About Mastering and Enjoying Home Cooking. Drink, Cook, and Live Well!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rock Cornish Game Hens

Cornish game hens are a small domestic chicken that weigh 16 ~ 24 ounces and may actually be male or female. Cornish game hens are available fresh or frozen year around and taste similar to chicken. For the chef, their smaller size makes them ideal to serve one per guest. These are often served stuffed, but are best  roasted unstuffed for a uniform result and stuffed after they have been cooked. Wild rice mixtures make a good dressing.

    1 Rock Cornish game hen per guest
    Melted butter
    Peeled carrots, chopped
    Celery, chopped
    Quartered whole onions
    Salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Line bottom of roasting pan with chopped carrots, celery, and quartered onions. Wash and pat dry hens. Tuck wing tips under so they do not burn. Salt and pepper inside and outside of hens. Liberally butter the outside of the hens and place them on the vegetables. Roast in oven. Baste birds every 15 minutes with additional butter. Roast until the birds are golden brown and the juices form the bird's cavity runs clear. Using latex gloves, dress the birds with your prepared dressing. Set roasted birds on a warm platter. Garnish the platter with a green vegetable like peas or green beans.

Pan sauce
    1 ¼-Cup white wine
    ½ cup chicken stock
    3 Tablespoons port
    1 Tablespoons sherry
    3 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into patties used to mount the sauce

Remove roasting pan to stovetop and apply high heat. Add white wine, chicken stock, port and sherry. Stir the pan contents pressing down on vegetables with a spoon. Cook for four minutes stirring all the white. Strain the sauce into a frying pan. Reduce a little more if too loose. When thickened, remove from heat. Add patties of cold butter and swirl the sauce until the butter has melted. Pour sauce over the games hens.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fine Dining Like Royalty

In former years, patrons could be treated like royalty in a fine dining establishment where white table clothed booths and tables filled an opulent room framed by tuxedoed waiters poised patiently ever attentive for the hint of a look or a nod from a patron.  Busboys and waiters alike would slip around silently, and a missing fork or dropped spoon would  reappear out of nowhere. Someone would scrape any breadcrumbs that had managed to appear between a changes in course. Glasses were refilled and wine poured. Waiter would retire unobtrusively five or more feet back where they could observe if they were again needed. A woman’s menu had no prices because that would be too impolite. It was somewhat ritualistic that a patron would wait for the waiter to place your napkin in your lap. An expected visit with polite chatter with the Maitre ‘D would happen at least twice maybe more times at every table. A good Maitre ‘D remembered your face and said “nice to see you again.”  A great  Maitre ‘D not only knew if you had been to the restaurant before but looked your name up from your reservation or from when you were initially seated. He would greet you with affection by name. If you were drinking wine, the sommelier would visit to see if they could be of service. They knew every dish in the kitchen and knew what the chef recommended as wine with that plate and they could tailor the selection to a price range you suggested.

Courses where delivered from charts and every dish, of every course, was covered with a silver domed server. Salads were served with an ice cold fork on a cold plate. If you ordered oil and vinegar or a Caesar salad, often, the dressing was made at your table the way you like it. The table was set with real silverware and the correct forks, knives or spoons were either already present or changed according to what you ordered. Butter on the table was decoratively molded and on an iced butter boat. Everyone had four types of glassware. If you ordered a fine bottle of wine at dinner, you maybe offered Havana cigars from their fancy humidor. A purposed cart and dessert waiter while supervised by the Maitre ‘D. would attend a special dessert prepared at the table

I am fortunate to say that my wife, Vicki and I attended quite a few of these memorable restaurants. Today’s trend in less ostentatious, less fancy, fewer staff, toward more affordable. If you can get that old style experience, know that it is an increasingly rare event that should be savored. It is certainly great to be royalty, even if it is only once.