wife of the historian and writer Bernard de Voto, who had had a lively transatlantic correspondence with Julia on the subject of knives as a result of a piece he had done in The Atlantic Monthly. Avis soon became involved when she heard that Julia was working on a cookbook in Paris with Mesdames Beck and Bertholle, and she offered to try to find an American publisher. Her first submission met rejection, the publisher’s comment being, Why would any American want to know this much about French cooking?
Well, it so happened that I did. As I turned the pages of this manuscript, I felt that my prayers had been answered. I had lived in Paris for three and a half years—at just about the same time the Childs were there, although our paths had never crossed—and most of what I learned then about cooking I absorbed from the butcher, the baker, the greengrocer, and the fishmonger. I would ask questions of them all, and then back in my tiny kitchen I would try to remember what the butcher’s wife had told me about making frites or the poissonière about sautéing a dorade.
When I returned to the States, I realized how totally inadequate the few books that dealt with French food really were. They were simply compendiums of shorthand recipes and there was no effort to instruct the home cook. Techniques were not explained, proper ingredients were not discussed, and there was no indication in a recipe of what to expect and how to rectify mistakes. So the home cook, particularly an American home cook, was flying blind.
Yet here were all the answers. I pored over the recipe, for instance, for a beef stew and learned the right cuts of meat for braising, the correct fat to use (one that would not burn), the importance of drying the meat and browning it in batches, the secret of the herb bouquet, the value of sautéing the garnish of onions and mushrooms separately. I ran home to make the recipe—and my first bite told me that I had finally produced an authentic French boeuf bourguignon—as good as one I could get in Paris. This, I was convinced, was a revolutionary cookbook, and if I was so smitten, certainly others would be.
Below is the report I wrote at the time on “The French Cookbook,” which I hoped would convince the Knopfs that this book would be a credit to their imprint. I also enlisted the help of a senior colleague, Angus Cameron. He had been an editor at Bobbs-Merrill when Joy of Cooking was published and he loved to say that he had enough larceny in his soul to know just how to pitch a book. So his report, I’m convinced, did the trick (also included is his final paragraph).
The rest is history. In the fall of 1961 we published Mastering the Art of French Cooking (incidentally, Alfred Knopf, when I told him the title we had settled on, said if anyone would buy a book by that title, he would eat his hat), and after Craig Claiborne pronounced the book a classic, the book went into a second printing before Christmas. Of course, when Julia went on television the following summer as the French Chef all of America fell in love with her. But everything she taught on camera was grounded in this seminal book—understand what you are cooking, do it with care, use the right ingredients and the proper equipment, and, above all, enjoy yourself.
My Report on French Cookbook by Julia Child,
Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle
I’ve had this French cookbook for Americans for almost two months now, have read it through, tried innumerable recipes, some simple and some challenging, and I think it’s not only first-rate but unique. I don’t know of another book that succeeds so well in defining and translating for Americans the secrets of French cuisine. The reason? Because the authors emphasize technique—not the number of recipes they can cram into a volume, nor the exotic nature of the dishes. Reading and studying this book seems to me as good as taking a basic course at the Cordon Bleu. Actually it’s better than that because the authors’ whole focus is on how to translate the tricks learned to the problems that confront you at home (i.e., the differences in meat cuts, utensils, materials). It is not a book for the lazy but for the cook who wants to improve, to take that giant step from fair-to-good accomplishment to that subtle perfection that makes French cooking an art. I swear that I learned something from this manuscript every few pages.
As to recipes, they have very intelligently selected the dishes that are really the backbone of the classic cuisine. (Attached is the table of contents.) The approach is to introduce the general subject first: what to look for in buying, best utensil to use, timing, testing for doneness, tricks to improve. Then there is usually a master recipe, presented in painstaking detail, followed by variations, different choices of sauces for embellishing the same dish. There is a good deal of text devoted not to cuisine lore but to practical detail; you are seldom directed to do something without being told why. The authors are perfectionists, opinionated, and culinary snobs in the best sense—that is, they will approve of a frozen short cut, when time demands it, but they tell you how to add some tastiness to the packaged good. They also give of themselves; their dos and don’ts are not arbitrary but they stress that their method is one that they have arrived at through experimentation.
Finally, I do not believe that this book will in any way hurt others, such as Donon’s Classic French Cuisine, on our list. The fact is that it enhances other French cookery books because one can apply techniques learned in it in order to use effectively the recipes offered so sketchily, by comparison, in all the other books, and it should be so promoted. I think this book will become a classic.
From Angus Cameron’s Report
This manuscript is an astonishing achievement and there is simply nothing like it. Cooks will know this by word of mouth very soon, I’m sure. I think we should have this confidence and venture it with the knowledge that others will have to look to their laurels when this one is available.
THE RECEPTION OF THE BOOK IN 1961
“Probably the most comprehensive, laudable, and monumental work on [French cuisine] was published this week, and it will probably remain as the definitive work for nonprofessionals … [It is] a masterpiece.”
—Craig Claiborne’s review in the New York
Times when Mastering the Art of French Cooking
was first published on October 16, 1961
“I only wish that I had written it myself.”
THE INFLUENCE OF “MASTERING”
OVER THE LAST FORTY YEARS
“Julia Child paved the way for Chez Panisse and so many others by demystifying French food and by reconnecting pleasure and delight with cooking and eating at the table. She brought forth a culture of American ingredients and gave us all the confidence to cook with them in the pursuit of flavor.”
—Alice Waters, Chez Panisse
“It’s hard to believe that forty years have passed since wonderful Julia freed the American public from their fears of cooking French. By doing so, she greatly expanded the audience for all serious food writers. Her demystification prepared that public for the rest of us. I believe that the television shows based on that landmark book did even more to encourage reluctant cooks to try their hands … much to our benefit.”
“Julia Child was the opposite of the mid-western, mid-American, mid-century, middlebrow food I grew up on. She was also the antithesis of the women I saw cooking, all of whom had serious June Lockhart aspirations. Julia, on the other hand, turned imperfection into a hoot and a holler. She seemed to teach cooking, but she was really celebrating the human, with all its flaws and appetites. I was a goner the first time I heard her voice, which happened to be while I was a cook in a feminist restaurant that served nonviolent cuisine. If it weren’t for Julia Child, I might never have moved past brown rice and tofu. Worse, I might still be afraid of being less than perfect. Cooking through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I learned how to cook without fear because I got over fearing failure. Julia Child gave an entire generation this gift—and dinner, too.”
“The more I have come to know Julia over the years, the more I realize that Julia, the friend, the author, the TV superstar, are one and the same. Mastering the Art of French Cooking was one of the most influential books in twentieth-century America. It was the book, more than any other, that, combined with her television shows, taught Americans how to cook simple and not-so-simple classic French dishes. Like Julia herself, the book is a classic, a catalyst in the refinement of American culture. My own copy of Volume One (a 1975 edition) is so worn that the duct tape holding it together looks natural. Although this book wasn’t intended for professionals, I knew a few young American chefs who, like me, referred to it often because Julia was a trusted secret mentor, and her recipes were clear-cut and dependable. They still are.”
—Jasper White, Summer Shack
“The recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking are classics—dishes that taste so good because the ingredients work together with no need for gimmicks. Julia’s opening sentence in the foreword to the ’83 edition couldn’t be more true: ‘This is a book for the American cook who can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules … or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of something wonderful to eat [emphasis mine].’
I remember the excitement and pride I felt when I first served Julia’s Veal Orloff. The Soubise, on its own, that glorious mixture of melting onion and rice, has never left my repertoire. But mostly my old Volume One wears its badge of use with all those errant chocolate fingerprints wandering across its torn cover as I make Julia’s Le Marquis or Soufflé au Chocolat.
This book will teach you to cook, show you How and tell you Why!”
—Lydia Shire, Biba
“I remember it was in the early 1970s when I first began to pour through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I was in heaven. All this technique that I knew nothing about all laid out in English! It was all very meticulous and the descriptions were so detailed and that’s just what I needed because I had no experience as a cook. I told my mother what I was reading and she said, ‘Oh that crazy woman? She’s way too complicated for me and the way I cook.’ I never listened much to my mother back then and just kept on reading. Today, JULIA, as I call it, remains the book I turn to when I need to know how to do something.”
—Gordon Hamersley, Hamersley’s Bistro
“Long before there was a TV Food Network or Celebrity Chefs, there was Julia Child. The first cookbook my mother purchased for our home was Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was this book, along with Julia’s first television series and her obvious joy for cooking, that helped influence me to enter the culinary field. Always warm and gracious, still working hard sharing her knowledge and love of life, Julia continues to be an inspiration to all who are privileged to know her and choose to be part of this profession. She is and will always be the ‘Grand Lady of Cooking.’ Thank you, Julia, for your encouragement and friendship.”
—David Cecchini, Wine Cask
“Mastering the Art of French Cooking was one of my first introductions to my foundation of understanding the art of French cooking. The combination of reading Julia’s book, working in the kitchen, and watching her television shows helped lead me to my beginnings in serious cuisine. Julia is a dear friend and a great cook—the grande dame of cooking, who has touched all of our lives with her immense respect and appreciation of cuisine.”
—Emeril Lagasse, Emeril’s Restaurant
“Julia has slowly but surely altered our way of thinking about food.
She has taken the fear out of the term ‘haute cuisine.’ She has increased gastronomic awareness a thousandfold by stressing the importance of good foundation and technique, and she has elevated our consciousness to the refined pleasures of dining. Through the years her shows have kept me in rapt attention, and her humor has kept me in stitches.
She is a national treasure, a culinary trendsetter, and a born educator beloved by all.”
—Thomas Keller, The French Laundry
“1961 was the year that gave us three important and enjoyable events:
Picasso painted his Still Life with a Lamp;
Breakfast at Tiffanys had its premier with Audrey Hepburn;
Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published by Knopf, starring our very own Julia Child.
Trying to avoid the current fashion for exaggeration, let me just say that this volume not only clarified what real French food is, but simply taught us to cook.”
—George Lang, Café des Artistes
“1961 A.D. Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking is published. Her black-and-white TV show on WGBH in Boston soon follows. Child is one of the great teachers of the millennium: She is intelligent and charismatic, and her undistinguished manual skills are not daunting to her viewers. An entire generation of ambitious American home cooks is instantly born.”
—Jeffrey Steingarten, conferring the Vogue Millennial
Food and Drink Awards on “those events and persons who
have most advanced the joys and beauties of mealtime
over the previous thousand years”
THE FIRST EDITION of Mastering was conceived and written in the late 1950s, and many changes, particularly in kitchen equipment, have taken place since then. Probably the most significant has been the appearance of the electric food processor, which has made amazingly light work out of many formerly long and arduous cooking procedures like the mincing of mushrooms and onions, the slicing of potatoes, the making of mayonnaise, pie doughs, many yeast doughs, as well as purées and mousses. We have redone numerous recipes here to include the processor, but had it been around when we began, we would have had a host of dishes created because of it. No-stick pans were not available then. All-purpose flour needed sifting, and that required a cumbersome measuring system, which we have eliminated here. Chocolate has changed character, and that gave rise to a different melting technique as well as a new chocolate soufflé recipe. Rice is now enriched and takes shorter cooking, and we have revised a number of meat-thermometer readings. Little details here and there wanted fixing, little remarks now and then needed updating, and a few drawings have been added or improved.
On the whole, however, it is the same book, written for those who love to cook—it is a primer of classical French cuisine. And no wonder that cuisine has always been and will always remain so popular, said a friend of ours; it just makes such wonderfully good eating!
S. B. and J. C.
Bramafam and Santa Barbara
THIS IS A BOOK for the servantless American cook who can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules, children’s meals, the parent-chauffeur-den-mother syndrome, or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat. Written for those who love to cook, the recipes are as detailed as we have felt they should be so the reader will know exactly what is involved and how to go about it. This makes them a bit longer than usual, and some of the recipes are quite long indeed. No out-of-the-ordinary ingredients are called for. In fact the book could well be titled “French Cooking from the American Supermarket,” for the excellence of French cooking, and of good cooking in general, is due more to cooking techniques than to anything else. And these techniques can be applied wherever good basic materials are available. We have purposely omitted cobwebbed bottles, the patron in his white cap bustling among his sauces, anecdotes about charming little restaurants with gleaming napery, and so forth. Such romantic interludes, it seems to us, put French cooking into a never-never land instead of the Here, where happily it is available to everybody. Anyone can cook in the French manner anywhere, with the right instruction. Our hope is that this book will be helpful in giving that instruction.
Cooking techniques include such fundamentals as how to sauté a piece of meat so that it browns without losing its juices, how to fold beaten egg whites into a cake batter to retain their maximum volume, how to add egg yolks to a hot sauce so they will not curdle, where to put the tart in the oven so it will puff and brown, and how to chop an onion quickly. Although you will perform with different ingredients for different dishes, the same general processes are repeated over and over again. As you enlarge your repertoire, you will find that the seemingly endless babble of recipes begins to fall rather neatly into groups of theme and variations; that homard à l’américaine has many technical aspects in common with coq au vin, that coq au vin in turn is almost identical in technique to boeuf bourguignon; all of them are types of fricassees, so follow the fricassee pattern. In the sauce realm, the cream and egg-yolk sauce for a blanquette of veal is the same type as that for a sole in white-wine sauce, or for a gratin of scallops. Eventually you will rarely need recipes at all, except as reminders of ingredients you may have forgotten.
All of the techniques employed in French cooking are aimed at one goal: how does it taste? The French are seldom interested in unusual combinations or surprise presentations. With an enormous background of traditional dishes to choose from (1000 Ways to Prepare and Serve Eggs is the title of one French book on the subject) the Frenchman takes his greatest pleasure from a well-known dish impeccably cooked and served. A perfect navarin of lamb, for instance, requires a number of operations including brownings, simmerings, strainings, skimmings, and flavorings. Each of the several steps in the process, though simple to accomplish, plays a critical role, and if any is eliminated or combined with another, the texture and taste of the navarin suffer. One of the main reasons that pseudo-French cooking, with which we are all too familiar, falls far below good French cooking is just this matter of elimination of steps, combination of processes, or skimping on ingredients such as butter, cream—and time. “Too much trouble,” “Too expensive,” or “Who will know the difference” are death knells for good food.
Cooking is not a particularly difficult art, and the more you cook and learn about cooking, the more sense it makes. But like any art it requires practice and experience. The most important ingredient you can bring to it is love of cooking for its own sake.
A complete treatise on French cooking following the detailed method we have adopted would be about the size of an unabridged dictionary; even printed on Bible paper, it would have to be placed on a stand. To produce a book of convenient size, we have made an arbitrary selection of recipes that we particularly like, and which we hope will interest our readers. Many splendid creations are not included, and there are tremendous omissions. One may well ask: “Why is there no pâte feuilletée? Where are the croissants?” These are the kinds of recipes, in our opinion, which should be demonstrated in the kitchen, as each requires a sense of touch which can only be learned through personal practice and observation. Why only five cakes and no petits fours? No boiled, souffléed, or mashed potatoes? No zucchini? No tripe? No poulet à la Marengo? No green salads? No pressed duck or sauce rouennaise? No room!
A NOTE ON THE RECIPES
All of the master recipes and most of the subrecipes in this book are in two-column form. On the left are the ingredients, often including some special piece of equipment needed; on the right is a paragraph of instruction. Thus what to cook and how to cook it, at each step in the proceedings, are always brought together in one sweep of the eye. Master recipes are headed in large, bold type; a special sign, , precedes those which are followed by variations. Most of the recipes contain this sign, (*), in the body of the text, indicating up to what point a dish may be prepared in advance. Wine and vegetable suggestions are included with all master recipes for main-course dishes.
Our primary purpose in this book is to teach you how to cook, so that you will understand the fundamental techniques and gradually be able to divorce yourself from a dependence on recipes. We have therefore divided each category of food into related groups or sections, and each recipe in one section belongs to one family of techniques. Fish filets poached in white wine, are a good example, or the chicken fricassees or the group of quiches. It is our hope that you will read the introductory pages preceding each chapter and section before you start in on a recipe, as you will then understand what we are about. For the casual reader, we have tried to make every recipe stand on its own. Cross references are always a problem. If there are not enough, you may miss an important point, and if there are too many you will become enraged. Yet if every technique is explained every time it comes up, a short recipe is long, and a long one forbidding.
Most of the recipes in this book are calculated to serve six people with reasonably good appetites in an American-style menu of three courses. The amounts called for are generally twice what would be considered sufficient for a typical French menu comprising hors d’oeuvre, soup, main course, salad, cheese, and dessert. We hope that we have arrived at quantities which will be correct for most of our readers. If a recipe states that the ingredients listed will serve 4 to 6 people, this means the dish should be sufficient for 4 people if the rest of your menu is small, and for 6 if it is large.
SOME WORDS OF ADVICE
Our years of teaching cookery have impressed upon us the fact that all too often a debutant cook will start in enthusiastically on a new dish without ever reading the recipe first. Suddenly an ingredient, or a process, or a time sequence will turn up, and there is astonishment, frustration, and even disaster. We therefore urge you, however much you have cooked, always to read the recipe first, even if the dish is familiar to you. Visualize each step so you will know exactly what techniques, ingredients, time, and equipment are required and you will encounter no surprises. Recipe language is always a sort of shorthand in which a lot of information is packed, and you will have to read carefully if you are not to miss small but important points. Then, to build up your over-all knowledge of cooking, compare the recipe mentally to others you are familiar with, and note where one recipe or technique fits into the larger picture of theme and variations.
We have not given estimates for the time of preparation, as some people take half an hour to slice three pounds of mushrooms while others take five minutes.
Pay close attention to what you are doing while you work, for precision in small details can make the difference between passable cooking and fine food. If a recipe says, “cover casserole and regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly,” “heat the butter until its foam begins to subside,” or “beat the hot sauce into the egg yolks by driblets,” follow it. You may be slow and clumsy at first, but with practice you will pick up speed and style.
Allow yourself plenty of time. Most dishes can be assembled, or started, or partially cooked in advance. If you are not an old campaigner, do not plan more than one long or complicated recipe for a meal or you will wear yourself out and derive no pleasure from your efforts.
If food is to be baked or broiled, be sure your oven is hot before the dish goes in. Otherwise soufflés will not rise, piecrusts will collapse, and gratinéed dishes will overcook before they brown.
A pot saver is a self-hampering cook. Use all the pans, bowls, and equipment you need, but soak them in water as soon as you are through with them. Clean up after yourself frequently to avoid confusion.
Train yourself to use your hands and fingers; they are wonderful instruments. Train yourself also to handle hot foods; this will save time. Keep your knives sharp.
Above all, have a good time.
S. B., L. B., J. C.
OUR FRIENDS, students, families, and husbands who have gracefully and often courageously acted as guinea pigs for years are owed a special thank you from the authors. But there are others toward whom we feel particular gratitude because of help of a different kind. The Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been one of our greatest sources of assistance and has unfailingly and generously answered all sorts of technical questions ranging from food to plastic bowls. The Meat Institute of Chicago, the National Livestock and Meat Board, and the Poultry and Egg National Board have answered floods of inquiries with prompt and precise information. Wonderfully helpful also have been the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior, and the California Department of Fish and Game. Sessions with L’École Professionelle de la Boucherie de Paris and with the Office Scientifique et Technique de la Pêche Maritime have been invaluable in our research on French meat cuts and French fish. During our years of practical kitchen-training in Paris, Chef de Cuisine Max Bugnard and Chef Pâtissier Claude Thillmont have been our beloved teachers. More recently we have also had the good fortune to work with Mme Aimée Cassiot, whose long years as a professional cordon bleu in Paris have given her a vast store of working knowledge which she has willingly shared with us. We are also greatly indebted to Le Cercle des Gourmettes whose bi-monthly cooking sessions in Paris have often been our proving grounds, and whose culinary ideas we have freely used. We give heartfelt thanks to our editors whose enthusiasm and hard work transformed our manuscript-in-search-of-a-publisher into this book. Finally there is Avis DeVoto, our foster mother, wet nurse, guide, and mentor. She provided encouragement for our first steps, some ten years ago, as we came tottering out of the kitchen with the gleam of authorship lighting our innocent faces.
Other Books by This Author
Introduction to the Anniversary Edition
Foreword to the 1983 Edition
CUTTING: Chopping, Slicing, Dicing, and Mincing
CHAPTER I – SOUPS
CHAPTER II – SAUCES
The Hollandaise Family
The Mayonnaise Family
Hot Butter Sauces
Cold Flavored Butters
List of Miscellaneous Sauces
Stocks and Aspics
CHAPTER III — EGGS
Eggs in Ramekins
CHAPTER IV — ENTRÉES AND LUNCHEON DISHES
Pie Dough and Pastry Shells
Quiches, Tarts, and Gratins
Soufflés and Timbales
Pâte à Choux, Puffs, Gnocchi, and Quenelles
CHAPTER V — FISH
Fish Filets Poached in White Wine
Two Recipes from Provence
Two Famous Lobster Dishes
List of Other Fish Dishes
CHAPTER VI — POULTRY
CHAPTER VII — MEAT
Lamb and Mutton
CHAPTER VIII — VEGETABLES
Carrots, Onions, and Turnips
Lettuce, Celery, Endive, and Leeks
The Cabbage Family
CHAPTER IX — COLD BUFFET
Pâtés and Terrines
List of Other Cold Dishes
CHAPTER X — DESSERTS AND CAKES
Sweet Sauces and Fillings
Custards, Mousses, and Molded Desserts
Babas and Savarins
A Note About the Authors
How to Measure Flour
How to Use a Knife: Chopping, Slicing, Dicing, and Mincing
Two Omelette-making Methods
How to Make Pastry Dough and Pastry Shells
How to Beat Egg Whites
How to Fold Beaten Egg Whites into a Soufflé Mixture
How to Truss a Chicken
Chicken on a Spit
Filet of Beef
The Bone Structure of a Leg of Lamb
How to Prepare Whole Artichokes
How to Prepare Artichoke Hearts
How to Prepare Fresh Asparagus
How to Peel, Seed, and Juice Tomatoes
How to Mince, Slice, Quarter, and Flute Mushrooms
How to Bake a Stuffed, Boned Duck in a Pastry Crust
How to Line a Dessert Mold with Ladyfingers
Decorative Designs for Fruit Tarts
How to Ice a Cake
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
THIS SYMBOL preceding a recipe title indicates that variations follow.
(*) WHEREVER you see this symbol in the body of recipe texts you may prepare the dish ahead of time up to that point, then complete the recipe later.
Batterie de Cuisine
THEORETICALLY A GOOD COOK should be able to perform under any circumstances, but cooking is much easier, pleasanter, and more efficient if you have the right tools. Good equipment which will last for years does not seem outrageously expensive when you realize that a big, enameled-iron casserole costs no more than a 6-rib roast, that a large enameled skillet can be bought for the price of a leg of lamb, and that a fine paring knife may cost less than two small lamb chops. One of the best places to shop for reasonably priced kitchen-ware is in a hotel- and restaurant-supply house where objects are sturdy, professional, and made for hard use.
STOVES AND OVENS
For top-of-stove cooking you want to switch from very high indeed to very low heat with gradations in between, which a restaurant gas range can provide if you have the space and gas pressure for one. Otherwise a good modern electric cooktop is far better than weak domestic gas burners.
Electric ovens give more even heat for pastry baking (especially meringues) than gas, which has surges of heat. Gas is desirable for broiling, but electricity does well especially if you have a rheostat heat control setting. One of each is ideal!
POTS, PANS, AND CASSEROLES
Pots, pans, and casseroles should be heavy-bottomed so they will not tip over, and good heat conductors so that foods will not stick and scorch. With the exception of heavy tin-lined copper (expensive to maintain), enameled iron or stainless-steel-lined heavy aluminum is our choice. The smooth surface does not discolor foods, and it is easy to clean. Stainless steel with a wash of copper on the bottom for looks is a poor heat conductor—the copper bottom should be ⅛ inch thick to be of any value. Stainless steel with a cast aluminum bottom, on the other hand, is good, as the thick aluminum spreads the heat. Glazed earthenware is all right as long as it has not developed cracks where old cooking grease collects and exudes whenever foods are cooked in it. Pyrex and heatproof porcelain are fine but fragile. Thick aluminum and iron, though good heat conductors, will discolor foods containing white wine or egg yolks. Because of the discoloration problem, we shall specify an enameled saucepan in some recipes to indicate that any nonstaining material is to be used, from enamel to stainless steel, lined copper, pyrex, glazed pottery, or porcelain.
A Note on Copper Pots
Copper pots are the most satisfactory of all to cook in, as they hold and spread the heat well, and their tin lining does not discolor foods. A great many tourist or decorative types are currently sold; these are thin and glittering, and have shiny brass handles. To get the full benefit out of cooking in copper, the metal must be ⅛ inch thick, and the handle should be of heavy iron. The interior of the pot is lined with a wash of tin, which must be renewed every several years when it wears off and the copper begins to show through. A copper pot can still be used when this happens if it is scrubbed just before you cook with it, and if the food is removed as soon as it is done. If cooked food remains in a poorly lined pot, some kind of a toxic chemical reaction can take place. It is thus best to have the pot re-tinned promptly.
In addition to re-tinning, there is the cleaning problem, as copper tarnishes quickly. There are fast modern copper cleaners available. A good homemade mixture is half a cup of white vinegar, and ¼ cup each of table salt and scouring powder. Rub the mixture over the copper, using steel wool if the pot is badly tarnished, then rinse in hot water. The tin lining is cleaned with steel wool and scouring powder, but do not expect it ever to glitter brightly again once you have used the pot for cooking. (All cleaning, alas, removes infinitesimal bits of the tin lining.)
Never let a copper pot sit empty over heat, or the tin lining will melt. For the same reason, watch your heat when browning meats in copper. If the tin begins to glisten brightly in places, lower your heat.
No-stick Pots and Pans
Since our first edition, pans with no-stick surfaces have appeared everywhere, and modern improvements have made their surfaces increasingly more resistant. We are enthusiastic about no-stick cookie sheets, cake pans, muffin tins, and especially no-stick frying pans. What a particular blessing they are for omelettes, sautéed potatoes, and hash. Treat no-stick surfaces with care, however: use wooden or plastic utensils, hide your pans from kooks and non-cooks, and don’t expect the surface to last forever.
Any of the following items come in enameled cast iron:
Oval casseroles are more practical than round ones as they can hold a chicken or a roast of meat as well as a stew or a soup. A good pair would be the 2-quart size about 6 by 8 inches across and 3½ inches high; and a 7- to 8-quart size about 9 by 12 inches across and 6 inches high.
Round and oval baking dishes can be used for roasting chicken, duck, or meats, or can double as gratin dishes.
Saucepans in a range of sizes are essential. One with a metal handle can also be set in the oven.
Chef’s Skillet and Sauté Pan
A chef’s skillet, poêle, has sloping sides and is used for browning and tossing small pieces of food like mushrooms or chicken livers; the long handle makes it easy to toss rather than turn the food. A sauté pan, sautoir, has straight sides and is used for sautéing small steaks, liver, or veal scallops, or foods like chicken that are browned then covered to finish their cooking in the sauté pan.
Besides the usual array of pots, roasters, vegetable peelers, spoons, and spatulas, here are some useful objects which make cooking easier:
Knives and Sharpening Steel
A knife should be as sharp as a razor or it mashes and bruises food rather than chopping or cutting it. It can be considered sharp if just the weight of it, drawn across a tomato, slits the skin. No knife will hold a razor-edge for long. The essential point is that it take an edge, and quickly. Plain rustable steel is the easiest to sharpen but discoloration is an annoying problem. Good stainless steel knives are available in cookware and cutlery shops, and probably the best way to test their quality is to buy a small one and try it out. The French chef’s knives, pictured here, are the most useful general-purpose shapes for chopping, mincing, and paring. If you cannot find good knives, consult your butcher or a professionally trained chef.
Knives should be washed separately and by hand as soon as you have finished using them. Tarnished blades are cleaned easily with steel wool and scouring powder. A magnetic holder screwed to the wall is a practical way of keeping knives always within reach and isolated from other objects that could dull and dent the blades by knocking against them.
Wooden Spatulas and Rubber Scrapers
A wooden spatula is more practical for stirring than a wooden spoon; its flat surfaces are easily scraped off on the side of a pan or bowl. You will usually find wooden spatulas only at stores specializing in French imports. The rubber spatula, which can be bought almost anywhere, is indispensable for scraping sauces out of bowls and pans, for stirring, folding, creaming, and smearing.
Wire Whips or Whisks
Wire whips, or whisks, are wonderful for beating eggs, sauces, canned soups, and for general mixing. They are easier than the rotary egg beater because you use one hand only. Whisks range from minute to gigantic, and the best selections are in restaurant-supply houses. You should have several sizes including the balloon whip for beating egg whites at the far left; its use is illustrated.
Bulb Baster and Poultry Shears
The bulb baster is particularly good for basting meats or vegetables in a casserole, and for degreasing roasts as well as basting them. Some plastic models collapse in very hot fat; a metal tube-end is usually more satisfactory. Poultry shears are a great help in disjointing broilers and fryers; regular steel is more practical than stainless, as the shears can be sharpened more satisfactorily.
Drum Sieve and Pestle
The drum sieve, tamis, is used in France when one is instructed to force food through a sieve. The ingredients, such as pounded lobster shells and butter, are placed on the screen and rubbed through it with the pestle. An ordinary sieve placed over a bowl or a food mill can take the place of a tamis.
The Vegetable Mill (or Food Mill) and Garlic Press
Two wonderful inventions, the vegetable mill and the garlic press. The vegetable mill purées soups, sauces, vegetables, fruits, raw fish, or mousse mixtures. The best type has 3 removable disks about 5½ inches in diameter, one for fine, one for medium, and one for coarse puréeing. The garlic press will purée a whole, unpeeled clove of garlic, or pieces of onion.
The Food Processor
This marvelous machine came into our kitchens in the mid-seventies—fifteen years after the first edition of this book! The processor has revolutionized cooking, making child’s play of some of the most complicated dishes of the haute cuisine—mousses in minutes. Besides all kinds of rapid slicing, chopping, puréeing, and the like, it makes a fine pie crust dough, mayonnaise, and many of the yeast doughs. No serious cook should be without a food processor, especially since respectable budget models can be bought very reasonably.
Mortar and Pestle
Small mortars of wood or porcelain are useful for grinding herbs, pounding nuts, and the like. The large mortars are of marble, and are used for pounding or puréeing shellfish, forcemeats, and so on. The electric blender, meat grinder, and food mill take the place of a mortar and pestle in many instances.
Heavy-Duty Electric Mixer
1. Whip, for eggs
2. Dough Hook
3. Flat Beater, for heavy batters, ground meat, etc.
A heavy-duty electric mixer makes light work of heavy meat mixtures, fruit cake batters, and yeast doughs as well as beating egg whites beautifully and effortlessly. Its efficient whip not only revolves about itself, but circulates around the properly designed bowl, keeping all of the mass of egg whites in motion all of the time. Other useful attachments include a meat grinder with sausage-stuffing horn and a hot-water jack which attaches to the bottom of the stainless steel bowl. It’s expensive, but solidly built and a life-long aid to anyone who does lots of cooking.
WE HAVE TRIED, in this book, to use ordinary American cooking terms familiar to anyone who has been around a kitchen, but we list a few definitions here to avoid possible misunderstanding.
BASTE, arroser To spoon melted butter, fat, or liquid over foods.
BEAT, fouetter To mix foods or liquids thoroughly and vigorously with a spoon, fork, or whip, or an electric beater. When you beat, train yourself to use your lower-arm and wrist muscles; if you beat from your shoulder you will tire quickly.
BLANCH, blanchir To plunge food into boiling water and to boil it until it has softened, or wilted, or is partially or fully cooked. Food is also blanched to remove too strong a taste, such as for cabbage or onions, or for the removal of the salty, smoky taste of bacon.
BLEND, mélanger To mix foods together in a less vigorous way than by beating, usually with a fork, spoon, or spatula.
BOIL, bouillir Liquid is technically at the boil when it is seething, rolling, and sending up bubbles. But in practice there are slow, medium, and fast boils. A very slow boil, when the liquid is hardly moving except for a bubble at one point, is called to simmer, mijoter. An even slower boil with no bubble, only the barest movement on the surface of the liquid, is called “to shiver,” frémir, and is used for poaching fish or other delicate foods.
BRAISE, braiser To brown foods in fat, then cook them in a covered casserole with a small amount of liquid. We have also used the term for vegetables cooked in butter in a covered casserole, as there is no English equivalent for étuver.
COAT A SPOON, napper la cuillère This term is used to indicate the thickness of a sauce, and it seems the only way to describe it. A spoon dipped into a cream soup and withdrawn would be coated with a thin film of soup. Dipped into a sauce destined to cover food, the spoon would emerge with a fairly thick coating.
DEGLAZE, déglacer After meat has been roasted or sautéed, and the pan degreased, liquid is poured into the pan and all the flavorful coagulated cooking juices are scraped into it as it simmers. This is an important step in the preparation of all meat sauces from the simplest to the most elaborate, for the deglaze becomes part of the sauce, incorporating into it some of the flavor of the meat. Thus sauce and meat are a logical complement to each other.
DEGREASE, dégraisser To remove accumulated fat from the surface of hot liquids.
Sauces, Soups, and Stocks
To remove accumulated fat from the surface of a sauce, soup, or stock which is simmering, use a long-handled spoon and draw it over the surface, dipping up a thin layer of fat. It is not necessary to remove all the fat at this time.
When the cooking is done, remove all the fat. If the liquid is still hot, let it settle for 5 minutes so the fat will rise to the surface. Then spoon it off, tipping the pot or kettle so that a heavier fat deposit will collect at one side and can more easily be removed. When you have taken up as much as you can—it is never a quick process—draw strips of paper towels over the surface until the last floatíng fat globules have been blotted up.
It is easier, of course, to chill the liquid, for then the fat congeals on the surface and can be scraped off.
To remove fat from a pan while the meat is still roasting, tilt the pan and scoop out the fat which collects in the corner. Use a bulb baster or a big spoon. It is never necessary to remove all the fat at this time, just the excess. This de-greasing should be done quickly, so your oven will not cool. If you take a long time over it, add a few extra minutes to your total roasting figure.
After the roast has been taken from the pan, tilt the pan, then with a spoon or a bulb baster remove the fat that collects in one corner, but do not take up the browned juices, as these will go into your sauce. Usually a tablespoon or two of fat is left in the pan; it will give body and flavor to the sauce.
Another method—and this can be useful if you have lots of juice—is to place a trayful of ice cubes in a sieve lined with 2 or 3 thicknesses of damp cheesecloth and set over a saucepan. Pour the fat and juices over the ice cubes; most of the fat will collect and congeal on the ice. As some of the ice will melt into the saucepan, rapidly boil down the juices to concentrate their flavor.
For stews, daubes, and other foods which cook in a casserole, tip the casserole and the fat will collect at one side. Spoon it off, or suck it up with a bulb baster. Or strain off all the sauce into a pan, by placing the casserole cover askew and holding the casserole in both hands with your thumbs clamped to the cover while you pour out the liquid. Then degrease the sauce in the pan, and return the sauce to the casserole.
New Edition Note: An efficient degreasing pitcher now exists: pour in the hot meat juices and let the fat rise to the surface. Pour out clear juices—the spout opening is at the bottom of the pitcher; stop when fat appears in the spout.
DICE, couper en dés To cut food into cubes the shape of dice, usually about ⅛ inch in size as illustrated on this page.
FOLD, incorporer To blend a fragile mixture, such as beaten egg whites, delicately into a heavier mixture, such as a soufflé base. This is described and illustrated in the Soufflé section on this page. To fold also means to mix delicately without breaking or mashing, such as folding cooked artichoke hearts or brains into a sauce.
GRATINÉ To brown the top of a sauced dish, usually under a hot broiler. A sprinkling of bread crumbs or grated cheese, and dots of butter, help to form a light brown covering (gratin) over the sauce.
MACERATE, macérer; MARINATE, mariner To place foods in a liquid so they will absorb flavor, give off flavor, or become more tender. Macerate is the term usually reserved for fruits, such as: cherries macerated in sugar and alcohol. Marinate is used for meats: beef marinated in red wine. A marinade is a pickle, brine, or souse, or a mixture of wine or vinegar, oil, and condiments.
MINCE, hacher To chop foods very fine, as illustrated on this page.
NAP, napper To cover food with a sauce which is thick enough to adhere, but supple enough so that the outlines of the food are preserved.
POACH, pocher Food submerged and cooked in a liquid that is barely simmering or shivering. The term can also be used poetically for such things as “chicken breasts poached in butter.”
PURÉE, réduire en purée To render solid foods into a mash, such as applesauce or mashed potatoes. This may be done in a mortar, a meat grinder, a food mill, an electric blender, or through a sieve.
REDUCE, réduire To boil down a liquid, reducing it in quantity, and concentrating its taste. This is a most important step in saucemaking.
REFRESH, rafraîchir To plunge hot food into cold water in order to cool it quickly and stop the cooking process, or to wash it off.
SAUTÉ, sauter To cook and brown food in a very small quantity of very hot fat, usually in an open skillet. You may sauté food merely to brown it, as you brown the beef for a stew. Or you may sauté until the food is cooked through, as for slices of liver. Sautéing is one of the most important of the primary cooking techniques, and it is often badly done because one of the following points has not been observed:
1) The sautéing fat must be very hot, almost smoking, before the food goes into the pan, otherwise there will be no sealing-in of juices, and no browning. The sautéing medium may be fat, oil, or butter and oil. Plain butter cannot be heated to the required temperature without burning, so it must either be fortified with oil or be clarified—rid of its milky residue as described on this page.
2) The food must be absolutely dry. If it is damp, a layer of steam develops between the food and the fat preventing the browning and searing process.
3) The pan must not be crowded. Enough air space must be left between each piece of food or it will steam rather than brown, and its juices will escape and burn in the pan.
TOSS, faire sauter Instead of turning food with a spoon or a spatula, you can make it flip over by tossing the pan. The classic example is tossing a pancake so it flips over in mid-air. But tossing is also a useful technique for cooking vegetables, as a toss is often less bruising than a turn. If you are cooking in a covered casserole, grasp it in both hands with your thumbs clamped to the cover. Toss the pan with an up-and-down, slightly jerky, circular motion. The contents will flip over and change cooking levels. For an open saucepan use the same movement, holding the handle with both hands, thumbs up. A back-and-forth slide is used for a skillet. Give it a very slight upward jerk just as you draw it back toward you.
EXCEPT FOR WINES AND SPIRITS, and possibly foie gras and truffles, all the ingredients called for in this book are available in the average American grocery store. The following list is an explanation of the use of some items:
BACON, lard de poitrine fumé The kind of bacon used in French recipes is fresh, unsalted, and unsmoked, lard de poitrine frais. As this is difficult to find in America, we have specified smoked bacon; its taste is usually fresher than that of salt pork. It is always blanched in simmering water to remove its smoky taste. If this were not done, the whole dish would taste of bacon.
Place the bacon strips in a pan of cold water, about 1 quart for each 4 ounces. Bring to the simmer and simmer 10 minutes. Drain the bacon and rinse it thoroughly in fresh cold water, then dry it on paper towels.
BUTTER, beurre French butter is made from matured cream rather than from sweet cream, is unsalted, and has a special almost nutty flavor. Except for cake frostings and certain desserts for which we have specified unsalted butter, American salted butter and French butter are interchangeable in cooking. (Note: It has recently become a habit in America to call unsalted butter, “sweet butter”; there is an attractive ring to it. But technically any butter, salted or not, which is made from sweet, unmatured cream is sweet butter.)
Clarified Butter, beurre clarifié
When ordinary butter is heated until it liquefies, a milky residue sinks to the bottom of the saucepan. The clear, yellow liquid above it is clarified butter. It burns less easily than ordinary butter, as it is the milky particles in ordinary butter which blacken first when butter is heated. Clarified butter is used for sautéing the rounds of white bread used for canapés, or such delicate items as boned and skinned chicken breasts. It is also the base for brown butter sauce, and is used rather than fat in the brown roux for particularly fine brown sauces. To clarify butter, cut it into pieces and place it in a saucepan over moderate heat. When the butter has melted, skim off the foam, and strain the clear yellow liquid into a bowl, leaving the milky residue in the bottom of the pan. The residue may be stirred into soups and sauces to serve as an enrichment.
Butter Temperatures, Butter Foam
Whenever you are heating butter for an omelette or butter and oil for a sauté your recipe will direct you to wait until the butter foam looks a certain way. This is because the condition of the foam is a sure indication of how hot the butter is. As it begins to melt, the butter will foam hardly at all, and is not hot enough to brown anything. But as the heat increases, the liquids in the butter evaporate and cause the butter to foam up. During this full-foaming period the butter is still not very hot, only around 212 degrees. When the liquids have almost evaporated, you can see the foam subsiding. And when you see practically no foam, you will also observe the butter begin to turn light brown, then dark brown, and finally a burnt black. Butter fortified with oil will heat to a higher temperature before browning and burning than will plain butter, but the observable signs are the same. Thus the point at which you add your eggs to the omelette pan or your meat to the skillet is when the butter is very hot but not browning, and that is easy to see when you look at the butter. If it is still foaming up, wait a few seconds; when you see the foam begin to subside, the butter is hot enough for you to begin.
CHEESE, fromage The two cheeses most commonly used in French cooking are Swiss and Parmesan. Imported Swiss cheese is of two types, either of which may be used: the true Gruyère with small holes, and the Emmenthal which is fatter, less salty, and has large holes. Wisconsin “Swiss” may be substituted for imported Swiss. Petit suisse, a cream cheese that is sometimes called for in French recipes, is analogous to Philadelphia cream cheese.
CREAM, crème fraîche, crème double French cream is matured cream, that is, lactic acids and natural ferments have been allowed to work in it until the cream has thickened and taken on a nutty flavor. It is not sour. Commercially made sour cream with a butterfat content of only 18 to 20 per cent is no substitute; furthermore, it cannot be boiled without curdling. French cream has a butterfat content of at least 30 per cent. American whipping cream with its comparable butterfat content may be used in any French recipe calling for crème fraîche. If it is allowed to thicken with a little buttermilk, it will taste quite a bit like French cream, can be boiled without curdling, and will keep for 10 days or more under refrigeration; use it on fruits or desserts, or in cooking.
1 tsp commercial buttermilk
1 cup whipping cream
Stir the buttermilk into the cream and heat to luke-warm—not over 85 degrees. Pour the mixture into a loosely covered jar and let it stand at a temperature of not over 85 degrees nor under 60 degrees until it has thickened. This will take 5 to 8 hours on a hot day, 24 to 36 hours at a low temperature. Stir, cover, and refrigerate.
[NOTE: French unmatured or sweet cream is called fleurette]
FLOUR, farine Regular French household flour is made from soft wheat, while most American flour is made from hard wheat; in addition, French flour is usually unbleached. This makes a difference in cooking quality, especially when you are translating French recipes for yeast doughs and pastries. We have found that a reasonable approximation of French flour, if you need one, is 3 parts American all-purpose unbleached flour to 1 part plain bleached cake flour.
Be accurate when you measure flour or you will run into cake and pastry problems. Although a scale is ideal, and essential when you are cooking in large quantities, cups and spoons are accurate enough for home cooking when you use the scoop-and-level system illustrated here.
For all flour measurements in this volume, scoop the dry-measure cup directly into your flour container and fill the cup to overflowing (A); do not shake the cup or pack down the flour. Sweep off excess so that flour is even with the lip of the cup, using a straight edge of some sort (B). Sift only after measuring.
In first edition copies of this volume all flour had to be sifted, and we advised that our flour be sifted directly into the cup; cake flour weighed less per cup than all-purpose flour, and it was a cumbersome system all around. The scoop-and-level is far easier, and just as reliable. See next page for a chart of weights and measures for flour measured this way.
FLOUR WEIGHTS: Approximate Equivalents (scoop-and-level method)
NOTE: 1 cuillère de farine in a French recipe usually means 1 heaping French tablespoon, or 15 to 20 grams—the equivalent of 2 level American Tb.
GLACÉED FRUITS, CANDIED FRUITS, fruits confits These are fruits such as cherries, orange peel, citron, apricots, and angelica, which have undergone a preserving process in sugar. They are sometimes coated with sugar so they are not sticky; at other times they are sticky, depending on the specific process they have been through. Glacéed fruits are called for in a number of the dessert recipes; most groceries carry selections or mixtures in jars or packages.
HERBS, herbes Classical French cooking uses far fewer herbs than most Americans would suspect. Parsley, thyme, bay, and tarragon are the stand-bys, plus fresh chives and chervil in season. A mixture of fresh parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil is called fines herbes. Mediterranean France adds to the general list basil, fennel, oregano, sage, and saffron. The French feeling about herbs is that they should be an accent and a complement, but never a domination over the essential flavors of the main ingredients. Fresh herbs are, of course, ideal; and some varieties of herbs freeze well. Excellent also are most of the dried herbs now available. Be sure any dried or frozen herbs you use retain most of their original taste and fragrance.
A Note on Bay Leaves
American bay is stronger and a bit different in taste than European bay. We suggest you buy imported bay leaves; they are bottled by several of the well-known American spice firms.
HERB BOUQUET, bouquet garni This term means a combination of parsley, thyme, and bay leaf for flavoring soups, stews, sauces, and braised meat and vegetables. If the herbs are fresh and in sprigs or leaf, the parsley is folded around them and they are tied together with string. If the herbs are dried, they are wrapped in a piece of washed cheesecloth and tied. A bundle is made so the herbs will not disperse themselves into the liquid or be skimmed off it, and so that they can be removed easily. Celery, garlic, fennel, or other items may be included in the packet, but are always specifically mentioned, such as “a medium herb bouquet with celery stalk.” A small herb bouquet should contain 2 parsley sprigs, ⅓ of a bay leaf, and 1 sprig or ⅛ teaspoon of thyme.
MARROW, moelle The fatty filling of beef leg-bones, marrow is poached and used in sauces, garnitures, and on canapés. It is prepared as follows:
A beef marrowbone about 5 inches long
Stand the bone on one end and split it with a cleaver. Remove the marrow in one piece if possible. Slice or dice it with a knife dipped in hot water.
Boiling bouillon or boiling salted water
Shortly before using, drop the marrow into the hot liquid. Set aside for 3 to 5 minutes until the marrow has softened. Drain, and it is ready to use.
OIL, huile Classical French cooking uses almost exclusively odorless, tasteless vegetable oils for cooking and salads. These are made from peanuts, corn, cottonseed, sesame seed, poppy seed, or other analogous ingredients. Olive oil, which dominates Mediterranean cooking, has too much character for the subtle flavors of a delicate dish. In recipes where it makes no difference which you use, we have just specified “oil.”
SHALLOTS, échalotes Shallots with their delicate flavor and slightest hint of garlic are small members of the onion family. They are used in sauces, stuffings, and general cooking to give a mild onion taste. The minced white part of green onions (spring onions, scallions, ciboules) may take the place of shallots. If you can find neither, substitute very finely minced onion dropped for one minute in boiling water, rinsed, and drained. Or omit them altogether.
TRUFFLES, truffes Truffles are round, pungent, wrinkled, black fungi usually an inch or two in diameter which are dug up in certain regions of France and Italy from about the first of December to the end of January. They are always expensive. If you have ever been in France during this season, you will never forget the exciting smell of fresh truffles. Canned truffles, good as they are, give only a suggestion of their original glory. But their flavor can be much enhanced if a spoonful or two of Madeira is poured into the can half an hour before the truffles are to be employed. Truffles are used in decorations, with scrambled eggs and omelettes, in meat stuffings and pâtés, and in sauces. The juice from the can is added to sauces and stuffings for additional truffle flavor. A partially used can of truffles may be frozen.
A PINT’S A POUND the world around except in England where a pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter, and all measurements in this book are level. The following table is for those who wish to translate French measurements into the nearest convenient American equivalent and vice versa:
A pinch, une pincée The amount of any ingredient you can take up between your thumb and forefinger. There are big and little pinches.
British dry measures for ounces and pounds and linear measures for inches and feet are the same as American measures. However, the British liquid ounce is .96 times the American ounce; the British pint contains 20 British ounces; and the quart, 40 ounces. A gill is 5 ounces, or about ⅔ of an American cup.
CONVERSION FORMULAS American, British, Metric
TO CONVERT MULTIPLY BY
Ounces to grams The ounces 28.35
Grams to ounces The grams 0.035
Liters to U.S. quarts The liters 0.95
Liters to British quarts The liters 0.88
U.S. quarts to liters The quarts 1.057
British quarts to liters The quarts 1.14
Inches to centimeters The inches 2.54
Centimeters to inches The centimeters 0.39
CUP-DECILITER EQUIVALENTS 1 deciliter equals 6 ⅔ tablespoons
We have used the following measurements and equivalents throughout.
4 ounces of whole shelled, powdered, or slivered almonds equal about ¾ cup.
3 pounds of whole apples yield about 8 cups of sliced apples, and 3½ cups of applesauce.
2 ounces of diced raw bacon yield about ⅓ cup.
2 ounces of lightly packed fresh bread crumbs make about 1 cup; 2 ounces of dry bread crumbs make about ¾ cup.
1 pound of butter equals 16 ounces, 2 cups, or 32 tablespoons. A ¼-pound stick of butter is 4 ounces, ½ cup, or 8 tablespoons. For easy measurement of butter in tablespoons, mark a ¼-pound stick with the edge of a knife into 8 equal portions; each portion is 1 tablespoon.
½ pound of minced or sliced cabbage, pressed down, equals about 3 cups.
1 medium carrot equals 2½ to 3 ounces; 1 pound of sliced or diced carrots equals 3½ to 4 cups.
1 celery stalk of medium size weighs 1½ to 2 ounces; 2 sliced celery stalks equal ¾ to 1 cup.
2 ounces of lightly packed grated cheese equal about ½ cup.
1 U.S. large graded egg weighs about 2 ounces.
1 U.S. large egg white equals 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons.
1 U.S. large egg yolk equals ½ ounce or 1 tablespoon.
See table of equivalents and measuring directions.
1 medium clove of garlic equals 1/16 ounce or ⅛ teaspoon. To remove the smell of garlic from your hands, rinse them in cold water, rub with table salt. rinse again in cold water, then wash with soap and warm water. Repeat if necessary.
½ pound of sliced fresh mushrooms equals about 2½ cups.
½ pound of diced fresh mushrooms equals about 2 cups.
1 medium onion equals 2½ to 3 ounces.
1 pound of sliced or diced onions yields 3½ to 4 cups.
See the note on garlic about how to remove the smell of onions from your hands.
1 medium potato equals 3½ to 4 ounces.
1 pound of sliced or diced potatoes yields 3½ to 4 cups.
1 pound of unpeeled raw potatoes yields about 2 cups of mashed potatoes.
½ pound of raw rice equals about 1 cup; and 1 cup of raw rice yields about 3 cups of cooked rice.
Use 1 to 1½ teaspoons of salt per quart of liquid for the boiling of vegetables and the flavoring of unsalted soups and sauces. Also use 1 to 1½ teaspoons of salt per pound of boneless raw meat. If you have oversalted a sauce or a soup, you can remove some of the saltiness by grating in raw potatoes. Simmer the potatoes in the liquid for 7 to 8 minutes, then strain the liquid; the potatoes will have absorbed quite a bit of the excess salt.
1 medium shallot equals ½ ounce or 1 tablespoon when minced.
1 cup equals 6½ ounces or 190 grams.
1 pound equals 2½ cups or 454 grams.
100 grams equals 3½ ounces or ½ cup.
1 cup equals 2¾ ounces or 80 grams.
1 tomato equals 4 to 5 ounces; 1 pound of fresh tomatoes peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped as illustrated will yield about 1½ cups of tomato pulp.
Fahrenheit and Centigrade
TO CONVERT FAHRENHEIT INTO CENTIGRADE, subtract 32, multiply by 5, divide by 9.
Example: 212 (Fahrenheit) minus 32 equals 180
180 multiplied by 5 equals 900
900 divided by 9 equals 100, or the temperature of boiling water in centigrade
TO CONVERT CENTIGRADE INTO FAHRENHEIT, multiply by 9, divide by 5, add 32.
Example: 100 (centigrade) multiplied by 9 equals 900
900 divided by 5 equals 180
180 plus 32 equals 212, or the temperature of boiling water in Fahrenheit
TEMPERATURE CONVERSION TABLE
Chopping, Slicing, Dicing, and Mincing
FRENCH COOKING requires a good deal of slicing, dicing, mincing, and fancy cutting, and if you have not learned to wield a knife rapidly a recipe calling for 2 cups of finely diced vegetables and 2 pounds of sliced mushroom caps is often too discouraging to attempt. It takes several weeks of off-and-on practice to master the various knife techniques, but once learned they are never forgotten. You can save a tremendous amount of time, and also derive a modest pride, in learning how to use a knife professionally.
The Knife Grip
For cutting and slicing, hold the knife with your thumb and index finger gripping the top of the blade, and wrap your other fingers around the handle.
For chopping, hold the knife blade by both ends and chop with rapid up-and-down movements, brushing the ingredients repeatedly into a heap again with the knife.
Slicing Round Objects (a)
To slice potatoes or other round or oval objects, cut the potato in half and lay it cut-side down on the chopping board. Use the thumb of your left hand as a pusher, and grip the sides of the potato with your fingers, pointing your fingernails back toward your thumb so you will not cut them.
Slicing Round Objects (b)
Cut straight down, at a right angle to board, with a quick stroke of the knife blade, pushing the potato slice away from the potato as you hit the board. The knuckles of your left hand act as a guide for the next slice. This goes slowly at first, but after a bit of practice, 2 pounds of potatoes can be sliced in less than 5 minutes.
Slicing Long Objects Like Carrots
To slice long objects like carrots, cut a thin strip off one side so the carrot will lie flat on the board. Then cut crosswise slices as for the potatoes in the preceding paragraph.
To cut vegetables such as carrots or potatoes into julienne matchsticks, remove a thin strip off one side of the carrot and lay the carrot on the board. Then cut it into lengthwise slices ⅛ inch thick.
Two at a time, cut the slices into strips ⅛ inch across, and the strips into whatever lengths you wish.
Dicing Solid Vegetables
Proceed as for the julienne, but cut the strips, a handful at a time, crosswise into dice.
Dicing Onions and Shallots (a)
Once mastered, this method of dicing onions or shallots goes like lightning. Cut the onion in half through the root. Lay one half cut-side down, its root-end to your left. Cut vertical slices from one side to the other, coming just to the root but leaving the slices attached to it, thus the onion will not fall apart.
Dicing Onions and Shallots (b)
Then make horizontal slices from bottom to top, still leaving them attached to the root of the onion.
Dicing Onions and Shallots (c)
Finally, make downward cuts and the onion falls into dice.
Various methods for cutting mushrooms are illustrated on this page.
I · Cooking with Wine
FOOD, like the people who eat it, can be stimulated by wine or spirits. And, as with people, it can also be spoiled. The quality in a white or red wine, vermouth, Madeira, or brandy which heightens the character of cooking is not the alcohol content, which is usually evaporated, but the flavor. Therefore any wine or spirit used in cooking must be a good one. If it is excessively fruity, sour, or unsavory in any way, these tastes will only be emphasized by the cooking, which ordinarily reduces volume and concentrates flavor. If you have not a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it, for a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one.
White wine for cooking should be strong and dry, but never sour or fruity. A most satisfactory choice is white Mâcon, made from the Pinot Blanc or the Chardonnay grape. It has all the right qualities and, in France, is not expensive. As the right white wine is not as reasonable to acquire in America, we have found that a good, dry, white vermouth is an excellent substitute, and much better than the wrong kind of white wine.
A good, young, full-bodied red wine is the type you should use for cooking. In France you would pick a Mâcon, one of the lesser Burgundies, one of the more full-bodied regional Bordeaux such as St.-Émilion, or a good local wine having these qualities.
FORTIFIED WINES, SPIRITS, AND LIQUEURS
Fortified wines, spirits, and liqueurs are used principally for final flavorings, As they must be of excellent quality they are always expensive; but usually only a small quantity is called for, so your supply should last quite a while. Here, particularly, if you do not want to spend the money for a good bottle, omit the ingredient or pick another recipe.
RUM and LIQUEURS are called for in desserts. Dark Jamaican rum is the best type to use here, to get a full rum flavor. Among liqueurs, orange is most frequently specified; good imported brands as touchstones for flavor are Cointreau, Grand Marnier, and curaçao.
MADEIRA and PORT are often the final flavor-fillip for sauces, as in a brown Madeira sauce for ham, or chicken in port wine. These wines should be the genuine imported article of a medium-dry type, but can be the more moderately priced examples from a good firm.
SHERRY and MARSALA are rare in French cooking. If used in place of port or Madeira they tend to give an un-French flavor to most French recipes.
BRANDY is the most ubiquitous spirit in French cooking from desserts to sauces, consommés, aspics, and flambées. Because there are dreadful concoctions bottled under the label of brandy, we have specified cognac whenever brandy is required in a recipe, as a reminder that you use a good brand. You do not have to buy Three-star or V.S.O.P, but whatever you use should compare favorably in taste with a good cognac.
II · Wine and Food
THE WONDERFUL THING about French wines is that they go so well with food. And there is always that enjoyable problem of just which of the many possible choices you should use for a particular occasion. If you are a neophyte wine drinker, the point to keep in mind in learning about which wine to serve with which dish is that the wine should complement the food and the food should accentuate and blend with the qualities of the wine. A robust wine overpowers the taste of a delicate dish, while a highly spiced dish will kill the flavor of a light wine. A dry wine tastes sour if drunk with a sweet dessert, and a red wine often takes on a fishy taste if served with fish. Great combinations of wine and food are unforgettable: kidneys and one of the great red Burgundies, where each rings reminiscent changes on the characteristics of the other; sole in one of the rich white wine sauces and a fine white Burgundy; soufflé à la liqueur and a Château d’ Yquem. And then there are the more simple pleasures of a stout red wine and a strong cheese, white wine and oysters, red wine and a beef stew, chilled rosé and a platter of cold meats. Knowledge of wines is a lifetime hobby, and the only way to learn is to start in drinking and enjoying them, comparing types, vintages, and good marriages of certain wines with certain foods.
Wine suggestions go with all the master recipes for main courses. Here is a list of generally accepted concordances to reverse the process. As this is a book on French cooking, we have concentrated on French wines.
SWEET WHITE WINES (not champagnes)
The best known of these are probably the Sauternes, the greatest of which is Château d’ Yquem. They may range from noble and full bodied to relatively light, depending on the vineyard and vintage.
Sweet white wines are too often neglected. Those of good quality can be magnificent with dessert mousses, creams, soufflés, and cakes. And a fine Sauternes is delicious with foie gras or a pâté of chicken livers. In the old days sweet wines were drunk with oysters.
LIGHT, DRY, WHITE WINES
Typical examples are Alsatian Riesling, Muscadet, Sancerre, and usually Pouilly-Fumé, Pouilly-Fuissé, and Chablis. Local wines, vins du pays, often fall into this category.
Serve with oysters, cold shellfish, boiled shellfish, broiled fish, cold meats, egg dishes, and entrées.
FULL-BODIED DRY, WHITE WINES
White Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône, and the dry Graves are examples.
Serve with fish, poultry, and veal in cream sauces. White Burgundy can also be drunk with foie gras, and it is not unheard of to serve a Meursault with Roquefort cheese.
Rosés can be served with anything, but are usually reserved for cold dishes, pâtés, eggs, and pork.
LIGHT-BODIED RED WINES
These are typically Bordeaux from the Médoc or Graves districts. Many of the regional wines and local vins du pays can also be included here.
Serve Bordeaux with roast chicken, turkey, veal, or lamb; also with filet of beef, ham, liver, quail, pheasant, foie gras, and soft fermented cheese like camembert. Regional wines and vins du pays go especially well with informal dishes such as beef or lamb stew, daubes, bouillabaisse, hamburgers, steals, and pâtés.
FULL-BODIED RED WINES
All of the great Burgundies and Rhônes fall into this category; the full bodied Bordeaux from St. Émilion may be included also.
Serve with duck, goose, kidneys, well-hung game, meats marinated in red wine, and authoritative cheeses such as Roquefort. They are called for wherever strong-flavored foods must meet strong-flavored wines.
Serve as an apéritif, or at the end of an evening. Or it may accompany the whole meal.
Serve as an apéritif, or with crustaceans, or foie gras, or with nuts and dried fruits.
Sweet, Doux, Demi-sec
Sweet champagne is another neglected wine, yet is the only kind to serve with desserts and pastries.
III · The Storage and Serving of Wine
Except for champagne, which has sugar added to it to produce the bubbles, great French wines are the unadulterated, fermented juice from the pressings of one type of grape originating in one vineyard during one harvest season. Lesser wines, which can be very good, may also be unadulterated. On the other hand, they may be fortified with sugar during a lean year to build up their alcoholic strength, or they may be blended with wines from other vineyards or localities to give them more body or uniformity of taste. The quality of a wine is due to the variety of grape it is made from, the locality in which it is grown, and the climate during the wine-growing year. In exceptional years such as 1929 and 1947, even lesser wines can be great, and the great ones become priceless. Vintage charts, which you can pick up from your wine merchant, evaluate the various wines by region for each year.
Fine wine is a living liquid containing no preservatives. Its life comprises youth, maturity, old age, and death. When not treated with reasonable respect it will sicken and die. If it is left standing upright for a length of time, the cork will dry out, air will enter the bottle, and the wine will spoil. Shaking and joggling are damaging to it, as are extreme fluctuations of heat and cold. If it is to be laid down to grow into maturity, it should rest on its side in a dark, well-ventilated place at a temperature of around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is to be kept only for a year or two, it can be laid in any dark and quiet corner as long as the temperature remains fairly constant and is neither below 50 degrees nor over 65.
Even the most modest wine will improve if allowed to rest for several days before it is drunk. This allows the wine to reconstitute itself after its journey from shop to home. Great wines, particularly the red ones, benefit from a rest of at least two to three weeks.
TEMPERATURE AT WHICH WINE SHOULD BE SERVED
Red wines, unless they are very young and light, are generally served at a normal room temperature of around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. At lower temperatures they do not show off their full qualities. At least four hours in the dining room are required to bring them slowly up from the temperature of a 50-degree cellar. Never warm a wine artificially; an old wine can be ruined if the bottle is heated. It is better to pour it out too cold, and let it warm in the glass.
White wines, champagnes, and rosés are served chilled. As a rule, the sweeter the wine, the colder it should be. A Sauternes or sweet champagne will take four to five hours in the refrigerator. For other white wines, two to three hours are sufficient; if they are too cold, they lose much of their taste.
White wines, rosés, and many red wines, particularly young reds, are uncorked just before serving, but there is no set rule; this applies especially to the Bordeaux reds and other cabernets. Many authorities recommend that these be uncorked and poured at once, then one waits upon them in the glass, tasting them as they develop. Some fine old reds fade within a few minutes of opening, while other wines are utterly wasted if drunk before they have had time to bloom forth in the glass. If you know your particular bottles from previous tastings, you can, of course, judge the pouring and drinking of them accordingly. Therein lies the science of the experienced wine connoisseur—the more you drink (and think upon it), the more you’ll know.
WINE BASKETS, DECANTERS, AND GLASSES
Old red wines that throw a deposit in the bottom of the bottle must be handled so as not to disturb the deposit and circulate it through the wine. Either pour the wine into a decanter leaving the deposit behind, or serve it from a wine basket where it will remain in a prone position. When serving from a basket, pour very smoothly so the wine does not slop back into the bottle and agitate the sediment.
Young red wines, white wines, rosés, and champagnes throw no deposit, so the use of a wine basket is silly. The bottle is stood upright after the wine is poured.
The bigger the wine, the bigger the glass. A small glass gives no room for the bouquet to develop, nor for the drinker to swirl. A good all-purpose glass is tulip-shaped and holds ¾ to 1 cup. It should be filled to just below the halfway mark.
Potages et Soupes
AN EXCELLENT LUNCH or light supper need be no more than a good soup, a salad, cheese and fruit. And combined according to your own taste, a good homemade soup in these days of the can opener is almost a unique and always a satisfying experience. Most soups are uncomplicated to make, and the major portion of them can be prepared several hours before serving. Here is a varied handful of good recipes.
A NOTE ON BLENDERS, PROCESSORS, AND PRESSURE COOKERS
Although we are enthusiastic supporters of blenders and food processors, we almost invariably prefer a vegetable mill when soups are to be puréed. Blenders and processors chop up and serve forth tough woody vegetable bits, while a vegetable mill holds them back to give you a fiber-free brew.
A pressure cooker can save time, but the vegetables for a long-simmered soup should have only 5 minutes under 15 pounds pressure; more gives them a pressure-cooker taste. Then the pressure should be released and the soup simmered for 15 to 20 minutes so it will develop its full flavor.
[Leek or Onion and Potato Soup]
Leek and potato soup smells good, tastes good, and is simplicity itself to make. It is also versatile as a soup base; add water cress and you have a water-cress soup, or stir in cream and chill it for a vichyssoise. To change the formula a bit, add carrots, string beans, cauliflower, broccoli, or anything else you think would go with it, and vary the proportions as you wish.
For about 2 quarts serving 6 to 8 people
A 3- to 4-quart saucepan or pressure cooker
3 to 4 cups or 1 lb. peeled potatoes, sliced or diced
3 cups or 1 lb. thinly sliced leeks including the tender green; or yellow onions
2 quarts of water
1 Tb salt
Either simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes until the vegetables are tender; or cook under 15 pounds pressure for 5 minutes, release pressure, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork, or pass the soup through a food mill. Correct seasoning. (*) Set aside uncovered until just before serving, then reheat to the simmer.
4 to 6 Tb whipping cream or 2 to 3 Tb softened butter
2 to 3 Tb minced parsley or chives
Off heat and just before serving, stir in the cream or butter by spoonfuls. Pour into a tureen or soup cups and decorate with the herbs.
Potage au Cresson
This simple version of water-cress soup is very good. See also the more elaborate recipe.
For 6 to 8 people
Ingredients for the leek and potato soup, omitting cream or butter enrichment until later
¼ lb. or about 1 packed cup of water-cress leaves and tender stems
Follow the preceding master recipe, but before puréeing the soup, stir in the water cress and simmer for 5 minutes. Then purée in a food mill and correct seasoning.
4 to 6 Tb whipping cream or 2 to 3 Tb softened butter
Optional: a small handful of water-cress leaves boiled ½ minute in water, rinsed in cold water, and drained
Off heat and just before serving, stir in the cream or butter by spoonfuls. Decorate with the optional water-cress leaves.
Cold Water-cress Soup
Use the following vichyssoise recipe, adding water cress to simmer for 5 minutes before puréeing the soup.
[Cold Leek and Potato Soup]
This is an American invention based on the leek and potato soup in the preceding master recipe.
For 6 to 8 people
3 cups peeled, sliced potatoes
3 cups sliced white of leek
1½ quarts of white stock, chicken stock, or canned chicken broth
Salt to taste
Simmer the vegetables in stock or broth instead of water as described in the master recipe. Purée the soup either in the electric blender, or through a food mill and then through a fine sieve.
½ to 1 cup whipping cream
Salt and white pepper
Stir in the cream. Season to taste, oversalting very slightly as salt loses savor in a cold dish. Chill.
Chilled soup cups
2 to 3 Tb minced chives
Serve in chilled soup cups and decorate with minced chives.
OTHER VARIATIONS on Leek and Potato Soup
Using the master recipe for leek and potato soup a cup or two of one or a combination of the following vegetables may be added as indicated. Proportions are not important here, and you can use your imagination to the full. Many of the delicious soups you eat in French homes and little restaurants are made just this way, with a leek-and-potato base to which leftover vegetables or sauces and a few fresh items are added. You can also experiment on your own combinations for cold soups, by stirring a cup or more of heavy cream into the cooked soup, chilling it, then sprinkling on fresh herbs just before serving. You may find you have invented a marvelous concoction, which you can keep as a secret of the house.
To be simmered or cooked in the pressure cooker with the potatoes and leeks or onions at the start
Sliced or diced carrots or turnips
Peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes; or strained canned tomatoes
Half-cooked dried beans, peas, or lentils, including their cooking liquid
To be simmered for 10 to 15 minutes with the soup after it has been puréed
Fresh or frozen diced cauliflower, cucumbers, broccoli, Lima beans, peas, string beans, okra, or zucchini
Shredded lettuce, spinach, sorrel, or cabbage
To be heated in the soup just before serving
Diced, cooked leftovers of any of the preceding vegetables
Tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and diced.
POTAGE VELOUTÉ AUX CHAMPIGNONS
[Cream of Mushroom Soup]
Here is a fine, rich, mushroom soup either for grand occasions or as the main course for a Sunday supper.
For 6 to 8 people
A 2½-quart, heavy-bottomed enameled saucepan
¼ cup minced onions
3 Tb butter
Cook the onions slowly in the butter for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are tender but not browned.
3 Tb flour
Add the flour and stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes without browning.
6 cups boiling white stock or chicken stock; or canned chicken broth and 2 parsley sprigs, ⅓ bay leaf, and ⅛ tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
The chopped stems from ¾ to 1 lb. fresh mushrooms
Off heat, beat in the boiling stock or broth and blend it thoroughly with the flour. Season to taste. Stir in the mushroom stems, and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Strain, pressing juices out of mushroom stems. Return the soup to the pan.
2 Tb butter
An enameled saucepan
The thinly sliced caps from ¾ to 1 lb. fresh mushrooms
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
Melt the butter in a separate saucepan. When it is foaming, toss in the mushrooms, salt, and lemon juice. Cover and cook slowly for 5 minutes.
Pour the mushrooms and their cooking juices into the strained soup base. Simmer for 10 minutes.
(*) If not to be served immediately, set aside uncovered, and film surface with a spoonful of cream or milk. Reheat to simmer just before proceeding to the step below, which will take 2 or 3 minutes.
2 egg yolks
½ to ¾ cup whipping cream
A 3-quart mixing bowl
A wire whip
A wooden spoon
Beat the egg yolks and cream in the mixing bowl. Then beat in hot soup by spoonfuls until a cup has been added. Gradually stir in the rest. Correct seasoning. Return the soup to the pan and stir over moderate heat for a minute or two to poach the egg yolks, but do not let the soup come near the simmer.
1 to 3 Tb softened butter
Optional: 6 to 8 fluted mushroom caps cooked in butter and lemon juice; and/or 2 or 3 Tb minced fresh chervil or parsley
Off heat, stir in the butter by tablespoons. Pour the soup into a tureen or soup cups, and decorate with optional mushrooms and herbs.
POTAGE CRÈME DE CRESSON
[Cream of Water-cress Soup]
This is a lovely soup, and a perfect one for an important dinner.
For 6 servings
⅓ cup minced green onions, or yellow onions
3 Tb butter
A heavy-bottomed, 2½-quart saucepan
Cook the onions slowly in the butter in a covered saucepan for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender and translucent but not browned.
3 to 4 packed cups of fresh water cress leaves and tender stems, washed, and dried in a towel
½ tsp salt
Stir in the water cress and salt, cover, and cook slowly for about 5 minutes or until the leaves are tender and wilted.
3 Tb flour
Sprinkle in the flour and stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes.
5½ cups boiling white stock or canned chicken broth
Off heat, beat in the boiling stock. Simmer for 5 minutes, then purée through a food mill. Return to saucepan and correct seasoning.
(*) If not to be served immediately, set aside uncovered. Reheat to simmer before proceeding.
2 egg yolks
½ cup whipping cream
A 3-quart mixing bowl
A wire whip
1 to 2 Tb softened butter
Blend the yolks and cream in the mixing bowl. Beat a cupful of hot soup into them by driblets. Gradually beat in the rest of the soup in a thin stream. Return soup to saucepan and stir over moderate heat for a minute or two to poach the egg yolks, but do not bring the soup to the simmer. Off heat, stir in the enrichment butter a tablespoon at a time.
A handful of water-cress leaves dropped for ½ minute in boiling water, refreshed in cold water, and drained
Pour the soup into a tureen or soup cups and decorate with optional water-cress leaves.
TO SERVE COLD: Omit final butter enrichment and chill. If too thick, stir in more cream before serving.
Potage Crème d’Oseille or Potage Germiny
[Cream of Sorrel Soup]
Potage Crème d’Épinards
[Cream of Spinach Soup]
Follow the recipe for the preceding crème de cresson, using sorrel or spinach leaves instead of water cress, but cut the leaves into chiffonade (thin slices or shreds). Do not purée the soup.
SOUPE À L’OIGNON
The onions for an onion soup need a long, slow cooking in butter and oil, then a long, slow simmering in stock for them to develop the deep, rich flavor which characterizes a perfect brew. You should therefore count on 2½ hours at least from start to finish. Though the preliminary cooking in butter requires some watching, the actual simmering can proceed almost unattended.
For 6 to 8 servings
1½ lbs. or about 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions
3 Tb butter
1 Tb oil
A heavy-bottomed, 4-quart covered saucepan
Cook the onions slowly with the butter and oil in the covered saucepan for 15 minutes.
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar (helps the onions to brown)
Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown.
3 Tb flour
Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.
2 quarts boiling brown stock, canned beef bouillon, or 1 quart of boiling water and 1 quart of stock or bouillon
½ cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
Salt and pepper to taste
Off heat, blend in the boiling liquid. Add the wine, and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Correct seasoning.
(*) Set aside uncovered until ready to serve. Then reheat to the simmer.
3 Tb cognac
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread (see recipe following)
1 to 2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese
Just before serving, stir in the cognac. Pour into a soup tureen or soup cups over the rounds of bread, and pass the cheese separately.
GARNISHINGS FOR ONION SOUP
Croûtes—hard-toasted French bread
12 to 16 slices of French bread cut ¾ to 1 inch thick
Place the bread in one layer in a roasting pan and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for about half an hour, until it is thoroughly dried out and lightly browned.
Olive oil or beef drippings A cut clove of garlic
Halfway through the baking, each side may be basted with a teaspoon of olive oil or beef drippings; and after baking, each piece may be rubbed with cut garlic.
Croûtes au Fromage—cheese croûtes
Grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese
Olive oil or beef drippings
Spread one side of each croûte with grated cheese and sprinkle with drops of olive oil or beef drippings. Brown under a hot broiler before serving.
Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée
[Onion Soup Gratinéed with Cheese]
The preceding onion soup
A fireproof tureen or casserole or individual onion soup pots
2 ounces Swiss cheese cut into very thin slivers
1 Tb grated raw onion
12 to 16 rounds of hard-toasted French bread
1½ cups grated Swiss, or Swiss and Parmesan cheese
1 Tb olive oil or melted butter
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Bring the soup to the boil and pour into the tureen or soup pots. Stir in the slivered cheese and grated onion. Float the rounds of toast on top of the soup, and spread the grated cheese over it. Sprinkle with the oil or butter. Bake for 20 minutes in the oven, then set for a minute or two under a preheated broiler to brown the top lightly. Serve immediately.
Soupe Gratinée des Trois Gourmandes
[Onion Soup Gratinéed de Luxe]
A final fillip to the preceding onion soup may be accomplished in the kitchen just before serving or by the server at the table.
A 2-quart bowl
1 tsp cornstarch
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tb cognac
Beat the cornstarch into the egg yolk, then the Worcestershire and the cognac.
The preceding onion soup
A soup ladle
A serving fork
Just before serving the soup, lift up an edge of the crust with a fork and remove a ladleful of soup. In a thin stream of droplets, beat the soup into the egg yolk mixture with a fork. Gradually beat in two more ladlefuls, which may be added more rapidly.
Again lifting up the crust, pour the mixture back into the soup. Then reach in under the crust with the ladle and stir gently to blend the mixture into the rest of the soup. Serve.
SOUPE AU PISTOU
[Provençal Vegetable Soup with Garlic, Basil and Herbs]
Early summer is the Mediterranean season for soupe au pistou, when fresh basil, fresh white beans, and broad mange-tout beans are all suddenly available, and the market women shout in the streets, “Mesdames, faites le bon piste, faites le pistou!” The pistou itself, like the Italian pesta, is a sauce made of garlic, basil, tomato and cheese, and is just as good on spaghetti as it is in this rich vegetable soup. Fortunately, this soup is not confined to summer and fresh vegetables, for you can use canned navy beans or kidney beans, fresh or frozen string beans, and a fragrant dried basil. Other vegetables in season may be added with the green beans as you wish, such as peas, diced zucchini, and green or red bell peppers.
For 6 to 8 servings
3 quarts water
2 cups each: diced carrots, diced boiling potatoes, diced white of leek or onions
1 Tb salt
(If available, 2 cups fresh white beans, and omit the navy beans farther on)
Either boil the water, vegetables, and salt slowly in a 6-quart kettle for 40 minutes; or pressure-cook for 5 minutes, release pressure, and simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes. Correct seasoning.
2 cups diced green beans or 1 package frozen “cut” beans
2 cups cooked or canned navy beans or kidney beans
⅓ cup broken spaghetti or vermicelli
1 slice stale white bread, crumbled
⅛ tsp pepper
Pinch of saffron
Twenty minutes before serving, so the green vegetables will retain their freshness, add the beans, spaghetti or vermicelli, bread and seasonings to the boiling soup. Boil slowly for about 15 minutes, or until the green beans are just cooked through. Correct seasoning again.
4 cloves mashed garlic
6 Tb fresh tomato purée, or 4 Tb tomato paste
¼ cup chopped fresh basil or 1½ Tb fragrant dried basil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ to ½ cup fruity olive oil
Prepare the following pistou while the soup is cooking: place the garlic, tomato purée or paste, basil, and cheese in the soup tureen and blend to a paste with a wooden spoon; then, drop by drop, beat in the olive oil. When the soup is ready for serving, beat a cup gradually into the pistou. Pour in the rest of the soup. Serve with hot French bread, or hard-toasted bread rounds basted with olive oil, this page.
Enjoying your first bowl of garlic soup, you might never suspect what it is made of. Because the garlic is boiled, its after-effects are at a minimum, and its flavor becomes exquisite, aromatic, and almost undefinable. Along the Mediterranean, an aïgo bouïdo is considered to be very good indeed for the liver, blood circulation, general physical tone, and spiritual health. A head of garlic is not at all too much for 2 quarts of soup. For some addicts, it is not even enough.
For 6 to 8 people
1 separated head or about 16 cloves whole, unpeeled garlic
Drop garlic cloves in boiling water and boil 30 seconds. Drain, run cold water over them, and peel.
2 quarts water
2 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
¼ tsp sage
¼ tsp thyme
½ bay leaf
4 parsley sprigs
3 Tb olive oil
A 3-quart saucepan
Place the garlic and the rest of the ingredients in the saucepan and boil slowly for 30 minutes. Correct seasoning.
A wire whip
3 egg yolks
A soup tureen
3 to 4 Tb olive oil
Beat the egg yolks in the soup tureen for a minute until they are thick and sticky. Drop by drop, beat in the olive oil as for making a mayonnaise.
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread
1 cup of grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese
Just before serving, beat a ladleful of hot soup into the egg mixture by droplets. Gradually strain in the rest, beating, and pressing the juice out of the garlic. Serve immediately, accompanied by the bread and cheese.
Soupe à l’Oeuf, Provençale
[Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs]
The preceding garlic soup, omitting the egg yolk and olive oil liaison
6 very fresh eggs
After the soup has been simmered for half an hour, strain it into a wide, shallow saucepan. Correct seasoning and bring to a simmer. Following directions here poach the eggs in the soup.
6 to 8 rounds of hard-toasted French bread
2 to 3 Tb chopped parsley
1 cup grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese
Place a round of bread in each soup plate and top with a poached egg. Pour in the soup and decorate with parsley. Pass the cheese separately.
Soupe à l’Ail aux Pommes de Terre
[Saffron-flavored Garlic Soup with Potatoes]
Ingredients for garlic soup, omitting the egg yolk and olive oil liaison
3 cups diced “boiling” potatoes
Pinch of saffron
After the garlic soup has simmered for 30 minutes, strain it and return it to the saucepan. Simmer the potatoes in the soup with the saffron for about 20 minutes or until tender. Correct seasoning. Serve with French bread and grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese.
SOUPE AUX CHOUX — GARBURE
[Main-course Cabbage Soup]
This fine and uncomplicated peasant soup is a comforting dish for a cold winter day. In the Basque country, a good cabbage soup must always include a chunk of lard rance, their slightly rancid and much appreciated salt pork; otherwise, the dish is considered to lack distinction. In neighboring Béarn, confit d’oie—preserved goose—is added to the pot to warm up in the soup at the end of its cooking.
For about 8 people
3½ quarts water
3 to 4 cups peeled, quartered “boiling” potatoes
A 1½-pound chunk of lean salt pork, lean bacon, or smoked, unprocessed ham
Place the water, potatoes, and meat in the kettle and bring it to the boil.
2 pounds or 3 quarts of roughly sliced cabbage
8 crushed peppercorns or a big pinch of ground chili peppers
Salt as necessary, added near the end
6 parsley sprigs tied with 1 bay leaf
½ tsp marjoram
½ tsp thyme
4 cloves mashed garlic
2 medium onions studded with 2 cloves
2 peeled, quartered carrots Optional additions:
2 to 4 peeled, quartered turnips
2 to 3 sliced celery stalks 1 to 2 cups fresh white beans, or half-cooked navy beans, or add canned white or red beans to soup 10 to 15 minutes before end of simmering
Add the cabbage and all the other ingredients. Simmer partially covered for 1½ to 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Discard parsley bundle. Remove the meat, slice it into serving pieces, and return it to the kettle. Correct seasoning. Skim off accumulated fat. (*) If not to be served immediately, set aside uncovered. Reheat to simmer before serving.
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread
Serve in a tureen or soup plates, accompanied by the bread.
TWO MEDITERRANEAN FISH SOUPS
How to make a real Mediterranean fish soup is always a subject of lively and utterly dogmatic discussion among French experts; and if you do not happen to live on the Mediterranean, you cannot obtain the particular rockfish, gurnards, mullets, weavers, sea eels, wrasses, and breams which they consider absolutely essential. But you can make an extremely good fish soup even if you have only frozen fish and canned clam juice to work with because the other essential flavorings of tomatoes, onions or leeks, garlic, herbs, and olive oil are always available.
FISH TO USE
Fish soups are usually made from lean fish. The flavor of the soup is more interesting if as many varieties of fish are included as possible, and the soup has more body if a proportion of gelatinous fish such as halibut, eel, and some of the firmer-fleshed flounder types are used. Here are some suggestions:
Rock, Calico, or Sea Bass
Cod or Lingcod
Conger or Sea Eel
Hake or Whiting
Pollock or Boston Bluefish
Porgy or Scup
Redfish or Red Drum
Rockfish or Sculpin
Red or Gray Snapper
Fresh-water Trout; Sea Trout or Weakfish
Shellfish—Clams, Scallops, Mussels, Crab, Lobster
To prepare the fish for cooking, have them cleaned and scaled. Discard the gills. Save heads and trimmings for fish stock. Cut large fish into crosswise slices 2 inches wide. Scrub clams. Scrub and soak the mussels. Wash scallops. If using live crab or lobster, split them just before cooking. Remove the sand sack and intestinal tube from lobsters.
SOUPE DE POISSON
[Strained Fish Soup]
Soupe de poisson has the same taste as bouillabaisse, but the soup is strained and pasta is cooked in it to give a light liaison. If you are making the soup on the Mediterranean, you will come home with dozens of tiny, freshly caught fish all colors of the rainbow. Elsewhere, use whole fish, fish heads, bones, and trimmings, shellfish carcasses, or just bottled clam juice.
For 6 to 8 people
A soup kettle
1 cup minced onions
¾ cup of minced leek, or ½ cup more onions
½ cup olive oil
Cook the onions and leeks slowly in olive oil for 5 minutes or until almost tender but not browned.
4 cloves mashed garlic
1 lb. of ripe, red tomatoes roughly chopped, or 1½ cups drained canned tomatoes, or ¼ cup tomato paste
Stir in the garlic and tomatoes. Raise heat to moderate and cook 5 minutes more.
2½ quarts water
6 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
½ tsp thyme or basil
⅛ tsp fennel
2 big pinches of saffron
A 2-inch piece or ½ tsp dried orange peel
⅛ tsp pepper
1 Tb salt (none if clam juice is used)
3 to 4 lbs. lean fish, fish heads, bones, and trimmings, shellfish remains, or frozen fish from the list, this page. Or, 1 quart clam juice, 1½ quarts of water, and no salt
Add the water, herbs, seasonings, and fish to the kettle and cook uncovered at a moderate boil for 30 to 40 minutes.
½ cup to ⅔ cup spaghetti or vermicelli broken into 2-inch pieces
A 3-quart saucepan
Strain the soup into the saucepan, pressing juices out of ingredients. Correct seasoning, adding a bit more saffron if you feel it necessary. Stir in the pasta and boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender. Correct seasoning again.
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread
1 to 2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese and rouille (following recipe)
Pour the soup into a tureen or soup plates over the bread rounds, and pass the cheese and rouille separately.
Substitute 3 or 4 cups of diced “boiling” potatoes for the pasta, or poach eggs in the soup as for the garlic soup.
[Garlic, Pimiento, and Chili Pepper Sauce]
The following strong sauce is passed separately with fish soup or bouillabaisse; each guest helps himself and stirs it into the soup.
For about 1 cup
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper simmered for several minutes in salted water and drained, or canned pimiento
A small chili pepper boiled until tender, or drops of Tabasco sauce
1 medium potato cooked in the soup
4 cloves mashed garlic
1 tsp basil, thyme, or savory
Pound all ingredients in a bowl or mortar for several minutes to form a very smooth, sticky paste.
4 to 6 Tb fruity olive oil Salt and pepper
Drop by drop, pound or beat in the olive oil as for making a mayonnaise. Season to taste.
2 or 3 Tb hot soup
Just before serving, beat in the hot soup by driblets. Pour into a sauceboat.
You can make as dramatic a production as you want out of a bouillabaisse, but remember it originated as a simple, Mediterranean fisherman’s soup, made from the day’s catch or its unsalable leftovers, and flavored with the typical condiments of the region—olive oil, garlic, leeks or onions, tomatoes, and herbs. The fish are rapidly boiled in an aromatic broth and are removed to a platter; the broth is served in a tureen. Each guest helps himself to both and eats them together in a big soup plate. If you wish to serve wine, choose a rosé, or a light, strong, young red such as a Côtes de Provence or Beaujolais, or a strong, dry, white wine from the Côtes de Provence, or a Riesling.
Ideally you should pick six or more varieties of fresh fish, which is why a bouillabaisse is at its best when made for at least six people. Some of the fish should be firm-fleshed and gelatinous like halibut, eel, and winter flounder, and some tender and flaky like hake, baby cod, small pollock, and lemon sole. Shellfish are neither necessary nor particularly typical, but they always add glamor and color if you wish to include them.
The fish, except for live lobsters and crabs, may be cleaned, sliced, and refrigerated several hours before the final cooking. The soup base may be boiled and strained. The actual cooking of the fish in the soup will take only about 20 minutes, and then the dish should be served immediately.
For 6 to 8 people
Ingredients for the preceding soupe de poisson, minus the pasta. Use fish heads, bones, and trimmings, and if you have not enough of them, strengthen the soup base with bottled clam juice
Boil the soup ingredients for 30 to 40 minutes as described in the fish soup recipe. Strain, pressing juices out of ingredients. Taste carefully for seasoning and strength. It should be delicious at this point, so it will need no further fussing with later. You should have about 2½ quarts in a high, rather narrow kettle.
6 to 8 pounds assorted lean fish, and shellfish if you wish, selected and prepared from the suggestions
Bring the soup to a rapid boil 20 minutes before serving. Add lobsters, crabs, and firm-fleshed fish. Bring quickly back to the boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Add the tender-fleshed fish, the clams, mussels, and scallops. Bring rapidly to the boil again and boil 5 minutes more or until the fish are just tender when pierced with a fork. Do not overcook.
A hot platter
A soup tureen
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread
⅓ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
Optional: A bowl of rouille
Immediately lift out the fish and arrange on the platter. Correct seasoning, and pour the soup into the tureen over rounds of French bread. Spoon a ladleful of soup over the fish, and sprinkle parsley over both fish and soup. Serve immediately accompanied by the optional rouille.
SAUCES ARE the splendor and glory of French cooking, yet there is nothing secret or mysterious about making them. While their roster is stupendous to look at, it is not mind-boggling when you begin to realize that their multitude divides itself into a half-dozen very definite groups, and that each sauce in a particular group is made in the same general way. For instance, every sauce in the white sauce group of béchamels and veloutés calls for an identical technique, but any change in ingredients or trimmings gives the sauce a new name: béchamel with grated cheese is a mornay, with minced herbs, a chivry; while a white-wine fish velouté with dollops of cream, egg yolk, and butter becomes an elegant sauce parisienne. The same is true of the egg yolk and butter group. When flavored with tarragon, pepper, and vinegar it’s a béarnaise, but lemon makes it a hollandaise—yet hollandaise with a folding-in of whipped cream becomes a mousseline. Thus as soon as you have put into practice the basic formulas for the few mother sauces, you are equipped to command the whole towering edifice. Here are the mother groups in the sauce family:
THE WHITE SAUCES These stem from those two cousins, béchamel and velouté. Both use a flour and butter roux as a thickening agent but béchamel is a milk-based sauce while the velouté has a fish, meat, or poultry base. These are fundamental to the great tradition of French cooking, as well as being indispensable to the home cook. Their most useful function, these easy white sauces, is to make an appetizing and interesting dish out of such simple ingredients as hard-boiled eggs and diced mushrooms—gratiner them with a sauce mornay. Or flake left-over poached fish, mix it with cooked onions, and fold it with a cream sauce before browning it with buttered bread crumbs in the oven. A boiled hen becomes a poule à l’ivoire when napped with a creamy chicken velouté and accompanied with little braised onions and steamed rice. It would be hard for the everyday cook to get along without these good simple sauces.
THE BROWN SAUCES Long simmered daubes and pot roasts, stews and ragouts, these need brown sauces, as do sautés, brown fricassees, and roasts. More complicated to make than the white sauces, they have gone through some changes since the grande cuisine of Escoffier, as you will see in their discussion.
TOMATO SAUCE, EGG YOLK AND BUTTER SAUCES (Hollandaise family), and THE OIL AND VINEGAR (French dressing) GROUP These need no introduction.
FLAVORED BUTTERS Butters creamed with various herbs, seasonings, or purées are included in the sauce roster. But the most important here is the hot butter sauce beurre blanc, a signature of the nouvelle cuisine which emerged in the early 1970s. Originally it was a specialty sauce reserved usually for boiled fish and vegetables, but, easy to make (once you know how!), it has become the ubiquitous restaurant sauce for all manner of fish, meat, and fowl.
Rich sauces, especially the butter sauces and white sauces with cream and butter, should be used sparingly, never more than one to a meal. A sauce should not be considered a disguise or a mask; its role is to point up, to prolong, or to complement the taste of the food it accompanies, or to contrast with it, or to give variety to its mode of presentation.
White sauces are rapidly made with a white roux (butter and flour cooked together) plus milk, or white stock. They go with eggs, fish, chicken, veal, and vegetables. They are also the base for cream soups, soufflés, and many of the hot hors d’oeuvres.
Sauce béchamel in the time of Louis XIV was a more elaborate sauce than it is today. Then it was a simmering of milk, veal, and seasonings with an enrichment of cream. In modern French cooking, a béchamel is a quickly made milk-based foundation requiring only the addition of butter, cream, herbs, or other flavorings to turn it into a proper sauce.
Sauce velouté is made in exactly the same way, but its roux is moistened with chicken, veal, or fish stock, often with a wine flavoring. Milk or cream are included if you wish.
In French cooking, the flour and butter, which act as a thickening agent for the sauce, are always cooked slowly together for several minutes before any liquid is added. This is called a roux. The cooking eliminates that raw, pasty taste uncooked flour will give to a sauce, and also prepares the flour particles to absorb the liquid. The thickness of a sauce is in direct relation to the proportion of flour you use per cup of liquid. The following table is based on American all-purpose hard-wheat flour. All flour measurements are for level tablespoons or fractions.
THIN SAUCE OR SOUP 1 Tb flour per cup of liquid
MEDIUM, GENERAL-PURPOSE SAUCE 1½ Tb flour per cup of liquid
THICK SAUCE 2 Tb flour per cup of liquid
SOUFFLÉ BASE 3 Tb flour per cup of liquid
Many of the old cookbooks recommend that a white sauce, especially a velouté, be simmered for several hours, the object being to rid the sauce of its floury taste, and to concentrate flavor. However, if the flour and butter roux is properly cooked to begin with, and a concentrated, well-flavored stock is used, both of these problems have been solved at the start. After a long simmering, a perfectly executed velouté will acquire a certain added finesse; and if you have the time to simmer, by all means do so. But for the practical purposes of this book, we shall seldom consider it necessary.
White sauces should always be made in a heavy-bottomed enameled, stainless steel, pyrex, porcelain, or tin-lined copper saucepan. If a thin-bottomed pan is used, it is a poor heat conductor and the sauce may scorch in the bottom of the pan. Aluminum tends to discolor a white sauce, particularly one containing wine or egg yolks.
A NOTE ON STOCKS FOR VELOUTÉ SAUCES
The recipe for homemade white stock is here; for white chicken stock is here; for fish stock is here; and for clam-juice fish stock is here. Canned chicken broth may be substituted for homemade white stock if you give it the following preliminary treatment:
Canned chicken broth
2 cups canned chicken broth or strained clear chicken and vegetable soup
3 Tb each: sliced onions, carrots, and celery
½ cup dry white wine or ⅓ cup dry white vermouth
2 parsley sprigs, ⅓ bay leaf, and a pinch of thyme
Simmer the chicken broth or soup with the vegetables, wine, and herbs for 30 minutes. Season to taste, strain, and it is ready to use.
This basic sauce takes about 5 minutes to make, and is then ready for the addition of flavors or enrichments. Suggestions for these are at the end of the master recipe.
For 2 cups (medium thickness)
A heavy-bottomed, 6-cup enameled, stainless steel, lined copper, porcelain, or pyrex saucepan
2 Tb butter
3 Tb flour
A wooden spatula or spoon
In the saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Blend in the flour, and cook slowly, stirring, until the butter and flour froth together for 2 minutes without coloring. This is now a white roux.
2 cups of milk and ¼ tsp salt heated to the boil in a small saucepan
OR 2 cups boiling white stock (see notes in preceding paragraph)
A wire whip
Remove roux from heat. As soon as roux has stopped bubbling, pour in all the hot liquid at once. Immediately beat vigorously with a wire whip to blend liquid and roux, gathering in all bits of roux from the inside edges of the pan.
Set saucepan over moderately high heat and stir with the wire whip until the sauce comes to the boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring.
Salt and white pepper
Remove from heat, and beat in salt and pepper to taste. Sauce is now ready for final flavorings or additions.
(*) If not used immediately, clean sauce off inside edges of pan with a rubber scraper. To prevent a skin from forming on its surface, float a thin film of milk, stock, or melted butter on top. Set aside uncovered, keep it hot over simmering water, refrigerate, or freeze it.
If you follow the preceding directions, you will always obtain a smooth sauce of the correct consistency. But here are some remedial measures in case you need them:
If sauce is lumpy
If your roux is hot, and your liquid near the boil, you should never have a lumpy sauce. But if there are lumps, force the sauce through a very fine sieve or whirl it in an electric blender. Then simmer it for 5 minutes.
If sauce is too thick
Bring the sauce to the simmer. Thin it out with milk, cream, or stock, beaten in a tablespoon at a time.
If sauce is too thin
Either boil it down over moderately high heat, stirring continually with a wooden spoon, until it has reduced to the correct consistency;
Or blend half a tablespoon of butter into a paste with half a tablespoon of flour (beurre manié). Off heat, beat the paste into the sauce with a wire whip. Boil for 1 minute, stirring.
ENRICHMENTS FOR WHITE SAUCES
The three following enrichments complete the whole master system of white-sauce making. While a plain, well-seasoned béchamel or velouté may be served just as it is, the addition of butter, cream, or egg yolks transforms it into something infinitely more delicious.
Fresh butter stirred into a sauce just before serving is the simplest of the enrichments. It smooths out the sauce, gives it a slight liaison, and imparts that certain French taste which seems to be present in no other type of cooking. For a cup of simple sauce, ½ to 1 tablespoon of butter is sufficient; as much as ½ cup may be beaten into a fine fish sauce. But if more than a tablespoon of butter is beaten into a cup of sauce, the sauce should then be served immediately. If it is reheated, or is kept hot, or if it is used for a gratinéed dish, the butter either liquefies and the sauce thins out just as though it had been diluted with milk, or the butter releases itself from suspension and floats on top of the sauce. However, if you slip up and heat a heavily buttered sauce, it will quickly reconstitute itself if you treat it like turned hollandaise.
To enrich 2 cups of béchamel or velouté
2 to 8 Tb butter (1 to 2 Tb is the usual amount)
A wire whip
Just before serving the sauce, and after all the final flavorings have been added, remove it from heat. Stir in the butter, a half-tablespoon at a time, beating until each piece of butter has been absorbed into the sauce before adding the next. Spoon the sauce over the hot food, or pour the sauce into a warmed bowl, and serve immediately.
Cream Enrichment—Cream Sauce
[Sauce Crème — Sauce Suprěme]
With the addition of cream, a béchamel becomes a sauce crème; and a velouté, a sauce suprême. As the cream thins out the sauce, the basic béchamel or velouté must be thick enough initially so the finished sauce will be of the correct consistency.
Cream sauces are used for vegetables, eggs, fish, poultry, hot hors d’oeuvres, and for dishes which are to be gratinéed.
For 2 cups
1½ cups of thick béchamel or velouté (3 Tb flour, 2½ Tb butter, and 1½ cups liquid)
½ cup whipping cream
Salt and white pepper
Bring the sauce to the simmer. Beat in the cream by spoonfuls, simmering, until the sauce is the consistency you wish it to be. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice.
Optional: 1 to 2 Tb softened butter (no butter if sauce is to be used for a gratinéed dish)
Off heat, and just before serving, beat in the optional butter by half-tablespoons.
Egg Yolk and Cream Enrichment
[Sauce Parisienne — formerly Sauce Allemande]
Sauces enriched with egg yolks and cream are among the richest and most velvety in all the French repertoire. Sauce parisienne, or sauce allemande, is the generic term, but it invariably goes by another name according to its special flavorings or to the dish it accompanies. The simplest, sauce poulette, has a base of velouté flavored with meat or fish, onions and mushrooms. The famous sauce normande is a velouté based on white-wine fish stock and the cooking liquors of mussels, oysters, shrimps, écrevisses, and mushrooms. The shellfish sauces such as cardinal, Nantua, and Joinville are shellfish veloutés with special trimmings and a shellfish butter enrichment beaten in at the end. As all of these sauces are a basic velouté with a final enrichment of egg yolks, cream, and usually butter, if you can make one, you can make all.
Success in making the egg yolk liaison is but a realization that egg yolks will curdle and turn granular unless they are beaten with a bit of cold liquid first, before a hot liquid is gradually incorporated into them so that they are slowly heated. Once this preliminary step has been completed, the sauce may be brought to the boil; and because the egg yolks are supported by a flour-based sauce they may boil without danger of curdling.
The sauce parisienne described in the following recipe is used with eggs, fish, poultry, hot hors d’oeuvres, and dishes which are to be gratinéed. A heavily buttered sauce parisienne is used principally for fish poached in white wine, as described beginning on this page in the Fish chapter.
For about 2 cups
1½ cups thick béchamel or velouté (3 Tb flour, 2½ Tb butter, and 1½ cups liquid)
A heavy-bottomed, 8-cup enameled saucepan
Bring the sauce to the simmer in its saucepan.
2 egg yolks
½ cup whipping cream
An 8-cup mixing bowl
A wire whip
Blend the egg yolks and cream in the mixing bowl with a wire whip. A few drops at a time, beat in ½ cup of hot sauce. Slowly beat in the rest of the sauce in a thin stream. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
A wooden spatula or spoon
Set over moderately high heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, reaching all over the bottom of the pan until the sauce comes to the boil. Boil and stir for 1 minute.
Salt and white pepper
More cream if necessary
Strain the sauce through a fine sieve to remove coagulated bits of egg white which always cling to the yolk. Rinse out the saucepan and return the sauce to it. Simmer over low heat to check seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice to taste. If sauce is too thick, beat in more cream by spoonfuls.
(*) If not used immediately, clean off sides of pan, and float a film of cream or stock over the surface. Sauce will thicken and look custardy as it cools, which is normal. It will smooth out when it is reheated. (Sauce may be frozen.)
Optional: 1 to 2 Tb softened butter (occasionally more is called for; use no butter if sauce is for a gratinéed dish)
Off heat, and just before serving, stir in the optional butter by bits.
SAUCES DERIVED FROM BÉCHAMEL
Here are some of the principal sauces derived from sauce béchamel and sauce velouté, the recipes for which are here.
For: eggs, fish, poultry, veal, vegetables, pastas, and hot hors d’oeuvres
Note: If the sauce covers foods which are to be baked or gratinéed, use the minumum amount of cheese suggested, and omit the butter enrichment at the end of the recipe. Too much cheese can make the sauce stringy, and a butter enrichment will exude from the top of the sauce.
2 cups of medium béchamel or velouté
¼ to ½ cup of coarsely grated Swiss cheese, or a combination of coarsely grated Swiss and finely grated Parmesan
Bring the sauce to the boil. Remove from heat, and beat in the cheese until it has melted and blended with the sauce.
Salt and pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
Optional: pinch of cayenne pepper and 1 to 2 Tb softened butter
Season to taste with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and optional cayenne. Off heat and just before serving, stir in the optional butter a bit at a time.
[Béchamel or Velouté with Tomato Flavoring]
For: eggs, fish, chicken, vegetables
2 cups béchamel or velouté, or the cream sauce
2 to 6 Tb cooked, fresh tomato purée, or tomato paste
Bring the sauce to the simmer. Stir in the tomato, a spoonful at a time, until you have achieved the color and flavor you wish. Correct seasoning.
1 to 2 Tb softened butter
Optional: 1 to 2 Tb minced fresh parsley, chervil, basil, or tarragon
Off heat and just before serving, stir in the butter, and the optional herbs.
Sauce à L’Estragon
[Herbal White Wine Sauce and Tarragon Sauce]
For: eggs, fish, vegetables, or poached chicken
A small enameled saucepan
1 cup dry white wine or ⅔ cup dry white vermouth
4 Tb minced fresh chervil, tarragon, and parsley, or tarragon only; OR 2 Tb dried herbs
2 Tb minced shallots or green onions
Place all ingredients in the saucepan and boil slowly for 10 minutes, allowing the wine to reduce to about 3 tablespoons. This is now an herb essence.
2 cups béchamel or velouté, or the cream sauce
Strain the essence into the sauce, pressing the juice out of the herbs. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
3 to 4 Tb minced fresh green herbs, or parsley, or tarragon 1 to 2 Tb softened butter
Off heat, and just before serving, stir in the fresh herbs and the enrichment butter.
Sauce au Cari
[Light Curry Sauce]
For: fish, veal, lamb, chicken, turkey, eggs, and vegetables
Here the béchamel or velouté sauce is made simultaneously with the curry flavorings.
For 2½ cups
½ cup finely minced white or yellow onions
4 Tb butter
An 8-cup enameled saucepan
Cook the onions and butter over low heat for 10 minutes without allowing the onions to color.
2 to 3 Tb curry powder
Stir in the curry powder and cook slowly for 2 minutes.
4 Tb flour
Add the flour and stir over low heat for 3 minutes more.
2 cups boiling milk, white stock, or fish stock
Off heat, blend in the boiling liquid. Return sauce to heat and simmer slowly for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4 to 6 Tb whipping cream Salt and pepper Lemon juice
Then stir in the cream by tablespoons, until sauce has thinned to consistency you wish. Check seasoning, and add lemon juice to taste.
1 to 2 Tb softened butter
Optional: 2 to 3 Tb minced parsley
Off heat, and just before serving, stir in the butter by bits, then the optional parsley.
For: eggs, veal, chicken, turkey, lamb, vegetables, and foods which are to be gratinéed
Another version of this excellent sauce is in the Veal section.
For about 2½ cups
1 lb. or 4 cups of sliced yellow onions
¼ tsp salt
6 Tb butter
A 2½-quart, heavy-bottomed, enameled saucepan
Cook the onions slowly with salt and butter in a covered saucepan for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the onions are very tender but not browned.
4 Tb flour
Add the flour and stir over low heat for 3 minutes.
2 cups boiling milk, white stock, or fish stock
Off heat, blend in the boiling liquid. Then simmer the sauce slowly for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Force the sauce through a sieve or food mill, or purée it in the electric blender.
6 to 8 Tb whipping cream Salt and pepper Pinch of nutmeg
Bring again to the simmer, and thin out to desired consistency with spoonfuls of cream. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
1 to 2 Tb softened butter (no butter if sauce is to be used for a gratinéed dish)
Off heat and just before serving, stir in the enrichment butter.
SAUCE AU BEURRE
For: boiled fish, boiled chicken, boiled lamb, boiled potatoes, asparagus, cauliflower, celery, broccoli
This quickly made and useful sauce does not belong to the béchamel and velouté family because it is made with an uncooked roux, or beurre manié. A golden color is given it by the addition of an egg yolk, and when flavored with enough butter it suggests a hollandaise.
For 2 cups (medium thickness)
2 Tb melted or softened butter
3 Tb flour
An 8-cup, heavy-bottomed, enameled saucepan
A rubber scraper
Place the butter and flour in the saucepan and blend them into a smooth paste with a rubber scraper.
2 cups boiling white stock, or vegetable cooking water, or water and ¼ tsp salt
A wire whip
Pour on all the boiling liquid at once and blend vigorously with a wire whip.
1 egg yolk
2 Tb whipping cream
An 8-cup mixing bowl
Salt and white pepper
1 to 2 Tb lemon juice
Blend the egg yolk and cream with a wire whip, then, a few drops at a time, beat in ½ cup of sauce. Beat in the rest in a thin stream. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Bring to the boil over moderately high heat, beating, and boil 5 seconds. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. (*) If not used immediately, film surface with a half-tablespoon of melted butter.
4 to 8 Tb softened butter
Off heat, and just before serving, beat in the butter, a tablespoon at a time.
Sauce aux Câpres
For: boiled fish or boiled leg of lamb
2 cups sauce bâtarde
2 to 3 Tb capers
Just before stirring in the enrichment butter, beat in the capers. Then, off heat, beat in the enrichment butter.
Sauce à la Moutarde
For: broiled mackerel, herring, tuna, or swordfish
2 cups sauce bâtarde omitting final butter enrichment
2 Tb strong Dijon-type prepared mustard
4 to 8 Tb softened butter
Blend the mustard and butter together with a rubber scraper. Off heat, and just before serving, beat the mustard/butter by tablespoons into the hot sauce.
Sauce aux Anchois
For: boiled fish or boiled potatoes
2 Tb canned anchovies mashed into a purée or 1 Tb anchovy paste
2 cups sauce bâtarde
Just before buttering the sauce, beat in the anchovy mixture to taste. Then off heat, and before serving, beat in the enrichment butter.
The classical French brown sauce starts out with a long-simmered brown meat stock that goes into the making of an equally long-simmered, lightly thickened sauce base called an espagnole. The espagnole is simmered and skimmed for several hours more with additional stock and flavorings until it finally develops into the traditional mother of the brown sauces, demi-glace. This may take several days to accomplish, and the result is splendid. But as we are concerned with less formal cooking, we shall discuss it no further.
A good brown sauce may have as its thickening agent a brown roux of flour and butter, or cornstarch, potato starch, rice starch, or arrowroot. A flour-thickened brown sauce must be simmered and skimmed for two hours at least if it is to develop its full flavor. Starch and arrowroot thickenings take but a few minutes; and when properly made they are very good indeed. Because they are far more useful in home cooking than the long simmered and more conventional sauce, we have used them in most of the main-course recipes throughout this book.
Following are three interchangeable methods for making a basic brown sauce. Any of them may rapidly be converted into one of the composed sauces.
A NOTE ON MEAT STOCKS FOR BROWN SAUCES
Recipes for making brown stocks are here. Canned beef bouillon may be substituted, as is, for stocks in the first two recipes for brown sauce. If it is to be used in the last recipe, for starch-thickened sauce, its canned flavor should first be disguised and enriched as follows (canned consommé tends to be sweet and is not recommended):
Canned beef bouillon
2 cups canned beef bouillon
3 Tb each: finely minced onions and carrots
1 Tb finely minced celery
½ cup red wine, dry white wine, or dry white vermouth
2 parsley sprigs
⅓ bay leaf
⅛ tsp thyme
Optional: 1 Tb tomato paste
Simmer the canned bouillon with the rest of the ingredients listed for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, and the bouillon is ready to be turned into a sauce.
BROWN SAUCE (1)
[Flour-based Brown Sauce]
This is the best of the group and the one most nearly approaching the traditional demi-glace. Its preliminaires are somewhat exacting, and it requires at least two hours of simmering; the longer it cooks the better it will be. It may be refrigerated for several days and freezes perfectly for several weeks.
A NOTE ON BROWN ROUX
Brown roux, which is the thickening for this type of sauce, is flour and fat cooked together until the flour has turned an even, nut-brown color. For an ordinary sauce, the flour is cooked in rendered fresh pork fat, or in cooking oil. But if the sauce is to accompany a delicate dish, such as foie gras, eggs, or vol-au-vent, the flour should be cooked in clarified butter—meaning the butter is melted and decanted, leaving its milky particles behind, as these burn and taste bitter.
It is important that the roux be cooked slowly and evenly. If the flour is burned, it will not thicken the sauce as it should, and it will also impart an unpleasant taste.
For about 1 quart of brown sauce
A heavy-bottomed, 2-quart saucepan
⅓ cup each: finely diced carrots, onions, and celery
3 Tb diced boiled ham (or diced lean bacon simmered for 10 minutes in water, rinsed, and drained)
6 Tb clarified butter, rendered fresh pork fat, or cooking oil
Cook the vegetables and ham or bacon slowly in the butter, fat, or oil for 10 minutes.
4 Tb flour
A wooden spatula or spoon
Blend the flour into the vegetables and stir continually over moderately low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the flour slowly turns a golden, nut brown.