Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lesson 6: Cooking and Eating

After getting back from purchasing the mussels on Saturday morning, I decided to make the Bavarian Cream. Having already made Creme Anglaise for Lesson 5 it was pretty simple. The only additions were that I added gelatin to the Creme Anglaise and then as it cooled, prior to setting, I folded in whipping cream that was beat to stiff peaks. I really like how the whipping creme made the Bavarian Cream a silky white color, completely eliminating the yellow color from the egg yokes found in the Creme Anglaise.

I followed this up by making the dough, Pate Brisse, for the onion tart. I followed the directions to the best of my abilities, however I struggled with the step calling for me to "smear it across the work surface to blend the butter and flour into a smooth dough" (38). I felt like I couldn't get the dough smooth, and the more I did this the more I got concerned that I was over mixing the dough. As you can see from my final disk of dough, I don't think I made it smooth as the dough appears to be falling apart.

Pate Brisee-short crust pastry dough for onion tart

I left this in the frige overnight and then left it out of the fridge to warm slightly before working with it on Sunday afternoon. When I did get to rolling out the dough, it surprised me that the dough didn't just crumble apart. Instead it rolled out just fine. I fit it nicely into my springform pan and blind baked it.

When my grandparents arrived on Sunday afternoon, I was getting started with the rest of the meal. They enjoyed a glass of wine while I cooked the onions and onion tart and then prepared the mussels. Both took less than an hour total and made for good converstation and relaxing preparation.

The onion tart before baking:

And after:

The mussels before:

And after:

The picture above shows the mussels right out of the pan. I pulled the shells apart and tossed the half without the mussel. I found that many of the mussels had fallen out of the shell, which makes for a less interesting plate but easier to eat. 

After this, I continued to boil the wine sauce to reduce, before straining and adding creme. This was again boiled and reduced, without scorching anything, before being poured back over the mussels. The leftover creme sauce tasted so amazing that I saved it to put over pasta. I would buy mussels again, make the same preparation with the creme sauce and serve it over pasta in the future.

I plated the meal on warm plates, seen below, and then we enjoyed every bit of what was on our plates. The onion tart was highlighted by sweet onions and perfectly cooked filling. The dough should have been rolled out thinner, but didn't ruin any enjoyment of the dish. The mussels were really tender (I obviously didn't overcook them!) and mild in flavor. I was expecting a very saltwater flavor, and can't explain why that wasn't the case. The flavors of the sauce and mussels were perfect.

Onion Tart and Mussels in White Wine Cream Sauce

Because there were only 3 of us eating, I only purchased 2.5lbs of mussels instead of the 3lbs. We ate every one of the mussels and could have eaten more. I would definitely buy more mussels next time.

After clearing the plates, dessert was served. I am a huge fan of the raspberry coulis, so I smeared it all over the place. My wife loved the Bavarian Cream, but did not like the rapberry coulis because the lemon flavor was too tart for her to overcome. I think she will really like the Strawberry Bavarian Cream in Lesson 7.

Bavarian Cream with Raspberry Coulis

As a complete meal, this was easy to shop for, easy on the budget, easy to cook and very good. The only complaint about the meal was that it wasn't as filling as other meals that I have made. I went back for seconds because I was still hungry, and of course because it was very good. I wonder if this is my American perspective on portion sizes, or whether mussels aren't necessarily as filling as the other main courses?

No comments: