Concombres au beurre or a thing on culinary literature

If I remember well my first piece of the culinary literature was Fried green tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fanny Flag. I even prepared this dish although I didn’t know then that there is a separate variety of tomatoes and I used our own regular red tomatoes – scandalously immature. Somehow we were not poisoned and it was very tasty. That was so long ago. For the last year I keep noticing new books that can be classified as culinary literature. Of course the matters of table are not a new occurrence in literature, let us remind just the unparalleled gourmet Honoré Balzac himself. But was it very often in the past that cuisine made the plot or was the complete scenery? While reading Rosewater and Soda Bread by Marsha Mehran, A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi and even Mireille Guiliano in some way, our salivary glands are working constantly.

Julie and Julia. My Year of Cooking Dangerously is not the exception. I admire Julie Powell. Because even if I supposed that I should go through all the recipes from my Australian and New Zealand Complete Book of Cookery I have never dare to think it is possible (but it would be a topic for another blog, I guess?). I congratulate Julie something still inaccessible for many I-can’t-cook-persons : finding pleasure in the very ephemeral art of cooking.

It would make no sense if I didn’t try to make any of the recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Beef bourguignon seems to be an interesting dish but it didn’t captured me at once. But cucumbers served hot, mmm.... As I am not the lucky owner of Julia Child’s cookbook in the matters of French cuisine I rely on The Concise Larousse Gastronomique. And you know what? There is the recipe for Concombres étuvés au beurre.

Ultimate buttered cucumbers

(or a cucumber butter)

2 large cucumbers

50 g butter

parsley, chopped

1. Cut the cucumbers in segments. Blanch briefly in boiling water.

2. Place in a pan with 40 g of butter and a tablespoon of water, season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil quickly and then simmer for 30 minutes under cover.

3. When ready, adjust seasoning, add remaining butter, stir.

4. Lay out on the plate and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

It is supposed to goes perfectly with white meat or fish. Probably it is so. But I love them on their own. Well, with smoked cheese toast... The recipe does not say exactly what to do with much of liquid I obtained. I poured it off to the cup and put to the fridge, and guess what? When the mixture cooled down, the liquid find a place below whereas at the top you get a lightly celadon green and spicy cucumber butter!!!

If you wish to get more of it, simply use more butter while cooking the cucumbers (let’s say 100 g per 2 cucumbers) and when the dish is ready remove cucumbers, add further 100 g of butter adjust seasoning and leave to cool down.

Maybe I should try with this Complete Book of Cookery. Don’t you too think that the word ‘complete’ is scary?

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