A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What I Had for Lunch Today: Veggie Burger Dijonnaise

What's the secret of French cooking? No, it's not truffles and escargots and pâté de foie gras. Pricey ingredients are nice, but not necessary. The French cook uses every bit of whatever she's got, be it a humble onion or a pinch of saffron worth more than its weight in gold, to extract the maximum possible flavor for her dish. Shells, peels, bones all go into the stock pot or the saucier. An American cook will slap a cut of roasted or pan-fried meat or fish onto a platter, throw the pan in soapy water to soak, and pronounce the meal done. For the French cook, that greasy pan is just the beginning of the best part of the dish: the sauce. Those drippings are never wasted!

That's all well and good, but when you're a vegetarian, where do you get all the pan drippings from? Well, mushrooms, for one thing. Or you can keep a jar of vegetable bouillon around (like bouillon cubes without the nasty hydrogenated fat that sticks them together, and later forms an icky skin on your food). To make a tasty sauce or gravy, I like to use both.

Today I had a veggie burger with dijonnaise sauce. After sautéeing my burger in olive oil with a bit of butter, I used the same pan to cook some mushrooms. I removed the mushrooms and sautéed a bit of shallot, still in the same pan. Then I added a splash of gone-by white wine, a dab of vegetable bouillon, and a spoonful of Dijon mustard. Finally, I stirred in some cream. I dumped the whole business over my burger and mushrooms and a cooked potato. With it, I had a salad of celery, hot red pepper, and tomato dressed with my usual olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and coarsely-ground black pepper. It doesn't look like much, but trust me, it's delicious.