Saturday, February 18, 2017

Pommes Granny Smith – Granny Smith apples. Granny Smith Apples on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Pommes Granny Smith
Pommes Granny Smith are much appreciated in France, and in season these apples will be the apples of choice for a genuine Tart -Tatin. When the Granny Smith apple is not available the French Reinette apple will be used instead.
Strawberry, Granny Smith Apples, and Kiwi Fruit Pie
Granny Smith apples are probably the most well-known of all cooking apples. However, it is neither a British, French, European or even an American apple. Neither was this apple brought from the New World by the Conquistadores and not even the Romans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians or Egyptians knew about Granny Smith Apples. Neither did Granny Smith apples come from China. This unique apple was developed from a seedling discovered on her farm by a British immigrant to Australia; Maria Anne Smith (1799- 1870).   Mrs. Smith, later in life would become the Granny behind the apples. 
Granny Smith Apples on French menus:
Tartare de Crevette au Saumon Fumé et Pomme Granny-Smith – A tartar of shrimps and smoked salmon with Granny Smith apples.
Filet de Bar Marinade au Citron Caviar, Julienne de Légumes et Pomme Granny Smith. – A filet of European Sea Bass marinated with the Australian Finger Lime (lemon- caviar) fruit accompanied by a Julienne of vegetables, (a Julienne is vegetables cut into 2mm by 5mm long thin strands), and served with Granny Smith Apples. The name lemon-caviar given to the Australian Finger Lime fruit relates to its small globules of lemon-lime tasting juice that will burst on your tongue in a similar manner to a good caviar.  Despite that name, the fruit is not related to the citrus family.
Cucumbers Julienne
Jambon de Sanglier d'Alsace Salade de Mâche aux Pommes Granny Smith Noix et Raisins – Ham from a farm raised Alsatian wild boar served with mache, field lettuce, Granny Smith Apples, walnuts, and grapes. France farms wild boar and many other animals that elsewhere may be considered wild game. If the wild boar on this menus listing had been truly wild, the listing would have read Sanglier Sauvage.
Single serving Granny Smith Tarte-Tatin
Hareng Fumé, sur une Émulsion de Pommes de Terre à l’Huile d’Olive Pomme Granny Smith – Smoked herring served on a thick potato moose flavored with olive oil and Granny Smith Apples.
Salade de Viande Séchée de Cerf aux Pommes Granny Smith Huile de Noix et Copeaux de Rebibes -  A salad of air-dried deer meat served with Granny Smith apples, walnut oil, and shavings from a hard cheese.
Just picked Granny Smith Apples
at Plunkett Orchards, Australia.
Carpaccio de Saint-Jacques des Côtes Bretonne, Betteraves, Cumbawa, Pommes Granny Smith Carpaccio of King Scallops from the coast of Brittany served with beetroots, kafir lime, and Granny Smith apples.
Granny Smith apple crumble.
The Smiths

Mrs. Smith and her husband Thomas were farmers and not ex-convicts, and they worked an orchard they bought and developed in Ryde, New South Wales, Australia.  Maria, the future Granny Smith, found the original seedling, growing on their farm.  It was Maria that nurtured these seedlings that would create the huge Granny Smith Apple industry.

Granny Smith Apples, the most popular apples in the world.
The worldwide popularity came about too late for Granny Smith to benefit, but, by the early twentieth century, Granny Smith apples had become the premier cooking apple in the British Empire. Today, close to two hundred years after their discovery virtually every country in the world grows Granny Smith apples.  Australians, with a degree of reason, grumble, that the world does not recognize their country’s contribution to the apple pie or apple crumble industry. 
Paying homage.
Now you may love France and French food, and that may be expected if you are reading this book or one of the posts from the blog by the same name.  If, in addition, if you also are a world traveler and a Granny Smith apple aficionado then you have a secondary duty. A real lover of Granny Smith cooking apples must visit New South Wales, Australia, with a side trip to Ryde, now a suburb of the City of Sydney. There in the churchyard of St Anne’s you may visit and, in season, place Granny Smith apple blossoms on Maria and Thomas Smith’s graves.

Maria and Thomas Smith’s Graves
In the Churchyard of St Anne’s, Ryde, Australia.
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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Anis Étoile or Badiane - Star Anise. Star Anise on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Dried star anise
Anis Étoile, Badiane or La Badiane Chinoise -  Star Anise; the star-shaped fruit of the Chinese Anis plant.  Star Anise has been used in Chinese and other Asian cuisines for thousands of years for its aniseed flavor.  In the West, the most popular herb used for its aniseed flavor was Aniseed, Anis or Boucage in French.  The oil of the star anise is fragrant and is used in Asian cooking, as well as being employed in perfumes and soaps. Star Anis is also the most essential ingredient in that important Chinese spice group the Cinq Épices Chinois, the Chinese five spice powder; today, however, the Chinese five spice powder often has the Western Anis included, alongside star anise, as it allows for a more mellow flavor and Chinese tastes have changed.  
Star Anise and Western cooking.
Two hundred years ago star anise came into mainstream European cuisine competing with and adding to Anis and other herbs for the best aniseed flavor.   Beginning with Absinthe Star Anis became famous in France’s and other country’s aniseed flavored drinks.  Star anise along with aniseed is an essential ingredient in France’s popular Pastis and similar alcoholic drinks.
The Star Anise fruits.
Star Anise comes from a tropical evergreen tree that may grow up to 10 meters (33 feet) in height.  The fruit of the tree is the star shaped pods that give the star anise its name; inside each pod is a pea-sized fruit that is also part of the spice.The star shaped fruits (pods) are always used in a dried state, they are harvested before they are fully ripe and then allowed to dry to their signature brown color
The Star Anise plant and fruit.
Star Anise on French Menus:
Creme Brulée à l'Anis Etoile Crème Brulée flavored with star anis.
Le Filet De Sandre Des Bateliers à l’Anis Étoilé et Duxelles de Champignons - A filet of pike-perch (also called Zander) caught by fishermen and women on boats on the River Loire flavored with star anise and served with mushroom duxelles.

Star Anise drying on the tree.
Gigot d'Agneau à l'Orange et à l'Anis Étoilé  - Leg of lamb flavored with orange and star anise,
Navarin d'Agneau à l'Anis Étoilé –  A Navarin, a traditional lamb and turnip stew flavored with Star Anise.
Star Anise reading for picking and drying
Le Médaillon de Cochon de Lait Basse Température, Jus Corsé à l'Anis Étoilé, Écrasé De Pommes De Terre À La Ciboulette – A medallion, a round or oval cut, from a suckling pig that has been very slowly cooked at a low temperature. The medallion cut is served with a jus course, the natural cooking juices, flavored with star anise and the dish is accompanied by hand mashed potatoes flavored with chives.
Braised pork belly flavored with star anise.
Served with poached egg and pickled mustard greens over ginger jasmine rice
Saint-Jacques Fumées à l'Anis Étoilé King Scallops smoked with and flavored with star anise.
Saumon Confit Dans un Bouillon de Gingembre et Anis Étoilé Salmon slowly cooked in a bouillon of ginger and star anise

Warnings on star anise teas.
N. B. In September 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised against drinking star anise teas (fusions or tisanes).  The FDA warned consumers not to consume fusions/ teas containing star anise as it has been associated with neurological problems including vomiting, rapid eye movements and more. Despite this, no such problems have been reported from the use of star anise in cooking or in Pastis and similar alcoholic drinks that contain star anise. Since that 2003 warning, I can find no further updates.
Star anise and the flu.

Star Anise hit the news when it became a major component in Tamiflu, (Oseltamivir). Tamiflu is, at this time, the only successful antiviral medication that blocks the actions of influenza virus types A and B.  Originally, the major active ingredient was star anise;  that discovery sent the price of star anise to the stars in the outer galaxies. Then, luckily for those who enjoy star anise in cooking or in alcoholic drinks the active anti-flu ingredient in star anise was created in the laboratory and the price of the spice returned to earth.

The star anise essential oil
(Catalan -  anís estelat ), (Dutch - steranijs), (German – sternanis, badian), (Italian - anice stellato, badiana), (Spanish - badián, badiana, anís estrella),
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Bryan G. Newman

Copyright 2010, 2017

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Duxelles on French Menus. Duxelles in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
With mushroom duxelles inside the puff pastry en croute casing.

Duxelles is a five-hundred-year-old recipe of finely chopped wild mushrooms, shallots, and herbs cooked in butter.  Duxelles are one of the oldest French culinary creations and will still be on many menus though often the mushrooms are the farmed varieties. Duxelles, today with or without wild mushrooms, are still used as originally intended as a stuffing or as a garnish for egg, fish, and meat dishes. Duxelles may sometimes be helped along with wine and prepared with an added sauce. Other modern Duxelle variations will have the mushrooms replaced by vegetables or seafood; that is usually clearly noted on the menu listing

Salmon Coulibiac, Duxelles, Fine Herbs,
The traditional Coulibiac is a salmon dish prepared by layering the salmon with spinach and rice. Nevertheless, I have seen many variations on this dish, and here we have Duxelles added.
The originator of this simple but famous recipe was one of France’s earliest published chefs, Francois Pierre de La Varenne (1618 – 1678). The recipe was published in his first book Le Cuisinier François, the French cook.  La Varenne named the dish after his employer the Marquis d'Duxelles. (The Marquis d'Duxelles was Nicolas Chalon du Blé (1652 – 1730) The Marquis was also a French general and served as the French Foreign Minister).

Duxelles on French Menus:

Ballotine de Pintade Farcie à la Duxelle de Champignons - A deboned Guinea fowl stuffed with mushroom Duxelles and then roasted or braised.

Coeur de Filet Mignon Farci à la Duxelle de Chanterelles, Sauce Bercy – The heart of a pork fillet, the pork tenderloin stuffed with Duxelles made with wild chanterelle mushrooms and served with a Sauce Bercy made for meat. (There is a Sauce Bercy for fish and the Sauce Bercy noted above for meat; there is also a Beurre Bercy, a cold compound butter for meat). N.B. A French filet mignon, unless expressly indicating beef or veal is, like this menu listing, pork.

A pork chop with mushroom and black garlic Duxelles.

Filet De Bœuf Français Accompagné sur une Duxelles De Champignons, Sauce Au Foie Gras, Et Frites De Légumes Anciens.  – A cut of a French beef fillet, the tenderloin, accompanied by mushroom Duxelles served with a foie gras, a fattened duck liver sauce, and French fries made using heirloom vegetables; those vegetables would probably include Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, and  Swedes (rutabaga).
Filet de Sole en Duxelles de Crevettes – Filet of sole served with the Duxelles made with shrimps, not mushrooms. With a menu listing like this ask which of the many different soles is the one on the menu. It may be Dover Sole, the most expensive or Lemon Sole or another.
Smoked New York Strip Steak with Portobello Duxelle in a Peanut and Parsley Crust.
A New York Strip Steak in France would be a faux-filet, a cut just below the French entrecote.

Onglet De Bœuf Grillé Et Ses Zitoni Crème Brocolis Et Duxelles De Paris A flank steak or skirt steak. In the USA an onglet may also be called a London broil. Here the steak is accompanied by zitoni pasta, (zitoni is a large sized ziti tubular pasta) accompanied by creamed broccoli, and Duxelles made with button mushrooms.
Zitoni Pasta
Queue de Lotte Farcie à la Duxelles de Pleurotes, Sucs Déglacés au « Zibbibo » de Sicile -  Tail of monkfish stuffed with oyster mushroom Duxelles served with a sauce made with the cooking juices and the scrapings from the cooking dishes flavored with Zibibbo, a sweet Muscat wine from the Italian Island of Pantelleria.(The Zibbibo wine may only be made on the island of Pantelleria though it may be bottled on the island of Sicily).
Raviole de Txangurro à la Duxelle de Champignons – Ravioli stuffed with the Basque dish of Txangurro, crab meat prepared with onions, tomatoes, hot peppers, and brandy, accompanied by mushroom Duxelles. The crab meat will probably come from the Crab Tourteau, France’s most popular local crab.

Of course, a good recipe is for adapting; today the original mushrooms may be changed for another ingredient. The new ingredients may be vegetables or seafood, but they will still be finely chopped and prepared together with shallots and herbs and fried in butter. Menus that offer the traditional duxelles will note duxelles de champignons, button mushrooms, or name a particular mushroom to avoid misunderstandings. The wild mushrooms used may include The Mousseron or St. George's Mushroom, the Pleurot, the wild oyster mushroom, the Cepe, the French wild porcini mushroom, or the Morille, the Morel mushroom, among many others.
Scallop, mille-feuille of cabbage and scallop brandade.
Juices of grilled red cabbage, sauerkraut and pear duxelles, lardo.

Duxelles, a simple recipe with so much fame.

 “ A simple recipe,” you may say;  “I could have done that;” you may say; however, the fact is that none of us were around to create the recipe in 1651. Then La Varenne published this recipe in his first French cookbook: Le Cuisinier François, the French cook.  Long before cultivated mushrooms were farmed Varenne would have sent his kitchen staff out into the woods to collect the wild mushrooms he used in his recipe.  La Varenne probably turns over in his grave as his copyright has expired and his descendants cannot receive royalties

The front page of the original edition of 
Le Cuisinier François.

La Varenne’s book is still going strong with a number of French editions available at Amazon France and Amazon USA with the last edition that I saw dated 2013. English adaptations are also available. La Varenne did not leave us with one book; he published at least three more. There are disputes around his ownership of all the recipes, but it is enough to say that they allow us to look inside the French kitchen in the 17th century. 

Read the French version for free.

The French national Library website  allows the reader access to the original book free of charge and makes a small charge for downloading it.

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Bryan G. Newman
Copyright 2010,2017.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman