Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Elinor Fettiplace, Walter Raleigh’s Rose Sweet Potatoes and an Excellent Negus

Elinor Fettiplace née Poole (1570-1647) was born 12 years into the reign of Elizabeth the 1st. What the Poole family did well was arrange advantageous marriages that increased their land and fortunes, took positions that had hefty benefits and endeared themselves to important members of the nobility who responded generously to their ministrations.  These talents took them very far very fast.

So far that Elinor’s grandfather, Sir Giles Poole (the Patriarch at the time) had his heart set on creating a mansion to rival his Thynne relations at Longleat (where he had been a retainer 30 years before) as befitting his station in the world but died before it could be finished. Sir Giles did well by his granddaughter, Elinor, leaving a lusty dowry for her marriage to Richard Fettiplace in 1589.  The Fettiplaces had probably been selected for their ancient pedigree (at least back to William the Conquerer in the 11th century) and large land holdings but they had fallen onto hard times in the current generation.  The Pooles made life a little easier for them as part of the marriage agreement in exchange for some acreage.

 Elinor and her husband moved to one of his family holdings, a Norman Manor house at Appleton where she raised 5 children and lived with an extended family.  Her husband Richard was knighted through her family connections in 1601 (possibly as a result of a meeting with Queen Elizabeth at an enormous wedding celebration for Henry Somerset, Lord Herbert in 1600). 

In 1604, Elinor Fettiplace put together a small leather-bound book of recipes, cures and advice that was discovered nearly 400 years later by a descendant, playwright John Spurling and was brought to life in a book by his wife Hilary -- herself a theatre critic, editor and author. Spurling’s book was aptly named Elinor Fettiplace's Recipe Book .
Spurling found Elinor’s work inspirational and full of great recipes.  She did a lot of legwork to remake the old recipes while still providing the originals so reinterpretation was possible (which I am thankful for.)  In the intervening 20-odd years since the book was published, many ingredients that were impossible to find then are now available so the recipes can be made as written (still no musk though!).

Fettiplace’s work was one of the first books of its kind that we know of, handwritten by a very literate, well-to-do woman (well actually for her… a secretary most likely did the writing).  She outlived 2 husbands and lived to be nearly 80… a fine old age for the time.

           Sir Walter Raleigh 1554-1618

Many of the recipes came from powerful friends and famous neighbors like Sir Walter Raleigh (she was related to his brother, Carew Raleigh) who contributed some unusual recipes from wondrous new produce obtained on his forays to the New World in 1595 and again in 1616.  Aside from tobacco water and syrup, he also shared recipes for sweet potatoes that were brand new imports.

The sweet potato member of the Convolvulaceae family (related to morning glory, not the potato) was domesticated in South America at least 5000 years ago.

John Hawkins (ship builder and architect of the Elizabethan navy that triumphed over the much larger Spanish Armada in 1588) may have brought the sweet potato to England in 1565, but Elinor’s neighbor, Walter Raleigh, grew them after his visit to the new world in 1595.  I would imagine that the sweet potato was as rare as a white Italian truffle when Elinor wrote her recipe book in 1604.  Her recipe for the prized vegetable with rose and ambergris doesn’t seem so extravagant given the newness and scarcity of the New World vegetable.  The combination is inspirational with the voluptuous texture of the sweet potato -- the rose perfumed syrup transforms the lowly potato completely by treating it like a fine preserved fruit.

Sweet Potatoes with Rose Syrup and Ambergris

1 pound sweet potatoes
1 pound sugar
1 c water (1/2 cup if using rose water)
2 drops Aftelier rose essence or ½ c rosewater
juice of 3 oranges
a pea sized piece of  ambergris, grated or 1 t vanilla
Dried Rose Buds for garnish (optional)

Boil or bake the potatoes till cooked but not mushy.  Remove the skin and then slice.

Heat the sugar with the water and rose until liquefied over a low heat, add the orange juice and simmer for 10 minutes.  Skim and add the sweet potatoes and heat over a low flame for 20 min.  Remove the potatoes.  Put the hot liquid into the dish you are using to store/serve them in and add the rose essence or rose water.  It is best done the day before so the flavors meld.  Serve by warming the mixture (especially the syrup) and grate the ambergris over them (or add the vanilla).

“Boile your roots in faire water until they bee somewhat tender then pill of the skinne, then make your syrupe, weying to every pound of roots a pound of sugar and a quarter of a pint of faire water, & as much of rose water, & the juice of three or fowre oranges, then boile the syrupe, & boile them till they bee throughlie soaked in the syrupe, before you take it from the fire, put in a little musk and amber greece.”

I love ambergris and wanted to also use it for a special holiday celebration drink after being inspired by Meriton Latroon’s Punch by historical mixologist, David Wondrich in the NYT’s  and in his new book, Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl.

Chest of Books  says “Punch is of course from the Hindustani [character] signifying 5, from its five original ingredients, to wit, aqua vitae, rose water, sugar, arrack, and citron juice”, but the definition has widened a good deal in the passing years.  I was noodling around in one of my favorite 19th century drink books, Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks by William Terrington and found a recipe for special version of Negus… a warm port drink with ambergris that fit the bill perfectly and isn’t far from the spirit of the spiced wine Hippocras  popular in England for hundreds of years. I think it would have pleased Elinor. 
My ambergris is from Ambergris Co. NZ , a fine reputable source of found ambergris ( I wrote about it HERE).  It is such a haunting scent.  I had wished I could wear it as a perfume as well as using it for cooking and drinking and EUREKA—now they are making the real deal in an ambergris perfume   … a dream come true for Christmas (hint hint)!  Added to the glorious scent of an old port… well, this is a special occasion drink and if you don’t know about great vintage port… you are missing something wondrous. 

My favorite port quote came from a 1932 book by H. Warner Allen called The Romance of Wine that I’ve had since college.  He reflected on the space left at the top of a port bottle by saying “ I have liked to fancy that the extra air space is given to vintage port rather as a small supply of food was provided for the guilty Vestal Virgin when she was being buried alive.  Condemned to grow up in the most difficult of conditions with no external aid, the wine is given a little extra air to encourage it in its desperate strivings towards perfection…” on its journey to become what wine connoisseur Prof. Saintsbury called “our noblest legacy”.  Come on, you have to admit, that is quite an image.  He also says that an old port tastes of “molten gold and soft purples of antique tapestry”… with that reflection’s purple prose , I concur.

Negus is a wine punch, named after Col. Francis Negus who invented it in the early part of the 18th century during the reign of Queen Anne. The drink flows all around English literature from Jane Austen to the Bronte sisters to Dickens and in modern times with Patrick O’Brian and his Aubrey novels.  It was usually port wine with sugar rubbed on lemon peel, lemon juice and nutmeg -- warming and popular for 100 or so years on both sides of the Atlantic.  It often had a good deal more water in it than wine and by the mid-19th century was considered a good drink for children.  In this version it’s a luxurious drink with a fine port made even more elegant with the sweet breath of ambergris tossed on its steaming wine-dark waters.


Excellent Negus for 4, based on a recipe from Cooling Cups

1 c port (I used a 1983 Warre Port from The Rare Wine Company but an LBV or good ruby will work, however, the better the port the better the drink )
1/3 to 1 c of water (your choice and it depends on the port used--I liked much less water)
juice  and the grated  peel of  a ¼ lemon
pinch of grated nutmeg
sugar to taste ( I used 4 t)
1 pea sized piece of ambergris (Ambergris Co. NZ) or 2 drops of vanilla

Heat the liquids and add all the lemon and peel, nutmeg and sugar and pour in a glass (I preferred it with no lemon juice... just the peel).

Grate the ambergris over each serving while still hot… this releases the oils in the ambergris, it is not as effective when it cools.  Then, inhale… the scent is magical. Ambergris is something you smell more than taste.  Breathe deeply of the warm scented steam before you taste.

PS.  Last weekend I went to a fabulous series of lectures and demonstrations at the Astor Center in NYC in a series called The Alchemy of Taste and Smell with such food luminaries as Harold McGee, Johnny Iuzzini, David Chang (Momofuku) Wylie DuFresne, David Patterson and master mixologist Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club.  It was a celebration of the art of Mandy Aftel of Aftelier who makes the divine chef essences I so love to use.  They have changed the way I think about food and are doing the same thing for chefs and drink masters all over the world. She has reestablished the connection between the perfumer’s art and cooking… a connection that existed for millennia (see Cosimo de Medici’s apothecary Francesco Redi who created Jasmine Chocolate HERE ) . Do try some of her amazing scents… they will rock your world and your cooking for the holidays!

AND, the beautiful Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella, was kind enough to mention this blog  in an Australian magazine, My Look Book … how cool is that… many thanks… and buy  her book when it comes out… it’s sure to be a gas.

Thanks to Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mark Twain's 1906 Players Club Dinner, Part 2

Another reason to recreate a 1906 Mark Twain dinner to mark my anniversary was to celebrate his autobiography -- published this week, 100 years after his death, just as he had stipulated.  How’s that for a good stunt (and it’s #5 on the Amazon list, not bad for someone celebrating his 165th birthday this year)!

Sassy, ornery and funny - it sticks pins in the rich and powerful in a way he felt would be best appreciated after the characters were long dead. Robert Hirst, curator of the Mark Twain papers said: “He liked to say nasty things-he’s really good at it-but he didn’t like the idea of being there when the person heard them and was hurt by them!”  I can’t wait to read it.  Dictated the last 4 years of his life, it is sure to be full of tales of many nights like this 1906 dinner at the Players.

Player’s Private Dining Room, 1905

Player’s Private Dining Room today

Twain attended many dinners at the Players.  The lucky tradition of guests signing the menus puts Twain at quite a few, his ‘John Hancock’ prominent on each menu, including that of the Delmonico’s lunch that launched the Player’s Club in 1887.   I’d like to think that this menu consisted of Twain’s favorite dishes since so much effort was spent organizing suitable quotations for the occasion.

You’d think they would be exhausted by the time they got to the punch, but the dinners were as much about fellowship and conversation as they were about food… and don’t forget the alcohol!  There would have been wonderful wines to go with the food and every good men’s club of that era kept a well stocked cellar. 

Taking my cue from a list that Ranhofer compiled in The Epicurean  , the caviar and oysters would have seen Sauternes, Barzac ( a slightly drier Sauterne) and Montrachets.  The turtle soup would have had a Madeira or sherry.  The frog’s legs would probably have seen a Rhine wine and sweetbreads Moulin-á-vent, Macon or Clos de Vougeot.  The squab would be paired with a Medoc or St Emilion or St Julien.  The dessert would probably be taken with champagne --Pommery, Cliquot, Perrier Jouet, Moet and Mum. It’s fascinating that so many of the brands we have today were around then!  With coffee the Otard cognac of course - as the menu specified, followed by cordials and beer at the end! 

The Epicurean

I was curious how a modern wine professional would feel about this list so I asked my friend, Dan Perrelli at The Wine Hotel in L.A.  He responded:

“Written records of 19th century food and wine pairings often surprise with recognizable names, yet confuse the modern palate in their seemingly kaleidoscopic nature.  There are two points to remember.  One, the very nature of the named libation has likely changed in the intervening century.  Two, lists like this were prepared for diners possessing a deep love and knowledge of wine and food; they are artifacts of an era's highest culture.

The challenge is to compose a harmonious progression from the proffered wines. Completely dependent on each dish's flavors, I can't hazard a guess.  I will say that the most expansive, iconoclastic choice here is the sweetbreads: wines based on Gamay, Chardonnay, or Pinot Noir.  I guess covering the Burgundy waterfront is the ideology.”

Dan continued, “My friend, Chef Octavio Becerra, introduced me to the felicitous practice of the evening-ending beer.  Calms the stomach.”  So beer to finish isn’t as peculiar a nightcap as I had thought!
But wait, there are 2 more dishes left to share with you, and squab is next up on the menu.  I never knew that the word ‘squab’ could be a sofa or a way to “fall heavily plump and fat,” words have taken strange turns, haven’t they?  For our purposes, a squab is a young pigeon that is dispatched just as its feathers are starting to come in and therefore is less darkly flavored than the adult version.  Then as now, squab was a fancy dish for a well-heeled audience. 

I decided since I had 2 beautiful little D’Artagnan  squabs to play with, I would try them 2 ways, split and fried and roasted whole to see which I preferred. I used 2 different sauces as well – one tangy with tarragon vinegar and the other sweet and rich with port and currant jelly.  Both are excellent and would work with duck admirably.  Remember, like its grown-up version, squab does not like being over-cooked… it turns liverish… go for medium for best results.  Squab aren't large as the Twain quote noted 

"It is as sweet an outfit as ever I saw, what there is of it."  Too true,  but as Spencer Tracy once observed "what's there is choice" (actually, he said cherse, in his inimitable tough guy way).

Squabs with Tarragon

2 D'Artagnan squabs, split in half 
2 oz butter
1 t flour
1/2 cup reduced stock*
1 T tarragon vinegar (I put tarragon in ww vinegar a few days before)
1T Madeira

Sauté the squabs in butter till cooked and brown, about 12 minutes (do not overcook, it will make the meat taste liverish... go for medium!).  Pour off half the butter (if the butter has gotten too brown, toss it and add 2 T fresh butter) and add the flour.  Pour in the stock, madeira and the vinegar and adjust the seasoning.  Plate and pour sauce over the squabs and serve.

Roasted Squab with Currant Port Wine Sauce

2 D'Artagnan squabs

carrot sticks (optional)
¼ cup currant jelly
¼ c port
3 T demiglace
S&P to taste

Place a cast iron skillet inside the oven. Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees and heat skillet for 15 minutes after it had come up to temperature Season the squabs inside and out with salt and pepper. Pull out skillet and set the birds on it and return to oven. Roast for 15-18 minutes, until squab reaches about 120 degrees. I tossed a few oiled carrot sticks on the bottom first as I read in a Ming Tsai recipe, it keeps the bottom of the bird from burning. Let rest for 10 minutes. The bird was perfect!

Warm the jelly and add the port and demiglace. Reduce till slightly thickened and glaze the bird.Brush the sauce on the bird after it's cooked and serve the rest of the sauce on the side.

Ice Cream Heaven from The Epicurean

The last dish on the Twain menu is Nesselrode Pudding.  This is my 3rd effort making this and I think my most successful.  I cooked the chestnuts in their sugar bath till the sugar caramelized a little and that made for a sublimely decadent flavor and texture.  Soaking the fruit in maraschino didn’t hurt either… it cuts through the luxurious ice cream in a lovely way.

What I discovered making lemon ice months ago was too much sugar means ice will not freeze completely.  This is why the original recipe calls for soaking the raisins and currants in syrup so they will not be hard frozen nuggets in the cream.  Using alcohol accomplishes the same thing.  Having the maraschino-marinated sour cherries as a foil to the sweetness finishes the dish perfectly. 

And what’s the history of this killer ice cream dessert?  Who was Nesselrode?

Nesselrode Pudding was invented by the king of chefs, Antonin Carême (1784-1833) in 1814 and named for the Russian diplomat Count Karl von Nesselrode (1780- 1862) who was astonishingly multicultural for his time.  Born aboard a Russian ship in port in Portugal, educated in Berlin and a Naval aide-de-camp to Tsar Paul at the age of 16, he went on to guide world politics as a statesman for the Holy Alliance (even intervening in territorial issues between the US and Russia over the “Oregon Country” boundaries in 1824) and one of the richest men in Europe thanks to his reward from a grateful French government for his successful negotiations to reduce the penalties imposed on France after Waterloo.

Ivan Day of Historical Food, felt that the pudding was originally molded to look like the classic English boiled puddings as a visual joke since it would be cold and light instead of warm and heavy.  I wrote about the dessert and the wonderful Maraschino liqueur that gives it punch in my first post HERE.

 It seems appropriate to have this at the end of a great dinner… and it will make you smile with pleasure when you dip your spoon into the sinful chestnut cream and boozy custard as Mr. Twain must have done. The quote used for the dish was:" His motto was, 'Meat first and spoon vittles to top off on.' " You can definitely be topped off with this!

Nesselrode Pudding based on Jules Gouffé ‘s 1874 recipe

¾ c sugar
1/3 c water
1 c heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 t vanilla
1 oz raisins
1 oz currants
1/3 c whipped cream

Nesselrode Sauce

1 egg yolk
1 t sugar
½ c cream
12 marrons glacés *
12 frozen sour cherries marinated in 2 T maraschino liqueur

Put currents and raisins in a bowl with the maraschino liqueur and let sit... overnight is best.

Take the chestnuts, sugar and water and put in a saucepan on low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until sugar thickens and caramelizes slightly.  Let cool to lukewarm and puree with the cream and milk then strain.  Put in a saucepan with egg yolks and bring to 160º over low heat.  Remove, add vanilla and  strain again and cool.

When it has cooled, prepare in you ice cream maker and at the end put in the fruit and marinade.  Freeze in 1 large or individual molds. This makes 4 small, very very rich servings!

While the ice cream is freezing, prepare the sauce.

Stir sugar together with egg and add cream.  Put over a low frame, stirring constantly until thickened add the maraschino.  Refrigerate.

Plate ice cream, drizzle sauce on plate and place cherries and marrons glacés around plate.  ~~~Word to the wise… CHILL the plate and don’t walk away from the mold… it will droop (see the photo below)!

*To make them, take some cooked and peeled chestnuts and put in sugar syrup for 5-10 minutes over a low flame.  Drain them and set aside.

Next, the menu quotes Twain:

”That Otard if you please.  Never take an inferior liquor, gentlemen, not in the evening in this climate.  That’s the stuff, My respects!” Evidently Twain thought highly enough of the cognac to ask for it by name.  There are reasons for this allegiance beginning with a fine long pedigree.

The Otard family came from the Viking Ottar who arrived in Scotland to burn and pillage 1200 years ago and ended up staying, collecting a title and building a Castle – DunnOttar -- built between the 13th and 17th centuries (but an early dark ages fortress would have been there before the existing ruins).

The Ottars followed the Stuart cause with James II to France in 1688 (and their lovely castle was pulled down for scrap as a punishment for their politics) and were made Barons Otard in 1701 by a grateful French king.  

They bought the 1000-year old Chateau de Cognac in 1763 and founded a cognac firm in 1795 after return from exile during the revolution (his neighbors released the Baron from certain death and he escaped to England).  Their product is still considered one of the premier examples of cognac and an Otard still owns the business,  making it one of the oldest family-owned companies in the world.

The quote, “Westward the Jug of Empire makes its way” marks the closing of the dinner, with whisky.  We know this was a favorite beverage of Mr Twain and the line is an allusion to Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi” wherein he relays his theory of whisky’s role in the advance of civilization:

“How solemn and beautiful is the thought that the earliest pioneer of civilization, the van-leader of civilization, is never the steamboat, never the railroad, never the newspaper, never the Sabbath-school, never the missionary -- but always whiskey! …But whiskey, you see, was the van-leader in this beneficent work. It always is. It was like a foreigner -- and excusable in a foreigner -- to be ignorant of this great truth, and wander off into astronomy to borrow a symbol. But if he had been conversant with the facts, he would have said: Westward the Jug of Empire takes its way.” 
- Life on the Mississippi

And so dinner draws to its conclusion: “They continued to fetch and pour until I was well soaked and thoroughly comfortable.” Twain would have retired downstairs to play billiards with the other gentlemen in his party… smoking his cigars and perhaps walking the few blocks home in the chill winter air.

Heck of a party, heck of a year… and so, to you all, thanks for all of your support for lost past remembered.

Do please enjoy this wonderful drink, Sparkling Champagne Cider, based on 1869’s Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks.  I toast you all!

Sparkling Cider for 2 based on an 1869 Recipe

½  c good cider
½  c sparkling wine
2 t orange flower water
½ drop Neroli or Bergamot essence from Aftelier 

Pour all into glasses and serve.  The neroli perfumes your mouth in a divine way!

Thanks to Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday

For any of you who want some fun turkey tips, drop on over to D'Artagnan and watch the fun turkey videos that I sat in on... fun to make and fun to watch.... Ariane is a natural!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mark Twain’s 1906 Players Club Dinner, Part 1

I began this blog a year ago!  In that time I have had over 100,000 visits, learned about many things that I had always been curious about, sharpened my photography skills (still a way to go on that one!)  found some spectacular purveyors of food, drink and scents and met many wonderful blog friends who have been tirelessly supportive and generously shared their enjoyment of life in general and food in particular.

The whole idea of Lost Past Remembered began in 2008 when I discovered a cache of 19th century menus at the Player’s Club in NYC.  From there a blog was born. I began to make things I had always wanted to make and share old favorites from my personal recipe stash, realizing that in choosing my blog’s name I had given myself a gigantic playing field.  At this point the 90’s are history, aren’t they?

In honor of this milestone, I thought I would revisit my first post and create the whole menu that was served for Mark Twain in 1906 since the first post was all talk and no cooking (I had made Nesselrode Pudding the Christmas before, sans photos).   Because of the number of dishes, the post will come in two parts.  Most of the recipes have come from Delmonico’s 1894 recipe book, The Epicurean by Charles Ranhofer, as it was a familiar favorite restaurant for Twain. 

As I said in my first Twain post  , this was a welcome-back dinner and for it the Player’s pulled out all the stops.  Twain quotes were used throughout to illuminate the menu. 

Original 1906 Twain Menu

To start, caviar.  From Ranhofer’s description of cavar in The Epicurean, it has changed somewhat from what we eat today.  It was more like pressed caviar and although the US produced its own excellent variety, the preferred source, then as now, was the Caspian Sea.

Served with lemon and onion, as it would have been 100 years ago, it is still a great way to start out a grand occasion as the accompanying quote in the menu said; “ it is peradventure that manner of thing which of late the unbelievers have brought from over the great seas?  You bet… sturgeon eggs are that and so much more.

The Beluga sturgeon is the rarest Caspian Sea variety.  It can live to be 100 years old, grow to 30 feet and weigh up to 1800 pounds.  It takes 20 years to mature and produce roe.  Before the fall of the Soviet Union, the catch was strictly monitored. Without this protection the magnificent Beluga sturgeon will soon be extinct thanks to an explosion in illegal poaching (take care that you know where your caviar comes from before buying, -- encourage legal sources by buying from them).

Next, Oysters, “A blowout ain’t anything as a blowout unless a body has company” said Twain.

Oysters were served simply with shallots, lemon and salt and pepper at the turn of the century (I added tarragon).  That hasn’t changed -- they are still best served that way.  In the 19th century oysters held a peculiar place on the New York food chain.  Plentiful enough (on any day in the late 19th century, 6 million oysters would be harvested from NY Harbor) that poor people could eat them, yet given a Minton dish and silver fork, equally at home in a very elegant dining room. Sadly,  by the early 20th century, oysters were gone from the harbor due to pollution and over-fishing and were imported and only consumed by the wealthy.

Dinner Table from The Epicurean

Also at table would have been celery dishes -- long, heavy, cut-glass celery dishes.

I remember this from my grandmother’s table as a child.   At any large dinner there were always cut glass celery dishes with radishes and accompanying salt dishes.  It is easy to forget that my grandmother would have been in her 20s in 1906… this was her youth!  All of the old-fashioned ways she had were born in the turn of the 20th century.

In 1906, no fine meal would be complete without turtle soup and the Twain quote for it on the menu read ""We had a soup that had something in it that seemed to taste like the hereafter, but it proved to be only pepper".  

Green turtle was a dish for the rich in New York and was seen either on its own or in a soup. The green sea turtle was so named because of the yellow-green tint to the fat of the under-shell called the calipee, and green calipash gelatin from the upper shell that gave it a special flavor and gelatinous texture. The green turtle averages 2-6 feet in length and 300-400 pounds when fully mature and lives in warm, tropical areas. According to the NYTs, a private cook would procure a small 30-pound specimen for home use.  It was on every menu of the fine restaurants, private clubs and well-to-do homes of the day. Today it is a protected species.

When I was young, I tasted Green Turtle Soup at The Lotos Club in New York City   (Mark Twain called The Lotos the “Ace of Clubs”).  It was originally on 14th Street and Irving, only a few blocks from the Player’s Club on Gramercy Park in NYC.  Twain would often walk between them, enjoying the society of both places

Like the Players Club, The Lotos Club was begun by Twain and others to cater to writers and journalists and friends of the arts toward the end of the 19th Century.

By the time I visited, it had moved into a beautiful townhouse on 5 E 66th Street.  I ate the turtle soup reluctantly at a meal there (I had a pet turtle as a child so eschewed eating the little beasties in memory of my beloved pet).   What I remember most about it was that it had an amazing green color, a slightly viscous texture and that was perfumed with sherry.  I felt guilty about it, but it was delicious and seemed very sophisticated  to my young eyes.

Alice in Wonderland, Mock-Turtle

For this menu, I made “mock turtle” using ideas from an 1891 NYTs recipe since green turtle is off-limits.   The green color and flavor I longed for was arrived at with the help of soaking herbs in Madeira… brilliant idea.  I wanted it greener still so just before serving, I put it in the blender with more herbs, strained it and, voilá -- there was the perfect calipash-green I wanted.  The soup is light and delicious.  My biggest pointer would be to use homemade stock.  The packaged stuff will not work… and will give the soup an  “off” taste.  Mock turtle is usually made with veal stock, a stock made with calves head to give the soup the gelatin it needs to be more like turtle soup (sorry, no calves head this time!).  Turtle was an expensive delicacy in the 19th century, but the new middle classes loved the idea and mock turtle was born and became extremely popular.  These days you can add a little gelatin to rich stock and get the same effect should you not feel like boiling a head!  It is slightly thickened, not aspic like.

Mock Green Turtle Soup serves 6

4 c good homemade stock (beef or chicken)
slice of ham or ham bone
 a sprig of marjoram,
2 sprigs of parsley
½ an onion, sliced
pinch of cloves
S &P

2 T butter
2 T flour

2 sprigs each marjoram, thyme basil and parsley, roughly chopped
1 cup Madeira from the Rare Wine Company

1 sprig parsley
1 sprig basil
½ t gelatin softened in ½ c stock (optional)
lemon slices

Marinate the herbs in the Madeira for a few hours or overnight.

Put stock, ham herbs onion cloves and salt and pepper in a pot and simmer for an hour or 3 if using a ham bone.

Strain the stock, skim any fat and blend with the butter.  Add the herbs from the Madeira, reserving the Madeira.
The NYTs recommends leaving it overnight at this point to lose the raw taste.

Just before serving, heat the soup, add the gelatin then remove a cup of stock and blend with the extra herbs.  Add this back into the soup, strain, adjust seasoning (adding some of the herb scented Madeira if needed) and serve with a lemon slice in each bowl.

After the lightness of caviar, oysters, crudités and turtle soup, it’s time to have a little meat. In this case, it is Frog’s legs.  “It might be a canary, maybe, but it ain’t: it’s only just a frog.”

 If you’ve never had them, you are in store for a treat.  I know everyone always says this -- but they are chicken-like with a hint of troutiness, very delicately flavored with a texture like chicken wings and wonderful in this deviled style that really needs a renaissance.  If you can’t get them, this works beautifully with chicken wings.  If the sauce is too much for you, a good ketchup with a little horseradish would be great with these fried frogs legs.  The deviled crumb is a little unruly but delicious.

Deviled Frog’s Legs

1 lb frogs legs
S & P
¼ t nutmeg
1 T lemon juice
1 T Dijon mustard
½ t dry mustard
4 T melted butter
1 c breadcrumbs
Deviled Sauce

Season frog’s legs with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Combine mustard, lemon juice and butter and coat the frog’s legs with it, then roll in bread-crumbs.    Broil for 10 minutes turning once until browned and serve with Deviled sauce.

Deviled Sauce

2 T vinegar
1 ounces chopped shallot
a few parsley leaves
a sprig of thyme
a clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
1c espagnole sauce (see recipe in sweetbread's recipe)
a pinch of pepper
a pinch of cayenne
1/4 c red wine
1 T mustard
1/2 t dry mustard
1 T tomato sauce

Cook the vinegar, shallot, herbs and garlic for a few minutes.  Allow to steep.  Strain and add the rest and serve warm.   

After that came sweetbreads, “The precious juices of the meat trickling out and joining the gravy archipelegoed with mushrooms.”  This is a complex preparation.  It is best done in pieces.  I hadn’t made an espagnole sauce in years but there’s a reason it’s called a mother sauce.

Sweetbreads au Monarch for 2

¾ lb sweetbreads, trimmed, boiled and pressed *
2 T butter
1 c Madeira sauce**
2 circles of bread
chicken quenelle with truffle ***
a few slices of truffle from D'Artagnan
1 artichoke bottom, cooked and cubed
2 mushrooms, sliced
2 crawfish tail or jumbo shrimp

Saute the sweetbreads in butter, remove and keep warm.   Saute the mushrooms in the butter.  Add the artichoke and foie gras and crawfish tail or shrimp and cook till done.  Return  sweetbread with truffle slices to pan and coat with sauce.  Put a toasted circle of bread on the plate.  Arrange mushrooms, foie gras and artichoke on the plate.  Place sweetbread, quenelle and crayfish/ shrimp on the toast and nap with remaining sauce.

**Madeira Sauce
2 C Espagnole sauce
½ c chicken stock
1 T truffle pairings, truffle from D'Artagnan

Reduce espagnole, stock with truffle pairings till thick then add Madeira, slowly.  Strain and use.

Espagnole Sauce

4 T butter
4 T flour
6 cups homemade beef or veal stock
2 t tomato paste

Saute butter and flour slowly over low heat until dark brown… do not burn.   Add stock and tomato paste and cook for an hour or so until slightly thickened.  Add the demiglace.  You should have around 2 to 2 1/2 cups.

***Chicken Quenelle

¼ pound chicken breast
2 T pate a choux ^
1 T butter
pinch nutmeg
S & P
2 T cream
1 egg white
2 t chopped truffle from D'Artagnan

Combine ingredients in the food processor and blend.  Put into small, well buttered molds.  Sit in a saucepan with boiling water coming up to 2/3 of the sides of the mold ( you will have a little extra).  Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes and unmold.

^Paté a Choux
1 c water
1 ounce butter
1/3 lb flour (1 ¼ c)
1 egg
2 yolks

Melt butter in water and stir in flour till well mixed and the mixture pulls away from the pan.  Remove from heat and add the eggs one at a time, stirring rapidly.  Remove what you need for the recipe and get the bonus of little puffs!  Pipe them on a parchment lined sheet pan in a 425 oven for 20  minutes.  Remove, poke with a toothpick to remove steam and cool… pop in the freezer and you can make a quick dessert any time!

Next comes the palate cleansing sorbet, “a little punch behind”.  For this I chose Maraschino Sorbet: made with lemon ice, maraschino liqueur, a little pureed sour cherry and punched with sparkling wine.

Maraschino Sorbet or Sparkling Crimson

2 c maraschino sorbet
1 bottle sparkling wine

Put a scoop of sorbet in a glass, pour sparkling wine over sorbet, stir and serve

Maraschino Sorbet

1 cup lemon ice*
1 ½ c frozen sour cherries
2 T Maraschino liqueur
1 beaten egg white (optional)

Take the lemon ice mixture and combine with cherries.  Cook for 10 minutes until cherries are cooked.  Push the contents through a fine mesh strainer, add maraschino and egg white if you choose and freeze.

*Lemon  Ice:

2 cups water
1 1/3 c sugar
½ c lemon juice
Grated rind of 2 lemons

Boil the sugar and water together and reduce  a little to a syrup.  Add the lemon juice and peel and put in the freezer.  If using in the cherry sorbet, stop before freezing.

Stay tuned for next week… squabs and Nesselrode pudding, a  chestnut ice cream with a  maraschino cream for the grand finale of the Mark Twain Dinner!!!

Thanks to Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday

Special thanks to all of the purveyors who have made my exotic dishes possible through their generosity and sharing of expertise.  I couldn't have done it without them!

The Rare Wine Company ( & Mannie Berk, My Madeira patron!)

Lastly, a special mention to Ken Albala, food historian extraordinaire, who encouraged me to go to Oxford and has helped me get things right with his love and knowledge of history. 
Thanks to Dan Perrelli and Sarah Gim for my magical
Los Angeles weekend at Lambapalooza that made me 
feel like I had been blessed by a fairy godmother/father 
to be able to hobnob with so many passionate food and wine lovers.