With just a handful of recipes to go before the French Fridays with Dorie crew finishes cooking all the recipes in Around My French Table, some of the recipes left are where they are in the lineup due to deliberate procrastination. A case in point would be this week’s choice: Cabbage and Foie Gras Bundles.
As it turns out, this elegant starter might be even simpler to put together than its name describes. Foie gras is wrapped in boiled cabbage leaves and steamed to warm the liver.
I’ll admit that I felt great ambivalence on this one. I wasn’t inclined to make a major investment in ingredients, so I didn’t put much effort into searching for the foie gras terrine. When we made the coddled eggs that called for foie gras mousse, I had great luck with the chicken liver mousse from Trader Joe’s, so I just bought that again. Of course, I didn’t read the recipe header where Dorie said to use a terrine made with whole foie gras not chopped or mousse. Oops.
My misadventure continues. The first step is to boil the leaves to soften them enough to be able to wrap up the foie gras into bundles. I couldn’t find Savoy cabbage, though I’m sure the softer, more tender leaves of Savoy would have been easier to separate from the head. Leaves on the regular green cabbage I bought are stiff. As I removed each leaf off my head of cabbage, it tore.
So, I have torn cabbage leaves and the wrong kind of foie gras terrine. Next step, I wrapped thick slices of liver mousse in the softened cabbage leaves. Fortunately, those cabbage leaves are more forgiving than I thought and I had bundles, ready to steam.
Nothing really needs further cooking. The steaming step is intended to warm the filling. The mousse being more delicate than what was really called for, I only steamed the bundles for 2 minutes. Now, transfer to the plate, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Voila!
Howard’s been trying to get me to make his grandmother’s stuffed cabbage for years. These bundles are Not Your Grandmother’s Stuffed Cabbage, but they are tasty. Howard really liked them. I don’t know that I’d make this again, but it was worth trying.
If you want to see what my French Friday friends thought of their bundles, check their links here.
After our starter, we enjoyed leftover Chicken Parmentier from the latest Everyday Dorie column in the Washington Post. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should!
According to the dictionary, coddle means “to treat in an indulgent or overprotective way”. So, you might wonder, what does coddling have to do with eggs? If you intend to prepare the egg with foie gras, as we were challenged to do for French Fridays with Dorie this week, that’s certainly one way of being indulgent. However, I would argue foie gras counts as indulgent treatment for you, the eater, not for the egg itself.
I suppose we need to examine the second definition for coddle which is “to cook an egg in water below the boiling point”. That makes much more sense. This week’s recipe has you place pieces of foie gras mousse on the bottom of a ramekin, break an egg on top, spoon cream over the white, sprinkle with chopped tarragon and parsley, and steam it all over simmering water (i.e. coddle the egg).
OK, I’ll admit that I didn’t find foie gras mousse. I’ll also admit that I didn’t look that hard. My first stop was Trader Joe’s. I didn’t expect to find foie gras there, however, on my way to the cheese case, I spied some chicken liver mousse with truffles. It was only $5 for 7 oz. My pragmatic side told me that this was a fine substitute for the probably more elusive and certainly more expensive foie gras. I put it in the basket and never looked back.
Howard also scored a dozen freshly-laid eggs. There’s a tiny farm stand on his way to work, on the property of the former governor’s mansion. It’s one of our favorite sources for fresh eggs. Perfect for this dish (and any other).
Back to coddling… I’ve scrambled eggs, fried them, boiled them, poached them, and baked them. I had NEVER coddled them. I vaguely remember my grandmother having a beautiful set of porcelain egg coddlers with Victorian flowers painted on them, but she never prepared coddled eggs for me. I’m excited to discover this new preparation for eggs (with or without the pâté). It’s more elegant than poached, but less kitchen-warming than baked eggs on a hot day. I’ll definitely experiment with this technique again.
This recipe is in the Starter chapter of Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table, but I chose to serve this as the main event for dinner. An arugula and tomato salad and a piece of toast rounded out the plate. Howard and I both enjoyed the fancy eggs. Bella wanted some, but we didn’t succumb to her begging.
The eggs only used half of the pâté. Even at a reasonable price, I didn’t want the leftovers to go to waste. No problem. I’ve recently fallen in love with the Vietnamese sandwiches, banh mi. The protein can be flexible to work with what you have around, like chicken or sliced steak, but my favorite is liver, typically leftover chopped liver. I’ll tell you my sandwich with the chicken liver mousse was outstanding.
To make your own, cut a roll in half and spread both halves with mayonnaise and sriracha. Place the protein on one half and top with sliced cucumber and springs of cilantro and basil (Thai basil is best). On the other half, spoon some pickled carrot and daikon and maybe some sliced jalapenos if you want more heat (these candied jalapenos are amazing). Put the two halves together, slice, and enjoy!
I’m really excited to be hanging out in New York City this weekend with some of my Dorista friends: Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler, Kathy of Bakeaway with Me, and Diane of Simple Living and Eating. Stay tuned for photos and stories of our adventures! Happy Weekend!