Pasta Express & Drawings du Jour

Pasta Express & Drawings du Jour

Quick Salmon Pasta

I don’t eat much pasta but before a gig I like to have an early dinner that will give enough energy to be able to sing three hours later and pasta & lox is perfect for me.
So on Monday before going to our gig at The Local 269
with Pierre Joris & Michael Bisio — snippet of concert here— I made us a salmon, scallion & fusili express dish. My friend Dawn Clements —who is opening another drawing extraordinaire at The Boiler today— had given me a delicious piece of lox from the Acme Smoked Fish store in Brooklyn. It took me 14 minutes to make the dish including cooking the pasta:
Cook  pasta al dente.
Cut pieces of lox.
In a pan bring one cup of heavy cream to  a boil and add
scallions cut at a bias  for one minute.
Combine it all.
Add a little salt, a lot of fresh ground pepper & shavings of Parmesan cheese….
Voilà c’est tout
!

Beside the drawing concert series there is another series in constant progress and below are 2 pieces  Also in serious progress the Augustus Saint Gaudens script with  new discoveries on Bernard Saint Gaudens his father, and a dead line coming up very soon for the script.

Oeufs Soufflés & Concert Drawings Series

Oeufs Soufflés & Concert Drawings Series

The bok choy in the fridge was calling for immediate attention. As it was Sunday and brunch time I felt like something a little more festive than bok choy and rice! Some sort of a soufflé came to mind. I preheated the oven to 375º. I sliced the bok choy vertically into 6 sections, then braised it in a mix of butter and olive oil with 2 cloves of minced garlic. While that was cooking, oeufI separated 5 eggs — yokes in one bowl and whites in an other. Pierre grated 1 cup of various cheeses he found in the cheese box. I whipped the egg whites very firm. Mixed the cheese with the previously beaten egg yolks, and added salt, pepper and nutmeg. Now folded half of the egg whites in the egg yolk + cheese mixture, then folded in the second half of  egg whites. Poured the mixture over the braised bok choy and put it into the oven for ?…sorry I didn’t look at the time — at some point I just felt it was done and it was! But it cannot be more that 15/20 minutes. This doesn’t come out as a real high soufflé but again I call it oeufs soufflés — not “SOUFFLAY”! It is very  good simple and stress free, unlike soufflay can be!

Another thing I have been doing is to keep a better record of the drawings I make at events — especially at concerts. Below are a few of the “blind” concert series drawings. I draw (almost) without  looking a the page and let eye and rhythm guide the hand. I also do take some notes on the back for possible later poems.

The Bill Frisell Series
Concert at Blue Note on February 28th 2010: Bill Frisell with Paul Motian and Ron Carter. This is a summing up of the note I sent to my friend Steve Dalachinski after the  concert:

..loved the set they played
it was very bare and beautiful
very essential, not too many notes!
so delicate…
carter seems to have difficulty breathing,
motian was doing his thing very well while frisell was carefully and tactfully tying and lifting them up…
it works better for some songs than others but overall it really did and it filled my soul.
also it was my first time seeing them live and i just couldn’t get my
eyes off carter’s fingers… so loooong, so square… a giant’s hand! and
the way he uses them on the bass…..

The Matthew Shipp Series:
This concert was yesterday, Sunday March 14th, at Gathering of The Tribes, that is Steve Cannon’s magical place. We gathered at 5:00 PM and the concert started at 5:30PM with as an opening surprise a short snippet featuring the Nicholas’ brothers —see video below– from the 1943 movie Stormy Weather. Though it happens in a liminal time and space, the connections between  Matt Shipp and the Nicholas’ brothers reveal immanent evidences. Matt Shipp’s dexterity, agility and  feline playing has the same mesmerizing quality as the brothers’ dancing. I didn’t time the concert but my attention didn’t drop or drift for a single minute. Matt takes us onto a musical journey that deliberately references several genres played at once with a sheer emotional clarity that can make you laugh or cry and even laugh & cry at once. At some moments it felt like he was channeling Satie & Bach playing Fly me to the Moon together! One of my favorite Shipp recordings is on his latest CD 4D. It takes the old repetitive (stupid) French song Frère Jacques and manages to turn it into an obsessive frightening dramatic Hitchcockian episode.
Voilà! If you want to see the drawings at a better resolution just click on them.

March, march, march…

March, march, march…

MARCH—collage/drawing from N.P.  Calendar Series

Yeap! We are in March and I saw some crocuses “piercing” the ground on 71st street yesterday. It cheered me up. The general mood has been down with all the international and national events, catastrophes, health care mess… Even my hometown, Luchon, was seriously affected by a storm coming from the Southwest with winds at 200km/h. It killed one man, pulled out thousands of ancient trees, lifting roofs, and closing bars for one day! No one remembers seeing or hearing about such an event in a place that is so naturally sheltered from the wind. Who says there is no global warming? The same idiots who feel threatened by universal health care? The same idiots who worship a god that knows neither nature nor health. We need D.A Bennett  The Truth Seeker all over again, I just read that book and it is amazing how the problem of religion in politics has remained the same for two century ago and is far from being solved.

Anyhow, life must go on and I have been busy. The “d’Artagnan 25th Anniversary Art Show” at The World Bar is still on. Works by French painter Michel Calvet and 3 large collage/paintings of mine are on display.  The World Bar serves delicious cocktails and their $8 happy hour special is totally worth it. I had a “peace cocktail” concocted by the excellent (1/2 french) mixologist Jonathan, all fresh juices and premium liquors — a real treat! We will have another event there soon as the opening was affected by the storm. So don’t feel bad if you couldn’t make it; D’Artagan has agreed to provide us with more patés and saucisson for another event, so stay tune!

Below you will find my detailed calendar of events for March, four events still coming up, it is all exciting especially the Umami festival one, which is leading me into fascinating research about yeast and beer in Mesopotamian time. As a result of all this action the fridge as been consistently empty and home made Miso soup (see recipe here)and rice has become a staple.

Breakfast Rice

I cook two cups of brown rice twice a week and eat it in different forms. The breakfast version is becoming a house favorite and even Pierre who is not a brown rice aficionado really likes this one:

-Warm up some rice milk in a bottom of sauce pan. Add 1/2 cup of cooked rice per person, one small apple cut into small pieces, 1/2 banana, raisins, cranberries, goji berries, maple syrup. Just warm it up. Before serving add chopped roasted almonds, pistachios, walnuts. That’s a tasty healthy breakfast!

Chicken

When we finally made it to the coop a few days ago we got the making for a chicken soup. I had been craving it since Dawn Clements (now showing an amazing piece at the Whitney Biennial click here) served me the most delicious one at her studio in early February.  That recipe is also very easy:  throw it all in the pot and let it happen while the smell of the broth takes over the house. This is what I threw in the pot of cold water:
-1 organic chicken (with feet!)
-3 celery ribs
-3 carrots peeled and cut
-2 “fanned” leeks
-1 onion with 3 cloves planted in it
– 1 spice/herb bag with: fresh parsley, thyme, laurel leave, 1 cardamon pod, 6 blk pepper corn.
– Sea salt.
Then you can either delicately lift some of the meat and eat it separately or debone  the whole thing and return it in the pot. You will have to add some salt and pepper to taste and you can of course add some pasta or rice or potatoes. I just had a bowl and this is ever so restauring and satisfying.

Now the schedule and if I don’t see you there, please stay in touch!

Sunday March 7th
Sunday Best Reading Series
4PM $7
The Lounge, Hudson View Gardens
Pinehurst Avenue and 183rd Street
183rd & Pinehurst Avenue
New York City

Friday March 12th
UMAMI Festival
Featuring Sarah Klein, Murray’s Cheese, Tom Cat Bakery, Ithaca Beer Company
& NP w/ Rosie Hertlein ( violin)
6:30PM
click here for
reservations
Astor Center for Food and Wine
399 Lafayette (at 4th Street)

Sunday March 21
NP & Pierre Joris, Nick Flynn, Major Jackson, Douglas Unger
6PM
Poets for Peace at Erika’s
85-101 N. 3rd St # 508
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(between wythe and berry
and it is the bedford stop on the L train)

Monday March 29th
NP w/ Pierre Joris & Michael Bisio (bass)
THE LOCAL 269

269 E Houston Street NYC

Ongoing until Agust 2010
D’Artagnan 25th Anniversary Art Show
Michel Calvet / Nicole Peyrafitte / Jean-Pierre Rives
The World Bar /The Trump Tower
845 United Nation Plaza
New York NY 10017



Lo Magret goes to Paris!

Lo Magret goes to Paris!

André Daguin, chef/owner of the Hôtel de France in Auch (Gers) until 1997, tells how he gave a new life to the tasty magret de canard — and made it famous in the process:

magret

“The magret was served only as “confit” in soups, cassoulets and everyone would find it dry. The only way to avoid that was to cook it less, but no one dared. I had arguments with my customers; they couldn’t believe it was duck meat! Bob Daley, the New York Times journalist, reported on the discovery of this ‘new’ meat.”

In Occitan-Gascon the word magret —from the latin magre, literally means “lean”. It is definitely the leanest piece of the canard gras — that is the fattened moulard duck raised for foie gras. To make moulard ducks fat, force-feeding is required for a few weeks.

A bas relief depiction of overfeeding geese

This ancient technique seems to be referenced as far back as the 5th century BC. The Moulard duck is a hybrid cross of Pekin and Muscovy duck. Do not confuse Moulard with the very lean wild Mallard duck.

magret

The magret is the breast that is detached from the carcass once the liver had carefully being extracted. In the canard gras nothing goes to waste. The skin is rendered for fat; the fat is then used to simmer the legs and manchons (wings). Once cooked this meat is known as le confit. Le confit is then stored in earthenware pots, covered with fat to seal it, and used throughout the winter in various preparations. The hearts (look here), livers, gizzards are pan fried with garlic and parsley, the carcasses (called “demoiselles” —or the misses) & tongues are grilled in the fireplace for snacks.

Speaking of carcasses: in 1990, while  doing an internship at the Daguin’s restaurant I witnessed a “concours de demoiselles” organized by the Château St. Mont in Plaimont (Gers). The goal of the “carcass eating/cleaning contest” is to eat as many demoiselles as possible in the least amount of time while leaving the bones clean as a whistle. The winner then stepped on a Roman scale and the opposite pan was filled with cases of Château St. Mont wine until it balanced!

carte tour Eiffel

Another anecdote related to magret took place at the top floor restaurant of the Eiffel Tower in December of 1967. Jean & Renée Peyrafitte, my parents, & André & Jo Daguin, Ariane’s parents, were handed over the restaurant for La Quinzaine Midi-Pyrénées à la Tour Eiffel —two weeks of French Southwest fare in the skies of Paris — kind of the birth/ recognition of Cuisine du Terroir. I didn’t get to go, but I was 8 years old and I still remember all the excitement. The opening event was a banquet for the food writers and VIP’s. One of the most exciting items on the menu was the newly ‘dressed’ magret de canard. The magrets had been shipped from the Gers to arrive just on time, but on the morning of the event they had not yet arrived. The magrets were replaced with lamb and as in the Vatel story —though unlike Vatel my dad & André Daguin kept their calm and didn’t need to end their lifes over the problem— the magrets arrived during the luncheon. André Daguin, who like his daughter is never short of a creative idea when it comes to p.r., announced to the press that the magrets had just arrived; he showed them what they looked like, explained how to prepare them and one their way out all the diners were handed a magret wrapped in foil.  They got many write-ups, lot of word of mouth publicity and the restaurant was packed for the two full weeks!

Today you can purchase magret through the d’Artagnan website. Some specialty store have duck breast but most of the time there are Muscovy Duck breast, which are good but smaller.  One of my favorite recipe that I used to make often at the family restaurant is Magret with walnut and honey glaze. I made it the other night and yum! it is tasty.

Recipe for Magret aux Noix et au Miel:

magret sauteed

2 Moulard magrets can serve 4
1 Shallot finely chopped
½ cup of Armagnac or Brandy
1 cup of stock or 2 tablespoon of demi-glace
2 teaspoons of honey
2 Tbsp shelled walnuts
1 tbsp of unsalted butter

Score the skin of the duck magret. Do not cut into the meat, only the skin.
Salt and pepper both side.
Place in a warm skillet on the skin side — no need to add  fat, the skin will render plenty.
Cook for about 8 minutes or so on the skin side —if you like it pink. More for well done.
Flip it over on the meat side for about 4 minutes.
Remove from the pan keep the magret between two plates to avoid loss of heat.
Drain the fat from the pan except for about 1 tablespoon—keep fat to sauté potatoes.
Sauté ½ cup of shallots until translucent.
Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup of Armagnac and flambé —I alway turn off the fan when I do it.
Add 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 cup of broth or better, some demi-glace.
Let reduce, then add 2 Tbsp shelled walnuts —do not let the walnuts sit too long in the pan as they will give a bitter taste to your sauce.
Cut you magret in slices horizontally, pour all the juice in the sauce pan.
At the last minute finish your sauce with a dollop of soft butter, salt & pepper to taste.
Serve with your favorite starch.
Thanks again and again to Renée Peyrafitte for saving & scanning the original documents.
Merci à André Daguin de répondre à mes questions.
And taben mercès pla ta l’amic Marc per l’ajude dab los mots en Gascon!
Adishatz!



Spirited Noël Dinner

Spirited Noël Dinner

We are not particularly attached to any specific Christmas tradition although this year we were eager to have an intimate family dinner at our new place and to take out the family heirloom china that had been in boxes for a while. So after consulting with husband, sons, and daughter in law, we agreed on a menu:

Foie

Home made Foie Gras au Torchon

Fisher Island Oysters

Roasted Suckling Pig
Mashed potatoes
Apple & Chestnut Bourbon dressing

Cinnamon Rice Pudding

I had never made Foie au torchon before but my friend, chef Pierre Landet, the executive chef at Cercle Rouge, suggested this excellent idea —by the way, Congrats to Pierre soon to be made Maître Cuisinier or Master Chef! This simple recipe keeps the foie velvety & easy to deal with — even though I have to confess I missed one step.
First break the lobes and delicately take out the nerves and veins. Some people get crazy about the cleaning process and turn their foie into a battlefield. My previous experiences on making terrines had taught me that there is no need for over cleaning. I then seasoned the foie with salt and pepper and rubbed some Armagnac on it. Next step is to put the lobes on top of each other and roll the foie very tightly in cheesecloth —like a sausage — and poach it in a broth at 140ºF for 5/7 minutes. Now cool your foie
in a bath of cold water with ice cube to stop the cooking. This is the step I missed!  So mine was a little over done but no one complained.

Our next course was a dozen Fisher Island oysters each. It gave me a good work out to open the 5 dozen. They were extremely fresh, all very tightly shut. The first taste of a Fisher Island oyster comes as a hit of seawater, followed by the very clean taste of the firm texture of the shiny silvery mollusk. Our favorite way to eat oysters is to add a few sprinkles of lemon, Pierre (Joris) likes to add some fresh ground pepper on his. The experiment this year was to add a ½ teaspoon of a fresh homemade salsa in the oyster shell. Pierre remains skeptic, the kids more enthusiastic; I do like the bite of the salsa on a few of them.  We paired them with a pleasant Sancerre. No other info on that, as the bottle got recycled before I could take a picture of it!

Pierre

Then came the “piece de resistance:” our roasted suckling pig, an ever so festive and ever so delicious dish. We ordered it from d’Artagnan, and upon it’s arrival we lovingly massaged the piglet with a marinade of lemon, olive oil, thyme and garlic; this can be done 24 to 12 hours before roasting it. We had decided against stuffing it in order to keep our meal “lighter” and most of all to keep the roasting time down! It took about 3 hours for our 10lbs piglet. Pierre (Joris) handled the roasting, he diligently basted it every twenty minutes and covered and uncovered it with aluminum foil as he felt the need to. It turned out perfect, done but moist! I made last minute jus —or light gravy— by deglazing the piglet’s pan with very thinly chopped onions —should have been shallots but I had none— flambé’d it with bourbon, added 1 teaspoon of arrowroot, then some chicken broth and 1 cup of re-hydrated cèpes (boletus), salt & pepper to taste. It was lovely to pour some on the fluffy buttery mashed potatoes (w/ a hint of nutmeg).

Apple

The apple, chestnut & Bourbon dressing (with sautéed minced onions)  enhanced the pork flavor. There is a beautiful complementarity between pork and chestnuts, and as for the apples that had slightly caramelized, they added a pleasing hint of tartness.
The Corbières L’Enclos 2005 —from Domaine des 2 Anes— brought the last touch of bliss to the dish.  This organic blend of mostly Grenache with Carignan, Mourvèdre and Syrah grapes has an earthy, rich and supple taste that literally “talks to me”!

The light, refreshing Ecuadorian cinnamon rice pudding was a Christmas present from our good friend Eleana and it came as a good conclusion to our excellent meal.

Well, the final punctuation was the digestif & the Laubade Armagnac did bring a few spirits down! Santé to you all!

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