Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's been a hard landing, but we're back

Is this what you would call "setting the table?"
This spider cake from The Essential New York Times Cookbook is fantastic. It's fast and easy and you probably have all the ingredients in your house right now. It is also interesting. You mix together cornmeal, flour, sugar, milk, and eggs, scrape the batter into a cast iron skillet and then into the middle pour one cup of cream. Do not stir the cream into the batter. (See what I mean? Interesting.) Bake. The result is a dense, custardy cornbready cake with a narrow band of creamy filling. It should be served warm and needs no embellishment. Monday night after we were done with dessert, I kept cutting off ragged edges of the leftover cake to "even it out" while I talked to my husband. Finally, I stood up and said, "Get this away from me NOW."

Everyone in the family loved the spider cake and that's saying something. I just had another piece for breakfast, warmed in a skillet. Highly recommend.

homely home cooking
Last night I cooked the zorza -- a spicy ground pork stir-fry served with boiled potatoes and topped with fried eggs --  from Delicioso, one of the many Spanish cookbooks by Penelope Casas, who seems to have a lock on the subject, at least in the American market. I'm trying to decide if this dish was good enough to justify making Delicioso my next cookbook. It was a fine dish, but not great. The spicing wasn't balanced; it needed more salt; it was a bit dry. Very unlike the zorza we ate in Spain. Does anyone have a Spanish cookbook they love?

I've been trying to take a short movie of the goat babies, but so far haven't managed anything I could post. Owen has named the buckling Jack Frost, because he is covered with a light dusting of white fur. The doe, he named Zen. I have no idea why. It's sad that he's naming them because we can not keep them. If you would like a couple of super-cute baby dairy goats from a good family, write me.


  1. Welcome back! It may have been a hard landing, but it looks like you have hit the ground running. Thanks for sharing your trip with me. I really enjoyed it. I love the name Jack Frost. Owen must be a very clever boy!

  2. I grew up in Asturias, next door to Galicia. I also have the Casas cookbooks, but find I have to make lots of adjustments... my mom's recipes are always better. However, there are some Spanish chefs that have cookbooks that are good and in English like José Andres. Also Culinaria Spain is good, and includes lots of photos and background information. Glad you enjoyed the trip; I was jealous and now looking forward to my visit in July even more. Have to hit a taberna gallega for pulpo y lacón con grelos...

  3. I've been on the lookout for a spanish cookbook myself, so I hope you get lots of recommendations.

  4. Barrenechea's book has a very good selection of regional dishes; Roden's massive book is also very good. I cook a lot from The New Spanish Table which was written with an American readership in mind, and included tips for substitutions.


  5. Colman Andrews' Catalan Cuisine. It doesn't cover Spain -- that's big job! But it is a marvelous primer for the area, well-written and reliable.

  6. When I catch myself over-indulging with some goodie I usually plead to my husband "save me from myself!", and push whatever is left to his side of the table.
    Looking forward to some Spanish cuisine.

  7. Speaking of "get this thing away from me", last Sunday I made one of your top 10 cakes, Laurie Colwin's Nutmeg Cake. Tipsy, it was everything you said it was, easy to make, very nice looking and absolutely delicious. It was hard to stop having "just one more little sliver."

  8. That is too bad about "Delicioso". There are so many recipes I'd like to try out of it, but perhaps I'll just add more seasoning. I find that I need to do that with Ana Sortun's "Spice".

    Are these Natalie and Peppermint's kids? Are those the 2 that you'll be keeping long-term or did you keep Natalie's kid from last year, too?

  9. Love Jose Andres cookbook and his tv show

  10. Sounds like such a great trip.
    I love Joyce Goldsteins cooking and books and I don't think I've seen her on your cookbook list. This one-
    -on Spain and Portugal is lovely to eat from and look at. Quite a few recipes from this book have become standards - especially good pork recipes.

  11. Thanks for jogging my memory about this bread. I used to make a similar one from a recipe in Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone," where it is given as a variation on her Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread. She names the variation "Marion's Custard Corn Bread," which I assume refers to Marion Cunningham. That recipe calls for just 2 TB sugar, but I always used 1/3 cup. I agree, it's fantastic.

    The only Spanish cookbook I've used regularly is "The Catalan Country Kitchen" by Marimar Torres. I can't vouch for the authenticity of the dishes (whatever that means), but I've had excellent results from it.