Nyogtha Volume II, Issue XV

As you know Nyogtha is usually 90% folklore and 10% food. But seeing that in a few scant days it’s Thanksgiving, I thought I’d reverse that for once.

This Thursday I’m doing Thanksgiving dinner for my father’s side of the family. Although I take after my mom’s side far more, my father side are your stereotypical Scandinavian Lutherns. So I dread any meals with them, especially on holidays. Not because they’re Midwesterners, but because I’m the only one in the family that can cook. And the older females members of the family want to cook because ugh…that’s what women do. Way to hold to gender roles in the 21st century. Sigh.

Anyway, I couldn’t deal with an overcooked turkey, bizarre water based ham byproducts or that godforsaken thing known as lefsa. Thanksgiving is a time of gluttony, not punishing your body as if we were in England.

This week I thought I’d share with you the menu I’m forcing upon my family instead of the typical boring Turkey/Stuffing/Cranberry glop that they’re accustomed to. We’ve got a five course meal going: Appetizer, Soup, Salad, Main Course, Desert. The entire motif is French, which is primarily what I cook.

So guess what you get to read this week? My entire menu and how to prepare. Sure it’s hoity-toity with its frenchiness, but it’s what I primarily cook. And god knows it’s better than having to watch the yee-haw patrol fight down some horrible yam and marshmallow concoction. Ick.

Course 1: TAPAS. A sampler of sauteed garlic mushrooms, mussels with herbs in garlic butter, and chicken livers in a white sherry sauce.

Course 2: Soup. Garden Provencal Soup.

Course 3: Salad. Curly Endive Salad with Bacon.

Course 4: Meat & Veg: Duck in a Blueberry sauce & a tomato and green bean veg mixture.

Course 5: Dessert: Ginger Baked Pears

So hey, you get eight recipes this week. Can’t beat that. Unless you come for the monsters and folklore. Then I’m sorry. It’ll be back next week.

Sauteed Garlic Mushrooms


1 lb white mushrooms
5 Tbsp Spanish Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp chopped flatbread parsley
Crusty bread (optional)

1. Wipe or brush clean the mushrooms, then trim off the stalks close to the caps. Cut any large mushrooms in half or into quarters. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the garlic and cook between 30 seconds and a minute, until the garlic is lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and saute over high heat, stirring most of the time, until the mushrooms have absorbed all the oil in the skillet.

2. Reduce heat to low. When the juices have come out of the mushrooms, increase the heat again, and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring most of the time, until the juices have NEARLY evaporated. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and cook for an additional minute.

3. Transfer the sauteed mushrooms to a warmed serving dish and serve piping hot or warm. Accompany with the crusty bread to mop up the garlic cooking juices.

Mussels with Herbs and Garlic Butter


2 lbs fresh mussels in their shells
Dry white wine to taste
1 bay leaf
3 ounces butter
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tbsp snipped fresh chives
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
Lemon wedges to taste

1. Clean the mussels by scrubbing or scraping the shells and pulling out any beards that are attached to them. Discard any with broken shells and any that refuse to close when tapped. Put the mussels in a strainer and rinse well under cold running water. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Put the mussels in a large pan and add a splash of wine and the bay leaf. Cook, covered, over high heat for 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, or until the mussels are opened. Drain the mussels and discard any that remain close.

3. Shell the mussels, reserving one half of each shell. Arrange the mussels in their half shells in a large shallow ovenproof serving dish.

4. Melt the butter and pour into a small bowl. Add the bread crumbs, parsley, chives, garlic, and salt and pepper to the butter and mix well together. Let stand until the butter has set slightly. Using your fingers or two teaspoons, take a large pinch of the herb and butter mixture and use to fill each mussel shell, pressing it down well. At this point, you can chill the filled mussels in the refrigerator at this point until ready to serve.

5. To serve, bake the mussels in the over for 10 minutes, or until hot. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and accompanied by lemon wedges for squeezing over the mussels in wanted.

Chicken Livers in a Sherry Sauce


1 lb chicken livers
2 tbsp Spanish olive oil
2 small chopped onion
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/3 cup dry Spanish sherry
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Crusty bread.

1. If necessary, trim the chicken livers, cutting away any ducts and gristle, then cut them into small, bite-size pieces.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottom skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

3. Add the chicken livers to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the time, until they are firm and have changed colour on the outside, but are still pink and soft in the center. Using a slotted spoon, lift the chicken livers from the pan, transfer them to a large warmed serving dish or several smaller ones, and keep WARM.

4. Add the sherry to the skillet. Increase the heat and let it bubble for 3-4 minutes to evaporate the alcohol and reduce slightly. At the same time, deglaze the skillet by scraping and stirring the bits on the bottom of the skillet into the sauce with a wooden spoon. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Pour the sherry sauce over the chicken livers and sprinkle over the parsley. Serve piping hot accompanied by chunks of crusty bread to sop up the sherry sauce.

Soupe au Pistou


3/4 cup dried navy beans, soaked overnight OR 1 1/2 cups fresh fava beans
1/2 tsp dried herbs de Provence
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 small (or 1 large) leek, finely sliced
1 celery stalk, finely sliced
2 carrots, finely sliced
2 small potatoes, finely diced
4 ounces green beans
5 cups water
2 small zucchini, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
Handful of spinach leaves, cut into thin ribbons
Salt and pepper to taste
springs of fresh basil for garnish

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup basil leaves (make sure it is packed in)
4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. To make the pistou, put the garlic, basil and cheese in a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides once. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube. Or alternatively, pound the garlic, basil, & cheese in a mortar and pestle and stir in the oil.

2. To make the soup, if using the dried navy beans, place them in a saucepan and cover them with water. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes, and drain. Place the parboiled beans, or the fresh fava if you are using that, in a saucepan with the herbs de Provence and one of the garlic cloves. Add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer over medium-low until tender, which should be approximately 10 minutes if the beans are FRESH or 1 hour if you used the DRIED beans. Set aside in the cooking liquid.

3. In a large saucepan or flameproof casserole, heat the oil. Add the onion and leeks, then cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion just starts to soften/

4. Add the celery, carrots, and the other garlic clove and cook covered, for ten minutes. Stir occasionally.

5. Add the potatoes, green beans, and water. Season lightly with salt and pepper. bring to a boil, skimming any foam that rises to the surface, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

6. Add the zucchini, tomatoes and peas together with the reserved beans and their cooking liquid and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until all the veggies are tender. Add the spinach and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the soup and swirl in a spoonful of pistou into each bowl. Garnish with basil and serve

Frisee aux Lardons


12 cups endive or escarole leaves
10-12 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces bacon (turkey or pork), cut into tiny pieces
2 cups white bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsps red wine vinegar
2 tsps Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Tear the endive lettuce into bite-size pieces and put into a salad bowl.

2. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat and add the bacon. Fry gently until well browned, stirring occasionally. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

3. Add another 4 tbsp of oil to the pan and fry the bread cubes over medium-high heat, turning frequently, until evenly browned. Remove the bread crumbs with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Discard any remaining fat.

4. Stir in the garlic, vinegar and mustard into the pan with the remaining oil and heat until just warm, whisking to combine. Season to taste, then pour the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with the fried bacon and croutons.

5. Serve!

Duck in a Blueberry Sauce


1 6lb ducks
2 cups Blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries
1 cup port
2 cups concentrated duck broth or 4 tablespoons commercial glaze
2 tablespoons raspberry sherry or red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter.

1. To make the duck, first take a sharp knife to score the skin side of the duck in two directions. About 20 slashes per direction should do it. If you don’t know what “Scoring” is, it means to slash the skin of an animal, cutting deeply, but not seep enough to expose the meat while leaning the knife to the side. Give the breast a 90 degree turn and cut 20 more times to intersect that first cut. That is scoring. Season the duck with salt and pepper. all around.

2. Roast the duck uncovered, breast up on a rack in a roasting pan for 22 minutes per pound. As we’re doing 6lb ducks it should be about 2 hours, 15 minutes.

3. Remove the duck from oven when internal temperature reached 180 degrees F. Make sure when you take the temperature with your meat thermometer, you’re measuring from the thigh joint.

4. To make the sauce, rinse the blueberries and put them in a saucepan with the port. Cover the pan and cook for five minutes over medium heat, then for ten minutes more uncovered. This concentrates the juices released by the berries.

5. In the meantime, reduce the duck broth in a different sauce pan down to 1/2 cup to turn it into a glaze. Add the glaze to the blueberries and their juices. Stir to combine and boil the sauce for a minute or two, until it has a very light syrupy consistency. Whisk in the sherry or vinegar and butter and season to taste with salt.

6. Serve the duck and spoon the sauce on the meat. Serve immediately.

Harictos Verts a la Provencale


2 pounds ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, VERY finely chopped
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-3 pieces
4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Score a shallow cross un the base of each tomato and plunge them into boiling water for 45 seconds. Then plunge them into cold water. Peel off the skin, halve the tomatoes and scoop out and discard the seeds. Chop coarsely.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until just softened.

3. Add the chopped tomatoes and continue cooking for about 10 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are soft. Stir frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Bring to a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, then add the beans and cook for 4-6 minutes until just tender. Drain the beans and stir into the tomato mixture with the basil. Cook for 1-2 minutes until heated through. Serve immediately.

Poires au Gingembre


8 large pears
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tsp grated gingerroot (or 2 tbsp finely grated chopped ginger)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a shallow baking dish.

2. Peel the pears, cut them in half lengthwise using a large sharp knife and remove the cores. Arrange cut sides down in a single layer in the baking dish.

3. Mix together the cream, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Then pour over the pears.

4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, basting from time to time, until the pears are tender and browned on top and the cream is thick and bubbly. Cool slightly, then serve.

And that my friends, is what I’m spending Weds night and all day Thursday doing. No turkey and stuffing in the Lucard household. No siree.


7 pages of food. Don’t worry though for those of you missing the spooky shit. Next week is back to monsters and folklore, just like you’re used to.



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