Flaming Foods Add Glamour to the Table

By Susan Hallett, Epoch Times Contributor

In the beginning there was fire, and when primitive man learned to use it rather than run from it, a great leap forward was made. But man remained only the most elementary sort of cook until about 12,000 years ago, searing his food over open fires. He had to wait until the invention of indirect cooking, with its panoplies of pots and pans, grills, and other utensils for a more varied diet.

Following are some recipes using flame that are great company-pleasers. They are often made in restaurants for special occasions but are suitable to make at home. Not to be forgotten: the pleasure of roasting marshmallows over an open fire.

Congolese Peppersteak

(From the 1969 edition of Raymond Oliver`s La Cuisine)
Serving per person

1 sirloin or porterhouse steak, (approximately 3/4 lb per person)
15 ml (1 tbsp) green peppercorns, crushed
25 ml (2 tbsp) peanut oil
25 ml (2 tbsp) butter
50 ml (1/4 cup) Armagnac or Cognac
125 ml (1/2 cup) crème fraiche

Season the steak with salt and rub in the peppercorns. Heat the oil and butter in a deep skillet and cook the steak on both sides. Transfer to a hot serving dish and keep hot. Pour off juices, add the Armagnac to the skillet, and scrape up all the brown bits in the bottom. Heat, then flame. Stir in the crème fraiche, bring to boiling point and reduce by half. Coat the steak with the sauce and serve very hot.

Crème fraiche

Use one teaspoon of buttermilk for each cup of whipping cream. Heat till lukewarm, then pour into a glass container and let stand at room temperature until it thickens. In hot weather this can take six hours; in cool weather up to 36 hours. It can be stored in the refrigerator for one week.

Crepes Suzette

Makes 6 to 8 servings

12 to 14 thin pancakes, bought or home-made
5 cm (2-inch) square of lemon rind
5 cm (2-inch) square of orange rind
32 ml (2 1/2 tbsp) vanilla sugar
125 ml (1/2 cup) butter
125 ml (1/2 cup) French brandy
50 ml (1/4 cup) dark rum
50 ml ( 1/4 cup) Triple sec or curacao

Cut the rind from the fruit squares without taking the white part, or pith. Cut each into strips and put in a jar with vanilla sugar. Close tightly and let stand for a day or two. Fold each pancake into quarters. At serving time, place a chafing-dish pan directly over burner. Add butter and when melted, pour in two-thirds of combined liqueurs. When warm, ignite. When flame has died out, add vanilla sugar and strips of rind to the pan and let the sugar melt to a syrup. Add crepes and spoon sauce over them, turning each crepe once. Add remaining liqueur and when warm, ignite. Serve crepes when the flame burns out.

Susan Hallett is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for The Beaver, The Globe & Mail, Wine Tidings, and Doctor’s Review, among others. She is currently the European editor of Taste & Travel International. Email: hallett_susan@hotmail.com