Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cooking with Obama & Pierre Gagnaire

On the night of the last 2008 presidential candidate's debate, I decided to cook something wonderful I saw in Gourmet magazine, conceived by Pierre Gagnaire for his cookbook Reinventing French Cuisine and adapted for Gourmet magazine's October 2008 edition.

From my dear friend Wikipedia,

"Pierre Gagnaire (9 April 1950 in Apinac) is a well known French chef, and is the Head Chef and owner of the eponymous Pierre Gagnaire restaurant at 6 rue Balzac in Paris. Gagnaire is an iconoclastic chef who was at the forefront of the fusion movement. Beginning his career in St. Etienne where he won three Michelin Stars, Gagnaire tore at the conventions of classic French cooking by introducing jarring juxtapositions of flavours, tastes, textures, and ingredients. His influence on cooking has been worldwide.

The restaurant is considered one of the finest in France, specialising in 'modern French' cuisine, and has garnered three Michelin stars. Gagnaire is also Head Chef of Sketch in London. In 2005 both restaurants were ranked in the top 20 in the world by industry magazine Restaurant with Pierre Gagnaire ranking third chef in 2006 and 2007.

Gagnaire's new concept restaurant Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Hong Kong opened in October 2006.

On his website Pierre Gagnaire gives his 'mission statement' as the wish to run a restaurant which is 'facing the future but respectful of the past' ('tourné vers demain mais soucieux d'hier')."

la photographie

I was at drawn into this recipe while getting my nails done at Harmony. The dish is beautiful in the magazine. Upon reading, I was skeptical due to the addition of the red bell pepper. It is my opinion that the red bell pepper inflicts flavoral hegemony upon everything else it is paired with, especially when cooked together. However, here one roasts the pepper, cleans and slices and sets aside. Later the meat (YES, FISH IS A MEAT) is set atop a bed of peppers and the sauce is poured on top. So, they are never cooked together. I predict that this will allow the pepper to accent the flavor of fish and sauce, the flavors standing side by side rather than one overpowering the other within one concoction.

Le Recipe:

Sole and Sweet Pepper with Cardomom-Scented Spinach Juice

Serves 4 1 large red bell pepper 1 c white fish stock 3 TBSP olive oil 2 tsp unsalted butter 1 cardomom pod, crushed 1 garlic clove, halved 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice 4 (6 oz) sole fillets 7 c baby spinach

  • Roast red bell peppers on rack of gas burner over high heat (I roasted over medium heat), or broil on a broiler pan about 2" from heat, turning with tongs until all skin is blackened, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed and cut into .5" long strips.

move the pepper in a circle from side to side with the tongues , until...

all sides are evenly blackened

place in bowl and cover with lid, saran wrap or tin foil to make a seal, the pepper will "sweat", which...

makes it easier to remove the blackened skin...I learned to remove the skin under a stream of running water

wait, what?
  • Preheat oven to 350 F with rack in middle. Simmer bell pepper, fish stock, oil, butter, cardomom, garlic and lemon juice in a small skillet, uncovered until liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.

sauteeing roasted pepper avec cardomom pod, garlic, olive oil (no butter) and chicken stock (I don't have time to make fish stock, no)
  • Fold fish fillets in half, skinned side in, and arrange in a 1.5" to 2 qt shallow baking dish. Season with .5 tsp salt and .25 tsp pepper.
  • Transfer bell peppers to bowl with a slotted spoon. Discard cardomom and garlic. Pour stock around fish. Bake uncovered until fish is cooked through, 5-9 minutes. Keep warm, covered.

beautiful sole filets in the cooking liquid, ultimately 1 cup was nowhere near enough, i used about 1.5
  • Puree spinach in blender with .5 c cooking liquid, then strain through a fine mesh sieve into bowl, pressing on and discarding solids.

spinach leaves in my archaic Braun food processor, circa 1992-ish
  • Serve fish over peppers and pour spinach juice around it.

The finished product above. For some reason in my mind I was visualizing the sauce to be more like a spinach soup, but it really was a spinach juice. Think, the consistency of carrot juice. And upon first tasting, I thought it wasn't flavorful enough. If you make this, be sure to douse each serving of sole generously with the juice. It was really delicious. And healthy! Only 3 tablespoons of oil among 4 humans.

To accompany the sole, I threw together a Caesar salad. For a treat, I fried some capers to throw on top. Just a few in another tablespoon of olive oil.

As a dressing, I love Galeo's. Their dressings are made from miso, they are wonderful and healthy. If my grocery store ever stops carrying them, I will order them online. They can be hard to find. I surrounded the salad with hearts of palm and artichoke hearts (not marinated) to beef up our vegetable intake.

We drank a lot of wine. Quel surprise! We love to decant wine in D's prize Reidel decanter. One can be snargey even when eating frozen pizza!

T & J (freshly groomed!).

And, the beautiful D.

Comparatively, I have to hand it to McCain. I think he did better during this debate than any debate previous. He stayed on point, he stuck it to Obama several times, meanly even. In the media there has been some criticism that he has been letting Palin do all the work in terms of harshly critiquing Obama. Not so last night. Here are a couple memorable McCain quotes.

"Senator Obama, I'm not President Bush. If you want to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago."

"The whole premise behind Senator Obama's plans are class warfare."

And so on. He was a comparative pit-bull (sans le lipstique). However, part of the beauty of the modern age is technology. The split screen broadcast was magical in that one gets to view both debaters simultaneously and it communicated a very strong message, to me anyway. Obama remained calm and collected, presidential if you will. And McCain retained the terse demeanor that has characterized him all political season. I will hand it to McCain though, he looked Obama in the eye more than once and he didn't call him "that guy".

The polls say Obama won the debate. I assert that this was by far McCain's best debate, and not Obama's best debate. However, I am not a voter who needs convincing from either side and watching the debates are merely an act of participation in the democratic process. My mind has long been made up.


Kristine said...

I look forward to more of these at-home cooking blogs, you, my Epicurean Queen. :) ♥

Food, she thought. said...

Now that I have a tv in the kitchen, I will be surely cooking with increased frequency! Keep your eyes peeled, my good friend.