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