Sep 02 2017

Alone In The Kitchen With An Old Frenchman

Recently French chef Jacques Pépin turned 80 and retired. Over the years, he educated viewers of Public Television on how to cook and, something that no other cooking show host has done, techniques in the kitchen with wisdom, humor and a smattering of French lessons. As Gilad Edelman wrote in a Slate article, this man will teach you how to cook

Gloria’s Favorites

Jacques dedicates the dishes from this episode to his wife Gloria and their many years spent together in the kitchen. He kicks off with an extravagant, yet easy and elegant, Pressed Caviar Canape. Jacques then pops the top from a bottle of beer to make a simple batter for his Smoked Salmon on Corn Fritters. And while the oil’s still hot, he browns Fried Eggplant Fans to a perfect crispy crunch using a tempura batter. Next comes a quick bowl of Vietnamese Hanoi Chicken Soup served with zesty accoutrements. Finally, he utilizes often overlooked offal for Gloria’s memorable Pork Kidneys with Mushroom and Vermouth Sauce.

Smoked Salmon on Corn Fritters

“Smoked Salmon served on corn fritters is a delicious first course as well as a fine hors d’oeuvre. The salmon can be a commercial smoked variety. Or you can use thin slices of fresh salmon: Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and cure them in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes to make a quick gravlax.

“The corn fritters are good as a garnish for most grilled meats or fish. They are best served right after cooking, but they can be made ahead, cooled on a wire rack (so they don’t get soggy underneath), and reheated in the oven as needed. The corn kernels could be replaced with other vegetables, from chopped spinach to peas to diced zucchini. The flour-and-beer batter could not be easier to make.” —Jacques Pépin

Serves 4 as a first course, about 12 as an hors d’oeuvre

Hanoi Chicken Soup

“I enjoy the Hanoi Soup, or Pho, that my wife makes at home in the conventional way, with boiled beef and noodles and some sliced raw beef added at the last moment. It is similar to a French pot-au-feu and a meal in itself. One day I decided to make a version with chicken. The stock, flavored with burnt shallots and ginger, as well as star anise, has a distinctive taste. First I simmer the charred shallots and ginger and anise in chicken stock (or chicken bouillon cubes in water). Then I poach a whole chicken in the stock. Once it is cooked, I pull the meat into pieces and finish the soup at the last moment with bean sprouts, shredded bok choy, tree ear mushrooms, and cellophane noodles (also called mung bean vermicelli).

“The soup is served with an array of garnishes, including cilantro, red onion, chili peppers, quartered limes, scallions, and fish sauce, all of which guests can add at will to their hot soup. It is a complex dish, but most of it can be prepared ahead.” —Jacques Pépin

Serves 6 to 8 (makes about 3 quarts)