Stuffed Mushrooms. ‘Champignons Farcis’Click for Reviews

 

Last month my latest cookbook purchase arrived in the post.

Its English title is…..**drum roll please**…..”The Escoffier cookbook and guide to the fine art of cookery for connoisseurs, chefs, epicures complete with 2,973 recipes by Auguste Escoffier”.

Its title in French is simply…‘Guide Culinaire’, meaning ‘Culinary Guide’.

book cover

August Escoffier was born in Villeneuve-Loubert, France, and began his culinary career at the age of thirteen in his uncle’s restaurant in Nice. He cooked in Paris, Lucerne, and Monte Carlo before opening ‘The Savoy Hotel’ in London in 1890, and later he took charge of the kitchens in London’s ‘Carlton Hotel’.

In 1903, he wrote his monumental cookbook especially for the American kitchen, called ‘Guide Culinaire’ with its 2,973 recipes and only 2 pages of pictures which show the differences between French cooking moulds.

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He is known for his creation ‘Peach Melba’, to honour the Australian singing diva Dame Nellie Melba.

I asked my son to open the book at any page and I would try to cook it. He did so, and it opened at the section ‘Fish and seafood’ and the page dealing with oysters. He looked at me with a very worried expression and said “Oh no not seafood” and asked if he could pick again. As disappointed as I was that I wasn’t going to get oysters, I told him to pick again.

This time it was in the section for ‘Vegetables and Starchy Products’. “Oh that’s better” he said, and handed me the book. It was open on the page containing various recipes using cepes and mushrooms. It just so happened I had bought 2 huge cup mushrooms the day earlier and was planning on cooking them whole on the BBQ. Recipe number #2075 is for ‘Stuffed mushrooms’, and so their fate was sealed.

For those of you comfortable with “a pinch of this” and “a few drops of that”, I will quote the recipe straight from the book, but for those needing exact measurements, these will be in the recipe below.

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 ‘Champignons Farcis’ written by Escoffier.

“Select some fine, medium-sized mushroom caps; wash them, and dry them well. Set them on a dish; season them; sprinkle them with a few drops of oil; put them in the oven for five minutes, and garnish their midst with duxelles shaped like a dome, and thickened or not, with breadcrumbs.

Sprinkle the surface with fine raspings and a few drops of oil or melted butter, and set the gratin to form in a somewhat hot oven.”

 

There you go… a nice, short, easy recipe… until you notice the three French words in bold, which, unless you are familiar with French culinary terms, need some explanation.

Let’s start with the word ‘duxelles’. This is a very useful technique that can be applied in various ways and in many other dishes. The basic ‘duxelle seche’ or dry duxelle, is made by frying, in butter and or oil, the storks and peels (or skins) of mushrooms along with onions, and adding fresh parsley just before being used in its required recipe.

The next word is ‘raspings’. Traditionally the breadcrumbs that were used during Escoffier’s time, were not as fine as the bread crumbs you buy from the supermarket today, but where closer to the Japanese style of crumbs known as ‘Panko’. Raspings were those larger pieces of breadcrumbs that had been passed through a fine sieve, of which there could be ‘Golden raspings’ using the oven-dried brown crusts, or ‘White raspings’ made from crustless white bread. So a recipe could ask for the use of both breadcrumb (larger pieces) and raspings (fine crumb). This recipe asked for both.

And lastly the word ‘gratin’ which has at least four different applications, however I will deal only with the one needed here. This time it basically means, a well-buttered dish or tray where the food is cooked in, with the food usually having some kind of topping- in this case the raspings- and when cooked, is often sprinkled with a little lemon juice and freshly chopped parsley.

And so to the recipe for those needing exact measurements:

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Stuffed Mushrooms.

Ingredients

  • Two large (or four medium) cup mushrooms

Ingredients needed for the Duxelles

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 brown (yellow) onion, chopped in a fine dice
  • I pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 3-4 stalks finely chopped flat leaf parsley (leaves only)

Extra ingredients needed

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • ½ cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp. fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter (or olive oil)
  • 1 tbsp.  lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (leaves only)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC
  2. Clean mushrooms, remove the stalk, and gently peel off the skin from the cap. Put the peeled mushroom caps on a plate, cover and set aside.
  3. To make the Duxelle, finely chop the mushroom stalks and skin. Sweat the onions in the butter until transparent. Add the mushroom stalks and skin and fry until all liquid has evaporated and everything is starting to change to a golden brown.
  4. Season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg cooking for one minute, add parsley, stir though and remove from heat, setting aside, covered until needed.
  5. Place mushroom caps on a buttered baking tray, gills side up. Sprinkle with the oil and salt and pepper, and place in an 180oC oven for 5-8 mins, or until just tender but still firm enough to hold its own shape.
  6. Remove caps from oven and increase oven temperature to 200oC.
  7. Mix the panko crumbs with the duxelle, dividing the mixture between the mushroom caps, making domes.
  8. Sprinkle with the fine breadcrumbs and drizzle the melted butter over the tops. Place the stuffed and breadcrumbed caps (now being called ‘gratin’) back into the oven and cook for another 5-10 mins or until the breadcrumbs are a nice golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a little lemon juice and fresh chopped parsley and serve straight away.

Serves two as a main meal or four as an entrée along with a crisp green salad.

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Tips and ideas:

It is sometimes served on a round of buttered white toast to soak up any lovely juices.

For less traditional variations, you could add some finely chopped ham or bacon to the duxelle whilst frying the onions. The addition of pinenuts, sultanas, walnuts, dried chopped apricots, etc. along with various herbs, chilli or spices also works well.

These can also be made ahead of time, being stuffed and ready for the final cooking, either in the oven or BBQ, just before serving is required.

 

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Apple Tarte Tatin: French Apple TartClick for Reviews

 

Tarte Tatin is basically an upside-down tart, which traditionally is made with apples that are caramelised in butter and sugar before the top is put on and baked.

There are a few fanciful stories as to how this tart received its name, however while in Paris at my cooking classes in Le Cordon Bleu, (brag brag), chef told the best one so far….

Hotel Tatin was run by two sisters, Stephanie and Caroline Tatin. They lived in the town of Lamotte-Beuvron, France, about 160 km south of Paris, in the 1880’s.

1.

Stephanie and Caroline Tatin

Legend has it that Caroline, the brighter of the two sisters, would deal with “front of house”, while poor sweet, but ditsy Stephanie was delegated to the kitchen. While beginning to make a traditional apple pie one day, Stephanie “forgot” to put a pie crust on the bottom of the pan before placing the apples and sugar in, covering it with pastry and putting the whole pan in the oven. After removing the “tarte” from the oven, she realised her mistake. Not wanting to waste food and at least put something on the table, she presented it “upside down” on a plate with a dollop of thick cream. The hotel guests loved the caramelised apples and crisp “base” so much, that….. Et voila!… a classic was born.

2.

1880’s picture

The famous Parisian restaurateur Maxim, decided after hearing of this new dish, that he must have the recipe, and sent one of his cooks disguised as a gardener, to work in the hotels kitchen gardens and spy on the kitchen so as to steal the recipe. After three weeks he was discovered as a fraud and fired. However he was lucky enough to “pierce the secrets of the kitchen”, and to this day, in Maxim’s, Paris, you can order “Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin”.

Tarte Tatin was traditionally made using two apple varieties called Calville and Reine des Reinettes (King of the Pippins). Over time, other varieties have been used and here in Australia the best ones to choose from are Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonathan or Gala apples. Basically any apple, except the floury varieties, that can hold their shape in the pan and not break down and dissolve into apple sauce.

Tarte Tatin is also made using pears, pineapple, peaches, plums, etc, and even tomatoes or beetroot, but my favourite variation is made with leeks, onion, or the French purple shallot topped with little pieces of salty goats’ cheese to balance out the sweetness of the leeks, and garnished with thyme or tarragon for extra fragrance.

3.

Hotel Tatin is still open today

 

And so to the recipe…..

INGREDIENTS:

 

  • 6-7 apples, peeled, quartered and cored
  • 200 g white sugar
  • 75 g butter
  • A sheet of readymade puff pastry to cover;

 

Or you can make a short crust pastry using the flowing ingredients. (See notes.)

  • 225 g plain flour
  • 2 tbspn caster sugar
  • 120 g cold butter
  • 1 medium egg, beaten

 4.

Granny smiths

 

METHOD:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
  2. Put sugar and butter into a heavy-based oven-proof pan.
  3. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes until it starts to caramelise.

 

5.

    4. Place apples round side down on top of the caramel.

6.

    5. Continue to cook on medium to low heat until the apples are starting to be surrounded by the caramel and are becoming soft.

 

7.

 6. Cover the tarte with pastry, (see notes on pastry type used), tucking edges down around the apples….watch your fingers as caramel is VERY HOT! Bake for about 30 mins until pastry is golden and remove from oven.

         7. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 mins.

8.

The caramel will be very hot and continue to simmer for a few mins.

 

8. After resting the tarte for 5 mins, place a serving plate slightly larger than the pan, upside-down onto the pastry. Using gloves or towels quickly but carefully invert and allow pan to stay on top for a minute or two just to allow the caramel to release from the bottom of the pan.

 

 9.

9. Carefully remove pan using gloves or towel.

 

TIPS:

Tarte Tain is best served warm, with a dollop of cream, creme fraiche, or real vanilla ice cream.

 10.

NOTES:

If making pastry, using the ingredients list above, sift the flour and add sugar and a pinch of salt.

  • Rub butter into flour with fingers until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.

Mix the egg with 2 tspn cold water, pour over flour and butter and mix together to form a soft but not sticky dough, adding gradually a little more water if needed.

Shape into a ball, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 20 mins before rolling out.

 

  • The apples cooked in caramel can be made hours before so that you only need place the pastry on top and cook tarte in oven just before needed, removing the pan in front of your guests and getting that “OOOHH WOW” we all like so much.

COMMENTS FROM OLD BLOG:

 

GAYNORB. 20.08.2013

Hi Corrie,
I’ve been looking for a good tatin recipe and I think I’ve found it!
Thanks
Gaynor

MAUREEN. 22.06.2012

I love tarte tatin. I can only make it when we have guests because I can’t leave it alone until it’s gone. 🙂

LORRAINE @ NOT QUITE NIGELLA. .06.2012

This is one of my favourite desserts when the sweetness of the apple is done just right. I didn’t know about Maxim though-sneaky!

 

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