Mistembec with Drunken Cherry Jam

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There is something special about working with old recipes from hundreds of years ago, it almost feels like going back in time. At least that is how I felt when I was cooking this delicious recipe for the “Mistembec”. This is a recipe that dates back to the XIV century, though it has slightly changed with the addition of the baking powder or yeast for example! Some say that the name itself mis-em-bec means put-in-mouth some say it may come from Arabic. They are a kind of doughnut or “Beignets”, like we call them in France, fried in oil and coated in honey, sugar syrup or caramel.

I paired my “Mistembec” with a drunken cherry jam. The cherry jam really complements this delicious dessert as the acidity of the cherries and rum aroma combined, give the “Mistembec” another dimension.

Watch the how to video below or visit my YouTube channel here for more!

Ingredients for the Mistembec:

  • 300g plain flour
  • 50g melted unsalted butter
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • frying oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

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Method:

  1. Mix the flour with the egg yolk, melted butter, orange blossom water salt and baking powder.
  2. Add warm water until you have a smooth batter.
  3. Rest in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan to around 180 degrees.
  5. Once rested, stir the batter to loosen it a little bit.
  6. Whisk the egg white until light and fluffy like snow ( soft peak) without over whisking them and fold them through the batter
  7. Drop tablespoons of batter in the hot oil, try to give them different shape as you drop the mixture in. Don’t do more than 5-6 at a time to avoid dropping the oil temperature too much
  8. Once golden on both side, place them on paper towel.

Ingredients for the caramel:

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Method:

  1. Cook the sugar, water and vinegar until the sugar become slightly caramelized, you do not want to be dark.
  2. Before the “Beignets” are cold quickly dip them into the caramel and place on a tray to cool down. Make sure they do not touch each other otherwise they’ll stick.

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Ingredients for the Drunken cherry jam:

  • 600g pitted cherries, halved
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 120ml dark rum
  • 3 vanilla beans, seeded

Method:

  1. Cook the pitted cherries with the sugar, rum, vanilla seeds and pod on high heat until it starts boiling, then cook for about two hours on low heat to medium heat.

Serve with a Chateau “Suduiraut” Sauterne from http://www.airoldifinewines.com.au

 

Haricot Couennes

Haricot Couennes

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On my recent trip to France I had the pleasure of joining my Mum in her kitchen to prepare a family feast. For the main course we made Confit de Canard (Confit Duck Legs) and on the side, a dish I had completely forgotten about these past few years, but was overjoyed to be reacquainted with. Haricot Couennes is a slow cooked lingot bean dish (the same beans as used for a Cassoulet) with roughly chopped chunks of pork rind (known as Couennes), onion and herbs. The fatty pork rind injects oodles of flavour and the stewing process creates a rich sauce, just begging to be mopped up with crusty rustic bread. A traditional dish of the Dordogne region, it was the perfect garnish for our duck, but it would work equally well with a good steak, chicken breast or pork fillet.

Serve with a good red wine such as Hermitage or a Cote Rotie. Available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au (côte rôtie only).

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Ingredients:

  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bunch thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 10cl white wine
  • 250g lard (pork rind)
  • 1kg haricot beans (unless you can find lingot beans)

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Method:

  1. Soak the beans in cold water the night before.
  2. Cook the haricot beans in salted water for about 1hour. You still want the beans to be a little firm. Once cooked, drain half the cooking liquid and keep the other half in the pot with the beans.
  3. At the same time, but in a separate pot, cook the lard in salted water but for ¾ of an hour, as this will soften the lard. Drain all the liquid and place the lard to the side.
  4. Heat up a large casserole pot (a Le Creuset or similar is ideal, if you have one) on medium heat with some olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook for a few minutes. Then add the tomato paste and cook a few more minutes, to get rid of the bitterness of the paste.
  5. Dice the cooked lard and add it to the casserole, give everything a good stir and deglaze with the wine.
  6. Add the beans and the cooking liquid. Cook for about 15 minutes, season with salt and pepper.

 

 

 

Tourin Blanchit a l’Ail: Traditional French Garlic Soup

Tourin Blanchit a l’Ail: Traditional French Garlic Soup

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There is an old French tradition whereby garlic soup is given to newlyweds in the wee hours after their wedding night, possibly because it’s thought to be an aphrodisiac, but more likely to aid digestion after a night of feasting and merriment!

I don’t know if this is still observed today but I love the idea of a food being a remedy for too much other food, and garlic does feel as if it has a restorative quality to it. In fact, a Frenchwoman who immigrated to Australia in the early 1960’s told me the only place she could find garlic here back then was in the pharmacy! Times may have changed, but the French still love their garlic soup.

Serve as a starter for any meal or freeze and save a serve for when you’re feeling under the weather to pep you up.

Ingredients:

  • 300g Peeled Garlic
  • 100g Unsalted Butter
  • 60g Plain Flour
  • 350ml Thickened Cream
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • Salt and Pepper

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Method:

  1. Blitz the garlic in the food processor until it forms a paste or chop it as finely as possible with a knife if you don’t have a food processor.
  2. Heat up a medium size cooking pot on medium heat with the butter. Add the garlic and cook it for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the base of the pot.
  3. Sprinkle the flour on the garlic, just enough so that it forms a loose paste. You may not need all the flour. The more you add, the thicker the soup will be.
  4. Fill up the pot to ¾ with water and bring the soup to the boil while whisking. Turn the heat down to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the cream, salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Add the egg white while whisking as this way you’ll have little bits of egg through your garlic soup and it also helps to blend everything together.
  7. Serve hot with some thin slices of toasted baguette.

 

Pot-au-Feu Traditionnel

Pot-au-Feu Traditionnel:

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Pot-au-Feu is a prime example that the most basic ingredients, cooked simply but to perfection, can make for the most hearty and satisfying meals. The unromantic could describe it as boiled meats and veg in broth, but the French have had a long affair with the Pot-au-Feu and you’d be hard pressed to find a family table, rich or poor, in France which it hadn’t graced at some point.

It’s one of those nostalgic meals that take me back to my childhood, and in this way, Pot-au-Feu seems like comfort food for the body and for the soul.

Ingredients:

  • 350g beef cheeks
  • 300g beef chucks (neck)
  • 300g ox tail
  • 1 brown onion (halved and chargrilled)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 leek
  • 2 turnips
  • 4 Dutch cream potatoes
  • 4 cloves
  • 10 peppercorn
  • 20g rock salt
  • 2 Bouquet Garnis (thyme, bayleaves, parsley)

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Method:

  1. Put the meats in a large cooking pot and cover with water. Place the pot on the stove and bring it to the boil. Once it starts boiling, gently scoop out the foam on the top of the liquid and keep doing so for about five minutes.
  2. Add the Bouquets Garnis, garlic, onions, peppercorn, cloves and rock salt. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 1½ hours on low heat.
  3. Meanwhile start prepping the rest of your vegetables. Peel the carrots, turnips and potatoes and cut into big chunks (keep the potatoes in water so they don’t oxidize). Chop off the green part of the leek and cut the white part in half.
  4. Then add the vegetables to the pot (except the potatoes) and cook for 1 more hour. Add the potatoes and finish off the cooking for 30 minutes.

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Serving suggestion: Place the meat in the center of a large serving tray and arrange the vegetables around it and serve with a side of Dijon mustard, Cornichons, Fleur de Sel (sea salt flakes) and chargrilled bread!

 

In true peasant food style, waste not, want not! Don’t throw out the beautiful broth that’s left in the pot. Once you’ve removed your veggies and meat from the pot, add some vermicelli egg noodles (or any other soup pasta that you fancy) to the liquid and cook until al dente. Serve this is broth as an entrée before the main event.

To watch the how to video on YouTube click here