There’s nothing like an icy cocktail to start off summer, and I’m considering making this my new seasonal refresher. When the team at Lucques restaurant in Los Angeles presented a menu from My Paris Kitchen for one of their Sunday suppers, head bartender, Christiaan Rollich came up with an inspired cocktail that’s light, and refreshing, and combines a splash of Lillet, a pour of French vermouth, another nod to France with a dash of orange liqueur, finished up with some bubbly from our friends across the border in Italy.
Results tagged Orange from David Lebovitz
I’m not sure how I discovered Lillet, an orange-infused apéritif wine, made in a town on a road between Sauternes and Bordeaux, but I remember driving through the area and making my friend screech to a halt when we (almost) passed the Lillet factory.
Factory probably isn’t the best word, but macerbatorium probably sounds a little dodgy, but when we walked in, we found ourselves in front of an astounding amount of oranges and shards of bark, bobbing up and down, as they macerated in vats of wine. While that was certainly a riveting sight, equally enticing was the silver daddy who was very easy on the eyes, who took us through the facility, explaining the process of making the famed apéritif wine, then joining us for a little dégustation.
It was hard to concentrate on the beverages clinking in our glasses, but I did my best. (I swear.) And I bought a bottle as a souvenir, likely as a pretext for letting us snap a picture of the two of us together, which had a hallowed place over my desk for well over a decade. I don’t know what happened to that picture, but I still pine for Lillet to this day. Interestingly, it’s rare that you find Lillet served in Paris and if you ask around, you’d be hard-pressed to find very many people in town that even know what it is. (Readers of The Sweet Life in Paris know what I was served the first time I tried to order it in a café, which I’m still living down.)
I was part of a whole generation of San Franciscans that were terrorized by Bruno, a cantankerous, older Persian man who had a bar in the Haight called Persian Aub Zam Zam. I’ve probably mentioned him before, but I recently went down that rabbit hole of the Internet where I found a few stories about him via a search for something else. Then…well, we all knows where that leads…
He believed that if you’re going to have a drink at a bar, you should have it at the actual bar. I don’t know why he had a few tables and chairs around the outskirts of the dark room, because anyone that came in and tried to take a seat at one would be yelled at by Bruno – “The tables are closed. Get the hell out of here!“
Am not sure if they were just for decoration or what, but he would also flip out on people if they ordered a foofy cocktail, such as a Cosmopolitan, a Screwdriver…or heck, anything that wasn’t a classic cocktail on his pre-approved list. If you wanted to stay on his good side, you’d order a Martini – one made with gin. An order for a Vodka Martini would get you tossed out. And in contrast to what some “experts” might advise, he didn’t shake or stir his (gin) Martinis, he “pounded” the $2.50 cocktail with a muddler, which resulted in an icy-cold drink, served (or course) in a classic Martini glass. And your change was always a shiny half-dollar coin snapped down on the bar after you paid.
I bought my trusty zester in 1983, back when no one had heard of rasp-type zesters, which are now a lot more popular than their old-fangled counterparts. I got mine in 1983 when I started working at Chez Panisse and the cook training me on my first shift told me that I needed four essential items; a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a bread knife, and a zester.
Aside from a few crêpe stands here and there, Paris isn’t a city known for street food. And malheureusement, that Pierre Hermé truck isn’t open for business…although wouldn’t that be nice.
(However if it was, I would probably race around my house in search of spare change every time I heard it coming toward me, like I did when the Good Humor ice cream truck approached when I was a kid. Or haranguing my poor mother to dig furiously through her purse to dig up 40 cents for a toasted coconut ice cream bar to calm down her semi-hysterical child.)
Sure, come mid-day, the sidewalks of Paris are packed with people scarfing down les sandwichs (sic), which seem to have taken over as the lunch of choice in Paris. It’s nice to see the crowds and lines at the local bakeries, but it’s sad to see the long(er) lines at Subway sandwich shops, which I suspect are because people are craving a little creativity with what’s between the bread. And while the one Subway sandwich I had in my life was inedible – I didn’t realize you could screw up a sandwich…until then – I think the locals are fascinated by the varieties offered. Plus they’re made-to-order, and served warm.
The French do have versions of les ventes ambulantes, such as the pizza trucks parked alongside the roads in the countryside and there are the gorgeous spit-roasted chickens sold at the markets and butcher shops in Paris. But recently an American launched a roving food truck in Paris to staggering success, and a second one followed her lead. And judging from the line-up, it’s mostly French folks angling for a bite to eat.
While I’m happy for my fellow compatriots, and I love a good burger as much as the French seem to (judging from the crowds), I can’t help thinking how kooky it is that American cooks get to have all the fun, and some French cooks might want to get in on the action. Here’s a few ideas I’ve been thinking about…
When I started working at Chez Panisse, there was something called crème anglaise on the menu…and my job was to make it. Of course, I had no idea what crème anglaise was – other than something with a funny name that I got in trouble for pronouncing wrong on several occasions. But I pretended I knew what it was when everyone was talking about making it to go with the desserts. And luckily for my career, after a few years, I probably made at least one batch everyday for the next thirteen years, and stirring up a batch of crème anglaise became second nature to me.
Last month I was teaching at Central Market, a chain of pretty amazing supermarkets in Texas that has just about anything you can imagine—including cooking classes. And I never pass up the chance to teach there. For one thing, the staff is uniformly excellent and it’s just a pleasure to step into their kitchens and work with them. But the other is that I get to wander the aisles of their supermarkets, which are like no other in the world.
French nut oils, Texas honeys, a crazy machine that shoots out crisp Korean wafers at the ultra-high speed of a shotgun, a homemade salsa and guacamole bar, barbecued ribs that I’m still dreaming about, a excellent selection of British cheddars and French soft cheeses, in-store scratch bakeries, and candy-coated chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, which I’m now (unfortunately) completely addicted to. And those Korean wafers are pretty addictive as well, although the blasting sound the machine makes when firing them out kind of scared me. (I get a little gun-shy in Texas, y’all.)
This time of year brings Seville oranges to the markets in Paris. For the past few years, I kept complaining they were hard to find since it’s perhaps my favorite of all jams and jellies to make and eat. But lately, they’ve been everywhere. (See? It pays to complain. Either that, or a whole lot of French produce suppliers read my blog.) And I found myself busy making a lot of marmalade, which was a whole lot easier since I came up with a brand-new, revolutionary technique which I couldn’t wait to share.
Since Seville oranges are rife with seeds, which makes slicing them difficult since you have to keep moving the seeds around with your slippery fingers, while trying to cut the oranges, then finding more, and fishing around deeper inside to extract more, plucking them out, etc…Each Seville orange has perhaps twenty to thirty inside.
So I thought, what if I was to squeeze the juice and seeds out first, strain them, then pour the juice back in? The seeds are precious commodities in jam-making, and get saved and used since they’re so high in pectin. They’re wrapped in a sack and cooked with the marmalade giving the marmalade gets a suave, jellied texture. And this simple method makes the whole process much easier.
You might be interested to know that Seville Orange Marmalade was created because of an error. Apparently an Englishwoman in 1700, the wife of a grocer, was stuck with some sour oranges that were bought cheaply from a boat that was carrying them from Seville. Since there was a storm, they wanted to get rid of their stock or oranges quickly, so the grocer bought them. But they were inedibly sour so his wife decided to try making jam from then, and viola!…Seville Orange Marmalade was invented.
Seville Orange Marmalade
Adapted from Ready for Dessert (Ten Speed)
I recently updated this recipe to include a pre-boiling of the orange pieces, simmering them in water until cooked through as some varieties of sour oranges tend to be resistant to cooking, and the pre-boiling ensures they’ll be fully cooked.
- 6 Seville oranges (see Note)
- 1 navel orange
- 10 cups (2.5 liters) water
- pinch of salt
- 8 cups (1.6 kg) sugar
- 1 tablespoon Scotch (optional)
1. Wash oranges and wipe them dry. Cut each Seville orange in half, crosswise around the equator. Set a non-reactive mesh strainer over a bowl and squeeze the orange halves to remove the seeds, assisting with your fingers to remove any stubborn ones tucked deep within.
2. Tie the seeds up in cheesecloth or muslin very securely.
3. Cut each rind into 3 pieces and use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the rinds into slices or cubes as thin as possible. Each piece shouldn’t be too large (no more than a centimeter, or 1/3-inch in length.) Cut the navel orange into similar-sized pieces.
4. In a large (10-12 quart/liter) stockpot, add the orange slices, seed pouch, water, and salt, as well as the juice from the Seville oranges from step #1. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until the peels are translucent, about 20 to 30 minutes.
(At this point, sometimes I’ll remove it from the heat after cooking them and let the mixture stand overnight, to help the seeds release any additional pectin.)
5. Stir the sugar into the mixture and bring the mixture to a full boil again, then reduce heat to a gentle boil. Stir occasionally while cooking to make sure it does not burn on the bottom. Midway during cooking, remove the seed pouch and discard.
6. Continue cooking until it has reached the jelling point, about 220F degrees, if using a candy thermometer. To test the marmalade, turn off the heat and put a small amount on a plate that has been chilled in the freezer and briefly return it to the freezer. Check it in a few minutes; it should be slightly jelled and will wrinkle just a bit when you slide your finger through it. If not, continue to cook until it is.
7. Remove from heat, then stir in the Scotch (if using), and ladle the mixture into clean jars. Sometimes I bury a piece of vanilla bean in each jar. (Which is a great way to recycle previously-used or dried-out vanilla beans.)
I don’t process my jams, since I store them in the refrigerator. But if you wish to preserve them by canning, you can read more about the process here.
Note: Sour or Seville oranges are called in French oranges amers and are available mid-winter in many other countries around the world as well.