Friday, June 1, 2007

Chaource with Red Plums

I was all set to make some stocks this weekend, but the chicken bones, necks and backs I bought at the Asian grocery store ended up spoiling within 24 hours of bringing them home. ARGH! They were inexpensive enough that I'm not that pissed off, but now I've got to spend my Saturday finding new chicken parts. Gggrrrrrr.... I hate running errands on weekends. Alright -- I'm done complaining. FOR NOW.

Let's talk about the Chaource with Red Plums. This dish was more of an assembling than something to cook/make. I took some liberties with the plums. And the greens. Oh yeah, and the cheese. In fact, it barely resembles what's in The French Laundry Cookbook at all. I'm such a rebel. Or at least I play one on the Internet.

I had a hard time finding Chaource, a soft-ripened cow's milk cheese (similar to Brie). The cookbook said I could substitute Explorateur (which I love), or Camembert, so I used Camembert, since I couldn't make it down to the cheese shop I like in Virginia to pick up the Explorateur. I hate it when work gets in the way of having a life, don't you?

The first thing I did was prepare the clove oil. This involved toasting whole cloves and then grinding them in a coffee bean grinder:

After grinding them to a fine powder, I put it into a squeeze bottle with some canola oil. I let this infuse overnight, and again... I know I say this at least once a week... this needs to be a soap of some kind. Hey -- maybe instead of the Inn Thomas Keller is planning for his property in Yountville, he and Laura could do a line of bath products that smell like these dishes!! I am such a smart business woman, full of entreprenurial ideas and stuff. Call me. I'll totally do the PR for it. Thanks.

Okay, back to this dish. The recipe called for lola rossa, which I couldn't find, so I used mâche instead. Also? No summer savory available, so I substituted thyme instead. And, the recipe also instructed me on how to cut the plums a certain way, but I got lost somewhere in the "cut the pieces crosswise and then layer one-sixth of them in a semi-triangular formation with the head plum doing splits on top followed by a triple salchow and a toe pick!" Okay, the book didn't really say that, but you get where I'm going.

So, here's the mise:

And here's what I did: I halved the plums and scooped out the area around the pit. I sprinkled a tiny bit of raw sugar and sea salt on top and let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Next, I tossed the mâche, minced chives and thyme in a little bit of olive oil and added a pinch of salt and white pepper. Then, I cut the cheese (HA! I am nine.) into wedges and began to plate. I laid the plum halves on a bed of the greens, then drizzled the clove oil on the plum and the greens, then placed the wedge of cheese on the plate. Here's the final product:

The sweetness of the plums mixed with the creamy goodness of the cheese was a nice combination, but then adding the mâche, thyme and chive combo to each bite was really delicious. The clove oil added a heartiness that also was sweet and aromatic. I could see turning these elements into a salad I would be able to make for lunch during the week. As expected, this was a hit more with the adults than the kids. They loved the plum and loved the cheese (but not the rind), but weren't loving the whole shebang. Me? I devoured it. It was gooooooood.

Up Next: Sautéed Atlantic Halibut or Liver & Onions (depends how many stocks I get done)

Brands Used:
Plums, camembert, thyme and mâche from Whole Foods
Cloves from TPSS Co-op
365 canola oil
Chives from Safeway

Music to Cook By: The Postmarks; The Postmarks. Part strummy-strummy-la-la, part Miami lounge music of the 60s, this trio reminds me a little of Suddenly Tammy, but I like The Postmarks a little better. It's less angsty, more boppy. Man, I should write for Rolling Stone, with descriptions like that.


pdxblogmommy said...

I have to say that I would prefer cloves in some soap than in my food and I think you're on to something there...

BUT, I love how simple and beautifully plated this was. I love the idea of the plum and the greens and the cheese all together and complimenting each other. I GUESS I could get over my bothersome clove avoidance for this.

Nicely done. Of course.

mary grimm said...

This sounds so summery and amazing! One thing I like about this site is that it makes the French Laundry recipes much more approachable.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a really simple and wonderful dish. I love the look of mache. I should use it more. Same goes for watercress.

Anonymous said...

I never knew how to use mache, and now I know. This looks delicious.