Imperfect Paradise by Dan Dembiczak - I'm so proud of Dan Dembiczak, whose first novel - Imperfect Paradise - is available for sale in both eBookor Paperback on Amazon.com! The story follows ...
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Tonight, Gerald hosted the 2nd round of the 2nd cycle of Memento Meal, choosing a Rustic French theme for our culinary adventure. He and his guest, Diana, kicked things off with a trio of meaty appetizers.
First were fried Frogs Legs that Gerald butchered himself, then soaked in milk before frying.
Next was a rich Venison Liver Pâté with toast, made from a deer Gerald shot himself.
And finally, a Homemade Venison Sausage (from the same deer), paired with a sweet-tart, Cherry-Cranberry Mustard.
Next our guests for his round, Tricia & Josh, served us a delicious plate of artichoke with a Dijon vinaigrette, and a Mushrooms à la Grecque.
For the salad course, David & Carolyn served a reserved by incredibly well balanced and flavorful combination of Arugula, super-ripe Comice Pear, Walnuts, cave-aged French Roquefort, and a Mustard-Walnut Oil dressing.
The first main course was courtesy of James & Marcy, and Dan correctly guessed that it would be Coque au Vin.
James made it from a recipe (below) he acquired from M.F.K. Fisher, combining wing drummettes with fingerling potatoes, carrots and pearl onions in the most amazing broth - so tasty that some of us simply drank it up, while others more delicately sopped it up with bread.
Dan & I provided the second entree course: a Trio of Confit with Homemade Fromage Blanc on Mini-Baguette.
We combined an olive-oil poached fennel & garlic confit with the Fromage Blanc on our homemade herb bread, and the duck and pork confits each on their own with the bread, creating three tiny, decadent sandwiches.
Our mini-baguettes were made using Jim Lahey's No-Knead method, using a recipe from his book, My Bread (copied below). The confits were all from Sensual Preservation - The Art of Confit.
Rounding things out with dessert were Anna & Jason, who made Dulce De Leche topped Cheesecake inside tiny swing-top jars, paired with Apples and Shortbread - which turned out to be perfect for dipping into the cheesecake.
The night was another wonderful time with amazing food and great conversation, and Gerald was, once again, a perfect host. The meal was very balanced and flowed nicely with lighter and heavier options, from dish to delicious dish. Everything had an air of simplicity, yet was robust in flavor and incredibly satisfying. It all would be as welcome on the table in a French Country farmhouse as an upscale French restaurant.
Next up, David & Carolyn will be hosting and have chosen a No-theme Theme - taking Memento back to it's roots and directing focus on the transitions from dish to dish, planned backwards and eaten forwards.
Did I mention I cut my finger open while cutting my baguettes? I'm proud of myself or handling it like a pro - wrapping some saran wrap around it and continuing to work.
No-Knead Small Baguette
3 cups bread flour
1/2 tspn table salt
3/4 tspn sugar
1/4 tspn active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups cool (55-65 degrees F) water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 tspn coarse sea salt
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, table salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the water and mix until you have a wet, sticky dough. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Fold the dough over itself 2-3 times and gently shape it into a flattened ball. Brush the surface with olive oil and sprinkle 1/4 tspn of salt on the surface.
Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal. Grently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If tacky, dust with a little flour. Fold the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1-2 hours. The dough is ready when almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression.
Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, with the rack in the center. Oil a 13x18 baking sheet (or line with parchment or a silicone mat.)
Cut the dough into quarters. Gently stretch each piece evenly into a stick shape, approximately the length of the pan. Place on the pan, leaving at least 1 inch between the loaves. Brush again with olive oil and sprinkle with remaining salt.
Bake 15-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Cool on pan for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer to a rack to cool thoroughly.
Coquette au Vin adapted from MFKF
3 T butter
12 oz lean salt pork
1 bag frozen pearl onions (because life is too short)
4 oz tiny mushrooms
one nice-sized shallot
Cut the pork into lardons (1/4' in diameter, 1' to 1 1/4" long), and then simmer them in 3 cups water for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and dry. Using a stainless-steel saute pan, saute them in 1 1/2 T butter until golden but not yet crisp. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towels. Brown the onions in the rendered fat/butter. Meanwhile, melt the rest of the butter in another saute pan. Saute the shallot, stirring, for about a minute. Throw in the mushrooms, and do the same until they glisten, maybe 5 minutes. Kill the heat. When the onions are browned, put them in with the mushrooms.
12 chicken drummies (wing)
A bottle of hearty red wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 rounded T flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 sprigs parsley, tied
a bay leaf
3 oz dried mushrooms
Pre-heat the oven to 350.
Boil the wine until reduced by 1/4. Brown the chicken, in batches if necessary, in the leftover fat of the pork/onion saute pan, adding enough canola oil, if needed, to get you 1/8" of fat. As the chicken is browned, put it in the bottom of a dutch oven. After the chicken is all browned, put the salt pork on top. Sprinkle with the minced garlic, and dried thyme to your taste. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the glazed fat in the saute pan, scraping to loosen any stuck bits. This will form a roux. Stir for a couple minutes, then pour in the reduced wine and the stock. Stir with a whisk over high heat and reduce until slightly thick and smooth. Pour this over the chicken. Push the dried mushrooms and bay leaf under the liquid. Place the parsley on top. Bring to a boil on the stovetop, put on a tight lid, and put in the oven for thirty minutes.
After thirty minutes, remove the parsley and stir in the onions/mushrooms/shallot mixture. Put back in the oven for twenty minutes.
40 tiny potatoes or cut pieces of potatoes
An equal amount of baby carrots, or roughly chop a bunch of young, thin carrots
dried Fine Herbs or Herbs de Provence
A sprig of parsley
Boil the potatoes and carrots (seperately) until just tender. Drain. Saute them in the oil. When nicely coated (5 minutes), sprinkle with dried herbs and truffle salt to taste.
To serve, remove the chicken from the pot. Use a slotted spoon to place some of the onion/mushroom/pork mixture into a bowl. Place some of the potato/carrot mixture on top. Place chicken piece on top of this. Ladle gravy over all. Snip a bit of parsley on top.