We at Cook the Books are currently reading Cooking With Fernet Branca, hosted by our own Simona of Briciole. The title, by the way, is not referring to a person, but a little known (where I live anyway) Italian aperitivo. Written strictly tongue in cheek, and pretty silly at times.
"If you have ever wondered what the 'extra' in 'extra virgin olive oil' really means then this is the book for you. Set in Tuscany it features a series of comic misunderstandings between two warring neighbours. They take turns to tell the story and you will soon learn not to trust either of them completely!" WhichbookFrom the Publishers:
Gerald Samper, an effete English snob, has his own private hilltop in Tuscany where he whiles away his time working as a ghostwriter for celebrities and inventing wholly original culinary concoctions―including ice cream made with garlic and the bitter, herb-based liqueur known as Fernet Branca. But Gerald’s idyll is about to be shattered by the arrival of Marta, on the run from a crime-riddled former Soviet republic, as a series of misunderstandings brings this odd couple into ever closer and more disastrous proximity . . .
And, “A very funny sendup of Italian-cooking-holiday-romance novels” (Publishers Weekly).
Both the neighbors are continually underestimating and making erroneous assumptions about one another, which is a source of some of the humor, in just how far off they both are. I had many actual laugh out loud moments going through this humorous and satirical novel, usually due to the unexpected, totally deadpan delivery.For example: "Maj. Gen Sir Aubrey Lutterworth's 'Elements of Raj Cookery' (1887) would surely be on every insomniac's bedside table were it not so rare. He is full of cunning ways with fruit bats, python etc. and his recipes breathe a manly simplicity. 'With a sharp dhauji remove the paws of a medium-sized panda. Discard the animal. Soak the claws overnight in a crock of fresh tikkhu juice. In the monsoon months it will be found expedient to mount a guard since the smell of tikkhu fermenting is irresistible to both upland tiger and bamboo wolf." P. 155
Yield: 6 to 8
1/2 pound chicken livers, well-trimmed
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves, I also added a sprig of rosemary
1/2 cup water or chicken broth
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature. Part or all could be duck fat (just realized I neglected to double that, so we'll see how it sets up).
2 teaspoons Cognac, Scotch whisky or Fernet Branca (It was too expensive, so I used Bruto Americano, my favorite bitters, an American aperitivo.)
Freshly ground pepper
Trim off and discard the sinew, visible fat and any traces of green from the chicken livers, separating them into lobes. Use paper towels to pat the chicken livers dry, then season them lightly with salt and pepper.
In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken livers, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the livers are barely pink inside, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
The pâté can be covered with a thin layer of melted butter, then wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months. It firmed up nicely. I'm saving the bulk of it for a party next month, but had a few delicious samples, of course. Bob doesn't like liver in any form. Hey, more for the rest of us!