You might be able to tell that I don't have a lot to blog about these days. We're in that awkward shoulder season when it's no longer winter — even though at certain hours it feels like winter — and not yet spring — though somebody forgot to tell the flowers.
The chimney is swept. Christian Lucas came and cleaned it yesterday with his heavy duty vacuum cleaner and chimney broom. He said there was no problem except that the stove was really dirty. Walt built a fire last night and it burned hot and smoke-free, the way it supposed to burn.
Lucas charged us 48 euros, the standard fee, and gave us the certificate we need for insurance coverage. It had been just a little less than two years since the last sweeping.
It rained overnight. We got 4 mm in the rain gauge. That's hardly a trace. The weather reports show it raining all around us, but we are getting just clouds. Today is supposed to be different, with significant rain this afternoon.
That postpones the gardening for a little longer. Like I said, not really winter but still not spring.
Oh, the blanquette was — is — really good. We'll eat it again today. Blanquette de veau is veal (I like to use veal shoulder) cooked in water with white wine, onion, carrot, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and allspice berries (in my version). You start the meat in cold water and simmer it in the cooking liquid for 2 hours or more to make it very tender.
Then you make a white sauce (use butter and flour to make a roux) with the veal cooking liquid and half a cup or so of cream. Separately cook some mushrooms and pearl onions in a little butter with some of the veal stock. Put the veal, the mushrooms, and the onions into the sauce and let it all heat through. Add a squirt of lemon juice to bright up the flavors.
Yesterday I added an optional ingredient to the blanquette: steamed celery root. Peel the celery root, cut it into 1" cubes, cook it in salted boiling water, and then add its cooking liquid to the veal stock. After you make the white sauce, add the celery root cubes to the stew with the veal, mushrooms, and all. Delicious. I didn't take any pictures this time.
You can make blanquette with chicken or turkey. Chicken thighs would be good, or boneless thighs and breast meat. Serve the blanquette with rice, boiled potatoes, or pasta.
Voilà. One more topic about blanquette, to add to this one (recipe) and this one (in a Paris restaurant). Also see this topic about the same restaurant, and this one. If this doesn't make you wish it were summer, nothing will.