What better way to celebrate our great nation than to watch a documentary about corporate greed, consumerism, and excess? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Queen of Versailles! This documentary is on Netflix Instant to view now. It follows a billionaire couple as they attempt construction on the largest single family home in America and find themselves needing to cut back on their lifestyle when the sub-prime mortgage collapse happens. And when I say “cut back” I mean that David Siegel’s trophy wife, Jackie, must be forced to only buy two of everything instead of five of everything.
Following the wise wisdom of Jackie, we will serve you a budget dinner: TWO DISHES FOR EVERY COURSE! And we are making it French! Obvi. First up, DRANKS!
1. KIR ROYALE
Kir is a popular French cocktail usually served before a meal, so it only makes sense to start with this.
1/5 Crème de Cassis
4/5 chilled dry white wine or chilled dry Champagne
It is important to add the Crème de Cassis to the glass first, followed by the wine. Otherwise they do not mix very well or uniformly. The Cassis should be room temperature.
And because we are on a budget, more champagne cocktails!! Ugh, this is so rough being on a budget and all. The struggle is real, ya’ll.
.5 oz Lemon juice
.5 oz Simple syrup
1 oz Gin
3 oz Champagne
1 Lemon twist
Add all the ingredients except the Champagne to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake well and strain into a glass. Top with the Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.
Okay. Not just any bouillabaisse but Julia Child’s Bouillabaisse Recipe! I love a hearty seafood soup and this one is perfectly indulgent but super time consuming. You should put the housekeeper to work on this while you continue to drink your cocktails.
FOR THE SOUP BASE:
3/4 cup minced leek
1 cup minced onion
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic (mashed)
1 pound tomatoes (roughly chopped)
2 1/2 quart water
6 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon thyme or basil
1/8 teaspoon fennel
2 big pinches of saffron
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon salt
3-4 pounds lean fish (fish heads/bones/trimmings/shellfish remains or frozen fish from the list or 1 quart clam juice/1 1/2 quarts of water/no salt)
FOR THE BOUILLABAISSE:
1 halibut steak
1 large fillet of red snapper (cut into pieces)
3 large scallops (sliced in half)
rounds of toasted French bread
1/3 Cup fresh parsley (roughly chopped)
FOR THE ROUILLE:
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper (simmered for several minutes in salted or canned pimiento
1 small chili pepper (boiled until tender) or drops of Tabasco sauce
1 medium potato (cooked in the soup)
4 cloves mashed garlic
1 teaspoon basil
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons hot soup
For the Fish Soup Base: Cook the onions and leeks slowly in olive oil for 5 minutes or until almost tender. Stir in the garlic and tomatoes. Raise heat to moderate and cook 5 minutes more. Add the water, herbs, seasonings and fish to the kettle and cook uncovered at a moderate boil for 30 to 40 minutes. Strain, pressing juice out of ingredients. Taste carefully for seasoning and strength. It should be delicious at this point, so it will need no further fussing with later. You should have about 2 1/2 quarts in a high, rather narrow kettle.
For the Bouillabaisse: Bring the soup to a rapid boil 20 minutes before serving. Add the firm-fleshed fish, the halibut. Bring quickly back to the boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Add the tender-fleshed fish, the clams, mussels, and scallops. Bring rapidly to the boil again and boil 5 minutes more to until the fish are just tender when pierced with a fork. Do not overcook. Immediately lift out the fish and arrange on the platter. Correct seasoning, and pour the soup into the tureen over rounds of French bread. Spoon a ladleful of soup over the fish, and sprinkle parsley over both fish and soup. Serve immediately accompanied by the optional rouille.
For the Rouille: Pound all ingredients in a bowl or mortar for several minutes to form a very smooth, sticky paste. Drop by drop, pound or beat in the olive oil as for making a mayonnaise. Season to taste. Just before serving, beat in the hot soup by dribblets. Pour in a sauce boat.
And not just anybody’s duck recipe. Chef Jacques Pépin’s duck! This dish takes 3 hours with about half this time being truly active here. Better hire more help so you can sip more champagne cocktails.
Two 5 1/2- to 6-pound Pekin ducks, trimmed of excess fat—necks, gizzards and hearts reserved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1 small leek, white and pale green parts only, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed but not peeled
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 cup dry white wine
5 navel oranges
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons currant jelly
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 450°. Cut off the first two wing joints of the ducks and reserve. Chop the necks into 2-inch lengths. Prick the ducks around the thighs, backs and breasts. Season the ducks inside and out with salt and pepper. Set a rack in a very large roasting pan. Set the ducks breast up on the rack as far apart as possible. Add the water to the pan and roast the ducks in the center of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 350°. Turn the ducks on their sides, propping them up by placing 2 large balls of foil between them, and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the ducks to their other sides and roast for 30 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the hearts, gizzards, wing joints and necks and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until richly browned, 10 minutes. Add the carrots, tomatoes, celery, leek, onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and tomato paste, then gradually stir in the stock and wine. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer for 1 hour. Strain the sauce into a bowl, pressing on the solids.
Meanwhile, remove the zest in strips from 1 of the oranges. Cut the zest into a very fine julienne. In a small saucepan of boiling water, blanch the julienne for 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water; pat dry.
Halve and squeeze 2 of the oranges; you will need 1 cup of juice. Peel the remaining oranges (including the one you stripped the zest from) with a knife, removing all of the bitter white pith. Cut in between the membranes to release the sections into a bowl.
In a medium saucepan, boil the sugar and vinegar over moderately high heat until the syrup is a pale caramel color, 4 minutes. Gradually add the 1 cup of orange juice, then the currant jelly and bring to a boil. Add the strained duck sauce and simmer over moderate heat to reduce slightly, 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the Grand Marnier and remove from the heat. Swirl in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Pour off the fat in the roasting pan. Turn the ducks, breasts sides up, and roast for 40 minutes longer. Remove the ducks from the oven and preheat the broiler. Broil the ducks 6 inches from the heat, rotating the pan a few times, until richly browned, about 3 minutes.
Insert a wooden spoon into the cavities and tilt the ducks, letting the juices run into the pan. Transfer the ducks to a platter and keep warm. Scrape the pan juices into a fat separator and pour the juices back into the roasting pan. Simmer over moderate heat, scraping up any browned bits and coagulated juices. Strain the contents of the roasting pan into the orange sauce.
Garnish the duck platter with the reserved orange sections and scatter the blanched zest over the ducks. Carve the ducks at the table and pass the sauce separately.
The base for the orange duck sauce (Step 3) can be prepared up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.
The macaron is a predominantly French confection and with this recipe I present not just one type, but five variations of macaroon and two variations of lemon curd. (I know I said two of everything, but it’s easy to go overboard when it comes to sweets). And since the project for biggest home in America has been abandoned, we will eat cookies to fill that void.
7-3/8 oz. (1-3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs.) confectioners’ sugar
4-3/8 oz. (1-1/4 cups plus 2 Tbs.) almond flour
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Make the batter:
Line 3 completely flat baking sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners and set aside. Using a medium-mesh sieve, sift the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour into a large bowl and set aside. In a clean stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a large bowl and a hand mixer), whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy and the wires of the beater(s) leave a trail, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 Tbs. of the granulated sugar and continue to whip for another 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat 3 times with the remaining granulated sugar. Once all of the sugar is mixed in, continue whipping the whites until they turn glossy and stiff (when you lift the beater(s) from the bowl, the whites should hold a straight peak that doesn’t curl at the tip), 4 to 8 minutes more. With a large rubber spatula, fold in half of the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once most of it has been incorporated, fold in the remaining mixture until just combined.
Pipe the cookies:
Using a piping bag fitted with a 1/2- to 3/4-inch round tip (Ateco#806 to #809), pipe the batter onto the prepared sheets in rounds that are about 1 inch in diameter and 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, spaced about 1-1/2 inches apart. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. Rap the sheet against the counter several times to flatten the mounds and pop any large air bubbles. Let rest until the meringues no longer feel tacky, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.
Bake the cookies:
Put 2 of the cookie sheets in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 300°F (let the third sheet sit at room temperature). Bake, rotating the sheets and swapping their positions after 8 minutes, until the meringues are very pale golden, 15 to 20 minutes total. Cool completely on the baking sheets on racks. Meanwhile, return the oven temperature to 325°F and then bake the third sheet as above. Remove the meringues from the parchment and pair them by size.
Fill the cookies:
Using a piping bag with the same tip used to pipe the cookies, pipe 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of the filling onto half of the cookies—you want to use just enough filling that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. The cookies are best the day they’re made, but you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
Not happy with just almond macarons? Of course you aren’t. You need at least five more options. Here are some variations:
Cinnamon Macarons: Add 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon to the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour while sifting; proceed as directed.
Black Pepper Macarons: Add 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper to the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour while sifting; proceed as directed. Sprinkle with a little black pepper as soon as you pipe them.
Sesame Macarons: Using a spice grinder, grind 2 Tbs. sesame seeds to a fine powder. Add the powder to the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour while sifting; proceed as directed. Sprinkle the meringues with a few sesame seeds as soon as you pipe them.
Vanilla Macarons: Scrape and add the seeds from one-quarter of a vanilla bean to the egg whites after they’ve formed glossy, stiff peaks. Distribute the seeds evenly throughout the batter by pressing the clumps of seeds against the edge of the bowl with a spatula. Proceed as directed.
Cocoa Macarons: Reduce the amount of almond flour by 7/8 oz. (1/4 cup) and substitute 1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) cocoa powder; proceed as directed.
Lemon Curd Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
In a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan, heat the lemon juice and butter over medium-high heat until just under a boil. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk and then slowly whisk in the sugar until combined. Gradually whisk the hot lemon juice mixture into the sugar and eggs.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping the bottom of the pan frequently, until the curd thickens and coats the spoon, 2 to 4 minutes. Draw your finger along the back of the spoon; when the curd is done, it should hold the trail.
Remove the curd from the heat and strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic onto the surface of the curd, and chill for 1 to 2 hours before using. Make Ahead Tips: The curd can be made up to 5 days ahead; refrigerate in an airtight container.
Variations: Rosemary-Lemon curd! Add 3/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary to the saucepan with the lemon juice and butter and bring the mixture to just under a boil. Remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour. Bring the mixture to just under a boil again, and continue as directed.