Recipes to Go: 579
Julia Child (Volume I ~ Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
Cream of Mushroom Soup; pg. 40-41 and Baked Cucumbers; pg. 499-500
Using an egg yolk thickener for a soup is new to me. Egg yolks are used as a thickener for custards or pudding but both of these are suppose to be stand along thick. The heavy cream and egg yolk combination for Julia's cream of mushroom soup adds a nice creamy flavor but does little to thicken the soup. I get nervous adding egg yolks to hot mixtures because as a last step, if you add the beaten yolks to fast, the creamy mixture curdles and your dish could be ruined. Can you imagine telling your family they are getting salad only for dinner because the mushroom soup curdled? That was me worrying but following Julia's recipe made the last step perfect.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Use a 2 1/2 Quart (minimum size) heavy-bottomed enameled or non-stick saucepan
1/4 cup minced onions
3 T. butter
3 T. flour
6 cups boiling white stock or chicken stock; or canned chicken broth and
2 parsley sprigs, 1/3 bay leaf, and 1/8 t. thyme
salt and pepper to taste
The chopped stems from 3/4 pound to 1 pound fresh mushrooms
2 T. butter
An enameled saucepan
The thinly sliced caps from 3/4 to 1 pound fresh mushrooms
1/4 t. salt
1 t. fresh lemon juice
2 egg yolks
1/2 to 3/4 cup whipping cream
1 3-quart mixing bowl
A wire whip
A wooden spoon
1 to 3 T. softened butter
Optional: 6 to 8 fluted mushroom caps, cooked in butter and lemon juice; and/or 2 or 3 T. minced fresh parsley
Cook the onions slowly in the butter for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are tender but not browned.
Add the flour and stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes without browning.
Off heat, beat in the boiling stock or broth and blend it thoroughly with the flour. Season to taste. Stir in the mushroom stems, and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Strain, pressing juices out of mushroom stems. Return the soup to the pan.
Melt the butter in a separate saucepan. When it is foaming, toss in the mushrooms, salt, and lemon juice. Cover and cook slowly for 5 minutes.
Pour the mushrooms and their cooking juices into the strained soup base. Simmer for 10 minutes. If not to be served immediately, set aside uncovered, and film surface with a spoonful of cream or milk. Reheat to simmer just before proceeding to the step below, which will take 2 to 3 minutes.
Beat the egg yolks and cream in the mixing bowl. Then beat in hot soup by spoonfuls until a cup has been added. Gradually stir in the rest. Correct seasoning. Return the soup to the pan and stir over moderate heat for a minute or two to poach the egg yolks, but do not let the soup come near the simmer.
Off heat, stir in the butter by tablespoons. Pour the soup into a tureen or soup cups, and decorate with optional mushrooms and herbs.
Baked Cucumbers are truly amazing! I can not even imagine living without them. How Julia discovered baked cucumbers is beyond me but we are glad she did! I would like to start out by stating how mysterious this recipe is to me. The cucumbers actually bake in the oven for a full hour and come out still crunchy . . . can you believe it? The flavor is nothing I have ever tasted before and I can never stay out of them, even before the cucumbers go into the oven. The cucumber sticks marinate in wine vinegar and herb mixture . . . SO GOOD! and there is nibbling going on here too~. I am always amazed there are enough cucumber sticks to still go into the oven. You just HAVE to try these. I know they sound strange.
Julia does say the natural moisture content needs to be drawn out beforehand because cucumbers naturally exude so much water as they are heated and normally turn out bland. Blanching for 5 minutes eliminates the unwanted water, but also most of the cucumber flavor. A preliminary soaking in salt draws out the water and any bitterness, and the cucumber flavor is accentuated by using a little vinegar and a pinch of sugar.
6 cucumbers about 8 inches long
1 1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. sugar
A 2 1/2 Quart stainless steel or porcelain bowl
A baking dish 12 x 1 1/2 inches
3 T. melted butter
1/2 t. dill or basil (I use basil)
3 to 4 T. minced green onions
1/8 t. freshly ground pepper
Peel the cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut into lengthwise strips about 3/8 to 1/2 inch wide. Cut the strips into 2-inch pieces.
Toss the cucumbers in a bowl with the vinegar, salt, and sugar. Let stand for at least 30 minutes or for several hours. Drain. Pat dry in a towel.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Toss the cucumbers in the baking dish with the butter, herbs, onions, and pepper. Set uncovered in middle level of preheated oven for about 1 hour, tossing 2 or 3 times, until cucumbers are tender but still have a suggestion of crispness and texture. They will barely color during the cooking.