But this is a food blog, and that's the rhubarb king's cake from Jennifer McLagan's Fat, a lovely looking thing that I did not execute quite perfectly. You make puff pastry, mix some frangipane (sugar, almonds, rum, butter), cook rhubarb. Roll out half the puff pastry in a circle, top with frangipane and rhubarb. . .
then top with a larger disc of pastry. I think I overstuffed it, because juices oozed and made the pastry soggy. I don't have a picture of the finished product; it wasn't a thing of beauty.
But. . . puff pastry! If I have one thought for these dark days, it's that so long as we can afford the butter, we should all be making puff pastry all the time. I'm always put off by the length of puff pastry recipes but when you actually execute one you realize it contains multiple repetitions of motions any chimp could perform: roll out dough, fold like a letter, put in refrigerator. That's 80% of a puff pastry recipe. And while the rhubarb kings cake did not turn out as I had hoped, the scraps rolled into crispy, sugary palmiers were fit for a queen.
This was also, sigh, the night of the braised oxtail. My stout-hearted father kept saying, don't be a ninny, it tastes just like short ribs. Which it does. The meat was succulent, the flavors excellent, and it's not the fault of the recipe that while I can eat liver, tripe, and marrow the sight of a knobby vertebrae on my plate turns my stomach. This is my second attempt to cook and savor oxtail, and probably my last.
I also made McLagan's buttery pureed potatoes which were indeed, as she puts it, "worth every calorie." I just wish so-called comfort food really could provide comfort.