Here’s a typical Deb story for you: Still making my way through my awesome bean sampler from Rancho Gordo, I decided to conquer the flageolet beans next–they’re the ones that look like miniature white kidney beans, about half of which have the prettiest pale green hue. Since they’re often used in cassoulet, but I find traditional cassoulet to be way too heavy and fatty for my tastes, I started scheming my way to a delicious vegetarian version, keeping the mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery), thyme, tomato, garlic, etc. but nixing the duck let confit, pork fat and garlic sausages. I looked at half a dozen recipes, taking notes, keeping this, skipping that, and when I told my fellow cooking geek my plan, she said, “oh, you mean like the Vegetarian Cassoulet from the March Gourmet?”
March, 2008 Archive
I have what some might consider an unhealthy interest in celebrating religious holidays that have nothing to do with my own, yet the fixation is more of a cultural than a devotional one. Growing up in a one-religion household, you miss out on certain foods. In the same way that I’m sure a lot of people who had never tried hamantaschen or latkes before have had their curiosity piqued by mentions of them, I am itching to try one of those yule logs with marzipan mushrooms or one of those mega-hams people bake for Easter, something not one even one of my most bacon-loving Jewish friends has ever tried. I strive to break down culinary cultural barriers! Or, I just like pork. Anyhow…
March is a confusing month for me. It seems sunnier out, there are fluke 50 and–gasp!–52 degree days and then there is this “first day of spring” that shows up on my calendar but does precisely nothing to thaw my cold fingertips. I’m sick to death of all of my winter clothes but if I am dumb enough to go out in new short or half-sleeve tops, I shiver all day.
Sure, we’re a couple days late on these this year, but I couldn’t let Purim weekend (see how I added two days to the holiday there? Brilliant) pass without one more chapter in my annual attempt to make hamantaschen that suit my fancy. Was I more successful this year than last? Only slightly. But this has in no way made them less enjoyable.
Oh, look what I went and did now. Really, I must be stopped–this is out of control. One afternoon I saw a recipe for Caramel Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake in Gourmet and it was one of those moments when you pause and repeat all of the words to yourself slowly, trying to imagine how someone managed to fit all of these glorious elements into one 8-inch pan (they didn’t, but more on that later)–kind of like the Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake of two weeks ago. It immediately went on my Cook This list. The next day, I casually picked up the ingredients for the cake, just in case an opportunity presented itself where a Caramel Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake’s services would be called upon. (Hey, these things happen when you run the Smitten Kitchen.) But then it never did and by the end of the weekend, the bananas, they were calling to me and the cake and a few hours later, here we were:
Do you ever have those recipes where are you just positively, absolutely certain that they will be terrible and that you shouldn’t make them… and yet, you are inexplicably drawn to them and know they’re not going to stop nudging you until you cave? Right, so this was one of those.
Everyone needs a motto, an inspirational catchphrase or a daily affirmation and at least for the duration of this post, mine is going to have to be: when life gives you stupid, annoying pudding that never, ever sets, make ice cream. What? You don’t think it will work for t-shirts and taglines? I’m crushed.