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Seasonal Recipes: Autumn

Autumn Endive Salad

This is a twist on one of our favorite autumn/winter salads.  We've paired endive, tiny leaves of mesclun and winter purslane that we found from one of our favorite local farmers with Roquefort, apples and toasted hazelnuts.  It's so simple and absolutely lovely.   

Autumn Endive Salad with Roquefort, Apples and Toasted Hazelnuts

5 endive, cores removed, separated into spears
1 handful of mesclun
2 apples, thinly sliced
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skins removed
a wedge of Roquefort, crumbled
A grind or two of black pepper and a sprinkling of fleur de sel

Red wine vinaigrette

1 shallot, finely diced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, place the shallot, red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt and set aside for 5 minutes.  Whisk in the olive oil.  Add a few grinds of pepper and taste for seasoning.  Add the endive, mesclun, apples, and hazelnuts to the bowl and toss to gently coat in the vinaigrette.  Arrange the salad on chilled plates, piling it up in the center.  Crumble the Roquefort over the salad and serve immediately.

Seasonal Recipes: Autumn

Apple tart

As cooks, it is difficult to pick a favorite season, but the fall market in Beaune is certainly a favorite. Fall is a beautiful time to visit France in general as the majority of the crowds have returned home and things are getting somewhat back to normal. It gives you the opportunity to really have a chance to experience France as the French do, without all the tourists.

Every Saturday we stroll by our little brocante on the way to the market. Most Saturdays, we  are "good" and enjoy the thrill of the hunt and do not splurge unless we find something we simply can't live without. Several months ago  we came upon a beautiful soup tureen that we, regrettably, talked ourselves out of. We've been disappointed ever since.   As luck would have it, just this last Saturday, another one appeared and dare we say, we think it is even more lovely than the first one. We have a thing for anything food related and our particular love is white ironstone. We think it will pair nicely with an upcoming butternut squash soup we've been dreaming about.

With the chill in the air and the lovely heirloom apples in Monsieur Talmot's stall, we were inspired to preheat the oven and bake some classic French pastry. In France, you will find an apple tart in every window of every pâtisserie, but we prefer to spend the afternoon baking to welcome in the new season. The classic apple tart in France is most often made with a purée of apples topped with sliced apples in a decorative fashion and it is usually coated with an apricot glaze. For this tart, the purée is flavored with just a hint of vanilla and the top of the tart is brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar so it comes out lightly caramelized but not too sweet. It's the perfect dessert to celebrate fall. Served with sweetened crème fraîche or whipped cream flavored with just a touch of Calvados, it just might be a slice of heaven.

Apple Tart

serves 6 to 8

1 recipe Pâte Sucrée (from "The Cook's Basics")
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced into even 1/8-inch slices
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar

for the apple purée
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled cored and diced
1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the tart pan with the pâte sucrée. Prick the bottom with a fork and line the shell with parchment. Fill the lined tart with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 15 minutes until the edges are set and lightly browned. Take the tart out of the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper and dried beans.

To make the apple purée, put the diced apples, vanilla bean pod, sugar and butter in a saucepan with 3 to 4 tablespoons of water. Cook gently, stirring often until soft, adding more water if necessary, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Using the tip of a knife to scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean, then discard the pod. Transfer the mixture to a food mill or mash with a fork until smooth.

Heat the butter in a sauté pan and gently sauté the apple slices to coat them in the butter until just softened.

Spread the purée evenly in the partially baked tart shell. Carefully arrange the apple slices in a neat circle around the edge. They should be tightly overlapping but not squished together. Depending on the size of your tart pan and the apples, you can repeat to create an inner circle or just fill in the center in a decorative pattern. Sprinkle over a tablespoon or two of sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven until just browned and tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of crème fraîche or Calvados spiked whipped cream.

Seasonal Recipes: Autumn

Pan roasted quail

This is the ultimate autumn dish and it is simple to prepare. It covers all the bases, it is beautiful and most importantly, it tastes amazing. We serve it with roasted autumn vegetables, girolles and toasted breadcrumbs.  It can also be easily adapted for a lighter Spring version by adding brown buttered asparagus, roasted baby tomatoes and fresh herbs.

Pan Roasted Quail

12 quail, butterflied

extra-virgin olive oil

1cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup lardons

1 cup shallots

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons rosemary, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped flat leafed parsley

fleur de sel and black pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

To butterfly the quail, use scissors to cut along each side of the backbone, and then place them on the cutting board and gently press down with the palm of your hand to flatten them. Pat the quail dry using paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the breadcrumbs with a drizzle of olive oil. Spread them on a baking sheet, and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden brown. Toast the pine nuts, 5 to 7 minutes, just until they begin to turn golden brown.

In a dutch oven, add a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the lardons over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until crisp. Turn the heat down and add the shallots, fresh thyme and rosemary. Sauté 3 to 4 minutes, until the shallots are translucent and starting to caramelize. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Working in batches, place the quail, skin side down, in the hot skillet and sear until the skin crisps, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the quail over and put the skillet in the oven to finish cooking, about 3 minutes more.

Reheat the shallots and lardons over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the breadcrumbs, pine nuts and parsley. Check for seasoning.

Seasonal Recipes: Autumn

Gratin Dauphinois

This is our take on the French classic. It's perfect for a cook's lunch with a simple salad and a glass of Bourgogne chardonnay. Enjoy!

Gratin Dauphinois

1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 cup Comté cheese, grated
about 1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
fresh nutmeg, for grating
sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Rub the gratin dish with the cut garlic. Smear the inside of the dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.

Use a mandoline to slice the potatoes to 1/8-inch thick rounds. Place one layer of potatoes side by side, slightly overlapping, on the bottom of the dish. Season with salt, pepper, thyme and a grate or two of fresh nutmeg. Top with 1/3 of the cheese and drizzle 1/4 cup of cream. Arrange a second layer of potatoes, repeat with the seasonings, 1/3 of the cheese and 1/4 cup of cream. Press the potatoes down with your fingers as you go, letting the cream soak up through the layers.

Arrange another layer of potatoes on top, season with salt, pepper, thyme, nutmeg and finish with a layer of cheese. Drizzle 1/4 cup of cream. The cream should cover the potatoes, but not be too "liquidy". If it seems dry, add a little more cream.

Bake for 45 minutes until the potatoes are tender, the cream has been absorbed and the top is nice and golden brown.

Seasonal Recipes: Autumn

Fig + vanilla confiture

Lovely figs from Madame Loichet's Saturday morning market table make the best fig and vanilla jam.

Fig and Vanilla Confiture

1 kg fresh figs
400 grams sugar
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 vanilla beans

Rinse the figs in cold water and dry them in a towel.  Remove the stems.  Quarter each fig lengthwise.

In a bowl, combine the fruit, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla beans, split lengthwise.  Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and let macerate 1 hour.

Pour this preparation into a preserving pan and bring to a simmer.   Pour back into the bowl.  Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, bring this preparation to a boil in a preserving pan.  Skim and continue cooking on high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring gently.  Remove the vanilla beans.  Return to a boil.  Check the set.  Put the jam into jars and seal.

Seasonal Recipes: Autumn

Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon is a classic French dish and a favorite winter main course at The Cook's Atelier.  It is so seasonal and comforting.  We love to make this in the winter months for luncheons with family and friends as well as for cooking class guests during  A Cook's Workshop winter program.  It's a classic Burgundian dish and pairs well with a young red Burgundy wine.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Serves 6

One 6-ounce piece of slab bacon, cut into lardons

Olive oil

3 pounds of lean stewing meat, cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups red wine, preferably a young Burgundy

About 3 cups beef stock, preferably homemade

2 garlic cloves, smashed

3 thyme sprigs

3 Italian parsley sprigs

2 bay leaves

24 white pearl onions

1 pound mushrooms

In a large dutch oven, sauté the lardons in a drizzle of olive oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Trim away the excess fat and any silver skin from the meat. Cut into pieces approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches by 1 inch thick. Dry the beef with paper towels as it will not brown if it is damp. Season all sides of the meat with salt and pepper.

Increase the heat and add a drizzle of olive oil, if necessary, and heat until almost smoking. Add the meat, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Only add as many pieces of meat as will fit comfortably in a single layer; do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam rather than brown. Transfer the meat to a platter. Brown the remaining meat in batches, adding more oil to the pan as necessary.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.

Return the meat and bacon to the dutch oven. Sprinkle on the flour and toss to coat the meat lightly. Set the dutch oven uncovered in the middle of rack of the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and continue to cook an additional 4 minutes to brown the flour.

Remove the dutch oven and turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees F.

Add the wine and beef stock, just enough so the meat is barely covered. Add the garlic, thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove. Cover the dutch oven and set in the lower third of the oven. Be sure to regulate the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for 3 hours, or until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork.

While the meat is cooking, prepare the vegetables.

To prepare the onions

Cut an X in the root end of each onion and place in a bowl.

Meanwhile, bring to a boil enough water to cover the onions. Pour the boiling water over the onions. When the onion skins have softened enough to be easily peeled, drain the onions. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the onions and trim the roots as necessary.

Place the onions in a saucepan that will hold them in a single or double layer, add cold water to cover them by 1 inch, and season the water with bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the onions are tender when pierced with a paring knife.

A Cook’s Note: The onions can be kept at room temperature for up to 1 hour or covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

To prepare the mushrooms

Trim away the mushroom stems flush with the caps. Heat the butter in a large skillet over high heat until it has melted and the foam has subsided. Add the mushrooms, reduce the heat to medium low, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook gently, tossing often, until the mushrooms are lightly browned and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

To finish the dish 

 When the meat is tender, remove the thyme, parsley and bay leaves. If necessary, skim off the fat. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Add the cooked onions and mushrooms. Taste for seasoning. 

 We like to serve our Boeuf Bourguignon with little boiled potatoes and a handful of fresh parsley leaves.

Seasonal Recipes: Autumn

Coq au vin with vin blanc

According to the calendar, spring has arrived. A stroll through the park peeks your interest with the arrival of daffodils and the abundance of flowering trees just ready to bloom. At the market, we are just beginning to see the beautiful white asparagus, english peas and fava beans, but with the remaining chilly days in the forecast, it seems that spring can be a bit finicky. 

In the kitchen, it's still too early to banish braised meats and creamy potatoes just yet, but we'll lighten them up with a little taste of spring. Coq au vin is a classic Burgundian dish and is typically made with red wine, however, we prefer to use a dry white wine in the warmer months as it makes for a lighter version of the well-known dish. In addition, for a quick and easy preparation, we substitute the classic pearl onions with a chopped onion.

Coq au Vin with Vin Blanc

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces thick-cut bacon slices, cut into lardons (rectangles 1/4 inch across and 1 inch long)

1-4 pound chicken, backbone removed, cut into 8 pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings with top quarter of adjoining breast, 2 breasts)

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 medium onion, chopped

6 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 cups dry white wine
1 bouquet garni (4 sprigs thyme, a small bunch of parsley, and 1 bay leaf)
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

for the mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound assorted fresh wild mushrooms

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat oil in a heavy large pot (wide enough to hold the chicken in a single layer) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and sauté until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a small bowl. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Sauté, skin side down, in 2 batches until golden brown (do not turn), about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Cook the garlic, onion and carrots over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and boil, uncovered, until reduced by about half, 3 to 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot, skin side up, add the bacon and the bouquet garni. Cover with stock and simmer, partially covered, until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the mushrooms. Place a skillet over high heat with the butter and extra-virgin olive oil. As soon as the butter foam has begun to subside, which indicates it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms to the pot and bring to a simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes to incorporate the flavors. Adjust the seasoning and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serve from the pot or arrange on a hot platter with creamy mashed potatoes.

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