JC Hits Half a Mil

2009.Jul.19 Sunday · 6 comments

in Casa SaltShaker, Food & Recipes

“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”

– John Calvin, Theologian, Statesman

Buenos Aires – Calvinist and Reform congregations worldwide celebrated John Calvin’s quincentenary last weekend. Born on July 10, 1509 in the town of Noyon, a bit north of Paris, he clearly had quite an impact on the direction of vast segments of the Christian faith. Since I was in French mode from our early Bastille Day dinner, I thought I’d continue with a little sampling of dishes from the area around where he was born. As always with our grand birthday celebrations, we issue an invitation to the (so far) dearly departed, but none have made a spectoral appearance as of yet.

Olive & Smoked Duck Cake

I love the combination of duck and olives, and it’s quite traditional in the north of France. I stumbled across this interesting sounding recipe from one Chef Patrick and decided to try it out. My first impression was that it didn’t have enough duck in it – I realize his intent was an “olives cake”, and that the duck was an accent, but I wanted more – so I tripled the amount of smoked duck in the recipe. Second, there was no indication of how the duck was smoked – I tea-smoked it in a wok – probably he was using a wood-smoked, cured sort of duck. And last, there was no indication of how he was using it – when cooked following his recipe, you end up with a large muffin, sitting there looking at you with its beady little olive eyes. It needed something acidic, bright, zippy, to contrast, so I whipped up a hollandaise sauce, and served it up with a little frisee salad on the side just lightly dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper. I did like it quite a bit, but, I think as part of a tasting menu it was a bit much – either a smaller muffin would be a better choice, or, I think if I were to do this again, I’d make it more in a sheet cake form, and cut out some triangles to stand on the side of something – perhaps a seared duck breast? I chose the Ánimal Rosé de Syrah Brut sparkling to go with this, the bold fruit flavors matched up beautifully with that hearty and salty muffin.

Garlic & Onion panade

I feel like I’m forever linking to the panade recipe that I love so much, so just to be ornery, I’m not going to this time (just look at last week’s post). The one difference here, garlic soups are common in the area, and while they’re not made panade style, I decided to go for it – basically I just cut the amount of onions in half and added a bunch of sliced garlic to the remaining ones while sweating them down – so instead of 3-4 large onions, it was 2, and most of a head of garlic. Beyond that it was the same. This needed a nice, rich white to go with it, but something with some acidity, the Callia Alta Reserva Blanco 2008, a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Pinot Gris fit the bill perfectly.

Ficelle Picard

It was a tossup, I think, between this dish and the main course as to the favorite for the evening for the majority of folk. This one is about as traditional as they get for the region, a ficelle picard. It’s also about as simple as they get – make crepes (okay, that’s not always easy, but any good savory crepe recipe is fine). Inside each crepe lay a slice of cooked ham that’s roughly the same size and shape, and a line of a good amount of mushroom duxelles (finely chopped shallots and mushrooms cooked until just lightly browned), in this case seasoned with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Roll them up. Lay them out in a baking dish, pour heavy cream over the top and grate some gruyere cheese all over them. Into the oven to get all brown and bubbly. Serve, dusted with a little more nutmeg. The wine, from flying winemake Michel Rolland, the Monteviejo Festivo Rosado de Malbec 2007 – a bright, creamy, fruit rose that cut through the richness and really complemented the mushroom filling.

Boulettes ou andouillettes d’Amiens aux pommes de terre

Boulettes ou andouillettes d’Amiens aux pommes de terre

My favorite for the evening – I mean, who doesn’t like a good meatball. Even some of my vegetarian friends like meatballs. These are Boulettes (ou andouillettes) d’Amiens aux pommes de terre. I ground about a kilo and a half of fresh pork shoulder with 100 grams of smoked bacon, a large onion and six cloves of garlic. Then mixed that with about 150 grams of fresh breadcrumbs, about a cup of finely chopped parsley, a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon each of black pepper and red pepper flakes, and half a teaspoon each of clove, ginger, and nutmeg, and a couple of eggs to help bind it all together. I made those into meatballs, browned them, put them into a baking pan. Meanwhile, I browned a couple of finely diced onions and 3-4 minced cloves of garlic and then added some reduced beef stock to them. I poured that mixture over the meatballs while still simmering, and then popped the whole thing in the oven to finish cooking the meatballs in the onion gravy. The first night we served these with small, sauteed new potatoes and green onion, and some butter poached radishes, but visually I wanted something a little different, so the next night made mashed potatoes flavored with the chopped green onions, and also made the meatballs larger (hence the reduction from four to three in number). The wine, a rich Escorihuela Gascón Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – with a touch of spice and great depth, it was a great foil with this dish.

Chocolate fruit tart

Quick little chocolate and fruit tart – a pate brisee type crust, which comes out cookie-like, filled with a good dollop of a jam made from “frutos del bosque” as mixed berries tend to be called here – raspberry, blackberry, elderberry – and then topped with a dark chocolate ganache flavored with a touch of mace (the spice, not the spray). A little whipped vanilla cream atop, and it was a near perfect end to the evening, though I think I might made them more tart-like with a flakier pie crust if I were to do them again. To pair, the Malamado Viognier from Familia Zuccardi, a semi-sweet, absolutely delicious end.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Forager July 24, 2009 at 10:29

I’ve been researching your blog in preparation for my trip to BA. It makes me so hungry ever time I peruse the pages so I’m handing over my Kreativ Blogger award to you – please visit my blog for details.

dan July 24, 2009 at 12:59

Thanks! Your blog is beautifully done – it reminds me of how much I love dining out in Sydney. It’s time to get back there for another visit – it’s been 7 years!

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