We have the estimable Mapie, Countess de Toulouse-Lautrec, to thank for this inspired tagine-style lamb stew recipe. And thanks go out again to our pals Liz and Al for this gorgeous tagine which they brought back from their honeymoon in Morocco many moons ago.
The Countess, born Adélaïde Lévêque de Vilmorin in 1902, was the wife of Comte Guillaume de Toulouse-Lautrec Monfa. The count was a cousin of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the famed painter and lithographer whose post-impressionist masterpieces captured the electrifying, oftentimes provocative nightlife of fin de siècle Paris. It seems cousin Henri got lasting glory for his art, Mapie got herself a nice husband and a grand title, and Monsieur le Comte got lovely Mapie and all her wonderful cuisine. Everybody came out a winner! Us too with this delicious Moroccan-spiced lamb stew. (She calls it a sauté; sure looks like a stew to these American eyes.)
Before establishing herself as an arbiter of French cuisine, Mapie was a journalist chronicling society, theater and culture. The transformation from ball-gowned yet ink-stained wretch to le trésor de cuisine française came about when she became the food writer for Elle magazine. In addition to her culinary triumphs, here's a tidbit of particular interest to me, re my magazine publishing career. Guess who invented the detachable recipe cards in magazines? No, not Martha. Not Betty Crocker. You got it — Mapie!
I must confess I knew absolutely nothing about Countess Mapie until I happened on her La Cuisine de France, published in 1964. This time I checked to make sure it had been translated (unlike the impulse buy of that all-in-French cookbook that gave us the Monkfish Paella recipe).
"Just consider how the number of dishes has diminished in the space of two generations. But I do not think that the quality of the cooking has gone down. We have preserved our keen taste, and if we cannot allow ourselves the same ostentation, we are still, no doubt, as demanding when it comes to quality as our parents were…
"Let me add just one point, but an essential one: good cooking is accomplished only by love; love of one's husband, of one's children, and of one's friends."
Well I'm not ready to give up on ostentation just yet, especially when it's so easily achieved with a handy combination zester. Use the channel blade to make both the carrot flowers and the dramatic orange rind spiral. Wowser!
You can watch my how to make carrot flowers video. (With more than 85,000 views, this video, in its own small way, may account for any burgeoning carrot flower making sweeping the nation.) And if you don't yet have a mandolin, so helpful here, get yours now.
Mapie, Countess de Toulouse-Lautrec — keep the love alive and click here for the recipe for Sauté d'Agneau au Citron (Lamb stew with lemon)