Closed Captioned For The Thinking Impaired

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Shaken And Stirred - Easy Skillet Spinach Mushroom Frittata with Chevre

One of the many unique features of living in San Francisco that makes it seem like an earthly paradise is its dramatic and  visually stunning topography. Every tourist who has ever snapped a picture with her iPhone goes home with glorious shots which Ansel Adams would have proudly displayed; though, of course, they would have done it with devices & techniques that would have his light meter spinning in its grave: like... sticking a cellphone out of the rental car's sunroof while driving down the coastal highway and blindly snapping away.
Don't scoff, you know you've done it too.

Why can these untutored, landlocked philistines from the center of the continent take such amazing photos? Because the S.F. Bay Area is just that beautiful! No photographic artistry is required. I won't subject you to long descriptive passages of its majestic hills and sparkling bay views; the wispy finger-like projections of mist that slowly enshroud the unsuspecting city in a veil of fog and mystery on a warm summer day or the rows of houses, standing like lines of colorful dominoes, impossibly perched on top of the steepest slopes. No, I won't try. I couldn't do it justice. But Nature must have its little jokes and all of this topographical splendor comes at a price: earthquakes.

The few times a native New Yorker (like me ) thinks about the earth moving she (or he) associates it with incredible lovemaking. As the lyric in the Roberta Flack song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" suggests: "...the first time ever I lay with you, I felt the earth move in my head ...", the earth moving should be thought of metaphorically in association with that beautiful feeling of romantic euphoria and sexual ecstasy. Not so when you leave the terra firma of the northeast and head out to the wild west where the ground bucks like a bad-tempered bronco at a rodeo. When people say they felt the earth move in the bay area, they are being anything but poetic.

Of course, after years of living in earthquake country, I am now a grizzled old veteran of non-erotically induced earth movements. I've felt the occasional jolt over the years but I never immediately recognized it as an earthquake. After each one, it has always taken me some time to actually attribute the tremors to its source because each event was so brief and unassuming that I never became alarmed. In my poor prosaic mind, so firmly grounded (pardon the pun) in east coast sensibilities, you should reflexively register fear any time the ground beneath your feet moves and you're not on a treadmill at the gym. It's an autonomic, visceral reaction to real danger, right? But as I said, I faced these aforementioned earth tremors blithely; and even thought of them as an exciting part of SF living: it gives you something to talk about with your hairdresser that day other than your split ends. Until today......

At 4:42 am this morning, I was startled into wakefulness by my bed doing its best imitation of a wine cork being tossed around in the Pacific Ocean. As I clutched the bedcovers and rode the wave for 7 or 8 seconds (though it seemed a lot longer), I heard the pocket door that partitions my bedroom from the rest of the master suite rattle like skeletons in a presidential candidate's closet. Needless to say, I instantly recognized this experience for what it really was: an honest-to-goodness, make-no-mistake-about-it, bone-rattling earthquake. Although for half of a mad second (my denial machine running full-throttle), I did think it could be the harbinger of the demonic possession of my soul. After all, I am a fanciful, somewhat neurotic, former catholic schoolgirl turned atheist who being all alone in the house and, it being a week before Easter, rented the movie "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" where the heroine's unfortunate dilemma began in precisely the same bed-shaking manner. Enough said.

The point, which I have finally gotten around to, is that I was scared out of my wits (hence the demonic possession delusion), hobbled out of bed with my bad right knee (don't ask) and did what every modern, enlightened, concerned citizen does in the wake of such an incident... turned on the local news station so some talking head in a bad suit could confirm the obvious. Silly, isn't it? But it has become a reflexive response to all disasters, real or perceived.
Did I try to take cover under a doorway or heavy piece of furniture? Check the boiler room or stove for leaks? Survey all or any damage? No, instead I sat quietly trembling in my dressing room and watched some poor KRON anchor-schnook (with Walter Konchrite aspirations who would be lucky to anchor the evening news for some NBC affiliate in Peoria) tell me what I already knew: an earthquake had hit the SF bay area. Of course, he informed me that it registered as a minor 4.2 quake on the Hayward Fault with its epicenter somewhere east of the bay; something I myself could not possibly confirm having lost my Richter scale during the move into our new home.

Feeling accomplished and secure in the knowledge that this thing that jolted me out of my bed was not the arrival of Armageddon , I had a brief look around. When I was satisfied that nothing was damaged (in fact, surprisingly, nothing had even been disturbed), I hobbled back to my bed, put on my blinders and earplugs and passed out until mid-morning.

Somehow when I finally arose later that morning to a bright sunny day, instead of booking the next flight out of town, I awoke hungry and felt inspired to create a mini-quake of my own for breakfast. (Welcome to the left-coast where reality is just an alternate universe and everything always seems better in the light of a beautiful dawn. Must be something in the water.)

What better way to commemorate my first true ground-shaking San Francisco experience than with a post-earthquake repast that combines the bounty of the bay area's summer produce with a cooking technique that celebrates the spirit of that quintessentially Californian force of nature that makes us shake, rattle and roll: the Hayward Fault? Can you guess what I wanted for breakfast?.... Scrambled eggs, of course! As an ode to my scrambled brains. But in true San Francisco fashion, we will gussy the eggs up a bit with seasonal local produce to give them some gourmet cache while still keeping them humble and accessible to all who can wield a cast-iron skillet with a nod to France who offers grand cuisine with liberteegalite and fraternite (and many earth movements of the more carnal variety), I offer you: 

A spinach, shiitake mushroom, shallots and truffled chevre 4 egg frittata to be exact.

Uber-easy to make and also relatively cost efficient. Can feed four people. I myself only ate 1/4 of this and shall enjoy it for breakfast tomorrow, too. Frittatas reheat magnificently in the microwave without becoming rubbery. The frittata is the less precious cousin of the French omelette. In fact, a frittata is heartier, healthier and more satisfying than its famous cousin. As a cook, you have more margin for error. I actually prefer frittatas, I can load them up more, they are the lazy woman's open-face omelette... Eggs qua eggs have never been my favorite protein. I have never fried an egg, nor eaten a fried egg. I have only just learned to eat boiled eggs (in Nicoise salads drowning in aioli), yet I do enjoy eggs scrambled or baked as custards, something about the integrated whole of the egg appeals to me.. its transcendence from embryo to luscious meal is alchemical. Making true omelettes is an active meditation. To keep the omelette thin and crepe-like is a science more than an art. You have the heat low, keep the curds stirring slowly, evenly and constantly until the heat slowly denatures and coagulates the protein. It takes a while. Too high a heat without enough motion and the skin will wrinkle and brown.. If you like fluffier more American-style omelets, you can start out with a higher heat, stir faster to incorporate more air, then lower the heat to avoid scorching. A scorched omelette has gotten many a budding apprentice cook hit with a hot frying pan in ye olde French restaurants of yore... probably still does.

Frittatas, on the other hand, are more forgiving, less exacting. The word “frittata,” derives from the Italian verb “friggere,” or “to fry,” connoting the simplicity and pleasures of cucina povera—the “humble cuisine” that most of us innately embrace. Egg is the base. With its high protein and mineral content, easy availability and low cost, eggs are an essential part of the diet almost everywhere in the world. From China and Southeast Asia to to Japan to India and Iran, up to the Maghreb, Spain, France, and Italy some kind of frittata-like dish is prepared. Surprisingly, in Italy, it’s rare to find a restaurant that offers frittata on its menu; it’s the quintessential home food. I never found one... in fact, when I traveled through the country from Alba all the way down to Capri and back again, breakfast was invariably coffee and pastries, little bit of fruit. Our super-sized omelettes may have served as dinner or lunch but never breakfast.

Naturally, the tastiest frittate are made with the best eggs—farm fresh with luscious, orange yolks. City-living doesn't allow for it, sadly. But, of course, eggs are just the beginning; the most distinctive aspect of the Italian frittata compared to similar preparations is the creative and imaginative use of all kinds of ingredients.  The ingredients of an omelette are gently placed into the beaten eggs as they are cooking in the pan. In a frittata, the eggs and ingredients are mixed together, then cooked more slowly. Also, the final shapes are different; an omelette is usually thinner, carefully folded around its ingredients; where a frittata is thicker. filled to the bursting  with goodies like a broken pinata.  There’s an Italian expression: “hai fatto una frittata,”which loosely translated means: you’ve made quite a mess—or a sequence of mistakes.  That expression no doubt comes from the fact that it often happens that a frittata is made on the spur of the moment: a last-minute decision made when you don’t have the time to go grocery shopping and the refrigerator seems bare. But all those odds and ends and leftovers in your fridge can make for a great frittata. In fact, in Italy, sometimes before serving lunch or dinner, a small portion of the meal is purposely put aside for a frittata the next day making delicious frittate with leftover pasta or rice (with or without sauce or seasoning). Also, a frittata is a perfect way to entice children into eating vegetables or conversely teach people like me who are not overly fond of eggs to eat eggs... To me, eggs are merely the vehicle for the luscious filling. It can be tastier hours later, eaten at room temperature, or enjoyed the next day, with a side of arugula. When stored in the fridge, be sure to wrap your frittata in plastic wrap and then put your frittata in an airtight plastic container, as water and humidity can ruin the taste. Remember: any greens or veggies you add into the frittata must first be sautéed, in order to eliminate most of their water. As for whether to use butter or extra-virgin olive oil—I use both - besides just personal preference, you should also consider which of those tastes marries best with the other ingredients you’re using in the dish. I used what I had on hand, but if I had my druthers, I would have added lovely red peppers to this dish as another aromatic. This will serve four people admirably, especially with a simply dressed tossed salad of arugula. You can easily double the ingredients, however, and use the same pan.

Easy Skillet Spinach Mushroom Frittata with Chevre

This recipe requires 1 well-seasoned 9" or 10" cast-iron skillet for the eggs, a pre-heated oven, 35 minutes of cooking time and, ideally, room temperature ingredients.  If you don't have a high quality cast-iron skillet, run out to your nearest William Sonoma (another S.F. classic) and buy one. Le Creuset is my favorite. They last a lifetime, come in the sweetest colors, and are indispensable to the home cook.

Don't try to substitute the cast-iron skillet with a stainless steel or aluminum saute pan. Their bottoms and sides are not thick enough to form the desired texture of the crust. Instead, try using a well-oiled (or buttered) 9" round glass or ceramic baking dish. The spinach mixture will still need to be sauteed in a pan and then placed in your baking dish with the egg custard mixture before baking. 


For the custard:

  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten, but white and yolk fully incorporated
  • 1/2 cup half & half or heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 4 leaves of fresh basil, cut into chiffonade
  • 2 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 4 oz. of chevre (mine was truffled) or  lovely ricotta, or freshly grated aged cheddar, gruyere or fontina (use a good melting cheese)
  • salt and  pepper to taste
For the spinach mixture:
  • 6 oz. of baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 1/4 lb of shiitake mushrooms (substitute any mushroom you like)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter (preferably a european-style butter with a higher fat content. I like Kerrygold brand - it's an Irish butter made from grass-fed cows)
  • salt and pepper to taste
For the crust:
  • 1 La Brea Rosemary Olive Oil boule , brushed lightly with extra-virgin olive oil
    ( La Brea is a bakery in Los Angeles whose breads are shipped unbaked to a few select Bay Area markets like Whole Foods and then freshly baked on site before being sold. Thanks to my friend, Nicole, for introducing me to their boule. Our local Acme Bread's Levain Walnut or Rosemary Foccaccia is also a fab substitute. You can use any other brand or flavor of dense, crusty bread.)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Heat skillet on medium high heat, when hot, add 2 Tbs. olive oil & 1 tsp. of butter. When butter melts, lower heat to medium then add a couple of grinds of salt( or 1/8 tsp.) followed by the mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms soften, they will absorb the oil, but add more as needed, when mushrooms soften add shallots until shallots are translucent. Add spinach to mixture, stirring well to incorporate the spinach with the aromatics,  feel free to add a little extra butter or even a bit of stock, if the spinach mixture appears dry before it fully wilts. Cook spinach until completely wilted, all the moisture has just evaporated out of the mixture. Turn heat to very low; season lightly with salt and pepper, tasting to insure proper flavor. If the mixture still appears watery after the spinach is wilted, blot out any excess liquid with a paper towel.

Combine the ingredients (except the cheese & herbs) for the custard in a large stainless steel bowl with a wire whisk, incorporating one element at a time. Whip the egg mixture up vigorously until the mixture appears light & foamy then gently fold the cheese, basil and parsley into the custard with a spatula, careful not to deflate the foam.

Add the remaining butter to the spinach mixture in the skillet; swirling it in to ensure that the entire pan is completely buttered. Now add the custard to the warm spinach mixture, stirring very lightly to evenly distribute it in the pan. Place skillet in the center rack of the preheated oven, turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees. Bake the eggs for 25-30 minutes until puffy and golden. The center should still be slightly quivering when ready. When done, remove eggs from oven, let stand for 5 minutes.

When eggs have 5-7 minutes remaining for cooking time, quickly place bread directly on rack in oven and heat until eggs are done and bread is hot & crusty.

While frittata is resting, heat 4 plates in the microwave for 1 minute.

While plates are heating, slice bread in half at its equator (horizontally) if you are using a boule. Remove some of the bread from the center of the loaf, leaving the edges intact,  cut each half vertically into half again. Place a slice of bread on each warm plate. Cut the quiche into four wedges; carefully nestle each wedge into the warm bread, garnish with extra basil. Or if you don't have a boule, just toast up nice thick slices of bread. 

Serve the frittata with a side of sliced seasonal fruit for breakfast, or a green salad for lunch.

Serves four normal civilians or two hungry earthquake survivors.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Jug of Wine, A Conger of the Rising Sun & Thou: Dali Does Food Porn

Need a few novel ideas for your Valentine Day's feast to impress your beloved's discriminating palate? Have a hedonist you'd like to wine and dine? I've got just the tome for you - a voluptuary's guide to culinary delight; replete with recipes and paintings from the man who turned lobsters into telephone receivers, pomegranates into mauling dreamtigers ravishing sleeping naked ladies, and bread into a paraphilia (explaining the use of bread in his paintings thusly: "Bread has always been one of the oldest subjects of fetishism and obsession in my work, the first and the one to which I have remained the most faithful. I painted the same subject 19 years ago. By making a very careful comparison of the two pictures, everyone can study all the history of painting right there, from the linear charm of primitivism to stereoscopic hyper-aestheticism." ).
Crack open the cover of Les Diners De Gala, Taschen's rerelease of Salvador Dali's 1973 cookbook, and the first thing you will read on the inside flap of the jacket, as you are greeted by his Basket of Bread (painted in 1945), is Dali's declaration: "At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since. "

Fortunately for us, six decades after his 6th birthday, he decided to indulge his inner gastronomist. This reprint features 136 recipes over 12 chapters, all specially illustrated with erotic etchings and paintings by Dalí. Food and surrealism make for scintillating pillowtalk and the food porn in this book abounds. The opulent dinner parties thrown by Salvador Dalí and his wife and muse, Gala, were the stuff of legend. I watched a snippet of one on Youtube. The hostess is dressed as a unicorn, reclining on a red velvet bed. She's bottle-feeding a lion cub. The host is wearing ear flaps, life-size paper replicas of his head serve as ear muffs. Monkeys dangle from the ballroom's coffered ceilings. It is a benefit for refugee artists. Attended by Hollywood elite stars like Bob Hope, in 1941. Guests are served fish plated inside satin slippers,  an engraved cloche is lifted  by Bob Hope to reveal a silver platter swarming with live frogs, springing into action. Les Diners de Gala shares some of the delicacies that adorned the tables of these notorious gatherings. It is very much a magic carpet ride to the glamorous past that the Dalis inhabited. Not all the recipes are personal ones, some were contributed by the great chefs of the day. Taschen only just published its handsome facsimile edition this fall.  I myself received a copy of the new edition via Santa this past Christmas. Named for Dali's wife, also a legendary gourmande, it must be one of the most esoteric cookbooks ever created, certainly the most esoteric one I've ever seen - a bit like Escoffier on acid. Signed copies of the original recently fetched as much as $25,000.  Let me attempt to describe what you'll encounter within its covers:

An index is presented alongside an unctuously melting clock being sliced by a cheese knife. The index boasts twelve chapters divided by course with titles promising everything from autumnal cannibalism (eggs, seafood) to Lilliputian malaise (first courses) to sodomies (meats) to atavistic desoxyribonucleics (veggies) to a chapter entitled "I eat Gala"  devoted to aphrodisiacs,  full of all manner of enticements because all good cooks should be dab hands at searing sex as well as scallops.
Dali's Les Diners De Gala's Index
The index is followed by what the book asserts is Dalinian Gastro Aesthetics "From the Positive Materialism of the 'Physiology of taste of Brillat-Savarin' to the Spirito-Mystic-Monarchic, Catholic, Apostolic, Romanism of a Gastronomical Theology.
It is Epicureanism elevated to a religion, worshipping the God of the palate.  Whilst I am not entirely sure Epicurus would fully embrace his Dionysian excess, Dalí peppers his recipes with wily aphorisms that the great philosopher might espouse like “The jaw is our best tool to grasp philosophical knowledge. Disgust is the ever present watchman of my table, sternly overseeing my meals, obliging me to choose my food with caution"


" I am exalted by all that is edible. Everything begins in the mouth before going elsewhere; with the nerves I hold visceral impulses to be the supreme indicator. My enlightenment is born and propagated through my guts. The jaws of my mind are in perpetual motion."
And who are we to doubt his wisdom of all things roasted, braised, boiled , masticated and digested? Food like aesthetics is imbued with morality and philosophy here: "I only like to eat what has a clear and intelligible form. If I hate that detestable degrading vegetable called spinach it is because it is shapeless, like Liberty.“The opposite of shapeless spinach is armour. I love eating suits of arms, in fact, I love all shellfish ...I love eating all shellfish," Dalí declares, because "only a battle to peel makes it vulnerable to the conquest of our palate." Woodcock flambéed in strong alcohol, and "served in its own excrements," as prepared in fine Parisian restaurants, "will always remain for me ... the most delicate symbol of true civilization." Take that Marcus Aurelius!
After the introduction to Dalinetics, a warning is issued,
“Les diners de Gala is uniquely devoted to the pleasures of taste … If you are a disciple of one of those calorie-counters who turn the joys of eating into a form of punishment, close this book at once; it is too lively, too aggressive, and far too impertinent for you.”—Salvador Dalí

His disclaimer doesn't exaggerate. This book is not for everybody - only the sexy people: equal opportunity omnivores who enjoy wrapping exoticism with decadence in layers of audacity, cream, and puff pastry. Vegans and ascetics need not apply. All of it composed with a spicy tongue en croute planted firmly in your cheek.

For example, in the introduction to the eggs and seafood section, forbiddingly titled "les cannibalismes de la-automne" Dali informs us, "The Crayfish of Paracelus has to be served along with the heads or torsos of small hot-blooded martyrs , as a gesture of homage to Gilles de Rais (Giles of Retz) whose most delightful ejaculations were brought about by gazing at the faces of his smooth-cheeked and innocent beheaded little ones, the virginal purity of whom could only have been compared to that of his former comrade-at-arms, the Maid of Orleans." Appetizing, no?

Or his intro to the first course which he cheekily titles "les supremes de malaise lilliputiens" where he warns, "Here is the supergelatinous, the flabby, the supersoft, the viscous, the dish desrving a persistent memory, and which is capable of getting hypocritically at your imperialistic stomach the way a real Chinese would do."

In the foreword to the meats chapter (les entre-plats sodomises), Dalí writes, "Take a walk among the fossil meats of the Diplodocus," referring to the long-necked dinosaur. "You will not be permitted to eat rocks, however, I will let you devour—on certain Sundays—some 'icebergs.'"

These recipes should inspire avid homecooks to rally round with tongs and pans in their hot frenzied little hands; although some dishes may prove challenging to the average cook's skills, and a well-stocked pantry is a must. This is old school Continental cuisine, whose disciples were raised in temples with Larousse Gastronomique as Holy Scripture. Many dishes were contributed and served by Michelin-starred French chefs from such stellar Paris restaurants of yesteryear as Lasserre, La Tour d’Argent, Maxim’s, and Le Train Bleu. They remain on select Parisian menus. Good taste, however voluptuous, has no expiration date. In making this rare book available to a wide audience, TASCHEN introduces a masterful artwork and a practical cookbook combining  to form a polymorphously sensual adventure for the daring modern producer of comestibles. But even if you have no interest in jellying a codfish or dishing up "A Bush Of Crayfish In Viking Herbs", it makes for a magnificent display on your living room coffeetable.
For Salvador Dalí, food was an endless buffet of symbols and double entendre, a visceral metaphor for pleasure and pain, sex, and politics. “Beauty will be edible,” he once said. “Or will not be at all.” From his famous Lobster Telephone (1936) to his Self-portrait with Grilled Bacon (1941) and Portrait of Gala with Two Lamb Chops in Equilibrium upon Her Shoulder (1934), food featured prominently in much of Dalí’s art, even if not always in its most appetizing light.

As an artist, Dalí's dietary fetishes - lobsters, eggs, sea urchins- were incorporated into many of his Surrealist paintings. Dali was so obsessed with the symbolic value of the intrauterine that once he built a house and gaily festooned its roof with huge, white eggs as balustrades. Even the melting clock faces in his The Persistence of Memory (1931) were modeled on an oozing wheel of Camembert cheese. Bread, above all, stuffed the artist's imagination. Baguettes promenaded in his paintings along with Pan Catalan and “sodomized” Portuguese bread crumbs. In Paris, he befriended the famed Parisian boulanger Lionel Poilâne and commissioned a birdcage, a chandelier, eventually an entire set of bedroom furniture baked out of bread. “What man cannot do,” goes another Dalí koan, “bread can.”
Forever a foodie and science junkie, he even found inspiration in the humble cauliflower. Dalí once filled up a white Rolls Royce Phantom II with over 1000 lbs. of cauliflower to study it and drove it from Spain to Paris in December 1955. He later told an audience of 2,000, that he felt compelled to do it because “everything ends up in the cauliflower!" and how fascinated he was by their "logarithmic curve”. 

Flip through the pages of Les Diner de Gala and prepare to be mesmerized. Crayfish towers are topped with the torso of Joan of Arc, her amputated arms gushing blood, she trods upon the decapitated heads and bodies of her fellow martyrs. Chickens are trussed with barbed wire. A swan, its head studded with human teeth, is served on a pastry dish. Dalí is there, too, pictured at the swank Parisian restaurant Maxim's, wearing a cranberry crush of a velvet dinner jacket, holding a golden scepter, very much the Roman emperor surrounded by a Rabelaisian feast of his own devising. The twirl of his mustache defying every known law of gravity.

The recipes themselves, along with their illustrations, are designed to delight, amuse, confound and even repulse: recipes for lamb's brains, tequila and minced almonds mushed into avocado rye toast; tuna, caviar, and lamb shoulder slathered in béchamel, ox snouts sniffing and simmering in puffed pastry shells;  a prawn parfait with a crustacean draped atop a frozen custardy confection staring menacingly at the diner; illustrations include  a disembodied head with biscuits for hair and a fringe made of a jar of jam sits on a platter alongside a large cube of blue cheese - the sides of which show rabble-rousers in front of a mountain; a desert scene in which a telephone receiver is suspended on a twig over a melting plate holding two fried eggs and a razor blade; a man balancing a peanut (or is it a peach slice? ) on his enormous engorged member whilst tiptoeing atop the snout of an understandably irate crocodile.

Dalí's Surrealist cuisine is a bit like his Surrealist art: a baroque devotee's wet dream. In a recipe for Steamed and Boiled Larks, Dalí with great elan and more than a touch of whimsy advises the cook to let the pot of artichoke hearts, marrow-bones and songbirds "boil joyfully." But the outlandish presentations and self-parodying instructions conceal tremendous technique standing firm on a solid foundation of a culinary artistic prowess. That's evident in Dalí's more accessible recipe - Cytherean meatballs, tomato pie, beet salad (composed "according to Alexandre Dumas"), roast duckling, champagne sorbet, celery au gratin or even his straightforward lamb roast and many more truly classic fish, fowl, mollusk, meat and viand dishes—which are full of anachronistic charm but are fairly easy to pull off. These are all first and foremost comestibles - the exotic main ingredients and erotic illustrations, notwithstanding.

Frog Pasties

  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch parsley sprigs 
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  •  36 small frogs legs 
  • 4 tbsp of flour 
  • 2 egg yolks 
  • 1 egg white 
  • 255 g cream cheese shortening 
  • 255 ml yogurt 
  • 1 container heavy cream 
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped 
  • 1 tbsp pepper (unground) 
  • salt 

 In the butter, sauté the finely chopped shallot and parsley for five minutes. Then add the frogs legs as well as the garlic. Add salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Prepare a sauce by whipping the heavy cream and mixing into the yogurt, chopped chives, the pepper and salt. Set aside and chill. 

 In a salad bowl, mix flour with egg yolks and cream cheese. Add the boned frogs legs. Since they are now cold, you just have to seize them with your fingers, and pull along the bones to get the flesh sliding down. Mix everything very well, add salt and pepper. 

 Beat up the white of an egg into a very firm snow before adding it to the mixture, mixing with a wooden spoon not turning too vigorously. Into the hot shortening, spoon out the mixture. As soon as the pasties get golden, take them out with a skimmer. Serve very hot. Serve at the same time the heavy cream that you have whipped up and mixed with the yogurt, the chopped chives, the pepper and the salt. This sauce must be served chilled.


Conger of the Rising Sun

  • 6 slices of conger eel
  • 6 slices of fatty bacon
  • 1 caul (casing which will be stuffed)
  • 12 small lettuce leaves
  • 12 oz raw soya beans (or canned soya)
  • 6 teaspoons of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder Cayenne pepper

First of all, let us prepare the slices of conger eel by removing the skin and the central bone, one by one. Then place the pieces on a strip of bacon (cut to match the size of the piece of eel) and each of these on to a much larger piece of the caul. Add salt and pepper, then, on each piece of the eel, put a leaf of lettuce, on top of which you add 2 oz of soya beans (raw soya is the best, but canned soya will do). Sprinkle then with curry powder, salt, pepper. Pour a teaspoon of heavy cream over it, cover with a second leaf of lettuce and tuck in the caul on the four sides to wrap up all the ingredients of this recipe.

Using a very large skillet cook the fish slices on top of the range, simmering slowly, in a tablespoon of butter for 40 minutes. Be sure to go about it gently. Remove the slices and keep them warm; in the skillet, add the flour. Do not let it get brown; combine with the heavy cream and curry, taste for seasoning. Let it all boil for a little while and pour over the slices of the conger eel.


Top Round “Eros”
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 1 Toulouse sausage
  • 2 lbs top round
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 anchovies
  • 2 onions sliced
  • 6 tomatoes seeded and cut into pieces
  • 2 red peppers
  • 6 stalks celery
  • 3 quarts water

First buy the sausage then hand it over to your butcher so that he can cut a piece of top round that will wrap around it. Fry the sausage in the shortening for about 10 minutes. Brush the one side of the top round with mustard; put the anchovies on top, then the sausage, roll, tie up with string.
In a Dutch oven, brown the meat in shortening. When the meat turns golden, replace it with the onions, and when they are golden, add the tomatoes as well as the garlic and red peppers.
Cover after a while. The tomatoes will produce a juice and start boiling; put the meat back and salt carefully (because of the anchovies).
Simmer gently for 1 ½ hours.
Pare the celery stalks, cut off the green parts and tips of leaves, peel the root.
Cut it in half and wash thoroughly, especially between the leaves.
Bring salted water to a boil and cook the celery for 15 minutes. Cool under running water. After half an hour, place the celery around the top round.
It will cook in the meat juice for one hour.

See? Perfectly clear, concise instructions.

Dalí often spoke of wanting to consume the things he loved—from Antoni Gaudí's architecture to his wife's beautiful face. Perhaps this is why he held gastronomy in such high regard: it is are meant to be ingested, digested, nourishing to body and spirit. “It does not seem enough to devour things with our eyes,” he once wrote. “Our anxiety to join actively and effectively in their existence brings us to want to eat them.”
Sadly, I have not yet attempted to follow one of the recipes. I had originally intended to follow a few recipes to the letter as my due diligence for this column; ill-health has discouraged me from consuming anything much heartier than tom kha gai (Thai chicken coconut soup), so we shall have a second installment which will include a full Gala Dali menu cooked, photo-documented and enjoyed by yours truly... in the interim, here are a few more pages of the book, replete with table of contents and recipes for you to feast your eyes upon. Need a recipe for Peacock a la Imperiale Dressed and Surrounded By Its Court? Eel Pate as a starter?  Maybe add a simple composed salad a la Alexandre Dumas, not unlike a classic Nicoise Salad with its beets, potatoes and canned tuna before you round off the meal and serve a dessert of Toffee and Pinecones?  You're in luck! I created a little video for your viewing pleasure.

Click play to view the complete table of contents,
a few additional recipes, and Dali's accompanying graphics.
For better viewing choose fullscreen mode:

And just for fun...