This three-part 19th century dinner, which started last week, reflects the new Classic French cuisine. This era in culinary history became popular, as the Napoleonic age followed the French Revolution. Then self-made men, following the example of Napoleon, rose in status and wealth. They had to learn the ways of entertaining, or how to be amphitryons (hosts).
Cook books of the time reflected these needs of this new non-aristocratic class. A forty year lapse in the publication of cooking instructions existed prior to the beginning of this new period. One important recipe book, with the dawning of this new day, was Le Cuisinier by A. Viard. It was published during the entire nineteenth century. However, its name changed with each new political upheaval.
First printed in 1806, Le Cuisinier Imperial was named after the Emperor who loved classicism. This passion of Napoleon gave the new cuisine its name-Classic French cuisine.
The book’s title changed to Le Cuisinier Royal, when Louis XVIII became king in 1814. Other name conversions reflected the politics of the century. It became Le Cuisinier National, when Louis Napoleon was elected President of the Republic. Then it went back to employing “Imperial” when this man declared himself Emperor Napoleon III in 1852.
The cook book was known by Le Cuisinier National once again, when France became a republic in 1871. It has remained such.
There is a recipe for buttered carrots in these pages which date back two centuries ago.
In 1964, Esther Aresty documented the history of European and American cuisine in her account The Delectable Past, from which I got the above information. Here she improved on this delicious recipe from Le Cuisinier by pureeing this vegetable in a food mill. I have augmented her outstanding method with easy, modernized steps utilizing a food processor.
You’ll be immensely pleased with this memorable dish. A comfort food of all comfort foods!
Carrots au Beurre Adapted from a recipe in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964). Yields: 4 servings.
½ cup pecan pieces
1 lb. carrots (organic is best and also very inexpensive)
2 cups green beans (fresh or frozen-I prefer French-cut frozen beans from Trader Joes)
¼ cup whipping cream
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg, or to taste
½ tsp salt, or to taste (Real Salt is best, available in health section of local supermarket)
1/8 tsp pepper, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 265 degrees. Roast pecans on a small cookie sheet for about 40 minutes, or until light brown when piece is broken. Set aside.
- Spray carrots with 97% distilled white vinegar mixed with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Let sit three minutes. Rinse thoroughly and scrape with a sharp knife. (Scraping, as opposed to peeling, saves the vitamins which are just under the skin.) Cut into ½ inch pieces. If the carrot piece is thick, cut it in half.
- Cover with water in a medium saucepan. Boil over medium heat until soft.
- In meantime, steam green beans in a medium saucepan.
- Place the hot, drained carrots in a food processor. Add cream, butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Blend until carrots are a smooth mixture. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Place pureed carrots in the center of a vegetable platter. Surround with green beans and top with roasted pecans.
Note: You may double this recipe. Leftovers are great!