At Home With the Roux Brothers
This volume saw Michel and Albert put aside formality and pass on easily learnt skills that would impress guests. There were recipes for the inexperienced, the practised and the adventurous cook. A book to be found in every home where good food is enjoyed.
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Crème de cresson (Cream of watercress soup)
Sometimes the simplest recipes are the trickiest; a watercress soup is a good example of this. The freshness of flavour and appearance are hard to capture and impossible to hold, so delay as little as possible between preparation and serving. In fact, this soup is so quickly made you could start the recipe 30 minutes before the meal, and still have time to fry some diced bread in clarified butter until crisp and golden, to make croûtons to serve with it.
Wash, drain and carefully pick over the watercress, discarding the thicker stalks and any damaged leaves.
The garnish; reserve 18 small, perfect leaves. Blanch them by dipping them in boiling water for 1 second, then immediately transfer them to a small bowl of iced water. Leave for a minute or two, then carefully remove and place on a sheet of absorbent paper and gently pat dry. Leave, covered with a damp cloth, until ready to serve.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the remaining watercress, the thinly sliced onion or shallots and leek, and the diced carrot. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in 750ml stock or water, followed by the cream and the cubed potato, and cook over a moderate heat for 15 minutes.
Allow the contents of the pan to cool a little, then transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Strain the soup through a fine sieve into the rinsed-out saucepan. Re-heat and adjust the consistency with a little additional stock of necessary, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pour the soup into warmed soup bowls or plates and carefully arrange 3 blanched watercress leaves on the soup in each bowl. Serve piping hot.
50g onion or shallots, thinly sliced
25g leek (white part only, thinly sliced)
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
750ml to 900ml chicken stock or water
450ml double cream
100g peeled potato, cubed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper