Magazine article The Spectator

Louisiana and Lovage

Magazine article The Spectator

Louisiana and Lovage

Article excerpt

SORRY I wasn't here last month, but I was away in Wales and Scotland finishing off our new series, which returns in September, and being made to do very dangerous things for the cause, like looping the loop in a first world war aeroplane -- rather a thrill, actually.

Back to my saints. This week we have had dear St Hyacinth, whose name derives from a corruption of the Polish name Jacek. He was a Dominican missionary, tireless in his labours; he reached the Ukraine, Ruthenia and Russia, earning himself the title of `Apostle of the North'. He died on 8 August 1257 on the feast day of St Dominic, having converted many and raised a poor drowned lad from the dead.

Then there is St Helena, who married the Roman general Constantius Chlorus; John Eudes, who looked after fallen women; Bernard of Clairvaux, who preached powerfully against the Albigensian heretics of Languedoc and attacked the teaching of Peter Abelard; Pius X, and the wonderfully named St Symphorianus, who would not worship the pagan goddess Cybele and had his head cut off for his pains.

Louis Bourdaloue, French orator and preacher, was born on 20 August 1632 not a saint but remembered for a bombe of vanilla ice-cream, aniseed-flavoured cream decorated with crystallised violets, a consomme of cockscombs and various hot fruit puddings. Jean-Francois de Galaup, Comte de la Perouse, the French navigator, gave the name Lap6rouse to poached eggs on artichoke bottoms, sole served with mussels and shrimps, and chicken sauteed in butter: swill the pan with brandy, add cream and mushroom puree thickened with egg yolks; garnish with artichoke bottoms filled with the puree and glazed. Sounds great.

Let us have a cajun creole chicken dish from Louisiana for a change. This will serve four, but you can double up to your requirements.

Chicken etouffee 1 1/2 oz plain flour

7 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 chicken, quartered and seasoned with salt and pepper

1 lb fresh tomatoes

9 oz chopped onions

3 spring onions, sliced

2 oz butter

2 sticks celery, chopped 1 green pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3-4 small fresh green chilli peppers, deseeded and finely chopped

1 pint chicken stock

3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

1 bay leaf

1 red onion, finely chopped

9 oz American long-grain rice

18 fluid oz water or stock

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Place the flour in a heavy-based pan. …

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