#1. Do you prefer cooking with electric or gas?
I grew up with electric and was very afraid of my gas burners in the house we bought. (I have real issues with fire of any kind--candles, grills, you name it.) Despite this, I'm almost sold on the gas stovetop but I do find it's hard to get it low enough. But I very much miss my electric oven with the broiler on top instead of under. I haven't been able to broil much of anything since moving here in 2000 if it doesn't fit in my toaster oven.
#2. How many times a month do you order out?
Oh, not nearly as many as I would like. I have tried to cure myself of the habit but we do eat out once a week (pizza usually). The kids help with this by not liking any ethnic food (yet).
#3. How do you like your ice - cubed or crushed?
I never once thought about this but if I had to make a call, I'd say crushed. Really, I prefer my drinks at room temperature for the most part, or cold without ice.
#4. Share a Christmas recipe.
I don't think I've ever shared the recipe for our favorite Mousse de Carrottes. So here it is, straight from the Le Bec-Fin cookbook by the indispensable Georges Perrier. Please note, we do not use the food mill or the pastry pipe method, though it is elegant. We find the teenagers (and some adults!) in the family prefer to just shovel it on their plates with the largest serving spoon they can find. I will also add that it works just fine with salted butter and less rich milk product (though anything less than whole milk does compromise the creaminess). The best calorie-reducing results we've had have been with some cream, some milk, or of course light cream. But we usually just splurge. It's worth it.
Mousse de Carrottes (Carrot Mousse)
Lovely carrots are transformed in to a most elegant mousse here. At Le Bec-Fin we pipe this mousse through a pastry bag into decorative swirls on the plate. My customers love this dish, but most can't figure out the "secret" ingredient: it's the honey.
Service for four (note: he has got to be kidding here or else the pastry bag affects this immensely. We used this exact recipe for a 32 person Christmas dinner. There were no leftovers, but everyone got some.)
The Carrot Mousse
3 lbs large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 1/2 Cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
Salt and white pepper
Cooking the Carrots
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, then place on a baking pan and bake in the oven for 30 minutes to dry. Heat the heavy cream to scalding. Remove the carrots from the oven, then puree in a food processor until very smooth. With the machine running, add the scalded heavy cream, butter, and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Piping Carrot Mousse: To pipe the mousse, you will first need to force the finished mousse through a food mill. This will ensure that no larger bits clog the pastry tip. Pipe through a medium -sized star tip. Be sure to wrap the bag in a towel while piping so you don't burn your hands.
And a few last notes from me on this: I don't remember the last time I used large carrots for this. I just buy the baby carrots in a bag and go from there. The white pepper does make a difference, both in flavor (more subtle) and visually. Rather than draining, we usually use a slotted spoon or the Chinese drainer thing to move the carrots to the jellyroll pan, and I usually put a cloth dishtowel on the sheet first to help soak up extra water too. The longer the carrots dry, the fluffier the mousse. And heating the cream really does make a difference.
Lastly, we laughed at the "patrons can't guess the secret ingredient" part--we couldn't even guess they were carrots when we had them at Le Bec-Fin the first time! With ours, though, you can tell.
Wanna play along? Go here and enjoy!