Sweets got the new kitchen started up on his own with a big batch of black bean soup. He has possession of the pressure cooker, which helped make the soup a snap.
The weekends I’ve been there were spent enjoying the fact that we have a pantry attached to the kitchen. Having all the food stored in one spot like that makes everything else fit in the kitchen easier.
To help fill the pantry, I stocked Sweets up with more canning jars of different sizes. We use these instead of plastic containers for our leftovers and for storing items we buy in bulk. They help keep plastic away from our food and frame our grains and pastas beautifully in the new pantry.
The first desert from the oven was a loaf of Tiger Bread from the cookbook Bittersweet, made nice and peppery. Black pepper and cocoa have won me over. Ground black pepper strikes me as a richer, fuller flavored spice component to pair with cocoa. It has more complexity than cayenne by far. And on a silly note, I like how the black pepper specks seem like vanilla flecks.
I also got some good time perusing my Bouchon cookbook. I’ve owned Bouchon for almost a year and yet have not found myself compelled to cook from it. The layout and design details of the book are exquisite, and yet… it seems like just another French cookbook with French bistro recipes. I’ve turned to Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook for those cooking impulses in the past. Being in a new kitchen, after our first move of boxes and boxes of books compelled me to make my books work for me. Why have I lugged Bouchon all the way to Portland? I am still finding out.
The first Bouchon concoction I made was rillettes aux deux saumons, or fresh and smoked salmon rillettes. Mind you, I didn’t just have salmon lying around in our new kitchen. I traipsed to Wild Oats (with my spiffy cool looking Envirosax via not martha), just three blocks away, and unfortunately was so put off by the smell of the fish department that I decided to test this recipe using canned salmon instead of freshly steamed salmon. The test proved worthy: rillettes aux deux saumons is happy with this minor substitute. While tasty, the rillettes was too dry to not crumble off of our baguette slices. The spread also begged for more lemon juice and salt than the recipe called for.
The next Bouchon concoction to entertain me was the French Onion Soup. Nothing new in this recipe- a very classic soup that relies on simple ingredients and a thorough caramelization of the onions. I unbelievably spent over four hours tending the onions until they were chocolaty brown. Wonderful soup, ours made with apple juice for some of the broth, and topped with gruyere.
The gruyere played for three teams on this weekend trip. Its second run was in a batch of macaroni and cheese, that I portioned up and stuck in the freezer for Sweets to savour at work. However, the real show stopper was when the gruyere was paired with the salmon. Our leftover gruyere béchamel sauce topped the rillettes aux deux saumons in a breakfast treat paired with buttery toasted English muffins.
Our special Portland treat
One toasted English muffin half is spread with rillettes aux deux saumons, dressed with extra lemon juice and topped with the gruyere béchamel. Pop this under the broiler till the cheese sauce just begins to brown. Top with black pepper and enjoy.
Not having pictures is a good excuse for me to make this again on my next Portland visit!
I think I’ll get to peruse Bouchon some more this coming weekend.
Food Bloggers Impressions of Bouchon
- Foodie NYC: Thoughts on Bouchon
- eGullet: Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon” Cookbook, Notes and noteworthy (10 pages long!)
- a la Cuisine: A Review of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Cookbook
- GastroChick: French Onion Soup