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A Saucy Conversation with Deana

“Sauces are the splendor and the glory of French cooking” ~ Julia Child

March is National Sauce Month. And so … let’s talk about sauces!!

We will glory in any sauce. Sriracha. Marinara. Fra Diavolo. Bechamel. Bourbon barbecue sauce. Tartar. Chimichurri. Mole. We believe there should be sauce on everything. But when it comes to sauces, the mother lode is in French cuisine.

To round out our Saucy Series we will post one sauce a week during National Sauce Month.  So come along for the ride!

Our saucier for this project is blogger and historic food explorer Deana Sidney, who can generally be found at her blog Lost Past Remembered.

Before we get started, we thought it was time to introduce you to Deana.

Deana

Deana Sidney

Deana, can you tell us how you got started on this food journey? What drew you to ancient recipes in the first place?

I first fell for ancient food in college when I was studying English and Italian literature –– I wanted to taste the past. Instead of learning how to cook with Joy of Cooking like a sane person, I began with Forme of Cury, a 15th century English cookbook. My earliest attempts were ghastly –– slowly but surely I got better, and so did the food. Now I love the exuberant spicing and lavishness. It takes you away to another time.

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Duck Breast with Sauce Financiére

How long have you been writing your blog at Lost Past Remembered?

I started the blog 4 years ago and have had the best time doing it. I have met so many incredible people; I’m working on book proposals, am getting my first article published and shot the cover of the magazine. I’ve gone to the Oxford Food Symposium for the last few years and hobnobbed with all the food history wizards –– it’s been a gas and terribly liberating. No producers/directors leaning over your shoulder telling you what you can and can’t do!

It’s an incredibly detailed account of your cooking adventures in a day when big pictures and few words seem to be the name of the game. Reading your blog is downright educational – and not just about food. So how do you research your topics?

I basically read everything I can get my hands on. Some posts are more extensively researched than others. I especially enjoy writing about houses, the lives that have been lived in them and how they ate. In a way, it combines my favorite part of production design, food history and decoration. I spend a bit of time in the summer in England and the National Trust has been kind enough to help me visit many of the great English houses. I love their stories. In the end, it’s about telling great stories with great pictures.

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A counter in the vast kitchen at Osterley Park, a great estate in England.

Have you had many disappointments in the kitchen? It seems like you introduce a complex recipe and then breezily recommend it as “easier than it looks, I promise you!” Have you had disasters?

Disasters? Oh yes, don’t we all? In the recipes, if I say it’s easier than it looks, it really is. Mostly it’s just the time it takes that seems daunting. Most disasters for me happen when pastry is involved –– not my strong suit– or if I try to rush or lose focus. I’ve been lucky lately though. I try to go through the old recipes methodically and take my time since I often don’t have extra preparations should one fail. Luckily a recent tough crust I made was for me and not for the blog. I have no idea why it failed!

What have you learned in tackling these classic sauce recipes from the French canon?

The biggest thing? There really are just a few basic parts to almost all the great sauces — D’Artagnan’s fabulous demi-glace shows up in most of them. If you have frozen demi-glace and make up a batch of Sauce Espagnole (and keep that in your freezer in small bags) you can make many of the dark sauces in no time at all. One day’s work pays off extravagantly. The cream and egg sauces just need you to take care with the heat and stir them well (and strain if there are clotted bits!). You can have an elegant dinner in no time at all using all the fabulous D’Artagnan birds and meats with the sauces – just like a 4 star French restaurant. Many of them take no time at all –– REALLY!

Which sauce recipe was your favorite?

That is almost impossible. I love the dark richness of Financiére with truffles and Madeira, but also am fond of the cream sauces (I have a great source for cream). Adding the egg to a sauce gives such richness from Hollandaise to Allemande.

Deana Sidney Venison with Chevreuil Sauce

Sauce Chevreuil is a brown sauce made with Espagnole, seen here over venison

What do you do when you’re not cooking? Tell us a little bit about your day job.

My other job is working as a production designer for films, TV and commercials. I specialize in character-driven work and love to construct a person’s environment so the actors feel at home there. It’s great fun, as much psychology as art. I am a sucker for objects that tell stories.

How has your food experience helped in your production design career?

Oh my, I have used it so much on small features (on larger ones I am not allowed to play with food). When I work with food stylists, they have 20 of something to shoot. I have gotten used to making do with much fewer on the blog. Now when I do film food scenes, I use all the tricks I have discovered shooting for the blog. It really is like play. Sadly, because of the lights, I can’t use some ingredients I would if it was for real. They would coagulate and look awful after a few takes. I think canned food is indestructible!

Do you have any memorable food stories from a movie set?

Well, one that’s appropriate is the D’Artagnan dinner I did for Molly’s Theory of Relativity. It was a labor-of-love project of a favorite director of mine. We had a very low budget but getting the D’Artagnan products for the shoot made all the difference – the dinner scene took up a lot of screen time.

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Set photo from Molly’s Theory of Relativity

I was in a kitchen making duck ragout ravioli, duck breast with cherry sauce and foie gras. Since the scene took all day to film, we warned the actors not to eat too much but they couldn’t help themselves. The duck was so good they kept eating! After 30 takes they were getting rather full! Even a little boy on the set, whose mother said he didn’t eat anything, LOVED duck breast and ate a lot. The only disaster was the poor foie gras. Someone had accidently moved the pan to a burner that was on low so it got overcooked.

Deana Set Photo

Set photo of a young Einstein at the table from Molly’s Theory of Relativity

I did have to use soup and canned cherries to make the sauces so they would stay pretty. We put the duck on the platter and kept replacing the portions the actors were eating.

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Deana’s movie set duck breast (Molly’s Theory of Relativity)

It has been a pleasure and an inspiration to follow along while Deana worked her way through these classic French sauces. If you want to catch up on her sauce posts, she’s got a category on our blog called Saucy Series. Bon appetit!

Get Deals on Duck!

We are obsessed with duck. It’s kind of our thing. And we’ve heard that you like duck as much as we do.

That’s why we’re kicking off the month of March with a giant all-things-duck sale!

This means that duck leg confit, raw moulard duck breast, whole Rohan, Muscovy or Pekin duck, smoked duck breast, duck rillettes, duck prosciutto, duck bacon, duck sausage, duck fat and even our cassoulet kit (it’s got duck in it!) are all specially priced to tempt you.

What are you waiting for?  Shop and save 15% on any duck of your choice this week at dartagnan.com.

If you need a little inspiration …

02737CT191Duck a la orange recipe

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Surprise Sale on FOIE GRAS!

Just for you – to banish winter’s remaining gloom – a 50% off sale on small foie gras torchon!

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Spread the Love! Our Truffle Butter & Iman

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Photo: March 2014 Elle Decor, by Nina Westervelt

We already knew the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten uses our white truffle butter in her tagliaterre recipe and recommends it on TV and in her books. Thank you, Ina!

But we were surprised to learn that supermodel Iman loves it too! It is listed in the March issue of Elle Decor as one of the 12 things she cannot live without. We’re thrilled to be on her list – and we hope you add white truffle butter to your must-have items.

As a way to spread the love, we are giving away a case of white truffle butter on our Facebook page. So head over there and “like” our page to enter.

What would you do with a case of six 3 ounce tubs of white truffle butter? We have a few ideas here.

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Watch, Learn, Cook! A New Video!

The latest video in our “Back of the House with Ariane” series takes on the subject of veal. The great Barbara Lynch, a chef and restaurateur based in Boston, makes a traditional Italian dish of osso buco and Ariane takes the French path with paupiettes de veau.

Link over to the recipes for Barbara Lynch’s Spicy Veal Osso Buco with Cumin Strozzapreti and Ariane’s Paupiettes de Veau on our website.

Incidentally, you can purchase veal there as well. And if you are squeamish about eating veal, there’s no need to be. Learn more about how our farmers raise veal here.

Real Deals on Veal!

Take 20% off all cuts of veal – including our three new additions: ground veal, veal stew meat and veal chuck roast.

Shop the sale now.

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Free Shipping in February!

It’s back: a whole month of free shipping!

Any orders of $100 + ship free throughout February. Get over to dartagnan.com and shop…

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Super Bowl Sunday, the Meat of the Matter

For something beyond finger food…that will stick to the ribs and help absorb some of the alcohol on game day, here are our picks.

You can’t go wrong with chili. It’s a one-pot, make-ahead meal that can be ladled out in haste between plays. Melt some cheese on top, serve with corn chips. Or with bacon cornbread. Everyone loves chili. We take ours with buffalo, thank you. 

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For a variation on the theme, this tomatillo and lamb stew is hearty, warming, and a lovely surprise for your Super Bowl guests. You might serve it with tortillas to soak up the luscious juices.

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Tomatillo Lamb Stew

Forget about the Velveeta shortage and try eating real macaroni with real cheese. And real truffles.

Whether you follow directions and make individual ramekins of this decadent mac ‘n’ cheese, or  whip up a huge batch and dole out spoonfuls, this is a dish not easily forgotten. Which is to say that when truffles and cream meet over noodles of any kind, there is true magic.  Get good at making this, because it will be requested again and again.

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Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese

No sooner do we think of mac-n-cheese than sliders come to mind. Did we promise a foie-gras-free zone? Sorry about that! These buffalo mini burgers with foie gras are too tempting. Not to worry, it’s just our medallion of foie  gras with truffles, which we treat as a spread in this recipe. So easy! The sweet-sour tangy flavor of the onion marmalade balances this burger beautifully.

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Buffalo Burgers with Foie Gras Spread and Sweet Onion Marmalade

Class up the party with a massive Berkshire pork loin, prepared simply: stuffed with garlic and herbs, rolled, tied and then roasted. It’s an easy way to serve up to 10 people and it sure looks impressive.

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Garlic Roasted Pork Loin

And there’s always ribs. Glorious ribs. Smoky, sweet, sticky ribs. Roasted in the oven and slathered with sauce…pork spare ribs or St. Louis style, beef short ribs or even wild boar ribs …  we never saw a rib we didn’t like.  Serve up platters of ribs and make everyone happy this Super Bowl Sunday.

Ribs Recipes

Super Bowl Sunday, the Snack Edition

We have to get in on the action — after all, Super Bowl XLVIII is happening only  a few miles away from our office!  The entire area is filled with excitement, banners are waving high, hotels are filling up, stores and restaurants are having super sales.

And every where we look online, there are football-shaped meatloaves and other wild suggestions for Super Bowl snacks.  We’ve even see lists of foods that should never be served at a Super Bowl party (kale chips are apparently not cool).

We take eating seriously, as you do. So without succumbing to kitsch, or worse, the junk food trap, how can your maintain your high food standards? Without getting too highfalutin? We have a few ideas that don’t involve foie gras or dainty canapes.

Behold the snacks….

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Wild Mushroom Bacon Dip

This dip is no joke. It is thick, creamy, smoky and totally addicting. Maybe that’s due to the hickory-smoked bacon doing its magic, or the porcini powder which adds an element of umami. Let’s just say that you will want a flexible spatula to scrape every last bit out of the bowl. Licking is allowed.

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White Bean Dip with Truffles

OK, we’ll admit this seems a bit fancy, what with the truffles and Tarbais beans. But there are some Super Bowl parties with discerning eater in attendance. Why not give them something worthy of their well-trained palate?  Plus this dip is tremendously tasty.

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Super Pigs in a Blanket

It can’t get much easier. Wrap our log of garlic sausage with pastry dough and bake. Serve with mustard. It’s a simple and elegant take on a classic.

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Mushroom Salsa

Here’s our fresh take on salsa. Who says it has to be tomato-based? We love mushrooms — especially in this “meaty” salsa. It’s safe for vegetarians (you’ll note there is not even duck fat in this recipe), and delicious for everyone.

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Game Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Continuing our mushroom theme, these easy, stuffed fungi are a little more special with game sausage inside. We like the wild boar sausage for this recipe, though venison sausage works well. And of course, for a lighter flavor, rabbit and ginger sausage is quite nice.

If you are looking for something more substantial, click on through to our next post

Duckspotting @ bellyQ in Chicago

Duckspotting is snapping & sending in pics of dishes from your favorite restaurants, made with D’Artagnan ingredients! We supply restaurants all over the country & love to see what creative chefs are doing with our products. Keep sending them in!

duck benedict Belly Q

Where: bellyQ

What: Chef Bill Kim’s  Tea Smoked Duck Benedict with Gai Lan, Thai Curry Hollandaise, Tempura Egg - on the brunch menu

How: bellyQ is at 1400 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60607  |   for reservations click here or call (312) 563-1010 

Dining out & spot some fabulous dishes made with D’Artagnan ingredients? Snap a pic & email with the details to lilyh@dartagnan.com. We’ll give you & the restaurant a shout out!