M E N U
Gratin of onion and hard boiled egg
Veal shanks with pearl onions and mushrooms
Chocolate mousse with hazelnuts and brandy
Gratin of onion and hard boiled egg
1 large onion sliced thin
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and white pepper to taste
Parsley, finely chopped for decoration
Grease a gratin dish or shallow ovenproof dish with a little butter.
Boil enough salted water to cover the eggs. When the water boils, carefully lower the eggs into the water with a spoon, and bring the water to boil. As soon as the water boils, turn down to a bare simmer, and set the timer for 10 minutes. When the time is up, briefly put the eggs in ice water for a just a minute, not allowing them to cool completely. Peel them by cracking them on a hard surface, then roll them with the palm of your hand on the surface, and peel. Once peeled, put them in warm water.
Slice onion thin. Use 3 tablespoons butter melted over low heat, add the onion and cook until soft. By using low heat the onion will not colour. Remove when done.
Make the béchamel sauce. Melt 3 tbsp butter and add the flour. Cook briefly for 2 minutes, whisking continually. Then remove from heat and add the milk a little at a time, whisking between each addition, until smooth. When the milk is used up, put the pan back on the heat and turn up the heat to medium low. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Use an egg lifter to scrape the bottom to avoid clumping. After 5 minutes add the onion and whilst continuing to scrape, cook another 5 minutes. If the sauce becomes a little stodgy, add a little milk.
Turn on the broiler / grill
Spread a thin layer of the béchamel sauce over the bottom of the gratin dish. Slice the egg very thin using a sharp pairing knife or egg slicer. Spread the slices of egg evenly over the dish in a layer until all the is used up. Cover with béchamel/onion sauce and level the top. Put under the broiler , on the middle shelf, and grill until the top starts to brown.
Remove brush some butter over the surface, sprinkle finely chopped parsley on top. Serve immediately.
Veal shanks with pearl onions and mushrooms
You van replace the veal shanks with boneless lamb or mutton shanks or even beef. If you decide to use beef, add another 30 minutes to the initial cooking time of 15 min
6 veal shanks 1 1/2 inch thick
30 pearl onions
250g button mushrooms
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
5 tbsp unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
2 leek leaves about 4 incHes long – top green part
1 bay leaf
4 large sprigs parsley
3 sprisg fresh thyme / 1/2 tsp dried
4 inch piece celery with leaves
Lay parsley, thyme and celery on one of the leaves. Cover with the second leaf tie with kitchen twine.
Using at least 4 cups of cold water in a thick heavy bottomed pot, add the shanks, bring to boil and simmer covered for 15 minutes. T hen remove, add 2 cups of the cooking liquid back into the pot and add flour, whisk until smooth. Now arrange the shanks and the bouquet garni and add enough liquid to just cover the shanks. Bring to boil, scraping the bottom, to avoid clumping/ burning. Turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, season very lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Remember the liquid will reduce to about 1/3, so go easy on the initial seasoning. Stud one onion with the clove, add with the rest to the veal and simmer over low heat for a further 40 minutes.
If the mushrooms are very large, quarter. The mushrooms should be about the size of the front of your thumb. In a heavy pan heat tablespoons of butter over high heat, add the mushrooms as soon as the butter foam stars to subside. Saute the mushrooms briefly, until the butter is absorbed, add to the veal and onion, and cook for 5 minutes.
Plate the veal onion and mushrooms with a slotted spoon, leaving the liquid in the pot. Then beat the egg yolks briefly in a separate bowl. Add a tablespoon of the hot liquid to the eggs. Whisk until well blended. Do this a few times to temper the eggs. The more hot liquid is added to the eggs, the less chance of it curdling, so don’t be shy. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the tempered eggs to the remaining liquid. Be careful. Add just a little it at a time, whisking between each addition. If the liquid curdles after the first addition it means its too hot. Wait a minute for it to cool, before adding the next spoonful. If the liquid does curdle use a blender or mixer to smooth it out. When all is added, heat the pan to just before boiling, remove from the heat, immediately spoon over the plated veal, sprinkle with chopped parsley, serve.
Chocolate mousse with brandy and hazelnuts
This mousse, though delicious, is very rich. Few people will be able to have more than a few spoonfuls. So consider halving the recipe unless you are serving more than 6.
1/2 cup hazelnuts
About 500g semi sweet chocolate cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
6 eggs separated
6 tbsp scotch whiskey
1 cup heavy/whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar.
Hazelnuts: preheat the oven to180C. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 min. Remove and skin by placing them in a tea towel, by holding each end, enclosing tne hazelnuts in something like a bag. No remove the skins by rubbing them together. Alternatively, use your thumb and forefinger rubbing each one. Its best to do this ouside, as the skins are light and e d up everywhere. Don’t fret about getting every last bit of skin off them.
Crush the hazelnuts by putting them on a chopping board, cover them with plastic, then hit them using a steak mullet, or even the bottom of a mug. Don’t crush them too finely as they are better in its rather than a dust.
Using a double boiler, which sits high above the simmering water, add the chocolate and half of the sugar and the butter.
To avoid the chocolate seizing, Let stand, without stirring for about 15 – 20 minutes until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and beat in the egg yolks, whiskey and hazelnuts.
In a separate very clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites a little until they start to foam. Add a pinch of salt and continue to beat until little peaks form when the mixer blades are removed from the foam.
Add 1/3 of the foam to the chocolate mix and mix vigorously until smooth. Then use 1/2 of the remaining mix and fold into the chocolate. Then fold in the rest.
No more than about 1 1/2 hours before serving, chill a mixing bowl in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
Remove from the freezer, add the vanilla to the cream and beat with a mixer until it starts to thicken, then add the sugar and continue beating until the cream is thick and peaks form when the blades of the beater is removed. Do not overbeat, as the cream will become watery and unworkable.
Fit a pastry bag with a large star tip, add the cream to the bag, shake a little to remove excess air, and squirt a little back into the bowl with cream to ensure it flows nicely.
Decorate the mouse whichever way takes your fancy, and serve the remaining cream in a small bowl on the side.
T H E V E R D I C T
This was positively the most successful menu so far. All the dishes worked, everything turned out well. Apart from the clumping the béchamel sauce and curdling the sauce for the veal with egg yolks that are not tempered well enough, its relatively risk free. Oh, and seizing the chocolate…
But if you follow the instructions carefully, none of this should happen.
The egg gratin : Egg gratin sounds positively boring, if not straight from the 70′s. However, this one is surprisingly tasty. The nutmeg works well with it, adding a little spice to the otherwise bland dish. It was easy to make and very difficult to mess up. Will definately make it again.
The veal shanks with pearl onion and mushroom : Though a little time consuming, its very easy to make this dish. I used beef, and browned it before cooking. Also, instead of simmering it in cold water, I pressure cooked it for about 10 minutes, before depressurising the pot naturally. If you do not want to end up risking the eggs curdling at the end, or alternatively, if you prefer a less rich sauce, consider leaving out the egg yolks and instead make a paste of 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon flower, then whisking it off-heat into the hot liquid, then bring it to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer 2-3 minutes before spooning it over the cooked veal.
Chocolate Mouse with Brandy and Hazelnuts I do love an authentic chocolate mousse, and this was definitely one worth making. It is thick and delicious, though it may be a little rich for some people. You cannot taste the alcohol, it merely flavours the dish. The hazelnut combination is a winner. Next time I make it, I will half the recipe, using ramekins or a wine glass, using no more than 1/3 of a cup for each glass/ramekin, instead of a huge bowl. Also, being left with so much mousse, I made a banana chocolate shake for my son this morning, thinning it with milk and a little water. It was excellent.
Even though I am only on lesson 3, I am starting to feel like a pro…