Along for the ride:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gingered Mango Salsa and more friends than expected...

When we passed through Charles de Gaule Airport in Paris, in October, there were a few things left to gather to fulfill requests by friends or gifts for family. Perfume was one and Foie Gras was another, especially since the sale of Foie Gras has been made illegal in California. I kept my promise to my friends and I brought some back for our own, as yet to be identified, special occasion.
New Years Eve seemed to be suitably festive and present enough guests so that we wouldn't be forced to "foie gras and repeat"as good manners obliged us to do, when staying with friends in St Martins last Christmas.
I gave a great deal of thought to our menu for the evening. It had to be special and copious but find stylish and/or original ways to tempt the palate, and the eye, all the way to the end of a meal of many rich elements and extended duration.
Gingered Mango Salsa was my balance to the foie gras. (Mango, red onion, red seedless grapes, red bell pepper all diced with chopped cilantro, fresh lime juice, salt and pepper and grated fresh ginger). 
We had small toasted circles of French baguette and dark rye-speckled pumpernickel, both as vehicles for the foie gras, and for textural contrast.
My guest list grew suddenly to sixteen, after a phone call requesting permission to bring along some adult children and one Beau, and another call suggesting a person who shouldn't be left out. 
I had already set up my dining area, complete with glassware and candles, but the new head-count was not possible to accommodate in that space.

Thankful to have help from a very kind and hard working house-guest, I undressed my table; moved the couch and armchairs; dragged the original table down the split level steps; located the eight foot long folding table in the garage and switched the dining room and the living room.

All of the food servings were divided into two dishes. I had two salt and pepper zones and two sources of bread.
Butternut Squash soup in petite bowls was a creamy smooth detour of color and flavor without spoiling anyone's appetite, followed by emerald green and blonde watercress and Belgian endive salad, with just the right zing of fresh garlic and mustard in the vinaigrette. By this time I think I'd somewhat redeemed myself in the eyes of our one vegetarian guest. She was on my impromptu attendees list so had to take her chances.
The Artistic One had labored over our next course. Blanquette de Veau has to be done right and he does it perfectly, finishing the sauce with egg-yolks and cream. There are stages of preparation that must follow the right sequence and none be forgotten. I was happy that I'd followed my intuition and brought home three extra pounds of veal stew to make sure we had enough for left overs. We served the Blanquette with mashed potato and puff pastry vol-au-vent shells piled high with mixed mushrooms.
Cheeses circled the table and we used the same cheese plates as dessert receptacles. Every spoon I own was put into service moving Exotic Fruit Salad and Death by Chocolate from dish to mouth. I had delegated desserts and I thank my dessert-bringers.
It's unusual for us to be awake at midnight but careful planning, a many faceted repast and a short afternoon nap, followed by an espresso, had worked a miracle. There was no flagging spirit. There were no drooping eyelids. We were being swept along into a delirium of sweetness as we counted down and embarked on a New Year with noise makers, champagne and cheers. 

In Dog News...
Rany met his new Furrever Mom on Monday and went to live on a farm with Scout (now Lad) and Brady. Scout is a sweet, easy collie who spent some time in my home last year, after being picked up as a stray, by animal control. Rany reminded me of him and I sent Rany's photo to Scout's Human. Her answer was "He looks like he belongs here with us". She called to hear about his personality and decided he was destined to be hers.
Blessings to adopters who have the heart to take on more mature dogs. I've heard that Rany is responding well to some gentle training regarding "chicken chasing etiquette" . He's very teachable, so I know he and the chickens will be fine. It's a far cry from his prior home, shut in  a small concrete patio area with no sight of the outdoors; no walks; no kind human contact for a number of years.
Will work for treats!

You came back!
Rany's brother, Max, was the more neurotic of the two. They were both fearful of strangers but Max had some additional foibles; barking at bicycles, dogs, pedestrians and motor bikes; ducking evasively, if anyone extended a hand to him.
Max was a lucky lucky dog. Amongst the stack of applications that come in and are kept until matched with a potential "ideal dog", Jack had inquired about Rany. 
Ray-Ray has arthritis in one knee and so was not suitable for Jack's active life of running and skateboarding. We started talking to him about "Mad Max". Jack had some dog-obedience experience with prior pets; a bit old-school, but he was willing and interested to try more positive-reinforcement methods. He worked from home so there would be ample attention and company for his dog.
You're my Person!
 We got together twice, for a number of hours, walking together with Max to be sure all of his personality traits came to light and to indoctrinate Jack in the training that had been begun and teach him how to continue to redirect and rehabilitate this needy collie. Of course, we were evaluating Jack's suitability at the same time. We liked that Jack instinctively knelt down on the ground and let Max come to him on his own terms.
A home-check was done. Jack was told his fence was two low and he went out and built a new and taller fence immediately. He was on the phone to us several times a day telling us how excited he was about Max and listing the beds, toys, leash and collars that he'd purchased. It was obvious that he really wanted him.
Max went to live with Jack three weeks before Christmas. We don't confirm an adoption for a few weeks, as dogs need to settle and become secure in a new environment before showing who they really are and people have to be sure that they love a dog and want to keep him. We were also separating a pair of siblings, who had been together since they were litter-mates. I had evaluated them as dogs with very different needs who would do better apart, but you can't ever be sure until you try.
My other collie rescue team-mate and I have taken turns receiving long phone calls from Jack, telling us every new thing that he and Max were experiencing together and asking for advice on specific situations. It's been going well but we still had our doubts.
Jack had prior family holiday plans, out of State and had arranged to have Max stay with my collie team-mate, who has a fluctuating pack of other dogs and does some boarding for rescued collies.
Some humans can be trusted!
These photos, taken when Jack returned, confirmed that Max has found his furrever home and that Jack has found his heart-dog.


  1. Beautiful dogs. We're between dogs right now but I know another one is in our future. Happy New Year.

    1. Stephen, I'm in dog-withdrawal right now.

  2. Wonderful dog news...

    I do a mango ginger salsa...but I hadn't thought about red grapes. Next year then...

    My husband's mother had a recipe for blanquette using scrag end of lamb. I tried it several times and the sauce always curdled until I bethought myself of cornflour.

    Personally I think that blanquette de veau beats it hands down...but it is his mother's recipe....

    1. Helen, for the sauce not to curdle, add the hot liquid slowly to the cream and egg mixture, not the other way around. Once the temperature is equalized you can pour the mix back into the pot. Never let it boil after that.

  3. Gingered Mango Salsa with foie gras and pumpernickel? My dear woman, marry me....

  4. Chef, I thought that would get your attention, but a proposal? Simpering and blushing:)
    I am quite proud of that mix.

  5. My dad and his wife have a boarder Collie that they rescued. This dog is loved to pieces and doted on. Their neighbours also have a boarder Collie. He is outside all the time and the owners never give him any attention. Whenever my dad and his wife are outside the neighbor's dog comes over and is in dog heaven because they play with him and teach him boarder Collie tricks. It breaks my their heart to have to leave him. He waits outside but eventually walks home back to the loneliness and separation. It is so sad.

  6. Birdie, Your Dad might find the neighbors would agree to let him have their dog as company for his.
    Alternatively, how strange it would be if the neighbors' dog disappeared and was handed over to Border Collie Rescue for rehoming? (if he's not micro-chipped).

  7. The salsa sounds delicious ... I must make some this weekend and pretend we're sitting in California

    A very Happy New Year to you both ... and to all the rescue dogs and their rescuers .

  8. S&S, you can add the mango salsa on top of a tomato salad too. It's pretty and yummy. Rescue had a sad side this weekend, with a group decision to make the "final rescue" of a dog we couldn't save:(

  9. Yummy! It sounds too delicious for words. You amaze me with your culinary skills--both you and AO.

    As for the collie stories--what a delight. It must be overwhelmingly satisfying to find such perfect and loving homes for your rescues. I'm sure it's always hard parting with fosters, but when you see the happy endings it makes all the separation pain well worth it.

  10. Jean, putting together an interesting menu is like designing with food. Half the fun is in the thought or research that goes into finding inspiration.
    As to rescues, the photos of Max upon Jack's return make me cry, in a good way. They were both lost and have found each other.