Or some semblance thereof. A loose group of food-loving, Michigan lady cooks and bloggers got together this weekend for a themed luncheon – cook something from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French cooking Volume 1…. or just cook something from a French cookbook, or something remotely French sounding…or head down to the creamery and buy some really stinky cheese. In all cases, the food was yummy!
Now, as a local foodie, the proposal to cook French at first made me feel slightly dizzy. But I got over it. Seasonal and local vegetables are often highlighted by French chefs. And I was very pleased to note Julia Child’s lengthy discussion in Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol 1 of the proper way to blanch green beans and cauliflower for maximum flavor (lots of boiling water, not too long, plunge into cold water.) As your typical busy-working-mom-still-trying-to-cook-at-home person, French cooking also sounded like it would be way too time consuming. But I got over it.
Check out this recipe from Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin – Chicken Bouillabaisse – served with a spicy rouille. Other than lemon, olive oil & saffron, this dish can be made from many local Michigan ingredients, and it came together in pretty quickly and had wonderful flavor.
1 T good olive oil
1 T coarsely chopped garlic
½ teas saffron threads
1 teas grated lemon zest
¼ teas salt
½ teas freshly ground black pepper
¼ teas fennel seeds
¼ teas herbes de Provence
½ cup coarsely chopped onion
¼ cup coarsely chopped celery
¼ cup coarsely chopped carrot
4 chicken thighs or about 1 ¾ lbs chicken parts, skin and fat removed
About 1 cup or ½ a can diced tomatoes – or 1 package Locavorious frozen tomatoes
½ cup dry white wine
¾ cup water
5 red or Yukon gold potatoes, about ¾ lb, halved or quartered
1 ~ 10 oz piece of kielbasa sausage, cut into 4 pieces
1 T chopped fresh tarragon, chives or parsley
2 teas Pernod or Ricard (optional)
Mix the olive oil, garlic, saffron, lemon zest, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, herbes de Provence, onion, celery and carrot in a large bowl. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook. (I actually let the chicken marinate overnight.)
Transfer the contents of the bowl to a stainless steel pot and add the tomatoes, wine, water and potatoes. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and boil gently for 25 minutes. (If using the frozen tomatoes, after 15 minutes, gently break them apart with a spoon; you can also if desired fish out the tomato skins.) Add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes longer. If adding Pernod, stir it in now with the fresh herbs.
For the rouille: Remove ½ of a cooked potato and ¼ cup liquid from the pot and place in a food processor with 2 large garlic cloves, 1/8 teas cayenne pepper and ¼ teas paprika. Process for about 10 seconds. Add 1 large egg yolk. Then with the processor running, slowly pour in ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil and process for a few seconds, or until incorporated. Taste for salt and add a dash if needed.
Serve the bouillabaisse in warmed soup plates with a spoonful of the rouille drizzled on top.
And for a truly sensational meal, invite a bunch of Michigan Lady Food Bloggers over and have each bring a dish!