France

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Peas braised with Lettuce, Pearl Onions, and Parsley

This is a wonderfully strange and delightful recipe that requires intimate knowledge of the main ingredient. 

You braise new spring peas in a little liquid for a comparatively long time. This means the tiniest spring peas would be overdone, but fully mature summer peas lack the sweetness of their adolescent kin, and it's that sweetness that so perfectly complements the peculiar choice of lettuce as a seasoning. 

A Feast of Burgundy on French Election Day

Burgundy Dinner

On the day of an exciting election in France, we had our friends Kurt & Debbie over for a feast from Burgundy. 

I love the cuisine of Burgundy, and not just the celebrated wine. When we toured France in 2015, we drove from Lyon in the south to Dijon in the north and back again, through Beaujolais and the Cotes de Nuit to the Cotes d'Or.

We drove past vineyards large and small, with gorgeous old manor-houses and rustic outbuildings and other structures that made no sense to us. Among the vineyards on hills poorly suited for grapes were farms producing beautiful produce.  

Burgundy is known for food of all kinds. The inhabitants of the medieval gray stone buildings of Dijon in the north are fond of cheeses, pork, mushrooms, cream, and of course mustard.

At the southern end, just past Beaujolais, is Lyon, the culinary capital of France. There is a long tradition of courtly fare, but for this feast, I focused on the well-known hearty country fare. 

Beef Bourguignon

We enjoyed: 

Pate en Croute

Pate en CroutePate en Croute is nothing more than a pate baked in a crust, but it looks fabulous! The first trick is to find a mold - after that, the rest is easy.

All you do is line the mold with pastry and then bake the pate. The melted fat stays inside, topped up with aspic. You can make this with the Pate de Campagne but I think the pastry treatment deserves a finer pate like the one below.

Quatre-epices

This is the common blend of spices used in making French pates. You can substitute ginger for cinnamon, and white pepper for black pepper, depending upon the meats in the pate.

Pate de Campagne

This is a coarse pate, hearty picnic fare, best served in slabs with crusty bread, cornichons, and coarse mustard, and washed down with young, rustic wine. 

Sauce Perigueux

This decadent brother of the delicious Sauce Madere is best reserved for special occasions and the finest cuts of beef. Please see the Notes before attempting this expensive dish.

Sauce Madere

Sauce Madere is a spectacular savory sauce to accompany your finest beef. This recipe is kin to and the base for the even more decadent black truffle infused Sauce Perigueux.

The recipe comes from the incredible Escoffier Cookbook, but the recipe there is very confusing. This is because M. Escoffier works backwards from the finished sauce to the base ingredients (make the Sauce Madere from veal stock and half-glaze; make the half glaze from Brown Stock and Sauce Espagnole; make the Sauce Espagnole from Brown Roux, Brown Stock, and Mirepoix...) All of those recipes are written for different volumes of resulting sauce, so there's quite a lot of math involved.

Fortunately for those of us in the Plymouth area, Erik Piantedosi at Piantedosi Butcher Shop in North Plymouth saves us most of the hard work by selling the demi-glace in frozen 14-oz containers! That excellent product brings this delicious sauce into reach for regular cooking. 

Jambon Persille

Jambon Persille

This is a specialty of Burgundy. It has a light, sparkling flavor that dances in your mouth as the jelly melts, full of wonderful flavors!

I read about the Jambon Persille in Jane Grigson's Charcuterie long ago, and I wanted to try it ever since. Then last year while touring Burgundy on our big vacation, I got the opportunity to have it for lunch in Dijon! 

Once I knew how it was supposed to be, I could make it with confidence. Here's my recipe. 

Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise

This classic chilled summer soup is simple to make and full of delicate summer flavors. The recipe is simple, but it allows for infinite artistic expression. 

This is one of those recipes that can be made vegetarian or not (you can use chicken stock, or top it with crumbled bacon), but the vegetarian version is in no way inferior.  

Savoy Cake

Savoy CakeThis beautiful, light sponge cake works well in a fancy mold, and it accompanies berries, preserves, or chocolate sauce wonderfully. Unlike the similar Genoise Butter Cake, this one uses no butter.
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