Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Monday Night Ad Hoc Meal

It really is hard to whip up an Ad Hoc At Home dinner without planning well in advance. Yesterday afternoon I surveyed my options and they were few. Many, maybe even most, of Thomas Keller's recipes require some step -- a special order from the butcher, brining, marinating, a blowtorch, homemade court bouillon, chive oil, slab bacon, serrano ham -- that I could not make between 4 and 5 p.m. and have dinner on the table at 7:15.

Don't worry, I'm not going to belabor this endlessly. I'm up for the game! I'm just explaining why last night I made the pan-roasted halibut and sauteed broccoli rabe, among the few Keller recipes that sound very boring, but also require no special ingredients or advance planning. These dishes actually were very boring, and I say that as someone who loves both halibut and broccoli rabe. 

Abridged family response to meal: 

Owen: I don't like fish.

Isabel: You ALWAYS say that about everything. What IS this vegetable?

Tipsy: It's broccoli rabe. I love it. It's bitter.

Isabel: Um, yeah. I noticed.

Husband: My favorite vegetable is celery and cream cheese.

Isabel: I like vegetables that aren't all wrinkled.

Owen: I like carrots that aren't cooked.

It went on like that. You know, discussing ideas, values, Bach. After all, the dinner table is the cradle of civilization.

Let's just hope Alice Waters is wrong about that.
 
When I was at the supermarket yesterday I bought chives to make chive oil, and parsley to make parsley water, both of which are essential components of Keller's asparagus coins, which I planned to serve tonight. But last night I was too tired to put the chives in the blender and make the oil, which requires 24 hours to steep, so we will not be dining on asparagus coins. I did track down some slab bacon, so I guess I can make his asparagus stew instead. 

Here's why I was tired: 
After a long talk with a bee expert about the fate of our lost bees and the future of our brand new bees, I decided to harvest last year's honey and let the new bees forage. These pictures do not quite convey the sticky drudgery of scraping, crushing, straining and re-straining required to hand-extract several gallons of honey in an ordinary kitchen. 
But it was worth it. Very pretty.

13 comments:

  1. the line about the cradle of civilization cracked me up. out loud. in my cubicle. so true.

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  2. Dinnertime is usually "night at the fights," let's be honest. But it's the consistency that makes it important. And someday they will recognize our superior cooking skills and come back to eat our food. I'm counting on it.

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  3. The honey looks yummy. And that dinner conversation is repeated all over the world every single night. My "no whining about the food" rule is useless.

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  4. My rule is that I try to make at least one thing at dinner that I know each person likes, so if you eat only salad for dinner, so be it. But everyone has to at least try it, you never know what you will like. My kids know this to be true, just last weekend, my 12 year old twins discovered that they both like scallops, which I never would have thought they would like.

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  5. Melvil Dewey4/27/10, 1:08 PM

    Yes, can we just stipulate out front that the idea of doing "ad hoc" (I know it's the name of his restaurant, but it must have that name for a reason) or casual home-style cooking from a Thomas Keller cookbook is a joke, and proceed from there? I looked through this cookbook last fall and dismissed it as food porn. The book is an awkward size for actual kitchen use, and Keller can't be simple. It's just not in him, and God bless him for that.

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  6. yum...honey. i miss honey straight from the hive (spoiled growing up as my grandpa was a beekeeper).
    i'd love to hear more about your experience. I've been thinking about getting my own bees for the backyard...a little afraid of the actual stings and all that. :)

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  7. I was so excited to hear you were starting Ad Hoc this week - Monday was my husband's birthday and that was one of his gifts. It sounds like a book I would hate to cook from, but maybe one that will work for him. He doesn't cook often and when he does it is usually an all day affair of meticulous direction-following. Meanwhile I have to sit on my hands and try not to be bossy.

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  8. I think a need a picture of the Ad Hoc book. Everyone is commenting how big/awkward it is.

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  9. Ha ha! Did you see that Keller is selling a Fried Chicken Kit?

    http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/ad-hoc-fried-chicken-kit/?cm_src=oldlink

    I wonder if this evens out the difficulty. Also, I wonder if it tastes as good. Tipsy, you may need a follow up to your Slate article. :)

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  10. Congratulations on the honey. It looks wonderful. Ad Hoc sounds like a truly irritating cookbook although i do like both broccoli rabe and halibut.

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  11. oddly enuf, tipsy did get a Tom Keller fried chicken kit the other day as a gift, coincidental to her Slate article (or as we say in the business, "piece").
    I wld also like to add that the line about our discussing issues and Bach was perhaps tipsy's funniest ever.

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  12. I just found ad hoc at home at a local bookstore...Holy cow! That book is so intimidating. I couldn't quite purchase it yet, not sure if I am ready for such an endeavor. My hat's off to you.

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  13. Today, I was lucky to enjoyed Tipsy Baker's honey as a sweetener in my morning coffee and on my whole wheat toasts. Tonight, I will mix a little honey in plain yogurt....THANKS for the delicious honey Tipsy :)
    PS: Unfortunately, four out of the six ounces are gone :(

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