When Joshua, my son and partner in Beurre & Sel, our coookie business, saw this video he tweeted: Ever wonder why we bake cookies? He summed up the theme of this video perfectly. Not surprisingly, it started me wondering why you and so many others bake. Tell me. Please.
Can't wait to hear from you -
When I was in Paris in April, it was the start of asparagus season and every restaurant had asparagus on their menus. A few had soups and a few more had asparagus salads, but the hands-down-just-about-everywhere dish was some varation on asparagus with a soft egg. This version had some herbs and a scattering of Pamesan shards. Others had jambon iberico. Some chefs wrapped each stalk in pancetta or prosciutto and roasted them until the pancetta was transparent. And here's the thing: They were all great!
And now we're getting the first local asparagus in Connecticut and I'm making asparagus and egg early and often. In part it's a celebration of asparagus's arrival and in part it's the manifestation of some usually well-repressed hoarding instinct: I know they're going to be gone soon and so I'm trying to get as much of them as I can ... now!
If you're an asparagus neophyte, here's a how-to tip sheet with information on buying, storing and cooking the spears. It includes a recipe for Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto from the talented Russ Parsons.
I'd love to know if you get local asparagus where you live and what you're doing with them. LMK.
Today is Food Revolution Day, the brainchild of Jamie Oliver and a worldwide event. The purpose is to support hands-on food education and the theme this year is one close to my heart: Cook it! Share it! It's a theme also near and dear to the cooks and bakers at French Fridays with Dorie -- especially to wonderful Mardi Michaels of Eat. Live. Travel. Write. who is part of the team of volunteers working to coordinate this event in Canada. I'm participating in this event with FFwD by sharing Salted Butter Breakups, a recipe from Around My French Table.
When I first learned about Food Revolution and knew that I'd post an entry, my friend Mary said, "You have to make the Salted Butter Breakups - they're perfect for sharing!" She was right - the cookie was made to be shared. It's a big, freeform, ragged-at-the-edges cookie that's meant to be served whole so that everyone can break off a piece. And everyone did.
The radon-inspecting workman with a piece of Salted Butter Breakups
A kindergartener up a tree with a piece of Salted Butter Breakups
After more kids broke off piece, more workmen and George, the neighbor, had a nibble, Lefty, the cat, got the last morsel. Thank you, Mary, for the inspiration and the photographs.
Here's the recipe so that you can Cook It and Share It and teach it to friends, so that they can do the same.
...Continue reading Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day. Cook it! Share it! Salted Butter Breakups
This picture was taken as Super-Storm Sandy was winding down. We got surprisingly little rain and enough wind to frighten us, but not enough to do serious damage. Our electricity was, as we knew it would be, knocked out, but it's been restored. Ditto our cell service, which was intermittent at best. All in all, we were incredibly lucky and I'm grateful.
Thank you for your sweet and kind wishes. They were a comfort.
My thoughts go out to all of you who might still be trying to right the ravages of the storm.
This is what the pond outside my house looks like this morning. I think of it as the calm before the storm, since Hurricane Sandy will be here soon and everything will change. For sure we'll lose electricity. We always do. If someone walks down the street and whistles, the wind seems to be enough to knock down one of our power lines. And so, before we have to move into emergency mode, I just want to send everyone, especially those of you who'll be meeting Sandy, wishes for safety.
Stock up on everything you need and everything that makes you happy and let's be in touch as soon as Sandy is gone.
This gives new meaning to the term 'apres le deluge,' doesn't it?
My husband made bread for years. And then he didn’t. The-didn’t period lasted a lot longer than the-did period and then, just recently, he began baking bread again … a lot … and seriously … and beautifully. And soon after he started baking again, he started accumulating breadmaking gear. Some beautiful, like the linen-lined rising baskets, and some not so beautiful, but extraordinarily useful, like his DIY proofing box. But let me back up a few decades.
When we first got married, neither of us cooked and neither of us baked. But, since we had to eat, and since I was really interested in cooking, I learned and soon we had an amenable division of labor: I made dinner and he did the dishes. It’s still the way we do things, except that a few years after we got married he took up something that I never did – breadmaking.
In the beginning, he made loaves in pans. And then, when we bought Bernard Clayton’s groundbreaking The Breads of France, he dared free-form loaves. Then there was the focaccia era and the sourdough phase. And then there was nothing. And now there are baguettes and boules, miches made with a mix of grains and varying levains and poolishes. It’s exciting and it’s very delicious.
...Continue reading DIY Proof Box: Father's Day is Almost Here
The only thing fuzzy about this dish is the picture. I was having such a good time with my friends that I didn't think of photographing anything until Patty said, "This is so pretty, tell me everything you put in it." By that time, I'd already dug into the dish and was well on my way to polishing it off. Sorry. Next time, I'll take a second more to document before I dig in.
As with so much of the food I make, this was a spur-of-the-moment dish that was less recipe than idea, and more about playing around than following anything exactly. I bought the Maine sea scallops for dinner and, as an after-thought, the mango. Everything else came from the fridge and pantry and was added as inspiration struck. Or, in the case of the preserved lemon, when I noticed it lurking in the back of the refrigerator.
All this to say that while I've written the recipe, you should just grab what you've got and taste as you go. If you're more organized than I am, you might document your discovery by writing it down and photographing it before it's gobbled up. Do that, and I'd love to know about it.
Here's the kinda-sorta recipe:
...Continue reading Scallops with Gingered Mango-Tomato Salsa: Dinner in a Flash
Anyone who’d made a beautiful blueberry pie would smile as broadly as Chris Howard is in this picture, but Chris has a bunch of extra reasons to smile – if not crow – about this pie. And so do I. This may look like an old-fashioned blueberry pie to you, but to us it’s a technological breakthrough: Chris, a first-time pie maker, crafted this beauty from start to finish following the step-by-step video instructions in our soon-to-be-released iPad App: Baking with Dorie.
I have a long, bumpy relationship with crusts. I love them, for sure. I love making the dough. No problem there. The difficulty, for years and years, was rolling out the dough I’d had such fun making. Rolling terrified me!
I had all the right equipment: rolling pins of every length, weight and material, and a flat countertop that was big enough to roll out pizza for a small army. I probably even had the right technique – or I should have, given how many classes I took and books I read. What I lacked was courage! I was a roll-out scaredy cat.
And then my friend, Donna, came over and said, “I think that if we roll a crust together, all will be revealed.” And so, there we were: Donna to my left, the crust in front of me, the rolling pin over my shoulder and glasses of wine awaiting what Donna was sure would be my success. And she was right – within minutes we were toasting each other and oohing and aahing over the crust that was sitting pretty in a pie plate.
Was the crust perfectly rolled out? Nope. Have I ever rolled out a perfect pie crust? The kind that looks like it was drawn with a compass? The kind that’s exactly, precisely and absolutely the same thickness from the middle out? No. No. And no, again. But they’re all good enough to make excellent pies and tarts and good enough to make me feel swell about what I’ve done.
“Courage!” as the Wizard of Oz’s Cowardly Lion would say. It was all that I needed. Oh and a little more encouragement from Jacques Pepin.
...Continue reading Rolling Out Pie Dough: Terrified No More
Laurie Woodward, the founder of Tuesdays with Dorie and the creator of French Fridays with Dorie, a group that will cook its way through Around My French Table, wrote last night, knowing that the new group's more than 700 members would start posting today, and said: "I'm so excited -- it's like Christmas." And, indeed, skipping around the web and seeing everyone's pictures of gougeres and reading the posts about first adventures is like opening hundreds of Christmas presents.
Welcome all! I am beyond thrilled that we'll be cooking and baking together every week for years to come.
For those of you who don't know about French Fridays with Dorie, click over here to read about it, and click over here to join. And don't forget that there's also a Facebook page for the group. (And, while I'm mentioning Facebook - I'm closing my personal page and hope you'll all pack up and move over to my new page.)
Now on to gougeres! Since you'll be seeing hundreds of gougeres in posts today, I thought I'd take you behind the scenes and tell you a little bit about how that beautiful photograph on page 4 of Around My French Table was shot.
That's the fabulously talented Alan Richardson behind the camera, taking a look at the preliminary set-up for the gougeres. We're in my combo kitchen-office-dining room in Connecticut. You can't see food stylist Karen Tack, Alan's partner in cupcakedom, Deb Donahue, who set up a prop shop in the basement, or me -- we're working away in the kitchen part of the room, baking the gougeres. You can see me spooning them out on page 1 of the book.
And here they are (my snapshot), almost ready for their Alan Richardson close-up.
For someone as kitchen-gear crazy as I am, I sometimes surprise myself by being slow to adopt some terrific tools. For instance, it took me years to get a really good mortar and pestle (I got the 3+ cup size) and now I can’t imagine ever being without it. And here’s the latest in my why-didn’t-I-get-one-sooner revelations: A mezzaluna.
Mezzaluna means half moon in Italian and, as you can see, it gets its name from the shape of its blade. It’s a chopping tool, and while it’s most often used for herbs, it makes fast work of tomatoes and garlic and onions and shallots and lots of other minceables.
The mezzaluna in the top picture belongs to my friend Carol Lewitt, she of weed pesto fame. And she had me chopping parsley with it for a dish that’s just as unusual as the pesto, this pasta sauce made with melon. The recipe, such as it is, is after the jump. But back to the mezzaluna.
...Continue reading A Mezzaluna and the Most Unusual Pasta Dish I've Had in a Long While
For over a year now, Joshua, my son, and I have been making a chili-chicken sandwich that reminds us of the fabulous sandwich we had every night when we were in Luang Prabang, Laos. While we always make it at home with chicken, cucumber, lettuce, mayonnaise, sriracha and sweet chili sauce, we add tomatoes when we've got them (there were tomatoes in the original) and onions when we feel like it. Sometimes our bread is crispy, sometimes soft and squishy, like the bread we had in Luang Prabang. The truth is, no matter what we add or subtract, it always tastes good. I know, it's hard for something not to be tasty when you add mayo, sriracha and chili sauce.
Loving the sandwich as much as I do, I never tire of it . But now I've got a new model to crave -- and copy: The Vientiane Chicken Wrap. It comes from Morning Glory Cafe in Old Lyme, CT, a sweet spot on the beautiful Lieutenant River, and the wrapper (which is not particularly thick, as you can see) is a grilled tortilla. It's a true Laotian sandwich (the owners of the cafe escaped war-ravaged Laos and came to Old Lyme in 1980) with an odd, but sensible twist. And if I hadn't had a mouth full of it, I'd have asked the chef where this stroke of genius came from. Next time.
For now, here's what's in the sandwich:
...Continue reading Chili-Chicken Sandwich Redux: It's a Wrap
The more I travel, the less I bring back with me. (Sadly, it doesn't work in reverse -- I'm always traveling with more than I need.) In part it's a reaction to my olive oil debacle. Many years ago, Michael and I fell in love with an olive oil we tasted in Paris, and so we bought a six-pack, had it wrapped well, labeled it fragile on every surface and and sent it through with our luggage. What were we thinking? Of course a couple of bottles broke, explaining why the bags that circled the carrousel had glistening Rorschach-like spots on them. But to add insult to injury, the following day, when we went shopping down the street at Zabar's, we found the exact same olive oil and at almost the same price. Two lessons learned: 1) everything fragile gets carried on (we were newby travelers then); and 2) only buy things you can't easily get at home (which, since we live in New York City, narrows our shopping list considerably).
But all bets are off when it comes to cheese (... and butter ... and kitchen tools ... and anything with a rooster), which is how we returned home with a wheel of Cabrales, straight from Asturias, the Spanish region it calls home, and ended up slicing it into a salad and, as always happens when you return with food, bringing back memories of our trip.
I’m really not sure why I keep canned salmon in my cupboard. Maybe because my mother always did? Maybe because a friend told me it was good for me? Certainly it’s not because Michael, my husband, likes it, because he really doesn’t. It’s not an active dislike, it’s just that he says canned salmon doesn’t have much flavor and … well … he’s not so wrong. Yet there’s the short stack of cans in the cupboard, right up front, within easy range, but always ignored. Until this afternoon.
Michael and I had come in from our usual Saturday rounds – grocery and hardware stores, bank and library, fishmonger and greenmarket – and with all we’d bought there wasn’t much for lunch. But there was that canned salmon. Michael looked a little skeptical, but really – what was the worst
...Continue reading Cupboard and Fridge Salmon Tartine: It's Lunch
When you live in a small town as I do part-time (Westbrook, CT, population about 6,600 and growing), you can really see your tax dollars at work: a new school, the re-paving of a country road, the opening of a nature trail and the fireworks at the beach to celebrate Independence Day. In fact, most of the towns along the Shoreline have fireworks displays and any restaurant, inn or household that's got a view of their town's celebration usually has a party.
We're a couple of miles inland from Long Island Sound, so we see nothing and hear everything, but we've got good friends in Madison who throw a fabulous fireworks party for about 50 people and we're lucky enough to be included in the fun. And the food. And it's the food for the party got me thinking about burgers.
...Continue reading Burgers: Fourth of July Fare
The other day, I was tossing things into my compost bucket - I keep it in the sink at the end of my work counter in Connecticut -- looked over at the pile up and stopped: it looked so beautiful. I love to compost. I love saving every little scrap. I love that what I toss away this year will become food for what I'll harvest next. But I don't normally look at my compost and think of beauty, although, I realized, I had done it once before. The year was 2001 and it was then, in July, that many food pros had to figure out how to make a compost beautiful enough for a wedding.
Would this week's compost have been pretty enough? That's what I was thinking when I snapped this picture.
It's not that the 2001 compost challenge was meant to send anyone into a tizzy over their trash. In fact, it wasn't even a challenge. But when you ask a bunch of luminaries to do something, it's not surprising that they'll take it seriously -- or that there won't be a little friendly competition. Here's the story:
...Continue reading Of Compost and Weddings: Trash, Beautiful Trash
Tomorrow, I'm heading back to the Lyme Farmers Market and I'm sure I'll have new things to share with you. However, before that happens, I want to catch you up on last week's haul. I already told you about the garlic scapes and the pesto I made from them -- and ate all week: once with pasta, once with scallops, once with shrimp and rice and a couple of times just straight off the spoon -- but I haven't had a chance to mention the rhubarb, which I roasted.
The problem I often have with rhubarb is that I overcook it -- it seems to go from celery-crisp to baby-food soft in a flash -- so I was delighted when I found this simple way to roast the rhubarb and end up with tender stalks that (mostly) still hold their shape.
...Continue reading Roasted Rhubarb, So Good Over Ice Cream
Like so many of us who are thrilled at the start of the growing season, I seem to be on a foods-that-come-and-go-in-a-flash kick. First it was asparagus, now it's garlic scapes.
Yesterday was the opening of the Lyme (Connecticut) Farmers Market and it was a perfect day for being at Ashlawn Farm -- it was sunny and warm, a top-down on a convertible day, and everyone who'd hibernated for the winter was out. With all the hugging and kissing, the exclaiming over how children had grown and the exchange of a year's worth of news, it reminded me of the first day of summer camp. And even though my mother will tell you that I was a complaining camper, I did like that first day.
Of course, since this is New England, a start-of-June market is not a full and colorful one. There were beautiful lettuces, chard and kale, a spot of color, courtesy of the first batch of strawberries, which sold out almost instantly (and about which I'll have more to say in another post), and these, the find of the market: garlic scapes from Hidden Brook Gardens in Ledyard, CT.
...Continue reading Garlic Scape Pesto: Another Fleeting Pleasure
Saturday night friends came to dinner and they came bearing gifts of food, the nicest gifts possible. But here was the odd thing -- they brought their homemade treats packed in canning jars, although neither gift was truly "canned". And, just to make it all a little odder, on the menu for a first course I had gravlaxed and marinated salmon and potatoes in oil, both made in canning jars and both served from them. Was it a coincidence? Culinary telepathy? The tip of a trend?
You may have heard me say this before, but I once had an editor who told me that when you see something once, it's nothing; when you see something twice, it's interesting; and when you see the same thing three times, it's a trend. Could 'canned food' be the next big thing?
...Continue reading A Confluence of Canned Food: Could It Be a Trend?
I thought I was so smart getting up at 5 am and turning the car around in the driveway so that I wouldn't have to back out in the snow (I'm not crazy about reverse in any weather -- it's just another quirk I'll work on one day when I've got more time). What I failed to remember was that the snowplow would come along and sock me into the driveway no matter which way my car was pointing. Oh well, it's not so bad being snowbound, since the electricity -- and therefore the heat -- is still working and I've got a lots of stuff in the fridge and the cupboards so that I can play in the kitchen. And, I've got soup, always a good thing.
...Continue reading Snow Again, Soup Again
It's definitely fall here, even if I'm not ready for it. The weekend's been gorgeous - sunny and breezy and fally. Everyone with a convertible is driving with the top down, but you get the feeling it's because there aren't all that many top-down days left.
...Continue reading Pumpkin Time - Already
I've been waging a mostly losing battle with Ma Nature this summer. While the racoons seem to have moved on to other people's trash bins, the beavers are very much at home, eating away the woods behind our house; the chipmunks stare me down when I plead with them to leave me just a tomato or two; the rabbits have demolished everything around the daisies (I guess they don't fancy the daisies themselves); and the geese ... don't get me started on the geese. Yet somehow, for reasons I can't fathom but am so grateful for, the birds have graciously decided to share my raspberry bush with me. It's the first year I've been able to gather a bowl of berries and I'm delighted.
...Continue reading Bittersweet Brownies and Raspberries the Birds Didn't Peck
The display case at my favorite fish market, Star Fish in Guilford, CT, is always whimsically decked out, but yesterday it was exceptional -- every plate of fish was Olympics-ized. Tuna toted a gold medal, squid carried the Olympic torch, soft-shelled crabs were surrounded by flags of many nations and the arctic char was being reeled in by Michael Phelps, who makes a pretty cute merman. I loved it and so did everyone else who walked in -- customers were walking along the refrigerator case the way kids walk along Macy's windows at Christmas time.
...Continue reading Phelps Fever - Everyone's Got It!
If you live anywhere near Lyme, Connecticut, you could be in for a treat:Â Saturday is the annual En Plein Air Market at The Florence Griswold Museum.Â
As soon as the date for En Plein Air is announced, I mark my calendar and make certain to be in town, because it's one of the best and most beautiful markets imaginable.Â Set up on the lawns of the historic Florence Griswold house, the birthplace of American Impressionism, and now part of the world-class museum that bears her name, the market attracts the best and most interesting growers in the state.
...Continue reading Come Bake with Me: The En Plein Air Market at The Florence Griswold Museum
While the tomatoes in my garden are still too green for anything, even green tomato pie, the corn is already sweet, the zucchini already plentiful and the onions ready for their close-ups at my local farmers market in Lyme.
...Continue reading Summer House Cooking: Putting the season's vegetables to good use
When Kerrin and Olivier Rousset (they of the wonderful wedding) came to spend this past weekend with us in Connecticut, they arrived bearing gifts: Granola, homemade and in three flavors!
It was a great gift, but it also turned out to be a funny one, since when Kerrin was roasting granola on Friday, I was doing exactly the same thing! I hadn't made granola in years, but it seemed like just the right thing to have on hand when there'd be people in the house for a couple of days. Obviously, that's what Kerrin was thinking too.
...Continue reading Granola Grab Bag
This week marked the tenth anniversary of Read to Grow, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving literacy in Connecticut by starting early - as soon as a baby is born!
Every mom who gives birth to a child in a participating hospital gets a visit from a Read to Grow volunteer and a goody bag containing a pamphlet detailing the importance of reading to children and a brand-new book, so moms can start reading to their little ones immediately.
...Continue reading Read to Grow - Rabbit's Bedtime and Cookbooks, Too
I know I must have had my camera with me this morning. Obviously, what I didn't have was my with-it-ness because I missed a great photo op. I was, as I usually am on summer Saturday mornings, at the Lyme Farmers Market. I had just bought swordfish, Littleneck clams and a lobster (what a treat!) and was surveying the lines at the other stands, deciding on my next move, when Carol Dahlke came walking across the fields, headed in my direction. Carol is due to give birth to Baby James any day now, so she usually leads with her belly, but today she led with an object I recognized immediately: a red and white box from Pierre Herme!
...Continue reading Of Macaroons, Memories and Missed Opportunity
When a day starts out like this, you've got to believe it can only get better:
What you're looking at is the team from Sunday night's Dinners at the Farm pushing the "chucktruck," better known as the thing without which there'd be no dinner. At the lead is Jonathan Rapp, chef-owner of River Tavern, and behind the wheel is Drew McLachlan who, with his wife, Claudine, owns Feast Gourmet Market in Deep River, Connecticut. Just a minute or two beofre I snapped this picture, this is what you would have seen:
...Continue reading Dinners at the Farm: Great People, Great Food and a Great Cause
Today, my husband heard me say something that would only have been more startling had I chanted it in Swahili. The words I uttered were: "I can't wait to get home and clean!"
Even I (who, sadly, was born without the neatness gene) was surprised by my reaction, but as soon as I smelled the soap that Amelia Hunt of Falls Brook Organic Farm had created, I wanted to just bathe in it. And I can. Amelia's soap is totally organic, non-toxic, fabulous-smelling, good-cleaning and really, as she says, all-purpose.
...Continue reading Bubble, Bubble, Toil, No Trouble: A New Soap
My husband, Michael, couldn't resist this Siamese-twin tomato at the Lyme Farmers Market this week (it would have been a perfect match for the boomerang eggplant I bought the week before, but that had already become caponata)
...Continue reading Rainy Day Salad
They're being called Dinners at the Farm, but they might just as well be called a community revolution, since these summer meals could change everything about the way the people in our little stretch of Connecticut think about what they eat and whom they eat it with.
...Continue reading Dinners at the Farm
I know, it looks a little weird, kind of like a terrarium for lettuce, but it's really a little bit of low-tech genius. It's a terrific trick I learned from Michael Newburg, who grows the best, best greens at his Falls Brook Organic Farm. Put your fresh greens in a big plastic bag, gather up the neck, blow a little air, aka carbon dioxide, into the bag, then seal it up quick. If your greens are perfectly dry and really fresh (when Michael brings his to the Lyme Farmers Market, they're only two-hours old), they'll stay bright, firm and flavorful for at least a week like this. The only problem is the amount of space the puffed-up bag takes in the fridge - but scrambling for a few extra cubic-inches of room on the shelf seems a small price to pay for greens that stay great from market day to market day.
My friend Kerrin just sent me this photo. It was taken in a hypermarche, a super-big supermarket, outside of Paris and my guess is that, had Kerrin had a wide-angle lens, she could have shown us an equally long wall of canned tuna too. Even in the not-so-big Monoprix grocery near my apartment in Paris, the selection of canned fish is generous enough to keep you in that aisle for a while, reading labels and deciding among sardines with hot peppers, mustard, lemon or basil, smoked or not, whole or filleted. I always keep a stack of sardine cans in the pantry, they're my rainy-day emergency munch, perfect for when I'm on deadline and glued to my computer. A squeeze of lemon, a couple of slices of tomato, a little salad and some bread and butter and all is right with the world
...Continue reading Sardines: Not so much on this side of the pond
...Continue reading Opening Day at the Farmers Market: Dinner and a Couple of Recipes
Last winter, my friend Sally Heffernan, who is responsible for my garden being as glorious as it is, called to say that she had a surprise for me. She'd read that a rose had been named after Julia Child and that it would soon be available. Because she wanted to make sure that I was the first on the block to have one, she ordered it immediately.
...Continue reading Julia Child, Just Outside My Kitchen
It's Memorial Day Weekend and while I plan to do the most traditional Memorial Day activity - grill - tomorrow, today I did the second-most-traditional thing: I went plant shopping!
We used to get our herbs, tomatoes and annuals into the garden around Mother's Day (two weeks ago), but I was gone then and this is the first time I've been to Connecticut in three weeks, so at the of top of the to-do list was a spree. The rows and rows of herbs et al in the two nurseries we went to were a little picked over, but there was still enough to make a city-girl's heart go pitter-patter and more than enough to fill two wagons:
...Continue reading A Time to Plant
I just had lunch with a friend who suggested we meet at the upstairs cafe/bar of a charming but worn hotel on Long Island Sound. I mean really on the Sound - if the cafe weren't on the upper deck, you'd worry that your shoes might get wet when the tide came in. The location is remarkable, the cafe less so.
...Continue reading A Drinking Kind of Place
Just when it looked like we were heading into the lamb part of March (is the expression March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb universal? or at least known in the northern hemisphere, where March is a winter/spring month?), along comes real snow and with it pokey traffic. By the time we got up to Connecticut the other night, it was past serving time at all our favorite places and we were left to scavenge dinner, using whatever was in the pantry and the bag of leftovers I'd scooped up in New York and tossed into the car. It was a little like Iron Chef ... but not.
...Continue reading Slow-Roasted Tomatoes: A Pasta Picker-Upper
...Continue reading Swedish Visiting Cake
My Sweet Art workshops (I did two, back-to-back) last night at The Flo Gris (more properly know as The Florence Griswold Museum) were terrific fun and very, very delicious too.
To get us into the holiday spirit, we had local eaux-de-vie from Connecticut distillers Westford Hill -- their new apple brandy could bring happiness to anyone with a penchant for Calvados -- and coffee drinks from Carol Dahlke, who roasts her own beans at Ashlawn Farm Coffee, and her 8-year-old son (I think I've got the age right -- hope so), Charlie, who donned a suit for the festivities. It was a great way to warm everyone up in every way before they had to face the frigid outdoors and walk the candlelit path into the gallery to play with chocolate. (The lucky group that had signed on for the 8:30 demo, had an extra warm-up hour and we had an extra-jolly time. Think there was a connection?)
The plan was that I would demo making my "all you've got to do is press the food processor button" tart crust and a just-keep-stirring-gently bittersweet ganache, and then I'd turn the table over to the workshoppers, who would roll their own truffles with the chilled ganache, pack them in beribboned bags and go merrily into the night with a homemade Valentine's Day present for their sweethearts.
And that's what we did and that' s what my own sweetheart, Michael, recorded, paparazzi style. Problem is I'm new to posting and I can't seem to get it right when I post a bunch of pix with captions. It all looks OK and then ...
So, after spending a couple of hours trying to figure it out, I decided I'd just post one of my favorite pictures. Can you tell that it comes from workshop #2?
I could call it Man Seized by Truffle Madness, but I've decided to give it a more scientific name - I'm calling it:
Truffles = Happiness, an equation even math dunces like moi can understand.
By the way, the truffle-happy man is David Graybill.
Many, many thanks to the The Flo Gris Hot Air Club for inviting me and to its chairs Erica Tannen and Lisa Holmes; to Shawn Savage for handling the at-the-museum logistics; to Chris Steiner, food lover, accomplished cook and professor at Connecticut College by day, and my back-up last night; and to the museum's director, Jeff Andersen, for making The Flo Gris such a vibrant part of the community.
Some of the 100 tartlets I made for the workshop at The Florence Griswold Museum tonight. They're mini versions of the Tarte Noire from Baking and I'll tell you more about them the first chance I have.
There are lots of differences between men and women â€“ you noticed, I know â€“ but hereâ€™s one that came to mind last night as I settled into our house in Connecticut for a week of work sans Michael: When the temperature hovers around zero, men build fires and woman make soup. At last, thatâ€™s what this woman does.
On the drive up from New York, the weather guy kept saying that it was going to be dangerously cold and, in fact, it was awfully nippy when I made the dash from driveway to door and fumbled for my keys. I got the heat going (thatâ€™s easy â€“ a flip of a switch; no tree-chopping required), queued up the music, turned on the computer (it may be the country, but life without the internet is no life at all), made the big wine decision (it was definitely a red night) and started rummaging through the fridge.
There wasnâ€™t a lot of fresh stuff in the house, Iâ€™d dragged pretty much everything back to New York with me last Sunday, but I always think that if Iâ€™ve got onions and a few carrots in the house, all is not lost, and, in fact, there was one onion, three big carrots and a few bonus tidbits: half a head of garlic, a teensy knob of ginger and one parsnip.
I put all the vegetables in my trusty soup pot (a French blue Le Creuset number) and started softening them in olive oil over low heat, when inspiration struck â€“ I stirred in turmeric and some wonderful garam masala, which had been mixed at Falls Brook Organic Farm, up the road a piece in Lyme. Stir, stir, soften, soften, season, season, and then a big can of chicken broth and a handful of barley for stick-to-your-ribsness.
Itâ€™s hard to tell you how happy I was. Just knowing there was soup on the stove gave me the feeling of all being right in the world (or at least, in my little house for that little moment). That it turned out to be an earthy, satisfying soup with a little bit of sweetness â€“ the carrots, parsnips and garam masala did that â€“ only added to the pleasure.
Oh, there was another nice thing: the fire. Once I knew the ingredients in the pot were on their way to soupdom, I could consider building a fire. Naturally, by the time I built it I didnâ€™t need it for warmth, but it was pretty swell for atmosphere. What doesnâ€™t taste better eaten fireside?
Hereâ€™s the picture of the fire. Itâ€™s not great, but I sent it off to Michael, whoâ€™s in London, just to prove to him that I did learn something when I was a Brownie.
And hereâ€™s the recipe â€“ kind of â€“ for the soup. I say kind of because I didnâ€™t measure anything while I was making it and you probably wonâ€™t either, itâ€™s not that kind of recipe.
Makes 4 servings
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 onions, peeled, trimmed and diced
3 big carrots, peeled, trimmed and diced
1 parsnip, peeled, trimmed (cut out the core if itâ€™s woody) and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
One 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
Turmeric, to taste (start with about 1/2 teaspoon)
Garam masala, to taste (start with about 3/4 teaspoon)
Hot pepper flakes, to taste and optional
1 large can (48 ounces) chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Warm the olive oil in a large heavy pot with a lid. Add the onions, carrots, parsnip, garlic and ginger and stir to coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for about 5 minutes over low heat. Stir in the turmeric, garam masala and hot pepper, if youâ€™re using it, cover and continue to cook very gently, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft but not colored, about 15 minutes more. Add the broth or water, bring to the boil over higher heat, then stir in the barley. Reduce the heat so that the broth simmers, cover and cook until the barley is tender and â€œblossomedâ€ (it will puff considerably). Taste and add more salt, pepper and spices, as needed.
I am drowning in books, cookbooks most especially. In the past, I just built more bookcases, but I've run out of buildable places. Worse, even though I give away about 100 books every year to local libraries, I still have more and more books and less and less space. It looks like I am going to have to do what my husband keeps telling me I must do: I've got to give away more books - lots more.
...Continue reading Sooooooo Many Books