Thursday, March 10, 2011

Making sausages and quenelles

Italian style sausage, linguini, dandelion greens
Quenelles de truite
French style garlic sausage

The garde-manger class might be affecting me. This is where we learn to make sausages, mousseline, patés, galantines... After only a few short weeks, I no longer see things like pieces of roast or fillets of fish the same way. I have this strange desire to grind them up and transform them into something else. The sausages started out this morning as a piece of pork shoulder. The photo of the quenelles de truite was done in class, but I redid the recipe at home yesterday just to make sure I had all the steps down. So, a trout was filleted, boned, skinned and ground up with some other stuff and piped into boiling salted water, then baked with some nice white wine sauce to make quenelles.  Very French.

One thing I discovered was that making things into sausages and quenelles stretches them out quite a bit. Two trout fillets are more than enough to feed three people, since there are other things (like butter, some more butter, and then a bit of butter, and some cream, and some butter) that stretch them out. So, one meager trout, transformed into quenelles, can easily feed four people. Especially if they consume a lot of freshly baked baguettes first.

It's not that this wasn't anticipated. I found some natural sausage casings at Claro's Market in L.A. and couldn't resist. The thing is that I don't have a meat grinder (yet) so I have to process the meat in a food processor, which tends to make it come out too fine and pasty even when it's ice cold. I don't have a sausage attachment or anything fancy like that either - I have a funnel and a spoon handle. Slow but it gets the job done, although the meat in the casing has to be peristaltically arranged so that the casing is not overstuffed. Kind of like milking a goat, actually.

Trout-Salmon quenelles
These are like skinless sausages that you pipe out into boiling water, then finish in the oven with a sauce. Don't be shocked at the amount of butter and cream you'll use. This is classic French food, so just watch some Julia Child videos if you want to be comforted about the butter.


1 lb Fresh, never frozen trout (I'm using trout instead of salmon because it's supposedly sustainably farmed). Ice crystals made during freezing rupture the cells and make the fish unsuitable for making mousseline.
3 Egg whites
1 1/2 cup Heavy cream
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg to taste
4 Shrimp (this can be frozen, since it's just for flavor). Cook, chop into 1/4" cubes and chill.
3 oz Panade, in this case pâte à choux made with milk instead of water, then chilled.
Ice cubes, about 4-5.

Sauce (quantities are approximate)
1 Tbsp flour
2 oz Whole milk or cream
1 Shallot, finely chopped
Some fresh thyme leaves (optional)
8 oz Fish or shrimp stock
4 oz Dry white wine
Salt, Pepper to taste

  1. Trim any major bones off the fish fillets, skin them if needed, and cut into cubes. I left the pin bones in since they were going to be ground finely - and this was trout, not salmon (I'd remove them for salmon).
  2. I like to grind some ice cubes in the food processor. This gets everything nice and cold. I then either use the crushed ice for cocktails or discard it.
  3. Put the fish and cold panade into a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
  4.  Purée the fish/panade mixture.
  5. Add the egg whites and process until smooth
  6. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. You'll need more salt than you think, but don't skimp. The salt is required to alter the protein structure of the fish. If you used enough, the fish will form itself into a ball when you process it; if not, it will remain a purée.
  7. Add cream in a stream with the food processor running.
  8. Mix in the shrimp cubes.
  9. Taste for seasoning and adjust before you cook the quenelles - you can cook a spoonful in some boiling salted water.
  1. Sauté the shallots in some butter until they're translucent.
  2. Make a roux with the flour and butter.
  3. Add white wine to deglaze, then add the stock, salt and pepper.
  4. Reduce down so there's not much liquid left.
  5. Add the thyme leaves.
  6. Reduce the heat, add the cream slowly, tasting as you go. 
  7. Adjust seasoning as needed, and reserve sauce.
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Boil water in a fairly deep pot, add salt when it boils.
  3. Butter a shallow ramekin and set aside
  4. Place the mousseline in a pastry bag fitted with a large, plain tip.
  5. Pipe the mousseline into the boiling water, straight down. Cut off 3 to 4 inch sections (depending on the size of your ramekins) with a thin knife, skewer or anything that doesn't stick to the mousseline. If you pipe it at an angle, the quenelles will be curved instead of straight.
  6. Reduce the heat so that the quenelles just simmer in the water. They're ready when they're firm.
  7. Fish the quenelles out with a spider (cook-ese for a wire strainer/spoon) and place them in the ramekin.
  8. Pour the sauce over the quenelles - you don't need much. It's just there to give them a nice thick coating and add flavor.
  9. Bake in a bain-marie for about 15-20 minutes until the quenelles just start to show some color. A bain-marie is just a shallow pan filled with water, into which you place the ramekins. Its function is to keep the cream based sauce from getting too hot yet allow the tops of the quenelles to brown a bit.
  10. Serve immediately - if you have nice small ramekins, just place them onto a serving plate with a nice garnish and voilà.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

¡Pan de hojaldre!

What do you get if you cross foccacia, crossants and lean bread dough, throw in a bit of slicing, and pop the result into the oven?

Something like pan de hojaldre, certainly. This was my first try with this bread. I decided to use a lean dough - just flour, water, yeast and salt - because I'd be adding richness with the oil used to separate the dough into sheets during a later folding process. I used a sponge starter saved from the day before to add a bit of complexity due to a longer fermentation process.

I used olive oil, some with a bit of finely chopped rosemary and salt mixed in. I suppose something richer, like clarified butter, would work too. Or something more exotic, like argan oil - but then I'd want to put some spices into the dough, maybe some honey...

My cutting and rolling techniques will need some refinement. This time, I was going for the interior effect, so I didn't slice the loaf quite as drastically as I should have for maximum visual effect. Next time, the process will be more familiar and after that things should start to get interesting.

This needs to be a fairly stiff dough so that it will hold together during rolling out stage. Still, no reason a bit of sourdough starter couldn't find its way into the mix one day.

Or maybe some form of tapenade could be used instead of the rosemary olive oil... Or...

This bread went something like this:

Pan de hojaldre
Ingredients for the dough:
  • SAF instant yeast
  • Water
  • Bread flour
  • Kosher salt
Ingredients for assembly:
  1. Extra virgin olive oil
  2. Herbs (optional). I used rosemary and it worked well
  1. Make up a lean dough, not too hydrated, with the flour, water, salt and yeast. 
  2. Ideally use some pâte fermentée left over from the previous day, about 1/3 to 1/4 of the dough volume - add it to the above ingredients when mixing.
  3. Put in a large bowl, cover and let rise (bulk fermentation).
  4. When the dough has risen to about 1-1/2 times its original volume, take it out of the bowl and place it on your work bench.  If you're going to do this again, reserve some dough for tomorrow's pâte fermentée - otherwise you can use it all.
  5. Divide the dough into equal size balls, about 10 -15 cm diameter. Let rest five minutes.
  6. Prepare some olive oil and herbs if using them. Add a bit of salt to the oil for a bit more flavor. You could also use melted clarified butter if you're going a bit crazy.
  7. Roll out the dough into rectangles about 2 cm thick. 
  8. Cover the rectangles with the oil/herb mixture, leaving about 3 cm free at the ends.
  9. Fold like a letter, two creases. 
  10. Let rest 5 minutes
  11. Fold again.
  12. Let rest 5 minutes
  13. Fold like a book, three creases (ends to center and down the center)
  14. Spray the top with olive oil so it doesn't dry out, and let proof 1-2 hours, depending on how warm your proofing area is.
  15. When the bread has risen, make your cuts. If all went well, they'll bloom in layers kept separate by the oil. The bread in the photo just had a deep yet short cut along the top. Cutting multiple cuts along the sides would give a different effect. Experiment until you find a style that suits you.
  16. Bake at 250°C for about 20 minutes, until top is browned and loaf sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom.
  17. Let cool 90 minutes or so, then enjoy!
En español
(disculpe, porque no hablo esta idioma tan bien que ingles)

¿Qual tiene si hace algo como foccacia, croissants y masa de pan estilo frances, cortarlo y ponerlo en el horno?

Pan de hojaldre, cierto.  Este fue mi primero tentativo y pienso que puedo hacer algo de aspecto mas lindo. Todo depende de los cortos en la masa antes de cocinar, y tengo que practicar mas para descubrir las cortas que dan el pan mas lindo.

Esta receta usa un poquito de masa preparada (pâte fermentée en francés). La idea es de dar un mejor sabor, dejando la masa desarrollar su sabor lentamente sur 12 horas al frío.

Las hojas son formadas para el aceite de oliva que parte la masa y impidelo de formar una masa macizo. Puede manejar la masa como un otro tipo de aceite, como mantequilla o tal vez algo como un tapenade (ajo, aceite de oliva, aceitunas, alcaparas...).

Aquí son mis notas sobre este pan :

Pan de hojaldre

Ingredientes para la masa:
  • levadura SAF
  • Agua
  • Harina de trigo para pan
  • Sal Kosher o sal de mar
Ingredientes para terminar el pan:
  1. Aceite de oliva extra virgen
  2. Hierbas, como romero
El metodo
  1. Hacer una masa simple, sin demasiado agua, con el sal, agua, levadura y harina.
  2. Puede añadir un poco de masa preparada del dia precedente y mezclar-lo en la masa.
  3. Poner todo en un bol grande, tapado y deja levar
  4. Cuando la masa tiene 1-1/2 su volumen original, sacarlo del bol y ponerlo sobre la mesa de trabajo. Si piense hacer mas de pan el día siguiente, tomar un poco de la masa y ponerla al frio. 
  5. Preparar el aceite y hierbas si quiere, con un poco de sal para mas de sabor. 
  6. Extender la masa hasta que es grueso de 2 centímetros
  7. Cubrir la masa con el aceite, dejando mas o menos 3 cm libre en los lados.
  8. Pliegue como una carta y dejar descansar 5 minutos.
  9. Pliegue de nuevo y dejar descansar 5 minutos.
  10. Pliegue como un libro, poner un poquito de aceite de oliva encima para impedir el secamiento.
  11. Deja levar una hora o mas. Si hace frío en el lugar donde hace el pan, puede necesitar mas de tiempo.
  12. El horno debe ser bastante caliente, 250°C. 
  13. Cuando el pan este bastante grande, el momento critico esta llegado : el corte. Los cortes deben ser bastante profundo para el efecto lindo de hojaldres, pero no demasiado para partir el pan. 
  14. Cuando el pan estaré cortado, puesto en el horno calientado. 
  15. El pan sera listo en mas o menos 25 minutos, cuando su superficie este dorado.
  16. Deja 90 minutos después de salgar el pan del horno antes de comerlo, por un sabor mejor.
¡Buen provecho!