Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Foie Gras Grilled

What to do with those little trimmings off the lobes of that expensive foie gras?

Dredge them in bread crumbs and grill in a pan to catch all that lovely flavor and juice. Grill on both sides just until it loses its pinkness and deglaze the pan with a teaspoon of juice from lemon confit.

If you do not achieve enough liquid for a sauce, add a spoon or two of water. Pour over grilled foie gras and garnish with a julienne of preserved lemon.

Here is a recipe for grilled foie gras from La Varenne's The French Cook, p.93.

#51 Foie Gras on the gridiron
Put it on the gridiron, and powder it with crumbs of bread and salt. After it is broiled, powre the juice of a Lemon upon it, and serve.

Purchase fresh or frozen foie gras from Enjoy Foie Gras.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Pâté de foie gras

Soul food for me is liver pâté on good bread served with either cornichons or a glass of vin noix, which I find tastes like a fine port.

It’s cold here, the coldest it’s been all year. So yesterday I took some livers out of the frozen cache and made pâté. I soaked them in some fresh cold water to thaw, then drained and patted them dry with a towel.

To Make Pâté:
Crush and mince one fat clove of garlic and sauté in butter or graisse along with one small onion or two shallots minced until just golden. Put one sprig of thyme and one bay leaf in the pan and bruise the bay leaf in the hot oil to release the flavor. Add one cup of water and bring to a simmer. Place about one pound of livers gently into the simmering liquid and cook just until livers lose their pinkness.

Remove sprig of thyme and bay leaf. Using your écumoire or skimmer, strain all of the solids into a bowl, reserving the liquid in the pan. Use your masher to combine all solids into a paste in the bowl. While the paste is still warm, mash in ½ cup of butter. Season mousse with pepper and salt and a spoonful of brandy to your taste. Pour into a small bowl or terrine and tap on the table to remove air bubbles. At this point is it necessary to cover the top of the mousse with a layer of melted butter or calve’s foot jelly* to keep it from darkening. Put in the cold room to set and develop flavor.

After serving, if you still have leftovers, seal again with melted butter to maintain color of mousse.

calve’s foot jelly* Add a cube of jelly to the pan liquid and bring to a boil, stirring to melt the jelly. Strain and pour over mousse carefully to keep the surface intact.

Caroline has a wonderful article on foie gras that explains all the ins and outs of this marvelous treat.

Purchase readymade foie gras mousse from Enjoy Foie Gras.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Celery Fried with Pepper

"Kay was reading Letters of a Loyalist Lady Being the Letters of Anne Hulton, sister of Henry Hulton, Commissioner of Customs at Boston, 1767-1776 (Harvard University Press, 1927). What a fascinating read! And only 750 copies printed. . . . "'We put in the Green house last fall 500 heads of the finest Celery that ever was seen here.'"

There appear to be some seven people in the household and no evidence so far of their selling or bartering any of their crops, so what do you think was done with 500 heads of celery? It seems a large amount IMHO. I understand that celery would be a much-used item (somewhere I have a receipt for braised celery of the period), but it still seems like a lot." Message #6689 from 18thC Woman's list.

French gardeners found that much of the too-strong flavor of celery could be eliminated, making the stalks better for salad use and not just medicine, by growing the plants in late summer and fall, then keeping them into the winter. In winter, fried celery makes a great accompaniment to game dishes, making use of sometimes withered stalks.

Here is a recipe for celery in oil with pepper from La Varenne's The French Cook, p.183.

"19. Celeris It is eaten with pepper and salt, or with oile, pepper, and salt."

Slice the tops and stalks of celery in about 1/2 inch slices and fry in a good oil or oil and butter until lightly carmelized. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Serve with game dishes as a side vegetable

Sunday, February 05, 2006

On the Road . . .

The only problem with having a woodworker for a husband is not being able to keep all of the lovely items he produces for myself.

I see him make so many of them that I feel somewhat attached to each one. I know almost every blow from his adze by heart, and prior to his having the large shop here on the hill, I had sanding dust and chip trails through my kitchen where he did fine knife work under the window. To keep from being inundated with bowls I can never hope to use, I take his carvings on the road to sell at living history events and rendezvous.

Most events are "juried," meaning my clothing and goods must be preauthorized--I cannot just show up and put down a trade blanket from which to sell. I look in Smoke & Fire trade newspaper or check living history chat groups for dates at the beginning of the year and then apply by sending pictures of Homer carving and myself in period dress (varies with the event timeline) and our tradegoods. And then I sit back and wait. I have only been excluded from one event and our treenware has been appreciated by event personnel, reenactors and the public from Old Fort Niagara, NY to Fort Hall, Pocatello, ID.

Because I do not sell on the Sabbath, I usually arrive early Sunday morning to set up. I spread out a blanket and arrange the goods and then take up a period craft (idle hands are the devil's workshop--an 18thC axiom) and a woman would never have just sat around without being busy.

I do knitting (crocheting wasn't invented until the 19thC), or make a cord with a lucet, hand rolled hems on scarves (mouchoirs), hemstitching on linen towels, embroidery (even towels were marked with initials as most laundry was done communally) and someday I would like to learn to do bobbin lace. Then I sit back and wait.

As living history customers come by and the public begins to drift in I pause in my craft to answer questions or to "hawk my wares." I've been known to sell out by 11 a.m. and at other times I sat in wind, rain or blazing hot sun until the traditional "take down" time of 4 p.m. and barely sell enough to pay my gas. Regardless of the sales, the camaraderie enjoyed with the other reenactors and traders and the public interaction is worth the journey and as we all pack to leave, I can hardly wait to go home for another load of goods so I can hit the road again another weekend.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Navettes for Candlemas

It is February, 40 AD, and Mary Magdalene, Jesus Mother', and Lazarus have just come ashore in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, near Marseilles. A small unleavened cake in the shape of their boat is eaten at Candlemas to commemorate their landing. You will find a recipe for navettes here. The small cakes keep well and have a delicate flavor. Enjoy.
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