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Seasonal Recipes: Winter

Chocolate Pear Tarts

This is such a sweet treat for those very special Holiday occasions.  Everyone is sure to love them!


Chocolate Pear Tartlettes

Serves 12


For the chocolate dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

a pinch of fleur de sel

8 ounces, unsalted butter

2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup heavy cream


To make the dough

Whisk the cream and egg yolks together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder,sugar and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces, about a half an inch. Add the butter to the flour mixture and toss to coat the butter with the flour. Using your hands, combine the butter with the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Be careful not to overwork the dough as it will make the dough tough. Continue this process until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the heavy cream and egg yolk mixture and toss gently with a fork, just until it is incorporated. Feel free to use your hands to continue to combine the ingredients. But again, be sure to not overwork the dough. You can tell when the dough is ready by taking a small handful, squeezing it together. It if holds together, the dough is ready. If not, feel free to add a little more cream, a drizzle at a time, to reach the right consistency. When the dough is ready, divide the dough in two and place it on a sheet of plastic wrap. Gather the plastic wrap around the dough, forming a pouch, twist and push down to form a flat disk. Chill the dough for at least an hour or preferably overnight.


For the custard

8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted

3 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup crème fraîche

1/2 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, seeds removed

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a pot of simmering water to melt, being careful that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl, or you will over heat the chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, heavy cream, crème fraîche, sugar and vanilla beans together until thoroughly mixed. Slowing add the melted chocolate, stirring constantly.


To prepare the tart 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven. 

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and divide it into 12 pieces. sprinkle with a little bit of flour and Roll each piece into a 1/8-inch-thick circle, slightly larger than the tartlette pan, flouring as needed. Gently press the dough into the tartlette pan, being careful not to stretch the dough as this will cause it to shrink when baking. To remove the excess dough, work your way around the edge pinching off the excess dough with your fingers. Chill the dough in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking. 

Line the shell with parchment paper. Fill the lined tart with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 10 minutes, just until the sides have set. Take the tart out of the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper and dried beans. Return the tart to the oven, and bake until turning as needed to ensure even baking. Set aside on a rack to cool. 

Stem pears and cut each in half lengthwise; scoop out cores. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Pour a little of the filling into each tartlette shell, being careful not to overfill as the custard will puff when baked. Gently press each pear half to fan the slices but keep the slices tightly overlapped and arrange on the tart. 

Bake tart until the custard is set and a tester inserted into the center of the filling comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool tart in pan. To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

    Seasonal Recipes: Winter

    Winter citrus salad

    This is a favorite winter salad here at The Cook's Atelier. It is perfect when it's cold outside, but you are craving a little taste of spring. It's been chilly here in Beaune and we're working by the fire planning this year's programs. We've got some excited projects in the works and we can hardly wait to share them with you.

    It's that time of year when we are dreaming about the plans for this year's potager and counting the days until spring arrives. As much as we adore the rustic, peasant-style dishes of winter, we're looking forward to dining alfresco, tender baby peas topped with French butter and fresh strawberries picked and eaten right in the garden. Fennel is a winter staple in the kitchen at The Cook's Atelier and is perfect when sliced thin and paired with blood oranges and French garden radishes, drizzled with olive oil, and simply finished with a grind of fresh pepper and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Depending on what looks good at the market, we also might add beets or pomegranate seeds. This salad takes on many different variations here in our kitchen.  It' a beautiful salad that is bright and cheerful - perfect as we countdown the days until spring.

    Winter Citrus Salad with Beets, Fennel, and Garden Radishes

    Makes 4 to 6 servings

    1 medium red beet, top trimmed
    1 medium golden beet, top trimmed
    2 blood oranges, supremed
    1 medium navel orange, supremed
    1 fennel bulb, sliced very thin using a mandoline
    1/2 bunch of radishes, sliced very thin using a mandoline
    1 small shallot, sliced very thin using a mandoline
    a handful of watercress leaves
    Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 cup loosely packed fresh chervil leaves

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the beets. Wrap individually in foil; place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until they are tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 1 hour. Let cool.

    To supreme the oranges: Using a sharp knife, cut the stem and blossom ends from the blood and navel oranges. Place the oranges cut side down. Following the contour of the fruit, working from top to bottom with your knife, remove the peel and white pith. Over a bowl, cut along each side of the membrane to separate the segments.

    Quarter the fennel bulbs lengthwise, using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut lengthwise into thin slices. Set aside. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the radishes into thin slices.
    Slice the beets crosswise into thin rounds.

    Arrange sliced beets in the center of the plate. Toss the fennel, radishes, shallot and watercress in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of the orange juice. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the fennel and radishes over the beets and place the blood orange and naval orange segments in and around the salad. Garnish with chervil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

    Seasonal Recipes: Winter

    Christmas citrus salad

    Citrus Salad with Fennel, Radishes and Pomegranate
    Serves 6

    2 oranges
    1 small bunch of French breakfast radishes
    3 heads of fennel
    juice of 1 small lemon
    3 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
    A grind or two of fresh black pepper and a sprinkling of fleur de sel
    1 pomegranate, seeded
    a handful of Italian parsley leaves

    Slice off the bottom of each orange and cut away the peel and pith from top to bottom. Cut into segments and remove the seeds.

    Cut off the leaves of the radishes and cut into thin slices using a vegetable peeler. If the leaves of the radishes are perky, add them to the salad. 

    Trim off the fennel tops and slice in half. Remove the tough outer layer and trim the bottom. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut into very thin slices, tossing them into a bowl of lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring. 

    Gently toss all of the ingredients together, except for the oranges and pomegranate seeds, in a small bowl. Season to taste and arrange on a platter. Tuck the slices of orange in and around the salad. Finish with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and parsley leaves.

    Seasonal Recipes: Winter

    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: Winter

    Escargot

    Here's a Burgundian classic that is lovely any time of year. After all, how can you say no to French butter, garlic and fresh parsley from the garden! Be sure to source high-quality snails that are preserved in a brine and store-bought shells to make this timeless French classic. If you are living outside of France, you can find escargot and shells in a specialty food shop or send us an email at info@thecooksatelier and we'll send you some.

    This is such a simple recipe and very festive. Here at The Cook's Atelier we like to serve them as individual servings, in tiny copper saucepans. We may be a little old-fashioned here, but we prefer to chop the parsley, garlic and shallots by hand, using our vintage mezzaluna. We have a few of these in stock at The French Larder at The Cook's Atelier. We think they make the perfect gift for your very favorite cook.

    For our selection of vintage mezzalunas, visit our online shop, The French Larder.

    Enjoy!


    Escargots à la Bourguignonne
    Serves 4

    24 escargot shells

    24 snails

    3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

    1/2 bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley, leaves only

    3 large garlic cloves

    3 shallots

    1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Burgundian Chardonnay (1 teaspoon per shell)

    Baguette for serving


    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

    Rinse the snails in cold water, drain and set aside.

    On a large chopping board, place the parsley leaves garlic and shallots together on the work surface. Using a mezzaluna, finely chop until combined. Place the butter in a medium size bowl. Add the chopped parsley mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.

    Place one teaspoon of Burgundian Chardonnay in each shell along with a single snail. Using a teaspoon, add the butter mixture, as much as you can get in each shell. If you have any extra butter, distribute it evenly between the individual portions. Place the finished shells in an escargot pan, butter side facing up, and put into a 450 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes until the butter is bubbling.

    To serve, use small forks to pull the snails from the shells and serve with crusty baguette slices for soaking up the herbed, garlic butter.


    Seasonal Recipes: Winter

    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.

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