Thursday, January 12, 2012

Harry Luke –– World Traveling, Copeaux Favorite (Gorgonzola Bacon Crisps) and Pineapple Mousse

Harry Luke with Edward, Prince of Wales, 1925, Sierra Leone

Sir Harry Luke was born Harry Lukach in London in 1884.  His father was Austro-Hungarian and his mother was Polish nobility.

After education at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford, he went on to an illustrious career in the Foreign Service that took him from Barbados to Cyprus to Georgia and Armenia, then to Jerusalem/Palestine, Sierra Leone, Malta, Fiji and the Caribbean with others in between.  He died in Cyprus in 1969.

Luke with Hashimite Dynasty, Jerusalem, 1929 (Luke is right of center with his son)

His friend, the author  Lawrence Durrell  said of Harry in Bitter Lemons  (his book on his time in Cyprus),  “ Sir Harry Luke, whose gentleness, and magnanimity of soul were married to a mind far reaching and acute, who was fantastically erudite without being bookish, and whose life had been one of travel and adventure…” The Dictionary of National Biography said his diplomatic mission “sprang…from conscience and culture… combined with a prismatic cosmopolitanism.”

Harry Luke in Jerusalem, 1924 (standing 3rd from right)

During his life he wrote many books on the countries he was posted to, bartered many treaties and ate many meals. All the while he took notes about the foods he ate (lucky for us) and in 1954 wrote a book called The Tenth Muse (its introduction supplied most of the information about Luke).

I found 10th Muse last year reading  An Omelette and a Glass of Wine by British food goddess, Elizabeth David.  She loved it and recommended it highly.  I can see why.   It has 400 recipes from great cooks all over the world and some fine tales.  The 10th Muse, by the way, is Nectambrosia –– a muse invented by Sir Harry to overcome the lapse of the Greeks.  They neglected to include food’s muse with those for drama, dancing and poetry and the rest, can you imagine?

David said “During a lifetime spent –– and uncommonly well spent, one deduces from the book – in the Colonial Service, Sir Harry has collected recipes from the British Residencies and Government Houses, from their chatelaines, their cooks –– cooks Maltese and Cypriot, Hindu and Persian and Assyrian, cooks Goanese and Polynesian, cooks naval, military and consular, cooks in Union Clubs in South American capitals, cooks of French Princes and Brazilian countesses, of Turkish Grand Viziers and Patriarchs of the Syrian Orthodox Church –– and in setting down his recipes, Sir Harry has acknowledged the source of each and every one …. Few authors… provide the stimulus, the improbable information, the traveller’s tales, the new visions which to me makes the  book a true collector’s piece.” 

Luke with Queen Salote, Tonga, 1938

Luke began his love affair with food as a child when his parents took him along on their frequent trips to Europe. It was from those trips he remembers Sunday lunches at Voisin on the Rue St-Honoré (headed by legendary chef Choron).  It made such an impression on child Harry, that he recalls the meal perfectly –– petite marmite, chateaubriand with a “pyramid of butter and chopped parsley on top”, sauce Bearnaise, pommes soufflés followed by perfect brie, toasted pain de ménage and Cuisse-Madame pears.  No wonder that he was bitten by the travel bug ––with such experiences to inspire him so early in life.

Luke dined on peacocks, ostriches, armadillos, iguanas and very delicious smoked reindeer tongue as well as politely partaking of what most of us would consider unsavory or even inedible dishes like sea-slug broth in the South Pacific or a dish made from the brown and green milt of the mbalolo (an 18” clear sea-worm in Fiji) that is considered delicious by the natives. 

He also regales his readers with stories of grand feasts that most of us can’t even dream of and exotic meals that were delicious to the point of rapture.

He talks about the height of subtlety in the famous “State Soup of the Hapsburgs” served (from the time of Charles V to that of Franz Joseph) in small white and gold cups… entire herd’s worth of animal bits were reduced and reduced again, clarified with egg white, ground meat and liver and finished with the flesh of flocks of many different fowls… wild and domestic.  It took 48 hours and 10 people to make it and served 1000 to 2500 people.

Melek Taus, Peacock Angel of the Yezidi –– not the Devil!

He ate with Yezidis (mistakenly known as Devil worshippers because of a bad translation) in a palace outside of Mosul (that had excellent, sophisticated cuisine), and shared delectable food with Dervishes in Turkey with gorgeous meat patties, stuffed vegetables and honeyed desserts served on tinned copper plates.

He gave thanks to his own cooks in all the places he had lived –– a nice touch and appropriate since he did not cook himself.  He did take great pains to give proper instruction to his staff in his many kitchens all over the world –– he was proud of his ability to speak the language of the kitchen well.  I imagine that’s where the collection of cookbooks and recipes came in.

I always love finding out what cookbooks people own, and Luke didn’t disappoint. I found a whole new selection I had never heard of, yippee!  He revealed that the first cookbook he ever owned was Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen (for cooking vegetables) by Janet Ross of the Villa of Poggio Gherardo (where some of the Decameron tales were told and where young Luke met Ms Ross in her 80’s).  He also praised French Dishes for English Tables by Berjane, The Cordon Bleu Cookbook by Dione Lucas, Wiener Küche by Hess and Recipes from Vienna by Bac and mentioned Elizabeth David fondly.

He didn’t forget American food in his list and cited The United States Regional Cookbook by Berolzheimer and Steiff’s Eat Drink and be Merry in Maryland as favorites. He also kept a private stock of recipes –– each one attached to the person/place he had gotten it from like taste postcards.

He recounts extravagant meals –– a perfect “dîner de circonstance” with British royalty in France just before the outbreak of WWII that had the most remarkable wines on the planet and all manner of quail, duck, truffles and a dessert called “ La Mousse Glaceé Singapour” that sounds terribly exotic.

Life Magazine August 15 1938


After all these travels, or maybe because of them, one of his favorite meals was a 1959 meal at his old school, Trinity College, Oxford.  Everything from the oysters to the trout, hams and chickens were divinely English and of the best quality… washed down by good solid wines from a well-tended cellar.

Menu 1959 Domus Dinner, Trinity College, Oxford

White Burgundy
Corton Charlemagne
1951                                        Huitres Naturel

                                                Tortue Claire

Zeltinger Himmelreich
1949                                        Truite Saumoneé a la Colbert
(Breaded and fried with Maitre d’Hotel butter)

Ch. Cheval Blanc
1947                                        Poulet Sauté Hongroise
                                                (Chicken with a paprika cream sauce)
                                                Petits Pois au Beurre
Pommes de Terre Duchess
(purée of potato with egg, piped and baked)

Pommery & Greno    
1949                                        Jambon de York Braisé

                                                Ananas Georgette

                                                Copeaux Favorite

Warre 1920
Madeira                                   Dessert
Bual 1849
Fine Old Demelle’s 

High Table Trinity College, Oxford

Although there are recipes in the book for everything from erdapfelschmarn to fezanjan, I decided to make 2 things from that Oxford dinner… Copeaux Favorite (gorgonzola with bacon in puff pastry sticks)… which is just an indecent idea… and Ananas Georgette (pineapple and Bavarian cream with cherry/maraschino jelly) I did attempt to add pineapple purée to the Bavoroise but did not like the result and it would not set... best to keep them separate (I found out afterward an enzyme in the pineapple is the culprit... stops the gelatin from setting unless the pineapple has been cooked).  It was traditionally served with the Bavaroise spooned into a hollowed out pineapple shell, maraschino jelly on the top and the crown of the pineapple replaced... I chose to do it this way.  To get the mold to hold I had to freeze it... which was quite good actually, but not the way it was done.

I may add that the paprika sauce Hongroise is brilliant and delicious… made it for a veal chop HERE and was mad for it… would be fabulous with chicken… I can see why he loved this dinner.

Because of my wonderful samples of old Madeiras from Rare Wine Company, I had a few swallows of a D'Oliveira Malvesia from 1900... about the same relative age as Luke's 1849 would have been at his dinner... I wanted to see what it would have been like with the Copeaux Favorite.  Fabulous... since the samples are given to me use to experiment with food are small (they are valuable wines, after all) I rarely drink them... it was a great pleasure to do so!!  The pastries were excellent with one of Rare Wine's well-priced blends from the Historic Series as well. Savories and madeiras  are a great combination coming back into fashion these days.

Oh yes, Luke also had a very interesting drink section in the book…  with things like Mosul Mist (brandy and crème de menthe) or a regimental punch of the Royal Irish Fusiliers called a Barrosa Cup (brandy, peach brandy, cherry whiskey, kimmel, rind of lemon and peel of cucumber, brown curacao, maraschino, sherry, bitter almond, sugar and champagne that he swears doesn’t give you a hangover).  What caught my eye was a fairly simple 18th-century drink served in Barbados… a Sangaree that I will share with you.  It's kind of like a madeira scented lime drink... very lovely.

Copeaux Favorite, makes 8

1/3 pound of gorgonzola or Stilton
8 pieces of bacon, sliced in half length-wise
8 pieces of puff pastry, 2 1/2" x 6-8” (make it wider if you want more cheese!)
1 egg, beaten

Cook the bacon in the microwave in paper towel for 2 minutes or until crisp.  Remove and lay on fresh towels… cool.

Put out your pastry on a piece of parchment on a sheet pan.  Paint the pastry lightly with the egg.   and Lay the bacon down and press into the dough,  crumble cheese on ½ the dough then fold the pastry over to make a long cigar shape.  Use a fork to press the edges together firmly to create a seal.  Brush the pastries with egg and put in the fridge.

Heat the oven to 425º.  Remove the pastries and put into the oven for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 375ºfor 7 to 10 minutes or until they are nicely browned and remove.

Ananas Georgette

1 recipe for maraschino jelly
1 recipe for Creme Bavoraise
1 c sliced fresh pineapple

Pour gelatin into a mold and chill for an hour.  Pour crème bavarois into a mold and chill them both.
Unmold and serve with slices of pineapple

Maraschino Cherry Jelly

2/3 to 3/4 c Sour Cherry Juice
3 to 4 T Maraschino liqueur
2 oz sugar
juice of ½ lemon
1 ½ t gelatin (add a little more if you want it very stiff)

Make the jelly as strongly flavored with maraschino as you would like.  Combine all the ingredients and soak the gelatin in them for 1/2 an hour.  Gently bring to a boil and pour into you molds.  This makes a stiff jelly that will be firm in a mold and  not spread everywhere.  If you want a looser jelly, use a little less gelatin.

Crème Bavoroise (based on Michael Symon's recipe)

1 c cream + 2 T
2 T milk
1 t vanilla
3 egg yolks
2 T sugar
1 c plus 2 T cream, whipped

Dissolve the gelatin in 2 T milk.  Boil the cream and set aside.  Whip the yolks and sugar till golden.  Add the hot cream and whip.  Put back in the pot and stir until it reaches 170º.   Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and the gelatin.  Stir well to blend and strain.  Put the mixture in a container
over a bowl of ice and chill.  When cooled, add the whipped cream –– folding it in gently. It takes 4 hours to set (if you don't try to put pineapple in it!... you can see the delicious if creamy result).


1 sherry glass of Madeira ( I used Rare Wine Co.'s NY Malmsey)
½ pint water
juice of 1 lime (reserve slice for garnish)
pinch of nutmeg
sugar to taste (I used 1 1/2 t.)

Mix it all up and serve in a long glass over ice.

Thanks again to my friend Linda at Statewide Marble in Jersey City for the gorgeous piece of stone!

Thanks to Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday!


Barbara said...

What a delightful post about Harry Luke. I knew nothing at all about him. And thanks to Elizabeth David, you've discovered The Tenth Muse. It sounds like a paperback that ought to be on my Amazon wish list.
The gorgonzola and bacon in puff pastry sounds (and looks)wonderful...will definitely be trying that when next I have company.
The bavarian creams look lovely too. My MIL's cook made them on a regular basis, all flavors. They were a family favorite. I don't think I've ever made one and I have all her recipes too.
I love combining them with the marachino cherry gelatin. The presentation in both photos is lovely and I bet delicious to taste. Interesting about the pineapple.

Anonymous said...

I want to make the Copeaux Favorite and serve them with a big salad of butter lettuce. Its fillings happen to be some of my favorite salad toppings, and I think some lettuce might be a nice break from creamy, baconey, buttery pastry.

Diane said...

The moment I saw Gorgonzola Bacon Crisps at the top you had me hooked! A must to be made in my kitchen very, very soon :)
Great post, but then yours always are. Diane

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I was wondering if I was going to see an ostrich preparation after reading about Luke's dining experience in the South Pacific :)

That is a beautiful piece of stone in your photos and the gorgeous and delicious recipes look beautiful on it.

I love the bacon and gorgonzola crisps and I also love to sip that last cocktail while eating them!

andrew1860 said...

Another great post! I would love to try the State soup of the Hapsburgs but would not want to make it!

anon said...

I've been munching extra cold pineapple pieces while reading your interesting post, and I have a sneaky feeling that once I've made your Gorgonzola Bacon Puffs I'll never want to eat a sausage roll ever again.

When my husband and I were courting, we ate at Archipelago, where I tried peacock for the first time. They named it Rajasthan Strut - Peacock On A Date - and it was rather good, I recall.

However I stopped short at the infamous Love Bug Salad - pan-fried locusts and crickets in chilli and garlic. Some another time, when I've mustered up enough courage and my constitution is stronger.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Now this is a meal to remember! And he definitely had quite an amazing life full of the most interesting food. Thank you Deana, I had never really heard about him before!

La Table De Nana said...

That little adorable..not to mention the decadent cigars..Thank you.I am blushing as I say I had not ever read up on Sir Harry Luke.. Blushing even more when I say the name rang a bell but no clue..Thank you.

Marjie said...

I always enjoy your travelogues. That simple molded dessert is just so pretty!

Alice said...

I love your posts! By the time I finish reading about the history, you provide yummy recipes -- a perfect ending.

Fresh Local and Best said...

Oh what it must have been to walk in the shoes of Harry Luke. It sounds like he was the original Andrew Zimmerman.

I could really go for that bacon cheese stick right now and easily wash it all down with the beautiful glass of sangaree.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

First of all, TRAVEL and ADVENTURE from one such as this man is something that I would hope could be said of me, or anyone else who values and education. And dearest, BACON!!! came to see my piglet friend and thank you ever so much. Yes, it is difficult to associate such cuteness with such YUMMY TASTING GOODNESS! Your recipes and history lesson are as FABULOUS as always and I wish you a super weekend. Any snow out your way? This January is strange! It feels like late winter, but before I know it, I will be on spring break! ENJOY!! Anita

Sarah said...

I love those puff pastry cigars! And that book sounds like a 'must have'. And making that mousse was a labour of love! They are time consuming and so many stages.

Ken Albala said...

What a fabulous posting. I was going to ask how you dig up such wonderful people, but obviously ED led you. Berolzheimer, by the way is fabulous. I suggested this for a certain award and was shot down by the other judges who'd never heard of her. The Trinity High Table also brings back fond memories, I spent a summer there over 25 years ago, and sat on the high table a few times, once next to Sir Basil Blackwell. Actually, he'd make a great topic here!

Frank said...

I found this post delightful—if a bit depressing... Harry Luke had the life that was meant for me!

Anonymous said...

I didn't know anything about Sir Harry Luke, how great to learn about him. I agree with his declaration of the 10th muse, it's absolutely necessary to have a muse of food! The pastries with bacon & gorgonzola sound absolutely wonderful, a must make for 5 Star Foodie Jr., she would love those!