As an Astrologer and a home cook I love to combine my two passions and cook for people based on their astrological charts. No, I don't cook just to the Sun Sign, that is so highly over-rated in the West. I look at the whole chart, what is the rising sign, the indicator of personality, what is on their 6th house cusp - the house of health? Does their 4th house, the house of home-life, tell us they are socializers or loners? You need the whole chart to get the whole picture.
With this dish I honor the the royalty of Leo the Lion. Leo. Leo cares more than its fellow Fire Sign Aries ever will about the well-being of others, although they can be a bit dismissive and a bit fussy. After all, the King must care and provide for his subjects – IF they pay him the proper homage that is. While some Leos eat like King Henry VIII, thinking their kingliness will keep them always healthy and svelte no matter what the scale and the doctors say – many more are so conscious of how they appear to their subjects that they are secret scale watchers. I have done my best to appeal to the narcissistic and epicurious sides of our lovely Lion with these creations.
Leo is happiest in the 5th house and vibrates to the energy in the 5th which relates to all forms of creativity and how we express ourselves. Leo is ruled by the Sun and they love to shine. Children, fun and play are all elements that capture 5thhouse energy.
Positive aspects of Leo include: warmth, gregariousness and the ability to be a welcoming host as well as a great parent.
Shadow aspects of Leo include:narcissism, arrogance, pettiness and haughtiness.
Foodie aspects of Leo include: the ability to spread a beautiful table for guests, a taste for luxury as well as the taste for diet food when alone.
I found this basic recipe in an old medieval cookery book years ago and have worked to modernize it. If you can’t go out and have your minions shoot a pheasant or swan on your kingly estate, go buy some Cornish hens.
Cornish hens are small. If you have big eaters then judge one per person. More genteel folk will do fine with half a hen.This recipe assumes half a hen per person. In the good old days they would put the stuffing in the birds but it just makes them way too dry.
1 cup butter, softened
4 tablespoons fresh herbs – thyme, chives and rosemary
work best but use what you like, minced
4 Cornish hens
10 tablespoons each kosher salt and
freshly ground black pepper
8 lemons, cut into quarters
4 cinnamon sticks
8 pieces star anise
½ cup pomegranate juice
1 cup orange juice
6 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
4 large carrots
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
(see page 44 for homemade recipe)
1 ½ pounds of sausage out of casings
(hot or mild is up to your taste.)
1 large white onion, diced
5 celery stalks, diced
15 oysters, shucked*
1 tablespoon flat-leaf Italian parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the butter and herbs together in a small bowl until well blended.
Remove any giblets from the hens. (You can add these to the stuffing if you sauté them well and then chop them up. I am not a big fan of giblets, but in a good stuffing they do add a flavor without tasting like sawdust as they so often do.) Wash the hens well and pat dry inside and out. Salt and pepper the cavity liberally. Carefully pull the skin away from the flesh of the birds and insert a generous amount of the butter/herb mixture, known as a compound butter, in the pocket you are creating. Do not tear the skin but, Capricorns, there is no need to get out a slide rule and measure each pocket to 1000 of an inch. Stuff the lemons into the cavity of the birds along with the cinnamon sticks and star anise.
In a small saucepan heat the pomegranate and orange juices and honey over low heat for 5 minutes until the juice reduces and starts to thicken.
Place the carrots on the bottom of a large roasting pan and place the birds on top, breast side up. Pour ½ cup of the wine and chicken stock into the bottom of the pan. Cook the birds for 25 minutes and then brush on some of the glaze.
Cook another 15 minutes, glaze the breasts again and then turn the birds over,glaze again and return to the oven. Cook until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165 degrees, about another 30 – 40 minutes.
When they are done, remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and letrest for about 30 minutes. Always let your meat rest before serving.
While the hens are cooking make the stuffing. Cook the sausage in a large skillet until browned. Remove to a paper towel to cool. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat out of the pan. Add the onions and celery and sauté over medium heat until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the oysters, parsley and thyme and cooked
sausage. Stir in the rest of the white wine and cook until wine is absorbed and all ingredients are mixed well.
Serve the birds on a bed of the stuffing. Spoon some of the wine/stock mixture from the pan over top. You can dress them up with some grapes and figs displayed around the dish to make them look more elegant.
*You can buy jars of shucked oyster meats – 1 16-ounce jar works here. Or you can get oysters “shell stocked” – basically sold live on a ½ shell. Remember, you have to work fast with these, so don’t leave them around the refrigerator for a few days. Take them home and get to work.