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Illy Caffè, Foie Gras avec Pain d'Épices, & My Grape Christmas #FoodieReads

If you have been following my blog recently, you'll know that I am making my way through a series of books by Laura Bradbury. The third book in the line-up is My Grape Christmas.* In this book, Laura and Franck are back in Burgundy to celebrate the Christmas holidays with his family.

This book included more French wine, lavish holiday meals, and some drama as Franck's mother seems determined for Franck to reunite with his French ex-girlfriend. As as jetlag and constant motion collide, Laura drinks a lot of coffee. I smiled when I read this... "The espresso was quickly served to me in a tiny ceramic cup with 'Illy' emblazoned on the side—the name of a well-known Italian espresso company that I’d seen used in bars and cafés all over France" (pg. 2). Seeing that always make my little espresso-loving heart sing, too. I found this at a hot dog stand in Pacific Grove and was so excited! It's been a favorite brand of mine since before I lived in Italy.               

 Foie Gras

But it was her description of foie that inspired this post. "I took my first forkful—a bit of foie gras, a bit of truffle, and a few flakes of fleur de sel that had been sprinkled on top. I scraped this on a lightly toasted brioche circle. In my mouth the combination was soft and crunchy with the meat flavor of the foie gras and the sweet, nutty taste of the truffle dancing in exquisite harmony" (pg. 85).

I love combining sweet and savory. And I also wanted to broach something I don't usually do: eat foie gras. Don't get me wrong, it's not the foie gras controversy that keeps me away (remember, my state of residence has banned foie on and off for years); it's just not something I usually buy. In fact, when something is banned - say a book or a food product - I am more apt to hunt it down and partake. Really. Besides, many a French holiday meal typically starts off with foie gras.

You might ask: is it ethical to eat foie gras? I say, yes. In this country, foie gras is produced by just a handful of farmers who have the highest of standards and practices for their animals. This foie gras is from Hudson Valley. If you're curious, you can google them. They have some nice clips about their process. And when compared to the mass-produced nightmare that is factory farmed meat, foie gras looks idyllic.

Pain d'Épices

I've had foie gras seared. And I've had it with a slice of toasted brioche which is how Laura eats in it My Grape Christmas. I love that combination; it's a classic. But when I read about pairing an unctuous slice of liver with grilled gingerbread slices, pain d’épices, I was sold. I made small gingerbread squares, places seared foie gras on top of the cookies, then added a smear of lemon marmalade for a rich, spicy, tart nibble.

Ingredients makes lots more cookies than needed!
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup organic dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 6 cups flour + more as needed
  • 1 cup ground almond meal (or almond flour)
  • 2 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Also needed: cookie cutters (I used a small rectangle), parchment paper, rolling pin



Procedure
Melt the butter and whisk in the molasses, sugar, and eggs. Add dry ingredients and blend till you have a stiff dough. Split dough into quarters and roll into a ball. Wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour. 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper to about 1/4" thick. Use cookie cutters and place the cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place the trays in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes before baking.

Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness. They should be firm and nicely browned. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for a minute or so before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining dough. 

 *This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Click to see what everyone else read in September 2021: here.

Comments

  1. I have never tried foie gras but I have ordered up this series on my kindle. Before I start them though I need ot finish What's Good.

    ReplyDelete

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