Archive for June, 2009

dill flower

This is the only picture I have from last year’s dill crop…but I love the flowers too! The dill used in this recipe was dark green and feathery perfection from the farmers market and it was amazingly fragrant. I always forget how much I love fresh dill and how much fresh dill adds to the dish. If I don’t have it, I go without and I would never use dried…it’s just not the same at all.

For this quick sauce the key is simplicity. I might go to more trouble for the sauce and use leeks or shallots and fish stock, but the side dish was where I spent my time last night. Celery root, potato, leek, garlic, simmered in milk, pureed in the pan…then the food mill for creamy smoothness. S & P.

So…I just sear the salmon in a hot enamel pan and let it get a little carmelized, Then add some white wine and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Pull out the salmon when it’s still rare or under cooked, set aside. Depending on the fish, the timing and the doneness you might finish it in the oven.

Reduce the wine, add the juice of 1 or two lemons….reduce until it is syrupy…add salt and pepper. You could also add some cold butter at this point and swirl around until melted and incorporated to give the sauce a nice finish, but you don’t have to. I put the fish on to a plate and pour the sauce over, sprinkle with some good sea salt, and top generously with the fresh dill springs…a lot of dill! Yummy…Super lemony, super dill-icious!


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Gourmet June 1959

Here is another installment of the Gourmet Monday post…summer schedule, so this is going up on Tuesday. Funny how my potting bench looks very similar to this one, less the ship in a bottle.  We have been planting seeds almost daily, and the seed packets on the cover remind me that I need to dry some of this season’s herbs for the pantry.

Also included in this issue is my new favorite vintage column; From the notebooks of Louis Diat. This month, June 1959 he discusses Garnishes and Decorations, Cold Sauces for Hot Fish, Dishes en Surprise. Tomorrow I’ll share some timeless recipes for compound butters but the decorations are dated, to say the least!

Herbes de Provence – a dried herbal blend
I have found many, many different combinations for this must have dried herb blend with thyme being the only herb included in every version. Use equal parts of the following for a basic recipe:

Winter Savory

Add smaller portions of the following to change it up:
Fennel Seeds
Orange Zest
Lemon Zest

Fines Herbes – a fresh herbal blend
Equal parts and very finely chopped.

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Cuckoo Maran

Cuckoo Maran

This breed was developed in France in the mid 1800’s in the town for which it bears its name, Marans. They had made their way to England in the early 1900’s and quickly became very popular for their very dark (chocolate) brown eggs – a trait they are still known for today. These beautiful birds were first exhibited in 1929 in Paris by the Poultry Breeders Society of France and since then have gradually made themselves popular in various countries around the world. We carry the CUCKOO variety of Maran which resembles the Barred Rock in color by displaying feathers which are all crossed throughout with irregular dark and light slate colored bars. Maran’s lay the darkest eggs of any breed we carry and are a nice dual purpose bird for both eggs and meat.



The “Easter Egg Chicken”, This unusual breed gets its name from the Indian tribe of Chile where they were first discovered. Araucanas lay beautiful colored eggs of blue-green shades from turquoise to deep olive. These natural Easter Eggs will amaze your friends and make a great “show and tell” project for school. Adults are of medium size with pea combs and our breeding stock is selected for their ability to produce colored eggs. They exhibit a wonderful combination of colors and color patterns and 10 or 20 of these birds make an absolutely beautiful laying flock that is extremely hardy and will be the talk of the town. Baby chicks come in all colors, plain and fancy, just like the adults. This is a unique breed and great fun to have when the colored eggs start coming. Our Araucanas are recommended for egg laying color and ability and not for exhibition.

Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Red

This is one of the most famous and all time popular breeds of truly American chickens. Developed in the early part of this century in the state of the same name, they have maintained their reputation as a dual purpose fowl through the years. Outstanding for production qualities, they have led the contests for brown egg layers time after time. No other heavy breed lays more or better eggs than the Rhode Island Reds. Our “production” strain is keeping up the fine reputation of this old favorite. Baby chicks are a rusty red color and the mature birds are a variety of mahogany red.
McMurray Hatchery looks to be quite the place for chickens.  Martha did a big chicken special a couple of years ago and she got all her baby chicks from Mc Murray.  The photos and descriptions are from their web site and there are dozens of other beautiful birds to choose from.

They have a few books listed that look pretty good.  One called “Building Chicken Coops”, that sounds like it will get the job done.  Another one I am sure I have to have is “Hens in the garden, Eggs in the kitchen”.  One thing I do know, is that “coop eggs” are better.  Taste better, look better, better…

So, super excited about chickens.  Coop design begins next week!!  Photos and lessons learned along the way will be shared.

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Artichokes at Market

More late night lite reading in the June 1956 Gourmet. I enjoyed an article about spring vegetables by the Inventor of Vichyssoise.  These old magazines are so intriguing!  And in many ways completely relevant to the current food revolution going on right now.

Louis Diat is cluing in the reader to the esteem in which les gourmets francais hold vegetables.  He goes on to describe the zeal of French shoppers; chefs and housewives who so carefully picked through the fresh peas for the smallest and most perfect.  He talks of working on a family farm and learning from experience about fine produce.  He ponders the fact that many chefs are great gardeners and why the garden experience is important background information for choosing quality vegetables at market. Then finally he gives credit where credit is due, “don’t overlook the fact that none of this would be possible if it weren’t for the farmers who grow the vegetables that keep alive the prestige of fine French cooking.”

He tells the story of the state of the state’s vegetables when he arrived.  In 1910 Louis Diat came to open the kitchens of the Ritz Carlton in NYC.  He talks about giant American vegetables and turning carrots down to a more petite and respectable size out of desperation.  He was amazed that there were no leeks or shallots.  Mon dieu!

He thinks there must be someone who would grow the kind of vegetable suitable for the Ritz a table. At last a fellow hotel chef Louis Deligny  of the Hotel Astor, yearned for country air and happened to be as good a gardener as he was a chef.  Chef Diat was his only customer at first, as he  bought everything Deligny grew.  Ah, the private kitchen garden!

I wish I could take a time machine and watch the goings on in a big hotel kitchen in 1910 or 1940.  But, I worked in a big hotel kitchen in the 1980’s and I am sure it was pretty similar to the Euroldfashioned kitchens of yore.  We were always turning carrots, mushrooms and potatoes, worshiping at the ground of all baby vegetables and filling cucumber boats with crab meat for 2000 guests.  There was lots of aspic, the making of apple swans and cheddar cheese gold fish…I personally made several kiwi baskets adorned with blueberry roses, (a la Villeroy and Boch) for Foreign and American Presidents.   It was called the West Coast White House back then, can you guess the big hotel kitchen?  Yes, yes, the Century Plaza.  Though, I digress.

The point here is what?  If you love to cook you should have a garden.  If you are a chef you need a kitchen garden.  If you are a kid, you learn to love food when you have a garden.  If you love to garden you can be a farmer.  Dig in!

Vichyssoise – original recipe from Chef Diat

Diat was born in Vichy, France, and his mother – like most French housewives – served her children plenty of hot potato soup. Years later as he sought to invent some new and startling cold soup for the Ritz-Carlton menu, he remembered that fine soup of his mother’s. He also recalled that patty-cake rhyme, “some like it hot, come like it cold.” Out of that combination of thoughts came Vichyssoise, named for his birth place.

4 leeks, white part
1 medium onion
2 ounces sweet butter
5 medium potatoes
1 quart water or chicken broth
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups milk
2 cups medium cream
1 cup heavy cream
Serves eight.

Finely slice the white part of the leeks and the onion, and brown very slightly in the sweet butter, then add the potatoes, also sliced finely. Add water or broth and salt. Boil from 35 to 40 minutes. Crush and rub through a fine strainer. Return to fire and add 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of medium cream. Season to taste and bring to a boil. Cool and then rub through a very fine strainer. When soup is cold, add the heavy cream. Chill thoroughly before serving. Finely chopped chives may be added when serving.

I also worked in the (Euroldfashioned) kitchen at Scandia on Sunset…Vichyssoise was one of the items in my station.  It was used as a base soup as well.  I would grate cucumber and add a touch of mint…

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Summer Plantings

g-Tall corn close up

The corn does not look like this yet, um, I planted the seeds today.  But this was our corn from last July!  Between the home garden and the community garden we have over 100 corn plants heading our way.  Way!  Griffin will lose all those looth tooths thith summer for thure.  Currently growing in the family plot-



Tomatoes, names of which just crack me up!  Mortgage Lifter, Millionaire, Hill Billy, Box Car Willie, Lemon Boy, Juliet, Champion, Pink Brandywine…there’s a couple more, but you get the drift…lots of tomatoes.

Beans-green, yellow wax, trail of tears-black beans (already harvested a batch of cranberry beans courtesy of Rancho Gordo)





Birdhouse Gourds

Cayenne peppers

Bell peppers



Purple Basil




Yellow Sage



And, there is so much more yet to go in!  I want carrots, but apparently so do gophers…I am starting beets, more peppers, more basil, I really need garlic!  We’re finally off to a good start with the summer crops.  Yea!

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Every other plot at the community garden, has a stand of blackberries that makes me green with envy! I am going to satisfy my desire for berries however, with Marion Berries in my own back yard. Curling up yesterday with the 1956 issue of Gourmet and all it’s fruits of summer poetry, lore and ruminations, re-energized my quest. I found a great educational site at Oregon State, and who better than Oregon to tell me how to grow Marion Berries?

Trellis Diagram

I am getting the spot ready, ordering my plant, and will have to wait until next summer for my fruit. I will try to pass the time making jam, crisps, crumbles, bettys, soups and tarts with market berries until next summer…Now for the canning class! When I find one I’ll let you know…Chef Michael? Are you canning? Teaching?

In the aforementioned vintage magazine, there is a fascinatingly alluring article titled Strange Fruit and they had me at “gustatory versatility”. Any-hoo, it talks about the history of fruit soups among the ancient cuisines of the world. The Slavs are partial to berries, the Russians make a raspberry sour cream soup with mint and eat it with a slab of pumpernickel. The Norwegians wed cherries with a disproportionate amount of Sherry, the Danes love buttermilk and raisins, and the French glorify their cold fruit soups with good wine of the country, such as Blueberry Soup garnet in hue with Claret and topped with meringues. Okay, enough teasing. Here are a couple of recipes that didn’t sound too terribly bizarre…

Medley Fruit Soup
In a sauce pan combine the following fruits, all finely chopped: ½ cup of each fresh peaches, strawberries, rhubarb, oranges, and pineapple. Add ¾ cup granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 whole cloves and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Add two quarts of water and bring slowly to a boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Puree (I like the food mill) and chill thoroughly. Serve with crackers.

Culinary update: I would serve with La Brea Bakery fruit and nut bread and St. Andre Brie. Or better yet, bring on the whole cheese cart. Man, that sounds like the perfect dessert course!

Raspberry and White Wine Soup
Cook 1 quart ripe raspberries and 1 cup dry white wine slowly for 15 minutes, until the fruit is tender. Strain fruit and juice through fine sieve (food mill), and return to the heat. Stir in paste (½ tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water) bring to boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring and skimming. Season with white pepper, salt and sugar to taste. Add ½ cup orange juice and ½ cup white wine. Serve with pound cake.

Culinary update: for this raspberry soup I might just leave out the thickener, add a little grated granny smith apples to the cooking process, and reduce for the right consistency. Adding the juice and white wine 1 tablespoon at a time alternating and stop when it’s just right. I will test and repost.

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Gourmet June 1956

June is June, and what’s in season in June remains the same, which ever year. This issue is filled with articles debating the peach vs the nectarine. The gustatory versatility of fruit, followed by a history lesson and recipes for fruit soups. An article titled, Drink Yourself Cool: from a punch bowl or a pitcher. And sample menus for the wedding breakfast. I do love these old magazines and I will post recipes from this issue throughout the week…they are simply classic!

The cover of this issue of Gourmet, Volume XVI, Number 6. is illustrated by Hilary Knight, who went on to a project you have all seen…the Eloise books, posters, cards etc!

Here’s the recipe for the pitcher of refreshing beverage depicted in the cover art. Sounds yummy!

Kalte Ente-
Peel a lemon in a wide unbroken spiral strip, leaving one end of the spiral attached to the lemon. Make the peel quite thick and cut slightly into the fruit pulp. Put the lemon in a tall glass pitcher and hang the free end over the pitcher’s rim. Pour in to the pitcher 1 bottle of dry white wine and let the wine stand for 15 minutes. Add ice cubes, 1 more bottle of dry white wine and one bottle of chilled champagne. Stir the mixture gently and serve in punch cups.

I think I would be very cool with this on my patio table.

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