Sunday, December 31, 2006

Everyday Pouring Pots of Faïence

Blanchette, p. 59.

The following is my paraphrased summary of pouring pots from thesis: Blanchette, Jean-Francois (Ph.D.: Anthropology, 1979, Brown University) Title: The role of artifacts in the study of foodways in New France, 1720-1760 : two case studies based on the analysis of ceramic artifacts.

"The shapes of ceramic objects are generally divided into two categories: hollowware (creux) and flatware (platerie). Brown faïence hollowware comprises pitchers, coffeepots, chocolate pots, teapots, soup tureens, huguenotes, pâtés, deep platters or saladiers, large bowls, porringers and cups.
PitcherThe pitcher is a pot with a slight pouring lid and a handle. Its neck is long, straight and vertical; its body is globular.

a brown faïence coffeepot suitable for heating all kinds of liquids, Encyclopédie, Recueil de planches . . . Fayancerie, 1765The coffeepot is a pouring pot in which the walls are uniform and slanted toward the bottom and the handle is horizontal and straight “used for heating all type of beverages” (Encyclopédie 1765: Fayancerie, PL I: 4) The author does not make a distinction between the coffeepot,marabout

the marabout (round-bodied hot water jug [Fig. 5])

Coquemartand the coquemart [Fig. 6] (see text of the encyclopedia). Furetière 1970, however, says that the “coffee pot” is a “small coquemart-shaped vessel in which coffee is prepared.”

The teapot is a pouring pot with a bulbous body, narrow opening and long cylindrical and sometimes curved spout. tea pot It has a handle, and the spout is separate from the pot’s opening. The teapot usually stands lower than other pots of normal size. In the Recueil de plances (1765 in Encyclopédie: Fayancerie I:7), it states “A tea pot to be used with a tray (name given to a platter carrying a number of coffee cups), usually made to contain coffee.”Although this pot is used to make coffee, it looks like an 18thC teapot
Today's coffeepot with filtre drip This text is probably another indication that tea was not widely used.

It is only in the text of the Encyclopédie itself that the teapot is described as a pot to be used for tea: “Tea pot (Faïence manufacturer’s terminology), slightly bulbous vessel with handle and spout, in which tea is brewed with boiling water and used as a beverage. Tea pots come in all shapes and sizes, and may hold from one to ten cups; Chinese and Japanese tea pots are perhaps among the most beautiful."

From these texts, it would appear that the function of the pouring pot(s) must have varied according to the needs of the people."

This post links to Feathered Nest Friday

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Porringers in Nouvelle France

Blanchette 1979:64

The following is my paraphrased summary of porringers from thesis: Blanchette, Jean-Francois (Ph.D.: Anthropology, 1979, Brown University) Title: The role of artifacts in the study of foodways in New France, 1720-1760 : two case studies based on the analysis of ceramic artifacts.

“Porringers are: hollow bowls with steep walls; a table utensil; small rimless platter normally used for serving bouillon, or preparing soup for a particular person; vessels for individual consumption. The porringers found in Louisbourg have two long shell-shaped handles and a vertical footring.

Because porringers are considered to be a “wet dish” service item, Blanchette emphasizes the porringer, which in certain areas of France such as La Marche, Le Limousin and Le Maconnais, had a distinct personal character. In these regions, a porringer was bestowed upon each newborn infant to be used solely by that individual until death. When the person died, the porringer was buried alongside the body as a funeral offering. This is a material manifestation of the personality. Encyclopédie, Recueil de planches, Fayancerie III:49 [Today, babies often receive silver porringers with their name engraved.] In the Compagnie franches de la marine stationed at Fort Beauséjour, the brown faïence porringer may have been the symbol of each officer’s individuality, and this aspect would merit examination, along with porringers of other materials. Although Place Royale is the same type of site as Louisbourg, the same shapes of brown faïence are found there with the exceptions of the teapot, the pâté, the small pouring pot and the porringer. The lack of the brown faïence porringer is quite surprising since this was a common shape elsewhere in New France; however, coarse earthenware porringers are found there and may have served the same function. Another point in support in our explanation of the sociotechnic functions of the porringer is the almost total absence of porringers in the public areas such as inns and cabarets in Louisbourg.

It is also noteworthy that military sites revealed only those brown faience shapes relating to liquids and hot wet dishes. This is certainly related to the food customs of military officers at the time, whose main dishes were soup, porridge, stews, bread and beverages. It is believed that these faïence objects were used by the officers. Subalterns to the officers used coarse earthenware, metal, or wooden objects, or ate directly from the cooking pot or a common bowl [trencher].”

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bread for Sop or Soup

The baker’s shop, engraving, from Paul Jacques Malouin, Description des arts et métiers (Paris, 1967).

“‘Soup, in fact, derives from ‘sop’ or ‘sup,’ meaning the slice of bread on which broth was poured. Until bread was invented, the only kind of thick soup was a concoction of grains, or of plants or meat cooked in a pot. Gruel or porridge was thus a basic food, a staple form of nourishment, and long held that place in Western countries, for in practice bread was a luxury eaten only in towns.’” p. 177

“‘. . . soup which was to become a staple item of the European diet from the Dark Ages onwards: a slice of bread at the bottom of a bowl, with broth or soup made in a pot poured on to it. The word suppa, from Frankish, was used in Low Latin and has kept its original sense in Dutch sopen, to soak, cognate with English ‘sop.’ Soup poured over pieces of bread is popular in France: garbure, made of cabbage, bacon and preserved goose is one such example, so is French onion soup.’” p. 229. Quotations from History of Food, Toussaint-Samat, Maguelonne, translated by Anthea Bell. . Blackwell Publishers, 1992.

 Detail from "the bread shop." The girl at the right is chipping the crusts from rolls; the chippings were sold "to the poor and country people" to put in their soup.
 Detail from "the bread shop." The baker's wife behind the counter is working on her accounts; at her left is a bread-slicer similar to those still used in neighborhood restaurants in Paris. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Archaeology of Brown Faïence
Ceramics in Nouvelle France

The Pâté, Jean-Baptiste Oudry, 1738

The following is my paraphrased summary through chapter one of thesis: Blanchette, Jean-Francois (Ph.D.: Anthropology, 1979, Brown University) Title: The role of artifacts in the study of foodways in New France, 1720-1760 : two case studies based on the analysis of ceramic artifacts.

The study of brown faïence is a well-defined ethnic type, being manufactured only in France. Its presence or absence on any site occupied by the French during the French regime should reveal preferences for culinary equipment and, undoubtedly, particular alimentary orientations related to status. In fact, the beginning of the 18thC was a period when the ceramic arts, particularly faïence, flourished. At this time Louis XIV ordered the silver and gold table services to be sent to the mint to pay for the excessive expenses incurred by foreign wars. These table services were replaced by faïence.

Although brown faïence was invented during a period of liberalism in the industry, the limited supply of wood fuel for kilns caused stipulations that production must be for either white or brown faïence. The exclusive production of brown faïence, or brown with white interior, made it possible for numerous Rouen factories to exist until well after 1786, even though cheaper, prettier English pottery which had the appeal of a foreign product was preferred, brown faïence continued to persist as both kitchen- and tableware.

For many centuries, meals had been composed of either potages or stews, made thick by the addition of bread. Meals, in which meats, spices, and other rare products could be found, were for well-to-do people—the common people were eating plain and frugal fare, which seldom included meats, except for special social or religious activities. Meals of the lower class tended to remain the same, but meals of the upper class went through a revolutionary change as evidenced by their cookbooks (Bonnefons 1651; L.S.R. 1674; La Varenne 1699; Liger 1700, 1755; La Chapelle 1735; Lemery 1745; Marin 1775). The change in haute cuisine was that of cooking food slowly, in its own juices: meats were cooked individually, spices selected and vegetables prepared separately, to say nothing of the diversity of pastries and desserts. Ceramic vessels became the preference for slow cooking, metallic ones when a fiercer fire was needed. The variety of brown faïence vessels corresponds to the needs of the new cuisine. Marin summarizes numerous details about the ways of preparing meals, the quantities for necessary ingredients, cooking time, necessary vessels for preparation—glazed earthenware pots, terrines, tripode huguenote, form also seen as a copper tourtiere huguenotes (tripod cooking pot), earthenware or copper pans and kettles, water kettles, silver and faïence platters. In fact, the first book addressing itself to the bourgeoisie in addition to the nobility and the clergy was Menon’s La cuisinière bourgeoise published in 1746.

It was toward a refinement and a tasting of individual food that the kitchen of the French nobility was aiming. A significant element of Bonnefons’ Les délices de la campagne concerned the cooking and preparation of root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, white salsify, beets, rapes, turnips and Jerusalem artichokes. Usually considered food in times of famine and bad harvests, Bonnefons brought these foods to the table of the leisure class. Sugar now played an important role and was used for many things, including decoration. Sauce was thickened with flour and heat rather than with soddened bread. Three elements of this cuisine are: wet dishes—stews, potages and sauces; dry dishes—cooking in undercrusts, the use of waxed paper for cooking, the practice of multiple cooking using two different techniques; and liquids—coffee, tea and chocolate.

Wet dishes include creams, eggs, and other side dishes which were partially or totally prepared in hollow platters or on dishes over a gentle fire. Cooking was slow and meat was often left to cook on a gentle fire to extract its juice. Braising was another technique.

Pâtés were dry dishes, meats cooked in undercrusts which were either puffed pastries made of wheat flour for fine dishes, or a combination (bise) of wheat and rye flour for large cuts of meat. These undercrusts were sometimes decorated with fleurs-de-lis made of paste (Liger 1755). No vessel was needed to cook the pâté because the solid crust replaced it. The pâtés could also be cooked directly on the sole, (oven floor) or on a piece of waxed paper in the oven, as was the case for meat preparations that held their shape. This method of cooking was expensive because the paste hardens during cooking and was later discarded. Numerous meats, fishes and other dishes were often cooked twice. They were first cooked on a spit or cooked slowly in a pan or platter. The second time they were arranged on a serving platter of silver or faïence and covered with grated cheese, cream or other decorations and set in the oven or on weak embers, thus producing a glaze. This method of cooking was a new refinement not found in recipe books from the preceding century. Blanchette 1979:120Brown faïence dishes, called pâtés after the food, made it possible to cook these dishes without undercrusts which were expensive for those who did not have large quantities of grains for flour in storage. The food was put in pottery pâtés and placed in a bain-marie so that the water in the bain-marie would replace the humidity otherwise supplied by the undercrust containing the pâté. Detail from The Pâté  Blanchette suggests using brown faïence pâtés to eliminate the need for undercrusts was very economical and the pâtés were decorated with fleurs-de-lis, like the undercrusts. The tops of the faïence pâtés were often decorated with rabbits and feathered game to suggest the type of meat used.

a brown faïence coffeepot suitable for heating all kinds of liquids, Encyclopédie, Recueil de planches . . . Fayancerie, 1765Liquids, like wine, were often suggested to prepare meats and fishes. Wine was also used for the preparation of hot and cold drinks. Tea, coffee and chocolate were not mentioned in recipe books before the 18thC. Liger (1755) specifies that coffee grains are roasted in glazed earthenware vessels so that they won’t burn and all their taste is preserved. He also says that water for tea boils in a cafétière (coffeepot).Glass of Water and a Coffee Pot, Chardin 1760 In fact, authors of cookbooks never use the term théière (teapot) in any of the books analyzed, although the teapot shape is found archaeologically in 18thC sites and mentioned in documents at mid-century. The pitcher, coffeepot, chocolate pot, teapot, small pouring pot, globular cup and straight-sided cups are all brown faïence shapes related to beverages and relative consumption seems to correspond to relative occurrence in New France archaeological sites.

Development of the new cuisine in France coincided with the development of brown faïence, and the shapes of this ceramic type correspond well to the preparation-service-consumption of the foods previously noted. Thus it would seem that brown faïence was manufactured for the preparation and service of dishes found in the new recipe books, since the diverse specialized shapes correspond so well to the foods. In effect, the development of foodways follows the general progress of French society as seen in standards of living, demography, the bourgeoisie and colonial commercial activity. This general frame of reference should be kept in mind in understanding the role and position of brown faïence in culinary innovations of the 18thC.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Serving and Eating Foie Gras

My foie gras cooking trials are over and it's time to enjoy the results.

My first recipe is from Emeril, Foie Gras Terrine, in which I used my own Vin Noix or green walnut wine instead of port. I served this terrine with cornichons, toast and onion marmalade and a glass of vin noix. Results--earthy, unctious and rich.

Another terrine involved the use of spices, and I turned again to my favorite blend, menues espices, which today is known as quatre-épices. Because of the richness of the spices, I served this terrine with a sweet white wine and plain toast--the flavor on the top of the tongue reminds me of the best smells in a deli.

During my discussions on foie gras several of my readers have offered tips for serving this delicious treat.
  • Jean-Luc Odeyer of Grenoble, France, "I prepare the green nut chutney, it is a delight! It is good with the raclette, the foie gras, the grills and the skewers, cheese, the cold meats and the charcuterie, on toasts…"
  • Don wrote "The pan juices and lemon are what truly makes foie gras with ham superb. Very delicious with a squeeze of lemon."
  • David Lebovitz recommends serving très bon Sauternes
  • One offered another recipe with ways to serve the terrine in a casual or more fancy manner.
  • and Pascal has a lovely picture of a simple foie gras presentation

Elsewhere on the net are sites for tasting, preparation and cooking.

Foie gras is a holiday food, a simple food. It lends itself to many styles of serving and eating. Whether you use some of my 18thC recipes or these modern ones, do enjoy your liver--it can be a harbinger of good things to come.

 Enjoy Foie Gras, Enjoy Life! Foie gras and
other French delicacies from Mirepoix, USA

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Herbes 101

Plain food can be enhanced by any number of herbes, which are the leaves and stems of plants [usually roots and fruits and nuts of plants are considered spices]. Fresh herbes should be bruised or twisted before being added to cooking foods, the exception being herbe bundles or bouquet garni which is often tied together and suspended from the handle of the cooking pot to aid in its removal prior to serving.

Some herbes, bay [laurel] leaves in particular, benefit from being bruised and "fried" in a little oil, graisse or butter, which releases the oils of the herbe and intensifies its flavor. There may be times when you do not want to intensify the herbe--adding it at later stages in cooking may give a more elusive flavor.

Dried herbes should be crushed in the hand before adding to the pot. This will release more flavor, as will toasting in a dry pan or frying in the oils and fats at the beginning of the preparation of the dish.

Adding herbes at the very end of the cooking process is necessary when using herbes like basils, which darken with cooking and can spoil the looks of the dish.

National cuisines use different combinations of herbes--begin to experiment with not only local herbes, but be sure and lay in a supply of unusual herbes from your traveling merchants when given the chance. Bon appétit!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Before Prudhomme's Turducken - There Was Goose Pye

Dead Duck with a Pie, Porcelain Bowl and Jar of Olives, Chardin 1764

Chef Paul Prudhomme is credited with creating turducken, a boned chicken stuffed in a boned duck stuffed in a boned turkey, all layers surrounded by forcemeat [farce], usually served at holiday times when some cooks yearn to bring something splendid to the table. But Hannah Glasse beat him to the table, as did other 18thC cooks.

Once you have fattened your holiday goose, removed its foie gras, and it hangs cooling on the meat hook in the office [cold kitchen], it’s time to think of goose pye, a corned [pickled] tongue surrounded by farce stuffed in a marinated, boned chicken, surrounded by farce, stuffed in a boned and marinated well-hung [term used to connote ternderizing] goose baked in a crust—perfect for today’s holiday meals, but a means of preserving in the past.

The spices [today's French four-spice or quatre-epice] used in the farce and in the marinating process serve to preserve the meat once it is cooked and cooled, allowing the pye to be kept in the cool room and sliced for serving as needed—time here also serves to ripen or develop the many flavors in this dish.

Goose Pye, photo from Terrines, Pâtés & Galantines. Time-Life, 1982, p. 52.

Here is Glasse's recipe for goose pye.

I highly recomend both Time-Life's Terrines [which also uses Glasse's recipe and is accompanied by marvelous step-by-step photos] and Glasse's book, also known as First Catch Your Hare. Terrines is edited by the late inimitable Richard Olney. Glasse's book served as the take off for many following books and incorporates about a hundred years of previous cooking knowledge--still a great book after two and half centuries!


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cramming Geese, Gavage for Foie Gras

To Pastures New, James Guthrie, 1883.

In my last post of fattening fowl for foie gras powdered nettles were mixed with flour to make a paste for cramming geese. Why green, you might ask? Because young geese will orient toward paticular greens, especially grasses, which is why they can me used as a management technique for weeding orchards and other crops. Care must taken to corral the geese away from other tender green crops and older geese from other colors, such as strawberries or tomatoes. Once they associate another color other than the green of new grass for food, they can literally mow down crops, even being known to eat the roots right down into the soil. Hence, it is necessary for our little goose girl to herd them away from the desireable crops, toward the water source several times a day and to allow them to rest in the shade. Once they are rested, they will defecate and return to feeding. As such geese are a natural part of sustainable agricultural care for fields.

Fresh, tender greens are very high in nutrients--proteins and others--and create a natural source of fat in geese. Prior to domestication, this fat was used for fuel storage for long migrations. In fattening fowl for foie gras, [dried] greens and flower or seed protein will also create natural fat, used today for Jews to render as schmaltz for cooking fat as beef tallow and lard are forbidden foods. The first mention in Europe of foie gras is from a discussion of Jewish law by Rashi in the 11th century. As early as 2500 BCE, Egyptians crammed geese.

Cramming is a natural feeding habit for a goose--geese will eat until they are so full in the craw that they can fall over forward and will still try to eat more. Offering them a green flour paste "finger" pellet of food would be a morsel they couldn't resist--even if they were stuffed already--cramming or gavage is not a cruel treatment but a goose's delight.

When geese are penned for the winter, and fresh greens are not available, the high carbohydrate pellets, green in appearance from the nettles, produce the excess fat and enlarged liver so sought after by gourmands. Butchering normally occured in time to produce the holiday goose before the bird lost weight and its precious fat. Birds selected for foie gras would have been crammed for two or more weeks following confinement. This cramming relies on the greed of the goose to ingest "greens" at a time when little fresh green vegetation is available--literally greed produces foie gras.
* * *

Enjoy Foie Gras, source for whole [entire] and canned [bloc] foie gras and other French treats.
* * *

Johnson,Clarence. 1960. Management of Weeder Geese in Commercial Fields. California Agriculture. August. p. 5.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

To Fatten Fowl for Foie Gras

To fatten all sorts of Fowl in fifteen days, whether Hens, Geese, Ducks, or others; from All-Hallows till Lent.
Take Nettle leaves and Seed, gathered and dryed in the proper Season, which beat to Powder and sift; when you would use it, make it into a Paste with Wheat-Bran or Flower, making it up with Dish-water; for want of it with warm Water; give it to your Fowl once a day, and you will see the effect.

Another way to fatten Fowl.
First put them into a Coop, and three times a day give them to eat a sort of Paste made of two parts Barley, and one of black Wheat, or Millet, ground together, the Flower sifted and the Bran taken off, of which make bits rather long then round, of a convenient size, and give them seven or eight a day, and in fifteen days or thereabouts, they will be very fat.

Taken from:
Modern Curiosities of Art & Nature. Extracted out of the Cabinets of the most Eminent Personages of the French Court. Together with the choicest Secrets in Mechanicks: communicated by the most approved Artists of France. Composed and Experimented by the Sieur Lemery Apothecary to the French King. Made English from the Original French. London, Printed for Matthew Gilliflower, at the Spread Eagle in Westminster-Hall, and James Partirdge, at the Post-house between Charing-Cross and White-hall. 1685, pp. 241-242.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Foie Gras - Several Ways

Tourtiere pan sits on a trivet in the ashes, cover closes and ashes can be put on top.

Recipes taken from:
Dictionnaire Portatif de Cuisine, d'Office, et de Distillation. Chez Vincent, Paris 1767, p. 279-280.*

Foie gras braised. Sprinkle your livers with a little salt, pepper & sweet herbs [traditionally a blend of four herbs — Parsley, Chervil, Chives and Tarragon]; wrap them in a bacon slice & tie them in a little wet paper sheet; & put them between two embers [bury them in hot ashes—not glowing coals], to cook with small fire. Serve hot with good jus [their own juices].

Foie gras in a caul [lacy fatty membrane encasing the internal organs of an animal used to wrap food in for cooking]. Take your smallest pieces of foie gras; chop them with blanched bacon, a little grease & marrow, truffles, mushrooms, calf sweetbreads, parsley, Welsh onions [chives] & cooked ham, & bind the whole with an egg yolk; cut caul into pieces, according to the size of your liver pieces; put your farce on first the caul, then a layer of foie gras; cover with more farce and so on, until the layers of caul are used up with a layer of caul being last; wrap your livers in paper to put them on the grill, or better, in a tart plate; put them in the oven. Serve with a little hot jus [its own cooking juices], pepper, salt & juice of an orange [use orange juice to deglaze pan or paper and serve over bundle].

Foie gras (Another caul version). Put foie gras in a tart plate with bacon bards below; season with salt, pepper, & cover with rest of bards; bake in the oven or the hearth, fire [coals] above & below [a tourtiere baking pan makes this easy], without letting them dry out. Make a mushroom ragout; (see Champignons;) once they are cooked, simmer them gently in the ragout, & serve hot. One can also bread them & cook in the oven, like above [recipe], & serve with good orange juice.

Foie gras with Spanish sauce. Skewer your livers, alternating with bacon and cook. Serve with Spanish sauce. (See Sauces.)

Foie gras with ham. Cut ham slices finely [julienne]; make a roux and add to it ham, livers, a chopped Welsh onion [chives] & fine parsley; cook with small fire [slow oven] in a tart plate in the oven or on the hearth, fire above & below [again, the tourtiere pan is best for this]; season to taste[with salt and pepper], & serve with a lemon section and pan juices.

Foie gras roasted. Sear livers on stove top; then chop them with bacon, some mushrooms, sweet herbs, salt & pepper; cook with small fire [slow oven] in a tart plate.

Foie gras (Ragout) . Blanche [To Whiten--it is to steep in water, either cold or hot, to make plump or white, or both. You're looking to set the flesh so that it will not disintegrate in the next step.] your livers and drain; add diced mushrooms and a bouquet [garni] to the whole livers; moisten with broth or coulis and cook until heated through. Serve with a wedge of lemon.

Foie gras (Tort). Make an undercrust of flaky pastry; line a tart pan; put raked [julienned] bacon, with salt, pepper, fine spices & sweet herbs; there arrange your foie gras with mushrooms, green peaks [tips of asparagus], truffles & will foam [fairy ring mushrooms { mousserons}], bouquet [garni] in the middle; season with a little more salt, pepper, fine spices and sweet herbs, cover with beaten & thin calf sections, & bacon bards, & over all seal with an uppercrust, gild with an egg yolk, & put in the oven; Bake until done. Open crust & remove calf & bacon; degrease & serve with ham essence [gravy].

Enjoy Foie Gras, source for whole [entire] and canned [bloc] foie gras and other French treats. Once your whole foie has been deveined, use the small bits to try some of the great recipes above.

*Foies gras à la braise. Saupoudrez vos foies de sel menu, poivre & fines herbes; enveloppez-les d’une barde de lard & d’une feuille de papier un peu mouillé; sicelez-les & les mettez entre deux braises, cuire à petit feu. Servez chaud avec du bon jus.

Foies gras à la crépine. Prenez les plus maigres de vos foies gras; hachez-les avec du lard blanchi, un peu de graisse & de moëlle, truffes, champignons, ris de veau, persil, ciboules & jambon cuit, & liez le tout d’un jaune d’œuf; coupez de la crépine par morceaux, selon la grosseur de vos foies; mettez de votre farce sur cette crépine, ensuite un foie gras; recouvrez de farce, & que le tout soit bien renfermé dans le crépine; ajustez vos foies dans du papier pour les mettre sur le gril, ou mieux, dans une tourtiere, pur les mettre au four; ensuite dépecez vos crépines. Servez avec peu de jus chaud, povre, sel & jus d’orange.

Foies gras. (Autre crépine de) Mettez des foies gras dans une tourtiere avec des bardes de lard dessous; assaisonnez de sel, povre, & recouvrez de bardes; faites cuire au four ou au foyer, feu dessus & dessous, sans les laisser sécher. Faites un ragout de champignons; (voyez Champignons;) tirez vos foies à sec; faites-les mitonner dans ce ragoût, & servez chaud. On peur aussi les paner & les faire cuire au four, comme dessus, & les servir avec de bon jus d’orange.

Foies gras à l’Espagnole. Embrochez vos foies; bardez de lard cuit. Servez avec une sauce à l’Espagnole. (Voyez Sauces.)

Foies gras au jambon. Coupez du jambon sort menu; passez-le au roux avec vois foies, une ciboule & du persil hachés fin; faites cuire à petit feu dans une tourtiere au four ou au foyer, feu dessus & dessous; assaisonnez de bon gout, & mettez une tranche de citron. Servez avec du bon jus.

Foies gras en rôtie. Passez-lez d’abord à la poële; hachez-les ensuite avec du lard, quelques champignons, fines herbes, sel & poivre, faites-en des rôties-que vous ferez cuire à petit feu dans une tourtiere.

Foies gras. (Ragoût de) Faites blanchir vos foies; passez des champignons coupes en dés avec un bouquet; mouillez de bouillon & de coulis; mettez vos foies entiers; faites-les bouillir queques bouillons, & servez avec un jus de citron.

Foies gras. (Tourte de) Faites une abaisse de demi-feuilletage; foncez-en une tourtiere; mettez du lard ratissé, avec sel, poivre, fines épices & fines herbes; arrangez-y vos foies gras avec champignons, crétes, truffes vertes & mousserons, bouquet au milieu; assaisonnez dessus comme dessous, couvrez de tranches de veau battues & minces, & bardes de lard, & par-dessus tout une seconde abaisse, dorez d’un jaune d’œuf, & mettez au four; ôtez ensuite le veau & le lard; degraissez & servez avec une essence de jambon.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Symbolism of Liver

"According to the Roman poet Horace, the liver is the seat of the passions, particularly sensual love and anger. According to Suetonius, it is the center of the intelligence of the mind. Since the foie gras we eat comes from geese, it need not present us with any metaphysical problems - the stupidity of a 'silly goose', after all is proverbial - but it is true that consuming it provides a sensual, almost voluptuous pleasure.

. . . In the Sou-wen, the basis of all Chinese medicine, eating liver is supposed to engender strength and courage.

. . . Examination of the livers of sacrifices animals was a method used by Roman soothsayers to predict the future."

History of Food, Toussaint-Samat, Maguelonne, translated by Anthea Bell. Blackwell Publishers, Oxford UK, p. 433-4.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Anniversary #2

18thC Cuisine has marked its 2nd anniversary with receipt of enough foie gras to try many recipes. Look for upcoming posts on different ways of preparing this delicacy and also on the archaeology of the ceramic dishes used to cook it sans a flour crust.

Many thanks to my loyal fans--here's to another year of exploring the past in French kitchens!

Enjoy Foie Gras, home of some of the best foie gras and other French treats--charcuterie and truffles.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Judging Paper Chef 22, the Slow Edition

Owen is amazing–he manages to elicit the most creative dishes from sometimes humble and oftentimes obscure ingredients–and he always throws in a curve at the last minute! But cooks from around the world always come up with combinations that fit in both home-style and haute cuisines. This month’s edition drew barberries, pumpkin, spinach and slow ingredients and when Own emailed me the writeup, my mouth immediately began to water! Eye-popping haute dishes and earthy, unctious home-style casseroles–now the dilemma–how to decide!

First the home category . . . Noodle Cook prepared a smoky dish of grilled and carmelized vegetables–one a capsicum pepper [too hot for me!]–and deglazed the pan with slow-aged balsamic vinegar served over couscous. My kids would eat this dish up before the cook could get a taste!

The Laughing Gastronome introduced me to Middle Eastern cooking and a new use of yoghurt. Her Chicken Barberryani was a spinoff from a famous traditional Iranian recipe using a rice mixture as the “container” of a finished casserole. Emma served it with a beautiful combination of greens and caramelized pumpkin.

Jonskifarms, even though laboring with a broken arm, turned out a complicated and winning entry in the Home category, complete with an interesting history of the dish–again using a slow-cooked rice and yoghurt crust, Oven-baked Rice with Barberries and Butternut Squash on a bed of spinach, also of Persian influence. This dish would bubble merrily away in the back of my fireplace tucked in among the ashes. Congratulations!

Haute category’s entries begin with Columbus Foodie’s fresh-looking salad of goat cheese, blueberries, and crunchy pumpkin seeds dressed with balsamic vinegar. This was her first entry and her salad would certainly do any restaurant proud–her plating was very appetizing and colorful.

Anita’s entry of Parsee Dhansak made me want to lift the lid and dig right in–I could fairly smell the toasted spices and richness of the lentils and pumpkin wafting through my kitchen. She was concerned that the plating did not do the dish justice, but served in an earthen crock with crusty bread this main dish could happily grace any harvest table in the richest restaurant.

Congratulations to our Haute winner, Bron, whose Pumpkin Tortellini stuffed with spinach and cheese served with a berry-wine sauce was a stunner! The colors alone shout Haute cuisine and the tart-sweet taste combination make this a winner in any category. Her plating and photos were superb.

Kudos for a job well done for all of the entrants–your dishes look wonderful and should taste even better. Thanks, too, to Owen for hosting such a fun competition. This edition’s entries would certainly compare to any TV competition–great job.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Deportment 101

Nicolas LANCRET, Paris, L'automne 1738

When it's all said and done, things haven't changed all that much . . .

"It is proper that her [bourgeois housewife] behavior at table be fitting. But before coming to sit, she should be seen moving throughout her household so that everyone is aware that she is attending to all matters: let her come and go busily, then sit down at last. She should even have everyone wait for her a little. And when she is seated she should, if possible, serve everyone; she should be the first to cut the bread and to pass it around her, beginning with her tablemate with whom she will share a bowl. In front of him she should set the thigh or wing of fowl, on in front of him carve beef depending on what is served, whether it is meat or fish. She should not be chary in this serving, if she is able. She should be careful not to moisten her fingers up to the knuckles with the broths, and that her lips not get smeared with sops, garlic or grease; nor should she stuff her mouth too full, nor take too large bites. Only with the tip of her fingers should she pick up the morsel she dips into the Green Sauce [fresh green herbs stamped with salt, pepper and vinegar] or the Cameline [unboiled cinnamon sauce] or Jance [boiled ginger sauce]; and then she should bear it carefully to her mouth so that not a drop of the broth or sauce drips down her front. Likewise, she should drink carefully so that not a drop falls, else she will be looked upon as vulgar and piggish. She should refrain from reaching for her goblet while she has a morsel in her mouth, and she should always wipe any grease from her mouth—at least from her upper lip, because if there is any grease there, drops of it will show up on the wine, which isn’t pretty.

She should take only small sips; even is she is thirsty, she should not guzzle in a single gulp from her goblet or cup, but rather in small sips, and often, so that others will not say she is swilling down greedily. She should not swallow the rim of her goblet as many wet-nurses do who are so simple-minded and gluttonous that they pour their wine into their belly as if they were filling an empty boot. She should avoid becoming drunk, because neither a drunk man nor a drunk woman can keep private counsel; besides, when a woman is drunk she can no longer protect herself; she prattles her thoughts and is open to everyone’s advances. She should keep herself from falling asleep at the table; it is really improper, and too many indecent things happen to those who let that happen. It doesn’t make sense to doze when you should be awake; many who do so end up falling to one side or the other, or backwards, and break their arm or ribs or crack their head."

Jean of Meun, Romance of the Rose,13thC, II. 13,355-444.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sumac Syrup

Now is the time to begin thinking about gathering sumac to dry for winter. I plan to dry some for use as a spice and as lemonade, as well as to make vinegar syrup now. Vinegar syrup can be made from just about any fruit and makes a delicious drink either hot or cold. Store corked in a cool place.

500 mL [2 cups] fruit or berries
500 mL [2 cups] vinegar I use white wine or distilled
1.1 L [4 1/2 cups] sugar

Steep the fruit and vinegar in a non-reactive pot for 8 days; the level of the vinegar should not submerge the fruit. Strain through a silk strainer [or a stocking]. Set aside 500 mL [2 cups] syrup.

In a bain marie [double boiler], dissolve the sugar and the syrup until there are no crystals left. Remove from the heat and let cool. Bottle. To serve, pour one part syrup for three parts water, cold or hot. Be ready for an amazing taste!

Recipe: A Taste of history: the origins of Quebec's gastronomy, Marc Lafrance & Yvon Deslonges. Canadian Parks Service, 1989, p.68.

See also: Sumac Lemonade

Friday, September 22, 2006

Asparagus Ice Cream, or how to get your kids to eat their vegetables!

For this month's Sugar High Friday, I offer a delightful taste and color combination, vegetables in ice cream--whoever heard of such a thing! Officers [cold kitchen cooks] in the 17th and 18th centuries, made ices from everything imaginable, including asparagus. As this recipe's creator found recipe here, Asparagus Ice Cream does taste a little like pistachio, so it's odd green color can be forgiven. Pairing it with strawberry coulis with a touch of balsamic vinegar is pure genius.

Strawberry Coulis with Balsamic Vinegar
300 g fresh strawberries
150 ml water
100 g icing sugar
15 ml lemon juice
25 ml balsamic vinegar

Wash the strawberries and place them in a blender;
add the water, icing sugar and lemon juice and blend everything together thoroughly;
place the coulis in a sauté pan and cook for a few minutes;
let cool for 5 minutes;
add balsamic vinegar to taste.

NB: This ice cream previously appeared as an entry in blog appetit!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

To Eat Before I Die . . .

Detail from 18thC Cahokia, Pays Illinois

Pascal stopped by on his way to market and we talked about many things over the fence—especially the types of food we would recommend to someone to eat before we die. My list included:

—Horseradish & crème fraîche eaten with the end cut from a roast of beef [with all the meat juices carmelized on the crispy edges] or with a slice of boiled tongue, either cold or hot.

—Ice cream with rum-soaked fruit mixed in [spumoni], eaten with a small cup of very strong black coffee.

—A slice of charentais melon, fresh from the garden and sprinkled lightly with sea salt.

—A place in the shade after you’ve been working hard on a hot day and a cold glass of beer to quaff while eating a few salty tidbits.

—A group of friends with whom to sip a bit of your own homemade liqueur. My favorite is vin noix, green walnut wine.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Gizzard Salad - Cold or Hot

Home-style cooking, always frugal, sometimes adventuresome!

Out of Africa, this month's Paper Chef competition.

Prepare your ingredients: black bean paste, eggs, gizzards and something African.

Let your giblets [I used just gizzards, hearts and the neck] boil in good broth season’d with a bunch of fine herbs and salt: Then cut them into pieces and fry them in lard [I used Graisse Normande] , with parsly, chervil and a little white pepper: Lastly, having stew’d all with yolks of eggs, a little verjuice and the juice of a lemmon [I used black bean paste to deglaze the pan], dress your pottage upon the soaked crusts [bread soaked in broth--I used couscous from North African cuisine]. The same thing may do also done with the beatils [“small blessed objects” – meaning delicacies like cocks’ combs, lambstones, etc.] or tid-bits of other sorts of fowl.

The court & country cook, faithfully translated out of French into English by J. K. A. J. Churchill, London, 1702, p. 131-2

Cook couscous in broth left from gizzards. When done, arrange in a bowl or platter. Sieve several boiled eggs and arrange on top of couscous around the edges of the bowl. Place gizzards over remaining couscous in the center. Can be eaten cold as salad in Summer, or hot in the Winter.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Eggs with Gravy or à la Huguenotte

In honor of the Holy Days of September, an 8-day festival once kept by Huguenots in 1713 beginning on the first Friday evening in September [as evidenced by their liturgy], I give you eggs [poached] in gravy, known as Oeufs à la Huguenote. This is a perfect dish to celebrate EOMEOTE, end-of-the-month-egg-on-toast-eggstravaganza.

Eggs with Gravy or à la Huguenotte
Let some mutton-gravy or any other sort be put into a hollow dish, and when 'tis hot,; break your eggs into it either au Miroir [To break egg on a mixture of moderately hot butter and oil {otherwise, gravy}. To finish with the furnace so that a film is formed on the yellows.] or mingled together [scrambled]: season them with salt, nutmeg and lemmon-juice, and pass the red-hot fire-shovel [salamander] over them, to give them a good color.

Use toast or bread to sop up every unctious drop--a truly decadent dish of soul food!

The court & country cook, faithfully translated out of French into English by J. K. A. J. Churchill, London, 1702, p. 117.

Oeufs au jus, ou à la Huguenote
Mettez jus de mouton ou autre, sur une assiette creuse; & étant chaud, cassez-y vos oeufs, ou au miroir, ou broüillez; assaisonnez de sel, muscade, jus de citron; & passez la péle rouge par-dessus pour leur donner couleur.

Le cuisinier royal et bourgeois, Massialot. Paris, 1691, p. 451-2.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

To Preserve Cucumbers

Take the best sort of cucumbers, that are not too ripe, and set them in good order in a pail, earthen pan, or some other vessel, in which is put an equal quantity of water and vinegar, with some salt; so as they may be thoroughly steept: they must be well cover’d, and not touch’d for the space of a whole month. Thus when cucumbers are out of season, these may be us’d, after they have been well par’d and soak’d. If you would garnish potages with them, they must be scalded; also when they are us’d for filets, as well on day of abstinence as on flesh-days, they must be cut after the usual manner, and dress’d, as if they were fresh. Indeed they will be of great use through-out the whole Winter, and during the time of Lent. To those that are to be eaten in a sallet, some pepper is usually added, with some handfuls of salt, and they may be stuck with cloves, at least one for every cucumber. They are commonly call’d girkins or pickled cucumbers; and to this purpose, the lesser sort is to be chosen, such as grow in the latter season. They are generally pickled with the stalk or leaves of purslane, and more especially with samphire, which serves instead of sweet herbs for that sort of sallet.

The court & country cook, faithfully translated out of French into English by J. K. A. J. Churchill, London, 1702, p. 100.

These cucumbers are Parisian Pickling from Baker Creek Rare Seeds. They are the crunchiest, crispest non-bitter cucumbers I have ever eaten!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Cantaloupe Preserves

SHF's Can You Can? entry.

To preserve cantaloupe . . .

2 pounds firm, ripe cantaloupe
4 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Peel cantaloupe and cut in thin slices [I mashed mine, as I will be using this in calissons later in the year]. Mix sugar and cantaloupe. Stand overnight [I find this causes the cantaloupe to lose too much water and can then make a tough preserve. Just long enough to get the fruit to begin loosing its liquid is enough time--after all, you're looking for enough liquid to dissolve the sugar]. Add lemon juice and cook until clear in a large pot. Pour into hot jars. Cover with a piece of white paper soaked in brandy [can cover with a thin film of wax]. Makes about 2 pints

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sardines in Marinade

Sardines and tomatoes--today an ubiquitous snack to spread on crackers out of a tin--but in the 18thC Century, a delicious treat in countries that bordered the Mediterranean. Tomatoes arrived in France from Italy and Spain, but weren't eaten in the ways we think of until the end of the 18thC century. A sauce with tomato was served to Marie Antoinette, and after the Revolution, it became a mainstay, especially in Provence.

Sardines are a very oily fish and are best grilled and/or marinated--sardines in mustard or tomato sauce are today found on many grocers'shelves the world over. Try this marinade on fresh sardines, either after grilling or by baking the fish in the sauce.

Une autre sorte de marinade pour des poissons peut être faite, après qu'ils aient été faits frire de cette manière ; laissez quelques tranches de citron ou d'orange être mis dans la poêle avec les feuilles de compartiment, le beurre de raffinage, les échalotes, le poivre, le sel, la noix de muscade, et le vinaigre, et laissez cette sauce être versé sur les poissons ; comme des semelles, des congers, des sardines, le thon coupé en tranches rondes et etc.

Le cuisinier royal et bourgeois, Massialot. Paris, 1691

J'ai employé la peau d'orange et ai épluché, ai semé et ai coupé la tomate et ai réduit la sauce résultante d'un demi-. Cette sauce me rappelle la « sauce piquante » - il est très bon.

* * * * *

Another sort of marinade for fish may be made, after they have been fried in this manner; let some slices of lemon or orange be put into the frying pan with bay leaves, refined butter, chibbols[shallots], pepper, salt, nutmeg, and vinegar, and let this sauce be poured upon the fish; such as soles, congers, pilchards [sardines], tunnies cut into round slices & etc.

The court & country cook, faithfully translated out of French into English by J. K. A. J. Churchill, London, 1702, p. 153.

I used orange peel and peeled, seeded and chopped tomato and reduced the resulting sauce by one half. This sauce reminds me of 'sauce piquant' - it is very good.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Pâté de Poulets à la Crême - A Chicken Pie with Cream

Pâté de Poulets à la Crême
Vôtre Pâté étant dressé; mettez-y vos poulets par quartiers, assaisonné de sel, poivre, muscade, champignons & morilles, lard pilé and fines herbes: couvrez-le de tranches de veau and de bardes de lard, and le recouvrez d’une abaisse, and le mettez au four; étant cuit, découvrez-le, and ôtez-en les bardes de lard, tranches de veau, and le dégraissez; mettez-y un coulis blanc. Le maniere de faire le coulis blanc est marquée à la letter C. Voyez que le pàté soit d’un bon goût, and le servez chaudement pour Entrée.

Le cuisiner roïal et bourgeois, François Massialot. Paris: Charles de Sercy, 1691.

Line your pie dish with pastry; put your quartered chickens in, season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, mushrooms & morels, crushed, fried bacon and sweet herbs: cover it with calf and sections of bacon, and cover it with an uppercrust, and bake it in the oven; after it’s cooked, uncover it, and remove the bacon bards, calf sections, and degrease it; put a white sauce in. The manner of making the white sauce is marked with the letter C. See that your pastry is of a good taste, and serve hot for Entrée

A Chicken Pie with cream
As soon as the pastry [undercrust] is in your pie dish, put your chickens into it in quarters [I used cubed chicken breast], seasoned with pepper, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and fines herbs [I used celery and onions. I fried the onions and celery in a little butter and olive oil and added the fresh cubed chicken breast and sautéed it until the vegetables were translucent and the chicken was white and mostly done. I then added one cup of milk and 1/3 cup of flour stirred together and cooked it until a white sauce came together. Next I poured the filling in to pastry lined pie dish] and covered it with an uppercrust of the same paste. [Most pies of this type had vent holes in the upper crust with applied circles of pastry, which when baked, make it possible to add liquids {aspic, cream, mushroom juice, etc.}] When it is baked, pour in some cream and let it stand a little while longer in the oven. Lastly, add some mushroom juice and serve it up hot to table.

The nutmeg and cinnamon is not a flavor we associate with chicken today; however, it is delicious and would make a very tasty “hot dish” to share at impromptu dinners where one is asked to bring a dish. This is one place to use all of the green veggie leftovers [I think carrot or squash would overpower this dish] or fresh green herbs—green onions, chives, celery, artichokes, etc.

I will make this dish again; my husband was pleased with the complexity of flavors. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Beignets de Fleurs d'Acacia & Baie de Sureau - Flower Fritters

On a quick trip through Ontario to attend Old Fort Niagara's French & Indian Encampment, I found many elderberry plants in full bloom, and I could smell the acacia or locusts, as well. A delicious fritter or beignet can be made from the blossoms; actually any edible flower, including squash and calendula or four o'clocks.

Sift 1 1/4 cups flour with a pinch of salt. Stir in 1 egg yolk (save the white to beat for later addition), 2 tablespoons oil and enough beer to make a light batter. You may flavor this batter with brandy or flower water (orange or rose). Leave to set for several hours.

Pick your flowers in the morning and leave a little bit of stem to dip with. Fold in your stiffly beaten egg white and dip each flower into the batter. Deep-fry until golden. Drain on paper and sprinkle with sugar. Serve with hot tea and lemon.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Vin de Noix - Walnut Wine

I cannot give you an aperitif/digestif wine recipe, nor pictures of its preparation, better than William Rubel's instructions for vin de noix, or green walnut wine. His instructions are the ones I follow, as they are just like my family's recipe

Pictured above is my batch from 2004, sweet, dark, and mellow, like a fine port. The longer it sits in a dark cupboard, the better. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pickled Green Walnuts

2 - 3 lb young green walnuts
1/4 lb salt
3 1/2 pints water
1 oz black peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice berries
2 1/2 pints malt or wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 inch stick of cinnamon, crushed

Prick the walnuts all over with a large needle (these nuts are best picked before June 24th--you don't want any developed hard shell within the nut itself). Place the nuts in a ceramic bowl, dissolve half the salt in half the water and pour over the walnuts. Cover and leave for 5 days in a cool place, stirring twice a day to ensure even brining.

Drain the walnuts, mix the remaining salt and water, pour over the brine and leave for another five days, stirring twice a day as before. Drain, spread out in a single layer on a flat dish and leave to dry in the sun until they are black but not dry, turning every few hours.

Crush the peppercorns and allspice berries and simmer the vinegar with the sugar and spices for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and strain. Pack the walnuts into sterilized, wide-mouth jars, filling them no more than three-quarters full, and pour in the spiced vinegar. Cover and leave in a cool place for 6 weeks before using.

These pickles are delicious smashed into a viniagrette or mayonnaise for a salad or sandwich dressing. Try a slice of pickle and a slice of cheese for a canapé.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Spruce Tips - Jelly & Beer & Salad

Pick only soft, light-colored tips--if they are hard, or dark, they will taste of "turpentine."

Spruce Tip Jelly
Pick about 6 cups of spruce tips selecting only the smallest, less open ones in the early spring. Rinse in cold water. Chopping them gives them more flavor than leaving them whole. Cover the tips with water and simmer for 10 minutes. Let stand overnight, strain with cheesecloth.

7 cups prepared spruce tip juice
1 cup lemon juice
2 packages MCP pectin (18thC cooks would have used tart apples or quince jelly)
10 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. butter (optional)
Mix juice with lemon juice and pectin, stir until dissolved. Bring to a full rolling boil for 2 minutes (or jelly test). Add butter to control foaming and pour into jars and seal. Serve on your favorite breads or heat and serve on pancakes. Or just spoon it out of the jar. But don't get caught!

Prince of Wales Island Fair Recipes, 1st issue, 1998
Recipe submitted by Sharon Hillis, Whale Pass, Alaska

Use left over tea for drinking or brew up another batch just for drinking. Add water to dilute and honey to taste.

Spruce beer was the frontier's answer to scurvy prevention.

Benjamin Franklin's Spruce Beer Source: Thomas Manteufel

A Way of Making Beer with Essence of Spruce:

For a Cask containing 80 bottles, take one pot of Essence and 13 Pounds of Molases. -or the same amount of unrefined Loaf Sugar; mix them well together in 20 pints of hot Water: Stir together until they make a Foam, then pour it into the Cask you will then fill with Water: add a Pint of good Yeast, stir it well together and let it stand 2 or 3 Days to ferment, after which close the Cask, and after a few days it will be ready to be put into Bottles, that must be tightly corked. Leave them 10 or 12 Days in a cool Cellar, after which the Beer will be good to drink.

Comments: Translated from the french while he was stationed in France.

The light bluish-green tips make a delightfully citrusy, spritely addition to green salads.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Ginger Ice Cream with Balsamic Caramel Sauce

Ruth at Once Upon a Feast is host for this month's Sugar High Friday--she chose ginger as her focus. Enjoy.


4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coarsely grated peeled fresh gingerroot
2 tablespoons water
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup crystallized ginger*
*available at some supermarkets and specialty foods shops.

In a large bowl lightly whisk yolks. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook sugar, fresh gingerroot, and water over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add half-and-half and bring to a simmer. Add hot half-and-half mixture to yolks in a slow stream, whisking, and pour into pan. Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 170°F. (Do not let boil.)
Pour custard through a sieve into cleaned bowl and stir in cream and vanilla. Cool custard. Chill custard, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day.
Finely chop crystallized ginger. Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker, adding crystallized ginger three fourths of way through freezing process. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden. Ice cream may be made 1 week ahead.

Makes about 1 quart.
November 1998

* * * * *

Balsamic-Caramel Sauce from Michael Chiarello
2 cups heavy cream, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water, plus more for brushing
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring 1 cup cream just to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep the cream warm. In a large high-sided saucepan over medium-high heat, dissolve 1 cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of water. As the sugar mixture begins to bubble, watch for crystals developing on the inside of the pan just above the liquid. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the inside of the pan right above the crystals so the water drips down and dissolves the crystals back into the liquid. When the sugar begins to brown, occasionally move the pan to swirl the liquid gently and cook it evenly. Continue to cook until the mixture is dark golden brown. The total cooking time will be 8 to 9 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Very carefully add the hot cream to the sugar mixture a few tablespoons at a time. The liquid will bubble up dramatically. Stir the sauce and cook for 1 minute. Add the vinegar, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt, mix well. Pour into a heatproof bowl. You should have about 1 1/4 cups of sauce. The sauce can be made several weeks ahead, covered with plastic, and stored either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, warm in a microwave oven before using.
Serve on top of ice cream.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Asparagus Disguised as Peas

Kevin, of Seriously Good, has asked for a plethora of recipes, an Asparagus Extravaganza, if you will.

Asperges en petits pois
Ayez des petites asperges; coupez tout le tender comme des petis pois; étant bien lavées vous les faites faire deux ou trios bouillons à l’eau bouillante; égouttez et les passez sur le feu avec un bon morceau de beurre, un bouquet de persil, ciboules, un clou de girofle, un peu de sariette; mettez-y une pincée de farine; mouillez de bouillon, un peu de sucre et du sel; faites cuire et réduire à courte sauce; en finissant mettez-y une liaison de juanes d’oeuf et de crème.

Menon, Les Soupers de la cour (1755), 4:173-74.

Asparagus Disguised as Peas
1 pound slender asparagus, weighed after the tough ends are cut off
3 tablespoons butter
a bouquet of 3 or 4 sprigs of parsley, 2 scallions, trimmed, 1 whole clove, and 3 or 4 sprigs winter savory, all tied with string
2 teaspoons flour
½ cup bouillon
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
2 egg yolks
¼ cup cream

Clean the asparagus and cut it into pea-sized lengths. Bring water to a boil and parboil them in it for or two minutes, then drain. Melt the butter in a saucepan until it bubbles; add the asparagus and the bundle of herbs; sauté until half cooked, and then stir in the flour. Cook and stir for another minute or two, then add the bouillon, the sugar, and some salt. Cook and stir until the liquid has thickened and reduced slightly. Remove the mixture from the fire, also remove the herb bouquet. Beat together the egg yolks and the cream; stir some of the asparagus mixture into it, and then pour the liaison into the saucepan; stir the mixture well together and heat, but do not boil. Serve at once as a separate dish or as a garnish.

1983 Wheaton, Barbara Ketcham. SAVORING THE PAST : The French Kitchen And Table from 1300 to 1789. Touchstone, New York, NY, p. 268.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Asperges Glacé avec Fraises Coulis Balsamique

Pour blog appetit! de ce mois J'offre un goût délicieux et colore la combinaison. Les dirigeants [cuisiniers froids de cuisine] aux 17èmes et 18èmes siècles, faits glace de tout imaginable, y compris l'asperge. Comme le créateur de cette recette trouvé, la glace Cream de Asparagus de goûte comme la pistache, ainsi elle est la couleur verte impaire peut être pardonnée [la recette suit]. L'appareillement de elle avec des coulis de fraise avec un contact de vinaigre balsamique est génie pur.

Une asperge de groupe
sucre de 1 tasse (pour faire le double sirop de sucre)
l'eau de tasse de 1/2
tasse Amaretto de 1/2
2 oeufs (à la température ambiante)
sucre de tasse de 1/2
(1 pinte) crème 600mL
(pinte de 1/2) lait 200mL

NOTA:. Cette crême glacée est complètement expérimentale. Ainsi j'ai enregistré la méthode que j'ai employée et des pensées j'ai eues pendant la fabrication. Si vous avez n'importe quoi à ajouter, satisfaire /msg je.

Dissolvez 1 tasse de sucre dans l'eau et l'apportez à l'ébullition. Enlevez la partie boisée de l'asperge, et du coup de hache dans de petits morceaux. Ajoutez l'asperge. Revenez à l'ébullition et enlevez la chaleur. Puisque l'asperge était d'être puréed, j'à gauche il pour se refroidir vers le bas dans le sirop, pour tremper dans le sirop de sucre.

Faites la crème. Battez les oeufs et le sucre ensemble. Chauffez doucement la crème et le lait. Ajoutez la crème/lait aux oeufs tout en remuant. Filtrez la crème de nouveau dans le pot au-dessus d'une chaleur douce. Remuez jusqu'à la crème enduira le dos d'une cuillère.

Mélangez la liqueur d'asperge et d'amande. Je n'ai pas vidangé l'asperge complètement, tellement il y avait un peu du sirop de sucre dans le mélangeur, mais pas trop. Je sûrement n'ai pas voulu concentrer la saveur d'asperge.

Ajoutez le purée d'asperge à la crème. Bien que j'aie voulu à, je n'ai pas tendu le mélange encore. J'ai pensé qu'une texture douce serait une bonne idée. Mais l'éloge de la crême glacée était son inclusion de fibre.

Battez selon les instructions sur la machine de crême glacée.

Fraises Coulis Balsamique
300 fraises fraîches de g
150 ml d'eau
sucre glace de 100 g
15 ml de jus de citron
25 ml au vinaigre balsamique

Lavez les fraises et placez-les dans un mélangeur ;
ajoutez l'eau, le sucre glace et le jus et le mélange de citron tout ensemble complètement ;
placez les coulis dans une casserole et un cuisinier de sauté pendant quelques minutes ;
laissez frais pendant 5 minutes ;
ajoutez le vinaigre balsamique au goût.

* * * * *

For this month's blog appetit! I offer a delightful taste and color combination. Officers [cold kitchen cooks] in the 17th and 18th centuries, made ices from everything imaginable, including asparagus. As this recipe's creator found, Asparagus Ice Cream does taste a little like pistachio, so it's odd green color can be forgiven [recipe follows]. Pairing it with strawberry coulis with a touch of balsamic vinegar is pure genius.

One bunch asparagus
1 cup sugar (to make double sugar syrup)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Amaretto
2 eggs (at room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
600mL (1 pint) cream
200mL (1/2 pint) milk

NB. This ice cream is completely experimental. So I have recorded both the method I used and thoughts I had during the making. If you have anything to add, please /msg me.

Dissolve 1 cup of sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Remove the woody part of the asparagus, and chop into small pieces. Add the asparagus. Return to the boil and take off the heat. Because the asparagus was to be puréed, I left it to cool down in the syrup, to steep in the sugar syrup.

Make the custard. Whisk the eggs and sugar together. Gently warm the cream and milk. Add the cream/milk to the eggs while stirring. Strain the custard back into the pot over a gentle heat. Stir until the custard will coat the back of a spoon.

Blend the asparagus and almond liqueur. I didn't drain the asparagus completely, so there was a small amount of the sugar syrup in the blender, but not too much. I surely did not want to concentrate the asparagus flavour.

Add the asparagus purée to the custard. Although I wanted to, I did not strain the mixture again. I thought a smooth texture would be a good idea. But the praise of the ice cream was its inclusion of fibre.

Churn as per the instructions on the ice cream machine.

Strawberry Coulis with Balsamic Vinegar
300 g fresh strawberries
150 ml water
100 g icing sugar
15 ml lemon juice
25 ml balsamic vinegar

Wash the strawberries and place them in a blender;
add the water, icing sugar and lemon juice and blend everything together thoroughly;
place the coulis in a sauté pan and cook for a few minutes;
let cool for 5 minutes;
add balsamic vinegar to taste.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Puff Paste -- Pâte de Feüilletage

Pâte de feüilletage Massialot's Les Confitures (1717), p. 217.

Faites une pâte à l’ordinaire, avec de la farine, de l’eau, du sel, & si vous voulez quelques jaunes d’œufs: quand vôtre pâte est bien petrie & renduë bien maniable; vous l’étendez sur le tour avec vôtre rouleau, en long d’une bonne épaisseur; vous le couvrez ensuite d’autant de bon beurre: & ayant renversé l’un des bouts sur l’autre, que cela renferme tout le beurre en-dedans; vous la détendrez une seconde fois, la replirez, & la détendrez de rechef avec le rouleau, continuant ainsi jusqu’a cing ou six fois: sur trois livres de farine, vous y mettez deux livres & demie de bon beurre frais.

Cette pâte est propre pour d’autres tourtes qu’on auroit à faire hors d’un dessert, où ce n’est point l; ordre de rien servir où il entre du beurre. On en peut aussi faire des feüillantines [ ] & des mazatines[tartlets of mashed potatoes, eggs and butter; filled wth a hash]; qui sont des petites tartes de la largeur de la paûme de la main; que l’on replit aussi de confiture, pour garnir quelque autre tourte plus grande pour l’entremets: & si c’est pour le dessert, on en peur faire avec des abaisses croquantes, comme ci-devant.

Method for preparing puff-pastry

Let some paste be made after the usual manner, with flour, water, salt, and if you please, the yolk of an egg. As soon as it is well kneaded, and made very pliable; roll it out upon the table, of a convenient length and thickness. Then cover it with as much good butter, and having turned one of the ends upon the other, so as all the butter may be enclosed on the inside, roll it again, continuing to do the same thing five or six times. Two pounds and a half of good fresh butter ought to be allowed for every three pounds of flour.

This sort of paste is proper for other tarts/tourtes/pies that are brought to table without a dessert, in which it is not customary to serve up anything that is prepared with butter. However, feuillantines [small individual pies--think turnovers], feuillantins[think Napoleans - sheets of puff pastry] and mazarines [small, pressed or molded tart shells], which are certain small tarts of the breadth of the palm of a man’s hand, may be made ot it, being ususally filled with sweet-meats, to garnish some other pie of a larger size, set among the intermesses; but if these little tarts are designed for the dessert, they may be made of crackling crust [marzipan or pistachio].

Very good on-line instruction in French and in English, with pictures and video for making puff-paste can be found here.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Gene Hunting in Canada--Quebec "founder" population

"In the 17th century, 15,000 French immigrants bravely made their way to eastern Canada. Some headed further west, many returned to France, but a hardy few stayed in Quebec. Starting with a total of just 2,600 people between 1608 and 1760, this group would grow 800-fold over the next 10 or so generations, with little marriage outside the group. The result is the Quebec "founder" population -- a genetically homogenous group of individuals that is ideally suited to the genetic study of disease."

Read more of this fascinating article here.

My thanks to Franco-American News & Events, 4 for drawing my attention to this post.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Sometimes all you have in the kitchen is a piece of this and some of that. Derrick asked me to find a use for that stale bread in the panetiere.

I “freshened” the bread by drying it even further to a golden color before crushing into crumbs. I added a pinch of dried dill weed and some melted butter and patted it into a pie pan for crust.

A piece of flaked, smoked salmon and some eggs, cream, sauteed onions and more dill weed poured into the crust made for a very tasty quiche. Bake in a slow oven until center is set.

Serve cold with sour cream and more dill.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

You are a dainty Violet . . .

Title from A Meditation for his Mistress by Robert Herrick, 1591-1674

“These are the two months of the year [March & April] that afford matter for new comfits, that is to say, violets, which are the first flowers of a fragrant smell that the earth brings forth, after it has been delivered from the tyranny of the sharp winter.”

Eau de Violette
Prenez de la violette une quantité suffisante; par exemple, deux bonne poignées pour deux pintes de liqueur, epluchez-les, & les meetez dans de l’eau, avec une demi-livre de sucre; & étant infuse du matin au soir, ou pendant cinq ou six heures, vous coulerez vôtre liqueur à travers quelque linge, ou seulement au tamis, & la mettre glacer.

Violet Water
Take a sufficient quantity of violet; for example, two good handfuls for two quarts of liquor, peel them [strip flowers from stems and leaves], & put them in [two quarts ] of water, with a quarter or half a pound of sugar; & infuse from morning till evening, or during five or six hours; strain your liquor through some [white] linen, or only with the sieve, & to put it to ice [bottle and set back in a cool, dark place].
* * *

Sirop Violet
Prenez une livre de violette épluchée, & la pilez dans un mortier, avec un demi-verre d’eau, afin que cela la puisse un peu humecter: ensuite faites cuire quatre livres de sucre à perlé; & étant à cette caisson, vous le descendrez de dessus le fue, & laisserez rabaisser le bouillon; puis vous y mettrez votre violette, & délayerez bien le tout: vous le passerez ensuite par un linge bien fin, recevant vôtre sirop dans une terrine; & quand il ser froid, vous le mettrez dans des bouteilles.

Pour le marc qui vous restera, prenez deux livres de sucre, que vous serez cuite à perlé; & quand le bouillon sera rabaissé, vous y jetterez vôtre marc, & délayerez bien le tout; puis le mettrez dans un pot, pour vous en server quand vous voudrez faire des pâtes & de la conserve de violette, comme il a été dit ailleurs.

La meilleure violetter pour cela, est celle qui est d’un violet vermeil, & non pale, & d’une odeur tres-suave, il la faut cueillir le matin, qu’il n’ait pas plu, & auparavant que le soleil ait dissipé sa vertu.

Violet Syrup
Take a pound of violet flowers, and crush them in a mortar, with half a glass of water, to moisten them a little, while four pounds of sugar are brought to the pearled quality: then taking the pan off from the fire, as soon as the boiling sinks, throw in your violets and stir all together. Afterwards you are to press the mixture through a fine linen cloth, so the syrup may be collected in an earthenware pan, and put into bottles when cold.

The mass that remains may then be slipped into two pounds of pearled sugar, after its boiling has settled; when well mixed, pour it into a pot. This sugary mixture can be used in the making of pastes and conserve of violets, according to the instructions elsewhere laid down. The best violets for this purpose are of a dark purple color, not pale, and of a very sweet scent. They ought to be gathered in the morning, when no rain has fallen, and before the sun had impaired their virtue.
* * *

Conserve de Violette
Vous prendrez de la violette la plus belle, vous en pe-serrez deux onces que vous pilerez dans un mortier: en la pilant mettez y une petite goute de jus de citron. Vous serrez cuire une livre de sucre a la premiere plume, vous le lasserez un peu refroidir, & remuërez avac une cuiillier trios ou quatre tours, & y mettez la fleur dedans; la remuer encore un tour, & la dresser. Quand vous en aurez verse un moule, si vous voulez déguiser le reste, presses y promtement un peu de jus de citron, le remuer avec la cuilllier, & le verser dans un autre moule.

Conserve of Violets
Take the most beautiful violets, two well-packed ounces which you will then crush in a mortar while adding a few drops of lemon juice. Cook a pound of sugar to the first feather, allow it to cool slightly while stirring three or four turns, & then put the flowers in; stir till crystals begin to form around the edge of the pan. Pour immediately into moulds. If you want to use the remainder [clinging to the pan], add a few drops of lemon juice and stir to dissolve, & to pour it in another mould.
* * *

Pâtes de Violette
Prenez une livre de violette épluchée; pilez la dans un mortier, & mettez-y une goute ou deux de jus de citron en la pilant; mettez la dans un plat, & joignez-y denx ou trios cuillerées de marmalade de pommes: faites cuire du sucre à la plume, & en mettez dans vôtre marmalade le quantitez qu’il en faut, en délayant doucement avec une cuillier: faites la fremir, & la dresses à demi-froide, dans voc mouls, ou sur des ardoises; & les mettre à l’Etuve, & les finir comme les autres: en les retournant, poudrez les legerement de sucre.

Violet Paste
Take a pound of violet flowers; crush in a mortar, while adding several drops of lemon juice; put it in a dish, & add two or three spoonfuls of apple marmalade [or jelly]. Cook one pound of sugar to the feather, & add in your violet and marmalade mixture, stir gently: cook gently and at a low heat, & draw it up [cook until most moisture is gone and the bottom of the pan can be seen when drawing a spoon through the paste]; pour onto a slate or marble or into moulds; & put them in the Drying oven. When dry, turn them in powdered sugar to cover all the paste edges.
* * *

Pastilles de Violette, & autres
Pour leur donner la couleur & l’odeur de violette, vous d’etrempez d’indigo & de l’iris, & vous mêlez cette eau avec vôtre gomme, quand elle est fondue & dans le mortier. Vous y ajoûtez ensuite du sucre fin en poudre; & continuez de tourner & bien démêler le tout, tant que vous a yez une pâte maniable. On en forme ensuite des pastilles rondes, en batons, & lacs-d’amour; & on les finit comme les autres.

Si on en veut faire des rouge, il n’y a qu’a y mettre de la cochenille preparée en pisant le pâte, ou bien une cuillerée de marmalade d’epine-vinette, qui soit d’un beau rouge.

Violet Pastilles
To give them the color & the odor of violet, steep some indigo & orris with your violets, & mix this water with your gum [Arabic]; when it is dissolved add fine powdered sugar; & continue to turn & pound in your mortar until you have a handy paste. Form them as round pastilles, in sticks, & tongues of love; finish them like the others [roll in powdered sugar].

If you want a red color, prepare cochineal by making a paste, or a spoonful of marmalade of berberis, which is of a beautiful red.

From Massialot's Les Confitures (1717), translation (c) 2006, Carolyn Smith-Kizer.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Tangy & Sweet With a Kick!

Today is Sugar High Friday, the dream child of Jennifer, and to console a friend in the doldrums, I served fresh fromage blanc with a ladle of last summer's Bachelor Jam or confiture, also known to some as Rumtopf.

The fruits were all now shades of a rich red and the ruby liqueur was sweet, thick and abundant. Drizzled over fresh, tangy fromage blanc the liqueur and fruit made a lovely dessert.

Needless to say, Madame Blanche has now left my table in a somewhat blissful state!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Maple Syrup and Sugar Candy

After boiling the syrup down for about 9 hours, I was able to put away many quarts of syrup.

As a treat for the children, I always introduce crystals into the last of the syrup to cause maple sugar to form. Not only does the maple candy taste wonderful, but it keeps much longer than syrup, which sometimes can mold before it's eaten.

I will use the syrup as a binder and flavor for ground meat dishes, such as pâté and boudin. Crushed maple sugar can be used in many dishes and is a special treat for all ages.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Pâté en croûte de poulet et de chou

Sauté a déchiqueté le chou et a coupé les oignons jusqu'à mou et l'offre dans un skillet. Assaisonnez avec les menues epices et le sel pour goûter ; mettez de côté dans une cuvette séparée. Le lambeau avec deux froids de fourchettes ou de cube a fait cuire le poulet fini gauche. Ajoutez au mélange de chou.

Ajoutez le beurre et/ou l'huile d'olive au skillet et le beurre brun pour la saveur. Ajoutez la farine à la casserole et éraflez vers le haut et remuez constamment jusqu'à ce que de la farine soit légèrement brunie. Ajoutez le bouillon de poulet et le vin blanc au skillet et remuez jusqu'à d'une uniformité crémeuse de sauce ; sel et poivre à goûter. Pliez dans le mélange de chou et de poulet. Transformez en casserole de pâté en croûte rayée avec le brisée de pâté. Couverture avec une croûte supérieure de brisée de pâté. Bords et brosse de cuir embouti avec l'oeuf battu. Faites cuire au four jusqu'à d'or et à pétillant. Servez chaud ou froid.

* * * * *

Chicken & Cabbage Pie

Sauté shredded cabbage and chopped onions until limp and tender in a skillet. Season with menues epices and salt to taste; set aside in a separate bowl. Shred with two forks or cube cold cooked left over chicken. Add to cabbage mixture.

Add butter and/or olive oil to skillet and brown butter for flavor. Add flour to pan and scrape up and stir constantly until flour is slightly browned. Add chicken broth and white wine to skillet and stir until of a creamy sauce consistency; salt and pepper to taste. Fold into cabbage and chicken mixture. Turn into a pie pan lined with pâté brisée. Cover with a top crust of pâté brisée. Crimp edges and brush with beaten egg. Bake until golden and bubbly. Serve hot or cold.
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