Dec 032013
 

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can easily be considered the "food season." So many parties and brunches and dinners! There is no doubt that food is an important part of this time of year. In today’s article, award-winning Regency romance author, Ann Lethbridge, shares the details on preparing cardons. This was a vegetable which was popular during the Regency, though it is nearly unknown today.

If you could find them, would you prepare cardons for your holiday feast?


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It has been a while since we did anything on food so I thought you might like a change. It could be that will all the festivities planned for the next little while, I have food on my mind.

While I know lots about meat, I thought I might do something of vegetables. I found several recipes for a vegetable called a cardon in French, or in English a cardoon. It went "out of fashion" in the late 1800’s.

It is new to me, but it is an artichoke thistle, related to the globe artichoke and has an artichoke like flavour. Since it has spines, care is needed.

Photograph of an artichoke thistle in bloom

The following recipe from 1822 would have been used as a second course dish.



Cardons a la Espagnole

This dish is the foremost of all the entremets of vegetables and requires great attention and no small share of skill. It is not much relished in England but in France it was held in the highest estimation.

In the first place you must select a few heads of cardons all very white. Cut each leaf into slices of six inches long with the exception however of those that are hollow which are tough and thready. Beard them of their prickles and blanch them by putting the thickest leaves into boiling water. When you have given these a few boils put in the leaves of the heart, turn the middle stalks into large olives and blanch them likewise.

Then try a piece in cold water to see whether the slime which is on the surface will come off by rubbing If so take them off the fire immediately and throw them into cold water as they are done enough or you may cool the boiling water by pouring cold into it till you are able to bear your hand in it to rub off all the slime.

This being done throw the cardons into a blanc, give them a single boil and leave them in the blanc. Whenever you wish to use them, drain a sufficient quantity. Pare both extremities and mark them in a stew pan with four spoonfuls of Espagnole and four spoonfuls of consomme a little salt and a little sugar. Let them boil over a sharp fire that they may not be done too much be sure to skim off all the fat.

Dish them nicely. Strain the sauce through a tammy before you mask (cover) them. Send them up to table quite hot with a cover over them to prevent their getting dry

Espagnole is a sauce, created this way. Besides some slices of ham put into a stew pan some slices of veal. Moisten the same as for the coulis sweat them in the like manner let all the glaze go to the bottom and when of a nice red colour moisten with a few spoonfuls of first consomme to detach the glaze then pour in the coulis. Let the whole boil for half an hour that you may be enabled to remove all the fat. Strain it through a clean tammy. Remember always to put into your sauces some mushrooms with a bunch of parsley and green onions.

Other suggested sauces were marrow (as in bone), veloute, and sauce blanche. Take your pick.

Interesting, but not something I plan to rush out and buy from the grocery store. Next time we will try something a little less exotic.

Until then Happy Rambles

© 2010 – 2013 Ann Lethbridge
Originally posted at Regency Ramble
Posted at The Beau Monde by permission of the author.

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