Saturday, February 9, 2013

A French Lunch, Entirely with Fish

For a lunch done entirely with fish done in the French style:

Hors d'Œuvres. Little Necks or Blue Points.

(At Monte Carlo one would be served Clovisses.)

Lobster with Sauce Piquante.

(A substitute for the French langouste, which is similar to a giant lobster minus the two long nippers. Or there might be served abroad for this course a little gelatinous fellow called supion, or sea-hedgehog, or perhaps nonnots, smaller and more delicate than our own whitefish.)

French Sardines Grilled, or Shad Planked.

(Shad is a most satisfactory substitute for the French restauranteur's delight—loup de mer.)

Flounder, Sauce Meunière, or Shrimps.

(In Dieppe sole and certain crevettes are both specialties and are served at this juncture, but little sole is being received here and our own flounder answers requirements admirably. Shrimps, too, will please an American palate fully as well as the


(This, for which we have no nearer synonym than fish stew, which is a libel, is the pièce de résistance of the luncheon. It is probably the most famous fish dish of France.)

Salade de Poisson with Aioli.

(Aioli is a Mediterranean mayonnaise and “the dressing,” the French say, “is the soul of the salad.”)

It will be noted that there is no dessert given with the above menu, but the repast may be gracefully topped off with crackers and cheese and café noir. Tea is never served with fish, as the tannin is said to render fish particularly indigestible.
To prepare this luncheon:

Note that the French disdain the pepper, horseradish and tomato mixtures with which we are wont to dress raw oysters, preferring to get the full coppery taste peculiar to their home product, but the American oyster, even these artists of the culinary department agree, requires a dressing to bring out the flavor. As for the clovisse, which is, by the way, first cousin to our clam, it is eaten from the shell, each clovisse being opened immediately before being disposed of.

Lobster as here served to take the place of the French langouste, tastes much like deviled lobster. The sauce piquante is made as follows: Into a saucepan put a tablespoonful of finely chopped onion with a little salt, grated nutmeg, black pepper and an ounce of butter. When this melts and blends add a little chopped red pepper along with three tablespoonfuls of vinegar and a teaspoonful of mustard. Stir together well, then mix in half an ounce of flour and half a pint of fish stock. Simmer for half an hour, skimming occasionally and, finally add a chopped pickled gherkin.

Sauce Meunière, served with the sole, or, in this case with the flounder, is made by adding a few shrimps and mussels, minced, to a pint of white wine in a saucepan, along with a cupful of minced mushrooms, a teaspoonful of butter, salt and pepper and three or four cloves. Simmer for twenty minutes and pour over the fish just before serving.

Salade de Poisson, Aioli, is made by taking any cold fish, say salmon, with this menu. It is flaked and marinaded in oil and vinegar seasoned well with pepper and salt. Allow to remain for an hour or so, then remove and arrange compactly in a salad bowl. The aioli, the Mediterranean delicacy with which it is served, is made by whipping two eggs, four teaspoonfuls of olive oil, a half teaspoonful of French mustard and a half cupful of cream together till stiff, in a bowl rubbed with garlic. Heap this on the center of the fish.

As for the Bouillabaisse, it is like our own Welsh Rabbit in so far as hardly any two persons make it alike. Here are two recipes which gastronomic authorities have accorded the meed of highest praise:

No. 1.—Cut into pieces and remove the bones from three pounds of fish; say one pound each of cod, halibut and bluefish, though any fish of like nature will do. To these add the cooked meat of one lobster or two crabs, and six shrimps and put all into a casserole in half a pint or more of olive oil to cook, adding one lemon, sliced, two tomatoes, one onion, one sliced carrot, a bunch of saffron, a bunch of parsley, a bayleaf and a clove of garlic—or have the casserole rubbed with the garlic. Cook for ten minutes, stirring frequently, then add one cup of soup stock and a glass of wine or cider. Cook for fifteen minutes longer, remove to a hot bowl, line the casserole with slices of toast, and pour back the bouillabaisse. Serve at once.

No. 2.—Place the pieces of fish to any desired amount in a large saucepan, add two or three sliced onions, one or two sliced carrots, three shallots, two cloves of garlic, a bunch of thyme and parsley, three or four cloves, two bayleaves, half a teaspoonful of capsicum, a wine-glass of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the above mixture two quarts of water and boil gently for half an hour, the pan covered. Drain and lay on a hot dish. Then mix a teaspoonful of saffron in the liquid, pass through a strainer into a soup tureen. Serve the soup with the fish and a plate of croutons of fried bread or sippets of toast.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Veau à la Suzette (Veal Suzette)

Trim saddle of veal neatly and put it into a saucepan with a good sized piece of butter. Turn it constantly on the fire till it is a rich golden color all over, then put it onto a dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Add more butter to the gravy in the saucepan and put in raw potatoes cut up in sections like oranges. 

Cover the saucepan and cook, shaking frequently, till the potatoes have a good color. Add an onion, finely minced, and when it is browned, a clove of garlic, minced very fine; next put in a tablespoonful of flour followed, when the flour is brown, by about two cupfuls of stock. Stir well and put back the meat and any juice that may have oozed from it. 

Lastly add a bouquet of herbs, simmer for an hour at least and serve the meat surrounded by the potatoes with the sauce poured over the whole.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

French Salad Dressing with Garlic

From "Fifty-Two Sunday Dinners", by Elizabeth O. Hiller, 1913. 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt. 
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper. 
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika. 
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil. 
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar.
  • Garlic. 
 Rub the mixing bowl with a bruised clove of garlic; add salt, pepper, paprika and oil; beat until ingredients are thoroughly blended, adding vinegar slowly meanwhile.

A piece of ice put into bowl while stirring will aid in chilling the mixture.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pêches au Vin

Put peaches into a stewpan and cover them with water. In ten minutes remove the skins. Then place them in a shallow dish and cover them either with Madeira or Moselle wine and allow them to stand for at least two hours.

Then drain them, place them in the dish in which they are to be served and cover them with vanilla sugar. Set the wine in which they have been soaked on the fire, add sugar to taste, and pour the sauce boiling over the peaches.