Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Parmesan and Goats Cheese Bites at the French Laundry

Recently a local lotto was drawn with a prize of more than $100 million dollars. Like most of the population, I don't usually buy tickets in the lotto, but this prize was big enough to drive me to wander up to the newsagency and put my money down. The best part of any lottery is the happy time between buying the ticket ("I'm sure it is my turn to win this time") and the draw ("I was robbed. Surely I should have won.") This is the time when it is perfectly permissable to spend hours contemplating what you would do with all the money. Paying off debts is a given, as is sharing the good fortune around with family and charities. But what would your ultimate indulgence be, once all the sensible stuff was done? One of mine (alongside buckets of fresh flowers every week and a massage now and then) would be to eat at some of the world's best restaurants. And at the top of that list is The French Laundry, in California.

Sadly, I know that a meal at The French Laundry won't be mine in the foreseeable future. So I have invested in the cookbook instead. It runs the gamut of recipes from the very simple to the technically extraordinary, and is the subject of the excellent French Laundry At Home blog. This blog, written very wittily by Carol Blymire, works its way through the entire book, and is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to cook from the book. It is also a fun read with lots of great "music to cook by" recommendations.
One of Carol's first recipe attempts was the parmesan crisps with goats cheese mousse, and I decided to follow her lead and start at the simple end of things. This is a delicious nibble - my one piece of advice not included in the recipe is to do your piping at the last minute so your crisp does not go soggy (obvious I know but I still did it). Serve as a nosh with drinks and watch as they vanish.
Parmesan Reggiano Crisps With Goats Cheese Mousse
from "The French Laundry Cookbook" by Thomas Keller
Parmesan Crisps
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (from a moist piece of cheese)
Goat Cheese Mousse
180g fresh goat cheese (or other soft goat cheese)
4 to 6 tablespoons pouring cream
1 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A clean egg carton
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
For the Parmesan Crisps:Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
Place a 2-1/2-inch ring mold (I used a scone cutter) in one corner of the baking tray and fill it with 3 tsps of the grated cheese. Using your finger, spread the cheese into an even layer. Repeat to make 8 rounds, leaving at least 3cms between them.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crisps are a rich golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for about 30 seconds to firm the crisps enough so you can remove them with a spatula. One by one, remove the crisps and gently press each one into a hollow in the egg carton to form a tulip shape. After a few minutes, remove the cooled crisps from the carton and make 8 more crisps.

For the Goat Cheese Mousse:Place the goat cheese in a food processor and process (depending on the cheese used, it may look smooth or crumbly). Pour 1/4 cup of the cream through the feed tube and continue to process until the mixture is smooth but will hold a shape when piped; if necessary, add a little more cream. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste and mix just to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning. The mousse can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days; let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to soften slightly before piping.

Place the mousse in a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. Pipe 2 to 3 teaspoons of mousse into each Parmesan crisp and serve.


Summer said...

These look delicious. What an elegant addition they would make to a cocktail party. I've always wanted to go to French Laundry too and somehow we've never made it there. Pretty sad as I grew up in California!

Heather T - sloCooking said...

I love your blog. Check out your "Make Me Hungry Award"...

Anonymous said...

A good story

GK Chesterton: “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

Voila: This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

From a hectic life in New York City to the peace and glories of the French countryside lead me to be the co-founder of Ten years later with the words of Pierre Androuet hammering on my brain:

“Cheese is the soul of the soil. It is the purest and most romantic link between humans and the earth.”

I took pen and paper; many reams later with the midnight oil burning Tasting to Eternity was born and self published.

I believe cheese and wine lovers should be told about this publication.