Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tea Over Ice

Strong tea can be used to plump dried fruit prior to cooking or baking. Pruneaux is made by plumping the prunes in a strong tea over night. This now fruit-flavored tea can be used as a drink over ice, as a base for sorbet, or even used to deglaze a pan to get all the flavor incorporated into a sauce. Fruit-flavored tea adds an indefinable ingredient--give it a try

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Lady Taking Tea, Chardin

Tea and tea implements were available and used in the 18thC kitchen in France, and Canada later in the century.

Teapots were both rustic

Detail, The Fast Day Meal, Chardin

and refined

Detail, Lady Taking Tea, Chardin

and special tables were used from which to serve and store tea implements.

Detail, The Butler's Table (Office), Chardin

Street sellers sold tisanes, or herbal tea preparations/purgative mixtures, as tea was considered something you drank for your stomach's sake as opposed to your palate's pleasure earlier in the century.

The Tisane Seller, Françoise DuParc

Toward the end of the century, tea services

Tea Service, Jean Etienne Liotard

and traveling boxes began to appear for use in more affluent homes.

French 18thC traveling Tea and Liqueur Service in a chest, Rau Antiques
French 18thC traveling Tea Chest, Rau Antiques

Segolene has a wonderful series of posts on tea, both its past and present use, and the correct way to prepare it. Do use a translator, if necessary, to enjoy the information she has gathered.

Le Thé

La Preparation du Thé

Origine du thé

Le thé Matcha du Japon et le Raku

Le thé aux épices et la gloire du Darjeling

La course du thé et les thés parfumés

Le thé vert

Sélection de thés selon les moments de la journée

Friday, July 15, 2005

Nougat Blanc

"One of the most commonly believed, and nicest stories, is that the name nougat evolved from France where an elderly lady combined almonds, egg whites, honey and sugar as a treat for local children. As the first nougat maker the children began to call her Tante Manon, tu nous gates (meaning Aunt Manon, you spoil us) and hence the word nougat is said to have first originated from this name. While the French believe nougat first originated in 1650 when the almond tree was introduced to the Montelimar area it is probable that nougat has been around far longer although carrying a different name. It seems nougat has been around for more than 500 years in the Middle East and probably paralleled the development of marzipan and other delicious desserts. Even before the birth of Christ the Greeks were praising the gastronomic value of a mixture made with almonds and honey".

Nougat Blanc:
3 c. sugar
1-3/4 c. honey
1 c. water
2 egg whites
1 tsp. brandy in which a vanilla bean has been infused
2 c. nutmeats (broken and toasted, if preferred)

Put the sugar, honey, and water together and cook until a hard crack ball will form when dropped in cold water. Beat the egg whites until stiff and pour the hot syrup slowly into them, beating constantly until the mixture grows too stiff to beat. Then fold in the brandy and nut meats. Mix well and pour onto a marble slab. When it is cool, cut in squares or rectangles. (If you do not have a marble slab, pour nougat onto pain azyme (rice paper or wafer paper) and place another sheet on top and weight with a board until cool.)

Depending upon the flavor of honey and type and shape of nuts (broken, toasted, ground) used, each batch of nougat will taste differently. Nougat is a traditional sweet eaten at holiday times.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Confiture - Bachelor's Jam

Confiture - Bachelor's Jam

Looking forward to Winter evenings' desserts and after dinner coffee, prepare now by making a confiture of summer fruits otherwise known as "bachelor's jam."

Layer fruits with their weight in sugar into a sealable jar and pour 40 proof (or more) alcohol over the fruit. Marc, eau de vie, armagnac, kirsch are all good alcohols to use. You can continue to add fruits and sugar, but always make sure the alcohol covers all. Seal the jar and set in a dark, cool place; shaking the jar occasionally to help dissolve the sugar.

The melange of fruits and their resulting liqueur can be used over iced creams or custards, or just served in a glass with after dinner coffee.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Kitchens can be a bête noir or a paradise, depending upon one’s stock of kitchen utensils—those implements that go beyond a mixing bowl, a frying pan and a butcher knife. Sam asked for a recommendation for an item she “cannot do without.” My immediate response was I couldn’t be without my food processor, more commonly known as a mortar and pestle. With my lovely marble mortar, I can pound garlic for aioli or grind herbs and spices to add just the right nuance to my latest sauce.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Radishes, if harvested regularly, do not take on that pithy, extra hot texture and taste. For a fresh, country taste slice radishes over a slather of butter on crusty bread and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. A great taste for a snack or picnic treat.
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