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!