Greetings Everyone:

This month’s newsletter features Cowgirl Chef Ellise Pierce.

Featured Recipes are:

  • Texas Killers
  • Minty Cantaloupe Soup
  • Roasted Salmon with Kalamata Olive-Basil Salsa
  • Peanut Butter-Chocolate Souffles
  • Texas Cooking with a French Accent - Chef Ellise Pierce

    Ellise grew up in Denton, just north of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas in a rodeo town, where horses and cattle outnumbered people by a long shot. There was one Dairy Queen, two Piggly Wigglys, and a Sonic. Despite the small town-ness, dinnertime was always a special affair. She helped her mom make dinner every night. As she grew older, she loved to write as much as she loved to cook. She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years. She usually spent her mornings writing and reporting, and late afternoons in the kitchen, trying out new recipes.

    In 2007, she met a guy from Paris, packed up her Kitchenaid mixer, two Cuisinarts, and her collection of vintage cowboy boots and moved there. The transition wasn’t easy. She was very homesick and missed Tex-Mex food. When she ran out of flour tortillas that she had brought from home, she started making her own. She didn’t have a comal, so she made them on a cast iron crepiere. There wasn’t a jalapeno to be found in any of the city’s 70-plus markets, so she learned to substitute. She found super-hot Moroccan peppers; in Chinatown, Thai chiles. Cilantro, limes, and avocados were easy to find. Soon, along with tortillas, she was making fresh salsas, guacamole, and margaritas, and having parties for her friends.

    Word got out among the expat community in Paris, and in 2008, Cowgirl Tacos, her catering and cooking class business was born. She then started her website and has written a new cookbook Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking with a French Accent

    Texas Killers

    Makes about 9 1/2 dozen Texas-shaped cookies

    Texas Cooking with a French Accent - Texas Killers

    In Paris, Ellise says before going out, you always meet at someone’s house and have something with champagne. She came up with these wonderful savory soblet (sandy texture) cookies!

    NOT A TEXAN? That’s OK. You can also roll these out and simply slice and bake.

    • 3 cups/34 grams of flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
    • 2 sticks/250 grams of butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup/55 grams of shredded cheddar cheese

    1. Preheat your oven to 375F and line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    2. Whisk together the flour, sea salt, sugar, and cayenne. In your mixer, cream the butter, then add the cheese. Now add the flour mixture and mix just until it comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, form two round discs, and cover them in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a half-hour or until the dough is firm.

    3. Roll out the dough and cut into Texas shapes, and put on the cookie sheets about 1/2-inch/12mm apart. Bake for 12-13 minutes, or until the tips of the Panhandle just begin to brown. Let them cool on the pan.

    Advance Planning: These cookies freeze beautifully. Go ahead and bake all of them at once. They’re on the fragile side, so pack them in plastic containers in layers with parchment or wax paper between each layer – then pull them straight from the freezer for your next party!

    Wine Served: Domaine Sangouard Cremant de Bougogne – Very pale yellow colour. The bubbles are fine and form a delicate necklace around the edge of the glass. Floral, citrussy and mineral aromas are matched in the mouth by freshness and elegance plus a degree of acidity which is the key to a proper balance between aromatic power and the desired degree of lightness.

    Minty Cantaloupe Soup

    Serves 4

    Texas Cooking with a French Accent

    The Roquefort cheese and toasted almond slivers were a delicious accompaniment to this soup!

    • 2 ripe cantaloupes, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 6 large fresh basil leaves, plus a bit more for serving
    • Pinch of sea salt
    • about 1 ounce/30 grams of crumbled Roquefort cheese
    • about 1 ounce/30 grams of toasted almond slivers

    1. Put your cantaloupe pieces in your blender along with the lemon juice, basil, mint, and salt, and puree until it’s very smooth. Chill down in the fridge for at least 3 hours
    before serving.

    2. Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with a bit of Roquefort, toasted almonds, and some torn basil and mint leaves.

    Wine Served: 2011 Chateau Saint Florin Sauvignon Blanc – Chateau Sain Florin 2011 is a white wine, made by Chateau Saint Florin. Its origin is Entre-Deux-Mers in Bordeaux, France. It is made from a Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend. It is produced from the 2011 harvest.

    Roasted Salmon with Kalamata Olive-Basil Salsa

    Texas Cooking with a French Accent - Roasted Salmon with Kalamata Salsa

    This dish was so easy, but oh! so delicious! – Wonderful for a dinner party!

    Makes 2 servings

    • 1 shallot, finely chopped
    • 1 small handful of fresh basil, chopped
    • 1 few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
    • 1 small handful of pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon of capers, chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
    • 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
    • sea salt and pepper
    • 4 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for coating the salmon
    • 2 (5-ounce/150 gram) salmon fillets (preferably wild from North America), with skin
    • Baby Spinach

    1. In an old jam jar, mix up your minced shallot, basil, parsley, olives, capers, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let this rest for 10-15 minutes. Then, add the 4 tablespoons olive oil, give it a shake, and let the mixture rest for a half-hour, at least, before serving – the longer this hangs out, the better it tastes.

    2. Preheat your broiler. Rinse and pay dry the salmon, and rub about 1 tablespoon of olive oil on each, making sure to evenly coat (and include the skin). Place the salmon fillets on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, give them a little salt and pepper, and slide them into the oven. Watch carefully – it’ll only take about 5 to 7 minutes to cook, depending on the thickness of your salmon, and how you like your salmon cooked. When it’s ready, remove from the oven and let it rest with a little foil tent on top for a few minutes.

    When plating, place a handful of baby spinach on the plate, then, top with the salmon. Serve your salmon with a spoonful of Kalamata Olive-Basil Salsa on top.

    Wine Served: 2009 Domaine Arnoux Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Pimentiers – 100% Pinot Noir. The Arnoux family has owned vineyards for four generations in Burgundy. The vines are grown sustainably and the grapes are harvested by hand.

    Peanut Butter-Chocolate Souffles

    Makes 6

    Texas Cooking with a French Accent - Peanut Butter-Chocolate Souffles

    • butter, for buttering the ramekins
    • 4 ounces/100 grams of good-quality white chocolate
    • 3/4 cup/180 ml of cream
    • 3 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter (Ellise likes Skippy, because that’s all that’s available in Paris, but she said steer clear of natural peanut butters for this)
    • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
    • 3 egg yolks, at room temperature
    • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
    • 3 tablespoons of sugar, plus more for dusting the ramekins
    • 1/4 cup/55 grams of semisweet or a good milk chocolate, chopped

    1. Preheat your oven to 400F, and butter the insides of six 1/2 cup/115-gram ramekins and dust with sugar.

    2. Melt the white chocolate, cream, and peanut butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, and whisk it
    until it’s nice and smooth. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla, and let this cool.

    3. When the peanut butter-white chocolate mixture has cooled a bit, whisk in the egg yolks.

    4. In your mixer (and using a super-clean bowl-egg whites are notoriously finicky), whip the egg whites on medium speed until they start to hold their shape. Now add the sugar, and whip until soft peaks form.

    5. Using your biggest rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the peanut butter mixture, mixing them in 3 additions. Don’t worry if it’s a bit streaky – this is much better than overmixing, which will lessen your souffles puffy tops.

    6. Fill the ramekins halfway with the souffle batter, and sprinkle some of the chopped chocolate bits on top. Now, add the rest of the batter, filling each ramekin almost to the top. Put these on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and gently slide them into the oven.

    7. Bake for about 15 minutes, or just until the souffles rise and puff (they’ll look like they’ve gotten cute little hats) and begin to crack across the top. Don’t be in a rush to take these from the oven at the first opportunity – you want these to be firm (not runny) throughout, so just let them bake. Serve your perfect souffles immediately!

    Cowgirl Tip: Don’t have a double boiler? Simply put a glass bowl over a deep saucepan filled with just enough water to warm the bowl, but not touch the bottom. Works like a charm.

    I hope you all enjoy Ellise’s recipes. The Roasted Salmon with Kalamata Olive-Basil Salsa was the real standout of the evening. I urge all of you to give it a try! You won’t be disappointed!

    For more of her delicious recipes, get a copy of her new book Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking with a French Accent

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