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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Cooking The Old Fashioned Way - AKA Disaster Preparedness



In view of the recent disasters that hit Southeast Asia last year and America this year, I would like to challenge you to practice now picking up the pieces and getting on with life. What would you do if tomorrow morning you have nothing left but a pile of mud, little or no potable water and cooking implements you are not familiar with? What will you cook if you know how to use that round bottomed cast iron kettle (can it be used without a crane since the round bottom will not rest easily on a pile of rocks surrounding an open fire) or the lone ceramic pot that somehow has escaped the mass destruction around you? How will you start a fire to cook—there are no matches (they’re all wet) nor gas nor electricity?

Introducing the quarterly event, Cooking the Old Fashioned Way (CTOFW). Where I live it is now the middle of autumn—across the world it’s spring. Quick, stop where you are, no matter what your climate, season or country, and look around you, really look. Are there communal ovens in the village square? Is there a windmill or watermill nearby? Are you in a city where no one raises a Victory garden—just concrete? Make friends with the elders in your communities, raid the attics for dusty journals and recipes and look into the cellars for old pots. Learn now how they are used. Learn how to make potable water or other beverages. Discover alternate methods of cooking, other than “in” something. Can you think of ways to cook on something with natural energy? Can you find growing in the hedgerows and meadows and estuaries food items that will feed people of all ages and health/dietary conditions (some cannot eat foods for religious reasons or because of injuries)? Once you’ve managed to prepare it, can you store it?

Blog about what you’ve learned on or before October 22, 2005 at midnight--give us pictures of the cultural differences in food preparation, storage and the food in your area that might survive catastrophe. If you do not have a blog, send your entry to me and I will post it for you. Please send entries to: info@carolynsmith-kizer.com with “Old Fashioned” in the subject line. If you cannot blog this time around, you will have another chance at the end of January. Let’s prepare now—before we have no choice.

Cooking the Old Fashioned Way - Roundup #1 - October 23, 2005

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Farced Eggs


Wood platter Old Bedford Mercers

One of the ways that La Varenne uses eggs for an entree is to farce them.

"Take some hard eggs, cut them into halfes, across or in length, and take out the yolks, and mince them with your farce" (in this case, I used mayonnaise), and "put to it a little nutmeg."

Also consider sautéing the minced (mashed) yolks in a little browned butter instead of mayonnaise--in which case, the nutmeg may be more in line with our current tastes. Nutmeg is not a spice we ordinarily think of in use with eggs, but it is an interesting flavor.

The French Cook, François Pierre La Varenne, Englished in 1653.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

French Chocolate Cake

Clothilde hosts Wine Blogging Wednesday today and has chosen a wine that will taste great with chocolate. Here is my recipe for a rich, decadent chocolate cake. I often serve this cake or pots de crème when I'm out to impress as the end of a five-course meal . I always preface this dessert with a green salad dressed with vinaigrette to cleanse the pallate and to prepare for the intense enjoyment of chocolate and raspberry wine.

French Chocolate Cake
8 squares (8 oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Armagnac
4 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
Powdered Sugar and a lacy doily
Crème fraîche for serving

Preheat your oven to medium heat (350F). Grease a 9' spring form pan with butter. Line the base with waxed paper and grease the paper. Wrap the bottom of the pan with foil to keep water from seeping in.

Melt butter, chocolate and sugar together over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in the Armagnac.

Beat eggs for 50 strokes. Beat in flour, then slowly fold in the chocolate mixture. Pour into your prepared pan.

Place the springform pan into a larger pan and place it into the oven. Pour enough boiling water around the springform pan to come more than halfway up the sides. Bake about 30 minutes, or until a broom straw inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove the cake pan and set it on a rack to cool. The center may sink or crack--it's okay.

When the cake is almost cold, turn it out and over onto a serving plate and carefully peel back the paper. The bottom is now the top, so any cracks or sinking will be disguised.

At serving time, place a doily on top and sift powdered sugar through the lace. Cut into slices and serve with crème fraîche.

Frambrosia Oregon Raspberry wine takes the category of "berry wine" to a new height. Fine wine shops and restaurants seek out this wine for its pure, concentrated depth of flavor, and its ability to match exquisitely with a wide range of desserts. As an alternative to late harvest wine, port, or sherry -- Frambrosia is a delight to anyone who enjoys the true essence of this marvelous fruit." This wine was brought by a guest one evening--he had called before coming to ask if he could bring a wine that would go with dessert--he couldn't have made a better choice.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Orleans Menu - In Remembrance

As a tribute to the refugees from Katrina, IMBB and Paper Chef have joined together in asking you to stay home this weekend and cook, donating what you would have spent on dinner out to the relief effort.  Owen has chosen tomatoes, sausage, shrimp and beer as the ingredients.  I do not eat pork or shellfish, so I will substitute beef sausage and chicken.  I have included both breakfast and lunch, as well.  Enjoy your “day in New Orleans,” in remembrance.


Breakfast
Beignets or
Brioche or Croissants (with jam and real butter)
Café au lait

Lunch
Paté de Campagne
Crusty baguette
Cornichons
Brie or Camembert
Fresh fruit
Bottle of wine

Supper
Chicken & Okra Gumbo (Thanks to Jan and Donna from Metarie, LA, who helped me perfect my roux)

1/3 c flour
1/3 oil
1 chicken, cut up, (back, wings and neck reserved for stock at later date)
½ pound smoked beef sausage, diced or in thin slices
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried, crushed thyme
2 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce (not Tabasco®, but one more vinegary than hot)
1 can okra with juice (frozen or fresh okra will not impart the tang of canned—critical to my version)
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
filé powder
water or chicken broth
1 1/3 cup white rice

Make a nut brown roux with flour and oil in a cast iron (enameled Dutch oven) .  When done to your taste, add diced onion to hot roux, along with thyme and bay leaf, sausage and chicken, stirring and browning onion and chicken in the hot roux (Adding the chicken and browning it in the hot roux prior to adding liquid will set the flesh of the chicken—it will stay together—flesh on the bone.). Add canned okra and tomatoes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Add 2 quarts boiling water or broth and Louisiana hot sauce and simmer for at least one hour.  Add salt and cayenne to taste.  Keep hot.

Add 1 1/3 cups uncooked rice, 3 cups cold water and ½ teaspoon salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil--do not stir!  Turn down to low and cover; simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is done and fluff with a fork.  

Stir filé powder into gumbo and serve immediately over rice in soup bowls.  Have extra hot sauce and filé powder on the table to add for taste.

Serve with crusty bread and a glass of cold beer

Dessert
Cream Cheese Ice Cream
Your favorite dessert wine
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