Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Alice B. Toklas Says . . .

My friend Jarret Liotta, the infamous writer, recently told me he had learned how to "poach, literally" and when I first read this, without glasses, I thought he said "literary" and I was momentarily thrilled by the idea of him poaching literary works of others and then before I ran too far with this notion, I remembered I had only recently told him I was on my way to "boil an egg" and the whole exchange became very mundane, eggs in water, nothing of the stuff of shooting arrows at the Queen's deer up at Balmoral by the light of the Royal Moon, no just eggs, just breakfast. But then I recalled another recent event, my reading for the very first time, The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, and I dug around on my desk, which lay in ruins these days, and I found the wonderful little book and searched for eggs of the poached variety and there, on page 177, I found this and I hope that Jarret might expand upon his new culinary skill and make this delightful concoction for his famille:

Poached Eggs À La Sultane

Bake puff paste in fluted påté shells. When baked and still hot place in each one a poached egg. Cover with a sauce made this way:

For six påté shells, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over low heat. When butter is melted add 1 1/4 tablespoons flour. Turn with a wooden spoon until thoroughly amalgamated, then add slowly 3/4 cup strong hot chicken bouillon. Stir constantly over lowest heat for for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream. Do not allow to boil. Add 1/4 cup pistachio nuts that have had their skins removed by soaking for 3 minutes in hot water. Dry and rub in cloth -- the skins will loosen and finally remain in the cloth. Pound them in a mortar with a drop of water added from time to time to prevent the nuts from exuding oil. When they can be strained through a sieve, add 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon soft butter to them and mix together. Add this mixture very slowly (called, naturally, pistachio butter) to the chicken bouillon cream sauce. Heat thoroughly but do not boil. Cover the eggs with this and serve at once. As good as it looks.

(from The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, by Alice B. Toklas, 1954)

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