Greatest Hits: Chicken Pot Pie

We apologize for no posts yesterday. We must have suffered a technical glitch in which we thought yesterday’s post posted, but it didn’t. Anyway, we do hope you stopped in to enjoy the Pork Tenderloin with Port and Prunes, whether to reexperience it or to find out why it was a sellout if you missed it the first time (you can revisit our posts about the dish here and here).

Tonight, we’re reprising the perfect dish for this cold, rainy Cleveland weather: Chicken Pot Pie! Read about it here and here, then come in from the chill and enjoy a hot and delicious comfort dish Julia-style.

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Thin as paper, light as air, full of orange flavor…

…that’s how the Crêpes Suzette are tonight. We think you will enjoy them, either as a finish to a great meal or a light sweet meal on its own — whichever you prefer! We added a bit of a rooftop basil infusion to our orange marmalade-Grand Marnier concoction before wrapping our pancakes in the sweet sauce and powdering them with sugar. What a treat!

Whatever you order tonight, you really can’t miss. With a wide selection of standards and special entrees including plenty of Friday fish options, you’re bound to have a good time.

Just a few additions make magic!

Our red snapper has enjoyed a few special additions since our description of it before final preparation of the dish this afternoon and evening…just a few. We thought haricots verts would make a good vegetable addition, and it turns out we were right…they blend in perfectly with the flavor of the fish and the buttery sauce, especially with a slice of lemon and a touch of dill. Then we topped off the cucumber that accompanies the dish — as well as the fish itself — with just a wee bit of fresh chinook salmon caviar.

Behind that addition lies a tale. An acquaintance of ours recently went fishing in Lake Ontario near Olcott, New York, not far from Niagara Falls, where the reintroduction of salmon stock to the lake has helped boost the economy of many a small lakeside town. This is the kind of place where, if you catch an 18-pound chinook, you throw it back because it’s too small. Our friend was lucky enough to catch two huge female salmon loaded with roe, and while he knew what to do with the salmon meat — Marc has taught him how to smoke his own salmon — he didn’t know what to do with all that roe, so he gave it to Marc. Marc processed it by hand — not easy, but we think you’ll believe the effort was worth it. This kind of caviar isn’t heavily salty; it has a milder flavor than many commercially processed caviars. It just seemed like an ideal complement for our red snapper.

As it so happens, you could say it’s Surf and Turf Night here at the Bistro, because we’re also serving up an encore of the Beef Tenderloin we featured last night. Thursdays are always Reprise Nights during the Julia Project, in which we bring back a popular dish from earlier in the week, but this one was so well-liked we brought it back a night early!

Behind the Dish: Poached Filet of Red Snapper

Tonight’s Julia dish, Poached Filet of Red Snapper with Mushrooms and Fast White Butter Sauce, is an example of how even a simple dish with few ingredients can become special when you have a fresh product prepared properly. In this case, that product is skinned red snapper, poached in French vermouth, fish stock, mushrooms and lemon juice with a little salt and pepper. The fish is then removed from the cooking liquid and the liquid becomes a base for a beurre blanc, made with butter, more lemon juice, white vermouth, white wine vinegar, shallots and white pepper. The dish is completed with a touch of buttery cucumber. We’re serving it with more of that marvelous Israeli couscous.

Will this dish be so good that it earns a proposal from one of our patrons, the way the beef tenderloin did for Ruth last night? (Sorry, sir, she’s taken.) Come in tonight and find out.

Because this is another dish from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home, we thought we’d treat you to another video clip, this one featuring highlights of the public TV series by the same name. As the video points out, the whole series is available on DVD, so if this whets your appetite for more, you can order away.

Behind the Dish: Steak Diane

A little inside baseball on how we’re preparing our Steak Diane for you tonight…

As Julia shows in the video we linked, Steak Diane is normally cooked in a pan, right along with the sauce with which it is served. Because we’re making a larger number of servings, however, it’s more efficient and logical for us to grill our filets of beef separately while preparing the sauce for the dish in a large saucepan. Fear not, however; the magnificent taste will still be there.

The basic elements of our sauce are butter, oil, brandy, shallots, parsley, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, a bit of Marsala wine, and some pepper. To that we’re adding a unique Bistro 185 touch: black truffle paste and just a smidge of brown sugar.

When finished, our Steak Diane will go out on the plate with mashed potatoes and a little sautéed spinach on the side. Perfect for treating yourself or someone you love (or both of you!) at week’s end.

Julia Project Week 4 Is Set!

We’ve literally just selected our dishes for Week 4 of the Julia Project, August 31-September 5, and will be announcing them very soon. You will not want to miss these — we’re combining some amazing special-occasion dinner entrees with some terrific last-gasp-of-summer-style comfort food, and we’re even dipping into some of Chef Todd’s back pages to bring you one with a special touch from his past. Watch this space!

Join Us On Vacation — Here on the Blog!

Tomorrow we start our week’s vacation in Key West, Florida, a place where great food and fine dining are everywhere you look. Which is why, even though the Bistro will be closed tomorrow through the 30th, we’re not just leaving you at home pining for us to come back!

On our vacations, we never fail to discover new things and come up with fresh ideas to take home with us and share with you back at the Bistro. So, please drop in on the blog over the next week as we tell you about some of the sights, sounds and tastes we encounter during our trip. We’ll keep you up to date on what we’re experiencing, thinking about and planning to do next — and you can let us know what you think of them!

Video: Julia makes a dinner featuring Steak Diane

We’ll bring you a “Behind the Dish” post with the scoop behind our version of tonight’s Steak Diane (from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home) later today. For now, here’s a video from the old Julia Child & Company series in which Julia prepares Steak Diane as the highlight of a “nifty little dinner” that includes Chocolate Mousse Cake and “mashed potatoes made with real potatoes.” Enjoy!

“A one-dish flavor fest”…

That’s how one patron sums up the Veal Sausage dish tonight. “If ever there was a dish worth going out in the rain for” — that’s the verdict!

With veal slices savory, crispy and bursting with the flavor of sage; creamy, oniony paper-thin scalloped potatoes, a wonderful contrast in texture and feel as well as flavor; sautéed caramelized slices of summer squash, zucchini and red onion, with garlic and Parmesan cheese…all sauced with veal demiglace and mushroom with a little hit of brandy…this one just explodes with wonderful layers of tastes.

Behind the Dish: Veal Sausage

Charcuterie is such an essential flavor of French life…I remember seeing people in Paris in the late 1940s standing in line with their toes sticking out of their slippers, yet willing to pay for fresh charcuterie.

—Judith Jones, book editor and friend of Julia Child

One thing Julia Child learned to do in the course of her publishing adventures was trust the instincts of her fellow Francophile and food lover Judith Jones. After all, while still at Doubleday, Judith had saved Anne Frank’s diary from the rejection pile and turned it into what has become a perpetual international best seller and a priceless tribute to the human spirit. She was the kind of person who knew a good thing when she saw it.

Her instincts about food were no less accurate. Judith persuaded Julia that her second volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking needed a recipe for baking traditional French baguettes, and she also insisted that the book needed a recipe for homemade sausage because preserved meats, or charcuterie, were so central to French cuisine.

It wasn’t the last time Julia would tackle that subject. Her collaborative cookbook with Jacques Pépin includes an entire charcuterie chapter, part of which is the basic recipe we’re following when making our sausage. The recipe in Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home calls for ground pork, but we’re making it with ground veal, seasoning it with salt and pepper, sugar, chopped pecans, red wine, garlic, and a touch of sage not called for in the original recipe.

Julia and Jacques wanted a recipe that wouldn’t intimidate home cooks with the complexity and mess that might be involved in stuffing their sausage into a casing, so their version of sausage is casing-free. It requires only that the ingredients be kneaded together, formed into a cylindrical shape, sealed tightly into plastic wrap and cured for up to a week.

Our veal sausage has been curing for a few days now, and tonight it’ll be ready to slice thin and lay atop our scalloped potatoes and some vegetables gratin, topped with a mushroom demiglace.

Is this combination a winner? Try it tonight and let us know!

The pork is popular tonight!

We’re having a great response to our Julia entree tonight — many of you are ordering the pork tenderloin and loving it! We’re very happy with how it turned out, also: the sauce is just right, the pork tender and delicious, the couscous a great side along with spinach sauteed in garlic.

If you enjoy this kind of cooking from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, this is definitely your week. Our Home Made Veal Sausage with Scalloped Potatoes is coming up tomorrow night. When’s the last time you had homemade sausage? Have you ever had homemade sausage? If not, tomorrow is the night to try something new.

Behind the Dish: Pork Tenderloin with Port and Prunes

Our Pork Tenderloin with Port and Prunes is yet another adaptation from Julia Child’s cookbook with Jacques Pépin, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. In our version of the dish, we’re using pitted dried plums as the prunes, and instead of the black currant jam called for in the original recipe, we’re substituting blackberry preserves and plum preserves. Otherwise, we’re keeping to Julia and Jacques’ recipe: sautéeing chunks of perfectly trimmed pork tenderloin until they’re seared brown, adding shallots, deglazing the pan with red wine vinegar, then adding brown stock, ketchup, the preserves, the port and the prunes to the developing sauce (the preserves help thicken and add flavor to it). A fresh parsley and basil garnish provides the finish.

We’re serving our pork with an ideal accompaniment: Israeli couscous, which is larger than the tiny and yellow North African couscous you may have enjoyed in many dishes. Israeli couscous pearls are about the size of barley pearls or Italian orzo pasta, and they will absorb the flavor of this sauce beautifully. Which is good, because we don’t want you to miss a drop.

If you try making this kind of dish at home, keep in mind that just as with Beef Bourguignon, browning the meat properly is crucial. That means making sure it’s dry and well trimmed, and that you’re not trying to cook too many chunks at once. Better to cook in batches than to try to cook too much at a time and not get the proper caramelization you want. Also, this is one time when you definitely don’t want a non-stick pan. Ideally, as you remove the pork temporarily from the pan to make the sauce, the meat will stick to the pan a bit, leaving brown bits behind for the deglazing process. Stainless steel and anodized aluminum work well.

Of course, we hope that now that you’ve read about it, you’ll be eager to taste it. We’re happy to oblige!