Search results for 'Roy Andries de Groot'

heirloom·modern: Velouté de Tomates à la Provençal

26 Sep

I wrote about Roy Andries de Groot in an heirloom·modern piece a few months ago. I found him by accident back then, having stumbled upon his wonderful book Feasts For All Seasons. Among the amazing things I learned about Mr. de Groot include that he had been made mostly blind in the Blitz, that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and that he wrote a book that some feel was one of the most influential food books of the last century, Recipes From The Auberge Of The Flowering Hearth.

A few weeks later, as seems to happen to me, I was scouring about in one of the little used bookstores that dot Manhattan, and et voila there she was, Mr. de Groot’s masterpiece, first edition, with a dust jacket and at a reasonable price. Thank you East Village Books!

Velouté de Tomates à la Provençal

(Adapted from Recipes From The Auberge Of The Flowering Hearth by Roy Andries de Groot)

Mr. de Groot had a thing for Green Chartreuse. He served it to all his guests and yet knew nothing about it. After years of deflecting questions he finally decided to look into the who, where and why of his favorite tipple. He learned that the liqueur is made by hermits high in the mountains of France, that they had been ejected from the country by the army, not once, but a few times, and that he needed to go there. It was on this trip to visit Les Peres Charteaux that Mr. de Groot stayed at the Auberge (or Inn) of the Flowering Hearth for the first time.

After many trips and many stays at the Auberge, Mr. de Groot finally decided to put his feelings on the place and the valley in which it sits down on paper. He agonized over this decision, “If the Auberge of the Flowering Hearth were to be invaded by thousands of tourists, almost everything that I write about it would cease to be true.” Whether or not the valley was ultimately overrun by yelping, yapping tourists he doesn’t say, but he does admit that changes were happening already, that the modern world was beginning to push in on the idealized rural existence within which the Auberge floated.

When the ladies who own and run the Auberge of the Flowering Hearth, Mademoiselle Vivette Artaud and Mademoiselle Ray Girard, set their table with the animals and birds of their valley and its surrounding mountains, with the fish caught by their friends in the nearby lakes, with the cheeses carefully made and the fruits and vegetables laboriously grown by their farmer neighbors, with the wild mushrooms they pick themselves in the woods, with the wines from the nearby mountain vineyards, they are fulfilling the unity of the way of life–a unity which seems to me to be of the deepest value but which the world seems to be rejecting.

Can you see how this guy influenced Alice Waters?

This time of year in the Northeast is possibly the most wonderful time for produce, hands down. Summer still has a hold on the produce, but autumn is beginning to make her presence known. There’s still tomatoes, even if they’re a little ugly, but there’s also apples and Brussels sprouts. It’s a vertiginous time at the Greenmarket, full of dizzying color and unbelievable bounty.

Mr. de Groot not only returned to New York with wonderful memories and a humdinger of a book, he also returned with a memento, “some of Mademoiselle Ray’s extraordinary recipes. I recorded them in her kitchen as she prepared each in the form of a lesson.” Some of the recipes are very French, complicated, using ingredients that are not readily available here in the States (chamois anyone?), but most exemplify that other side of French cooking, so easy, so basic and so good.

This velouté is a perfect example of the latter style of recipe. It highlights all the bounty of the season in such a complex interplay of smoky, sweet, surprisingly creamy and delightfully sour. The recipe comes from a chapter featuring the other Mademoiselle, Mme. Vivette who was in charge of the Auberge’s wine cellar. The chapter is wonderfully titled “A Proud Wine Cellar on a Low Budget,” a task seemingly made easier if you live in France, 75 miles from Burgundy, but there are tips that not only apply to buying wine, but also produce.

Her first lesson, then, is to get to know as many as possible of one’s local suppliers. It is almost ridiculous–except when buying a standard bottle of gin– to expect to get all one’s wines from the nearest liquor store on the next corner. Each shop after all, is a reflection of the personal opinions of its owner or manager. Each, in his way, has a special slant on buying wine.

The problem is the same with food. If you are even half a gourmet, you will shop around for your fancy foods. You will buy your olives from the Greek grocer. You will prefer the long French loaf of one baker over another. You will buy your veal from one butcher, your pork from another. It is just as important to shop around for your wine.

And the wine he suggested serving with this soup? “White Bordeaux, 1964, Château Laville Haut Brion, Talence, Graves.” I don’t know anything about this wine, but, I have a feeling, that even if I could find a bottle of it, I certainly couldn’t afford it!

Not only did I substitute a different wine (a 2003 pinot noir from Burgundy) I also substituted a sweet German Riesling for his suggested Sauternes, green and yellow tomatoes for red and Brussels sprouts for cabbage. As Mr. de Groot said:

This is no ordinary soup. It is touched with the aromas of smoky bacon and fried salt pork, enriched with the oils of leeks and onions, the fruitiness of soft white wine, with everything finally enveloped, in the true Provençal style, in an all-pervading mash of garlic. At the end, it is converted into a richly creamy velouté in a unique way–by being thickened with a whipped purée of rice.

This really is a unique, soul-satisfying end of summer treat. I hope you try it, and if you ever see a copy of Recipes From The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth grab it.

Head below the jump for my adaptaion of Mr. de Groot’s and Mme. Ray’s Velouté de Tomates à la Provençal.

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heirloom·modern: Macaroni Maruzze With Blueberries

10 Jul

For my second installment of heirloom·modern, I found a recipe that allows me to, yet again, play with my fruit. It’s been very hard to find recipes that do not require cooking in vintage cookbooks. At first I thought I’d just be able to make a bunch of salads, but as the Times noted yesterday, the idea of the salad has changed significantly over the past five decades or so. I simply refuse to make any “salad” the requires the use of jello or pudding. Not to judge, but it’s just plain wrong.

So, when the world throws you a bunch of gelatin-enhanced salads, it’s best to ignore them completely and look for another recipe that is easily adapted to a low heat cooking solution. Luckily I found just such a meal in a wonderful old cookbook published in 1966.

Macaroni Maruzze With Blueberries

(Adapted from Feasts For All Seasons by Roy Andries de Groot)

This absolutely unique and delightful cookbook is divided into cooking for the seasons and gives wonderful detailed lists of what fish, meats, vegetables and fruits will be available at market. The entire de Groot family (including the family’s seeing eye dog (Mr. de Groot was hurt in the Blitz and later went blind)) contributed to the recipes.

A later book by Mr. de Groot, Recipes From The Auberge Of The Flowering Hearth, describes a trip he made to France where food was cooked with the seasons and is said to have influenced a generation of famous American chefs (including Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters). Apparently I’ve been living in a cave somewhere because this guy was seriously influential.

This intriguing recipe comes from The Family Meals Of Spring and yet it asks you to cook the pasta for 20 minutes in a 350° oven. Now, maybe it’s just me, but if it’s hot enough for blueberries to be showing up in the markets, it’s also too hot to have the oven on for that long (at any temperature). So I decided to take a slightly different tact on this one.

Since I had such wonderful luck with the risotto method of cooking pasta last time it seemed logical (if a bit risky) to employ it here. I had only heard of it being used with rather small pastas, but I can now say that yes, it does work with slightly larger shapes.

I made one pretty significant mis-step in this meal. Rather than using the wine to deglaze the pan, I added it after I had already put the pasta in the pot. What I realized after I had done this was that the pasta was cooking in the boiling wine, so I had to quickly add the stock, crank the heat down, cover the pot and allow the shells to cook. Unfortunately this imparted a raw wine flavor to the finished dish that wasn’t awful but was in the end a wee bit distracting.

So would I make this pasta again? Yes. It is delicious, gorgeous and very, very unique! I would love to make it for a dinner party to serve alongside a roasted duck or goose. I think in winter it would be a lovely dish if you replaced the blueberries with cranberries. This is definitely a keeper.

Oh, and for those in NYC (or any other city with insane real estate prices) I wanted to share this note I found nestled within the pages of this book:

49 St. E. Charming floor-thu overlooking Turtle Bay Gdns — Sublet early June – mid Sept. $300 mo. PL 3 – 7686

Sigh.

Head below the jump for my adaptation of Roy Andries de Groot’s Macaroni Maruzze With Blueberries.

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Have You Met Ms. Jones?

25 Oct

I was supposed to meet Judith Jones last night.

Empire State Building

It was dark and blustering as I trotted up the slick sidewalks of Fifth Avenue, ducking and weaving around tourists and construction sheds. It was only four blocks, and I covered them in an odd half run, half trot, holding my breath the whole time, checking my watch every few strides. I turned the corner onto 19th Street and my hope faded. I could tell that the event was over. I checked my watch again, 8:01pm. I had missed her.

I burst into the store and asked the proprietor, “Is she still here?” “No,” he said, “the event ended at 8.” “But it’s only just 8:01 now,” I pleaded. “I’m sorry, but you missed her, you should have gotten here earlier,” he snapped peevishly. “I couldn’t,” I blubbered, “work.” “Well, I’ve got a few signed books left I’d be happy to sell you,” he added in a kinder tone. “No, thank you, that’s not the point. I wanted to meet her.” And then I turned and walked away, thoroughly depressed.

Empire State Building

It’d been a truly cruddy day, and meeting Judith Jones was the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew I had a two hour window, I knew she was only four blocks away, and yet all the servers of creation kept me from her. Sometimes I hate computers.

So, who is this woman that I hold in such high regard? Judith Jones was (and still is) an editor at Alfred Knopf. As a young woman living in Paris she found and helped get published The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank. She brought us Julia Child as an author and TV personality. She’s also worked with James Beard, Madhur Jaffrey, Lidia Bastianich, Marcella Hazan, Edna Lewis, Marion Cunningham, Joan Nathan and many, many others.

Empire State Building

But most importantly to me she discovered and edited two of my favorite cookbooks of all time: Roy Andries de Groot‘s Feasts For All Seasons and Claudia Roden‘s A Book Of Middle Eastern Food. I discovered all this a few months ago after I took a galley of Ms. Jones’ memoir, The Tenth Muse, that had been sent to someone in my office and set aside to be thrown out with the trash. The girly lavender cover threw me off, but I decided to take a closer look and there on the back was this quote:

Food is one of the greatest gifts of life… You should derive enormous pleasure from making it, eating it, enjoying it with family, and it should be honored.

Each chapter was a revelation, how she made her choices, the women she met, the lessons she learned. The Boy quickly grew tired of me coming home, bursting through the door and starting our conversation with, “Do you know what else Judith Jones did?” Finally he suggested I contact Knopf’s press office to let them know that I really wanted to meet Ms. Jones, to sit down with her and talk to her. I did, and all I got back was a terse email inviting me to the reading she did last night. But alas, I missed it.

Empire State Building

As I sit here typing at my desk, next to my bookshelf, I’m scanning the titles. So many of the cookbooks I love and trust were published by Knopf. Did she have a hand in all of them? Could one woman have shaped the way I cook so anonymously? It’s a delicious question, and one I’m afraid I’ll never get to ask.

When I finally made it home last night I was exhausted and famished, but too tired to cook. I tore off a hunk of focaccia and poured myself a glass of good red wine. I sat and munched and thought. Ms. Jones still cooks dinner for herself every night and all I could manage was a hunk of bread. It’s humbling and inspiring.

My Books

If I had had the energy I would have loved to have eaten my favorite quick and easy dinner last night. I didn’t have the energy then, but I’d love to give you the recipe now. The slaw (known around here as slawpy) is made a day in advance and goes much faster if you have a “chou chef” to help with the prep (the Boy’s term, not mine!).

Slawpy

All that is required upon arriving home is the caramelizing of onions and garlic and boiling the pierogis. It’s fast, healthy and delicious.

Pierogies with Caramelized Purple & Yellow Onions

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, if you’ve got the time to make it.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Fluffy Dilly Slaw.

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Red, White & Blueberry

3 Jul

I was involved in a long conversation yesterday about clichés.

YAY!

We were discussing lazy journalism and it’s reliance on hackneyed phrases, bad puns and, yes, tired clichés.

Food writing, at any level, is especially prone to these journalistic foibles. Writing about food is simply difficult to do with an original voice, eschewing all the literary turns that have come before. As food writers, I feel we must pick our poison. Me? I like bad puns. So for this post, I’m pulling out all the stops!

YAY!

There’s something about The Fourth of July that simply screams out for clichés. Hot dogs! Strawberry shortcake! Jello salads! Beer coozies! Inflatable wading pools! The 1812 Overture (with real canons)! And of course… Fireworks! My favorite Independence Day cliché of all.

The thing is, there shouldn’t be anything cliché about the holiday. It’s a serious one. But, it’s been decreed by the government that we have fun, and so fun we shall have!

Me? I’m planning on going to the Greenmarket to score some sweet corn, maybe some buffalo steaks, a few sausages and definitely tomatoes. Oh, and berries. Lots of them. Whatever’s available. I don’t know how berry season’s been where you are, but here? It’s been ridiculous.

Strawberries

Every time I walk amongst the farmers’ stalls, I’m seduced into impulse purchasing something. Strawberries. Blueberries. Sour cherries. Black cherries. And now the raspberries and blackberries are on their way!

(And just so you know I’m not crazy, yes I do know that cherries are technically not berries but are actually fruit, but in my mind they all belong together in one happy, berry fruity universe).

The problem is, I buy them with the intention of snacking on them at work, but inevitably I’m too lazy to take them to the kitchen for a rinse, and too grossed out by the thought of washing them in the ladies room sink. So they come home with me where the linger in the fridge until I feel guilty and come up with a way to eat them all at once.

Strawberries & Blueberries

That bowl of blueberries and strawberries? That’s not ice cream on top of them. That’s goat’s milk ricotta with a little fresh cracked black pepper and a light glaze of aged balsamic vinegar. That’s how sweet the berries are this year. They need no extra sugar and actually benefit from a bit of acid to draw out their lusciousness.

Strawberries, Blueberries, Goat Ricotta

And that big fluffy pancake looking thing? Oh, that. That’s just my first attempt ever at making a clafouti!

Black & Sour Cherry Clafouti

I was cruising around Tastespotting on Sunday morning when this sour cherry clafouti caught my eye. The ingredients list had too much stuff in it (flax seed & soy milk do not belong in dessert) so I turned to my old pal Roy Andries de Groot. I figured if anyone would have a simple recipe for a seasonal French pastry it would be him. And I was right.

Black & Sour Cherry Clafouti

It couldn’t have been easier to knock together, and reminded me an awful lot of the Dutch Babies that my mom used to serve us for dinner when I was a kid. Soft and luscious, not too sweet with the surprising bits of candied ginger scattered about, the clafouti was both the perfect finish to an all-American meal of clams and biscuits and the perfect breakfast to bring into work.

Black & Sour Cherry Clafouti

And so I say unto you. Go forth and enjoy your Fourth! May your hot dogs be plump, your beers frosty and your fireworks spectacular. Oh, and don’t forget the berries. They’re berry delicious!

Head below the jump for the recipe for the recipe for Berry Cherry Clafouti.

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Who Put Basil In My Bevanda?

18 Jul

I got a new cookbook on Sunday, Bert Greene‘s Kitchen Bouquets. I don’t read a lot about cookbooks, even though I collect them voraciously. In fact, it is usually after purchasing a tome that I find out how important its existence has been to modern cooking.

Take the time I bought a copy of Clementine Paddleford‘s How America Eats. I remember balking at the $30 price tag, most of the cookbooks I find barely cross the $5 barrier. I hemmed. I hawed. I flipped and perused. Finally, I decided that this was an important book for me to own. It was only once I read this article, written by the estimable R.W. Apple Jr. that I even remembered I had this book. I had completely forgotten, and I certainly had no idea that this was literally the book on American regional cuisine. I was gobsmacked.

When I started rooting about for information on Roy Andries de Groot the experience was similarly humbling. I thought I had just picked up a cool cookbook about cooking with the seasons. I had no idea that this guy was a culinary lion in his time.

And now I’m learning about Bert Greene. This cookbook is organized by flavor/aroma. It starts with Almond (more on that soon) and ends with Yeast. It is a seriously engaging read, in fact, almost bloglike in its tone and rhythm. Each chapter opens with a story or reminiscence and each recipe is preceeded by an anecdote. I find it very comfortable, cozy and familiar.

On Sunday night I was pouring over the chapter on basil looking for wonderful things to do with the beautiful plants growing on my window sill. Mr. Greene lolls about in exotic herbal lore in this chapter, emphasizing that in many culture basil is so highly esteemed that it’s never eaten.

In ancient Greece… basil was held to be the only antidote to the venom of the basilisk… In Iran… basil is said to be the only preventative against malaria and the houses of the rich are filled with its green leaves… In other Middle Eastern countries… basil [is] hung over a connubial bed… to bring fertility to a marriage.

But my favorite use mentioned by Mr. Greene has nothing to do with giant serpents, mosquitoes or sex, it is about wine.

In the wine country of Provence they slip twigs of basil into casks of certain dry wines “to calm them.” As a variation on that theme, you might want to consider floating a basil leaf on a spritzer of white wine and soda sometime.

I sat there thinking, “Why Bert, thank you so much kind sir! How is that you knew at just this moment 27 years in the future I would be sitting here drinking what you call a spritzer but I call a bevanda, contemplating uses for the gorgeous basil about two feet to the left of my head?” I turned to the boy, “Hey, whaddaya say to putting a crown of basil in your bevanda?” “Huh?” So I read the passage to him, and he enthusiastically agreed that it sounded delightful.

And it was. We were drinking a beautiful, crisp, minerally, rocky, schisty white that closely approximated the distinctive whites of the Dalmatian coast. I decided that the lime basil would be the best complement (over the Genovese or purple opal). It added an earthy, citrusy, herbal note to the nose and just the tiniest hint of a flavor to the wine.

It felt so glamorous to be sitting at home, relaxing and drinking something so cosmopolitan. I guess good food writing always shines through, and never goes out of style. Thanks Mr. Greene!