Monday, January 24, 2011

Officer George Buckles’ Rules for Faultless Flambé

Molly: Hi and welcome back to Vintage Cookbooks where we’re meeting some of the characters from the new mystery Lawn Order. Today George Buckles joins the group. George is a longtime friend of Margaret, her sister Bitsy and their cousin Leona. He’s also a policeman in their hometown of Stonewall, Tennessee. Hi, George. Would you like to sit down? No? Oh. Okay, well, let’s see. You visit the schools as Officer Friendly, along with your canine partner, Sergeant Lambert, don’t you?

George: (nods)

Molly: And is that something you both enjoy doing?

George: (nods, shrugs)

Margaret: Tell them about Lambert’s awards, George.

Bitsy: Tell them about Lambert’s clinical depression, George.

Cousin Leona: How is your mother’s sciatica, George?

George: (sighs)

Molly: Is Sergeant Lambert here with you, today, George?

George: (looking frustrated)

Molly: Did you want to say something, George?

George: It’s these flippin’ flaming recipes you’ve had on here. Cherries Jubilee and Bananas Foster. And you, Miss Leona, with your Blazing Bowl of Bergamot or whatever. I’m surprised at you. Do you have any idea how dangerous all that is?

Molly: We’ve had some tamer recipes, too. Spicy dishes, like Shrimp Creole.

George: Well, if you ask me, the Beanie-Weenie was your safest bet.

Molly: It’s certainly gotten a lot of attention. So what have you brought along to share with us?

George: Safety guidelines so you don’t burn your houses down.

Cousin Leona: Very thoughtful of you, George.

Molly: Yes, well, er, thank you. So, please join us all again next Monday when Gene Mashburn will be here to share his recipe that takes a somewhat different approach to the Reuben Sandwich.

Officer George Buckles’ Rules for Faultless Flambé

• Simply setting food on fire is not flambéing.

• Wine and beer have too little alcohol to create a flambé. You need a liquor or liqueur about 80 USA proof (40% alcohol), like rum or cognac.

• Your flambé pan should be deep and have a long handle.

• You want to avoid premature ignition of your liquor. This can happen because the boiling point of alcohol is a lot lower than for water, 175º F. as opposed to 212º. So you want to heat your liquor, in a deep pan, slowly over a low flame.

• Whatever you do, don’t go lighting the liquor itself. All you want to do is light the fumes of the liquor. And for heaven’s sake, use a long fireplace match or a long barbecue lighter.

• You want to know what happens when you do light the thing on fire? Big whoosh. Lots of flame. Potential for burning yourself and burning the whole dang house down – if you’re not careful.

• This is how you are careful – before you light the dish, make sure it’s far enough away from your guests and other flammable objects. And make sure you stand back, too, and turn your face away unless you want your eyebrows trimmed.

• Don’t pour liquor straight from a bottle into a hot or lighted pan. Talk about a big whoosh – lit fumes can follow the liquor stream right back into the bottle and then you’ll have an explosion.

• Wear an asbestos cooking mitt. Heck, wear a welder’s mask.

• Don’t set a dish on fire and then carry it to the table. Wait until the dish is firmly on the table and stable to avoid burn or fire hazard.

• If you light your dish in a darkened room to entertain your guests, make sure you at least have enough light to see what you’re doing.

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