Another lovely cool and sunny day outdoors, Trudy got the fire going with no help at all and Carl arrived about 8:30.
First thing was to look at the Venison Jerky. Carl took it out of the oven and we all took a bite. It was fantastic. It was nothing like you buy in the store, it has a more pliable texture and you could tell it was venison. The receipt is simple. Just some Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, onion and garlic powder, liquid smoke and a pinch of pepper all placed in a bowl and the venison marinated in it.
I think the bake oven imparted a nice flavor also and the slow dehydration worked very well. I tested the oven temperature and found that it was still warm at 116°.
Next thing was to dig into the coffin. Carl did the honors of cutting the slices.
They say a picture says a thousand words, and I think these two do. What it can’t tell you is how luscious it tasted. Bits of savory forced meat mixed with spices, whole meat marinade and liver confit. A surprise of egg and a crisp bit of the pistachios rounded out the rustic pate. It was heaven on a plate. Thank you, Carl.
If you have a chance you can see Carl, at the open hearth, cooking at Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, PA, every third Sunday.
Our breakfast also included some fruit and some of yesterday’s sweet and savory pies and Indian pudding. A meal fit for a king.
We did linger awhile at the table to truly enjoy the repast. Then we were off again to experience some new techniques and receipts.
Carl started on the Cheese Bread so it would have time for its two risings. The cheese was less than stellar, but enough to add flavor to the flour mix. When it was ready, it was covered with a damp cloth and left to rise on the high shelf.
Trudy wanted to do marzipan, so she mixed up a batch, rolled it in parchment paper and stored it in the refrigerator until later.
Meanwhile Carl wanted to do pickles. I gave him a bowl with heirloom red carrots, pickling cucumbers, regular carrots, string beans, cauliflower and a medium hot pepper. I also bought a red pepper, forgetting Carl doesn’t like them.
After all the vegetables were cut, Carl toasted the aromatic spices in an iron pan to release their flavor. They were then put into a pot with water, vinegar, and salt and simmered for about seven minutes.
In the refrigerator there were many packages of fish to be used for our dinner. Trudy had picked the two fish receipts and she began to read all the directions before she started.
After kneading the dough, it was cut in eight pieces. This is very sticky dough and Carl floured his hands so his could handle it and make the rolls.
All types of seafood would be available at Fortress Louisburg in the summer months, and Trudy wanted to make Potage Deux Poissons (Two Fish Soup) after Le Varenne. This is a soup with salmon and haddock.
With the fish for the soup cut, Trudy put them in the cauldron and added vinegar, parsley, thyme and pepper.
The mushrooms were sautéed until they were caramelized then removed from the pan while a roux was made. The mushrooms were mixed back in.
The roux and mushrooms were added into the soup and the soup was left to simmer the rest of the day to develop its flavors.
Don’t know where the time went; all of a sudden it was time for lunch. Carl put the salad together and I tossed the chicken, which he had cooked on a string, in some salad dressing. I made a lemon butter sauce for the leftover Indian pudding.
Carl wanted to do something with sorrel and the 17th century French food writer, Nicholas de Bonnefons recommended a variety of greens for pies. He was instrumental in creating a revolutionary vision for the cuisine in France.
De Bonnefons “Pot Herb Pie – A Spring Tonic” was the receipt Carl worked from, which had dandelions, sorrel, spinach and Swiss chard.
After the greens were blanched, they were gently squeezed in a towel to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Trudy was making a Béchamel sauce for the second fish dish and added to the receipt so there were two more cups for Carl’s pie. The greens went into the sauce with eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and lemon zest.
The crust was Pate Fine, which, when made, was put in the refrigerator and then rolled out for the pie. This is a particular wonderful receipt by La Varenne. Carl poured the filling in and sprinkles a dusting of sugar and a drizzle of rose water on top before it was give its second crust.
Trudy went to the Cordon Bleu. And, of course, she learned a few neat tricks that she shared with us. One is how to use the other end of a wooden spoon to crimp the pie edges. Carl picked up the technique nicely and his pie looked wonderful even uncooked.
Trudy put out all the ingredients for the Cod Sainte-Menehould. This turned out to be an interesting receipt. It has fresh cod fillets surrounded by a fish hash. After reading it through, Trudy questioned the preparations of the hash of two types of white fish. When our modern recipes call for us to make a hash we think it needs to be cooked. With further discussion and rereading the receipt I reassured her that it was not cooked, but a raw hash.
The cod was placed in a buttered casserole dish and the hash put in between the fillets. Mushrooms and spices were added to the sauce and that was poured on top. Next would come a topping of bread crumbs.
Now it was time to have some fun. Trudy is thinking of making marzipan at Fortress Louisbourg. To make a color for the painting of their creations Trudy boiled up some greens and I gave her some saunders for the red. While Trudy and Carl made fruit to be painted I got out some of the lovely cheese Trudy brought for a prelude to dinner.
We took out the jellies and unmolded them for our dessert. The bird nest came out wonderfully; on the other hand, the fish pond did not. Next time we won’t put the hazelnut oil on the inside of the fish forms. The gold did not stick to the fish but stuck to the jelly instead. The flummery tasted amazing and the pigs feet jelly tasted more savory than I’d have liked. However, it was an experiment and I will try this again. They do look beautiful.
Allan joined us for dinner and dug into the two fish receipts. He was pleasantly surprised to find out how great they tasted. Sometimes he worries about what he might be served. Carl’s rolls went great with the soup and the main meal. We compared Carl’s spring tonic-pie and Trudy’s herb pot pie that she made the day before. They had many of the same ingredients; however; the herb pot pie had the addition of ground almonds, pine nuts and bread crumbs. I would say that they were remarkable different. Carl’s was more like a quiche and Trudy’s denser in texture, and they both had a different taste.
Then it came time of our desert. Trudy played with her fish pond jelly and you can see how the gold stuck to it. It was an experiment we wanted to try and we learned from making it, sometimes it best not to get too focused on a receipt. Though with all the receipts we were doing at the same time, it was hard not to. Carl just enjoyed the taste o f the flummery.
This weekend was fun and we all learned from each other and had a chance to select some techniques and receipts we might not have had the chance to experience in a one day workshop. There is talk of doing it again in the fall.
Over the next few days we all emailed back and forth still talking about the food we made, our success and failures, and just how good leftovers are. Both Carl and I will see Trudy again when we go to the Eastfield Village workshop given by Neil Vincent De Marino this summer.
“Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.” Marcel Boulestin, chef, food writer (1878-1943)