La Quenelle and a salad Lyonnaise

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My culinary experiences in France have come to my mind many times in spite of the fact that one month has already passed since I returned from my three weeks summer holidays.
 
At Les Chandelles’s (Candlelight)
 
When the evening of 15th of September we were walking in Vieux-Lyon in order to discover the beauty of the city, after one hour shopping around we got hungry, so it was just a godsend, that at the entrance of the restaurant Les Chandelles, a waiter stopped us, saying that they’d made a special offer all of their menus (10% cheaper) just for that very evening. We checked the menu and after discovering the quenelle I’ve already decided to stay there. Namely I knew that Lyon and Nantua are most famous for their quenelles de brochet mousseline (pike quenelles), often served with cream sauce (Nantua sauce) and run under the salamander grill. To cut my story short in Lyon, the ancestral home of Les Quenelles I’ve had the pleasure of trying them! And I have to say, it was the best version I’ve ever tasted. The flavor was rich, the quenelles were so light in texture, puffed and tender, ship-shape, like clouds on the sea (see my picture).
 
What is the quenelle?
 
A quenelle is a dumpling made of a mixture of creamed fish (usually from pike), chicken or meat, sometimes combined with breadcrumbs, with a light egg binding. It can also be served vegetarian, or “nature”. It is usually poached. Formerly, quenelles were often used as a garnish in haute cuisine; but today, they are served on their own. By the way quenelle means dumpling and may also refer to a food item made into an oval or egg shape, such as ice cream, sorbet, or mashed potato quenelles. This usage derives from the original shape of the egg-and-meat quenelle. The most difficult part making the quenelle is the preparation of the pike which has many small bones, so passing it through a tamis is an expeditious way of removing them.

The recipe

Ingredients: 500 ml water, 10 g butter, 2 dashes of salt, 400 g flour, 12 eggs, green olives, mushrooms (optional), 500 g minced fish, beef or chicken

Recipe (for 8 persons): Mince or chop 500 g of pike fillet, strain in a colander covered with a cloth. Let this rest in a cold place for 12 hours.

Boil 20 ml of milk add 30 g of melted butter, 10 g salt 2 g pepper and 125g flour.

Mix thoroughly, using a wooden spatula, until the mixture is smooth and does not adhere to the walls.

Cover the preparation and let it set.

Mix the preparation for 2 minutes, add the pike flesh. Mix again.

Break 6 eggs in a bowl add 100 g of butter, then the preparation mix. Let the mixture set for 1 day.

Separate the mix into 120 g pieces, hand-roll them on a floured tabletop. Poach the pieces for 12 min in lightly salted water.

Place them in a gratin dish and cover them with Nantua sauce.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Enjoy whilst warm.

Similar items such as quenelle are found in many cultures. The Romans are believed to have introduced this type of food to Western Europe. The word quenelle is derived from the German Knödel (noodle or dumpling).

Salad Lyonnaise

That was my hors-d’oeuvre and I have to say that it tasted thousand miles better than the famous salad Nicoise in Nice! Here is the recipe “with love” from Lyon:

Ingredients: 1 salad Lollo bionda or rosso, 1 red onion, 150 g bacon-lard, 1 tbs wine or sherry vinaigrette, 1 tbs mustard, 1 egg for each person, 1 tbs oil, bread for making croutons

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan, then add the bacon and onion or garlic. Sizzle for about 15 mins until the bacon is crisp and brown, then scoop it out with a slotted spoon into a bowl, leaving the onion and bacon fat in the pan. Throw the bread into the pan and toss in the bacon fat, adding the remaining oil if the pan is dry. Fry the croutons for 5 minutes on a low heat, tossing occasionally until golden and crisp, then remove pan from heat.

While the croutons are frying, make the dressing. Whisk the vinegar, mustard and 1 tbsp water in a small bowl. Add the olive oil gradually to make a thick dressing, season it, then set aside. Cut away and keep the lighter lettuce leaves and wash if needed, discarding any of the tough outer leaves.

When all of your ingredients are ready, bring a pan of water to a gentle boil and add the vinegar. Crack the eggs into small bowls then gently lower into the water and poach for 3 mins exactly. Line a plate with kitchen paper and use a slotted spoon to lift the eggs onto the plate.

To serve: Pile the salad high into the middle of two plates and arrange the remaining croutons and lardons around the side of the plates with the shallot rings. Drizzle the rest of the dressing around the outside and, just before serving, top each plate of salad with an egg.

PS: The Week of Taste Festival (La semaine du Gout) takes place in Lyon between 17- 23 of October!

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