June 2009 COTM Elizabeth David Classics: Hors d’oeuvres & Salads
Welcome to Elizabeth David Classics, which includes these three books by Elizabeth David:
A Book of Mediterranean Food [M] - "Cold Foods & Salads" (Salads only here, please)
Summer Cooking [S] - "Hors d'oeuvres" & "Salads"
French Country Cooking [F] - "Vegetables" (Sub-section called "Salads" only, please)
Please post your full-length reviews of recipes here for recipes in chapters with Hors 'd'oeuvres, Vegetables or Salads here. If a recipe for one of these items appears in a chapter without any of those three items in the title, please post it here anyway, unless it more aptly fits into another category. Since there are a number of different editions and some posters have the individual books, please post the abbreviations for the books as listed above, and the name of the recipe, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe. That way posters can then look up the recipe in the index of whichever book they have.
A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.
Thanks for participating!
Chicken liver paté, Summer Cooking
In the introduction to my edition, it says that ED's method of making this classic has been much tinkered with, but never bettered, and I would agree with that. I'd also say this is a perfect dinner party dish - economical but still impressive, and, most importantly, it HAS to be made in advance. ED says at least a couple of days, and it will last for weeks in the fridge if you seal it with butter.
Anyway, very easy. You cook a pound of chicken livers in butter and then pound them in a mortar. I am a new-fangled girl and used a food processor. You add brandy (I used armagnac as we're out of brandy) to the butter and juices left in the pan and bubble for a minute, before adding port. Bubble again and then add to the livers, with more butter, a small clove of garlic, a bit of thyme and S&P. Process until smooth and then transfer to a terrine and chill. My top tip stolen from Simon Hopkinson is to use foil takeaway containers if you don't have a terrine - the bonus is that it's very easy to turn out for a professional looking finish. One of my guests thought I'd bought the paté from a deli! If you want to keep it for more than a couple of days, ED suggests melting butter or pork or goose fat and pouring a thin layer on top of the paté to seal it.
Delicious as a first course with hot toast and a little salad garnish. And cheap, even if you use organic chicken livers like I did (about £1.50 a pound).
Eggs in Aspic with Tarragon (S).
Well per my own "rules" (!) I'm putting this in this thread, as it comes in the hors d'oeuvres chapter of Summer Cooking, but would also make a nice "luncheon dish" as well. Well, it would if it turned out nicely!
I made aspic per another recipe of hers, and will post about it separately. I also poached some eggs her way, based on another recipe, and will post about that too. I'd never made this dish before, so I consulted with Mastering the Art of French Cooking as well, and put some together ED's way, and some per Julia Child.
Per E. David's recipe:
You put a slice of very mild ham at the bottom of a small ramekin (I cut out circles using the ramekin as a template), then put the poached egg on top, and several tarragon leaves in some melted aspic for an hour and let them infuse. I did this first though, and then started the assembly process. Then strain the aspic and pour it "very carefully" into the ramekins "and when it has nearly set" put two fresh tarragon on top of the egg. Note that there are no instructions here about chilling the dish. My aspic turned out quite nicely, but it did not gel completely at room temperature (not sure that it can?). Knowing this, I followed her instructions but then refrigerated the ramekins. She also doesn't say anything about turning out the egg etc. on to a plate, which is how I've usually seen this dish.
JC's instructions are sort of the reverse - pour some aspic into the ramekin, let it set up a bit in the fridge, garnish (I used the tarragon leaves), add the poached egg, some more aspic, set up some more, add the slice of ham, let chill, then release onto a plate. This way, you get the pretty design on top, then the egg, then the ham, and I have to say I think this way makes more sense to me.
Neither of us liked the result, and we have both had the dish before, and liked it. My thoughts as to why:
Far too much aspic - I thought I was using small enough ramekins (4 oz?), but I would use smaller ones next time, or not fill them up so much.
Aspic not salty enough.
Would be better made the day before, so that they can really set up nicely.
I do want to try to make this again though.
Ratatouille en Salade from [S].
Well it mentions that ED's recipe is meant to be served cold but I decided to eat it warm over brown rice. I also used Japanese eggplants because I had a few in my kitchen and added ground coriander seed rather than whole coriander seeds. I wasn't sure about the amount of olive oil to use but since I halved the recipe (cooking for one), about 1/4 cup seemed about right.
This was a really simple ratatouille and I liked the consistency and taste. I could see it being great cold for a packed picnic. I would definitely make it again.
Salad of aubergines (M)
This is a good example of why ED was so groundbreaking. It's 1950 or thereabouts and Britain has undergone years of rationing (anyone interested in what culinary aberrations this brought about should seek out Marguerite Patten, a wonderful lady who is still alive). Olive oil is only available in the chemist and garlic is a nasty thing that foreigners eat. Most British people have probably never heard of an aubergine, never mind eaten one.
And ED gives us a recipe for salad of aubergine, which is actually what we now call baba ganoush! The recipe calls for grilling 3 or 4 large aubergines until soft, and pounding them in a mortar with garlic, then adding olive oil as if for mayonnaise, until you get a thick purée. I used my blender and found I didn't need that much oil at all. You then add the juice of half a lemon, which brings the flavours together nicely, and some chopped parsley.
I served this as part of a meze with flatbread, which three of us really enjoyed. Mr GG turned his nose up somewhat - brown sludge I believe were his words! It's very garlicky, and even more so now it's been in the fridge overnight (I will admit here that I had some for breakfast!) so I might cut the garlic down to one clove next time.
I have always thought that the earlier books must have been the food porn of their time, given what was available at the time in the stores. The thought of some of these dishes must have driven the deprived, ration-ridden reader with memories of prewar conditions round the twist.
Apart from I don't think they'd really been exposed to a lot of the ingredients even pre-war, like olive oil and a lot of the Mediterranean fish. She writes somewhere that many people had been put off fish by terrible "nursery food" experiences of boiled cod. Bream and the like must have seemed terribly avant-garde. But yes, all that butter and cream - torture for a population that had to survive on poor-quality substitutes and powdered egg. Of course, we take it all for granted now....
OT but I visited the war museum in Dunkirk recently and was struck by one of the stories of a soldier who became separated from his unit and happened upon some French Resistance fighters. They welcomed him with open arms and treated him to a very civilised meal, with plenty of wine, which they'd apparently been storing in decommissioned tanks! It must have been the best meal he'd eaten for years, if ever.
Salade Armenienne [F]
What an interesting combination of vegetables are brought together to make a salad that is more room temperature than cold. In fact ED says, "don't spoil the flavour by putting it in the icebox." We loved it!
1/2 lb mushrooms, 2 rashers bacon, garlic, parsley, pimentos, celery, and a glass of wine are the ingredients. The mushrooms are sliced and sauteed in 2 Ts of oil. Add a few very fine slivers of garlic (I used 3 cloves!), and bacon cut into squares (I used pancetta) and cook for a few minutes then add 6 oz. red wine. She says to "cook fiercely for just 1 minute." The flame is turned to low and the pan simmered for 5 minutes. A handful of chopped parsley is added, combined and the pan is left to cool.
At this point I prepared the main dish, Coutelletes de Porc au Cidre. The gap in preparation time was perfect. When the chops were in the oven I proceeded to fill a shallow bowl with a sliced red bell pepper and about 10 stalks of celery sliced in 1/2 rounds. This is dressed with oil and "a drop" of tarragon vinegar. Well, after tasting this I seasoned it agressively, as Mario Batali is forever saying, with sea salt and FGTellecherry pepper and a few more "drops" of the vinegar. When the mushrooms have cooled down they are piled on top if the mushroom mixture. The salad is kept cool but not cold.
This is a make again recipe. I can see it used all summer long. It probably would go very well with grilled meats of a hearty flavor.
Salade au Chapon, p. 173 of my edition of French Country Food
This was a very simple addition to a green salad that I used to make quite often. Somehow it vanished from my repertoire. Pieces of bread or toast are rubbed with raw garlic and put into the bottom of the salad bowl. The lettuce, etc. (in my case I used Persian cukes, green onion, green pepper, a few leaves of radichio from my csa box and some curly lettuce. I dressed it with a simple vinaigrette - just olive oil, red wine vinager, salt and pepper.
It is really nice. The toasted bread absorbs some of the dressing and the salad absorbs some of the garlic.
I made my version of Jerked Chicken and that was dinner.
re: blue room
<"When the mushrooms have cooled down they are piled on top if the mushroom mixture.">
I won't tell you how many times I proof read this post.... I meant to say,"when the mushrooms cool down they are piled on top of the celery and pepper mixture.">
I think the cooling down and then mixing all together is the key. I have always sauteed mushrooms in evoo, garlic and white wine with a bit of chopped parsley, so was interested to taste the flavor difference here. I'm so glad the wait made all the difference for you......