Sunday, March 25, 2007

Corsu Vecchiu with Spiced Carrot Salad

I've been powering through these cheese courses because they're easy, and honestly, because I love cheese. Who doesn't? This dish marks the 5th out of 10 cheese dishes in the French Laundry cookbook, and I'm getting a little melancholy. I'm going to have to hold off on doing the rest of them right away so I can intersperse them throughout the rest of this project.

The Corsu Vecchiu with Spiced Carrot Salad was lovely, easy, and eerily reminiscent of a carrot-raisin salad my mother used to make. I will say that I don't like raisins -- never have -- and I've never been a big fan of carrots and raisins together. But, add in some CHEESE and I'm a happy camper. Everything's better with cheese. As long as it's good cheese, that is. And the Corsu Vecchiu that I got at Arrowine was delicious. Nutty, a little stinky, creamy, and with just enough heft to balance the carrot and raisin sweetness.

Let's get started on this dish. The first thing I did was make some carrot powder, which involved shredding carrots and letting them dry out on parchment paper in a 200-degree oven for about 4 hours. Here's what the dried carrots looked like right before they were ground into powder:

You can see the finished powder in the final photo in this entry, but don't skip ahead because you'll miss all the juicy parts of the story. (I am such a bad liar.)

The next thing I did was make a spice powder for the carrot reduction. Here's the mise en place for the spice powder:

I warmed the spices in a small sauté pan:

Then, ground them into a fine powder in a coffee bean grinder, and stored it in an airtight container:

Okay -- powders done and the house didn't burn down. I am officially awesome.

Here's the mise en place for the rest of the dish:

First, I strained the carrot juice into a small saucepan, brought it to a boil, skimmed off the scum, and let it reduce for about 15-20 minutes. When it had reduced to about 2T, I added a pinch of the spice powder, removed it from the heat, and let it sit on the stovetop until I was ready to use it in the carrot mixture.

Next, I put the raisins into separate saucepan, covered them with water and the fresh-squeezed lemon juice and let them simmer for a few minutes until they started to get plump:

When they were done plumping, I puréed the raisins with a little bit of the cooking liquid, and then strained the purée. I set it aside to work on the carrots. I shredded the carrots in the food processor and added the brunoise to them. I didn't rephotograph the brunoise prep because you can find that here. It turned out better this time, so I kinda wish I'd shot it, but you get the general idea.

I mixed the carrots with the brunoise in a small mixing bowl, and then poured in the carrot juice reduction:

Next up? The cheese. All hail Corsu Vecchiu:

Plating was easy: a tablespoon of the raisin purée topped with the shredded carrot salad. On top of that, fanned out slices of Corsu Vecchiu, topped with a spring of chervil. And, do ya see what's on the side? Oh yes, my friends. That would be carrot powder. It had a much nicer consistency than the tomato powder from the Haricots Verts. Here's the final dish:

Would I make this again? Probably not. It wasn't bad or difficult, it just wasn't amazing enough to warrant a repeat performance.

Up Next: Lemon Sabayon-Pine Nut Tart with Honeyed Mascarpone Cream.

Brands Used:
Corsu Vecchiu cheese from Arrowine
Produce, herbs and spices from Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op
Odwalla carrot juice
Pavich organic golden raisins
All-Clad cookware
Cuisinart food processor
Hamilton Beach blender

Music to Cook By: We Get There When We Do; Suddenly Tammy


John White said...

How much of an issue is it to clean out the grinder to make sure you're not contaminating your next batch of spices with the current? I've always wondered about this.

pdxblogmommy said...

Well, if ya had to make carrot powder for this, at least you got to listen to Suddenly Tammy while you were getting this all together. Certainly not a total loss.

Carol Blymire said...

John: I always err on the OCD side of cleaning my appliances in the kitchen, so I always wipe out and then clean (with water only) my grinder after every use. I do have two of them -- one for coffee, and one for spices -- and I've never had a problem with funky taste or cross-contamination.

PDX: Tell me about it. All day today, I've had "This has been good, this has been bad, but mostly it's saaadddd forreverrr, like the people who neverrrrrr end up taking back what they sayyyy..." from her song "Stacey's Trip." I wish the band was still together. Beth still plays now and again in PA, but I haven't heard the band, 1995. Twelve years. Holy crap.

Clarke said...

Great site!

You're dispelling the myths I've heard for a while about this book being nothing more than "Food Porn", and the recipes unapproachable. Very nicely done, Diner Girl. I've had this book in and out of my cart at Amazon so many times, I can't count. You've convinced me to dive in.

Nice photos too! You set a great table.

Anonymous said...

I love your obsession with cheese, but when are you going to get to some of the entrees? Are you waiting until fall when lamb and veal and rabbit sound more appealing? I love this blog -- thanks for doing it!

Anonymous said...

Hey -- found you through Ruhlman's archives. Nice that he pimped you on his site. What a compliment, eh? I love that you're doing this blog. My friend John worked at FL for a year and it seems like everyone he knows is following your blog, so HAVE FUN with it! :)

Bernie said...

Looks delicious. In fact, I'm hungry just reading about it and looking at the pictures. I had a ham sandwich for dinner. Now I'm licking my computer screen. Oh, I guess you didn't really want to know that part, did you?

Anonymous said...

To Clarke who said he suspected the recipes would be unapproachable: perhaps the coolest thing about the FL cookbook is how much of it can be done at home by a novice cook. Some recipes are out of reach for me (it's unlikely that I'll tackle the pig's head), and I can't do any of them with Keller's flair (who can?), but most of recipes are do-able at home by novices. That's one of the charms of the book. Keller's message is "Hey, you can do this! Just take your time, and pay attention to the food as it morphs from one stage to the next." Instructions are detailed so you know what to look for.

I'm new to cooking, and I don't find the FL cookbook to be intimidating at all. It inspires a sense of adventure, making me want to get into the kitchen and try things I've never done before. I'm learning a lot from the FL book. It's awesome.


Anonymous said...

Half way through making the lemon sabayon tart today. The crust is very easy and makes tons. We'll see how the sabayon goes this evening.

I wonder if my wife's cousin in Takoma Park is also a FL enthusiast (he lives 1.3 miles from you).

Anonymous said...

Lemon sabayon tart very good. Crust a bit crumbly; sabayon essentially lemon curd - good sweet and lemon balance.

The fun bit is playing with the broiler to brown the filling. Enjoy.

Carol Blymire said...

Clarke: That's the common myth about the French Laundry Cookbook. The recipes themselves are not difficult. And, it's also easy to adapt a lot of these ideas into other dishes. Go get the book! And, thanks for the compliments on the table.

Marisol: I have heard from some FL alums who are reading this site, and I'm excited about that. It's fun to get their input on what I'm doing.

Anonymous: I hear ya. I'm swamped with work and taking a short vacation this month, but I'm gearing up for some of the biggies in May.

Stefan: Welcome! Glad you're here and glad the tart went well. I'll be posting about my attempt at the tart soon (it went well). Have your wife's cousin look me up -- perhaps we'll bump into one another at the Farmer's Market this weekend!

Anonymous said...

DG--do the powders really add that much to a dish? It seems like a bunch of work (and a large energy bill) for just a bit of spices. But I can't even hard boil an egg.

Carol Blymire said...

Spoonie: the truth about powders is that they don't make or break any of these dishes. But, I suppose when you're paying more than $200 for a 9-course tasting menu, you expect plenty of bells and whistles on your plate, and powders are an easy way to do that since no one would really make powders at home. I've done tomato powder and carrot powder. Not sure I'll do any of the others when the time comes. We'll see.