Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Baby, I'm a firework

rustic beauty
I'm cooking from Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate and Zucchini. It's the right book for right now with lots of sandwiches and salads and small, simple meals, exactly the kinds of things I want to cook for the three of us this summer. (Isabel stays in New England until August.) I already know I love this book and have baked the yogurt cake a half dozen times. I'm not planning on critiquing, just exploring and enjoying for the rest of July.

Sunday night my father and sister and her family came over for dinner and I made Dusoulier's tuna mousse for an appetizer. My mother was famous for her tuna mousse, which was a silky, putty-colored melange of tuna, mayonnaise, and gelatin that you chilled in a mold and then presented on a platter surrounded by Club crackers. Very theatrical. She used a big copper fish mold and put pimento olives where the eyes would be and it was sort of kitschy but it was hard to make fun of the kitschy tuna mousse when your mouth was full of tuna mousse and Club crackers. That tuna mousse was delicious.

So is Dusoulier's, but in a totally different way. Hers is a puree of tuna, green apple, shallot, ricotta, cilantro and cayenne and it's fresher and brighter, earthier and easier (no need for a mold). It's a bit homely; it would be hard for even a professional to style that mousse. I'd definitely make it again, but I think I have to revisit my mother's recipe first.

For dessert, I baked Dusoulier's ricotta cake with apricots and pistachios. What a robust and beautiful dessert! Make it before apricots go out of season; the recipe is here. (If you don't have a 10-inch pan, 9-inch works fine.)  Unfortunately, it was over cake that I shared with the guests my plans to build a cob oven in the backyard over the next few weeks. Certain members of the party let me know they found this very foolish and naive. Tempers briefly flared.

After cake/conflict, I tried to teach little children how to milk a goat.

futility
Then everyone went home and my husband and I watched the season premiere of Breaking Bad and I told him about the cob oven conflict. I suspect he secretly agrees with the naysayers.

To prove everyone wrong, Monday morning I signed up for this.

Monday night I made Dusoulier's spinach and chicken salad with peaches and toasted hazelnuts. It took about five minutes, which I loved. I also loved the salad and you can find the recipe here. (In case you don't know, which until recently I did not, this is the only way you should ever skin hazelnuts.)

I was going to make Dusoulier's curried turkey sandwiches last night, but for lunch Owen and I went to Cafe Colucci in Oakland on a nominally work-related excursion and gorged ourselves. It was a dinner-obliterating lunch. We consumed several pounds of kitfo, lentils, greens, Ethiopian cheese, and injera and then waddled off to see the Katy Perry movie, which was not even nominally work-related.

a very lucky indentured servant
Apparently, I'm still on vacation from grown-up life, if not blogging.

19 comments:

  1. I have been craving Ethiopian since I started (and subsequently abandoned) Michael Chabon's Telegraph Road set in Oakland. Then you go and have Ethiopian in Oakland! No fair!

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  2. I hope you're enjoying your time away from blogging. I must say (again!) that yours is the one blog in my RSS feed that I'm always very excited to see has been updated.

    Also, you inspired me to take my husband Dave out for Ethiopian food.

    Also, I hope you'll share you mom's tuna mousse recipe because I've neither ever made nor eaten tuna mousse, and now I really want to. Although I will have to enjoy it without Club crackers.

    Thanks for sharing the glimpses of your life.

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  3. Ooh, Breaking Bad. We had not watched at all, but caught up on the entire series over the last month or so. I'm kind of jealous of the college kids who get to write their term papers on Walter White.

    Grown-up life is overrated.

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  4. The naysayers are just jealous. Make that earthen oven and blow them away with the resulting breads and pizza.

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  5. Don't let anyone talk you out of it. I made mine practically all by myself (a few helping hands here and there.) My daughter helped me stomp clay and pack it on the dome one day and subsequently has Facebooked about it as "the oven my mom and I built in our back yard." Ahem.

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  6. That all sounds wonderful (okay, maybe not the Katy Perry movie, although I've got a secret soft spot for her), but especially the oven. Please go for it! Naysayers be damned.

    My mother had that copper fish mold. Twice a year, when my grandmothers descended for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was ceremonially taken down from the pegboard, washed, and, I'm sorry to say, filled with a red Jello/canned pineapple concoction. Fish-shaped tuna mousse makes so much more sense.

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  7. Go for the oven!

    I recently bought Chocolate & Zucchini and appreciate you sharing some recipes. The whole book looks so good and I didn't know where to begin.

    Can't wait to jump into the new Breaking Bad...my husband is out of town so I'm waiting patiently.

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  8. You don't have to be on vacation from adult life, you just have a rad adult life.

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  9. Make the cob oven. Buy the hazelnuts already skinned.

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  10. We love our clay oven. It did sort of take a village to make it and a week of hard labor, but the cooking results are like nothing else. Go for it! and those nay sayers will soon be begging for your pizzas and breads.

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  11. Just bought your book for myself as an early birthday present! Loving it!!

    Got to the egg chapter last night and stopped as we just bought 6 chickens (18 weeks old now!) and already understand this is not a profitable/cheaper venture. (lalalala fingers in my ear) as I suspect your chapter is going to say the same thing!

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  12. Just bought your book for myself as an early birthday present! Loving it!!

    Got to the egg chapter last night and stopped as we just bought 6 chickens (18 weeks old now!) and already understand this is not a profitable/cheaper venture. (lalalala fingers in my ear) as I suspect your chapter is going to say the same thing!

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  13. What an informative post! Now, why would there be naysayers around you anywhere?! You have been successful at so many things that other people would not attempt, I can't imagine why anyone would try to rain on your parade. Haven't people learned that it's the process as much as the outcome for some of us? I am jealous of your indentured servant in so many ways!
    Hope your workshop goes very well, and I hope you blog about building the oven. Glad you are having a good summer.

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  14. I really want you to build that oven just like the Buddha oven in the link. You will be happy to know that the last of my flour is going into making your bagels. When I am allowed to buy groceries again I want to make that cake!

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  15. BTW I just downloaded the season 2 of The Walking Dead for our trip from i Tunes. I cannot wait...for the Walking Dead. I am dreading the trip. Enjoy Breaking Bad..no spoilers please...

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  16. Can't wait to hear about the cob oven. I am sure your sweet Owen will be all over helping you!

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  17. I don't think you necessarily have to use fresh apricots for that cake. I buy gorgeous dried California apricots at Trader Joe's and poach them in sugar syrup to make apricot tart in the winter.

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  18. Dear Mrs. Reese,
    want to say thank you for your great blog&book. I received your book yesterday and spent the whole day reading. I wasn't well and your book gave me many laughs to cheer me up.
    The recipes for Marshmallows and Marshmallow Creme are especially helpful for me as these products are ridiculously expensive in Germany.
    The evening was spent reading your blog. The book reviews are especially helpful since my budget is limited and wasting money on bad books is sad. So many many thanks again and a big hug and greetings from Germany.

    Bye, Susanne

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  19. Thank you a million times over for that tip about the hazelnut skins. I love hazelnuts but rarely use them because I just hate skinning them and it's impossible to find skinned ones around here and I'm too stubborn to buy them online.

    And I'm intrigued by the tuna mousse recipe! Please share!

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