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!
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