Things that amused me as a kid :
Jean La Foot, ze Barefoot Pirate: Because he’s a pirate, and because he would sometimes say Sacrebleu! which I assumed was some kind of a swear word by the intonation and I got a kick out a cartoon guy who swore. We’re kids for cryin out loud! You can’t swear in front of us, only the parentals are allowed to do that, and that was mostly things like Hells Bells! Which, by the way, I once yelled at the top of my lungs while jumping off the banister and my brother told me I was going straight to… that place with the Bells. I, of course, wept silently in my little bed each night for fear of that curse, until some other ghastly thing one of brothers told me took it’s place.
Top Cat: for obvious reasons.
Things that did not amuse me as a kid.
Chimps: In my day there was a lot of dressing up chimps in clothing and doing some kind of schtick with them on TV. I would just shake my head and say, that’s a wild animal in some little kids clothes. That’s just wrong. Why would you do that to that animal? What’s he done to you?
Lucy: I know a lot of folks love Lucy, but I would again sit there with head shaking and think, “Hells Bells woman, why are you so opposed to reason? Can you not intuit the outcome of these predicaments you find yourself in and choose the path which is clearly the less taken in your realm, for once?
Yeah, I was loads of fun.
BUT, speaking of fun!! Let’s take a look at Coq au Vin!
This is a very grown up dish. Not that you have to be necessarily very grown up to make it, but you’ll feel like putting on some lipstick and heels to bring this dish to the table. Maybe I say that because this dish always reminds me of my mom, I can still hear her say Coq au Vin! and Goulash! and Chicken Paprikash! and frozen pizza!, your Dad and I are going out!
This is not at all a difficult dish and there are some truly spectacular elements to the finished product particularly the pearl onions. Oh my friend, do not forget these little gems because they are going to melt your heart. Let’s look at the ingredients, and this recipe comes from Jody Williams, Buvette, which I am very much enjoying, though I will say the font is a tad smallish. And as a plus, here’s an interesting article on what it took her to bring Buvette from Paris to New York.
4 chicken legs and thighs separated at the joint.
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 c. of dry red wine from Burgandy – not only is this going to smell incredible as it simmers away but the color of the dish itself is gorgeous, sort of like “rich corinthian leather.” (Which for some reason I took to mean a deep burgundy colored leather, like my penny loafers, but actually it could be any color as I see from the link above.)
One 5- inch stem of Rosemary
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound bacon, cut into one inch pieces
1 tsp herbes de Provence -( Jody uses a lot of this mixture of herbs, it’s very common in French cooking, and you can even get the Herbes de Provence omelet in most diners, but I’m going to say it’s not my favorite mix. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t mess with this recipe because it’s one of the most satisfying dishes I’ve ever made. I’m going to make my own mix once the fresh herbs come back to the market and see if I like it better. It could just be my particular jar, which did look a bit dusty when I bought it)
6 button mushrooms quartered (I just used the regular old white ones, but the button would be lovely)
1 cup water
1 cup peeled pearl onions (about 1/2 pound unpeeled) . Remember what I said about the onions. They are usually found in a little net bag somewhere that you would never look. Luckily my sister and I went to Citeralla together and she found them hidden away. Word to the wise, shop more with your kin.
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 Tablespoons unbleached, all purpose flour
Bread, for serving
Now the butter and the flour are for the roux. I didn’t actually make the roux because I was too lazy to figure out the gluten free flour equation for it, so I just added the butter to the mix. And I didn’t rue that decision at all, but you might.
Remove and discard the skin from the chicken. Grasping the skin with paper towels and pulling it off the meat is the easiest way to do this. (This was gross, but it was very easy, and I think there’s probably a Girl Scout badge for it.)
Place the chicken, garlic, red wine, and rosemary in a nonreactive container or pot, or sealable plastic bag that can hold it all comfortably. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 3 days. – Plan ahead, the longer the better.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and pat the pieces dry with paper towels. Set the chicken aside. Remove the rosemary and finely chop the garlic cloves and set them aside. Reserve the wine.
Place the olive oil and the bacon in a large, heavy pot set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon begins to crisp, about 5 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate and set it aside. Add the chicken to the pot, working in batches if necessary, and cook until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Return the bacon to the pot, along with the herbes de Provence, mushrooms, reserved garlic, reserved wine, and water. Stir to combine everything. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and partially cover with a lid, (leave it a bit ajar so that the steam can escape.) simmer until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Uncover the pot, add the onions, partially cover the pot once again, and cook until the onions are just tender about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, blend the butter and flour tougher in a small bowl, using your fingers. While whisking, add 1 cup of the cooking liquid to the butter and flour mixture and transfer it to the pot, stirring to combine. Let the mixture cook until the butter and flour mixture has thickened the sauce and given it a slightly glossy, rich-looking appearance, just 5 minutes. Season the coq au vin to taste with salt.
And now for the chocolate covered figs with walnuts. I actually posted this picture because i realized I didn’t have any pictures of the Coq au Vin. But this is a very nifty trick if you are running out of time or energy and you realize you do not have a dessert. This also comes from the Buvette cookbook. In fact, one of the reasons I like this book is she does give you some really lovely and simple ideas for hosting. I dashed out to the bodega, grabbed some dried figs and some nice chocolate chips – the better the chips the better the consistency of the chocolate, in general Nestlés is a bit waxy and they don’t have the best footprint on the planet as a company, but be aware they also own other chocolate companies, so if you care, look it up, if you don’t grab whatever they got and run. (pay the guy, but then run as time is short in this scenario)
All you do is melt the chocolate chips in a metal bowl over a pan of barely simmering hot water. Make a split in the figs, and stick half a walnut in them, dip them in chocolate and lay them on some parchment paper. Let them set, hopefully in a somewhat cool place to harden, put them on a fancy plate and have an elegant, tasty, little treat with just the right amount of richness after a very sumptuous meal.