Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
No Cover Image

The Art of Eating Cookbook: Essential Recipes from the First 25 Years

EDWARD BEHR
with JAMES MACGUIRE
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt7zw44f
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Art of Eating Cookbook
    Book Description:

    From his first newsletter, issued in 1986, through today’s beautiful full-color magazine, Edward Behr has offered companionship and creativity to avid culinary enthusiasts, including some of America’s most famous chefs. This book collects the best recipes of the magazine’s past twenty-five years—from classic appetizer and vegetable side dishes to meat entrees and desserts. Each section or recipe is introduced with a note on its relevant cultural history or the particular technique it uses, revealing how competing French and Italian cultural influences have shaped contemporary American cuisine.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94970-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. iii-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xiii)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-3)

    These recipes, nearly all from the pages of the magazine, celebrate 25 years ofThe Art of Eating. As I began to collect them, I realized that I’d been working toward a cook’s and eater’s canon of dishes—a mere partial list so far and surely a permanent work-in-progress—with a good amount of wandering down side paths. To show what’s here and suggest the point of view, all the recipes are listed in the table of contents. With few exceptions, they are traditional, ratified by generations of eaters. Often in my writing, I’ve focused on a traditional dish: tasting...

  4. THREE NOTES TO THE COOK
    (pp. 4-5)

    Apart from a few precise formulas, a recipe is an outline to be filled in by the cook. With experience (and often without), a good cook responds to the situation at hand, adding detail and maybe a point of view. It’s important to taste as you go: first the raw materials, then usually more than once during cooking, and again, unless you’ll spoil a perfect appearance, at the end. Just before serving, the flavor of a dish may need heightening, often with salt and just as often with a little acidity. A squeeze of lemon juice can make a big...

  5. THREE BREADS AND FOUR THINGS THAT REQUIRE BREAD

    • SCHIACCIATA (Flat Hearth Bread)
      (pp. 8-9)

      Bread makes other food taste better. Potatoes, rice, and other starches do the same, but not with the same flavors of fermentation or textural contrasts as bread. It enhances a salad, fresh cheese, or grilled meat as much as it does sauces, strong cheeses, or cured meats. You can eat a lot of very fresh bread, but older bread is good, too, as in the age-old use of a slice in a bowl of soup. A baguette, a grainy “country” loaf, sour rye—all have their place, according to what else is on the table. A meal can be anything...

    • CORN BREAD
      (pp. 10-10)

      Mary randolph published this recipe in her fine cookbookThe Virginia Housewife, in 1824, before chemical baking powders transformed American baking. She counted on eggs for loft, or, as here, yeast. Industrial cornmeal has very little flavor, and most of the interest in corn bread comes from using the best cornmeal you can find. The more freshly ground, the better the flavor; the highest quality tends to come from old milling varieties of corn that are stone-ground. In the South, the color of cornmeal is usually white and, as a rule, white and yellow cornmeals have distinct flavors, the first...

    • FARINATA (Chickpea Pancake)
      (pp. 11-11)

      Once a common street food,farinatais a vast chickpea pancake, soft and floppy, baked in special heavy copper pans about a yard wide; you eat pieces with your fingers.Farinatais mainly Ligurian, but it’s made on a long stretch of the Mediterranean coast from Nice, where the name issocca, through Liguria, where in dialect it’s calledfainâ, into neighboring Tuscany, where it’scecina. You can bake a very good farinata in a home oven using a smaller pan, although the transformation of batter to bread is less remarkable than it is in the traditional wood-fired oven, whose...

    • CAPERS IN OLIVE OIL
      (pp. 12-12)

      Capers are flower buds, and those preserved in dry salt have the strongest, clearest floral taste; they’re far better than capers in vinegar, which taste mainly of vinegar. (For certain purposes, the vinegar’s piquancy is essential and you can’t substitute the ones in salt.) Some freshness is important, because capers in salt lose their floral flavor gradually during the year before the next harvest. If the salt surrounding them is yellowish, that’s a sign of age. Capers grow wild all around the Mediterranean, but they’re especially appreciated in Sicily, where they have countless uses. Most often, they’re combined with garlic...

    • ANCHOYADE (Anchovy Spread)
      (pp. 13-13)

      This variable provençal mixture for toasted or grilled slices of bread differs from the Piedmontesebagna caudaused for dipping raw vegetables—a sauce now common in Provence—mainly in being thicker and uncooked. Anchoyade can be made thicker still with many more anchovies, and sometimes it includes a little vinegar. I like parsley, which is often omitted, and I prefer the texture that comes from reducing the parsley in a mortar. If you don’t have one, a rougher-textured paste can be made by mashing the garlic and anchovies with finely chopped parsley using just the back of a fork....

    • TAPENADE (Olive Spread)
      (pp. 14-15)

      The world has seen plenty of tapenade, but maybe it hasn’t been said often enough thattapenoin Provençal means “caper,” and that the texture of tapenade should be smooth, whether from a mortar or food processor (the earliest recipe we have passes the paste through a sieve). I once thought tapenade—tapenadoin Provençal—must be an ancient food, but J.-B. Reboul inLa Cuisinière provençale, which was published in 1899 and is the source of the first recipe, says tapenade was created by the chef Meynier at the Maison Dorée in Marseille. Reboul calls for 200 grams of...

    • CAPONATA (Sweet-and-Sour Eggplant)
      (pp. 16-17)

      This sicilian accompaniment to bread is a way to preserve eggplants. Its elaborate taste recalls the Arab influence on the island’s cooking, although there’s no clear evidence of where the word or the dish came from. Caponata exists in diverse forms; the kind below sometimes contains unsweetened cocoa powder.

      2 to 3 pounds (1 to 1.25 kg) eggplant

      2 tablespoons salt

      2 celery heads

      excellent, fresh-tasting olive oil

      2 onions, coarsely chopped

      2 ripe red tomatoes, peeled and chopped

      3 tablespoons capers preserved in salt, rinsed

      1 cup (125 gr) pitted green olives

      ½ cup (125 ml) good wine vinegar...

  6. CHARCUTERIE

    • RILLETTES DE TOURS (Salted and Stirred Pork)
      (pp. 20-22)

      This chapter covers most of the basic kinds of cooked charcuterie, omittingboudins blancsandnoirsbut extending even to a traditional use of saltpeter incervelas lyonnaisand in a brine for the components of headcheese. Although the charcuterie recipes call for a few rare ingredients and were written partly with a professional in mind, they are fully doable at home. The rillettes are simple (therillonseven simpler).

      Like most of the preparations in this chapter, this recipe forrillettes de Tourscomes from my friend James MacGuire, a highly accomplished chef, who says, “The notion that charcutiers...

    • RILLAUDS D’ANJOU, OR RILLONS DE TOURAINE (Salted and Browned Pork Belly)
      (pp. 23-23)

      Therillaudsof anjou, just like therillonsof touraine, are large cubes of pork belly, salted briefly and then slowly cooked by themselves until brown, which renders much of their fat. The taste isn’t hammy but rather porky and meaty.Rillaudswere once made saltier than they are now and were preserved in their fat, a form of confit. Originally, they were always cooked with the rind on, and even now it may be better to buy a piece of belly with the rind on (in that case it may also come with the bones) and then cut off...

    • MOUSSE DE FOIES (Duck or Chicken Liver Mousse)
      (pp. 24-25)

      The usual commercialmousse de foies, like related preparations offoie gras, cuts corners and is a way to use bits of perhaps inferior liver. The luscious texture of the intact liver is lost and no other equally appealing one takes its place. A carefully mademousse de foies, in contrast, gains its own particular smooth, melting lusciousness. This recipe is based on one that James MacGuire’s close friend the late chef Charles Barrier of Tours once found in an old book. Use very fresh livers, preferably ones that are more café-au-lait in color, calledfoies blonds. They contain more...

    • PÂTÉ DE CAMPAGNE (Country Pâté)
      (pp. 26-27)

      This recipe for apâté de campagnein the manner of the Chalosse area of the department of the Landes in southwest France comes from Jean-Claude Frentz and appears in hisLivre du compagnon charcutier-traiteur. It’s the simplest of country pâtés to make, because the meats are ground, mixed cold with the other ingredients, and baked immediately. For most country pâtés, the cubed meats are cured beforehand for 24 to 48 hours with nitrate or nitrite, salt, and sugar, and then above all the fats are poached and mixed into the other ingredients while still warm, giving the finished pâté...

    • A BRINE FOR SMALL ITEMS
      (pp. 28-30)

      First a word about the cut of pork called in Franceéchine, which must be the least known cut of any pig—and yet the best for boneless chops, a roast, a braise, and certain charcuterie. Certainly, it’s the only part of a supermarket pig with any real flavor and marbling. Known in the United States as the “rib end of the pork loin” or the “blade loin roast,” it is the marbled, tender shoulder end of the loin and should include the first four or five ribs and none of the shoulder blade. Its flavor comes from fat and...

    • FROMAGE DE TÊTE (Headcheese)
      (pp. 31-33)

      Like so much other charcuterie, the varied forms of headcheese surely originate in the need to make quick use of spare parts at pig-slaughtering time. The basics for headcheese are that whole heads, extra skin, and feet are boiled up, and the highly gelatinous bouillon sets to a firm consistency that temporarily protects and preserves the contents. The cuts in question impart the rich porky flavors and textures that are essential to headcheese. James, whose recipe this is, notes that in France, certain kinds of headcheese, differing from region to region, are calledfromage de têtewhile others are called...

    • JAMBON PERSILLÉ (Parsleyed Ham)
      (pp. 34-35)

      Originally an easter dish, this is burgundy’s favorite and best-known charcuterie item, and it’s still popular at Easter, when it contains hard-cooked eggs. The green of parsley contrasts appealingly with the pink meat and white fat, all bound by a little jelly, which makes this a relative of headcheese. Unlike some charcuterie,jambon persilléis not especially salty or rich: it’s served in thick slices because you can eat a lot of it. In North America, the difficulty in making it may be in finding a lightly cured ham that has been neither smoked nor cooked and has the skin...

    • SAUCISSES DE TOULOUSE (Fresh Sausages)
      (pp. 36-39)

      When you make your own fresh sausage, you control the quality of the meat, the grind, the proportion of fat and all the rest, so you end up with a quality and, if you like, with kinds that you don’t normally find in a store. Some of the most delicious sausages are straightforward and simple, with few added flavors, such as thesesaucisses de Toulouseand thesaucisses au vin blancfor raw oysters that follow. This recipe forToulouseis also the basic one for sausage meat,chair à saucisses, traditionally used by French housewives to stuff tomatoes or...

    • CERVELAS LYONNAIS (Lightly Cured Sausage)
      (pp. 40-43)

      Thecervelas lyonnaisis a wide sausage of succulence and delicacy (although somewhat changed by EU rules eliminating saltpeter), and the truffled, pistachioed version baked in brioche is one of the truly great French regional specialties. Thecervelashas ancient origins, coming into France long ago from Italy, where it once contained pig’s brains (cervellois brain in Italian). The particularcervellataof Milan, composed of pork fat, beef kidney fat, Parmesan, salt, and spices, including saffron (and once used to flavorrisotto alla milanese), became commercially extinct after the Second World War. But in the south of Italy, various...

  7. SOUP

    • ASPARAGUS SOUP
      (pp. 46-46)

      Unless you have perfectly fresh asparagus, peel it to bring the taste closer to just-picked. (For more thoughts on peeling, see page 108.) I prefer that a soup have its own inherent consistency rather than one thickened with added starch. Some soups, such as this purée, are slightly thick all by themselves. And unlike a sauce, a soup doesn’t have to cling to anything, but only fill a spoon. Instead of olive oil, you can use butter (and then, if you like, add a cup of rich cream at the end). This asparagus soup can also be served cold with...

    • SOUPE AUX CHOUX À L’HUILE DE NOIX (Spring Cabbage Soup with Walnut Oil)
      (pp. 47-47)

      A quick cabbage soup usually gets much of its flavor from cured pork, such as smoked sausage. This one instead gains flavor from walnut oil. The closest I have to an old, primary source for this recipe is a 1954 cookbook in Roger Lallemand’s regional series,La Cuisine de Chez Nous—the very first volume, about the former French province of the Bourbonnais in central France. Lallemand, a chef, wasn’t from the Bourbonnais, but his restaurant was located there. The first of the book’s two cabbage soups is a basicsoupe aux choux, orpotée bourbonnaise, made with cured pork...

    • CARROT SOUP
      (pp. 48-48)

      This basic soup relies for thickening only on the puréed carrots themselves. Like so many other vegetables, the carrots in regular supermarkets these days tend to taste old and to have picked up off-flavors. During summer when the roots first reach a good size, just-picked carrots—particularly a variety such as Nantes—have an especially fresh, light taste. Eaten during the winter—assuming careful storage—some carrots have a much richer flavor. Either kind suits soup. Chervil, with its fine leaflets and light anise flavor, goes very well with carrots. It’s the most delicate of the herbs commonly used in...

    • CARROT AND TOMATO SOUP
      (pp. 49-49)

      Homage to the late-summer vegetable garden, the carrot-tomato combination is excellent, with sweetness coming from one and sweetness plus acidity coming from the other. They need be only in rough balance. Using onion plus shallot in place of meat gives a rich flavor. As with most soups, you can stir in some rich cream, sweet or ripe, at the end of cooking or add a spoonful of crème fraîche to each bowl. If you add cream, use butter, not oil, to cook the vegetables.

      1 pound (500 gr) ripe red tomatoes

      1 onion, chopped

      2 shallots, chopped

      1 tablespoon excellent,...

    • SOUPE DE CHÂTAIGNES (Chestnut Soup)
      (pp. 50-51)

      Once, wherever chestnut trees grew, the nuts were important food for the poor, and yet their taste is luxurious. This chestnut soup, one of my very favorite soups, presents its main ingredient beautifully. It happens to be French, although chestnut soups are made in many places. Chestnuts can be had only during the end-of-the-year season, of course, and the flavor of the soup depends on their quality—the best, when hot, have an aroma of honey—and on the clear flavor of the chicken stock. Along with that, milk is a light, traditional addition that respects chestnut flavor, but for...

    • MARYLAND CRAB SOUP
      (pp. 52-53)

      The blue crab,callinectes sapidus—whose name means “savory beautiful swimmer”—is found all along the Atlantic Coast of North and South America and has been introduced elsewhere. It naturally proliferated in the vast, shallow, biologically rich Chesapeake Bay, embraced by the state of Maryland and now badly damaged by pollution. From the early days of settlement, the cooks employed in Maryland homes, as throughout the South, were African American. They contributed certain ingredients and tastes, not least the heat of red pepper, and the cooks in wealthier homes used many French techniques.

      Closely related to this Maryland crab soup...

    • POTAGE BILLY BY (Cream of Mussel Soup)
      (pp. 54-55)

      According to the 1962 cookbookChez Maxim’s: Secrets and Recipes from the World’s Most Famous Restaurant, presented by the Countess of Toulouse-Lautrec, the variously spelled soup Billy By originated at the restaurant Ciro’s in Deauville in 1925. William Brand (Billy B.) wanted to spare his well-off American friends from having to eat mussels from the shell in the French way, using the fingers and an empty shell as tongs, and so he had the restaurant serve just the broth, no meats at all, in the form of a cream soup. Louis Barthe, who was cooking at Ciro’s at the time,...

    • CHICKEN, SAUSAGE, AND OYSTER GUMBO
      (pp. 56-57)

      The depth of flavor in slowly cooked cajun dishes comes partly from a Cajun brown roux, which is cooked very dark, almost burnt, so that most of the flour’s thickening power has been fried out of it. The roux gives a little body, but mainly it gives a mysteriously delicious, muddy richness, which sets this gumbo apart from the French and Italian dishes in this book. Cajun gumbos are essentially soups, although some people like theirs thicker than others; two more characteristics of gumbos are that the central ingredients tend to come in large pieces, and that they are served...

    • POTÉE JURASSIENNE (Soup and “Boiled” Meats)
      (pp. 58-59)

      Apotéeis a country dish of vegetables, especially cabbage and potatoes, with sausage or another form of cured pork, and often some fresh meat. It’s a basic everyday French soup — it’s more soup than braise. Once, it was cooked in earthenware. Thepotéebecomesjurassienneonly when some of the meat or sausage is smoked, such as thesaucisse de Morteaufrom the Jura Mountains in the former province of Franche-Comté on the border with Switzerland. The choice of vegetables and the proportions are matters of season and taste. Pierre Dupin, in his 1927Les Secrets de la,...

    • PURÉE DE PETITS POIS (Green Pea Soup)
      (pp. 60-60)

      Soups of fresh, sweet green peas, cooked nearly like Petits Pois à la Laitue (page 126) but puréed and calledpurées, are very Parisian. Variations are made by adding one or two other ingredients: lettuce, chervil, cream, butter, croûtons, mint. Much better than starchy old peas in their pods are good frozen ones. Instead of thinning the purée to make soup, you can drain the peas and reduce their cooking liquid nearly to a glaze before adding it and butter to the thick purée. This goes well with braised meats served separately from the braising liquid or with it, if...

    • SOUPE À L’OIGNON (Onion Soup)
      (pp. 61-61)

      Some of the most richly flavored soups of all are onion. Some are purposefully pale, but deep flavor comes from gradual browning. Although many recipes call for sweet onions, any basic onion is excellent. More onions bring both more flavor and more sugar, the fuller flavor balancing the sweetness. Often there’s a little flour thickening, unidentifiable amidst the falling apart, sometimes sieved, onion. The cheese of bistro-style French onion soup sits on a slice of stale baguette, but in any soup a slice of sourdough retains more substance; the soup here contains two layers of bread. The liquid can be...

    • CLEAR TOMATO SOUP
      (pp. 62-62)

      This minimalist combination relies of course on the quality of the tomatoes and stock, and possibly even of the salt. It’s not a consommé—it’s not as concentrated, nor is it clarified with egg white. As a point of comparison, classicconsommé madrilènecontains celery-flavored chicken stock with tomato added during clarification, plus a little red pepper in honor of Spain; the garnish is a tiny dice of raw tomato and cooked red pepper, or nothing at all if served cold. The soup here doesn’t achieve as much finesse, but it’s hugely more refined than a soup clouded with tomato...

    • SOUPE AUX CERISES (Cherry Soup)
      (pp. 63-63)

      This cherry soup from the franche-comté in eastern france is not, as it may sound, a dessert, but a first course. The food that follows, writes Pierre Dupin inLes Secrets de la cuisine comtoise(1927), must be heightened in taste, such as a main course of game and then strong cheese. Pitting cherries, especially without some sort of cherry pitter, is a lot of trouble; I leave the pits in place. Although Kirsch originated in Germany, it has been made in the Franche-Comté for at least three hundred years. The croûtons here are not the usual cubes, but whole...

    • WINTER SQUASH SOUP WITH VIN JAUNE
      (pp. 64-65)

      I’ve lost track of the origins of this soup, which might have been my own innovation. It usesvin jaune, the unusual, very dry white wine from the Jura region of eastern France, which has an oxidized taste from being aged, like sherry,sous-voile, “under a veil” of protective yeast. The wine’s flavors, which partly recall those of sherry, flatter the nutty side of winter squash. Instead ofvin jaune, you can use another similarly treated but less expensive Jura white wine.

      Winter squash comes in different shades of flavor and degrees of sweetness, from somewhat bland conventional butternut to...

    • BREAD AND ZUCCHINI SOUP
      (pp. 66-67)

      This summer soup is adapted from the cookbookLa Cucina del Piemonteby Giovanni Goria, published in 1990, where it is given the dialect namesupa ed cosòt. It’s a hot soup that employs bread, making something substantial and yet light from vegetables and mere broth into a main course. Like many soups, sauces, and stews—and not only Italian ones—this starts with cooking chopped onions slowly in fat. Gentle cooking transforms the onions’ complicated sulfur compounds, giving a much fuller, deeper flavor than quick browning does. Usually other aromatic vegetables are also present to give a base of...

  8. PASTA AND POLENTA

    • PICI (Eggless Tuscan Pasta)
      (pp. 70-70)

      Tuscan food is straightforward, rustic, and frugal. In contrast with most northern Italian pasta, in which egg is mixed with soft wheat flour (not durum),pici(sometimes calledpinci) are eggless. They’re mixed with water and hand-rolled in a shape like fat spaghetti. In his authoritativeLa Cucina toscana, published in 1995, Giovanni Parenti says, “An egg is rarely tolerated, and only for color.”Piciare a food of the poor that has become food of the affluent because of the hand labor required. Conveying the making of apicioin words isn’t easy—it almost requires a lesson in...

    • PUCCIA (Polenta with Cabbage and Pork)
      (pp. 71-71)

      Puccia, from piedmont in northern italy, is in origin a poor person’s one-dish meal. Eat it hot in soup plates, or chill it in an oiled pan and then slice it and fry it slowly in olive oil. Polenta, like any cornmeal porridge, gains full flavor only after an hour or more of cooking. The corn, if possible, should come from an old milling variety, such asottofilefrom Piedmont; the ears should have been fully ripened in the field and the dry kernels should be freshly ground. Polenta meal comes both coarse and fine; I prefer the coarse. A...

    • RAGÙ BOLOGNESE (Bologna-Style Rich Meat Sauce)
      (pp. 72-73)

      Even around bologna, basicragùhas infinite variations: this is one. The historic region of Emilia, of which Bologna is the largest city, loves its fats, and the cuts of meat called for below are fatty. Rather than being ground fine like hamburger, the meats should be coarsely ground. You can request this from a butcher or do it yourself by hand with a single sharp knife—or, rhythmically, with a matched pair of chef’s knives, one in each hand, and a heavy cutting board. The milk contributes sweetness and a softening richness toragù. It’s excellent over homemade egg...

    • PESTO TRAPANESE (Raw Tomato-Basil Pesto)
      (pp. 74-75)

      Other pasta sauces are as good, but none is better. This creamy pesto from the city of Trapani in westernmost Sicily is partly like the famous pesto from Genoa, but the Sicilian one contains no cheese, adds tomatoes, and uses almonds in place of walnuts or pine nuts. Both kinds are served raw over hot pasta, which in Trapani, ideally, is homemadebusiate(long cork-screws), though other shapes are often used, such asbucatini(long, narrow, hollow tubes) and even spaghetti. The proportions of ingredients forpesto trapanesevary considerably from cook to cook. It’s more important that the tomatoes...

    • SALSA DI NOCI (Walnut Sauce)
      (pp. 76-77)

      Close kin to the familiar basil pesto,salsa di nocialso comes from the Italian Riviera and was originally always made in a mortar. Other versions of it include butter, ricotta, Parmigiano, bread crumbs, or smaller proportions of green herb than are called for here. Sometimes there’s no cream; sometimes there’s no garlic. Occasionally, I’ve used walnut oil for part of the olive oil. Parsley varies in intensity, and in any case it’s impossible to measure precisely—for this recipe, compress the leaves moderately in the measure and in the future use more or less, according to your taste. Add...

  9. CHEESE, EGGS, AND SALADS

    • FRESH CHEESE
      (pp. 80-83)

      Just-made cheese is primordial food, and yet—at least in North America—few people have tasted it; they don’t know the delicate texture and relatively simple, clean, satisfying lactic flavors. Making fresh cheese may sound intimidating, but after a few times it can become routine. The taste and timing of fresh cheese, like aged cheese, are affected by tiny variables in every element of the process: milk, temperature, culture, acidity, rennet, and equipment. Consistent results come from control and experience: you have to jump in and try, and make adjustments the next time.

      Milk is turned into a solid—into...

    • CERVELLE DE CANUT (Fresh Cheese Beaten with Herbs)
      (pp. 84-85)

      Cervelle de canut, “brain of a silk worker,” is an essential Lyonnais food, named for the city’s silk weavers, who were at their peak in the 19th century and were said to live on it. It combines well-beatenfromage blanc, or fresh cheese, with chopped herbs, the imperative flavors coming from chives and black pepper. The mixture is also calledle claqueret, fromclaquer, which means “to bang,” as in the course of beating. Fresh cheese is unripened and is in principle new-made, but far more common in the United States are unripened white cheeses that have been extruded into...

    • FOCACCIA COL FORMAGGIO DI RECCO (Cheese Focaccia)
      (pp. 86-87)

      The ligurian seaside resort town of recco specializes in this cheese focaccia, which, unlike the usual kind, contains no yeast. Instead, two layers of flour-and-water dough are stretched pasta-thin and used to enclose fresh cheese. You eat the focaccia hot from the oven with a knife and fork. The melted, liquidy cheese mixes with the crust and softens it, so it becomes like pasta, with the cheese acting as a tart sauce. Instead of Stracchino or Crescenza, now used in Recco in place of the disappeared local fresh cheese, you can use fresh, moist cow’s-milk or ewe’s-milk cheese (heat tends...

    • GOUGÈRE (Gruyère Puff Pastry)
      (pp. 88-90)

      The savorygougère, its crunchy outside contrasting with the tender inside, is made in various parts of France, but it is associated especially with Burgundy. It probably descends from thegouiere, a cheese-flavored cake to which references survive from the early 1300s. Instead of being made as a large ring, thegougèreis now more often formed inpetits choux, little balls, to go with apéritifs. In theory, thegougèreflatters wine and, as usual with cheese, the flattery occurs much more often with white wines than reds. The dough ispâte à choux, the same as for cream puffs,...

    • CHEESE SOUFFLÉ WITH TOMATO SAUCE
      (pp. 91-92)

      I use flavorful gruyère or strong cheddar in this soufflé, though other cheeses can also be good. I’ve always found soufflés easy to make, which makes me suspect the feared collapse is more a part of lore than common experience. A slower oven (about 350° F or 175° C) produces a lower, sturdier soufflé; a faster oven (400° F or 200° C) produces a lighter, more vulnerable one. Too much cooking dries a soufflé, but there’s no one right degree of doneness. For me and many others, the ideal is a slightly flowing center that, as you break into and...

    • WELSH RABBIT
      (pp. 93-93)

      The most traditional welsh rabbit—the alternative name “rarebit” surely came later as a gesture toward the uninitiated—contains very few ingredients, and certainly no adulterating flour or egg that would make the emulsion more durable. Here I’ve merely tried to quantify the way Welsh rabbit was prepared by my grandfather, who came from an English farming family about fifty miles from the Somerset village of Cheddar. (I’ve come up with amounts, but I continue to measure by eye.) Everything depends on having good, strong cheese, aged but not too old, or you’ll have a grainy, oily consistency rather than...

    • FONDUE FRANCHE-COMTOISE (Cheese Fondue)
      (pp. 94-94)

      Fondue requires the standard equipment: an enameled cast-iron or glazed ceramic pot to put over a flame, a stand to hold it with a burner below, and long-handled forks. It’s usually said that the difference between a Franc-Comtois fondue and a Swiss one is that the latter contains Kirsch. Present-day Franc-Comtois purists take a minimalist approach, their only complication being to add two or three different ages of Comté cheese: young for smooth consistency, older for the dominant flavor, and a little of the truly old for its different aromatic range. Often fondue contains flour to keep the consistency more...

    • PEPPER AND POTATO FRITTATA
      (pp. 95-95)

      The combination may sound boring, but it isn’t. I learned it from Lucy DiNapoli, whose mother came from Catania, Sicily. I cook the frittata in a heavy, well-seasoned 10-inch (25-cm) cast-iron frying pan, with a lid borrowed from another pot. It’s good hot or cool, or, leftover, in a sandwich with crusty Italian bread.

      1 potato, quartered and sliced in ¼-inch (5-mm) pieces

      excellent, fresh-tasting olive oil

      1 green bell pepper, sliced

      1 onion, sliced

      1 clove garlic, very finely chopped

      6 large eggs

      salt and black pepper

      In the pan you’ll use for the frittata, cook the potato slices...

    • ŒUFS EN MEURETTE (Poached Eggs in Red-Wine Sauce)
      (pp. 96-97)

      These burgundian poached eggs are colored mahogany by themeurettesauce, whose key ingredients are red wine and onions. Themeurettegoes back at least five hundred years; it was originally a sauce for fish, and the name used by itself still means a red-wine fish stew, also called amatelote. Not just eggs, but chicken, veal, and brains are sometimes cookeden meurette. The eggs for poaching should be very fresh, from hens that have lived outdoors eating plants whose carotene colors the yolks a deep orange. This is a home recipe, lightly thickened withbeurre manié;if the...

    • SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH ASPARAGUS
      (pp. 98-99)

      These are french-styleœufs brouillés, cooked slowly with constant stirring to achieve the sensual consistency of smooth custard with only a few soft curds; the eggs are flowing yet thick enough to eat with a fork. The combination with asparagus is classic (and even better if you can include morels, first cooked gently in butter). Croûtons, cut from a white loaf, fried in butter, and scattered on top, give a crisp contrast, although their too-frequent use is a bore and I don’t call for them here. I peel asparagus for almost every purpose, and I almost always use unsalted butter....

    • SALADE FRISÉE
      (pp. 100-101)

      Standard french bistro fare includes an often-substantial first-course salad based onchicorée frisée,curly chicory, also known confusingly and more correctly as curly endive (the species isCichorium endiviavar.crispum). Large and small variations on this salad are nearly endless. The usual cured pork can be omitted, but the crunch of croûtons—or at least toast—and the piquancy of garlic are essential. Sometimes the egg is left out, though it soothes the bitter greens. The egg can be poached, boiled tomollet(so it has a thickened but still flowing yolk), or cooked harder than that. A poached...

    • INSALATA DI ARANCE (Orange Salad)
      (pp. 102-102)

      Orange salads, which can open or close a meal, are typical of both Sicily and Spain. The oranges should be slightly tart, to play the role normally played by vinegar. The oil for this salad should taste especially fresh and, in my view, strongly of fruit in the modern style. The salad is good as a minimal combination—oranges, oil, salt, and pepper—or you can add one or more of the garnishes below. Whenever onions are served raw, cut them at the last minute, because cutting sets off a complex sequence of changes in the sulfur compounds, which soon...

    • LETTUCE SALAD WITH ROQUEFORT AND WALNUTS
      (pp. 103-103)

      When i serve a lettuce salad, i almost always put it between the main course and cheese, if any. There’s no compelling reason why (that’s simply what my parents did), but in the case of this salad, serving it after the main course makes sense, and then no separate cheese course is needed. The interest in this salad is partly textural. The best butterhead lettuces, also called Boston (though that may strictly describe just one variety, also known as Tennis Ball), have a velvety tenderness that underlines the creaminess of the blue cheese, while the endive provides a contrasting, refreshing...

    • BEET SALAD WITH ANCHOVIES
      (pp. 104-105)

      This salad appears in the bilingualvieilles recettes de cuisine provençale, orVieii Receto de cousino prouvençalo,by C. Chanot-Bullier, about the food of Provence. Still in print, it was originally self-published in 1966, but with its old-fashioned scarcity of measurements and limited instructions, it seems decades older. What make it special are its combinations of flavors and clear presentation of tradition, which make it one of the best cookbooks ever written. The author called this salad, in Provençal,lei bleto-rabo de Gardano,after a town (Gardanne in French) near Marseille. The beet-anchovy alliance is one of the simplest and...

  10. VEGETABLES

    • ASPERGES, SAUCE MALTAISE (Asparagus with Blood-Orange Hollandaise)
      (pp. 108-109)

      The beginning of asparagus season happily overlaps the end of citrus season. Traditionally, the sole purpose ofsauce maltaise—hollandaise with fresh blood-orange juice—is to accompany asparagus, and there’s nothing better. (It also goes well with poached or grilled nonoily fish.) Even more than regular hollandaise,sauce maltaiseproves the lightness of butter. As to the mechanics of making it, boiling the vinegar briefly beforehand takes away the rawness that characterizes even the best vinegar. Using clarified butter eliminates the 15 percent or so of water in most butter, along with the rest of the nonfat components, making a...

    • CHOUÉE (Buttered Cabbage with Potato)
      (pp. 110-110)

      Chouéeis almost impossible to make badly and it’s always very popular. It’s just boiled cabbage mashed with butter and, optionally, boiled potatoes. The amount of potato is a matter of taste, and the amount of butter, in the rare recipe that specifies, is one part to eight of cabbage. Even more than most foods, cabbage has an affinity for butter. The dish comes from the dairy country of the French province of Poitou, where it is made in fall and winter and, with the year’s first small green cabbages, in spring. The color can be near white from a...

    • FAR AU CHOUX (Cabbage Pudding)
      (pp. 111-111)

      The batter for this rustic pudding, from the quercy in southwest France, is essentially the same as that for crepes, clafoutis, popovers, and Yorkshire pudding. Similar dishes are made in other French regions from other vegetables as well as fruits. When made without goose or duck fat,far au chouxloses its regional reference and tastes much less interesting. Best of all is fat from a garlicky goose or duck confit. Thefarshould be crisp-edged and tender—not at all stodgy. A lighter consistency comes from Savoy cabbage, whose heads are, as the cook and gardener Barbara Damrosch describes...

    • ERBAZZONE (Savory Pie of Greens)
      (pp. 112-113)

      Erbameans “greens”; -onemeans “big.” The pie, from Reggio in the Italian region of Emilia, is made with spring or fall greens, especially from beets. Similar pies, often from wild greens, are made elsewhere, in Liguria, for instance, and on the Greek island of Crete. For a lighter effect, in place of the pork fat, cook the onion and garlic in ¼ cup (60 ml) of olive oil and then add 1 ounce (25 gr) of finely chopped dry-cured ham, such as prosciutto di Parma, at the same time as the cheese. The crust is traditionally made with lard....

    • EGGPLANT AND TOMATO
      (pp. 114-114)

      The simple combination of eggplant and tomato excludes the squash and red bell pepper of ratatouille, which by comparison is a confused dish. Marius Morard, in hisManuel complet de la cuisinière provençale,an excellent Provençal cookbook published in 1886, called this“aubergines à la marseillaise.”Tomatoes are used so often in southern European cooking that even when they are central, they don’t necessarily appear in the name of a dish. To Morard’s recipe I’ve added only such details as the size of the eggplant dice and the amount of salt. He was a grand-hotel cook and offered the option...

    • STEAMED NEW POTATOES
      (pp. 115-115)

      New potatoes are ready, and best, when the plants blossom in early summer. Even floury varieties have an appealing waxy tenderness then, and I especially like the creamy texture and strong potato taste of certain less-common old varieties, such as La Ratte and Irish Cobbler. Some soils and climates produce a much more potatoey flavor than others, noticeable in new potatoes. You may say that the instructions below are hardly a recipe at all, just steaming. But when potatoes are truly new and freshly dug, they benefit from a degree of care that may rise to the level of a...

    • POMMES DE TERRE MACAIRE (Potato Cakes)
      (pp. 116-116)

      These fried cakes, oddly named for a malicious 19th-century stage character, are especially good with grilled lean meat. As homey as they are, they appear in Escoffier’sGuide culinaire, published at the opening of the 20th century. “Work this pulp with a fork,” Escoffier wrote, meaning that he wasn’t aiming at a refined, smooth purée. Modern recipes forpommes de terre Macaire, especially online, call for all sorts of additions—crème fraîche, Gruyère, nutmeg, egg yolk—and the ones in French call for lardons. Any of these distract from the potato, and putting in cheese and lardons would turn the...

    • GRATIN DAUPHINOIS (Potato Gratin)
      (pp. 117-117)

      These potatoes are so good, such a superior partner to roast lamb or beef, that they may be the only vegetable gratin that has never gone out of fashion.Gratin dauphinoisoriginated in the former province of the Dauphiné in southeastern France. I prefer using American light cream (20 percent fat) to heavy cream, which can be twice as fatty, and of course you can mix milk and cream to your taste, though milk alone is thin and uninteresting. Instead of rubbing the empty dish with garlic beforehand, as below, I often slice two garlic cloves paper thin to mix...

    • CIPOLLINE IN AGRODOLCE (Sweet-and-Sour Onions)
      (pp. 118-119)

      The combination of sweet and sour isn’t common in Italian cooking, but it’s essential to certain preparations, and I’m fascinated by it, probably because my own cooking tends to be strictly savory, apart from dessert. In fact, thesecipolline in agrodolce,which go well with meats and poultry, are mild enough that you can eat them as a vegetable. They’re best when first cooked. Sweet-and-sour preparations generally make wine taste sour and flavorless, although this mild dish is more adaptable than some.

      2 pounds (1 kg) small onions, roughly 1 inch (2 to 3 cm) in diameter

      2 tablespoons excellent,...

    • CALÇOTS AMB ROMESCO (Grilled Onions with Romesco Sauce)
      (pp. 120-121)

      Calçots, which originated in the town of valls in Catalonia, Spain, are a particular kind of onion, hilled up as they grow to have a longer section of thick, tender white stalk.Calçotsresemble leeks, but don’t taste like them. At their best for only three weeks each spring, they’re grilled on a rack over hot coals until they’re completely tender inside, by which time the outer layers are black.Romescois an uncooked, creamy, orangey-pink sauce from around the nearby city of Tarragona; it’s named for the mild redromescopepper, which gives the sauce a slight piquancy. The...

    • TURNIP GRATIN
      (pp. 122-123)

      One of the most underappreciated old preparations is a vegetable gratin made with white sauce—béchamelin French,balsamellain Italian. A turnip gratin wonderfully complements poultry, pork, ham, game birds, and lamb. (Cauliflower is not quite as good a complement to meats, but it’s even better served as its own course, the vegetable being fully cooked just before the gratin is assembled, not added raw like the turnips.) The half-hour cooking of the béchamel eliminates the raw-flour taste, which is useful when a gratin will be cooked only briefly, though irrelevant when it will spend at least that long...

    • GRATIN D’ÉPINARDS (Creamed Spinach Gratin)
      (pp. 124-125)

      Agratin d’épinards, made with good old creamed spinach, goes well with grilled steak and other meats. The following proportions yield extra white sauce, which could be used at another meal to make a gratin of another vegetable. Certain varieties of spinach, especially when the plants are young in early spring, are mild and not very astringent; other varieties, especially when the plants are older and the weather is hotter and drier, are stronger flavored. You don’t know for sure until you taste. Mild spinach shouldn’t be boiled but cooked in only the water that clings to it from washing....

    • PETITS POIS À LA LAITUE (Green Peas with Lettuce)
      (pp. 126-126)

      The peas for this dish should be very freshly picked and at the height of their season—not at all starchy. The simple combination of green peas with new lettuce and spring onions is basic French home cooking. This version closely follows that of Édouard de Pomiane in hisRecettes nouvelles pour le printemps,published in 1943 and designed for the austerity of wartime—which didn’t keep him from recommending a wine to go with the peas. In an old-fashioned way, de Pomiane places the peas at the end of a meal just before dessert and, unexpectedly, suggests “a slightly...

    • CELERY ROOT AND POTATO PURÉE
      (pp. 127-127)

      Celery root, or celeriac, with its strong flavor, is often mixed with potato in a white purée, which goes well with meats, especially flavorful ones such as roast beef, goose, and above all wild boar and other game. Try to find celery root that’s young and white all through rather than old and threaded with tan fibers. And choose a drier, more floury potato to give more substantial texture to the purée. If you’re wary of fat, you can reduce the amount of butter without much loss of flavor or texture. The proportions for the purée are partly a matter...

    • ZUCCA ALL’AGRODOLCE (Sweet-and-Sour Winter Squash)
      (pp. 128-129)

      Sicilianzucca all’agrodolceis also calledfegato di Settecannoli(orficatu ri sette cannoliin Sicilian)—liver from Settecannoli. That’s the fountain with seven spouts in the piazza at the center of the Vucciria market in Palermo. Long ago, in the days when rich and poor lived close together, it’s said that the poor smelled the liver cooking in the kitchens of the nobility and made their own humble version using winter squash. It’s also said that there were only vegetable sellers in the piazza, and so the name was simply ironical. The yellow flesh coupled with the brown from...

    • ZUCCHINI PUDDING
      (pp. 130-131)

      This zucchini pudding, a complement to grilled meats, combines two elements from Richard Olney’s essentialSimple French Food,first published in 1974. Basically, it’s his zucchini pudding soufflé treated like his onion pudding—that is, without having the egg whites separated and beaten. Many cooks dismiss zucchini as tiresome and uninteresting, but few vegetables are as richly flavored and as capable of withstanding frequent appearances on the table. The key is using the right variety: the only zucchini worth growing are not one of the neat bush kinds but an old-fashioned, less “improved” and more flavorful Italian variety, such as...

  11. FISH, SEAFOOD, AND SNAILS

    • COD WITH TOMATO, HYSSOP, AND TARRAGON
      (pp. 134-134)

      For this, you need fresh hyssop, a perennial with spikes of fine, small, edible blue-purple flowers, which are good in a salad. Hyssop was once an everyday garden plant, a potherb; it’s not common now, but it’s easily grown from seed. The flavor strikes me as medieval, like a resinous combination of thyme and savory with a little menthol. That’s not surprising, since hyssop is a member of the broad mint family. I combined it with cod long ago when I was thinking about ways to use it. (If you don’t have hyssop, do something entirely different with herbs. For...

    • MARYLAND CRAB CAKES
      (pp. 135-135)

      I grew up in maryland, and this to me is a purist’s recipe for crab cakes, meaning it calls for only enough bread to bind the crab and allows no flavorings that could possibly distract. Worcestershire sauce and too much green bell pepper take away from the crab taste. But even purist crab cakes allow some room for variation and individual taste. Parsley and cayenne are always good, though neither is required. There’s nothing wrong with a little chopped, cooked onion, though it’s not “Eastern Shore.” Vinegar is an old flavoring for crab, and sherry is a 20th century one;...

    • SALT COD CAKES
      (pp. 136-137)

      These fried salt cod cakes would fit into the cooking of various parts of the world, though the recipe happens to come from New England. Salt cod, not to be confused with stockfish (hard, unsalted dried cod), used to be commonplace throughout New England, but no longer. It’s sold in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and certain specialty markets. Thick filets are best. The highest quality is found in Catalonia, where salt cod is appreciated more than it is anywhere else. With rare exceptions, before cooking, salt cod is soaked in cold water to remove much of the salt and restore some...

    • ESCARGOTS À LA BOURGUIGNONNE (Snails in Garlic Butter)
      (pp. 138-139)

      Other good things can be done with snails, but none is more pleasing in its simplicity and jolt of flavor than classic snails in garlic butter, as in this recipe from James. The strong butter balances the earth taste of the snails, which is not pleasing to all. More restaurants today might offer snails if the finer kinds hadn’t been eclipsed 25 years ago by achatine snails from Indonesia and China, which are cheap but so mushy and muddy tasting that they only underscore how good a Burgundian orpetit griscan be, even from a can.

      The Burgundian snail,...

    • MOULES À LA MARINIÈRE (Steamed Mussels)
      (pp. 140-142)

      There’s no better way to cook extremely fresh mussels thanà la marinière, which is simply mussels steamed open in white wine and a few aromatics. That or some similar preparation forms the first step of most other mussel recipes, which, you might argue, exist only for the sake of variety.

      A truly fresh mussel, especially a young one, tastes sweet. Use only the very freshest, cooking and eating the mussels as soon as possible after harvest, ideally within 24 hours, although up to three days seems fairly safe. Check for liveliness by pushing the top shell across the bottom,...

    • MOUCLADE (Mussels in Cream Sauce)
      (pp. 143-145)

      Moucladeis a typical dish of the charentes, the pair of Atlantic departments of France also known for oysters, salt, melons, and Cognac. To make it, cooked mussels on half shells are covered generously with a sauce of mussel broth thickened with flour and egg yolk and sometimes a little cream, and usually flavored with saffron or curry. The spices are supposed to have been available because they were among the goods passing through the Charentais port of La Rochelle. Mussel recipes blur together, andmoucladerecipes, all claiming to be true, are highly variable. Austin de Croze, in 1928...

    • DEEP-FRIED OYSTERS
      (pp. 146-147)

      Beer batter is classical french. In some older versions the beer is intended as leavening and the batter is set in a warm place to ferment. According toLa Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange, published in 1927, “You must allow the batter all the time necessary for the fermentation to start.” But even without living yeast, an effervescent beer lightens the batter, and perhaps offers a trace of flavor and helps to inhibit the formation of gluten. The quantity of batter below is sufficient to fry, along with the seafood if you like: zucchini, zucchini blossoms, asparagus, artichoke hearts,...

    • SARDELE IN SAOR (Sweet-and-Sour Sardines)
      (pp. 148-149)

      Venetiansardele in saoris a typical summer dish, eaten either as acicheto, a snack, or as a main course. As in theescabetxof the next recipe, cooking the fish and putting them in saor preserves them for a short time. Fresh sardines are one of the “blue” fish of the Mediterranean that have more fat and stronger flavor than other species. They were always poor people’s food, never expensive. Before the sardines are floured and fried, they’re sometimes dipped in egg, but they’re never battered. Venetians prefer the light taste of vegetable oil, but light-tasting olive oil...

    • ESCABETX DE VERATS (Marinated Mackerel)
      (pp. 150-150)

      This recipe is catalan, but around the mediterranean, the method is an old one for preserving fish briefly when they are cheap, abundant, and at their best.Escabetx, likeescabeche, comes from Persia and, along with the name, was brought by Arabs to Spain; Catalans claim that it was their form of the word,escabetx, that passed into other European languages. The fish—not only mackerel but other kinds (see thesardele in saor, preceding recipe)—used to be kept for a number of days, completely covered with the oil from frying, but even with refrigeration it seems better to...

    • PIKE, PIKE-PERCH, OR SALMON WITH BEURRE BLANC
      (pp. 151-152)

      Beurre blanc, the famous loire valley sauce typically served with poached fish, especiallysandre(pike-perch),brochet(pike), and salmon, is made all along the middle and lower part of the river. But it probably comes from Anjou, and it’s one of the region’s many dishes suited to a glass of dry Chenin Blanc. Curnonsky, the great French gastronomic critic of the 20th century, was born in Angers, capital of Anjou, and credited this sauce to housewives. Despite all the butter, the taste should be delicate, not heavy. The tactic of first cooking the shallots to a purée, for a richer...

    • FISH QUENELLES
      (pp. 153-156)

      Along france’s many rivers, james writes, forcemeats were a way to deal with impossibly bony fish, like pike. (This recipe is purely James, and certain gram weights reflect his professional precision.) You see this not only in the airy and decidedlycuisine bourgeoisepike quenelles with crayfish of Lyon, but also in humble preparations, such aspain de brochet, made with plenty of floury filler. More luxuriously, in classical French cuisine, fishmousselineswere served on their own with sauce or insidepaupiettesof sole, accompanied by rich sauces and opulent garnishes, such as lobster or crayfish and sliced truffle....

    • CRAYFISH OR LOBSTER COULIS FOR QUENELLES
      (pp. 157-158)

      The classic crayfish sauce,sauce nantua, was a béchamel finished with crayfish butter and cream. It could be improved a little by substituting a white-wine sauce for the béchamel, but the flavors remained timid, and the crayfish butter—cooked crayfish shells puréed with butter and simmered for a long time, then strained through cheesecloth—gave a greasy, overcooked taste.

      The recipe that follows is an attempt to combine the best of both methods and keep things simple. Cooking the shells in hot oil until they are bright orange is key, for it imparts a delicious flavor of grilled crayfish or...

    • PESCE SPADA ALLA STEMPERATA (Swordfish with Olives, Celery, Garlic, Vinegar, and Mint)
      (pp. 159-159)

      Alla stemperatais a full-flavored sicilian way to prepare swordfish or tuna (and sometimes rabbit or hare). For guidance on ecologically friendly fish choices, see Seafood Watch (www.montereybayaquarium.org). Giuseppe Coria, in his essential tomeProfumi di Sicilia, published in 1981, attributes the dish to Ragusa and Siracusa and says the obligatory ingredients are green olives, celery, garlic, vinegar, and mint. Nonetheless, I’ve found recipes that use onion and not garlic, and omit the mint, and I like a somewhat larger group of ingredients, as below, including carrot, if only for color. If you want to include pine nuts, taste before...

    • SALMON WITH LEEK AND SAFFRON SAUCE
      (pp. 160-161)

      The trio of leeks, saffron, and cream complements many kinds of fish and shellfish. The quality and price of saffron vary greatly. Generally, the more consistently red the threads, the better, although there are effects of age and provenance, fine saffron coming from Spain but also other countries, including Iran. Too much saffron gives a medicinal flavor; enough is oceanic. There’s no perfect way to measure small amounts of saffron threads, whose potency in any case varies; although the threads come in different sizes, the most accurate thing to do is to count them. The use of cornstarch in this...

    • SALMON “SOUFFLÉ”
      (pp. 162-163)

      The homey texture of this salmon “soufflé,” which my grandmother used to make, is more like that of a pudding. While she used canned salmon, it makes good use of a leftover piece. Key to the flavor is a generous quantity of parsley. Unfortunately, there’s no precise way to measure parsley, if only because the intensity of the flavor varies, but in the cooked dish green and pink should be almost equally present. When I’ve had a lush crop of chervil—at the risk of undoing the simplicity of the dish—I’ve made the recipe by replacing plain parsley with...

    • MARINATED TUNA IN OLIVE OIL
      (pp. 164-164)

      The predecessor of canned tuna in oil, a 19th-century innovation that at its best is extremely good, was tuna cooked with a large amount of salt and preserved for a time under oil, stored in clay jars in a cool cellar. Probably this was done in many Mediterranean places, and certainly near the large tuna fisheries on the coasts of Provence and Italy. If you do it yourself, you can control the quality of the fish and the oil, introduce other seasonings, and avoid overcooking—and there’s no fishy taste or taste of can. Don’t choose the fatty belly, and...

    • PEPERONI RIPIENI CON TONNO (Bell Peppers Stuffed with Tuna)
      (pp. 165-165)

      The forerunner of this antipasto from piedmont in italy was probably peppers with anchovy sauce; both are excellent. The tuna in question is canned (see preceding recipe), and it’s important to avoid bluefin and any other threatened species (see Seafood Watch atwww.montereybayaquarium.org) and to use a better-quality brand than the usual North American ones, which taste slightly fishy at best. Two good European brands, though not inexpensive, are Flot and Ortiz, both of which put up tuna in jars as well as cans. To fill the peppers, mostpiemonteserestaurants quickly reduce the tuna to a paste in a...

  12. POULTRY AND RABBIT

    • COQ AU VIN (Chicken in Red Wine)
      (pp. 168-169)

      Coq au vin, a variable dish, appears in much of france and under various names. In Alsace, it’scoq au rieslingwith cream and mushrooms; in Britanny it’spoulet au cidrewith hard cider, cream, and sautéed apples; a Basque might add tomato. In the Berry,poulet en barbouilleis on the fringe of the form; made with red wine and the chicken’s blood, it’s really acivet. Wherever coq au vin appears, the essence is this: the chicken is cut into pieces and browned in fat, wine is added, and a little flour is used for thickening. The difference...

    • FRICASSÉE DE POULET ANGEVINE (Chicken with Cream and Mushrooms)
      (pp. 170-171)

      Africassée, probably from the french words for “fry” and “break,” in modern times is often a dish of chicken cut up, or “broken,” into pieces that are cooked briefly in fat without browning, to heighten but not alter the flavor; the pan is deglazed with an acidic liquid, and the chicken is cooked in that liquid (not necessarily enough for a proper braise), which is then reduced to a sauce. That makes it nearly a coq au vin, except that thefricasséeis usually light colored, and at the end, to set off the acidity, the sauce is often...

    • POULET AU VIN JAUNE ET AUX MORILLES (Chicken with Cream, Morels, and Vin Jaune)
      (pp. 172-173)

      Chicken, cream, morels, andvin jauneform one of the great flavor combinations. The dish comes from the Jura Mountains in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France, and yet it doesn’t appear in Pierre Dupin’s classicfranc-comtoiscookbook of 1927, which offers only a recipe for morels in cream sauce, containing “the most perfumed white wine you have,” served on croûtons. Being a native of the region, possibly he meantvin jaune, the great, curious wine of the Jura that is maturedsous-voile, “under a veil” of yeast, like sherry, and, loosely speaking, recalls sherry’s flavor. Chefs in the region...

    • SAUTÉED CHICKEN WITH TOMATOES AND OLIVES
      (pp. 174-175)

      Variations on this provençal treatment are also applied to rabbit and pork as well as salt cod and fresh fish such asrougets(mullets). As for the fat, salt pork is only sometimes called for; instead, some recipes use more olive oil and then, about 10 minutes before the end of cooking, add two salted anchovies (just the filets, stripped from the bones and rinsed) pounded in a mortar with the cloves of garlic. You can skip the flour and boil further to concentrate the sauce a little, but don’t make it intense. The old recipes call for fresh tomatoes,...

    • CHICKEN LEGS BRAISED IN RED WINE
      (pp. 176-177)

      For tender, juicy meat, a braise requires gentle cooking. If you’re cooking on top of the stove rather than in the oven, very gentle cooking takes place in earthenware, perhaps the oldest material for a cooking vessel, because the heat from below is transmitted poorly—that is, slowly. (In the oven, there’s no advantage to earthenware, because with the all-around heat, after a short time the pot reaches and stays at the same temperature as any other container.) To protect earthenware from cracking, heat it gradually, protect it from the direct heat of a stove burner with a metal heat...

    • CHICKEN “ROASTED” IN BUTTER WITH SAUTERNES SAUCE
      (pp. 178-179)

      This variation on the classic frenchpoêléetechnique for cooking meat in butter in a covered pot—itself derived from an elaborate roasting method—yields a surprisingly flavorful sauce. Because the Sauternes in the sauce is sweet, the wine you drink should also be sweet—logically also Sauternes. But the combination makes a very rich taste without refreshment, a recurring dilemma with sweetness in main courses. In this instance, my solution is to start the meal with a large vegetable course (an unadorned plate of buttered green beans, spinach, or whatever is in season), then serve small portions of the...

    • GÂTEAUX DE FOIES DE VOLAILLE (Chicken Liver “Cakes”)
      (pp. 180-181)

      These lyonnais “cakes” are actually flans whose custard is typically thickened with béchamel or bread soaked in milk and then lightened with beaten egg whites. The following recipe is more delicate than that, containing less liver and garlic and no starch, and the egg whites aren’t beaten. Usually specified are pale, fat-filled blond chicken livers, which are sold separately in France; but when, as here, the proportion of liver is relatively small, red livers will do. Common garnishes in Lyon restaurants are slices of quenelle and green olives, but they don’t enhance the taste and I leave them out. I’ve...

    • GUINEA FOWL WITH GREEN PEPPERCORNS
      (pp. 182-183)

      Guinea fowl, native to africa, are always farmed in Europe and North America. As with most other domesticated poultry, the meat isn’t aged. The taste of guinea fowl is fresh and mild, even elegant—delicate enough that a sauce made with chicken stock can overwhelm it. The main concern with guinea fowl is that overcooking turns it dry and insipid. In this dish, the complication is brandy, whose old-fashioned flavor in cooking suggests a gaminess that’s alien to guinea fowl. But the extended boiling here takes away the alcoholic edge, and with the clean spice of green peppercorns, there’s no...

    • PERDRIX AUX CHOUX (Partridges with Cabbage)
      (pp. 184-185)

      The cabbage-partridge combination is especially good. Traditional Frenchperdrix aux chouxcalls for tough older birds and long cooking, about 2 hours in a closed pot, so the birds surrender almost all their goodness to the cabbage and broth and their meat has little to offer. Restaurants often used to take out those old birds before serving and replace them with tender young ones. Few of us have access to stewing partridges, however, and the following assumes tender farm-raised ones.

      2 medium-small cabbages, roughly 4 pounds (1.8 kg) altogether

      4 partridges, about 1 pound (450 gr) each

      3 ounces (75...

    • LAPIN À LA CRÈME (Rabbit in White Wine with Cream)
      (pp. 186-188)

      Lapinis the french word for rabbit, but the rabbits commonly cooked are farmed and young and are properly calledlapereaux, a word that sometimes appears on menus. The tiny kidneys are usually still attached to the body cavity and can be left in place during cooking (or sautéed along with the liver and devoured by the cook as the dish simmers). Although the sauce is often thickened with a little flour, James here exploits the ease and lightness of thickening solely by reduction. A garnish isn’t required, but if you don’t use the chanterelles below, you can add ½...

    • LAPIN À LA BOURGUIGNONNE (Rabbit in Red Wine)
      (pp. 189-192)

      In french cooking, when you think of rabbit in red wine, what springs to mind is thecivetwith its last-minute enrichment with blood and, often, the puréed liver. Before the wine goes in,civetrecipes often call for flaming the pieces of meat with brandy, which in James’s view is overkill because the rabbit is too delicate. And in North America, unless you raise your own rabbits or know someone who does, you don’t have access to the blood, although you may be able to find pork blood. In any case, blood makes the dish impossible to reheat without...

    • LAPIN À LA KRIEK (Rabbit in Beer)
      (pp. 193-194)

      This modern belgian summer dish combines elements of thecarbonade(page 222) and of rabbit with prunes (preceding recipe). Here the fruit is cherries and the liquid, instead of stock or broth, is the beer namedkriek,which in Flemish means “sour cherry.” Traditionally, the beer is made by putting fresh cherries into lambic, the curiously tart Belgian beer fermented by wild yeast. After three months, the lambic has taken on the cherries’ flavor, color, and sugar, the last provoking a fresh fermentation and bubbles. Like other Belgian fruit beers,kriekwas originally always dry, although most today is sweet,...

    • PIGEONNEAUX AUX OLIVES (Squabs with Olives)
      (pp. 195-195)

      The flavor of this dish, associated with the south of france, depends heavily on the olives, so be sure to taste before you buy. For green olives, you can substitute black, though not a dry and withered kind. Rather than aiming at well-done meat, as you would with most braises, cook squabs to only about medium so they aren’t dry. The same method is often applied to duck, which can stand being more fully cooked.

      about ¾ cup (150 gr) pitted green olives

      4 squabs, weighing about 1 pound (450 gr) each

      3 ounces (85 gr) fresh pork belly or...

    • CANARD AUX CERISES (Duck with Sour Cherries)
      (pp. 196-197)

      This old french dish is a counterpart to duckà l’orangeand, like it, is often made cloyingly sweet. Both are descended from duckà la bigarrade,meaning “with sour oranges,” such as Seville, and old recipes for that add no sugar at all. With duck, I prefer cherries to citrus. And small fruits with the pits left in hold more flavor during cooking. Dried sour cherries can be excellent; they have often been slightly sweetened in drying, so you may need no further sugar. Any main course with sweetness is difficult with dry wine and raises the question of...

  13. MEAT

    • POLPETTE DI CARNE (Meatballs)
      (pp. 200-201)

      Meatballs,polpette,are made all over italy, commonly with additions such as garlic, parsley, grating cheese, and forms of cured pork. (One recipe from the Veneto forpolpetteincludes some sweetness, from lemon zest, sugar, almonds, and cinnamon; I made it and for me the taste didn’t work.) Most recipes can be applied to chicken, veal, or beef, and the choice of herbs follows the choice of meat. For any, a mix of dried, crumbled thyme, oregano, and savory is safe; with chicken, I opt for fresh sage or rosemary. If I’m adding pecorino, I tend to fry in olive...

    • BAECKEOFFE (Oven-Braised Pork, Lamb, and Beef)
      (pp. 202-203)

      The name of this alsatian stew means “bake oven”; the dish used to be assembled at home and carried to a nearby baker to be put into the oven after the bread came out. The marinade traditionally includes onions and leeks, but they convey a rank raw-onion flavor, perceptible in the finished dish. Instead of putting them in the marinade, I delay, and then just before cooking I slice them and add directly to the pot. Choose a somewhat waxy potato that won’t fall apart too much in cooking. The pig’s foot contributes important gelatin, but if you can’t find...

    • SAUCE PIQUANTE (Herb-Vinegar Sauce for “Boiled” or Roasted Meats)
      (pp. 204-205)

      There’s more than one version of this french sauce, which goes especially well with roasted or grilled pork but also with boiled or roasted lamb or beef as well as leftover meats. Here are two home variations, one with dried herbs and one with fresh. (In either case, a professional would add demi-glace orsauce espagnoleand finish the sauce, off the heat, with butter.) If the vinegar is very strong, cut it with water. The pan juices come from whatever meat you’re cooking. If instead you use only stock, thesauce piquantecan be prepared mostly in advance, with...

    • PORC AUX PRUNEAUX (Pork with Prunes)
      (pp. 206-207)

      This recipe is based on the dish as james saw it made in 1980 at the former bistro La Marmite in Tours, run by the chef Charles Barrier next door to his three-Michelin-star restaurant. Prunes hadn’t been produced in the area for a long time, but they were still used in local cooking—even in, strange as it may seem, eel stew. Pork with prunes wasn’t at the forefront of regional specialties, although it was fairly common, usually made with white wine from nearby Vouvray and with cream, and finished with red-currant jelly. Barrier’s red-wine version, made slightly sweet by...

    • ROAST PORK WITH ROSEMARY AND GARLIC
      (pp. 208-209)

      Roasting is cooking by radiant heat. In its pure form that means in front of, not over, a fire, where a large cut requiring long cooking would become too smoky, distracting from the taste. Grilling over a fire is for thin, tender cuts that cook quickly. For roasting, since most of us don’t have a hearth, we settle on a hot oven, which, though the results aren’t quite the same, can be very good. A classic roast provides a contrast of deeply browned exterior—even crisp in places—with a succulent rare interior, an effect impossible to achieve with low-temperature...

    • JAMBON À LA CRÈME (Ham with Chablis and Cream)
      (pp. 210-211)

      Burgundy’sjambon à la crèmeandjambon au chablisare closely allied to itssaupiquet. Each consists of slices of ham, fried (originally in lard) and then cooked gently in wine. There are no firm boundaries between these dishes:à la crèmecontains more cream,au Chablisrelies more on wine, andsaupiquetcalls for vinegar. (Thissaupiquethas diverged almost entirely from the one of southern France for roasted rabbit, which typically contains garlic, anchovies, capers, parsley, the rabbit’s liver, and only sometimes vinegar.) In the Burgundian countryside, the ham was cut from a fully cured whole leg smoked...

    • CHOUCROUTE GARNIE À L’ALSACIENNE (Sauerkraut with Sausages and Other Cured Pork)
      (pp. 212-213)

      Choucroute garnie,a cool-weather dish from alsace, varies from place to place and cook to cook. Some of the elements are cooked partly or entirely together, and yet the flavors remain distinct and complement one another, with a balance between the cured meats and the sauerkraut. Success depends on the quality and variety of the meats and sausages. The selection of meats is sometimes reduced but there is always bacon. Three kinds of sausages are commonly called for:saucisses de Francfort, saucisses de Strasbourg(also calledknack), andsaucisses de Montbéliard,but other good lightly smoked sausages without strong added...

    • SCALLOPINI AL VINO BIANCO O AL LIMONE (Veal Scallops with White Wine or with Lemon)
      (pp. 214-214)

      If veal scallops are floured before cooking, they’re more tender, although also more bland, since the flour prevents the meat and juices from browning in the pan. You can compromise by flouring just one side of the meat. Instead of white wine, you can use dry or slightly sweet Madeira or sweet Marsala; with the last, add enough lemon juice to balance the sweetness. Marsala has for a long time been generally a sweet, insipid wine used largely for cooking, like most Madeira, but a little good, dry Marsala can be found at a much higher price, and that would...

    • SALTIMBOCCA (Veal Scallops with Ham)
      (pp. 215-216)

      The various northern italian recipes for rolled-up thin slices of veal form a loose group, includinguccelletti scappati(birds that have flown),quagliette di vitello(little veal quails), andbraciolette(little skewers). The best known of the type, though, is usually cooked flat: the Roman dish saltimbocca (jump into your mouth). To make it, Pellegrino Artusi’s classic cookbook,La Scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene,first published in 1891 and still widely used, calls for simply pinning together with a toothpick half a sage leaf, a slice of ham with its fat, and a slice of veal, and...

    • VITELLO TONNATO (Veal in Tuna Sauce)
      (pp. 217-217)

      Usually today,vitello tonnatotakes the form of dry slices of veal accompanied by a tuna mayonnaise. The original, as here, called for marinating the veal slices in the tuna sauce. Serve with salad and, of course, bread.

      2 pounds (1 kg) boneless veal, eye of loin or another tender cut that yields neat slices

      a short inner celery stalk with leaves

      several branches of fresh parsley

      1 bay leaf

      1 onion, halved

      1 carrot, peeled and cut in large pieces

      2 salted anchovies, the filets cleaned of salt, stripped from the bones, and rinsed

      ¼ cup (25 gr) capers...

    • ROGNONS DE VEAU À LA MOUTARDE (Sautéed Veal Kidneys with Mustard)
      (pp. 218-219)

      Sautéed veal kidneys in mustard sauce is one of the most typical old Paris bistro plates. The mustard should give some peppery bite, but the Dijon mustard sold in France is much hotter than the examples exported to the United States (Maille “Extra Hot” made for the United States, for instance, is milder than the standard Maille in France), and anyway most jars are old enough by the time they get to the United States that they are losing power and flavor. You can’t compensate by adding more mustard, because the extra acidity and other flavors throw off the balance....

    • FIGÀ A LA VENEXIANA (Venetian-Style Calf’s Liver)
      (pp. 220-221)

      Fegato alla veneziana(to use the italian rather than the Venetian)—liver and onions sparked with lemon, wine, or vinegar—is a quickly made dish. The only danger is that the liver will be overcooked: dry and tough. To protect against that, the onions are cooked first and the liver goes on top. The onions also help to counteract any dryness as well as the mild bitterness of liver. If you add enough acidity, then the sweetness of the onions—often half the weight of the liver—makes the dish slightly sweet and sour. One Venetian I’ve met uses only...

    • CARBONADE À LA GUEUZE (Beef Braised in Tart Belgian Beer)
      (pp. 222-223)

      Gueuzeis a younger, effervescent form of lambic, the otherwise flat Belgian beer brewed with wild yeast, which gives distinctive flavors and tartness. This recipe forcarbonade à la flamande—to use the more general name—reflects a conversation I once had with a Belgian chef named Yvon Schenkeveld, who might not agree with all my details. Traditionally, the liquid was either dry lambic, includinggueuze,or the lambic mixed with sugar and calledfaro. Carbonadeis also very good made with other amber and dark Belgian beers, and similar beer-braising is applied to other meats, including pork and rabbit...

    • GRILLADE DES MARINIERS DU RHÔNE (Sliced Beef Stewed in Red Wine)
      (pp. 224-225)

      The rhône river boatmen have disappeared, but they leave behind a reputation for certain dishes, includingmatelotes(red-wine-and-onion fish stews) andgrillades,such as this one. André Besson, a retired chef who lives in Montreal, worked for two years at La Pyramide in Vienne, just south of Lyon. That was the restaurant of Fernand Point, the greatest French chef of the 20th century. (Point had already died but he had been Besson’s godfather and had poured Champagne into the baptismal font.) Point used to walk along the banks of the Rhône, talking with themariniersand sometimes sharing their meals....

    • OXTAIL STEW
      (pp. 226-227)

      The rich flavor ofpot-au-feu à la queue de bœufrecalls that ofbrasato al Barolo(beef braised in Barolo wine) from Piedmont in northeast Italy. Most oxtails are sold already trimmed of much fat and cut into short pieces. To prepare a whole tail, slice away all but a thin layer of the fat, which thickens toward the base of the tail; flex the tail, feeling for the wide meetings of the vertebrae, and with a sharp knife slice through the cartilagelike material between them.

      Serve the soup first in warm bowls, and pass fresh bread or, if you...

    • NAVARIN PRINTANIER (Spring Lamb Stew)
      (pp. 228-229)

      Anavarin,though the original calls for mutton, is excellent with flavorful lamb. The name refers tonavets,or turnips, and the spring version, anavarin printanier,combines mutton with new potatoes and other young vegetables ready in the garden or market; tomato is optional at any season. Reheated the next day, the stew has lost its freshness, partly because of the potatoes, and the dish is not nearly as good. The admirable and ever-meticulous Madame Saint-Ange, inLa Bonne Cuisine de Madame Saint-Angeof 1927, asserts that anavarinis “one of those excellent simple dishes whose preparation demands...

    • CINGHIALE COLLE CASTAGNE (Wild Boar with Chestnuts)
      (pp. 230-231)

      Maria piera querio, chef of the locanda dell’arco in the Alta Langa village of Cissone, in Piedmont, gave me this recipe. In North America, you’re much more likely to cook meat from farm-raised wild boar than from a truly wild one, and the farmed meat will become tender more quickly, about as fast as pork shoulder. In fact, mostwildwild boar meat will never have perfect texture. The chestnuts sold in North America aren’t as reliably good as the ones in Italy or as easy to peel. Querio warns against too much clove. And she says: “Use good wine....

  14. DESSERT

    • BRIOCHE PLUM TART
      (pp. 234-236)

      Brioche is less messy and difficult to make than many people think: it is perhaps the form of bread that is easiest for a home cook to master. Novices flailing away in imitation of the French technique for hand-kneading the dough may send sticky bits across the room, but you can perfectly well confine the mess to a bowl, whether a regular mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor. And generous flavor comes from the eggs and large proportion of butter, and from a fermentation that is less demanding than those for doughs without sugar....

    • UNSWEETENED APPLE PIE WITH MAPLE SAUCE
      (pp. 237-237)

      This appears invermont maple recipesby mary pearl, which was apparently self-published in 1952. She describes it as “one of the oldest maple recipes.” From one perspective, the sauce is marshmallow; from another, almost Italian meringue. Piecrusts in Vermont always used to be made with lard, and as a rule maple syrup producers preferred the lightest grade, which has the mildest flavor. I prefer somewhat darker syrup, like most people today, and I like the taste of butter, rather than lard, in the crust. Tart apples are essential.

      2 pounds (1 kg) tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

      butter...

    • POUND CAKE
      (pp. 238-239)

      I’m ambivalent about cake. French génoise, a cake with substantial texture meant to withstand being soaked with flavored sugar syrup, seems flawed in concept. A cake ought to be good enough to eat on its own. Much better is the Italian idea of a relatively plain cake flavored with lemon zest, to go with fresh fruit or a glass of sweet wine. In northern Italy, cakes are made with butter, while from the region of Lazio southward, the fat is often olive oil. The taste of good olive oil is scarcely evident in the cake, easily masked by lemon zest....

    • TORTA DI NOCCIOLE (Hazelnut Cake)
      (pp. 240-240)

      Unlike most versions of the classic piedmontese hazelnut cake, this one is made without flour and is leavened solely by eggs. Usually, the cake also contains a little cocoa powder, which to me distracts from the nut taste. Serve the cake with Zabaione (page 264) made with Moscato or Barolo—the latter should be an old-fashioned, light-colored one or it will turn the sauce an ugly color. Without the sauce, the cake goes well with a glass of sparkling Moscato d’Asti.

      1⅔ cups (200 gr) hazelnuts

      ¾ cup (150 gr) sugar

      a large pinch of salt

      5 large eggs, separated...

    • WALNUT TART
      (pp. 241-241)

      In rethinking this recipe for this cookbook, I slightly increased the amount of filling, but the idea is still a thin tart, not too sweet, with a high proportion of crust, the soft crunch of nuts contrasting with the honey-egg binding and the definitely crisp, flaky crust. Walnuts are at their best during the fall harvest. But in North America at the end of the year, many of the walnuts for sale, in or out of the shell, taste as if they were at least a year old—I feel certain they are. Freshly harvested organic walnuts in mottled, unbleached...

    • CILIEGIE AL BAROLO (Cherries in Barolo)
      (pp. 242-242)

      The name is evocative but misleading: good Barolo costs too much for anyone to cook with it. Instead, perfectly good with the cherries is a lesser wine also made from Nebbiolo grapes, such as Nebbiolo d’Alba, Nebbiollo delle Langhe, or Gattinara.

      2 pounds (900 gr) fresh sour cherries

      1 bottle (750 ml) Nebbiolo wine

      1 cup (200 gr) or more sugar

      a piece of cinnamon bark, roughly 1 inch (2 to 3 cm) square

      about 2 square inches (5 cm square) of orange zest without white pith (in several strips)

      Stem the cherries but leave the pits. Bring to a...

    • CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
      (pp. 243-243)

      A mousse is not one of the most chocolatey desserts, because of the foam. That can come from whipped sweet cream, whipped crème fraîche, beaten egg white, or beaten egg yolk. This recipe uses the egg-yolk foam of apâte à bombe—meaning the base for that classic ice cream dessert—which makes the most velvety mousse of all. If you’re concerned about the safety of eating raw eggs, make a chocolate soufflé (see next recipe) instead and cook it until it is fully set.

      The old gentle way to melt chocolate is in a container over hot water, though...

    • CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉ
      (pp. 244-244)

      A chocolate soufflé can taste monotonously chocolatey, unless you take care to give it a luscious texture and add a sauce. The first means ending the cooking before the center is quite set (overcooking dries a soufflé), and the second, here, means offering just rich, pourable cream.

      7 ounces (200 gr) dark chocolate (at least 60 percent cocoa), chopped

      5 tablespoons (70 gr) unsalted butter

      ½ cup (125 ml) water

      4 egg yolks

      1 teaspoon vanilla extract

      ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar, if you use a noncopper bowl

      7 egg whites

      ¼ cup (50 gr) sugar

      1 cup (250 ml)...

    • COFFEE TART
      (pp. 245-247)

      At least half the success of any tart is a crisp, flavorful crust. Usually, I prefer a flaky one. And the only sure path to perfect texture is a lot of practice. The bit of sugar in the dough helps to tie the taste of the crust and filling together. For tenderness, a lower-protein unbleached flour is best, roughly 9 percent protein. If you’re afraid of ending up with tough dough, you can always replace a tablespoon of the water with the same amount of light rum, though that pushes the texture toward sandy. Mix the dough minimally to avoid...

    • PEAR TART
      (pp. 248-248)

      A little cognac underlines the pear taste of plain cooked pears. Among common varieties, I prefer Comice or Bartlett (also known as Williams and Bon Chrétien—an old variety that often survives well in the distribution chain and then ripens beautifully on your counter), followed by Bosc (which has more “sand”), and then D’Anjou. Instead of using fresh pears, make the tart with pears poached in red wine (page 260) for a different and also very good effect—in that case, skip the Cognac and vanilla. Or you could use cooked quinces. The cooked pears are hard to slice neatly...

    • CRÉMETS D’ANJOU (Fresh Cream Cheeses)
      (pp. 249-249)

      Anjou is known for its market gardens and river fish, and yet three of the province’s most emblematic foods are full of fat—rillauds, beurre blanc, and crémets. The last are an airy dessert, originally made with the single ingredient of crème fraîche (ripened cream), whipped full of air and then, like a cheese, drained in a mold with holes, making a form of cream cheese. Nowadayscrémetsare often molded into heart shapes and contain egg white and fresh cheese, though only the latter makes sense. Unless you have outstanding crème fraîche—perfectly clean in taste and delicate in...

    • CRÈME CARAMEL RENVERSÉE (Upside-Down Caramel Custard)
      (pp. 250-251)

      The velvety texture of well-made crème caramel comes from careful cooking that leaves the custard completely free of bubbles. It is set by gentle heat, and the custard is taken from the oven at the moment the center has crossed over from thickened to set. It may go without saying that a good custard is free of flour, an old crutch that prevents the liquid from separating in case of overcooking. The finest flavor comes from farmyard eggs, which also make a firmer custard. If you don’t have them—I’m assuming farm eggs in this recipe—an extra egg makes...

    • LEMON-HONEY FLAN
      (pp. 252-253)

      Honey complements lemon. I use a light-flavored honey for this flan, but you may prefer a strong floral honey, such as lavender or lime tree (also called linden,tilleulin French,tiglioin Italian—better examples come from Europe than North America), or even one of the strong, dark honeys, such as thyme or heather. A flan, in France, is an open tart, but the word can also have the specific meaning of custard tart, closer to the Spanish meaning of a sweet egg custard. In the French countryside, a custard-filled flan was once common—one of the many baked...

    • LITTLE CORN CAKES
      (pp. 254-254)

      Cornmeal sweets appear in, among other places, the Basque country of France and Spain and the Piedmont and Veneto of Italy; in the latter region, a few pastries are made from cooked polenta. Using freshly ground cornmeal from an old milling variety makes a big difference in flavor. If the cakes in this recipe are made in advance and not dusted with sugar, they can later be made crisp again in a medium oven and then sugared. This way they are literallybiscotti, “twice cooked,” which is of course the Italian word for “cookies.”

      1 cup (125 gr) stone-ground yellow...

    • MELON ICE
      (pp. 255-256)

      The most refreshing ice, and the easiest to eat, is slushy firm. I like a texture that is not just slightly loose but also grainy—icy—coupled with not too much sweetness, the kind of ice often called a granita. Less sugar and icier texture happen to go together. Softer texture as well as finer crystals occur when more things interrupt the water crystals, especially sugar but also fruit pulp, sometimes alcohol (and in ice cream, butterfat, of course, and sometimes egg yolk). Besides, efficient churning breaks up the crystals and can introduce more or less air. But in any...

    • ROSE ICE
      (pp. 257-257)

      For this, you need highly scented roses—lots and lots of them, I’m afraid. Many different varieties qualify, such as the ancientRosa gallicaand its off spring the damask rose (itself centuries old), which have a perfumer’s focused aroma, or a rose with floral spice, such as the part-rugosa Thérèse Bugnet or the hybrid rugosa David Thompson. (I have a large bed of the last.) Be certain to pick the flowers early in the morning before the sun warms them and from branches held well off the ground, so they haven’t been splashed with dirt. Choose only flowers that...

    • COFFEE ICE
      (pp. 258-258)

      The success of this ice naturally depends on the beans, the roast, and the brewing, and it’s hard to make any comment on those without entering deep into the vast, complicated territory of coffee, from which it’s difficult to make a quick retreat. Nonetheless, I’ll say that you should choose a lighter roast, which will retain more of the acidity and more of the fruit and floral aromas typical of the highest-quality beans. With coffee, the shorter the time from brewer to mouth, the more aroma in the drink. A coffee ice aims to capture the just-brewed flavor, and yet...

    • HONEY ICE CREAM
      (pp. 259-259)

      In making ice cream, honey isn’t cooked, so it retains all its fine flavor—assuming the beekeeper or honey processor didn’t heat it to begin with, in the course of eliminating crystals that would lead to granulation in the jar, as harmless as that is. (Even conscientious beekeepers do warm their honey a little, so it will flow easily into jars.) But the cold mutes flavor too, so, for instance, orange-blossom honey makes an elegant ice cream whose precise flavor is hard to identify. You might think the solution is to add more honey, but you can’t go higher than...

    • PEARS POACHED IN RED WINE
      (pp. 260-260)

      The sweet-acid balance of this combination depends on the particular pears and wine. Unlike most other fruits, most varieties of pears can be picked firm (though not immature), because they ripen off the tree at room temperature. They’re ready when their shoulders yield to moderate pressure. For poaching, I like Comice (too ripe, though, and these become too soft when cooked) and Bartlett (the same as Williams and Bon Chrétien). I buy extra pears, letting them ripen for a day or two as needed, and then I choose the best ones for poaching.

      2 cups (750 ml) water

      about 1½...

    • PETITS POTS DE CRÈME AU CHOCOLAT (Chocolate Custards)
      (pp. 261-261)

      Petits pots de crèmepresent good chocolate in a particularly luscious form. Whether you prefer 60 percent, 70 percent, or a higher percentage chocolate is a matter of taste, and the number doesn’t necessarily indicate the intensity of chocolate flavor, because it combines both the flavor component and the cocoa butter (the rest being almost all sugar). Some brands, especially Belgian ones, contain significantly more cocoa butter than others. I add no extra vanilla, on the theory that good chocolate already contains the right amount.

      1 cup (250 ml) light cream

      3½ ounces (100 gr) dark chocolate, at least 60...

    • PRUNES IN RED WINE FOR ROQUEFORT
      (pp. 262-262)

      To be more or less regionally consistent, the prunes for this cold-weather combination would come from Agen, which, like the village of Roquefort, is located in the South of France. In late fall, serve the prunes and cheese with a bowl of newly harvested walnuts to crack. I’m not a fan of most of the sweet things that are served today with cheese; it’s not that the combinations are necessarily bad but that most of them—especially chutneys with their complicated flavors of fruit, dried fruit, and spice, and tastes of sweet-and-sour and even salt—compete head-on with the cheese....

    • STEWED RHUBARB WITH HONEY
      (pp. 263-263)

      Along with asparagus, morels, and a few other items, rhubarb is one of the ritual foods of spring. The old-farm rhubarb plants I’ve known in northern New England are green stemmed and much more acidic than the modern red-stemmed varieties, which are also more flavorful. When cooking rhubarb, pay careful attention and take it from the heat before the pieces melt entirely into sauce. There’s no noticeable loss in flavor, but the texture is less interesting. Because rhubarb’s acidity varies, you have to sweeten it to taste. Here, so as not to diminish the flavor of fine honey with heat,...

    • ZABAIONE (Egg-Wine Foam)
      (pp. 264-264)

      To the 16th-century italian chef Bartolomeo Scappi, “zabaglione” was an egg yolk–wine mixture cooked over water to the consistency of “a thick broth”—no foam; it was made with Malmsey (Malvasia) “or some other sweet white wine.” Marsala became the preferred wine only in the 20th century, before it fell out of fashion, probably because most Marsala is not very good. A little of it, however, is excellent, such as that from Marco De Bartoli, and many other wines can be used, including very good, old, sweet wine. It’s not at all needed, but you can find a copper...

  15. INDEX
    (pp. 265-279)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 280-280)