Poirot Gourmet: Quiche Lorraine with “Le Sneak Belgique”

We found this local (Winnipeg-based) Belgian-style beer the other day. It’s called Le Sneak Belgique, a witbier made with coriander, orange peel, and black pepper. Did I mention that the can is adorned with a moustache??  🙂

I had to bring it home and feature it in a blog episode of Poirot Gourmet. So I decided to pair it with miniature versions of Quiche Lorraine and a side salad with tomatoes, walnuts, balsamic vinegar and black truffle olive oil.  🙂  Lovely comfort food for autumn!

Advertisements

Poirot Gourmet, cocktail edition: Elixir de Spa du Chef

I’ve been eager to try out various cocktail recipes with my newly-acquired Elixir de Spa. (For more information about this liqueur from Spa, Belgium, see this previous post.)  This one is called Elixir de Spa du Chef. It’s a nice, summery, champagne-based drink with lime juice, Angostura bitters, and of course Elixir de Spa.  🙂  The recipe can be found here.

My personal word to the wise: don’t leave out the bitters! The champagne and liqueur together is going to be very sweet, and although I tend not to blink at drinking sugar, it’s not everyone’s thing! I don’t often use bitters, but I was happy enough to use them with this drink.

Let’s make the most of our last couple weeks of summer, all! Santé!

Poirot Gourmet, cocktail edition: Elixir de Spa Poire

Things are heating up (or cooling down?) here in the “Poirot Gourmet” corner of the blog, because Kelly has discovered the joys of importing Belgian. Things are about to get that much more authentic, dear readers! Have I got some fun in store for you…  😉

Agatha Christie implies in the book The Big Four that Poirot originates from the Belgian city of Spa, in the eastern province of Liège. The TV series seems to follow this line of thinking as well, particularly in the episode Four and Twenty Blackbirds, where Poirot introduces Hastings to his mother’s Liège-style cooking. I had been poking around a bit for interesting-looking Belgian recipes to share here, but I thought I might as well get more specific. What is gastronomically unique to the area of Liège, I wondered?

Poirot is fond of liqueurs, and lo and behold, I chanced upon one that actually hails from his hometown. By name: Elixir de Spa!

You can read all about this liqueur here, along with recipes for cooking and cocktails. It is made from a wide variety of aromatic plants and herbs, and is apparently renowned for its digestive effects. (That alone sounds like something Poirot would go for, doesn’t it?) Although it is a liqueur, I was somehow expecting something a little more bitter– perhaps the word “elixir’ conjured up purely medicinal associations, or my assumption may have come from the 40% alcohol volume. But no; it is quite sweet, and although I have no idea what’s in it, there is a definite anise or fennel flavor in there, like liquorice. But it isn’t overwhelming; rather, a pleasant and subtle melange of flavors, VERY smooth. It’s a long time since I’ve gotten a buzz from a liqueur, so there you go.

Anyway, I found a cocktail recipe on that page called “Elixir de Spa Poire,” and it seemed very appropriate to feature here. 🙂  The name Poirot can be read as a contraction of “poire” (pear) and the diminutive “-ot,” as in “little pear,” possibly suggesting his shape. Some read the name “Poirot” according to traditional name etymology, presuming someone who grows pears or lives by a pear orchard. At any rate, from what I’ve read, pears actually seem to feature prominently in the food prep of this region… so Elixir de Spa Poire it is!

The recipe is fairly straightforward– the liqueur, pear juice, fresh mint, and orange zest.  I omitted the ice for serving and also used sparkling pear juice (call it a tribute to the famous bubbling waters of Spa). 😉  The result is AMAZING. Next time I will use ice, and possibly drink it for the rest of the summer!

I look forward to seeing what other interesting things can be made with Elixir de Spa. 🙂

Poirot gourmet: French/English fusion edition!

Today’s Poirot gourmet represents a bit of French and English fusion! Inspired by “Four and Twenty Blackbirds” and The Mystery of the Blue Train, I’ve assembled a collection of comestibles which read like a compromise between Poirot and his dinner friend, Mr Bonnington.  🙂  Both book excerpts deal with a fillet of sole.

A blog called Reading Feeding, which deals with food and books, pointed out this passage from The Mystery of the Blue Train between Poirot and his valet, George.

‘The brown lounge suit, sir? The wind is somewhat chilly today.’

‘There is a grease spot on the waistcoat,’ objected Poirot. ‘A morceau of Filet de sole à la Jeanette alighted there when I was lunching at the Ritz last Tuesday.’

‘There is no spot there now, sir,’ said George reproachfully. ‘I have removed it.’

Très bien!‘ said Poirot. ‘I am pleased with you, Georges.’

‘Thank you, sir.’


Filet de sole à la Jeanette
also appears as a dish in the Tommy and Tuppence novel The Secret Adversary. The speculation was: is this a real dish, or a Christie invention? One anonymous commenter noted:

“Actually a real dish made with a tarragon sauce. Jeanette Bertrandy – La bonne cuisine Provençal.”

This seems to coincide with a dish called Fillet of Sole with Tarragon Sauce
(Filets de Sole Sauce Estragon). A note posted with the recipe: “Tarragon, an herb member of the wormwood family, is a popular herb in Provence and is used often with fish, chicken or eggs. This recipe is adapted from the delightful cookbook of Bernard Loubat and Jeanette Bertrandy, La bonne cuisine Provençal.”

I took their word for it and tried my hand at filets de sole sauce estragon. If this is indeed the preparation mentioned by Poirot to his valet George, there would be ample opportunity for a pretty impressive grease spot to manifest itself on his waistcoat. Butter, olive oil, and more butter contribute to this rich and flavorful dish.

Poirot’s friend, Mr Bonnington, had very different ideas on how to go about fillet of sole! From “Four and Twenty Blackbirds”:

‘Mess!’ said Mr Bonnington. ‘That’s what’s the matter with the world nowadays. Too much mess. And too much fine language. The fine language helps to conceal the mess. Like a highly-flavoured sauce concealing the fact that the fish underneath it is none of the best! Give me an honest fillet of sole and no messy sauce over it.’

It was given him at that moment by Molly and he grunted approval.

To compensate for the “French kickshaws” he disliked, I thought I’d throw in some nice Stilton on (square) English cream crackers.

As the story goes…

‘Good evening, sir,’ she said, as the two men took their seats at a corner table. ‘You’re in luck today– turkey stuffed with chestnuts– that’s your favourite, isn’t it? And ever such a nice Stilton we’ve got! Will you have soup first or fish?’

Mr Bonnington deliberated the point. He said to Poirot warningly as the latter studied the menu:

‘None of your French kickshaws now. Good well-cooked English food.’

To round it off properly– a couple of blackberry and apple tartlets! I made these with a bottom layer of crushed blackberries, followed by apple slices, whipped cream, and a blackberry to top them off.

‘Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie! Or blackberries if you prefer to be literal! …He had been eating blackberries again, by the way. A greedy fellow– cared a lot about his food. Eh bein, greed will hang him all right unless I am very much mistaken.’

A waitress brought them two portions of blackberry and apple tart.

‘Take it away,’ said Mr Bonnington. ‘One can’t be too careful. Bring me a small helping of sago pudding.’

Lastly, some crème de menthe for a digestif, and to keep things from being too English!  😀

Poirot Gourmet, from the Orient Express!

Sorry I haven’t been Poirot-ing much; we’ve been on vacation! But I thought I’d drop a bit of “Poirot Gourmet” here for you today.  🙂 (And no, I am not actually traveling on the Orient Express while presenting this episode, sorry!) 😀

Here, we have smoked salmon cream cheese on baguettes with olive oil and sea salt. To drink: a little crème de violette.

And here’s your book reference!

M. Bouc, who was already seated, gated a greeting and summoned his friend to the empty place opposite him. Poirot sat down and soon found himself in the favoured position of being at the table which was served first and with the choicest morsels. The food, too, was unusually good.

It was not till they were eating a delicate cream cheese that M. Bouc allowed his attention to wander to matters other than nourishment. He was at the stage of a meal when one becomes philosophic.

“Ah!” he sighed. “If I had but the pen of a Balzac! I would depict this scene.”

-Murder on the Orient Express

Poirot gourmet: une petite omelette

Here’s a picture of a summery lunch (in progress!) for today’s “Poirot gourmet.” An omelette with sautéed mushrooms, garden chives, Danish brie, and Havarti. To drink: a shandy.

Poirot’s passion for omelettes is pretty well-documented, appearing in stories like “The Third-Floor Flat,” Lord Edgware Dies, Mrs McGinty’s Dead, and several other places. But the shandy may be a new one for you. Here’s the book reference…

‘What shall I get you?’ said Spence. ‘No fancy stuff here, I’m afraid. No blackcurrant or rose hip syrup or any of your patent things. Beer? Or shall I get Elspeth to make you a cup of tea? Or I can do you a shandy or Coca-Cola or some cocoa if you like. My sister, Elspeth, is a cocoa drinker.’

‘You are very kind. For me, I think a shandy. The ginger beer and the beer? That is right, is it not?’

Hallowe’en Party

Poirot gourmet: Crêpes and camembert

Below: Apricot-cherry crêpes, a wedge of camembert, and a lemon-camomile tisane. I used more of the apricot preserves and cherries left over after my experiments with Baba au Rhum. Served up on my best dishes!  🙂

As though in answer to prayer, the flap of the tent was lifted and Hassan appeared, bearing a steaming cup which he offered to Poirot. It proved to be camomile tea, a beverage of which he is inordinately fond.

-“The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb”

FEEDBACK:

Poirot gourmet: New Year’s edition!

Happy New Year, all! I’m signing out of 2017 with one more Poirot Gourmet entry. Embossed chocolates with a hot chocolate beverage concoction of my own invention– I’ll call it “The Rossakoff.” Recipe and more details below… 🙂

The drink consists of hot chocolate (use your favorite; bonus points for a Belgian variety like Godiva) with a shot of Smirnoff’s Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka, topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of Maison Routin Caramel Sirop.

Speaking of vodka, we have this highly-applicable quote from the alternate version of Agatha Christie’s “The Capture of Cerberus”:

Poirot asked the lady: ‘You will have an apéritif with me?’

‘Yes, yes. We will drink vodka together and be very gay.’

The idea seemed to Hercule Poirot a good one.

As for the chocolate: this is a form of “chocolate clay” (includes corn syrup; recipes abound online), the benefits of which include the possibility of embossing it. I found the most amazing moustache-and-diamond embosser online, so it invariably came home with me… 🙂


Best wishes to all as we head into 2018!!!

Poirot gourmet: Baba au Rhum

For the past several months, I’ve been posting foodie pictures of various recipes I’ve found and made that relate in some way to Poirot, tagging them “Poirot gourmet.” It seems like I might as well share them here– and I can also link to recipes and expound on the book references. 🙂

So here’s the first “Poirot gourmet” entry here at Seven Storeys High: Baba au Rhum with a side of crème de cassis.

Baba au Rhum is a kind of currant-laden brioche soaked in rum-and-sugar syrup, glazed with apricot preserves, and frequently served with whipped cream and fruit garnish. You can soak the currants in rum as well before adding them to the dough, which I did. There are many different shapes and forms the brioche base can take; I made one large loaf in my loaf pan and half a dozen smaller servings in cupcake tins. Baking this will make your house smell AMAZING, and the final product tastes even better than it looks– sweet and sophisticated all at once. (I added the crème de cassis to the scene because not only is it a favorite drink of Poirot’s, but it also happens to be heavy on the sugar, currants, and alcohol.) 🙂  You can find several recipes online for this dessert– I used one from McCall’s Cookbook, which is in this post.

Baba au Rhum can be found as a restaurant order of Poirot’s in Lord Edgware Dies.

‘We will dine first, Hastings. And until we drink our coffee, we will not discuss the case further. When engaged in eating, the brain should be the servant of the stomach.’

Poirot was as good as his word. We went to a little restaurant in Soho where he was well known, and there we had a delicious omelette, a sole, a chicken and a Baba au Rhum of which Poirot was inordinately fond.

FEEDBACK:

tweet167