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 start by making a very simple pate brisee, yes, that kind, but this one doesn’t demand precision. You’re going to want to roll it out really, really thin. Now, the original recipe suggested that you use a tart pan, but I think you can skip it, and go galette-style.
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.
Nonetheless, as it appears that despite my caveats this NaBloPoMo thing is on, I figure that if nothing else I can use it to clean out the refrigerator. Have you ever bought something but forgotten to eat it then found six weeks later that it was in the very back of the refrigerator, still in perfect condition? Did it make you feel wildly uncomfortable about the preservatives that must be in your food? Did you get over it and eat it anyway? Well, I did. I found some little green apples in the produce drawer this morning that Alex, despite loving green apples, had been staunchly avoiding because they had actually ripened (true story: the boy doesn’t like ripe fruit), and then there was some leftover ricotta from a dish we’ll get to next week and a lemon that really had better days, but wouldn’t my grandmothers be proud that I hadn’t wasted food?
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.
But I have always been certain that the foods we like to eat we were introduced to in a way that warmed them to us. Mike and Ikes? Ew. Ouzo with seltzer in tall glasses as we snacked on salty pistachios while sitting out on the balcony of my professor’s hotel room with a handful of my classmates after a long day of painting on the Greek island of Corfu one summer? It was impossible not to love, creating a clear delineation between my anise-hating and anise-loving days on the timeline of my tastebuds.
[Oops, got a little carried away with the Tastebud Timeline idea.]