Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Movie Discussion and a Most Unusual Dessert

Hello All!  It has been a while, and I have a lot of posts I have begun but not finished.  I hope to finish those soon to make up for lost time.  For this post, I have a movie discussion (it's a food movie, and I will be discussing the food therein), and a recipe inspired by that movie.  I hope you join in my enthusiasm for the ideas in the film, and try out the strange recipe Matt and I came up with!

A Brief Movie Discussion

     "Haute Cuisine," a french film available for instant streaming on Netflix, tells the story of a chef who cooks for the president of France.  I thoroughly enjoyed it as a film, but the highlight was the food created by the main character, Hortense.  I have come to realize that with all the diet fads, I get easily swept up in restriction and deprivation.  French cooking brings me back to reality.  It is sheer decadence.  In the world of fast mediocre food and in the world of paleo diets, French food saves us from ourselves.  It is good to be healthy, but what good is health if you do not also enjoy life?

     In the movie, there are several dishes that I cannot stop thinking about.  The first delectable entree she makes for the president is a large cabbage roll.  Imagine a collander, lined with cheesecloth.  Two large cabbage leaves to line the cheesecloth, then salmon fillets line the cabbage, with some coarse salt.  Then start over--a layer of cabbage, then of fish, then of cabbage, then of fish.  When there is no room left for layers, fold the cabbage leaves, then bring the cheesecloth to a close, fastening with a string.  Then dump the whole thing into a pot of broth to let it cook.  When it is finished, remove the cheesecloth, and cut into the large cabbage round as though it were a cake.  Delectable layers will appear.  In the movie, Hortense served a slice of the "cake" on a white cream sauce.

     The second inspiring dish was a "pillow" of sorts: crusty bread dough, filled with chicken, pork, mushrooms, pate, bone marrow, and a couple other goodies, covered with more dough, into a square pillow shape.  Once baked, the dough becomes a beautifully golden crust.  Matt and I are already planning to make a version of this, and just thinking about it feels decadent.

     The third thing may not be so easily made.  Jonchee cheese, served with an almond cream and a fruit jam, was meant as a "cheese course," but I would like to serve it as a dessert sometime.  Unfortunately, no shop I called has ever heard of jonchee, and there are few hits on google when one attempts to research it.  As far as I could tell, it is similar to an Italian cheese called giuncata, which is a fresh cheese, drained in a container of reeds.  It seems similar to mascarpone, but with more flavor, from what I read.  I hope to one day find some adequate substitute for my imagination, at least.  I will keep you all updated on my attempts there--I have already achieved a delicious almond cream that I will serve with the cheese when I find it.  I might just have to go to France to get it, though.

Here is the simple recipe for Almond Cream:
Combine equal parts almond butter and whipping cream, adding additional cream until the mixture resembles a thick sauce, and add sugar to taste.  That's all it takes, folks.

The film inspired Matt and me to make the most unusual dessert I have ever had.  A friend of mine warmed my heart when she told us she enjoyed it more than a dessert she had had at the Libertine (a reputable foodie hotspot in St. Louis).  This dessert has no name.  We are open to suggestions (please share in the comments below!).  In the meantime, I will call it A Most Unusual Dessert.

A Most Unusual Dessert - Recipe


-Mascarpone cheese
-A bleu cheese (Matt found a very unusual bleu cheese, crusted in the skins of grapes that had been used to make wine, so it has an interesting grapejuice scent to it.  I suspect other bleu cheeses will be good for this dessert as well).
-Almond cream (see recipe steps above)
-Fresh raspberries
-Cherry preserves


-Combine one part bleu cheese, 2 parts mascarpone, creaming the two cheeses together.  If you find that to be too strong, add more mascarpone.  Keep in mind that the other components of the dessert will be sweet, so don't be afraid to get that bleu cheese bite in the mixture.
-Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the almond cream into a small dessert plate.
-Form the cheese mixture into 1-2 tbsp balls, using a cantalope scoop or a tablespoon.  It should look like a scoop of ice cream.  You can also form it into a small ball using your hands.
-Place the scoop of cheese in the middle of the almond cream.
-Muddle together the raspberries, cherry compote, a splash of bourbon, and sugar to taste.  It should have the consistency of a chunky jam. 
-Spoon the raspberry mixture on top of the scoop of cheese, and serve.  

This is a small, flavor-intensive dessert that is an interesting experience for anyone brave enough to try it!  It is far from labor intensive, as you can see, so don't be intimidated.  As always, modify to suit your tastes!  Please share any modifications or suggestions so we can all learn from it!  Thanks!

Monday, September 15, 2014

What to do with a Big Ol' Pumpkin

Welcome to Cooking with Expression -- the successor to Law School's Cooking.  Law school is now over, and we have learned to unleash creativity in cooking like never before.  This blog will strive to push the boundaries of cooking and discover beauty in odd cooking creations.

I invite you to join me on this journey, and leave comments with your own ideas.  Together, we can find even more wonderful expression to unleash in the kitchen.

It has been chilly here in St. Louis today, so what better maiden voyage for this blog than a post about pumpkins--just in time for Fall.

Sometimes during the Fall, you can find gigantic pumpkins at the store for $5, which is a great deal.  If you find yourself resisting the urge to splurge, stop the resistance!  The vitamins, the fiber, the great flavor, the glorious smell--countless reasons to always have pumpkins around.  There are so many things you can do with a pumpkin, it will not go to waste.  And of course, the experimentation is the best part, in my opinion.  Unleash your creativity upon that delicious gourd.

Basically, my plan for this Fall is to cook and eat pumpkin in a variety of delicious dishes until we get sick of them.  Here are some ideas I'm planning to implement this Fall.

Note: The large pumpkins that are inexpensive (that I buy) are not the sweetest pumpkins out there.  There are smaller ones that typically have names with the word "sweet" in them, so if you're looking for a sweeter flavor and are confused why your pumpkin doesn't taste like canned pie filling, that's why.

First of all, start by roasting it, 1/4 of it at a time.  Cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds to throw away or give to a friend who knows how to deal with them (I personally am not willing to undergo the headache of washing them), then cut the halves in half.  For each quarter, place in a greased baking pan, skin-side up, and roast at 400ยบ for about an hour.

And then the fun begins...

1. Pumpkin Bread and Pumpkin Bread Muffins


2. Vegan Pumpkin Soup


3. Pumpkin Oatmeal (in a crockpot!)


4. Pumpkin Tofu Smoothie

(Don't feel required to use the particular brand--experiment with what you have.  Soft tofu is best, and leaving the water in adds moisture, so you don't even need to add milk.)

5. Pumpkin Pie

Gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free: http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2013/11/05/maple-pumpkin-pie-dairy-free/

Gluten-free, dairy-free: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/tofu-pumpkin-pie/

Variation 1: Make a tofu pumpkin smoothie like above, with a bit more sugar, and without liquid from the tofu package, you can pour it into a pie crust and firm it up in the fridge.

Variation 2: If you are not cooking the pie, then you can use a raw crust made from pureeing nuts (almonds or pecans) and raisins in a food processor, with some cinnamon and nutmeg.  It will form a thick sticky paste.  Form the paste to the bottom of a pie pan to make the crust, then pour the tofu mixture into the crust and refrigerate until it firms up.  Sprinkle pecans and/or cinnamon on top to serve.