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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Picnic!

Is there ever a time when a cloth should not be spread out on the grass, after carefully kicking away the small stones and bits of leaves and tiny branches, hoping that for once, for only once – the laying-about will be as comfortable as seemingly promised, the food will not spill sideways or be attacked by bold wild flying insects, the wine will not spill on the shirt-front?

I don’t think so. It should always be time for a picnic, and I’ve been invited to one!

Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations is having a picnic, and the table has started to be laid. Are you curious to see what everyone is bringing? I am! And luckily I’ve got a list. Here’s what we’ll be eating:

Apple Pie with Dutch Crumb Topping from Miranda

Buttermilk Spice Cake from Mary

Chocolate Cherry Pie from Janet

Dilly Potato Salad from Gloria

Election Day Cake from Erica

Fruit Cocktail Meringue Pie from Erica

Gluten-Free Upside-Down Cake from Dia

Hangar Steak with Chimichurri Sauce from Stacey

Ice Cream in a Bag from Marjie

My gosh, what a lot of food! Incredible! Louise asked me to bring something I often seem to talk about.

Jello. Haute Jello.

It was kind of her to ask me to bring this, for it really is only an idea. No recipe. Just a silly poem and a picture. But my goodness, what a lot of recipes from this picnic! It’s best if I just bring some hot air, don’t you think?

The food looks great, everyone. See you at the picnic!

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No, I’m not suggesting that you eat the refrigerator – I was just looking for an excuse to use the illustration. But it does raise the question of whether we ‘understand’, or know, or experience, our food in the same way if that food is an icy plastic-covered super-industrialized product created by a corporation for mass consumption or if that food is rather the odd turnip or potato pulled up at the farm by Pappy then carefully washed, sliced and stewed by Mammy with the bit of salt pork from the pig slaughtered each autumn by Uncle Wilbur.

Have you ever considered eating something unusual for the purpose of ‘understanding’ it? (This is not the same thing as eating something strange for the purpose of  bragging about it afterwards to all your eagerly disgusted friends!)

One family in particular of a studious nature took to this idea. Their tables were graced with some very interesting foodstuffs.

Not only was his house filled with specimens – animal as well as mineral, live as well as dead – but he claimed to have eaten his way through the animal kingdom: zoophagy. The most distasteful items were mole and bluebottle; panther, crocodile and mouse were among the other dishes noted by guests. Augustus Hare, a famous English raconteur and contemporary, recalled, “Talk of strange relics led to mention of the heart of a French King preserved at Nuneham in a silver casket. Dr. Buckland, whilst looking at it, exclaimed, ‘I have eaten many strange things, but have never eaten the heart of a king before,’ and, before anyone could hinder him, he had gobbled it up, and the precious relic was lost for ever.” The heart in question is said to have been that of Louis XIV. Buckland was followed in this bizarre hobby by his son Frank.

Like father, like son – Francis Trevelyan Buckland followed his dad William in the ways of the table.

Buckland was a pioneer of zoöphagy: his favourite research was eating the animal kingdom. This habit he learnt from his father, whose residence, the Deanery, offered such rare delights as mice in batter, squirrel pie, horse’s tongue and ostrich. After the ‘Eland Dinner’ in 1859 at the London Tavern, organised by Richard Owen, Buckland set up the Acclimatization Society to further the search for new food. In 1862 100 guests at Willis’ Rooms sampled Japanese Sea slug (= sea cucumber, probably), kangaroo, guan, curassow and Honduras turkey. This was really quite a modest menu, though Buckland had his eye on Capybara for the future. Buckland’s home, 37 Albany Sreet, London, was famous for its menagerie and its varied menus. [4]

His writing was sometimes slapdash, but always vivid and racy, and made natural history attractive to the mass readership. This is an example:

“On Tuesday evening, at 5pm, Messrs Grove, of Bond Street, sent word that they had a very fine sturgeon on their slab. Of course, I went down at once to see it… The fish measured 9 feet in length [nearly three metres]. I wanted to make a cast of the fellow… and they offered me the fish for the night: he must be back in the shop the next morning by 10 am… [various adventures follow] I was determined to get him into the kitchen somehow; so, tying a rope to his tail, I let him slide down the stone stairs by his own weight. He started all right, but ‘getting way’ on him, I could hold the rope no more, and away he went sliding headlong down the stairs, like an avalanche down Mont Blanc… he smashed the door open… and slid right into the kitchen… till at last he brought himself to an anchor under the kitchen table. This sudden and unexpected appearance of the armour-clad sea monster, bursting open the door… instantly created a sensation. The cook screamed, the house-maid fainted, the cat jumped on the dresser, the dog retreated behind the copper and barked, the monkeys went mad with fright, and the sedate parrot has never spoken a word since.” [5]

Now that sounds like a fun place to visit! I never before thought the Dean of Westminster and his family so very exciting!

The only thing I feel really badly about is that I have not (yet) located their recipe for Rhinoceros Pie. Do you think perhaps Rhinoceros Pies is the magical thing inside the Holy Refrigerator illustrated above? Or is it a TV dinner in there? Or that famous organic turnip? Or some leftover canned spaghetti? Or . . . . ? What could it possibly be?!

And having eaten the things we eat, do we then understand them? Or do we write our own stories about them to suit our own pleasures and to fit our own mindsets . . . .

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Radical Chic, after all, is only radical in style; in its heart it is part of Society and its traditions. (Tom Wolfe, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers -1970)

Ramps. I’m sick and tired of ’em. You hear about them here there and everywhere. They are the new Darlings (or rather they are hanging on by a thread to being the new Darlings, but that is merely because there has been no contender for the title) of the Hip Veggie world.

For the past several years, ramps have been vociferously promenading the Red Carpet that was previously pranced upon by arugula merrily towing its attendant baby veggies.

Surely the time has come for a change. Ramps, my dears, are passé. I do not want to read of ramps anymore in drinks, salads, crusts, and soups. Soggy old ramps! Your day is past.

It is time for a New Star on the Red Carpet and it really should be Creasy Greens. From Dave’s Garden:

At the first hint of spring in the Appalachian Mountains, folks start looking for “creasy greens”. They are the earliest of any of the wild greens, often poking through the snow, and although traditionally hunted by foragers they are now grown commercially. Creasy greens are usually cooked long, like kale, mustard or turnip greens but they are equally good raw in a fresh salad.

Here’s a personal story about the Soon-To-Be-Star from The Herbwife’s Kitchen

When I was a tiny kid I used to love climbing around the hillside above our pasture looking for creasy greens in the early spring.

I still love creasy greens.

Creasy greens are Barbarea verna, in the mustard family. They taste a little mustardy, a little sweet, a little bitter. Reminiscent of very young collards, but wilder.

I like to pick them when they’re about to bloom, when they’re a lot like “wild broccoli” (or broccolini, rapini, broccoli raab, or whatever they’re calling it these days).

This season’s Spring Fashion is done with. Let’s get Cutting Edge. Start to think Creasy Greens.
You can even grow your own from Heirloom Seeds! To be ahead of the crowd!

Creasy Greens. Watch out for them. My fashion prediction is that you’ll see  them everywhere next Spring. And they won’t be cheap, dressed up in their new Red Carpet attire!

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It has come to my attention that we have not talked about eating the rhinoceros lately. This lack will be corrected in the following series.

The Oxford Companion to Food advises that rhinos are not to be considered as food due to their rarity. Larousse Gastronomique tells us that the meat of the rhinoceros is to be preferred to the meat of the elephant but that hippopotamus meat tops them both.

There are several recipes we will learn. The first is the easiest, and offers a bit of dietary advice along with cookery instructions:

It has recently been discovered that rhinos, caught and cooked fresh, are extremely delicious, almost as much so as pie, but also have up to 300 milligrams of caffeine per serving. Scientists are still researching why. One of the possible causes could be the stupidity of the scientists.

Recipe for Poached Rhino

Combine all ingredients into a large saucepan, place in microwave oven, and set on “poach” for 2 minutes. Serves 500 very small people.

The same reference is worthwhile in terms of discovering how to shop for a rhino – after all we do not do this every day!


According to our primary source, this is most definitely not a rhinoceros.

We will continue this series with more information on dining upon the rhinoceros till we are done talking about it as much as we possibly can. For additional information, if you can not bear to wait until the next post to learn more, please read the entry quoted from above at uncyclopedia.

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Greetings to all! It has come to my attention that my esteemed colleagues, Catty Moira and Barry the Dog, believe they are the meow and woof of cookery philosophers, and that is why I am appearing here today. I am busy, busy, busy! and it has been most difficult since I am still stuck permanently in this yogic position but the truth of things should be known so I have found a scanty bit of moment to spare to allow for the dissemination of philosophic correctness.

First, my particulars. I have lived forever. And a day. There is more knowledge about the manners of the table in any one speck of my soul than in any of Brillat-Savarin’s (I call him Brillie) interminable sentences.

I have dined with the best of the ages. And a Philosophy has been formed. It is this: Beware of cookery. It can be dangerous. Fraught with difficulties no lady should ever have to face. Particularly if they are stuck in a yogic position. If the lady is stuck in a yogic position the best thing to do is to eat raw foods and allow your live-in boyfriend and children to fend for themselves.

You will not initially want to believe this, I do know that, ma petite. Talley-Ho (Talleyrand, to you) often told me that a picture is worth a thousand words when he wanted to show me his etchings, and after having seen his etchings, I’ve become quite taken with the idea! Allow me to show you a few pictures of the most easily found dangers in cookery. Then, Dear Reader – you will Decide For Yourself.

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Mais oui! Le shock electrique! You will be fried! And if you think this can only happen in the new industrial kitchens I have news for you! Regardez ici!!!!

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In summary, I will say to you: Learn these words – ‘Take-Out’. You will be doing your business community a service while saving your own skin.

A tout l’heure! Till the next time destiny twines our paths.

Katerina la Vermintz

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Dangerous Illustrations provided by brepettis – from Thirty Ways to Shock Yourself on flickr

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Dude. Here’s the rules:

1. Guard your food at all times. If you can, keep your paws on it. There may be a cat around.

2. Try to cook only when the humans are out of the house. They try to interfere and will not let you take that stick of butter you so desperately need for the recipe.

3. Tenderize everything. That’s why we have teeth. Chew chew chew. Practice on the furniture if you can get away with it. Remember, chewing is how you get down to the best part, the bone.

4. Taste as many things as you can. This will develop your palate. Human’s faces, car tires, any piece of plastic in the street. Try it all. Do not let the humans see you eating poop. They simply do not have our finesse of taste development.

5. Manners count. Lick yourself only after meals and keep your drooling for purposes of making friends, not seasoning the food. And always remember to lay on the feet under the table of the people who really matter – the best feeders! Rrrrrufff! Ruffruff! Grrrrrr.

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It is Spring, dear ones! And after sifting through the many questions you humans have sent me I find there is one most preponderant, and it is this we will discuss today! Prrrrrrrrrr.

The question is: Moira, why don’t you Cats like to cook?

And I must tell you, this question is about as appealing to me (and therefore to all Cats) as raw asparagus.

Eck eck eck eck. Excuse me.

A Cat’s Philosophy of Cooking is simple. It is based on the fact that we are capable of living in the wild and by our wits. We do not need cookbooks or Ph.D’s to assist us through life (no, not in any of the nine we have!) and most certainly we set the table for nobody!

Why don’t we cook?

1. We do not have to. Meow.

2. Do you really think we want to wash dishes? We do have a nice rough tongue but it is better used to groom our lovely coats.

3. Humans need to have something they can feel good about. Most of them simply can not hunt as we can! Purrrrrrrrrrr.

4. We cats are Thinkers, not Workers.

5.  We do not cook for the same reason we do not bother to get married and stick a gold ring on our paws. Once you start doing this sort of thing you can end up having someone expecting you to do it endlessly while putting up with some of the silliest behavior on earth such as saying all is well and lovely while your spouse is spraying the intern in the Oval Office while at the same time he is pretending to be President. We are not politicians, we Cats. Eck eck eck!

Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions, dearies! Now just scratch behind my ear, right there. That’s right! Purrrrrrrr.

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I’ve sometimes seen a purple potato

And I always hope to see one

The only remaining question is

Is it better to see or eat one?

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Here’s a very interesting recipe: Cod with Lapsang Souchong Oil and Puree of Violettes

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For recipe, click on photo.

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Yes, I said “that”, not “what”.

Interesting article from The Economist, titled “What’s Cooking” from The American Association for the Advancement of Science. (Please do ignore the obvious capitalized letters and what they state in the shortening of that group’s name).

YOU are what you eat, or so the saying goes. But Richard Wrangham, of Harvard University, believes that this is true in a more profound sense than the one implied by the old proverb. It is not just you who are what you eat, but the entire human species. And with Homo sapiens, what makes the species unique in Dr Wrangham’s opinion is that its food is so often cooked.

Cooking is a human universal. No society is without it. No one other than a few faddists tries to survive on raw food alone. And the consumption of a cooked meal in the evening, usually in the company of family and friends, is normal in every known society. Moreover, without cooking, the human brain (which consumes 20-25% of the body’s energy) could not keep running. Dr Wrangham thus believes that cooking and humanity are coeval.

In fact, as he outlined to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in Chicago, he thinks that cooking and other forms of preparing food are humanity’s “killer app”: the evolutionary change that underpins all of the other—and subsequent—changes that have made people such unusual animals.

Sounds good to me. In fact, it reminds me of a poem.

We may live without poetry, music and
art;
We may live without conscience and live
without heart;
We may live without friends; we may
live without books;
But civilized man cannot live without
cooks.
He may live without books,-what is
knowledge but grieving?
He may live without hope,- what is
hope but deceiving?
He may live without love,- what is
passion but pining?
But where is the man that can live
without dining?
Owen Meredith

Honestly, I got so excited about this idea that I just held out my hand to grasp my coffeecup and down a bit of the subtle delicious brew and was so focused on the page that I grabbed my pen and pencil pot instead, and almost swallowed a handful of sharp pencils and pens.

Uncooked.
That’s the worst part.

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Set of 6 Utensils

Just like magic. It can be done.

Now where did I put that flying teapot?

Source of wonder: Artecnica

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I’ve wanted to make Son-of-a-Bitch Stew since forever.

It’s been so long I’ve wanted to make one that I can’t remember anymore where it was I first even heard of Son-of-a-Bitch Stew. And usually I can trot out the source of any recipe I’ve ever made or heard of because my mind is a Steel Recipe Trap.

I looked in all the cookbooks I’ve had for a long time. Nothing. Nada. Rien. Kaput. Son-of-a-Bitch Stew was not even mentioned by Waverly Root, and goodness knows he mentioned a lot of wonderfully, exceptionally odd things.

But that Son-of-a-Bitch Stew has been calling my name. I used to threaten people with the fact that I’d make it for them. Threaten or promise, that is. I was ready to do it at the drop of a hat (but only if it was a cowboy hat) and even knew butcher shops that had most of the ingredients.

That Son-of-a-Bitch (stew, that is) came awful close to hitting the stove once when a fellow from Wyoming came to lunch. Why Wyoming? (Say that fast five times . . .) Because Wyoming is a place where the Son-of-a-Bitch was known and loved. It’s not only in Texas, you know.

I was close to putting it on the menu, as close to it as a pig’s nose-ring is to the soil when they’re rooting around, but then I chickened out. Actually my mind was more running along the lines of making Son-of-a-Bitch-in-a-Sack, which would have been much more good old-fashioned fun, but darn it all. Something inside told me not to.

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I probably never would have found all the ingredients though, or at least not without saddling up my trusty steed and heading out for a long ride on the dusty trail in search of some of the more interesting tidbits. Then there’s also the fact that for sure the kitchen staff would have run for the hills themselves if I’d proposed the idea of Son-of-a-Bitch for lunch.

Son-of-a-Bitch in a Sack is sort of like Son-of-a-Bitch Stew, or it’s not. It’s not when it’s a pastry, a dessert – like the recipe Alan Simpson mentions enclosing in his letter. But the other way is like an Extreme Son-of-a-Bitch-Stew. You get real, with this thing. Here’s a recipe for Son-of-a-Bitch Stew from Clifford Wright.

What I remember most, but what I can not find written anywhere (did I imagine it, as I loped across the imaginary plains on my imaginary horse?) is that the Son-of-a-Bitch in a Sack (the one that is not a dessert) (the one you get real with) was cooked in a cow’s stomach. Therefore the name.

Though that Son-of-a-Bitch is still calling my name, the words are fainter now as time goes on by. Now, when I read the ingredients list, no low growl emits from my throat – the growl that says “I Will“.  Now, the corners of my mouth turn up a bit in delight at the unbridled sheer macho joy of the whole thing. And I say to myself “Maybe. Just maybe. Someday.

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Clifford Wright’s “Real Stew” book (source of the recipe above) is here on my bookshelves. And although I winnow constantly, it has been – and will always be – a Keeper. 🙂
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Yeeeeeeeee-haw! Rawhide!

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You’ll have to see it to believe it:

Extreme History – Cooking on the Chisholm Trail

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In this vintage ad from the 1940’s we’ve now discovered how the Chiquita Banana Helps the Pieman – and have also had a fascinating demonstration on how to flute a banana.

But that’s only dessert. ‘Where’s the beef?’ (Clara would ask) – and here it is:

Recipes from Gourmet magazine during the 1940’s, from the archives. Note the simplicity of the instructions, and remember – the founder (in 1939*) and publisher of Gourmet was a fellow named Earle MacAusland, who loved huntin’ and fishin’  . . .  in a gentlemanly-gourmet sort of way.

Tequila Por Mi Amante

Oyster Waffles Shortcake

Creamed Woodchuck

Bachelor’s Defense

Moving right along, if you’re still prone to hunger pains, to some

Blacktail Buck Steaks

finished off with (don’t forget the banana pie too)

Imprisoned Fruit

. . . the recipe for which starts off with

Look over your tree carefully in the springtime, when the blossoms are gone and the fruit is just beginning to form. Choose a few choice specimens, each at the end of a branch, and insert the branch gently into the neck of a large bottle, until the fruit is well inside. The next job is to support the bottle so that it stays in place in the tree. This may be done with ropes, if the tree is large enough, or it may be necessary to build up wooden supports to hold the bottle.

At first, the native feel of the menu made me think of gentle old-timey innocent images in my mind. Little boys goin’ out to catch a mess of fish, oh so cute in their rumpled overalls

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But then upon musing on the menu components a bit further, it seemed to me that (more likely) the intent of all this cooking (whether done by the above-mentioned ‘bachelor’ or by his feminine equal) would be in hopes of something more along the lines of this, from Tino Rossi, 1945:

P.S. Edit added: *This date (1939) is not confirmed by source (yet). No bessame mucho here. Yet. 🙂

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Here is a recipe for perfection salad from a 1905 (Knox Gelatine) book titled ‘Dainty Desserts for Dainty People’.

And here, for dainty people, is the downloadable text of the entire book.

Everything that grows

Holds in perfection but a little moment.

Shakespeare: Sonnet 15, 1.1

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(This is part 3 of 3 parts – the first two parts of the story are composed of the posts of the previous two days . . . 🙂 )
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new-one-again

This is what Lenotre taught me to make that day.

And that was the day I decided to not quit that job. And it was probably the day I decided I could actually become a chef, also.

So it is the Strawberry Cake that I remember most, about all of it – when someone says ‘Lenotre‘.

You had to be there to see all the results – among which were some line cooks with slightly different attitudes.

But the best thing really was that buttercream.
Mille remerciements a Gaston Lenotre.

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(Part 2, continued from preceding post)

No reason, really – why I should have been repulsed by that little scene on the table. The Chef was married but then so was the Sous Chef. Inequalities of power happen all the time. The Chef was gorgeous in an older woman sort of way – the thought did creep into my mind momentarily of her three children but then again it was said that hers was an open marriage. The Sous Chef was much younger than her and biddable. That’s exactly why he was Sous Chef. His wife was the ugliest woman I’d ever laid eyes on in my life. Still is, if I remember right. Why, I can’t explain. It was nothing precise or explainable. She was just plain scary-looking. Ugly. But the fact remains that watching the Executive Chef lean back onto the table laughing with her mouth in a wide open grimace, her legs grasping the chunky chested Sous Chef who was also rather grinning in a frightened sort of way – was repulsive.

It had almost been the last straw. I’d almost quit the job.

The ingredients that went into this recipe of being a professional cook in a restaurant kitchen were so different than I’d expected. I’d thought “Oh! I love to cook!” “Oh! I can do that job!” “Oh! I want to work in a restaurant!” and so, I’d applied for the job and regardless of the fact that I’d never cooked professionally, won the job after a horrendous first day where I thought I’d surely die from exhaustion, where I’d gone and laid down a little kitchen towel on the floor of the dirty white-trash-looking staff bathroom, far in the corner of the worst-lit longest corridor, and I’d laid there curled up for ten minutes to gather the strength to go back and do the job. Lifting fifty pound mixing bowls over my five-foot-two shoulder to pour batter into the prepared ten cakepans in a sweltering kitchen had not been my forte at any time before that day, and it was a bit of a mouthful to bite on.

I’d almost quit, but there was a triangle in the kitchen that I’d either walk out on or break out of victorious. And I was just angry enough to want to emerge victorious.

The triangle consisted of the Chef on one side. The line cooks, Roger and Frank, on the other side. And little Colette the French waitress who somehow had ended up in this eccentric place called Connecticut who ooh’d and ahh’d over the new offerings on the pastry cart (“I am glad someone knows how to BAKE” she would announce in tight short tones. “It has been HORRIBLE“) along with the Salvadoran busboys, who detested the line cooks and who loved cakes and pastries and taking a side wherever a side was to be found. I didn’t want to walk out on Colette and the Salvadoran busboys.

Roger turned up the volume on the radio set tuned to the hard-metal station to a screeching blast that day when he saw me walk in, and started to bob his head like a sick old duck in time to the bass notes. Frank pouted. I walked to the pastry station and right there on the spot where the Chef’s behind had been sitting several days before, I threw down upon that spot my weapon, and got ready to begin the attack.

My weapon was sweet.

My weapon was brilliant.

My weapon was a book.

The name of my weapon was ‘Lenotre’s Desserts and Pastries‘.

(To be continued . . .Part Three Lenotres Cakes)

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I’m not sure whether I think that people who read books who also cook are very amusing people in general or whether I136552743_6feec58175 think that people who cook who also read books are very amusing people. From the festival website:

April 1st is the birthday of French gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), famous for his book Physiologie du goût, a witty meditation on food. April fools’ day is also the perfect day to eat your words and play with them as the “books” are consumed on the day of the event. This ephemeral global banquet, in which anyone can participate, is shared by all on the internet and allows everyone to preserve and discover unique bookish nourishments

The photos of winners from previous years are wonderful (and hilarious at times also). (Click through the links to see more winners from the main page . . .)

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I LOVE IT!!!!!!!

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I had an epiphany this morning.

As I sat at the red light in light traffic in my car after dropping off the kids at school, I realized I’d forgotten to throw on a coat.

And in that exact moment, as the radio blasted Steppenwolf’s ‘Born to Be Wild’ loud enough to be heard by anyone close enough and as I sat there with it blasting dressed in my fabulous pink bathrobe, I realized that I looked ridiculous.

Thank goodness there is a recovery plan for these sorts of epiphanic moments, the basis of which is one three-syllable word: Chocolate.

Francois Payard’s ‘Chocolate Epiphany’ is the best book to consult, and I’ll tell you why.

How many times have you looked at a cookbook to find exactly the same recipes as the last cookbook only written with different names and different recipe formats?

I find this happens more often than not.

Unless the book is one of the few designed to be at the forefront of cutting-edge (haute – sorry, these things cost money) cuisine (though it won’t be called ‘haute cuisine‘ for the term is passe) the recipes circle around each other – distinguishing themselves pretty much by a sense of style or by a hint of one or two small-yet-intelligent differences created by the author.

Cookbooks specializing in chocolate can often seem to be repetitive even more often than other cookbooks, for the genre is limited.

‘Chocolate Epiphany’ has more to say (on a variety of levels) than any other chocolate-based cookbook I’ve recently seen.

Try these on for size: Kougin Amanns – distinguished by Payard morphing the recipe into one with chocolate imbued throughout . .  . Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse – the pavlova shaped into a two-piece half-sphered ball which is then filled to break open with the touch of a fork to utter the syllables of its filling . . . a Honey and Saffron Apple Tart with Chocolate Chiboust, startling in the conceptualization of flavors . . . a Gateau de Crepes with Green Tea Ice Cream . . . and a Chocolate Paris-Brest which makes one wonder why the Paris-Brest was not made chocolate in the first place.

I’m off on the road to recovery – pink bathrobe and all. It doesn’t mind a splash or two of chocolate on it – and seriously, neither do I.

The only remaining question is what music to blast to best suit Orange Custards with Dark Chocolate Foam.

I’ll definitely get dressed up nice to eat my chocolate recovery prescription, though. Then I’ll wait for my next epiphany.

Hopefully it won’t be yet another one where I feel ridiculous.

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Katerina la Vermintz sent me here. The rodents are so large.

She said to find her an amblongus to make a pie, and to hurry – as her crumbobblious cutlets are almost ready for the table! Mr. Lear is dining with her tonight and she does want everything just right.

She is essaying his two recipes published in the Nonsense Gazette (1870). He is famous, Mr. Lear. The dinner need be perfect.

I begged Katerina to make Gosky Patties, but she said last time they did not taste so very good. I wonder if there is something – some herb, some slight hint of garlic or turmeric – missing from the recipe.

TO MAKE GOSKY PATTIES

Take a pig, three or four years of age, and tie him by the off-hind leg to a post. Place 5 pounds of currants, 5 of sugar, 2 pecks of peas, 18 roast chestnuts, a candle, and six bushels of turnips, within his reach; if he eats these, constantly provide him with more.

Then, procure some cream, some slices of Cheshire cheese, four quinces of foolscap paper, and a packet of black pins. Work the whole into a paste, and spread it out to dry on a sheet of clean brown waterproof linen.

When the paste is perfectly dry, but not before, proceed to beat the Pig violently, with the handle of a large broom. If he squeals, beat him again.

Visit the paste and beat the pig alternately for some days, and ascertain that if at the end of that period the whole is about to turn into Gosky Patties.

If it does not then, it never will; and in that case the Pig may be let loose, and the whole process may be considered as finished.

I must fly! Amblongis are often difficult to find and my basket is yet empty.
Do pray for Lady Luck to be by my side.

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Image Source: foto_decadent/Tim Walker/UK Vogue December 2008/Tales of the Unexpected/The Marvellous Mischievious Magical World of Roald Dahl

It’s not like Boris and I don’t have our challenges. Most of you think the life of a girl detective is an easy one. But my job gets tougher and tougher each day.

The last time I’d had a really good mystery to solve was back in May when I solved The Case of the Missing Snack.

There’s not much call for those with my specialised degree –  the C.K.L.E. (Certified Kitchen Lounge-About Eater) is a path one follows because one must. The gathering together of dross is not a part of the thinking process at all.

We’ve been spending a lot of time lately burning bangers and mashing mashers as a matter of fact. But always, always! in the finest fashions, you should know. Stiff upper lip and all.

But Boris has become moody. Around the holidays he longs for the cooking of his childhood. Or what he thinks was the cooking of his childhood, anyway. He actually grew up in Flushing, Queens – which you get to by taking a pot-holed highway to after going over some midtown bridge in Manhattan – but he believes he grew up eating Russian food.

And he hungers for it in an awful way.

So, for the New Year’s, I am making a picnic! A Georgian picnic.

We are having a pickled cabbage rose set just so in the center of the quilt we’ll recline upon. Then we will dive into chicken with walnuts. Because no picnic is complete without a bit of cooking done en plein air we’ll start a little woodfire off to the side to prepare some skewered eggs along with some grilled cheese.  Maybe a bit of steamed purslane would be nice as a salad (as it seems to be growing among a rockpile nearby it would not be dear at all, either!) For dessert we’ll just stay traditional and have the New Year’s Day treat of Gozinake. (When you are Georgian, there is no such thing as too many walnuts.)

It looks to be a fine day, though a bit chilly.

Cheers to all of you on the first day of the new year. And do give me a call if you need a good mystery solved.

I’m always hungry.

………………………………………………………………..

Darra Goldstein’s The Georgian Feast is a must-read, for anyone interested in the foods of Georgia.

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The last day of the year is a time for cautionary tales. Most everyone has their own to muse on, but if you find yourself shorted in this area you can always turn to The Tale of Samuel Whiskers and the Roly-Poly Pudding to give yourself a good fright.

Here is where the action begins in earnest. Tom Kitten has gone off on an adventure and in the process has been captured by hungry (aren’t they always) rats. The dough is gathered, the rolling pin pushed over to begin the task of making a fine Kitten Roly-Poly for dinner.

Poor Tom Kitten.

There are other sorts of roly-poly puddings to be made if you like the idea but without the kitten.

The Great British Kitchen has recipes made with jam, syrup, lemon, and mincemeat. And if all this is just too dainty for your taste, here you will find a good recipe for rasher pudding, also known as bacon roly-poly.

Any of these taste fine with champagne, ale, or tea.

Happy New Year!

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I love QQ food. I love Q food too.

Q is not a question. Q is a texture. Or as expressed much more succinctly and beautifully by Zoe Tribur in the Spring 2006 issue of Gastronomica

QQ is a unique oral sensation that
cannot be mistaken for any other. When you put something
in your mouth—cold or warm, salty or sweet, dry or wet,
it doesn’t matter—if the substance first pushes back as you
seize it with your teeth, then firms up for just a moment
before yielding magnanimously to part, with surprising ease
and goodwill, from the cleaving corners of your mandibles—
that is Q.

Many people do not like Q food. It is somewhat alien to the palate of the eater exposed solely to the foodways of the middle-class United States.

That’s okay. More for me. 🙂

I’ve found a recipe for a Q food served at the Winter Solstice way over on the other side of the world. Tang Yuen. It looks delicious. Yay, tang yuen!

It is a few days past the Winter Solstice, but better late than never. Perhaps this will be the start of a new tradition – our own post-Christmas Tang Yuen party!

Note: The article in Gastronomica on Q is downloadable as a PDF file. It is titled ‘Taste’ by Zoe Tribur and is definitely worth reading, for any gastro of any astral sphere.

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TimesOnline has posted a food quiz quite ornamental to ascertain whether your foodie knowledge is all shining and bright.

The Christmas Food Quiz includes some good questions:

5. Who invented the notion of a frothing soup in the manner of a cappuccino?

a Alain Chapel

b Gordon Ramsay

c Ferran Adria
6. Which chef created a Xmas menu last year where dishes included Babe in a Manger and Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

7. Which chef quipped “the discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star”

a Apicus

b Brillat Savarin

c Carĕme
8. What game was originally played with champagne corks rather than balls?

a Table tennis

b Squash

c Billiards

It’s worth taking a gander at (to see if they can roast your goose or not).

Cheers!

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I can not decide what to serve on Christmas.

This is not unusual – I can never decide what to serve on Christmas.

There are reasons for that (as there are reasons for most things). (Whether those reasons are reasonable or not is yet another question but let’s set that aside for the moment).

Ballontines keep popping into my mind this year.

Being plagued by thoughts of ballontines has kept me quite busy. I’ve spent many hours looking up recipes, all the while quite productively avoiding the kitchen itself.

Larousse Gastronomique, (1961 Edition) on ballontines:

This term describes a kind of galantine which is normally served as a hot entree, but can also be served cold.
The ballontine is made of a piece of meat, fowl, game, or fish, which is boned, stuffed and rolled into the shape of a bundle.
To be precise, the term ballontine should apply only to a piece of butcher’s meat, boned, stuffed, and rolled, but it is in fact also applied to various dishes which are actually galantines.

A ballontine is not a galantine. There is a much different sense about it. There is actually something good and fine about a ballontine at its heart, whereas there is really nothing good about any galantine. Galantines are merely pride served chilled, glazed and decorated. They are ancient idiots, barking up the tree of pomposity.

A ballontine is better. It is an ancient idiot also – but since it is served hot, it is tasty.

There is really no good reason to make either one unless you are heading out for a voyage on a steamship and want to make something that will impress the other thousand guests which will also last for a good two months while everyone nibbles on it here and there all the while admiring the skill that must! have gone into making it.

Yet the ballontine is calling my name. Making one is like sitting down to write a novel in chapters – rather than just tossing off an essay here and there.

The last time I made one I could not stand to eat any sort of meat for more than a month. The boning of the duck, the pureeing of this kind of meat filling and that kind of meat filling, the chopping of the duck livers, the decorative slicing of the other several kinds of meat, the arranging of the duck skin to cover it all just so, the roasting of the bones and the making of the stock – it warped into a sort of meaty nightmare.

Couldn’t stand the sight or taste of pistachios either, since they had been dotted here and there within the ballontine.

Yet the ballontine is calling my name.
Never fear – I will fight it with all my might.

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