Monday, July 29, 2013

Cooking With My Favorites - Chilled Watercress Soup and the Double Boiler

It's time, once again, to grab one of my favorite Corningware pieces and make something yummy.  This time, I will be using my Double Boiler.  Yep, Corningware produced a Double Boiler somewhere around late 1962.  I am not sure how long it was available, but I can say for sure that it was discontinued when Corningware redesigned the cookware, for there is no Double Boiler for the "A" series, only the "P" models.  I wonder if the two pieces were originally sold together, or if you simply purchased the insert to fit into the 2 1/2 quart casserole that you already had?  Hmmmmmm.

Anyway, as stated, the bottom of the double boiler is the P-2 1/2-B.  The insert is labeled as P-17-B and holds 2 quarts, though it seems to hold only 1 3/4 quarts.  I'm just sayin'.   The P-9-C lid will fit on both pieces.
The insert has a much wider rim than a normal casserole/saucepan (bottom photo) does.

The best part about the double boiler assembly, is that the insert, being made of pyroceram, also functions as a regular saucepan and can be placed directly on the stove.  This factoid, along with Corningware's ability to laugh at temperature extremes, is going to come in handy as I make the soup.... and it is the reason I love cooking with this particular piece.  For not only do these two pieces act as a Double Boiler, they can also act as an Ice Water Jacket...

You'll see what I mean.

Chilled Watercress Soup

1 TB Butter
4 oz (114g) Leek, sliced (about 2)
1 clove Garlic, minced
9 oz (255g) starchy Potato, peeled and diced
3 cups (475ml) Chicken Stock
2 lbs (950g) Watercress, washed and trimmed (about 4 bunches) this will be 12 oz (340g) when cleaned up
3/4 cup (177ml) Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper
Creme Fraiche & Chives for serving

2 1/2 quart Casserole/Saucepan (P-2 1/2-B)
2 quart Double Boiler Insert (P-17-B)
Pyrex Lid (P-9-C)
optional Handle (P-10-HG)

Place the 2 1/2 quart (P-2 1/2-B) Casserole over low flame and melt the butter.

Add the Leek and cover, continue cooking over low flame until the Leek is soft.

Add the Potato and the Chicken Stock.

Cover again and increase the flame to medium... Bringing to a boil, then reduce the flame to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the Potatoes are tender.

Give the Watercress a  rough chop while waiting for the Potatoes to cook through.

When the Potatoes are tender, add the Watercress, then recover and cook for an additional minute.

Remove the soup from the flame and let cool for 5 minutes before continuing.

This is where the Double Boiler Insert comes into play.

Puree the soup with your blender or food processor in 2 batches.

Remember to remove the handle on the lid and cover with a towel.

As each batch is pureed, move it to the 2 quart Double Boiler Insert (P-17-B)

When all the soup has been pureed, place the 2 quart Double Boiler Insert (P-17-B) over medium flame and bring the soup back to a simmer.

While the soup is reheating, wash the 2 1/2 quart Casserole (P-2 1/2-B) and fill the bottom with ice, adding just enough water to cover, then set aside.

When the soup comes to a simmer, add the Heavy Cream and stir to combine...

Remove the soup from the flame and season with freshly grated Nutmeg, Salt and Pepper.

Place the 2 quart Double Boiler Insert (P-17-B) into the 2 1/2 quart Casserole (P-2 1/2-B)...  Voila!  Ice Jacket.

Place the whole thing in the refrigerator to quickly chill the soup. (Awesome, huh?) It will still take about 1 1/2 hours for the soup to chill down.

You can even refill with ice and water, to serve, so the soup stays cold at the table too.

Garnish soup with Creme Fraiche and Chives.

Where is your Corningware??

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cooking With My Favorites - Tartiflette and the 10 Inch Skillet

Like any collector I have my favorite pieces.  Unlike some collectors though, I enjoy using my collection.  After all, what is the point of collecting something just to have it sit around and collect dust?

One of the "favorite pieces" I like to use the most is also one of the oldest in my collection. 

This is the original 10-inch skillet with pyroceram lid. (and a P-10-HG Handle)

It would become known as the "P-10-B" after model numbers began being printed on the bottom.  Mine is not the oldest model of this type, as it has the blue stamp on the bottom.

The original models of this skillet have the information embossed on the bottom.

The reason this is one of my favorites, is that it is the only piece ever made that has a pyroceram lid.  Even the early saucepans (they were not referred to as "casseroles" until the use of "P" model numbers) had Pyrex lids, though they did have the cool "fin" handles instead of knobs.

Sadly, this pyroceramic lid doesn't fit the model P-10-B (which was equipped with a Pyrex 10-C lid) as it's dimensions are actually 10 inches, while the original "10 inch skillet" is really only 9 7/8 inch.  

One of the things I love to make in this particular skillet, is a Tartiflette.  Corningware's ability to go from the Stove to the Oven is perfect for turning this French dish of Potatoes, Bacon and Cheese.  True, the recipe was originally promoted by the "Union Interprofessional Reblochon", but you can't get Reblochon in the United States due to the fact that the milk is unpasteurized and it isn't aged long enough.  The best you can do is find a Fromage de Savoie or Delice du Jura as a replacement.   Honestly though, it's just as delicious with Havarti, Fontina Val d'Aosta or Taleggio.

I highly recommend Rachel Khoo's suggestion of using a mandolin for the potatoes, it's faster than doing it with a knife.  They really do need to be cut into matchsticks. I tried this once with grated potato and it was disgusting.  All mushy and gross..... So matchsticks it is.


18 oz Red Potatoes, cut into matchsticks
1 TB Olive Oil
7 oz Bacon, cut into strips
1 Bay Leaf
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 Sweet Onion, diced
4 oz White Wine
9 oz Delice du Jura (Taleggio, Camembert, Fromage de Savoie or Fontina Val d'Aosta)

Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
In the meantime, run your potatoes over the mandolin.  (I leave the skins on for white & red potatoes)

Cut your cheese into little cubes and set aside. (If using Taleggio, I suggest removing the rind)
Place your 10 inch skillet (with P-10-HG Handle attached) over medium flame and add the Olive Oil allowing it to heat up slightly.

Saute the Bacon until crispy.

Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings behind.

Add the Onions and Garlic and saute until they are all soft and full of bacon fat goodness.

Add the White Wine and the Bay leaf.

Then reduce the wine down to about 2 TB.

Remove the Bay Leaf.

Add the Bacon back in and allow it to rewarm slightly.

Add the Potato matchsticks and toss to coat with onion, bacon and any residual wine.

Remove the skillet from the flame and add the cubed cheese and tossing well.

Then stick the whole thing in the oven (detach the handle) and bake for 30 minutes.

Reattach the handle and remove from the oven.

Allow the tartiflette to cool for about 10 minutes before attempting to serve.

It may not be the prettiest dish in the world, but it sure is tasty.

A Bacon & Cheese Nirvana on a plate.

 Where is your Corningware??