Saturday, December 8, 2012



CHOOSE some good white truffles; wash with care; wrap each of them in five or six pieces of paper previously soaked in water.

Cook in hot cinders, remove the sheets of paper, dry the truffles, and serve them among the folds of a well-warmed table napkin.

Familiar, and yet too little eaten.   



HAVING peeled your mushrooms, and scraped the inside of them, throw them into cold water.  If they are buttons, rub them with flannel; take them out and boil them in fresh water with salt.  When they are tender, put in a little shredded parsley, and an onion stuck with cloves, and toss them up with a good lump of butter rolled in a little flour.  You may put in three spoonfuls of thick cream, and a little nutmeg cut in pieces; but be sure to take out the nutmeg and onion before you send it to table.

NOTE:  THESE recipes, from Norman Douglas' wonderful Venus In The Kitchen, both look excellent, wintry and holiday-ish.  Still, I wonder whether I'll ever taste white truffle (or caviar) again? Perhaps I'll be invited to dine at the White House some day -- I mean, how many times can one stand having Barbra Streisand to dinner?

I've only eaten Truffes sous la cendre once before --  many, many years ago at an amazing restaurant called L'Archestrate in Paris, which I believe was the place Alain Senderens launched his brilliant career.  It was prepared, as is customary, with black truffles there.  Using white truffle in the dish must also be amazing.  Now that Jane's at last eating mushrooms (at least in the form of cream of mushroom soup and only when they're thoroughly blended), I think I'll try the fricassee out on her, possibly for Christmas Eve dinner.  I won't discuss the fact that the dish (like all the recipes in Venus In The Kitchen) is considered to be an aphrodisiac.  She's only 15 and she's my daughter, for  heaven sake. 

Pictures of Norman Douglas tend to be memorable and atmospheric, even the ordinary ones.  I love this 1935  Carl van Vechten portrait, taken against Venice's stones.  

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