30 May 2009

The Table Beckons

Parisian chef Alain Senderens wrote a column for L’Express aimed at the home cook. His love of gastronomy and food made him a chef. Here at CookbookOfTheDay we firmly believe that cooking is an art and Senderens speaks eloquently to the multifaceted art of cooking:

"Unlike certain arts that please only one of the five senses, cuisine can delight each of them: vision through the ambiance, the décor of the table, and the presentation of the dishes; smell through the scents and bouquets; taste through flavors and their harmonies; the sensation of touch in the mouth, through the texture of the food that gives it its consistency; and of hearing from the crunch of the food."

Leftovers and French food are not two culinary phrases that one hears in the same breath. But that was not always the case. In fact during the Ancien Régime the King’s leftovers were a brisk commodity. Food from the King’s table was often spirited away by guards and sold to restaurants, kind of an early Craig’s List for food. In these economic times, this may be a new category on eBay, where one is likely to see auctions for a roll from an odd State Dinner or one bag of salad, slightly used, from the Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Don’t laugh, a 10 year-old toasted cheese sandwich purported to bear the image of the Blessed Virgin sold on eBay for $28,000 so even now there may be gold in them thar' leftovers.

Even the best cook in France is bound to look in the refrigerator and find leftovers, perhaps not the $28,000 variety but in my refrigerator I am always finding leftover chicken and usually leftover rice, so when I ran across this recipe it seemed like a natural.

Emincé de volaille à la bonne femme

Slice thin leftover meat from a roast chicken (or turkey). Add ham, which you have cut into thin strips. There should be 4 parts chicken to 1 part ham. Combine this with an equal amount of cooked rice and cover with Béchamel sauce. Spoon into a baking dish, sprinkle with grated cheese and a little butter and bake in a hot oven until it is heated through. Set briefly under a broiler to brown the top.

If food is a favorite subject, you should definitely read The Table Beckons. Each column is filled with wit, history, culture, and of course food. And be sure and check any leftovers before you throw them away, there might a religious artifact waiting for you.

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