I don’t know if I’ve said this before (people of a “certain age” repeat themselves) but one of the reasons I didn’t take pictures until about 2 years ago was that I was always too busy gazing around, experiencing, enjoying the moment and the people I love. So that’s why I’ve been away this holiday. No dedicated photographer/blogger and, because of the move from the apartment to the house in Germany, no internet for 7 days and zillions of things to unpack. Well now that I’m back on line and only have millions of things to unpack, I’m looking forward to catching up with your posts and blogging again. Happy New Year!
I had taken the train down to Sens a week early to prepare the house for Christmas. I brought a carry on and the little cat, Bandit, but had to leave the tripod for my husband to bring in the car, which was annoying because I love taking pictures of meals at the Parrets. Before the family arrived, I was invited over for a lunch of roasted wild pheasant. Delicious! I brought over a pot of Roquefort mussels for the entree and of course there was cheese at the end. I’m vaguely ashamed of the way I bullied M. Parret about the cheese. At first he just brought the cheese from the fridge in a plastic container and plopped it in the middle of the table. I reminded him that he had his public to consider and that his admirers who follow my blog would be astonished to see such lovely cheese products served in French Tupperware. He asked me to fetch the cheese tray from the cabinet. I’m afraid I laughed out loud. No palate and questionable upbringing :D
The problem with not photographing and blogging during a long holiday like this is that I forgot the what and how of some of the food I made; crispy pork belly with homemade buns, sesame mustard beef ribs, elegant foie gras with a crispy potato cake and pot au feu broth, verrines of crab and salmon roe, fresh, fragrant bruschetta, mustard coated duck legs, Roquefort duck breast salad, etc. Oh well, just have to make them again ;)
I did take some pictures, but mostly in a spur of the moment, non-fanatical, whatever, way. The Christmas Eve, impromptu Champagne breakfast was a moment not to be missed with M. Parret, the Veuve and French pastries.
No photographers, but serious, dedicated eaters! I like that.
What a celebration! We ate, drank, talked and laughed so much!
When we weren’t invited out, I kept busy in my kitchen, stepping around family members and friends who were hungrily peering into pots and ovens and volunteering as tasters. Sometimes pictures were taken after the fact, in American Tupperware, like these mustard coated, roasted duck legs. M. Parret need never know :)
Speaking of M. Parret, we went into Paris for a day and lunch with our son at a large brasserie called Bofingers. I guess it’s famous among the American tourist crowds but I don’t know why. The service was horrendous, the food not even “correct” and the prices inflated past good sense. Canned, tasteless foie gras, slapped on a plate without even a hint of garnish, figs with some sort of floury, sugary, can type coating. Bleah! We waited a really long time for our aperitifs, we waited a really long time for our entrees, we waited a really long time for our main course, we waited a really long time for our coffee. No one wanted dessert. We waited a really long time for our bill. M. Parret would have walked out and we should have. Parisian brasseries are usually wonderful places with food, service and prices that are “correct”. Our son pointed out that most Americans who visit Paris expect to get indifferent service in French restaurants and for some reason, that adds to the “experience”. Whoa! Not us. Though we did have a good time laughing at the food. Anyway.
Back in the day when my husband was in the Peace Corps, he was given a Toureg head wrap that he wore while riding his camel through the sands of Chad. It seems that our son, working in Burkina Faso with Toureg refugees, also felt the dead on coolness of the Midnight at the Oasis indigo groove, but he’s got a car :)
I think it’s a genetic thing.
We invited the Parrets and Thierry over for a Boxing Day lunch to share my take on Hotel Les Pins’ Foie Gras with potato pancake in broth and Poulet de Bresse cooked in yellow wine. When you think of a dish of chicken with wine and mushrooms, well yes, of course it makes sense. But this traditional French recipe with yellow wine, girolles and trumpettes de la mort mushrooms takes this combination from mundane to extraordinary. The local poultry man was featuring a variety of poultry products from Bresse for the holidays. I asked for poulet (chicken) but he recommended poularde, explaining that this is a young, sexually immature hen; not raised for laying. I agreed to try two of the poulardes but told him that the heads and feet simply MUST be cut off and disposed of, in his shop. After that, he prepared the hens for cooking in a very convenient manner; breasts, thighs, drumsticks and wings removed with finesse, the meaty carcass reserved and wrapped separately for broth, a packet of the chicken fat diced for melting and browning the chicken pieces, a packet of giblets cut into pleasing chunks to be browned and cooked with the chicken. I always want my chickens prepared like this! Maybe I’m not a Francophile, maybe I just like artisanal food processing; butchers, fishmongers, poultry people. That’s probably it :) I wonder if this kind of service is available in the U.S., Germany?
Inspiration for this recipe comes from Saveurs, Hiver 2012
Poulet de Bresse with Yellow Wine and Mushrooms
1 Bresse chicken or a fatty regular chicken
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, cut into chunks
1 carrot, diced
1 bottle Jura yellow wine
10 oz chicken broth
2 tbsp butter
2 shallots, chopped
2 cups girolles mushrooms, rinsed
2 cups trompettes de la mort mushrooms, rinsed
3 tbsp creme fraiche
1 pinch saffron
Remove some of the fat from the chicken, dice and reserve for browning. Cut the chicken into 8 pieces and season with salt and pepper. Melt the reserved fat and brown the chicken, remove and set aside, then add the onion and carrot, cooking for about 5 minutes. Put the chicken back in the pan, add the wine and cook for 3 minutes. Add the broth, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
Soften the shallots in the butter, then add the mushrooms, cooking for about 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper, then set aside.
Remove the cooked pieces of chicken from the pan and set aside. Blend in the creme fraiche and saffron, simmering for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and mushrooms and simmer for 2 minutes.
Wine suggestion: Chablis