Kitsch and Classic French Cookery


Monday, September 28, 2009

Moving to Wordpress

Due to many difficulties with posting, Kitsch & Classics is moving to Wordpress.

The 2 of you who look at this every other hour or so will have another site to do the same.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Discutons de Dindons

Let us talk turkey.

The epicurean’s stuperbowl is nary 2 months away and in order to get the cream of the guest crop, 2B3S (Gluttony Digest Editor and Prussian war re-enactor) and I are currently considering applications to offer 4 secular Thanksgiving day dinner seats to sophisticated guests with elegant sensitivities.

The hosts’ familiar guest base dwindles during the Thanksgiving season due to family obligations but previous feasts have been nothing short of deliciously successful save for a cornucopia of remarkably tactless infractions of etiquette by a few lowbrow guests who: 1. brought “Doritos” and other Frito-Lay products; 2. lost a tooth and was not bashful about showing it around; 3. asked for plates and served other convives like it was a prison cafeteria and started eating before the host had even seated; 4. tried to discuss fellatio with the prude red-head catholic girl; 5. yep, you guessed it, wore a fucking sweatshirt.

Refreshing pioneers and/or experts of any esoteric field, collectors, inventors, adventurers, marine biologists, history enthusiasts, roadie experience, comedic gift, convincing sleight of hand, Scandinavian women and foreign accents are preferred. Perspective guests should be able to provide sample anecdotes, 2 social references and agree to an interview at the bar of the Mayflower hotel (naturally). Gluttony, profuse perspiration, war crimes, boors, bores, louts, activists, political/religious zealots, kleptos, unfounded arrogance, podiatrists, prudes, picky palates, French Québécois accents and a standing height of over 6' 4" are deal breakers (due to low ceilings).

Selected guests are expected to wear clean shoes and dress appropriately: cardigan and corduroy for the gents; ankle length dresses and modest blouse for the hopefully busty ladies. Guests will bring a proper bottle of wine (which we can recommend) as a measure of gratitude and good form.

The entirety of the meal will be prepared in house by an accomplished cook host and adhere to the traditional format of hors d’oeuvres and libations, soup, hot appetizer, Amish Heritage turkey in 2 preparations, seasonal vegetables, stuffing, starch, desert, etc... Interested guest can send an e-mail query for more details and consideration

These previous menus should assuage any concerns of sustenance and cookery aesthetics.

TG2008: Hommage to Turkey

-11,000,000 milligram Amish Turkey (hence the cheeky currency denomination), Mulled Cider, Humus and Home, Made Pide Bread, Pickled Fish, Foie Gras, Red Lentil and Celeriac Soup, Potatoes with Anchovies and Cumin, Pumpkin and Barley Stuffing, Cranberry and Walnut Baklava, Backgammon, Massage

Brussels Sprouts and winter vegetables
with Apricots and Pistachios

The Breast Roasted with Sumac and Yogurt

Black Cardamom Kofte with the Legs and Giblets

TG 2007

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rosette de Mont Plaisant 2.0

A liberal interpretation of “rosette” since a beef middle was use in lieu of the traditional and difficult to source pork rosette, the veritable terminus of the pig’s digestive tract whose shape and alleged “odor” give the rosette its reputed characteristic taper and… taste? After intense research through both professional and artisanal French charcuterie formulations, and a disastrous beta version, a widow of imperative seasoning proportions was tentatively established and put to test. The salt proportions varied from a well keeled 1.5% to a 3.5% Superbowl party saltlick.

Initially, based on the recurring 2.8%, such a quantity of salt was used but the result was unsavory, or rather extra savory and on the cusp of parching. And so the first foray into dry cured sausage (2 pieces) was unsuccessful but taught a fundamental lesson in fermentation after too lengthy of an incubation. The basement kitchen was thought to have been sufficiently cool and dark enough to support a longer incubation period but after a week in the upper 60’s, despite shrinking, both began to ferment. A better approach would have been to refrigerate one earlier and then compare notes.

Both sausages were refrigerated for 6 weeks in a home refrigerator at a cooler temperature than what would be ideal (44˚F so that other immediate perishables would not spoil) and began to develop a slight bloom after the 3rd week. The test of taste was a formidable challenge in gustatory fortitude after the first cut given that the cavities in the sausage were lined with spectacular green mold (insert blushing emoticon). The ends were salvageable and had a distinctively cured taste, though in the heavier spectrum of salty. Invariably, as with any endeavor, elements of theory and practice were learned at the expense of a failed product and applied to the next since anything worth ef’ing up once is worth ef’ing up twice and maybe thrice.

The 2.0 version was limited to 2.2% salt, the same .5% sugar (to help in the initial fermentation which creates lactic acid and bla-bla-bla) and 48 hours incubation, then into the fridge. After 4 weeks:

Current conclusion:

The 48hr incubation period, as recommended by Len Poli and other resources appears to have been effective and the sausage feels firm which would indicate that there are no cavities. Next update in another 4 weeks.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Boudin Blanc d’Avranches

White Boudin from Avranches

Boudin Blanc, Beta version. An emulsified chicken sausage with fatback, onions and a panade, poached and then browned in duck fat. Upon returning from a Labor Day weekend on what a generation ago was an entirely sustainable 275 acre farm in southwestern Virginia, 8lbs of industrial Purdue chicken-ish breasts and thighs were inexplicably acquired. In a desperate though epicurean effort to transform the offending burlap anthropomorphism of poultry into comestible silk, a resourceful boudin blanc recipe was developed based on traditional regional French varieties befitting of the cupboard and previous intrepid experimentations : Boudin blanc d’Avranches, from the northwestern Manche department in lower Normandie.

Measurements were made based on the weight of the suspiciously yellow lab-raised protein do determine proportions of fatback, onion and bread/cream panade (French boudin designation can not exceed 5% starch content). The onions were sweated in foie gras fat with chili pepper, salt and lavender until soft, then cooked uncovered to evaporate any remaining water. The dried bread was soaked in cream and the chilled fatback was diced. All was ground though the small die and then puréed with the help of water and cream*, seasoned, paddled and pressed into hog casings. The boudins were poached in seasoned water (salt, chili, bay leaf, lavender, garlic) for 40 minutes, which in hindsight may have been twice too long. They were left to cool in the liquid.

To serve, the boudins were removed from their casings and browned in duck fat with garlic and lavender. While not entirely unpleasant, the chicken flavor was muted, perhaps due to the inferior product used or the traditional fillers.

Initial shortcomings and screw ups:

The cooked onions should have been moistened with a splash of sherry vinegar and some chicken glace to give a more pronounced poultry flavor.

*As for the texture, the forcemeat should have been ground twice through the fine die and then puréed without cream and more liquid (from the onions and panade) or whole milk to give a smoother final product as with the cervelas. The boudin’s texture was ever so slightly shamefully gritty, which may also have been a result of the cream breaking in the food processor. Eureka? In haste to find an authentic, vintage recipe, the properties to cream and modern technology were overlooked. Cream turns to butter in a food processor. The original recipe, which predated Pierre Verdun’s 1963 food processing gizmo –now generically dubbed the “Robot Coupe”, yet pronounced "Row-beau Coop"- called for pounding the forcemeat through a pedestrian sieve, just as generations dating back to Taillevent had done.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cervelas de Mont Plaisant

aux pistaches et poivre noir

Mount Pleasant Cervelas

with pistachios and black peppercorns

Behold the cervelas. An emulsified French pork sausage which varies regionally in terms of content and cookery. Certain Alsatian preparations call for the sausage be smoked or have it stuffed with gruyere and wrapped in bacon. Ouf.

In this comestible prototype the cervelas is a “white” emulsified pork sausage with pistachios, black peppercorns, fatback and spices stuffed into a beef middle. It is cooked in seasoned water for an internal temperature of 150˚.

Those in Lyon may season the forcemeat with truffle and pistachios and boil it. It can be served either hot or cold. Cervelas is roughly equivalent to the Italian cervelatta, though the Calabrian version includes white wine and chili, not to be confused with Puglian variety which is a fresh sausage flavored with cooked wine, fennel seeds and grilled. Ultimately, the cervelas is a smaller version of the Italian mortadella, the later stuffed into beef bung caps whereas the smaller former use hog casing. Cervelas are also made from beef, veal, horse, duck and fish.

The Swiss cervelas traditionally used, almost exclusively, Brazilian zebu casings, which were deemed the best, however recent European Unions regulations have banned the import of Brazilian beef since the World Organization for Animal Health listed Brazil as a country with BSE risks.

While the name is derived from the Roman renaissance term for sausage cervelatto from the diminutive Latin word for cerebrum (brain) since back in the day, cervelas allegedly used to contain brain, according to the CICT (Centre d'Information des Charcuteries-produits Traiteurs)

Hopefully this one, albeit humbler than the one served at Per Ser, will earn a better criticism. Personally, the final product's initial shortcomings were that the forcemeat could have benefited from slightly less water and perhaps cooked a bit longer and to a higher temperature of 160.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dorades en portefeuille farci aux goûts d’
Porgies, purse style, stuffed with summer flavors.

Whole ungutted porgies (bream, if you will) purchased for a pittance at the Spanish store up the street. The fish were scaled with a spoon, the fins cut, gills removed, then washed. Purse style butchery consists in skillfully opening the fish though the back and removing the spine. Cuts are made along the length of the back from the head to the tail, and along the ribs being careful not to puncture the belly or skin. Using scissors, the spine is cut behind the head, before the tail, and then carefully pulled out with the guts and whatnot. The pin bones are removed with pliers. Its pretty bad-ass when done properly.

The stuffing:
Essentially a bread salad with summer vegetables. The stuffing needed to be light and cooked so that it would suffice to be warmed through slowly without having to hammer the fish, giving you just enough time to flirt with and ultimately offend the lassies at the grill. The bread also helps to absorb any juices which would otherwise be lost. Stale sourdough was diced and toasted. Zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant diced as well, all sautéed in olive oil not before letting the eggplant degorge some water after lightly salting. A red pepper was roasted over a flame, diced and added to the other vegetables. The entire mixture was bound with a soffrito of toasted garlic, dried chili, anchovies, diced red onion, tomato paste, lemon zest and segments. The stuffing was finished with chopped parsley, olive oil and a splash of sherry vinegar. The cavity of the fish was filled with the stuffing and tied shut with butcher’s string. A hot grill stood the chance of burning the string as well as cooking the meat before the stuffing had a chance to warm through so it was slowly cooked on a perforated metal sheet tray over a low grill.

Gustatory Conclusions: The fish was properly butchered and cooked. The stuffing however could have benefited from diced raw tomato for a higher water content. Some lemon slices under the string would have been a good source of acidity and a foil for the sticking skin.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ballotine de Lapereau aux Blettes
et Graines de Moutarde
Ballotine of Rabbit with Swiss Chard
and Mustard Seed

Second half of the Good Friday rabbit course. Boneless rabbit stuffed with a triptych purée/ground/dice forcemeat of rabbit (trimmings from the forelegs, liver, heart, kidney) pork, my lardo, swiss chard and mustard seeds with the loins inlaid lengthwise. The rabbit was deboned (bones used for the bombine base) in the same method as in for porchetta; the ribs and spine removed in one piece (like in Predator) from the underside as to give a rectangular meat canvas. Forcemeat is mixed, seasoned, wrapped in the meat and chilled to give it a firm shape.

Once chilled and firm, bay leaves and thyme are placed on caul fat and the roulade is wrapped whereupon it can be cooked and offered as either a cold galantine or hot ballotine.

Galantine vs Ballotine?

Galantines and ballotines (ballantine is a brand of scotch whisky) are roulades but roulades are not necessarily galantines or ballotines.Roulade =any meat that is rolled around a stuffing made of vegetable, meat, dairy or whatever.

Ballotine = a galantine served hot.

Galantine = a meat, poultry or fish that is boned, stuffed with a forcemeat of the original protein and traditionally poached in a gelatinous stock and served with decorative aspic made from the stock and served cold or room temperature. Galantine comes from the Old French word for chicken “géline” or “galine” as it was originally made from chickens, though some maintain the word has its origins from the Gothic root “gal” meaning jelly, for the gelatinous stock. Towards the end of the 17th century it came to include other types of poultry, the remarkable Russian Doll Roast making use of 17 birds stuffed within one another being a remarkable example. The Bedouin camel stuffed with lamb, chickens and rice is on the furthest edge of the galantine spectrum, and its authenticity is debated. Zamponga stretches the roulade definition even farther and is the skin of a lamb or goat which is made into a bagpipes by bohemian Italians. Roger Waters used zampogna inspiration for the ubiquitous Pink Floyd pig-prop showmanship.