Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage (potato-cheese “mouthfuls”)

A few weeks ago I read Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I enjoyed it so much more than the movie – the “real” Julie was so likeable to me in the book (maybe it’s because I love that she loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer – in our opinion one of the best TV shows ever!), whereas I wish they had just made the movie all about Julia Child and left the Julie parts out because she just rubbed me the wrong way!

The one recipe that I just had to make after reading her book was for Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage – decadent potato-cheese “mouthfuls” that made me salivate just reading about them. My husband read the book after me (and surprise, surprise) guess which recipe he wanted to try? Yup – the one and the same!

I went to the internet and found a copy of the recipe, although you can also find it in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, of course. It seemed simple enough, so the next weekend I prepared a batch to go with our steak and braised carrots – YUM!

Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

I substituted sharp cheddar cheese for the Swiss called for in Julia’s recipe. We aren’t nutmeg fans at my house (and I can’t eat cayenne) so the flavor profile is slightly different from in the original recipe, but they were super fantastic and I knew that I would be sampling them at the Co-op very soon.

Well, that day was yesterday, and they were a hit with customers and staff. I usually try to avoid recipes that are too technical so they will appeal to the broadest audience (this one uses a pastry bag to pipe the sticks), but I don’t have a ton of experience using pastry bags myself and I got along fine, so I figured it was worth the “risk”. This recipe does take a lot of elbow grease (I got a doozy of a blister the first time I made them – I wore an oven mitt when I beat the dough this time and avoided another dreaded blister), but I feel that it is well worth the effort.

While I do own pastry bags, I ended up using a plastic freezer bag with a corner cut out to pipe the cheese sticks because it was larger, and it worked pretty well for me. Be sure to exert even pressure or the seams on the bag could split, and if you have plastic gloves to wear (so you can pipe while the dough is still really warm) they are also helpful. I had some minor blow-out trouble the first time I made these (I was squeezing the bag too hard!), but by the second time I was piping like a pro.

Bon Appétit!

photo of potato cheese sticks

Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage © 2011 Sassy Sampler

Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 # Russet Potatoes (2 medium potatoes)
  • 1 c sifted all-purpose flour or GF flour blend
  • 1 stick softened unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

The original recipe created by Julia Child has the following differences:

  • Replace the cheddar with Swiss cheese
  • 1/8 t white pepper (instead of black pepper)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F and place oven racks in the upper middle and lower middle positions. Butter two baking sheets or cover with parchment paper.
  2. Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, then put through a ricer (or mash them by hand—just be sure to get all the lumps out!) back into the saucepan. You should have about 1 cup of potatoes.
  3. Stir the potatoes over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes until they form a light film on the bottom of the pan, indicating that most of their moisture has been evaporated. Turn heat to low.
  4. Beat the flour into the potatoes; then the butter by fractions; then the egg, cheese, salt, pepper, and seasonings (if using) in order. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Fill dough into a fluted pastry tube 1/4” in diameter, and squeeze the mixture into 2 1/2” lengths spaced 1/2” apart onto the baking sheets. You should either let the dough cool a moment first, or wear gloves so you don’t burn your hands.
  6. Bake both sheets at the same time for about 15 minutes, or until the sticks are lightly browned. Halfway through the cooking time reverse the sheets so they cook evenly (switch racks and turn them 180°).
  7. Serve hot or at room temperature (I think they are best served hot, my husband likes them best at room temperature – you decide!).

Bouchées Parmentier au FromagePDF

You can find Julie’s blog from Julie and Julia called The Julie/Julia Project, here and her post about the potato cheese sticks here.

As a side note, I took Arabic (in elementary school) and German (in high school), although I can only speak a few words of either anymore, so I was a little daunted to say the name of the recipe out loud to customers. After a little dictionary.com verbal translation recon and practicing on my co-workers, a French-Canadian shopper told me that I did a pretty good job with my pronunciation! Say “boo-shay pahr-men-tyey oh fro-mazh and you’ll sound like you’ll know what you’re doing too!

Simple Beef Stew

The weather has been chilly (and rainy, and windy, etc. etc.), and that means stew in our household.  I have made beef stew too many times to count, but had never actually written a recipe for it before so I figured today was the day!

It’s always interesting creating a recipe for something that you know how to make in your sleep – I have never measured any of the ingredients for my stew, I just add what looks (or smells) like the right amount.  The recipe has evolved over the years, as I have gained culinary knowledge and skill, but has essentially remained the same for over a decade.

I take the time to sear the meat correctly now – this was a step I ignored for many years and have found out that it is essential to making great beef taste FANTASTIC.  The secret is that you really do need to dry your meat before searing it over a high heat – it sears more quickly and leaves a delicious fond (the dark brown bits of meat left on the bottom of the pan) to season your dish as it cooks.  I used the local Bennett Farms grass-fed stew meat (in packs in the frozen meat section, and you can also buy it direct from the ranch in Everson) because it is the best tasting beef I have had since I was a kid and we “grew our own”.  The higher the quality of meat you use in your stew, the better it will taste, so I urge you to splurge on the good stuff!

Enjoy!

Simple Beef Stew © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Simple Beef Stew © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Simple Beef Stew

INGREDIENTS

  • ~1 # Stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 T butter or oil
  • 4 c water
  • 1 ½ cubes vegetable bouillon
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • ~½ t sea salt (Step 5—amount will depend on how salty your bouillon is — if you get a salt free version you may want to add a little more salt than recommended)
  • 2 largish Yukon potatoes, cut into ½” cubes
  • 2 large carrots, sliced in varying thicknesses
  • 3/4—1 c frozen corn
  • 2-3 T flour *
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*if you are making this gluten-free, add 1 T cornstarch to the flour

Optional:

  • Onions, fresh garlic

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pat stew meat dry with paper towels and place in bowl; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat.  Heat butter or oil; add seasoned stew meat, making sure to not crowd the pieces in the pot.  Sear meat on twos ides (do this in small batches).
  3. Once all the meat has been browned, add 4 c water to the beef in the pot.  Add bouillon cubes and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.
  4. Once water is simmering, cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours.
  5. When meat is almost done simmering, start prepping your potatoes and carrots.  Remove the lid from the pot and increase heat.  Add cubed potatoes and sliced carrots and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least 20 minutes (30-45 minutes is best).  Taste the broth to see if you need to add salt/pepper.
  6. Remove lid and add frozen corn.  Increase heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least 15 minutes.
  7. Remove lid and increase heat.  Mix 2 T flour (and cornstarch if making GF) and just enough water to cover it in a jar with a lid.  Pour it into the stew, and stir for about a minute.  If stew doesn’t thicken as much as you would like, add another T of flour (mixed with a little more water).
  8. Remove from heat, remove the bay leaves, and serve with biscuits/rolls (GF or otherwise!)

Sassy Sampler notes:

  • You can add onion and fresh garlic to the recipe if you desire. Add these ingredients when you add the potatoes and carrots. You can also substitute frozen peas for the frozen corn, or add both!
  • This stew (as are most stews) is much richer the second day.
  • I recommend Rapunzel vegetable bouillon and the local Bennett Farms (frozen) stew meat. They combine for fantastic flavor.
  • You can make the stew in about two hours if you observe the minimum cook times.
  • I like to cut the carrots in varying thicknesses so some of them liquefy into the stew, but you are also left with nice chunks.
  • It is important to dry your pieces of meat so they sear correctly. If your meat is too moist, it won’t sear properly. It is worth it to take the time to complete this step.

Simple Beef Stew PDF

Uncle Bill’s Microwave Potato Chips

I was surfing around the web for a recipe for this week and came across this one on www.food.com.  I have never heard of making potato chips this way, and I figured it was worth a try.  I was intrigued because it called for such a nominal amount of oil, and I couldn’t work out in my head how you could make anything resembling a potato chip in the microwave – the recipe got rave reviews on the website so they couldn’t be that bad, right?

Right!  They turned out crispy and light and delicious – it’s a total science experiment where you get to eat the delicious results.  Whoever Uncle Bill is, he is a genius!

I got to work – I bought a few organic red potatoes (new crop!) as well as a Japanese sweet potato.  I didn’t notice that anyone had tried using sweet potatoes in the comments about the recipe, but the chips are so easy to make I thought it wouldn’t hurt to give it a go.  Although they didn’t turn out as crispy as the potatoes, they were sweet and crunchy and I thought they were delicious.  They didn’t take “as long” to cook either (only about 2 minutes and 40 seconds vs. around 4 minutes for the potatoes).

I used a mandolin slicer and made quick work of the potatoes and got to microwaving (I just used a couple sheets of parchment paper to cook them).  I made some plain ones with a little sea salt, and some with Cajun seasoning.  I loved the look on customers faces when I told them that I had made them in the microwave!  They were as surprised as I was that they were so good.  It kind of makes me wish that I owned a microwave (maybe we’ll have to get one when we buy a new house next year – our kitchen is way too small for any more appliances right now!)…

As long as an adult does the slicing, this is a perfect recipe to cook with kids – they can choose what flavors to make the chips and will love getting involved making “junk food”.  They don’t have to know that because there is next to no oil in them that they are healthier than they may think!

Uncle Bill's Microwave Potato Chips Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Uncle Bill’s Microwave Potato Chips

INGREDIENTS

Potatoes—Russet, Yukon, White or Red, or you can use sweet potatoes

Your choice of spices—granulated garlic powder, seasoning salt, cayenne pepper, dried dill, dried parsley, cracked black pepper, parmesan, Cajun seasoning, etc.

Vegetable oil, to oil dish/parchment paper

Instructions

1. If the potatoes are old, peel and slice paper-thin with a mandolin slicer (or as thin as you can get them with a knife).  If you are using new potatoes, then don’t bother peeling them, just clean them well and slice thinly.

2. Place potato slices in a bowl and sprinkle with salt (if desired).  Cover with cold water and let sit for 10 minutes.

3. Remove potato slices in batches and pat dry with a (paper) towel.

4. Choose a microwave safe dish—either a microwave bacon tray, casserole dish or you can use parchment paper.  Coat dish/paper with oil.  Lay potato slices on dish/paper in a single layer.

5. Sprinkle with your choice of seasoning, or just leave them plain.

6. Cover potato slices with a lid or another piece of parchment paper.

7. Microwave on HIGH for 3 –5 1/2 minutes, until they start to curl at the edges and are a very light brown color.  Cooking time may vary due to the wattage of your microwave and the thickness of the potato slices. Err on the side of caution.  You do not have to turn the slices over.

8. Continue to cook the rest of the slices as described in steps 4-7.  Note that you shouldn’t need to add any more oil to your dish/paper after the first batch.

Note—if using a bacon tray, you should be able to decrease the cooking time of each successive batch.

If using cheese, try sprinkling it on the chips right after they come out of the microwave.  Pop them back in for a few seconds to melt the cheese.