Quack Quack

February 6th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Many decades ago, HG/BSK were strolling near the Place Des Victoires in Paris when they examined the menu posted adjacent to the entrance of Chez Georges, a traditional French bistro. Prices were affordable. Dishes offered were classic. HG/BSK entered and found a multi-mirrored long room. Every seat was filled with a chic, happy Parisians. No tourists. The gracious owner welcomed HG/BSK: “A table will soon be vacant. Meanwhile, have a glass of Brouilly.” The meal and the ambiance were fabulous. HG’s main dish was “Steak de Canard”. This was a succulent duck breast cooked medium rare (on the rare side) and served with a saute of wild mushrooms. Last night, BSK combined two traditions: The Chez Georges duck breast and the salad HG/BSK would eat for Sunday dinner with a barbecued duck from the long-closed Bretton Woods Rotisserie near 86th Street and Broadway on New York’s Upper West Side (this was when HG/BSK and children lived in a West Side rent-controlled paradise). Last night in New Mexico, duck breasts were pan broiled to pink perfection and the salad consisted of orange, sweet onion and ripe avocado slices gilded with an unusual vinaigrette utilizing balsamic vinegar and–surprise!!–shreds of stewed prunes and a bit of the stewing wine. Fabulous. Back to memories of Chez Georges. HG/BSK didn’t know this was Julia Child’s favorite Paris restaurant. Deservedly so. HG has joyous memories of of the many meals HG shared there with BSK over the years. Appetizers like frisee with lardons and a poached egg; jambon persille; big bowls of pickled herring passed around the tables as a “take all you want” gift. Robust main dishes: Kidneys in mustard sauce; grilled sole with butter and lemon sauce; steaks with sauce bearnaise, etc. Desserts: baba au rhum and profiteroles…Founded in 1964, Chez Georges is still going strong. Despite a change in ownership, nothing has changed according to food and Paris authority, Patricia Wells. With luck, HG might enjoy some more lusty lunches there.

Chestnut Goodness

February 6th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is very fond of chestnuts. When living in New York, HG often ate hot, roasted chestnuts straight from the coals of various street carts. HG’s favorite dessert was served at The Gay Hussar, a now-shuttered Hungarian restaurant in London’s Soho neighborhood. The dessert was lightly sweetened, pureed chestnuts topped with a mountain of fresh whipped cream. HG would usually precede it with fish dumplings in dill sauce and duck livers with fried onions and paprika. Not a meal approved by cardiologists. HG savored The Gay Hussar as did generations of left-wing Labor politicians. HG had an attack of dessert nostalgia, prompted by a recent blog post from David Lebovitz, the Paris-based food writer and cookbook author. He was writing about creme de marrons (chestnut puree). No cream, just pulverized and pureed chestnuts with sweetness (slight) added by some bits of candied chestnuts and vanilla. This is a staple in French homes. Used on toast like jam or Nutella and In a variety of baked goods (bakeries use it in a pastry called Mont Blanc). Most often it is mixed with breakfast yogurt (supermarkets carry yogurt pre-mixed with creme de marrons.) This wonderful stuff is virtually unknown in the USA. But, intrepid HG managed to track some down. Clement Faugier is the French company that dominates creme de marrons. They sell it in tins of various sizes ranging from modest (for home use) and huge (for commercial bakeries). They also sell it in toothpaste-like tubes. Lebovitz says elegant Frenchmen and super chic Frenchwomen always carry a tube so they can have a surreptitious treat during the day. After dinner, HG has a big tablespoon covered with Reddi-Whip (too lazy to make real whipped cream). Makes a nice ending to a dinner of BSK culinary delights.

American Unity

February 4th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG believes the only unifying event in American life is the Super Bowl. Everyone (despicable Republicans, righteous Democrats, undecided and non-voters) all watch. HG/BSK watched the game on television and enjoyed it. Yes, pro football is bad. Veteran players leave the game physically and mentally handicapped. Only recently has the NFL paid any attention to the health and safety of the athletes. A bright note is the emergence of African-American quarterbacks. Mobile, versatile, inspirational and talented, they are revolutionizing the game. Patrick Mahomes, the quarterback of the Super Bowl champs Kansas City Chiefs, proved that on Sunday. Well behind in the fourth quarter, he turned the game around with three scores in six minutes. Wow!! During the game, HG ate plentiful bowls of green chile menudo (bought at El Parasol in Pojoaque, the excellent casual Tex-Mex eatery close to HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. Drank ample tequila and Shiner Bock Beer. The alcohol made HG tolerate (barely) all the military crap surrounding the game. Yes, J. Lo and Shakira are talented. However….

David Tanis

February 2nd, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

David Tanis is one of HG/BSK’s most relied upon cookbook authors (Others include Marcella Hazan, Jacques Pepin, Julia Child and Vikram Vij). Our two wonderful friends and neighbors, Karen K. and Merry C. joined HG/BSK for dinner. Cold New Mexico night. HG made a blaze in the fireplace (Even though the wit, intelligence and humor of Karen and Merry could warm up any room). Dinner theme was Italian so the meal started with mozzarella and tomatoes (Plus a few leaves of endive). Thrifty BSK found lots of wild mushroom for sale at Whole Foods. So, BSK consulted Tanis’s cookbook: “Heart of the Artichoke” and found–voila!!–“Wild Mushroom Ragout with Ziti”. Mushrooms, garlic, oil, butter, sage, thyme, tomato paste, broth from soaking dried porcini mushrooms, onions, red pepper flakes, a dusting of flour. These all went into deeply flavored ragout which was poured over perfectly al dente ziti. Ciabatta and grated parmesan (Just a sprinkle). Wine was a robust Spanish Garnacha. Merry brought dessert: Her frozen lemon mousse with strawberry syrup. Great ending to a classic meal.

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