29 December 2012

After Christmas Benedict


We just love the architecture of eggs Benedict.  A starch, a protein, a creamy sauce, and a fat poached egg on top, or under the sauce, as it were.   Really, aside from cake and pie, it is hard to think of food that is not greatly enhanced by a fresh poached egg!

This is a favorite planned over brunch item to throw together when Christmas or Thanksgiving leftovers abound.   It is not so much a recipe as an assemblage of stuff you already have staring at you from the fridge!

Another favorite at Doe Run Farm is the humble chicken gizzard.   We just love gizzards of any kind.  We have a great recipe for Confit de gésiers that we make on occasion.  

 Gizzards and spices bathed in olive oil for several hours, cooled and tucked into a crock in the back of the refrigerator for fanciful salads or in our case, a fanciful sauce.  If you don't have confit, don't worry, use your leftover giblet gravy.  If you have been incredibility productive, use that  turkey à la king you made!  Now that you have assembled your leftovers, the dish is really quite simply.

After Christmas Benedict

leftover dressing, warmed
egg, poached
Confit de gésiers  (or the leftover giblet gravy or turkey à la king)
a splash of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the dressing from the pan with a round biscuit cutter.

Roughly chop the confit and sauté.  To finish the sauce, add a splash of cream about a tablespoon.  ( If using the gravy just heat through and add the cream, the turkey à la king has cream so just heat.)

Now poach your egg. 

Place the poached egg on the round of dressing and cover with your sauce.  Top off with a sprig of sage.

This is a tasty use leftovers.

24 December 2012

The Doe Run Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, Santa thought and he groaned
The night before Christmas, “I wish I was stoned.”
He had gotten quite tipsy, to the Mrs. dismay,
At the elves Christmas party held early that day.

Now my kitties were nestled all snug in their beds,
As visions of mousies danced round in their heads.
And I in my snow boots and orange hunter’s cap,

Was busy a’ mixing a Christmas nightcap.
When out by Doe Run there arose such a clatter,
I sat down my drink to see what’s the matter.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the luster of midday to the objects below.
When what to my bleary eyes did appear?
But stranded old sleigh and nary a deer.

The tipsy old driver was still very quick,
And I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
“Where’s Dasher? Where’s Dancer?
Where’s Prancer?  Where’s Vixen?
And Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen?”
He ran to the barn, as he looked rather stricken,
Then he came running out with every last chicken.
He harnessed them up, then I heard Santa cry,
For Santa did realize that chickens can’t fly.

I called to dear Santa, who looked less than merry,
But his cheeks they were rosy, his nose like a cherry.
I gave him a beer as he walked thought the door,
It was then that he spied a cat on the floor.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
“The cats will save Christmas, I will make it so.”

He grabbed up our darling, our sweet Clementine,
”Yes this one will do, she will do just fine.”

Then Miss Kitty Carlisle, he grabbed her up too,
Yes Miss Kitty Carlisle will just have to do.

The cats Halloweener, both Treat and then Trick,
Had tried very hard to hide from St. Nick.

But Santa, he found them and when they were ready,
He grabbed up the last one, our grey cat named Teddy.

You know Mr. Claus; you’re a really smart guy,
But much like the chickens, well cats they don’t fly.
“Well, listen Lucinda, I don’t want to bore ye,
But you made this up so, let’s stick to the story.”

He lit up his pipe that he held in his teeth,
And the smoke encircled his head like a wreath.
He climbed in the sleigh with his big round belly,
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
He went straight to work and had nothing to say,
Except that my cats would be back Christmas Day.

The cats sprung to work as he let out a whistle,
And away they all flew like a rocket or missile,
And I heard him exclaim, as he shot though the blue,
Merry Christmas to All, Happy Hanukkah, too.

21 December 2012

Famous Food Friday -- Bette David or Davis

Well, I do love language, I just have a great deal of trouble SPELLING the language.  Thanks to my readers who often find my amusing and unique spelling. 

I love to watch the evolution of language.  I am sure that at the end of 2012, Bisquick does not want anyone "taking a trick" with them.  But tricking seemed to be just fine in 1935's How To Take A Trick A Day With Bisquick.   That was the year that Bisquick gathered a group of stars to share their Bisquick recipes.

What hasn't changes since 1935?  The fact that these "stars" never stirred up a batch of Bisquick anything in their lives, but as we say at Christmas time, its the thought that counts.

For those of you who think a gourmet kitchen is a toilet with a microwave sitting on the back of the tank, Bisquick is a baking mix or flour that already has leavening and oil in the mix.  It is easy enough to DIY your own, but one must keep it in the refrigerator after adding the oil or butter.  Frankly, my refrigerator is jam packed and action filled, so I keep store-bought Bisquick on the shelf.

Among the stars in this small pamphlet are Dick Powell, Bing Crosby, Joan Crawford and the incomparable Bette Davis. 

According to Bisquick, Bette loves "simple homey" things.  Tea in her dressing room for example.  Here is how Bette makes a nice afternoon tea sandwich.

Hunt Club Sandwich

Roll Bisquick dough very thin.  Dot surface with 4 tbsp. butter.  Fold so as to make three layers.  Turn half way round.  Roll out 1/2 the dough 1/8 inch thick to cover the bottom of oblong pan, about 12 by 9 inches.  Spread thickly with Chicken and Ham filling.  Cover with remaining dough rolled thin.  Cut through in desired shapes, such as squares, diamonds,etc., but leave in place.  Bake 15 minutes in  hot oven, 450.  Filling:  To 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cut up and flaked, and 3/4 cup cooked ham, cut in 1/2 inch pieces, add 4 tbsp. top milk, 3 beaten egg yolks, and 2 hard cooked eggs, chopped. Season with salt and pepper.

Bisquick is so easy there are no instructions for making the dough,  however, the assembly sounds a bit complicated to me!

Next week when you are stuck in the kitchen and beyond frazzled, just ask yourself  how Bette Davis would handle it.   You will no doubt come through the ordeal calm and smoking, with the melodies of Max Steiner dancing in your head.  Because Bette would have handled it with a caterer... and to all a goodnight.

13 December 2012

DIY Cabinet Make Over

My kitchen cabinets suck.  There is really no other way to put it.  They are hard wood, perfectly functional but they are as ugly as a mud fence.  Since I haven't had the money for a large cabinet re-do, I have solved the problem with cabinet skirts.  It makes the kitchen more palatable and they can be changed out at the drop of the hat.

The plus is, you are not tied down to any particular style and it is great if you rent and are not allowed to implement drastic changes.  Just tack up a slim valence rod over each door and attach your curtain.

 One of the best curtain materials I have found are these cheap plastic flannel backed tablecloths.  They are sold for every conceivable holiday at every dollar store out there.   They run about $4 a tablecloth and 2 or three of them will curtain the most abysmal cabinets.   (It is a good idea for you first outing to buy an extra tablecloth just in case.  Also, read the tablecloth dimensions very carefully.  I once tried this and found I had one 54 inch and one 70 inch tablecloth so I was short a curtain!)

My cabinets as with most, are about 36 inches high.  There is a slight overhand from the counter and you want the curtain to be a bit off the floor.  This means that a length of 34 inches for the curtain is about right.  Most tablecloths come in lengths of 70 inches which means that all you need to do is cut the tablecloth in half and you will have two 35 inch pieces.   Just sew a narrow, straight 1/2 seam across the top and you are good to go.

This plastic is both easily cut and easily sewn.  There is no need to hem as the plastic doesn't ravel.  The edges of these tablecloths are whip stitched.  I try to use stitched edges as the bottom.  This is not a big problem as long as you have nondescript flowers but if you find yourself with jaunty little penguins, one curtain will have an unstitched edge as the penguins are all going the same way.

Still, this is an easy and inexpensive way to brighten up any kitchen.  

12 December 2012

Christmas, Christmas Time Is Near...

...and you need books for all your friends. Who are we kidding -- you need books for yourself so don't even bother...  Here are 5  Lucindaville favorites for your holiday giving getting!

We love office supplies and pencils are a particular fetish.  Face it, you need to know how to sharpen a pencil correctly.  Here is the ultimate success story -- a guy who excels at a particular skill; in this case sharpening pencils.  He is so good that people pay him about 50 times what the pencil costs to sharpen it.  He gives demonstrations and people send him pencils to sharpen and now he has a book.  This may the best idea in the world or the ultimate tweeification of artisan skills.   But we just love this book!!

Now you just might think that a Venetian cookbook is only for those food enthusiasts out there but Polpo is also a work of publishing art.  Notice the spine.  The signatures of the book are sewn in an displayed raw.  The book look exquisitely handcrafted and will appeal to both the cook and the book collector.  I admit I was disappointed that it was no a cookbook exclusively for cooking octopus, but I got over it.

We are more than enamored of Thomas Jefferson. What girl can resist that smirk.  OK, he was seriously on the wrong side of that slave issue, but we believe that if he had been born several decades later he would have made an honest woman of Sally Hemmings.  What he did do was make her brother, James, the first French chef in America.  And you thought Julia Child introduced French cuisine to these shores. 

We love fashion!   However, in practical terms, I believe that dressing for a formal occasion is accomplished by changing out of the canvas Chuck and slipping into the leather Chucks.  Recently, while out shopping I inadvertently answered a request to "facetime" on my phone and realized that I was a dead ringer for the Unabomber.  No wonder I got my coffee so quickly... but I digress.  One of my favorite fashion icons is Diana Vreeland.  What the world needed was a really good biography of Vreeland and now we have one.

I used to read copious amounts of novels.  At some point I realized that fiction counld not do justice to real life.  Case in point -- Elsa Maxwell.  If you wrote a novel about a homely little spark plug of a girl who leaves a dreary middle-class life in California to become an instigator of social frenzy in New York and other points on the globe it would be rejected as totally implausible.  In real life, Elsa Maxwell dictated New York society, threw wild parties, acted in movies and fell madly in love with Maria Callas.  You can't make that up.

06 December 2012

In Search of Rex Whistler

Lucindaville loves Rex Whistler.   For some time, this love has led us grasping and searching for info and images but today we have a Christmas miracle!  OK, maybe not a miracle, but thanks to the work of Mirabel and Hugh Cecil we now have a concentrated and easily accessible font of Rex Whistler info.

We are overjoyed to find that Rex Whistler (@RexWhistler) is tweeting from beyond the grave...who knew twitter has such reach!   Truthfully, Whistler is not actually tweeting but the tweets are coming from a company that is reproducing his famous 'Clovelly' Toile de Jouy.   Needless to say, we want a lovely chair covered in this. 

This book is just an embarrassment of riches, so grab your copy now.  Go ahead, buy it for yourself for Christmas or  Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or just because it is Wednesday...one of our favorite gift getting holidays.

03 December 2012

Lemon Drop Hot Sauce

This year in the garden,  we grew a hot pepper called a lemon drop pepper.  The plant originated in Peru and bears a Scoville rating of 15,000-30,000, making it pretty hot.   It grew in abundance on short, bushy stalks and true to its name, it does have a pronounced lemony hit.

It seemed to be the perfect pepper for a sauce, so I gathered a basket and stet out to make a hot sauce.   I ground the peppers with salt to make a fermentable mash.  Then, I got called to D.C.  What's a girl to do?
I  loaded up my fermenting mash and brought it along.   Now, it is altogether possible that I could have let my pepper mash ferment while I was gone, but I didn't want to come home to a growing blob.  In D. C., I partook of a ritual that in unknown here in rolling hills of West Virginia; I went grocery shopping at drug store.   I got a quart of vinegar at the CVS and began the second fermenting phase of hot sauce making -- adding the vinegar.

I packed up my now, still fermenting, vinegary hot sauce and headed home, frankly quite worried that if the car were to wreck, my mangled body would be bathed in hot lemon drop pepper sauce!  We survived the trip and the sauce was strained and bottled.

Most recipes call for the fermented peppers to be discarded after the straining, but I just couldn't bear to toss out that lemony mass of ground peppers.  I tucked them in a nice jar, covered them with olive oil and stored them in the refrigerator.  The ground pepper have been a delight.  They get tossed into soups and stews, spicy marinades and even vinaigrettes.  But really, a little dabble do ya, as the mash is hot.

If you are looking for a hot pepper to sow this spring, I highly recommend the Lemon Drop.

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