Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rabbit Terrine with Green Olives and Pistachios (Page 23)

RECIPE #1231

  • Date: Friday, October 1, 2010 -- 6pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Terry, Teri, Helen, Charles, Clara, Kendra, Jubin, and Watson
  • Recipe Rating: C-

I am running out of recipes that sound appealing in the Hors D'Oeuvres and First Courses section of The Book. The situation is already pretty dire, but when you factor in that my mother is severely allergic to seafood, I didn't have a lot of hors d'oeuvres options for my parents' visit. In the end I settled on this recipe, for better or for worse. I started by cutting a rabbit into pieces and simmering it in water with shallots, carrots, parsley, thyme, leek, garlic, salt, and black peppercorns. Once the rabbit was tender I removed the meat from the bones and shredded it. The meat itself was very tasty, and I ate a few pieces as I worked. I then clarified the rabbit broth by first straining it and then whisking in a mixture of egg whites and crushed egg shells. I simmered the broth until the impurities rose to the top and formed a crust with the egg and shell bits. Then I carefully strained the broth again, resulting in a completely clear rabbit broth. I dissolved some gelatin into the broth and added Madeira and salt. I then prepared the rabbit mixture, with the help of my special gentleman. We ground fennel seeds and tossed them with the rabbit meat, along with chopped green olives, chopped pistachios, chives, thyme, salt, and pepper. Up until that point my special gentleman had been insisting that this dish would definitely be delicious. When he saw the green olives and pistachios he quickly changed his tune. When it was time to assemble the terrine, I lined my mold with plastic wrap, put the rabbit mixture in, then poured in the rabbit broth. I weighted the terrine and refrigerated it for several hours. Once the terrine set I filled the mold a bit more with the leftover broth, then chilled again. My special gentleman made some buttered toasts to serve with the terrine.

On the one hand, this labor-intensive dish was very impressive looking. I'm not sure it looked appetizing exactly, but the appearance definitely left an impression. On the other hand, it tasted bad. The rabbit meat was delicious, and I am sure that had I just served the shredded rabbit on the buttered toast it would have all been eaten. The tasty meat, however, became much less tasty when mixed with green olives and pistachios and suspended in rabbit jello. It wasn't just the gelatinous texture of the rabbit jello that made it unappealing -- it had a bad flavor. The combination of the Madeira with everything else just wasn't good. Indeed, the day after we served this Matt kept saying that he thought something in the fridge was rotting. After a thorough inspection it turned out that the "rotting" smell he noticed was just the smell of this terrine! Out of the ten people eating dinner the night I served this, there was only one fan of this dish: Clara, the 18 month old daughter of our friends Helen and Charles. It totally cracked me up that she was chowing down on it! Definitely not a fussy child! I certainly wouldn't make this terrine again. It took a long time, and ultimately ended up in the trash. Not a good use of tasty, tasty rabbit.

The recipe is here.

Only 62 recipes left to go!

Yesterday morning I was walking down the hallway outside my office. When I turned the corner I found one of my colleagues waiting for me. "I thought I heard you coming." he said. I had been walking alone, not talking to anyone or making any sort of verbal expression, so what he had heard that identified me was the sound of high-heeled shoes.

When I first started graduate school I got mistaken for a new administrative assistant several times. Others mistook me for the wife of a new graduate student. I was baffled. I certainly wasn't the only woman in the math department at MIT -- indeed the gender ration in math at MIT is about as good as it is anywhere. I was speculating one day about why it was that people assumed I wasn't a mathematician, when an older graduate student offered: "You are breaking the rules. The way people distinguish between the secretaries and the math women is that the secretaries wear heels." I laughed, but he wasn't actually joking. The idea that a female mathematician would wear heels was, apparently, crazy.

I often wore heels and dresses my first few years in graduate school. I was convinced that there was no reason not to. I certainly wasn't wearing anything trashy. Indeed it seemed to me that I looked more professional than most people, and hence should be taken just as seriously as anyone else on judgments made by attire alone. Only later did I realize that the idea of looking "professional" depends strongly on one's profession. My last year in graduate school, another female mathematician who had been at MIT when I arrived said to me, "Teena, you have done really well. When I first met you I noticed one day that you were wearing make-up and I had a hard time taking you seriously after that. But I was wrong about you." I didn't know how to respond to that. In retrospect it is obvious to me that other mathematicians will take me less seriously if I wear a tasteful dress and heels to work rather than torn jeans and t-shirt (which is my special gentleman's standard attire). But often I do it anyway. I suppose it is defiant. I believe I shouldn't have to try to blend in with a sea of men in order to be taken seriously, and so I don't attempt to do so.

So if you hear the click of high-heeled shoes coming at you down the hall of a math building somewhere, someday, don't assume it is an administrative assistant. It might be me.


Anonymous said...

"Teena, you have done really well. When I first met you I noticed one day that you were wearing make-up and I had a hard time taking you seriously after that. "

How can such smart people be so stupid ?! I find myself asking this question repeatedly.

Teena said...

Yeah, the things people say can definitely be surprising...