Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I forgot how to blog

A draft of the book is done-ish and I am back to normal life and back to my cookbooks. I didn't just neglect the blog over the last few months. I throw open my french doors in the morning to gaze out at the garden and . . . want to close them.

I did stumble across this carrot growing there. I planted the seeds last spring and then forgot about them. Beautiful, no? Sadly, I waited too long to harvest. Not delicious at all. It tasted rooty.

I think where I left off blogging was in the middle of making Duck Egg Ravioli with Ricotta and Swiss Chard out of Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen. This would have been recipe #7 from the book. One night about a month ago, I stood there dotting a strip of pasta dough with fresh ricotta and into the middle of each ricotta blob I put a duck egg yolk. It took forever and it didn't work out right -- the dough was too sticky -- but the idea behind the recipe was so fascinating that I did it again the next night with a better dough recipe. Again it took forever, though this time it worked beautifully. The eggs barely poached inside the thin ravioli and so when you cut into the pasta, the yolks broke and formed a sauce.

I thought, I can't cook like this and blog about it and at the same time finish writing a book.

Anyway, this recipe is on page 104 of Stowell's book and if you make it with Marcella Hazan pasta dough, it is great. I would make this again, except we gave away the ducks.

This cookbook reviewer really loathes Ethan Stowell. He makes her want to poke hot needles into her eyes. I agree with many of her points, that this book is overly precious and "cheffy," but I think her reaction is a bit extreme. I'm also puzzled by the fact that she didn't seem to cook a single recipe. I'm always interested in a conceptual critique, but also think you need to try the recipes before weighing in on a cookbook. This particular book becomes far less irritating when you actually use it -- there are some fantastic recipes in here, not all of them cheffy and ridiculous.

Last night I made Ethan Stowell recipe #8: Clam Risotto. We haven't had a real barn burner family fight at the dinner table in a while, but the clam risotto go us going. Felt like old times. Owen screaming, me yelling back, Isabel rolling her eyes, etc. Classy. Just the words "clam risotto" may go down in family lore. I liked the clam risotto fine and it was simple to throw together, but the associations are now very bad. Also, it was gray. And clams cost more than I think they're worth. Not so into clams.

But we had the best salad to go with it: Endive Salad with Creamy Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette. Owen was outraged that there wasn't enough for him to have seconds. That was part of the fight. It was that good. I am putting the recipe here with a few changes. You have to boil the lemon rind three times, which caused me to roll my eyes, but it is so easy, just do it. Also, it calls for a raw egg yolk which would probably weird me out if I bought supermarket eggs after the events of late summer. So probably you should invest in farmers' market eggs if you make this salad, or get some chickens. I tell you, it is a gem, this recipe.

Ethan Stowell's Creamy Endive Salad

8 heads endive (he calls for four, but I think you should double)
3 lemons, preferably Meyer
2 tablespoons water
1 fresh egg yolk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup pistachios, toasted
1/2 bunch Italian parsley leaves picked
5 radishes, thinly sliced

1. Remove the outer leaves from the endive and trim the stems, leaving enough intact so that the endives hold together. Quarter the endives lengthwise. Soak them in salted water for 10 minutes.

2. Peel strips of zest from one lemon. Wide is fine. Put in a small saucepan with water to cover, bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat three times.

3. Juice the lemons. Put the juice, the boiled lemon rind, the water, egg yolk, mustard and salt in a a blender. Pulse. Add both the oils in a slow steady stream. You'll end up with a mayonnaise-like dressing, very soft and pale yellow. Taste for salt.

4. Place endives, nuts, parsley in a bowl and toss with dressing to lightly coat. (You may have dressing left over -- don't overdress.) Top with the radishes. Beautiful! Should serve six.


  1. Yay, you are back! Bloggong is like exercise--it's easy to fall out of it then challenging to get back in.

  2. Glad to have you back! I have been wondering about your cooking life since it is so much more exciting than mine. Good luck with the book.

  3. Woo hoo - I was getting ready to give up on you! :) I want more details about the rip-roaring fight; I love it when other people have dinner disquiet, too! Lol! Best, Ida

  4. Huzzah! I welcome your triumphant return. We have dinner table fights all the time. I think it's part of the bonding process.

  5. Just had a big dinner blowout ourselves a few nights ago over-would you believe-pancakes. What eight-year-old in the world doesn't like pancakes, I ask you? Mine, apparently, which was news to all of us. Very ugly. Glad to have you back...

  6. my life is complete again.
    welcome back, tipsy.

  7. woot...just in time for the holidays...glad to have you back

  8. so glad you're back. you left a vacancy!

  9. So glad you are back. I have missed you terribly!

  10. Welcome back! I've been looking forward to hearing more about Ethan Stowell. As Seattle residents, we frequent his restaurants. Trying to decide whether or not to add the book to my wish list.

    I completely agree that clams cost more than they're worth! A couple weeks ago, I bought clams for the Ad Hoc clam chowder. I experienced severe sticker shock at the check-out counter. Then was disappointed in the chowder. It seemed to be missing something and was far too creamy. Who would've thought clam chowder could be too creamy.

    Anyway, I'll stick to the occasional shared clam appetizer at a fancy restaurant. Too much to pay for an ingredient with such potential to disappoint!

  11. Thank you for the fabulous recipe! And thank you for coming back! I love your blog.

    I kind of agree with the reviewer you mention. I don't necessarily agree with her opinion of the Ethan Stowell book, of course, since I haven't read it or cooked from it, but I too am completely burned out by the preciousness of the locavore movement. :) Some of my hipster friends are driving me nuts with it.

    As for clams, ick. I will happily eat any other shellfish, raw even, but clams always give me stomach pain. And gray risotto sounds downright unbearable.

  12. Yeay! I've missed you. My husband and I had a rare dinner out at Tavolata last Friday. They had the cookbook on display by the front door and I thought of you.

  13. Georgia Jewel11/18/10, 3:32 PM

    I am overjoyed that you are back to blogging. I've missed you!

  14. Welcome back, I missed you very much! It's great if you can take just one month off and finish your book. I'm sure it was totally worth it, but I have to say it was great to see you show up in my RSS feeds again.

  15. Just the thought of those ravioli makes me want to cry at the beauty of it all...

  16. I'm like a light bulb I be happy n bright , n sad n gloomy the next second


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