Someone’s In The Kitchen

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Before one even has a chance to get the post-holiday blues, in France it’s time for galettes des rois, which could sweeten up the most stalwart Grinch.  As I explained here, there are a number of rituals associated with this cake, but our main ritual this year was to collect fèves.  Just so you know, we didn’t actually eat five cakes, but we did collect fèves whenever possible, with the result that I now possess an adorable wee chef of my own, plus a lovely, if rock-solid, naked lady.  Both of those come from cakes baked in Montpellier, where life must be a little more exciting than it is here, judging by our comparatively tame local fèves, and so I’m glad to have them.

I had intended to bake a galette of my own this year,  but instead I’ve been focused more on the savory side of the house.  Chased indoors by the winter weather, I’ve been into long, slow kitchen projects

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like this rabbit and hare terrine.  To make it I riffed on Lucy’s recipe,

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but used pecans instead of pistachios, and added tart cherries and a big dousing of Farigoule, a peculiarly delicious thyme liqueur.  I’d make it again in a heartbeat, if only for the fantastic soup that I simmered up with the rabbit stock and the overflow juices from the terrine, but right after Noël, unless you’re a hunter, fresh hare disappears completely out of your life. 

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I’ve also made this fabulous Spinach Cake, which is an excellent way to atone for too much galette and other holiday treats.  The part of this recipe that qualifies it for long and slow is washing the spinach, since it uses nearly a kilo of greens.  In case you are wondering how much a kilo of spinach actually is, it’s an entire large sink full.  Really full.

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There have also been Comice pears slowly simmered and endlessly basted in red wine and Ruby port with Christmas spices, one of the best winter fruit desserts there is.  These were, in fact, all-weather pears, since not only is the pot sitting in the snow, but the spicy syrup is reflecting passing clouds and the peekaboo blue of the clearing sky.

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For a homesick day there was a vegetable tikka and a lamb curry.  It’s hilarious to us, but the more homesick we are, the more we crave spicy food, Asian food, Mexican food, anything but French food.

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But then inevitably I come to my senses and start something like this civet de sanglier, a boar stew that, having  marinated for two days, is in the oven right now for its first cooking, and will be ready to serve in two more days, for Eric’s birthday.

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Because, yes, Eric will be celebrating an anniversaire this year, as well as a birthday.  Shel too, as it happens, both getting another year older this very week, giving me a marvelous excuse to hang out in the kitchen making delicious birthday foods for them.  And while you know that I love to cook each and every day, I love it the most when I have a special occasion to prompt my best efforts.  Two January birthdays, that’s the cure for the after-holiday slump.  That and a fridge full of boar, what more could one want?

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10 Comments on “Someone’s In The Kitchen”

  1. John and Kathy Says:

    Give a big hello and happy birthday to Eric (and Shel). Enjoy your cooking. All our love, K & J

  2. Jan Lang Says:

    Happy Birthdays to Eric and Shel! They are lucky guys to be fed by you!

  3. Lauren Says:

    My birthday’s (and my brother’s) in January too! When are Shel and Eric’s? Happy Birthday the both of them!


  4. Happy Birthday to Eric and Shel. Your spinach cake intriques me. Will you give us the recipe, please?
    Hope you are not too homesick.

  5. Heinz Says:

    Happy birthday to Shel and Eric.Christine and I wish you all the best. Abra you’ve made gorgeous meals to give both a surprise with this special treat.

  6. William Says:

    I have been cooking with tart cherries for the past six months. They are a great addition to any of the recipes I have used them. They add a good zing to the taste. I recently discovered a free tart cherry book (with tart cherry recipes). It is a good book and best of all it is free. It is called Tart Cherry Health Report. Here is a link if you are interested: http://www.traversebayfarms.com


  7. ah… that looks like a lovely terrine, and I had forgotten about Farigoule. Bon anniversaire a vos deux hommes.
    Sylvie

  8. Wendy Miller Says:

    Happy Birthday to the boys! Give them both our best! mmmmmm boar stew sounds divine!

  9. Abra Bennett Says:

    Dedene, to see the recipe just click on the link in the post, clicking the words Spinach Cake will take you straight to the recipe.

    Thanks for the birthday greetings. Eric celebrated yesterday with a boar-fest, and Shel will be dining in Lyon next Monday for his birthday.

  10. Silvia Carry Says:

    How great to have found you!…The birthday boys look wonderful. And it sounds like you are having the time of your life….I can’t believe Eric is all grown up….Time flies


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