December, 2006 Archive

Sunday, December 31, 2006

best-loved, 2006


Three odd ends:

  • 9rules, a design and content portal, has invited me to be a member, and I happily accepted. Never a joiner, me, I think they’ve got some good stuff going on and I’m honored to be considered among them.
  • I have finally put in a Recipe Index, after dragging my feet for too long, hoping the search function would make up for the fact that even I couldn’t find old posts (never a good sign). I hope it helps.
  • Did I forget to wish you a happy new year? Not quite, but upon rereading, I feel awfully rude. I hope it was fantastic.
Saturday, December 30, 2006

utterly true

no knead, take two

The way I see it, you’ve got almost two days to make some resolutions and so I’d like to gently bug you about one thing: have you made the no-knead bread yet? I suspect that you haven’t. I suspect that despite swarming hoards of eager testers praising its armor-like crust and skyscraper heights of flavor, you are still thinking “Its yeast. It must be scary.” Well, I think that resolutions of eating less and this time you really mean it, reading books which really do bore you and to say more nice things about your people you don’t like is truly overrated, and not that you asked, but I think we should all instead choose to treat ourselves better, that we should seek out richer, brighter and more satiating experiences. I hope you have an excellent new year.

On the wall was a dress that I had embroidered. It said “Ich habe genug.” Which is a Bach Cantata. Which I thought meant, “I’ve had it, I can’t take any more, give me a break.” But I was wrong. It means “I have enough.” And that is utterly true. I happen to be alive. End of discussion. But I will go out and buy a hat. — Maira Kalman, The Principles of Uncertainty

no knead, take two

Thursday, December 28, 2006

coq au vin

brown-braised baby onions

Despite it being an amateurish cliché, blaming your mother and all, I have to insist because it’s completely her fault that that anything less than Julia Child’s coq au vin with brown-braised baby onions and sautéed mushrooms on Tuesday night would be inedible, cruel beyond comparison. You see, she is the one who after reading the post about my unending obsession with Paris and French food, bought me My Life in France, which is akin to putting a loaded, I don’t know — egg beater? in my infatuated hands. I am but 75 pages into the book and I’m ready (and not for the first time) to book my one-way ticket. If nothing else, I plan to hold my breath or at least cut off bacon-and-meat kitchen dallies until my husband sends me to the Cordon Bleu.

The book speaks to me, though. Julia, like myself, was newly-married when she went to Paris and not entirely sure what she wanted to do when she grew up. She fell in love with the French approach to food — making chicken taste more “chickeny,” I believe she said — and had the time to experiment. In case the volume on this site doesn’t clue you in, so do I, and more importantly, I did on Tuesday, bestowed on me by my wonderful corporate overlords in the form of an additional day off.

coq au vin

Of course, being a bit more lazy and recalcitrant that our heroine, I lollygagged in front of the television eating a soggy bowl of Shredded Wheat until nearly 3 p.m. before finally getting up the energy to walk four blocks to the store, thus beginning a dish at nearly 5 p.m. that took many hours to make. But my oh my; it’s not that I should be surprised that a dish of chicken cooked in a sauce of bacon, red wine, beef stock and butter would be outstanding, but I didn’t think my husband would declare it the best chicken dish he’d ever eaten, because that boy, he eats a lot of chicken. (He later abridged this to say that my chicken marsala is his favorite, but I think he’s wrong.)

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

russian tea cakes

russian tea cakes

I know that two days after Christmas, it’s impossible to be anything but cookie-d out, but I implore you to make room for just two more: one flawless recipe, and one baker’s trick that everyone should have in their repertoires.

cookie reflecting pool

The first is Russian Tea Cakes, also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes, also known as polvorones and, no doubt, dozens of other things. I just call them dreamy. Toasted nuts are ground into a fine powder — the Russian-style seems to call more often for hazelnuts, the Mexican ones typically demand pecans, but I’d argue you could use anything from walnuts to almonds (I bet those marcona ones would be dreamy) to Brazil or macadamia nuts — mixed into a fairly un-sweet butter cookie base, baked in little balls and then rolled, still warm in a cloud of powdered sugar, sometimes enhanced with a sprinkle of cinnamon. They melt in your mouth. They keep well for even two weeks, tasting better as they age. I think if I were a nut, and I suspect we know that I am, this is how I’d like to be showcased, even if it would mean a certain demise in many a gaping maw.


Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

gougères + stuffed mushrooms

latkes, lox, sour cream, dill

My in-laws had a cocktail party on Saturday night and in case you are new here, what this meant was that there was so much food, just the of plating of the appetizers took four people nearly an hour. (It also means that although there was much conversation and liveliness, I captured none of it. “Alex, what are they laughing at?” “He told a joke.” “What was it?” “It was funny.” “Thanks.”)

only half the spread

caviar trilogy

This would be but half the magnificent spread, not including the Cheese Table, which was not, mind you, a slew of cut-your-own cheese wedges and loose grapes but actual cheese-showcasing appetizers.

Continued after the jump »