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The Food Almanac: Monday, October 10, 2012

The Food Almanac: Monday, October 10, 2012

In The Food Almanac, Tom Fitzmorris of the online newsletter, The New Orleans Menu, notes food facts and sayings.

Today's Flavor
This is Meuniere Day in all Francophone areas of the world. The French word meuniere means "in the style of the flour miller's wife." Which is to say, coated in flour before being cooked, probably in butter. The butter and the flour that shook loose brown a little. It's then doctored up with lemon juice, red wine vinegar, or Worcestershire sauce, resulting in a sauce for the fish, or veal, or whatever.

Here in New Orleans we make full use of the concept, enough that a uniquely Creole version of meuniere has evolved. It uses all the same ingredients, but in a different way. The flour and butter are made into a light roux, which is then added to a little stock, with lemon and Worcestershire. This can be made in a large batch, instead of a few servings at a time. It also allows for the fish to be fried instead of sautéed. This style of meuniere probably was invented in the 1920s at Arnaud's, where it sped up production of the restaurant's signature trout meuniere. Arnaud's style of meuniere spread to many other restaurants, getting thicker, darker, and meatier in flavor as time went on.

Today is also rumored to be National Angel Food Cake Day. Angel food cake was a reaction to devil's food cake. And, of course, not nearly as satisfying. Angel food cake's distinction is its lightness; it's made with only the whites of eggs, whipped into a fine foam, with the sugar and flour and flavoring added to it. No matter what you do, it comes out dry, and needs something juicy added to it. Hey! Here's an idea. A layer cake alternating devil's food and angel food. Why not?

Edible Dictionary
beurre manière, n., French — Also called beurre manié. It literally means "butter manipulated by hand." Flour is worked into softened butter until it's a uniform blend. So it's essentially an uncooked roux. It's used to add thickness to sauces, the advantage being that the flour doesn't clump up in the sauce and adds a bit of richness. The resemblance to the word meuniere is coincidental, although both words define mixtures of butter and flour.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Lemon, Ky., is in the western part of the state, 36 miles on the other side of the Ohio River from Evansville, Ind. Lemon is on the Green River, a tributary of the Ohio. It's just a few houses that may be the center of a large farm in the area. It's unlikely that lemon trees grow there. Nor can many malfunctioning automobiles be seen. The nearest restaurant is Little B's Pizza and Sandwiches, two miles away in Calhoun.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez
You can make a credible meuniere sauce in seconds by swirling pats of butter around in a very hot pan, then adding dashes of lemon juice (or red wine vinegar), and Worcestershire to it as soon as the butter is completely melted.

Annals of Kitchen Accidents
Earle Dickson, the man who invented the Band-Aid, was born today in 1892. He was motivated by his wife Josephine, who — like most of us who spend a lot of time in the kitchen — cut herself often enough to need a quick, ready remedy. In those days, you used gauze held in place by tape to wrap a cut. But that had a way of slipping off. Dickson's insight was that if a pad of gauze were attached to a piece of tape the proper size, it would remain in place longer and be more effective. His employer, Johnson & Johnson, started making the new bandage in 1924, and it became the fantastic success it remains today.

Annals of Formal Wear
This is the birthday of the tuxedo. The year was 1886. Tobacco heir Griswold Lorillard showed up for the autumn ball at his club in Tuxedo Park, N.Y., wearing a dinner jacket custom-made for him in England. Its radical design departure: no tails. The daring new look swept through high society, where it remains the standard uniform for men in formal settings. I wear a tuxedo every chance I get. It makes even dumpy, balding men look fabulous. You don't need a reason: just show up for dinner in a tux. The worst thing that could happen is that you might be mistaken for a waiter.

Food in Music
Today in 1966, Simon and Garfunkel released their third album. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. That's a line from "Scarborough Fair," the hit song in the album. It came out on the radio when the weather was just turning cold, and I think of fall every time I hear it . Speaking of fall songs: Today in 1903 was the birthday of composer Vernon Duke (born as Vladimir Dukelsky). He wrote many standards, of which the best is "Autumn In New York." The song is always on my mind this time of year . Today in 1926, the musical "Hold Everything," about a boxer, opened on Broadway. It included the song "You're The Cream In My Coffee" . Today in 1970, Neil Diamond had his first Number One hit, "Cracklin' Rosie." The name was a play on crackling rosé, a cheap pink wine popular for about three days in the late '60s.

Food Namesakes
Swedish vocalist Neneh Cherry was born today in 1964 . Luc von Brabant, a poet specializing in erotic works, was born in Belgium today in 1909.

Words to Eat By
"I hate television. I hate it as much as I hate peanuts. But I cannot stop eating peanuts." — Orson Welles, actor, director, magician, and very dedicated gourmet, who died on this day in 1985.

"He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food." — Raymond Chandler, mystery writer.

"You may have the universe if I may have Italy." — Giuseppe Verdi, opera composer, born today in 1813.

Words to Drink By
"The days of wine and roses
Laugh and run away
Like a child at play." — Johnny Mercer, American singer and songwriter.

Check out other Food Almanac columns by Tom Fitzmorris.


Dinner ideas

Get inspired with our best ever dinner recipes. From quick healthy meals to family suppers, we've got all the recipes you need.

Bolognese recipes

Bring on the Bolognese! This delicious Italian sauce is highly versatile and can be served, not only on spaghetti, but in pasta bakes and even tacos.

Budget recipes

Thrifty recipes to save you money in the kitchen. Try our budget-friendly salads, jacket potatoes or wraps for lunch, and our curries, pasta and pizza for dinner.

Cheap and healthy recipes

Being healthy on a budget doesn't have to be hard. Try our easy recipes that are low in price but rich in nutritious ingredients and great flavour.

Chicken curry recipes

Perk up your poultry by adding spicy Asian flavours. Our recipes range from creamy and mild to sweet and hot.

Chicken one-pot recipes

Feed the family with our wholesome chicken one-pot recipes. These hearty casseroles, stews, roasts and risottos save on washing-up and maximise flavour.

Chicken traybake recipes

Fuss-free, one-pot poultry recipes to pop in the oven.

Chilli con carne recipes

Make classic chilli con carne tonight for spicy comfort food, or try different options with beans, veggies or turkey mince. Serve with tortillas.

Dairy-free dinner recipes

Cut the heavy dairy out of your evening meal.

Dinner for two recipes

Discover romantic recipes for two, including indulgent brunch dishes, starters, main courses and desserts.

Dinner party starter recipes

Kick off your meal in style with our chic selection of starters. From soups and salads to scallops and smoked salmon, these elegant dishes are sure to impress.

Dinner party main recipes

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Dinner party dessert recipes

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Family meal recipes

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Fish pie recipes

Inspiration for a mash-topped seafood bake, these warming fish pie recipes are ultra comforting family-friendly dishes.

Gluten-free dinner recipes

Suppertime menu options that skip grains and wheat.

Healthy dinner recipes

Discover BBC Good Food's best ever healthy dinner ideas. Get inspired by our nutritious, triple-tested recipes including vegetarian, vegan and meat options.

Lasagne recipes

Cook a classic Italian pasta bake for the family. We have all sorts of lasagne recipes, including traditional mince, seafood and veggie versions.

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Macaroni cheese recipes

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Pasta recipes

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Pasta bake recipes

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Quick family recipes

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10 Healthy Green Juice Recipes That Actually Taste as Great as They Look

Plus, a dietitian explains how to make the most of your daily greens.

Green juice is notorious for its health halo: How could a bunch of blended fruits and veggies not be nutritious? It&rsquos also one of the most ubiquitous health-focused snacks, one that you can pick up at the grocery store, the yoga studio, and even the gas station.

&ldquoGreen juice can be a great way for people who don&rsquot like to eat veggies to get some greens into their diet,&rdquo says Diana Sugiuchi, R.D.N., L.D.N., founder of Nourish Family Nutrition. She notes, though, that making the most of green juice is a bit more complicated than you might first imagine&mdashespecially if you&rsquore using a traditional juicer.

&ldquoI would definitely go the route of blending, rather than using a juicer,&rdquo says Sugiuchi, who notes that juicers remove much of the fiber in your produce, which keeps you feeling full. &ldquoOne of the key benefits of veggies is their fiber content. One of the main ones is that the fiber acts as a prebiotic in your digestive tract. It helps to feed those good bacteria that have effects on our physical and mental health.&rdquo

Another thing to consider is sugar. &ldquoFruit is really healthy, but if you&rsquore having an orange, an apple, and pineapple juice all at once, that can be an awful lot of sugar,&rdquo Sugiuchi warns. &ldquoWatch the amount you&rsquore adding and consider, &lsquoIs this going to be a complete meal for me? What can I add to this?&rsquo&rdquo

But when you strike a balance of veggies and fruit, green juices can be a great snack or morning pick-me-up paired with your breakfast. They&rsquore rich sources of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that do all sorts of wonderful things for your health. &ldquoAll those dark green veggies are a great source of vitamin A, which is a powerful antioxidant&rdquo Sugiuchi says. &ldquoYou&rsquore also going to be getting vitamin C and some potassium, too.&rdquo Getting thirsty? The following green juice recipes are so tasty, you&rsquoll want to sip one every day.


How to Roast a Swan.

Today, August 25th …

Today in 1845 was the birthday of “Mad King Ludwig II” of Bavaria – officially, that is. In actual fact he had been born an hour earlier, in the dying moments of yesterday, but attendants at the birth – and his own mother – conspired to keep the real time a secret. The reason was that his grandfather, Ludwig I, had a wish that his new grandchild would share his own birthda. The decision to conspire in this deceit should give some indication of the state of the royal family dynamics at the time.

Was Ludwig mad? Or bad? Or sad? Surely he was sad? – and perhaps made mad by the circumstances of his life. Might he have been an architect had he not been royal? The the fanciful fairytale castles that he instigated are huge tourist drawcards today. Or perhaps he might have been a musician, for he was passionately fond of music and was a long-time patron of Richard Wagner. Instead he was forced to be king, a king tortured by his own homosexuality – and one who was increasingly unlikely to be able to fulfil his primary kingly duty and provide an heir.

His day to day behaviour was not bad - embarrassing to his family and officials, yes, but embarrassing is not the same as wicked. Much of his embarrassing behaviour centred round his dining habits. He ate at odd hours, at whim, often with imaginary guests and sometimes with his actual horse at the dining table. He loved riding, and often set off on imaginary journeys (around the riding pavilion), dismounting at his imaginary location where waiting staff spread a picnic meal on the ground.

He was very interested in food itself, although apparently his dental problems meant that food had to be soft, and naturally his tastes were very German. One recorded meal was:

Perhaps he might have been a cook or restaurateur, in another life?

Ludwig’s torture and the State’s embarrassment ended when he and his physician both “accidentally” drowned in a lake on June 13th 1886, three days after he was officially declared insane by a chief psychiatrist who had not examined him.

Today’s Recipe ..

Ludwig was also known as “The Swan King” for his great love of “The Monarch of the Lake”, and swan motifs are everywhere in his castles. We can be fairly sure he would never have eaten his favourite bird, but earlier rich and royal folk certainly did. It was not enjoyed for its taste – which is said to be like “fishy mutton”, but because it was prestigious (certainly in England, all swans have officiallly belonged to the monarch since the twelfth century) and because it could be made into a spectacular centrepiece at the banquet. To do this of course required that the cooked swan be re-dressed in its plumage before being presented at table. In case you need to know how to do this, here is a recipe from the late fourteenth century “Le Menagier de Paris”.

SWAN. Pluck like a chicken or goose, scald, or boil spit, skewer in four places, and roast with all its feet and beak, and leave the head unplucked and eat with yellow pepper.

Item, if you wish, it may be gilded.

Item, when you kill it, you should split its head down to the shoulders.

Item, sometimes they are skinned and reclothed.

RECLOTHED SWAN in its skin with all the feathers. Take it and split it between the shoulders, and cut it along the stomach: then take off the skin from the neck cut at the shoulders, holding the body by the feet then put it on the spit, and skewer it and gild it. And when it is cooked, it must be reclothed in its skin, and let the neck be nice and straight or flat and let it be eaten with yellow pepper.

Monday’s Story …

Quotation for the Day …

Dining out is a vice, a dissipation of spirit punished by remorse. We eat, drink, and talk a little too much, abuse all our friends, belch out our literary preferences and are egged on by accomplices in the audience to acts of mental exhibitionism. Such evenings cannot fail to diminish those who take part in them. They end on Monkey Hill. Cyril Connolly (1903-1974), The Unquiet Grave (1945)


Recipes

Our recipe section is packed full of delicious meal ideas for you to try at home &ndash from tasty lunches and suppers from top celebrity chefs like Raymond Blanc, to celebrity favourites and our very own recipe of the week. Try Drew Barrymore's favourite tipple, Frosé &ndash a rosé slush puppy &ndash and Peter Andre's healthy Mexican feast. If you're looking for summer cooking inspiration, try our mouth-watering malai prawn curry, spiced lamb chops or roasted yellow pepper pot. Summer cockatil ideas? We&rsquove got plenty of those too. Head to HELLO!'s recipe page for the latest must-try recipes for your family. Time to start cooking!


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