Sometimes on Fridays, my fingers actually get too tired to type even one more word and I am forced to do prehistoric things like pick up a phone to have a conversation. Seeing as it’s been one of those weeks–and I don’t have all of your numbers–I hope you’ll accept some gratuitous photos of these blissful muffins I made earlier this week in lieu of more than a two word description.*
It has been over a year since I sounded-off about my mild irritation with Michael Chirello–salient takeaways included that I found him fussy and often in excessive use of needlessly pretentious ingredients–and I’ve spent most of it feeling bad about it. I mean, he cooks honestly; he uses as good ingredients as he gets his hands on and he’s not afraid of adapting old stand-bys to make them more feasible for entertaining. These are all good things. I will not now nor ever abide throwing fistfuls of carefully cultivated gray salt into boiling pots of pasta water, but I’d rather pay attention to someone who cares enough about the nuance in flavor that they create than someone who acts like it doesn’t exist.
Unfortunately, we’ve had another setback. A significant one, one so bad I have had to something that crushes my spirits and raises my shackles and throw the entire dish in the garbage. And the error was so easily avoidable, I just… can’t let it go. I hate throwing away food.
Apples at their simplest can be their very finest. Sure, I love an oozy, heavily spiced and lidded apple pie, but I also think there is something matchless about apples, butter and sugar, baked until bubbly. This classic apple tart is from Alice Waters, but she says that it was actually Jacques Pepin who created it at Chez Panisse more than 20 years ago. I can see why they’ve never gotten tired of it.
You know how you know it’s November? I actually made breakfast this morning. I’m sorry if that shattered your pristine image of me. Sure, I occasionally cook big, elaborate brunches for friends or family and I even spoil myself from time to time with yogurt with pumpkin butter and pepita granola, but pretty consistently, Saturday and Sunday morning I chew on my fingernails until Alex wakes up, or sometimes, if I’m really hungry and he’s still sleeping (the boy is a sleep MACHINE) I’ll sit next to him on the bed and stare until he wakes up and brings us either bagels from Murray’s or eggs from the diner. Yes, you heard that right. I get a fried egg and toast take out. Yes, I am ashamed to know myself sometimes, too.
I used to be a fennel/anise/black licorice-hater, too. I say “too” because I know that it’s impossible to bring the flavor up without at least someone in the room saying “ew.” Like beets in anything or nuts in cookies, its presence is a deal breaker for a surprising number of people.
I’m an all-butter crust kinda gal; I’ll exchange flavor for flakiness any day of the year and, like a lot of us, I’m pretty freaked out by shortening in general. But, I caved this year. One too many articles about the best non-lard crusts resulting from that magical blend of both vegetable and butter fats, plus the seal of approval from the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook (and as we all know, I’ll do anything they say) and there I was, scooping tablespoons of that white stuff from a can. To compensate for the butter lost, I used some Danish butter, so rich that but ten minutes after the pie went in the oven, the unmistakable scent of buttery brilliance hit the air and we swooned.