Sunday, April 26, 2009

Recipe Trials - Bread, Wine, Fermentation

Unless otherwise noted, all materials on this blog are (c) 2009 by Madeleine Vedel

I tried re-working that poultry recipe with fresh goat cheese the other day. Sophie's was fun, but ever so complicated. So this time, I blended chopped garlic and fresh rosemary with the cheese and put in the cavity, along with some white wine. I then simply sprinkled some salt and olive oil on the chicken, (a nice firm organic one with good flavor), put potatoes and more rosemary sprigs, onions and garlic in its sleeve in the baking pan and put it in the oven. I did a bit of basting to keep it moist, but otherwise kept it simple.

It was good, but not spectacular. It's an interesting thing putting fresh cheese with chicken. I wonder, having lived in Provence for so long, and with a chef who never but never used crème fraîche, maybe I'm just not really up for appreciating dairy and poultry as a combination? I've become accustomed to the cleaner flavors of simply a bit of herbs, salt and olive oil, with often just a touch of water, not even wine, on my poultry.

It's a strange and challenging act to come up with interesting and alternative chicken recipes! And, how can I not include a use of goat's cheese that the goat cheese lady uses all the time?

Here at the winery, I've also been making my bread, but, it's not the same bread as I make at my house. The starter I have in Avignon is refreshed weekly, and kept in a relatively new and well chilled fridge between uses. My starter here at the winery doesn't get refreshed half often enough (i.e. only a couple of days before I have need of it, which might be then only once in a month or even more rarely), and is kept by the vegetables in the bottom of an old fridge. It's perfectly active and bubbles away. My bread rises well, and looks good, but it is far less tender and sweet than my bread in Avignon. Just as the whey starter for the goat cheese at Isabelle and Paul Pierre's has shifted, so has my starter here. These lively yeast are quite persnickety. Temperature, humidity, the air we breathe. For a non-scientist like myself, it can be frustrating, or humbling as the case may be.

This is one of the reasons JP uses prepared and carefully selected yeasts to start the fermentation in his wines. Many who make organic/bio-dynamic/and natural wines prefer using the indigenous yeast of their grapes, claiming that these are more authentic and give a taste of the terroir. However, JP has had the experience of the indigenous yeast going off. One year (quite some time ago) I found his basic AOC Costières de Nîmes completely undrinkable. The farmy barnyard flavor was just too strong. From his oenologists he learned that in many cases, if you let the indigenous yeasts be your fermenting agents, not only do you loose control, but the stronger will kill off the weaker. The end results can be good, or not. To permit his grapes-- healthy, well-tended throughout the season, hand-picked--to show their true flavors, better to control the start of the fermentation by controlling the yeast that does the work. So now, he starts as clean as possible, disinfecting the tanks before putting in the new grapes, and then adds the yeast, and does his best to control the temperatures over the following weeks.

The art of Fermentation in its many forms. It's like having a dance partner with a mind of his own, or taking photos with natural light when many clouds are passing overhead. You just have to adapt.

1 comment:

sutros said...

A good story

GK Chesterton: “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

Voila: www.tastingtoeternity.com. This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

From a hectic life on Wall Street to the peace and glories of the French countryside lead me to be the co-founder of www.fromages.com. Ten years later with the words of Pierre Androuet hammering on my brain:

“Cheese is the soul of the soil. It is the purest and most romantic link between humans and the earth.”

I took pen and paper; many reams later with the midnight oil burning Tasting to Eternity was born and self published.

I believe cheese and wine lovers should be told about this publication.

Enjoy.