The American poultry industry had made it possible to grow a fine-looking fryer in record time and sell it at a reasonable price, but no one mentioned that the result usually tasted like the stuffing inside of a teddy bear.
~Julia Child

Shall the talk be about food or something else? I am torn now.

Peut être, since my youngest son is now in France, it is time for me to talk about Julia. Each day I am graced with awakening early and each night bedding late to Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes I and II, and times in between with each one bearing the name on top of Julia Child. Each tome stares me in the face close to my laptop screen and always smilingly so — thank you, Anastasia. By her writings and intervening WGBH television appearances, the 6’2″ Julia Child, with her warbly tongue and sometimes maladroit gestures was ever tactful and frolicsome. Julia and her cohorts Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck, Paul Child (whom Julia met at the OSS and married) and always had a couth palette (and Jacques Pépin) simply changed cooking in America. They forever altered my mother and others and somehow randomly permeated me.

Thank you to all and others.

MOROCCAN CHICKEN WINGS (AILES DE POULET MAROCAIN)

4 lbs chicken wings, wingettes and drumettes intact

1 T coriander seeds, slightly heated and ground
1 T mustard seeds,slightly heated and ground
1 T cardamom seeds, slightly heated and ground
1 T cumin seeds, slightly heated and ground

1 T sea salt, finely grated
1 T freshly ground black pepper
1 T turbinado or raw sugar
1 T light brown sugar
1 T pimenton
1 T turmeric
1 T cinnamon powder
A touch of vanilla extract
1/2 T cayenne
2 limes, juiced
4 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

2 T apple cider vinegar
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 C fresh jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced
1/4 C honey
3 T unsalted butter, room temperature
Preserved lemons, at least 2 or 3, insides spooned out gutted), sliced

Heat the coriander, mustard, cardamom and cumin seeds in a dry medium heavy skillet over low medium heat, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, until they become aromatic, about 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool, and then coarsely grind in a spice grinder devoted to the task. Transfer to a small glass bowl and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Then, put those 4 (coriander through cumin seeds) and the following 12 ingredients (sea salt through extra virgin olive oil) on the wings in a large ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight, turning a few times.

Then, add the 6 next ingredients (apple cider vinegar through preserved lemons) to a heavy sauce pan and allow to very slowly work to a simmer reducing to 1/2 or so and, after cooling to room temperature, allow this to marinate with the wings for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 F at the lower part of the oven and prepare a well foiled pan.

Pour off most of excess marinade. Cook the entirety — the chicken wings + marinades — turning a couple of times, with the exception of the yogurt sauce, scallions, jalapenos,and cilantro (see below), of course, for about 30-40 minutes or so, until nicely yet slightly browned.

Scallions, cleaned and chopped
Jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, membrane removed and thinly sliced
Cilantro leaves, stemmed and chopped

Sauce
1 1/2 C plain Greek yogurt
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 T honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Then, top the wings with chopped scallions, jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, membrane removed and thinly sliced, and cilantro leaves, chopped.  Drizzle very lightly with, then dip in yogurt sauce.

Now feed (with toppings and yogurt sauce in a bowl) to les enfants and the elders — in the proper wing way, whatever that may be.

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Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso. (Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick.)
~Spanish proverb

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination in public accommodations, employment and federally funded activities like education, became law on July 2, 1964. On this fiftieth birthday, the Act should be celebrated for purportedly halting our version of apartheidism and for overtly outlawing Jim Crow laws in some parts. A “child of the storm,” as the Rev. Martin Luther King once noted. It would not have been enacted without the support of strange bedfellows — House and Senate Republicans who were vying for black votes. Passage of the Act took centuries of oppression and racism, murderous lynchings and shootings, pernicious shackles and floggings, Birmingham bombings, vile Klansmen, the assassination of a youthful president, fierce legislative battles, egregiously bigoted medical policies and care, vicious attack dogs unleashed and batons wielded on citizens, and a bloodied, sometimes slain, army of protesters filling our streets. In remembrance, we must remain vigilant about erosion or even quiet eradication of the Civil Rights Act.

Take, for instance, the 1965 Voting Rights Act which the Roberts’ Supreme Court gutted last year when federal enforcement was invalidated in many states with histories of discrimination against minority voters. Nine states, mostly in the South, were allowed to change their election laws without advance federal approval. The Supreme Court, in a majority opinion (5-4) authored by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., naively ruled that “(o)ur country has changed…(w)hile any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.” See Shelby County, Alabama vs. Holder, et al., 570 U.S. ____ (2013). This ruling effectively ended the use of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which required any changes to voting rules in covered jurisdictions be endorsed by the Justice Department in advance. So, voter identification laws that had been blocked would become effective promptly, redistricting (gerrymandering) maps would no longer require federal approval, and southern states will no longer have the burden of proof in showing that voting changes do not have a racially discriminatory effect.

Public apathy, misinformation, myopia, “legal” ploys, and a conservatively bent Supreme Court with justices ironically clad in black political robes have put our revered Civil Rights Act in jeopardy. How tacit empathy rules in that ivory tower acronymed SCOTUS.

Perhaps some vanilla ice cream cloaked in chocolate is apt, as some things have not changed.

VANILLA ICE CREAM

2 C heavy whipping cream
1 C whole milk
2/3 C granulated sugar
1 small pinch, fine sea salt
1-2 vanilla beans, sliced lengthwise or 1+ t vanilla extract

6 large egg yolks

In a small to medium heavy saucepan, simmer cream, milk, sugar, salt, scrapings and seeds from vanilla bean and add pod or add vanilla extract. Bring mixture just to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. If using vanilla bean, cover and let sit 30 minutes.

In a separate glass or metal bowl, whisk yolks until pale yellow. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pan with the cream. Return pan to medium low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2-3 minutes. Strain custard into a medium bowl set over a bowl of ice water and let cool, stirring occasionally, until it reaches room temperature.

Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store tightly sealed in freezer until wanted.

GANACHE

14 ozs fine, bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa), broken into pieces
3 T espresso
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 C sugar (granulated + light brown)
3/4 C heavy whipping cream
1 pinch coarse sea salt

In a heavy saucepan, combine all ingredients and melt together over very low heat, stirring.

Just before all the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and stir until chocolate melts and mixture comes together. It may appear curdled, but keep whisking vigorously, as it will smooth. If too thick to pour, whisk in hot water a tablespoon at a time. Taste for salt and adjust the seasoning.

Liberally drizzle ganache over the ice cream. Swoon as you spoon.

An icon born of error.

Filial fare. Word has it that two sisters, Caroline (b. 1847) and Stéphanie Tatin (b. 1838), created this simple, to die for, Belle Époque tarte. They lived in Lamotte-Beuvron, a small rural town in the Loire Valley where they managed l’Hôtel Tatin. Lamotte-Beuvron is located in the forested hunting region known as the Sologne, about 100 miles from Paris.

The elder sister, Stéphanie a/k/a Fanny, manned the hotel kitchen…an exquisite cook but not the brightest bulb in the room. Locals, such as Claude Monet, made a point to spend Sunday afternoons savoring long, leisurely lunches there.

Stéphanie’s specialty was a luscious apple tarte, served ever so crusty and caramelized. One midday, while mired in the weeds during the hectic hunting season, Stéphanie started to make her usual apple tarte but in haste left the apples cooking in butter and sugar, forgetting to line the pan with crust. Time not being her ally, she decided not to begin the tarte anew. So, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry on top of the apples, and finished the tarte in the oven with the pastry and apples reversed. She then inverted the pan and served up the new fangled tarte renversée to guests who, to her surprise, purred nothing but formidables. Soon, it became a signature house dish and was later dubbed la tarte des demoiselles Tatin.

The tarte did not rise to gastronomic prominence until the epicure Curnonsky included it in a volume of La France Gastronomique dedicated to l’Orléannais, the region around Orléans that encompasses Lamotte-Beuvron. In the late 1930s, the rustic tarte’s celebrity rose to new heights when it appeared on the menu of Maxim’s, the famed Parisian restaurant.

Now, a global culinary darling: The tarte of two unmarried women named Tatin, or Tarte Tatin.

LA TARTE TATIN

Pastry Dough (Pâte Brisée Fine)
1 C all purpose flour
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small bits
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 t granulated sugar
1/3 C+ ice water

Briefly mix the flour, butter, salt and sugar in a bowl with your fingers. The pieces of butter should still be visible. Add the water, roll the mixture into a ball and knead for a minute or so. Do not overknead—the dough should have body and be pliable, but not too elastic and dry. Wrap well in plastic and let dough rest in refrigerator for one hour before rolling.

Tarte
5 to 6 Golden Delicious apples, quartered, cored and peeled
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice on 1 lemon
1 1/2 C sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped
6 T unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces

Pastry dough

Preheat oven to 425 F

Cut the apple quarters in half lengthwise. Toss in a bowl with the lemon and 1/2 cup of sugar. Allow to steep until they exude their juices, about 20 minutes. Drain.

Melt the butter in a 10″ heavy-high-rimmed-non-stick-oven-proof pan over moderately high heat. Blend in the vanilla bean and remaining 1 cup sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon for several minutes, until the syrup turns a caramel hue. It will smooth out later, when the apples juices dissolve the sugar.

Remove from heat and arrange a layer of apple slices nicely in the bottom of the pan. Flare the apples slices in closely packed circles around the circumference of the pan, filling in the middle. Add enough apples to heap up 1″ higher than the rim of the pan. They sink down as they cook.

Set the pan again over moderately high heat, pressing the apples down with a wooden spatula as they soften. Draw the accumulated juices over the apples with a bulb baster. When the apples begin to soften, cover the pan and continue cooking 10-15 minutes, checking and basting frequently until the juices are thick and syrupy. Remove from heat.

Roll the chilled dough to 1/8″ thick and a circle with a diameter 1″ larger than the top of the pan. Fold the dough in half, then in quarters and center over the apples. Then, unfold the dough over the apples. Press the edges of the dough down between the apples and the inside of the pan. Cut a few steam escape holes from around the center of the dough.

Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and tilt the pan. If the juices are runny rather than a thick syrup, boil down rapidly on top on the stove, but not to the point that the apples stick to the pan.

Place a serving platter upside down on top of the pastry and carefully flip the platter and the pan over, allowing the tart to fall gently out of the pan.

Serve warm, with whipped cream, ice cream or sweetened mascarpone.

Pourboire: Tarte Tatin can be made with other fruits, such as pears or quince. As you may imagine, savory versions exist too. A medley of wild mushrooms and herbs?

What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.
~Katherine Hepburn

While brownies may be considered undersexed in technique, when eaten they can be almost lewd.

Some sources trace the origin of the iconic brownie to the 1896 The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, written by the esteemed Fannie Farmer—but that was more of a cookie/confection that was flavored with molasses and made in fluted molds. Then in an 1897 Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalog there was a recipe for a molasses candy dubbed “brownies” which were named after the legendary, magical elves that had become the rage in pop culture then. Brownies were those rarely seen, occasionally mischievous, creatures that lived in houses or barns and finished undone housework in return for food favors.

About a decade later, the first cake brownie recipe appeared in the 1906 edition of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book which proved less rich and chocolate laden than today’s brownies. The following year, along came a recipe for “Bangor Brownies” in Lowney’s Cook Book, authored by Maria Howard which added extra eggs and chocolate, creating a more luscious chocolate brownie. Since the early decades of last century, brownies have held a prominent place in America’s kitchens with myriad versions on the same theme.

Intensely chocolate and chewy in texture, this edition demands a scoop or two of fine vanilla ice cream. As always, the key is exquisite chocolate.

BROWNIES

1 C all purpose flour
1/2 t salt

5 ozs gourmet dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), chopped
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 T fine cocoa powder
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1 t pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 C walnuts, chopped (sort of, optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Butter an 8″ square baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour and salt and set aside.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a large bowl placed over a heavy saucepan of simmering water, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool some. Then stir in the cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Finally, stir in the flour mixture and walnuts.

Spread evenly in the prepared pan and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out almost clean, about 30-40 minutes. Do not overcook. If anything, undercook them lightly so they remain chewy. Allow to rest before slicing.

This week, the farmers’ market graced me with a couple of boxes of plump, ripe, dark, regally hued, finger-staining fresh blueberries and wild blackberries. Tired of being plucked and popped one by one, they begged to be baked.

Serve this simple and luscious seasonal berry crisp with rich, even homemade, creamy vanilla ice cream. A midsummer standard.

BLUEBERRY & BLACKBERRY CRISP

1/2 C sugar
1-2 T ground cinnamon
2-3 gratings of fresh nutmeg
2 C fresh blueberries
2 C fresh blackberries
2 vanilla beans split or small dash of pure vanilla extract
1 T lemon juice

1 C all purpose flour
1 C brown sugar
1 C chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 425 F

Butter medium glass baking dish. Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in large bowl. Add berries and lemon juice and gently toss to coat. Taste and adjust, if necessary. Transfer mixture to prepared dish.

Combine flour, brown sugar and butter in medium bowl. Using pastry blender and/or fingertips, blend ingredients until coarse meal form and the mixture becomes soft, tender and workable. Spread flour mixture evenly over berries.

Bake crisp 20 minutes, and then reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Bake until topping is golden brown, about another 30 minutes. Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.

As with many culinary creations, the origins of crème brûlée are contentious, with the English, Spanish, and French all staking claim. The Spanish have taken credit for this sensuous custard as crema catalana since the 18th century, while the English assert this dish originated in 17th century England, where it was known as burnt cream or Trinity cream. The earliest known written reference to crème brûlée is found in François Massialot’s 1691 cookbook, Nouveau cuisinier royal et bourgeois. Later, the French were attributed with advancing crème brûlée into vogue in the late 19th century. Since then, this elegant and satiny egg dessert with its sweet textural top has graced menus across the western world.

Crème brûlée is literally translated as “burnt cream.”

In recent years, chefs have embellished this dessert with a host of flavors — ginger, lavender, basil, chiles, coffee, mango, coconut, citrus, chocolate, berries and liquers, et al. I prefer Crème brûlée naked, savoring the basic mix of egg and sugars.

CREME BRULEE

4 vanilla beans, flattened and cut in half lengthwise
8 large egg yolks
3/4 C granulated sugar
1 C whole milk
3 C heavy cream

1/2 C dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 275 F

Spoon out the vanilla seeds inside the open pods and place them in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer fitted with a whisk. Add the egg yolks and granulated sugar to the bowl and whisk at high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and cream. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight to allow the flavors to marry.

Pour mixture evenly into ramekins until almost full.

Place ramekins in a baking dish and carefully pour boiling water in pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake oven 35 to 40 minutes, until custards are set and the center jiggles slightly when gently shaken. Immediately remove custards from water bath to halt the cooking process; cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate until firm.

Remove from refrigerator and sprinkle brown sugar over the custard. Either heat with a kitchen blowtorch or the broiler until sugar caramelizes evenly and forms a crust. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute or two until caramelized sugar hardens.

The only thing that will make a soufflé fall is if it knows you are afraid of it.
~James Beard

The word soufflé is nothing more than the past participle of the French verb souffler which means “to blow up” or even more loosely “puff up” — an apt description of what is created by this heavenly marriage of egg whites and Béchamel sauce (savory) or custard (sweet). According to most food historians, soufflés were a product of 18th century French cuisine with the first written recipe purportedly appearing in the 1742 edition of Vincent La Chapelle’s, Le Cuisinier Moderne.

CHEESE SOUFFLE

2 T finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Unsalted butter

2 1/2 T unsalted butter
3 T all purpose flour
1 C whole milk
1 bay leaf

1/4 t paprika
1/2 t sea salt
Nutmeg, a small grating
White pepper, a healthy pinch, preferably freshly ground
Cayenne pepper, a minute pinch

4 large organic, free range egg yolks
5 large organic, free range egg whites
1 C gruyère cheese, grated

Gruyère cheese, grated, for topping

Preheat oven to 375 F, with the rack in the lower third of the oven.

Butter the surface of an 6-cup soufflé dish. Add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and roll around the dish to cover the sides and bottom, knocking out the excess.

Heat the milk with bay leaf. Once hot, discard bay leaf and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter, then blend in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a smooth loose paste. Stir over medium heat until the butter and flour come together without coloring more that a light yellow, about 2 minutes—a blond roux. Remove from heat.

Let stand a few seconds and then pour in all of the hot milk, whisking vigorously to blend. Return to medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon; bring to a gentle boil for 3 minutes or until the sauce is quite thick. Whisk in the paprika, salt, nutmeg and peppers and remove from heat again.

While off the heat, add egg yolks one by one into the sauce, all the while whisking.

In a separate bowl, using a hand or stand up mixer, whip the egg whites until glossy and peaked. Stir in a quarter of the egg whites into the sauce with a wooden spoon or spatula. Once they are assumed in the sauce, fold in the remaining egg whites and the gruyère cheese. Turn the soufflé mixture into the prepared mold, which should be about three quarters full. Sprinkle a small amount grated gruyère on top.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown, and the soufflé has puffed about 2″ over the rim of the mold. (Do not open oven door for 20 minutes.) Once done, remove and serve at once with frisée or salad or asparagus spears with a vinaigrette of choice and a chilled, crisp sauvignon blanc.

Pourboire: Gently and briefly sauté 1/3 C shelled, roughly chopped lobster or crab in unsalted butter until warm. After completing the white (Béchamel) sauce, stir in the shellfish and then complete the remainder of the recipe. And always consider chopped fresh herbs and other melting cheeses such as fontina, et al. Or give thought to roquefort for a pungent change of pace.

CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE

2 T unsalted butter
1/4 granulated sugar

7 oz bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened, with a high cocoa content)
1/3 cup espresso or strong coffee

1/3 C flour
2 C milk
3 T unsalted butter, cut in pieces
Pinch of sea salt
1 T vanilla extract
4 organic, free range egg yolks

6 organic, free range egg whites
1/2 C granulated sugar
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 375 F

Butter an 8″ diameter soufflé dish and roll the sugar around in it to cover the bottom and sides, knocking out the excess.

In a heavy saucepan, smoothly melt the chocolate and coffee.

Whisk the flour and milk together and boil slowly while whisking for 2 minutes until thick. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, salt and vanilla. Whisk in the egg yolks one by one, and then the melted chocolate and coffee mixture.

In a separate bowl, using a hand or stand up mixer, while gradually adding the sugar, whip the egg whites until glossy and peaked. Slowly and gently fold the chocolate sauce into the egg whites, and once done, turn into the soufflé dish.

Bake until soufflé has puffed up just over the rim of the dish and browned some, about 20 minutes. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar and return to the oven to bake for a couple more minutes until the soufflé has puffed up an inch or so—but do not overcook. Serve over the ever luscious crème anglaise.

CREME ANGLAISE

6 organic, free range egg yolks, room temperature
2/3 C sugar
1 C whole milk
1/2 C heavy whipping cream
2 vanilla beans split lengthwise
3 T unsalted butter

Combine the milk, cream and vanilla bean in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let the bean steep for 15 minutes. With a paring knife, scrape the beans from the pod into the milk and cream. Whisk the egg yolks in a small heavy saucepan, adding the sugar by spoonfuls, until pale yellow and thick. In a very slow stream, stir in the hot milk/cream/vanilla mixture.

Place the sauce pan over medium low heat, slowly stirring the mixture until it almost reaches a simmer. Take care not to overcook as it will curdle, but heat enough so it thickens. The sauce is done when it coats a wooden spoon. Finish by whisking in the butter. Crème anglaise may be served warm or cold.