Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lemon Croquettes with Cilantro Pistou

I love looking at photos of beautifully presented food and learning a chef's interesting techniques no matter how complicated, but beyond all of that, it was an absolute joy to spend time with Daniel Boulud’s latest book. The book is Daniel: My French Cuisine, and I received a review copy. This is a big, heavy, serious-looking book with serious-looking recipes. But, from the beginning on the How to Use this Book page, the reader is put at ease. You’re invited to prepare components of dishes or whole recipes as you wish. There’s no expectation that you’ll jump in and prepare everything in the book just as it’s shown. The book is made up of three sections. The first is a delightful tour of dishes from Restaurant Daniel. The photos are stunning, and all the instructions are right there for you to experiment with as you please. Sprinkled throughout this section, you’ll find bits of the story of Boulud’s career and upbringing in France. The second section is a group of essays written by Bill Buford about iconic French dishes. He spent time in the kitchens at Daniel to learn about some classic preparations that aren’t often mentioned these days. These are mostly grand, dated dishes like Tete de Veau en Tortue and Carnard a la Presse, but the writing is all entertainment. Buford shares the comical moments of learning these dishes along with their histories and how Boulud came to know them. The last section includes four dinner party menus that Boulud prepares at home inspired by different regions of France. The three sections are very different, but together they give you a clear picture of the kind of chef that Daniel Boulud is, the level of quality of what he produces, and his love of food. 

In the restaurant recipes section, there’s a Warm White Asparagus Salad with Poached Egg Dressing dish that looks like spring itself. I might try it with just one of the three accompanying sauces. Then, there’s the Hazelnut-Crusted Maine Sea Scallops with Nettles and Swiss Chard that’s gorgeous with the nettle foam and sauteed morels. And, there are parts of every dessert that I really want to attempt like Sauternes-Rhubarb Ice Cream, Apricot and Lavendar Clafoutis, and Coffee Cremeux and Espresso Ganache. So far, I’ve made two parts of the Striped Bass in a Cilantro-Tapioca Pistou with Artichokes and Lemon Croquettes. In the book, a shallow bowl is shown with the tapioca sauce in the bottom with a pretty mix of chopped artichokes and fava beans centered in the sauce, a piece of striped bass perfectly coated with cilantro pistou sits on the vegetables, and lemon risotto croquettes are perched on top with a tangle of micro cilantro and shaved artichoke slices. The risotto croquettes are perfect, and I do mean perfect, little, crispy cubes. They looked like fun to make. To start, a pretty standard risotto was made with onion cooked in melted butter. Arborio rice was added, and warmed chicken stock was ladled in a little at a time in the usual fashion. When the rice was fully cooked, shredded parmesan, a tablespoon of mascarpone, lemon zest, and lemon juice were added. It was tasted for seasoning and adjusted before the risotto was poured into a parchment-lined 8 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan and left to chill in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, the risotto was unmolded and cut into one-inch cubes. The cubes were dusted with cornstarch and fried until crispy. The cilantro pistou was easy to make by pureeing lots of cilantro which is filling my herb garden right now with a couple of tablespoons of toasted pine nuts, some olive oil, and salt. 

I served the crispy, lemony croquettes with a dish of cilantro pistou for dunking. The bright, herby sauce was a light and lively contrast to the savory risotto pieces. There’s so much I’ll be turning to this book for in the future. There are plating arrangements to try and copy, flavor combinations to taste, sauces to attempt, and parts and pieces of recipes to use. Right now, I’m looking at one of the desserts from the last section of the book, the Fig Pine Nut and Mascarpone Custard Tart, and I can’t wait for fig season to get here. I’ll be glad to have this book on the shelf when it does. 

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22 comments:

  1. A refined and spring-like recipe! Those croquettes look mighty delicious and tempting.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. These are just amazing! I would pay big bucks for these at a restaurant :)

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  3. This would be great in a salad!

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  4. This recipe sounds wonderful - and the cookbook sounds like a great read.

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  5. When I started cooking I had no idea how important the styling is. I always find your recipes beautifully styled, just like these croquettes. The book sounds like a great read xx

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  6. Truly an amazing book to own, and you did a great job on the croquettes!

    nice post!

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  7. Mmm these croquettes are incredible :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  8. It really sounds like a serious book :) and your croquettes look stunningly delicious ;)

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  9. Those croquettes look absolutely delicious!

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  10. The croquettes look amazing and I am sure they tasted great.

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  11. I'm always ready for any recipe with lemon zest! Such bright and beautiful croquettes with cilantro dipping sauce is ready for my dipping pleasure!

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  12. Wow. I'm a lemon freak, so these look great. I haven't heard of these -- definitely need to check out that book! Thanks.

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  13. These are really beautiful - what a unique dish!

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  14. You can't keep doing this to me Lisa. Every time I come here I add yet another book to my wish list. I don't have nearly enough books about French cooking in my library and this one sounds like a must have! (history of dishes will get me every time:)

    The notion of transforming risotto into tiny bites of deliciousness sounds simply amazing! You are so fortunate to have cilantro growing in the garden. I will definitely be bringing herbs inside this year. Great review and wonderful presentation Lisa! Thank you so much for sharing...

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  15. Se ve muy exquisito, interesante y Gourmet ,la salsa de cilantro es una delicia ,amo el cilantro fresco y en semillas,abrazos.

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  16. Love these croquettes, look amazing!!

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  17. Lisa, your dish is so different and sounds absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

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  18. Beautiful croquettes, lisa. I'll bet that pistou is mouthwatering, too!

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  19. i don't even know where to begin with these--crunchy, bright, fantastic! cilantro is just my favorite fresh herb, and it's a very exciting choice for this application!

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  20. Cilantro Pistou ?
    That sounds amazing. A wonderful kitchen creation, I'm going to pin it!

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  21. I'm in love with these lemon croquettes and with Cilantro Pistou? Restaurant quality for sure.

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  22. Great party appetizers! They're really cute one-bite croquettes.

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