Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Babette's Feast, Nov 17, 2006

Friday is Preston's turn to host the meal and, since it's not so far from Thanskgiving, he's taken on the task of being Babette. We need to win the lottery to pay for the ingredients or make substitutions up the whazoo. My turtle is going to be aligator but we did find some foie gras before they ban it.


Amontillado (semi-dry variety of Sherry, Spanish) [Philip]
§ Potage a’la Tortue (Turtle Soup) [Philip]

Champagne, high quality medium-bodied champagne, French [Jeff aka Craig] (in the movie this was Veuve Cliquot)
§ Blini Demidoff (Buckwheat cakes with caviar) [Marianne]

§ Caille en Sarcophage avec Sauce Perigourdine (Quail in Puff Pastry Shell with Foie Gras and Truffle Sauce) [Preston]
Bordeaux style wine or a fine Cabernet from California [Craig] (in the movie this was a Burgundy)

§ La Salade Pelligrino (Salad Course) variety of greens dressed with a vinaigrette [Preston]

§ Les Fromages (Cheese and Fresh Fruit, preparer's choice, though should be small portioned.) [Jolee]
Fine Port [Jolee]

§ Baba au Rhum avec les Figues (Rum Cake with Dried Figs) [Nancy]

NB On this occasion the role of Jeff was suavely played by Craig Christenson (Mr. Nancy Miller).

Following the feast we were treated to photos from Marianne's trip to Thailand and Craig's trip to Jutland.


To understand the theme of this dinner one has first to understand the character Babette. A noted Parisian Chef, she has to flee for her life and is sent to the home of the most frugal sisters in a cold bleak coastal village in Jutland, Denmark. The main ingredients of the daily fare are stale alebread soup and dried salt fish. Babette quietly transforms this evil gloope into tasty, lovingly prepared meals that bring smiles to the hard and wind creased faces of the villager's.

Then Babette wins the French Lottery and decides to give the village a special celebration dinner in honour of the clergyman father of the two sisters. The community are petrified of indulging in any French style decadence and decide to eat the meal in silence with no mention of the food or wine at all.

The ingredients for this amazing meal arrive by boat, the villagers have never even imagined fare like this. A cage of live quail. An enormous live sea turtle, umpteen cases of wines, champagne and liquor are trundled up to the sisters house. The knowledge, planning and cost of this meal is beyond belief. A great barrow load of animal bones and a calf's head arrive to be rendered down to fine stocks and sauces. To watch this woman knowingly and lovingly prepare dishes she hasn't been able to cook for some 14 years is wonderful, what pleasure it must have given her , knowing how astounded and delighted her reluctant diners were going to be. As each sumptuous course goes to the table the atmosphere softens, the faces glow and Babette seduces the palates of the frosty bickering villagers until they become utterly adorable. All the while they speak nothing of the food, they just become more amiable to each other. The only one who speaks is the General Loewenhielm who recognises Babette as the famous Chef from the Cafe Anglais purely by her Caille en Sarcophage, what an accolade after all those years!

When it is revealed that Babette has spent every last penny of her fortune on the meal one is quizzed to decide wheather she did this to re-live her past glory once again or is this an example of extreme sacrifice for the delight of one's fellow man, giving without counting the cost, labouring without expectation of reward.


Each of the recipies will serve 12, the number for which Babette prepared her feast.

However, since we are serving for 6 please half the ingredients.


The First Course

(Green Turtle Soup)

This recipe was taken from the notebooks of Adolphe Duglere, the
best known chef of the Cafe Anglais.

1 live green turtle (about 5 kilos)

1 recipe for consomme (recipe follows)
1 recipe for chicken-meat stock (recipe follows)
Madeira (or sherry)

l bouquet garni (basil, marjoram, rosemary, savory,
thyme and parsley tied together in muslin)
l bouquet garni of peppercorns and coriander

4 medium carrots

l small cabbage

1 turnip

1 large unpeeled apple
salt and pepper to taste
croutons for serving (recipe follows)

1. Slaughter the turtle and hang it to bleed for 3 - 4 hours.

2. Butcher the turtle, setting aside separately the breastplate
and carapace, the meat and the innards. Clean the innards well.

3. Cut the carapace and breast plate into pieces and plunge these
into a large pot with rapidly boiling water. Let the pieces
blanch for 5 minutes. Drain rapidly, run the pieces under cold
water and remove and discard the outer sheilds that cover them.

4. Place the cleaned pieces in a large saucepan and cover
generously with the consomme. To the saucepan both bouquet
garnis, the vegetables and the apple. Over a high flame bring 
just to a boil. Immediately lower the flame and simmer gently,
uncovered, for about 7 hours.

5. While the consomme is simmering, bone the turtle meat and cut
into 1 cm cubes. Place the meat in the chicken-beef stock, bring
 just to a boil, reduce the flame and let simmer just until the
meat is tender (about 2 hrs). Keep the meat warm in the stock.

6. When the carapace and breast plates have finished cooking,
strain the soup through a cloth, heat through and add 2 cups of
Madeira (or sherry) to each litre of stock. Heat through. A few minutes
before serving stir in two-three tsp. of the Amontillado sherry to be served with the meal.

7. Immediately before serving place the turtle pieces in the
soup. Garnish with the croutons and serve at once.

Note: This soup should be served with a medium-dry Amontillado

Note: If using tinned turtle meat, follow all of the above steps
simply substituting additonal turtle meat for the carapace and
breast plates used in preparing the stock.


Consomme is nothing more than a stock that has been perfectly
 clarified until completely clear and sparkling. The following
 consomme (consomme blanc de veau) is considered ideal for making the turtle soup, above.

2 kilos uncooked veal bones, cracked

1 stewing hen, cut into convenient pieces

1 1/2 kilos uncooked veal shank meat

2 medium carrots

2 medium onions

2 stalks celery

l bouquet garni with 2 unpeeled garlic cloves and
2 whole cloves added to 3 or 4 sprigs of parsley,
1/2 bay leaf, 2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp salt

1. Place the veal bones and veal meat into a kettle, pour over
cold water to cover, bring to the boil and let boil very gently
for 5 - 6 minutes. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Rinse
the kettle. Return the bones and meat to the kettle, pour over
fresh cold water to cover and bring just to a bare simmer. Skim
and then add the vegetables, chicken, bouquet garni and salt. 
Continue this bare simmer, partially covering the kettle, for 4 -
5 hours, adding boiling water only if the liquids evaporate below
the level of the ingredients. When cooking is completed discard
the bouquet garni and strain the stock into a clean bowl.

2. To degrease, let the stock settle for 5 - 6 minutes and then
skim the bulk of the fat from the surface with a large spoon. Draw
pieces of paper toweling across the surface of the stock to absorb
the last remnants of the fat.

3. Taste the stock. If it is to weak, boil down to concentrate
the strength. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken-Meat Stock 

about 1 1/2 kilos each mixed meat and
poultry bones and meat scraps

2 medium carrots
2 medium onions

2 stalks celery

l bouquet garni (see recipe for consomme)

2 tsp salt

1. Place the meat and bones in a kettle, pour over cold water to
cover, bring to a bare simmer and skim the surface. Continue to
simmer, skimming often, until scum no longer rises to the surface.
Add the remaining ingredients and continue to simmer, partially
covered, for 4 - 5 hours longer, skimming occasionally if
necessary and adding boiling water if the liquids evaporate below
the surface of the ingredients. Before adding the turtle meat
discard the bouquet garni and strain the stock through a cloth.


The Second Course


This is a recipe that is Russian in origin but that was later
refined at the Maison Doree, a restaurant Count Demidoff
 frequented with the many women to whom he paid court.

It is also legitimate to substitute smoked salmon for the caviar, so long as those that do this are aware that they are then serving Blinis Romanov and not Blinis Demidoff.

2 cups clarified butter (see note below), melted

1/2 kilo malossol (lightly salted) caviar

2 cups sour cream
2 cups milk, scalded and then cooled to lukewarm

l cup each buckwheat flour and white flour,
both sifted

4 eggs, separated

l envelope dry yeast (1 oz)

1 tsp each salt and sugar

1. In a large warm bowl soak the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water.
 After about 10 minutes, add l cup of the milk.

2. Sift both flours together. Resift the flours and salt and
stir 1 cup of this mixture into the yeast. Cover and let rise for
1/2 hour. Add the remaining milk and flour. Lightly beat the egg
yolks and add these to the mixture. Beat until smooth and then
let stand and rise until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour). Add 3
tbs of the clarified butter. Beat the egg whites until stiff and
then fold these into the mixture. Let stand to rise for « hour.

3. To make the blinis, use a cast-iron or other heavy 5" (8 cm)
skillet. To the skillet add 1 tsp of the clarified butter and
heat. Pour in 1 tbs of the batter at a time and cook for 1
minute. Over the pancake spoon a bit of butter, turn and cook for
« minute longer. Remove the blini and keep warm in a low oven.
Continue cooking until all of the blinis are made.

4. To serve, place the blinis on a preheated serving platter.
On one half of each blini place heaping spoonsfull of the caviar.
Pour over the remaining clarified butter and then, on the second
half of the blinis, pile the sour cream.

Note: Such blinis are ideally served with the dryest possible of
 Champagnes, very well chilled.

To Make Clarified Butter 

To make clarified butter, very slowly melt about 1 1/2 times the
required amount of butter in a skillet. Let stand for several
minutes and then strain carefully, not letting the residue or
water pour back into the butter.


The Main Course

(Quails in Pastry Cases)

12 quails, dressed and half boned, with heads intact

1 recipe for game stock (recipe follows)

1 recipe for brown chaud-froid sauce (recipe follows)

12 pastry cases (recipe follows)

250 gr fresh foie gras (goose livers)

250 gr truffles, finely diced

4 large truffles, sliced thinly

36 large seedless grapes

3 tbs butter

2 tbs each Cognac and Madeira wine

1. In a heavy skillet melt the butter and in this lightly saute
the goose livers. When they are just beginning to brown, remove
from the heat. Let cool for several minutes and dice the livers
finely. Add the diced truffles and moisten with 2 tbs of the
Madeira wine. Mix gently but well and with this salpicon, stuff
the birds.

2. Wrap each bird in a piece of muslin cloth, folding the head
under a wing. Poach the birds in the game stock for about 15
minutes. Drain the birds and set them aside to keep warm.

3. Strain the liqueur in which the quails were cooked. With a
spoon remove most of the surface fat, and then, by running paper
towelling over the surface, completely absorbe the remaining
grease. Reserve « of this stock for use in making the chaud-froid
sauce. Return the other « of the stock to a saucepan, add the
brandy and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame and let simmer until
the stock is nearly jelly-like in consistency. Keep warm.

4. When the chaud-froid sauce is ready take the following steps:

a: Transfer the birds to the pastry cases, with the heads
proturuding from the cases.

b: Gently spread the birds with the now jellied stock.

c: Coat the birds with the chaud-froid sauce.

d: On the breast of each bird place 1 large, thin truffle
slice and three large grapes.

e: Serve on preheated plates.

Ideally served with a red Burgundy wine such as Clos de Vougeot 

Game Stock

Note: As many of these ingredients are not always available, one
may substitute brown meat stock (see recipe which follows later
on) but with the addition of the white wine, peppercorns, juniper
berries, and sage as listed in this recipe.

1 1/2 kilos breast or other cuts of venison

450 gr trimmings of hare or rabbit

l small pheasant or partridge, trussed

3 onions, halved

3 medium carrots, quartered

1 1/2 cups white wine

1 bouquet garni (with 3 sprigs parsley,
1 sprig thyme,

1/2 bay leaf,
2 unpeeled cloves garlic and 2 whole cloves,
tied in muslin

6 - 8 peppercorns
l tsp juniper berries

1/2 tsp sage
salt as required

1. Prepare as for brown meat stock (recipe which follows) but
deglaze the pan after the meat and vegetables are browned with the
white wine instead of water.

Chaud-Froid Brune
Brown Chaud-Froid Sauce

This may be the most complex of all French sauces as it is
dependent on the use of a brown stock, a jelly stock and two other
sauces. Although time-consuming, it is not a difficult sauce to
make. As I mentioned earlier, substitute recipes (which may be
good but will not be great) may be found in many cookbooks. Any 
cook who goes all out and prepares the sauce in its original form
will feel well rewarded. That is a promise.

For the Brown Meat Stock 

1 1/2 kilos beef and veal bones, cracked

1 1/4 kilos beef shank meat

2 onions, halved

2 medium carrots, quartered

2 stalks celery
l bouquet garni (with 3 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig
thyme, 1/2 bay leaf, 2 unpeeled garlic cloves
and 2 whole cloves, tied in muslin)
2 tsp salt

For the sauce brune 

6 cups brown meat stock (preceding recipe)

1/2 cup each carrots, onions and celery,
all chopped finely

6 tbs clarified butter or rendered pork fat

1/4 cup flour

3 tbs boiled ham, diced

2 tbs tomato paste
l bouquet garni (3 sprigs parsley, l sprig thyme
and 1/2 bay leaf, tied together)

For the meat jelly stock 0Gֻ

450 gr beef, cut in cubes

350 gr veal knuckle

350 gr veal and beer bones, sawed
into small pieces and tied with string

115 gr lean chopped beef
l calf foot, boned and blanched in boiling water

115 gr each butter and bacon rinds

2 large carrots, sliced

2 onions, sliced

2 leeks, sliced

3 stalks celery, sliced

1 bouquet garni (3 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig
thyme and 1 bay leaf, tied together)

2 egg whites

1 tsp each tarragon and chervil chopped
salt and pepper

For the Chaud-Froid Sauce: 

2 cups meat jelly stock (preceding)

1 1/2 cups sauce brune (preceding)

1 cup brown meat stock (preceding)

3 tbs Madeira wine

Prepare the brown meat stock:

1. Arrange the meat, bones, carrots and onions on a roasting
pan and place in the center of a very hot oven. Turn the
ingredients occasionally and let brown for 30 - 40 minutes. Remove
from the oven and drain the fat. Transfer the meat and vegetables
to the soup kettle in which the stock will be prepared. Into te
roasting pan pour 1 1/2 cups of water, place over a low flame and
scrape off all of the coagulated browning juices that have stuck
to the pan. Add these to the kettle.

2. Pour over cold water to cover and bring to a bare simmer.
Skim and then add the vegetables, bouquet garni and salt.
Continue the bare simmer, partially covering the kettle, for 4 - 6
hours, adding boilng water if the liquids evaporate below the
surface of the ingredients. Skim occasionally if necessary. When
cooking is completed, discard the bouquet garni and strain the
stock into a clean bowl. With a spoon remove most of the grease
and degrease completely by absorbing the remaining fat with paper

Prepare the sauce brune:

1. In a heavy saucepan melt the butter and in this slowly
cook the vegetables and ham for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Into this mixture blend the flour and, over a moderately low
flame, stirring constantly, cook for 8 - 10 minutes, until the
flour has turned golden brown. Remove from the flame.

2. Bring the stock to the boil and using a wire whisk rapidly
whisk the beef stock into the mirepoix (the vegetable mixture).
Beat in the tomato paste, add the bouquet garni and simmer gently,
partially covered, for 2 - 3 hours, skimming as necessary and
adding addtitinal stock if the sauce becomes overly thick. When
the sauce is done there should be about 4 cups and this should
coat the spoon. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper if
necessary and strain, pressing the vegetables with a wooden spoon
to press out their liquids. Degrease the stock, first with a
spoon and then with paper toweling). Set aside to keep warm
(ideally in a double boiler, over but not in hot water).

Prepare the Jelly Stock: 

1. In a large heavy skillet brown the beef, veal and bones
lightly in butter. Transfer to a large kettle and continue to
brown together with the carrots, onions, leeks and celery. Pour
over 9 cups of water. With a small amount of water dilute the
juices in the skillet in which the meat was browned and add this
to the stockpot. Bring to the boil, skim and add the bacon rinds
and calf's foot. Add the boquet garni, season with salt and
pepper and simmer gently for 6 hours, skimmng occasionally.
Strain the stock through muslin.

2. To the strained stock add the chopped beef, egg whites,
tarragon and chervil. Whisk lightly over a moderate flame until
the mixture is lukewarm. Carefully skim off all the fat. With
strips of paper toweling blot off whatever fat remains on the
surface. Bring to the boil, whisking constantly, and then lower
the flame and simmer very gently for 35 minutes longer. Strain
the remaining stock through several layers of lightly dampened
muslin cloth.

Make the Chaud-Froid Sauce: 

1. In the saucepan, combine the remaining clear brown stock
and the sauce brune. Boil down over a medium-high flame, stirring
constantly wih a wooden spoon and add, a little at a time, the
jelly stock. Boil down until the sauce is at a consistency where
it can be used to coat the birds. Remove from the flame, stir in
the Madeira and coat the birds.

Croutes de Bouchees Feuilletees A_ֻ
(Puff Pastry Cases)

450 gr butter, softened

450 gr flour, sifted

2 tbs butter, melted

2 tsp each salt and lemon juice

l. Sift the flour onto a well chilled marble or wood surface and
make a well in the center. Into the well place the salt, lemon
juice, melted butter and 12 tbs cold water. With the fingertips
mix these briefly and then, continuing with the fingertips, work
the flour in until the mixture atains the consistency of coarse
crumbs. If the mixture is too dry, add water, several drops at a
time. The dough should be well mixed but not kneaded. Divide
into two equal balls, wrap each in waxed paper and refrigerate for
1/2 hour. (Note: Each of the following instructions should be
followed twice, once for each ball).

2. Lightly flour half of the softened butter and flatten with a
rolling pin. When flattened fold in half and continue to flatten
and fold until the butter is pliable but not sticky and close to
the flour in consistency.

3. Shape the butter into a l5 cm (6") square. Roll out the dough
to a 30 cm (12") square and set the butter in the center of this.
Fold the corners of the dough over the butter, turn upside down on
the work surface and press with the rolling pin to flatten. With
the rolling pin roll out the dough into a rectangle about 20 x 45
cm (8 x 18"). Fold the rectangle into thirds, turn the new
rectangle 90 degrees and roll out again into a large rectangle.
Fold again. Repeat this process so that the dough will have been
rolled out and folded 6 times in all. If, during the process the
dough becomes too soft refrigerate between rollings for 15
minutes. After all of the rolling out and folding process has been
completed, chill the dough for 2 hours before using.

4. Roll out the dough again, this time to a thickness of about 8
mm (about 1/3"). With a sharp pastry cutter cut out rounds about
10 cm (4") in diameter. Place these on a damp baking sheet.
Dip another round cutter in hot water and mark out lids on the
pastry pieces that will be about 8 cm (3 1/2") in diameter. Mark the
edges with a knife, taking care not to cut all the way through.
Cook the pastry rounds in a hot oven just until they begin to
brown. When baked remove from the oven and remove and discard the
lids. Let cool for 10 minutes before putting the birds into the


The Cheese and Fruit Plate
The Drunken Goat
French Morbier
Pleasant Ridge
St. Andre
Comte Gruyere
Pont L'Eveque

The Dessert


8 cups flour, sifted before measuring
1 recipe for Chantilly cream (recipe follows)

2 cups each milk and butter

2 cups seedless raisins

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup diced glazed fruits (preferably figs)

10 eggs

2/3 cup blanched almonds

1/4 – 1/2 cup rum

6 packages active dry yeast

2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon rind, grated

1. Let all the ingredients come to room temperature.

2. Scald the milk and then let cool to just lukewarm. Pour the
milk over the yeast and after the yeast is dissolved beat in 2
cups of the sifted flour. Set this sponge to rise in a warm place
until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).

3. Beat the butter until it is soft and then gradually sift in
the sugar, blending until the mixture is light and creamy. One at
a time beat in the eggs and then beat in the salt. Add the
sponge, the remaining flour, the raisins and lemon rind. Beat the
mixture until smooth and elastic.

4. Divide the blanched almonds in the bottoms of two 23 cm (9")
greased tube pans. On top of the almonds divide the batter and let
stand until again nearly doubled in bulk. Bake the cakes in an
oven that has been preheated to medium for 50 - 60 minutes (to
tell if the cakes are done, insert a sharp knife. If the knife
comes out clean, the cake is done). Let the cakes cool before
removing from the pans.

5. Just before serving sprinkle the cakes over with the rum, coat
generously with the chantilly cream and, if desired, decorate with
glazed fruits.


2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon brandy
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons dairy sour cream

Refrigerate a medium-size bowl and beaters until very cold. Combine cream, vanilla, brandy and Grand Marnier in the bowl and beat with electric mixer on medium speed 1 minute. Add the sugar and sour cream and beat on medium just until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Do not overbeat. (Overbeating will make the cream grainy, which is the first step leading to butter. Once grainy you can't return it to its former consistency, but if this ever happens, enjoy it on toast!)

Welcome to the club

We are a bunch of Minnesotans who like to cook, eat, and try out new recipes. Each month one of the six of us (the club size is limited) takes it in turns to act as host and command the recipes to be made by the others. It's been going on for many years (we'll fill you in on the history later). But for now we felt it was high time we started chronicling some of our gastronomic goings-on for the sake of posterity if not wide interest.

Here you may find useful recipes, photos of how they actually turned out, comments on whether we'd go through the effort again, and snipes about failed experiments. Each event is lovingly crafted and planned (we often clean house especially), and sometimes there is a theme. More on that later.

Who we are:
Jolee Mosher
Nancy Miller
Jeff V
Marianne Combs
Philip Blackburn
Preston Wright