Patrick O'Neal's Coeur a la Creme
For the hearts:
1/2 lb. cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
One-inch piece of vanilla bean
1 pint heavy cream
8 heart-shaped wicker coeur a la creme baskets (or perforated tin molds)
1. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy; gradually add powdered sugar, salt and vanilla bean (slit bean lengthwise with sharp knife, scraping small seeds into the mixture); blend well. Whip heavy cream (place bowl in larger bowl filled with crushed ice) until cream holds its shape.
2. Add to cream cheese mixture blending with whisk. Cut four thicknesses of cheesecloth large enough to overlap edges of each heart-shaped basket (or mold). Wring out cheesecloth in ice water; carefully line each basket (or mold). Fill each heart-shaped basket (or mold) heaping full with cream cheese mixture. Overlap ends of cheesecloth. Refrigerate hearts overnight (or at least 6 hours) placing on plates to collect the whey.
For the sauce:
1/4 cup dry sherry (or framboise)
1 1/2 ounces Grand Marnier (or orange liqueur)
1 1/2 ounces dark sweet rum
3/4 cup red currant jelly
1 1/2 cups fresh, cleaned, sliced strawberries (or raspberries or sliced fresh peaches)
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1. Combine sherry (or framboise), Grand Marnier (or orange liqueur), rum and currant jelly in saucepan. Heat over low heat to melt jelly but do not cook. Cool, add strawberries coated with lemon juice.
2. To serve, unfold ends of cheesecloth. Turn each basket (or mold) upside down on glass dessert plate. Peel off cheesecloth and discard. Outline "hearts" with whole, fresh strawberries (raspberries or peaches) and spoon sauce over "hearts." Serves 8.
Thoughts: Heart-shaped baskets (or perforated tin molds) are available at gourmet shops or through mail order houses. Coffee cups can be substituted for molds, shaping cheese mixture into mounds.
Patrick O'Neal's Ragout de Boeuf Bourguignon
5 lbs. lean boneless rump pot roast, cut in 1 1/2-inch cubes
2 tbsps. vegetable oil (or butter)
1 lb. piece lean bacon, cut in strips 1/4-inch thick by 1-inch wide
4 leeks, chopped (white part only)
4 yellow onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
Large handful parsley, washed and coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
Bouquet garni, tied in cheesecloth bag (large bay leaf, large pinch of thyme, 7 bruised peppercorns)
1 1/2 tsps. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bottle Beaujolais (or high quality dry red wine)
2 dozen pearl onions, peeled
1 lb. fresh cleaned button mushrooms, stemmed
1 1/2 tsps. sweet butter
1. Dredge meat cubes in seasoned flour; brown meat on all sides in vegetable oil (or butter); set aside.
2. Half fry bacon strips over medium heat in large heavy skillet (or Dutch oven); pour off excess fat. Add chopped vegetables (leeks, onions, garlic, carrots, parsley and celery); cook over medium heat until vegetables are transparent. Add bouquet garni seasonings and wine. Bring to simmer; correct seasonings.
3. Cover, place in preheated 375 degrees F. oven. Braise 1 hour. Add onions, recover, cook about 1 1/2 hours longer (or until meat is fork-tender). Meanwhile, slowly brown mushrooms in sweet butter; add to stew during last few minutes of cooking. Remove cover to allow moisture to evaporate and sauce to thicken during last half hour. Baste meat and vegetables several times.
4. To serve, remove bouquet garni, correct seasonings and reduce sauce if necessary by cooking rapidly over high heat. Serve the stew in its casserole (or arrange meat and vegetables on heated platter) with new potatoes with parsley-butter (or noodles) and pass the sauce. Serves 12-16.
For taste variations: add 2 tsps. of tomato paste to wine; for a "gamier" flavor add a dollop of currant jelly to the sauce. The dish can be prepared in advance and served the next day by adding onions and mushrooms.