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Posts tagged ‘sauces’

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.

Sauce Financiere 2

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.

osterley counter

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.

Deana Set 2

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.

Deana Set 5

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!

A Saucy Series, Part II: Sauce Madame

Welcome to guest blogger Deana Sidney of Lost Past Remembered, a blog dedicated to discovering, replicating and adapting historic recipes. In this saucy series she demystifies one of the cornerstones of classic French cuisine: the mother sauces.

Sauce Madame

As part of my series on sauces, this goes to the top of the pack as an ancient ancestor of European sauces. Even ketchup owes a debt to this sauce, as does Sauce Espagnole.

This recipe for Sauce Madame is over 600 years old, and comes from the oldest cookbook in England – actually, it wasn’t even a book, it was a long scroll that a household scribe kept in the kitchen of Richard II that has come to be known as the Forme of Cury (cury comes from the French, Querie – the business of a cook –– not the spice). If you would like more of the history, visit my blog for the rest of the story.

Sauce Madame 2

Sauce Madame meets Rohan duck

The recipe is richly flavored, full of fruit and enriched with breadcrumbs and not flour, as was the style from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance. The texture is smooth and elegant. I include a recipe for the sauce without galyntyne, if you want to skip the bread addition –– it was made that way as well.

Normally made with goose, I decided to use one of D’Artagnan’s Rohan ducks and the result is delicious. You could also make the stuffing separately (in a covered casserole with a tablespoon of duck fat and 1 cup of demi-glace cooked for ½ hour to 45 minutes till fruit is tender) and use it with duck breast or legs and thighs…it would be good with chicken as well. The sauce keeps well and you can make the poudre douce and galyntyne ahead of time. I froze some of the galyntyne to use later and it worked beautifully.

Duck in Sauce Madame (original recipe, with measurements interpreted)

1 duck (a Rohan duck ) 5 ½ to 6 pounds
2 T salt
3 c cored, peeled and roughly chopped pears and quinces or tart apples (if you use quince, chop small or steam for a few minutes to soften). I only had pureed quince that I had put up this year so added ½ a cup of that and ½ an apple for texture.
2 c grapes
5 cloves peeled garlic, cut in slices
branch of sage
1 c chopped parsley
2-3 sprigs fresh hyssop or thyme (or 2 t dry)
2-3 sprigs fresh savory (or 2 t dry)
½ to ¾ c juices from duck with some of the fat –– if there’s not enough add demi-glace
¼ c galyntyne (recipe below)
½ c red wine
2 t powdered or grated galingal to your taste (available in the Thai section of your market) or use powdered ginger
3 t poudre douce (recipe below) or to your taste

Preheat oven to 375º

Rub duck with salt inside and out.

Combine fruit, garlic and herbs and stuff the duck with it. Truss up the bird so the stuffing doesn’t leak out.

Put ½ an inch of water in a roasting pan and put the duck on a rack, breast side down. Turn the bird after ½ an hour so the breast side is up. Roast about 1½ hours total for a medium bird –– you will be keeping it warm so you don’t need to cook it to death (around 150º when measured at the thigh). Check the bird regularly and turn the pan in the oven every half hour or so. You may want to put foil around the legs so they don’t burn.

When the bird is done, remove the stuffing and tent the bird.  Put the juices in a heavy saucepan with the stuffing. Stir and allow the fruit mixture to cook a bit more; the fruit may not be softened enough and will improve with a bit of a cook. Add the galantine and wine and spices. Stir to combine.

While the mixture is cooking and after the bird has rested 10 minutes, carve the bird into serving pieces and keep warm in a 200º oven while you finish the sauce. Originally these would be speared with a knife and eaten with fingers. Pour the sauce over the duck and serve.

Poudre douce:

4 t powdered ginger
1 t cinnamon
1 t grains of paradise
1 t ground nutmeg
1 t sugar

Grind together.

Image

Deana’s galyntyne, a medieval recipe

Galyntyne

1/4 cup toasted bread crust, ground good pinch each of galingal, ginger, cinnamon
1 t salt
½ c wine vinegar (approximately)

Combine the breadcrumbs with the spices and salt. Add enough vinegar to make a thick sauce and set aside. You can push though a strainer if you want a finer texture.

Notes: I used about ¼ of the crust of a peasant loaf. I cut it off the bread and toasted it till medium brown (a toaster oven works well, but you can do it in the oven on a cookie sheet at 300º). Then I put it in the processor. To make it extra fine I put it in the spice grinder in batches to give it a fine texture. Then I toasted it in a skillet to get it a little browner –– don’t take your eyes off it when you are doing it. It goes from perfect to burnt quickly –– stir constantly.

Sauce Madame 3

Sauce Madame, sans bread

Sauce Madame sans Bread

Stuffing from bird
juices from duck with some of the fat (around a cup, about 2 T of that duck fat or to taste)
½ c demi-glace
½ c red wine
1 t powdered or grated galingal
2 t poudre douce

Cook the stuffing with the rest of the ingredients. Reduce till thickened somewhat and serve on the duck.

A Saucy Series, Part I: Espagnole

Welcome to guest blogger Deana Sidney of Lost Past Remembered, a blog dedicated to discovering, replicating and adapting historic recipes. In this saucy series she demystifies one of the cornerstones of classic French cuisine: the mother sauces.

Holy Mother of Sauces
Lots of people are a bit afraid of French sauces because they think they are too complicated and not worth the effort.  I think they are so wrong. Take a little time on a weekend to make the great base, Sauce Espagnole, and then you are good to go for so many sauces that are made from it; Bourguignonne, Champignon, Bigarade and a million others come from Espagnole, and can be used on all varieties of meat, fowl and game. I make a batch of Espagnole and freeze it in 1 cup bags so I can make a “fancy” dinner in no time, even on a weeknight. I have even come up with a shortcut to Espagnole that is a winner. If you want a more classic, long version of Espagnole Sauce with some history of “Mother Sauces,” visit my blog.

Sauce Chevreuil is a brown sauce made with Espagnole; adding port and currant jelly makes it perfect on venison, beef or even duck (try it on duck breast). It really is finger-licking good with a silky texture that will make you fall in love with it.

If you make the sauces in advance, you can do a dinner like this in no time at all…don’t forget the Stilton Mashed Potatoes, they are so good!

Deana Sidney Venison with Chevreuil Sauce

Deana Sidney’s Venison with Chevreuil Sauce and Stilton Mashed Potatoes

Quick Version of Espagnole Sauce

4 T butter
4 T flour
3 T diced carrot
3 T diced onion
3 T bacon
2 c stock
1 t thyme
piece of bay leaf
2 T white wine
1/4 c demi-glace
2 T tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Melt your butter and add the flour on a low to medium flame.  Stir regularly until the mixture turns a medium brown… kind of a medium caramel color.   Don’t let it get too dark.  This takes 5-10 minutes.

Add the vegetables, ham and bacon to the roux and stir.  Slowly add the stock, wine and demi-glace.  Cook over a low flame for 45 minutes and add the tomato sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes and strain, pressing on the solids.  Add salt and pepper to taste

To make a brown roux, melt your butter and add the flour on a low to medium flame.  Stir regularly until the mixture turns a medium brown… kind of a medium caramel color.  Remove from the stove and use.  Don’t let it get too dark.  This takes 5-10 minutes.

Chevreuil Sauce (an amalgam of many recipes)

1 T butter
2 T chopped shallot
2 T ham
any venison trimmings you may have (optional)
2 chopped mushrooms
bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, bay and sage tied up)
¼ c wine vinegar
1 c Espagnole
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 mashed anchovy
1 c   demi-glace or stock
3 oz port
1 T red currant jelly
pinch of cayenne

Sauté the shallot, ham, venison trimmings and mushrooms in the butter till softened.  Toss in the bouquet garni and add the vinegar.  Reduce till syrupy and add the Espagnole, stock, Worcestershire, and anchovy.  Cook for ½ an hour at low heat or till thickened. Strain, pressing on the solids and add the red currant jelly, port and cayenne.

Boneless Venison Steak for 2

2 venison steaks or tenderloin  (4 – 6 oz each serving)
salt and pepper
2 T butter
3-4 chanterelle and/or shitake mushrooms, sliced

Heat oven 400º

Heat a cast iron skillet till hot. Salt and pepper the steak. Put in the butter to melt and add the mushrooms and steak.  Sear on one side and then the other, stirring the mushrooms as you do.

Flip and put in a 400º oven for 5 minutes for rare.

Remove from oven and put the meat on a plate and tent for 5 minutes.  Take the mushrooms and add the Chevreuil Sauce to warm.  Pour over the meat and serve.

Note: if you use beef filet, the technique is the same

Stilton Mashed potatoes for 2

6 blue potatoes peeled or unpeeled
2 T butter
½ c milk
¼ cup crumbled stilton or to taste
pinch of mace
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until tender and drain.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mash.

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