|oeufs Francis Picabia|
A couple of weeks ago I decided I needed to read The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, so I stretched out on the sofa and read it cover to cover. There were a few clever lines, a few recipes I wanted to try, and lots of complaints about servants. Gertrude Stein really bugs me. She was so toweringly smug and with good reason, but still: smug. I'm boycotting Gertrude Stein going forward. That'll take her down a peg. I'm glad I read the book because now I don't feel like I need to anymore.
Anyway, one recipe that fascinated me was oeufs Francis Picabia. I don't eat scrambled eggs, but Owen does and this morning I decided to give him these fancy, buttery eggs, which are named after the painter who provided Toklas with the recipe. According to the recipe, you cook 8 eggs very slowly in a saucepan and whisk in 1/2 pound of butter -- "not a speck less, rather more if you an bring yourself to it." The cooking should take half an hour and the eggs should have a "suave consistency."
I used 2 eggs and cut the butter back proportionately, but could not stretch the cooking process past 21 minutes on our stove. At first the eggs absorbed all the butter and appeared velvety, like custard. I should have taken them off the heat at that point, I suppose, because then they firmed up, curdled, and began to expel the butter. Butter was seeping out of the eggs when I scooped them onto the plate, as you can see if you look closely at the unappetizing photograph. Owen gamely ate about half the eggs and said they were gritty, "like cornmeal." I was thinking I might try again tomorrow, but I just looked up Francis Picabia so I could explain who he was in this post and I dislike his quotations so much that I'm adding him to my boycott list. I'm a regular crank today.
My in-laws were here for the last couple of weeks which was lovely -- truly lovely! -- but I lost my cooking rhythm. Also, I've been in a strange mood for the last month. Just not myself. I did make a few more Smitten Kitchen dishes: The gnocchi in tomato broth was delicious; everyone loved the butterscotch banana tarte tatin; the pork chops with cider and horseradish were dry. That's always a risk with pork chops and I don't blame Smitten. I think I will make her lemon bars today or tomorrow, but am otherwise done with her book and now owe you write-ups of both that and the Homesick Texan.
I'm sticking with my one-dish dinner strategy going forward and the next book I'm going to cook from is Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book.