Oh Come All Ye Tasteful is a newly-published Foodies’ Guide to a Millionaire’s Christmas Feast, by Ian Flitcroft.
It’s more of a Lookbook than a Cookbook and you probably won’t actually cook any of the recipes (unless you can pass the book on to your chef and tell him/her to do it) but it’s an amusing read.
You probably won’t fancy Chocolate Chrismas Redoux, Brussels sprouts covered in chocolate, which is apparently an invention of Kent farmers John and Mark Harris. But in case you do want to try it, I’ll include the recipe.
Here is a taster of what you can expect from this amazing and original book;
SCRAMBLED EGGS ROULETTE
Toast (this is just a vehicle for the butter and other flavours, so for once good old white sliced bread is perfect)
Butter (ideally salty Welsh butter)
Absolutely NO MILK
Anchovy relish (eg, Patum Peperium) or chopped tinned anchovies
White truffle (or white truffle oil if your truffle supplier let you down)
Foi gras (with flakes of salt)
Ghost pepper (bhut jolokia) –world’s hottest chilli (or the spiciest thing you can get your hands on)
Butter the toast first and then cut 9 pointed triangles and trim an inch off the pointed end. With a small cookie cutter, cut a small round piece of toast for the central piece. Arrange the triangles around the centre piece in the manner of a roulette wheel.
Spread or place each toppng (ie, marmalade, Marmite, anchovy relish or chopped anchovies, salmon roe, smoked salmon, white truffle, foi gras, Parma ham, lemon curd) on the triangular pieces, keeping away from the edges. Keep the ghost pepper (or your chosen spicy shocker) for the central circular piece. Then quickly cover the topping with a spoonful of scrambled eggs. Sit back and enjoy the expressions on your nearest and dearest’s faces as they play scrambled egg roulette!
TURKEY A LA PERIGORD
For the Main Event;
A fine young (big) hen turkey
About 4lb of black Perigord truffles (2kg, which should cost about £1500, whould suffice with a little left over for scrambled eggs on Boxing Day)
2lb fatty bacon
Mignionette pepper (a mixture of cracked white pepper that sometimes also includes coriander)
Grated nutmeg (Francatelli is vague about the quantities here, but elsewhere in his famous cookbook he uses the phrase ‘enough nutmeg to cover a sixpence’ so let’s go with that)
A couple of chopped bay leaves
A sprig of thyme
1 clove of garlic
½ lb fresh duck or goose
For the Perigueux Sauce
A bay leaf
A sprig of thyme
A small chunk of cooked ham
6-8 black truffles
2 glasses of white wine
A similar volume of veal or chicken stock
Wash your 4lb of truffles, peel and chop into walnut-sized pieces but keep the leftover bits. Place the large truffle pieces into a large casserole dish. Pound the truffle peelings with the chopped bacon using a pestle and mortar. Add this to the casserole idh along with salt, pepper, a clove of garlic, a chopped bay leaf and thyme. Pound up the foi gras separately and add to the mixture. Put on a very low heat for an hour to melt the fat and start blending the flavours together. Mr Francatelli doesn’t add any brandy to this recipe but a good dash of cognac or Armagnac added a the end of this initial cooking wouldn’t, in my opinion, go amiss. When done set aside and allow to cool.
In preparing the bird for stuffing Mr Francatelli advises breaking and removing the breast bone. I think this is to make more space for the world’s best stuffing, though it might also help the truffle flavour suffuse into the breast meat. He also assumes you are skilled at doing this. If you are not, it might be best to ask your local butcher’s assistance. At the end of the day, if that’s how Queen Victoria liked her Turkey a la Perigord, that’s good enough for me.
Open up the neck skin as far as [possible over the breast, then fill up with stuffing. To keep all the precious truffle stuffing in, close up the neck with twine and a trussing needle – there is nothing quite like using a trussing needle to make you feel like you have stepped back in time to the kitchen of one of England’s stately homes. The next most important ingredient is time for the truffle aroma to suffuse through the bird. This should be at least 24 hours. A roasting bag, a modern invention not available in Mr Francatelli’s time, is perfect for this process as it traps and intensifies the volatile elements of truffles. As an aside this process works wonderfully with uncooked eggs and steak.
For roasting, Mr Francatelli advises covering the bird with bacon and wrapping in parchment paper prior to placing on a spit over an open fire. If you are not blessed with such a kitchen, cooking the turkey in a roasting bag and conveltional oven will suffice. Your reward for cooking this fine dish will be being the only person present when you cut into the roasting bag, and are enveloped with the finest aroma known to mankind.
For the Perigueux sauce, chop the truffles finely and heat in a pan with the 2 glasses of white wine, ham, stock, a bay leaf and thyme until it boils. Bring down to a simmer and remove the ham, bay leaf and thyme. Reduce down and use as the base for making the gravy.
Serve with the best Bordeaux you can afford, and as much pomp and ceremony as you can muster.
TRUFFLE AND POTATO SNOW
1 medium sized white truffle.
For the first part of this dish you need only follow the instruction of Mrs Beeton.
Choose large white potatoes, as free from spots as possible; boil them in their skins in salt water until perfectly tender; drain and dry them thoroughly by the side of the fire, and peel them. Put a hot dish before the fire, rub the potatoes through a coarse sieve on to this dish; do not touch them afterwards, or the flakes will fall, and serve as hot as possible.
To turn this snow into a dish fit for an emperor you need to alternate layers of hot potato snow with grated fresh white truffle. This king of fungi is easily affected by heat and so not well suited to cooking. Shaving or grating onto hot food is considered the ideal way of serving white truffles. This provides enough heat to release all the volatile flavours without destroying them.
As well as fine champagne, rappers are also developing a taste for white truffles. New York chef Daniel Boulud has been reported as saying that P-Diddy (aka Puff Daddy/Sean Combs) requests a little more white truffle on his plate with the immortal words, ‘shave this b*tch’. Just in case any young children or mother-in-laws are listening during the preparation of this dish, I suggest you don’t follow his example.
CHOCOLATE CHRISTMAS REDUX
Although coated in chocolate these morels hark back to the days of dinners in stately mansions up and down the country, when a savoury course would routinely follow dessert.
So even if you don’t live in a country mansion, there is no reason your petits fours shouldn’t be stately.
Balls of stuffing (of the same size a the peeled sprouts)
Balls of venison sausage meat (again of the same size)
100g each of white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate
1tsp of finely grated orange zest
Small pinch of ground pepper and flaked sea salt
1tsp of truffle oil
(and 1tsp of finely chopped black truffles if possible)
2 tsp of light cooking oil
The Brussels sprouts need to have the outer layers peeled off and the stalks well trimmed. They are excellent raw, but if you prefer them slightly softer, drop them into boiling water for no more than 2-3 minutes, then cool down in cold water and dry. The sulphurous flavour of sprouts comes out more the longer they are cooked, so they still need to be very crunchy.
The sausage meat balls are simply made by cutting open the sausages and making balls by rolling the meat between your palms (cover your hands with flour first). Fry or bake the balls and then let cool. Similarly roll the stuffing into balls, bake and cool.
Melt the chocolate, one type at a time, in a bowl over barely simmering water. A teaspoon of oil helps to prevent the chocolate going granular and lumpy (‘seizing’) For the milk and white chocolate use light cooking oil, for the dark use the truffle oil. Be particularly careful not to overheat the white chocolate, it seizes at a much lower temperature than normal chocolate.
As soon as it starts to melt add the flavourings. Orange zest for the white chocolate, pepper and salt for the milk chocolate and truffle oil/truffles for the dark chocolate. Add less than you think you need and taste before adding more. Once fully molten use wooden cocktail sticks to dip the various centres into the chocolate, then place on greaseproof paper to cool and pull out the cocktail stick.
I’d suggest using the white chocolate and orange for the Brussels sprouts, the pepper/salt milk chocolate for the stuffing and the truffle dark chocolate for the venison sausages. But of course feel free to MIX and MATCH.
A bit about the author…
It was whilst studying medicine at Oxford University that Ian Flitcroft developed a fascination with all things culinary.
Ian has travelled around the world twice and sampled many of the world’s strangest foods en-route. Hi is a long term member of the Slow Foods Movement in Ireland, a collector of old culinary-related books and an avid cook and wine collector. Iain now works as a consultant eye surgeon in Dublin, where he has lived for over 10 years.
Oh Come All Ye Tasteful is published by Legend Press & costs £9.99.
175-185 Gray’s Inn Road