Sunday, August 12, 2012

I have real kitchen swagger!

pan bagnat
I've now made all the sandwiches from Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook, and it gets an A+ for sandwiches. In my view, any book that reminds me how good homemade sandwiches are, how you can get protein, starch, vegetable, and salad in a single easy, cheap package and call it dinner deserves a gold star.

pan bagnat. Classic Provencal sandwich featuring tuna, tomato, olives, olive oil, and greens on baguette. (Or focaccia.) Wet, zesty, refreshing. Much loved by all. I'll make this again for sure.

curried turkey sandwich. Turkey chopped and mixed with curry powder, goat cheese, and raisins. Yellow and softly spicy. Much loved by my husband and me, but not Owen, who objected to the raisins. He is silly. I'll make this again after Thanksgiving.

cantal cheese sandwich with mushrooms. My personal favorite. You cook cremini mushrooms until soft and broil them on bread with cheese. (She calls for cantal, which I've never encountered, so I used tomme.) Much loved by all. Owen apparently didn't notice he was eating mushrooms. I'll make this again.

And last night I served her sardine club sandwich. You spread toast with tomato jam (she offers a recipe, but I used the leftover jam from last month's Mourad dinner), goat cheese, and mashed sardines. Add some greenery. She calls for an extra slice of bread in the middle of all this, but I skipped that. Very tasty, though I probably won't make it again as Isabel wanted to eat neither sardines nor tomato jam. 

I also baked an excellent ricotta poundcake from Dolce Italiano last week. Ricotta is strange. It's so bland on its own, and yet baked in this cake you could taste it clearly through the sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs. This is a wonderful cake. You should make it. The recipe is here.

It looked like this on the first day:

And like this on the second:

And I hardly ate any! As you can see, I baked it in a bundt pan rather than a loaf pan. I also omitted the vanilla bean and used 1 tablespoon of vanilla, and as I didn't have cake flour,  I used all-purpose.

I also reviewed a book for the first time in ages.

On another subject -- perhaps more exciting than sandwiches and poundcake? you think? --  I cooked in front of TV cameras all day Thursday and Friday. The Food Network was making a so-called "sizzle tape" to see if my eccentric cooking life and mild personality have any TV potential.

Whatever! It was fun. I made Nancy Silverton's pizza dough (the best), pizza, marinara sauce, goat's milk mozzarella (not my best; Natalie's milk was off), chevre, pesto, graham crackers, frozen yogurt, flour tortillas, pork-apple sausage patties, croutons, salad. I also milked the goat, talked incessantly, pretended to collect eggs, applied and reapplied lipstick, ate, opined, served a big dinner to my extended family, wished I weighed 12 pounds less.

 One of the cameramen said I had "real kitchen swagger." That made my week.

Then everyone left. Yesterday morning, Owen and I returned to work on the oven. Props to friends Melanie, Tom, and Isaiah for helping mix disgusting, squelching cob with their feet. Twas no walk in the park.
75% of my crew
I'm thinking everyone is bored hearing about my oven. Well, it will stop soon. We've put down the clay sub-floor, built a cob wall around it for insulation, and today we'll put down the actual oven floor, construct a brick arch for the door, and, if we're energetic, build the sand dome and cover it with cob. Then it's a sprint to the finish line.

I mean, really, what does Nigella have that I don't?
 Oh, be quiet.


  1. Other than half ownership by marriage of a huge and silly art collection, Nigella has NOTHING on you! Having seen your kitchen swagger in action - I can't wait to see your show.

  2. I would totally watch your show!

  3. You DO have kitchen swagger! And I pretty much never watch cooking shows any more but I'd totally watch your show.

    And those extra 12 pounds you say you have (I disagree- you look great!) - pfft. Just proof that you know how to enjoy good food.

  4. You look gorgeous; not fat AT ALL. Don't stress.

    I used to diet and diet and once got down to 117 lbs and STILL I did not feel slim enough, perfect enough.

  5. I will watch every episode! Also, I am vastly interested in this oven. Wish for more detail!

  6. awesome! I can't believe they didn't get any cob oven shots! I would actually get cable if you had a show.

  7. I'll watch your show! You have sizzle and swagger. Also flash, polish, zip, vim and vigor.

  8. Oh, I am so glad to see you back! I am very interested in your oven. It's a big project that takes patience and endurance; I'm impressed. I would definitely watch your kitchen show. Are you kidding? An intelligent woman who can cook, is adventurous, and funny? NO DOUBT. By the way, you look great. No worries on that score.

  9. I am eating up the cob oven. The photo of the boys is just . . . I don't know. It is lovely. And you with your hot pink shirt and your labor of love. They might be my favorite photos you've posted. I teach 8th and 9th graders and the wheels in my head are spinning - I can totally see a cob oven on our campus now. A flag raised when we're baking, baking bread as we study yeast, a group building project . . . great inspiration.

  10. I think America needs your show. DO IT DO IT DO IT.

  11. I would watch your show, and I cannot wait to hear what you are cooking when your oven is done!

  12. I think I'm the only one who selfishly doesn't want to share you with all of America! Right now, even though i live in Maryland, I sort of feel like we have potential to become Very Good Friends, but once you're on tv, my chances become much slimmer!

  13. Thank you for talking about sandwiches. I often forget about them and they are so easy! I can't wait to see that oven in action.

  14. Who do we have to call to get you a cooking show? You would be fabulous and inspiring. You already have me making my own vanilla extract, bagels, yogurt and Nutmeg Cake. I ate my first pan bagnat in 1981 sitting on a dock in Antibes and still remember it. It looked to be a dry bready sandwich, but the first bite was a surprise of juicy heaven. But I've never made've inspired me again!

  15. I buy cantal at Zabar's in NYC. It's a young white cheese, very mild and nutty.

  16. If your "eccentric cooking life and mild personality" come off one quarter as well on camera as in print, I will watch the heck out of it!

  17. Wow! I bought your book a little while ago after hearing you on NPR, read it cover to cover as if it were a novel, baked the bread many many times, and now over the past few days have been poring through the archives. I love love LOVE your blog and you, as if I know you! Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  18. Dear Jennifer, I love your blog and can't tell you how excited and pleased I am that you've spent time in the kitchen with my book. Thank you so much for the kind words!

  19. My wife and I love your cookbook! First thing we made was ricotta. It was so easy! We even had our 3 year old son help out. The cheese was immediately included in that night's lasagna, I thought we might have enough for the ricotta poundcake, but no, maybe next time. Photos of the whole process ended up on my blog!

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