Do you love French food, or have you been meaning to learn the art of cooking what’s arguably the world’s greatest cuisine? Leave a comment and you’ll be eligible to win the copy of The Little Paris Kitchen we’re giving away (offer good in the US and Canada only).
Hello Loyal Blog Readers, Foodies, and lovers of all things Chronicle!
Ever heard of the Julie/Julia project? Welcome to the Chronicle Books alternative – the Lexie (that’s me!)/Rachel Khoo project – a three month installation (you’ll be hearing from me once a month) of my adventures in the kitchen with The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo as my guide.
Lexie Exploring Montmartre & Rachel in her Little Paris Kitchen
Here’s the deal: I’m a freshly 26, slightly awkward, lover of travel, and a self-diagnosed terrible cook. I’m seriously accident prone, and feel most at home outside my comfort zone – some of the happiest years of my life were spent living in London nearly being killed every day for looking the wrong way crossing the street! Domestication has been a slow process I have been kicking and screaming my way into, and I think it’s high time I learn how to boil water and put together a meal that doesn’t make me feel like I wasted money on the ingredients.
Enter The Little Paris Kitchen. The second I heard this book being discussed around the office, I knew we were meant to be. An English girl who moved to Paris to pursue food, who also loves red lipstick and vintage dresses? Why were we not friends already?! And I should mention here that my best friend moved to/lived in Paris to study food while I was in London, so I spent many weekends eating my way through that lovely city.
We begin. I chose an egg dish for my first because I read somewhere if you can cook eggs well you will be okay for life, so, Oeufs en meurette (poached eggs in a red wine sauce) it was. Joining me on my first attempt at the pleasures of simple French cooking is my lovely roommate (I have three), Ellie, who promised to pretend to love anything I created.
Et voila – the recipe appears below!
Oeufs en meurette
Poached eggs in a red wine sauce
Serves 4 as a starter
This is a pretty classy way to serve a humble poached egg for an indulgent brunch or starter for lunch. Both the sauce and the eggs can be prepared a day in advance.
For the red wine sauce:* 1 onion, finely chopped • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped • 1 carrot, finely chopped • 1 oz lardons or cubes of smoked bacon • 2 tbsp butter • ¼ cup all-purpose flour • 2 cups veal or beef stock, warm • 1 tbsp tomato paste • ¾ cup red wine • 1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, parsley stalks, peppercorns)
• 4 fresh eggs** • a couple of drops of vinegar • toast for serving
To make the sauce: Fry the vegetables and lardons on a medium heat until golden. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon, then add the butter. Melt over a medium heat, sprinkle in the flour, and stir constantly until it turns an almost Coca-Cola color. Turn the heat down to low and slowly pour in the warm stock, whisking energetically. Add the tomato paste and wine and whisk until the paste has dissolved. Pop the fried vegetables and lardons back into the pan, add the bouquet garni, and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Pour the sauce through a sieve and taste for seasoning, then pour into a clean pan and gently heat through.
Meanwhile, pour water into a deep, wide frying pan until about 3¼ inches deep and bring to a boil. Crack each egg into a ramekin or cup and add a drop of vinegar. Whisk the boiling water vigorously before quickly slipping in the eggs one after the other. Turn the heat down and simmer for 3–4 minutes or until the yolks are just set and slightly soft.
Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and serve on hot toast, with the sauce poured over and around.***
* For a fiery sauce, add 10 cracked black peppercorns.
** The key to successful poaching is to use the freshest eggs possible. Old eggs will have ragged, feathery whites, whereas the white on a fresh egg will hold together.
*** To make in advance, put the poached eggs into a bowl of ice-cold water and pour the sauce into an airtight container. Keep both in the fridge. Reheat the sauce before serving, and warm the eggs through by lowering them into boiling water with a slotted spoon. Simmer for 30 seconds.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
How it went: I decided to make the red wine sauce the evening before (as we had a bottle open with that dinner), and poach the eggs in the morning. The sauce was a success, and the eggs ended up being so also (here I must thank Ellie whose encouraging words and patience helped me get through poaching the eggs after a disastrous first couple of tries). Once I master the art of meal presentation I will start posting more pictures to go with this adventure!
Until next time,
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