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In this week’s Chefs in Conversation video, the extraordinary Jacques Pépin talks about the amazing female chefs who raised him. Here, eight of his most delicious recipes that were inspired or influenced by the women in his life.
1. Jacques Pépin's Favorite Pound Cake
The French call pound cake quatre-quarts ("four-fourths") because it is made with equal parts flour, sugar, eggs and butter. Pépin's mother, aunt and cousin all have their versions. He likes to fold in candied citrus peels to make a French fruit cake.
2. Mémé's Apple Tart
Pépin remembers well the famous apple tart his mother made every day as a dessert offering in her small Lyon restaurant, Le Pélican. Unlike any other dough, hers achieved its tender, crumbly, airy texture from the combination of vegetable shortening, baking powder and warm milk mixed with the flour.
3. Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce
Pépin’s mother served this quintessential beef stew at her restaurant, Le Pélican, where she made it with tougher cuts of meat.
4. Pan-Seared Skirt Steak with Anchovies and Lime
Pépin's mother-in-law, who was from Puerto Rico, seasoned her steaks liberally with lime juice before and after cooking, then served them with a sauce that included anchovies and garlic. This is Pépin's sped-up version.
5. Les Oeufs Jeannette
When Pépin was growing up, his favorite egg recipe was his mother’s stuffed eggs, which he baptized “Eggs Jeannette.” To this day, he has never seen a recipe similar to hers, and he still enjoys it often at his house.
6. Maman's Cheese Soufflé
Pépin’s mother made this soufflé for his father when they first got married.
7. Toasted Bread and Onion Soup
This soup is an ideal vehicle for leftover sourdough bread, which is cut up into cubes, then browned in the oven to enhance its taste. Grated cheese, one of Pépin's mother's favorite additions to the soup, provides even more flavor.
8. Eggplant Tempura Fans
Pépin's mother used this easy and clever technique to fry whole eggplants at Le Pélican, her Lyon restaurant. She cut the small eggplants into fans because they cook more quickly that way and have more super-crisp tempura crust.