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Posts Tagged ‘michel bras’

 

 

This past weekend found us celebrating our eldest son’s 50th birthday.  He is the ultimate foodie so his celebration was based around all the foods and people he loves.  Our small family spent 2 days together – shopping in the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday morning (for Saturday’s feast) followed by a lovely lunch at Gramercy Tavern (www.gramercytavern.com) (you can read about the restaurant in a post of mine on March 17, 2011).  We then all reconvened in Mickey’s kitchen on Saturday to cook and cook and cook and eat and eat and eat and drink and drink and drink.  The late morning started the festivities with champagne (Mickey’s favorite, Billecart-Salmon and Chris’ (his brother) favorite Henriot) and oysters and went on throughout the day to complete 11 courses.  Each of us had assignments – mine was pizza dough and sauce (you can check those out at various pizza on the grill posts) which my beautiful daughters-in-law finished on the grill – supposedly for the teenagers, but we all had some, an apricot tart, and a tribute to Chef Michel Bras (in case you don’t know him – a much esteemed French chef who owns Restaurant Bras in Laguiole, France) which we called “homage à Bras” as it was based on his famous vegetable dish “la gargouillou.”  I forgot my lovely large white ceramic tray so prepared it on Mickey’s wooden bread tray.  I had gone to the Greenmarket with $200 in my pocket and was left with only a 10 spot after buying all of the pristine veggies and flowers I needed for my composition.  There is no recipe – you can, if you like poach or steam some of the vegetables – I left all of mine raw as they seemed to be able to stand on their own.  Made a little sauce of puréed parsley, orange zest, a bit of orange juice, and extra virgin olive oil to add just a streak or two to the tray and to dip the delicate veggies in.  It was almost too beautiful to eat.

 

 

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While I was still in a Michel Bras mode I got to thinking about aligot, a potato dish from the Midi-Pyrénnés where his restaurant is located and, I believe, was particularly noteworthy when made by his mother, Mere Bras, when she was cooking.  My memory of aligot had also recently been jogged by another Frenchman, Lionel Vatinet, a great baker who now creates terrific breads at his bakery, La Farm, in Cary, North Carolina.  A few years ago Lionel had made a famous pilgrimage to Compostelle in the Basque region of Spain (a centuries-old route called Camino Santiago de Compostella that has served as a path for religious pilgrims for eons)   and it turns out that aligot was invented by monks using bread in place of the potatoes as cheap, but filling sustenance for pilgrims who stopped to rest along the way.  Since I had some Cantal cheese (a main ingredient) and absolutely beautiful, fresh and juicy garlic, when the summer weather turned unexpectedly cool on Monday I thought I should take all of my thoughts about aligot and turn them into a meal.  Sorry, I don’t have a photo of the dish that I’ve gone on about, but here is my version of it:
Boiled a couple of pounds of peeled and quartered Yukon gold potatoes with a whole head of the fresh garlic (it was sweet rather than pungent so used more than I would have used of dried).  When very tender, I drained the mixture well and put it through the ricer.  While still hot, I beat in ¼ pound of sweet French butter and ½ cup of crème fraîche.  I returned the pan to low heat and beat in about 2 cups of grated Cantal cheese.

Seasoned the mix with sea salt and white pepper, made a quick green salad, poured a glass of Sancerre and Eh! Voila, dinner was served.  I didn’t quite get the perfect runny, silky texture I’ve tasted, but it was still more than good.

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