Friday, April 30, 2010

Kentucky Derby Day: Cocktails, Sandwiches & Secretariat

Secretariat at Belmont 1973 (true confession, this picture is my screen-saver)

I am a sucker for horses and have been since childhood. Aside from the pure unfettered joy of riding these perfect creatures full out (giving you the addictive sensation of gliding on air while vitally connected to a powerful life-force), watching them run is the next best thing. A great racehorse loves to run.
There are racehorses and then there is Secretariat. “It’s like God said, “You just think you’ve seen horses, I’m gonna show you a horse.” Then he built Secretariat.”, said renowned equine sculptor Jim Reno inThe Horse God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat, the World's Greatest Racehorse
Secretariat had a heart twice the size of a normal horse (nearly 18 pounds) and a stride angle of 110º that is the largest of any known racehorse (a cheetah, the fastest land animal, has a 125º stride angle, most thoroughbreds are in the 80- 90’s).

I will never forget the day I saw Secretariat run ‘The Race’ at the 1973 Belmont Stakes WATCH HERE , the 2nd jewel in the Triple Crown.

I was not alone with the rest of the audience who thought our hearts were going to burst from the overwhelming emotion (tears were running down my cheeks) from watching the greatest performance in the history of the sport that day as Secretariat (who was only running for himself) went 31 lengths ahead of his competitors...I still feel that way every time I watch it.

Mike Hindman said “Secretariat's…World Record at a mile and a half, set in the 1973 Belmont Stakes has never been broken.

"Secretariat would be like a hitter who routinely smashed 600 foot homers; a long jumper who popped a 35 footer; a sprinter who ran 100 meters in 8 seconds; a golfer who shot four rounds of 60.... In all four majors.... In one year."

“As Secretariat rounded the sweeping Belmont far turn (the turns at Belmont are the longest of any track in North America) he seemed to be on cruise control, with jockey Ron Turcotte just steering. Not asking. Secretariat's lead widened from seven lengths to 20 lengths on that turn. On to the wire, Turcotte did not ease the horse, but let him run on. On any other day, the rider would have been pulling the horse up through the lane, letting him take a bow under wraps. Saving something for another day. But THIS was the day, and the savvy rider knew the horse was running well within himself. Turcotte knew the time had come to let the horse show the world what he could do.
All that power. All that balance. All that heart. All that speed. Secretariat was ready to roll. And the margin kept widening, and widening, and widening.

By mid-stretch the Big Red Horse was ahead by 28 lengths, with the margin finally to reach 31 lengths by the finish. As he flew down the stretch he stretched out in stride past thousands of wildly cheering fans…

And then it was over.

The moment froze. What we are left with are those fleeting glimpses - a blazing pace, a huge running machine, a visual roar of acceleration, an ever-widening margin, the coat darkening, a white vapor of feet, a jockey sitting chilly, a horse alone - and one long-lasting moment frozen in memory. ”

Secretariat at 1973 Belmont Race

Although my first love had always been Man O’ War, the original ‘Big Red’ (of whom his trainer said “he was hell to break, a headache to handle and a catapult to ride”) that day Secretariat took first place in my pantheon of equine gods.
So to honor the sport of kings and the magnificent animals that run their great hearts out with staggering strength and courage, here’s to the first leg of the Triple Crown, The Kentucky Derby, that I nearly never miss and love to watch, Champagne glass in hand with cucumber Benedictine Sandwiches at my side, my breath coming faster as the horses prance to the post, “My Old Kentucky Home” sounds and… They’rrrre OFFFFFF.

Kentucky Derby

The Benedictine Sandwich was invented by Miss Jennie C. Benedict in the 1890s and can be found in her amazing book of Southern cuisine and hospitality, The Blue Ribbon Cook Book . These little sandwiches have become a Kentucky classic for the Derby.

Benedictine Sandwiches (adapted from Saveur Magazine)

6 oz. cream cheese

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and grated

2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce


Green food coloring (I used 2 T watercress)
1 cucumber sliced paper thin
Watercress for garnish and color

1. Place cream cheese in a bowl and mash with a fork until smooth. Wrap cucumber in cheesecloth, then squeeze out and discard juice. Put in the blender with the with some of the watercress and pulse a few times. Add cucumber mixture to cream cheese and mix thoroughly.

2. Wrap onions in cheesecloth and squeeze juice into cream cheese mixture, then discard onions.

3. Mix mayonnaise and Tabasco sauce and add to cream cheese mixture. Season to taste with salt, then add 1 drop green food coloring if you would like more color than the watercress supplies and mix well. Serve on thinly sliced white sandwich bread. Garnish with cucumber slices and watercress

*Jennie Benedict's Mayonnaise

Yolk of 1 hard-boiled egg
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 small bottle of olive oil (1/2 cup?)
1 t. mustard
yolk of raw egg well beaten
vinegar to taste
white of one egg beaten stiffly

Rub yolk through a sieve. Add mustard, salt and pepper, and raw yolk. Add the oil and the vinegar slowly and lastly the egg white

And now for the libations, did you think I’d forgotten? Champagne is a traditional drink for the Derby as is the Mint Julep. I thought that I would make 2 champagne cocktails for this special occasion.

Early 19th Century Champagne Flutes

The first uses a fabulous product from my friends at Craft Distillers who made the delectable Absinthe I got to play with in February (read that post HERE This time it is a smooth, artisanal whiskey (aged in 3 kinds of oak and made of hardwood-toasted barley) to swirl in in blissful congress with my sweet mint syrup and sparkling wine.

Sparkling Mint Julep Cocktail

Mint Syrup

1 c water
1 c sugar ( I use organic because it has just a hint of warm molasses in it... sugar in the raw could work too)
Pinch of allspice and pinch of cinnamon or a few crushed cassia buds (if you have them around-they are the best)
6 sprigs mint, crushed
Make sugar syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water. While it is still warm, add the crushed mint and spices and allow it to cool. Strain the mint from the syrup.
6 sprigs mint for garnish
Bottle champagne or other sparkling wine
6 – 12 T ST. GEORGE Single Malt Whiskey
Add one tablespoon of syrup and 1-2 T of whiskey to a champagne glass. Top with sparkling wine and 
garnish with a mint sprig

My Old Kentucky Sparkling Peach Cocktail for 4

1 ripe peach (peeled, stoned and roughly chopped)
1/3 c. BRIOTTET Crème de Pêche liqueur from Craft Distillers
2 T. mint syrup (less if your peach is sweet)
1-2 t lemon juice
1 drop of vanilla extract
1 drop nutmeg absolute from Aftelier or 1/8 t nutmeg
1 small drop black pepper essential oil from Aftelier or ½ t pepper
1 tiny pinch cardamom
1 bottle champagne or sparkling wine
*you can add a T of MAISON SURRENNE Cognac if you want to amp up the alcohol!
4 sprigs of mint for garnish
Blend the peach in the liqueur, lemon juice, vanilla, mint syrup, nutmeg, pepper and cardamom. Spoon a portion in each glass and add sparkling wine to taste. Garnish with mint.
Now, sit back, sip your drink and enjoy the race!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Scottish Grouse meets an 1850 Madeira and a dream is realized

“The Red Grouse is never far from heather and its Gaelic name is Coileach-fraoich (Cock of the Heather). No one really knows where the name Grouse originated from – it could come from two old French words: groucier - to murmur, grumble or greoche – speckled”, reports the delightful Sue Stephen’s at Ladies with Bottle

Grouse are Galliformes like chickens and range in size from 11 oz to 14 lbs! Stephens says they are mostly vegetarians “living on heather shoots, seeds and insects”. This diet gives them their distinctive flavor. Their feathers (especially those of the black grouse) were popular as ornaments for hats during the Victorian age (and are still used on hunting hats) although grouse are most prized today as a game bird. Hunters refer to the opening of Grouse season in the UK as “The Glorious 12th” (of August) and the date has been the start of grouse season since the Game Act was passed in 1831.
Galliformes go waaaay back, 56 million years and more (don’t you love this fossil?)

Palaeortyx skeleton, Muséum national d'histoire naturelle, Paris

I think most of us think of grouse as the prey of the leisure-hunting class in so many British novels and Hollywood films.

Lord Saville by Spy 1908

The hunt begins with dozens of ‘grouse beaters’ crashing about the brush to frighten the poor birds into taking flight so they can be shot by sportsman in tweedy Plus-fours (at least that’s what they wear in 40’s Hollywood B&W hunting parties). Dining on pheasant and quail and grouse served from giant silver domed dishes from sideboards the size of airplane runways has come to represent a certain lifestyle of upper-class British society that is fast disappearing. I just had to try some.

Red Grouse

What started all this grousing??? Madeira! 
Mannie Berk by C. M. Glover for The New York Times

Those of you who have read my blog for a while know that Mannie Berk at The Rare Wine Company has been my Madeira Genie, granting my wish to cook with antique wines (as was done in centuries past when they were an indispensable ingredient for legendary chefs like Carême). In an exchange of emails I told him I dreamed to try a pre-Civil War Madeira. He told me he had an 1850 (that had been in cask for 100 years before it was bottled in the 1960’s or 70’s). I fell on the floor when a small sample arrived in the post. When I tasted it, I heard supernal music (think Caruso and Ancona as their voices join and rise heavenward in the Pearl Fisher Duet (LISTEN HERE) — close your eyes as you listen to the century old recording, the pellucid voices rising through a mist of sound — time stops for a moment— are you with me?? YES, THAT GOOD). To make a dish with this celestial elixir I had to find something that could complement the wine’s great age and ethereal beauty.

I once had a pheasant in England that had been hung until it dropped from its hook. The flavor was dark and mysterious as if legend and ancient moors and forests had come together to cast a spell over its succulent flesh.

Heather Fields by Gordon McBryde

I thought that grouse, redolent of heather, might have some of that quality and would be a perfect foil to the Madeira. A foie gras sauce with that Madeira would be the alpha and omega.

My Grouse comes from Scotland via the lovely people at D’Artagnan. I have come to rely on them for game birds and they are my Jersey neighbors.

Ariane Daugin

D'Artagnan was founded by Ariane Daugin, the daughter of Andre Daugin who ran Gascony’s famous Hotel de France in Auch. They provided the grouse and the ducks for the stock as well as the foie gras for the sauce. We could say this meal is a D’Artagnan production!

Since it was game, I wrote to the Game Guru Hank at Honest Food (2010 James Beard Best Blog Finalist btw, KUDOS!!!!!) He recommended brining. He also reminded me these are lean mean little flying machines that need help in the fat department so they don’t dry out in the cooking process. The wonderful cookbook author and teacher Madeline Kamman had a genius idea about frozen nut oil under the skin that her great-Grandmother had used with guinea hens that I decided to use on my grouse. I went to soooo many UK game sites to check with the masters of the moors for their suggestions about preparing my little treasures. In the end the great chefs Pierre Koffman and Eric Chavot had great ideas for the cooking grouse. What I ended up with was my distillation of many wonderful recipes with some ideas of my own that I hope you will enjoy. Although it sounds daunting, it is really quite simple and could be used on cornish hen if you can’t manage a grouse (although you should!) with an increase in cooking time.

Grouse with a Foie Gras and Madeira Sauce & Blackberry Compote for 2

Grouse ( I can see this recipe with Cornish hen or pheasant too!)

2 Scottish grouse from D'Artagnan (Buy them HERE)
1 T hazelnut oil
1 anchovy, mashed
1 t grated shallot
½ t fresh thyme
1 T foie gras
¼ t pepper
3 t. heather honey
1 T vegetable oil
**Madeira sauce
***Blackberry compote

Take 1 T hazelnut oil and grated shallot, anchovy, thyme, pepper and 1 T foie gras and 1 t heather honey and blend. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes or until firm.

Remove the grouse from the brine and pat dry. Let stand 15 minutes while heating the oven to 400º as you insert the semi-solid oil under the breast and leg (the leg is tough to do—they are little birds) of the grouse. Put the remainder in the cavity with 2 t of heather honey. Add salt and pepper over all.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the grouse and fry for 3-4 minutes, turning regularly, until the birds are browned on all sides. If you lose any of the oil from the bird as you do this… spoon it back in before you put it into the oven.

Arrange each grouse so that it is resting on one breast.

Transfer to the oven for 3-4 minutes, then turn the birds onto their other breast and roast for a further 3 minutes. Turn the grouse onto their backs and roast for 4 more minutes. 
Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the grouse from the pan, place on a warm plate and cover loosely with foil. Set aside to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.
Serve with the Madeira sauce poured over the bird and the compote separately or on the plate.

*Brine for the grouse from Honest food

1/4 cup salt
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon crushed juniper berries
1 rosemary sprig

Boil and cool and brine the birds for 12 hours. Enough for 2 small birds

**Madeira Sauce (this can be enough for 2 but it is so good you may want to double it)

2 T Butter
sprig of thyme
2 shallots, minced
1/3 c demi-glace (duck or chicken)
1 T foie gras (D'Artagnan brilliantly sells frozen pieces that can be broken off and used for sooo many things!!!)
2 t. Boston Bual Madeira (I used that 1850 Verdelho)
Add 2 T butter to the skillet in which the grouse cooked and add the shallots and thyme. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add duck Demi-glace. Add the Foie Gras one teaspoon at a time, whisking each addition thoroughly into the demi glace to achieve a silky smooth consistency, strain. Add 2 T Madeira just before serving.

Plate the grouse, nap with pan sauce and blackberries.

 ***Blackberry compote* based on Hotel Cipriani recipe

1 cup blackberries
3-4 T heather honey
6 juniper berries, crushed
1 “ piece cinnamon
2 cloves
Zest of ½ a lime

Combine and cook until berries are soft. Serve warm or at room temperature

*You may remember this Sherwood Forest combination… I just had to use it again!

This can be served with:

Tom Kitchin Celeriac Puree From Great British Menu

1 celeriac, peeled, finely chopped
milk, double cream to cover celeriac

2 t fresh horseradish

Place the celeriac into a small pan, cover with equal amounts of milk and cream and cook until soft. Once soft, drain, discarding the milk and cream. Purée using a hand-blender until smooth. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Add horseradish.

Also great with this is steamed sugar snaps and baked beets tossed with 1 T verjus or sherry vinegar and 1 T hazelnut oil

Friday, April 16, 2010


Picking green grapes for making vertjus; Tacuinum Sanitatis

I have a secret ingredient. It’s called Verjus (from Middle French vertjus "green juice"). Prized for a thousand years, you can buy it today fairly easily but I have a recipe that is the BEST EVER and I’d like to share it with you. It comes from Madeleine Kamman’s In Madeleine's Kitchen (you need to buy her books!!). It is a little expensive to make and takes a few months to be brilliant but verily I say unto you… your patience will be rewarded! After two months it is delicious, in a year it is insanely good… if you can leave some for a few years it will take your breath away.

Unripe Grapes

Verjus has its roots in the wonderful idea that nothing should go to waste. Unripe grapes (left after the harvest) or sour crab apples (common in England) would be used to make this vinegar-like liquid.

crab apples

The 14th century cookbook, Le Menagier de Paris’ recipe made Verjus with sour grapes and sorrel. Later recipes ask for sour grapes with salt to act as a preservative. In the Middle Ages oil was precious and this would often be the only thing that would go on salads and greens for flavoring. Called husroum or ab-ghooreh in the Middle East, it is still used in Arab/Persian and Syrian cooking. It is somewhere between a vinegar and a wine (my version still has a bit of alcohol in it!).

I had a small portion that I had stored for 7 years quite by accident (a gift that never got given!). I used it last summer with hazelnut oil on a salad and the result was transporting. Gossamer light, complex yet subtle, it is Aristocratic vinegar, if you will.

Carolyn at 18th Century Cuisine shared a slightly different version of Kamman’s recipe on her wonderful blog. Kamman recommends a version with yeast in it in her latest cookbook. My particular recipe uses Armagnac and honey with the strong savor of the flowers the bees dined upon (thyme, heather, acacia)* to anchor the sherry vinegar and tart grapes. The use of Armagnac was a happy accident the first time I made it many years ago… an accident that I now repeat every time I make it.

Perigord Verjus from Amazon

If you don’t have the time or the inclination, the store bought variety can be amended with the addition of some of these elements. Good honey* and sherry vinegar with a small shot of a good brandy will give a purchased verjus some of that quality I love in Kamman’s recipe. I really recommend taking the trouble. Use it with a nut oil on butter lettuce or baby greens and you will see salad in a new light. It is also wonderful on mangoes and tomatoes or even avocado. It gives a delicately nuanced brightness to the fruit. I can’t lie… I have taken small glasses of it!

I usually halve this recipe (Armagnac is pricey!).


30 large green grapes (unwashed organic)

1 quart grape juice (crushed and strained) from sour grapes (or the hardest green grapes you can find---I have always used market grapes myself)

2/3 c Honey (thyme, acacia, heather, evergreen etc.)*

2 Quarts 90 proof alcohol (I used 750 ml bottles) of Armagnac (or brandy, vodka)

2 c sherry vinegar

Prick the grapes with a needle, and place in the bottom of a ½ gallon jar. Filter the grape juice through a coffee filter (this was tough… in the end I used a fine sieve) and pour over the grapes. Add the honey and stir until dissolved then add the alcohol and vinegar. Seal the jar with several layers of cheesecloth (I used a snap lid jar and put the lid down but not snapped over the cheesecloth). Do not disturb for at least 2 months… it is ready to use when the berries have fallen to the bottom and the liquid has clarified, although there will be a fine layer of sediment at the bottom. I poured off the liquid into a bottle and left the grapes in the sediment. They are delicious. (9 months old, this batch is unbelievably good!!)

*** I imagine you could try this with crab apples if you have a tree!

I’ve used this bottle for nearly 20 years. I keep adding new Verjus as they do with the solera system for Sherry in Spain (it’s called in perpetuum in Sicily and used to make marsala) leaving a little from the old batch to enrich the new batch!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Friday, April 9, 2010

Duck Rillettes

White Pekin Duck
I am one lucky cook. I had a bowl of gorgeous slow cooked duck meat and another of beautifully scented duck fat from my New Jersey neighbors at D’Artagnan on my kitchen counter. Why was I so fortunate? Because I had made duck demi-glace to anoint beautiful little Scottish grouse that I’m doing next week and had these luxurious leftovers after slow cooking the stock for 10 hours. What did I do with it??? How about duck rillettes!
One of the most heartbreakingly delicious breakfasts of my life was an omelette filled with duck rillettes and crème fraiche that was served with bread fragranced by a wood fire toasting. The filling flowed from its egg envelope with a dark molten splendor as I sliced into it. I think my eyes rolled back in my head.
This is great duck. D’Artagnan’s meats and poultry are all raised organically and humanely which all good cooks know makes for better tasting food as well as a better stewardship of the land. Being NY based, I have used their products for 20 years and have never been disappointed (through the wonders of the internet… you can too!).
This is one of the easiest things in the world to make if you have the raw materials. Rillettes were first made with pork and are a specialty of Anjou and Le Mans in France, but are now done with game or fish as well. The meat is salted and scented with warm spices and fresh herbs. I warmed it up even further with cognac and Madeira and then brightened it with green peppercorns. I bet you could do it with leftover chicken thighs as well but you do need the fat to make it work. It is wicked and delicious….something all women aspire to, yes?
Duck Rillettes
Leftover duck meat
Leftover duck fat, melted
Salt to taste
1 clove garlic minced
pinch of coriander, nutmeg, pepper
& mace *
½ pinch of cinnamon
1 t fresh marjoram, chopped
1-2 T green peppercorns in brine
* The amounts of spice will depend on what you’re able to get off the duck. Assuming you get 1 c of meat and nearly the same of fat, the recommended spicing will work. If you did a few ducks and have a lot more meat and fat, expand the amounts accordingly. Taste and see what you think. This is not an exact science. This is a great dish for using what is left and not wasting any of your great duck.
Take all the leftover meat from the duck carcass you may have leftover from making a duck. Cook at a very low heat in the duck fat. When it is meltingly tender after an hour or so, remove it from the heat and shred the meat. Combine with the garlic and spices and liquor and green peppercorns. Put into a crock and try to have the fat cover the meat. Let it sit for a day or two to meld the flavors. Serve at room temperature on bread. You can also serve it with cornichons and mustard if you wish.
I made that omelette again. Although my rillettes aren’t as dark as the one I remember… the taste was there… to die for. I can also see this as a filling for ravioli with cream. It was great as a filling for lasagna (I put a little raclette in the béchamel and mmm it was good!).
** I want to recommend the cognac from Germain-Robin. I got their MAISON SURRENNE Ancienne Distillerie 100% Petite Champagne when I was working on the absinthe post and finally cracked it open… it is spectacular and a great buy for cognac.
Thanks to everyone who has been clicking on my Google Ads(anything that sells something) on the side and bottom of the page… I have almost made $10 this month which is 10 times better than usual… at this rate I might get a night’s stay in Oxford courtesy of LostPast… how great is that!!!
check out D'Artagnan's Facebook page... Lostpastremembered is there!!!

Thanks to Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday

Monday, April 5, 2010

Morels ~ Creamed and Deep Fried with Beef on Pastry

The first time I saw a morel mushroom I thought it was a monster from space and couldn’t believe it wasn’t poisonous or an alien invader. It didn’t have that classic ‘toad stool’ mushroom shape and it surely did not have the soft brown texture I was used to in cultivated mushrooms. No wonder, the morel or Morchella is an Ascocarp like the truffle and not technically a mushroom. What I also didn’t know is that it should never be eaten raw as they have a small amount of toxins in them that are removed through cooking. Once cooked… they are heaven.

Morel Mushrooms

I have had the good fortune to get my hands on a package of dried morels thanks to the savvy folks at Marx Foods. The lure is that if I can make something sublime with these dried puppies I can win the motherload of a passel of fresh morels. Now that is a challenge worth going to the mat for!

I tried to remember all the wonderful morel dishes I’ve been lucky enough to make or taste and went to Mr. Mushroom, Jack Czarnecki to jog my memory. I have had his Joe's Book of Mushroom Cookery for 20 years.
I did remember that it was best to hydrate the day before, strain and save the water and put them in the fridge wrapped in a towel… they will nearly have the texture of fresh. I can’t remember who told me this but it works.
One of my favorite morel dishes is simple creamed morels on toast with asparagus on the side. It’s a classic. However, since this is a contest, I figured that I would up the ante and make it my own with a few well-chosen additions.
On goes the magic thinking cap. My ex’s mom, the wonderful Marion, surprised me once by making her version of strawberry shortcake. I am a mid-western girl and she was a southerner from Lookout Mountain. She made the dish using piecrust “cookies” instead of a fluffy biscuit underneath that mound of cream and berries that I grew up with. It was delicious and these “cookies” have become a workhorse of my pantry. I make a dozen and keep them in the freezer. I take them out and pop them in the toaster oven and use them to dress up leftovers, make nearly instant potpie crust or slather them in jam or berries for dessert. I decided to use them with my morels. Morels and beef in a cream sauce with fried crispy morels on top and asparagus on the side because, well I love asparagus and morels and asparagus go together like angels and singing. It is also a combination that screams Spring Is Here!
The really fun website The Great had some wonderful tips and suggestions about a zillion ways to fry morels. I looked through their suggestions and one of them raved about an English [I went to Heston Blumenthal to get a little help with proportions] batter for fish with rice flour and vodka and beer that they used for morels--wow. I think the unctuous creaminess of the beef and morels and the crisp top and bottom are a devastating combination. The batter makes the most shatteringly delicate crust you have ever seen… like the world’s best tempura! I fried some parsley in it and I used it with shrimp, it worked on everything I tried.

18th c pewter plate
Morels and Beef on Pie Crust w Cream Sauce & Deep- Fried Morels
Serves 3-4
Piecrust Cookies.
Preheat oven to 375º
1 c flour
¼ c whole-wheat flour
½ t. salt, fresh marjoram
2 T lard (from Flying Pigs )
8 T butter
¼ c ice water
Blend the flours, salt and marjoram in the food processor. Add the frozen butter and lard in small pieces and pulse a few times. Remove from processor and add the water, a little at a time stirring to blend with a fork. Add enough water so the pastry holds together when you grab some and squeeze. Put ¼ c four on a piece of wax paper. Grab 6-8 handfuls of the dough and place on wax paper. Take each and smear. Pile up the flattened pieces and stack them into a mound—flatten slightly. Place in fridge for 1 hour in the wax paper. Remove from fridge. Roll the dough out to your favorite thickness (less than ¼”). Using a cookie cutter, cut out circles and place on cookie sheet. Prick the cookies with a fork and bake 15 minutes or until golden. This makes 12 -3” cookies.
Fried Morels (this batter can do many mushrooms with left over for many other good things!)
1/4 c flour
1/4 c rice flour (I whirred brown rice in the coffee mill)
1/4 t baking powder
1 T powdered pecans (same coffee mill trick)
1t. honey
¼ c vodka (* you can add more, but make sure it isn’t too much, it drips off the mushrooms!)
¼ c lager. (*you can add more, but make sure it isn’t too much, it drips off the mushrooms!)
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the vodka and stir. Add the lager just before using. Dip the 8 morels in the batter and fry in 2 “ of vegetable oil till brown and crisp. Do this after the rest of the dish is all ready to go or do it and put them in a 200º oven on paper towels over a rack till ready to use.
Creamed Beef and Morels.
1 pound beef in 1” pieces **
1-2 T oil for frying
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
a few sprigs fresh thyme
1 T peppercorns, crushed
1 c red wine
3/4 C stock (chicken, beef or veal)
¼ c morel soaking liquid, strained
1 oz dried morels (re-hydrated) all extra water gently squeezed out – about 2 cups, reserve 8-10 for frying
2 T butter
1 large shallot, chopped
2 T cognac
1 c cream
1 T ancho pepper that has been re-hydrated and pureed
Chopped parsley and Thyme or Marjoram
1-2 T Green Peppercorns in brine
Salt the beef, then sauté in oil till browned. Remove from pan and sauté onion and garlic. Add thyme and peppercorns. Deglaze pan with wine and add stock and mushroom liquid. Return the beef to the pot, cover and cook the beef in a 250º oven for 2 hours, remove thyme.
** Should you desire you could use Filet Mignon. If you choose to use this, cook it very little. Reduce the sauce on the stovetop and only add the beef again to warm at the end. Strain the beef and reserve cooking liquid.
Melt butter and sauté shallot. Add morels and stir gently until water is removed. Add cognac and Madeira and deglaze. Pour in the reserved cooking liquid and reduce. Add the cream and pepper puree and the beef and cook about 30 minutes on a low heat (if you are using the filet option, only put the beef in after the sauce has reduced—then just warm the beef through—keep it medium rare). Add chopped herbs and green peppercorns.
Serve over pastry rounds and top with fried mushrooms.
I wanted to thank Sarah at All Our Fingers in the Pie for this lovely award.
I’d like to share it with a few of you who have really been wonderful blog inspiration and who have shared great stories and encouragement and or expanded my international horizons!
Lee Ann @ powderate
And a new one I love, from the wonderful former editor of House & Garden, Dominique @Slow Love Life
reading it is like having coffee with a wise and brilliant friend in a sunny window seat on a perfect Spring day.