Monday, April 28, 2008

Using "leftover" greens

I have been toying with the ends of the romaine heads, chopping them into shreds and then combinging them with cheese, bread crumbs, aromatics . . . then using the mixture to stuff vegetables and pasta before baking. I like the texture and crunch the ends of the lettuces give to stuffings. My husband commented that a touch of citrus zest may allay the excess "greeness" taste when baking in vegetables. Now this is quite a suggestion, since he often thinks I use too much zest . . . I'll give it a try next time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cleaning Copper

It's time to get my copper preserving pan out and to clean the inside in preparation for the fruit pastes, jellies and marmelades I have in mind to make this season. The under or outside of the pan is a bit dark and discolored from sitting over the coals, which cannot be helped, so I'm mainly concerned with the inside. Keeping the inside immaculate and shiny will prevent any copper contamination from ruining my confitures.
To clean copper, make a paste of flour, salt and vinegar; rub all over the surface to be cleaned and leave to set for 15 minutes to half an hour. Rinse well with fresh water and dry thoroughly if not to be used immediately.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pot Herb Pie--A Spring Tonic

Nicholas Bonnefons recommend a wide variety of greens for pies: spinach, which he deemed to be excellent, orache, chicory, white beet or Swiss chard and finally a small amount of sorrel and purslane to heighten the flavor. In 1615, Champlain planted cabbages, white beets and other necessary herbs in Nouvelle France.

Pot Herb Pie
1 pound of mixed greens (dandelions would be good, as well)
2 eggs
1 pint bechamel (white sauce)
salt and pepper
lemon zeste
icing sugar and rose water--a sprinkle of each

Remove stems from greens. Boil in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain, chop and squeeze dry. Make bechamel by stirring milk into a roux of butter and flour--grate in nutmeg and lemon zeste. Simmer until thick. Beat eggs and stir in greens. Add to bechamel. Pour into pie shell of fine pastry. Sprinkle with a dusting of powdered sugar and a drizzle of rose water. Bake in a moderate oven. Remove from oven and allow to set for 10 minutes before slicing to serve.
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Recipe adapted from A Taste of History, the Origins of Québec's Gastronomy. Marc Lafrance & Yvon Desloges, Les Éditions de la Chenelière inc., Québec, 1989, p. 19

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ginger Candy - Gingembre Confit

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This month’s Sugar High Friday is hosted by La Petite Boulangette whose theme is Asian Sweet Invasion. The spice traders brought many delicious, nutritious and medicinal products to Europe, one of which is ginger. When you are feeling a bit low, nothing will perk you up quite like a nugget of ginger candy and a cup of hot China tea.

GINGER CANDIES: Crush some crystallized ginger, your choice of nutmeat, maybe some flower petals in a mortar until well blended. Form into squares or balls and roll in freshly crushed sugar. To preserve, pack between papers in a wood box. They will keep indefinitely.

GINGER: root of a plant which grows in India & in the Antilles; its taste is bitter & aromatic, it is used a great deal in the Antilles, where it holds the place of pepper, it excites the appetite. One eats it in salad in the places where it grows: here it is brought to us dry or candied.
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GINGEMBRE: racine d’une plante qui croît dans l’Inde & aux Antilles; son gout est âcre & aromatique, on en fait un grand usage aux Antilles, où il tient lieu de poivre, il excite l’appétit. On le mange en salade aux lieux où il croît: on nous l’apporte ici sec ou confit.

Dictionnaire Portatif de Cuisine, d'Office, et de Distillation. Chez Vincent, Paris 1767, p. 306.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Animelles frites - or Rocky Mountain Oysters

Larousse Gastronomique includes animelles [testicles, also an item of offal or abats blancs] and oysters among its list of foods considered aphrodisiacs. In 18thC France, de Troy's the Oyster Luncheon, depicts men seated around a luncheon table surfeiting on oysters, presumably prior to their afternoon trysts. Rocky Mountain Oysters, testicles from sheep, as well as other animals, are deep fried and served up in mounds at annual Western male rendesvous, where testosterone abounds in its purest form. This post is in honor of Meat and Greet #1.

ANIMELLES: name for the testicles of the ram [sheep]. Usually served three ways.
    Cut them into four or eight pieces after removing the skin; dredge in crushed salt & flour; fry until crisp.
    Make a paste [batter] of flour & beer or wine, add a little oil and salt and stir [set aside to allow the flour to moisten as in crepe batter]. Fry the animelles slices (or whole depending on size) until half done in hot oil, drain & then dip them in the batter [paste]; & fry until crisp; drain and serve with fried parsley.
    Marinate animelles with onions, parsley, pepper, clove, vinegar & a little stock [this will cause the testicles to firm up or blanch {set the flesh} and remove any excess blood or fluid]; drain, dip in beaten eggs; then into bread crumbs; fry, & serve with fried parsley.


    The animelles are nourishing & strengthening: they become even more so, when they are cooked with paste, eggs & spices; but they are less agreeable to delicate people with feeble stomachs.
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ANIMELLES: on appelle ainsi les testicules du bélier. On les sert de ces trios façons.
    On les coupe par morceaux en quatre ou huit; on en ôte la peau; on met dessus un peu de sel pilé & de farine; on les fait frire jusqu’à ce qu’elles soient croquantes.
    On fait une pâte avec farine détrempée de biere, ou vin, dans laquelle on met un demi-verre d’huile avec du sel. On fait frire les animelles à moitié, & on les met dans cette pâte; & ensuite on les remet à la friture; on les garnit de persil frit, pour servir.
    On les fait mariner avec oignons, persil, poivre, girofle, vinaigre & un peu de bouillon; on les trempe dans des œufs battus; on les pane; on les fait frire, & on les sert garnies de persil frit.


    Les animelles seules sont un mets nourrissant & fortifiant: elles le deviennent bien davantage, étant accommodée comme elles le sont ici avec de la pâte, des œufs & des épices; mais elles conviennent moins aux personnes delicates & aux estomacs foibles.

Dictionnaire Portatif de Cuisine, d'Office, et de Distillation. Chez Vincent, Paris 1767, p. 49.

In addition to fried parsley as a garnish, consider saucing them with butter and cream.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Planning the Potager

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Now is the time to plan your potager (kitchen garden). This will be my first garden in my new home. Homer will fell the spruce in the front yard, till the ground and put in raised beds. I plan to have both a formal herb planting, as well as salad patch. Here is a site on French biointensive gardening.

From past years, let me recommend the following books:

Georgeanne Brennan's In the French Kitchen Garden
John Jeavons on biointensive gardening,
How to Grow More Vegetables.
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